Conversations With Saturn, Part I: Traversing the Great Gateways of the Saturn Returns

I am in a Saturn time, so I am hyper conscious of the dizzying passage of my life. I’m finding myself drawn to more reflection than usual on this earthly reality and the undeniable transformation of both my body and psyche over time.


So what is a Saturn time, for my non-astrologer friends? It’s when Saturn makes a significant contact with a placement in our own charts, such as our Sun, Moon, or perhaps one of the outer planets. It may also be when Saturn comes back around to see its own reflection in our charts, which happens about every 29 years. That is where I am – in the time of my second Saturn Return.

Saturn is the Lord of Time. As our inner clock ticks away, Saturn reminds us of this reality and places us accurately within it  – are we trying to hold onto youth, or have we aged beyond our years? If we heed Saturn’s call, we let go of our grip on the previous cycle. We may mourn its loss if we need to. We come to a deep recognition of who we are at this moment in time, authentically. We open ourselves with curiosity to the next cycle, staying true to ourselves as we do. We don’t have to suddenly start wearing polyester or go gray if that doesn’t resonate with where we are. But we can also let go of the miniskirts or other accoutrements of youth if we admit to ourselves that those no longer accurately suit us, either.

Saturn is interested in the truth of who we are at every age. If we’re engaged fully with our lives in growthful ways, we’re maturing. Saturn tracks how we apply ourselves to life and whether we’re doing the sometimes hard work to evolve into the fullness of our inner and outer capacities. Through the twists and turns of our lifelong journey, we grow our heart and soul and, if we’re paying deep attention, we gain the gold of wisdom. Our highest engagement with Saturn is when we experience each stage of our lives with acceptance and continued curiosity about what comes next. Each stage is an opportunity for refinement, reconstruction and renewal as we recognize how we are evolving along the way.

 Saturn rules this earthly reality and the practicalities of life. Do we have a place to live? A steady source of income? How are we managing the mundane necessities? What is the basic structure of our lives, and does it need renovation or rearrangement to keep us current with ourselves?

During a Saturn time, we are often given life experiences which test our strength. Sometimes the burdens can feel heavy. Yet the depth of our growth and the strengthening of our spirit during these times can be profound, when we step up to the plate of our lives in a new way.

Saturn is also the Lord of Karma. What we sow, we shall also reap. During a Saturn time, we may be faced with the stark truth about where we have engaged with life and where we have not – and the results of those decisions. Saturn holds up a mirror reflecting our choices so we can see how we might choose differently in the future.

Saturn encourages us to move forward in life, recognizing the positive aspects of maturity.  Maturing comes from remaining open to the deep lessons that life has to offer, and evolving through our experiences. Maturing offers us well-earned wisdom.


Saturn’s full cycle is about 29 years. Imagine the long arc of a lifetime, separated into approximately 30 year sections. At birth, we cross through the first threshold – we are born! The first great gateway is the birth canal. It doesn’t happen all at once. It takes time. It can be arduous. The transition to the bright lights of the world can be disorienting, blinding. Part of us may want to go back… but there is no going back! We are drawn inexorably forward, because that is our soul’s imperative…. to come into this world, to engage, to grow, to see what it’s all about. Ah, reality! Saturn has got us by our little baby toes.

 From birth to age 28 or so, we are in the evolutionary phase of YOUTH. We are in an intense learning period, from mastering how to walk and talk to traversing the hills and valleys of school, relationships of all kinds, and comparing ourselves to our peers and family members. We are finding out who we are – the parameters of our personality, what activities we enjoy, and exploring our gifts and proclivities. Then we begin the tenuous process of discovering how to function in the world beyond school. Towards the last part of the first Saturn cycle, we are creating a vision of our adult life. The shadow of the gateway into the next life phase is something we feel approaching by around age 27.

In our 27th year, we are invited inward by the Moon… to imagine our adult lives to come. The Moon urges us to enter our deep-held dreams and sense into what we simply cannot leave behind for the practical journey ahead of living an adult life. The technical term for this Moon window is the first Progressed Lunar Return. The Moon does not want us to leave our heart and soul behind as we envision our future life path. At the first Saturn Return around 29, Saturn takes into consideration the Moon’s desires and sees what can be born from the dream to reality. But this is important – if we suppress the dream, or discount it, we set the stage for a life of practicality without soul.

Saturn takes about 2 ½ years to pass through a sign, and no matter what the exact degree of your return, I believe we are in the shadow of that large gateway the entire time… absorbing the lessons, releasing the previous cycle, opening to the next stage.

