What’s the big deal about the big 3-0? I laugh when people talk about how turning 30 means they’re “so old.” It’s not about being aged; the transition to 30 is about being grown and mature.
30 is a poignant year for the precise fact that it occurs during the Saturn Return.
Saturn is the planet of responsibility, laws, structures, restriction, karma, time, authority figures, your father, structure, your hidden fears, restriction, maturity, and all the scariest keywords you can think of when it comes to the giant ringed planet.
Saturn takes 29.5 years to make a full revolution around the zodiac and return to the place where it was at your birth. As it moves forward, transiting Saturn in the sky makes a tense aspect to your natal Saturn in your birth chart every 7.4 years.
Astrological Aspects Explained
Tense astrological aspects are the square and the opposition (whereas harmonious aspects are the trine and sextile). A square is a 90-degree angle between two objects, and an opposition is a 180-degree angle—the points are directly across from one another.
Squares represent friction, conflict, and stress, and therefore require us to take action. Oppositions cause us to feel as though we have to make a choice between expressing one thing or another, and require balance and perspective. Unlike the square, an opposition can be challenging but doesn’t necessarily encourage action.
So every 7 years you experience these aspects: the waxing Saturn square, the Saturn opposition, the waning Saturn square, then full circle to your Saturn return, which is transit Saturn conjunct your natal Saturn.
Normative Crises and Saturn’s Transits
Seven is a powerful number of creation, and this is why the 7-year cycles of life are so poignant! Saturn gives them a LOT of meaning, and it’s reflected in science with how every 7 years we experience what psychologists call “normative crises.”
Normative crises are the normal stress periods of living and growing, and they flare up with regularity throughout our lives. We can track these periods by watching what Saturn is doing in the birth chart.
The Age of 7: Waxing Saturn Square
Why do we say that the first 7 years of a child’s life are the most crucial? Because at 7 years old, your fundamental personality is formed. Everything you have experienced and absorbed from your environment from birth to age 7 becomes subconsciously ingrained as your psyche, and will often be the subconscious source of any of your adult issues.
The Age of 14/15: Saturn Opposition
This is when you experience the teenage identity crisis. Your parents are annoying. You make the major transition into high school. No longer are you coddled in elementary school or junior high; now you’re swimming with the big sharks and have to come into your own. You question who you are and into what group or clique you fit. Freaks? Band geeks? Cheer squad? Your differences from others can make you self-conscious.
The drama of freshman year? That’s the Saturn opposition in full effect.
The Age of 21/22: Waning Saturn Square
At this age you’re an adult in the eyes of the law and can buy your own beer, and have free reign to make childish crazy young adult choices. If you went to college straight out of high school, you may have graduated university and are now looking at living on your own for real for real.
Heard the term “quarter life crisis?” It stems from the existential normative crises of the mid-20s, and is a time of learning serious lessons. Again, squares are stressful, more so than the 14-year-old high-school Saturn opposition, which just caused you to get in where you fit in. Now, you feel more pressure to do something and be somebody out in the free world.
The Age of 29: The Saturn Return
Then comes the big kahuna. At about 29.5 years of age, Saturn returns to the same sign it was in on the day you were born, and moves through that sign through the course of over two years.
All the Saturn keywords I mentioned above come up into your life for review. You now have enough actual life experience, and a physically matured brain so you must do better.
The Saturn return, and ages 28-31 have you REALLY thinking about life like never before. This is truly the time where if you don’t get your life in formation, you will face swift and harsh consequences because now you KNOW better.
If you use the tools and lessons of Saturn productively, you will have found your page, hit your stride, and figured out how to experience the most fun and freedom in a responsible way.
The Beauty of Saturn and the Psychological Process
The Saturn return is the true initiation into adulthood. Just because you can legally drink at 21 doesn’t mean you know how to do it responsibly, and Saturn is all about the maturity.
The 20s are a time to shake off the childhood conditioning, meander and try a bunch of fun things without pressure, and lay the authentic foundations of your life with more profound clarity.
We have to experience the revolution of Saturn and its 7-year cycles to have a deep understanding of responsibility and finally come forward to SELF. Strictly astrologically speaking, there’s no rush to get married, have children, or expect to have the perfect career and global empire by that age.
After Saturn’s come along to clean things up for you, THEN adulthood begins. You get to be Age 0 in Adult Years, and operate in relationships and business from a truly grounded knowledge of self.
The early 30s are the time for integrating all of the serious but fortifying lessons we learned during that 2-year Saturn return period.
And by the time you’ve gone through the cycles again and reach your second Saturn return at age 59, you should really be settled into a powerful and grounded sense of self.
If you use the tools and lessons of Saturn productively and pay attention to what things come up every 7 years, but your second Saturn return you will have found your lane, hit your stride, and figured out how to experience the most fun and freedom in a disciplined and responsible way.