Since our most ancient ancestors lifted up onto two legs and turned their eyes upwards, people have looked to the heavens and sought divine answers from the celestial bodies. Today, most are very familiar with the zodiac signs based on their birthday, and the traits associated with that configuration. This popular astrological understanding is based on where the sun was at the moment of your birth. More advanced astrologers, however, look at the entire solar system for signs that portend a person’s fate. One of the most important heavenly bodies in astrology is Saturn. Saturn’s transition through the different sections of the sky or “houses” is often accompanied by difficult change. Every 27-29 years, the ringed planet completes a full voyage through all twelve houses and returns to the same position as our birth. The first “Saturn Returns,” as it is known among astrologers, marks an epochal transition into adulthood.
Saturn’s long trip through the Zodiac is due to the fact that it is one of the farthest planets from the sun. Saturn is the most distant planet that can be seen by the naked eye. Indeed, until William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781, Saturn was the most distant planet known to man. This means that for most of human history and, thus, astrological history, the planet was the limit of astrology, associated with both time and death. It is also, through its connection to Kronos in Greek mythology, associated with fathers. When life expectancy was much lower, Saturn returned to its position in people’s birth signs for the first time often as their fathers were passing away. This was a time of difficulty, leading to feelings of being lost or untethered, but also a time when individuals came into their own and found their true calling. Much of this carries over today.
A person’s twenties are a time of openness, experimentation, and uncertainty. By the time we reach 27 or so, we may begin to question our directions, our careers, our friends, and all the choices that have brought us to this point. This can be a difficult period for so many people because it is a time of true self-discovery. The window of youth closes and with it the options that once seemed limitless. While frightening, it is often necessary to have Saturn break us down in this way so that we can emerge into adulthood with purpose and hopefully clarity. Many people see a reverse to this in the “27 club,” the list of famous people who died before turning 28. The idea is that these people, a list that includes Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Robert Johnson, were born with the purpose and completed their destinies without toiling through the period of discovery known as youth. For the rest of us, Saturn’s first return marks the transition from youth to adulthood, a period that lasts until our late 50s. It is often said that first we learn, and then we do, and then we teach.