Transits and Solar Returns: An Astrologer’s Guide to Future-proofing Your Life

There are some things you need to know…

Well, It’s been a while, but first, I want to apologise for my lack of posts over the past few weeks. About a month ago I had major surgery having been diagnosed earlier this year with a pre-cancerous gynaecological condition. Following my surgery, the histology report showed my condition had progressed to very early stage cancer – and fortunately it was curable by a total hysterectomy.

So, it turned out I had cancer after all – without knowing it – and when the cancer was confirmed, I had already had the surgery to remove it. I no longer have cancer – what a great thing to be able to say. I feel as though I have had an amazing stroke of luck, however, the surgery has left me physically exhausted and I have had to take a time out to recuperate.

The obvious question to someone with a keen interest in predictive astrology and who shares that interest with the wider world is, ‘did I see it coming’? Well, I was on ‘red alert’ for something as the signs were out there that this was going to be an eventful year – though I didn’t know exactly what would happen as astrology always gives you options! So, what I’m going to do in this post is show you how predictive astrology can give you the heads up on the kinds of situations that may be coming your way.

When I want to know what issues I may have to contend with in the coming months I turn to two astrological tools in particular. Firstly I examine the transits to my natal chart and then I look at my solar return chart for the year in question. I know there are many astrologers out there who will have their own preferences regarding the techniques they use for predictive work, however, my own preference is to use transits and solar returns. Why? I believe they are much more straightforward to interpret than some other techniques and are often more obvious to the person who is experiencing them.

However, as an Astrologer, I use these techniques because they work well together. Predictive astrology is an art but it needs the practitioner to follow a rigorous process – for me, transits (particularly the outer planets) are largely indicative of trends in your life which occur over a fairly long period of time. They function as a kind of background noise almost like traffic noise outside your home. The noise becomes becomes louder when you open the window or, in astrological terms, when the transiting planets make contact, by aspect, with your natal planets or with important points in the natal chart such as angles or house cusps.

Solar returns complement this often long term process by giving you a pretty good idea of the kinds of issues you may face in any particular part of your life during any one solar return year. For me, I find they work in tune with transits, adding a layer of detail to the big themes your transits are telling you about. With me so far? Good.

So, what did my transits tell me about 2019? The big story for me transit-wise is Uranus, currently transiting through my natal 12th house. Uranus has been there for some time and honestly, I’ve not really noticed until recently and the reason for this is that Uranus is now approaching the point at which it will activate the huge ‘T-square’ in my natal chart.

Now, my natal ‘T-square‘ is pretty heavy; Sun conjunct Neptune in the 6th House square Mars in the 4th House and a Moon /Saturn conjunction exactly on the Midheaven. Safe to say, I’ve been ‘expecting the unexpected’ in all of those areas and sure enough, health, work and daily routine (6th house), home, family and all things female (4th House) and my career and direction in life (10th House) have all shown increasing signs of stress in the past few months.

However, I also have Mercury in my natal 6th House. Mercury is my chart ruler and, though not close enough to my Sun/Neptune conjunction to be officially part of the ‘T-Square‘, it is connected to my Moon/Saturn/Midheaven conjunction with a square aspect. And Mercury was where transiting Uranus made it’s first landfall…

So, it’s fair to say in late 2018/early 2019 I became aware (Uranus) something was wrong at a subconscious level (12th House) because I noticed (Mercury) some unusual (Uranus) physical changes to my health (6th House). Uranus switched on the light and Mercury saw there was a problem. Mercury‘s aspect to my ‘T-Square‘ configuration is a square and squares demand action. I needed to take responsibility (Saturn) for my reproductive health (Moon) and this was a matter off some importance that could not be ignored (Midheaven). So, off I went to consult my doctor and be referred to a gynaecologist…

I feel I have to say that, of course, there were (and are) other transits happening, but this was (and is) a big one. It was also possible that the matters being lit up weren’t about my health at all. However, I had been feeling a sense of unease about my health, exercise (lack of) and daily routine, (6th house) my career and business – I work in construction and real estate (4th house) – particularly given the current economic and political uncertainty in the world (10th house) – and all of these matters were in Uranus’s line of fire. The health check? It was a good thing to do but this transit could just as easily have meant I needed to start taking my wellbeing seriously and change my habits and my job. It didn’t necessarily show there was a serious health problem to deal with.

