by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Order of Importance in Reading the Solar Return
Mini-Readings and Tidbits for Basic Concepts
Natal Placements in the Solar Return
Progressing the Solar Return
Other Planetary Returns
Solar Return Hand Method Math
There is so much confusion in the metaphysical and astrological fields regarding fate / free will concepts. Many people look upon Astrology as a fatalistic theory. Metaphysics, which stresses man exercising his creative potential, sounds like the direct opposite of Astrology when viewed from these perspectives. I am a metaphysician who regularly practices Astrology. My theory finds no quarrel with the free will concept, but does acknowledge that there is a certain “fated” flavor to man’s experience. How do I reconcile these opposed viewpoints? This will get very philosophical for a few paragraphs!
“In the beginning, God” was all there was, and God “created” out of what? If God was all there was, then creation was formed out of God. Everything that is (omnipresence – everywhere present) is God. Whether good, bad or indifferent (which is always personal perspective), there is no thing that is not God. “Everything that was, is, and ever more shall be”, is God.
“And God(s) created man in his image.” Did you know that the Biblical word for God, “Elohim”, is plural, just like scissors? Just what was that image? Was it the physical form, the anthropomorphic larger-than-life white man in the clouds in all the pictures? Was that image the intelligent, creative, causal consciousness? Was it a multiple reference? Two or more? There are millions, perhaps billions, of definitions, beliefs, and opinions. Personally, I believe “God” is infinite intelligence, the supreme consciousness, and that man is a pinpoint of that consciousness. Think of the ocean as God, and the drops within the ocean as mankind. Each of us contains a minute portion of what God is (or are) as a droplet of God-consciousness. Sometimes we wear an outstanding disguise, and it is hard to identify that God dwells in us all. Man, on his highest level, is a spiritual consciousness who knows on a very deep level his connection to his Creator, which apparently desires experience on multiple levels for its own largely unknown reasons and purposes. As Spirit, our connection to Source is perfection. As all these experiences are collected, we, as droplets of God-consciousness, become the sum total of such developing personal experiences, our Souls.
So, at any given point in the evolution of our personal Souls, we are the sum total of all our previous experiences. This soul level, desiring further experiences in order to grow, selects those conditions and influences it feels best contribute to that overall growth. Since the Soul is a sum total of all its previous experiences, it has an accumulation of debits and credits to its account, and its choices for the future reflect not only that accumulation, but what is required to balance the scales, the “karma”, both the good and the difficult of that Soul. The Soul knows what it must develop or experience in the future. So, the Soul, desiring further growth, and working from the level of accumulated experience, selects an experience on the physical level, which will include at least a partial working out of the accumulated “karma”, plus a reaching for future growth and experience. The Soul may or may not be guided or aided by intelligent consciousnesses, again according to personal beliefs.
Think of our planet Earth as a giant schoolhouse, and the surrounding zodiac as the Earth’s aura with its constantly changing energy patterns. Think of the incarnating ego crossing from the non-physical realm into the physical realm in the midst of this constantly changing energy pattern. The moment of that crossing and inhabitation of the physical body is the beginning of the individual human physical existence. Measured astrologically by the first indrawn breath, the potential of that human is established in the energy pattern that exists at that moment.
Where was the choice made to physically incarnate? As the physical was not in existence at the moment, the choice had to be made on the Soul level. Far more energy and possibilities are visible to the Soul on that level. Our solar system, of which our physical body is now a part, is definable and measurable, its patterns are common and known. Our Soul exercises its free will within this greater vista and selects the best pattern possible for what it intends:
- A working out of causes and karma from our prior experience.
- A game plan that takes accounts for potential growth into the future.
- Karma is simply the law of cause and effect, or in modern parlance, “What goes around, comes around.” Whatever we set in motion through our choices, the results belong to us – whether we remember them or not!
- We, as droplets of God-consciousness, are totally and completely responsible for our experiences, good, bad, or indifferent. Our ongoing actions produce results, and we must own every one of them. Avoidance is just not possible.
