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Planetary Cycles: The Saturn Return

A planetary cycle refers to the path of any planet around the zodiac and its position relative to its natal position when you were born. Saturn, for instance, takes 29-1/2 years to make it around the sky once. As Saturn makes its way around the zodiac, it will make a square to itself, an opposition and another square relative to the place it was when you were born until it finally returns to the spot it started in at your birth. These squares, oppositions, and the return mark significant passages in your life. Whats particularly exciting about planetary cycles is that they are something we all experience, and at the same time in our lives as everyone else (more or less, with some exceptions). We all experience Saturn returning to the point it is in our natal charts at around the age of 29. We all experience Uranus opposing the original point it is in our natal charts at around age 42. These events, no matter who we are or when we are born, manifest at about the same time in everyones lives, so there is something we can learn about the natural unfolding of a life by understanding these cycles. Lets take an example and explore the one we most often seem to hear about the Saturn return. Saturn takes 29 years to get around the zodiac once, so you have your first Saturn return at about that age. Add another 29 years and you are 59 ish and experiencing a second Saturn return. At about 88 or so youll experience another if you are still alive. Im going to discuss some of the themes that we all deal with at the first and second Saturn returns. First, we have to understand Saturn and the basic human lesson and motivation that it represents. Saturn is the part of us that can needs structure in our lives, the part that needs us to set healthy limits for ourselves and helps us develop self-discipline and self-respect through long term effort. It encourages us to mature, to be realistic, and to get the job done. When we are true to our Saturn, we are acknowledging and creating our own reality and taking responsibility for that creation. While fun might not be exactly the right word to describe these experiences, we grow wise and strong under their guidance. The location of Saturn in our chart shows us where we need to develop discipline in order to gain the rewards in that part of our lives. Saturn always brings an encounter with reality. Its the planet that sits us down and says, now look, this is the way things are. Saturn teaches through limitations, but Saturn is not about moral judgment or chastisement. It doesnt present limitations for punishment. Saturn is merely reality. Saturn teaches us cause and effect, the natural limitations of the 3 dimensional world and all that can happen in it. You must work within those laws to get the results you want. So when Saturn returns (comes to a conjunction with) to your natal charts Saturn position, its a wake up call, a reminder. Saturn represents the clock keeping time, and its return corresponds with an internal understanding that we arent going to live forever. Weve spent enough time building dreams, messing around, gaining some experience and just plain figuring out who we are as we should be doing in the first Saturn cycle (before the first return) and now weve got to make some decisions and get on with it already. Saturn says to us you have all these dreams, and theyre good dreams, but now which one are you going to take responsibility for and make come true? Saturn will now be asking us the question what are you going to do? Time to make it real. If we answer this question in a healthy way, we commit to a path that we can say we truly care about. We can take our greatest dream and while remaining true to our original vision, work on translating the details of that dream into reality. If we answer this question in an unhealthy way, we are in danger of succumbing to the lie that life is a downhill slope from here. Youth and its dreams are glorified as the shining moments of our lives and that now those shining moments are over. We say I used to dream but now I cope and think we are clever and have faced reality, but really we have just given ourselves up to cynicism and meaninglessness. This is the basic meaning of Saturns return always a sort of reality check. But the area of life that you will experience this reality check and its subject matter will depend on where Saturn is in your chart. During my first Saturn return in my 6th house, I realized that what I do every day creates my life. I find it very difficult to do the things I need to do daily to fulfill long term goals that require daily work, especially if the work itself is not fun. I can power through something in a few days, even a few months, but when it comes to doing something every day in order to see results, I lack follow through. This is where my Saturn work lies in the daily effort to achieve a goal. I realized that I had to take responsibility for my health,

which is one of those things where lack of daily effort can lead to long term and sometimes irreversible negative effects if I neglect the daily work. A client of mine experienced her first Saturn return in her 4th house and had a reality check about what was and wasnt working in her home and family life. Shortly following her Saturn return she took responsibility for creating what she did want, and divorced, which enabled her to get back on the path of being true to her dream to have the kind of dynamic she wanted with her children. The second Saturn return brings with it the same these a reality check, a call to take responsibility for something in our lives. At our second Saturn return we are about 59. We are asked to face reality again about not living forever and needing to get on with it, but what are we getting on with? We must recognize the gifts we have to give based on what we have done with our life so far, especially in our middle years after the first Saturn return asked us to get on with it. We start to move into the cycle of the elder, as Steven Forrest refers to it. We are asked to share what knowledge and experience we have gained so far by connecting with the community, putting something out there that shows we were here we lived and are still living. We invest in the futures of our loved ones even more and not just our own, as a sort of passing the torch. If we respond in an unhealthy way, we are confronted with the idea that we are entering the realm soon to be known as old age and we may let fear overtake us or spend all of our time trying to avoid the fear and the reality. The joy and exchange of giving and passing the torch evades us, and we are more inclined to denial and depression.
Amy Herring, 2006, www.heavenlytruth.com Do not reproduce this document or any part in it without permission.