Emi Asks:

You mention precession corrected solar returns in one of your answers. I’d be grateful if you could tell me which of the following you mean by the term:

1) the precessed Sun’s return on the precessed natal position;

2) the tropical Sun’s return on the precessed natal Sun; or

3) the precessed Sun’s return on the tropical natal sun?

Kevin Answers:


I think I understand what you’re asking, although the terms you’re using are not actually correct. A precessed planet doesn’t move, so it can’t return. Precession is an adjustment in the sign position, not in movement. Before I explain why answer number 2 is the most correct, let me bring everyone up to speed on what precession is in the first place.

When we talk about a planet’s position in the Zodiac, we’re identifying where it is along a Great Circle. This particular Great Circle is called the ecliptic. It’s the apparent orbit of the Sun around the Earth, but it’s actually the orbit of the Earth around the Sun.

The problem with measuring position around a circle is that circles don’t have a beginning or an end, so you have to pick an arbitrary point to mark the beginning of the circle. In Astrology, we call this point 0 degrees of Aries.

There are, however, two different zodiac systems. In western astrology, we use the Tropical Zodiac, which takes 0 degrees Aries to be the moment of the Spring Equinox (in the Northern Hemisphere) each year. In eastern (Vedic) astrology, they use the Sidereal Zodiac. “Sidereal” means “star”, and in the Sidereal Zodiac, 0 degrees of Aries is meant to coincide with the beginning of the constellation of Aries.

Because of the wobble of the earth’s axis, the Spring Equinox occurs a little earlier each year against the background of the fixed stars. This is the precession of the equinoxes, and the backwards movement is called precession. This “wobble” takes about 36,000 years to complete. The upshot, however, is that now the Spring Equinox occurs towards the beginning of the constellation of Pisces.

Now, here’s how this comes into play with Solar Returns.

A Solar Return chart is a chart for the moment each year when the Sun returns to the position that it held at birth. In a regular Solar Return, this is easy to calculate, because if your natal Sun is at 3°16 Taurus, that’s the position it holds each year in your Solar Return.

Precession Corrected Solar Returns, however, take the position that the actual Solar Return is when the Sun returns to the actual position against the fixed stars that it was in at birth. This changes each year, because every year, the Sidereal zodiac precesses by about 50.3 seconds of arc. This means that each year, the position of the Sun in your Solar Return would be 50.3 seconds later than the year before. This might not seem like a big deal, but remember that in Solar Returns, what matters most are the houses and angles, so the timing (and location) of the chart are critical. The older you get, the bigger and more significant the difference between the precession-corrected chart and the tropical return chart.

To sum up, a precession-corrected return chart takes the position of the planet at birth, and then calculates the return of that planet based on its return to the same position with respect to the fixed stars (sidereal). This means that at the moment of the return chart, the transiting (returning) planet will be at a later position in the return chart than the degree position of the natal planet.

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