- This experience happens with or without our conscious participation. Life just happens!
The choice of our higher consciousness is what selects our experience, not some judgmental governing body, which was apparently in a bad mood at that moment. This existence is our personal Soul’s choice, the exercise of our free will from a much higher level than our personality, incorporating those causes established by prior experience, which can be called karma. This can be understandably predetermined by our prior actions and experiences, yet within the realm of control from this existence if we exercise our God-droplet potential. The etheric vibrations present in our Earth’s aura are imprinted on the child, and that determines the basic character patterns, tendencies, and experiences of the current incarnation – and voila! We have an astrological map.
Being fair, the Soul has the overview, and the incarnating personality does not ordinarily have a clue! How much would you learn from an experience if you had a set of directions, a timeline, a reason, and a conclusion laid out for you? You would be a trained monkey! How much more would you learn from an experience if you had to learn your way through it, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, error, possible correction, results? I think this makes better sense as a true learning process. Besides, the overview may be marvelous but may have nothing to do with the actual experience. If the Soul totally understood the implied lesson, it would have no purpose for the incarnation. So, the Soul is learning, growing, balancing, as the personality struggles through the largely unconscious experiences. Our Soul is a work in process just as our personalities are a work in process. So, how do we help ourselves?
Cooperation is the keyword here. I’m not talking about someone or something outside of myself. I am talking about the personality level consciousness cooperating and getting in touch with its higher dimensions of Self. If we do that, we can do a cooperative team effort to have the experience, get the most out of the experience, balance those existing karmic imbalances and make steady progress towards the evolution of our consciousness. No one outside of you does anything to you. No one made arbitrary choices and forced you to endure or be the victim. You are responsible for your life and experiences. Make the leap in consciousness to realize that, cooperate with the lesson, listen to your own higher voice, and make the best out of this lifetime and your experiences. End of philosophical overview.
Charting By freezing that moment of insertion into this physical existence, the first indrawn breath, the time / space pattern may be charted. The natal horoscope, our personal zodiacal aura, is interpreted into human experience, the natal promise. Just as a seed contains all the elements for unfolding into root, stem, leaf, flower and plant, so does the individual chart contain the embryo of potentialities for the human. An analysis of a person’s yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows can bring clarity for work and growth, according to his / her potential. This is a personal first point of Aries, the beginning of life, no matter what signs are involved, and the initiating moment of the measure of progress on all levels.
That time / space pattern imprinted on the individual (read: natal chart) creates sensitive points in space, which are triggered or activated from time to time by planetary movements, such as secondary progressions, primary directions, transits, lunations, eclipses and returns, to name just a few. In this lesson, we will be studying the return of the Sun to its natal position which occurs once a year, the Solar Return (SR). First of all, let us understand what is meant by the “Sun’s return”.
It is well known that our Earth orbits our Sun. But from our perspective on Earth, it looks like the Sun that is moving – personal perspective. Inasmuch as general Astrology is a geocentric or Earth-centered study, all of our measurements are based from the Earth to all other bodies orbiting our Sun. In our orbit around the Sun with the backdrop of the zodiac surrounding our solar system, it appears from our viewpoint or personal perspective that our Sun occupies the changing signs and degrees of the zodiac. A specific line-of-sight relationship is formed between the Earth and the Sun at birth. When the transiting Sun occupies the same, degree, minute and second of zodiacal longitude that it occupied at the moment of the first indrawn breath, the then current wave of energy enters that human organism carrying with it all of the qualities of that moment in time, revitalizing every cell of the body, stimulating the mind, senses, and experience, whether consciously realized or not. I have meditated at that moment and it provided a definable, powerful effect.
