Your late 20s can be your most transformative years – and there’s a growing number of women who blame it on astrology’s Saturn return. Writer Abigail Malbon investigates.
It’s not a new concept, to talk about the stress of the years leading up to your 30s. Much as we vow not to equate our worth with our age, there’s nothing like approaching a new decade to give you an existential crisis.
But there’s an avalanche of women who believe there’s pressure coming from more than just society and our peers. In fact, they think the planets are at play when it comes to the tumultuous years between the ages of 27 and 30, when major life shake-ups often occur. They include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s former life coach Megan Hellerer, who recently discussed the astrological concept of ‘Saturn return’ with New York Magazine.
“The first Saturn return happens when we are about 29, as Saturn gets back to the degree it was when you were born,” astrologer Francesca Oddie tells Stylist. Essentially, it means a time of reckoning.
“Saturn is like the strict headmaster who wants the best for us; he wants us to grow up and achieve,” Oddie explains. “If you’ve been in a job that you don’t particularly like, but you have great friends and fun weekends, you can get through your 20s just dealing with the frustration. However at the Saturn return, any frustrations become very heavy and depressing; the same goes for a relationship that was OK and had been ticking along nicely.
“Saturn returns to wake us up to our true selves. The more we are sleepwalking through life, the more painful this process will be.”
“It was a horrible time, my life got totally flipped around. I lost my (very dodgy) boyfriend, all our shared friends, our house and my pregnancy,” she says.
She began desperately searching to figure out why life had suddenly become so difficult, and stumbled upon the idea of Saturn return. It made complete sense. “I had such a brutal life change,” she says, “but I’m thankful now, because I was so off my ‘path’. I needed a drastic realignment.”
Not everyone is quite so quick to believe. Despite an increased interest in astrology (apps like Co-Star, which has over five million registered accounts, offer daily readings for millennial fans), many young women merely consider themselves mild spectators in the craze. But while we really don’t need anything else to worry about, even the most skeptical can’t shake the feeling that there’s something about the concept of Saturn return that rings true.
“Not one part of me follows or believes in astrology,” says Maddy, 29. “I’d never heard of Saturn return until about a year ago when a co-worker mentioned it. At the time I brushed it off, but over the last year, I’ve started doubting ambitions and principles that have always felt firmly set. And I see my female friends of the same age going through similar experiences; ending long unsatisfying relationships, changing careers, moving countries. It seems as though there’s this tidal wave of change and transition that breaks in our late 20s.
“I don’t think the Saturn return is what makes a lot of women in their late 20s feel a bit wobbly and start making changes. I think it’s more likely social, cultural and financial. But not being linked to cosmic events doesn’t make it any less painful.”
It’s true that often women who have begun to feel more comfortable in their chosen career might feel a need to break free, and have more of a safety net to do so having often worked for a few years. But Oddie argues Saturn return is universal: “I’ve seen just as many men struggle with their Saturn return as women. We are living in times of change, and today Saturn return is more of a question of what norms we have absorbed and obeyed without questioning.”
It’s true that most of us are looking for ways to find a light in what often feels like a dark tunnel. Personal feelings aside, Dr Perpetua Neo, a London-based clinical psychologist, thinks there could be some truth in the astrological concept. “I do believe quite strongly in Saturn return,” she says. “Psychologically, it makes sense that around your thirties there’s a time of reckoning.”
“The clients I speak to around this age, who are saying ‘I’m almost 30’, they want to define who they are,” Dr Neo explains. There’s an urgency to get started on the goals that they have, perhaps, set aside for whatever reason. Don’t forget that biologically your hormones change, too; your oestrogen will go down. All this translates to the ways we might think differently. There’s a very strong mind and body link.”
But, whether you put it down to astrology or not, Dr Neo says the important thing for anyone going through a time of change is to “be aware and try not to be too hard on yourself.”
“It’s important to step back and think of it in terms of, if you were your own psychologist, what would you say?” she says. “Objectivity means being able to acknowledge things that you’ve done – your strengths and your gifts – so that you can use this to rethink all of your different challenges.
“There are always going to be points in our lives when we question, so rather than pretend that we don’t, it’s okay to look it in the eye and get through the metaphorical eye of the storm. Wisdom is being able to adjust ourselves.”
Astrologer Oddie agrees: “The Bumble mantra to ‘Be the CEO your parents wanted you to marry’ is a reminder to be the boss. Moving away from what you have always known can be a challenge, but the Saturn return wants us to step out on our own and commit to our futures.”
One thing’s for sure: waitress-turned-congresswoman AOC definitely harnessed hers.
Images: Getty, Unsplash.