The Return of Saturn

I don’t believe in astrology. Not because of any particular reason, I’m just not blessed with the ability to truly “believe” in things that are supposed to explain life to me. I think life is best understood by being lived. 

Sometime last year, I sat with a friend and several glasses of wine and shared my anxieties of an upcoming birthday. I told him about the crippling fear of never achieving the one thing I have always thought I’d have achieved by now. I told him about the self-imposed loneliness of living in a different country. I told him that even though I say I don’t want to be married and raising children, most nights I wonder if it’s healthy for a person to live and sleep alone all the time. He asked me if I was in my Saturn Return, and if I thought that might explain why I quit my job in Seattle, sold my furniture, left everything and everyone behind, and started anew in Bangkok. I shrugged it off and didn’t think about it again until a few days ago, when a fortune teller stopped me at the mall and insisted on telling me something that he “felt compelled to share.” I rolled my eyes and let him have his fun, fully aware that this “compelling sharing” would eventually result in him asking me for a “donation.”


“Your eyebrow lines are shaped like trees,” he said, “it indicates prosperity and growth.” He went on to say that my bad habits are keeping too many secrets and having a quick temper. I don’t forgive easily, but can cut ties severely and permanently. I couldn’t disagree without being dishonest, so I nodded along. He added “you are afraid to tell a story that you must tell,” which was the kind of offensive truth that you don’t want to hear from a complete stranger in the middle of a crowded mall in Bangkok. So I jerked my hand away and told him to have a good day. Then, just when I thought it was over and he would ask me for the inevitable “donation,” he looked directly into my eyes and asked “how are you surviving your Saturn Return?” 

In astrology, the Return of Saturn is the time in your life when the planet Saturn returns back to the spot it was in when you were born. In most people, this happens around the ages of 27-31, or somewhere around there. This is believed to be the time in your life when you face the hard choices of becoming the person you are supposed to be, finally grapple with becoming adult, make tough decisions, and finally become your own person. Something like a rite of passage into the rest of your life. It’s also supposed to be when you learn your toughest lessons, which is why it is sometimes referred to in terms of “survival.” People survive this period, they don’t exactly relish it. 


When I was in my early 20s, I had an older boyfriend who treated me like an inconvenient accessory. I would text him and wait several hours for a reply, all that time wondering what happened to him. I’d convince myself that maybe he got shot or abducted by aliens and that was why he could text me back. Without fail, I’d get a “you up?” text sometime around midnight, and I’d be up the rest of the night talking to him, only to fall back into the same cycle the next day. When I finally confided in an older friend about this, she told me to break up with him and wait for his Saturn Return, because that’s when I’d know what kind of man he would become. 

I remember this now not because that boyfriend means anything to me anymore. He’s not someone I hate or miss or even think about – he’s completely insignificant. But this Saturn Return idea takes me back to that time because as soon as he turned 30, he wrote me a long email in which he apologized profusely for the way he treated me and our relationship. It was like he grew up, and finally got to see himself and his mistakes. I can only hope that whatever changes happened to him, they have led him to be a better man. I also thought about my friend who advised me to dump him and wait for him to cross this threshold. I thought about how, at the time she was telling me this, I judged her for being stupid enough to believe this crap. And now here I am, earnestly writing several paragraphs about it. 

I believe that I am still in the midst of my Saturn Return, but it is no longer something I feel like I need to survive. I dare say, I believe I am thriving in my Saturn Return. According to astrology, the Return of Saturn in the house of Sagittarius (my house) indicates a time for travel, perhaps living in a different country for a few years. It also indicates a time for writing or publishing, and embracing my nomadic spirit with confidence rather than fear. All of this rings true, as I have been embarking on all of these adventures in one way or another, not knowing they might have all been connected to the stars that are apparently guiding my way. 

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