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Oh My Stars

(This is one of a series in which I try to show you how an astrologer can give you practical understanding that gets practical results. We all need a bit of that sometimes, don’t we?)

TK writes:

“When was my solar return?”

Dear TK:

There are two answers to that. The short answer is “that depends.” The longer answer is “that depends, and Solar Returns are really starting to annoy me.”

First of all: a Solar Return chart is a chart cast for the moment that the Sun returns to the exact place where it was when you were born. It can be used as a secondary predictive technique (astrology has a lot of those) as to how the next year of your life is going to go. That might work fine, except there are a couple of major issues it, mostly “what IS the exact point the Sun was at when you were born, and where is that point now?”

Allow me to explain. Here’s your birth chart:

beliefnet astrology matthew currie solar return 1

When you were born the Sun was at 11 degrees Virgo — or if you prefer a Virgo-like level of precision, it was at 11 degrees, 57 minutes, 17 seconds Virgo. So, here’s what the sky will like at 5:51:20 PM in Denver, Colorado when the Sun next reaches 11 degrees, 57 minutes, 17 seconds Virgo.

beliefnet astrology matthew currie solar return 2

Woo hoo! Sun conjunct North Node in your Seventh House! Therefore you must be getting married in the next year after your birthday, right?

Well, not so fast there, pal. Western Astrology generally uses what’s called the Tropical Zodiac, where 0 degrees Aries is determined by where the Sun is at the exact first moment of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. You may have also heard that the Earth has a slight wobble on its axis. This wobble causes a slight drift between the Tropical Zodiac and the actual background of the stars (which is what we call the Sidereal Zodiac). If you live until your early 70s, the difference between 0 Degrees Aries in the Tropical Zodiac and 0 Degrees Aries in the Sidereal will be about one whole degree. This is what we call precession.

That may sound like a trivial difference, but when we’re talking about something as precise as the exact position of the Sun, it makes a big difference. Here is your Solar Return chart that has been corrected for precession:

beliefnet astrology matthew currie solar return 3

Big difference, isn’t there? That Sun-Node conjunction moves to the Second House, and instead of getting married, you’re making a bunch of money. Or, um, something. Also, the Moon moves about five degrees from where it was in the other Solar Return chart, which is significant.

Now just to complicate things: do we go with your Solar Return for where you were born, or where you’re actually going to be on your birthday? That will make a difference too.

This is why I’m always a little suspicious of Solar Return charts, and why I never, ever give them credence over planetary transits as a predictive technique. I’m guessing that since your actual question was “When WAS my solar return?” you may be suffering a bit of confusion as to why a previous prediction based on your Solar Return chart hasn’t worked out yet… and now you know why Solar Returns should always be treated as a minor, secondary predictive technique at best.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about from modern medicine when it comes to “secondary predictive techniques.” Studies have shown that people born with a congenital crease in their earlobes have a larger percentage chance of having a heart attack. Now suppose you’re feeling some chest pains and go see the doctor. He doesn’t listen to your post. He doesn’t order an EKG. He takes one look at your earlobes and says “Aha! That crease tells me you’re having a heart attack! Right now!! I better operate! Let me sterilize that earlobe first…”

If that ever happens, go see another doctor. Or try having a good burp: it could just be gas. Or look it up on the internet. Or flip a coin to see if you should go to emergency or not. Pretty much anything other than take advice from Doctor Earcrease.

Ambiguity can be built into even very precise-seeming systems. Life is already full of a lot of ambiguities, and I prefer my astrology to suffer from as little ambiguity as possible. What we do know for sure is that whenever we think your Solar Return was or will be, transiting Saturn is currently conjunct your natal Uranus… so things are likely fairly difficult for you recently when it comes to getting your way with things. Don’t worry, it’ll pass… but you might want to consider getting a reading. Unless I’m looking at the wrong chart, because…

Speaking of ambiguity: when you wrote me you said your date of birth was 09-04 in Denver. Americans and British write the date in different ways, and as a Canadian I can’t be sure if you meant “September 4” or “April 9.” Also, I assumed Denver, Colorado… but did you know there are no less that TWENTY “Denvers” in the United States? Is all this ambiguity driving you as crazy as it is me…?

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