Many Happy Returns…

It’s my birthday tomorrow, and although I’ll be spending much of the day in transit from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney, I fully expect it will be a substantially better day than last year with the salmonella incident.

Anyways, a birthday means that it’s time to look back at last years Solar Return, and look forward to the next one.

The Solar Return Ascendant tells a lot about your approach to life in that year- and mine was very definitely Aquarian- in both good and bad ways. Last year was about looking forward and future plans – and independence and detaching. I learnt a lot about saying goodbye over the last 12 months.

The purge that accompanied my birthday dose of food poisoning was the theme of much of the year.

Last year was a profected 2nd house Mars year (for more on this concept, check out this post) and Mars years tend to involve a lot of activity and unavoidable conflict. Both were also appropriate themes for last year.

Now, onto this year. First up, I’m experimenting a little with whole house signs at the moment, so my solar return chart probably looks a little different to last year. It’s something that I’m playing with, so if you are also interested in working with solar returns, feel free to use the house system you’re used to.

First Impressions…

Aries has been brought to the Ascendant. After 2 years of fixed sign ascendants, this feels as though rather than reacting, I’m now in a position to take the reins for myself. It very much has a new start feel to the chart.

The other things I’ve noticed first up is that the Ascendant and Uranus are both at 22 Aries – which is also the degree that my natal Uranus is at. This year feels very much as though it will be tied to my personal Uranian story. Independence, individuality, and self-reliance will be a theme for the year.

What sign is the Ascendant in?

This year my SR Ascendant is Aries. 22.

Check out the ruler of the Ascendant

Mars is the ruler of my Ascendant this year.

  • At 0 Taurus Mars is in the sign of his detriment ie not comfortable here. But 0 degrees of any sign is an important one – because the energy is fresh.
  • Mars forms an exact trine to the Moon in Virgo. I’ll be much more productive and comfortable this year by making a conscious effort to ground myself and form sustainable routines. Mars in Taurus can go the distance – once he sets his mind to it.

What House is the SR Sun in?

This is the area of life that is most in focus for the next 12 months. Mine is in the 12th along with Mercury and Neptune. I’ll be working from home on the Sunshine Coast – splitting my time between some casual (remote) work for the partition job and a concentration on my own production.

Interestingly, where we’ve moved to is a place that has always been a place of both escape and spirit for me – and I intend to explore both of these concepts a lot more.

What part of life is being brought to the Ascendant?

Aries is natally in my 2nd house, so this brings 2nd house themes to the solar return chart. It’s not just about money and possessions – and how I earn and accumulate both – but also my attitude to them and what I hold to be of value.

What aspects are made by the Sun?

The Sun is sextile Pluto, conjunct Mercury and square Saturn (wide). There is a lot of progress that is possible to be made this year, but the danger will be if I dwell too much on regrets or do the glass half empty thing.

Where is the SR Moon?

This year it’s in Virgo – at 0 degrees – in the 6th house, exactly trine the Moon. There’s security to be found in routine and work, but chaos is also possible if I step too far away from these boundaries.

Are there any planets on the angles of the SR chart?

Yes – Uranus…on the Ascendant. Exactly. Pluto is also conjunct the SR Midheaven, so there could be big things happening from a career viewpoint. One of those – a major career bucket list item – has been offered to me. I can’t say any more than that just yet, but watch this space…

Check out also:

Much as you would a normal chart, are the planets scattered or concentrated in one hemisphere of the chart.

The planets are reasonably well scattered, although there’s an emphasis on the 1st and the 12th houses.

Much as you would a natal chart check out the position and condition of planets ruling your money house or relationship houses.

Even though this is essentially a transit chart, it is still interesting to see. Venus rules the 2nd and is in the 1st house – I’ll be relying a lot on myself. Venus is, however, retrograde, so there could be delays around anything that’s coming. Mars rules the 8th house and is in the 2nd. Mars in Taurus is careful with money and quite risk adverse. This is a good thing while we establish ourselves and hubby looks for new work.

In the same vein, check out the ruler of the Midheaven.

