The Planets and Their Positions in the Solar Return
What is the ascendant of the solar return? Where does its ruler lie in the solar return and in the natal? Is it on an angle? If so, then there is more action concerning the year and its activities. When you look at the solar return chart is it primarily angular, succedent, or cadent? What aspects are formed between the ruler of the solar return and the other planets? More challenging aspects might suggest more challenge, and, actually more that gets done regarding that ruler. If they are supportive aspects, then things flow between the ruler of the solar return and the other planets.
When a natal planet is in a tight orb to a solar return planet, this is significant, and it enhances the meaning of the solar return. In a book written by Deanna Rose , she states that a concentration in angular houses suggests the ‘gains that you work for in the coming year’. A concentration in the solar return succedent houses suggests talents acquired (i.e. acquisitions) this year, and, finally, a concentration of cadent houses, suggests the planning, thinking, studying, licensing required for the future. These are opportunities to gain strength for the future. Lynn Bell, of course, suggests that angularity suggests action. She states that “any planet conjunct an angle in the solar return helps shape the Sun’s purpose for the year ahead.”
Now when looking at the planets in the solar return, it is important to measure where they are geographically. In other words, say Saturn is at the tail end of the 7th house. There are several conclusions here:
- Saturn in the solar return is where you will be tested
- In this case, Saturn is in an angular house in the solar return, and, so, there are matters regarding relationships and Saturn issues. Perhaps this is the year for someone to set boundaries with others, to ally themselves with older individuals. In the old books, they even said that when Saturn is in the 7th, it suggests marriage to a widower J .We don’t know if this is true or not, but what we do know is that since Saturn is at the doorway of the 8th house, one of two things are suggested.
- It is very clear that by transit Saturn will hit the solar return 8th house cusp at some time in the next year if it is close enough. Deanna Rose suggests that the 8th house represents a ‘crisis’ during the solar return year that deals with others’ monies, funds, working for an inheritance, or, just learning about discrimination regarding partnerships, legacies, spending, etc. So transiting Saturn could trigger such issues.
As far as the position of a planet in a solar return house, you need to check if it is close to the cusp, in the middle of the house, or, later in the house (how to calculate precisely when planets progress backwards to the solar return cusps is discussed earlier in this lesson). When exploring this with a client, it is important to clarify the differences and to help them focus on preparation regarding the placements of these.
The Moon in the solar return will be discussed later, but what about the other planets? The placement of Mercury in the solar return indicates the area in which the mind is engaged for this coming year. Since Mercury only travels 28º from the Sun, watch to see the distance between the Sun and Mercury to see if Mercury is about to go retrograde, or if it just went direct. This is important to know, as retrograde implication does shift the meaning of the Mercury during the course of the year.
Where Venus is placed is where a lot of value will be placed during the year. It is where you will get attention or strive to gain attention and be assertive regarding what you want in that area. It is also important to include in the delineation the houses that hold Libra and Taurus since Venus rules both signs. If Venus is far from the Sun, it is important to check the ephemeris to see if Venus went or is about to go retrograde in the solar return year.
Mars tends to be the area where you react, where you are motivated, where you are on task, and where you push forward, leaving no stone unturned. If Mars is angular, you may expend more energy in this area of your solar return chart. If Mars is almost at an opposition to the Sun, then it is about to go retrograde and this is important because this could slow down the actions of Mars until it goes direct during the year and catches up to where it left off (known as the shadow point). Always refer to the solar return house that Mars rules as well – either Aries or Scorpio, if using classical rulers.
Jupiter is where you experience opportunities. Include the houses that hold Sagittarius and Pisces in your delineation and remember that Jupiter is where you may also overindulge. Are there any aspects to Jupiter that contains this overindulgent tendency, such as a hard Saturn aspect, or, not? For any of these planets, it is important to qualify the aspects to it.
Uranus is where you break away, let go, wake-up and change. There tends to be restless anxiety in the area in which we find Uranus, particularly if it is aspecting one of the more personal planets in either the natal chart or solar return chart or both. Out of the blue opportunities can present themselves in the area in which we find Uranus and our responses in that area of the solar return chart can be extreme in nature. For example, Uranus in the second house might indicate that money comes in just as quickly as it goes out, but since Uranus represents the larger picture, the second house and the year’s theme of values and cash flow and possessions may rapidly change from one day to the next.
