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How Saturn Return Transformed Me, According to an Astrologer

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How Saturn Return Transformed Me, According to an Astrologer

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I’m the poster child for a Saturn Return success story. I quit my corporate 9-5, got married, moved cities, bought a house, and started my own business — all during my Saturn Return.

Saturn Return has been in the collective consciousness lately for a variety of reasons. From viral social media stars to celebrities, everyone is talking about this cosmic coming of age. Ariana Grande, for example, has a track titled “Saturn Returns Interlude” on her latest album, and Kacey Musgraves sings about hers in “Deeper Well,” saying, “My Saturn has returned / when I turned 27 / everything started to change.”

Put simply, your Saturn Return marks a time when you cross the threshold into adulthood. Saturn is the planet of structure, discipline, focus, hard work, and delayed gratification in astrology. Between the ages of 27 and 30, the planet Saturn “returns” to the same spot in the night sky as when you were born. During this extended period, usually lasting two to three years, the stars turn up the pressure in your life, forcing you to focus your efforts, energy, and attention on whatever theme Saturn has in store for you.

At first glance, it might look like that dreaded cosmic disciplinarian let me glide right through my 20s. Maybe it was the fortunate position of Jupiter in my birth chart offsetting all that lousy luck the lord of karma and time wanted to send my way. Maybe it was my cool, calm, easygoing attitude. (It was decidedly not: I’m a Cancer with a Gemini moon.)

The truth is my Saturn Return sucked. It created a lot of confusion about where I thought my life was going. It changed every foundational element of my life, from my career to my relationship. And it was a reminder that you can get everything you “want” and still not know what exactly you’re getting yourself into.

Take it from a professional: Saturn is proof that an old dog can learn new ways to trick you.

I’ve always been ambitious, but a bit sloppy with details. (Blame it on my Leo stellium.) I talk before I think, creating the rules as I go. For years, my Saturn in Aquarius not only supported that but allowed me to aspire higher and higher than my dreams had ever taken me. Where was the limit? How far could I go? What was I running from? These were the questions I kept asking myself when I pulled tarot cards during my lunch break, wondering why I still felt so restless.

After all, I was doing what everyone said I never could. I’d somehow landed a lucrative writing job in tech despite having a “useless” humanities degree. I was the daughter of two public school educators, a state school graduate who went from late nights reading “Beowulf” in the library stacks to rubbing elbows with Ivy League start-up founders in the big city. Look at me now, mom! What was I trying to prove — and who was I trying to prove it to?

At the same time that I was signing onto a new job offer, I was settling into my new house in my hometown with my husband. We bought a place in the neighborhood where we had our first date years before, less than an hour from both our parents. I finally had my own space in our home to write, make art, create content, and blast my music a little too loud. This is adulthood, I remember thinking, maybe we’ll throw dinner parties in the backyard. But I was still pulling tarot cards looking for a sign that I was on the right track. My Saturn Return had started back in March 2020 and I was a year into this fancy new life and still feeling like I was missing something.

Saturn always let me think I was two steps ahead of whatever emotional baggage was clearly weighing on my mind. So what if my Saturn was square with my Midheaven, an aspect that causes a crisis of identity? I was winning, I thought. And always in on the joke, Saturn let me dance right to the edge of the cliff and sign my dream job offer just two days before my exact Saturn Return sent me into a spiritual quarter-life crisis.

In February 2021, a month after starting my fancy new job, I pulled the tarot card that changed my life: the Eight of Pentacles. Apprenticeship and mastery? Conquering the impossible through hours of endless study? This was something I knew I could do. And what auspicious timing! I was just taking over a high-profile project from my new boss and was confident that with enough effort and research, I could make a lasting impression on the team and leadership. But it seemed that no matter how hard I worked to appeal to my boss, she wasn’t moved.

Saturn’s journey from one sign to the next is said to have an immediate effect as soon as it transitions. With Saturn retrograde in Aquarius, I was supposed to feel called to rebellion; instead, I was smoothing my edges so as not to snare my boss’s fragile sensibilities.

Confused by my own lack of progress — despite the clear signs the stars were sending me — I dove deeper into my esoteric studies: horoscopes, tarot, numerology, whatever could give me the secret to winning over my boss. I stalked her Instagram to figure out her birthday (and therefore her zodiac sign). I ran our synastry to see if our mentor-mentee relationship was incompatible. It was. I ignored it.

There was a period during the summer when I thought things could be turned around. But you know what they say about Saturn forcing you to perform the same task over and over again until you master it. Some lessons are hard to learn. I tracked the stars looking for my way into their world, and the answer was always the same: You don’t belong here. You’ve overstayed your welcome. You need a way out.

Saturn gave me a huge blessing in the form of a harsh reality check.

Saturn gave me a huge blessing in the form of a harsh reality check just a month shy of my one-year work anniversary. A seemingly routine Zoom call with my boss about a project devolved into accusations of complacency and a cross-examination of my commitment to the company. She told me I didn’t want it bad enough. I told her I quit effective immediately. I spent the rest of the week punitively ruminating on all the things I’d done wrong in our talks.

Lost in the void that I’d created for myself, I turned to the stars to look for a sign of what I was missing. They gave me the same answer as always: write what you know. I quit my job on Tuesday, posted about my job search Friday of that same week, and by the end of the month, I was working as a freelance horoscope writer and astrologer after years of tinkering as a hobbyist. I relied on the skills I’d just spent the last year sharpening — and ignoring — to try and win my old boss over. Funny how that works.

In her book “Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil,” astrologer Liz Greene says there is no fast and easy method of making a friend of Saturn. But it’s possible for Saturn to have a sense of humor if we ourselves can become subtle enough to understand his irony.

Saturn entered Pisces on March 7, 2023, leaving me older, wiser, and a touch more frazzled than before. But as a survivor of Saturn’s reign through Aquarius, I now welcome the practicality of this cosmic taskmaster. Let’s just hope I’m still fond of his jokes when my second Saturn Return hits in 2050.

Lauren Ash is a St. Louis-based astrologer, writer, and media professional who covers astrology, pop culture, and horoscopes for millennial and Gen Z audiences. Currently, she works as a senior editor at Parade, Astrology.com, and Horoscope.com, covering horoscopes and other cosmic happenings.

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