Return & Cyclic Astrology Charting and Prediction

Dave Monroe, March 1, 2013 for the Ninth House

Topics Addressed

  • The Tropical Solar Return as a basis for discussion
  • The Sidereal Solar Return as introduced by Cyril Fagan
  • Precession Correction
  • Other Forms of Return and Cyclic Charting
  • What makes Return and Cyclic Charting Unique

 The Tropical Solar Return as a basis for discussion

Astrological Return charts, particularly the Solar Return or “Revolution”, have been recognized and used for many centuries in many cultures.  The interpretive process for these Returns has often followed the practices for delineating a natal or radix (root) chart.  With the risk of being too generalized or overly simplistic, today’s Tropical Solar Return interpretation follows these steps in some similar order:

  • Assessing the t/Sun and n/Sun’s joint position by S/R house and natal house.
  •  Assessing the t/Moon position by sign and house within the S/R chart.
  •  Assessing any t/planets in strong aspect to the S/R Sun and Moon.
  •  Bringing into consideration any of the rulership, derived houses, signs, eclipses, asteroids, etc. that are used by the astrologer in assessing natal charts.
  •    . . . and making predictions about the coming year based upon the Progressed S/R Moon’s progress in making separating or applying contacts with natal or solar planets.

The potential and character attributes of the natal planets, modified by house, aspect and sign, are combined with the meaning of the Solar Return version of those same planets as part of the attempt to predict what the following year will offer for promises, challenges and opportunities.

Used in this manner, the Tropical Solar Return is somewhat static, being a ‘stand-alone” chart with some comparison to the natal chart being included and a limited number of contacts between the progressing Moon (one day’s advance of some 12 or 13 degrees over the year) to natal planets. 

The Sidereal Solar Return as introduced by Cyril Fagan

 This topic is not intended to make a case for using the Sidereal zodiac but instead to show how a new view of what constitutes a Solar Return came into modern practice (last half of the 20th century).  By itself, the Sidereal Solar Return appears to be like a Tropical Solar Return except for the altered zodiac sign placement about the chart.  When one looks more closely at what Fagan introduced in terms of the chart and its usage, a whole new picture emerges.

  •  The Sidereal Solar Return (SSR) was viewed as a cyclic chart due to the yearly MC (by sign and degree) being positioned some 90 degrees ahead in the following year’s SSR chart.  This forward movement was regular and persistent, starting at the birth chart.  This is true for Tropical S/R charts as well, but it had never resulted in anyone utilizing this characteristic.
  • Fagan deduced that this 90 degree rotation should symbolically be recognized as being 450 degrees of forward “progressed” movement based on the daily incremental advance of the MC over a year’s time plus the 90 degrees of actual movement during the final quarter day of the year (our actual year is approximately 365.25 days long).  In practice, this “progression” rate has proved useful and effective — as will be noted in this text.
  •  The progressing advancing MC of the Solar Return between one SSR date and the next SSR date a year later demonstrated that two cycles were in place: 1) the annual cycle of the Sun requiring 365.25 day to complete, and 2) the advancing MC which returned to its prior SSR position some 9 months and 2 weeks later, and then continued to advance to the next SSR’s MC chart position.
  • A progressed chart based on the SSR could be constructed for any in-between date and illustrated the changing relationship of the Solar and the MC cycle relative to the natal chart.

The Sidereal astrologers who initially emerged from the Tropical zodiac community adopted this “new” astrology and quickly demonstrated an ability to make timely and accurate predictions based on the use of carefully crafted calculation practices and the interpretive methods that they discovered.  Keep in mind that they did not change the basic meaning of the planets nor of the chart houses.  What they did change was some of the interpretive framework used to assess a S/R or in-between chart which was termed a Progressed Sidereal Solar Return or PSSR.  Planets at the angles of these cyclic charts were found to closely time significant events, the nature of the event being associated with the nature of the planet.  Being “cyclic” in a day-by-day sense meant that one did not have to tear apart a chart detail-by-detail in an attempt to extract some vague meaning as to “when” and “what”. Instead the succession of cyclic charts would describe the changing nature of the subject’s experience within the context of his/her life.

These cyclic charts for any one day would show the progressing/advancing MC and Asc. axis positions for that day and any transiting or natal planets/angles that would be in close contact to any of the PSSR’s chart angles.  This would form the skeletal interpretive view of that day for that subject/person.  Aspects to these angular planets from other transiting or natal planets would provide supportive information.  Knowing the context of the subject’s life would permit a reasonable statement of dates and experiences to be constructed.

Precession Correction

The reason behind the successes of the Sidereal Astrologers in terms of event timing and prediction became clear to those in the Tropical zodiac community who cared to investigate this then “new” phenomena of the 1960s and 1970s.  The use of Return charts meant that charts were based on periods of time far removed from the birth of the subject.  Permit a distinction to be made relative to this statement

A natal chart is cast for a date/time/location.  Secondary Progressions and Directed charts use symbolic time, each day after birth equating to a year after one’s birth.  Forty seven years after birth requires the birth chart to be recalculated for 47 days after birth and then used for interpretive or predictive purposes.

