Learning About 'Saturn Returns' and How They Can Inspire Reflection and Transformation

I recently learned about the astrological concept of a person experiencing their 'Saturn Return' and everything this calls into question at certain times in our lives. The theory is that Saturn's orbit of the sun takes around 29.5 years, returning to the position it was in when you were born.

Whether you engage with astrology or not, I think many people would agree that our late twenties are often a time to self-reflect and review.

We have shed some of the innocence and relative simplicity of childhood, and then floated or crashed through our twenties - probably practicing different personas, lifestyles and experiences to find the ones that feel right for us.

The notion of the Saturn Return - in my understanding - is about highlighting what is working and what isn't. If we're living out of alignment with our values, the Saturn Return can be a painful shake-up and awakening.

After first hearing about Saturn Returns last week, I then heard it referenced in a song I love and have listened to a lot this year - but I'd never really noticed this lyric before.

"Well, everybody's got that chapter

Of dark and darker days,

Saturn seems to be returning

And his essence can't be tamed.

Some may like to fight it

To plan a secret attack

But the more you push it

The more it's pushing you back" - Trevor Hall, 'You Can't Rush Your Healing'

There's peace to be found in the idea that it's really common to go through this process, whether you're aware of it or not. Understandably, it's exhausting to work against what is meant for you.

It could be so easy to rush through a busy life without noticing the things which flow and those which cause resistance. To me, it feels like an incredible opportunity to devote time to review and reflect, as well as creating a chance to change if you wanted to.

It doesn't have to be dramatic, but a lot of people have described life-altering events around their late twenties and early thirties, whether or not they were aware of the concept of a Saturn Return. Maybe it feels frightening, but it also sounds like an exciting time of renewal and fresh energy. If things have to fall apart, they were probably always going to. A painful time can also be a powerful transformation.

The global pandemic in 2020 feels slightly like the whole of humanity's Saturn Return. There are a lot of narratives at the moment describing last year as a kind of global breakdown, reset, and course-correct. Everything had to break in order to be built back better.

At the very least, this could be a comforting belief system which ascribes meaning to a lot of the suffering which has been felt across the world this year. On an individual as well as collective level, people have turned inwards to look at themselves and may be willing to make big changes as we move forwards.

It's a particularly heightened time for people who are around their Saturn Return; thirty or sixty or ninety. The real, literal grief of people and places we had before is mirrored by the necessary loss and shedding of old weight that comes with a Saturn Return. There is strength to be found in surrendering to what is happening and letting things take their course.

I've been listening to the Saturn Return podcast which uses the lens of the Saturn Return to explore how we cope during challenging and transitional times in our lives - interviewing lifestyle guides and wellbeing practitioners on their subjects of expertise. I find it a really nice balance of relatable talk, real-life situations and conceptual belief systems. The ideas are so fascinating and intelligently explored that they feel really accessible, whatever your level of spirituality.

There are even websites where you can enter your date and place of birth in order to predict a more exact timing for your Saturn Return. I'm not sure how I feel about this - my rational brain wants to ask how we can possibly put a date on such things. However, my main takeaway from learning about the concept is the incredible/terrifying opportunity of being confronted and forced to really, really look at ourselves.

The day on which this happens isn't the most important thing, but the idea of the challenges we experience being part of a higher plan is immensely comforting. I wouldn't want to be the person who reaches 85 and realises that they haven't been missing the life they were best aligned to. If something's not right, I would rather be uncomfortably shaken and awakened to it, as soon as possible.