Once a person gets past the very basics of astrology, he or she discovers transits — how the movements of the planets in the sky right now interact with where they were at birth, thus shaping the present and future. And before too long, that person hears about “the Saturn Return.” It’s at this point where some people get put off by the subject, and others come to fear astrology: if you want to look at life in morbid terms, that next upcoming Saturn transit is like a scene in a movie where two people are sitting in a restaurant talking and neither realizes there’s a ticking time bomb under the table — and we in the audience know how much time is left on it, but the people in the movie don’t even know it’s there.
Admittedly, Saturn transits aren’t usually a whole lot of fun… but they’re certainly necessary. Understanding your Saturn Cycles is like understanding the stages of growth in life itself: it helps you both accept the inevitable and plan for it in order to make your life run more smoothly.
Most people get to experience two (or if they’re lucky, three) complete Saturn Cycles in their lifetime. Saturn takes about 27-29 years to go around the Zodiac once… starting at the position it’s in when you are born, then proceeding through the waxing sextile, square and trine until it reaches the opposition… then continuing on through the waning aspects until the ages of 27-29, when the Saturn Return happens. Although the exact timing varies from person to person, this divides your life up into distinct stages, and having a look at how the first Cycle unfolds can tell us a lot about how the next one will go, and how well we are adapting to life’s challenges.
Saturn is, after all, challenging. Saturn sets the bar higher each time, and you either jump over it… or you crash. Let’s see how this plays out over the course of a typical person’s first thirty years of life.
All ages are approximate. As with everything else in life: your mileage may vary.
Age Zero: Natal Saturn
It was a pretty good ride while it lasted, being in a temperature-controlled room 24/7, being fed through a tube in your belly, and learning how to kick and wiggle your fingers. Then there was an incredibly awkward squeezing, and you found yourself in a world with hunger and cold breezes and loud noises and too much light. It’s just a good thing that Nice Lady keeps showing up to feed you and keep you warm and sing to you, otherwise this would be Hell. Generally though, the Nice Lady keeps showing up more or less on time, so Life goes on. And this place isn’t ALL bad: there are interesting new things to look at and to listen to and to chew on, so it could be worse, I suppose.
Ages Three-Four: The Waxing Sextile
“Time to launch Operation: Infinite Cookies!”
You’ve learned that there are Rules to both your physical and social Universes, and that there can be unpleasant consequences if you violate them. But those Rules can be worked with, and negotiated with, and even violated if you’re smart about it… and that you can gain from doing so. If you put Roller Ducky om on the kitchen counter next to the fridge, then slide the chair over to the counter, then get on the chair and climb onto the counter — make sure no one is watching! — then climb on to Roller Ducky, then onto the top of the fridge, you’ll be able to reach those cookies on the top shelf. The tyranny of “no cookies before supper” will be overthrown forever, and you will rule your Universe.
And then — sometimes — you learn that standing on top of Roller Ducky can be a really, really Bad Idea. Or maybe it will work and you’ll forget to hide the evidence and you’ll get in trouble for that instead… but who has time to think that far ahead anyway? Either way, temporary triumph seems pretty certain. You are, after all, wise and experienced and capable. And: awww yeah… cookies.
Ages Seven-Eight: The Waxing Square
“That’s not fair, I hate you, and I’m adopted!”
Whereas being in an orderly Universe with rules and predictable people was once a comfort, it’s now turning into a drag. The regular feedings to prevent hunger pains has become Tuesday Night Brussels Sprouts Night. The comfort of knowing when Mom would be around has become being nagged to turn off your light and go to sleep every night. The only way to overthrow this nightmarish system is to… hmmm… get lots of money. That way you could live on your own and order pizza every day. Let’s see… famous people have money, so you’ll just, um… learn to play the drums and join a rock band and get famous! Right on, it’s a plan!
Wait: Mom won’t buy me a drum kit because she already bought me that violin and I only played it for two days? Mom’s some kind of monster. This sucks. I hate everything and stuff. You barely remember Roller Ducky, but are still resentful Mom gave it away.
Ages 10-11 The Waxing Trine
“When I grow up I’m gonna be a Rock Star AND a Veterinarian!”
You’re starting to fulfill the promise of becoming the person your Birth Chart indicated you could be. There are still obstacles, sure… but you’re learning how to work with them. You’ve figured out that long-term planning can actually pan out if you stick with it, but that sometimes a lucky break or two along the way can help. And persistence in the face of obstacles can pay off too: Mom finally broke down and got you that drum kit. And your pet hamster Hercules is pretty awesome too, so if you keep practicing on those drums and don’t forget to feed Hercules so he doesn’t starve to death, you’ll be a rock star and a veterinarian both.
