Saturn, Turn, Turn

When people think of Saturn, they think of structure, authority, and discipline. But, like every planet, Saturn has a dynamic cycle that also accounts for some of our more rebellious behavior. Many people have heard of the Saturn return that comes at the predictable age of 29-ish. Saturn is our ultimate teacher, and our Saturn return is the ultimate test. The real S.A.T.’s. But when we’re in our teens, it is we who are testing Saturn. We all go through this “rebel without a cause” phase, but we don’t have to be a rebel without a clue. To better understand the Saturn return, we should observe the complete cycle.

You’ll notice I used the word “should,” which may elicit a subtle response from deep within us. Saturn rules the shoulders, where we hold most of the stress and tension in our bodies. The word “shoulder” is also a verb, almost exclusively pertaining to responsibility. We shoulder responsibilities when we do the things we should do and don’t do the things we shouldn’t do. At this point, you may notice that the words “should” and “shoulder” have a significant connection. As we go through the Saturn cycle, more responsibilities are being placed on our shoulders. We can think of this as Saturn adding stones to our basket as we go through life.

In our first Saturn cycle, discipline is primarily externalized, represented by parents, teachers, preachers, and police. There’s a significant difference between discipline and self-discipline, the former being much harder to appreciate. But in the absence of self-discipline, Saturn provides a parade of authority figures to help keep us in line. And when we’re well behaved, these authorities can reward us with more responsibility. But they’re only testing us to see how much weight we can carry. At its best, Saturn is passing on knowledge and skill as a teacher, trainer, or coach. But when challenged directly, Saturn will go to any length to enforce the rules.

Saturn gives our life a solid structure that we can observe over time. We can think of our Saturn return as a major gateway in our lives, but there are many gateways we pass through before we reach this point. And once we reach it, we simply begin the same cycle over at a more progressed level. Over the course of each Saturn cycle, we play many roles. Sometimes we make the rules, and sometimes we break them. There are times when we carry more weight and times when we shrug off all our responsibilities. Everyone follows this cycle, though some are more inclined to revolt while others are being groomed for leadership.

The Saturn Cycle (29.5 Years)

Below is a brief overview of the Saturn cycle. The times listed are exact increments of 2.45 years and should be treated as approximations. Major Saturn transits may last up to a year, and the exact times come roughly in the middle of each phase. The effects of these transits will be felt several months before and after and may reach multiple peaks in that time. To learn more about Saturn transits and how to follow them, click here.

Saturn Conjunct Natal Saturn (First 6 months)

Let’s start at the beginning, the moment we were born. When we’re at our most fragile and vulnerable, Saturn is our servant and protector. Newborn babies have no knowledge, no language, no motor skills, and no skills at all; our resume is a blank sheet of paper. And it’s a good thing because we’re not qualified for any job until we get some experience and a few solid references. Technically, Saturn is conjunct our Natal Saturn for several months following our birth. In a way, we’re like C.E.O.’s of a major corporation. We simply cry like babies, and one of our minions will decipher what we want and satiate our demands.

Saturn semi-sextile Saturn (2.45yo)

This may not be a major transit for an adult, but it’s our first dance with Saturn. We’re learning to stand on our own two feet, literally! From 2-3 years old, we begin to form the structure of our mercurial mind. As we learn our first words, we begin to define what were once vague concepts and feelings. We learn names for our parents and ourselves so that we can call each other up anytime, day or night. We’re also discovering our boundaries as we learn the words “No” and “Don’t.” Nobody likes to be told “no,” so we begin to curb our behavior to avoid confrontations with authority.

Saturn sextile Saturn (4.9yo)

We’re walking and talking at this age, learning to play, share, and interact with other children. We’re learning games, puzzles, and sports, introducing us to rules, regulations, and competition with others. We’re also beginning preschool or kindergarten and interacting with various adults from teachers’ aids to babysitters. We’re told to trust these people and to obey them as we would our parents. Our teachers introduce us to a reward and demerit system, a gentle reminder that authorities can inflict punishment and shame. We now have a weekly schedule to keep and we’re starting to look forward to Saturdays.