Jupiter is the ruler of the MC. It’s in the 7th house, opposite the Ascendant and Uranus. Partnership and collaboration will be an important factor this year – although maintaining independence within relationship will also be a theme.

Are any planets or points in the natal chart brought to angles in the SR Chart?

Not within a few degrees.

Are any planets or points in the degree of the nodes?


Are any planets or points in the critical degrees of a sign? Ie 0 or 29?

Yes- the Moon and Mars.

A Different Sort of Time Lord- Annual Profections & the Solar Return

(For a recap, check out the link to last years post.)

So this year, on my (gulp) 50th birthday, I have moved into a 3rd house or Taurus profected year. This means that Venus, as the ruler of Taurus, is my “Time Lord” for the year. This planet will be sensitive to giving and receiving transits and progressions over the coming 12 months. The concerns of this planet will be important this year.

Examine the condition of the Time Lord in the natal chart:

Time Lord: Venus

Profected House: 3rd

Houses ruled by the Time Lord in the natal chart: 2nd and 7th

House Time Lord occupies in the natal chart: 1st


  • Condition of the Time Lord in the natal chart: Venus is in Aries – in the 2nd house, aspecting Jupiter.
  • Examine the condition of the Time Lord in the Solar Return Chart: Venus in Aries is in the sign of her detriment. Venus is also retrograde in the SR. In all, she’s not in great shape, but is given extra power by being in the 1st Venus in Aries likes to move – something I haven’t done enough of lately.
  • Which house in the natal chart does 12 Aries (the position of the Time Lord in the SR chart) fall? This is the natal 2nd
  • Does the position of the Time Lord in the SR chart form an aspect to the natal position of the Time Lord? By sign is enough. Yes – they are in the same sign.

Look at the strength of the Time Lord in the SR chart. The better the condition, the more ability the planet has to act on your side in the coming year- even if it is a malefic like Saturn.

  • Is it in a sign where it has dignity through rulership or exaltation (see the table in last years post). No.
  • Does it have accidental dignity ie does it have more strength by being close to the angles or the cusps of the 1st, 4th, 7th or 10th houses? Yes, in the 1st
  • Is it retrograde? Yes
  • Is it combust ie does it fall within 8.5 degrees of the Sun? There is no greater affliction as the planet is said to be blinded & unable to see clearly. No.
  • Is it cazimi ie with 17’ from being exactly conjunct the Sun? This is, in contrast, as really good thing as the planet is considered to be in the heart of the king. Note, to be either combust or cazimi, it must be in the same sign as the Sun. No.
  • Is the Time Lord aspected by either of the malefics (Mars or Saturn) or the benefics (Venus or Jupiter)? By sign is enough. Yes, opposite Jupiter (by sign) and (wide) trine to Saturn.
  • Aspects to the Nodes. Any time the SR Time Lord conjoins the natal nodal axis is a big year. Not this year.

What else?

Check out any repetition of themes. For me, there are many 2nd and 8th house themes. Yes, money and values, debt, taxes and other unspeakables. This year is all about me, my relationship to myself, my ability to work alone and my self-reliance.


Remember, the Solar Return can only deliver to the promise of the natal chart!

Have a little dignity…


warning: this is a technical post…

In a link I posted the other day, I made the comment that I have the worst Mercury in history.

Naturally I exaggerate…just a little. Nevertheless, it prompted a few comments, emails and questions.

Sure the comment was, as most of my comments are, tongue in cheek, and it seems to have awoken the competitive instinct of others, but why exactly did I say that I have the worst Mercury in history? Aside from the point that it just is?

Let’s work through it, connect the dots, so to speak- that’s what we do when Mercury is in Gemini.

In traditional astrology, planets are either essentially dignified or debilitated in different signs. This is something that is necessary when it comes to horary astrology, but also, I think, important to know when understanding your own chart.

Dignity isn’t just about how straight you stand or whether you can act proper like in civilised company. Dignity, astrologically speaking, can come in many forms.

Generally speaking, planets with dignity have the motivation and power to act. It doesn’t mean that planet is good or bad (although traditionally that’s exactly what it can mean)- but the more essential dignity a planet has, the closer it conforms to its essential nature. Aspects with other planets will, of course, make this easier or more difficult.

