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References and Notes

 

To easily view footnotes while reading the answer, hover your cursor over the footnote number in the text, and a pop-up box will appear.

1. A generic cycle is one that we all experience at the same age, such as the Saturn return or the Uranus opposition. We differentiate these from individual cycles because generic cycles mark specific stages of human development. An example of an individual cycle would be Saturn conjunct the natal Sun, because this can occur at any age.

2.One complete Saturn cycle is approximately 29.5 years. The three complete cycles that Saturn makes in the 90 years of a full lifetime coincide closely with one full cycle of Uranus (84 years), three complete cycles of the progressed Moon around the natal wheel, and three phase returns in the progressed lunation cycle. You can read more about developmental cycles in Cycles of Becoming: The Planetary Pattern of Growth, by Alexander Ruperti, CRCS Publications, 1978.

3. I am presenting my own perspective on when the Saturn return begins and ends. Other astrologers will undoubtedly have differing opinions. Other planetary transits and progressions must be taken into account, to more fully understand the meaning of a Saturn return, but that is beyond the scope of this column.

4. Your exact Saturn return conjunctions were: 9/5/02, 11/16/02, and 5/17/03 at 27°57' Gemini.



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Peter Pan
From The Mountain Astrologer, Oct-Nov 2003 (1)

Q.  I'm familiar with the concept of the Saturn return. My question is regarding exactly when it begins and when it ends. Does it begin when Saturn re-enters the sign it was in when you were born (thus my Saturn Return is nearly complete) and then end when it exits that sign? Or does it begin when it re-crosses the exact degree it occupied when you were born (thus mine has barely begun), and if so, when does it end? I'm very anxious to know whether my Saturn return has just begun and how long it will last (and keep kicking my butt) or if I'm on the home stretch.
Peter Pan

A.  The outer planets define our individual relationship to the collective. Saturn represents the family, society, and culture that we are born into. As we mature, it signifies the places within these structures that we eventually fill. Saturn makes three returns to its natal position in the 90 years of a full lifetime. These generic cycles1 of Saturn define three distinct phases of life: The first 30-year cycle is about learning from your family, society, and culture; the second cycle is about actively participating in these structures as an adult; and the final cycle is about contributing wisdom to the culture as an elder.

The first Saturn return, which you have recently experienced, is the Initiation into Adulthood, born out of 30 years of living and learning. This coincides with the classic experience of “Eek, I’m going to be 30! I’m getting old, I’d better get my life together!” This often marks the point when we first realize that we don’t have forever to create a life of value and meaning, so we begin to live more consciously and responsibly.2

Birth Chart of Peter Pan
Natal Chart - Peter Pan
Source: From the Querent

The prelude to the Saturn return begins when Saturn re-enters its birth sign, although the profound personal growth of a Saturn return starts in earnest when Saturn first enters a 2° orb to its natal position and ends when Saturn leaves that orb for the final time. The exact conjunctions act as punctuation marks, defining significant personal lessons.3

During the time leading up to the first conjunction, a theme begins to form, generally as an event — a theme that repeats and refocuses your learning around the time of the retrograde conjunction. (“Hey, remember me? I’m back!”) These lessons should be well integrated by the completion of the third conjunction.4 If not, they will re-emerge later, as Saturn forms the first-quarter square to its natal position around the age of 36.

In your case, transiting Saturn first entered a 2° orb to natal Saturn on August 11, 2002 and left that orb for the final time on June 3, 2003. (Yes, your Saturn return is history!) However, from December 13, 2002 until April 29, 2003, Saturn was beyond the 2° orb, only to return again. During this “time-off period,” it’s easy for you to fall back into old habits and forget where your focus needs to be. If so, as Saturn closes in again, it will indeed feel like a kick in the butt! The point isn’t to get it over with but to integrate the learning that Saturn brings. Reflect deeply upon the critical lessons that arose at each of the three conjunctions and how you’ve changed. Then, genuinely consider this question: Who do I want to be when I grow up?




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