The Long Goodbye: 12th House Saturn Transits

Different transits can herald the end of a relationship, each with their own planet-specific lessons. A 12th House Saturn ending doesn’t deliver the gut-punch of Pluto, or the abrupt, ripping away of Uranus. If it’s time for your partnership to wind down, Saturn’s transit through the last house in your chart can trigger a long goodbye. It can take two to three years, and often involves a drawn-out process of sacrifice and dissolution. This transit does not automatically mean that your relationship will end. But it will trigger an ending in some area of your life. The 12th House is all about endings, and Saturn transits are about maturity. Combine the two, and you get an influence that compels you to leave behind what you’ve outgrown, or what’s outgrown you. And that may be your relationship. The process begins when Saturn moves from the 11th to the 12th House, and ends once Saturn passes over your Ascendant, crystallizing your brand new identity.

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How do you know if you’ve outgrown your partnership (or vice versa)? There are always signs, long before Saturn hits your 12th House. Saturn delivers the results of what has come before. It builds on past situations, and if the building is shoddy, it will collapse. Saturn marks specific cycles of crystallization, with turning points as it moves over your angles. Its passage over your 7th House cusp (which happens roughly eleven years before it enters your 12th House) can solidify the commitment in an existing relationship. Or, a new relationship with significant limits can enter your life. For example, an older partner, a partner who has children, or a partner that you become responsible for. As Saturn moves through your houses and approaches your 12th, that relationship will develop, and so will you. If your development takes you in a different direction than the commitments/limits that Saturn introduced, you’ll know something’s about to give by the time Saturn reaches your 12th House.

Saturn’s passage through the 12th combines incompatible energies. The 12th House is where you sacrifice your ego, and this is a chaotic process. This doesn’t mean that you throw yourself on a self-destructive pyre, but there is a need to leave behind what no longer has value. The 12th is not about recognition, gain, or self-actualization. Those things come later, after the purging that leaves you whittled down to the bare minimum (which prepares you for your new beginning). And then there’s Saturn, who wants to impose order on a process that has no order. In the 12th House, you need to release control, but the first reaction to a Saturn transit is the struggle to maintain control. This can manifest as attempting to preserve a relationship that’s slipping away.

Clinging to what’s no longer valid can delay the ending, but even if you totally embrace the process of release, nothing can be hurried in the 12th. This is simply the nature of the process. There may be a long, complicated divorce. One or both partners may waffle back and forth before ending things (nothing is clear-cut in the 12th). Your dependent partner may guilt-trip you into staying. Strong feelings of guilt are side-effects of this transit; they are distorted versions of the 12th’s higher vibration of sacrifice. “Sacrifice” is not a word that most people like, or even understand. Many get it confused with punishment, especially when Saturn is delivering the results of a relationship whose expiry date has arrived. 12th House Saturn is not about punishment, and there’s nothing for you to atone for. It’s merely directing your focus to what needs to be released. The sacrifice that’s involved is the release of who you used to be. Perhaps this was the status of being a husband or wife. Maybe it was the distorted ego-boost you received from looking after your alcoholic partner. Whatever defined your sense of self will be sacrificed during this transit. 

Any aspects that transiting Saturn makes to your natal planets will add to the experience. If you have natal Venus in your 12th House, transiting Saturn will be a reality check about your romantic illusions. It may confront you with the results of an affair, or how you’ve been sacrificing your self-esteem with certain types of behavior. Saturn always focuses you on the most pertinent issue of the planet it’s aspecting, and with a 12th House Venus, that issue will be your relationship blind spot. If Saturn opposes your 6th house Jupiter, you may reach the limits of how much (Jupiter) you can give to your partner (the 6th House is about service to others).

Saturn through the 12th is generally not the time to begin a new relationship. Even if you think you’ve met the love of your life, and they act as a catalyst for the demolition of your existing relationship, know that it’s very difficult to build something new when the old structures are still dissolving. Often, when Saturn passes over your Ascendant, the catalyst relationship ends along with the old relationship. You’re a different person once Saturn crosses your Ascendant, and you’ll feel more settled as it becomes obvious what the new rules are. You’ll know by this point who’s going to stay in your life, and who isn’t.

