As the planets return to the positions they hold in your Natal Chart you experience what is known as a Return; this includes the Sun and Moon, even though they are not by definition a planet.  [NOTE:--Solar Returns are also discussed under Progressed Charts.]   A "Return" initiates another cycle that relates to the issues ruled by that planet; the chart created at the moment of the return is thus in effect for these issues until the next return.  A Return Chart is read in much the same way as a Natal Chart except it is only in effect until the next return and will emphasize those affairs that are ruled by that planet.  Sometimes the planet goes retrograde and makes three successive contacts to the natal planet.  In this case, the charts are in effect until the next contact, which may only be a few days or months away.

The planets, which for these purposes include the Sun and Moon, each move at their own speed and thus take different amounts of time to return to the position they hold in your Natal Chart.  The Moon, which moves through the Zodiac approximately every 28 days, provides a Lunar Return each month.  Pluto, on the other hand, takes 248 years to make one trip around the Sun, implying that it's highly unlikely that you'll experience a Pluto Return during your lifetime; a Pluto square is probably all you'll experience, which, knowing Pluto, is more than enough.  This does not mean, however, that some houses don't have the benefit of a return chart.  Rather, this is where those that are ruled by the "modern" planets with long orbital period revert back to their ancient rulership.  Thus, if you're wondering about something that relates to your 11th House, you don't have to wait 84 years for that Uranus Return; your Saturn Return will do the trick.  As it is, they only come along about every 29 years but that's better than  84.

The table below describes the typical duration of the respective return cycles and what they represent.  For example, the Mars Return will represent those activities you're pursuing as well as Mars-related events such as accidents and surgery.  While in effect, Return Charts supplement the Natal Chart.  As the return planet continues on its path and makes contact to the planets and aspects of the Return Chart by transit, it will trigger events in the same way as transits work upon a Natal Chart; in fact, transits in general will work upon the Return Chart, but the respective planets will generally have the most influence.  By simply following the transits of the Return Planet the timing of events and general theme of that return period can be identified.  If you're a serious student of astrology, "Identifying Planetary Triggers: Astrological Techniques for Prediction" by Celeste Teal is an excellent reference on planetary returns.  Note that more information pertaining to the various cycles is also included in the section on Astroparenting.

When angles and aspects appear in the Return Charts that are similar to those in the Natal Chart, this indicates that the upcoming period will be quite eventful due to the "double whammy" effect.  The Natal House brought to the Ascendant on the Return Chart also has a strong bearing on what will be most important during the return period.  For example, if the 8th Natal House were brought to the ascendant of a Venus Return, it would indicate an emphasis on shared resources and possibly debt and/or sex issues in relationships.  If the return planet is in an angular house (1, 4, 7, 10) the first third of the return period will be emphasized.  If it's in a succedent house (2, 5, 8, 11) the second third will have the most activity and for cadent houses (3, 6, 9, 12) it will be the last third.  The Return Chart Ruler (ruler of the ascendant) is another strong indicator of what to expect during the return period.  Comparing the position of natal planets to the Return will further reveal the types of events to expect.  Timing is effected by the Return Planet as it transits the Return Chart.  All of the transiting planets will influence the chart, but simply tracking the Return planet and its contacts to the chart planets, particularly major aspects such as Yods and T-squares, will provide insights into the theme for that period.  Chart points such as the Vertex and Part of Fortune are also significant and should be included in interpreting transit activity.  The Vertex typically relates to karma or a fated encounter/event while the Part of Fortune relates to where we'll find happiness and joy; when activated it usually denotes a one-time opportunity.

Return charts are an incredibly useful tool and frequently reveal details that Natal, Solar Return, Solar Arc, or Secondary Progressed charts lack; at the least they supplement them with stronger indications of the period's theme.  Particularly when you're looking for something specific, you can count on finding a wealth of information, especially when you factor in the transits.  We have Lunar, Solar and Saturn Return charts in our store.  Ask for an estimate for other returns, which will need to be prepared personally by Whobeda.

Planet & House Rulership Cycle Influence

Rules:  Zodiacal 4th House

27.5 Days The Moon rules your emotional nature and the Lunar Return indicates the issues you'll be dealing with for the coming month.  These apply to not only individuals but to relationships, cities, and corporations.  For example, the Lunar Return for New York City for September 2001, which is described in "Lunar Returns" by John Townley, quite accurately explains the Big Apple's reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  The Lunar Return Chart will describe the general character and timing of events that will affect you emotionally during that cycle.  The Moon also relates to your mother or wife and can be useful with regard to her as well.  If your Sun, Ascendant or Moon Sign is in Cancer these cycles will be even more pronounced.   Whichever natal house cusp is brought to the ascendant of the Lunar Return will be emphasized that month.  [If you're interested in what the coming month has in store for you, check out our Lunar Return Report.]

