Category: Astrology Basics Written by Robert Wilkinson
Since my Solar Return is happening tomorrow, today we explore why this is the most important Solar event in our year. While it doesn’t override other influences such as progressions and transits, it does give us a snapshot of what our year to come will look like.
As many long term readers know, I post this each year, since the Solar Return is a very important marker of the year to come. So what is the Solar Return (SR) and how does it relate to our birthday? We all get one Solar Return each year, and it’s a great time to get a sense of how our coming year will manifest. Most software allows us to compute it, and there are several on line resources as well.
What Is A Solar Return?
The Solar Return is a transit chart done for the moment the Sun returns to the exact degree, minute, and second it occupied at birth. I always calculate the SR for wherever the person is at that exact moment, which is why we have some measure of control over what signs are on the angles of the chart. I’ll explain why it should be done for the place we’re at later in this article.
The planetary positions are fixed in their sign positions as a function of time, so we have no ability to manipulate the aspects, since they hold true regardless of where we are. In my SR chart this year, I have a Moon at 23 Scorpio square Jupiter at 24 Aquarius and trine Mercury at 24 Pisces. These do not change regardless of whether I am in California, Arizona, Texas, New York, or Timbuktu. In that regard, all the planetary Sabian Symbols will be the same regardless of which house a planet is in.
So the planetary sign positions and aspects do not change regardless of the location of the Solar Return, but we do have the ability by changing the location to change what houses the planets occupy at the moment of our Solar Return. By changing locations, we change Ascendant and Midheaven to a greater or lesser degree. This gives us some control over which natal and SR house rulers occupy the SR houses. We’ll address this in a little while.
Because it is based on the moment the Sun returns to the exact degree, minute, and second of longitude of our natal Sun, it's the precise point in time when we can re-tune "the Great Instrument." When the Great Light returns to an exact unison point with our personal Light/Life, we can be illuminated in ways that show us we are Stars of Light in an infinite field of Light/Life. And it shows us our “Lodestar” we follow throughout our life as we search for illumination, since each year at this moment we “light up our Light.”
Our Solar Return’s Relationship to Our Birthday
So if the SR chart is important in showing qualities of the year that follows that point in time, what is its relationship to our birthday? Is it our “true birthday,” and if not, what is the difference?
Every year, our birthday falls on a specific day. In my case, April 1. However, the Solar Return, the return of the transiting Sun to our natal Sun, can happen the day before our birthday, the day of our birthday, or the day after. It all depends on where we are.
For example, if a Solar Return happens at 11 am in Santa Monica, then it happens at 2 pm in New York, 7 pm in London, 8 pm in Amsterdam, and a half hour after midnight the next day in India (except when DST is happening in one but not the other). As you can see in that example, if I do my Solar Return in the West, the Sun will be up at the top of the chart, since it happens at 11 am in CA and noon in AZ and 1 pm in TX, but if I do it in Europe, the Sun will be setting in the 6th or 7th house.
So the time of the SR determines where the planets will be in the Solar Return. That makes for a huge difference in how the chart manifests, since the angles and house positions of the planets change depending on the latitude and longitude. Each of the places I just mentioned would have a different degree and/or sign on the Ascendant, which in turn affects the signs on the house cusps, and therefore what houses the planets occupy in the SR chart.
This variable determines two very important things: a) where the rulers of our natal houses fall in the Solar Return chart, and b) where the rulers of the Solar Return houses fall in that chart and our natal chart. These lead to countless permutations in how the SR chart impacts our chart, and where we play out our natal and progressed tendencies in the year to come, since the SR shows how we are reorienting toward reality for the year to come. Again, it cannot override natal and progressed “who we are,” nor can it prevent or hasten transiting lessons, though it can show us our particular lessons regarding those transits in relationship to our “expectation of the year” shown by the Solar Return chart.
Besides the Ascendant changing across time zones, there are often significant differences even within a time zone. For example, Santa Monica and Spokane WA are both PDT on April 1, but though on the same time, they have different ascendants due to their relative latitudes and longitudes. The same is true for Austin TX, and Madison, Wisconsin. Both CDT, but very different degrees on the angles even though their clocks read the same time. These create significant differences in what is on the angles of the Solar Return chart.
That's the primary difference between the Solar Return and our birthday. The birthday is the same each year, but the Solar Return changes each year depending on where we are, and is an exact point in time when the transiting Sun returns to our natal Solar position.
Which House System to Use, and Why Compute It For Where We Are?
