What Is A Saturn Return? And Why It's The Most Feared Phenomenon In Astrology

by Rosey Baker
Marco Milovanovic

If you haven't heard of it, the Saturn Return is one of the spookiest astrological phenomenons.

Entire books have been written about it for those lost in this astrological three-year cycle, known for forcing you to face your worst fears head-on.

But what is this astrological transit, and how will it affect you personally? Is it really as bad as they say it is?

For those of you currently in your late 20s and early 30s, you're in the thick of it now, and here's how it's affecting -- or will affect -- your life as you know it.

What It Means

When astrologers refer to the Saturn Return, they're talking about the astrological period of time when the planet Saturn completes its orbit around the sun, returning to the exact position of orbit it was in at the time an individual was born.

In astrology, the planet Saturn is the ruler of karma. It's associated with restriction, limitations, fears, boundaries, and authority figures.

When Saturn returns to the zodiac sign it was in at your birth (determined by its position of orbit), it interacts with the qualities of that sign to influence your life in a particularly restrictive way. You may have to confront limitations in the form of authority figures, personal fears, or boundaries.

It happens every 28 to 30 years, and spends about two and one-half years in each sign. So typically you'll feel the effects of its return around the age of 28 up until you turn 30.

Saturn In The Signs

The Saturn Return (S.R.) has different themes depending on the sign it is returning to, so if your natal chart reads that your Saturn is in Scorpio (the sign of death, sex, and transformation), the themes of your S.R. will be different than someone with their Saturn in Libra (the sign of partnership and justice).

To find out more about what sign your Saturn Return is in, I'd suggest taking a look at this chart from AstroStyle. Once you know what sign your S.R. is in, consider getting the book Surviving Saturn's Return by Sherene Schostak and Stefanie Iris Weiss. It definitely helped me through my S.R.

...But if you're between the ages of 26 and 32, your Saturn Return is in one of the two signs below.

Saturn in Sagittarius

Saturn is currently in the sign of Sagittarius and has been since December of 2014. It finishes its transit in Sagittarius in December 2017, so if you're 30 years old or older, you're almost done with your S.R. and have probably learned more than a few lessons along the way.

Saturn in Sagittarius surrounds themes of optimism, higher education, broadening horizons, faith, expansion, joy, and objective truth, so the lessons from an S.R. in Sagittarius will be linked to those themes. But according to authors Schostak and Weiss, "the Saturn in Sagittarius lesson is about faith more than anything else. You are learning how to have faith in yourself, something you have hungered for all your life.

Saturn in Sagittarius people are wrapping up a lesson now that they will use for the remainder of their lives; while you may have sought wisdom from doing research outside of yourself before now, over the course of your Saturn Return you may have found an enormous amount of wisdom within yourself to draw from, too.

Saturn in Capricorn

If you're around the ages of 28 or 29, you're next. Saturn moves into Capricorn in December of 2017 to stay until March of 2020.

If you're wondering what the themes of your S.R. will be, Saturn in Capricorn themes will include personal ambition, discipline, duty, structure, reservedness, authority, and rules.

With your S.R. in Capricorn, you're going to feel as though your life is a final exam. For two and one-half years, you'll be feeling the pressures of life forcing you to take action.

Nothing can be done by sitting around waiting for things to change on their own; you'll have to just put on your big girl panties and deal with things yourself.

What things? Most likely your fears of success and failure, of structure, responsibility, and of letting down those you look up to the most. Life may feel like a constant struggle to achieve things that reflect well on you, and with your Saturn in Capricorn you might reach that point of existential pain where you ask yourself what -- or who -- it's all for.

The purpose of it all

While the S.R. is no fun for any of us, it teaches us some pretty valuable lessons along the way. It's like a root canal. We come out feeling better, cleaner, lighter and more sure of ourselves than we did before.

As long as you're willing to face these issues head-on, you'll find that although the road is a rough one, the only thing you had to fear was fear itself.

While your parents may have raised you, it's the Saturn Return that teaches you how to truly be an adult.