There is a compass in the night, should you learn how to read it. Above in the dark, endless sky, the moons and suns assemble into patterns and systems; telling stories of the past and present; remembering; reminding. Our ancestors knew this. They were guided through seas and deserts by the map in the sky; gathering to learn from the stories they found and the moments they recalled like a whisper from the past. The planets pass a specific place at the exact moment we are born, and throughout our lives some of those planets will return to those same positions many times; others, never.
Saturn and it’s slow, practised orbit, have an important role to play in our lives. It takes about 29.5 years for Saturn to make it’s way back to it’s the place it was when we were born. As Saturn travels back to the beginning, its impact on individual lives is so strong and unique that it has been documented in civilisations and cultures around the world for centuries. As we reach our Saturn return, Saturn sends a ripple through each part of a persons life and asks you: who are you? Who are you becoming? And how?
Saturn forces realisation, growth, introspection. It shakes the foundations of a life, highlights the choices we have made and the decisions that need attending to. There will be focus, loss, change. Some of us may find the need to let go and find solace elsewhere. Some parts of our lives grow stronger whilst others fall apart. Saturn silently suggests to us the lost parts of ourselves we forgot, and returns us to the versions of ourselves we buried. It is a time that reminds us time waits for no-one, that it is never too late to be who we are truly meant to. It calls us in certain directions and shuts us off from others. For most people, their Saturn Return is a gruelling, exhilarating, affirming time, and the effects are felt long after Saturn has moved away again.
My Saturn return crashed into my ordinary life like an earthquake and upended everything. My natal Saturn is in Capricorn; the sign ruled by Saturn, meaning extra impact and extra force, and my sixth house; mirrored in Saturn, sixth from the sun. Prior to December 17th, 2017, when Saturn began its transit of Capricorn, my life was safe and secure and pedestrian.
And then Saturn began to haul its rings back to the site of my birth. And my thoughts, in turn headed back to where I began. And something wiser and more forceful started to take hold of me. And voices I’d not heard before started growing louder and clearer until I heard nothing else. And then suddenly, in very quick succession, everything started going out the window.
I can try to list in words some of the things that happened and the chaotic order they happened in but it does little to capture the feeling of going through it. The nagging sense of continually losing the things that made up your life, the rapid succession of identities, the pulling apart of each part of what you thought you knew. The bewildering, constant exposure of a different reality to the one you thought you had. I became aghast at how little I had done and then terrified by the sudden shifts around me. What happens if you pick up and shake a snow globe so hard it shatters? I only wanted to see the soft fall. But I moved house four times in eight months; I swapped career in a fortnight; I was engaged then betrayed then alone, and then loved in six ramshackle weeks. Statuses changed daily. Foundations was ripped out from under me and hastily reassembled, only to be toppled anew moments later. I can list out the events and the timeline but I don’t think it captures the experience – and besides, I did that before.
At times I felt like a shell in a wave, tossed around at random, grateful for the brief moments of respite as the sea retreated. Prior to this time my life progressed like moss on a boulder. Loss was occasional, and difficult to bear, rather than a constant state of experience. As Saturn travelled resolutely above, the sheer speed of things made life feel like an illusion. Structures I had been building for all of my adult life were revealed as weak, crumbling and formless. Is it supposed to be that easy to leave your industry? Other barriers I’d presumed insurmountable were pulled back like a thin curtain and I was surprised at how fast things could change, how straightforward it was for things to simply morph into something else or disappear completely. Easy was hard and hard was easy. My goals did not exist, or my dreams were reality, and I escaped them on a lark.
What does it mean to exist in one set of circumstances and then another entirely? If you are not defined by the things that you do, or the company you keep, or the beliefs that you hold, who are you? I didn’t know, I only knew that all the energy I was churning out had to end up somewhere, and that I too would land somewhere other than where I was. Surely. This had to end some day. It was a time of answers to questions I hadn’t realised I’d asked; a time of strange dreams and flashes of the future; an intense pull back towards interests from forever ago; of the shedding of social circles and the swirling vortex of self. I found myself back in cartomancy and candles and crystals: there is an earlier version of me there, a small lonely child collecting chunks of quartz on a Welsh hillside. I planted new versions of myself and waited to see what grew, surprised at the dormant ghosts left from before. I excavated the rubble from the years that preceded these and discovered relics in the ruins. Night after night and morning after morning I pulled myself apart and melded myself back together again, or at least, something like myself, because I was not the things I always had been, and there was somebody else waiting there instead if only I stayed quiet enough to let them sneak in. And I waited.
On March 21st 2020, three days ago, Saturn changed course. There were so many points during the Saturn Return where I thought: this is it, this moment is the whole crux of the matter and then I can adjust. It never was, of course. Now that the wild time has passed and Saturn has shifted onwards I can see that each of those little moments of completion were simply parts of a larger truth slotting into space. There is no finish line; we all move onwards, slowly changing course.
In olden times Saturn was the god of the harvest, and I think of the ability to grow and to start over and to plant new things in the freshly-tilled soil. In more modern eras Saturn represents method, plans and prudence, and I have learned how to throw out the blueprints and make something more lasting at any given time. We live in orbits, not lines. I look at these tempestuous years that have ended and a feel a sense of achievement – not for any one thing I did, but simply to have survived it. How marvellous to endure, wake up calmly with the sun and greet the shifting skies with temperance.
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