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The Solar Return - Why It’s A Special Moment

The Solar Return - Why It’s A Special Moment

As I noted yesterday, the Solar Return happens every year when the Sun returns to the exact degree, minute, and second as it was when we were born. It can happen the day before our birthday, the day after, or on our birthday. A chart done for that moment, set for wherever location we are at, gives us a snapshot of factors at play in our year to come.

Why Use the Return of the Sun?

Since the Sun is the ultimate point of reference in a Solar Return chart, everything indicated by the Solar Return must in some way serve to bring forth that Light of the True Self, the Light of the Heart. That’s why the house position of the Sun, and how it aspects the Ascendant, are very important in a Solar Return chart.

It is said the moment of the Solar Return, the transiting Sun exactly conjunct our natal Sun, opens us to our Solar Self, the Limitless Light that illuminates us. As we are illuminated, so we illuminate others. That's why the Sun in a chart is the single most important indicator of our true Self.

The Sun shows us our Light/Life that continually integrates and re-integrates us with the source of all vitality. It is our self-renewing quality to shine forth like the Superstar our Eternal Self is. The return of the Light with our Light offers us a chance to re-identify our lives with its incredible power and radiance. You can see how this is an important recurring moment in our evolution toward "Sun-ship."

As you know, my birthday is April 1. However, as I shared in the first Solar Return article, I always meditate in the immediate time before, during, and after the exact moment of the Solar Return, unless it’s the middle of the night. And even then (last year it happened at 4:20 am PDT), I somehow woke up at 4:15, programmed my mind with a few key receptive concepts for the next year, and took those back into subconsciousness. Not my usual meditation, but at that time of night it was about all I could do. When younger I would have leaped out of bed at 4 am and done a “correct mediation,” but these days I rarely get up at that time for anything. This year it’s around 10:15 am PDT, a much more civil time to do a meditation!

Usually I feel my consciousness “quickening” the moment the Sun returns to 12 Aries, so I begin to enter into the Solar Return Zone about 5 hours before the exact moment. This year I’m sure to have a very strong Venus year, since it’s exactly conjunct my Sun at the Solar Return! And I have no doubt things will begin to spring forth once Mercury transits 12 Aries on April 9-10, as well as those times when transiting Chiron will camp out on that degree in May and September 2021 and March and December 2022!

Each year at my Solar Return I cultivate an inner space to make my consciousness receptive to the promise of the possibilities of what could develop in the year to come from doing the best I can with my Solar Return factors. It’s also a great exercise to reconstruct what other Solar Return charts looked like, and how they manifested.

Following the Breadcrumbs through the Forest of Time

The other years when Mercury, Venus, Mars or an outer planet have been in early Aries I also felt the quickening through those planetary functions. In March 2011 Jupiter conjuncted my Sun, and so that Solar Return chart had Jupiter at 16 Aries. My Solar Return chart for 2011 was a “before the beginning of the adventure,” and by two weeks later on April 15 I knew we were going to move to a distant land, and were already in motion by the 2012 Solar Return. Yes, sometimes it is THAT dramatic!

Taking a look farther back, the 1997 Solar Return chart featured Venus exactly conjunct Saturn at 11 Aries. That year I ended a marriage that hadn’t worked for many years, my pioneering Mercury retrograde book was published to international rave reviews, I sold my home in Austin and left an old life, met Ammachi, and began a relationship that just gets better with every year that goes by!

My Solar Return chart in 1998 had Mars at 21 Aries and Saturn at 22 Aries, both still reasonably close to my Sun. Yes, that year was truly a furious battle with an evil man, and taught me self-discipline. In 1999, my Solar Return chart had Jupiter at 12 Aries, which opened a different, more fulfilling era of my life. The battle still raged, but there was so much divine protection that I marvel how blessed we can be, even in our darkest hours.

The Aspects Show How and When Forces Will Be Released

Six years ago I got a Cardinal T-square, while five years ago I got a Grand Fire Trine involving the Sun, Jupiter, and the Ascendant, with Mercury trine Saturn, Moon tredecile Venus, and Venus quintile Neptune! Four years ago I had a Sun trine Saturn, Jupiter square Saturn and Mercury conjunct Uranus, and a Moon conjunct Pluto trine Jupiter. Talk about a mixed bag!

