The end of your twenties could be a time for celebration as you hit a milestone decade. Or it can spark an identity crisis/existential meltdown. But the latter may be less about the anxiety of getting older — it might be the Saturn Return.
“Saturn Return means the planet Saturn has made a full rotation around the sun, back to the exact location it was when you were born,” says Andrea Scalisi. “It takes roughly 29 years for this slow-moving planet to make a full trip around the sun,” she adds. Saturn also takes a few years to move from one sign to the next, which means you “get to experience firsthand the no-nonsense life lessons Saturn has to offer” in the last couple of years of your twenties.
We’ll be honest: Saturn Return isn’t easy. But, it also gets a bad rap.
Up ahead, of you’re in your late twenties or older, we break down what a Saturn Return is and how it can affect you, how to navigate it, and why it is one of the most important times of your life, astrologically speaking.
What Is Saturn Return and When Does it Occur?
Before diving deeper into Saturn Return, it’s important to understand what an astrological return, in general, means — and it all starts with your birth chart. “A birth chart is like a snapshot of the sky at the moment a person is born,” says Ashley Cramer. This chart “shows the placement of the planets and other celestial bodies [such as the moon and nodes] on the zodiac wheel,” she adds. Cramer explains that the birth chart is essentially a cosmic blueprint because the planetary placements give vital information and insights about an individual’s innate personality and traits.
While birth charts don’t change as they represent a moment in time, planets are always in transit. Cramer says this essentially means that they travel around the zodiac wheel. “A ‘return’ happens when a planet has traveled around the zodiac wheel and returns to its exact placement on your birth chart,” Cramer explains. Although, in Western astrology, a planet’s return also coincides with “the time it takes a planet to orbit the sun,” she adds that this is why each planet has a different return time.
Okay, back to Saturn Return. As Scalisi mentioned, Saturn Return is a period of no-nonsense life lessons in your late twenties. And while Saturn Return occurs when you’re around age 29, Cramer says that most people start to feel their Saturn Return kick in at around age 27 or 28 and can feel its effects into their early thirties.
Why the First Saturn Return Matters
According to Scalisi, the first Saturn Return is “an energetic rite of passage into adulthood.” This time helps strengthen your sense of self and shines a light on areas that aren’t a true reflection of who you are — making it easier to let go of what doesn’t serve you. “While your first Saturn Return can usher in some of life’s most uncomfortable growing pains, it will also empower you to take practical steps toward building a strong foundation for your future,” says Scalisi.
Cramer likes to call this astrological period a “plot twist” because it can be a time of major redirection or future-firming decisions. “Think about what’s typically happening for people in their late 20s, the time of the first Saturn Return,” she notes. “They may find themselves taking on more authority as they’ve climbed the corporate ladder, or they may realize they’re on the wrong path and change careers entirely,” she adds. During this time, many people also get married or separate from their partners, buy houses, or have kids. While this isn’t the case for everyone, this age range is generally “a period of significant maturity and of fully entering adulthood,” says Cramer.
In astrology, Saturn is all about karmic roles and responsibilities. “You can think of this as the things you’re here on Earth to do, learn, and accomplish,” says Cramer, adding that Saturn is also a planet of self-mastery. “Saturn wants to see you succeed, but Saturn’s lessons come as tough love,” she notes. “Saturn teaches by presenting obstacles and adversity meant to show your strengths and weaknesses,” she adds.
While it might feel like you’re getting kicked in the pants during this first Saturn Return, Cramer says it’s not all as bad as it seems. “In the end, the lessons will push you toward the person you’re meant to be, and the effects will last a lifetime,” she notes.
What Your Second Saturn Return Means
“While your first Saturn Return is about you growing as an individual, the second Saturn Return is about legacy — the mark you’ll leave on the world and reaching for unlived dreams,” says Cramer. This Saturn Return typically occurs between the ages of 57 and 60, when many big aspects of your life (such as childcare and career) start to slow down, and you begin to look at the next chapter of your life. “A common regret people have at the end of their lives is that they did what was expected of them instead of following their truth,” says Cramer. “The second Saturn Return is meant to reconnect people with their sense of purpose and set them up for meaningful later years,” she adds.
During this time, “Saturn Return will once again shine a light on every area of life that needs to be restructured,” says Scalisi. “But, this time, your rich life experience, wisdom, and natural resilience will come into play as you reflect on your shifting priorities,” she adds.
In addition to the first two Saturn Returns, those lucky enough to live long lives will experience a third Saturn Return in their early 80s.
How to Survive Your Saturn Return, According to Astrologists
While Saturn Return tends to lean on the chaotic side of things, not all hope is lost for these few years.
Prioritize mindfulness practices
“Saturn’s energy is quite grounding and intense,” says Scalisi. She recommends balancing this out by prioritizing mindfulness practices. “You’ll want to stay connected to your intuition through meditation, yoga, nature walks, or anything else that raises your vibration,” she explains.
Saturn Return can have its ups and downs, and when you’re stressed, one thing that can help you re-center is to say “thank you.” According to Scalisi, you don’t even need to mean it. “There’s something about saying ‘thank you for this ridiculous mess’ that unlocks a resilience inside of you and helps you remember that challenges often lead to great blessings,” she explains. In addition to being thankful for the chaos, try writing down three things you are grateful for each day. Doing so will help you recalibrate and focus on the good.
Invest in yourself
“Saturn Return is all about channeling your ambitions and taking practical steps toward positive change,” says Scalisi. “So, if you can embrace it, you’ll be way ahead of the game,” she notes. During this time, set new career goals, start a retirement fund, go back to school (or take a course in something you’ve always wanted to try), or plan your bucket list. “Saturn’s influence will complement these activities beautifully,” says Scalisi.
Be open to change
“Saturn Return calls you home to yourself in many ways,” Scalisi explains. “So, give yourself permission to release what no longer serves you to make room for upgrades,” she adds.
Focus on the big picture
Going through your Saturn Return can, in some ways, feel like an existential crisis. According to Cramer, it “pushes you to think of themes like duty, life path, and ambition.” However, during this time, focusing on the bigger picture can help get you through. “Keeping a wide perspective will help you see day-to-day challenges as part of a bigger story,” Cramer explains.
Strengthen your intuition
“Saturn Return connects you to your life purpose, and nobody can tell you what that is — not family, friends, significant others, neighbors, or strangers on the internet,” says Cramer. “The answers to that lie within you, so get quiet and listen to your inner voice,” she adds. Some ways of doing this include meditation or meditative practices like creative expression, long walks in nature, and journaling.
Don’t be afraid to ask deep questions
According to Cramer, questions like “Who am I?, What do I truly want from life? and Why am I here?” are the perfect questions to ask during this time. “Saturn Return gives you an extra energetic connection to your sense of self,” she explains. “Ask, and you’re likely to find some answers,” she adds.
Remember you’re not alone
“One hundred percent of people who make it to 30 years old have gone through a Saturn Return,” says Cramer, adding that they all survived, and you will, too. If you have friends around your age, it helps to talk with others about their experiences and how they are navigating this astrological rollercoaster.
In addition to these tips, there are a few great books you can read to learn more about your Saturn Return. Saturn Return Survival Guide: Navigating This Cosmic Rite of Passage by Lisa Stardust is an excellent place to start. It deep-dives into the world of Saturn Returns and helps you better understand the astrological event and learn how to respond to your own experience. The Little Book of Saturn: Astrological Gifts, Challenges, and Returns by Aliza Einhorn is another great read on this subject. It’s all about the life lessons and personal growth that stems from Saturn Return.
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