We all have, built right in, the urge to do something great in our lifetime, to build a monument (symbolic or literal), to create a legacy, to achieve. Saturn in our astrology chart tells us how to build that monument and where. Saturn in Gemini? Write something. Saturn in Cancer? Build a home. Saturn in Libra? Build fine relationships. The sign Saturn occupies in your chart begins to tell the answer, and the rest of your chart fills in the details of that answer. But what you may not know is, Saturn also tells you when. In your Saturn cycle, which begins the moment you are born and isn’t over till you die, is the natural timing of your achievements, fallow periods, times of frustration and pressure to perform. Get on that track and your career unfolds logically. Not necessarily effortlessly—in fact, you can count on there being effort involved, because Saturn’s very purpose is to show you where to put your effort in life for the best results. So perhaps not effortlessly, but certainly your career can unfold in a logical, practical way. Saturn invites you to practice and promises you will become very, very good if you will only do the work.
The timing of Saturn’s cycle dictates that you will have a Saturn Return approximately every 29 years—once the year you are 29, then again around age 58. The exact timing will be specific to your chart. This is incredibly useful to know because it explains that immense sense of pressure, fear, limitation, obligation and seriousness that comes over us when we are approaching 30—and then repeats itself in age-appropriate ways as we approach 60. There’s a hard barrier at the Saturn Return, and once you have passed through it and entered your thirties (or your sixties), you are a different person—a more mature, grownup version of yourself. Even those who spend their Saturn Return evading responsibility do not come away untouched by the lines of care in their face. It’s a true rite of passage.
But Saturn’s times of pressuring us to achieve are not limited to ages 30 and 60. The Saturn cycle is divided into quarters, each of which is seven years long. At the end of each seven years there is a milestone—accompanied by the usual Saturn feelings of seriousness, obligation, duty, pressure to perform. Thus the famous “seven-year-itch” or that feeling of being trapped that comes over us after seven years’ involvement with anything at all. If you are truly committed to something and you stick with it over time, Saturn will bring you periodic feelings of entrapment, limitation and “no exit.” That’s just part of the package. If your response to those feelings is to run away, you will be unable to build anything lasting. If instead you can push through the fear, stick to your path and keep pushing forward, you will break through the wall of fear that appears to be stopping you and you’ll find Saturn just on the other side, cheering you on, saying, “I knew you could do it. I had to test you, and you have passed.”
Where are you in your Saturn cycle right now? Resting and allowing momentum to gather, spinning your wheels or perhaps in the thick of some really big push? A look at Saturn in your natal chart and the location of transiting Saturn right now can explain why things feel the way they do and in a reading you can learn the very specific dates of the next milestone you’ll be facing. (Because I think this is really important information, I’ve designed an astrology reading around it, focusing on career, purpose, your life’s Great Work and your own personal career cycle, along with how to use right timing to make career moves–and leaps. You can find out more about that here.)
Saturn bestows upon us that wonderful sense of purpose, importance, and power that it’s possible to have as we pursue a meaningful career. This is his promise: “do the work and you will get the reward.” The reward is the respect of your peers, a feeling of momentum, the joy of speed as you barrel down the track sitting on a train that hums.
If you don’t know when they are coming, those milestones—those testing times—feel like pop quizzes, which can feel really oppressive, even punitive. But they do occur at sensible, predictable intervals. Find out when—and be ready.