Classical Solar Returns
Solar returns employ the astrological technique of reading the next year's activity for a chart calculated for when the transiting Sun returns to its natal position. Almost every Western astrologer has tried to use solar returns
Solar returns employ the astrological technique of reading the next year's activity for a chart calculated for when the transiting Sun returns to its natal position. Almost every Western astrologer has tried to use solar returns. However, there have been so many methods proposed, that the beginner in this technique is often bewildered about how to get the core meanings out of this system. Dr. Lehman uses 240 examples, including one example of 11 consecutive returns, and another with 41 consecutive returns, as well as other examples by subject, to illustrate not only the cycles found within solar returns, but how to apply them. Learn about solar returns for relationships, jobs, financial success, children, relocation, education, honors, medical issues, as well as death. Dr. Lehman takes you through the method, the application, and the kinds of issues raised by this method.
Table of Contents
Table of Charts, Tables and Figures
1. The History of Solar Returns
2. Classical Applications of Solar Returns
3. Solar Returns for Romance and Relationship
4. Solar Returns for Jobs and Money
5. Solar Returns for Having Children
6. Solar Returns for Relocation
7. Solar Returns for Education
8. Solar Returns for Awards and Honors
9. Solar Returns for Medical Problems
10. Solar Returns for Life Changing Years
11. Solar Returns for Death
12. A Life in Solar Returns
Appendix A. Synopsis of Classical Concepts
Appendix B. Glossary of Terms
Appendix C. Dignities and Almuten Degrees
Appendix D. Lifetime events summarized for Individuals Cited
Appendix E. Classical Solar Return Aphorisms
Appendix F. Astrological Placements in Solar Return Examples
The whole process of delineating solar returns has become too complex. This has actually been true for several decades, and was the reason that, before I became a classical astrologer, I had stopped using solar returns with my clients.
What happened to this technique? It has a singularly simple definition, namely: a chart drawn for the time when the position of the Sun is exactly the same as the position of the Sun at a person’s birth. What happened was modern life! Several historical factors converged which created greater complexity, further complicated by certain trends within astrology itself since the 1800s.
Briefly put, these factors are:
Location. While people have always traveled, the ease of travel has increased to the point that mass mobility for leisure means that many people can choose to be someplace else for their birthdays. Furthermore, virtually all astrologers have access to astrology software that will not only compute the solar return for any location, but also make examining multiple choices of location easy.
Residence. Large numbers of people no longer reside in their place of birth, or even nearby.
Precession. In the 19th century, Western astrologers became more aware of Vedic astrology and its sidereal orientation, thus leading Western astrologers to reconsider the possible importance of precession within the lifetime.
Confusion of technique. Astrologers as a group have often been most reluctant to reject multiple variations, and so prefer to allow all possibilities, evidently for fear of missing some valuable piece of information. The result is that predictability becomes lost when too many variations produce conflicting results.
When I began to study solar returns in earnest almost twenty-five years ago, this was the situation that confronted me. Beyond the usual question of house systems, different astrologers were advocating completely different methods. The major variations boiled down to six possible solar return charts because there were two sets of variables:
Whether the chart should be calculated using precession or not.
Whether the birthplace, residence, or actual location coordinates should be used.
I did what probably a lot of other astrologers did: I asked a number of people with good birth times to tell me about significant years that they had experienced, and then I went looking to find the events in the charts, computing all six variations. And as, during this time period, I had several opportunities to travel on or around my birthday, I personally sampled the question of whether the actual location served to produce a different result than the residence or the natal would.
The result was chaos. Almost always I would see something interesting in one of the charts, just not the same one from year to year. It was so tantalizing and so frustrating at the same time! So I simply threw up my hands in disgust, and went on to other methods that were working more consistently.
In the meantime, I became steeped in traditional horary. My horary background taught me the dangers of multiple choice options for prediction. Simply put, when you have multiple possibilities for the rulership of a house, each ruler can produce a different scenario -- and a different answer. In a horary, this is disastrous, so successful horary method must include a protocol for selecting the appropriate significator to use.
In natal, several different alternatives may be real because a year isn’t just a single event or scenario, as a horary is. The challenge with natal is to have a way to distinguish between the major theme(s) for the year, and the minor ones. Simply dumping one technique on top of another doesn’t accomplish this.
The solar return itself is a technique that shares something vital with horary, namely, its relatively short duration. The reason for being restrictive in horary about possible options is that a horary covers a limited span of time, and emphasizes the trend of events if no major conscious decisions take place. There’s actually little time for learning with a horary. One might argue that, while a year is enough time for some learning and development, it is still not a huge amount of time when compared with the entire life. Thus, one might hypothesize that a solar return might be interpreted as intermediate between natal, with its great mandate for choice and change, and horary, which gives a quick answer to a single question. The solar return is the map of change for the year. But a year can pass unnoticed, or it may present a sudden change which shifts the flow of life entirely.
I would only come back to solar returns personally years later, after I had begun to study classical: and specifically because of a wonderful gift I received from Clara Darr. Sadly, Clara was going blind, and she sold her astrological library. I bought a piece of it: the classical part. One book of that, Gadbury’s work on King Charles II, would factor heavily in my thinking. As I began to study this work, I realized that here was a clearly defined method for working with solar returns that did not have the problem of six multiple-choice charts for each year. In reproducing this method and extending it, I found my own solar return niche, and then I discovered that this particular lineage had never died, but was still practiced in many European schools, albeit with variations.
This in turn raised other, deeply troubling issues. While all of a sudden, I was a great enthusiast of solar returns, my method fundamentally disagreed with that of many colleagues - even many friends. But I feel that we cannot progress as a craft without addressing these more difficult issues. This is something I will defer until after Chapter 1, which presents a history of the application of solar return charts, so that we can understand how we have gotten to our particular place. Chapter 2 introduces the method through examples, and in Chapters 3-12, we will examine how this system operates in practice. We shall summarize our results in Chapter 13.
I would ask in the meantime that the reader suspend judgment about variations presented from what you already know. I realize that most of my readers use solar returns. You probably already have your own theories, and I can pretty well predict: you will agree with some of what I say, but not all!