Saturn square Saturn (7.35yo)

We’re feeling somewhat disillusioned with authority at this age as no two adults seem to agree on anything. Now that we’ve mastered this walking and talking routine, we’re being saddled with restrictions to prevent us from wandering too far or from saying bad words. We’re learning to argue with conviction, passionately defending our rights. We’d like some say in what we eat, how we dress, and what we do in our spare time. We may be tested to see if we can handle more responsibility, but we’re likely to fail. If we had our way now, we would make many poor choices for lack of self-discipline.

Saturn trine Saturn (9.8yo)

We may now acquire some of the freedom we wanted before, and we’re eager to prove that we can handle it. We realize that our parents and teachers need our help to watch our younger siblings or grade papers after class. We’re learning skills that make us more valuable and give us some bargaining chips when negotiating with authorities. We can see the connection between freedom and responsibility, so we embrace the latter. We may complete our chores early or compete with others to see who does the best job. The crafts and skills that we acquire now could plant the seeds for a career later in life.

Saturn quincunx Saturn (12.25yo)

At this stage, we’re going through many changes, and it’s not clear how it all will land. We’re beginning to realize that there’s more to gender than we previously understood. Our parents assure us that everyone goes through this phase, but it doesn’t make us feel any better at the moment. Teachers make a special effort to keep us on the right path in this critical period, knowing that this is the calm before the storm of hormones and pheromones. Young rebels are given the benefit of the doubt and many lectures about wasting their potential. Star students are beginning to wonder if they can meet the high expectations placed upon them.

Saturn opposite Saturn (14.7yo)

Now we’re done listening to adults. We’re tired of being told what to do, and especially what not to do. We’re feeling oppressed, and our demands for more liberty are valid, but now is not the time for careful compromises. We know that we’re right, even if we’re wrong. But our parents know that we’re wrong, even if we’re right. And we’re both right, but neither side can let the other win. This rebellion is often sublimated but not subtle. It’s not what we say but how we say it. And we can say some disturbing things with the tone of our voice. No matter what we say or do, the underlying message is that our parents are no longer in charge. Viva la Revolución!

Saturn 2nd quincunx Saturn (17.15)

This is the calm after the storm, with a more agreeable power arrangement. Our parents have come to terms with our new values and our new look. As long as they treat us like adults, we’re happy to back them up. There will still be some battles, but the war is over, and the truce should hold. We may never trust our parents or teachers as we did when we were children, but we’re beginning to understand them. We might even be able to see them as they truly are, just aging children not much older than us. The roles of parent and child fade and we begin to accept each other as equals. We felt disoriented in the first Saturn quincunx, but now we believe we’ve got it all figured out.

Saturn 2nd trine Saturn (19.6)

This is a time of increased freedom and responsibility, but not a test. A great deal of liberty comes to us when we reach the legal age of adulthood. If we could legally emancipate ourselves at the age of 15, we would likely do so. But now that we have an arrangement with our parents, we may choose to stay under their roof for practical concerns. Or we may take the opportunity to get our first apartment and finally free ourselves from our parents once and for all. We may go on to college, start working our first job, or start a family. Whichever path we choose, we’ll enjoy more freedom and responsibility, whether we can handle it or not.

Saturn 2nd square Saturn (22.05)

For many, we’re legally allowed to drink when we reach the age of 21. Whatever responsibilities we took on in the last five years will be challenged by our new nightlife. We’re again feeling oppressed by bosses and landlords, but we can no longer blame our parents or expect them to solve our problems for us. This leaves a power vacuum that attracts the only authority out there that can still reign us in: Johnny Law. If we’re doing well with authority, we may be straddled with more work despite getting no raise or promotion. And if we’ve started a family, we’re beginning to play the role of stern parent to our children.