Last year I got Jupiter conjunct Pluto, Mars conjunct Saturn, Mercury conjunct Neptune, and Sun conjunct Chiron. As I look back, the past year does seem to feature the “doubled” planetary effects! The Jupiter conjunct Pluto was sextile my natal Jupiter and trine my natal Saturn while square my natal Mars. So there were favorable building energies of Jupiter and Pluto with my Jupiter and Saturn, releasing through the square to Mars.

Speaking of Jupiter and Pluto square my Mars, YES, last April through September involved me in a horrible conflict which went to an extreme I haven’t had to deal with in almost 20 years! On the other hand, Mars conjunct Saturn was quintile my natal Sun from the Grand Mutation degree at 1 Aquarius, portending events which developed beginning in December.

This year is another cluster of interlocking aspects between the SR planetary positions and my natal planets. This year as per what I offered yesterday, the Moon is at 23 Scorpio, Jupiter’s at 24 Aquarius, and Mercury’s at 24 Pisces. Besides the aspects these make to each other, Mercury at 24 Pisces conjuncts my Jupiter, septiles my natal Venus and biseptiles my natal Uranus, sesquisquares my Ascendant, and biquintiles my Pluto. The Moon binoviles my Moon, quincunxes my Mars, and trines my Jupiter, while Jupiter is binoviles my Venus, semisquares my Sun, sextiles my Mars, and biquintiles my Saturn.

That’s what I mean when I say none of these aspects between planets exist in a vacuum. Besides the aspects they make between each other, they also make aspects to our natal planets indicating how the yearly ruler of those natal and SR houses relates to the natal ruler of the natal and solar return houses.

The aspects in a Solar Return show the structural relationship of the “frozen moment” indicating primary lessons we will deal with for that year only. Most of the time, we experience transits as they are moving in real time; in the Solar Return, the configurations in that moment are part of the evolution of our Light/Life for the following year. Of course, how we have mastered our planetary responses and dualities determines how the planets will play out in the Solar Return.

Past Solar Returns in my Life

Sometimes dramatic things are indicated in a Solar Return. As I’ve offered in the past, the 2016 chart with Sun trine Saturn and Saturn conjunct the Part of Fortune in the 9th indicated the publishing of my book Saturn: Spiritual Master, Spiritual Friend. It wasn’t like I “manufactured” that expression, since the book was already years in the making and that Autumn just happened to be the time it was finally finished. That year, the harmony between my Light (the Sun) and my Wisdom born of life experience (Saturn) manifested as the Sag quality of publishing a book exploring both the worldly and spiritual dimensions of the power we have to take command of our lives, living our eternal freedom to explore ever-greater vistas of Truth.

My 2018 chart had 18 Virgo rising, putting the focus on inner guidance, and as it fell in my natal 2nd house, it should have involved resources to draw on or brought me resources as I rely on the inner guidance which is the theme of that degree. As it fell in the actional level of the Scene of Education, it manifested as a year where I did go with my line of least resistance (SR Asc conjunct natal SN) and also where I received a resource curiously not my own but which will benefit me for a long time. As per Virgo, I have had to deal with various health issues that year, but none were so serious as to require drastic methods.

For the 2019 chart I chose to stay home as it gave me 30 Scorpio on the Ascendant. That helped me regenerate and clear out old stuff I no longer needed to hold on to. As it fell in my natal 4th, my home was the focus from April 2019-April 2020. My plants were ecstatic that I was able to transfer them out of the pots they lived in for years and into the soil of the Earth! It’s also interesting that I spent the last month of the year sequestered in my home thanks to the pandemic.

The 2020 Ascendant was 27 Aquarius, within one degree of last year’s Moon at 26 and the same degree Mercury went SRX in late January 2021. Yes, due to the tight conjunction of the 2019 Moon and the 2020 Ascendant, those two years were very closely linked. It indicated that my 2019 Lunar function became part of my self-image this past year. I suspect this year’s Jupiter at 24 Aquarius will continue to promote that part of my evolving life. Moon to Ascendant to Jupiter sounds like a good progression to me!

It was also interesting to note that as my 2020 Solar Return year began, the ruler of the SR Asc (Saturn) and the worldly ruler of the Sun (Mars) were both in the 12th and this past year I’ve been in serious seclusion. The 2021 SR also shows the ruler of the Sun is in the 12th, and the ruler of the Gemini SR Ascendant is in the 10th in Pisces conjunct Neptune. As I’m still in quarantine, and have no idea when I’ll be vaccinated, it looks like more seclusion for me, just in a more public way (if that’s possible!)