THEN you’ll have lots of money, and you’ll live in a big mansion on a farm filled with animals and have a drum kit in every room of your house and things will be as great as you dreamed they could be. Also, you made three bucks selling Roller Ducky at a Yard Sale, and that felt good… but you were filled with a strange emotion you didn’t have a name for. Later on, you’ll discover it’s called “nostalgia.”
Ages 14-15: The Saturn Opposition
“You suck! School sucks! I hate my life! Everyone shut up!”
You gave up on the drums and picked up the guitar and it turns out you’re pretty good at it, and the band’s cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” was better than The Ramones ’cause they got old and died and you could have been way famous… but then J-Dawg’s Dad got a job in another country and they had to move and that broke up the band so now you’ve got nowhere to hang out when you skip Mr. Watzlavik’s Chemistry class, because Chemistry is totally lame and so is he. And you can’t form another band because no one will talk to you because you’ve got a huge pimple like your face is trying to grow a second nose and everything totally sucks and Mom’s a FASCIST.
At least Mom has given up on trying to control your swearing, though… so @#$% this and @#$% that and @#$% everything @#$%ing @#$%burger @#$%face @#$% @#$% !!!
Ages 18-19: The Waning Saturn Trine
Now life has finally begun. Sure you flunked Chemistry and it turns out you still need more practice before you make a living as a guitarist, but you’ve found some guys to jam with and it’s going well. College has started and although you got into this sweet Liberal Arts program and you’re actually having sex with someone on a regular basis so you’ll probably get married after College and get a nice apartment with your spouse and live well off the income from that awesome job you’ll get at the museum, because you’ve discovered that all of life’s mysteries are encoded in Mayan Pottery and let’s face it, you’re pretty darned brilliant, and what museum in its right mind WOULDN’T hire you and put you in charge right away? Meanwhile: there’s a party at Phi Kappa Nu tomorrow night and there will be plenty of booze and hotties. Time to celebrate Your Inherent Awesomeness!
Besides: that Term Paper that’s due Monday will virtually write itself.
Ages 23-24: The Waning Saturn Square
“Is this the line-up for Food Stamps?”
Two unexpected pregnancies and a Liberal Arts Diploma later, you’re working at a burger joint across the street from the Museum, whose employees are a bunch of snobs who are never happy unless you get their order exactly right even though they keep changing their minds halfway through ordering. That one paying gig you had with a band fell apart because you got carried away with the complimentary drinks at the venue, and now you discover there are FIVE THOUSAND other guitarists on Craigslist all looking for a gig too. Then one day new management at the burger joint decides your habit of showing up late all the time isn’t that charming and they fire you. You come home and the lights are out because you didn’t pay the bill… again.
Fortunately, you qualify for a training program selling life insurance, and even though you’ll never wear a t-shirt and jeans to work again, the pay looks pretty spectacular once you’ve learned those Five Essential Sales techniques the trainer is always harping on about. There is hope after all.
Ages 26-27: The Waning Saturn Sextile
“It’s just me and one other guy up for the Assistant Manager job, hooray!”
You’ve navigated the treacherous world of Office Politics and risen boldly to the middle range of your career path. There have been setbacks, but at least you’ve learned how to pay the electric bill on time, and occasionally the office has Casual Friday, and pizza at lunch once a month. Sales are fairly steady, and sometimes you even get to catch your breath on a slow day and secretly read your latest book on Mayan Pottery when the boss is off at another conference. Other guys are struggling, but you’ve managed to keep pretty stable. Once a month or so you get together on the weekend with some of the guys from work and you jam, having recently discovered the joys of free-form jazz. The cat keeps getting sick, but at least you wisely invested in that Veterinary Health Insurance program the company offers to employees.
You look out your office window and see a small child across the street playing with a Roller Ducky. You are filled with a vague sense of nameless foreboding, then shrug it off and return to typing up the Quarterly Report… and are suddenly concerned that you didn’t proofread it properly.
Ages 28-29: The Saturn Return
“Is this all there is? Is there nothing more? Cruel, cruel fate!”
The Company got bought by an international conglomerate, and your division merged with a larger operation in Boise, and you got laid off. Your severance package has run out, the industry is a shambles, and your experience is worth squat. The cat died, and the next one you got ran away. You’re alone after your relationship fell apart under economic stress. You pawned your guitar for grocery money. Eventually you end up volunteering at an animal shelter, partly for something to do and partly hoping you can somehow network your way into another job.
Then it occurs to you: there’s a shortage of dog walkers in town and you could start your own business doing that. The pay is slim but you’d be your own boss. Maybe you can live life on your own terms after all, with plenty of hard work and determination. And then one day you find a kid selling a drum kit at a Yard Sale and you buy it. And it turns out you really love drumming after all, and you’re still not bad at it. What’s more, you still really like cookies, even though sometimes when you eat them you’re troubled by a vague memory of once having spent the night in the hospital over a cookie-related incident as a small child.