The time has finally come to speak of that which we often experience in silence. The First Saturn Return.
Part of this will be my story & personal perceptions. The other part will give you some ideas on technically reading your Saturn Return. I’m not going lie, this feels scarily vulnerable to me, but I hope that it’s helpful to those about to enter their Saturn Return.
This is a time-period in your life where transiting Saturn (the one in our skies presently) returns to the same sign and location of your natal (birth chart) Saturn.
Okay but what does this mean in a more tangible sense?
Saturn is the planet of isolation, responsibilities, boundaries, commitments, discipline, austerity, long-term structures and legacy.
I like to think of our 20s as the playground in which we are learning how to become an adult. Your Saturn Return is the full initiation into adulthooYou could say it’s like a reckoning, in a sense. If you haven’t found your path in life (many of us don’t), you’ll become keenly aware of it.
If you have not become somewhat adept at Saturnian themes, you will be learning in a very direct, and sometimes harsh manner. If you HAVE fully embraced the Saturnian themes in your life, Saturn rewards you… with more responsibility, typically.
It’s like getting your credit card upgraded from gold level to platinum. There are a ton of benefits, but the necessity of remaining responsible and diligent also increases. The margin for error gets much narrower.
How this plays out in your life will depend entirely on your chart and several factors. Let’s explore a few of them.
Are you in a day chart or a night chart? This is pretty easy to figure out by looking at where the Sun is located in your chart.
If the Sun is above the horizon, you have a day chart. Saturn is one of the sect-mates of the Sun, and typically its interaction in your chart is constructive rather than destructive.
If the Sun is below the horizon in your chart, you have a night chart. Saturn is your malefic out of sect, and usually tends to be more destructive than constructive.
Now, what house is your Saturn located in? If it is in an angular or succedant house, it will be more active and have a bit more agency to affect the happenings of your life, angular being stronger (1, 10, 7, 4 houses), and succedent being moderately strong (11, 5, 2, 8 houses).
If your Saturn is cadent (3, 9, 6, 12 houses) it’s influencing things from the outer edges and liminal spaces of your life. Depending on a few factors this could either be a constructive or destructive thing.
It’s important to note that Saturn takes his joy in the 12th house. This is the house of the hidden and isolation, which is exactly where Saturn prefers to be. Again, depending on a few factors, this can either be a constructive or destructive thing.
Then, there is the zodiac sign that Saturn is in, and whether that gives him the tools and agency to do his job, or not. And of course the houses Saturn rules. Lastly (at least for this twitter thread), there are timing activations (profections and Zodiacal Releasing), your solar return, and transits.
I have a night chart with Saturn in Capricorn, in the 3rd house. It also rules my 4th house. And while my Sun rules my MC, the MC is in the terms of Saturn as well; so is my Jupiter.
Let’s assess Saturn’s strength and what this means in general in my chart. First, Saturn occupies its night domicile, Capricorn. Which means it’s very well-resourced to do its job and has agency to carry out its tasks.
In my early life this was caring for my siblings, much like a surrogate mother. This is very literal, because the 3rd house is the house of siblings, and Saturn is about responsibility, duty, stewardship, etc.
That being said, the 3rd house is a liminal space that makes only a weak sextile to the AC, and makes no aspect at all to the MC.
I use 2 descriptions for the 3rd house. The first is the house of relating. The 3rd house signifies siblings, people like siblings, your local environment and community, your early childhood education, etc. This is how we learn to have relations with people outside of our private homes and internal selves.
In a sextile to the AC, third house matters also help us to define our sense of self and our agency to make decisions in the world.
The second description of the 3rd house, is that it’s the house of praxis.
Opposite from the 3rd house, in ancient astrology the 9th house is the house of God, and I like to think of it as the Catholic church. It’s theoretical, formal, where we have peak spiritual expereinces and form our “big ideas” of the world.
The 3rd house is where we put these big picture 9th house ideas of life into actual practice. This balancing mechanism is what keeps us from being to heavenly minded to be any earthly good.