With the Moon at 30 Gemini last year it has been a time of “setting a new standard” of individual and spiritual excellence, and helped me see everything related to my natal 12th house (Moon rules my 12th) as having culminated in a new standard for me to behold and others to behold. And the Moon at 30 Gemini wasn’t even Void of Course, since the Ascendant made a perfect trine before the Moon entered Cancer! That opened 30 Libra as the void, which happens to be my IC. So last year’s Moon, Ascendant, and my natal IC formed a perfect Grand Air trine! It is certainly true that the past year has been rich in communications and broader relationships.

As the Moon was in the emergent Crescent Moon phase, it was a year of action, where old forms were challenged and gave way to new emergent forms. This was exemplified by my presiding over the ending of an old astrological group in Phoenix and creating a new group, Astrology Arizona, dedicated to teaching astrology in the public realm.

As with all solar returns at this time where the Moon is between Capricorn and Gemini, there are no oppositions between the planets. That indicates not much polarization from outer world sources, but of course oppositions to natal and progressed planets continue to yield awareness of those parts of me.

Interestingly, there are only two forming squares. One is Moon square Jupiter, and the other is Mars square Neptune. This indicates the Moon trine Mercury can be released favorably through Jupiter, and the Jupiter quintile Uranus can be released favorably through the Moon. As Mars is trine Jupiter, that energy can be released favorably through the Mars square Neptune.

The ruler of my natal Asc is in the SR 10th, showing a year of being illuminated by high profile activities and all things which bring me into the public eye. As with last year, I have the SR Moon in the 5th which gives a creative focus. Mercury and Neptune are straddling the SR 10th cusp, and as Mercury rules my 2nd and 11th houses, those sectors will be front and center this year via the 1st and 4th house events ruled by Mercury in the SR.

As all the planets are between Pluto in late Capricorn and Mars in mid-Gemini except the Moon in late Scorpio, it’s a Bucket chart with the Moon as the handle, showing the cause, the focus, and how to get a handle on things, or how to focus the energies to accomplish something. The Moon at 23 Scorpio falls in my natal 4th, indicating another year of focus on home, family, and the past. Sure enough, it looks like that is looming large on my immediate horizon!

There are obviously many other factors in play in the SR chart, but going into an extensive analysis would probably be boring to most of you. I’m looking forward to the various trigger points to be activated throughout the year, since it teaches me a lot about how astrology works. In any case, reading the Solar Return is a much different thing than just reading a birth chart!

A Recap - Here, There, or Somewhere Else?

Revisiting briefly what we discussed yesterday, I always calculate the chart for the location where a person is, since that's where we experience the commencement of our next Solar year. We cannot be anywhere other than where we are. That’s why we do the chart for wherever our body is at the time of the return of the Sun to its exact longitude at birth.

Some offer that it should be done for the birth place, but if we are not where we were born, then why do a chart for there? Others feel that it should be done for your home location, and not a place you might be visiting for a few hours or days at the time of the Solar Return. However, here the same logic holds. If you are not at your home location at the moment of the SR, then you're not there.

We can only be one place in space during that specific time. If you're breathing the air at that location, if you’re part of the magnetism of that place on Earth, that's where the chart is done for.

As I offered, because we can experience our Solar Return anywhere we choose, we have some influence in shaping how we will experience the year to come, since where we choose to be at that moment influences the signs and degrees on the angles and the houses the SR planets occupy, and how it fits into our chart, and our chart fits into it.

We cannot influence the planetary aspects, since they are set by time itself rather than space. In the Solar Return, a square is a square and a trine is a trine regardless of what sign is on what house. Still, we have the ability to determine what houses the planets fall in based in where we do the Return.

We cannot change the basic spread of the planets, but we can change what quadrants are emphasized, and which planets rule which houses. Then the various aspects work out based in which house rulers are interacting with other house rulers.

Sometimes I Travel, Sometimes I Stay Put

Some years I literally traveled across the continent to achieve a certain set of positions. Other years I stayed home since it yielded a great chart, or because of time, space, financial, or some other "real world" limitation.

Some years I've been able to go a short distance to affect the degrees on the angles, placing the planets in seemingly more favorable positions. Even a shift of one degree may matter in this regard, since that may affect the Part of Fortune and occasionally even what sign is on what house cusp.

