What the heck is the Saturn Return?

I myself asked that question in the process of writing Saturn Returns. But before I dive into the answer, I’m going to share a little bit about why I came to ask it at all.

Several years ago now I found myself wanting to tell a story about characters facing turning points in their lives. I was already past the age of 30, so I had a bit of perspective on that particular birthday, and it felt ripe for exploration. So many people I know, myself included, had a rough go of turning 30. When I look back to the time, it was both my lowest low professionally, and the time that I met the man who would become my husband, the father of my children, and my creative partner, Gregory Lemkin (Saturn Returns producer.) I literally met him the week I turned 30.

When the story of Saturn Returns was in its infancy I started sharing the idea with a few trusted confidantes and one of them told me about the Saturn Return. Basically, in astronomy, the planet Saturn is on a 29.5 year cycle. So it “returns” to the place it was in the sky at your birth when you’re turning 30, turning 60, turning 90.


In astrology, the planet Saturn represents heavy-duty life choices…

In astrology, the planet Saturn represents heavy-duty life choices: your career, your life partner, your life purpose. In a nutshell, it’s turning 30—not 18 or 21—that is the true threshold between childhood and adulthood. And your second Saturn Return, when you’re turning 60, is seen as the transition time out of middle age and into the third chapter of life. And of course, turning 90 is the time when, traditionally, one contemplates the end of one’s days—if you’re lucky!

The more I talked to different people and shared about the Saturn Return, the more stories I heard. “I found out I was pregnant the week I turned 30” an actress friend told me. “I got divorced when I turned 30” another friend said. And, “It was when my 60th birthday was approaching that I knew I finally had to come out.”


In my own life, as I approached 30…

In my own life, as I approached 30 I seriously contemplated leaving the entertainment business because I just couldn’t figure out how to pursue my passion and earn a living. I had to give up my apartment soon after my thirtieth birthday and couch surf until I could get it together financially.

But it wasn’t all bad. Besides the life-altering meeting of my future husband a few days before my thirtieth birthday, I embarked on a two new career endeavors that would shift the trajectory of my career:  I started working in commercial production where I could finally pay my bills, and I started working with a career coach. The first led me to a successful career producing commercials, music videos and high fashion stills shoots. The second led me down the entrepreneur path several years later when I started my own business as a career coach. Both of these allowed me to continue pursuing my passion as a writer/director—which eventually led to my making this film, Saturn Returns.


“Consciously or unconsciously, you are pruning your life of everything that is not relevant to what you really are as a human being.”  Robert Hand, astrologer

The Saturn Return is largely considered to be the time period between age 28 and 32.  So how does Saturn challenge you? Well, if you’re not on the right path when it comes to your relationship, it will become intolerable. The U.S. Census lists the peak divorce years as being between the ages of 28 and 30.

If you’re on the wrong career path, you’ll feel compelled to assess and make new decisions—or find them made for you. A close friend of mine was tapped at age 29 to run a multi-million dollar game company start-up. He was mixed on taking the job, because he was a filmmaker, not a game-maker. But he took it and found himself very depressed—despite the big paycheck and many perks. He contemplated quitting a dozen times. And, wouldn’t you know, eighteen months after getting the job, the parent company pulled the plug without notice. He was thirty when it happened.

Your Saturn Return might help you clarify what you really want to do: Vincent Van Gogh decided to be a painter instead of a minister. Or, it might crystallize your path if indeed you are on the right one: William Faulkner published his first novel when he was 29.

Whatever form it takes, your Saturn Return will likely feel cleansing, testing, challenging, and even excruciating.

The characters in Saturn Returns are each wrestling with their own big life choices. I invite you to watch the movie through this lens and to share about your own Saturn Return experience!