Saturn is known as Lord of the Time and as Great Teacher both in mythology and in astrology . These metaphors of time and learning are compatible with the concept of experience, that is astrologically also assigned to Saturn's domain: we can create our experience, which is the basis for our learning about the world and about ourselves, only in time.
The material reality
Saturn astrologically represents as well the material reality, as opposed from mind and spirit, and the limits of the matter and time. It symbolizes the world with which we interact while expanding and building the sense of Self. In this regard Saturn also relates to social environment, which is the major ingredient in building human experience and existence. Through observing planetary movements and correspondences in lives of people, astrology has established interpretations for Saturn, which can be summarized with following keywords: time, experience, world, society, limitations and boundaries, self-regulation, learning and development.
Measuring from its position in the skies on the day when we are born, Saturn moves forward and builds angular relations with his starting position in approximate 7-year-rhythm. Different stages of Saturn cycle are marked by shifts in personal development and maturity and can outline the whole human life-span. One full cycle lasts approximately 28 years. Because Saturn moves sometimes faster and sometimes slower, the length of full cycle can vary from 27-30 years and single phases of a cycle may slightly differ from exactly 7 year rhythm. The contemporary people can experience 3 or maybe 4 full Saturn cycles, whereby each will be marked by 4 phases.
It is interesting that science has identified developmental spurts in the prefrontal cortex with children in the age 5-7. Prior to that age children operate primarily form emotional and survival brain centers. The prefrontal cortex is part of the brain responsible for rational-thought, problem solving, planning and attention. Accordingly, in our society the schooling starts at age of 7. This age coincides with the ending of the first and the begging of the second phase of Saturn cycle. The turning point of different phases of the cycle mark astrologically important shifts in personal development and are characterized with some kind of tension that requires adjustments.
School environment provides not only academical learning but also first experiences with social regulations and expectations which are astrologically also domain of Saturn. They require development of self-regulation which in consequence expands self-awareness and self-understanding. Those aspects of development - self-regulation, adjustment, self-experience - are inherent to each Saturn phase and are interwoven within different set of circumstances according to the given age.
Next developmental spurt of body and brain happens around age of 14, when the third phase of Saturn cycle starts. This is the onset of sexual and social maturation, when young adults start developing their social and gender identity. Interesting enough, in this time Uranus reaches its 60° phase, measuring from his position at the time of the birth.
That is one phase in the Uranus cycle that needs 84 years to complete, which corresponds to one life-span. Whenever Uranus appears in an astrological picture, it always coincides with the urge to be more independent. At this age, it is the independence from parents. (For more about Uranus, please see my article " Tina Turner: Uranus and the call from freedom").
The legal age
The fourth phase of the first Saturn cycle starts approximately with the age of 21 starts. This occurs simultaneous with the next Uranus phase of 90° and it quiet often coincides with adjustments and experiences characterized by intensification of individuality and independence. Many first experiences like the first job, or the first own apartment, or world travel, relocation or the first marriage happen at this time. This is the time when young individual exerts itself enthusiastically into the world and collects experiences that will enrich and carry it to the full maturity and to the completion of the first Saturn cycle, that is called first Saturn return. The end the first "The Saturn return and the road to maturity".
The second Saturn cycle starts approximately at age 28 and it is also marked by 4 phases. What we have built in our lives and what we have learned, will undergo a challenge provoked by external conditions at age 28, 35, 42 and 49 . This challenge helps to either consolidate things or to initiate necessary adjustments. Things related to career or social standing will be thematized in this cycle in most cases, but depending on the Saturn position at the time when one is born, other areas of life may also move in the focus. The phase that begins at age 49, is the last phase of the second cycle and paves the way for the beginning of the third Saturn cycle at age 56 approximately.
The cycles of Saturn astrologically illustrate the individual development through different stages of life. They corresponds with building and rebuilding of experience through material and social conditions that surround us. Learning, maturing, taking responsibility and some kind of outward and inward re-positioning are common to each turning point between two phases of the cycle, no matter at what age they happen. If you look back at your life, you will surely recognize this rhythm of Saturn and how it shapes your experiences into a fulfilled life.