A Saturn Return Success Story

Saturn Return success stories are always preceded by a prolonged phase of obsessive work, self-doubt, rejection, and fluctuating finances. You could vary the ratios and throw in a toothache or sore neck but that’s the sum of it. But with persistence, the results can be unbelievable.

Oxygene, Jean-Michel Jarre’s super-influential electronic album, emerged from his Saturn Return in 1976. He made it in a makeshift kitchen studio, with salvaged second-hand gear repurposed and held together with sellotape. Yes, he is a versatile Virgo.

Pretty much nobody aside from his then partner, the actor Charlotte Rampling, got his vision at the time: A composition about climate change, the biosphere, music you’d listen to on the Moon, frequency designer, tracks with numbers, not names and synthesizers.

Dozens of record producers rejected it. As Jarre told the Guardian, “they all said ‘you have no singles, no drummer, no singer, the tracks last 10 minutes and it’s French.’ Finally, a niche record company that normally released jazz music took it on, warily and after heavy lobbying.

The critics universally slammed it, calling it “derivative, lacking heart, ponderous and electronic muzak.” Even the musicians’ mother hated the album, asking why he had to put a skull on the cover and call it after a gas. But it quickly sold 15 million copies, immediately establishing Jarre in a rare stratum of artists who can make serious bank and count as cultural innovators.

Or, as his site puts it, “Composer, performer, producer. Visionary, innovator, cultural ambassador.” He’s a triple Leo – Ascendant, Saturn, and Pluto. That Saturn Return kitchen grind formed the foundation for a series of spectacularly flamboyant and big-vision live shows.

Perma-cool and always artistically relevant, he’s regularly cited as an inspiration by creatives, including those who have not even had one Saturn Return yet. He looks ludicrously youthful, has enough money to back the causes he cares about and Oxygene became “a crucial building block for everything from techno to ambient to new age.”

Why not see any Saturn conjunction, not just the Return, as an era when – with intensive focus – you can build a foundation?

Jean-Michel Jarre had a day job. He could have slept/partied through all those nights or shrunk back from the early criticism/lack of interest. It would probably have been easier at the time to make a less courageous creative decision. But he stuck at it, dodgy equipment, no sleep, claustrophobia, criticism and all. Thirty years later, Jarre spent his second Saturn Return in Merzouga, Morocco, putting on a free show with local musicians called Water For Life.

Last year, a few months before Saturn conjunct Pluto (the same alignment that he was born under) he announced his latest project: Eon, himself as an artificial intelligence algorithm.*

*In case you’re wondering, Uranus in Taurus is coming up to square his natal Saturn and he has a natal Uranus in Gemini sextile to his Saturn. Additionally, he’s got Jupiter in Saggo/the 5th House trine his Saturn/Pluto trine Midheaven.

38 thoughts on “A Saturn Return Success Story”

  1. Phoenix the Elder

    The underworld opened at my first Saturn Return, then I lived the full “wrathful dismemberment”, then the underworld closed at my second saturn return. Having Saturn in Sagittarius was the best element to handle hell.

  2. I played this at work last month and a regular visitor immediately stopped and picked the album. We went into an in-depth convo about the Fairlight synthesizer. Watch Doctor Mix recreating this on YouTube.

  3. Wow, I needed this. Saturn has just kept on hounding me this year (return was bang on the conjunction this January), but now that I see the root of it, it’s incredible.

    Saturn/Pluto return in the 12th can, as it turns out, lead to you finding out 20 years of health problems have been the result of being put on VERY strong medicine as a child for a condition you *do not fuqing have*, because your mother wasn’t happy you weren’t making straight As anymore (WASN’T FAILING A SINGLE CLASS, and this was after she had me bumped up a grade mid-semester). Then followed stronger and stronger meds (and more diagnoses that were very false) to treat what were obviously side effects of the first drug. She took me to multiple docs til she got the diagnoses she wanted. I was 9. Thankfully I was able to stop it this year before it took my thyroid or kidneys in the divorce, but it was a near thing.

    Now that I’ve clawed my way out from under it, though, I feel better than I have in years (I mean duh), and I honestly look forward to seeing what I can do without being sick all the time for no discernable reason. Also, lessons have been learned re: trusting myself and not letting others dictate my life, obviously.

    Not about to start something over it with Mars being what it is, but hoo boy, does it explain a lot.

