Saturn made me do it! The planet with the power to change your life

The ‘taskmaster’ planet has the power to shake up your world, say astrologers – and the effects can be revolutionary.

Gen Edwards radiates positivity. Warm and open, with a generous smile, it’s little surprise that she admits to feeling genuinely fulfilled by the life she lives with her husband Charles in Leeds. But it hasn’t always been the case – in fact, the past few years have been tumultuous.

‘It’s like I woke up eight years ago, having spent much of my life in a coma,’ Gen, 64, explains. ‘I’d been living in what I can only describe as this groove, working in a corporate job, and I didn’t question it. I could never have imagined, ten years ago, that this is who I’d be now.’

What Gen went through has been nothing short of transformative. She closed her consultancy business, which provided training to corporate clients, and became an energy healer.

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Adopted as a baby, Gen finally tracked down her birth family despite burying any curiosity about her past for decades. Her entire life then shifted 8,000 miles from South Africa to the rolling hills of West Yorkshire. It’s what many might term a classic midlife crisis.

But the trigger, some say, is more celestial. For those in astrological circles know that this extraordinary period of intense change – which makes its impact felt from your mid-to-late 50s into your early 60s, depending on the individual (and the stars) – can be attributed to the phenomenon known as the second Saturn Return.

A Saturn Return occurs when the planet arrives back at the same location it occupied at the moment when someone was born (about every three decades; see opposite). The effects of this aren’t just limited to the heavens, however – they also impact us. When Saturn makes its return, we can expect major upheaval, explains expert Carolyne Faulkner, including relationship breakdowns, career changes and vital emotional life lessons.

It’s better documented the first time it happens, in our late 20s. Singer Adele, whose latest album, 30, comes following her divorce, claimed her Saturn Return was ‘the most turbulent period of my life’ and left her in a ‘mess’. But it’s when it returns for a second time that the upheaval can prove even more life-changing.

As Carolyne explains: ‘Saturn is like your business and accounts manager, forcing you to take off your rose-tinted glasses and really look at the balance sheet.

‘The second Saturn Return asks us, “What have you learned? How far have you come? Where are you going with this next stage of your life and with whom?” It’s not necessarily always about things ending, but readjusting aspects of our lives for the better in the longer term – accepting responsibility for what’s come before, and acknowledging what we want and what’s realistic. If we see it as a time to sympathetically restore ourselves and our lives, it’s ultimately beneficial: there’s nothing to be scared of.’

For Gen, this description is apt. The mother of two grown-up sons was 55 when the catalyst for change was sparked during a routine meeting with a financial adviser. A throwaway remark about her father – and her unexpectedly emotional reaction to it – prompted her to make the decision to seek her birth family.

Although her mother had died, Gen found cousins and siblings through genealogy websites, and learned that her single mother had become pregnant aged 18, and – heartbreakingly – had never told her subsequent family about her first child.

Over the months and years which followed, Gen began seeing a business coach (who was ‘a bit woo-woo’, she admits) and became interested in energy healing, a practice based on the idea that emotional baggage is ‘stored’ within the body. She and Charles, who is British, moved to Leeds in 2017 and she launched her business, Gen Edwards Intuitive Energy, two years ago.

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But those are not the only changes. ‘I’m completely different in the sense that my glass used to feel half empty – now it’s always half full.

‘I’d buried my feelings of abandonment, of not feeling good enough or worthy, which came from being adopted. I’ve accepted that my mum had to give me up. I’ve stopped judging her. She would have thought about me every day. It took me a long time to understand that.’

Gen had ‘no idea’ about the second Saturn Return until a friend mentioned it a couple of years ago. ‘I started thinking about it and joining the dots,’ she says. ‘I realised that since I turned 55, my life had undergone this profound change. I honestly believe I’ve found my purpose. I’m a lot kinder to myself and others.’

It has come as ‘a shock’ to Charles, however. ‘All of a sudden he was living with this woman who’d become a lot more spiritual,’ she laughs. ‘But he loves me unconditionally and accepts the changes, thankfully.’