That moment is called the Solar (Sun) Return and may be frozen in time to study, much the same as the natal is a freeze frame of a moving sky. That moment may then be charted and interpreted. While it is possible to set the SR for the birthplace, I prefer to use the actual physical location at the moment of the return. This assumes the role of a relocation chart being set for where the individual was at the moment of that return. Please note that the exact return of the Sun will take place the day of, the day before, or the day after your birthday – not necessarily always on your birthday. Why? The difference is between the standard 360-degree circle and the 365.25 days in a calendar year. The reality is that you experience that energy surge wherever you are at that moment, in that location, which may or may not be your birthplace. When I was learning this technique, I experimented with the choice of birthplace or relocated chart. To me, the most accurate and usable charting was the actual physical location at the moment of the SR. It will, therefore, be important to know where you were or will be at that exact return moment. You can make a personal conscious choice, or just “spin the wheel and take your chances”.
Using the transiting planets for that moment, the probable course of events may be ascertained for the year, enabling the individual to plan ahead and to cooperate with Nature’s laws, and hopefully lessening the stresses of day-to-day existence.
This chart is a temporary influence based on transiting positions. It is considered to be in effect from birthday to birthday and a new SR chart must be computed for each year to allow for the changing planetary and relocated house positions. In my experience, there is a slight overlapping effect from one chart to the next, possibly up to three months. Bear in mind that this is a temporary influence that must be read in context with the natal promise. That natal promise is the seed potential. Nothing of any great consequence can occur in any temporary chart without the natal or a progressed promise.
This is like having a personal road map for the year, a thumbnail sketch of your life. Learn to take advantage through prior knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. Learn to roll with the punches or adjust your thinking at strategic times. And, above all, learn and know that nothing occurs in your life that you have not drawn to you, requested or earned.
There is some free will from this level that can be exercised in a SR chart. The overall planetary pattern for any given moment in time is not alterable. However, the house cusps are determined by geographic location. You can pre-select mundane placement of the planets within the wheel by the choice of the geographic location at the moment of each solar return.
If, for example, you were to erect a chart and discover that many SR planets occupy the 12th house, particularly the chart ruler, and decide that seclusion were not desirable, you can attempt to rotate the house wheel by changing longitude and latitude determinants for better planetary / house placement. You could possibly move those 12th house placements into the
11th or 1st houses. Or, you may choose to alter the rising sign of the SR to better suit your personal goals and objectives. Perhaps this could be done locally if the rising sign you have already determined is cuspal. Or you might have to travel to experience your SR in a dramatically different arrangement. This is a little like playing God with your life for that year. Do that respectfully.
Remember to take into consideration all of the map and not just a couple of desirable changes. Do not base your decision to change your potential for the year without reviewing the potential consequences of your action. I have seen remarks that this alteration is easy to do. If you are not seriously researching the impact of such changes, it would be easy. But you could also be receiving some surprises along the way. It is not as easy to play God as it looks on the surface. Be forewarned.
Books In my study of SRs, I started with Your Sun’s Return by Alfa Lindanger, The Solar Return by Ray Merriman, What will Happen When Your Sun Returns by Jinni and Joanne, and Foundations of the Astrological Chart by Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson. I have read far more books and taken available workshops, but I have mostly practiced and read hundreds of clients. That is my criteria for this lesson.
Because of the primary use of computers for chart calculation, I will put SR math at the end of this lesson. I will start with a reading overview and go into the details of delineation. If you do not cast your charts, the math part will have little value for you, but the chapter would be incomplete without it.
Order of Importance in Reading the Solar Return
Let us start with the assumption that you have an accurate SR for the year in question. Needless to say, the entire chart has to be read, always bearing in mind the natal promise. However, following are key areas that can help give an overall impression of the chart to facilitate the reading. Interestingly enough, the zodiac signs are not considered to be of primary importance in this chart. Signs refine and clarify your reading and add detail such as characteristics of behavior. Of more importance seem to be the planets and houses. Remember the information generated from one SR chart is limited to one specific SR year.
- The SR Ascendant is your key to this year, especially when within an 8˚ conjunction of the natal Ascendant (key year).
- Note the qualities of the SR Ascendant as it seems to establish the type of experience. Cardinal initiates, fixed establishes, and mutable adapts.
