Saturn is the planet of our progress through the world. He operates more consciously and concretely than Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Saturn we can work with, whereas with the outer planets something entirely new and unpredictable is coming in, and the best we can do is just run with it. And trust.
Saturn returns to its natal position when we are 29-30. This is the Saturn Return, and it usually corresponds to some sort of stepping up of worldly responsibility, whether through promotion at work or getting married and having children. It can also be a confusing time, because Saturn is a planet of duties and expectations. So you may have spent your twenties living how you felt you ought to live, working 9 to 5 and trying to do what everyone else does. The Saturn Return can upset this, because it needs to be your Saturn that you are living, not someone else’s.
The Saturn Return, however, is not the first major Saturnian event of adult life. The first such event is when we leave home, leave college and start working and living in the world. Typically this would occur at the last Saturn square before the Return, at age 21-ish. At this age, it is dynamic and challenging. Or you may be 23/24, when there is a sextile of Saturn to natal Saturn. You are maybe not quite so driven, you take your time, you are maybe better qualified, and it is easier.
That’s all a bit schematic and I’m sure it’s never that cut and dried. But the point I’m coming to is that in our early 50s we have the Return of that first major Saturn event. We have completed a 30 year cycle of being in the world, and it is time to take stock.
In previous times, when people did not live so long, this Return would signal the beginning of the slope down to retirement, cemented further by the second actual Saturn Return in the late 50s.
But not now. In our early 50s we are still young enough to start over, building on our 30 years in the world. Being 53, I find myself pulled two ways. There is the old mind-set which says that all you can do is carry on with what you are doing and expect to slowly wind down. And that was quite reasonable in its day. And there is the new mind-set, which says it’s time for a new start. Which is what seems to be happening.
I don’t know how long we will continue to have such improved health and longevity in the West. But while we have, I think we need to view the early 50s as a time of new beginnings. You still have 3 decades ahead of you. The crises, the long slow changes of the 40s are over. Saturn opposite Saturn, Uranus opposite Uranus, Neptune square Neptune, Pluto square Pluto, even the Chiron Return are all done with.
The new start of the early 50s has very sure foundations, and reaches fruition at the second Saturn Return of the late 50s.
An example: Bill Gates left college in 1975, aged 20, and began working in the fledgling computer industry. 31 years later - one Saturn cycle - he announced he was leaving Microsoft to concentrate on his charitable work. His second Saturn Return is still a few years off.