A few weeks ago at a family gathering my niece’s boyfriend told me it was his birthday. “I’m turning 27,” he said.
“Ooooh, 27,” I replied, “you’re entering your Saturn return.” He and my niece both raised their eyebrows as if to ask me what that the hell I’m talking about.
I couldn’t remember the details other than it’s the first big life change, the first big trip around the galaxy where major things happen in one’s life. Already known as the woo-woo west coast aunt, my niece and her boyfriend accepted this with a nod and went to have a beer outside.
Yesterday I was talking to a work mate, explaining that, even if we weren’t talking about her specific work, she should feel welcome to contribute to conversations about other projects at staff meetings. “I think it’s a measure of my age,” she said, “I feel so much younger than the rest of the team. I’m only 26. Hey, doesn’t that mean I’m almost in my Saturn return?”
“And what does that even mean? Saturn return?,” my co-worker asked me. Again, I tried to explain. I was struck by the fact that this was the second time in two weeks that Saturn return has come up in conversation. I tried to remember where I was and what I was doing when I was 27. And as I thought about that I realized that right now I am double-27!
I am in my second Saturn return. Holy Shit and what a relief. When I finished my meeting I got online and started doing some Saturn return research. What I learned is that, in horoscopic astrology, a Saturn return is an astrological transit that occurs when the planet Saturn returns to the same ecliptic longitude that it occupied at the moment of a person’s birth.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_return)
With the first Saturn return, usually occurring between the ages of 27–31, a person leaves youth behind and enters adulthood. When I was 27 I bought my first house. I had my first real job. I made adult decisions. For me the first Saturn return fit my stage in life so maybe I’m on track for some kind of middle age maturing now.
With the second Saturn return, 54–62, and then the third and probably the last at 81–85, one enters wise old age. I’m 54 now so I am passing through my second astrological transit; I’m leaving behind my last adulthood.
For the last month I’ve been on a journey trying to figure out what is the perfect job for me. In many ways it feels like I’m starting over. Now that I recognize that I’m in my second Saturn return, I see that I’m being offered an invitation to make some decisions about who I want to be in this second iteration of myself. A lover of all things ritualistic, I am thrilled to have this second Saturn return to grasp onto, to help me frame and explain what I am going through these days.
I read more about the second Saturn return specifically. This is a time to be a mentor and share wisdom. It is a time to prepare for our children to leave home. In this second Saturn return we might be thinking about retirement and/or dreams we’ve had for our lives that we haven’t done and we still hope to do.
The astrological experts says that in the first Saturn return it is a time to take responsibility, to stay the course on your path when things get hard. The first Saturn return is when we push our limits to grow and take full accountability for our lives. Where do we want to go? What do we want to do? This is the time when we stop feeling like kids.
It helps me to take those first return invitations into my second Saturn return. Part of what’s motivating me to make a professional transition is the feeling that I’m just going through the motions at work. I’m not engaged and committed in a way that feels inspiring or enlivening.
I have stability that I didn’t have when I was 27. Those everyday adult tasks we reckon with in the first Saturn return are second nature to me now, but I have room to grow in other areas, limits to expand into. And, just like it was 27 years ago, it’s hard, a little bit scary, and exciting at the same time.
I think about my niece and her boyfriend, about my co-worker. I wouldn’t want to go back there and live their lives, but I do want to live the feeling of possibility that inhabits that stage of life and carry it into this second Saturn return that I am entering now.
Maybe my second return will come in the form a new job. Maybe I’ll feel it in a few months when my daughter goes off to college and I have a new sense of independence. Maybe it will come as a surprise. The Saturn return, whether it is the first one or the second or even the third, is not so much about what comes out of that period, but the questions we ask as we as we enter it and while we’re in it. What do I want to do? Who do I want to become? What do I want to leave behind? What do I hope to discover? It’s about leaning into the possibilities for change and growth, in whatever form they come.