by Robert Wilkinson
About 10 days ago I gave you 3 articles about the Solar Return. In this final article on the Solar Return, we'll go deeper into some concepts about various kinds of Return charts, and how the transits indicate evolving patterns across the years in each successive Solar return.
To recap some key concepts in this series, each year when the Sun returns to the exact degree and minute of its natal position in our charts we have our Solar Return. It offers a snapshot of the year to come, and it’s the original reason the birthday was deemed so important, and why we celebrate our birthday every year. It represents the renewal of our light.
The Solar Return may happen on our birthday, but can also happen the day before or even occasionally on the day after. It can fall at any time of the day, as that is dependent on the place we are when it occurs. And that’s how we plan the Ascendant and Midheaven in Solar Return charts if we have the luxury of being somewhere else when that frozen moment in time arrives.
For example, if it occurs in California at 5:58 pm, in New York it would be 8:58 pm, and in London it will occur at 1:58 am the next day (except for the brief periods each year when the US has DST and the UK does not). Still, regardless of the specific time changes, it is easy to see the Ascendant changes depending on where we are, which affects which houses the planets will occupy at the Solar Return. In our example, the Sun will be near the 7th cusp in California, but closer to the 5th house in New York, and 2nd or 3rd in London.
Just remember that we do not change the sign and degree of the planets even when we change which houses they occupy. The only things that change are the signs on the houses, and which houses the planets occupy. This also happens when we do consecutive Solar Returns in the same location, since as the time of the SR shifts every year, the Ascendant also shifts naturally from year to year.
We cannot affect which planets are in square or trine to each other, and cannot change what sign a planet is in. However, by adjusting which house they occupy in the Solar Return charts, we alter the accent of which areas of our lives will be the focus of different planetary energies, rulerships, etc.
I have heard it asked if it should be done for the birth place instead of one’s current location, while others have put forth that it should be done for the position of the progressed Sun. Over the years I've found that the most accurate chart is done for where we are, since that's where our body was breathing when that return of the Sun to our natal Sun occurred. And while a Solar Return done for our progressed Sun might give us insights about how that progressed Light operates, I believe more research needs to be done before accepting that it could be as important as the natal Solar Return.
The return to the Sun to our natal position is the moment when our Sun re-aligns with our original illumination purpose and “Is-Be-Ness” as our physical vehicle took its first breath. The SR is a snapshot of the harmonic resonant point in space-time when our Light "returns." While how we frame that snapshot is important, including what’s in the foreground and what’s in the background, a Solar Return in and of itself cannot "make anything happen."
As I told you in my book A New Look at Mercury Retrograde, it is we who are acting, reacting, or being acted upon. No astrological indicator makes things happen without our participation somehow.
That said, I've traveled enough places over the years to say it absolutely works its magic, to the extent that the aspects and our natal chart allows and we participate in the patterns shown in the chart. And as I mentioned in an earlier article, sometimes what is indicated in the chart doesn’t seem to be happening until some months have passed.
Other Planetary Returns
Every planet in our charts has a return at some point except the outer invisible triad, and even there if we live long enough we’ll get a Uranus return. Most will never get a Neptune or Pluto return, unless we live to 250 years, an unlikely possibility unless we are a fully realized yogi or yogini!
We get a Lunar return every month when the Moon returns to our natal Lunar position. We get Mercury and Venus returns once a year, a Mars return every two years, a Jupiter return every 11-12 years, and a Saturn return every 27-29 years.
So we get many planetary returns, and each one sets the following cycle. I’ve noted that many astrologers focus intensely on the Lunar return while ignoring or underestimating the power of a Mercury return and a Venus return. We have dozens of Lunar returns during our lives, and while they show us a “real time” snapshot of our evolving Lunar response to events, I believe the other planets show greater dimensions of our evolving consciousness.
Among the most powerful planetary returns, the Mars return and the Jupiter return show major endings and beginnings, even if finding an “exact time” is more difficult for these due to the relative slowness of their motions. For instance, a Jupiter return can show us how best to apply ourselves spiritually and opportunistically for the 12 year period to come, no small thing. But finding the exact degree and minute of that return yields a span of several minutes or even hours when the return is exact.
Over the years, I’ve helped a lot of clients and friends to stop dreading their Saturn return. Though it often is associated with difficulty, I have found that it shows us the life period when our free will works most powerfully to help us throw off the chains that enslave us to obsolete ways of life, and offers us the challenge to claim dominion over our responses and move into the life we should be living, rather than the life others have imposed upon us.