Saturn over your Ascendant will bring new responsibilities. Maybe you’re on your own for the first time in many years. The great thing about this point in your life is that you have a firm base to move forward from. Unlike the confusion of the 12th House years, there’s an absolute starting line. You may not be sure what lies ahead, because 1st house transits are absolute beginnings. You may not want to contemplate a new relationship, or you may be ready to get out there and start dating. Whatever state you’re in, know that 12th House Saturn’s long goodbye has cleaned out the old baggage, and you’re ready to start fresh.


About Nadia Gilchrist

Nadia Gilchrist offers over 19 years of experience in astrology. Her writings and personal consultations focus on applying practical astrological analysis to the real world. Nadia blogs regularly at Ruby Slipper Astrology.


  1. Thanks Nadia. I looked back at the transits in the year I separated from my first wife and noticed that Saturn had indeed passed over both our Ascendants that year once. I did not see it coming in the past 2.5 years it transitted our 12th. However I have Saturn in my 12th natally. Could it be because of that that the last 2.5 years that Saturn transitted 12th I did not feel the impending separation?
    Would you consider Saturn in natal 12th having the same impact as a 12th transit of Saturn? Thanks

  2. I had this in recent years and it was Libra ta boot, wasnt pleasant nor stylish and mostly to do with relating with myself, listening to my intuition and healing the emotions that would have me thinking I was a prisoner of my own makeup or in purgatory for want of a better expression, my moon also 12th house Libra, I do however now feel my own value and know my own values to ethically uphold with self respect no matter what anyone else thinks, whether they care or even see/hear me (I have first house Neptune) indeed most dont and think of me according to stereotype, so I let them, I am not able to prove what is unseen or unknown, nor do I have to justify myself, so things are now improving as only those able to see/hear or willing to listen with intent to understand me even a little who will also be respectful in disagreement are sharing a relationship between each other and at first there was only a couple, gradually one by one they are coming out of the shadows and it is quite honestly, priceless 🙂

  3. hmmm, this article really made me think. when Saturn was in my 7th my long term relationship fell apart suddenly. Same year, Saturn was still in the 7th , I saw a guy from my past and became infatuated by him. couldn’t get him out of my head. I saw him on and off, there was no relationship but I felt so strongly about him, like it’s my karmic mission to be with him. nothing came out of it but it took me 11 years to let go completely. That was when Saturn was in 12th conjunct AC, when I saw him after several years and it was like I was looking for the first time without rose-colored glasses. Amazing….

  4. @Rajesh
    Any 12th House transit can be difficult to see coming. Natal 12th House Saturn is a bit different from transiting 12th House Saturn.

  5. @Debbie
    ” wasn’t pleasant nor stylish”…I like that description. So true, 12th House stuff can be deeply unpleasant initially, no matter what the sign.

  6. @Ema
    Thanks for sharing that. Nice illustration of how H12 Saturn works, even if the relationship doesn’t fully manifest.

  7. I had this transit quite a few years ago (saturn is currently transiting my sixth) and it was a major goodbye. I moved across Europe and settled into a new country, leaving everything and everyone behind. I started a family and basically a new everything.
    It was not a sudden event like you say Nadia, but rather a process (a tough one! but the right one for one’s evolution) I have a large 12th house that spans some three signs (Aries, taurus and gemini) so this process lasted about 7-8 years. Saturn knows what he’s doing although we often stamp and scream against his demands. I’m a Capricorn but I don’t know if that always helped since my 12th house moon in Aries is a big baby, but now a very content and happy one since I made those BIG, goodbye changes. To all who are going through this transit hang in there because later you’ll be so glad that you did.

  8. rainbow says:

    Nadia thanks for this article as always very insightful.

