October 19, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
I am delighted that there is now a book about Solar Returns written – mostly – from a traditional perspective, but for a modern audience. Anthony Louis’s book is grounded in tradition, specifically in Jean-Baptiste Morin’s book on Solar Returns (readers interested in going straight to the source can purchase an English translation of Morin’s book from the AFA), but there is plenty of space given to modern techniques, including minor aspects, outer planets, and secondary progressions.
The Art of Forecasting Using Solar Returns is chock-full of techniques for astrologers to try, summarized handily along the way. Morin alone has 31 aphorisms for judging the Solar Returns, so a less organized book would be overwhelming. The bedrock of the traditional approach is to use the natal horoscope in conjunction with the Solar Return, and Louis does this throughout the book. Louis also summarizes some of the modern approaches to Solar Returns, so there is a great deal of diverse information packed into this 300-page book. As mentioned above, Louis embraces modern elements like outer planets, but his method is nearly always grounded in the tradition. Highly recommended to all but the newest astrological beginners.
Contents & Structure
Louis introduces the Solar Returns with a chapter on basic concepts, including planetary characteristics, the nature of fixed stars, and essential terminology. The following chapter summarizes some basic elements of the Solar Return, as demonstrated through the work of 20th century astrologer, Alexandre Volguine. Some of Volguine’s techniques are traditional (“Never interpret the Solar Return in isolation”), others are more modern, originating with Morin (“…cast the Solar Return chart for the actual location of the individual at the moment the Sun returns to its natal position.”), but the chapter gives a good summary of the technical knobs that the astrologer can twiddle when experimenting with Solar Returns.
The third chapter provides a top-notch explanation of the meaning of the Solar Return houses superimposed on the natal houses. For instance, the Return Ascendant in the natal 10th house shows a year focused on the mother, career, reputation, and other 10th house matters. The chapter includes a summary of house meanings from traditional and modern sources, including the author’s own experience. The author also discusses the planets’ annual strength based on essential dignity.
The fourth chapter uses the Pope and Salvador Dali’s horoscopes to contrast the technique of non-precessed Return charts with precessed Return charts (a modern technique favored by some astrologers). The fifth chapter discusses the technique in detail, and discusses Marc Penfield’s use of this method, along with other techniquest favored by Penfield.
Chapter six discusses the meaning of the Return Ascendant, and the author shows a personal example of his solar return for the year his mother died prematurely. This tragic incident was also prefigured by several eclipses, and the author discusses their role in indicating his mother’s death. The following chapter discusses Emerson’s Point of Death, and its use in timing of the native’s demise. Louis uses several example charts and a method of progressing the Solar Return to show the timing of events during the year.
Chapter eight delineates Morin’s contributions, and it is here that the reader can find true gems of technique. Chapter nine discusses Morin’s techniques with his returns at the time of his death, which he had correctly predicted. This chapter includes Morin’s 12 Steps for Judging a Revolution – the old term for a Return chart. Today’s astrologers only use a few of his techniques, but they are all useful and give the astrologer additional information about the upcoming year or month.
The next chapter summarizes Morin’s 31 aphorisms for judging Revolutions. Judging a solar return using all of Morin’s methods will thus take a few hours, especially when one is just familiarizing oneself with Morin’s methods. However, the resulting predictions are especially rich and descriptive, and in my view, worth the effort. Chapter eleven compares and contrasts the Solar Returns of John Lennon and Bob Dylan, for the years of their death and major motorcycle accident, respectively.
Chapter twelve discusses some recent books on Solar Returns, which are interesting, but to me, as a traditional astrologer, not quite as compelling as the older material presented in the book. A fascinating tidbit is Mary Fortier Shea’s observation of the cyclical nature of Solar Return sign placement, and her consequent focus on house placements in the Return chart. Louis uses an example of the Progressed Annual Meridian technique, which shows the method of timing events using the progressed MC of the Solar Return chart.
Chapter thirteen shows the method of casting solar returns for people with an unknown birth time. Louis uses a sunrise natal chart and generates a Solar Return from it. Chapter fourteen gives a cookbook of aspects in the Solar Return, divided into positive and negative aspects for each pairing, and including the outer planets. Chapter fifteen, “Pulling It All Together” does just that, summarizing all of the key factors you might consider when analyzing a Solar Return. There is enough here to keep you busy for half a day with a single Solar Return, but that speaks to the depth and richness of this book.
The Art of Forecasting Using Solar Returns is a highly recommended modern work leaning heavily on traditional predictive methods. Louis is a very organized, methodical writer, and it shows in his agile handling of a complex topic. He all but takes the reader by the hand and walks her through the thicket of techniques. As a traditional astrologer, I tended to gloss over the modern astrology parts of the book, and went straight to the hairy bits, like Morin’s 31 Aphorisms. I am sure this condition is treatable, however. Regardless of one’s area of interest and expertise level, there is enough in this information-packed volume to keep one exploring and experimenting for years.
The Art of Forecasting Using Solar Returns
By: Anthony Louis
The Wessex Astrologer, 2008
20 GBP (about 37 USD at the time of writing)
Available at amazon.com, wessexastrologer.com, and astroamerica.com