Saturn 2nd sextile Saturn (24.5)

At this time, we feel that we have found our tribe. We have a network of friends that we can count on. We may be a part of a team at work or a family at home. Whether we have children ourselves, we will feel as if we are part of a family. We can work and solve problems as a team, and have fun with the same group of people, often at the same time. This is the height of our networking skills, and we can expect opportunities to come through friends and acquaintances. We may be inspired to take up a new discipline or learn a new skill from someone we meet.

Saturn 2nd semi-sextile Saturn (26.95)

We can now see where we want to be; we just need to find a way in. We’re learning everything we can and making improvements to prepare for our moment. We’re confident that we belong, but we must prove that we are worthy. We’re focused on the next gateway but can’t help feeling as if we’re losing something. We may have lost our connection to the tribe we had just a few years earlier, or we may wonder what happened to the person we were before. But we know that there’s no going back to the life we had. We may feel as if we’re being pulled into a life of greater responsibility when all our friends are still having fun.

Saturn conjunct Saturn (29.4)

Today is the day we become officially old by our previous standards, but now we’re willing to move the goalpost into the distant future. The chances are that we’re eager to leave our youth behind and embrace our new authority. But if we still identify with the person we were at 21, or even 15, this will be a significant crisis period. The changes we’re making now would horrify our inner teenagers; it’s the ultimate betrayal of the rebel code. We may now be a stern parent or an annoying boss, or even a cop on the beat. But these changes somehow feel right to us. Our puppy phase is over, and life among the dogs can be a lot harder when you’re no longer cute.

Beyond the Saturn Return…

The Saturn cycle doesn’t end there. Instead, we begin again at a new octave in life. We can refuse to internalize discipline and continue to challenge authority, shrugging off responsibility. And we may become incarcerated and entangled in institutions, being treated like a child all over again. But if we cut our hair and get a job, Saturn will go easier on us. Whether we’re an actual prisoner or just a prisoner of circumstance, we all have the same Saturn transits. And we’ll have our second Saturn return at the age of 58 and a second Saturn opposition at 44, giving us another shot to be a revolutionary.

Whistle Blower

The second Saturn opposition is a more informed rebellion. Once we’ve seen what goes on behind closed doors, we may not like it. It may even be exactly what we suspected when we were teenagers. Twenty-nine years earlier, we were just a rebel without a clue, but now we have solid evidence of wrongdoing. It’s possible that we convinced ourselves we were helping others, letting our ambitions blind us to the truth. We may have looked the other way before, but not anymore. A whistleblower from the inside is worth a thousand protestors on the outside.

In the second Saturn opposite Saturn, we may become involved in a revolutionary group or take a position with a nonprofit organization. Whether it’s the government, corporations, or just a petty tyrant, we’re as mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore. Saturn is about structure, so even when we decide the system is corrupt, we choose to go by the book to make our grievances. But at the age of 42, we’re also having our Uranus opposite Uranus, which is more inclined to tear down and rebuild. We may feel rebellious, but Saturn will be on our side if our cause is just and we behave accordingly.

No one is above the law, not even the law. In a way, the rebel acts on Saturn’s behalf when those in power become too strict and overbearing. Or when those who don’t deserve power use it to their own ends. Whenever we push the limits, Saturn will provide a counterforce to curb our behavior. If we happen to be a petty criminal, we can expect to see the police in our future. But if we happen to be a king with no legal authority above us, there is still a force that can carry out Saturn’s justice. What Saturn can’t do with badges and handcuffs will be done with torches and pitchforks.

Saturn knows what’s good for us, even when we don’t. Sometimes it’s telling us “no” when we want to hear “yes.” But it’s more often telling us that we’ve had enough, and it’s time to stop. Saturn is about knowing when we’re satiated and saturated. Jupiter likes to fill our cup until it runneth over, but Saturn doesn’t want to waste a drop. If not for Saturn, Jupiter would fill us so full of wine and food that either our heads or bellies would explode. When Saturn isn’t speaking to us through someone else, it speaks through us to others. We may feel a bit hypocritical, but we all enforce the rules sometimes, even if we’re usually breaking them.

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