Sunday was my birthday.
I keep writing about birth charts, so of course birthdays matter. While birthday wishes and meals are lovely, the highlight of my day was 4:18 p.m.: the minute of my solar return.
If you think learning the ins and outs of your birth chart is a lot, astrologers keep an eye on so much more. Moon phases and transits are part of it, but the way birth charts interact with the planets as they are now, long after your birth, makes the foundation of practical astrology.
Every birthday can be thought of as the beginning of a personal new year that starts when the sun returns to the same degree it is in your birth chart.
While I’ve been on earth for 22 years as of a little after 8 a.m. Sunday, the sun completed 22 returns at 4:18 p.m. Astrology predates Copernicus and Galileo, so we describe this as the sun revolving around the Earth even though it’s actually Earth’s orbit.
Last Friday night, I went to astro.com, drew my solar return chart for 2019 and set an alarm for 4:17 p.m. Sunday. Some people think you should take a pilgrimage to the location of your birth, but I don’t have time to schlep over to Kentucky.
Other than scheduling a minute to reflect on your own mortality, what’s a solar return chart good for?
You can think of a solar return as a preview for the year ahead. It’s not fortune telling per se. It’s kind of like a weak birth chart that indicates where your energy might be directed until your next birthday.
The easiest solar return placement to look out for is your solar return rising sign, or your ascendant. This can show your overall outlook and approach to life for the year.
In my case, my 2019 to 2020 solar return rising sign is Leo. This bodes well for me graduating and taking on the nightmare of job applications, since Leo has a performative, direct energy that doesn’t come naturally to me.
While taking a sneak peek into the year ahead is helpful, it’s worthwhile and more immediate to look at your solar return for the last year.
From 2018 to 2019, my solar return ascendant was Taurus. Taurus is an earth sign that favors material stability. I can confirm this last year has been one long, horrifying financial reality check.
I’m not saying I’ll suddenly become a Leo in the next year. I keep my distance from predictive astrology while I still have shreds of skepticism. Prophecies gone awry for Lord Voldemort and Oedipus keep me suspicious of prediction.
Think of your solar return as playing dress up. You get to try on the traits of a sign that isn’t present in your birth chart and see how your life does or doesn’t shift.
Transits Feb. 24 - March 1
Sun sextile Mars, Feb. 27: Mars is drive, a charioteer focusing us into hard work and pursuing both personal and professional goals. With Mars in a harmonious aspect to the sun, this is a good week to hunker down and do that project you’ve been putting off.
Venus square Uranus, March 1: Venus enters Aquarius on Friday, which bodes well for social interactions. It’s a great time to network with people you don’t normally talk to. Venus is how we connect with others and our community in romance, friendship and work. However, in a disruptive relationship to Uranus, a free-spirited, bubbly planet, Venus isn’t at her sharpest. She’s wine drunk. Avoid romantic commitments.
Mercury retrograde’s shadow: Mercury goes retrograde next Tuesday, but like all transits, we can feel its effect before it starts and after it ends. This week, try to be patient with unanswered emails or missed appointments. It’s about to get so much worse — if you let it.