In defense of quitting everything to travel during your Saturn return
Welcome to This Trip Changed My Life, where we spotlight the ways (good, bad, and everything in between) that travel has impacted the people we’re most inspired by.
Age 27 to 30 is super important, not just for the Saturn return, but you have something that happens a little before, around 27 and 28, that sets the stage for it: your progressed lunar cycle. If you’ve heard of the 27 Club, it has to do with that; it’s basically a time of coming into emotional maturity. What do you feel? What are you yearning for? What do you desire? What do you need? How do you get those needs met in a natural way?
I started learning astrology when I was a kid, and was always thinking about it in my 20s—mostly to look up potential partners’ charts. But I didn’t know about the age 27 progressed lunar cycle. At the time I was an artist living in New York and working in restaurants. I was feeling so emotionally itchy, like things needed to change; I felt like I needed to work and live as an artist full-time. I needed to break free.
There was this emotional thing within me saying, “Just destroy. Destroy everything you thought you knew, just blow it all up.”
So I started applying to artist residencies—I didn’t care where I went, I just needed to go somewhere. It was this wanderlust coming through so strong. I got into a batik residency in Finland and I was supposed to go the next year, but they wrote and asked, “Can you actually come now?” I was like, yeah, I can come right now. I dropped everything and, with whatever money I had—which wasn’t much—I got a backpack, bought as many art supplies as I could fit into it, learned as much about batik as I could, and I went to Rauma, this amazing small village in the southwest coast of Finland.
It’s one of the last villages in the country that still has the antique wooden houses—most of the villages have been burned and lost, so this beautiful old village has a marina and the sea is right there. I picked mushrooms, I picked blueberries, I went on sailing trips to an archipelago island where the only building on it was a sauna—you’d go in and then run out naked and jump into the freezing cold autumn sea, and then go back in the sauna and eat freshly grilled sausages and drink beer on the porch.
The schools I worked at were amazing—the kids took their shoes off at the door and all had home-cooked lunches. It was meant to feel like a safe, comfortable working environment, and they paid me to come in and teach third-graders puppet-making and batiking. It was so cool. But I was there in the winter, and by December it was the darkest days; the sun would rise at 10 a.m. and set at 2 p.m. I was depressed and really confronting loneliness there. I made friends, but I was really solo: I lived alone—and no one lives alone in Finland, because you can’t live in the darkness and live alone. It’s not like New York.
And as soon as I got there, I jumped into working. I did the same thing I did in New York, where I ended up teaching art in three different schools—basically to the point where everyone there was like, “We’ve never seen anyone work so hard, what are you doing?” But that was what I was wired to do. I was a workaholic so that I didn’t have to pay attention to my real feelings.
I needed to turn up the volume a lot, and by traveling all of my senses were so heightened.
I came back to New York in December and worked for a little bit, and then got another residency in Estonia the next summer. I didn’t have any money left and was living off of credit cards, so there was no logic to this…but it still happened. There was this emotional thing within me saying, “Just destroy. Destroy everything you thought you knew, just blow it all up.” That’s what I did. I was a wrecking ball. It was a very romantic wrecking ball, and I was having a great time, but I wasn’t being very realistic.
Estonia was much more social than Finland; I lived in the village and learned enough Estonian to play basketball with the village kids. The other artists who were there were really interesting, and they would cook and host these village meals with music for everyone. It felt very fun and summer-y.
And then I went back to Finland for the residency I was officially offered, but by then, it felt off. It felt like it wasn’t the right timing. I felt ungrounded. Now in retrospect, that was my Saturn return coming in. Saturn return is about examining your foundation to see if it’s working—and at that time my foundation was not working. I had no money, I had no home…. I was this lost person. The first residency had felt like this emotional adventure and suddenly the viewfinder switched to: I have nothing.
The thing is, when you’re this age it can take a little while for these lessons to integrate. Sometimes you’re churning things up and it’s not until years later that you find the solutions. So I was churning things up, running around the world, and making all of these amazing experiences happen, but covering up that I wasn’t actually looking at my patterns—and my patterns were following me.
Saturn return is about examining your foundation to see if it’s working—and at that time my foundation was not working.
I left my second residency in Finland needing structure because my Saturn return was coming in. Where the lunar return is you’re coming into emotional maturity, with Saturn return you’re coming into this practical, worldly maturity. It’s a more grounded maturity; what have I built so far, what do I want to continue to build, what do I want this earth life to be? A lot of people change the structures of their lives, if that’s what needs to happen. For me, I came back to New York and got the most “stable” job I could think of, which was as a manager of a restaurant about to open. It was yet another total workaholic job where I had no money and no stability.
Ultimately, I needed to do a lot of [my traveling] to change my way of looking at the world, and to really get outside of my pattern and see what it was. It needed to be exaggerated, where seeing myself in these foreign places helped me find myself later. I needed to turn up the volume a lot, and by traveling all of my senses were so heightened. But it wasn’t during the journey to Finland and Estonia that I found myself; it was when I came home and tried to settle in again. Because that’s when I realized I couldn’t actually get away from myself.
—as told to The Glassy
Sandy Sitron is a New York-based astrologer who, in the lead-up to her Saturn return, quit her job, got rid of her apartment, and moved to Finland and Estonia. Here, she shares her story.