Solunar Phase-Angle Returns; Defining your life’s purpose
Have you thought about your natal Sun and Moon lately? As partners in your life? Probably not. We astrologers are like everyone else; we focus on life’s rushing details. We forget the basics. In our natal chart, the Sun and Moon are in specific places and the relationship between them is important to consider. Why?
The Sun represents our core character, attitude, vitality, intent and conscious awareness. The Moon is our agent of feeling, emotions, habits, reactive mode, memory. Together, this pair is our life-driving force. We know about the Sign and degree-position of each. We know of the house position of each. What do we think of how they work together? How might we view, measure and assess this core process within daily life?
This posting will introduce Solunar Phase-Angle Return charting.
We start by noting the arc or distance of the Moon from the Sun, moving forward through the zodiac. As an example, my natal Moon is at 3 degrees of Virgo, the natal Sun is a 21 degrees of Virgo. There is 18 degrees of arc separating them. But, for computational purposes, we state that difference by measuring forward along the zodiac. We see the arc distance as 342 degrees, not 18 degrees. Same difference.
We can assess the natal Sun-Moon relationship in one of several ways. We can also track and forecast the Sun-Moon relationship, and its meanings, in any of several ways in the years following birth.
The Sun and Moon in the natal chart
A most reliable and enlightening tool for assessing the natal Sun and Moon in the natal chart is to utilize Dane Rudhyar’s ‘Lunation Cycle” approach. Rudhyar has postulated dividing the 360 degree orbital relationship of the Moon by its phase angle to the Sun, placing it into one of eight 45 degree segments. These segments represent stages or phases of an ongoing cycle of unfolding personal growth. Each segment is given a name and a generic statement, followed by a fuller description. Marc Robertson, author of Cosmopsychology: The Engine of Destiny offers a similar but distinctly different view of this Sun-Moon cycle. All cycles or processes of unfoldment and realization can adopt different perspectives.
Rudhyar’s phase names, degree coverage and keyword descriptions are noted here:
New Moon (0 to 45 degrees); Performer, being an expressive individual.
Crescent (45 to 90 degrees); Worker, efforts made to define yourself.
Activist (90 to 135 degrees); Pushing ahead, not being conventional.
Gibbous (135 to 180 degrees); Analyst, finding a way, making adjustments.
Full Moon (180 to 225 degrees); Seeker, find inner and outer self, reaching goals.
Disseminating (225 to 270 degrees); Believer, creating a changed world. Mentoring.
Third Quarter (270 to 315 degrees); Changer, improving society and life.
Balsamic (315 to 360 degrees); Prophet, preparing self and others for changes.
These Sun-Moon phase relationships provide an initial understanding of the overall nature of the birth chart’s owner. We can consider this approach as one of the first layers of life’s onion, we peel each layer, moving from the general sense of meaning to more detailed meanings as seen in specific planet positions and aspects within signs and houses.
Taking a second look at these Sun-Moon phase-angle relationships
If the Moon’s placement relative to the Sun was an important, chosen key element in the natal chart, what does that really tell us about our central life’s purpose? Obviously the Sun and Moon by themselves are not the whole story. But the placement within the ‘process’ or cycle has to be a major clue for guiding us towards fulfillment of our present physical life. So, let us consider one possible set of clues.
New Moon Phase: Mercury and Mars may be instrumental in helping spontaneous self-expression, being the center of attention.
Crescent Phase: Mercury and Saturn may play a role in perceiving early-life constraints and laying the groundwork to move on.
Activist Phase: Sun and Uranus may be helpful in breaking away from family-social conditioning and forging a path of self-discovery.
Gibbous Phase: Venus and Mercury are great for seeking and formulating a balanced approach to life such that understanding can lead to improvements in conduct.
Full Moon Phase: This point of clarity and exposure would capitalize on any planet’s capability to shape understanding and achieving relationships that were needed.
Disseminating Phase: Sun and Saturn would fulfill a ‘mentoring’ role model and basis of self-honesty. Neptune also needs to be considered.