From 29 to about age 58, we are in the evolutionary phase of ADULTHOOD. In the early part of the cycle, we may still be trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up. Getting this sorted out is Saturn territory. Who we want to be, who we want to spend our life with, how we want to spend our days. We decide if we want to be married or have a family. We settle into patterns, some of which are disturbed around the age of 40 if those patterns don’t quite fit our expectations.

 Saturn is concerned with our financial security, practical matters, and how we are navigating our responsibilities. Saturn is interested in our growth, but not necessarily our dreams. Thus the importance of inviting the Moon into the conversation. The Progressed Moon will come back to us in our 54th year to stir our inner cauldron of visions for the next stage. At that point, we may begin to feel the passage of time in our bones (Saturn rules bones!) and we begin a new dream for the future.

At around the age of 58 ½, we cross through the next threshold and enter the gateway into ELDERHOOD. This is likely a word that would be resisted by most 58 year olds. Saturn wants us to face the stark reality that time is passing, we are aging, and yes, we will all die eventually. But not quite yet. Still, there are reminders of the disappearing sands of time daily. AARP mailings, talk of retirement, new aches and pains…. but more than this, there is an inner shift happening. We find that we are less interested in striving or setting big goals than we were in our ADULTHOOD phase. We still may feel alive and engaged with life, but our goals have softer edges. We are mellowing. We are taking stock of our lives. If we have lived in an engaged and conscious way up until this point, this marks an opportunity for considering the wisdom we have gained through our many life experiences and how we might offer it up somehow to others. This could be through mentoring a young coworker, creating our own work that has a healing, inspirational, or mentoring component to it, or finding meaningful volunteer work of some kind.

If we are still around at the next Saturn threshold – age 87 or so – we may experience a deepening recognition that we are in our last Saturn cycle. That is reality in this earth life. And yet, we are still here! We may have some physical or mental impairments, but can we still engage with life? If we have lived well, learned and grown through our many experiences, we can find great satisfaction in simply living with presence every day, and offering ourselves to others in ways that match our capabilities and proclivities – offering a smile to anyone we encounter, a word of encouragement or support, a bit of wisdom. Saturn would have us recognize that if we’re alive, we still have “work” to do in the world. And sometimes the smallest contributions are the most profound. 

Peggy - March 2018.jpg

My dear step-mum, Peggy, who is 97 this year.


 I will come back for reflections on other Saturn transits and continue this series over time. Like every planetary placement, Saturn is kaleidoscopic in nature and I’ve certainly not explored all of its dimensions here. Much more about all of our planetary companions to come!



The Dreaming and the Doing

I often feel that my life is largely a negotiation, a dance between the dreamy and amorphous planet Neptune and the responsible, get ‘er done vibe of taskmaster Saturn.

Both bring gifts and limitations.

Neptune is our inner canvas, where we pour the paint of our ideas or draw the fuzzy details of last night’s dream. It is where we sit on our inner shore, gazing out to sea, lost in a profound reverie. Where it may appear that not much is happening, from the outside. But inside, oh, so much.


We need Neptune time. We need time to gestate, to germinate, to stare out the window, to lie fallow while we wait for the light to appear, for one path or another to illuminate and we see our next best steps.

And yet, it’s a fine line between holding space for our dreams to grow and falling into listlessness. From gazing out to sea, to floating out there, aimless, and in a way, drowning.

Neptune becomes a fog when we find ourselves caught in addiction – from actual substance abuse to partaking of one too many cupcakes or binge-watching old episodes of Friends.  That’s how we know we have left the true dream, and must go back inward to find it.

Neptune is a gift when we honor the dream space. We do this by consciously carving out time for dreaming. To imagine the life we truly desire, to envision it in living color on our inner landscape. The key is to recognize when the dream is ripe, and ready to become a reality.

Reality is Saturn’s territory.

Saturn lives fully in this world. He is the responsible elder, the time-keeper, the hard worker. He rules earth-based Capricorn. His main interest is in keeping us grounded in the reality of this world.

He is a taskmaster, but his gifts are abundant. Most of all, they are evident. There is nothing amorphous in Saturn’s territory. It is drawn with clear boundaries, and the results of focus, patience, and diligence are clear.


Saturn is the voice that tells us whether our dreams are feasible. Not always something we want to hear, but it’s a necessary balance to dreaming the dream. This can also help us gauge how important the dream is to us, when we are challenged. Saturn's voice appears as an authority - which is why we tend to rebel against it. As we claim our own sense of authority, we see how this energy only wants to help us fully actualize ourselves. We are then acting on our own behalf, in the most powerful way.

