Navigating the Gifts and Challenges of Your Saturn Return

While all the planets play a role in our soul’s evolution, only Saturn has earned the title of the Great Teacher. And while Saturn is always teaching us, it may not be until our first Saturn return that we experience the full extent of its transformative power. This much maligned planet takes anywhere from 27 to 29 years to move through all twelve signs, meaning you can expect to experience your Saturn return once every 29 years or around the ages of 27-29, 56-60 and 84-90.

At these times, you may make important decisions, take on more responsibility or radically alter your lifestyle, profession or personal life. You may become more aware of your destiny to a greater extent than ever before and begin to see your responsibilities with sharpened clarity. There may be a clearer understanding of your real needs, capabilities and creative potentials. Your Saturn return can help to solidify your potential for worldly success and authority and grant you specific insights about the role you are to play in the world.

Fundamentally, Saturn challenges you to grow up and figure out how to make your dreams real and to let go of unrealistic ones. It is a time to make a realistic commitment to your future goals. Before your Saturn return, many potential career paths may seem feasible; perhaps you could be a concert pianist, an Olympic swimmer or a celebrated author. After your Saturn return, you understand that narrowing your focus down to your own unique mix of talents and passions is the only way forward.

Well, all of that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? So how exactly did this notorious transit earn a reputation for being a time of crisis and pain? To answer that question, we need to zoom out and consider just exactly what soul growth entails. The soul’s evolutionary journey is one of discovering and embodying its true nature. It is a path of remembering, reclaiming and returning to the wholeness that you are and living an authentic life aligned with that knowing.

If you are a vegetarian, Buddhist or feminist, you naturally live a life that reflects those values, and seek to bring your inner and outer worlds into harmony. But what if you proclaim to want a loving relationship but find yourself attracted to emotionally unavailable partners? Or delight in mysticism and the liminal space between worlds, but resign yourself to a career that is predicated on a Newtonian worldview? What if you are full of creativity and imagination, but never quite seem to manifest your genius in the real world?

Well, then, you must be willing to practice Saturnian patience and self-restraint long enough to hear this message: Your Saturn return is not out to get you. Nor is it here to make you happy. It is simply here to make you conscious. But conscious of what exactly? Well, maybe of the scared inner child who doesn’t think she deserves true love, or the internalized parental voice that laughs at your love of the mystical or your fear of failure disguised as a creative block. What if the outer world reflected the inner so unfailingly, that the only way to overcome these seemingly external problems was to meet their inner cause? And what if you needed – shall we say – a little Saturnian shakeup – to get you to look in that internal direction?

Maybe you think you can outwit Saturn. Heaven knows we surely try. Maybe you’ve put up all sorts of defenses across the different houses of the zodiac. Perhaps you’ve tried the first house tactic of overcompensating for your pain by puffing up your chest and emphasizing your strengths, the second house tactic of numbing your emotional discomfort through sensory overload, the third house tactic of intellectualizing your difficult emotions instead of actually feeling them or the fourth house tactic of playing the victim and blaming external sources for your inner woes. Or maybe to switch it up, you take a twelfth house dissociation and withdrawal route or an eighth house repression and resistance approach.

Well, that all sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? And while Saturn is interested in effort, productivity and concrete results, it is certainly not interested in inefficiency. It can be fierce, but it is not plodding. And here it is, back full circle around the cosmic wheel to its origin point in your chart, asking: Do you want to keep going in circles or are you ready to grow in spirals?

So there you are, still in an Un reciprocal partnership, except now Saturn has made the emotional pain of feeling unwanted so unbearable that you’re finally forced to confront it. As you do so, you come to understand that when you buried your hurting inner child, you did not bury her dead, but alive and that she was just waiting for you to become conscious enough to listen to her. It turns out, she has some important messages to share about your current relationship predicament. Maybe your partner is reflecting your own self-rejection back to you, she whispers. And there’s Saturn, gifting you with the responsibility of becoming the loving and wise parent every child deserves.

Or there you are, wondering how to find a career that reflects your love of all that is transcendent and mysterious, except now Saturn has turned up the heat to such a degree that it’s difficult to repress the knowing that you were built for a more holy function than to jam your square peg into a round hole. You feel the amplified longing in your heart to sustain yourself by doing what you love and also hear the voice of your judgemental inner critic. Maybe you are still listening because you agree that you don’t deserve better. Thankfully, Saturn offers you the consistency and tenacity to build up your positive inner voice and speak to yourself in loving and encouraging ways. Through a daily ritual of self-kindness, you signal to your unconscious that you are ready for external changes. And with the help of Saturnian discipline and self-determination, you begin to pave a new career path. Maybe it will require a brave resignation, going back to school, or working a bridge job while you cultivate your skills. No matter – now you know you are worthy of the hard work of being true to yourself.

Or there you are, wondering why you have so much trouble birthing creative projects in the world. Perhaps you’ve told yourself the issue is an oversaturated marketplace or a lack of time, resources or skills. But what if all your excuses can be boiled down to fear? A fear of success, a fear of failure or maybe a fear of being yourself? So along comes Saturn, amping up these fears until they become paralyzing. Until your engine of inspiration comes to a standstill because you’ve stopped yourself at every turn. Until you have no choice but to make a different choice. So, you seek out therapy, meditation or maybe some breathing practices. Little by little, you find ways to feel your fear without going unconscious and to transmute it into greater energy, excitement and creative inspiration. You reclaim more of yourself, and you share more of your gifts with the world. Like a loving parent, you push yourself through the creative block, because you realize that no one else is going to do it for you.

Seeing through such illusions, defenses and coping mechanisms only happens through greater awareness, and awareness often doesn’t come without some measure of pain. It hurts to have the rug pulled out from under you. But it hurts more to not fully blossom; to hold back the most self-actualized version of yourself. The gift of Saturn is its unrelenting fierceness. It doesn’t let up until you’ve taken greater responsibility for your life. It doesn’t give up until you’ve built something substantial that withstands the test of time. Whether you’re building a committed relationship with your inner child, a greater sense of self-worth or a deeper capacity for self-expression, you no longer have the luxury of hiding from yourself.

If you’ve been living a life of integrity, where you have kept your focus on the inner world as the true source of your power and agency, then Saturn may reaffirm your effort with rewards. You may feel a renewed sense of purpose, land your dream job or meet your ideal partner. Or maybe you will simply feel the unparalleled satisfaction of being the sole authority of your own life. Regardless of how you do on your Saturnian report card, you will come away with one powerful lesson: The cure for the pain has always been in the pain. Sometimes, you just need a Great Teacher to point you in the right direction.

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