Astrology Secrets Revealed by ERIC FRANCIS

Saturn Return


August 27, 2004


Dear Readers:

At the end of the previous column, I responded to one of the several questions about the Saturn return that is on my desk; they come in regularly. That is not surprising, since there is a definite, tangible effect with this transit that starts up around the age of 27 at something called the "progressed lunar return" (at which time the progressed Moon returns to the birth position). The Saturn return can have effects clearthrough the mid-30s and, depending on how we respond, beyond. This is a frequent time that people go to astrology for guidance.

To sum up, the Saturn return is the time at which Saturn returns to the natal position. Saturn's orbit is just over 29 years, so around age 29 to 30, the planet returns to its natal position and starts a new Saturn cycle. Thus we could call the return the completion of one Saturn cycle, which is a certain breed of experience that loosely but accurately translates to maturity.


Please, don't pelt me with Game Boys and beer cans. Maturity is a good thing. Maturity gives you the freedom to be a kid, a lawyer, a circus clown, a lover, a traveller or a parent. Maturity is a fact of life and Saturn loves it when you say, okay, what are the facts of life? Let's work with them, not against them.


The Saturn cycle is long, but at least it goes all the way around. Pluto represents many of the same issues, but we usually live through one-third of a Pluto cycle, perhaps a bit more. In the Western world, most people can reasonably expect to have two Saturn returns, one at about 29 and another at about 58. Many of the letters I get are from people who are at the second return.


At the Saturn return, particularly the first, there can be a rapid onset of major changes. Most people will get either married or divorced; be promoted, get fired, or quit their job and start a new career; buy their first house or sell one and move; start to make it financially or go bankrupt and start over, or both; and so on. Saturn is not attached to what kinds of changes we make, as long as they work for us in the end. As long as we are getting real. No big deal! Oh, well, maybe.


At return time, we must fully, finally TAKE ON the role of Saturn internally rather than have it work on us externally. My own Saturn return involved mighty changes and awesome challenges, and I would not trade them for anything. For instance, I was working as an investigative reporter and found myself in a First Amendment free speech battle with the New York State government that went all the way to Federal court. My lawyer and I basically worked very hard and kicked ass. We did so working with the system. We dealt with authority on its own terms and had a man-to-man discussion. In the process I grew up. And I faced down the 'dark father' that so many of us fear all our days.


All the work I had done as a journalist came to fruition the summer after I turned 30 in the form of a major investigative feature in Sierra magazine once again dealing with the archetype of the 'dark father' - the corporations that pollute the world. Corporations are a very Saturnian entity and apropos of the return, I entered into a direct relationship with them. I consider this article to be my Saturn Return Ph.D. thesis.


I also became an astrologer. I heard the calling, and I followed it. I found my right livelihood. Now, 10 years later, I am beginning to make some headway. But I have worked at it every day for those 10 years. And on all but a scant few the work was truly satisfying and productive.


The thing with the Saturn return is that basically it gives us an opportunity to actually create all the things we say we want. They will take time; they will require giving up what we don't want; they will require making changes and having faith in the whole process. But Saturn does not fail us when we do what we need to do. And one of my favourite lines of the late, great Patric Walker is: "Saturn always gives us more than he takes away."


I have been pondering Saturn all week in preparation for writing this piece, and thought I would try a new way to explain this planet.


Traditionally, Saturn is associated with three signs, so you might say it has three faces or aspects. Let's call this mini essay The Three Faces of Saturn. This has nothing to do with Saturn in any given sign right now. Rather, each person has each of these signs covering one or more houses of their chart, and this is where we need to do the work of Saturn because Saturn rules that house.


Capricorn we know about. Saturn is said to be the ruler of this sign. This is the aspect of Saturn that deals with authority - of parents, of government, of the church, of institutions of all kinds. This theme of Saturn says that we need to deal with these institutions, the most difficult of which is our parents. As John Lennon pointed out, most people are too enamoured of their parents to really ever deal with them, or to get a grip on their influences, and are complaining that their parents run their lives even into their late years, long after their parents are dead. As an astrologer, I concur. The Capricorn aspect of Saturn requires that we take on that role of parent internally so we don't have to deal with it externally as control and being trapped in over-structured situations. Most people go from school to college to a corporate life and never exist outside these big 'households' and usually have no more power than children within them! And for many, their personal relationships work the same way, as a kind of parental trap. People who keep marrying their mother or father are likely ignoring the Capricorn aspect of Saturn.


This brings up the Libra aspect of Saturn. Saturn is 'exalted' in Libra; exaltation is a kind of rulership. Most people and astrologers forget the importance of Saturn to Libra and vice versa. I would propose that it is co-equal to any of Saturn's other areas of dominion. Libra is about equal relationships. It is about fairness. It is about balance in all aspects of life. Libra has a lot to do with marriage and committed partnership. Libra is the aspect of Saturn that allows us to stand up within our partnerships. Here is the aspect of Saturn that comes up between individuals: a man and a woman, for example, or same sex lovers, or friends, or business partners. Saturn in this respect is about the boundaries we have with people, the rules we live by, the agreements we keep, and the ability to hold commitment. People really struggle with commitment, either not being able to handle it at all, or being overcommitted (or trapped) in toxic situations. When we honour Saturn, that is, when we strive for clarity and maturity and a little bit of structure in our relationships, they work a lot better. Don't worry, Libra still leaves plenty of room for Venus, and Venus loves Mars.


Then there is the Aquarius aspect of Saturn. Dangerously, this is the aspect that astrology is trying to leave behind. After the astrologer Raphael I (founder of Raphael's Ephemeris) arbitrarily pronounced Uranus the ruler of Aquarius not so long ago, astrology began a trend away from considering Saturn a ruler of this sign. For sure, Uranus has a lot to do with Aquarius. But only so much. We need the structure that Saturn offers in order to handle the social contract - that is, the basic rules of community and coexistence - that are so necessary for Aquarius.


The Aquarian aspect of Saturn is what holds community together. It is what binds us to our friends; it is what makes us stick together for the common good. The Saturn aspect of Aquarius is also what helps us differentiate ourselves from our friends and associates and stand as an individual amongst them. Do we have trouble with this, or what? Are we the most pathetic bunch of conformists in our society? How else could the advertising industry get away with their assaults on individuality and dignity? The Aquarian aspect of Saturn gives us the strength to be ourselves, and this we must do, or be lost in the sauce of meaninglessness.

How are you doing on each of these three themes? Where are these three signs in your natal chart, and how do the affairs of those houses look when you consider the three faces of Saturn?


We are all blessed to have a rather Saturnian woman named Tracy Delaney in Liverpool who helps me keep my writing together. She has just put together a web page of my writing on Saturn, which you're invited to visit, and which I'll develop as the months go on. That is located at Saturn Resource.


Also, a Saturn return e-group is forming at Yahoo groups. For an invitation, drop a note to Chelsea at


One last resource. I think that Melanie Reinhart has written an excellent book that addresses Saturn better than any I have seen. It's called Saturn, Chiron and the Centaurs: To The Edge and Beyond, and you can walk into The Astrology Shop in Covent Garden, London, UK or order it by mail from


Here are some reflections on your new questions. As I read them each week, I want to respond to all of them, and I would love to do each of your charts individually (time permits only a few individual readings each week, but I am still doing those few for now). I try to select questions that are well-stated and represent the views of other readers.


Please remember to write out your birth data using letters and numbers, such as Feb. 30, 2929, as opposed to 2/30/29! Thank you.