The Birthday and Half birthday Charts

This chapter is an introduction to solar returns. For more detailed information, see Bob's new book, "How to get More Love, Money, and Success by Traveling on Your Birthday", now available online at and Barnes & Noble.Part III

Lesson 17.1

You can improve any area of your life by traveling to the right place twice a year, once on your birthday, and again, six months later on your “half-birthday.” Every year, the Sun “returns” to the degree it occupied when you were born. A horoscope made for that exact time and place is called a Solar Return Chart and it affects you for the next year. Most of the effect, however, comes in the first six months.

Six months later, you have your “Half-Solar Return Chart”, and that affects the last half of your personal year. The nice thing about these return charts is if you don’t like them, you can change them. Like any horoscope, these return charts must be set up for a place as well as a time. You can’t change the time of your birthday or half-birthday, but you can choose where to be at that moment.

When you travel, the chart wheel turns and the house positions of the planets change. More importantly, the aspects to the  Angles of the horoscope change (the Ascendant and Mid-Heaven). The Angles are extremely important. They show the points where we make contact with the external world, how we begin things. They are where the horoscope rubber meets the road. And for return charts, Angles change when we travel.

One of my favorite moves is to place Jupiter, planet of expansion and “luck” in the second house (money) and have it trine (120 degrees, a “lucky” angle) the Mid-Heaven (career). After all, if you’re going to improve career, you might as well get paid for it.

Oh yes. One very important thing before we start. The Earth’s orbit wobbles around the Sun. Because of this Precession, the Sun takes a little longer each year to return to the place it occupied at your birth (yes, of course, it’s the Earth that’s moving around the Sun, but since we live on the Earth, horoscopes are set up  geocentrically). We have to correct for this in order to get an accurate horoscope. So be sure the solar return charts you use are precession corrected. In practice, this means that the Sun’s position will be a little bit more than it was on your birth chart. And the change gets bigger every year. Eventually, because of this precession correction, everyone’s birthday comes out a day later.

I have to tell you right at the start that this view is controversial among astrologers. I use the Tropical Zodiacbut precession correction is a technique from sidereal astrology. Isn’t this mixing apples and oranges? What can I say? It works. And since I have six planets in Earth signs, to me, that’s the bottom line.

In December 1997, I gave a lecture at an NCGR conference comparing the corrected charts with the non-corrected ones. On several occasions, they gave similar results. However, whenever they gave different answers, the precession corrected return horoscope won hands down.

A Few Caveats

  1. Three quarters of the Earth’s surface is water. Sometimes, the best place to be on your birthday or half-birthday turns out to be in the middle of the ocean. Or it might be some country that is in the midst of a civil war. What do you do in cases like that? You go to the second or third best place. You will still get some improvement and, six months later, you get another chance to travel and change things again.
  2. Traveling on return charts does not automatically bring you everything you desire. If you want to sit in your room and have someone knock on your door to offer you a really great job, you’re asking for a miracle, not a boost. And you will have a really long wait. If you would like to have a fantastic relationship but, to put it mildly, you don’t take care of your personal hygiene, well potential lovers will come into your life all right. But they will leave after the first whiff.
  3. You can seldom improve more than one thing at a time. For instance, it will be either career or relationships. However, you could choose one now, and the other six months later.
  4. Sometimes the planets happen to make a lot of stress aspects. No matter where you go, some area of your chart will have problems. In that case, travel to the place that’s the least bad. At least, with your knowledge of your return horoscope, you will know where the problems are and can take preventive steps in advance. Brace yourself and get through it. In six months you have another chance to travel and improve your life.
  5. Results depend on your initial situation. If you are a 90 year old high school dropout, a birthday trip cannot make you a nuclear physicist or an Olympic champion. When it comes to income and career, the best improvements seem to come when you are self-employed, are paid on commission, or are looking for a new job. If you work for civil service, on the other hand, your salary and position are set by law and contract. In a case like that, you don’t get the best benefits of birthday travel. Unless, of course, you are moonlighting on the side. The more flexible and open your position, the better the results.

Case Histories

The best way to learn about return charts is to dive right in and do them. In most of the cases, I’ll give you the chart for the city of residence first. Then I’ll explain the reasons for being elsewhere.

The first example is My own solar return for 1981, the year I first traveled on my birthday. Notice that there is a T-square formed by the Sun and Moon (which co-rule the body) with Pluto, planet of extremes (including death). On top of that, this fell in Angular houses making the configuration stronger. Naturally, since I have the Moon in Cancer (sign of hysterics and hypochondriacs) I panicked. I figured if I could get that T-square in Cadent houses instead, it would be weakened. But that would also weaken the Sun and I didn’t want to risk health. What to do?

Then I remembered that elevating a planet would make it stronger. If the Sun were in the 9th house, it would be both Cadent and elevated. To do that, I would have to move the planets counterclockwise. That meant traveling at least 40 degrees west. Going to L.A. would do the trick. I went, stayed there for 36 hours (it was so smoggy, I didn’t leave the hotel) and came back. A day later, my phone started ringing off the hook with new clients. That was the year my income more than doubled and I became a full time astrologer.

The funny thing was, I wasn’t even trying to increase my income. I just wanted to put those stress aspects in weaker houses. I took another look at the return horoscope. As you can see from the My 1981 solar return for L.A., Mars (action) is right on the Mid-Heaven (career). Jupiter and Saturn make trine aspects to Mars (aspects between planets don’t change with one’s location) and now, they trine the Mid-Heaven as well. When Jupiter and Saturn get together and hit something important in your horoscope, it increases the possibility of major life events.

