Jupiter’s orbital period is 12 years, but Saturn takes 29 and a half years to do one complete revolution around the Sun. This means Saturn spends roughly two and half years in each sign, more than double the time spent by Jupiter.
Like all other planets, Sun and Moon not included, Saturn also appears to periodically retrograde, as seen from the earth. So, like you saw in Jupiter’s cycle through the zodiac, Saturn’s journey through a sign might also be interrupted. And because it can be retrograde for three to four months, the interruption can last several months before Saturn returns to the sign in which it was interrupted. You can see this in the following example.
The top of the table shows that Saturn has transitioned from Taurus to Gemini sometime late August of 2000. Each of the positions listed is for the 1st of the month. So on Aug 1, 2000, Saturn is at 29 Tau 24. By Sep 1, 2000, it has advanced to 00 Gem 51. (The post on Ephemeris details the notation used to list planetary positions.) But on Oct 1, 2000, Saturn is at 00 Gem 40, which means it has actually gone backward (retrograded) by 11 minutes of arc. Since all movement happens gradually, it must be that Saturn actually started retrograding sometime in September of 2000.
It keeps sliding backward, and into the previous sign of Taurus, where it had been not two months ago. Around Jan-Feb 2001, it stops going backward, takes a breath (when it becomes apparently stationary), then begins to move forward again-it has now gone direct. Gradually picking up speed, it moves into Gemini again, and keeps going until once again it comes to a stop in Oct 2002. And slides back into retrograde motion.
This one step forward-one step back motion continues in Gemini, until eventually in March 2003 it goes direct, then makes its way out of Gemini for good, and moves into Cancer.
Saturn is in retrograde motion for a total of roughly 4 months every year. The longer the orbital period, the longer the retrograde window – so Saturn’s annual retrograde period is more than Jupiter’s (whose orbital period at 12 years is less than half that of Saturn’s), and a lot more than that of Mercury’s (whose orbital period is just 88 days.)
With Saturn’s residence in a sign (at around 2.5 years) being even longer than Jupiter’s (at around 1 year), the sign placement of Saturn by itself doesn’t carry much weight in the personality. After all, almost everyone born in a two and a half year period will share the same Saturn sign.
So, like for Jupiter, what really matters are the aspects that Saturn makes with the Sun, Moon, and inner planets – people with different Saturn aspects will show very different personality traits, and will respond to circumstances in entirely different ways.