Planetary Return Cycles and Life Stages

solar system Just about everyone has heard of the ominously spoken Saturn Return, but what about all of those other heavenly bodies dancing around us?

We celebrate our yearly solar return as our birthday. We have a lunar return every month. A Mercury or Venus returns happens every year, but not exactly on every 12 months. The timing of returns varies with each of their individual retrograde patterns (with exception of the sun and moon that are always direct).

These planetary bodies can signify our inner drives that push and pull us into our life experiences. Let’s start with a brief description of these planets and their return patterns.

The moon returns to the degree it occupied at birth once a month. The moon is the only planet that orbits our earth. Half of the moon’s orbit is between the sun and the earth (last quarter, new, first quarter). This is the realm of imagination, the unmanifest, where our ideas are born.

The other half of the moon’s orbit is between the earth and the outer planets (first quarter, full, last quarter). This is the realm of manifesting our ideas. As every month passes our ideas ebb and flow and we make decisions that accumulate into major life choices.

The Solar return is our birthday. Our ego has had a full trip around the zodiac. We have had a year full of experiences that could be considered good or bad and we hope to grow from here.

Mercury’s return is variable. Each year it can return before or after the Sun, and or Venus. When Mercury returns first we will have a more logic based decision pattern. It may be easier to go forward making decisions with our heads rather than our hearts.

The Venus’ return varies each year. She can arrive before, after or in between the sun and Mercury. When Venus returns first we may make decisions based on our desires. We may choose heart over our head.

Mars is the first planet on the outside of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun. This is representative of our drive to get what we want. Our drive to manifest something into this world. It is what we decide to take from our inner life and make it part of our outer life. Our drive to materialize our insides. To bring into the material realm what we want and desire most.

Every 2 years we experience a Martian return. This is a time of implementation, what has come through our hearts and minds in the last 2 years now has a chance to materialize. Depending on the return pattern of the inner planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus) will help us decide how we balance our choices through our ego, head, and heart.

Let’s move ahead to our heavier weights and talk about Jupiter the gift bringer. Looking at a 12 year cycle, our first return is usually marked by our descent into puberty and everything seems to change outside and inside of us.

Our 2nd return around 24 may mark the end of schooling, beginning a career, and possibly marriage and children. Moving forward into the world and expanding ourselves.

There is a special 19 year cycle that exists between the Sun and Moon (this deserves a book unto itself). You were born during a particular moon phase, that phase is the Sun / Moon relationship.

For example, if you were born with your Sun at 25 degrees Cancer and your Moon at 25 degrees Capricorn that is a full moon. That configuration at that degree will reoccur every 19 years. This return is unique in that we are officially becoming adults.

The first 19 years we are nurtured by our caregivers and our basic needs are provided for us. Now we step out into the world to care for ourselves (many of our legal patterns have mirrored this cycle like the right to vote and the ability to purchase certain substances like tobacco, etc.).

This may very well be the most exciting and terrifying transition of our lives.

Saturn returns around every 29 years. Since Saturn is the disciplinarian, it’s the return people seem to cower over in fear. If Jupiter is the parent that gives us our gifts, then Saturn is the parent that shows us how to properly use those gifts.

Those gifts may also be taken away when they no longer serve us. Saturn may get a bad rap, but without Saturn we would lack a solid foundation. Sometimes we need to remove a hollow block and replace it with solid concrete.

Perhaps people tremble at a Saturn return due to the pain of letting go. Saturn also assures us that the only thing that doesn’t change is that everything is forever changing.

Chiron is still relatively new to astrology. It is representative of our wounding and healing nature. Chiron orbits the sun between Saturn and Uranus helping to connect what can be seen by the naked eye (Saturn) and what exists in space but cannot be seen without aid (Uranus).

The return cycle for Chiron is 54 years. This return challenges us to find our wounds and start healing them. Chiron may ask if we have used our wounding to heal ourselves and others or are we still playing the victim of our circumstance?

Uranus’s return cycle is 84 years. Uranus represents the individuation process. It will be the last planetary return modern human life can experience. Not many of us will have a Neptune return at 168 years!

Now in the course of a human life many of these cycles collide with each other and with other major transits. These tend to be those major life stages people talk about like puberty, adulthood, and my personal favorite, the “mid-life crisis.”

Birth is our initial transition into the world. Then around 12 or 13 we experience our Jupiter return with several of the inner planet returns. This is around puberty and our lives change. Then between 18 and 20 we have the lunar phase return and now we are adults. Then around 24 our 2nd Jupiter return and we are finishing up school, starting a career and or family.

We are expanding ourselves into the world. Now at 29 we have Saturn returning and we are asked what we really want. We have expanded and now we are asked to contract into what really matters to us.

The mid-life crisis occurring mid 30s to mid 40s we have a series of returns (2nd lunar phase, 3rd Jupiter and several of the inner planets) and at this same time we have major transit aspects such as Pluto, and Neptune coming to square themselves and Uranus coming into opposition with itself.

Many of us change drastically during this life stage. With Jupiter returning, we might choose to expand into a different direction like a career change or expand further in the same direction in a number of different ways. With the 2nd lunar phase return we have had a chance to nurture ourselves and others. We have all this adult “stuff” now, what do we do with it?

Let’s merrily skip along to our mid late 50s, this one is tough. I call this return cycle “The Last Call” this is because at this stage of the game of life we either accept how our life has unfolded and go with it or it’s our last chance to change everything before our physical body stops us.

Here we have our Chiron return, our 2nd Saturn return and our 3rd lunar phase return.....Wow. This life phase is not spoken of enough, it’s as if we are ashamed of growing older and wiser (in my opinion this is due to our youth obsessed culture).

This cycle can offer us greater insight than we can imagine if we don’t fight against it. At the age of 84 we will have our Uranus return. This can be an amazing or terrifying experience according to how one has lived his or her own life. Has one found his or her own personal essence in the collective pool? Or has one allowed themselves to be programmed by society, lovers, and friends? This is a time of reflection and absorption of one’s life experience.

There is so much more we could talk about like the bodies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres, Vesta, Juno, and Pallas all have returns. Neptune and Pluto have returns that are more collective in nature. And we have a host of trans Neptunian objects we are just starting to learn about.

Retrograde patterns have their own cycles that affect us individually and collectively. Astrology has so much to offer us in this very exciting time where information can be shared almost instantaneously!

Cycles and transits should not be feared. They can act as our unseen guides. Let’s intimately embrace them and consciously absorb the full spectrum of gifts they have to offer.

My desire in writing this article is that it may serve to deepen our gaze into the natal chart. I feel it can help aid in more accurately forecasting a chart, be it our own chart, our loved ones charts or for anyone who is curious to know more.

May you all experience Truth.

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