Saturday, August 15, 2009

Solar Return: “Ambition, Obligation, Healing”

When the earth makes one revolution around the sun we call that a ‘year’. From the perspective of the earth, the sun appears to be revolving around the earth. Even though we know this is not actually true, ancient people realized that knowing where the sun appeared to be in the heavens allowed for predictability of seasons and therefore reliable crop production and sustenance.

In astrology, we also recognize the solar cycle as it relates to people and events. When you were born, the sun was somewhere on the 360° circle of the ecliptic around the earth. When the sun returns to that same spot in the heavens, this is considered the ‘Solar Return’ for that person or event. Though most ancient ‘rites of passage’ celebrations have long been abandoned, most cultures have maintained at least one of them…the Solar Return.

The Solar Return is celebrated by us still today only now we refer to it as our ‘Birthday’ celebration.

As you would expect, the sun returns to the same spot in the heavens around the birthdays of individuals and events because…well, it’s the sun cycle itself on which our only calendar is based. Ancient cultures, such as the Mayans, had many calendars for many purposes. The solar calendar was their calendar for ‘commerce’ (i.e. crops & trade) purposes. But today we have only decided to retain the commerce calendar and to reject the calendars based on other cycles…as if commerce is our only purpose! No wonder our culture finds it hard to find significance and meaning outside of our ability to work and produce. However, that is another discussion altogether.

Astrologically, the Solar Return is an annual event usually occurring within 36 hours of our actual birth date and time and it represents a new round of growth, opportunity, and challenge on our continued journey through this life. The reason that the actual time varies each year and sometimes lands a day before or a day after the actual birth date is the same reason that we have a leap year every four years. It is because our calendar is relatively inaccurate…especially when compared to some ancient calendars. In any case, a chart is cast for the moment when the sun returns to its place in the heavens that it held at the time of the birth of the entity. This chart is then interpreted on its own which reveals themes for growth and challenge throughout the coming year. The Solar Return chart is also viewed relative to the Natal chart in terms of opportunities relative to the overall life path.

Below is a brief analysis of a Solar Return chart for a female who turned 27 back in March 2009. I am looking at both her Solar Return chart and her Natal chart to assess the potentials for this year which is almost halfway over as of now. Analyzing this chart at this point in time allows us to gain some verification for the previous 5 months and a conscious reorientation for the remaining 7 months of the year.

Natal chart (click to enlarge)

Solar Return chart (click to enlarge)

General Personality Tendencies for the Year (Taurus Ascendant/Leo Moon)

As someone with a natal Pisces Sun and Libra rising, you would expect her to be flexible and accommodating for the most part. And while this is probably true generally speaking, this year she can expect to experience herself as more stubborn and self-focused rather than her typical agreeable self. The affects of this year’s tendencies are relative to her natural style so that she will experience herself as more self-oriented and less compromising than usual but this does not necessarily suggest that she will turn into a tyrant, for example. For someone with a natal predisposition toward these characteristics, a year like this could very well bring out the inner tyrant. But for someone with a natal predisposition for compromising and bending to others’ wishes, like with this example, a year like this can allow her to experience a stronger push for self-expression that she may not experience in typical years. She may stand up for herself more and claim her place in the world rather than fitting into a space that allows her in it.

Getting Out There

There is a strong theme in this Solar Return chart toward focusing her thoughts and efforts on expanding her influence in the outer world. Mercury, Mars, Neptune, Jupiter, Chiron, and the north node of the Moon are all crowded at the top of the chart in the 10th house of career, public opinion, reputation and ambition. Also the Sun and Uranus are conjunct in the 11th house of individuality within groups and goals for the future. Her focus seems to rest primarily on her desire to head in the right direction, meet the right people and do the things she needs to do to realize her ideal ambitions. This does not mean that she will get there during a year like this, but only that this is where she is focused and the synthesis of all of her little decisions throughout the year will show a pattern relative to these themes.

This year, she is ready to separate from the crowd and the ‘rules’ and re-define her own self against her own desires and wishes and morality instead of weighing them against those of others. With Uranus conjunct the Sun in the 11th house, there may even be some moments of explosiveness and impulsiveness when she feels hemmed in by the same old friends’ expectations and same old rules by which she has lived the last 27 years. She may appear more ‘selfish’ in the eyes of others but really she is just finally expressing her true self, which she may have hidden until now. With Mars in the 10th house her overly ambitious energy could also rub employers the wrong way. She will want to work on things her own way. Complicating things further, Neptune in the 10th house may indicate that even though she feels a strong urge to be her own person and to do her own thing…she may not even know exactly where to direct that energy! This vagueness and lack of direction and purpose can lead to frustration at times this year as her will seems blocked by circumstances…maybe by her own indecision!

With Mercury in the 10th house, her mind will certainly be focused primarily on her own status, reputation, and ambitions which will be of the idealistic variety. Frustration over not being able to find a path or direction relative to these ideals may also cause issues throughout the year. But with Jupiter in the 10th house as well, there may be new opportunities in the career realm or for providing her ambitions with an appropriate outlet. It is unlikely that she would actually experience any real sense of advancement until the end of the Solar Return year, if at all this year. This is a year of preparation and re-orientation toward new ambitions and the accomplishment of idealistic goals.

With Saturn in the 5th house (self-expression, creativity, romance, and children) opposing the Uranus/Sun conjunction in the 11th house, this new self-expression may feel squashed. It may seem to her that outside forces are preventing her self-expression but really she is coming to terms with her own creative blocks. She may want to express herself but fears about her own perceived creative lacking may prevent her from doing so. She may also focus more seriously on her creative outlets and put work hard toward accomplishing a big project. Also, since the 5th house rules our children (I am aware that she recently had her first child), it may be the overwhelming responsibilities of motherhood that seemingly prevent her from taking off in new directions and doing the things she actually wants to do with her life.

