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!


Uranus: Brexit? Trump? Chaos Has Come Again

Uranus is the planet of freedom, liberation and overturning the established order. As Uranus enters Taurus don’t expect a revolution – it’s already here.

Transiting Uranus. You only have to look at the news to see transiting Uranus doing what Uranus does best. Right now, it seems, it doesn’t matter where you live in this world, you would have to be crazy not to have noticed that things are… well… a little out of kilter one way or another. All of life’s certainties, the things we seem to have taken for granted over the years, are being undermined, overturned – call it what you will – change is underway and chaos is all around.

In the UK, we’re currently going through Brexit, and wherever your opinion sits on this one, I think we can all agree that chaos about sums up where the country is now. How we laughed on this side of the pond, when our American cousins elected Donald Trump. We marvelled at at the craziness of their democratic decision (the wall, federal government shut down, the hirings and firings and above all, those tweets…) and thought, ‘Well, that will never happen here’. Fast forward about two and a half years and here we are. UK in what seems like a revolutionary crisis, USA the same and a whole host of other nations too. It’s like the world has literally gone mad.

So, What’s that got to do with Uranus? Can the planets really affect world events? Am I really crazy just even thinking that? The answers my friends are 1. Everything. 2. Yes. 3. No. My apologies as that’s a tad superficial – however in my defence, Uranus is always one for a rapid response – so, lets try and put all Uranian impulses aside for a moment and drill deeper to try and work out why things are as they are.

To try and make some sense of this, I consulted an ephemeris to find out where Uranus is currently having an effect. Uranus orbits the Sun once every 84 years. If we are fortunate, that’s once in a lifetime (though increasingly, many of us are still around to witness a Uranus return). So, over that period, Uranus spends around seven years transiting through each sign of the Zodiac, disrupting world events, often in the manner appropriate to the meanings carried within each Astrological sign – or not. Uranus is like that – nothing if not unpredictable.

So, right now, Uranus is finishing up in Aries and about to enter Taurus. However, where Taurus is concerned, Uranus has been there before. For the past couple of years, Uranus has been hovering over the cusp of Aries/Taurus, mostly in the late degrees of Aries, but also passing into Taurus for the first time in 84 years during the summer and autumn of 2018. I’m going to take a moment now to remind you of some of the essential characteristics of Aries and Taurus. Aries is urgent, direct, warlike, assertive, brave yet often reckless. Taurus is materially inclined, stable, concerned with resources and values. It’s not too hard to see how this is working out in the Brexit arguments – ‘Remainers’ accuse ‘Leavers’ of being reckless (Aries) with the UK’s economic future while ‘Leavers’ (paradoxically sore winners!) demand ‘liberation’ (Uranus) from what they perceive as a restrictive EU – a body which is arguably Taurus personified.

When Uranus acts as the connector between the qualities of the two signs, Aries and Taurus, strange things happen. Uranus is essentially about change, and Uranus really doesn’t care about how that change occurs (or what happens as a consequence) the only sure thing is that whatever the change is that it’s revolutionary in some way – it’s rapid, unexpected, chaotic and often social in nature. Uranus encapsulates ‘group-think’ through it’s rulership of Aquarius, so one way or another Uranian change – which can seem so impersonal as it so often operates at a societal level – affects us all and reminds us we are part of the collective too.

So, getting back to today’s chaotic events, (particularly Brexit and Trump) where can we see the hand of Uranus in our current affairs? In 2016, a momentous year that saw the Brexit Vote and Trump elected, Uranus spent much of the year making stations in the last ten degrees of Aries. Still some way from the cusp with Taurus but moving ever closer and close enough for one of the most characteristic things about a Uranus transit to become noticeable – Uranus is noted for jumping the gun. When Uranus is approaching a planet or point by transit, there is often an event that is shocking in some way. It bucks the trend, seems to come out of the blue – but really it doesn’t. What Uranus is really doing is bringing something to light that challenges our expectations in some way – and this event is often the signifier of change to come rather than the change itself.

The shocking event becomes identified as the starting point for the changes to come – and right now, we can see how the fall out from those two fairly unexpected events in recent history is getting more chaotic as each day passes and Uranus comes closer to changing signs. Neither of those votes was supposed to go the way that they did, and in true Uranian style, the winning side in each case has become identified as a social, collective, populist movement protesting against that most Taurus of things, ‘the elite’. Yet, we can see clearly the Uranian paradox that both campaigns appear to have been orchestrated by the rich and powerful – so symbolically Taurus with their vested interests to the fore. Uranus has harnessed Arian energy – and sometimes violence – and pointed it at all things Taurus, yet in a typically Uranian fashionis happy to heap all the paradoxes and hypocrisies before us in a morally ambiguous pile for someone else to sort out.

So, right now we have ‘people’s movements’ headed by the ‘uber-rich’; governments that cannot or will not govern, isolationism masquerading as globalism, greed presenting itself as opportunity and opinion presenting itself as fact. There seems, no longer, to be any such thing as truth – blind faith has primacy over facts. It’s a mess, that we can all agree, but where’s it headed? The only thing I can say with certainty is it’s most likely headed to a new way of looking at the world. What that will be or how it will manifest I cannot tell you, however we can cast our eyes at history for clues as to what has happened in the past – and hopefully how we can try and avoid making the same mistakes again.

If we look back 84 years, we find ourselves in the 1930’s. Europe was in the grip of right wing populist movements and the US was pursuing a policy of isolationism. As today, ordinary people were suffering from economic hardship together with employment and financial insecurity. Many people lived hand to mouth while at the top end of the social scale the rich enjoyed wealth unimaginable to the working man and woman. As Uranus transited through Aries towards the cusp of Taurus, Hitler and Mussolini swept to power in Europe, with all the military trappings and power they could muster – and the rest is history. It is, I hope, an extreme example of the kind of ‘zeitgeist’ Uranus can inflame.

So, as Uranus finally moves into Taurus in March 2019, that period of change will be upon us. Unlike Aries, Taurus is slow and stubborn and it seems likely for a while we will remain entrenched in our respective positions unwilling to see the concerns of others from any perspective other than our own point of view. We are already divided and a compromise position seems very far away. Uranus affects the collective unconscious like no other planet and right now it seems we are in a war of social, political and moral values with no clear end in sight. We may even have to wait until Uranus approaches Gemini (another 7 years) before we can face each other again and get talking and listening.

In the meantime, I think we need to focus on what Uranus is really trying to tell us and it is simply this. We cannot go on as we have been doing in the years (if not decades) leading up to this point – and that includes wasting our natural resources and threatening life on earth – including our own. Good stewardship of the natural world is also a Taurean concern. If Uranus does one thing, it is this: it is to remind you that you, the individual are part of something more important than you so get over yourself – it’s not about you. Idealistic Uranus wants you/us to wake up to the issues that are really important for society to deal with and, to use a current and very future oriented phrase, ‘stay woke’. How we do this and how it pans out, none of us can tell. However, one way or another, Uranus will surprise us all, in ways we may find shocking or liberating and maybe not altogether pleasant in the short term – the choice is ours.

© Sara Shipman