So what did my Solar Return Chart have to say about this? Well, I feel it’s interesting. My Solar Return Chart’s ascending sign is Scorpio, the sign of power and regeneration. My Sun is found in the 12th House. The Sun’s only aspect is a trine to Neptune in the 4th house. Now, the 12th house is the sign we associate with, among other things, hospitals, healing, drugs, seclusion, escape etc. and the 4th house we know relates to home, food, family, women, parents and parenting, the womb etc. as well as land, homes, houses and all things domestic. The Sun is always the focus of the Solar Return Chart so the 12th house was going to be big for me this year and would always be connected to that 4th house Neptune

When I first looked at my Solar Return Chart for the year it made a great deal sense to me. I had recently lost my father (Sun 12th House) and was processing that emotionally. I felt the coming year would be a time of healing and acceptance (Neptune) for me and the family, especially my Mother (4th house). I also found I had to contend with some of the more traditional issues associated with Neptune‘s 4th house placement. ‘Water issues in the home’ came to the fore with leaks, hidden areas of damp and rot, broken cisterns, delayed repairs – you name it, it’s been happening. Maybe just maybe, that 4th House Neptune was reminding me that I hadn’t been paying attention…

And maybe that included paying attention to my own body. I found myself tracking the aspects to that 4th house Neptune to see if I could identify what else could be in store. Well, there was a sextile to Pluto in the 2nd House. Sure, the repairs were about to into my cash in a big way but I felt there could be more than that after all, the second house is the house of the body. It’s physical as well as material. So I followed the next aspect, a square from Pluto to Venus in the 12th house.

This stressful aspect between Pluto and Venus once more highlighted material circumstances. Venus signifies money and right now I felt the house repairs were something I both couldn’t afford to do and couldn’t afford not to do. It was cash (Venus) I didn’t have (12th house) as my income from my day job (6th house) was erratic (Uranus). I had to resign myself to stress and repairs and being broke or maybe initiate change by finding a new job (fast!). After all, I was clearly stressed with things the way they were (Uranus in 6th house)and perhaps needed to adjust to the fact that my business wasn’t going as planned (Uranus quincunx Moon in 10th house) and I’d been seriously over optimistic about it’s chances of success (Uranus quincunx 1st house Jupiter).

My interpretation made perfect sense to me – after all, the first rule of predictive astrology is that everything that happens to you happens in the context of your own life. Period. But there it was nagging at me. That Uranus in the Solar Return 6th house. Uranus was in the house of health and it made me uneasy – what surprises were in store?

Once again I followed the aspects. Potentially an unexpected health issue lay in store but related to what? Uranus opposed Venus in the 12th house. Venus is feminine. The 12th house is associated with loss as well as hospitalisation. An unexpected health issue connected with feminity and loss? Or something hidden? I moved on to Venus‘s square to Pluto in the 2nd house. Whatever the Venus placement meant it was connected to Pluto, and Pluto symbolises revelation and irrevocable change – Pluto removes the things you no longer need. Potentially, physically (2nd house) something was no longer needed and needed to be removed – a square aspect remember, needs to be acted on. What was the issue? Something hidden (Neptune)in the 4th house…

So, that brought me back to the beginning. I wondered if there was potentially an unknown health problem involving the 4th house. Not unreasonably I paid more attention to my mother who was due to have some minor surgery (and sure enough, that ended up with a sudden and unexpected complication…) Maybe that was it. But no. My own condition announced it’s presence and here I am recovering and with my outlook on life transformed. Many women who’ve had the same operation as me feel they have lost their femininity, and younger women lose their ability to have children.

How does my experience relate to yours? At a personal level maybe some of you will find yourselves nodding in agreement – after all cancer is common – and many of us will experience it in some form or know someone who has or is suffering with it now. However, what I want you to take from this is the following; astrology gives us a resource to increase our self awareness to know when we may need to look at our lives a little more carefully and move in the direction that’s right for us.

Many of us would love to know what’s in store for us – equally there are as many who do not. However, I think it’s fair to say most of us would like some help in making informed decisions that can help us plan our lives more effectively. As I mentioned earlier, predictive astrology can point out your options – and if you take some time to understand he direction your life is moving in and work with the direction of travel (rather than fighting against it), you will find your life becomes much easier.

That’s not so say a little advanced knowledge will make your life easy – far from it. we all have difficult moments in our lives or find ourselves at forks in the road and don’t know which way to go. Checking out your transits and solar returns can help you make an informed decision. The Universe is there to help you and when it speaks? Listen very carefully indeed.

© Sara Shipman 2019

PS I’m currently writing a book on predictive astrology – hoping extracts will be available on this website soon with full publication to follow!

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Pisces, Where Are You?

Swimming with the fishes man…

Of course I meant to write this post ages ago, but somehow other things got in the way which is code for ‘Yes, I meant to do it but I was distracted, disorganised but really have no excuse’. Though, this time around I really do have an excuse…

You’ll note the word ‘excuse’. Pisces is great at excuses by the way, but my excuse for not publishing this post is quite legitimate – and very Pisces/Neptune/Twelfth House – I have been in hospital and have just returned home following some serious abdominal surgery (thank you Mars in my Solar Return Fourth House…).