Neptune’s placement, particularly if there is a larger aspect cycle occurring (as in 2006 when Neptune opposes Saturn and squares Jupiter throughout the year), there may be major dismemberment in the area in which we find solar return Neptune as well as the area it rules (Pisces house). There can be dissolution OR creative inspiration as one moves towards a more spiritual perspective in that area of the solar return chart.
Pluto is a very slow-moving planet and its placement in the solar return chart indicates an area where one finds himself drawing boundaries and pushing for the more personal choice that empowers them during the course of the year.If Pluto is aspecting one of the planets, particularly the Sun, then the aspect it is forming with the Sun this year may also be a similar aspect that it forms to that Sun in the following year since Pluto only moves 2º a year max.It may be found in a different house in the following year, of course, but the aspect may be a longer-term aspect, because of its very slow movement. The two houses where Pluto is placed in subsequent years should be observed.Its appearance in the solar return directly relates to your ability to transform your life in that area if you are willing to face the issues that keep you from making those changes.
Moving the Sun through the Solar Return
Another way to use the solar return, since it is, in fact, the Sun’s return to its natal position, is to watch the Sun as it transits the solar return’s cusps and planets through the year. When it aspects other planets in the solar return this to is important, particularly if there are challenging aspects such as squares and oppositions, particularly with such transits as the transiting solar return Sun opposing Mars or Pluto, or, squaring them….this is a theme than runs concurrently throughout that particular year. Ask in what houses are these oppositions or squares occurring and you get even more information.
A fascinating study is to see which day (use an ephemeris to find this out), the Sun conjuncts each cusp of the solar return chart as well as each solar return planet. Of course, since the Sun is moving quickly, around 59’ 10” per day, this means that the aspect forms in a day applying, then the day it conjuncts the planet, and then the day it separates from the planet, lighting that planet up along the way. When the solar return Sun hits Venus, this could be a wonderfully social day, but the day it hits Saturn, or, Pluto, might be a day with Saturnian or Plutonian overtones.
On the day the transiting solar return Sun conjuncts the solar return Moon (again look this up in the ephemeris) it is similar to a New Moon, and, begins a new direction in the life for that specific year. The house in which this occurs is where that new beginning starts. You might want to make up a form or sheet that lists these events. There is also the ‘year’ that the solar return Moon IS conjunct the solar return Sun, forming a New Moon and this is a year of great changes and new starts for that person.
So…What about that Moon in the Solar Return?
The Moon moves an approximate trine aspect each successive year for each solar return. This usually keeps it in the same element. For example, if in one year the solar return Moon is in Pisces, the next year it will probably be in Cancer, or, starting in early fire, Leo. This means that every fourth year or so it changes elements.
When placing the solar return Moon into the solar return chart, note the house that holds Cancer on the cusp. These two work together. In addition, place the natal moon into the solar return chart as well.
The solar return Moon returns to its natal position about every 19 years, which is very similar to the nodal return cycle. This suggests that at 19 years of age, 38, 57, 76, and 95 the Moon returns to its own natal position. This means that in this year, the Moon may be more impacting bringing great change. These changes may come to the individual because of other peoples’ actions as well as their own. This change requires flexibility regardless of the Moon’s placement. The arena in which we find the solar return Moon becomes a reflection point and a lens for the Sun.
In addition, be aware of the year(s) where the transiting Moon is more ‘out of bounds’ than in bounds. This occurs when the transiting nodes are in either Aries or Libra or, possibly, Pisces or Virgo. The years in which the Moon is out of bounds are interesting years in that events take on an other-worldly, or, unusual events. On a larger mundane scale for the year, we see the Moon running regularly out of bounds and these are historically years when major political events or discoveries occur.