    Sometimes I wish Saturn would just speak plainly, instead of demanding an exhaustive process of elimination, but it wouldn’t be Saturn then, would it? Sheesh.

    1. Wow, well done on healing yourself after such a terrible experience, and reclaiming your self. A hard won victory (Saturn of course) but what self-possession and ‘spine’ you will have now to take you forward. x

    2. Yeah my second return was same time. My 7th house. My lesson was I think similar at its root. I’m still processing 😬 and this last part will hopefully reveal its purpose.. the lesson ? When the chips are down you are your best counsel and your most important carer. No one knows better what’s best for you than you. Trust but verify. At the time of my first return I started a new life and was stripped of everything, good and bad. That was good ! the next 30 years I’ve been learning about taking responsibility for my own happiness and welfare with a great tool. That tool is a concept that pervades all great philosophies. The idea of the middle way, equanimity, finding the mean point, the central place. When you can achieve that space all incoming influences, ideas, people become inert, neutralized. You then have the time and space to decide what’s for you and whats not.
      You will survive the mistakes made by others, the harm. You didn’t know you were a scapegoat for the low self esteem and ego of others. Give your self the best start to the next 30 years by letting it all go… be born again x

      Oh have you seen the movie Garden State ? Your story reflects themes in this movie

  4. this is so excellent, thankyou mystic
    this is my son in abt 5 yrs time,
    quadruple aqua
    i HAVE to play this album to him
    I’ll show him this article aswell

  5. LOVE this album, it’s part of my house-witchery cleaning playlist and also frequently listen to it at work as well. I didn’t know anything about the artist though, thanks so much for the write up of such a fascinating person!

  6. Love Saturn. Yes I had my first ever dental emergency/diagnosis of chronic autoimmune conditions on one conjunct transit to my natal Neptune (ruler of MC). But also got married during first Saturn Return (very happily, almost 15 years), and my eldest son just turned 12 ON the Great Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Jan this year (he also is a Virgo Rising with Saturn conjunct – and my daughter’s ascendant is conjunct his Sun). It feels like the transits are the stress tests for anything you’ve built (habits, relationships, self-love)?? I now ‘follow the (Saturn) instructions’, lol… 🙂 x

  7. And adored Charlotte Rampling from George Girl her first movie I think. Sex on legs was she. Yup been around that loooong.:-)

  8. Was in Belgium for my Saturn return around same time and when she (French with long blonde pony tail down to waist) shows me the music we created the dance to match it. Can’t listen to it now w/o doing the moves…lol.

  9. Was in Belgium from ’78-’80 and Xmas ’79 was coralled into doing a stage production dance to JMJ’s Oxygene. Very spacey white leotards & leggings with gold wide necklets anklets & wristlets (made from gold shiny cardboard and stapled on) with the dance featuring martial arts moves. Just 2 of us and his music. It had 2 encores.Arrived back in Oz and the movie Gallipoli also featured his music, a strange synchronicity. His music was imbedded in my psyche after weeks of rehearsals. Now I have Oxygene on my playlist up to part 100 or is it 10 maybe 14 🙂

  10. that has given me a boot up the backside that courage is important. That dissenting voices are not to be heeded. Not that I am on a return I have always been a bit reticent to stand up and mouth off. First Saturn return was hellish. But it set me up into the next fifteen years and forged a lot of what I am now.

  11. Easily one of my favourite albums. Thanks for the background…. its both interesting and reassuring to read.

    Im sure lots of us are working on something that other people think is weird….. every now and then you wonder if its all worth it. This is exactly what we need to read right now. Thanks Mystic.

    Side note: while I wouldnt call my Saturn return a success….. it wasnt awful either. I heard a famous astrologer say once that they dont trust people who claim their Saturn Return wasnt horrible. Reading about JMJs return feels like vindication.

    1. Yes, what a silly thing of that astrologer to say. My saturn return in the 12th finally grounded me to a degree, it stopped me losing my keys and wallet every 3 months and that WAS good! Nope Saturn return was very helpful for me

  12. For some reason this was huge on rotation on Radio B-L-A-N-D in the town I lived in at the time. I absolutely love this story. Persistence pays off. Anyone who has toughed it out through a hard Saturn transit will be smiling quietly to themselves reading this.
    I just checked his wiki – he and Charlotte Rampling were married for 20 years. Any chance you can sneak a peek at their synastry, Mystic? x

  13. This is giving me life. And courage. What a shitty few days, in a difficult year of difficult days and nights, can do to almost break one! Deep thanks, Mystic and all who share (including you who read and are not typing, you are part of it).

