Saturn returns & cyclical changes in life

I have friends who eagerly check their horoscopes each and every week, consulting the pages of Cosmopolitan or clicking into Refinery29 to see what the stars have in store for them. I don’t dis-believe in astrology, but I don’t believe in it in that way.

To me, it makes perfect sense that the universe has an influence on us; look at the way the moon influences the tide or the sun influences the temperature, how could it not affect humans the way it affects the world? And it makes sense that the influence can be emotional as well as physical; anyone who experiences SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or simply gets gloomy on a rainy day or excited about a warm summer afternoon understands. And there’s no denying that things like the full moon and the infamous Mercury in retrograde have a huge impact on many of us. But I don’t personally believe that the location of Mars on a certain date lets you know that you should buy a lottery ticket or whatever; I think celestial influence is much broader and less personalised.

It’s also not something I tend to seek out too much information about, so occasionally I discover something new to me that relates to my interpretation of astrology’s impact, and that happened for me last week when I learned about Saturn returns.

I recently discovered and fell in love with the podcast Self Service from GirlBoss Radio, hosted by Jerico Mandybur, which features an array of mindfulness and parapsychological topics discussed in a charming and empowering way. I started making my way through the back catalogue, and reached an episode where Mandybur and astrologist Jessica Lanyadoo talk about the Saturn return. I’m interested in the cyclical nature of life and the world—everything from the moon phases and the seasons to the menstrual cycle—and so this immediately piqued my interest.

The Saturn return refers to the period in which Saturn completes its orbit around the sun, returning to the same location as it was at the time of your birth. This takes approximately 29.5 years, meaning that every thirty years or so your life completes a cycle, and the end of this cycle can lead to big changes and serious self-reflection. Apparently the quarter-life crisis (and, a few decades later, the mid-life crisis) has a celestial cause.

After listening to the podcast, I hopped online and found a calculator that let me know my Saturn return is… now! Based on my birthdate, it told me that my first Saturn return began 21 December last year and will continue until 17 December 2020. I immediately began thinking: have I felt different since the last solstice? Well, yes, naturally. I settled into living in a new country and a new hemisphere, I’ve had a new job, made new friends, had new experiences. Definitely not business as usual.

Then again, given the last few years, “not business as usual” is kinda business as usual for me. Living in new countries and having new experiences has been the norm for me. From that standpoint, there have been no radical shifts in my life in the past six months. But as you can see from the calculator, Saturn’s return lasts about three years, meaning that there’s still plenty of time to go, and that got me thinking about the future.

People often ask me where I eventually plan to live, especially with Steve and I being from different countries, and that’s something I just don’t know yet. I have a pretty good idea where I’ll be a year from now (it’s looking like Australia), but three years? Ten? It’ll most likely be the United States or Ireland, but even that’s not definite, and I couldn’t even weight one over the other right now. What job will I have? Hopefully something related to publishing, writing, or editing, but that could change as well.

I can’t say for certain that my “Saturn return” will be the time in which I answer those questions, but there’s a good chance that it’s a period that will bring some certainty, or at least some clarity. After Australia, Steve will be 30 and too old for working holiday visas, and as an American I will be out of options having done Ireland, New Zealand, and Oz, so it’s likely that we will have to at least semi-settle somewhere. I’ve been happy to bounce from job to job so far, but if we live in one place for a while, I’d eventually like to get a start on something resembling a career.

Furthermore, my Saturn return will finish just over a month before my 30th birthday, which to be honest I’m seriously looking forward to (I think of how much better in every possible way I am now than I was at 18, 21, 25, and I don’t think I’ve reached my peak so I have a good feeling about the next big milestone birthday), so I’ll be interested to see where my life is by then.

I’m not under the illusion that all the growth and change in my life will be finished by the end of my first Saturn return, and I’m hardly going to just sit back and let the planets figure out where my path is going to lead. However, I do think it’s a fascinating concept, and Saturn will definitely be in the corner of my mind as I navigate the next few years of my life.

More reading about Saturn returns:
The Skinny on Saturn Returns from Huffington Post
Your Saturn Return: A Cosmic Rite of Passage from astrostyle
What Even is Saturn Return? from The Cut

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