Ask Real Astrologers: Difficult Saturn Cycles

This week we are responding to two questions related to Saturn.

First, from Fiona in the UK:

This year I seem to be repeating events in my life that last occurred 14 years ago. The order and outcome are different but the component parts are the same/similar. It is a complete breakdown and rebuild of all aspects of my life. I’ve gone back to 28 years and 42 years ago and the same seems to have happened in those years, too! Is there a transit/life cycle that occurs every 14 years that I should study/learn about so that I’m more prepared in 2022? P.S. I have a close friend who also seems to be going through the same cycle this year.

The second question is from Sarah in San Jose, California:

I’m a 28-year-old female with a Saturn stellium (Sun, Moon, and Saturn all in Virgo in the fourth house). Is this an unlucky combination? Is my Saturn return going to be great and rewarding or absolutely painful? I have already experienced some drastic changes in my life and I feel like more are on the way!

Libra ponders . . .

Neith’s response:

Both Fiona and Sarah are dealing with Saturn in all his glory by transit and natally, no easy task.

Fiona, what you are describing are classic Saturn cycle experiences. And in your case with Saturn-ruled Capricorn rising, you will find your awareness of any Saturn transit to your natal Saturn will make itself felt. Since September of last year, Saturn has made three passes trine to your natal Saturn in Capricorn and conjoined your natal Pluto at the same time. Saturn conjunct natal Pluto is keenly felt also.

Saturn is moving now to square your Moon and hopefully by the end of October you will get a breather. While no Saturn transit is easy, if we follow the rules and behave in a responsible manner, we can get through them in one piece. Good luck with this!

Sarah, as you undergo your first Saturn return, keep in mind it is a process. There will be days when you feel like the weight of world is bearing down on you, but this will pass. With a Sun, Moon, Saturn stellium in Virgo I’m going to guess you are a pretty responsible sort naturally and once Saturn completes his transit you will feel much better about yourself and life in general.

I don’t see any aspect set as being unlucky and especially not those with Saturn. He is a hard taskmaster but ultimately a fair one. The gains we make through Saturn are beneficial and long lasting, if painful in the initial stages. When Saturn moves on into Libra late in 2009, you can look back and heave a sign of relief!

Aquarius expounds . . .

Pat’s response:

Before I respond to Fiona and Sarah, let me clarify what we’re talking about here for those who may have less knowledge of astrology.

A planetary “return” occurs when that planet returns to the exact position it was on the day you were born. Saturn’s orbit around the Sun is 28-29 years, so we all experience Saturn returns in our late 20s and again in our late 50s. In between, there are seven-year segments, thus the 14-year cycle that Fiona notes. This is also called a Saturn “half-return” and can be as powerful and disruptive as the return itself. Also, due to Saturn’s longer orbit and retrograde cycle, Saturn transits usually occur in a three-part series, as Neith notes above.

With that background, I’ll start with Sarah’s question. Sarah, the first Saturn return can be traumatic or simply maturing, depending on how you have handled your life up to this point. My life completely changed around at my first Saturn return, and this was much-needed. It’s not too melodramatic to say that what happened at that time almost killed me, but I got through it, and my life opened up in ways that I never would have imagined, including finding a new love.

But it’s not always that dramatic. I was talking to a man in his early 30s the other day who told me that he got a divorce at his first Saturn return, and while it initially threw him for a loop, he quickly realized that it was the best thing that ever happened to him. In the weeks and months that followed, he got a great new job and started down an exciting career path, and his life seemed to take form.

That said, I expect that you will feel this keenly due to your Virgo stellium — and, by the way, I agree with Neith that there are no “unlucky” aspects. Some are more challenging than others, that is for sure, but there is usually compensation built into the chart somewhere to help you meet those challenges. And I also agree with Neith that a Sun-Saturn conjunction in Virgo makes you extremely responsible.

Fiona, I don’t have much to add to Neith’s analysis, but can say that the instant I read your question, I knew that we were talking about Saturn. It’s also interesting that you should mention the 42-year cycle, which is half a Uranus orbit. The so-called “midlife crisis” occurs at the Uranus half-return.

Among other things, Saturn’s transit through your chart indicates how your life is taking structure and form. Saturn is about manifestation into material reality, which is why he’s sometimes referred to as the planet of karma. Although it may feel like you are the victim of circumstances, many of the situations and people in your life now are a result of choices and decisions you made during previous critical points in the Saturn cycle.

In other words, what we do may have longer-lasting implications than we know or would like to believe. Rather than feeling bad about this, we can use this knowledge of how Saturn works to make better choices for our future.

Best of luck to you both, and please do keep us posted. When readers write to us with their experiences, we become better astrologers.

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1 thought on “Ask Real Astrologers: Difficult Saturn Cycles

  1. Rossa

    Thanks for your response. These events have encouraged me to learn more about astrology. I’ve been on the sidelines, just watching and learning. Now I want to dip more than a toe in the starry waters ! Have done my natal chart and found out that I’ve got my Chiron return (in Aquarius) happening as well, so I’m exploring what this will mean for me as I approach my fifties. Think this pair of eclipses will also have an impact with me being an Aquarian and with a Dad who’s a Leo, it should be interesting to see what turns up. I love Leos, but then that may be a father/daughter thing! Fiona (celtic for “white girl” and Rossa ‘cos I’m a redhead)


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