Classically, the ancients called the 3rd house the house of Gaia, or the goddess. This is because the 4th house was the underworld, or the house of Hades. This is where Persephone goes for the winter–a metaphor for how all greenery dies in harsh winter conditions.
The 3rd house is Gaia (Demeter) spurring seeds to begin pushing through the soil & reach for sunlight, falling away (cadent) from the angle of Hades–like how we learn to relate to the world in the 3rd house is helpful to our identity + choices in the 1st house.
If the 9th house is the Catholic church, catechism, seminary, & baptism… the 3rd house is folk catholocism and customs, and praying the rosary when you need to, wherever you are. It’s about immediacy and unimpeded access to the chthonic realms of the divine.
However, the 3rd and 9th houses are both liminal spaces. Think of it this way: when either the heavenly or chthonic etheric calls, it can be a siren drawing us away from our earthly obligations that the 1st and 10th are thrusting toward.
(Naturally there are mitigating factors. This is spirit of the letter.)
When my Saturn return began, I felt I had lost my way in life. Frankly, I had. I mean, I had done the responsible thing most of my life… but without any real aim. I stood at a crossroads.
I didn’t have anything particularly terrible happen to me, but I was in an existential cloud.
Saturn rules the sign my Sun occupies, and the idea of my legacy is directly tied to my inner identity and heart. With my Sun ruling my MC, and the MC being in the terms of Saturn, my ambitions, work, and public reputation are tied up in this.
To top this off, I started my Saturn Return at the tale end of the Leo-Aquarius eclipse axis. My Sun and MC were repeatedly activated, bringing up these topics as Saturn ingressed into Capricorn.
The career work I was doing up to the point of my Saturn Return was something I accidentally stumbled into when I was 17. And because it made good money and I was naturally good at it, for years I never questioned if it was the *RIGHT* work for me.
These questions began to haunt me: Beyond just earning a living, WHY was I doing this work? What was the point of making really good money if I otherwise did not enjoy my life? Did I enjoy my work? Did I feel that this work was making a positive contribution to the world? And was it what I wanted to be known for when I am sitting on my deathbed?
The answer to my questions were distressing. I didn’t have any particular reason for the work I did–I just was good at it and fell into a career. I didn’t like the work, it was increasingly exhausting and irritating. It didn’t contribute to anything but large corporations’ profits. And if this was what I was known for at the end of my life, I felt I had failed at living altogether.
To grapple with this heaviness of heart, I completely abandoned all social media. I shut down all of my accounts. I also had a side-hustle as a practicing modern astrologer just prior to my Saturn Return, and I shut that down too. I didn’t feel it was right to offer anyone advice when I was in such a pickle myself.
I also reduced my workload down to the absolutel bare minimum to pay my bills. I stopped looking for additional clients (I’ve been self employed for most of my adult life). I went without many conveniences or luxuries, because it simply was not worth working my ass off doing something I was growing to despise.
The first year of my Saturn Return was a Mars profection for me. And Mars happened to retrograde in Aquarius that year, so it was activating my Sun and MC. So my first attempt to “fix” my crisis was to focus on what I should DO next.
The problem with focusing on “What should I do?” is that, well, we have a wealth of choice that the ancients did not. Technically, you *CAN* try just about anything, and you could try to force it work. So I went through a few iterations of what I *thought* I should be doing. This only made my existential crisis worse, because as I realized something was wrong for me I would panic about the time I had wasted.
Hot tip: there is no such thing as wasted expereinces or time. It all adds up to something significant. One of Saturn’s deep lessons is that everything has its divine time. If something isn’t occuring the way you want, it’s usually just not the right time for it.
However, Saturn is about more than just your material responsibilities. Legacy develops from what we are devoted to. And devotion stems from our faith, very much indicated by Jupiter in our charts. If you don’t have that Jupiterian big picture, then all of your Saturnian efforts and commitments will be in vain. And I had already been on that hamster wheel.
