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Solar Returns: A horoscope for each year?

Bobby KennedyAstrology has many methods for forecasting the future, and one of the most popular is the ‘solar return’.

Solar returns are the horoscopes set up for the moment the Sun returns to the place it was when we were born.  This event will always happen on our birthday, or very close to it.

According to astrological theory, the solar return describes the year ahead.  It’s a technique that has historical pedigree.  For example John Gadbury, in a book published in 1680, analysed the solar returns of King Louis XIV of France.

In the modern era many astrologers have been keen to push solar returns, perhaps for commercial reasons.  It’s a good way of getting clients to come back every year, by saying you’ll analyse their forthcoming solar return.

Some astrologers have gone further, by claiming that your location at the moment of your solar return is important.  So if someone was born in New York, and they were in Los Angeles when the Sun returned to where it was at birth, an astrologer should set the solar return for Los Angeles rather than New York.

In extreme cases, people would check beforehand where the perfect place to have their solar returns was.  So they would consult their astrologer, and if the astrologer said they should be in Paris at the critical moment, they’d make the necessary travel arrangements.

This approach is not just extreme, but also flies in the face of tradition.  You can’t escape your fate by travelling to a different location.  No, your solar return should always be set for the place you were born.

Furthermore, the solar return should never be looked at in isolation.  Instead it’s a trigger, that needs to match the symbolism that’s highlighted by other astrological methods.

I can illustrate this with the horoscope of Bobby Kennedy, the brother of John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968.

At the time of Bobby Kennedy’s birth, in Brookline, Massachusetts, on November 20 1925, Mars, the planet of violence, was very close to the Western horizon.  This was a signature of conflict, as well as being a warning that at some stage in his life Bobby Kennedy could be the target of an assassination attempt. Here’s the birth chart:

Bobby Kennedy horoscope

Forty-two years later, on November 20 1967, at the precise moment of Bobby Kennedy’s solar return, in a horoscope set for Brookline Massachusetts, Mars was again on the Western horizon:

Bobby Kennedy SR 1967

The warning was clear – the following year, through until November 1968, was going to be very dangerous.  And as it happened Bobby Kennedy was fatally wounded on June 5 1968.

However it must be understood that the position of Mars in the November 1967 Solar Return did not, in itself, point to the assassination.  It was the fact that this Mars position resonated with the original horoscope.

Which takes me back to the question of whether you can have a horoscope for each year.  It’s a nice idea, but unfortunately astrology is a multi-layered discipline, and if you focus too much energy on a single technique you’ll quickly become disappointed.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Ian Delaney May 16, 2022, 2:28 pm

    I kind of gave up the ghost with solar return charts a while ago, having once been convinced that they were the gold standard for predictive astrology!

    Astrologers have generally not been uniform in how they use the technique – hence the confusion over whether one should cast the chart as precessed or non-precessed, whether you should read it as a stand-alone entity or with the natal chart, etc.

    The problem that I see with solar returns is that for the most part their interpretation has rested upon the influence of the planets in the houses, and going upon experience with natal astrology this is a very hit and miss affair as one can never really be too sure just how a planet is going to manifest in a given house. That said, it is always worth being mindful of looking to see if a planet makes a close conjunction to a SR house cusp – this happened to me in 2017 when Pluto was on the Koch 8th house cusp and within 3 months a close relative died and I underwent a surgical intervention – true 8th house stuff indeed although there were other factors involved.

    On a final note, I would like to mention something I came across on Blake Finlay’s website on Uranian Astrology where he mentions the work of the German researcher Ruth Brummel who advocated studying the solar arc directions on the day of the birthday and not just the SR chart in its own right. There does seem to be some merit to this but it is not something I have seen in common practice.

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