- The year of a change of qualities can be very significant, and you may have several successive years in one quality if your return longitude and latitude do not change drastically.
- The SR Ascendant is how you begin your year. The Imum Coeli (IC) or 4th SR house cusp is how you end your year. These will not necessarily be the same quality.
- Place all or significant natal positions around the outside of the SR wheel (i.e., planets, Ascendant, Midheaven). The SR house in which your natal Ascendant falls becomes a high focus area on a mundane level.
- Locate your SR Ascendant in your natal chart house. There is a personal emphasis of natal house matters this year according to the matters of the SR house.
- Note the SR house position of the SR chart ruler. This is the area in which you will work out or learn the year’s major lessons.
- Note the house position of SR Saturn as this controls the SR skeleton or framework for that year.
- Note the house position of the SR Sun as this is the spotlight for the year, your greatest growth potential.
- Note any other planet returning to within 2-3˚ of its own natal position, as its energy is intensified.
- Note the SR planets and their rulerships. The house ruled by a planet indicates where the energies of the planet and the activities it activates by occupation are actually worked out.
- Be sure to note the placement of the Nodes, Part of Fortune, and the Vertex and the Anti-Vertex only if you desire to work with those points of reference.
- Do not clutter your charts with unnecessary positions. I have had charts handed to me to read that looked like a chaotic plate of spaghetti. I would not even try. Simple and clean is better. You can always add more detail, if desired, or you can study a position as research.
Chart patterns such as Bundle, Bowl, Bucket, See-saw, Locomotive, Splay and Splash may be applied using standard interpretations. It may be helpful to note that from mid-1978 though early 1979, only two patterns were routinely possible, the Bundle and the Bowl, due to the very tight arc placement of the planets during that period. Only the Moon was able to swing out of those patterns to occasionally form a bucket or other pattern. When the outer planets travel fairly close together within a few signs, the bundled effect can be felt for a long transiting period, especially when the faster-moving planets move into those conceptually bundled signs. As the Sun moves out of those signs, it will take Venus and Mercury with it and start to break up such a pattern. Watch the transits for such bundling as they will affect any planetary return.
Note hemispheric influence using standard reference material.
- Below horizon: concerned with internal, subjective reactions, the why of things.
- Above horizon: live life more objectively, externally, functionally.
- Rising, left of chart: make own decisions, exercise free will, destiny-making.
- Setting, right of chart: less control, involvement with others, destiny-fulfilling.
What about overabundance in house position? Balance is preferred. Six or more planets in:
- Angular houses: too much activity or ego desires for personal attention.
- Succedent houses: obsession to stay in rut, stubborn or prideful.
- Cadent houses: too many changes, spin wheels, not enough stability, irritable, restless, meditate.
Mini Readings and Tidbits for Basic Concepts
Planets and Points The planets are the actual working energies, those facets within an individual that contribute to the overall individuality itself, the what of our experience. The personal points are intensely personal intersections points between the great circles that surround us, but there is no physical object at their location, so they may affect things somewhat differently than planetary energy.
- Sun Spotlight, where you shine! Chief interest and activities, area of greatest growth, creativity and vitalization, self-identification, pro-active
- Capricorn Sun rising, possible permanent dignity and honor
- Moon Area of greatest change, not fully understood until the next solar return; where greatest emotional needs reside, reactive in nature, security issues
- if New Moon, new beginnings
- angular: forms important relationships
- Mercury Decisions, paper transactions, current intellectual interest, communications
- in 5th young people or creativity
- in 6th work on or with your mind
- in 2nd money and resources on your mind
- Venus Your greatest pleasure, romantic or compatibility nature, taste, value system, financial attitude
- in 10th spoiled darling, popular and magnetic
- Mars Energy applied, competition, initiative, impulsiveness, discord, passion may override common sense, something can be “cut out of your life”
- hard aspect to Neptune, purposeless activity “spinning your wheels”
- hard aspect to Uranus, rebellious
- Jupiter Expansion and success, how your principles will aid your efforts, area of growth and good fortune, education and teaching emphasized, “old door closes so a new door can open”
- 7th fruitful partnership
- 11th expands social life and friendship
- Saturn Framework for year, all other planets support Saturn in its house occupation and rulership, sets pattern or structure, responsibility, reality, practicality, and results of past effort
- 12th possible confinement or seclusion
- afflicting the 10th, dishonor or downfall
- Uranus Hates ruts or crystallized conditions, the awakener – sudden, unexpected changes, unpredictable, non-conforming, the disrupter, encourages individuality, can bring separations. That which was destroyed or changed or needed to be destroyed or changed. Uranus can actually leave you better by its contact despite the foregoing keywords.