While it often accompanies endings, it also marks a time when we start living our lives on our own terms. That’s why the events and choices of 28-29 and 57-59 have such a powerful effect on the decades that follow. These periods of shaping our destiny naturally arise from the emotional and experiential “re-set” we go through at the progressed Lunar return that precedes the transiting Saturn return.
I devote an entire chapter to the Saturn return in my book Saturn: Spiritual Master, Spiritual Friend. I also devote an entire chapter to the dance between the progressed Moon and transiting Saturn, since these combine to form a pulse of “feeling then form.” The cycles of the progressed Moon and transiting Saturn, with their important turning points every 7 years, mas o menos, are the most important times in our lives when we may know what truly matters to us, and take the power to move our lives in that direction. If you want to know more about these returns, as well as how all the planetary cycles wax and wane, it’s all in the book.
Each planetary return has their place of importance in our lives, each according to their “department of labor” and the parts of our lives they affect. Each planetary return offers a picture of that particular cycle to come. Planetary returns are interpreted somewhat differently than the natal or progressed charts, since they are merely a snapshot of the transits in a cosmic moment. Their relevance is confined to their relative importance to the natal chart and whatever progressions we have at the time of the return chart.
While they have merit as charts to be interpreted in their own right, for best understanding they need to be seen in light of the natal rulerships and configurations. They show individual cycles for us that exist within larger cycles that they make with each other.
Solar Returns and Eclipses
Some have asked me about what happens when a Solar Return falls close to an Eclipse point. That happens to all of us several times every 8-9 years, and indicates that we’re entering a time of endings, clearing away elements of our past Light/Life we no longer need. It’s also important to remember that an Eclipse can be very favorable, depending on the aspects involved in the Eclipse charts.
The important thing here is to have no fear of what could be leaving, since what is coming will no doubt be more appropriate to your future than whatever is taken away. Even if it feels bad, it's time to move on, with as much goodwill and positivity as you can muster. In the Eclipses that have fallen near my Sun, in retrospect they may have taken me away from an old life, but that allowed me to embrace a more productive and fulfilling new life.
Last year, my Solar Return Ascendant was 17 Pisces, very close to the degree of the Solar Eclipse 3 weeks earlier at 19 Pisces! Clearly April 2016-2017 was going to be related to the larger endings portended by that Eclipse. Last year I told you I anticipated it would bring a form of spiritual rebirth, as per the Sabian Symbol of that Eclipse. It is also very close to my North Node at 19 Pisces in the 8th.
Sure enough, I experienced profound regeneration as well as loss! I regenerated by publishing my first new book on Astrology in many years. I also let go of a house in another state, a living situation where the environment was literally making me very sick, and a long period of wandering. By letting go, I created a void (8th house), said goodbye and blessed the passages (Pisces) and in less than 100 days found myself living a new life in a new environment.
And due to the Eclipse cycle at work, the March 2016 Solar Eclipse was the same degree as the Solar Eclipse that occurred about 3 weeks before I was born! To me, that indicated I would be ending some pre-natal patterns which would allow other Piscean patterns to come forth. Since my North Node is 19 Pisces, I am sure I have been pulled into my line of greatest evolutionary development over the past next year!
Solar Returns and Evolving Transits Across Years
An interesting thing I’ve observed is that since transiting Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto move so slowly, each year they grow closer to whatever aspect they’re going to make with the Solar Return Sun, then that aspect is close for a year or two, and then that aspect slowly separates with each subsequent Solar Return.
For example, I had Uranus at 2 Aries approaching my Sun at 12 Aries in my 2011 SR, and in 2012 it was at 5 Aries. In 2013 it was 9 Aries, in 2014 it was 13 Aries, in 2015 it was 17 Aries, and in 2016 it was 20 Aries. This year it was 24 Aries.
Given it was in a forming square to Pluto in the years before 2016, it also showed that Pluto was squaring my Sun in those previous Solar Return charts. And yes, that square was front and center in my life between 2010 and 2015!
During those years, Uranus challenged me to renovate my life based in my uniqueness and individuality, and Pluto challenged me to be clear about shining my Light when I can, in order to block, blunt, or brake the collective chaos indicated by Pluto in Capricorn. The voids of the squares challenged me to demonstrate the best Cancer and Libra energy I could, appropriate to each situation.
