TrueHeartWork | The Cycle of Responsibility and the Role of Saturn (Part 2)
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The Cycle of Responsibility and the Role of Saturn (Part 2)


Introducing the Saturn Cycle

Introducing the Saturn Cycle

The cycles of the outer planets in angular relationship to their own positions in the birth chart are of particular interest for a number of reasons. They are lengthy cycles and are thus significant for personal development. They are relatively “pure”, in that each one relates only to one energy. And, they are particularly easy to notice because the same cycles happen to everyone at roughly the same age. Of course, the impact may be quite different between you and your friends, because that is a result of how each of you intrinsically handle that energy (based on the condition of that planet in the birth chart) and on how your environment and actions have conditioned you to it.

The Saturn cycle is perhaps the simplest to see, although it may be difficult to handle, given Saturn’s energy, which is usually described as one of restriction, meeting boundaries, accepting responsibilities and disciplined effort! (Don’t forget the positive side of Saturn, though; it’s through such lessons that you achieve success and power too.) Saturn has an approximately 29.5 year cycle, which means that most people in the developed world today experience two to three cycles. This cycle, like all astrological cycles, is further divided into a number of parts, of which a division by four is the most common. The graphic shows Saturn travelling around the Zodiac, leading to a set of phases, each around 7 to 7.5 years, marked by the squares (90°) and opposition (180°) aspects of Saturn to its birth position as well as the return after 29.5 years. As we see in the table below, the ages when these phases begin correlate very well to major stages of change or crisis in life, particularly during the first cycle which we will discuss later in more detail.

It’s interesting to note how closely the quarter cycle of Saturn corresponds to the “seven-year itch” famed as the time when relationships come under stress. In this context, you can see that it is the boundaries that a relationship imposes are what get particularly burdensome. This clearly suggests that addressing issues around “space” and “freedom” is required to successfully navigate these times. Ignoring this Saturnian signal to address these boundary issues may then invoke an external trigger—the arrival on the scene of a desirable other! However, if the first relationship is broken in order to pursue the new one, the boundary issue probably has not really been addressed; it has simply been moved, which accounts for the subsequent disillusion often experienced in such situations.

Saturn Phase


Age of Onset

Stage in Life




Realisation: experiencing boundaries of body and home
Square (separating)


Reason: understanding that life has its limits


Rebellion: the battle against parental restriction
Square (approaching)


Responsibility: taking on the burden of a role in society
First Return (conjunction)



Re-appraisal: reviewing progress and letting go
Square (separating)


Reinvention: new understanding of boundaries


Rejection: challenging society’s boundaries
Square (approaching)


Re-integration: returning to responsibility to self
Second Return (conjunction)



Re-evaluation: reviewing life and setting free
Square (separating)


Re-creation: defining life beyond matter’s boundaries


Reinterpretation: fighting life’s tightening boundaries
Square (approaching)


Re-purposing: accepting the limits of matter
Third Return (conjunction)


Rebirth: letting go of matter


A few words of warning are in order about the above table, though. The Saturn cycles are not the only ones going on in your life. A number of other key cycles are active during some phases and ages that are pointed out above; it is often difficult to clearly distinguish these overlapping cycles. Also, as we go through life, we accumulate more and more experiences whose consequences live on. The later cycles are therefore considerably less “pure” in their expression than the first one and the life stages beyond midlife mentioned above must be interpreted very loosely indeed.

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