Some years that shift in one degree matters more than others. In 2013, the chart done for where I lived was so profound, I stayed home and did my meditation there rather than go anywhere else. FYI, it had the star Sirius on the Ascendant. Sirius is the “Sun of our Sun,” said to be the source of the Ageless Wisdom on our planet.

Six years ago I chose to stay home, since the Ascendant at 11 Sagittarius created a Grand Fire Trine with Jupiter and the Sun! I could have altered the Part of Fortune a degree if I wanted to drive about 20 miles east of Tucson, but since it fell at 11:20 pm, I thought I’d pass. I have found that some years we pretty much are “told” where to be, regardless of what our desire mind believes.

In 2017, 2018, and 2019 I chose to stay home, since I would have had to go a long way to make any substantial difference. If it won’t yield any discernable benefit for the expense of time, energy, and money, why bother?

As I told you in past Solar Return articles, I've had some very strange Solar Returns. One involved getting up at 4:20 am in New York City and trying to meditate, which of course is not the best time to do it unless you've trained your body to get up that early. That’s why I chose not to do that last year which fell at the same time. That NYC “half asleep” meditation was likely as effective as my 2020 “mostly asleep” meditation. At least I programmed my mind to be receptive to the greatest illumination I can experience!

In that NYC meditation, I had just flown in to do some charts and talks out in the Hamptons, and saw that the Solar Return chart was better for staying in the city that night rather than driving out to the East End and doing the meditation in Bridgehampton. The meditation was short, since my body was still on Pacific time, so it felt like 1:20 am (not the best time to meditate!) Still, that chart yielded the results I hoped for, though mostly they demonstrated at the end of that Solar year rather than throughout the entire 12 month period.

Another weird Solar Return involved driving a half hour to meditate in a park in a strange small town in Northern California at 12:55 am, which became somewhat surreal since the police kept cruising by checking my car out. I'm sure they were wondering why a strange car was next to a park in the middle of the night! As you can imagine, that also was a relatively short meditation. However, the Solar Return yielded the results I hoped for, given the limitations of the aspects and just how far I could tweak the chart.

Still, I've had some really great meditations in other years at more reasonable hours, which is a very good way to launch a new Solar year. By all means try to achieve whatever focus you can for as long as you can, since everything really is connected on many levels simultaneously.

Marking Your Development Across Time

Even if your Solar Return has already passed, much can be discerned by studying the chart set for wherever you were at that time. You may see how some things have transpired already, or are challenging you to move your view in a certain direction.

You may get clear about why you're feeling differently, or why you have had a new set of interests since your last Solar Return. Even if you were not in meditation at your last SR, you can still meditate on what the chart is showing you about how you're viewing and experiencing this particular year of your life. Seen from an angle of Solar integration of your Light/Life, you may get clues of how this time is helping you align your consciousness with your Solar Self.

As I mentioned, sometimes the effects of doing the Solar Return in another place have seemed to be "postponed" until near the end of that particular Solar year, while other years the effects have been fairly evident and sometimes even dramatic from the outset. Regardless of where we choose to do the Solar Return, it's always good to be in meditation at that moment of perfect Solar alignment with our natal Sun. We can set many intentions at that time, though I must add that we seldom achieve anything lasting not already indicated in the natal and progressed charts.

That's because the Sun symbolizes our integrity, power, light, and centeredness within our "Solar system" of life and affairs. If what we want, intend, or attempt isn't in line with our integrity or Path to Illumination, then even if we muscle it into existence, it will usually dis-integrate fairly quickly, being a set of aggregates with no substantial reality.

Nothing is forever except our Light, Love, and Power to "restore the Plan on Earth." And one Solar Return gives one set of lessons and harvests, while previous and future ones hold different lessons and realizations.

Because this article has become very long over the years with subsequent additions and re-writes, I’m going to post the rest in two more articles to come soon. See you soon!

Mahalo, L'chaiim, Prosit, A Salut, Namaskar, A votre sante', Aum and Blessings!

From the April Fool, enjoy this day (and week!)


© Copyright 2021 Robert Wilkinson -

About the author:

Robert WilkinsonRobert wilkinson An internationally-known astrologer, author, public speaker, metaphysician, and futurist, with over 25 years experience as a counselor and educator. He has presented hundreds of public talks on all aspects of Astrology, the Eastern Wisdom tradition, the Western Wisdom tradition and promoted many mass gatherings and cultural events. Some of his specific areas of interest and expertise include personality profiles, degree patterns, integrative astrology, various aspect harmonics, among others.
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