The Astrological Concept Of Saturn Return Could (Probably) Explain The Changes Of Your Late 20s

Saturn Return is the perfect astrological explanation for the period of reckoning that is your late 20s

The Astrological Concept Of Saturn Return Could (Probably) Explain The Changes Of Your Late 20s

by Vicky Spratt |
Published on

I'm speaking to legendary astrologer Shelley von Strunckel as I, almost exactly, turn 29 and a half years old. Of late, I have been feeling like my life is on what I can only describe as a shifting axis. I’m not really the person I was at 21, 24 or even 27 anymore but nor do I feel like someone who’s about to turn 30. Turning 30 is a milestone marker around which so much of our lives is supposed to calcify; if you weren’t a proper person at 25,26,27,28 or 29 there’s a sense that you’d better have your shit together by 30. More than this, the emphasis that our society places on turning 30 can also be completely suffocating at times: 30 under 30 lists, entrepreneurs who are ONLY 21, not a woman over 50 in sight on our TV or cinema screens.

Feeling simultaneously a bit unsettled and certain that I need to move forwards, beginning a new phase in my life, I discover the astrological concept of Saturn Return. In life, there are three types of people. People who read and buy into their horoscopes wholesale, people who don’t go near that ‘rubbish’ and those who don’t totally get astrology but like believe in it anyway.

I fall firmly into the latter group in this loose taxonomy of humankind. There’s a lot about our existence that can’t really be explained and I don’t think it’s totally ridiculous that how where, when and at what time you are born aligns with the position of the planets in our solar system could have a bearing on what sort of person you are. I don’t necessarily believe in fate or predeterminism but, I guess, what I’m saying is, I’m not closed off the idea that there’s more to all of this than science, reason and logic have got covered off. After all, our position in relation to the sun is responsible for something as fundamental as gravity.

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There are many reasons why 30 is a milestone, a marker for becoming the person you’re going to be in the next decade of your life. I was, then, comforted when I discovered that my current period of change corresponded almost exactly with when multiple websites seemed to think my Saturn Return was happening. The exact age at which you will experience this depends on where Saturn was when you were born, and your first return will be between the ages of 27 and 30.

At the start of our conversation Shelley, whose columns and horoscopes I’ve been reading since I was a pre-teen picking up newspapers when my parents had finished with them, warns me about Saturn Return (which sounds more ominous than I mean it to). This is not, she says, a light fluffy bit of astrology and I might not like what I was going to hear and so, reader, to you I extend the same courtesy. This isn’t all love and light, love and light, everything’s going to be alright but, nonetheless, it’s worth exploring. As with everything in life, Shelley says when it comes to your Saturn Return, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

The Debrief: So, first things first, what is a Saturn Return?

Shelley Von Strunckel: ‘We’re all familiar with the twelve signs in astrology, but there’s also the planets. Each planet symbolises a type of energy and this actually goes back to mythology. For instance, Mercury is the planet of communication, just like the Greek God was. The moon is the planet of femininity just as Selene was the Goddess of the Feminine. Mars is the planet of energy and warriors.’

‘Saturn is the planet of focus and Saturn has a slightly grim reputation because it isn’t just about focus, it’s about the price you pay if you don’t focus. We’re talking the school of reality here. Obviously each of the planets circles around the Earth and the zodiac, they go around and around occasionally going retrograde like Mercury and Venus.’

‘Mars takes two years to go through all of the signs of the zodiac or to complete an orbit of the earth. Saturn, however, takes about 28.5 years. Thus, when you are about 28 and a half or 29, Saturn returns to the place where it was when you were born.’

**The Debrief: Ok that makes sense. What does my Saturn Return mean? **

Shelley Von Strunckel: ‘Saturn is the grown-up planet. If you don’t pay your rent, Saturn says “not my problem” planet. It’s very much about facing plain, old, unidealistic reality. And, at the time of the Saturn return many people make changes.’

The Debrief: What sort of changes do people make in their Saturn Return? I’ve heard stories of people leaving relationships, quitting jobs and starting businesses!

Shelley Von Strunckel: ‘Someone might say, for instance, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to be a dancer”. Well, you can’t be a dancer if you don’t work out and train. “Oh, I’ve always wanted to be a psychologist”. So, when did you sign up for the course? It’s that. That’s Saturn Return. “I’ve always wanted to find the perfect partner”. Well, then why do you keep dating people know are bad for you?!'

