Ask Charla: Taking a Closer Look at Saturn, the Lord of Karma

Posted on August 28, 2017

Welcome to another edition of ‘Ask Charla.′ You know, here at Astrology Answers I get a lot of questions from all corners of the globe; things to do with love and romance, chakras, tarot, astrology, numerology; if it′s metaphysical, then someone at some time has asked it!

This time, the question is,“Should I be afraid of my Saturn return?” Oh my!

I love this question, and I wonder who you′ve been talking to who makes you think there′s something to fear! Saturn gets a bad rap, and I can understand why, but it′s also very misunderstood. Saturn′s actually one of the good guys—unless you live your life cutting corners, being irresponsible, and trying to freeload off everyone else; then Saturn might be a bit rough with you!

Saturn and Karma

They call Saturn the Lord of Karma and there′s a good reason for that. In ‘olden times,′ people didn′t live as long as they do now, so when the second Saturn return approached, it often meant the natural end of someone′s earthly incarnation. That′s not necessarily true these days, but it is still a gateway to your senior years, and needs to be respected.

Saturn is also the ruling planet of Capricorn, the Sun sign that lords over the period when the calendar year changes from one to the next. In this instance, Saturn is seen as ‘Old Father Time,′ marching on whether we like it or not! The very glyph of Saturn is the cycle from the god of time, Chronos (this is where we get the word ‘chronometer′).

At one time Saturn was the outermost planet known to man—yet another nod to the old characteristic of Saturn with its boundaries and restrictions. This gave Saturn its role in the birth chart as the disciplinarian, and the marking of a particular era of your life. However, there are two, sometimes three, Saturn returns in your life!

They mark the distinct seasons of your life, and they each have their own lessons to impart, their own karma to dish out. What can you expect from them?

First Saturn Return

Your first Saturn return happens when you′re around the age of 29. It marks the end of your childhood and the inevitable entering to early adulthood. It may even be said to mark your middle ages; if we assume that man lives the proverbial ‘three score years and ten,′ then yes, dear, whether you like it or not, you′re middle aged.

It′s at this time Saturn takes all the mistakes and the sadness and the bad decisions from your past and throws them in front of you. If there′s any karma to balance, you′ll be shown where it is, no questions asked. You may lose loved ones, being thrust further into the world of adulthood.

Perhaps you now not only have children of your own to raise, but you could be looking after aging parents, too. It′s during this period that many people start families, find their chosen career path, and commit to mortgages and other long-term investments.

Second Saturn Return

About 29 years after your first Saturn return, here it comes again. You might be presented with early retirement, seeing your kids off to college, welcoming your first grandchildren, or having to make arrangements for the care of your elderly loved ones. You can deny the facts all you want, but you′re entering into your senior years, the years of your second Saturn return.

This is often a time of great concern. My clients want to know if they′ll ever be happy, find someone to love them, or be financially secure. Their charts always reveal what′s happened in the past. It bears repeating. If you′ve been paying your dues, learning your lessons, acting responsibly and not trying to cut corners or pass the blame, then this should not be a time of concern.

However, if you′ve not been paying attention, then yes, your karma will catch up with you. Forewarned is forearmed!

It′s not as dire as it sounds. If you find that you′re losing things right left and center and it′s starting to freak you out, take a deep breath and compose yourself. Saturn′s just removing things that are no longer appropriate for the rest of your life from your path, so that you can focus, and make room for new beginnings.

Every ending opens a new door. Accept that, even though sometimes it′s challenging at the time. When you trust that everything is just as it should be, then even the difficult times are acceptable as evolutionary periods.

Third Saturn Return

What can I say? If you′re lucky to get around to your third Saturn return, then you′re very blessed. This happens around age 87, and it′s a big deal. You′ll find yourself gradually detaching from the physical world and preparing for what some call ‘the final journey.′ This is also a fairly new phenomenon, because until recently hitting this landmark was a rare occurrence indeed.

By the time you′ve reached this age you′ve seen most of what the world has to show you and experienced most of what life wanted to teach you. There′s not a lot left, apart from quiet appreciation of what you have, and making the most of what life still has to offer to you.

You might not have the advantage of youth on your side, but you do have the ally of experience, and that is something to celebrate, revere, and teach to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Saturn Retrograde

Saturn turns retrograde every 12 months and those retrogrades last for approximately 140 days. This usually means that your Saturn return hits three times; once when it makes a conjunction to its natal position in your chart, once when it passes that place again going backwards, and once again when it passes on its forward and direct motion.

This is nothing to fear; it gives you three chances to pay your dues and learn your lessons, and to set yourself up for the next three decades or so! Go, Saturn!

Saturn retrogrades sometimes manifest in your chart as times of loss or sadness. It′s not really Saturn′s intention to make you cry; however, Saturn is a disciplinarian. What loving father won′t chastise his child for doing wrong? If Saturn′s smacking your legs, it′s not to make you resentful or bitter; it′s to show you what you need to turn around in order to live your life to the fullest.

Even with all of this going on, there are some things you should try to avoid during the time when Saturn is retrograde, and this is especially true if you′re going through one of your Saturn returns.

  • Respect customs and authority. Saturn demands regard and compliance, and if you′re going to push back when it comes to traditions and respect, it will probably come back to bite you, sooner rather than later. Remember, we′re talking karma here. What goes around always comes around; Saturn will see to that!
  • Don′t stray too far out of your comfort zone. Saturn′s not the daredevil (you can look to Mars for that). Saturn needs to do things in a disciplined and controlled way, one step after the next, in order, and thoroughly. If you′re not prepared to do that, then postpone the entire project until another time, which leads us nicely into the next point.
  • Don′t start anything new. Yes, we know that your Saturn return is a time for laying the foundation for the rest of your life, but its retrograde period is the time for major changes. Set them up before the retrograde hits, and then put them in action once Saturn turns direct again. One of Saturn′s main lessons is patience; see how well you′re being taught?!
  • Don′t spread yourself too thin. You want to make a good impression and get things done, but Saturn retrogrades make it harder to get ahead because it takes longer to finish things. If you overschedule yourself, something′s going to have to give. You might not have the energy it takes to accomplish everything on your agenda, so make sure you leave plenty of room for downtime.
  • Don′t take things—or people—for granted. Part of Saturn′s karma is if you take something for granted or fail to appreciate what it does for you, you could well lose it. If you value it, if you′ve people in your life you like having around, do not take them for granted—not ever, but particularly not during a Saturn retrograde, and doubly so if that retrograde happens to be around the time of your Saturn return. Saturn returns aren′t anything to fear, but they often bring changes and upset. You don′t want to have to face too much upheaval, especially if it can be avoided.


Saturn returns aren′t anything to be feared, no more so than Saturn′s regular retrograde. Much of the reason they′re still a concern to some people is because we still hold onto the old beliefs regarding Saturn′s karma; Saturn still has that reputation of being a disciplinarian.

However, you only need to worry about your Saturn return if you′ve been trying to outwit old Father Time. If you′ve been paying attention and working hard toward your goals, then your Saturn return has the potential to make all that dedication very well rewarded indeed. Think of Saturn as the stern but loving father, and you′ll see that there′s really nothing to dread at all!

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Charla Stone

Hi! I’m Charla Stone and I learned astrology and mysticism way back in the 1970s. I've spent the last four decades using the stars, tarot, runes, crystals, totems, and more to bring light and guidance to others. I’m... Read More

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