Integrating the Natal and Solar Return Chart
When you think about it, the solar return is the transiting chart to the natal chart. Many schools of thought suggest placing the Solar Return planets outside of the natal wheel, but then you lose the cusps of the solar return, which are important.A better way to do this is to immediately identify the line-up of the natal cusps with the solar return cusps by placing the solar return chart inside the bi-wheel and the natal planets and ASC and MC on the outside of the bi-wheel.In Volume 4 of the March and McEvers book, “The Only Way To Learn About Tomorrow”, they suggest placing the solar return planets in the outside wheel using the color ‘green’ and the natal planets on the inside using the color ‘red’.
As mentioned earlier, but worth mentioning again, the solar return cusp (not just the Ascendant), but any solar return cusp that lines up within a few degrees of a natal chart is significant. This suggests that that solar return house and that natal house have an affinity with each other. Their ruler and its placement in either the solar return or the natal chart also suggest some sort of affinity between the two houses and house rulers. The delineation for such a thing would be up to you the person delineating the chart for that year.
In our solar return example, note the natal chart on the top right and the solar return for the 23rd year on the bottom left. Notice how the natal 2nd house cusp is very close to the solar return’s 6th house cusp. During the course of this year, this young student worked as a waitress (6th house) to help with her ‘cash flow’ issues! She also studied, cloistered in a library, about 12 hours a day. The ruler, Saturn, placed in the natal 9th house (education) and the ruler of the solar return 2nd house, placed in the solar return 12th house, suggests that she pushed hard to get what she needed to get done. There was a difficulty with sleeping because she only had so much time during the day and during the entire year to complete her studies.
When we compare the two charts, it is important to compare natal planets to any solar return planets or the nodes, particularly if we see conjunctions between the two charts. It will be very common, year after year, to see the same Mercury or Venus because those two planets never run far from the Sun. But in this specific example, we see solar return Saturn at 27º Cancer conjunct the individual’s natal North Node in the natal 8th house at 24º Cancer 35’.This individual, though on a school grant, lived on a very strict budget for her living expenses.
In addition, solar return Uranus at 2º Pisces was square her natal Moon at 1º Gemini, and, she ultimately relocated her home from one coast to the other during the course of the solar return year, traveling cross country in her car. Early in the solar return year, there was upheaval with her family, and, later in the solar return year, it was resolved.
The examples we see in solar returns are not always as clear, but there are usually one or two very clear examples shining through the chart, particularly if there are many angular planets and, particularly, if any of the outer planets are aspecting any of the personal or solar return planets.
Wrapping up the Things That Come Back – Solar, Lunar and Other Returns
- Solar Return Definition: The moment in any year when the Sun reaches its longitudinal placement in the natal chart.
- Lunar Return Definition: The moment in any month when the Moon reaches its longitudinal placement in the natal chart.
- Returns (in general): Whenever a planetary body returns to its original natal position. For Mercury, this can be once a year. For Saturn that is about 29.5 years. The moment that the planet returns to its natal position is when a chart is made for the ‘issues’ regarding that planet for that year.
- At the moment in time that a planet reaches its natal position, we calculate a chart that signifies the energy around that moment and it is called a return chart.
- For a Solar Return, this is a ‘snapshot’ of the prediction of events for the upcoming year until the next solar return.
- For the Lunar Return, this is a ‘snapshot’ of the prediction of events for the next month until the next lunar return.
- For other Return charts, again, this is a ‘snapshot’ of the return of that planet, whether it is Mercury, Saturn, or Uranus.
- It is highly unlikely that we can have a Neptune or Pluto return in someone’s chart unless life is extended miraculously! J
- Sometimes people precess the Solar Return, taking into account the precession of the equinoxes. This is a matter of personal preference. However, remember that when you calculate the natal chart, you don’t precess it if you are working tropically.
- Solar Returns are usually effective for the location at which the individual resides.
- There are some schools of thought that suggest that if you travel for the Solar Return to a more favorable location for the birthday, then that chart works. However, this hasn’t been found to be really true from several sources such as March and McEvers, etc.
- When we review the Solar Return, we must take into consideration the natal chart as well and work with both of them.
- Solar Returns begin to affect us approximately 3 months prior to the return date and set into place no later than 3 months after the return date.
- When the Sun aligns with the outer planets in a tight aspect, such as Uranus conjunct, square or opposing the Sun, this is a year of significant change that relates to Uranian issues. Remember, too, that this is already happening in the natal chart, and, so WHERE it is in the solar return is significant.