- In 1st house or conjunct the Ascendant, watch for accidents, sudden events.
- Neptune Spiritual awareness, your creative imagination, your dreams, hopes and ideals
- Negatively: gullibility, illusion, false hope, trickery when negative.
- It can dissolve restrictions by way of inspiration, if you allow it. “A fog is lifted.”
- In 10th assumed name, alias, pen name
- Can counsel the people of the house it occupies, or cause misunderstandings if negative aspect.
- Pluto Transformation urge can add new dimension to life, takes its time, potential area of power, or greatness in influencing others. Elimination, removal, reform, re-evaluation.
- North Node Face challenge of new, walk forward into life, improving overall relationships.
- South Node Area of completion and habitual response, use to positively support North Nodal lesson.
- Vertex Expectancies from your environment in terms of what you have freely taken from it, best to pay back when activated.
- Anti-Vertex The easy way out, no growth, where you have been the taker or initiator of prior experience.
- Part of Fortune Point of good fortune unless 19 Scorpio or 29 Pisces, questionable in the 8th or 12th or conjunct a malefic planet or fixed star (standard Part of Fortune rules).
- Retrograde planets indicate review, repeat or revalue matters of house before you can progress. You can experience frustration if you try to ignore.
Houses are the arena of activity where the energies work themselves out by occupation and rulership.
- 1st /Ascendant and ruler Your face to the world, immediate response to stimuli from others or environment, coping skills, your basic key to the year for your personal needs and desires, what you are going to do.
- Planets occupying the 1st give a change of attitude, especially the Moon.
- If an intercepted sign comes to the solar return ascendant, you may have an opportunity to work out the qualities of the sign, which you may normally have difficulty expressing.
- 2nd and ruler Personal values, financial matters, the results of prior personal efforts, earning capacity, possessions
- 2/8 involvement can also indicate death
- 3rd and ruler Your state of mind, ideas and how you communicate them, short journeys, relationships with neighbors, siblings, relatives, correspondence
- 3 / 9 travel
- 3 / 4 change environments
- 3 / 7 / 11 marriage possible
- 4th / IC and ruler Roots, foundation, core self, family matters, parents, domestic concerns, remember the 4th house cusp (IC) is where you end your solar return year
- 4 /5 family conditions
- 4 / 10 axis triggers major changes in life
- 5th and ruler New romance, entertainment, self-expression in creativity, children or young people, recreational interests, speculative short-term ventures
- 5 / 11 can signal death of a parent
- 5 / 8 pregnancy complications, gambling, sexual activity
- 6th and ruler Health or illness issues, service given or received, working conditions, adjustments, changes within a job
- 6 / 10 change of job
- 6 / 8 / 12 illness or surgery
- 7th / Descendant and ruler Cooperation or controversy with others, significant relationship, marriage or partnership, legal matters, social status
- 7 / 9 legal affairs
- 8th and ruler Joint resources, partner’s financial outlook or value systems, long-term investments, taxes, insurance, estates, research projects, birth / death / rebirth, sexual matters, conformity to another’s wishes
- 9th and ruler Education, mental expansion, philosophy, religion, wisdom, clergy, foreigners, publishing, court decisions, long distance travel, preparing for the future
- Key: If Ascendant ruler is posited in the 9th, you tend live in the future instead of the present.
