There’s a lot of hype in the online community around the dreaded “Saturn return”. But just what is a Saturn return and why does everyone get so wigged out about it?
I’ll be honest, writing this article feels both cathartic and a little like the blind leading the blind because I am literally in the peak of my own Saturn return at the time of this writing. Hopefully my very fresh experiences will lend some insight into why this is such a pivotal time in life and such an important period to give yourself grace through.
Okay, So What Exactly Is a Saturn Return?
First off, let’s break down what the Saturn return actually is. Every planet in the solar system eventually returns to the degree of the zodiac it was at when you were born.
Some planets do this every year or every couple of years, like Mercury, Venus, and Mars. Some planets will never return to where they were when you were born within your lifetime, like Neptune and Pluto.
The planet Saturn returns to the degree it was at when you were born approximately once every 29 years, because Saturn takes about three decades to orbit the sun and move through all twelve zodiac signs.
The three year period when Saturn is in the same sign it was in when you were born, and especially the few months when it is close to the actual degree, are known as your Saturn return.
The first Saturn return occurs when you are about 29 years old, which is when we mature and step into our fully adult self (which usually means major life changes). The second Saturn return happens when you are about 68 years old and the third Saturn return occurs around 87 years old.
The second return ushers in a season of wisdom and the third and final return, (unless you live to be 112!), asks you to step into a phase of surrender. These are pivotal moments when we mature and begin a new chapter in life.
In astrology, Saturn rules over responsibility, maturity, and boundaries. It’s all about taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions and the impact that we have on the world around us. Saturn can also be the planet of restriction, which can make it feel oppressive and authoritative at times, but this is truly the shadow of Saturn.
Although the Saturn return period is often one of uncomfortable growth, unforeseen obstacles, and destabilizing changes, we emerge out the other side with a much greater sense of self-understanding and self-responsibility.
How to Find Out When Your Saturn Returns Will Be: A Saturn Return Calculator
I know you have burning questions now like “when is my Saturn return?” and “when does my Saturn return end?”
Your Saturn return begins when Saturn enters the sign it was in when you were born, which could start anytime between 26-29 years old. The peak of your Saturn return marks when Saturn is within about 10 degrees of the degree it was at when you were born, with the exact return occuring the day it reaches the exact degree.
It is also possible that you may experience a few exact returns over the course of several months, if Saturn turns retrograde and moves back and forth over the degree it is at in your birth chart.
I highly recommend Astro Seek, which has what I believe to be the best Saturn return calculator to find out when all of your exact returns will be. Click here to calculate your Saturn return.
Here’s a handy list of the general period of your Saturn return, based on your Saturn sign. If your Saturn return occurred within the last 10 years, I’ve listed the previous Saturn transit dates for you to reflect back on:
- Saturn in Scorpio: October 2012 to September 2015
- Saturn in Sagittarius: September 2015 to December 2017
- Saturn in Capricorn: December 2017 to December 2020
- Saturn in Aquarius: December 2020 to March 7, 2023
- Saturn in Pisces: March 7, 2023 to February 2026
- Saturn in Aries: February 2026 to April 2028
- Saturn in Taurus: April 2028 to May 2030
- Saturn in Gemini: May 2030 to July 2032
- Saturn in Cancer: July 2032 to May 2035
- Saturn in Leo: May 2035 to July 2037
- Saturn in Virgo: July 2037 to September 2039
- Saturn in Libra: September 2039 to July 2042
Those of us with Saturn in Aquarius are just ending our Saturn return now and those with Saturn in Pisces are just beginning your return.
Saturn in Aquarius folks, like me, have been learning how to relate to our communities and social groups in healthier ways, with stronger boundaries, and clearer expectations of one another. We’ve been learning to protect our close circle and to value honesty and radical self-responsibility.
Saturn in Pisces folks will be learning over the next few years to protect the ways you share your energy, empathy, and compassion with others. You may need to set strong boundaries around who you are willing to allow into your sphere and who is worthy of receiving your energy and commitment.
Surviving Your Saturn Return
There is a lot of fear-mongering around the Saturn return so you may have been dreading this time. Instead, I want to invite you to see the return as something that’s here to help you grow into who you’re really meant to be.
It will be hard work and it likely won’t be very comfortable, but the planets, even Saturn, are not here just to mess with us or to hurt us.
The planets are our cosmic guides, reflecting back to us what we already know deep down: that we have deep wells of strength, resolve, and self-love to draw on, even when the world around us feels restrictive and confining.
As someone deep in my own Saturn return in Aquarius right now, here are my top tips for surviving this season of life, (especially if you are about to begin your Saturn return in Pisces from March 2023 to February 2026!)
1. Practice as much self-care as possible.
The Saturn return is all about taking responsibility for ourselves and in our patriarchal, capitalistic society, we often think that means moving out, paying bills, buying a house, starting a family, or getting a promotion at work.