Rules:  Zodiacal 5th House

~365 Days The Solar Return or "Birthday Chart" provides a template for the coming year, though there is typically an overlap period of up to three months at both the beginning and end as one year transitions to the next.  It is read like a Natal Chart, except it's only in effect for a year.  Since the Sun rules the 5th House which includes your ego, self-expression, creativity, children, romantic interests, entertainment and speculations these are the types of activities that will be emphasized.  Even as the Moon can represent your mother or wife, so the Sun can also represent your father or husband.  Note that the areas covered by the 5th House and thus the Solar Return are those that relate to you at a very personal level.  Personal growth will be greatly reflected through how you respond to the year's events; a Progressed Chart also reflects your evolution as an individual thought it changes in a more consistently manner.

The Sun is the center of the solar system, however, so it will reflect upon all the major themes coming upon you in the subject year as it transits each house of the Return.


Rules:  Zodiacal 3rd & 6th Houses


~ 1 Year


Mercury's cycle around the Sun only takes 88 days to complete, but astrology is based on a geocentric view, i.e. its position as observed from Earth, not the Sun.  From this perspective, since Mercury is between Earth and the Sun, he appears to follow the Sun.  Typically Mercury has three retrograde periods each year that are three weeks in duration.  When all this is factored in, the actual return period for Mercury astrologically turns out to be approximately once a year.

Mercury rules our thoughts, ideas, communications, negotiations, local travels, transportation, written agreements, and daily activities.  The House position of Mercury in the return, the aspects it makes with Return as well as Natal planets, and the Sign location of the angles will help determine what to expect with respect to Mercury ruled affairs in the year to come.  As transiting Mercury traverses the chart, special attention will be drawn to those areas where he goes retrograde, which happens approximately every four months. 

Since Mercury rules transportation, if you are planning to buy a car it's important to make sure that your Mercury Return contains favorable aspects.  If Mercury is retrograde, either in your Mercury Return or in transit, you should wait.  If the Return period is going to contain more than one contact with Mercury, it's best to wait until the final direct pass before purchasing a car or anything else that involves paperwork. 

It's best to buy a vehicle when all planets are in direct motion, not just Mercury.  This is because when you take possession of something it creates a birth chart for that item that will manifest as indicated by the planets' positions at that time.  Depending on the time of purchase, retrograde planets could turn up in any house of the item's chart or on the ascendant and thus cause problems.


Rules:  Zodiacal 2nd & 7th Houses


~ 1 Year Venus takes approximately 225 days to travel around the Sun, but like Mercury is between the Earth and Sun, making its return cycle closer to a year.  Venus influences our affections, pleasures, needs, what we value, and where we find comfort.  Its return cycle will indicate the social contacts we'll make, the objects of our affection, love nature, popularity, and benefits, both social and material.  These will be further defined by the sign and house placement of Venus and the accompanying aspects.

Since a Venus return relates to where we find love and happiness if the chart is afflicted it will indicate difficulties in these areas.  For example, if you're having relationship problems or getting a divorce it will show up.  Financial issues can also be indicated by Venus' placement in the 2nd or 8th House.  In the 7th, relationships will be the focus.  The 12th can indicate the need for caring for a loved one who is ill or incapacitated in some manner.

As transiting Venus reaches the MC or 10th House cusp there is usually an emphasis in social activity, sometimes the single most important social event for the time covered by the return.


Rules: Zodiacal 1st House and Ancient Ruler of 8th House


~ 2 Years

(Orbital Period 687 Days)


Mars reflects our independence and drive to get what we want.  The Mars Return will reflect those activities that we initiate, new undertakings, and how we express our individualism.  It is very useful for identifying the best times to take action on specific endeavors.  The Mars return for a woman sometimes relates closely to the activities of her husband or a male child.  As the ancient ruler of the 8th House, Mars also rules our sex drive.  Other 8th House issues that will surface in a Mars Return include death, debt and transformational experiences in general.

Favorable aspects to Mars support using its energy in a positive manner, such as manifesting courage and assertive behavior.  Conversely an afflicted Mars can result in inappropriate extremes in aggression, passive aggression, or in some cases even cowardice, especially during a retrograde return; fortunately these are not usually in effect for too long.  If not properly managed, the Mars energy can also invite aggression or confrontations from others.  Accidents will be reflected in the return via an afflicted Chart Ruler, Pluto or Saturn on an angle, the Sun or several planets in the 8th or 12th, and/or Uranus or Neptune in the 1st House

For example, the Mars Return for Princess Diana had numerous ominous aspects in addition to hostile transits on the day of her fatal accident.  On the Return chart the Chart Ruler, Pluto, was in the 1st House squaring Mars, a common aspect for accidents, especially those that involve a fatality.  There is also a yod comprising Uranus, Saturn and Mars at the eye, indicating an unexpected, solemn occurrence leading potentially to a violent event.  Transiting Mars, the Return Sun and Return Ascendant were all conjunct in Scorpio, the zodiacal 8th House of transformation and death.  Transiting Saturn was on the Return 6th House cusp of health indicating a serious threat of injury.  Her natal Sun fell in the Return's 8th House with transiting Chiron, the "wounded healer."  The Vertex, which is typically active during fated events, was in the Return 12th House of the spirit world, confinement, transcendence, and hidden enemies.  There were ominous contacts to the Return from her Natal Chart as well, including Uranus on the MC, indicating an unexpected event that would affect her relationship with the public and Neptune on the ascendant, further implying transcendence to a different state of existence.