‘Saturn Return is that reality. Meet Saturn, meet reality. Meet your Saturn Return, meet grown up reality. Many people do indeed change their line of work; they get out of something. If they’re in a really bad relationship or partnership, they get out in their Saturn Return.’

The Debrief: So, if we make changes around the time of our Saturn Return is it because we are forced to?

Shelley Von Strunckel: ‘Think of it this way: sometimes events will force you into awareness. It might appear that something bad is happening or had happened but, actually, it’s just a part of you asking for attention and saying “that was swell in your twenties but now that you’re looking ahead it’s time to grow up”. That is why I call Saturn the “growing up planet”. This is your period of looking ahead. You’ve run out of excuses. If you want to do something, you can’t say “well, I couldn’t because”. This is also the period when you cannot bail out. For each generation, they must face up to the particular area where they collectively want to bail out.’

The Debrief: I have been feeling like I need to get on and do the things I want to do. I do feel a separation or, perhaps, it’s a friction between the different versions of me that I have been and the person I’d like to become.

Shelley Von Strunckel: ‘There’s a lovely quote from Gertrude Stein who talked about ‘the twenty-ninth year’. The quote is this: “the twenty-ninth year is the year when we separate great impossibilities from small, hard realities.” She puts this better than anyone else could. If you want to do something, that means you actually have to do it.’

‘We live in a very empirical world which tells you what to expect. However, the sort of existential questioning that you’re talking about…that state is really what you’re describing. The process has to do with looking in the mirror. Sometimes things will happen which will pick you up by the scruff of the neck and say “excuse me, get real” but this is another way of forcing you to question.’

The Debrief: Is there anything I should look out for in my Saturn Return or is there any sort of preparation I can do?

Shelley Von Strunckel: ‘Persistent obstacles that piss you off actually state where you’re not stepping up and facing things. Persistent dreams that you have excuses for not pursuing or unfair circumstances that force you to face up to or deal with something. These might seem unfair at the time but it’s actually Saturn coming along and saying “excuse me, there’s something I’d like you to know.” Each of them is about an uncomfortable truth.’

‘I became an astrologer in my twenty-ninth year. You go from saying “I could do it” to realising “if I don’t do this now, then, when will I?” And that is the great impossibility becoming a small, hard reality. So, sometimes even events which seem horrible are turning points. The break-up of a partnership, losing one particular job, possibly in a field you thought was a dream, and discovering that it was something else you were supposed to be doing.’

‘So, part two of the Saturn Return is that you close a door and another one opens.’

The Debrief: Do I have free will in any of this or is my Saturn Return going to ride roughshod over me?

Shelley Von Strunckel: ‘Well, this is crucial. Because we lived in a science-based world where we are told what to think and what is going to happen if you mix X with X, we have a tendency to think that if we read something we are going to be told what will happen. But you have free will. The Saturn Return is about becoming a grown up and realising that you have free will and you are responsible. This is the key: in being responsible, you have a choice. That’s the tricky bit because that’s what some people are afraid of. They don’t want to be responsible. Well, too bad!’

The Debrief: Ok, I’m into this. It doesn’t sound so bad. Finally, how does Saturn Return affect different star signs?

Shelley Von Strunckel: ‘Of course, an Aries will process the information and react differently to a Taurus, who will react differently to a Gemini. So, while the Saturn position may be the same and indicate that they’re having to wrestle with being a grown up, the way they do it will be reflected by their sign. It’s about the character that you bring to this particular party called the Saturn Return. It’s a bit like the metaphor of the rainy day. Did you look at the weather report? Did you bring an umbrella? Did you plan a picnic anyway thinking “oh, it will be fine!”. Everyone is dealing with the rainy day, but how did you deal with it? And this takes us back to the free will part: there’s knowing the situation and then there’s recognising it and, then, there’s how you deal with it.’

Ultimately, the concept of Saturn Return is daunting but oddly comforting. It’s not only about embracing reality but making your dreams a reality or, at least, figuring out whether that’s even an option as much as it is about making important changes. Growing up doesn’t have to mean giving up on those dreams, it doesn’t have to mean settling down and it doesn’t have to mean ticking all the boxes and killing yourself to get on a 30 under 30 influencer list. No, it means looking at yourself in the mirror and seriously asking whether you're happy. It’s about figuring out what you want and working out how to make it happen.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

Age of Aquarius: Can Astrology Explain Why The World's So Crazy Right Now?

Are Horoscopes Really A Load Of Old Bollocks?

What Is Numerology?

Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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