Return of Saturn

Saturn is the planet of responsibility, limits, and boundaries. The planet that teaches us how to say “no.” The planet that makes you work hard for what you deserve. The planet of maturity and of adulthood. Every 28-30 years in your life, Saturn finishes its trip around the zodiac and returns to the same spot as it was when you were born. The first time this happens is said to be the time you are ushered into adulthood, a time when there is an emphasized clarity of what is actually working in your life and what isn’t. It’s a time that we often let go of patterns, people, work, values or homes of our childhood/youth in order to prioritize and commit to what we want our adult life to look, feel and be like. Your Saturn Return can feel like a shock, or it can feel like a confirmation of what you already know – depending on how much you’ve been paying attention to what your adult needs are. When Saturn returns, it can have a way of brutally cutting things out of your life that aren’t helping your soul grow in the way it needs to. Saturn, I usually say, is that friend of yours who will tell you the truth whether you like it or not, no matter how much it hurts your feelings.

2013 has been the year of my Saturn Return and my turning 29, and I have definitely been learning the lessons this planet has to offer. Learning how to say “no”, believing I deserve what I want and working hard for it, and taking responsibility for my own limits and boundaries. Having my fair share of water in my birth chart (water is the element that, not surprisingly, is the most fluid and boundary-less) it has never been easy for me to figure out how to set and keep my own boundaries (and I have a lot of years of therapy to help explain why too. On that note, the ways in which our relationship to boundaries, or anything we talk about in astrology, actually play out in our lives are of course shaped by our relationship to power, privilege, oppression, the historical/social/familial context in which we’re located and have lived our lives ). For me 2013 has been sometimes painfully and sometimes refreshingly clear, how important boundaries are to me at this point in my life.

For most of the first half of 2013 (and for the most of the previous year as well) I had been pretty sick, and my body/energy had a very limited capacity (Saturn also being the planet that gives our bodies and health a reality check). I had to really think about all the commitments I had on my plate and if I could really handle them: I couldn’t go out more than once a day, I needed to make sure I had days where I didn’t go out at all, I was able to keep in touch with friends or do social things a lot less often, and I had to think about saying goodbye to a lot of work/job/organizing projects in order to be able to properly focus on my artistic and astrology career. I spent a pretty quiet and internal winter, and it wasn’t until the spring when I had a lot less stuff in my life that I actually started feeling better, energy and health wise, than I have for years. There have been a lot of new beginnings this year, and inevitably a lot of endings. Sometimes things ended smoothly on good terms, sometimes endings were jarring and hurtful (and the more I tried to hang onto something that just wasn’t working for me any longer, the more painful the break was).

The gift of Saturn, however, is that it shows you in shining colour the things/people/values you are left with after you make those hard decisions (or sometimes, when they are made for you…). There is a clarity, grounding, and care for the things you’ve worked hard for. There is a stability and long-lasting sense of things manifesting in your life that make you the most you you can be. For all the times I’ve whined about how much of a jerk Saturn can be (“why can’t you just let things come easy!? why do I have to work soooo hard for everything!?”), it is the most rewarding thing to see form, shape and a tangible reality brought to the things I once thought could only be dreams.

The lessons I’ve learned about boundaries this year I take to heart. Boundaries of all kinds are important – emotional, sexual, financial, work, how we spend our time/energy and who with. Building relationships that allow us space to figure out, state, and have our boundaries respected lets us be more in tune with what we really care about and what really nourishes us. This space allows us to figure out what we want, dream and need, resisting the urge to let someone else’s needs compromise our own – which inevitably allows to be in a much stronger and fuller place within ourselves to be able to care for others. There are always going to be times in our lives to open ourselves to new possibilities, to learn how to say “yes” (that’s Jupiter, another story…), but Saturn’s boundaries allow us to discern and prioritize what we want in our lives. Saying no helps stabilize the things we say yes to, a stability that ultimately helps us be open to the things that will set us free.

This year I’ve had experiences that have reminded me how painful it is when someone doesn’t consider your boundaries, how beautiful it feels when someone does, and how wonderful it is to consider and respect someone’s boundaries in return. These experiences have given me clarity for the kinds of relationships I want in my life (relationships of all kinds, whether it be love, work, friendship, family). These experiences have also made more clear my beliefs of what I want to continuously work on, pay attention to and strive to live my life by. I want to put care into acknowledging that people’s boundaries are complicated, they are not set in stone and can change given time or context. Figuring out how to set your own boundaries and give space to others’ is tricky and takes extra consideration and communication when there are especially pronounced power dynamics involved; and when we are all immersed within cultures that teach us to take from one another without asking. I want to always get better at asking for consent and figuring out what consent looks like within relationships. When someone asserts their boundaries (whether those boundaries are communicated by words, actions or body language), I want to be able to accept them without making someone feel guilty or wrong for asking/stating them. I want to be able to give time and space for myself if I have an emotional reaction to hearing/receiving a boundary and take responsibility and care for what is actually going on within me in having that reaction. When someone tells me I crossed their boundaries, I want to be able to say I’m sorry. I want to be able to work on what I need to do for myself to never do it again. I never want to use power I have in a situation to force someone to compromise their boundaries, or use power to prevent someone from emotional/physical/financial stability if I hear a boundary that I wish they didn’t have or that doesn’t fit with mine. I want to build relationships of all kinds with people who want to do all of this for me as well. I want to create individual and community relationships where we feel free enough to say “no” as much as we can say “yes,” so that when we do say yes, we can come together more fully and with more love and respect for ourselves and each other. Among the people who I work, build and love with, this is how I want to treat others and how I want to be treated.

I know what I want is not what everyone wants. I know my values and beliefs around boundaries, or anything, are not always going to be equally possible or important to others, as we all do constantly cross paths and share intimacy even with people who are on completely different journeys as we are, and who are working through different things in different contexts. I want to keep enough space and understanding for others while still keeping what is important for me at the centre of my own life. The stars, life and love keep telling me that’s all any of us can do.

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