- 10th / MC and ruler Public image, career and professional status, reputation, superiors of any kind, attitudes about vocation, purposes and expectations, characteristics you are advised to develop to attain your goals, a destiny factor for the solar return year
- 11th and ruler Social activities, group associations, friends, goal setting / life objectives, career rewards and accomplishments, realization of vocational or professional efforts
- 12th and ruler Efforts behind the scenes, charity or volunteer work, institutions, withdrawing phase, rest, reclusive, privacy, isolation, psychic involvement possible, face spiritual depths or issues, self-judgment or self-sabotage, working with past attitudes, retreat to make plans
- This is not a good placement for the chart ruler – it can be a difficult year (and a good reason to change the location of the solar return)
- Natal Ascendent in 12th, feeling of confinement
- Natal Saturn in 12th, can be actual confinement
A planet within 3˚ of a house cusp can be very influential according to the nature of the planet itself, especially if conjunct the angles. The planet is even stronger if in the house ruled by the cusp it conjuncts, and is weaker but still influential in the house prior.
Aspects the usual delineation, but with tighter orbs:
- Conjunction: support and unification, 8˚ orb.
- Opposition: relationship or other viewpoint awareness, 4˚ orb
- Square: challenges and obstacles, 4˚ orb.
- Quincunx: reorganize and adjust or can become ill, 2˚ orb.
- Yod, double quincunx, Finger of God pointing: what you must do.
- Minor aspects do not seem to be very effective in this shorter-term chart unless promised natally.
- A planet in 29˚ of a sign is usually completing a cycle.
Signs by house rulership indicate how you express that area of experience for the year. They indicate where you:
- Aries – start things spontaneously or use your initiative.
- Taurus – are practical and persistent to achieve material results.
- Gemini – adapt and are flexible to immediate environment, data gathering.
- Cancer – will nurture things to achieve emotional security.
- Leo – are dramatic, self-expressive or projective, creative.
- Virgo – are precise, detail-oriented, self-analytical and self-critical.
- Libra – are cooperative and try to restore balance, seeking fairness can go too far.
- Scorpio – call on your deepest psychological resources to renew and restore.
- Sagittarius – expand your vision, goals and mental outlook.
- Capricorn – apply consistent, practical effort to build position or reputation.
- Aquarius – express yourself uniquely to effect joint or group goals or personal freedom.
- Pisces – commit self to dissolve old attitudes, unrealistic or idealistic, sorrow or loss.
Intercepted signs work below the surface of house activity. This is an unconscious reaction to the cusp sign and can cause some confusion or unexpected attitudes in house matters. Interceptions delay but do not deny.
Natal Placements in the Solar Return
As previously mentioned, place the natal planets and points around the outside of the Solar Return (SR) chart to the degree that such positions are useful to you. Use a second color pen to prevent confusion. Your computer program should allow a bi-wheel: the return is the base and the natal is around the outside. Any SR planet that returns to within 2-3˚ of its natal position emphasizes the placement of that planet in the SR.
The key house in the SR is that of the natal Ascendant placement. This house is the area of special personal importance where the native will project much personal energy, the area of immediate attention in handling current circumstances, where you hope to succeed, to create a good impression on yourself and others, and what your current desires are.
- Also remember to check where the SR Ascendant falls in the natal chart – it helps localize activity. If the natal Ascendant is in the 12th, there is a feeling of confinement. If natal Saturn is in the 12th there is a good chance of actual confinement, medical or otherwise.
- Note where the natal Midheaven falls in the SR chart for the area of special interest and importance to the position / career / reputation and be sure to note the SR Midheaven placement in the natal chart to show the area affecting career / reputation / position this year, again localizing some of that activity. The natal Midheaven in the SR chart indicates where you may accomplish and where you feel a sense of unfoldment or destiny with great expectations. You may develop and express a sense of professionalism, and may have to deal with superiors, so be prepared.