And so here we are – now well through the Piscean month before I put finger to keyboard. Just as well Pisces is not noted for great timekeeping! Hospitalisation, however, has proved to be a great way to really get to know Pisces, that most elusive of zodiac signs, as there is possibly no other place where I could have been reminded, so overwhelmingly, of what Pisces really means.

As I came around from the anaesthesia (Pisces rules gases…) I found myself disoriented, helpless and utterly dependent on the medical staff. It came to me that this was Pisces in microcosm – dependency, healing, and universal compassion in an oddly comforting other world.

Totally removed from the concerns of my daily life, I became aware I had surrendered to something else completely. How? Because this is what Pisces demands of us. We strip ourselves of the things we think we are and place ourselves in the hands of well, who knows?

I had no choice in the matter of course – my surgery was medically necessary – and though I’d googled the condition (as you do), knowledge was no substitute for my faith in the medical profession. This faith was utterly complete and it had to be – I could no more control my illness than I could control the tides. I am not prone to blind faith but sometimes it’s the only thing you have left to you when you face something beyond your comprehension. And that is pure Pisces.

There is a reason, therefore, that we see Nurses as Angels and Doctors as possessing powers out of reach of mere mortals. Those doctors and nurses are fallible human beings just as we are – and are simply doing the jobs they are trained to do – however, Neptune ruled Pisces is the great mind bender of the universe and our perceptions are altered when we make contact – no matter how symbolically – with that sign.

We see things differently under the influence of Pisces. This may be healing and beneficial (as in hospital, where care, empathy and medication get you through the worst of times) or delusional and addictive, when substance abuse and self neglect take you on an endless downward spiral. Those who are heavily influenced by this sign, or have Neptune prominent in their charts can, it seems go either way. Or both. Pisces is a sign of duality which makes it possible for Pisces to be all things to all people.

This ‘mutability’ is a key Piscean trait. Pisceans go with the flow. Like the fish that symbolise them, they can sparkle in the shallows or sink to the bottom, their watery element taking them to places unknown to more earthbound souls. If there is a character trait shared by all the Pisceans I know (and I have met quite a few), it is this: a marked need to escape from the confines of mundane life and go where the flow takes them.

This is not surprising. Pisces is the twelfth sign of the zodiac, the polar opposite to reassuringly dutiful Virgo. It’s association with Neptune and the Twelfth House gives Pisceans the remarkable ability to ‘let go’, and pursue a life ‘less ordinary’ than the rest of us – even if that’s simply the way it appears to be in their own imagination.

Like fish, Pisces and those heavily influenced by Neptune can exist quite happily in their own goldfish bowl – and often prefer things that way. They are masters and mistresses of the art of creating their own world. At best, they are creative, caring and imaginative souls who give of themselves – often for the benefit others. I have known Piscean nurses, musicians, actors, alcoholics and addicts. The theme of self sacrifice is strong even if it sometimes plays out badly and becomes self destruction.

Pisces are not always so selfless however – I have met Neptune influenced business people too – they seem to have their finger on the pulse in more ways than one. There is no doubt, however that the motivation for most Pisceans is to live the dream – whatever their dream is – and that means escaping into their own dream world. For Pisces, dreams are reality and if they are fortunate their dreams will be realised.

I have seen Pisces people realise their dreams in many ways. I have friends who spend most of their lives on a boat – literally at sea. Others turn their efforts to creating a glamorous party lifestyle, mixing only with those who can support them in their dream world. Pisces have few, if any, boundaries and surprisingly – for a sign renowned for it’s selfless and compassionate qualities – they can be quite happy living vicariously on the resources and reputations of others.

What they all seem to share is a reluctance to be ‘down to earth’ and I have seen many of them have issues with their feet, as if contact with the ground causes them fear and physical pain. Flat shoes are not for Pisces girls – high heels ensure as little of you touches the earth as possible! And look at the little old Pisces lady – she has no problems walking around her apartment but cannot move out of doors without support – she simply does not trust her feet to connect to the ground.

So, towards the end of the Pisces month, here I am, grounded (ironically) and set apart because I need to heal. I like to think of myself as a grounded person – my chart is dominated by earthy houses and Saturn has a towering presence. Yet, here I am helpless with my head spinning on painkillers and my world seems disconcertingly unreal and confused.

It’s in this condition that I’ve realised that maybe I’ve been too earthbound in the past and maybe it’s time to go with the flow, accept and transcend my earthly limitations and go with my dreams. Pisces is about letting go – of the things that hold you back and stop you enriching your life at a profound level. Pisceans, no matter how universally compassionate, will always put themselves at the centre of their own universe – and there is the lesson to us all. It’s not at all selfish to put yourself in a position where you can reach out to everyone – including yourself.