It’s a little like the whole nature & nature debate- and how even good people can make stupid decisions if they run around with the wrong group…planets are the same.

Accidental dignity (or debility) will give the planet the power to act. This means that a planet essentially debilitated (so not operating to the best of its ability) if accidentally dignified, will have the power to do their worst. On the other hand, a planet essentially debilitated but also with accidental debility, doesn’t have any power to act- good or bad.

Get it? No?

Planets essentially debilitated, or in the sign of their fall or detriment, don’t work to their best advantage. Their behaviour is altered from the way that it should be.

Example? Take the Sun.

The Sun, in nature, is hot and dry. It’s all about radiating warmth, and everybody else orbits around it. The Sun is, by nature, ego-centric.

At home, in rulership, in spotlight centric Leo, the Sun is in his detriment in Aquarius- a sign where ego comes second to that of the group. The same applies to Aries where the Sun is exalted.

When a planet is exalted, or in the sign of its exaltation, it’s treated as a favoured guest, it’s given the good biscuits and the fluffy towels.

Aries is all about the individual, being first. It’s childlike and selfish. Yes, I said it. It’s about the ego. So is the Sun.

In Libra, however, where the Sun is in the sign of its fall, the focus is on the partnership, not the individual- the Sun is unable to act in the way that it is most comfortable.

Notice something? It’s all about the opposites.

Mercury is at its best in Gemini and Virgo- signs where information is gathered and organised. In Virgo, Mercury is both ruler and exalted. This means that when Mercury is in Pisces it is in the sign of its detriment and fall. It’s in a sign that it’s most uncomfortable in. Why? Pisces doesn’t think the way that Mercury likes to think. Pisces doesn’t learn or communicate in a way that Mercury normally likes to learn or communicate.

Then we come to accidental dignities.

A planet has some extra strength if it’s accidentally dignified by being placed on an angle- ie the 1st, 4th, 7th or 10th house. The closer to the cusp, the stronger the dignity.

A planet is said to be accidentally debilitated if it is in the 6th, 8th or 12th house.

Taking our example of the Sun again, say you have your Sun in Aries. It’s exalted, it’s potentially powerful…but it’s in the 6th house- the sign of service, outsourcing and sickness. It might have the motivation to do amazing things, but it’s power is given to others. Your challenge is to find a way through service to others to help that Sun shine. Get it?

There are two other ways in which a planet can be debilitated- if it is natally retrograde or if it is combust, within 8 degrees of the Sun and therefore blinded by the Sun’s rays.

Actually, there are other ways as well, but we won’t go into these now.

So, my point is… just what was my point?… that my Mercury is about as debilitated as you can get.

I did have an astrologer (who should have known better) make the comment once that obviously I had problems with my early learning. The answer to that is a categorical WTF?

On the contrary, I read voraciously, and at an advanced level. I regularly topped my year and was, on the whole, a nerdy smart arse. The thing is, I learnt differently to that of my classmates. I still do.

Mercury may be debilitated in my chart, but somehow, I have learned how to not only adapt to that, but to make the most of it.

And, as it turns out, it’s a perfect placement for a writer- especially a writer of fiction. It’s my way of turning a debilitated planet into something that has the potential to be extraordinary.

The same can’t be said of my Saturn- which is both essentially debilitated and accidentally dignified, but that’s an entirely different story.

The message? Debilitated planets can be opportunities- it’s a matter of how you look at it.

Check out the relative dignity of your planets in the (simplified) table below and let me know- what are the trump cards in your chart?

Sign Ruler Exaltation Detriment Fall
Aries Mars Sun Venus Saturn
Taurus Venus Moon Mars
Gemini Mercury Jupiter
Cancer Moon Jupiter Saturn Mars
Leo Sun Saturn
Virgo Mercury Mercury Jupiter Venus
Libra Venus Saturn Mars Sun
Scorpio Mars Venus Moon
Sagittarius Jupiter Mercury
Capricorn Saturn Mars Moon Jupiter
Aquarius Saturn Sun
Pisces Jupiter Venus Mercury Mercury

Want to take this further?