- Whatever the aspect relationship between natal Sun and natal Venus at birth, and, since Venus has an eight-year cycle, then this suggests that every eighth year of someone’s life, the same aspect relationship appears in their solar return. So around 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, etc., that the same aspect returns to the solar return.
- At age thirty-three, the solar return Ascendant comes very close to its degree in the birth chart, and Saturn is usually in the same house if we calculate that solar return for the birthplace.
- The Midheaven of the solar return will cycle through the same modality (cardinal, fixed, or mutable) for a few years in a row and then shift to another.
- You will also notice that at each subsequent solar return, the sun moves backward into the previous quadrant and that it appears in the same type of house for a while. In other words, the solar return Sun may stay a few years in cadent houses, then a few years in succedent, then a few years in angular and not necessarily in that order. This is significant in that these houses express varied energies, the angular houses being the most action-oriented. The succedent houses are a time in which much is accomplished, getting something ‘done’ in that year regarding that house. And when in the cadent houses, a lot is going on and the individual should try to be as flexible as possible.
- The solar return 8th pushes things to a point of confrontation and crisis, particularly if there is an emphasis in that house in any given solar return year.
- The solar return 4th is crucial in terms of how you feel on a deep, psychological level. For example, if the Sun, or, Jupiter, or, Venus is there in the solar return year, then one might experience more comfort or peace. However, with Saturn or Mars there, they may not.
- Watch where the nodes are in the solar return and the eclipses that accompany these. Measure off 90 days after those eclipses and the houses in the natal as well as the solar return in which they take place. These are points of crisis and consolidation.
Highly Suggested Reading:
- Lynn Bell, Cycles of Light, Exploring the Mysteries of Solar Returns, Centre for Psychological Astrology Press, London, UK, 2005.
- Marion March and Joan McEvers, The Only Way to Learn About Tomorrow, Volume 4, ACS Publishing, San Diego, California, 1988, pages 128 to 206.
- James Eshleman: Interpreting Solar Returns
- Raymond Merriman: The Solar Return Book of Predictions
- Nance McCullough: Solar Returns Formulas and Analysis
- Mary Fortier Shea: Planets in Solar Return
- Deanna Rose: Easy Predictions with Solar Returns
- John Townley: Lunar Returns
Author Georgia Stathis
Georgia Stathis, BS Communications, Northwestern University; MBA, Pepperdine University.
Georgia Stathis (www.starcycles.com) specializes in business and natal astrology since 1977 with a strong background in investment and real estate. Georgia is both an investor and a consulting astrologer and is author of Business Astrology 101 and her brand new book(release date April 2018) entitledPushing through Time: Synodic Cycles and their Developing Phases.
Georgia is a contributor to various journals like the Galactic Trader and the 2016 OPA book, The Professional Astrologer. She taught the undergraduate program at Kepler College for seven years and spoke most recently at UAC2018 and will be speaking again at 2019 NORWAC, 2019 NCGR in Baltimore and teaching at the Midwest School of Astrology and NCGR Miami in February 2019 and presenting a workshop to Friends of Astrology in Oak Lawn, Illinois on November 3, 2018.
A regular online teacher for such schools as Mayo School of Astrology, Breaking down the Borders and Astro Summit, she spends a lot of time doing research and writes a FREE newsletter for those who sign up at her website starcycles.com. She is a board member of the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago, whose mission is to preserve Hellenistic Culture and is also the chairwoman and one of the founders (with Urania Trust and Kepler) of the newly formed Alexandria iBase Project, whose mission is to preserve astrological literature for our peers for the future, a 501 C3 non-profit foundation, more information can be found at www.alexibase.org
 Deanna Rose, Easy Predictions with Solar Returns, 21stCentury Metaphysical Publishing, PO Box 960, Mundelein, IL, 60060, 1982, page 3-5.
 Bell, page 5.
 SEE JPEG of 24 years of Solar Returns at Blackboard. Note how this plays out in this example.
 Bell, Page 94.
 Georgia Stathis, 2006 Astrological Appointment Book, The Professionals House, marked by dates.
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