by Hope Lopez

The Hour of My Saturn Return

Songs In the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder triggers a lot of self-reflection whenever I hear it. There's one song in particular, "Saturn," that draws to mind the period of my life that I now know is called "The Saturn Return."

This infamous transit occurs somewhere between the ages of 27 and 29, when individuals are faced with situations that cause them to grow up. We all think that adolescence is the transition into adulthood. Actually, the springboard into being an adult comes later in life, during this time period when we are forced to deal with life instead of going merrily about our ways as we did previously. Not that I frolicked around happily in my early twenties, being pensive and introspective, my Saturn Return intensified bouts of depression and times of self-doubt.

I just thought it was just the twenty-something angst and part of the typical and predictable Generation X stigma, and I was just about finished with that part of my life when I found out that there was a name for this transition period: The Saturn Return. I learned about it from a friend of mine who, when informed about my age, commented that the issues that I was struggling with--ranging from relationships, sibling and family struggles, job and work-related problems--were due to the location of Saturn in my astrological chart. This knowledge helped me confront this issues instead of contining to run from them.

In astrology, Saturn is considered to be the karmic planet. The sixth planet from the sun has a diameter of approximately 110,000 kilometers. Its orbit around the sun takes approximately 29 years, traveling a distance of 1426 million kilometers. At the time of our birth, Saturn has an exact placement and it takes up to 27 to 29 years for it return to the same degree and location. This is the Saturn Return--this is the time of our lives where we become responsible for our past actions. If we don't deal with it at that time, we won't have another opportunity until age 58 or so, and it is believed that it is until you've had your first Saturn Return, most people will not take you seriously as an adult.

In Greek mythology, the other name for Saturn is Cronus. He was the god who, out of fear that his offspring would overtake his throne, ate his first three daughters and two sons as soon as each was born. When his wife Rhea was pregnant with Zeus (the King of Gods), she escaped to Crete and gave birth. She left Zeus to be raised by the nymphs. She returned to Cronus with a large stone wrapped in swaddling clothes. Cronus swallowed the bundle immediately, thinking it was his newborn son. He faced his karma when Zeus was grown and punished Cronus for his acts, forcing him to vomit all of Zeus' brothers and sisters. They declared war on Cronus, overtook him and confined him to the depths below the Earth's surface in Tartarus.

My Saturn Return began some time around the time when my friend Fran was diagnosed with cancer. She was only 26. We were devastated at the news but thought that she'd pull through. She had such positive energy, lived a healthful life--eating healthy and exercising regularly. It happened one day at work: she passed out and was taken to the doctors immediately. After numerous tests, she was told that she had lymphatic cancer. The cancer took her spirit away. In less than a year after she was diagnosed, she passed away. Although I knew that she had this disease, I doubted that she could actually die. It was hard for me to understand why this was happening. Selfishly, I felt sorry for myself for the loss of such a special person in my life.

Around the same, I just ended an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship with a great guy who I felt more like a mother and not a better half. I focused on his potential and not the reality that he was basically without a job, home, or transportation. After the breakup, I ended up feeling scared and lonely, I would periodically get involved in self-destructive flings that led to nowhere fast.

I was still relatively new to Seattle and didn't have much of a support group at that time and felt alienated. Thinking that this is the way people in my age group lived, I resigned to living unhappily. However, during this time, without realizing it, I was taking steps to improving the quality of my life. I quit a job working as an executive assistant for a small record label. It was supposed to be my ideal job working in the biz but I got sick and tired of my boss's harassment and my telling him not to touch me, that I decided to find other work. Instead of looking for work in my field, I ended up hopping from job to job, just to make ends meet and continuing my cycle of unfulfilling work situations. I was gloomy and felt uncreative and that I was living in a rut.

The weekend long distance phone calls to my parents back East proved only to be frustrating. Their ideal job is one that provides security. It's an old school way of thinking and I understand where they're coming from, but it doesn't work in our time any longer. "I told you to be careful about those jobs in rock and roll." "Why don't you like your job?" "It doesn't matter if you like your job or not, you just need to work." "How come you broke up with that boyfriend?" "It must have been your fault since you're so pushy."

I had a hard time relating to the standards that my family set. I felt that I needed approval from them with all my life decisions--be it the corporate job, the right boyfriend, or the correct lifestyle. None of those in my life matched my familial expectations and furthered my feelings of alienation.

I'm not quite sure how long the Saturn Return lasts--I believe it's relative to each individual. Mine lasted two years. Once I hit 30, things started to ease. I ended up getting a dog (Quasimojo, a pug), finding a great partner, and I had a great job (from which I unfortunately just got laid off). Not that my life is easy with a dog, partner, or a job. I just don't define myself by those things any longer. Things have just become easier to accept. I'm breaking away from family and tribal expectations by living and handling things the way I know and not according to my parents, siblings and peers. I know that in many areas of my life, I'm still breaking from childhood and moving into adulthood. But I'm glad that at least I survived this round. Sometimes, realizing that in some higher context, things are supposed to happen, it makes it easier to understand, to surrender to the experiences that happen to us. My Saturn Return, in retrospect, coincided with Fran's death as a gift of adulthood that brought clarity to the confusion of youth. I guess when the time comes, you gotta give props to Saturn.

"Saturn" (1974)
by Stevie Wonder/Mike Sembello

Packing my bags--going away
To a place where the air is clean
On Saturn
There's no sense to sit and watch people die
We don't fight our wars the way you do
We put back all the things we use
On Saturn
There's no sense to keep on doing such crimes

There's no principles in what you say
No direction in the things you do
For your world is soon to come to a close
Through the ages all great men have taught
Truth and happiness just can't be bought - or sold
Tell me why are you people so cold

Going back to Saturn where the rings all glow
Rainbow, moonbeams and orange snow
On Saturn
People live to be two hundred and five
Going back to Saturn where the people smile
Don't need cars cause we've learned to fly
On Saturn
Just to live to us is our natural high

We have come here many times before
To find your strategy to peace is war
Killing helpless men, women and children
That don't even know what they're dying for
We can't trust you when you take a stand
With a gun and bible in your hand
And the cold expression on your face
Saying give us what we want or we'll destroy

Going back to Saturn where the rings all glow
Rainbow, moonbeams and orange snow
On Saturn
People live to be two hundred and five
Going back to Saturn where the people smile
Don't need cars cause we've learned to fly
On Saturn
Just to live to us is our natural high"

The Hour of My Saturn Return

"Saturn" Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key Of Life
"Fell on Black Days" Soundgarden Superunknown
"Forget to Remember" Frank Sinatra The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings
"High and Dry" Radiohead The Bends
"Blue" Joni Mitchell Blue
"Astral Weeks" Van Morrison Astral Weeks
"Hallelujah" Jeff Buckley Grace
"That I Would Be Good" Alanis Morissette Supposed Infatuation Junkie
"Army Of Me" Björk Post
"Ain't No Sunshine" Bill Withers Greatest Hits
"One Is the Magic #" Jill Scott Who Is Jill Scott?
"Psalm" John Coltrane A Love Supreme

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