example charts

Solar and Planetary Returns

Sun-Moon Eclipse
Sun-Moon Eclipse
GVA Member Post

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to look at Solar Returns in particular right now. This is the birthday chart, the perfect horoscope to read on or near your birthday. You can also to a demi-return at the halfway mark. Today we have an example for both the annual solar return and the demi return.

If you want to take our GVA Exploring Planetary Return Course, check it out here. In it is a rundown on Solar Returns.

For everyone, below is a quick review. Skip straight to the examples if you are current and ready to rip.

6 Minute Audio-Video tutorial on Planetary Returns


What are Solar Return Charts?

There are many astrological techniques that take the horoscope beyond its basic natal form. We can do progressions, transits, synastry, draconic, harmonics, composites, directions and more. And, we can do RETURN CHARTS!

A return is a chart drawn for the moment in time a natal planet returns to its exact birth position after completing a full orbit through the zodiac.

The MOON returns about every 28.5 days giving 13 LUNAR RETURNS a year. These charts portray inner and outer events from the perspective of feelings, emotions, security and survival.

Ever wonder why people say “Many happy returns” on your birthday? This is the return of the SUN to its exact birth position! Every 365 days, we have a Solar Return, occurring the day before, of, or after the birth date.

Solar and Planetary Returns

Solar returns portray inner and outer events based on individuation, the art of becoming who we are meant to be! It is like a preview of coming attractions for the new solar year.

MERCURY (mental and communicative) and VENUS (socially significant relationships and values) also return once a year within a month or so of the birthday.

MARS returns every 2 years. These charts generally reflect work, healthy aggression and basic energy.

The ASTEROIDS(between Venus and Jupiter) vary between 1 year to close to 12 years in their orbits. 433 Eros returns every 1.76 years, and describes experiences of erotic transformation. 16 Psyche returns every 5 years, and is about attuning to another through extrasensory abilities. 4450 Pan, returning every 3 years, is about raw creative energy, carnal drives and “panic” that leads to change. 4 Vesta, returning every 3.63 years, is about devotion, ritual, dedication to beliefs and sex as spiritual transformation.

JUPITER returns every 12 years, and has to do with our search for meaning and purpose, confidence and creative will.

SATURN returns every 28-29 and can reflect our sense of responsibility, maturity and power to build material foundations.

CHIRON and the other Centaurs return about every 51 years or more (for Kuiper Belt objects). Chiron returns are about healing, teaching and the preparation of the hero. How will we be heroic in this later stage of life?

URANUS returns every 84 and connects us with out sense of freedom, audacity and willingness to step outside of boundaries. Neptune and Pluto return every 164 years and 248 respectively. These outer planets do not return in the known span of a human life.

Sedna returns ever 11,000 years or so; clearly not applicable for this technique!Solar, Lunar, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn return charts are the most frequently used, though any return (or demi-return, or phase return) can be valuable. The major planet returns give the broad strokes, the asteroid returns add subtle and fine details.

Creating a Planetary Return without an astro program

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-10-22-44-pmHow do we read return charts?

As in all techniques, practice and experience brings a natural flow and familiarity. Here are some guidelines:

Return charts “last” from the moment of the return (or a bit before) until the following one. If you are doing a Venus return and the planet goes retrograde across the birth position a month later, a new return chart is created. When it goes direct across the birth point, another return is drawn.

Any return chart is read against the backdrop of the natal chart, not in isolation.

Location may be set for the birth place or the current residence. I use the birth place though other astrologers prefer re-location. Experiment for yourself on this.

Consider the orientation of the planet you are returning. A Venus return isn’t going to tell you a lot about meaning, purpose, knowledge and wisdom, but it can indicate social interactions, partnerships and changing values.

Lunar returns are great for feelings, but not so much about responsibilities in the pragmatic world.

Pay special attention to the returns of your chart ruler—the planet that rules the sign on your Ascendant. (I use traditional rulerships for this—Scorpio-Mars, Aquarius-Saturn, Pisces-Jupiter).

Suggested Steps

1. Look at the overall pattern of the return chart. Is it a splash, indicating diverse interests and activities? Is it a bundle pattern, suggesting a focus of interest in the occupied houses? Check the hemispheric emphasis. How does this correlate to the natal patterns? If the person has a natal sew-saw pattern and has a return chart bowl pattern, how comfortable will they be with it?

2. Look at the orientation of the signs emphasized. What is the strongest modality? Element? Polarity? What’s missing? How does that related back to the natal chart? Someone who has a natal emphasis in Cardinal Fire may have a lot to learn about practicality if the return chart emphasizes Fixed Earth. Take the declinations into consideration too! (And the Dwads)

3. What sign is on the Return Ascendant? That will bring the corresponding natal sign/house to the foreground, giving it first house importance. What houses are occupied? Stelliums? Where does the Natal Ascendant degree fall in the Return chart?

4. Look at the signs on the cusps. They indicate needs and drives and offerings. Aries in the return chart is where we want to start something new. Taurus is where we ground things practically. Gemini is where we get curious and want to learn. Think of each house as an area of life and the sign on the cusp as a symbol of the orientation, needs and wants in relationship to that area of life.