Because I’m an astrologer, I started to look to my chart for answers. My bewilderment kept me from seeing anything clearly. Thus, I leaned on my dear friend and mentor Samuel Reynolds to help me see my chart with clearer eyes. (This man has incredible patience, because this process was not fast AT ALL.)
About one third of the way through my Saturn Return, I finally landed on the most important question: “Who do I want to become?”
Our actions *should* be a reflection of our inner values and who we strive to be. When they are not, we tend to feel lost, inauthentic, and often downright miserable. When we don’t have a vivid picture of who we are working to become, we wander in the desert trying any skillset and job, never understanding why none of it fits.
To land at the answer of “Who do I want to become?”, I leaned into Jupiter to try to find what gave me the most joy, inner peace, and faith. This was a process of digging deep. I come from a background with considerable trauma, and it’s hard for me to identify joy or inner peace because I most easily focus on necessity in my life.
As it turned out, when I began to dive deep into finding where my joy and inner peace occurs, I entered a Venus profection year (which activates my Jupier and my 12th house). This was a boon, because it became a little easier to relax about what I should *DO* so I could instead try to enjoy the process.
Finally a big breakthrough happened, in which I was studying the Daemon and my AC ruler. Sam Reynolds was an invaluable guide and conversational partner in navigating the complexity of the Daemon, providing me resources and a sounding board (buy his classes, get a reading, become his friend, you will NOT regret it).
While I have come to understand that the Daemon is more of an overall pattern, and not a singular point in the chart, it helped to look at my Lot of Spirit. As I’ve come to understand it in my own life, our Daemon is constantly nudging us in the direction of our fate. We just aren’t always great at listening to those nudges.
So I burrowed deep, looking as far back as my earliest fond childhood memories. These memories always involved plants and being outdoors, art, magic, and folk practices. And in fact, this was a theme that carried through my childhood into my teen years… And I lost it when I became an adult.
I stopped doing anything artistic or going into nature for about 11 years. As that time progressed my physical and emotional health steadily became worse. So I experimented with bringing this natural and creative connection back to my life… and what do you know? My health remarkably improved.
I began to understand that my health issues and deep discontent, was my Daemon trying to show me I was on the wrong path. But because I had focused purely on necessity, I had completely ignored these signals. This is what happens when Saturn acts without Jupiter’s big vision.
Some people will tell you that Saturn is about responsibility, discipline, austerity, sacrifice… but what happens when you’ve done all those things, but without a larger vision to guide WHY you are doing these things? You still end up in an existential quagmire about what your legacy is, that’s what.
For those who have a pretty deep sense of vision and have taken steps to responsibly commit to and build that vision, Saturn often “rewards” you. This is usually with increased responsibility of some sort. Which is not necessarily bad.
For example, a dear friend of mine had a phenomenal Saturn Return in which she got married, and bought a house. These are both BIG commitments with a lot of responsibility, but they were nice “upgrades” in her life.
On a personal level the quality of your Saturn Return depends on the many factors I outlined above, PLUS your own lived experience. Don’t let astrology destroy common sense; astrology is living, and you are living. You’re both interacting together, and that causes outcomes to vary for everyone.
Another thing that rang true for me, was how Sam conceptualized my Venus in Capricorn (disposited by my Saturn), as the earth witch. I had always been witchy, but that helped me really tap into what that could look like for my Venus and Jupiter (disposited by Venus).
Then one day I said something that seemed to vibrate through my being. “I wish I had a wise woman to talk to.”
In fact, it dawned on me that wise women were sorely missing in our world. You know, someone you can go to, and talk things out over a cup of tea. Someone who holds space for you and can offer the wisdom of their lived experience.
If they’re hard to find… and I desperately need one… then I suppose the only real answer is that I needed to become that which the world was missing. As mentioned earlier, I have been thrust into positions of counsel and responsibility for people younger than me for my entire life (Saturn in the 3rd House).
But what did that look like? I didn’t really know (and honestly I’m still figuring it out), because there aren’t many living examples.
