Saturn – Part One: How to dodge the issue during your Saturn return

Saturn – Part One: How to dodge the issue during your Saturn return

Moonletter Podcast

Your Saturn return at age 29 is a time to grow up and take responsibility. But if you are minded to dodge the issue, here is your cheat-sheet.


For the ancients, Saturn was the outermost and slowest moving of all the planets, the limit of what could be seen with the naked eye. Since the invention of the telescope in the 17th century leading to the discovery of Uranus and the outer planets, Saturn has lost its position as the most distant from the sun but it still keeps its astrological role as the planet of responsibility and limitation.

Saturn takes 29.5 years to make a complete orbit of the sun. So in the human lifespan, it returns to its natal position at the ages of 28-31, 57-60 and 88-91 (all ages approximate). These are known as Saturn return periods.

Also significant are the so-called half returns, when Saturn is opposite where it was when you were born. These ages are around 14-16, 44-46 and 72-74 (again all ages approximate). You can see that the period of adolescent crisis can be described astrologically as the first half Saturn return, a crisis of responsibility and authority.

But when people talk about ‘the Saturn return’, they are usually referring to the period in our late 20s, early 30s, Saturn’s first return to its natal position. This is when we learn Saturn’s game, namely the more responsibility we take, the more free we are. That’s the deal.

But of course you have a choice. That’s what it’s about. You can refuse to play.

One popular strategy to avoid playing Saturn’s game is to find someone to blame for our problems. Typically, parents, boss, partner or society in general. Anyone will do, Anyone to whom we have granted authority. “It’s not me! It’s them!” For some, this is the first step in developing a victim mentality which further consolidates our position as ‘hard-done-by’ with the aim of getting sympathy and avoiding the necessity of dealing with reality.

A variation of this strategy is to find someone with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility who can take care of us. From an astrological point of view they are acting as our Saturn. We resent the limitations they place on us but they make sure that we keep a roof over our heads and keep our belly full. With luck you have found someone programmed to be a helper, someone you can make feel guilty if they try to impose their authority on you or show you some tough love. Congratulations! You have graduated to a full-blown co-dependent relationship.

Often connected with this pattern is an escape from reality. Now there’s nothing wrong with that from time to time, but when it becomes a way of life the stakes are much higher. There are a number of ways that this strategy can be implemented. Alcohol is a favourite for many and has the advantage of being legal. Others find other recreational chemicals more suited to their needs. As well as distracting us, these often have the added bonus of killing pain, including personal or emotional pain. Under their influence we do not have to go within ourselves to deal with whatever is bothering us. And if anyone suggests things like therapy or meditation, just put them down as spouting ‘hippy rubbish’ and ‘woo-woo’ stuff.

Of course, the avoidance of reality can mean that finances can be an issue at this time. Saturn’s demand that we live within our means (again this insistence on limits and responsibility) can simply be avoided by borrowing. There are many agencies out there from credit cards to pay-day loan companies who will be happy to support you in this habit. And if you are really keen to avoid the issue, borrowing from one source to pay off another does it nicely. Anything is better than following Saturn by reducing your outgoings and actually paying back your debts.

Here we can only touch on some of the ways of avoiding the responsibilities demanded of us by Saturn. But I cannot finish this piece without mentioning a popular one: the refusal to feel responsible for others’ misfortune. Whether it’s my antisocial behaviour towards my neighbours (playing loud music, slamming doors late at night for example) or the indifference of those in power to the poor, the sick, the disabled, the blind, those fleeing war or conflict. Or the indifference of a landlord to the substandard conditions of their properties. Or the indifference of bosses to the well-being of the people who work for them. Those intent on dodging Saturn will find innumerable ways of avoiding responsibility to others.

But as the I Ching says (Hexagram 60, Limitation) ‘it is necessary to set limits even on limitation’. To be aware of the limits of one’s responsibilities is vital. To take responsibility for all the suffering of the world is a recipe for a crack-up. Likewise, the refusal to take responsibility for anything, not even one’s own actions. The correct balance must be found.

So, to sum up, the learning of the Saturn return (and other major Saturn transits) is not only to accept one’s responsibilities but also to know the limits of one’s responsibilities. There are, as mentioned above, numerous ways of dodging the issue, which might get you through in the short term, but will have consequences in the long term. And Saturn is interested in the long term.

I’ve gone on a lot about Saturn’s demand for responsibility, In part two, the positive side of Saturn’s deal.

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