    Like J-M Jarre i have a day job. Maybe he also felt lucky to have the grind and the billpayer. And who would not feel inspired to match Charlotte Rampling in her darkly brilliant energy, to make weird music that vibes the empty value of the legacy and the energy of the discontent? We all rebel, i feel. We’re all exhausted and remembering our connection with earth, body, security, future planning, community around our home and work, what we let leech of ourselves into the internet and what we also gained from its capacity, so quickly. Jarre’s electronic music is so Uranian, it can heheh “jar” in tempo, tone but it still has traditional musical structure. If you grew up with it it excited without hysteria, and soothed without comforting. I don’t think we can sleep through these days; our rest is recalibration and refreshment to keep going with eyes open.

    1. I read this tonight, it’s for you I think ?
      “I was living in a constant state of tension; often I felt as if gigantic blocks of stone were tumbling down upon me. One thunderstorm followed another. My enduring these storms was a question of brute strength. Others have been shattered by them — Nietzsche, and Holderlin, and many others. But there was a demonic strength in me, and from the beginning there was no doubt in my mind that I must find the meaning of what I was experiencing in these fantasies. When I endured these assaults of the unconscious I had an unswerving conviction that I was obeying a higher will, and that feeling continued to uphold me until I had mastered the task “
      Jung — Memories, Dreams, Reflections

      1. Yes, i have been devastated to hear Nietzschean voice in my n and d collapsed in ego, theirs and mine, i guess, or am told. It’s good to hear your Arien voice. I am being held to suspended account for these demonic voices, thunderstorms, the constant state of tension, and so-caĺled demonic strength, by Aries or Arien energised life partners. As Pisces, it is challenging to stand up to well meaning controlling care or even pass agg while not leaving them entirely. But to dismiss the Aries is to dismiss the rebirthing growth.

        It is true i am obeying a higher will and a feeling, imperfectly, as my Cap Mars squares get irritated and frustrated, but yes. Thank you so very much for your witching for me, as you have always done xxx I hail this quote, and your blessing.

        1. Millie you write so lucidly and intelligently. Tim Leary said ‘Intelligence is the greatest aphrodisiac’.
          a thousand kisses deep girl x

      2. Sorry, but cannot let this pass without a profoundly cautionary note. Re “there was a demonic strength in me”. It is well documented that Emma Jung tried to end their marriage at least three times but each time he descended into a psychotic episode. Freud’s claim that Jung married for money/influence is pretty sound if you consider the evidence. It could be argued that Jung derived his strength from Emma, Freud and others but attributed it to his mastery. He saw himself as heroic and others as the supporting cast. When Emma died she was “his Queen” then he built a tower for himself. In short , it could be said that Jung was an opportunist of demonic proportions….the disease, not the cure. Run early if and when you can. Heresy to Jungians? Sorry.

    2. Hey Mille, sorry to hear you’ve had a bad few days. What a year, all round, hey. Congratulations are in order for anyone who is managing to get through, I reckon. xx

    3. Deep thanks back at you, Mille – keep going, whatever you’re facing (alongside the odd global coronavirus pandemic!) Keep resting whenever you can.. <3

  14. I bought this album in the late 70s . It’s beautiful. Although I think the father of this style is the amazing Georgia Moroder ( Midnight Express, Godfather etc soundtracks) Jarre is nearly in this class, as is Eric Serra ( The Big Blue).. all of them have given a depth, emotion to electronic music that is extremely difficult to pull off.

    1. I was rewatching the big blue a couple of weeks ago (only made it halfway through though – nice dolphins but 3 hours, pfft) and was struck by how influential that soundtrack, which i owned a recorded copy of on cassette in the early 90s, has been on my music taste. Underwater clanking sounds translating easily into a later love of experimental electronic music. Have never got into Jarre though, perhaps I’m missing out?

      1. Listen to Moroders soundtrack of the movie Midnight Express. If you haven’t watched the movie you can do that too it’s really good, the music is moving, powerful.
        Yes The Big Blue is long, the visuals stunning though still secondary to that incredible soundtrack.
        I think the ability of music like this without lyrics is that it allows you to create your own story, lift you in a way that’s very personal.

        1. Very true, re the lack of lyrics /possibility to project onto it or expand into it! I will check out Midnight Express – somehow I have managed to miss watching it ever.

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