Saturn’s Been Doing a Lot of Returning Lately

In two months, Alejandra Herrera will hit a milestone dreaded by many in their late 20s: her 30th birthday. While she has mixed feelings about “adulting,” she at least feels grounded about the whole ordeal — she is, after all, an earth sign.

“I’ve been feeling like this whole new rebirth lately,” Ms. Herrera, a Taurus from East Los Angeles, said. “As an ex-people pleaser, I just feel like my 30s are going be, like, a new beginning, where I’ll finally focus on myself.”

The last few years were turbulent for Ms. Herrera, marked by a mix of depression and exhaustion that she says arose from her job as an assistant manager at a vegan Mexican restaurant, which she recently quit.

“I feel like I have grown so much,” she said, “and I do feel like I’m in that Saturn return because I turned it all around.”

Ms. Herrera isn’t alone in looking to the heavens for answers: For a celestial body 887 million miles from the sun, Saturn sure is hot right now. Just last month, the planet supplied the title of SZA’s latest single and was name-checked in the opening lyric (“My Saturn has returned”) of a newly released Kacey Musgraves song. And on Friday, Ariana Grande released an album featuring a track called “Saturn Returns Interlude.”

So what is one’s Saturn return? Depending on your openness to celestial fiddle-faddle, it’s a highly personal astrological phenomenon that matters either a whole lot or very, very little. According to the popular astrology app Co-Star, a person’s Saturn return “occurs when the planet Saturn comes back to the same position in the sky that it was at the time of your birth.”

Given Saturn’s great distance from Earth and the comparatively long time it takes to complete a solar revolution (approximately 29.5 Earth years), the first instance of a Saturn return in one’s life typically happens between one’s late 20s to early 30s.

The astrologically inclined believe that this portends great changes in a person’s life, sometimes requiring people to confront themselves and take responsibility for who they are for the first time. (In other words, grow up.)

Claire Comstock-Gay, an astrologer and writer who has been The Cut’s horoscope columnist since 2016, had her own Saturn return starting in 2014. “It was a great time where there was a lot of chaos,” she said. “I moved cities, I had a big breakup and all these things were happening. But each time I felt so empowered and purposeful in life.”

As Ms. Comstock-Gay explained it, a Saturn return can involve a feeling of loss that comes with outgrowing one’s youth and fully moving into adulthood. Channeling that sense of grief into art is one way to document a difficult but crucial juncture, she said.

“There’s something wonderful about creating art and this time capsule of the period of your Saturn return,” Ms. Comstock-Gay, 36, said. “Hopefully later on you can look back and kind of remember what that experience was like, and also see that you did, in fact, really grow from it.”

Felix Alberto Nunez, 27, of San Pedro, Calif., believes he is currently experiencing a Saturn return. He said the phenomenon had led to a renaissance within his own art, one he is capturing behind his camera lens.

“This Saturn return made me feel like it was time to lock in on my craft,” said Mr. Nunez, who is the founder of the Vzul, a multimedia company. “I want to expand and evolve and bring on other people to help push my vision forward.”

The notion of a Saturn return has been fertile songwriting territory for years. Well before it became a matter of personal importance for Ms. Grande, for instance, there was No Doubt’s 2000 album, “Return of Saturn.”

“I think a lot of the concepts in astrology kind of cross over in popularity with culture,” Ms. Comstock-Gay said. “Things like eclipses, Saturn returns and Mercury retrograde, all these scary versions of things are fun to talk about.”

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