Yet Saturn fails us when he drives us to work for work’s sake. When we are up at 1:00 a.m., bleary-eyed and compulsively intent on finishing a project – not because we are feeling alive and inspired, but because we don’t want to address relationship problems that await us in the other room, or we are avoiding some other issue, and that is why we’ve lapsed into workaholism.

As much as our Neptune dreams need Saturn to make them real, our Saturn’s ability to manifest those dreams only happens when it stays in touch with the inspiration and the magic of the creation itself. Saturn needs the dream as a spark for authentic motivation.

Consider the fragile balance between the dreaming and the doing right now in your life.

Are you taking time to feed and foster your dream? Do you need to carve out more space for imagining, scribbling notes, painting pictures?  Are you feeding your inner images, or are you being passively fed by “outer images” – social media, TV, web browsing? In this info-laden world, we all do this. It’s a fine balance.  We know we’re truly feeding our Neptune when our reverie time feels expansive, enlivening, and filled with possibility - not uncomfortably aimless, depressing, and without inspiration. If the latter, the remedy is to dive deeper, to reconnect with the heart of our dreams.

Saturn can kick us when we’re down in that lost place, because it gets frustrated that we’re not living up to our potential. That’s when we’re both immobile on the couch and also beating ourselves up for not getting on with our lives. How helpful is that? Not at all. That’s why the best we can do is anything that inspires a reconnection to our buried dreams. Draw, write, knit, meditate, walk through a quiet wood… our heart knows what will help us find our way back.

 Fueled by the awakened dream and sparked with our inspiration, Saturn says, “okay, let’s see what we can work with here.” Saturn will help us edit, restructure, and hone in on the core of what we have to offer. And then it will place a gentle hand on our back and push us forward to offer it up.

I invite you to sense into this inner dance… what part of you is dreaming, and what part is doing? 

May Neptune’s flowing waters, which hold your most cherished dreams, come to the solid ground of Saturn’s shores to create the living reality of your heart’s desire.


With love,


A Spiral of Inquiry For the New Year

I do love a good question.

What makes a good one? Questions that liberate us instead of shut us down, inspire us instead of shame us. Questions that are openings, not locked doors.

Below is a self-inquiry by way of a spate of questions. A gentle uncovering to the heart of what is working me now.

Rainer Maria Rilke says to be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves.

But posing this series of questions, for me, is not an act of impatience. It’s a kind of meditation, a peering into inner corners. Not necessarily in fervent search for an answer. But simply by posing the questions, I trust I will live my way into the answers (thank you, Mr. Rilke).

I invite you to explore your own questions. This is your personality asking it of your soul. Your soul has the answers. And it will offer clues in oblique ways:

  • when you’re having a conversation with a friend about something else

  • when you’re taking a long shower

  • weeks from now, when you’ve nearly forgotten you asked the question

 The soul comes in the side door.

So, what are the questions on your inner horizon? Start with the first one that arises, then work your way in. Or even just start with one, and live with it a while.

Here are mine… for now:

 The dream for my life keeps morphing.

Am I current with my own dreaming?

Is the current dream built on others expectations, or my own true desire?

What am I striving towards?

Does it feel like striving?

Does some part of my dream actually feel dead?

What part is the striving? What part feels dead?

 Is there a part of the dream that is still surrounded in light and airiness, or a sense of delight and electricity?

Can I extract that aliveness from the striving or the deadness?

Does this create a new dream?

Can I release the old dream, and step into the new?

Is there an internal journey that I need to take, a mourning, before I can step into a new dream?

How old is the dream? How has it changed since I first dreamt it? Sensing in... Of course, it has. Maybe I haven’t acknowledged that. Do I have the courage to acknowledge that my true dream has changed along with me?

Do I have the courage to be just who I am today, and be fully present to what is dreaming me now?


With you in the living dream….







Necessary Lassitude

There are times when we seem to come to a near halt, and this is as it should be.

We just can’t seem to get anything going. Our focus becomes a roving searchlight, seeking inspiration, meaning, a landing place. Our inner eye careens from one thing to the next, desperate to recapture a sense of engagement and aliveness. Yet there is an odd sort of flatness to our internal landscape, a seeming wasteland that feels airless and beige.

We wonder what’s wrong with us. If we could just get it together, slap ourselves into shape, get a shot of adrenaline pumping zing! – we would be back on track.

