I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary in California after leaving tighter-knit communities on the East Coast and overseas to start grad school. The past year has been a complete disaster for me personally – I’ve never lived anywhere this long and had no friends, no dating life and zero understanding of the prevailing culture. The one upside is that I found an amazing apartment that has been a haven to me.
I’m wondering: is there any change in sight? Especially with my Saturn return coming up! No rest for the weary. So I guess a follow-up question would be: if it’s just going to be tough and I’ll continue feeling like a stranger in a strange land for my time here, what are the upsides? Any particular areas where I can focus my energy and see results?
–Aries Fish Out of Water
[Note to readers: last week, I explored the concept of the Saturn cycle with a question about early twenties’ life transitions; this week, I’m continuing with thoughts on the Saturn Return. If this is all hieroglyphics to you, check out this quick explanation in Dear Seagoat #4. For more on transits, look here.]
The couple of years leading up to the Saturn Return is more difficult for most people than the Return itself. Since the Saturn Return is the defining rite of passage (aka “Turning 30”), you might expect a tidal wave of angst to be headed your way. But, nope. The stress is the buildup.*
Because it’s the Saturn Return that makes you strong enough to handle to the Saturn Return.
As you’ve been moving into your late twenties, Saturn has continued piling on the pressure. My guess is that tough-loving Saturn is what got you moving toward grad school. His pressure probably also gave you the future-vision to leave your warm community for the chilly (yet weirdly temperate) Pacific coast.
In 15 months, when Saturn finally circles around to his original position in your natal chart (Sagittarius in the 1st house), you’ll be amply prepared. Think of your current solitude as Saturn’s body building regimen. As you push through, you’re becoming muscly, tenacious, organically steroidal. Since Saturn keeps notching up the weight, it may be hard to notice at the moment. But when the time comes, the best parts of your warrior-like Aries nature will likely be at forefront, helping you rise to the Saturn Return challenges of responsibility, recognition and adulthood with ferocity and grace.
That you’re struggling with relationships right now makes sense. You’re naturally people-oriented, particularly toward romantic and family bonds. However, your biggest challenge appears to be feeling strong and confident on your own.
Saturn doesn’t mess around. He knows what your issues are and wants you to work through them. (The operative word here being “work.”)
The 1st house of the birth chart represents self-discovery and being seen. Saturn is the planet of restriction. Saturn in the 1st house of your birth chart means, basically, that you limit expressing and fully inhabiting yourself. (Read: self-censorship.)
Maybe you’ve let your tight-knit communities’ belief-systems rule your personal choices. Maybe you’ve depended on romantic relationships or being liked to give you a sense of self-worth. Maybe you’re holding yourself back out of fear of failure. These are all possibilities with Saturn in the 1st house. What’s certain is that you have some fear or restriction around personal expression and identity. Whatever it is, that’s what Saturn wants you to face and muscle up to.
Now might be the ideal moment to revel in being a cultural outsider. What obnoxious, brash, funny, honest East Coast behaviors do you miss? Act ‘em out. Instead of letting the West Coast be your problem, be its problem. Getting all East Coast-style might alarm some especially indirect Californians, but what’s important right now is letting yourself be seen. Once you’re fully visible, I suspect your people—the ones who make sense, who understand and reciprocate your cultural gestures—will appear.
Where to focus your energy and see results?
Because Saturn rules personal authority, take control over the image you project (1st house) in a positive, self-affirming way. Use this time that you’re on your own to become yourself more fully and own the fears loneliness brings up. Examine your existing relationships: which give you space to grow and which don’t? Is there anyone you’re ready to let go of? What qualities make the good relationships so positive for you?
Beyond that, do what you love. As Saturn re-enters the 1st house, he wants you to re-build your self-concept—and that includes understanding your pleasures. What activities (time with nature/plants, writing, making art, hiking, running, meditating, editing, volunteering with kids, advancing your career etc.**) help you feel more like yourself? Deepen your involvement with the ones that matter.
Because Saturn works long-term, the strength you’re developing right now will be a resource for the rest of your life. You can trust that this time alone is relationship work; the sense of security that comes from knowing you can handle yourself will help you trust your partnerships and feel safe within the ups and downs of all current and future relationships.
*Usually. Mitigating factors exist.
**Some things a person with Virgo Moon/10th house, Aries Venus/5th, Sag. Mars/2nd or Aries Sun/5th house might enjoy.
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Keywords: Advice, Saturn Return, transits, help, feminist astrology.