Not all impending changes are welcome, however. Emma Parsons-Reid, 54, is awaiting her second Saturn Return with dread after her first, aged 29, proved so devastating that it took years to recover. That was in 1997, when her husband left her after just six months of marriage. She never saw him again.

The retired civil servant, who lives in Cardiff, spent years battling severe anxiety and panic attacks, and was forced to rebuild her life as a penniless single mum to her daughter, Hannah. ‘That changed me,’ Emma admits. ‘You recover, but you’re left with scarring.’ It was reading an article, with a link to an online Saturn Return calculator, which led her to consider the astrological significance of what happened.

‘I realised I had a huge lesson to learn – I had to grow up and rely on myself, rather than men,’ she says. ‘I was overconfident, hedonistic and selfish. Other people who are exactly where they need to be in life don’t seem to have it so badly.’

Now she is looking ahead to her next Saturn Return – due next year – with ‘huge fear’ as her husband of 19 years has incurable kidney cancer which has spread to his lungs. ‘He is the love of my life,’ Emma says. ‘He rebuilt me and I’m already grieving, in a way, for the emotional security he’s given me that I will lose eventually. I’m terrified about the future and all my anxiety is creeping back about being left once again, albeit in a different way this time.’

Emma is already planning how to cope. ‘I’m not going into it blindly this time,’ she says. ‘I’m looking at my life coldly and thinking, “What do I need to improve on?” because I need to be ready for this. I know I will be different again after this next return has spat me out at 60 and it will have taught me new things about myself.’

Ivana Daniell’s story should give hope to those anticipating their second Saturn Return. For Ivana, 67, a posture expert, it gave renewed purpose and further success in her chosen career. She was in her late 50s when the astrological change hit, and it saw her reinvent her life as a single woman following her divorce.

Having spent 20 years based in Singapore but working all over the world, she returned to London to face what she describes as ‘a harsh new reality’. Though she launched a new posture clinic in 2011, it didn’t take off immediately.

‘My kids were grown up and had flown the nest and I wasn’t prepared for starting again from scratch as a professional,’ Ivana explains. ‘Everything was thrown up in the air. I felt lost and abandoned as well as rejected professionally. It made me really look at myself and challenge my knowledge. I spent my 60th birthday in transit at Heathrow Airport, crying, wondering what on earth was going on.’

A friend helped Ivana understand that her situation was ‘astrological, not in my control. The second Saturn Return made sense. I had to learn to ride the wave until it took me to a safer place. It’s scary. But I’m a fighter, and that instinct kicked in.’

Ivana, who lives in London’s Notting Hill, threw herself into work, determined to make her clinic a success, and began writing a book*. ‘It felt so cathartic,’ she says. ‘My astrology friend told me the bad time had passed and it was time for me to finish the book and it would be easy. I now feel like I’m at the beginning of a renaissance.’

Seeing it this way is helpful, Carolyne Faulkner points out. ‘A client described it perfectly,’ she adds. ‘She says it was “like driving cross-country with unpredictable weather, readjusting navigation, a few breakdowns, some beautiful sunsets – but I’ve made it to my new destination.” Where that will be is up to you.’

The planet that rings changes

By astrologer Carolyne Faulkner

‘Taskmaster’ planet Saturn is known astrologically for representing discipline, maturity, responsibility and patience and for instigating change in our lives in a forceful manner. As it moves across the sky during transitions, it influences aspects of our personal birth charts and triggers questions such as ‘Am I doing what I’m supposed to be?’ Its impact is felt around every seven years and there are three to four major transitions in its cycle, all of which happen every 27-30 years. To find out when you might be impacted by Saturn, check an online astrological calculator.

Carolyne Faulkner’s book The Signs: Decode the Stars, Reframe Your Life is published by Penguin Life, price £10.99. To order a copy of The Signs for £9.34 until 13 February, go to or call 020 3176 2937. Free UK delivery on orders over £20

Words: Jo Macfarlane and Eimear O’Hagan

*Ivana’s book, A Manual for a Contemporary Body, is available on Amazon, price £14.99.