What are Solar and Lunar Returns?

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As you may know I don’t like general horoscopes, but I don’t want to give you the wrong impression: I think astrological forecasts are a valuable tool, if done properly. So, in this article I’m going to talk about two well known—very effective—predictive techniques: Solar and Lunar Returns. Let’s start with the first one.

So, what exactly is a Solar Return? Basically, it is your astrological birthday. It falls every year on the same day of your proper birthday, or on the previous/following day—it really depends on your time of birth. It is called “Solar Return” because it occurs when the Sun returns exactly on the same spot (degree) it had at the moment of your birth.

Your birthday is a special day, right? People traditionally celebrate it because in ancient times they knew that what happens on your birthday is reflected on the whole year to come. From an astrological perspective, this is literally true. By overlapping your Natal Chart with the Solar Return Chart, we are able to understand the main issue of the year and its potential.

Looking back, we can say that every year had a major event that marked it. After all it is the reason why you still remember it, isn’t it? That year when you met your partner, or that time you moved to another house: every year had a story to tell—a chapter in the book of your life. Astrology is able to give them a title, so to speak.

No, we don’t have a crystal ball. But with your help we can figure out pretty accurately what this year has in store for you. Good astrologers make questions about your life because our main concern is to help you—not to guess the future.

Lunar Returns

Now that you know what a Solar Return is, understanding Lunar Returns is very simple. In fact as the Sun, the Moon also returns periodically on the same spot (degree) it has on your Natal Chart—but it does so on a monthly basis.

You can think of them as customized monthly forecasts—a smaller version of Solar Returns. In a year we’ve got 13 of them, and they can be used to refine better our yearly prevision. In fact one of the Solar Return problems is that it doesn’t tell us when exactly the main issue of the year is going to manifest. Lunar Returns are the answer.

Another advantage of Solar Returns is that they give planetary transits a more precise context. For example, understanding a Mercury Retrograde cycle in its Lunar Return definitely makes the difference.

Nothing is Written

Both Solar and Lunar Return readings heavily depend on your location at the moment they occurred. If you are in Tokyo for your birthday instead of being in New York your Solar Return chart is going to be completely different. The same applies to Lunar Returns.

Obviously, you can assume where you will probably be that day at that time—but you can’t take it for granted. This is what I like most of these techniques: they always leave a way out. And don’t get me wrong: I personally believe that our destiny is written by us, not for us. But it is also true that we have no control over the lessons that the Universe has in store for us.

Why General Horoscopes Don’t Work

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Let’s face it: everybody reads horoscopes sometimes. They are fun and intriguing, and as far as they are used as entertainment I think there’s nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to real forecasts, Astrology—that’s for sure—is a whole different thing. And I know this is an unpopular point of view, but if you want to understand how astrology predictions really work you need to read this.

First of all, all predictive techniques use, as a starting point, your Natal Chart—the astrological chart of the moment of your birth (your exact birth time and location are needed). This means forecasts are made specifically for the individual. On the contrary daily/weekly/monthly horoscopes make general predictions, giving trends for the twelve signs of the zodiac based on the planetary transits of the moment.

So, what’s wrong with that? The fact is that general trends about specific areas of your life (such as work, love, money, children, etc.) have very little to do with your Sun sign (“I am a Leo”). In fact in astrology these areas of life—aka the houses—are determined by the Ascendant, not by the Sun. Sun sign based horoscopes are inherently wrong—there is no other way to put it—so if you want to get a general prediction at least be sure to consult a rising sign (Ascendant) based horoscope!

The bad news is that you’re still going to get a general forecast that probably doesn’t have anything to do with you. This because transits are the only thing taken into consideration. Unfortunately this is the last thing we want to look at when we are making a forecast properly.

Think of transits like the minute hand of the watch; you also need the hour hand to know the time. Indeed, we can say that the hour hand is far more important. In the same way we need to know first what’s the hot topic of the year (through Progressed and/or Solar Return charts), then we can approximate the forecast looking at the month (Progressed and/or Lunar Return charts) and finally the transits themselves, which make sense only in the bigger context we were able to picture so far.

I personally struggled with general horoscopes—whether I should write them or not—because in a way this is what astrologers are supposed to do. People expect you to do it. But I can’t do something that—so far, at least—goes against my intellectual honesty. If you think they are valid please let me know why in the comments, I am openminded and I’d like to hear different opinions on the matter which—as far as I’m concerned—is not entirely closed yet.