To answer a question I’ve been asked countless times over the years, after years of research a long time ago, I decided to use only an Equal House system for Solar Return charts. I found I got some very precise timing from that system, since it correlates 360 degrees with 365 days. As I measure it from the Ascendant, it naturally places the MC/IC axis in the 9th or 10th, which has profound implications. I’ve also measured the Equal Houses from the MC which puts the Asc in either the 12th or 1st, also with important implications related to our Self-awareness relative to the vertical axis of our existence.
Though there is a lot of disagreement regarding the next point, I always calculate the chart for where a person is, and no other place. Some think it should be done for our birth place, while others think it should be done for where we spend the most time in the following year. However, I take the view that the fact of our reality is that we can only be where we are in any given moment, breathing that air and being part of the magnetic field of that exact place when the Sun makes any given aspect to our chart.
We cannot have a Solar Return in NYC if our body is in Malibu. We cannot have a SR (or any other type of planetary return) in Florida if we are in Vancouver. We are where we are when a chart is constructed for a given moment. A SR chart is a chart done for the transits where we are in an exact moment in time. It is a “real time snapshot” of the patterns in a specific moment of space-time.
A Solar Return Meditation
Each year at my Solar Return, I do a specific meditation (unless it’s the middle of the night, like some years!) Still, if I program my mind to be alert to the time of the SR, it’s normal for me to wake up a few minutes before the return, and fix the thought in my mind that I welcome any and all forms of illumination and visionary group work in the coming year.
Last year it was just after 4 am, so I fixed the thought as I went back into subconsciousness. That correlated with the Aquarius Ascendant and Saturn, ruler of the SR Ascendant in the 12th and Mercury conjunct Neptune in Pisces in the first house of the SR chart. That tracks closely with what has happened this past year. Tomorrow it’ll be around 10 am, so I’ll be back to my usual meditation practice which I’ll give you now.
It's an extremely good thing to meditate at the Solar Return, since our inner Sun is aligned with the outer Sun, bringing our heart Light/Life into attunement with the Cosmic Source of our Light/Life. As this is a general form, please adapt the ritual as you need to.
If at all possible, find a really peaceful or powerful place, like a park, lake, or power point in the area where you can still the body and the mind. Of course, if you have an altar, that is a great place to open to the greater Light available at the Solar Return.
It's important to enter into meditation at least 15 minutes before the moment of the Solar Return, since that allows you some time to "get out of your own way." This meditation is specifically Light/Heart centered, so focus on opening to a greater receptivity that this is the moment of the "return of the Light" to your Life.
As you enter deeply into the receptivity of merging your individual Light with the on-going Greater Light, move into and stay centered in your heart. It is the source of all knowing, all illumination, all love, and all power in an individual life. Surrender and let go of your ego mind and your feelings, open to the highest and greatest Light you are and always have been, and allow the on-going Greater Light to illuminate your inner Light.
Open to being inspired, and you will be inspired. Open to experiencing the Light you are within the greater Light field we all are together. Open to “seeing the Light” and you will be illuminated at exactly the right time. That is the Divine Law.
If you can, please try to hold this meditation at least 15 minutes after the Solar Return moment, since this can help "fix the energy" in your various subtle bodies. (No, you don't have to reference your watch to make sure you're "doing it right." ;-)) This attunement for 30 minutes can make all the difference in what follows in the days, weeks, and months after, since it sets up a pattern of alignment and attraction that can open us to illuminated forms of "knowing" which transcend our rational mind.
Augmenting Our Understanding of What Is, and What's To Come
Because I like as much information as possible about the "meaning" of the year to come, I also consult various oracles at my Solar Return to offer me symbols of what my next year will concern. Sometimes I do this before the meditation, other years afterward.
Examples of these symbolic messengers are the I Ching, Tarot, Angel cards, Animal cards, and other means to get a sense of the quality of the next year. Sometimes they indicate what I can expect, and/or what I am learning, and/or what tools I can use to move and groove through the next 12 months.
Mostly I suspect that due to synchronicity, these show me symbols of what's happening within me that will ex-press in the year to come. Occasionally they indicate external patterns, but again, these are never separate from our power to choose which patterns we will embrace and which ones we'll ignore.
So by all means, remember to calculate your Solar Return chart to get insights into what's been, what is, and what will be. Tomorrow I’ll give you another article that goes into depth about many things I haven’t covered here related to this very important moment in time which happens to every one of us once each year throughout our lives.
Reprinted on crystalwind.ca with written permission from Robert Wilkinson. Copying this article to other blogs is strictly prohibited. It is copyright protected.
© Copyright 2022 Robert Wilkinson
About the author:
Robert 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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