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Life is not a smooth and linear progression, despite our best efforts, but there are two particular phases which seem to bring tumult on a near universal scale: the quarter and mid-life crises. These milestone stages—when we’re transitioning between our twenties and thirties or our fifties and sixties—ignite introspection that can yield dramatic changes, and astrologers believe they have an explanation as to why.
Approximately every 30 years, Saturn returns to the exact same spot in the sky as when we were born. With the homecoming of this planet, which astrologers associate with discipline and diligence, we are said to reap the results of all we’ve sown in years past. So if you’ve been steadfastly pursuing a career and a relationship you really love, it could be a smooth transition. If not, you’re in for a potentially rough period of soul searching and starting over from scratch—being true to yourself this time.
Natalia Benson, LA-based tarot reader and astrologer for fashion blog WhoWhatWear, confirms there will be growing pains if you haven’t been conducting regular self-inquiry throughout your early and mid-twenties. She likens Saturn’s return to a personal trainer.
“You go to them like ‘hey, I really want a six pack and a rockin’ bod and a good butt’, and the trainer is like, ‘alright well let’s get to work’ and makes you do 500 sit-ups and 50 crazy-heavy squats. And you’re like, ‘argh I hate doing this, but I know it’s good for me,’ ” she says. “It’s like Saturn represents where we have to discipline ourselves. He doesn’t like when we try to skip the line or skip the process. In Saturn return we’re having to become very conscientious of our process, of our strengths and of our weaknesses.”
When you’re in your early twenties it feels like you have all the time and opportunity in the world, which is why it’s tempting to choose the bigger paycheck over the job that makes your soul sing, or settle down with a partner who’s “good enough for right now” instead of remaining single until a truly compatible human comes along.
Then time passes and suddenly you’re knocking on the door of 30—an age when, conventionally, we’re supposed to have our life together—and realize you’ve unconsciously engineered a life you don’t actually want. Cue anxiety attacks and depression.
The alternative is that you achieve everything your young, idealistic self ever dreamed of, but the reality feels hollow and disappointing. Could Saturn return be an explanation for the 27 club phenomenon? The age when a group of talented but troubled young musicians, including Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, passed away?
“My take [on the 27 club is] that they had so much power and so much magic, especially to be so successful by that age,” says Benson. “But I think that’s also that Saturn return moment checking in, like ‘hey have you been doing your work? I gave you a lot of good shit.’ ”
So if you are experiencing a fully fledged quarter-life crisis, how do you navigate your way out? Benson suggests embracing it as an opportunity to exponentially grow and really “step into your power”. If everything has to fall apart in order for you to reassemble it in a way that makes sense for who you are and what you want at this pivotal stage of life, then so be it.
Essentially, Saturn return is a way of understanding the difficult transit into real adulthood—the kind that entails a mortgage, marriage, kids, and a prosperous career, or the rejection of those things as the case may be. Pay close attention to your gut instincts instead of the expectations of others and you can’t go far wrong.