What is it, exactly?
Your solar return chart is put together using the time that the transiting Sun moves into the same position of your natal Sun. When we are born, the Sun is in an exact position in the zodiac. Every year, the Sun moves through each of these 12 signs- and, every year, it will arrive in that same position again. When this conjunction occurs- it is in the precise second of the arc that is used to create a chart based on the date and time, as well as your location for the time of this conjunction.
Is the current location necessary?
This conjunction does not necessarily happen on your birthday- usually, if it isn’t on the exact day, it’s a day before or a day after. In general, use of your location at the time of the return is used because a natal location won’t be as definitive. For instance, when you’re traveling at the time of your solar return- you should use the location where you will be, rather than where you live or your location of birth.
Of course, you can use your natal location even if you don’t live there- it will still give you fairly comprehensive information. When we do this, it’s a lot like using a solar arc chart or a progressed chart- and I do find those useful as well. One of the issues at play with the natal location, however, is that it’s not factoring in free will as strongly as your location at the time of the solar return. Sometimes, if I know that a person will be travelling extensively- I will actually utilize their travel location and also, their residence location, but then, a progressed chart for a much more comprehensive approach. So, this is not to say those things aren’t useful- they’re simply nice add ons you can use to further flesh things out.
However, the biggest reason for using your location at the time of the return involves not the Sun but the Ascendant. Each time zone will have a different impact on the sign or the degree of the Ascendant- and that will go on to change the signs that are on those house cusps as well as the houses that your planets happen to be in. I am actually still in Central Standard Time- which, happens to be where I was at the time of my birth, but: we are working with exact moments in time. This can create a pretty stark difference in everything from planets to house rulers- or, it may change the degrees and angles involved- as you can see here in the differences between my natal chart, my Solar Return calculated for my place of birth, and finally, my current location:
At first blush, you might think those are very similar charts- and they are. However, degrees matter. All too often, people neglect the math in astrology- and that can make a huge difference in so many things. (Which is a rant brewing for another time.) Anyway- still, you can see how in my case: a slight difference can make a big difference. In others, the differences are much greater- and this in turn, impacts not only other related calculations but interpretations, as well.
What about the timing? Is this a play by play, month by month?
No, actually, but, that sort of thing can be worked with as well, certainly.
Time is actually a very tricky thing. It’s not quite as cut and dried as “Oh, this year to that year” and you probably know this. Our days, weeks, months and even years do have a way of blending into one another- and, your solar return year is no different. I always advise taking a look at a few months prior to, and a few months after, just for good measure. Granted, the Solar Return reports that Sirius generates are written in such a way that it’s not so much a month by month- but rather: a very comprehensive, full collection of data and information. From there, in consults, we bear that in mind: we can use transits and progressions to work with more timeline oriented things but I absolutely love the homework I hand you in this prior to the consult.
You know that your birthday and other important dates often set your mind and heart in motion towards thinking on the past or setting your dreams for the future in motion. Being as this closely ties to your Solar Return: it’s much the same. I tend to look at the year before, to better understand the steps I have taken- or even those I missed, and my planning phases: but then, the year ahead or the current year to see either what steps still need to happen or what might actually come to a head.
In this same way- it’s pretty easy to see the old patterns that need to be broken. The wounds that still need some healing. We can determine pretty easily the steps we should take- and, well, trust me: as someone who works with hers and continues to study- you’re going to find a lot of repeated patterns and as they say “It is the song that doesn’t end”. This is not a bad thing. Often, the biggest step- the one that intimidates us the most: is just facing those unresolved issues. After that, that’s not to say things will explode in a rainbow glitter of instant transformation- more often than not, they won’t: but, once you start, that’s one roadblock you’re looking at ways to get around and overcome. That’s a big deal, right there.
Everything is cumulative- in life and in your solar return.
I think the key thing to remember about Solar Returns is, they’re not going to be a one time thing. Your life, your experiences, your reactions, your actions and otherwise- they’re not one time things: but rather, a total of everything you have experienced, so, of course, your Solar Return will not be different.
As you focus on the things you want to do, and do them, as you take action on those things you want to either heal or achieve: you’ll discover that your horizons broaden. You have more options, you’ll have more experiences and greater understanding in the year ahead. On that same note, you know that when you’re not taking action, you’re not making changes: you may feel incredibly limited by circumstances and in fact: limited by your mindsets. Of course there will always be things that we cannot control- but, when we empower ourselves to take action on the things we can: the potential you hold is truly limitless. Being able to see how these cycles play out offers us a unique roadmap to better understanding the cycles within our own lives and how they either repeat or can be broken.
The important thing to remember about solar returns, and life experiences in general, is that they are part of a cumulative process. The more attentive and productive you are this year, the greater your options next year. The less you accomplish now, the more limited you will feel as time goes by. Unlike transits which can seem disconnected and singular, solar returns are closely aligned and can easily be viewed as building blocks, one upon the other, year after year. For this reason, each year becomes important and each task has a history and a future. The rhythmic pattern of the solar return helps us to see this.
How your unconscious impacts your life- and how your life impacts your unconscious mind-
One of the powerful ways that a Solar Return works is that it helps you to better understand the themes you see persisting throughout the year- but also, year after year. This doesn’t mean that things don’t change- at all.
I have gone through countless Solar Return charts and noticed, there’s never been one that didn’t have a new theme. The problem here is that all too often- myself included- that theme just…never seems to manifest. Though you can plot it out and you can see it clearly: something gets stuck. That something, then, is the understanding of how free will plays a factor, and how both fate and free will tangle up- either to build the strong threads of our destiny or to get us in a real snarl. Often, the basis of this snarl is our unconscious mind and, yes, I’m going there: Our Shadow. You can have all the external triggers in the world driving you towards greatness: but, if your mind and heart aren’t in line and empowered, if you’re not taking action- either in healing and understanding yourself- all too often, you’re just not fully involved because you’re still avoiding those unconscious factors that hold you back. Resentment, fear, and other issues are difficult to face and often take time to work through: and you need to give yourself that time.
One of the ways we do this, then, is to note the planets that will conjunct a house cusps within a couple of degrees- you can often view those as impacting both houses. Taking a look at the outer planets, especially in these cases is key. We can, in doing this, note the subconscious factors at play- that more or less create the landscape of our reactions or lack thereof to those issues and concerns. Taking a look at certain houses, you may note that they are just packed with planets- and it’s there, you’ll usually see the bulk of the emphasis for the year. Of course, you want to exercise some balance here: otherwise you may become fixated with the particular issues represented there to the exclusion of other things you need to be paying attention to as well. This is why I always emphasize the cumulative, this is why I always try to help people to understand: that chart is not just one house. You are not just your Sun sign- which you probably know, and we ignore the interconnectivity inherent in astrology at our peril.