... and Many Happy Returns
We've all heard the expression: "Happy Birthday, and Many Happy Returns!" But did you know that this is an astrological expression?
"Happy Returns" refers to Solar Returns. The Solar Return was formerly known as a "Revolution." Not the violent, government-overthrowing type, but in the original sense of "revolve," which means "to return". A revolution is a return to beginnings.
The yearly revolution, or Solar Return, is a chart cast for the moment that a person (or country's) Sun returns to the the exact place in the Zodiac as when that person or country was born. This happens either on one's birthday, or within a day on either side of it. (Remember that there are 365 days in the year, and only 360 degrees in the Zodiac, and a day is actually slightly longer than 24 hours. This is connected to the same reasons for having to insert a leap day every four years into the calendar. So the Solar Return can vary slightly too.)
Casting the Chart
With the development of computer software, Solar Return charts have become much easier to cast. It's important to be as exact as possible, so that the Sun is at the same degree, minute, and second of arc as in the birth chart. Because this return of the Sun can happen at any time of the day, the Solar Return chart can look very different than the birth chart. The only thing that is guaranteed to be the same is the zodiacal placement of the Sun. All of the other planets will likely be in different places; and the houses of the chart will be quite different if the time of day is different than the birth chart. The houses in any chart indicate the areas of life that the planetary energies will be active in. So this can provide quite a variety of different meanings over the years, since the house placements will change in the Solar Return from year to year. Of course, the information in the Solar Return chart can never override or negate what is in the birth chart; however, it can push different areas of life farther away or closer toward the meanings shown in the birth chart. Think of it as a spectrum, with a bit of elasticity: year to year, certain areas of life can pull away from what the natal chart says, but the "elastic" will never allow that area to get too far away from the meanings in the natal chart. So the Solar Return chart, like any subsidiary chart, must be read within the context of the natal chart.
For many years, there has been a debate about where to cast the location of the Solar Return chart. There are three possibilities: the location of the original birth chart, the location where the person is on the day of the Return, and the location where the person spends most of their time that year. Personally, I think that the third option is probably the best. There are some who will actually travel quite a distance so that at the moment of the Solar Return that year, a different sign will be rising in that location than at their home location, and therefore, all of the subsequent houses of the chart will be different, and in theory, affect different areas of life. And there are some who cast the chart for the location where the person was born, on the theory that all charts have to be read in the context of the natal chart, and therefore at that location. However, it makes the most sense to me to cast the chart for the person's current home, that is, where they are spending most of their time. It doesn't seem logical to me that if a person travels a great distance and is there for only a few days, that this chart should have such a powerful affect on their lives. And it is, after all, a temporary chart. So I cast the Solar Return chart for where the person currently lives (assuming that they will spend most of the year close to that location) and have had good success predicting details for my clients based on it.
So the next time that someone wishes you "Many Happy Returns," you'll know exactly what they're wishing for you, even if they don't!