Is it my Saturn Return, or have I actually just lost the plot?
My Saturn Return is fast approaching, which means I’ll soon be able to blame the messiest parts of my life on the cosmos; I can’t wait.
I’m in my late twenties, and for the most part, I’m thriving – according to my Instagram Grid, anyway. Behind the filter, however, you’ll find a workaholic struggling with everything from sobriety to loneliness. I know, poor old me.
A few months ago, I read the Saturn Return Survival Guide by Lisa Stardust (what a name) and found comfort in tracing my crisis through my birth chart, planetary alignments, and astrological ‘houses’. Could the answer to my chronic overwhelm really lie in the orbit of Saturn? For the sake of my sanity, I decided to investigate.
“The karmic planet has roughly another 29.5 years until it aligns with the exact degree it was when you were born,” writes Stardust. Your Saturn Return, then, is the “exact conjunction between natal Saturn and transiting Saturn, at the exact degree and sign it was at during the time, date, and year of your birth.”
In astrology, Saturn is associated with “structure, boundaries, discipline, and responsibility” (as Caggie Dunlop, author of Saturn Returns: Your Cosmic Coming of Age, previously told GLAMOUR). If you aren’t living in alignment with your true values – whether that’s an unfulfilling relationship, a stagnant career, or a flailing friendship – Saturn will soon force you to make a change.
I spoke with Maxine Mei-Chung, author of What Women Want: Conversations on Desire, Power, Love and Growth, who explained that “Psychologically, the first Saturn return is seen as the time of reaching full adulthood and being faced, perhaps for the first time, with all those responsibilities that come with adulthood”
And inevitably, these responsibilities are gendered. In What Women Want, Mei-Chung explores how women’s desires converge and clash with societal expectations of womanhood. Do we want to get married? Do we want children? Is it unfeminist to want these things? Are we comfortable with our sexuality? Do we have unresolved trauma? Can we be bothered to resolve it?
“Instead of approaching our thirties with dread, Saturn’s return forces us to recognise and harness our power to embrace the next chapter in our lives.”
This can be so overwhelming, Mei-Chung tells me, that we often “look to other resources and other ways of being in the world, whether that’s with astrology, whether it’s with philosophy, or even religion and meditations.”
So what is it about astrology that particularly appeals to women? “It’s something quite attuned and aligned to us as women and our bodies,” explains Mei-Chung. “There’s something so tied up for us in women in terms of our body and how the body forms because there’s a lot of astrology that talks to the rising of womankind and creative energy.”
Astrology, in particular the concept of a Saturn Return, also appeals to women as it provides an alternative to the staunch anti-ageing messaging that we consume. Instead of approaching our thirties with dread, Saturn’s return forces us to recognise and harness our power to embrace the next chapter in our lives.
Leaning into your Saturn Return also encourages you to live firmly in the present. “And it’s very hard to be with the present, isn’t it?” asks Mei-Chung.
“You can feel quite flooded by what is being expected of you […] Sometimes there’s some comfort in the fantasy of what’s coming next. It’s a bit of an escape from the here and now.” This is particularly relevant for those with mental health issues – hello! It’s me! – such as anxiety and depression.
In Mei-Chung’s work as a psychotherapist, she explains, “For people that I work with that are more depressed, there’s more of a preoccupation with looking at the past. Whereas people that are more anxious they’re projecting more into the future.
“So if we think about where one is most content potentially, or happier, it is in the here and now where the mind isn’t, which again is where astrology takes you.”
Change is always going to be uncomfortable – especially if you resist it. This is where Saturn’s return soothes me; it reminds me that change is going to happen whether I like it or not, so I may as well go along for the ride. As Mei-Chung notes, “We could think of it as a crisis,” but we could just as easily call it “a rebirth.”
For more from Glamour UK’s Lucy Morgan, follow her on Instagram @lucyalexxandra.