5. Check the aspects in the return chart. A lot of oppositions could indicate the need for objectivity and choices. Trines could coincide with ease or even lack of drive. Squares are struggles that get things moving. Look back at the natal chart to see how the solar return aspects compare. How will a natal Venus/Mars conjunction handle a solar return Venus/Mars opposition?

6. Place the return planets in the natal chart and read as a transit chart, then put them back in the return chart to interpret as the outcome of those transits.

7. Check the Lunar nodes, the house placement of the return planet in both return and natal charts (Sun in solar returns, Moon in Lunar returns etc.), interceptions, the house placement of the ruler of the return chart, both natal and return, any planets rising in the return chart (natal or return) and aspects between the return and natal planets and points. You can also look at the vertex, some Arabic parts, midpoints, asteroids and fixed stars. Keep orbs tights!

Example Solar Return

First let's look at Janette's Solar Return. What are the first few things that suggest a fabulous new solar year? To start with, what house comes to the foreground? What chart tone? Chart pattern? Rising planets? Me us in the comments to unravel the mystery.

Click to Enlarge

Example Demi Solar Return


Kim's Natal Chart


Solar Return Declination Table








Fun with Derivative Houses

mixed-media-collage-tree-and-houses-karla-gerard - Derivative Houses
Image by Karla Gerard

What are these houses?

The derivative houses have been around for a long time. They are used extensively in horary astrology, but that’s not all. By looking at your natal chart, they can shine a spotlight on other people in your life, showing how you naturally experiences them in different situations. It can really help with deliberate creation and getting into alignment with what you really want.

5 minute derivative houses tutorial
5 minute derivative house tutorial

Derivative houses are also a great tool for finding where joy, abundance, talents and showing where skills, stimulation, contrast and excitement can be found. So, by looking at the natal placements and signs through this lens, as well as considering transits, progressions and synastry placements, the derivative houses offer a wealth of information and insight, explain some quirky MO’s, and line us up, Astro-LOA style. To get a quick grasp, watch this 5 minute tutorial, then come back and we’ll have some fun with individual charts. (it’s all about turning the wheel!)

How to Use Derivative Houses

Now for some fun examples! Who wants to volunteer? Let me know in the comments and we’ll play with ‘turning the wheel’ so you can all practice. (I’ll be putting charts up here, but without the birth data for privacy!

Example #1 – Jacqueline – Her questions are around business, health and home.

Jacaqueline's Chart

Here is Jacque’s natal chart. Her first question is about business, so we look to the 10th house. With the South Node there, part of her really needs to ‘let go of outcomes’ which isn’t an easy vibe for Aries Rising! So we will use derivative houses to get some hints on what will support her best ever business vibe. To do so, we’ll turn the chart to put the 10th house, or MC, on the horizon, making it of first house importance.

janette_Derivative HousesWith the 10th on the first, we see right away that of the actions she listed: coaching one-on-one, group programs, writing/blogging, product creation, the first and most supportive is going to be, ‘get thee a business plan! The 2nd from the 10th (the $$ and support form business) is ruled by Capricorn with Saturn in the house! Set a goal. Set an intention. Aries rising likes to wing it, and Libra can shilly shally, but the Saturn in you wants to have a solid, grounded, well organized plan. Just doing that OPENS the doors to support, success and increased $$. (Note –  the plan itself doesn’t matter. You simply amp up your success by making one).

The Next thing would be to go with the one-on-one coaching. Can you see why I would choose this as major support? Look at her Libra (connect, talk, counsel, coach) Sun and Venus! When we turn the chart to put the 10th on the horizon, the Sun and Venus in Libra are in the 10th house of success! (the 10th from the 10th is the 7th). One on one will support her more than group work (where she has Mars/Neptune – 11th from the 10th – which is super creative, and mystical, but may lose focus in groups – or the group is about as easy to lead as a room full of cats). Making sense?

Jacqueline’s Derivative Houses
Jacqueline’s Chart with the 10th house on the horizon – we have turned the wheel until house 10 is rising.

Turning the wheel

Writing supports her when she is on the perfect-for-Jacque-path as we see the North Node in the 2nd (support) house from the 3rd (writing).

For health boost, the best suggestion is a personal trainer, running buddy, cohort or side kick. Not that when we put the 6th house on the horizon, Jupiter (for enthusiasm and gusto) is in the 8th.  (1st house is 8 from the 6th). That means sharing this journey with a buddy. Also, Saturn (stick to it discipline) is in the 6th (daily routine) from the 6th (health) so she’s going to want to, again, have a plan, and bring a friend.

As for the 4th house of the Home, roots, and ground, when that comes to the horizon, we see the Moon ruling her 2nd (support) from the 4th (home) and that means, self-love. Whatever makes her smile, feels nurturing and comforting, she wants to do more of that. This is a Cancer moon, and Cancer moon is nurtured by 1) loving and caring 2) feeling needed/useful 3) sharing emotions. I am seeing this is perfect alignment with self-care, home, health and successful one-on-one coaching practice (where she is needed, useful and sharing powerful emotions).

Thank you Jacqueline, for letting us use your chart.

Anyone else want to have a go? Let us know in the comments.

See how informative this is? Derivative houses rock!