I hit the reset button when I had my Saturn return back in 2009. Recreating a life isn’t an easy task, and six years later, I’m still working on it. If I were on the same track, I suppose life would be very different. I may have had children. I may have been a homeowner. But that was wrong for me, and all the things leading me in that direction fell away. If I stubbornly stayed on course, even if I COULD have controlled all the factors in my life, I would have missed out on all the things I have now, and all the things that are great. I was recently doing a chart for someone beginning her Saturn Return, and I didn’t want to talk too much about it, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I realized last night that in the past few years, I have grown out of the habit of fantasizing that I were someone else. I want to be me now.
The thing with the Saturn Return is that Saturn goes retrograde and then returns again 2-3 years later, like aftershocks following an earthquake. You think that the coast is clear, and then tremors again. This makes sense; Saturn is patience, and we must wait out the entire ordeal. Unlike a Uranus aspect, the change is gradual. One day, it dawns on you that you’re different now.
One of the aspects of a Saturn return often not talked about is the loneliness or alienation it brings. One is more likely to sequester themselves rather than be completely alienated by others, but that can happen, too. This needs to happen though, especially if Saturn is in one of the social houses, because the end of childhood also signifies coming into one’s own and learning to stand alone. Sometime around 30 years old, people begin to be more like themselves and less like other people, as in, they tend to become set in their ways and not worry about if what they think and feel is socially acceptable or not, or if it makes them acceptable to other people.
This is an age where people tend to drift apart from childhood friends if those friends aren’t in the same place that they’re in. Tastes change. Priorities change. The things that used to matter so much don’t anymore. We let go of fantasies and begin to work with what we have. We start to see our first gray hairs, perhaps our first wrinkles, and our bodies don’t recover as well from partying, which is just as well. Usually, the older generation has begun to suffer the bodily consequences of their choices and/or to getting older. This actually, is one surprisingly big difference between those at 30 and those at 24: there’s a much bigger difference between grandma having a heart attack than mom or dad, and often far less responsibility.
But what happens if you fight your Saturn Return? While I think that most people really don’t skate through this and that they are affected by this transit nevertheless, refusing to endure the positive Saturnian experience of patience and waiting, which usually results in the very negative Saturnian experience of worry and panic. The late twenties and early thirties are a time when a lot of people make surprisingly strange decisions they may not have done otherwise, and usually involving things outside of themselves that they will cling to tenaciously, like institutions of adult life, even to the detriment of other things, simply to not be the one to have missed out.
Panic because you’re not married yet, because you don’t have the right career, because you’re not a parent yet, because you’re not doing this thing or that makes people surprisingly pliable, and they will bend and compromise and all the while, think they’re happy.
I’m not in the right career, so I will go back to school right now and study something that promises to make me a bunch of money. I’m not married yet, so I will fall all over the next one to come along so he doesn’t leave. I don’t have kids yet, but even though I’m not ready or sure I want to be a parent, I better make a baby now. I can’t really afford it, but if I don’t buy a house now, I may never be able to do so.
But then when the panic fades and the goal is achieved, buyer’s remorse sets in. At 35, you realize that you could be living for another fifty years; do you really want to spend them with the person you are bound to now? This mortgage will take thirty years and all your money to pay off, and now you’re stuck in one location. You didn’t really want to have kids, and now you have them, and you resent them but you are bound to them. You either hate the career you’re in or you actually can’t find a job at all, but now you’re stuck with a bunch of debt.
Saturn is not really about desire; that’s Venus. It is about achieving and earning. It invests you personal resources. It is not about risk, which is Jupiter, but working with what you have now and cultivating it so it grows. It is about forgoing $5 today for $50 in five days. If you take the $5 now, at the end of the five days, you realize how quickly it actually went by and how you could have been $45 richer going into the future. With Jupiter, the situation is that you might get $50 in five days if you wait, and with Venus, you get $25 right now. Those who fight their Saturn returns often get neither $5 or $50, because they were waiting for Jupiter and Venus to swoop in.
The next major Saturn transit, the square or opposition but sometimes even the next return, comes back to bite us in the ass if we let panic rule our decisions during the first Saturn return. The seven-year itch happens at the square. The opposition about fourteen years later. If you made a hasty decision during the first Saturn return phase, one of these times is going to make whatever you chose to do in haste fall apart. In reality, the writing was on the wall and chances are, you were avoiding making the other shoe drop, but now, it will drop. What you refused to see is now unavoidable, and if you make a hasty decision now, you will regret it.
It’s not that say, divorcing after seven or fourteen years will make you lonely for the rest of your life as in never finding someone. You may, however, harden your heart in haste and avoid commitment and the work it takes to renew the soul so that you end up spending your later adulthood alone. It’s not that losing or failing at a career will make you unemployed for the rest of your life. Haste may make a coward of you, and you may not see the opportunity to pursue something else you could be doing. Even the death of a parent at one of these transits has a silver lining, because now you are free from the pressure of pleasing that parent.
But our culture tells us to fight Saturn.