Mercury rules the house of money (Gemini is on the house cusp) and it sits in the sign Aquarius, where it happens to be very strong (“exalted” is the term). Mercury also makes wide trines to Jupiter and Saturn. So money and career are both strengthened.

Notice too, that Neptune, one of the rulers of astrology, is sitting in close conjunction to the financial axis, the line that runs from the 2nd house cusp to the 8th house cusp. The Moon and Pluto are also making favorable aspects. Almost no attention is given to aspects to house cusps (other than aspects to the Ascendant and Mid-Heaven). This is unfortunate because they do work.

The next example is the chart of a client who’s company was downsizing. They were going to get rid of her entire department. She wanted to travel to increase “luck” in her career area so that she could get a new job. I outdid myself with this one. In Client One, New York horoscope, Mars made a trine to the Mid-Heaven, but that wouldn’t do. Mars would just give her extra energy to use in her career.

When you absolutely, positively have to expand something beyond all bounds, turn to Jupiter (assuming that it is not afflicted). You can see the results in Client One (Newfoundland). Jupiter makes a trine to her Mid-Heaven from the 2nd house (money). She called me a few weeks after her birthday to tell me that they had fired everyone in her department. Except her. She even got her old supervisor’s office.

  Another client came to me in tears because she was close to loosing a building she owned. She spent thousands for renovation and it was still half vacant. The bank was talking foreclosure. The next solar return set for New York was not good Client Two, New York. Gemini was the sign on the Mid-Heaven (career) and Sagittarius was on the Nadir (the bottom of the chart). The Nadir rules the home, but I find that it rules real estate matters in general. The planets that rule these signs (Mercury and Jupiter) were making a square (90 degrees, a stress aspect). Not good for a real estate business. It was time to turn the wheel.

Jupiter was making trines to both Uranus and Neptune. If we could put 13 degrees of Taurus on the Mid-Heaven, there would be a grand trine and it would strongly improve career. That would be about 19 degrees difference from the New York Mid-Heaven. The Client Two (Des Moines, Iowa) horoscope shows the results. Not only is Jupiter trine the Mid-Heaven. It is also in the 2nd house (money) and Jupiter is the planet of “luck.” And it sits right on the financial axis.

She called me 3 months later to say she couldn’t talk to me because she was too busy showing apartments (only a Sagittarius or a Gemini would do that!). Within 5 months, all of the apartments were rented. In the meantime, her bank sold the mortgage to another bank. The new mortgage holders lowered her interest by a point and they forgave over $2,000 in late fees that the first bank had charged her.

Here’s another example of improving business and finances. The solar return in our next example did have Jupiter in the 2nd house (money). But, as you can see in the Client Three, New York chart, it was way at the end of the house. Besides that, there were no aspects to the Mid-Heaven, meaning little action in career. I sent him to Saint John’s Newfoundland as well. As you can see from the Client 3, Newfoundland horoscope, Jupiter makes an almost exact aspect to the Mid-Heaven. The closer the aspect is to exact, the greater the effect. When he came back for an update, he told me that there was a potential client whose business he had been trying to get for over two years but they couldn’t work anything out. While he was in Newfoundland on his birthday, she called to tell him that he got the deal. Oh yes. He also told me that his phone was “ringing off the hook” with new business for the next three months.

I repeat, any area of your life can be strengthened, not just money and career. Another client asked me if there were someplace she could go on her coming half-birthday to improve her love life because “it’s dead.” Her half-solar for New York Client Four, (New York) had the sign of Sagittarius on the cusp (beginning) of the 5th house (romance) but Jupiter was in the previous house. That’s known as 12th house position and the matter in question tends to be weakened. Not only that, but her Mid-Heaven (career) was afflicted with five square aspects from those planets in her 6th house.

Squares to the Mid-Heaven can be dealt with by traveling 30 degrees in either direction. 30 degrees east of New York would have put her in Brazil. But then, Pluto would have moved to the bottom of the chart, opposing her Mid-Heaven. It’s generally not a good thing to have the planet of death affecting your career and home. 30 degrees west put her in Denver.

As you can see, Client Four (Denver) put Jupiter, planet of “good luck”, expansion, and increase, in her 5th house (romance). On top of that, Jupiter  made a trine aspect (120 degrees, a “lucky” influence) to her Ascendant. This too improves relationships. There were now 3 sextiles to her Mid-Heaven instead of 5 squares and that should have helped her career. But I forgot that the Mid-Heaven also rules your “public image” and Jupiter increases and expands whatever it touches.

When she came back for an update, her first words when she walked through the door were “No more guys!” What happened? Sure romance picked up almost immediately. But then one of her friends got her on the “Rolanda Watts Show”, a talk show whose topic for that day was “Women Who Couldn’t Find Dates.” She got over 20 calls and letters from all over the country.

“I have a boyfriend now, but these people are still calling me and writing me and bothering me” she complained. Since I’m a Capricorn Sun Sign, I told her to make a list of their names and sell it to other women. She was not amused. A few weeks later, that episode of “Rolanda” was rebroadcast, and my client got even more calls and letters. For years afterwards, every time she came for an update, she would ask where she had to be to improve money and career. Romance was not mentioned. And that is why I say…

...Be careful what you wish for because you can get it!

One more word of caution. Always check Everything. Transits, progressions, solar arcs. And check them to midpoints as well. I had a client who didn’t want a complete reading, just her solar return chart. All she was interested in was where to be on her next birthday so she could get a better job. I forgot where I sent her. About two months after she got back, she was suddenly fired. Something was hitting in her transits. A few weeks later, she did get a better job, but the shock could have been avoided had she let me check everything. Be thorough and avoid nasty surprises.

In Tune With The Universe

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