Once a year, the karmic planet Saturn goes retrograde, giving us an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months of our lives. In 2021, the ringed planet will be doing its backwards dance in the humanitarian-focused sign of Aquarius from May 23 until October 10. Saturn rules lessons, discipline, and gives us major strict dad vibes, meaning that its backwards motion is about to shake up our summer.
We can think of this transit as a kind of universal "year in review" exercise, says Madi Murphy, an astrologer and the founder of The Cosmic Revolution. "The time has come to face some of the blocks that you feel are holding you back from taking responsibility for your life," she says. That sounds heavier than it necessarily is. The next few months basically function as a time to step back and look at where you're at and where you'd like to be — Saturn's retrograde helps illuminate all those little steps you can take to set yourself up for a smoother road forward.
The ringed planet's moonwalk will wake up your inner rebel, says Lisa Stardust, the author of Saturn Return Survival Guide and The Astrology Deck. We'll want to push back against anything that feels like an anchor, and rethink our goals. Sometimes, we find ourselves holding onto old dreams, things we thought we wanted when we were younger or in a different mindset. This transit is about reassessing what we want for ourselves — how can we work toward a future that actually excites us? Stardust also notes that now's a great time for change, whether it's within your relationships, jobs, friendships, goals, or passions. "We are leaving the past behind for something better," she says.
On a global level, Murphy says that our collective consciousness is transforming. "We are learning how much commitment it takes to become our own force amongst ingrained programming and systemic bias. Saturn retrograde asks us to go farther with it," she says. "This is a time for embodying the lessons we have learned, to establish the muscle memory in our everyday life. How can we take these changes further so we guarantee we are building a new foundation for future generations?"
In that light, this is the perfect time for Saturn's retrograde. Last year, we walked through devastating loss and civil unrest. This transit is asking us whether we remember all those lessons we claimed we were learning. The influence of forward-thinking Aquarius has us thinking of the future too: How will we take those lessons with us as we continue to demand change? In short, the transit has major change-the-world vibes.
"Saturn has been in Aquarius during the entire year, bringing all sorts of humanitarian and social issues to the forefront of our minds," Narayana Montúfar, senior astrologer for Astrology.com. "Now more than ever, communities have been organizing movements to move us forward as a society. During the time Saturn goes retrograde, we will be revisiting all the progress we have been making when it comes to these subjects. "
This is also a great time to pay off any karmic debts, according to Leslie Hale, psychic astrologer at Keen.com. "We can make a great deal of progress during this time" if we choose to accept how we've wronged others and make it right, she says.
Saturn retrograde's mantra is "grow up to show up to glow up," according to Murphy. The energy of this transit is helping us grow from our fears and limitations into a more refined versions of ourselves. We're not going to lie — some tough stuff is bubbling up during Saturn retrograde, but it's nothing we can't handle. "Don’t look at retrogrades as a negative," Murphy says. "All planets, except the sun and the moon, go retrograde throughout our lives. It’s the rhythm of the universe."