When we have clarity – it is so sweet. Self-remembrance is a wonder. Knowing precisely our raison d’etre is exquisite. From all of that ideas flow, opportunities appear, synchronicities abound. We feel we are in alignment with life.

Yet I’ve come to realize that those times when we are wandering aimlessly on a barren landscape are just as crucial for our development as the creatively verdant times – maybe even more so.

If we could only recognize that when we’re crumpled listlessly on the couch, unable to focus on anything that feels like inspired forward motion, that something significant is actually happening, under the surface.

Somehow it’s relatively easy to recognize this bigger picture in hindsight. We finally rise one morning and we’re eager to dance with the day.  We look back and realize that, while it seemed all we had done in the previous three weeks was watch Downton Abbey and eat kettle corn, we were actually gestating our next steps.

Seeds were planted. On the surface, it appeared nothing was happening. Yet deep in the darkness, the seeds were growing. And all the stomping and slapping and self-flagellation did nothing to further this process.

In fact, of course, it may have slowed it down.

We need to trust in the times when we feel stuck. No, that isn’t the easiest thing. Especially when we want so badly to get going.

Deep beneath the seemingly parched places along our road of life, there is a natural river that flows within us all. If we surrender to it – heeding its direction, following the curves, swells, and the slow, meandering places… well, it all works, actually. 

And if we find ourselves caught up on the rocks for a time, maybe we are being asked to just rest there. Look around. Why do we find ourselves here, now? What is being asked of us?

Chances are, we need to simply be still for a while. Enjoy the sun and the breeze. Let thoughts and feelings rise and fall. Follow gentle nudges. If ideas come – jot them down. Paint them. But if they don’t, that’s okay, too.

Maybe we’re integrating. Maybe we’re gathering energy for a swell of activity that is just down river that we can’t yet see. Maybe we’re being asked to simply trust the ebb and flow of our own interior life.

There is grace woven into fallow times. Our task is to surrender to it. Wait for new opportunities and inspirations, which will come in their own perfect time.


With love,


Reinvention, Right Timing, and the Journey Ahead

When the call to reinvention first stirs in our soul, we begin traversing a bridge that stretches across the landscape of our psyche.

We walk this bridge as we gradually shed one identity, one way of being. 

As we travel from our old life to what has not yet been born, we feel the light and the air touch us in unfamiliar ways, because the part of us that was covered by our old life garment is now open and vulnerable to whatever comes next.

So we move forward… with an idea of what wants to unfold next in our lives, and this idea is like a magic thread.  We move forward and we weave the thread that will become a better-fitting life garment. So the journey becomes a walking and a weaving one.

In all transparency, I am still on this bridge. The beginning point is a good distance behind me, as I have shed half of my former job, traveled through life coach training, and begun my practice. Soon, I will arrive at the other side and leave the job altogether, but that time is not quite here.

 It’s quite fascinating to feel myself disappearing from the workplace that I’ve inhabited for many years. I almost expect that one day I will simply be invisible to those around me. And then I will know it’s time to go. I am honoring this slow death.

No longer the Wild Child, bristling at the confinement of bureaucracy and corporate structure. Now I am the Watcher. Being in that world, but not of it. The slow departure is a healing for me of all the anger, frustration, and feelings of entrapment I felt for so many years. When I wanted something else but felt unable to create a solid shape out of my longings.

Yet the moment I stepped onto the bridge, pulled by the deep yearning for something more, I began forging a path towards creating my own empowerment and authenticity.  Taking action to bring my soul’s urgings to life was the beginning of my release, surrender, and forgiveness for what was never truly my place to begin with.

Are you feeling the pull towards a reinvention bridge? If you are yearning for something else, even something unnamable, it’s important to just set out walking.  Even if the bridge is enshrouded in fog. Or darkness.

Step out. Listen for the sound of what is calling you. Follow its gentle whisper. The words you hear will become clearer, the directive more precise as you do two things: keep walking and trust.

Each day on the bridge is new. Just keep listening. There will be times to pause and assess. You may peer behind you and see how far you’ve come. But don’t focus too much on that now. The journey itself is a gift. You are shedding what no longer fits you, and growing into your new life.

Everything has its time. I have surrendered to the flow of this, my own journey across the particular reinvention bridge that I happen to be on now. I can see the light of arrival on the other side, just up ahead.


 Seed Thoughts:

  • Are you currently on a reinvention bridge? And if so, are you at the beginning, middle, or near the point of arrival?

  • Consider other bridges you have traveled over the course of your life that led you to a new sense of yourself.

  • What actions make your journey easier, and what makes it challenging?


 I welcome your thoughts below.

With love,