Like any good astrology student, I thought I was prepared for my Saturn return, an astrological phenomenon that happens to everyone around the age of 28 until about 31 years old. I had almost five years of formal and informal astrology studies behind me, had checked and double checked my birth chart, visited the two most excellent astrologers in my town and had all my books handy should I need to reference anything that came up unexpectedly. I like to be ready, one could say, and as my teacher once told me, astrology teaches us that it will rain, so take an umbrella – in short, protect yourself by arming yourself with knowledge. But when my Saturn return came, it knocked me sideways and left me gasping for breath, unable to breathe or move. Suddenly, everything seemed really intense and really URGENT. Like, if I didn’t do something with my life right way, I’d be doomed to fail my adulthood. Many times I found myself leaving work, frozen with fear and emotionally turbulent, wondering if my therapist hadn’t perhaps been mistaken when she said I was mentally sound. I sure as hell didn’t feel it.

Even if you are a non believer in the stars and the planets having any effect on our lives, it seems to be irrefutable that everyone seems to experience a heaviness, as well as massive changes when they reach their late twenties. People I’ve spoken to who insist astrology is hocus pocus, have come back to me awed and wanting to know more about this twilight time in life, that limbo where you are just about to cross the threshold into maturity, your thirties.

Saturn, in ancient Greek mythology was called Kronos, the father of time. Just to be clear, Kronos was the son of Uranus the sky God, who castrated and deposed his father (check out The Astrology Book, an Encyclopedia of Heavenly Influences by James R Lewis; and http://www.myastrologybook.com/Saturn-Kronos-Chronos-mythology-god.html). Charming.

Saturn is also known as the Lord of Karma, the wise old man, the harsh teacher, the one who reveals your insecurities and fears in life and challenges you to overcome them (Liz Green, an New Look at an Old Devil – a MUST read!). Wherever Saturn is situated in your birth chart is where you are bound to learn lessons and where you’ll reap the benefits if you do. Saturn takes around 28 years to make a full cycle around your birth chart to return to the place it was when you were born, which is why it’s called a return. All the other planets also return to their original places in the birth chart in their cycles, but in astrology, Saturn really is the planet that seems to create the most change.

Some people have it easier, if they were, for instance, born during the daytime (see http://theastrologypodcast.com/2015/02/08/understanding-saturn-return/, an invaluable podcast on understanding the Saturn Return), or if Saturn in their charts is well integrated – meaning well placed, in a good sign or in a good house, or with good aspects. For example, Saturn who rules the sign of Aquarius is very happy when he is placed in Aquarius, and you are able to shoulder responsibility well, but in the opposite sign of Leo, Saturn rebels and makes lessons much more challenging. Of course there is much more to this, and this doesn’t mean that if Saturn is poorly integrated, that you’re doomed to despair and hardship forever – it just means that you’ll have to work a bit harder, and in astrology there are always balancing factors elsewhere in the chart that help you get through the more difficult times.

Even knowing all of this and having a pretty well placed Saturn, when I hit 28 (in fact, 28 and a half for me), I crumbled at first and felt unable to shoulder the responsibilities I had so easily carried my whole life, from raising a little brother and looking after two drug dependent parents, to leaving school at the age of fifteen to help the family business, to conquering addictions and toxic relationships of my own. I was sure I had this in the bag. I found that I had to sink deeply into my darkness and fully immerse myself in what it meant to take responsibility and start making adult choices. I began to gather stories and found common threads between them all, in order to make my own return a bit easier and those of my nearest and dearest.

I found that all the stories began with the growing need to make a significant change in life, which then developed into a kind of chaos, in which everything that was thought appropriate had to shift to contain the rebirthing process, and that finally, when the appropriate change was made, and the challenge was faced, it had a happy ending. For instance, many friends decided to leave their jobs and go abroad for an extended period of time. Some friends got married and took that kind of responsibility for their relationships. People that had been in long relationships from their early twenties decided to head off on their own – not an easy task at all and I have witnessed the most monumental breakdowns – and some just withdrew, to emerge later with a real, solid plan for their lives. As for me, I knuckled down. I began saving to travel, and plan to leave my job of 5 years that I’ve now outgrown. I have slowed down on partying as much as I used to – less self medicating – and I became earnest about writing, studying, teaching, yoga and meditation. I began taking responsibility for my thoughts and actions and everything I did, and I began thinking long term. It’s a hard process and some days I’m not sure I’ll make it, and and damn near drive myself crazy wondering if I’ll succeed at what I call “successful adulting”. I finally am beginning to understand – in real life – the difference between people in their twenties, and people over the age of thirty. And, if I could give advice to anyone in this period of life it’d be as follows :

1. Be true to yourself – I have become used to the fact that I am the only one of my peers who talks star language, teaches tarot, sings to my chakras every morning and plans to get paid to write one day. So, whatever choices you decide to make, whether it be to travel, leave your partner, marry your partner, have a baby, change jobs – make sure it serves you. Don’t compare yourself to others, it’ll just create stress. Follow the beat of your own drum.

2. Take responsibility – in all areas of life. For your thoughts (this one has been my biggest challenge, to change my fear based mindset), your actions and your life. Saturn, above all, wants us to learn the value of responsibility and the rewards thereof.

3. Work hard – whether it be on a yacht or at a desk or on a personal project. Everything counts now, and Saturn rewards a job well done. For me, it’s writing – my book, the courses I teach, my journal. I work at it day and night and hopefully, I’ll make a success of it.

4. Make the change – just do it. It will be terrifying, and you’ll question yourself every step of the way, but it will be worth it. I promise. You’ll be happier and living more in alignment with who you really are. South America, here I come!!

5. Get over yourself – things can seem very serious right now. And they are – just don’t take yourself so seriously that you forget to play and relax. The world is not going to end, and besides, you’re a grown up – you can do this. My boyfriend tells me this daily – his words? Man Up.

6. Be patient with yourself – change that is worth anything takes time. It’s not going to happen fast – this one I’ve learnt the hard way – so work towards your goal slowly, methodically and wisely. I have found that driving myself to be a success has only left me with frustration and going back to the drawing board. Haste makes waste.

And finally – for the love of the stars – see a good astrologer. It’ll make a world of difference getting guidance at this time of your life. I myself am making full use of the resources I have to make the very best of the time to come. Remember, we can’t change the weather, but we can take an umbrella to protect us from the rain.