I had someone recently inquire about a solar return reading, so I thought I would share my process. The solar return reading is an analysis of the solar return chart. But it is not the only chart that is involved in assessing the solar return chart. It can be used a stand-alone divinatory tool to glean useful information, but for me a more complete reading includes the natal chart and the annual profections technique.
So let’s get down to brass tacks.
What is the solar return chart?
The solar return chart is the chart of the day the Sun returns to the degree and minute it occupied in the tropical zodiac at the moment of a person’s birth. So if at the moment, the Sun was at 11 degrees and 23 minutes of Libra, the day of the current year (or the year in question, if you are researching the past or the future) that the Sun returns to that degree and minute would be the birthday with respect to the solar return chart. So that may be about a day off from the actual calendar date associated with the date of birth.
The positions of the planets on the day of the birthday as well as the degrees of the ascendant and the other three angles are important in doing an overall solar return reading. If any of the solar return planets are making notable aspects to the natal chart planets or the degrees of the angles, then this is a commentary about that symbolism associated with those planets or points.
For example, let’s say Venus at the moment of the solar return is conjunct the natal midheaven. This indicates there could be a favorable development over the course of the year with respect to the career or public image, that the career or public image will be enjoyable, there may be some benefit in relation to these, or a significant woman or female figure could play a role in the career at some point during the year.
System of House Division
For the house division of the solar chart, I use whole sign houses. In this system, the whole sign encompasses a given house, with no overlap or intercepted signs. So, if the ascendant is at 16 degrees Gemini, then 0 degrees to 29 degrees of Gemini is the entire first house, 0-29 degrees of Cancer is the second house, 0-29 degrees of Leo is the third house, and so on. And, the degree of the ascendant, descendant, midheaven and IC are sensitized degrees of the chart. I also use the annual profections technique when assessing the solar return, and I use whole sign houses in the natal chart to determine the profected ascendant for the year.
Annual Profections: the Profected Chart and Solar Return Chart
I always use annual profections when assessing transits, or doing a year ahead reading. Annual Profections are an ancient timing and predictive technique in Western astrology. I believe Vedic astrology also has its own system of profections which is ancient itself. To begin assessing the annual profection, I calculate the age of the person for the year of the solar return reading. I use the profections wheel to determine the profected ascendant. Some people calculate this in their heads.
Once I’ve determined the profected ascendant, I look at the ruler of the sign on the cusp of the profected ascendant. The ruler of the profected ascendant is the time-lord for the year.
I always use traditional rulers. So Mars rules Scorpio and Saturn rules Aquarius. I assess the natal situation of the ruler on the cusp of the profected ascendant. I look at the house it’s in, its configuration to other planets, and its dignity.
That ruler plays an important role in the solar return chart and I assess the ruler in the solar return chart and where it falls in relationship to the natal chart . This is like looking at the transits of the birthday except the solar return houses are taken into consideration.
Transits and the Solar Return
So profections and the time lord for the year are aspects of assessing the solar return chart to see what the year following the birthday may be like. The crucial part of this to note is that the transits to or from the planet that is the time lord will be more sensitized. So transits from Venus in a year where it is the time lord are going to be more important or impactful than they would be in years where it is not the time lord.
Using the annual profections technique in conjunction with the solar return chart is a way to discover more information about the quality of a year. It’s interesting to go back in time and look at your profections for a given year in combination with your solar return — especially for years where important things happened to you. If you’re studying astrology, you can also do this for historical figures you have an interest in for whom we have accurate birth data as well as a reliable record of their life.