    Last time transit Saturn in my 12th house l also went through divorce. My natal Saturn at 14 Capricorn in 12 house and needless to say transit Pluto really working that consciousness …l finally got what Saturn in 12th house means to me.
    For me Saturn in house of Neptune was full of fears and insecurities but l also learned to follow my intuitions. It very difficult for someone with natal mercury conjunction Neptune. …That’s an aspect to think about ….procrastinating while imagining fears of failure. I’ve been struggling with this all my life. I know you mentioned there is difference between transit and natal. Transit is short term…when transit Saturn went to my first house l was much more courageous like Aries Ram and l was not frighten to climb the mountain like a Capricorn Goat lol… the Neptune part is dream the Saturn is fear. Saturn comes here to inspect your dreams if it’s superficial, it won’t make it. So being honest to your true calling is the key for me. <3

  9. I had to deal with a sense of loss over my “old life” including estrangement from one of my children. Recently she defrosted but now that Saturn has retroed back into my 12th she once again is on a rampage.

  10. Corinna says:

    Very interesting Nadia, just checked the last Saturn transit through 12 th house and it coincides with a sudden relocation back to my native county. The years before I often reflected on it but took the decision when Saturn went over the asc. Never quite understood the sudden decision to go but now those three years are clear. Thanks

  11. I also checked what was going on in my life when Saturn finally reached my ascendant approximately 6 months ago and was amazed: that exact day I met this person who in hindsight has changed the course of my life! He has been a mentor who I admire deeply, but mostly a great friend and an example. How accurate can astrology be?! And the 12th house experience indeed was a time of big revelations. Since then nothing has stayed the same in the sphere of relationships.

    Now that Saturn is back in Scorpio, I’m one of those with Scorpio ascendant (27,14 degrees) who is anxious what all that means. There will be a close conjunction at 28 degrees even though Saturn doesn’t cross my ascendant. Re-evaluation time?

  12. @Jem
    thanks for sharing that.

  13. @rainbow
    wow…so it was your Saturn Return as well.

  14. @JW
    sorry to read this…it’s especially painful when a family member is tied up in a 12th House Saturn transit.

  15. @Corinna
    you’re welcome!

  16. @Kira
    maybe reevaluation, but if Saturn doesn’t cross your AC there may not be a big shift. The AC is a dividing line, and “close” is not the same as crossing it.

  17. Interesting reading everyone’s comments and thank Nadia for the response. I recall not just separation from my wife but also moving cities with a new job and starting life afresh after Saturn crossed my Ascendant. And yes it was also Saturn return for me like Rainbow. Incidentally we lost our mother during my younger brother’s Saturn return. It was also our mother’s Saturn return. SATURN IS RULED by moon for my brother.

  18. This is happening right now for me. I have 12th house Sagittarius….finishing up with Saturn conjunct my Ascendent at 21 Sag. So also Saturn returning. I am feeling at this point that the lessons Saturn brings these coming years are a good thing – bringing necessary changes. I welcome it and know it can and will be uncomfortable at times. I am in a relationship….of sorts. Oddly, this person is going through a agonizingly drawn-out break up of another relationship. I have always assumed we would not ultimately be together, but so interesting what you say, the back and forth, the maybe yes, maybe no quality. Makes me kind of sad, I really enjoy this person and feel we would be good together, but alas, looks like the stars probably say no.

  19. By David Whyte, seems to sum up this transit well.

    ” Heartbreak is how we mature; yet we use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream… But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way. There is almost no path a human being can follow that does not lead to heartbreak.”

    And, ” HEARTBREAK is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control… Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colors and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life. Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in a love relationship, in a life’s work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is [an] essence and emblem of care… Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.”

  20. One more: “Heartbreak asks us not to look for an alternative path, because there is no alternative path. It is an introduction to what we love and have loved, an inescapable and often beautiful question, something and someone that has been with us all along, asking us to be ready for the ultimate letting go.” OK, I am done.