A Return chart is cast for several/many years after birth for a date/time/location. Over that span of years, the Tropical zodiac is recessed along its orbital path in terms of where the Aries point occurs relative to the Earth-Sun position and tilt of the Earth’s axis which marks the first day of spring, the summer and winter solstices and autumnal equinox  Precession-corrected Tropical S/R and Sidereal S/R charts take this shift into position.  Since the Earth, in its orbit, takes longer to reach this new position, the rotation of the Earth and charts cast relative to that shift in time and position also change.  Although the yearly change is small, that change is accumulative in nature.  At age 47, for example, that shift results in almost 2/3’s of a degree of positional shift.  It takes the Earth longer to travel that added distance, some 15.6 hours longer. 

No wonder a precession-corrected Tropical or a Sidereal Solar Return is positioned differently from a Tropical Solar Return!

Based on these explanations, it seems reasonable to make the case that Return and Cyclic charts that occur long after birth be constructed relative to either the Sidereal or the Precession-corrected Tropical zodiac framework.

Other forms of Return and Cyclic charting

MC-Solar Cycle-JThe prior mentioned Sidereal or precession-corrected Tropical Solar Return is cyclic, having two repetitive, continuous cycles embedded in the conceptual structure of its definition.  The repetitive, continuous cycle initiated or “marked” by the return chart is seen in the daily follow-on charts which Sidereal astrologers call PSSRs, and which I call (for precession-corrected Tropical Solar Returns) progressed daily angles (PDA) charts.

SQ-cycle-JFagan introduced other charts derived from the Solar Return, one of which is called the Solar Quotidian (SQ).  Using this cyclic concept, the Solar Return is advanced by moving the MC forward at the same rate as the Sun’s advance day-by-day over the year.  This results in the daily charts of the SQ process advancing 360 degrees over the year and, on the first day of the next S/R, jumping some 90 degrees to the next S/R MC position.  This is a repetitive, discontinuous cycle.

Lunar Return-JA Lunar Return is a commonly used Return chart, based upon the t/Moon returning to the n/Moon’s birth chart position.  Because of the Moon’s orbital variability there appears to be no repetitive or predictable placement of the Moon’s house position in the chart each four weeks or so.  This Lunar Return cycle is repetitive and continuous but it is also slightly variable in it period.

Moon-to-Sun Return diagram-JThe Moon-to-Sun Returns have been astrologically re-introduced on this blog-site after being first developed some 50 or so years ago by a now-unknown New England astrologer, Therese Sweeney.  The original concept has been expanded and refined, now consisting of a dual-cycle approach.  The t/Moon to n/Sun and the t/Moon opposing n/Sun Returns utilize an opening Moon-opp-Sun Return diagram-Jphase lunar-sun cycle and a closing lunar-sun cycle.  Like the Lunar Return, these cycles are repetitive, continuous and slightly variable.

The Diurnal Chart has been known and used for some undetermined amount of time, although it seems not to be used by a large percentage of modern astrologers.  This is a Diurnal Chart-Jshame because it is both simple to calculate and simple to use.  A Diurnal Chart is calculated for any day using the natal location and natal birth time.  The number of days after one’s birth date, using the same birth time, advances the MC of the chart proportionately over the year following one’s birth date.  The moving MC and Ascendant, plus the transiting planets will contact or make aspectual connections with the natal chart components.  Conventional interpretive practices are used.  The Diurnal Chart represents a cycle that is repetitive and continuous.  This is the identical process used in Moon-to-Sun Returns when one “Advances” the chart.

Planet Returns have characteristics that differ from other Returns due to their orbits being not so directly related to the Earth’s orbit.  The nature and arrangement of their elliptical orbits mean that their cycles are repetitive but not continuous or regular except in very broad terms.  The t/planet does return to its natal position.  These planet cycles can best be utilized and interrelated in terms of phase relationships such as Rudhyar’s Lunar Cycle phases.

What makes Return and Cyclic Charting Unique

In the most basic terms, the Return Chart and derived Cyclic Charts present both natal and transiting planets relative to each other.  What makes them unique is the sign-degree orientation of the zodiac reference framework (circle) surrounding them. This framework springs from the Return Chart and is an always changing reference compared to the natal chart’s zodiac framework.  It can be visualized as a circle within another circle, the natal planets being fixed relative to one circle, the transits moving relative to that same circle while both sets of planets (the fixed-relationship natal planets and the changing relationship transiting planets)  are seen and evaluated relative to the zodiac and house structures of the always-advancing zodiac framework of the Return-Cyclic charts.

All of the Return-Cyclic charts start at, and are defined by, our birth time, date, and location upon this rotating globe set among the stars and solar system.  These cycles start at birth and can be said to continue beyond our death.  This can be seen in post-mortem events such as public dedications of memorials, or later-year events that are a direct cause of the subject’s teachings or actions.

Once one uses an appropriate Interpretive Model that is conceptually linked to the nature of the Return-Cyclic chart being used, tracking and prediction becomes a simpler process.  This process is improved by being aware of the context of the subject’s current and ongoing life.  Having this awareness permits the astrologer to more-closely adjust the chart symbols to the personal expression of the subject’s life.


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