Tarot with Holly: Saturn Return is Kicking Your Ass

by Holly on January 4


In addition to Tarot I’ll also be talking a bit about my favourite aspects of astrology, and hopefully in a way that makes some actual earthling-sense. Let me know in the comments if there is something astro or tarot you’d like to talk about.

It’s your Saturn return. You’re pushing thirty and life is kind of a bitch right now. That’s probably the only reason you’re reading this or know much about your Saturn return at all. In reality, the return of Saturn can also be a time of progress and achievements, but that’s less known and possibly less interesting and therefore less talked about. Either way, a Saturn Return tends to herald a turning point in our lives that simply put means making big-people decisions or growing the f* up.

Or trying to, at least.

My mother, who is not an astrology aficionado, said to me when I was in my late 20s: “when you reach 30, you realise life is no longer a dress rehearsal.” True words, mum, true words. Also, bloody terrifying!

Let’s rewind a bit and get the science out of the way. What do we mean we talk about Saturn’s return? In basic terms, it refers to the point in time when Saturn returns to the place it was at when you were born. If you want to find out where this place is, you need only obtain your birth or natal chart. (Pro tip: I can’t recommend astro.com enough for its user-friendly and free services. The paid ones are excellent, too). Saturn is a slow moving planet and takes approximately 29 years to make its way around your chart and back to its original placement. This, dear readers, is why you experience your Saturn return somewhere between the ages of 28-30, depending on other astrological conditions that I won’t get into now.

So who and what is Saturn, anyway, and what is he about (Saturn just feels like a ‘he’, okay?)? Saturn is our astrological taskmaster. He is the planet-guy that is responsible for making sure we keep our heads on straight. He is our star-father who reminds us that we need to clean our rooms and do our homework before we go out with our friends. And if we’re having too much fun (Venus) or are caught up in a world made of our own fantasies (Neptune), Saturn will give us a smack upside the head to remind us that we also need to attend to our responsibilities. And if it hasn’t happened already, it’ll surely happen somewhere around the age of 29 and then 59 and so on.

And herein lies the rub. It is said that if you are, in fact, doing a decent job of adulting and/or are on the path that is right for you, your Saturn return will be less confronting. It may even be a time that brings personal rewards. This might look like buying a house, getting married, trying to or getting pregnant, receiving a promotion, or something less obvious but equally as important to you as an individual.

Or it will feel like and quite possibly look like a total cluster-f* of a pre-thirty crisis. Yay!

In other words, your Saturn Return might also herald a point in time when what you are doing with your life suddenly feels wrong in some way, be it a relationship, job or lifestyle that you have committed yourself to. In some cases, people will seemly do the opposite of what we think of as adulting. For example, they may pack in their jobs to live in an ashram India for twelve months (they’ll probably be back in three), end long-term, committed relationships, or switch their career in law for life as a visual artist (because that’s probably what they always wanted to do, anyway).

Here’s the thing. Saturn wants you to be on the right path, the one that will ultimately serve you well, but if you refuse to get on track, he’ll swoop on in and do it for you.

This is when things get ouch-y. You don’t want to break up with him or her even though you are miserable or unfulfilled? They’ll probably break up with you. You’re staying in a job that bores you and wastes your talents, or your boss/colleagues are dicks? You might get let go. You haven’t been taking care of yourself, been living life too hard? You might find yourself burnt out or unwell and needing to do something about it.

Like lots of us, this was pretty much my experience because, apparently, I like to learn things the hard way. I had the break up, the burn out, and the physical ailments. Oh, and then I moved to a new city — that bit was my decision and I haven’t regretted it.

Remember when I talked about The Tower? It’s a bit like that. Saturn in his return will only be a miserable son of a pug if you are resisting necessary changes or are in denial of what is not working for you.

Whatever the case, the take-away is this: Saturn is ultimately on your side, and thank the stars for that! We need Saturn to anchor us and to make sure all our dreams and aspirations are worth their while, and, dare I say, realistic enough to push us from dress rehearsal to opening night.



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Holly is a social worker, writer and social justice advocate. She became interested in personal development in her early 20s when she stumbled across a web forum where she met members of the Spiraling Up crew. Holly is interested in psychology, spirituality and astrology. She currently resides in Victoria, Australia where she works full-time as a support worker and plays with spoken word and written poetry.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue Rawlinson January 4, 2016 at 9:39 pm

Well-put Holly about this stage of life! This is supported by neuroscience. It is now known that the brain does not fully develop until the mid to late- 20’s. The “executive” function of the neurocortex then kicks in with various capacities “including calibration of risk and reward, problem-solving, prioritizing, thinking ahead, self-evaluation, long-term planning, and regulation of emotion.”

So there you are, the wisdom of some of these ancient arts, may just have some scientific basis afterall! Very interesting.


Holly January 4, 2016 at 11:18 pm

Very interesting! I like that point a lot. One exception though, Saturn returns every 29 or so years, so I’m not sure what that would mean for the ‘hard science’ behind the Saturn return that occurs when you turn 59 and so on.


Sue Rawlinson January 5, 2016 at 3:19 am

OK, just made a quick look at cognitive changes in middle/ later years and found this statement in an article from the American Psychological Association on brain changes in middle age, “Instead of a crisis, middle age should be thought of as a time for a new form of self-investment,” Reuter-Lorenz says. “This time of life brings so many new opportunities to invest in your own cognitive and physical resources, so you can buffer against the effects of older age.” ” The middle-aged mind preserves many of its youthful skills and even develops some new strengths.”
So are these some of the challenges of the second Saturn return?


Sigrid Mitchell January 6, 2016 at 3:05 am

Good read I have three years to go for my big change. Wonder what will be in store for me then. I found that I hated 29 going on 30. Once I turned 30 it was the best thing I lost all my inhibition ans became at one with myself. Becoming a teall woman. Great read looking forward to hearing mote about this Sigrid. Xxx


Holly January 13, 2016 at 9:49 pm

Thanks for commenting, Sigrid 🙂 I also hated turning 30! I agree, you start to relax into yourself in your thirties, which is a nice change from the self-consciousness of your twenties.


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