Return of Saturn: Was the Great Resignation Written in the Stars?
As a futurist, there is often a sense that somewhere—in my office, or maybe in my computer bag—there sits a magic crystal ball that can reveal what the future holds. Sadly, 1-800-Cleo doesn't live here. However, one of the key trends I have been watching as of late has to do with the increasing reliance that people from all walks of life have with the world of astrology. Corporate executives and baristas alike speak of their favorite apps or astrologist as they might have referred to a personal trainer in the pre-pandemic age of old. And it makes a sort of sense. With daily life so radically altered and maddingly unclear, clarity and guidance are at a premium. Having a savvy soothsayer one tap away sounds pretty damn comforting.
Throughout time, astrology has been a place people turn to when things stop making sense. From famines to plagues, misfortunes to monsoons, humans have often looked to the stars for some deeper explanation. The art of divination, after all, is the school of interpreting the greater plan of the universe, to believe in a larger meaning behind the messiness that is human life. From red skies and black cats to Mercury in retrograde, we have cobbled together a mystical Morse code to help us navigate troubled waters and troubled times. It should be of little surprise, then, that interest in astrology right now is at an all-time high. Despite the blistering pace of scientific and technological developments, we are seeing an equal surge in a swim toward mysticism, arcana, and of course, the stars.
Counterintuitive? Not really. Attention to the occult coincides with times of challenges. The first astrology column appeared in a U.S. newspaper in the early 1930s following the stock-market crash. Big spikes in interest occurred during the World Wars and soared to new heights during the tensions of the Vietnam War and the Summer of Love. It seems that when man-made hierarchies and institutions fail us, we put our hopes in some ethereal source, a mystical plan that can explain life's erratic and challenging events.
That plan might just include the recent pop phenomenon knowns as "Return of Saturn." Consider this newcomer the modern-day astrological equivalent to the previous media IT girl: "Mercury in Retrograde." Like that catchphrase, it serves as a bit of an astrological umbrella, sheltering us from the feeling that life right now is wildly out of our control. What does it mean, exactly? Saturn return periods are known as the coming-of-age planetary transits that peak during people's late twenties and fifties, shaking up the very foundations of their lives. It takes this powerful planet roughly 28 years or so to make its way through the solar system, coinciding with the quarterlife and midlife crises we have all come to at least pay lip service to, if not experience personally. For many, these moments tend to be periods of deep questions, and a probing of life's purpose. They are infamous for making people feeling rocky, ungrounded, and confused AF. Sound familiar? Sounds like 2022.
The current thinking being bandied about in Astrologica-land suggests that perhaps, along with a pandemic and an increasingly polemic political environment, we are also participating in a massive group astrological reset. A collective "return of Saturn." Certainly, we are deep in a time when both younger and older workers are asking the bigger questions about their purpose and their legacy. Across industries and lifestyles, younger millennials and boomers are challenging the structures that have dictated the behavior of generations past and hitting pause. Recent life events (cough, pandemic, cough) may have put this thinking into motion, but how comforting might it be to know that so much of what is happening right now is actually a pre-ordained moment in our astrological lives? Astrology might well be booming right now because it offers a story line that explains our current confusion and unrest. Maybe it's not us who are unmoored and flailing, maybe it's actually written in the stars. This construct gives us something bigger to lean into, and grounds us in a common experience that provides comfort and perspective. It gives us community. It gives us hope.
So, I for one am happy to welcome Return of Saturn to our vox populi. In a world in dire need of a cosmic reset, pointing to a planet spinning 950 million miles away sounds, well, heavenly. And it frees all of us to dream bigger and imagine better. The stars can take care of today.