- The natal Descendant falling in the SR house indicates the area where you will form partnerships or feel a special sense of relating to others. It shows what others desire and how to cope with circumstances created by or involving others.
- The natal IC / 4th cusp in the SR house notes family or domestic concerns with those house matters. It is your “real” and not temporary roots, your personal sense of identity or security, what you “need”.
You may further refine your reading by putting the SR placements around your natal wheel. I personally do not work much in this area and have no experience around which to base teaching material. I have seen other Astrologers generate much good information by this practice.
Progressing the Solar Return
This can actually be done. My first encounter with the possibility was a long-ago workshop by Ray Merriman. If available, use his material directly. The Midheaven in the SR moves approximately 1˚ every four days, or 87˚ direct per year. Depending upon latitude and longitude at the birthday, the Ascendant travels between 45’ and 2˚ during that same four days, so activations may follow different timing.
- Average Midheaven travel: 87˚ per year, 7˚15’ per month, 36’ per day.
- Average Ascendant travel: determine actual motion of the Solar Return Ascendant per year.
- Then determine motion per month: actual yearly motion divided by 12
- Divide monthly motion by 30 days for daily motion and make adjustments as needed.
To time an event, three methods may be used:
- Midheaven Measure the distance in degrees between the Midheaven and the planets from the 10th, 11th, 12th houses, and multiply the answer by four. This is the number of days from the birthday to the event signified by the Midheaven contacting the planet or point in question by conjunction. This may be also used to determine the Midheaven axis contact to the planets in the 4th, 5th, and 6th houses by opposition. Be aware that the opposition appears to me to be a very weak predictive tool. This is the only timing method I have encountered.
- Ascendant Go to the table of houses for the latitude of the SR. Follow that latitude for the progressing Ascendant until it makes a contact to a planet located in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd houses. Look up the Midheaven that applies to the progressed Ascendant at the SR latitude. Measure the distance in degrees between the SR Midheaven and the progressed SR Midheaven. Multiply that answer by four, which reflects the days between the birthday and the contact date of progressed Ascendant to the planet in question, by conjunction. Again, this may be used to determine the contacts to the 7th, 8th, and 9th house planets by opposition, but that appears to be a weaker contact than the conjunction. Not easy, but again, no alternative method.
- Note the date that the transiting Sun conjuncts a planet, Ascendant or Midheaven. If specific dates repeat themselves as you work these various methods, this could be the timing of a major change or happening. You may then wish to cast a Lunar Return for that particular month.
By using these three methods, events can be timed to within four days if the SR is accurate.
Note: If a planet has just passed over the SR Ascendant and moved into the 12th house, something related to that planet took place right around or just before the birthday.
Remember that, in my experience, a SR chart seems to have a mild overlapping effect of approximately three months.
Other Planetary Returns
Lunar Returns (LR) occur 12 ½ times per year, so thirteen LR charts would have to be computed for a single year to be thorough. The actual total is 25 every two years. The house occupied by the Moon in the LR chart is the most important position. The Ascendant and its ruler in the chart would be next in importance. If you have the Moon in the 1st house of a lunar return, it will definitely give a change of personal attitude.
A LR would be like the second hand for the SR chart. I know astrologers who use the LRs regularly. I personally do not see the value of calculating thirteen more charts, especially since, when I started studying the returns, all charts were cast by hand. With a computer, after entering your natal
chart information, simply ask for a LR for however many months you are willing to work the charts. The chart that is produced should show the natal Moon repeated in the LR chart. Each LR chart holds value until the next LR. Do as much work as there is value for you, especially to learn any subject.
Look at the LR as a stand-alone chart, but remember it is a 29-day chart only. Do not read too deeply into its effects. The more common usage would be to compare the LR chart and positions to the natal chart. If you are trying to define a tighter time frame for a SR chart, compare the LR to the SR to see if there are specific connections to positions. Personally, at this point I would turn to diurnals to time an event to the day.
