I first heard of a Saturn return through No Doubt.
When I was 14, they released “Return of Saturn”. In one of the tracks, Gwen Stefani references the album title, singing:
The return of Saturn / assessing my life / second guessing
But I was an adolescent and -– like a lot of the more subtle poetry in lyrics -– it was lost on me. I wouldn’t hear it again until I read an article on Kesha’s current situation –- the sexual assault by the hands of her producer, the court battle to get out of her contract, the proof we still don’t get it as a society -– before I really understood what it was about.
It’s an astrological concept. And I’m zaney enough to believe in it. Whether it’s truly cosmic, mystical energy, or it’s psychological phenomena, or there’s some other, potentially scientific, parallel –- or it’s just a case of someone being in need of guidance, who lost the conventional faith nearly a decade ago and is a little too willing to look at the stars.
Whatever it is, there’s a part of me that cozies up next to it.
It’s supposed to happen when Saturn essentially completes a full orbit around the sun, returning back to the spot it was when you were born. Something that happens every 29 or so years.
Our first Saturn return starts around the age of 27, and really doesn’t stop until we are 31. It’s supposed to be 3+ years that bring light to the way we were doing things for the last 27 — and, particularly, the way we should be doing things going forward. It’s a line in the sand between your younger, naïve, downright ignorant past and a more mature future self.
And it’s supposed to suck. It’s supposed to suck hard.
“It’s when shit gets real,” Kesha had said in her interview.
It makes sense, even from a psychological perspective. We are simply old enough to start knowing better. The cells in our bodies have completely changed four times over by now, making us, on a cellular level, completely separate from the person we were as a kid.
It would also make sense that I’d adhere so quickly to the concept. I was 27 when everything started changing. When where I thought I was, who I thought I was, and what I I thought would be doing shifted. When the positive and the negative gently started shaking the world around me, forcing certain things to rise up in the sand.
And I’d be 28 when the shaking would stop being so gentle.
I look to the events themselves – practical, empirical, objective events – and go, “I’m not making this up in my head. I’m not arbitrarily assigning mystical value to the regular evolution of things.”
The gloriously positive events that got me in the direction I’m going. The equal and opposite negative events that created the same outcome. All things that spiked in intensity and frequency, to the point that the only thing that could keep my head above it all was the constant, insufferable mantra: “This will make for a great memoir someday…”
Saturn returned, and it broke down the door without knocking first.
And now I’m 30 — and, upon learning about the Saturn return, cried out to myself, “You mean I have another year of this?!”
Because it’s exhausting. All of it is. The return of Saturn. Assessing my life. Second guessing. Watching so many safe, predictable truths fall out and fall by the wayside. Seeing my entire family and the dynamics within it shift in irretrievable and irrevocable ways. Seeing what I thought I had mapped out for the future get crumpled and burned up, the ashes still floating around me to this day.
Witnessing my old way of practically sleepwalking through the world and getting outright furious with the mess I had made for myself, if only because I wish I had woken up sooner — and because I wish it hadn’t taken this much noise to wake me up in the first place.
But the kicker of a Saturn return -– and this has more than enough roots in the psychological & pragmatic -– is that letting it happen will produce the best results. Go with the changes and the pain and the fact that shit got real (real, real, really fucking real). Don’t try to cling to how things used to be, or what might have been, had things not been shaken up.
In fact, don’t even cling to the self-loathing over the fact that you used to go about life a certain way. It’s just as bad as clinging to the old ways in the first place.
In short, let the return of Saturn destroy what it needs to, because if you go about it intelligently enough, it will all be replaced with what you should’ve had in the first place.
The other kicker? If you fight this period of upheaval in your late 20s/early 30s — if you refuse to address what needs to be addressed and change what needs to be changed — the next time Saturn returns (this time, in your late 50s), the doors will only get kicked down with more force.
You don’t need crystals and horoscopes and transcendental meditations to know that resistance to change only creates suffering, that there’s strife when the gap between what you had in your mind and what is actually happening is kept alive.
You don’t need to read a single astrological forecast to know how bad it is in the long term to force yourself to stay with what used to be, to cling to what you had previously built, to be so afraid of change you’d rather waste your youth, your health, your life — until you’re nearly 60 and the panic only intensifies and the feeling of being stuck is only worse.
I’ve likened the last 3 years as a bit of a slow burn – and only recently have I been able to accept that everything had to have been a slow burn. These types of changes can only happen gradually.
Let them combust in a glorious mushroom cloud, and you’ll only mal-adapt.
And –- likewise, with that slow burn -– the smoke is still rising, and the embers are still hot. And reaching into the fire to grab the things you want or wish you had will only sear the skin.
And I’d much rather rise like the Phoenix than be covered in scar tissue.