However, that’s usually as far as it goes. This simplistic and very widespread public face of pop astrology is what the reductionists attack so virulently, without taking the trouble to find out whether our six thousand plus year old tradition might just have more to offer than that.
A bridge of knowledge between pop astrology and the deep and fascinating waters of what lies beyond is the Saturn Return, which in my experience is a term which an increasing number of people know about ‘ beyond the Sun Signs’. Films have been made in which this famous event features – an intriguing fact which I discovered on an interesting site called loveyoursaturnreturn for which I wrote a short article last year. You can also find links there to quality articles by a range of astrologers giving their take on the Saturn return, as well as media references to it.
So – what is the Saturn Return?
Symbolically, it is a major turning point in the process of becoming an adult: a critical step on that lifelong rocky road of separating out from what we are not, in order to become more fully who we are. This turning point occurs around the ages of 28-30.
Where does the symbolism come from?
It comes from astronomical observation of the 28-30 year long cycle of the planet Saturn.
It’s important in developing an understanding of astrological symbolism to realise that it doesn’t just leap fully formed out of someone working on a tabloid newspaper’s vivid imagination. It arises from thousands of years of careful observation and recording of the movements of the planets in our solar system and the correspondences which occur with both the outer and inner lives of the inhabitants of Earth – both collectively and individually.
All the planets move in regular, predictable cyclic orbits. These orbits range in time from the vast, epoch-changing scope of the planet Pluto which takes 248 years to return to its starting point, to the tiny dance of the Sun and Moon which take a mere 29.5 days to complete their cycle.
Saturn’s orbit takes an average of 28-30 years.
Let’s say Charlotte (fictitious) is 35 years old, born in the Spring of 1978. The example chart here is set for midnight GMT (1 am UK Summer Time) on 1st April 1978. In this chart (some detective work here for those of you who know no astrology – yet!) the planet Saturn sits at 24 degrees of the sign of Leo.
(click on image to enlarge)
Moving from The American Ephemeris for the 20th Century at Midnight (my essential book for that desert island. Yes, I’m mad….) where I looked up her birth date, to its equivalent for the 21st Century, I find that Saturn returned to 24 degrees of Leo in late October, November and December 2006, January 2007, and finally in July 2007. Thus Saturn describes in astronomical terms a period of 9 -10 months in Charlotte’s life between the ages of 28 and 29.
I have measured this precisely for Charlotte. However, since Saturn moves relatively slowly, taking 2-3 years to travel through the 30 degrees of each sign, in this case Leo, everyone who is now 35 years old will have gone through their Saturn return in 2006-7.
And everyone now in their mid-60s will have completed their second Saturn Return during the same time period, at the ages of around 59-60. And if you live long enough, you have the exciting prospect of a third Saturn Return in your late eighties. I can hardly wait…..
To be continued – Part Two of this article follows shortly: moving from astronomical description to a discussion of the astrological symbolism, core meaning and varying levels of manifestation of the Saturn principle; ending with some concrete examples of people’s actual experiences at the Saturn Return point. And, of course, inviting YOU to offer some examples from your own experience.
In the meantime, you new visitors and Followers out there! Do drop by with your observations….. and, of course, your Questions….
700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013