WTF is Saturn Return? (It’s More than a No Doubt Album)


I was too young to understand what Gwen Stefani meant when she named that No Doubt album Return of Saturn, instead consumed with worry about what would happen if I got gum stuck in my braces and perfecting my cursive handwriting in diary entries about boys named Tyler. (Remind me to ceremoniously burn those journals before I die; wouldn’t want to burden a grandchild with those.)

What I did know is that “Magic’s in the Makeup” was my jam and that Saturn Return – whatever that means – was going to hurt real bad someday. That someday is here.

Got the itch? Are you between ages 27 and 30? That’s your Saturn Return. So what the hell is Saturn returning to and why does a planet 746 million miles away have the right to rattle us? Turns out Gwen was feeling angst for good reason: during this two-and-a-half-year period you’ll question all aspects of your life and emerge from a kid-playing-adult into an adult-adult. Casual, huh? In Gwen’s case, she was depressed, confused and reading a lot of Sylvia Plath. Makes sense to me.

With this, we say good riddance, youth! You were a burden with your flexibility and ability to recover from hangovers and robust collagen level anyway. Adulthood, let’s do this.

WTF is Saturn Return?
As my go-to Astrostyle gals call it, it’s a “cosmic rite of passage.” Return of Saturn, or Saturn Return, whatever the hell you want to call it, is the astrological period of your life when Saturn, um, returns to the sign it was in on the glorious day you were born. (April 25th for me, don’t you ever forget it.) Saturn takes approximately 29.5 years to complete an orbit around the sun, so you often first feel these vibes between the ages of 27 and 30, depending on Saturn’s degree in your chart.

“A bit of a cosmic bar mitzvah, quinceanera or communion, if you will,” say the Astrostyle twins.

Welcome to the more mature you. Adulthood has been calling for a long time, but now you’re ready for it.

Ugh, am I going through it?!
When you enter it varies between the ages of 27 and 30; I’m inches away from turning 30 and just recently entered mine. Find out when you’ll enter your Saturn Return here.

Late last December, Saturn moved from Sagittarius into Capricorn, where it’ll make itself home until 2020. So, say, you were born the last time Saturn was in Capricorn – from February 1988 to February of 1991 – congratulations/sorry, you’ve just entered your Saturn Return.

Should you put in an offer on that Craftsman that’s been calling your name? Take out your IUD and try for a baby? At the very least, finally stop eating cold pizza standing up at your sink and calling it dinner? Drop the bad-for-you boyfriend? Fold your laundry right after you take it out of the dryer?

What’s up with Saturn? Why is it such a big deal?
Astrologer Alan Oken calls Saturn “Lord of Karma,” so don’t mess with it. Stern Saturn is a bit of a tough love type of life coach, breaking you down to build you up again. No wonder Saturn rules Capricorn, the overachieving CEO-type of the zodiac.

Saturn isn’t the sexiest of planets. Whereas Venus, the planet of beauty, rules love and money, and Jupiter is the intellectual planet, ruling ideology, Saturn is the responsible, career-driven one. It concerns itself with legacy: What will you leave behind? What will you achieve in your lifetime? Quit it with all the hard questions, Saturn!

Return of Saturn, The Sequel
Don’t worry, if you didn’t get enough of the unsettling feeling of your first Saturn Return, you’ll get to endure it again in your late 50s, when Saturn loops back around through another journey of the 12 signs. Just in time to buy a motorcycle, pick up a hot young boyfriend and pass it off as a midlife crisis.

Jump forward a few decades, and perhaps if you pray to the stars, you’ll pass through another Saturn Return, this time in your mid-to-late-80s, crossing over into true old age wisdom.

Okay, fine. I’m in my Saturn Return. How do I get through this with my chin up?

    • Revise your expectations. Maybe you assumed you’d be married with 2.5 kids by this age, but now you’re almost 30 and only have 2.5 plants because you’re keeping those fingers crossed that your jade plant will come back to life. It’s a different world now than it was when you were cheating at MASH so you’d get to live in a mansion. Be gentle with yourself. Move at your own pace.
  • Set yourself up for success. Contribute to your retirement fund. Find a workout that you enjoy. (Or at least don’t hate.) Start your mornings slow. Skip the last round of drinks, delete his number and call your mom. You know what’s good for you. 

And if nothing else works, give that No Doubt record a spin.

Illustrations by Maria Clara Eimmart

BY Megan McCarty - March 22, 2018

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I read about this on Man Repeller a while back. Such an interesting phenomenon!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

March 22, 2018 3:03 pm

Wow this is somewhat trippy for me. Born January 15, 1991…so both a Capricorn and part of the group this applies to. When I’m being a grown-up, I’m 100% Capricorn – structured, disciplined, loyal, driven, basically unstoppable, but also very sensitive. I’ve felt a STRONG urge to get rid of the bad habits and relationships that pulled me in the opposite direction since about my birthday this year, and thought I was just finally maturing on my own and shedding unnecessary weight. Now I understand this pull and see how useful it can be if you let it. Love!

March 22, 2018 3:05 pm


March 22, 2018 4:54 pm

Oooh, I turn 30 in less than a week. I’m excited about this new chapter of my life. I think this explains my recent attitude towards my new goals and etc. I’ve never heard of Saturn Return, but I really enjoyed reading about it! Thank you.

March 28, 2018 2:40 pm

Ugh, my Saturn Return was awesome yet so so rough and hard at times! Hopefully, I’ve made good decisions through it. Enjoy!

June 22, 2020 5:03 am

Each of the planets are schools. Saturn is where insufficient souls are cast to be re formatted. its not a noce place..

August 31, 2020 10:08 am

I don’t know a lot about the horoscope and such astrological terms but you’ve great updates about such terms. I keep myself busy in realistic world of astrology rather than such things. I wrote some research papers on Saturn and got help from online writers after visiting site where I find a lot of good reviews that satisfied me.

April 14, 2022 6:50 pm

You did not mention what the first Saturn Return actually is. Here is the simple version: 1. The First Saturn Return is when you leave YOUTH and enter ADULT. At the Second Saturn Return, you leave ADULT and enter ELDER. There are 4 Initiations that all human beings must go through that astrology calls, the time of transformation: 1. Saturn Return (28-32); 2. Midlife Crisis/Transformation (38-42); 3. Chiron Return (48-52); and 4. Second Saturn Return (58-62).

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