Oh, youth. I remember the sweet, swan-song days of yore — it almost feels like yesterday that my only concerns were somewhere along the lines of being mad at how early I had to get up for school and not wanting to wear that one ugly hand-me-down sweater my mom got at the Mormon-run thrift shop. For somebody who couldn’t even brush my own teeth without being told to because I didn’t understand the merits of a cavity-free mouth, I definitely peaked when I was 9.
Now that I’m the ripe old age of 27, I’m not exactly sure how I’m ever going to capture that vigor again. I’ve been told by the media that I should’ve capitalized on my looks a decade ago when I was at the pinnacle of my youth and that I should think about “settling down” since my “best years” are already behind me. I guess what this means is that I need to learn how to get comfortable with my own mediocrity because it’s all downhill from here. . .
Or something like that.
It’s hard to keep track of what I should and should not be doing at this age since I’m in a weird “in-between” right now. I am no longer young enough to hold capital in industries who love drooling over teenage girls, but not old enough to be told I need to go get some Botox injections before I wrinkle worse than a Shar-pei. And until I actually turn 30, I can’t even be won over by those little Hallmark cards telling me I should go live it up like an extra in Sex In the City.
All said, I guess that means there’s only one thing left for me to do: bitch about it while getting astrology involved.
First, a Primer
Believe it or not, I didn’t choose to talk about my 27th birthday just because I feel left out of celebrating a big milestone (although I do think it’s totally bogus how Western culture makes you feel like there’s not much left after turning 21). Nor did I choose to talk about it as an Angel Number or a numerological concept – if I had wanted to do that, I could find a reason to talk about every single year.
Instead, I want to talk about turning 27 because I think it’s quite magical from a starry-eyed standpoint.
Consider: if you’re at least somewhat familiar with astrology, then you might recognize 27 as being the precursor to the ever-dreaded “Saturn Return.” There’s no doubt that you’re starting to feel Cronus’ breath on your neck as he asks you if you’re finally ready to live up to your worldly duties, tick-tock-tick-tock. You’re on the cusp of self-actualization and you want to be prepared.
So prepare you do. Or don’t. Saturn doesn’t care either way. What I mean by that is Saturn will force your hand toward your duties whether you’re being good about it or not, and you’ll know if you’re not because the things you’ve been getting away with up to this point will fall apart. Steadfast friends will suddenly fall to the wayside, that partner you think is the one will no longer be, the job you’re working at will feel more like a cage – you get the idea. At some point, you’ve got to “adult up” if you don’t want an unhappy Cronus tearing apart your structures.
But okay. You know that’s still a year or two off. And my preamble into this article was about turning 27, not 30, so what gives?
What gives is that in order to be ready for your Saturn Return, you need to be in the headspace to do it. You have to take what you’ve been learning up to this point if you want to be capable of handling what Saturn throws at you.
It is based on my observation and experience that you first undergo two things to help you prepare:
- Emotional maturation
- Understanding what you feel “called” to do (or your Soul Mission)
Today, we’re going to talk about the first one and what astrological phenomenon that correlates to. Enter:
Secondary Progressions and The Progressed Lunar Return
Progressions are just one of many ways we can expand upon astrology’s interpretive power. Though I talk here today about one type, there are other methods of playing with the natal chart to get different results, all of which are based on how one decides to mathematically move (“progress”) the horoscope.
Let’s think about this from a 3D perspective for a second. When we are studying natal charts we are doing so from the Earth’s perspective, and the Earth – that big, blue, beautiful planet of ours – is a sphere. I know, duh. But this is where the zodiac wheel comes into play: we flatten the 12 zodiac constellations into a 360 degree circle and divide them up accordingly. This means that, from the start of one zodiac sign to the next, there are 30 degrees (360 / 12 = 30).
Still confused? Let’s zoom in a little and use the Sun as an example. If you were to track the transiting Sun throughout the zodiac, starting at 0 degrees Aries (which is considered the “real” start of the year because of the Spring Equinox) you would notice that it moved about one degree every day. After about 365ish days, you would notice the Sun back roughly in the same spot, 0 degrees Aries. This is astrology in real-time.
Progressions work a little differently here.
In the case of secondary progressions (the type we’re discussing today) the rule of thumb is “one day for a year.” Going back to our lovely little Sun example, that means we would stretch out the progression of the Sun through the zodiac to one degree per year. Put another way, the Sun would take 365 YEARS to make a full rotation around your progressed chart, a fact that sadly none of us will live to see!
The same rule applies to all the other planets based on their rate of movement. As you might imagine, slower moving planets like Jupiter and Saturn would be stretched out to a timeframe so long that, when using this method, we don’t tend to consider them for this type of progression.
So what about what’s left then?
Well, between the luminaries and the inner planets, the VIP of this type of progression is the Moon. In real-time, the moon takes roughly 2 ½ days to go through a zodiac sign so once again we apply the “one day to a year” rule here and stretch it out. Now it takes about 2 ½ to 3 years to make it through a single sign, the likes of which cumulates into your Progressed Lunar Return when it crosses over your natal Moon after ~27 years. Isn’t math fun?
You’ve endured my primer and toughed out the wibbly-wobbly math. Now you probably want to know why that wibbly-wobbly math even matters and what it says about your emotional maturation.