Third Quarter Phase: Jupiter and Mars are powerhouses towards opportunity and building paths forward for others to follow. Your success helps others.
Balsamic Phase: Pluto, perhaps Neptune, prepares one for deconstruction while new preparation is conducted for wrapping up one cycle and moving towards the next cycle.
So, the Sun-Moon phase angle and those planets that are involved, through aspects, need to be considered as part of the life-long message that each of us needs to be aware of. Then, we need to consider each month’s reestablishment of that Sun-Moon phase angle Return to see which short-term challenges and opportunities lie ahead of us. How might this month’s phase-angle return fit in with the bigger life-long picture?’
This section’s discussion has led us into considering our life’s purpose and the/any role of these Return charts in understanding that. We can choose to ignore that wide-picture and to only seek the short-term guidance of this month’s phase-angle return. Will the above listing be useful for that purpose? I don’t know at this point. This text is really an initial statement of possiblities, not a full-blown and finessed interpretive and charting system.
The Sun and Moon during our life
Solar and Lunar Returns are common tools used by astrologers. These Returns are cast for the moment when the transiting Sun or the Moon conjoins its natal position. We are used to seeing Return charts of this type. We can also cast a chart for the moment when the natal Sun-to-Moon phase-angle is reestablished by the transiting Moon and Sun. This ‘catch-up-and- reestablish’ event requires some 29.2 to 29.9 days to accomplish. Obviously this ever-moving transiting Moon and transiting Sun event will occur twelve or thirteen times each year. Those occurrences will relate to the Sun as it follows its seasonal cycle through the months and zodiac signs. We can name these chart-forms as “Solunar Phase-Angle Returns.”
Picturing this cycle in our mind, we can understand that the transiting Sun may find itself squaring or opposing the natal Sun position at three-six-nine month intervals. We might also be able to picture the transiting Sun making major aspects to the natal Moon position, or the transiting Moon making aspects to the natal Moon, natal Sun and transiting Sun. These events can emphasize interpretive issues in any Solunar Phase-Angle Return chart.
As is often the case, an example can more clearly express ideas than a hundred pages of words. For this purpose I will offer an example from my own life. My natal Moon is in the Balsamic phase relative to the natal Sun, the Prophet who prepares himself and others for change. This might be seen, by those who know me, as one who takes time to answer questions, who often is prepared for or advocating for changes to meet future needs, who tends to be private and reliant upon themself more than upon others. There are other major factors in my chart that can also be clearly traced through my life experiences. One of these is a T-square with Jupiter as the focus, squaring Neptune-Sun which opposes Saturn. Other factors are the Moon on the IC, or Saturn as the focal point of a Yod pattern with Mars and Venus-Mercury. There is no need to closely review the natal chart itself for the purposes of introducing an example of a Solunar Phase-Angle Return.
The following chart will illustrate a Solunar Phase-Angle Return chart. June 29, 1954, cast for Boston, MA. Natal planets are in the outer wheel, transits are shown inside. This is required by software so that the ‘transits’ can be advanced-adjusted to reflect a future date. Only the inner-wheel can be rotated by most computer software programs.
This period of time was after my High School graduation and prior to enlisting in the U.S. Navy as an effort to express independence and find excitement not found in a small town environment. The t/Sun is focused on change and newness (4th house), the t/Moon on travel and accepting emotional change (3rd house).
Note the following:
- t/Sun at IC, near n/Asc.; One’s intent is to start upon a new phase of one’s life.
- n/Asc. at the IC; One’s personal environment needs to find a new place to function in.
- t/Mars at MC, opp. t/Sun; Making an effort to set goals, to take on a new self-image.
- t/Sun-conj-t/Jupiter; One’s intent is given a wide-screen dream to focus upon.
- n/N.Node at MC; Who one associates with becomes a major question to address.
Other factors which are not associated with the angles tend to have less or no influence, yet they may provide supportive information in some charts.
- t/Part of Fortune-n/MC; ‘Chance and change’ affect one’s life choices.
