©July 5, 2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
Today is my 68th birthday, but yesterday was my solar return. It’s apparently a tradition among astrology bloggers to write a piece about solar returns on their birthday. That’s what I discovered when I used the handy WordPress internal search engine to see who had written about this tropic.
In the hopes of, just this once, being socially and politically correct, I decided to follow suit with this miscellany of little-known acts about our annual birthday charts.
Why your solar return may or may not be on your actual birthday: In a 4-year cycle, the date and time of the solar return chart may occur anywhere from a day before to a day after your calendar birthday. That’s for the same reason we have The Leap Year and Leap Day – February 29 every 4 years. The year is not really 365 days but 365 ¼.
For many people, the SR Ascendant and house cusps are also on a 4-year cycle in which the Rising sign in the natal chart is regularly repeated. I don’t understand the math on that, but I do interpret any repetition of the degrees, houses placements, and features of the natal chart as significant intervals. They’re like a highlighter pen that calls our attention to those particular features and the patterns in our lives they represent.
It is said thatyour solar return starts taking effect 3 months before your birthday. The older astrologers taught us that you could “feel the vibe” of the solar return coming in way before the birthday. In years of observation, it does seem true, but this may be entirely subjectivity/suggestibility. OR it may be related to the fact that solar return aspects are related to slower-moving transits.
The Solar Return is a frozen slice of the transits you have around your birthday. In this chart, you are highly likely to see aspects that mirror the themes of transiting planets, especially the slower-moving outer planets that may not move more than 2-3° in a year. This is especially true of aspects to the Sun, but since Venus and Mercury are always close to the Sun, they’re likely to repeat as well.
In my view, transits are a better predictive tool than Solar Returns, so I seldom did them for clients unless they specifically asked. Nothing happens by a solar return, progression, eclipse or other variation that is not promised in the natal chart and confirmed by transits, so don’t get freaked out about your solar return.
Solar Returns aren’t based on your place of birth, but your location, though there are purists who only calculate it for the birthplace. Purists are always trouble—another bone of contention is about something called a precessed SR vs. the usual SR. One reader wrote to ask if I’d ever used the geocentric precessed chart, which I’d never heard of.
I think it really doesn’t matter WHICH solar return you use. What I believe is that whatever the astrologer believes works, works. We’re really just tuning into the planetary energies, and they’re talking to us. The piece of paper called an astrology chart is merely a sort of mandala that gets us there. Hmm. That’s a radical belief that I’ve just articulated for the first time. It’s kind of like the Tarot and all the scads of more modern decks. They all work too, if you believe in them and use them as a tool to attune to the person.
Entire astrology practices are based on telling clients where to travel in order to get the best solar return chart. Don’t like that Pluto in the 10th in your solar return? Find a better house placement and go there. In order for that chart to take effect, you need to stay a day and a half before through a day and a half after, so pack for 3 days.
Does it work or is it only a placebo effect? Is it just high astrological drama of a most self-indulgent nature? Well, I’ve done it any number of times when there were owies in mission critical houses, and it made a big difference in the outcome. I chalk it up to the power of intention and of manifestation through commitment. (If you’re interested in using this technique, Continuum has a list of certified Astro*Carto*Graphy practitioners and a library of over 50 articles about relocation techniques here: Relocation Astrology Information and Practitioners.)
If there were ever a reason to want to travel to a better location for the SR, this would be it: All Solar Returns between June and September this year contain the Cardinal t-square of Pluto, Saturn, and Uranus. If your solar return looks terrible, it may be some comfort to know that you aren’t being singled out for some Cosmic Pigeon Poop.
We’re all being buffeted by the current social, economic, political and environmental crises to some degree, but the extent it affects us personally is based on our individual charts. The houses that are involved in the t-square natally and in the SR chart can show us where we need to take action.
You can “progress” the Solar Return to find out the periods of peak activity between birthdays. Move the 4 angles of the SR chart (Ascendant, Midheaven, Descendant, and IC) forward in the zodiac 1° per day to find the approximate intervals when issues suggested by solar return aspects will heat up and become important to deal with.
Thus, a particular sticking point in the solar return will peak in importance about 4 times in the year—but so will a lucky or promising feature. (The quick and dirty version would be to move the angle ahead one sign per month since the birthday+3 months=3 signs forward.)
Way more Cancerians and Leos will celebrate their solar return this year than Capricorns and Aquarians.
Is that because we Crabs are such sentimental slobs and Leos love to be the life of the party? Nope, it’s a statistical fact I happened across in dry, dull Census Bureau publications. They tracked a pattern of birth rate highs and lows that had marked peaks in the summer months and marked valleys in the winter months. These findings have been consistent for at least a century.
The result is that there are far more Taureans, Geminis, Cancers, and Leos than there are Sagittarians, Capricorns, Aquarians, and Pisces. So if you’re marketing zodiac jewelry, t-shirts, birthday cards, or other merchandise, adjust your stock accordingly.
A big thank you to all the readers who wrote to wish me a happy 68th birthday. To my fellow crabs, I wish:
Coming next: More about solar return charts.
Readers, did you ever travel for your solar return chart? Or do you have any solar return stories or interesting info? Share it in the comment section, down below this article.
More articles to check out on Skywriter:
- 10 Good Articles about Solar Returns
- Your Birthday Headlines: A Day In The Life
- A New Look at the Astrology of Twins (includes astrotwins)
 The National Center for Health Statistics publishes a bulletin, The Monthly Vital Statistics Report. Drawing from Bureaus of Vital Statistics across the country, it periodically compiles rates of births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and causes of mortality.