  21. Hi Nadia…I happen to be involved with an ex from 20 years ago who is going thru this long goodbye…I am unfortunately the catalyst relationship..I have tried without success to figure out when Saturn will pass over his ascendant, (Virgo) as I love him deeply. We’ve been apart for 4 months and indications are that he is in the process of purging this toxic woman from his life…he has kept me out of it entirely after getting me involved in a really gross messy situation I did not ask for. He is Sag and was been in deep self-destruct mode for the last 2 years….straightened right out in Jan-March when I was with him following a health crisis but in the last 4 months has gone back to same habits, but not to the same extent. I have great hope for September. Is it possible for you to tell when Saturn will pass over Virgo this year? Will it be before or after Saturn re-enters Sag? Thank you from the bottom of my heart if you can enlighten me on this one….do you need his birth date or is it enough to know his ascendant is virgo? His dob is Dec09/68, @ longitude 110W40 latitude 50N03

  22. Hi everyone! Saturn transited my 12th house and Ascendant approximately 7 years ago (it is now passing over my IC). I agree with Nadia that it marked a major overhaul it my life, both spiritually and relationally. Spiritually, a painful event led me to question my morals and delve into spirituality; consequently, I adopted religious beliefs for the first time, and my faith is paramount in my life to this day. Saturn divided my life into ‘before’ and ‘after’. Relationally, the 12th house transit coincided with a difficult time in my relationship with my then boyfriend. We broke up and stopped contact, but after a deep, heart-to-heart discussion we got back together as a renewed couple, free from past hurts, and got engaged at the time when Saturn crossed my Ascendant. We are now married, and now that Saturn is crossing my IC we are expecting a baby. The Saturn experience put my life on an entirely new and better path, despite the inevitable hurt of the process, and I will never be the same person again. It was absolutely, positively worth it!

  23. Dear Nadia, reading your article above game me goosebumps. It describes the past 16 months of my life. Saturn was transiting through my 12th house the last couple of years.
    My Venus is in my 12th house and so is the ruler of my DC, Mercury, so Transiting Saturn activated them. We are indeed having a long goodbye because even though he’s moved out and my I have emotionally moved on, neither of us has filed for divorce and we are still communicating.
    Saturn is now in my first house but it passed my AC 4deg Sag, twice with the retrograde. I met someone new unexpectedly and only realized my feelings for him when it was time for me to leave. I realized I did not want to go and wanted to stay with him instead. That was a month ago and I have yet to stop thinking about him. Our synastry aspects are good. His Sun conjunct my moon. His AC/DC is opposite my Sag AC Gem DC. My north node conjuncts his sun. His NN conjuncts my IC. His Pluto conjuncts my Venus & Ruller of my DC, Mercury in the 12th house and his moon conjuncts my ruler of my moon Uranus in the 12th house. I do feel like I’ve met the love of my life but when I read the portion of your article about the catalyst, my heart sank.
    Transiting Saturn was in forward motion 1deg away from my AC when I met him. This was a month ago and it was the 2nd Saturn crossing over my AC 4deg Sag. Since Saturn was technically in my 12 house 3 deg Sag, does this mean that he is the catalyst since it is not possible to build a relationship whilst Saturn is in the 12th? I should probably mention that my progressed Sun conjuncts my Sun/Moon Midpoint exactly at this time.

    Thanks Nadia.

  24. I am in the middle of a Saturn transit through my 12th house in Sagittarius. My husband is also. We both have Sagittarius on the ascendant, he at 15 degrees and myself at 22 degrees. We have been married/together for 30 years. He has Alzheimer’s and for the past five years our life has gone from being active socially, travel, living in different countries to hardly getting out at all. The situation has become quite difficult lately and I have found it necessary to put his name on a list for a residence catering to memory disorders. This is like death to me, a slow one. I could see it coming several years back during the withdrawal period. This sounds so typical of a Saturn transit. At the same time, I see new things coming with redecoration of a house. I hope as Saturn transits my ascendant it brings a new life, like the one that started with my husband 30 years ago.

  25. Curios Kat says:

    Hi. What would this transit be like if I have Neptune in Sagittarius in the 12th house, and natal Saturn is in the 9th house in Libra? My boyfriend is 20 years older and going through a divorce and has children. The part in this article that really got me thinking was: “Its passage over your 7th House cusp (which happens roughly eleven years before it enters your 12th House) can solidify the commitment in an existing relationship. Or, a new relationship with significant limits can enter your life. For example, an older partner, a partner who has children, or a partner that you become responsible for.” He also has a drinking problem and i always feel like i need to care for him. Can this transit also show up in the life of your partner instead of yours? (Like in the uranus square venus transit where eventhough you may remain faithful the partner may be triggered by such transit and becomes restless, wanting more freedom or is unfaithful?). Can this Saturn transit manifest in his life as well because he is dating me?