Sam also said something to me that rang another bell… he said, “You need something that can occupy your mind and give you an almost endless rabbit hole, while also keeping your body engaged.” I won’t lie, when he told me this I got irritated. What did THIS mean?! Well I figured it out soon enough.
I turned this time to the ruler of my AC –> my Mars. Now, I have Mars in Taurus. It’s not exactly known for physical activity. This is the guy helping steer my ship, so to speak. So he has to come into the conversation for my legacy and identity and what I do with my life.
I dove deep again, this time into the classic signifiers of Mars… and pulled up apothecary, physician, pharmecist, and alchemist. DING DING DING. I had a long standing deep love for plants, and had always played with the idea of becoming an herbalist… so I began to play with this. AND I LOVED IT.
This made sense as well for my Sun in the 4th house (land) and Saturn in the 3rd house (local land spirits), my Venus in Capricorn, and my Moon in Cancer. In fact, most of my chart speaks to working with the land in both mundane and magical ways. This only became clear to me after I made this discovery about Mars.
If you’ve noticed, there are 3 big things I keep doing in this story:
Remember that your Saturn Return is a process. You will go through many different ups and downs. Having someone to talk to, and committing to the work ahead will help immensely.
By the time Saturn had separated by 10 degrees from my natal Saturn, answers began to solidify.
Okay, my legacy, work, and identity sprouted from my heartfelt desire to become the wise woman I could not find for myself. This centered around helping others reconnect with the natural world, the prima materia, of our lived experience. And this legacy would develop mundanely through herbalism, spiritually through astrological praxis, and magically through various folk means.
I think one of the most important takeaways from this period in my life is that this legacy is NOT something created in a short period of time. This is a life-long commitment to recontribute to my community and the land as a steward and guide. The weird thing though, is that once I figured this out I stopped panicking about “making it” as soon as possible.
I made peace with the idea that my legacy was something that developed over my entire life. And I became profoundly grateful to have FINALLY figured out what it was. The peace and gratitude were huge signals that I was finally on the right path. I hadn’t experienced either in several years.
And when I finally accepted and began working on this legacy by re-opening my astrology practice, teaching classes, and offering some spiritual guidance to friends and family… My life really blossomed. My old job had stalled out, money-wise, and I was super tired of it.
Within 3 months of deciding to fully devote myself to my legacy, I created an entirely new career. It pays me better and also leaves me feeling contented at the end of the day. Yes, even on my worst days, I’m still satisfied with the path I’m travelling.
Now we sit at the end of Saturn in Capricorn. The last lesson as Saturn oppposes my Moon, is learning my physical limits and figuring out the best structure for my legacy.
Saturn is also about discipline via restriction. When my Saturn Return first began, it was necessary to open myself to possibilities and play with options. Now I face the reality of being a human being with one vessel by which to travel through this world.
Saturn will next travel my 4th house where my natal Sun and Mercury live, and Saturn will also oppose my MC. Now that I’ve identified my legacy, Saturn has tasked me with narrowing what I do, so I can sustain this work.
Overall, my Saturn Return was a good experience. I had my existential crises (which I find most people face regardless of the circumstances of their Saturn Return),. I also I had many positive breakthroughs around my health, my vocation, my identity, my spirituality, and even my relationships. It was an upgrade in responsibility which I’m very grateful for.
My Daemon is happy, and I’m now addressing every part of my chart to fulfill my natal promise in a way that is satisfying, jovially challenging, and ultimately gives me joy even when things get tough. That’s a beautiful end to this wild ride.
Thanks for bearing with me through this super long story. I pray that it has given you hope and perspective about reading your own chart. Saturn is a harsh teacher, but I have found that he usually leaves us in better shape than he found us… If we lean into what he’s showing us.
If you don’t feel equipped to read your own chart for your Saturn Return, or just want a second pair of eyes, I’d love to help you create a Saturn Return game plan. We’ll look at the next 2.5 years, major activations, possible remediation, and much more. You can check that out here.