One of the most profound periods of my adult life thus far was my late twenties - a time when I stepped more concretely into the woman I am becoming, but not without turbulence, hardship, and a fair amount of freaking out. All are characteristic of what is known as the Saturn Return. In my practice, I enjoy working with women as they undergo this important, rich, and often difficult transitional time of life. So, what's Saturn got to do with the internal earthquakes of the late 20s? Here's just a bit of astrology and mythology: Saturn takes 29.5 years to make one orbit around the sun (because it's so far out there,) and each time Saturnreturns to the spot it inhabited at the time of your birth, it is typical to feel your own mortality and the anxiety of being an adult. In myth, Saturn represents the Father archetype, the God of the harvest, God of time/aging, bringer of periodic renewal and change.
Between the ages of 27 and 31, you are close to your first Saturn Return. You are likely feeling the ripples of Saturn returning if things are feeling chaotic, your romantic relationships are shifting, your friendships are changing, you are having issues with your parents, you are questioning your career, and perhaps questioning your purpose in this planet. In the socially sanctioned Western culture, the twenties constitute college, and maybe graduate school, and then an effort to apply one's college major to join the work force -- harvesting and reaping what you've sewn. This is a decade that, for many women, can feel like trying on costumes to see what fits -- changing jobs, relationships, locations, clothing, identities. It is a time that can be both exciting and confusing - full of experimentation, risk-taking, openness, discovery, and heart-opening heartache.
The first Saturn Return is a marker for independence from our families of origin, or our parents and siblings. This is a period when one is often estranged from the external support systems of childhood, finding strength in one's own wings after leaving the nest. Relationships to one's family is often in a transitional state because at this stage, we are finding our adult footing and identity. Some are creating and growing families of their own at this age, with new sets of rhythms and rules. Then when re-entering the childhood home at this age, we are often expected to behave in the set role in the family that we inhabited in childhood -- a story that may no longer fit or serve who we are. Family relationships have the opportunity to be challenged and reestablished during this time.
At this stage women are often taking inventory of romantic relationships, feeling the pressures from past generations to couple up and procreate by the age of thirty. As Saturn is the archetypal, universal symbol for Father, often women will look deeply into issues they may have around their own father during this period, and to the masculine energies we've attracted into in our lives, perhaps in an unconscious attempt to heal the father relationship.
The planet Saturn is associated with aging and mortality, and this is often our first awakening to our time clock ticking down. External influences regarding an "acceptable timeline of adulthood" have often been internalized and plays out in some way -- whether it's embracing the idea of this timeline, rejection of the suggestion, fear that it's not happening, foraging a new path proudly, etc. (Yes, men feel the Saturn Return too, but social impositions are different for men at this stage.) Some of why this time period can be so difficult is that there's a cultural (American) pressure that one "should" have their adult sh*t together by this point. And shoulding oneself is the opposite of self-compassion, so this can feel rather icky to face.
The planet Saturn is the instigator of change. Often there is a crisis at this life stage that puts you face-to-face with your fears, allowing you to unplug from that which is not really YOU (imposed by family, society, or some other outside force or voice) and to then find your true course in adulthood. We are all born with the inner knowing of who we are - we have internal compasses guiding us, but we meander and get lost when we follow the directions given by others. The Saturn Return can be a time to tune back into yourself and get back on a course that feels right with your spirit.
Many of us will get to do this again around age 57-60, and perhaps a third time between 86-89 years old, but rest-assured, the first time around is generally the most arduous. The first Saturn Return is a prime opportunity to forage your uniquely beautiful path into your awakened, connected, and authentic adult life.