On Turning Sixty: Beyond the Saturn Return: the Astrological Impact of Saturn and Uranus

“When an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate.” Carl Jung

In a few months I’ll turn sixty. I’m shocked by the word “sixty” and all its implications, and I’m shocked by how I look before that first cup of coffee in the morning. Being part of the “Pluto in Leo baby-boom generation” I’m a classic of that type: I still act and feel young and resist the undertow of aging in every way. Being an astrologer, I’m motivated to look at the mid-life transits of aging again and to glean what I can about these changing times. Is there life beyond the Second Saturn Return? Something to look forward to from the astrological perspective?

What’s next? What about that Uranus square coming up at around 63? And then the Saturn square at 67, the opposition at 75, the square again at 82 and finally the Uranus Return at 84? And beyond that? Is there life—or is it the art of dying—at another Saturn opposition at 90? Of course there are other planetary cycles, but the oscillating patterns of Saturn and Uranus—of contraction and expansion, of constructing and deconstructing, are intriguing—have you noticed that there’s three Saturnian “events” to every one Uranus event? After the Uranus Opposition at age forty, Saturn opposes and squares itself three times before Uranus comes knocking on our door again. What’s that about? Maybe something’s happening here that isn’t obvious.

We know that Saturn is about the urge to create form, to make a foundation, and to build slowly and carefully a structure in which to contain a part of our life. Whether it is the slow process of building a house, or being pregnant, or writing a book, Saturn demands time and patience. And when something isn’t right, there will be delays and discomfort. The good news about Saturn is that when we do what must be done—when we do our “homework” we are rewarded. Saturnian times often feel contractive and limiting, but they are do-able; we can focus, make an effort, and usually see the fruits of our efforts.

Uranus is about change; often unexpected change. It’s the archetype of the inner rebel and it expresses the urge to break free from some of those Saturnian structures and self-imposed limitations that we’ve created. Although Uranian times seem to arise without warning, and feel shocking, they are ultimately liberating, and are a release of the tension which has been building up over time. Uranus breaks down and breaks through—it allows us to feel free and start afresh. It allows for radical aliveness.

One could look at the interplay between these two energies as the interplay between doing and being. The existential concept that “existence precedes essence” was the motto for those French Café Existentialists of the fifties who revolutionized their world with a concept that seems so basic now. It’s been said that Existentialism is now the true religion of the world, because no matter what your metaphysical beliefs are, most people practice the existential religion of personal self-creation. We make our identity and reality, just like we “work” and make significant choices in our Saturn transits. This working and choice making allows for what those philosophers, Sartre and Camus, called authentic living or radical aliveness. Astrologers might call that the realm of Uranus—saying that’s the kind of aliveness and state of being that is the goal of this sometimes unruly planet.

So as we age, there is a dilemma here—we sense that we are coming up to a last chance to do something. Serious ambitions can arise. Saturnian concerns for security and structure move in. And yet as the body loses some of its “sovereignty” there is a natural tendency to feel depressed about what we can no longer do as well as before. We may have to work harder during the Saturn Return so that we can get a chance to let go and BE later on… so this dance between Saturn and Uranus, like the tension between doing and being, can inspire us to see that the time is soon coming to relax the needs of the ego to prove itself. The doing, constructing, and reflecting aspects of Saturn set the stage for the radical aliveness that Uranus ushers in. Uranus transits draw open the curtain of fate and allow us to say, “Here I am, this is really me, like it or not.”

These interweavings of Saturn and Uranus feels like a call of destiny and a call to action in the real world. They feel personal and in-our-face, as well as metaphysical. Their transits are as much a crisis of the spirit, as a crisis of aging. We know that if we resist the constructive building and “taking out the trash” aspects of Saturn and resist the need to rebel and liberate ourselves in Uranus times, we’re going against the nature of the transit. And when we resist the natural order of things, suffering happens.

So Saturn calls us to look again, to redefine, and to slow down—it can depress us too, if that’s what it takes to make us re-evaluate ourself and do what must be done. But Saturn transits give us the time to make the do-able changes of letting go of superficiality and to move into a more real life. It always asks us to find our inner authority, and with that a deeper authenticity in the world. It calls us to set the stage of our life.

So it’s after Saturn has “worked us over” through the inner squares, outer oppositions, and the “knock you down and bring you around” conjunctions, then we are ready for the Uranus transits. We’ve done what we could; now Uranus gives or takes away that which is no longer needed, or creates an unexpected twist in our life drama. Uranian transits have the “aha” quality of synchronistic grace when they’re good, and the inevitable mark of fate when they’re not. They’re irritating, exciting, and life changing. What we sometimes forget is that although they can be edgy they can also be a great adventure.

So I’ve decided that after this Saturn Return is over, I’m going to look forward to the Uranus square at 63. I don’t know what will happen then, but I have a feeling I won’t have to try so hard at my “doing” or care what someone else thinks about how I’m “being”. I can feel it coming. Perhaps it’s implicit in the work of the Saturn Return itself, though I can’t see just how it will work out yet. However I’m setting the stage now, creating my focus, and leaving the curtain of possibilities open for Uranus to enter.

And so at sixty-three I might just be ready to take things a little less seriously and have more fun. I might even find more joy in Saturnian pursuits, whether it be the soft pleasures of grand-parenting or writing a memoir or mentoring….and the Uranian “aha” may be about buying or building that new house that is finally the right size and in the right place—even if it’s across the country. And that feels good, and very alive.

Elizabeth Spring MA is a counseling astrologer with a background in the psychology of Carl Jung. She has many other articles on her website: “Life Direction and Soul Purpose” and she specializes in relationship, career and life transition issues. You can contact her on her website for information on phone consultation readings: www.elizabethspring.com

Author's Bio: 

Elizabeth Spring MA is a counseling astrologer with a background in the psychology of Carl Jung. She has many other articles on her website: “Life Direction and Soul Purpose” and she specializes in relationship, career and life transition issues. You can contact her on her website for information on phone consultation readings: www.elizabethspring.com