Janus, the two-faced god, rules the New Year – one set of eyes looking back, the other looking forward. A time for most to stop and consider.
In every individual life there are several, even more significant though less frequent, staging posts as the outer planets move to make hard aspects to their natal place and in the case of Saturn to return. They don’t always fall at the ages you might imagine.
The First Saturn Return at 29 is the first maturing transit. Despite most of us assuming we’re grown up at 16, it takes until the late twenties to face facts, get real and settle into the Saturnine virtues of hard work and self-discipline. Running into it is a pressured, sometimes painful year of tough experiences. The Second Saturn Return at 58 also brings sober realisation, this time about the next phase of life running into retirement, or at least slowing down to accept the limitations of age. The Progressed Moon cycle hits marginally earlier with a Return at 28 and another at 56 – which is an emotional taking-stock.
Uranus makes a square to its natal place, aged 21, which is a touch late for a teenage rebellion, but will bring a strong urge to express individuality as well as a restless desire for adventure. The next Uranus hard aspect, the opposition at age 42, is usually even more dramatic bringing a mid-life crisis. This goes along with a desire to throw everything that feels stale and dull in the air and go hot foot after unfulfilled ambitions, sometimes including buying a sports car or taking a younger lover. The next Uranus square at 63 isn’t as dramatic but coincides with a restless period of questioning – ‘where have I been and where am I going’ – as plans for the future are pondered over in light of what has been achieved. The Uranus Return at 84 brings it back full cycle.
The most significant staging past of them all occurs across a few year span from the late 30s to early 40s. What Carl Jung called the individuation crisis – starting with the Second Nodal Return at 37 (occurring every 18.6 years), and running on through the Uranus opposition, Pluto and Neptune squares to their natal place. Negotiating this transition successfully, he thought, brought new energy and vitality to the second half of life, as a deeper connection to the inner soul or Self came with a new sense of purpose. Ignoring it, he felt, brought stagnation and decay to the second half of life.
“Individuation answers the question, who are you, beneath all of your social roles and responsibilities? If you took off the ‘masks’, or personas, that you hide behind? Who would you be if you faced up to all your hidden secrets and made peace with your darkest corners? And dared to be yourself no matter how different you are from others?”
It may just be personal experience, but my impression is that more people than the average die in their late 30s perhaps because of this cross-over point which for some is a step too far.
It can be helpful for those angst-ridden times of dark nights of the soul to understand the astrology of the experience and decipher the direction in which the celestial winds are blowing.