My boyfriend has gray hair that is almost completely white, and he dyes it so as not to look too old. I think he looks so much better with gray hair, but in the profession he wishes to re-enter, he thinks that looking younger is the way to success. I myself never quite understood why anyone dyed their gray hair. True, I have but a few white hairs and they are rarely permanent. However, gray hair has a specific texture, such that if you dye it, it is often still obvious that you have the hair of an older person. Chemical peels and face lifts don’t hide age. There are few things harder to look at than a woman with a face that is much younger than her neck, chest, and hands, especially if she is dressed like someone in her early twenties. Desperation stinks to those who don’t like it and has a pleasant aroma for those who will prey on it.
We are told to lose ourselves in our relationships. Rarely do we celebrate marriages by focusing on the new responsibilities the married peoples now have outside of the canned marriage vows. We focus on the fun, the romance, the hope and the wishes. Yes, you will have a lot of good times together, but chances are, you already have been having good times and have shared hopes and dreams because you did become a couple and get married, right? Yes, there will probably be fun and pretty things, but marriage isn’t actually about fun. It’s about duty. It’s about loving someone when they’re on the bottom, even when you’re not sure you can. Remember Raisin in the Sun? Remember Mama telling her daughter to hug her brother after he lost the insurance money?:
“Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning – because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ’cause the world done whipped him so! When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is.”
When the party is over, the marriage doesn’t just remain. It begins. Apparently, the more you spend on the wedding, the more likely you are to divorce early on. My theory is that those who are focused on the frivolous are less equipped to handle the realities of marriage, especially the part that has to deal with sickness, poverty, bad times, and hardships, and therefore puff up the ceremony and frills to fool themselves with the very old illusion that romance is the same thing as love. Men can romance many women. I know of a man who at one time, had a wife and up to five different girlfriends at once, all of whom he sweet-talked, romanced, and bought things for. But he didn’t love a single one of them.
Saturnian love is quieter. It fixes the loose floorboard so she doesn’t have to hear it squeaking when you get up to pee at night. It clips your toenails. It washes your underwear. It makes sure that you have your favorite soda in the fridge, and it picks you up from the train station so you don’t have to walk at night. It is the father archetype who tells you that you can have and deserve better. It says no to temptation. No, it doesn’t buy you roses every week or take you shopping or go partying with you. It is not total sacrifice, like Neptune, or dissolution of the personality into the relationship, like Pluto. It respects autonomy. It respects. It can create a coldness and separation, which is true, but it has a rightful place among the gods of love.To quote the poet Robert Hayden, Saturn is a master of “love’s austere and lonely offices.”
Mistaking excitement for happiness is the trap of ignoring Saturn. After your initial excitement of buying a home, having a baby, getting married, or starting a career, do you still want it when the roof leaks, the baby is up all night, when he loses his job and you have to be the breadwinner, when the career is no longer exciting and new?
And then we wonder why so many people are so unhappy, even though we tell them to seize the reins of their lives. Unfortunately, we don’t tell them how to control the horse they’re on. Don’t listen to anyone else or reflect on the mistakes they have made; you have your own life to live.
…but how do you avoid making the mistakes your ancestors made if you turn your back on them? There is a difference between examining and imitating; there is a difference between determination and stubbornness.
Regret, of a deep and impassable kind, is one of the hallmarks of trying to hide from a major Saturn transit. It may very well be that the Saturn lessons in this life, as well as the other karmic ones, are to pull you away from the places that put demands on you, and not to live up to those demands but to seek out the work you should be doing. Saturn isn’t about really pleasing other people, and there is an element of self-centeredness with Saturn. You would please someone today if you gave them a peach, but if you plant it in the ground, in 10 years, you have a peach tree full of fruit. Saturn love doesn’t go around fixing all the squeaky floorboard everywhere in the world, nor does it wash the skids out of every pair of men’s underwear. It is exclusivity, which is what is desired in most marriages, one person above all others. Do what you are responsible for, but do not take on more than that, or you will get nothing done. Focus is a Saturn word, and during the Saturn return, one should focus. Usually, there is no one who can advise you out of your funk, so you have to learn to be alone or stagnate.
Panic leads to lack of focus, and it leads to action without forethought. It leads to focusing on the feeling of being deprived rather than on the need to be patient, to relax, to wait and see. It is the feeling that washes over people who run from their Saturn Return, and it is the precursor to regret. No, no one can really live a full life without any regrets if they are emotionally honest, but choose your actions. One of the lessons learned in the Saturn Return, hopefully, is that you can no longer blame your parents or anyone else for your life. Lament if you will, and do it forever if you must, and call it what it ought to be called, but take responsibility for your life going forward. No one is the reason your life isn’t what you want it to be besides you.
Now is also the time to accept your limitations. Those who ignore Saturn Return tend to still think of themselves as having infinite potential and infinite chances. No, you’re not just one happenstance meeting away with a scout from Ford Modeling at Starbucks before you land on the cover of Vogue and into Leonardo DiCaprio’s lap. Those who ignore Saturn Return may choose to live in denial, which not only takes a lot of work but requires you to shift focus from real, potentially fulfilling opportunities to grow as a human and member of society and onto a narrow idea of success.
It takes a lot of work to ignore a Saturn transit, and if you manage to do so, be prepared for the shit to really hit the fan later.