Many years ago, at the exact moment of my birth, the Sun was located at 15 degrees 42 minutes 31 seconds of Capricorn. This past month, it returned to that precise point at 8:56 pm EST on January 5th. That’s actually the day before my birthday, and by most people’s standards about six and a half hours before it was time for me to blow out the candles on my birthday cake. It works that way for pretty much everybody – our actual “astronomical birthday” often does not fall at the same time as our customary one. It may even be the day before or the day after. The reasons are a little complicated, but they boil down to the way we smooth out the calendar for practical purposes – essentially it all stems from the same compromises that compel us to insert a 366-day “year” every four years.
As astrologers, our computers take care of those details for us, so none of that has much practical meaning – at least until we start setting up Solar Return charts. I am sure that many of you have heard of the technique. In principle, it is a simple idea: we set up a chart for the moment that the Sun returns to its starting point and we begin a new yearly cycle. That “birthday” chart gives us insight into what lies ahead during the coming year. The trick lies in remembering that this “solar return moment” would only very rarely be the same as your actual birth time and date. If I had set mine up with my usual birth data – 3:22 am EST on January 6 – it would have been meaningless, almost more like a legal document than an astrological one.
A moment ago, I used the phrase “what lies ahead for us during the coming year.” No astrologer would be startled at such wording, but then the fun would begin. Astrology means so many different things to so many different people. A conventional astrologer might use a solar return chart (often abbreviated as an “SR”) to predict the events of the next twelve months. Jupiter in the 2nd house? I smell money. Venus on the Descendant? You will meet someone . . . There may even be some truth in those predictions, but as an evolutionary astrologer, my questions are different. For one thing, I believe that choices you make, wisely or foolishly, have a lot to do with the future you create. My aim is to empower you rather than “predicting” anything for you. For another, I think that the message of the SR chart – and really of all astrological symbolism – is ultimately about what your soul is learning, how best to learn it, and how to avoid wasting those evolutionary opportunities.