It certainly can mean all of those things and the ways that we traditionally demonstrate maturity in our society do tend to come up during this time. I have lots of friends who moved or bought a house, went through a breakup, started a business, or had a baby during their Saturn return.
However, the Saturn return is as much about taking responsibility for your own energy and for taking care of yourself as it is about proving to the world around you that you’re a grown-ass adult.
Self-care should become a non-negotiable as you move through your Saturn return, especially self-care that doesn’t just pamper your body but that truly nourishes your soul and your mental health, (like starting a spiritual practice, learning to read tarot, or going to therapy.)
2. When things feel difficult or heavy, create space for yourself to grieve.
Saturn is often associated with grief, not because it causes us to experience grief, (nothing in astrology is cause and effect, only reflections), but because it rules over rites of passage.
The Saturn return is a rite of passage that ushers us into maturity. But rites of passage, however joyful or important, are not just a new beginning – they are also an ending.
Take time to grieve the person that you once were, the younger version of you. It’s okay to wish you had fewer responsibilities or to feel like you were more carefree before you moved through these experiences. It’s okay to embrace the new, more serious version of yourself, while still holding a place in your heart for the old you.
Grieving might look like doing a ritual to burn an old photo of yourself and release that version of you, it might look like slow mornings and long baths to soothe your heart, or it might just mean allowing yourself to feel the sadness, knowing that it’s not here forever.
3. Don’t live in dread or fear.
With all the negativity out there about the Saturn return, it’s no wonder many of us come into this time in our life with a sense of dread. But as I mentioned earlier, the Saturn return is not here just to mess with you, it’s here to help you grow.
Phases like this can feel endless, like they drag on forever, but the peak of your return will be no more than a few months and the return in total is no more than three years. Instead of feeling fearful of what could happen during your Saturn return and instead of feeling like this period will never end, focus on the future.
Allow yourself to daydream about what could be possible on the other side of this experience, in your 30s. Everyone always says their 30s are so much better than their 20s and that’s because those experiences are on the other side of the lessons and growth experienced during the Saturn return.
Blessings are coming, even if it feels hard right now.
4. Get an astrology reading.
Whether you’re a seasoned astrology buff with a favorite go-to astrologer or you’ve never had a reading in your life, as you approach your Saturn return, I highly recommend getting a professional reading.
Although the themes of responsibility and maturity are universal for anyone navigating their Saturn return, there is so much more nuance to be found in your unique chart. The sign and house you have Saturn in tells you much more about what areas of life your Saturn return is likely to impact and how this experience will show up for you personally.
You can also get a Saturn return chart reading which is an interpretation of the chart that is generated by the Astro Seek calculator linked above.
This is a reading not just of where Saturn is in your own chart, but a forecast of the next few decades of your life and how you’ll be learning to set, enforce, and embody your new boundaries.
Supporting Loved Ones through a Saturn Return
Although the Saturn return is a deeply personal astrological event that is mostly experienced internally, Saturn is nonetheless what we call a “transpersonal” planet.
That means it doesn’t just rule over an aspect of your personality, but rather over ways of being in the world and in society – how you relate to others.
The growth and lessons learned from the Saturn return happen on the inside, but they are often a reflection of events in your relationships, whether they be with your partner, friends, family, coworkers, or community.
This means that for the person navigating their Saturn return, their relationships are highlighted, in focus – and often challenged. Our friend group and social circle becomes tighter and more intimate during this time, as people who are unaligned fall away from us.
If you have a loved one who is going through their Saturn return, it might feel painful to witness at times. They may seem to be struggling or even floundering. The very best thing you can give them is love, support, and understanding.
During the Saturn return, we are learning to take responsibility for ourselves so our inner voice tends to be extra critical and focused on where growth is needed. Outside criticism or critique, however well-intended, is likely to not be well-received during this time.
Don’t try to help them fix their mistakes without being asked; don’t offer unsolicited advice. Truly, just be there for them and as they move through this important rite of passage, they will feel even closer to you for letting them grow.
To be quite honest with you, the peak of my Saturn return has brought a lot of unexpected and initially unwelcome changes into my life. There has been grief, loss, and quite a lot of tears.
But I’ve also learned who my truest friends are, (and painfully, who some of my friends definitely were not). I’ve learned what it truly means to love and stand by someone, and I’m beginning to learn what it means to soften and surrender, rather than holding so tightly to control.
I’ve started traditional individual therapy for the first time in my life and started prioritizing self-care in a whole new way, (even as someone who literally wrote a book on self-care).
The lessons will continue to unfold over the coming weeks, months, and even years, as Saturn’s medicine is slow and long-term, but I know they are all in my highest good – and that the lessons of your Saturn return will be in your highest good as well.
Have you experienced your Saturn return? We’d love to hear your account such as lessons learned and self-care practices that worked best for you!