- t/PoF-n/MC opposite n/Moon-t/Juno-t/Pallas; a complex pattern involving life choices, change, deep feelings, parental authority, freedom and independence. These can be parsed in many ways.
- t/PoF square n/PoF; actions cause chaos in some quarters, an upset in one’s life.
I should point out that my phase-angle in the Balsamic phase can be sensitive to Pluto. t/Pluto in this return chart conjoins n/Mars (n/Leo, n/3rd). A decision to act, one that can’t be reversed. An enlistment, at that time, in the armed services could not easily be set aside by parents. Note that I was still 17 years of age at that time. It was a sure way to sever ties and strike out on a new path in life. Note that the transiting version of Mars was at the chart’s MC, conjoining n/North Node and opposing the Ascendant. It was a ‘freeing’ experience. Looking back as an adult, there really wasn’t that much to rebel against, life was good and the family was quite supportive. It was just a natural expression of teen-age life.
Since these charts reflect short-term conditions that are subject to daily change, there is little to be gained by extensive analysis. The Day-by-Day appreciation of this singular chart has to be kept in mind since we will be looking at the means to use it for viewing following days in this cyclic period. For this reason, it is practical to only consider the angular planets and planets found in angular houses. The rest of the chart can often be ignored. On-going practice confirms this view.
This chart is cast for July 8, 1954, the day that I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Boston, MA.
This chart has been obtained by ‘diurnally’ advancing it day-by-day to any date within the following cyclic period of some 29 days. Keep in mind the theme suggested by the t/Sun-t/Moon placement in the Soluar Phase-Angle Return chart.
A Solunar Phase-Angle Return chart can be diurnally advanced on a day-by-day basis to any date within the following cyclic period. This is done merely by changing the chart’s date and retaining the chart’s calculated time and place. The computer recalculates the chart, advancing the MC about one degree per day. This rate of advance is similar to the Sun’s daily rate of advance which covers 360 degrees in 365.25 days time.
As with the Solunar Phase-Angle Return chart, we will focus on the angular planets to define the major events and feelings of the day, this day being July 8, 1954.
- t/Jupiter-n/Vesta-IC; Growth, an enlarged opportunity, gains (Jupiter) are merged with adopting a new focus in one’s life (Vesta).
- t/Moon-n/Venus-n/Mercury-Desc.; Happiness and eagerness as one travels into a totally new environment offered by others (the U.S.Navy).
In these forms of cyclic or Advanced charts, the t/Sun, t/Moon and t/Part of Fortune (t/PoF) also have to be considered even if they are not angular in the daily-advanced chart.
- t/Sun-t/PoF-square -t/Moon-Desc.; In this one angular pattern we happen to cover all three of our ‘exceptions to being angular’ astrological bodies and points. This suggests the tensions and excitement in dealing with a chosen life change having to deal with the emotions and experiences of the event.
From these chart factors we can better understand how an 17 year old views the changes and the excitement of leaving one form of life and entering a new but highly structured life of military service and training. New rules, clothes, companions having a great diversity, lessons in new subjects, lessons in discipline can be overwhelming even if intentionally chosen.
This has been a worked example to illustrate what the charts look like and how they might be used to view their reflection of real life. In order to use these charts a number of assessment and interpretive guidelines are needed. In this text we have seen a few of the obvious factors for interpretation given:
- The Return chart’s house-placement of the t/Sun-t/Moon relationship provides a ‘theme’ that subtly overlays our considerations for both the Return and any Advanced charts that we choose to review.
- Angular planets are the focus of interpretation.
- The Sun-Moon relationship is important as a life theme.
- Transiting Sun, Moon and Part of Fortune are important even if not angular.
Over time, a deeper and refined set of interpretive guidelines will be developed and shared.
Note: I always question myself as to whether these charting techniques, so simple for me to use and apply, might be too complex for some of my audience. They may be seen as ‘interesting’ but not what you would do for yourself. You may see them as jusst plain complicated despite that fact that it only takes a mouse click to create them. Or, you may find in fascinating to view the differing ways in which astrology can be used. In any case, your comments on this topic would be appreciated. Dave.