While all the Solar Return planetary house positions shift each year naturally if we do our SR in the same place, each outer planet has moved forward a little relative to our last SR. The SR is a point in time when those planetary lessons change their relationship to our Sun.
Using Saturn’s position over the years, it’s gone from making waxing aspects to my Sun to waning aspects over the past 10 years. To illustrate, at my 2006 SR it was 5 Leo, making a forming waxing trine my Sun. In my 2007 SR it was 19 Leo, also waxing trine my Sun, but wider and separating. In 2008 it was 3 Virgo in no aspect to my Sun, but in 2009 it was 17 Virgo, triseptile my Sun.
In 2010 it was 1 Libra, in wide waxing opposition to my Sun, and in 2011 it was 15 Libra, in close waning opposition to my Sun. In 2012 it was 28 Libra in pentelftile to my Sun, and in 2013 it was 11 Scorpio and made a waning quincunx to my Sun. In 2014 it was 23 Scorpio in no aspect to my Sun, and in 2015 it was at 5 Sagittarius, again forming a trine my Sun, but waning rather than waxing. Perhaps the 2015 Solar Return was in some way related to a Fire understanding or harmonization relative to the 2006 Solar Return.
In 2016 Saturn was at 17 Sagittarius in a separating waning trine to my Sun, and in 2017 it was at 28 Sagittarius, biseptile my Sun. And, just as there is a Fire trine relationship between my SR Saturn in 2006 and 2015, in 2016 there is another Fire trine relationship with my SR Saturn in 2007.
In 2018 it will be at 9 Capricorn, waning square my Sun, and in 2019 it will be at 20 Capricorn, binovile my Sun. The Saturn positions in 2018 and 2019 will also have an Earth trine relationship with Saturn’s position in my 2008 and 2009 Solar returns. As you can see, over the course of an entire 29 year cycle, it will show the evolving dance of how your natal Light relates to the changing signs of Saturn.
You can work Jupiter the same way, since as a general rule it advances one sign per year. In my 2010 SR it was 18 Pisces, in 2011 it was 16 Aries, in 2012 it was 14 Taurus, in 2013 it was 12 Gemini, in 2014 it was 12 Cancer, and in 2015 it was 13 Leo. Last year it was at 16 Virgo, this year it was at 20 Libra, and next year it will be at 23 Scorpio. You can see how each year it makes a distinctively different aspect to my Sun, and by my 2023 SR it will be at 20 Aries.
Taking that a step farther, it implies that the years where Jupiter conjuncts our Sun are very important if it is anywhere near our Solar Return. I had an exact Sun conjunct Jupiter in my 1999 Solar Return chart, implying those energies would play a “Jupiterian” role in my life from Apr 1999-2000, and those SR energies would play a part in the approximate 12 year cycle defined by Jupiter conjunct our Sun.
The next time Jupiter was near my Sun at a Solar Return was in 2011, when it was 16 Aries. That began a new long wave Sun-Jupiter cycle in my life, and looking back, within 2 weeks I was given a divine signal I had been waiting for, and began packing boxes to move. By the next solar return we were already well underway to a new life in a new location! As I am now about half way through that Sun-Jupiter cycle, I can definitely affirm it’s been a liberating adventure indeed!
Because the worldly ruler of my Sun in Aries is Mars, that planet plays a huge role in how my Sun will express itself in the year following my SR. In my 2012 SR it was retrograde in Virgo, while in 2013 it was direct at 16 Aries. In 2014 it was retrograde in Libra, and part of a Cardinal Cross, which I definitely experienced from day one!
In 2015 it was at 1 Taurus, stimulating my natal Mercury-MC conjunction at 30 Aries, and in 2016 it was at 8 Sagittarius, very close to the 2015 Saturn degree and in a fairly close trine to my Sun. This year it’s at 16 Taurus, trine the 2016 SR Jupiter and Pluto. As you can see, this also yields a pattern of various house emphases as the years roll on.
Of course, the aspects made to your Sun’s ruler by the other planets in the SR chart are very important in how your ruler expresses the backdrop to your Life/Light in the coming year. As we see the evolving patterns, not just of the transiting planets, but the signs of the house rulers as they shift through the years, we come to a deeper understanding of what moves us each year, and across years.
© copyright 2017 Robert Wilkinson