The solar return chart is a forecasting technique that offers an overall view of one year. It doesn’t focus on specific transits or timing (although there are a couple of timing indicators that can be used) but it does provide a snapshot of events. One event that it is fairly reliable at predicting is a new relationship, as well as what that relationship may be like.
First, it’s important to understand what the solar return is and isn’t. A chart is cast for the moment the Sun returns to the exact degree (and sign) it was at when you were born. Sometimes this happens one day earlier than your birthday. The chart is cast for where you currently live (which could be different from where you were born), or where you will be spending the majority of your time for that year. The positions of the other planets at that moment and location are mapped in the chart as well. It shows influences for the next twelve months, between one birthday and the next. The energy of the the solar return chart becomes stronger about three months before your upcoming birthday. It can be read like a natal chart (for the most part), but it is temporary: the influences are only active for twelve months. Transits/progressions to the solar return are iffy, with the exception of a few techniques. Astrologer Mary Fortier Shea describes progressing the solar return Moon until it aspects a solar return or natal planet, and noting when a solar return planet transits over a solar return house cusp (to pinpoint major changes). And, in his book Relationship Analysis (Astrology: A Language of Life, Vol IV), Robert Blaschke describes progressing the solar return Ascendant or Descendant until one of them conjuncts the solar return Sun, Moon, Venus or Jupiter. He states that this can pinpoint a particular day when a new relationship might begin.
The solar return chart can be interpreted against the natal chart, as long as the natal chart is positioned outside the solar return chart. This is to preserve the solar return house placements. But I find that interpretations are clearer when the solar return chart is viewed by itself. It functions perfectly well as a standalone chart, and you can see almost immediately if a new relationship will manifest.
The Solar Return 7th House
The more planets that are in the house of committed partnerships, the greater your focus will be on one particular relationship. The Sun and Moon in the 7th house are especially encouraging for a new relationship (if you’re single) because your main focus for the year (the Sun) plus your emotional concerns will be united in that area. Bonus points if the Sun and Moon are conjunct. Venus (love) and Mars (sex) in the 7th House are a strong testimony as well. Look at aspects from the 7th House planets to other planets in the solar return to get a sense of challenges or harmony. A 7th House Venus square Saturn (in the 10th House) could indicate that career responsibilities, or concerns about your reputation, will interfere with the relationship. 7th House Venus trine 11th House (friends and groups) Jupiter (expansion) can suggest a relationship that develops through friends, or a friend who becomes a romantic partner. I’ve found that the sign on the cusp of the solar return 7th House often describes your new love interest; that sign’s energy will be prominent in their chart. Sometimes the degree of the house cusp conjuncts a planet or angle in their chart.
Solar return outer planets (especially if they are not accompanied by personal planets) in the 7th House can be tricky. Uranus (liberation) can suggest difficulties establishing a commitment with someone you’d like to have a relationship with. Saturn in the 7th can indicate significant barriers to a relationship ( it does not indicate increased commitment). If Saturn is sitting in the 6th House, but is close to the 7th House cusp, the time frame when it transits over the 7th House cusp can indicate the beginning of the relationship and the restrictions on it. Although the 7th House is associated with committed relationships, there is no guarantee that it will lead to marriage. What looks like a formal union can simply be profound intimacy and stability between the two of you.
The Solar Return 5th House
Multiple planets in the 5th House can point to an exciting new love affair or attraction (especially if the Sun, Moon, Venus or Mars are in the 5th). The 5th House is associated with attraction, flirting and brand new involvements, but it is not associated with commitment. You may start something new, but don’t count on it developing into a committed relationship for this year. Again, look at aspects to the other solar return planets to get an idea of what issues may support or interfere with the attraction. A Venus/Moon conjunction in the 5th can point to an emotional involvement, but if they oppose Neptune (dreams and illusions) in the 11th, that involvement may be unrequited (the friend that you have a crush on). Squares from planets in the 7th to planets in the 5th can point to a love affair that only one person would like to take to the next level. This doesn’t mean it will never happen, but not in the current solar return year. Pluto in the 5th, especially if it is aspecting the Moon, Venus or Mars, can point to an all-consuming, obsessive new attraction.
Solar Return Venus
Venus in the solar return chart does not always represent relationships (it can describe finances and self-esteem). But when the 7th or 5th Houses are emphasized, the condition of solar return Venus will probably have much to say about your love life. Venus in the hidden 12th House suggests that there may be something secret about the new relationship. This could be anything from an affair, to a secret crush, to deception. Or it may be that you and your new love are simply not ready to go public. Aspects between Venus and the other planets (plus the conditions of the 7th/5th Houses) will tell you more. Solar return Venus in the 9th House (exploration) is sometimes seen when you are in an existing relationship but want to explore new, romantic territory.
If you are comparing your solar return to your natal chart, aspects from the solar return Venus (or solar return planets in the solar return 5th/7th Houses) to any of your natal planets or angles (cusps of the 1st, 4th, 7th 0r 10th Houses) will give you additional information about the relationship, but will not change its parameters. For example, solar return Venus conjunct your 4th House natal Saturn indicates that you will approach this relationship according to your existing domestic rules. These rules could place a specific limit (or focus) on the relationship. In her book Planets in Solar Returns, Mary Fortier Shea describes the connection between the natal and solar return chart as follows: “The issues are defined in the solar return. How you will…respond…is implied by the natal chart.”
To avoid confusion, start by interpreting the solar return chart by itself. Remember that it is a snapshot of temporary influences over the next twelve months. If you want to compare it to your natal chart, focus on conjunctions, then look at oppositions, squares, trines and sextiles (in that order). I use tight orbs: 4 degrees max for conjunctions, oppositions and squares; 3 degrees for trines; 1 for sextiles.
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