Other planetary returns may be computed using the same basic method. However, correction is required only to degrees and minutes. Correction to seconds of are not usual as in the case of the SR. Your computer would correct automatically. You would only work returns on the Sun through Saturn. A Uranus return would occur at age 84, and you could do one if you thought it useful. (As I rewrite this section in 2022, I am currently experiencing a Uranus return.)
Neptune and Pluto would not return during a single human lifetime, so these returns are more useful in mundane work. For example, the U.S. celebrated its 237th birthday in 2013. The U.S. Pluto return is in process for this current re-write (2022) and will occur between the 247th to 248th anniversary – not that far away. The U.S. and several of the individual states within the U.S. have already celebrated their Neptune returns (167 years). I have recently been researching those returns and have been fascinated by what I have found, but the study is incomplete at this point. The house occupied by the planet being returned will be the key for that return.
I did not find much written or online material on planetary returns, and I had not really used them in my earlier practice. I admit that I knew next to nothing about them until the original writing when I realized I was encountering Neptune returns on mundane charts. It has been an interesting journey investigating one of the weaker areas of my astrological knowledge: events, movements, states, etc.
- The Wisconsin mass shootings,
- the political turmoil in our western states,
- Hurricane Sandy,
- the political War on Women, which is visible astrologically,
- and many other non-person issues are definitely influenced by their Neptune returns.
The outer planetary returns are dependent upon multiple factors not necessarily understood astrologically. I recently (2022) went to school studying the U.S. Neptune return, which provided an unexpected position for it. I would rely on computerized versions rather than speculate on questionable math by hand. Originally published in the AFA Bulletin, “Neptune’s Mysterious Return” February 21, 2012, V74 #2, is available on my website: http://www.marilynmuir.net/articles-old/neptunes-mysterious-return/
On a purely astrological logic basis, the planetary return would be calculated for the exact time the planet returned to its natal position, using sign, degree and minute; seconds are not usually available. The chart could be read as a stand-alone, relative to that planet and what it represents in the native’s chart. It is a window into the workings of that planet at that time in the native’s life, good until the next return of that planet. Comparing the SR planet’s positions to the natal and progressed charts would be the other reading method. Remember to isolate your reading to the nature of the specific planet.
Solar Return Hand Method Math
In order to set a SR chart, the position of the natal Sun must be known to the degree, minute and second. Inasmuch as 1’ of movement of the Sun = 24’ of clock time, that 24’ of clock time can equal 6 degrees variation of the Midheaven, and possibly more or less for the ascendant and remaining house cusps. Logarithms round off to the nearest minute. Therefore, by hand, diurnal motion tables must be used to correct the natal Sun position. Use chart one from your diurnal motion tables to compute the natal Sun to degree, minute and second of arc. Then compute the whole chart using the natal method. Of course, if you have access to a computer for your charts, simply put in the natal information and select a SR chart. It will prompt you for the physical location (relocation) of the SR. Be sure you are accurate with the physical location at the moment of the return itself as the house placements, and therefore the readings, can change dramatically.
I have attached both midnight and noon ephemeris instruction sheets for construction of the return by hand. I have also provided the construction forms including wheel that I gave to my students for their daily use. Again, one is midnight and one is noon ephemeris based. Also, Wikipedia online has good information regarding this.
Astrology enjoys a tremendous list of valuable websites. Don’t hesitate to take a stroll through the world’s largest library, the internet, simply by Googling for the subject in which you are interested. Stay away from the kooks, but do include scientific websites which are great for diagrams and explanations.
A few months prior to the original writing of this section, I wrote an online planetary return article about the fact that I had just celebrated my sixth Jupiter return, a twelve-year cycle repetition, and realized there was really no information available to astrologers about a planet with multiple returns. I tried to remember what happened at each return and listed those facts for each occurrence. The original article, “A Personal Journey of Jupiter Returns – A Teaching Article” was published in the AFA monthly bulletin Today’s Astrologer February 21, 2012, v74#2. That original article was updated this last year when I celebrated my seventh Jupiter Return and can be accessed on my website at:
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