The real essence represented by this opposition in the chart is an opportunity this year to find a balance between those responsibilities and the desires of the true self. This is done by coming to terms with the perceived imbalance in her life relative to these realms. Only in learning how to actively balance this in her life can she truly express her true self without neglecting her responsibilities and vice versa.

Healing Deep Within

As a compliment to the very ambitious energy mentioned previously, there is also a strong theme of very inwardly focused energy. The 24th degree of Taurus serves as the Ascendant this year and brings her natal 8th house (growth, transformation, release, and sharing) into focus. In addition, the ruling planet, Venus, is in the 12th house, the Moon is on the 4th house cusp, Pluto is in the 8th house, and her natal Venus in the 4th house is brought to the Solar Return Midheaven (top of the chart). This seems like a jumbled mess but my point is that the 4th, 8th, and 12th houses are all strongly represented here. These three houses are the emotional houses which generally involve transformation, healing and extra-sensory perception.

The general sense is that she is digging down deep and finding the source for her unconscious emotional reactions and tendencies. This year, she is letting go of a lot of things that no longer serve her and coming to terms with what she must accept. She is laying a new foundation for herself on an emotional level which may translate to changing arrangements in the physical home as well ( a move perhaps). She is allowing things that have been buried deep to come up for resolution and true healing.

With her natal Venus in the 4th house being brought to the Midheaven of the Solar Return chart, she may be made aware of her strong need for her mother’s approval in her life’s decisions and direction. This year may put her in situations where she feels unsupported my her mother figure and her only way out is to learn how to accept her own choices without her mother’s approval and to heal her wounds related to these needs once and for all. For example, she may be taking action towards her future career in a way that her mother perceives as irresponsible in light of her daughter having a child to care for. But, in this example, it would be up to my client to claim her place in the world and balance it with her responsibilities on her own terms and not on anyone else’s terms.


Solar Returns are great for providing themes for the upcoming year but when it comes to timing, these charts usually fall short. However, there is one piece of the Solar Return chart that can be used for timing: the progressed Moon. I won’t get into an explanation of progressed planets but just note that the Moon moves through this chart from its starting point at a rate of approximately 1° per month. Here the Moon starts at about 2.5° Leo and will move to approximately 15° Leo by the end of her personal year.

Along the way it will make different aspects to planets in the chart. These aspects made by the progressed Moon signify important time periods for the themes involved. The effects of these aspects are relatively weak compared to transits to the Natal chart from the other planets, however.

In any case, here are some significant time periods and the themes involved (the general time period is (+/-) 1 month from the date stated):

Progressed Moon Quincux (150°) Pluto in the 8th house (exact March 24) signifies a period of quick release and letting go. Possibly a heated discussion ending/straining a friendship or other relationship.

Progressed Moon crosses 4th house cusp (exact April 20) signifies a change from a mental focus to an emotional focus…can also indicate a physical move.

Progressed Moon conjunct the south node in the 4th house (exact August 16) signifies an awareness of an imbalance between work and home life with an urge to correct it.

Progressed Moon Opposite (180°) Jupiter in the 10th house (exact December 30) signifies a time of opportunity for the career or reputation that may need to be balanced by tending to responsibilities at home. It could be an opportunity that would take her away from home for longer periods, for example.

Progressed Moon Trine (120°) Venus in the 12th house (exact January 31) signifies a time of healing and pleasant interactions. Also, there is the potential for a brief sense of financial well-being.

Summary & Natal Implications

This is a year for her to re-orient her life direction. In order to do this, she must first lay down a new foundation by releasing what is no longer needed and becoming her own source of approval. From there, she can take off in the new directions that she has conjured up and begun to aim toward this year. With this she can better understand how to express her true self within a group and find a way to balance her ambition and goals with her responsibilities.

In her Natal chart she has the north node conjunct the 10th house cusp in Cancer. This suggests that there is some perceived guilt related to neglecting family obligations in her past life experiences. In this life she is challenged to find a balance between ambition and family and this year in particular brings up just this theme to be worked out. Because of her sense of guilt, she has likely found herself leaning toward family obligations rather than her own ambitions to this point in her life. This year challenges her to take the first real step toward achieving that balance.

This year is a foundational year that will pave the path for future ambitions. Transiting Saturn enters her natal 12th house in early September 2009 and stays there until early October 2011. This echoes the themes of digging deep and letting go shown in this year’s chart. Whatever ambitions are conjured up this year they are likely to remain in ‘the oven’ for the next couple of years until Saturn crosses her Ascendant in October 2011. At the tail end of that time period, Saturn will return to its natal position. This is known as the Saturn Return and it is the same concept as the Solar Return with the exception that one Saturn cycle is equal to almost 30 earth years. The first Saturn Return is a time a deep maturity and considered the threshold to true adulthood.

If she lays a solid emotional foundation for herself this year and at least mentally creates a framework for her future ambitions, the next couple of years will be a time for ‘cooking’ these ingredients together. Then in 2012 when her Saturn Return is complete and Saturn conjuncts her natal Pluto in her 1st house, she will be moving forward according to her own authority and power. Patience, preparation, and purging is the name of the game until then.

And so it is…

Readers, this was just a taste of what type of information a Solar Return reading can offer you. If you’re interested in a complete analysis for your next birthday or your current one, please contact me at!


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