© Sara Shipman 2019


When Saturn Comes Home To Roost

Saturn in the Fourth House brings family responsibilities and reminds us of the passage of time.

So, today I was mooching around, my partner had gone away on a business trip and I was generally feeling at a loose end. Prompted by a need to create a little order in the house I decided to tidy the sitting room. As I was dusting the cabinet, I suddenly felt sad. Last year I lost my father and the order of service from his funeral was still there, next to the lamp and one of my favourite pottery bowls.

Today was cold, but not as bad as last year when I travelled many miles north to take my father to various hospital appointments, mostly having to venture out in bitterly cold winds and heavy snow. And despite the January weather, in comparison to last year, this winter seems mild – not just meteorologically but emotionally too.

Last year I had Saturn in the Fourth House of my Solar Return Chart. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Solar Returns, I’m not going to go into depth here – suffice to say it’s a great tool for Predictive Astrology and yes, being aware I had it coming I was apprehensive to say the least. However, what did that Solar Return actually mean and how did it work out?

Well, to give you an insight into my feelings, I want to share with you an extract from the book I’m currently writing on this subject. I have a way to go and it’s very much a labour of love, but with most things astrological, it’s often useful to look back and learn from what we have experienced, so here is what I had to say about the Solar Return Fourth House:

“The Solar Return Fourth House is where you feel at home and in any solar return year, a tenanted fourth house brings all issues to do with home, family, belonging and your sense of stability to the fore.

In my experience over the years, The Solar Return Fourth House is very directly to do with all matters relating to the home and family as they are in the ‘here and now’. This contrasts with Natal Chart interpretations which place your origins and familial heritage in the fourth house. In other words, your Natal Fourth House is descriptive of the things that have informed the person you are today.

The Solar Return Fourth House is, however, descriptive of the issues you are dealing with in, what is for many people, one of the most important areas of their lives. So, it’s here you will find your parents (some astrologers place your parents in the 4th and 10th houses, I find the 4th is more representative of them both).

You will both leave home and find new homes in the Solar Return Fourth House as this covers all things relating to your living and domestic situation. So, matters such as relocation, house repairs, remodelling and redecoration are found in the Solar Return Fourth House.

Family matters are found in the SR Fourth house and there is nothing like family to stir up the emotions – which they will do in this house. One very important aspect of the Solar Return is to do with nurturing – you may need to look after others or may discover you need to nurture yourself rather more than you have been doing in the past.

The Solar Return Fourth House is where we look after things so it’s where we cook, clean and grow things (flowers, families, ourselves) and those matters may demand significant amounts of your time and energy if your Solar Return Chart points that way.”

Sara Shipman 2018

 

Put Saturn in this house and you can see how things could pan out for you during the course of the year. Saturn is about responsibility and last year I certainly felt responsible for looking after both of my elderly parents and spent a considerable amount of time doing so.

We forget sometimes how literal astrology can be, however, the cool (if not cold) planet of responsibility, time, old age, duty and restriction in the house of home, family and parents points to exactly the issues I have been dealing with for the past twelve months. It is not however a given that you will have a death in the family when Saturn takes up residence in the Fourth House. The issues here are ones of responsibility and reliability, maybe becoming a parent to your own parents and of course, dealing with perhaps difficult family matters in a practical and timely way.

Looking back on the year I was struck by how this Solar Return placement played out in so many ways. During the year I really wanted to move house. My house is great and in a desirable neighbourhood, but no. Nothing doing. Saturn the planet of frustration in the Fourth House of the home? That’s how it goes sometimes. You have to make do and come to terms with the fact that on this occasion, you’re really not going to get what you want.

But it’s not all bad, being forced to stay where I was meant I had few distractions from the emotionally difficult time I was going through. When I took my house off the market I felt as if a burden had been taken away from me. I was grateful for the familiarity of my own home; Saturn may feel restrictive but we are often grateful for the security he confers.

So as a New Year begins – and my own personal new Solar Return year began a couple of months ago – I feel Saturn has moved on from my Fourth House (though he has been replaced by Neptune – water issues anyone? Oh, yes…) Saturn reminds us that life does move on. We cannot stop the passage of time any more than we can hold water in our hands.

For a little more on Saturn and Capricorn, take a look at my recent post ‘We Look to the Stars’.

NB: My Book ‘Solar Returns’ – Your Essential Guide to Predictive Astrology‘, will (I hope!) be available on Amazon late in 2019. Or Early 2020. Watch this space…

© Sara Shipman