When Mars goes retrograde it can bring reversals to the area its transiting on the Return Chart and particularly if it stations on a planet or cusp.  The retrograde period lasts for approximately two and a half months.  If a retrograde period begins shortly after a Mars Return, there can be three contacts to the natal position and thus three separate Returns; each is in effect only until the next contact.  During the retrograde portion progress often slows and requires review.  As a rule there is continuity between the three returns that show the shifting emphasis of the activities at hand.


Rules: Zodiacal 9th House and Ancient Ruler of 12th House


~12 Years Jupiter reflects upon those areas in our life where we expand and grow and thus the Jupiter Return reflects fluctuations in 9th House matters such as material conditions, religious, educational, and philosophical trends, interactions with different cultures, extended travel activities, as well as people and society in general, especially if any legal issues are involved.  As the ancient ruler of Pisces, the zodiacal 12th House, it also includes events associated with that venue, such as spiritual enlightenment, transcendence, encounters with hidden forces or enemies, confinement, and institutions.  Thus, a hospitalization that involved surgery would be likely to show up in both the Jupiter and Mars Return.

The house(s) ruled by Jupiter in the Return (cusps on Sagittarius and Pisces) indicate the area where long-term efforts will be taken with regard to Jupiter-related issues and the house occupied will indicate the approach taken to achieve those goals.  Placement in angular houses (1, 4, 7, 10) indicate turning points and deeply personal affairs; succedent (2, 5, 8, 11) indicate events involving resources or personal values and usually also bring endings or conclusions; cadent houses (3, 6, 9, 12) show transitions, changes and preparation.


Rules: Zodiacal 10th House and Ancient Ruler of 11th House


~29 Years Saturn rules how you view, respect and respond to authority.  It's about restrictions, delays, your sense of responsibility, how you handle your obligations and life's hard lessons, through which you gain wisdom.  The 10th House includes your career, reputation, public image, and status.  "Status" is a rather vague term which includes such things as graduating from school, getting married, becoming a parent, buying a home, running for public office, receiving an award or promotion or, conversely being fired or arrested.  Anything that changes how you are viewed by the public will be reflected in this area.  It's interesting to consider that in Biblical times a man wasn't considered a mature adult until he was 30, which coincides closely with the first Saturn Return.  This is often when you finally feel as if you're grown up.  I have frequently noted that by this age someone who had a hard time during their teens and early adult years is either straightened out, dead, or in jail.

The 11th House, which was ruled anciently by Saturn, includes all your interactions with groups and organizations, which ties in easily with the public, though you'll still be a slightly different person, depending on whether you're in a private, group, or public setting.  The 11th House also comprises your goals, hopes and wishes which are often dependent on your interaction and the response of others to achieve.  In other words, it would be difficult to find fame and fortune if others didn't recognize your accomplishments as well.  No matter how satisfied and happy you may be with yourself, it's not the same if you're not recognized by your peers and/or the public, thus placing these types of goals in the 11th House.

Saturn returns come at major turning points in your life, one at around 30 when many are either settling into a career or considering a change, and then again around the late 50s or early 60s when retirement or another career change often looms.  The second return ushers in the "croning" years where you assimilate your knowledge and life experience and mentor others, passing the baton to the next generation, so to speak.  Saturn Return reports, which cover all major Saturn aspects from childhood to old age, are available in our store.




50 Years Chiron influences the various hurtful experiences we encounter in life and how we use them to help others.  These can be of a physical, mental, emotional or even financial nature, depending on the natal house placement.  If Chiron is retrograde in your natal chart, you may have a more difficult time processing these hurts, making it harder to "forgive and forget" or simply accepting the lesson and moving on.  While this tendency may stick with you, perhaps because it has become a habit, a Chiron Return with more favorable placement and aspects may help relieve that hyper-sensitivity.  For example, Chiron in the 3rd or 9th House may help you be more rational or philosophical about a situation and thus not internalize it as much as you would in one of the more emotional Water Signs such as Cancer or Pisces.  Chiron retrograde in the 8th would incline a person toward being vengeful.

The Chiron return, which occurs around age 50, often marks the time when you assimilate those early hurts and assume the role of healer in a figurative sense, sharing your wisdom with others similarly afflicted to help them navigate the rough waters and find comfort.  A Chiron return can also reflect your determination to rectify those hurts incurred earlier in life in one way or another.  Placing the Natal Sun on the return chart often reveals by its House placement what area such issues reside within.  There is the possibility at this time that as you seek to resolve old wounds that it is you who imposes wounds and hurts on others according to the planets' sign placement and the houses they rule.  For example, if relationships have been a source of pain and disappointment, this is a time when your quest to escape these old wounds inflict the same on others and you attempt to escape old patterns as well as individuals.


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