Sharon Yudin Wintner
Astrology is a system of cycles, and the motions of the planets against the zodiacal constellations can help us understand our own individual life cycles. Why, for example, does it seem that so many people, as they approach the age of thirty, reach a resolution about the kind of work they want to do and the kind of life style they feel most comfortable with? The late twenties are years of change—breaks from the past and resolutions about the future. this cycle repeats itself around the mid to late fifties—children have grown up; there are many divorces or changes in relationships as people find that they can no longer fall back on their youth and the plans, hopes, and building for the future that sustained them through the earlier years; many people realize that they are bored with the work they have been doing for twenty or thirty years, and often they have to deal with the rejection of their children of all they’ve built for them through this work…
These critical periods in our life cycles coincide with the cycles of the planet Saturn. Approximately every twenty-eight years Saturn completes a cycle around the twelve signs of the Zodiac. Thus, every individual experiences a “Saturn Return” around her/his 28th year and again at 56 and at 84; that is, at about ages 28, 56, and 84 Saturn returns to the same degree of the same sign that it was in at the time of the individuals’ birth. These two, or at the most three, Saturn Returns are major landmarks in a lifetime and an increased understanding of the planet Saturn, can help tremendously in dealing with the upheaval people commonly go through at these times.
Saturn teaches us about sensitivity and responsibility—being sensitively tuned in to the needs of oneself and others so that one can then be responsible about meeting those needs. Saturn teaches us to focus on reality and to learn to assess it; to develop a sense of judgement and to use or develop the strength and fortitude to follow through; to act on one’s own assessment of reality and one’s own needs. It teaches us to trust our centers, our guts, to know what is right for the individual in the present—not for anyone else and not what was right yesterday or what may be right tomorrow, but for the Self, Now. Saturnian strength is knowing that nobody else’s standards are quite suited to you, just as yours will not be quite suited to anyone else; that each person must follow her/his own inner structures, needs, strengths and standards.
Thus Saturn is always striving for individual growth. But it is also constantly reaching out to its environment, its society. Saturnian growth is always linked with social usefulness—what can I contribute to the social whole? How can I affect my society? So sensitive is Saturn to its social environment that a strong Saturnian influence can make a person a virtual microcosm of whatever social structures and norms surround her—unless, that is, she can get to her own deepest center and tune into the person rather than the structures that seem to contain her. The question “How can I be socially useful?” presupposes a clear sense of the “I”. No one can be wholly effective unless she is functioning from a solid foundation, a solid center within the self. The Saturn Return is a good time to ask oneself—Am I creating or adapting the structures of my life to best fulfill my own needs and potential? Or am I adapting myself to fit into the structures provided for me by my society, family, or whatever?
Saturnian energy can help us to see what is happening internally and externally at any given moment and to respond (from the same root as “responsibility”) to that reality. The response is always geared toward growth—not the most pleasurable, or the easiest, or the most immediately satisfying resolution or action; but the path which will lead to the greatest ultimate development of the soul (individual) in question. Saturn’s lessons are difficult, but solidly rewarding. A Saturn reward is not a pat on the back or a passing show of approval; it is an anchor in reality, an anchor in sanity that can help stabilize and strengthen one through whatever storms life may take her. One has to work for such an anchor; one has to earn it—and it is through the process of learning Saturn lessons, or the lessons or reality, that this is done. Testing one’s limits is the way to stretch them. Thus, a period of hardship—physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual—necessitates raising one’s tolerance level and increasing one’s self-reliance. The less one needs those things which one can lose, the less fearful one becomes, the more anchored and stable within the self.
The Saturn Return is a time for self-examination. Where you’ve been cheating, restricting, or denying your true potential for spiritual growth, accept the prods that nudge you toward it. Where you’ve been fulfilling and developing your potential, accept the rewards and keep moving. Remember that reality is in a state of constant flux and it is realistic to accept change; to be able to respond to the reality of the moment in a way that feels right at that moment for yourself. Remember also that Saturnian movement is slow and steady, not sudden and spasmodic. A Saturn Return may be felt for a year or more, though its peak intensity is usually about six months or less. It is difficult to know what Saturn is doing to or for you until there is some distance and hindsight. While it’s happening, it may feel either like your life is coming together or like it’s falling apart, but it is only with the perspective of hindsight that you can wholly appreciate the new strengths and wisdom you may have gained.