Here it is: the Moon in astrology is about security and emotional comforts. She also deals with our base instincts and represents our Mother, both our literal mother and the ways we want to be mothered by others. What a progressed chart then does for you is it helps you articulate those needs as you age; as the progressed Moon travels throughout each sign/house in your chart, it illuminates that part of your life for a good 2-3 years and exposes you to experiences that (hopefully) add understanding to your own innate needs. Eventually, this accumulates into your Progressed Lunar Return.
Think of it like a pilgrimage, or a hero’s journey. Before you leave, you make sure to pack your creature comforts (your natal Moon) so that the trip is easier. As you travel, however, you encounter things that can expand, challenge, destroy, and renew your idea of “comfort,” forcing you to adapt to different circumstances. Once you’ve returned home (your Progressed Moon travelling back over your natal Moon), you not only have exposed yourself to new things, but you’ve also learned more about what really makes you tick on a primal level. You are more appreciative of those homely comforts and know how to seek them out regardless of where you are in the world.
Then you do it all over again. Your second (and maybe) third go-around will continue to illuminate different parts of your life and ask you to expand your understanding on what makes you feel secure; safe. But it is in that first pilgrimage that you get to experience the world raw and undiluted.
You learn how to mother yourself.
You learn what you need to surround yourself with and what comforts you when you are distressed.
You learn, above all else, what brings you peace.
Coming Home: A Progressed Lunar Return Story
I grew up poor and spoiled. Whenever possible, my father would bring back treats from his day job as a dishwasher; how much of my daughterly affections were given was gauged by what he had in tow. If I saw a white Styrofoam box, I leapt (El Matador enchiladas were my ultimate comfort food). If it were a toy – a remote controlled car or a doll or even a hand-held radio – I would stare from my seat in the old, oval chair and wait. I wanted to know what the occasion was and if I could play with it now or if he was going to make me wait.
My mother, meanwhile, was doling out a constant helping of Whatever-I-Want so long as it was the start of the month. The regularity of her Social Security benefits combined with the fact that she didn’t work meant I could be spoiled at any time. On a perfect day, I would head to Shopko with mom, pick up a new Bratz doll, and then be back in time for dad to come home with something twinkling in his hand, no strings attached. At least none that I could see.
So goes the tale of a girl whose natal moon is in Virgo.
In astrology, Virgo symbolizes service. Service to ourselves, to others, and to the Earth. We are duty-bound creatures who want to care for all living things if we can help them because we are in tune with the rhythm of the soil. That does not, however, mean that that service is all we are, or all we do. It’s important that this placement has the chance to explore our curious impulses without being shamed if we “fall short” the first time. More than that, it’s important that we are shown affection without the caveat of needing to “perform” for that affection. That means love is given not just when we get good grades or do all our chores.
I remember the first time I did not come home from school with good results. I was in 5th grade and our homework assignment was to do a state report – easy enough. I chose New York and, with a little web searching and borrowing of my grandparent’s printer, was able to cobble together a serviceable presentation. What I hadn’t realized was that there were multiple things we were supposed to research about the state; I had only done the bare minimum. The result was a not-so-satisfying D.
Dad was the unhappiest that I had seen him. He overheard what happened while I was talking to mom as we got out of the car. The gift of the day – a white teddy bear with a big, red heart – fell limp in his hand as his shoulders slumped over. Where he was about to greet me with a smile, he frowned, staring at me with disbelief for so long that I wanted to vanish on the spot. I still got the gift, but it was on the condition that I would have to listen to him rant on-and-off about how disappointed he was and that he expected me to do better, be better.
Eventually, I was given a chance to fix the grade in the easiest fashion possible: bring something to the class that comes from the state. Since Coca-Cola was made in New York in the late 19th century, all I had to do was bring in a few 12-packs to appease both my fellow classmates and the teacher. This brought my grade up to a meddling C.
The good news is, is that this particular type of incident didn’t happen again. It didn’t have a chance to; dad passed away part-way through 7th grade. The people I lived with afterwards were not as insistent that the occasional C would spell my doom.
But I was. That day had cemented itself into memory, an instinct I called mine despite it not being born from me. I did not need to be pressured to do good in school because I pressured myself. I could live with a B and make peace with a B- but spirits willing, never a C. A C meant disappointment. A C meant I would not succeed.
It sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Yet this – among other toxic, even abusive conditions – sharpened me into my own worst enemy. Though I summoned the strength of my Virgo moon to work my way to an out-of-state college, I carried in my body these untruths. Anything not up to my own implanted standards sent me into a downward spiral, the likes of which I could only crawl my way back from once I had recognized these beliefs as a foreign object lodged in my cells.
After years of therapy and unlearning, I can now emerge from the other side of my Progressed Lunar Return some the wiser. In order to claim myself again, I was called to cleanse that which Virgo rules: I had let go of the need to equate affection with productivity. I had to (re)learn what love without expectation meant. I want to serve but only when I am called to do so by joy, not exchange.
About the Author
Jasmine Lomax (she/her) is a freelance content creator, educator, and poet who currently resides in Seattle, Washington. When Jasmine isn’t busy ticking away at the computer, she enjoys reading, swimming, tending to her spiritual studies, and the occasional bout of crying over fictional characters