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A Q&A with Virginia Bell, author of Midlife Is Not a Crisis

What does the Saturn Return mean? You hear that term a lot.
Every year we have a Solar Return or what is commonly known as our birthday. The sun returns to where it was at birth. The planet Saturn takes 29 years to return to where it began at birth. At 29 we have our Saturn birthday or Saturn Return. Saturn is that planet of reality, responsibility, hard work, maturity; around 29 we tend to get serious and make a commitment. Maybe we go into business for ourselves, get married, start a family, get sober, or go back to school. If weíre doing it right we work hard and mature in the process. We build something that will come to define us. Our thirties are our Saturn years. Itís the first life cycle and lays the foundation for whatever follows.

How did you get involved in astrology?
Iíve always been interested in astrology; in fact I had an astrologer on staff at my restaurant (he ate in exchange for readings) but I always thought of astrology as simply a form of prediction (as in, when will this crisis be over?). It wasnít until I read Steven Forrestís book, The Inner Sky, that I realized it was so much more. From then on, I was hooked.

What's the difference between a sun sign column you read in the paper and having an actual reading with an astrologer?
The sun sign columns are based on one thingóthe sun. Now, the sun is the most important symbol in the horoscope so it carries a lot of weight, which is why those columns are often spot on. But itís not the only thing in the horoscope. Your individual chart is a picture of the sky at the moment you were born and includes the sun, moon plus eight other planets. All those planets are in a sign and a house (an area of the sky). An astrologer blends all that information to give you an in-depth analysis. Itís like getting a (cosmic) DNA test, so to speak.

There are a lot of generalizations in astrology. How can all Scorpios (for instance) be sexy and secretive?
The sun is the biggest ingredient in the recipe, so to speak, but it is flavored by other ingredients. Scorpios are intense but if someone has a moon in cozy Cancer or a gentle Pisces rising, then that will influence them greatly.

What exactly is astrology?
Astrology is a system or language that uses symbols; the sun, moon, planets, signs, houses and aspects. These symbols relate to different parts of our self as well as our past and our future. An astrologer interprets these symbols to discover our strengths, gifts, and goals as well as our weaknesses and how to heal them. The birth chart is a map of the heavens; a powerful tool for self-discovery and a guide to becoming actualized.

How much astrology does someone need to know to understand this book?
None at all. The book is based on the generational life cycles we all share at the same age, such as the Saturn Return at 29 and midlife, etc. I do have an overview of astrology in the beginning explaining the planets, signs, houses, and many astrological terms. But it comes with a warning: astrology is addictive. It is an ancient language; one that includes mythology, gods and goddesses who, by the way, are far more exciting than reality stars. It can be very seductive.
Midlife Is Not a Crisis
Midlife Is Not a Crisis
Using Astrology to Thrive in the Second Half of Life
Virginia Bell, Steven Forrest