  26. Curios Kat says:

    I guess my question was, since i will have saturn conjunct my 12th house pretty soon, i am wondering what it could be like. Could it mean the end of our relationship? The actual legal ending of HIS marriage status and the ending of my girlfriend status in order to begin a new solid commitment together? The only reason i ask this is because i realize its VERY difficult to build something solid when the old structures (his marriage) is still dissolving.

  27. I have Neptune in first too and Saturn / Uranus in the 12th. This has been the hardest last few years of my life! Turns out I’ve been just turning into whoever I was told I was… I’m going through a long break up with an alcoholic and I’ve found out I am one too… I can’t wait for this to be over! I’m tired of crying and not feeling like I have an identity. It’s painful! I’m also tired of dreaming other people’s feelings! Thank god I have spiritual dreams too I can’t imagine how lost i would be without them!

  28. I personally have experience with this transist it’s not pleasant ? at all. Having 12 ? saturn is total isolation ending….
    When this transited my 12 house it was like hell ? I got divorced after 14 years I almost filed bankruptcy… I felt utterly Alone there was no good in my life. I really felt like I was in my own prison. no matter what sign saturn is in you will feel the in packed on your life. Strange how planets so far away can inpacked are life. After saturn move out 12house 2/1 years later big relief
    Things got better I found my way again ?

  29. I personally have experience with this transist it’s not pleasant ? at all. Having 12 ? saturn is total isolation ending….
    When this transited my 12 house it was like hell ? I got divorced after 14 years I almost filed bankruptcy… I felt utterly Alone there was no good in my life. I really felt like I was in my own prison. no matter what sign saturn is in you will feel the in packed on your life. Strange how planets so far away can inpacked are life. After saturn move out 12house 2/1 years later big relief
    Things got better I found my way again ?

  30. Will Smith says:

    I have come back to this article several times as it becomes more and more obvious my 8 year relationship is changing and finally disintegrating. This is not a bad thing. Actually it is a really great thing for me especially financially – I am just really sad at the moment. I had a powerful feeling the first time I read this article a few months ago that I might be saying the “long goodbye.” Thanks for this. Love

  31. Curious Kat says:

    Hi Naria! What would this transit be like if I have Neptune in Sagittarius in the 12th house, and natal Saturn is in the 9th house in Libra? My boyfriend is 20 years older recently divorced with children. The part in this article that really got me thinking was: “when it transits the 7th house cusp a new relationship with significant limits can enter your life. For example, an older partner, a partner who has children, or a partner that you become responsible for”…. He also has a drinking problem and i always feel like i need to care for him, even though saturn is transiting my neptune in the 12th and not my 7th house. Could it still mean the end of our relationship? Or the end of my illusions and hopes for commitment from him?

  32. Curious Kat says:

    HELLOOOOOOO????!!! Does anyone read this at all? Lol.

  33. Wonderful read! I am going through Saturn’s transit in 12th now and have just learned the significance of it. Very very apt – could not be more apt. Thank you so much for your insights.

  34. This is scary accurate. I have Saturn in my 12th (Sagittarius) right now. Before I even read this I was thinking of what I’ve been experiencing and the phrase “the long goodbye” came to mind. It’s been absolutely excruciating. At the same time I do have a dim awareness that dead wood is being cut out by Saturn’s rusty scythe to leave room for new growth. I’ve got a few weeks to go, a few months but let’s call them weeks, and I’m just living in fear of what or who ELSE is going to get ripped out of my life with no anesthetic. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer. I know that good things will, must come of this. But it’s been so long since anything really good happened that didn’t blow up in my face almost immediately that I’ve sort of forgotten what hope feels like. Thank you for providing clarity. Sagittarius is also my ascendant so I don’t know how that’s going to work out.

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