Check out this excellent resource at Skyscript. It goes right into understanding planetary terms and face and other technical words. Then at the end, there’s a point scoring system if you really want to get serious.

Related Posts

Mars, but not as you know it


Essential Nature…


The nature of each sign is can be determined by looking at the essential characteristics of the sign and the characteristics of it’s ruling planet.

Elemental Nature Ruling Planet Nature
Aries Hot, dry Mars Hot, dry, inflammatory, excessive, acute
Taurus Cold, dry Venus Warm, moist, nourishing, relaxing, soft
Gemini Hot. moist Mercury Dry, changeable, excitable, neural, messenger
Cancer Cold, moist The Moon Cool, moist, receptive, nurturing
Leo Hot, dry The Sun Hot, dry, warming, vitalising, radiant
Virgo Cold, dry Mercury Dry, changeable, excitable, neural, messenger
Libra Hot. moist Venus Warm, moist, nourishing, relaxing, soft
Scorpio Cold, moist Pluto*** Watery and fiery, transformative, powerful, expulsive
Sagittarius Hot, dry Jupiter Warm, moist, expansive, nourishing
Capricorn Cold, dry Saturn Cold, dry, binding, restricting, chronic, aging, crystallising
Aquarius Hot. moist Uranus* Cool, dry, vitalising, electric, spasmodic and sudden
Pisces Cold, moist Neptune** Warm, moist, hypnotic, fluid, pulsating, deceptive

*Look also at the nature of Saturn

**Look also at the nature of Jupiter

***Look also at the nature of Mars. The nature of Pluto is why Scorpio is often mistaken for being a fire sign.

The Kingmaker…


A random conversation on Twitter today reminded me of the concept of dispositorship and, more relevantly, final dispositorship. Thanks AF for the inspiration.

Most of us know about Chart Rulers. If you don’t, the Chart Ruler, the planet said to be the big boss of your chart, is the planet that rules the sign on your Ascendant.

Let’s take it back a step, each sign is “ruled” by one, and in some cases, two planets.

Traditional rulerships are as follows:

  • Aries is ruled by Mars
  • Taurus is ruled by Venus
  • Gemini is ruled by Mercury
  • Cancer is ruled by the Moon
  • Leo is ruled by the Sun
  • Virgo is ruled by Mercury
  • Libra is ruled by Venus
  • Scorpio is ruled by Mars and also Pluto
  • Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter
  • Capricorn is ruled by Saturn
  • Aquarius is ruled by Saturn and Uranus
  • Pisces is ruled by Jupiter and Neptune

Some astrologers don’t include Pluto, Uranus and Neptune and honour traditional rulerships only. Some astrologers don’t use the traditional rulers of Scorpio, Aquarius and Pisces.

I happen to think you can’t understand Scorpio without understanding the role that both Mars and Pluto play…and likewise for Aquarius and Pisces. But that’s my opinion.

Anyways, because the ruler of your Ascendant, or 1st house, represents your health, the planet ruling this area of your life will always be important. So watch the transits and retrogrades of this planet very carefully.

The concept of dispositorship is similar, but different.

The final dispositor is the real power hitter in your chart, the main playmaker …and regardless of the aspects to it, you have to learn to make friends with it.

In some cases you may have more than 1 final dispositor, in some cases, you may not have a clear one.

So, what does it mean?

Looking at my chart, I have the Sun in Pisces. Jupiter rules Pisces, so therefore my Sun is said to be disposited by Jupiter. Jupiter is in Cancer where it is ruled by the Moon. The Moon disposits Jupiter. The Moon is in Pisces, so is disposited by Jupiter. And around we go.

Mercury, in Pisces, will also end at the Moon and Jupiter. Jupiter and the Moon are joint dispositors.

What of the other planets?

Venus and Saturn are in Aries. Mars rules Aries, so Mars disposits Venus and Saturn. Mars is in Scorpio where he is ruler. Mars is final dispositor in this case.

The three main planets in my chart would therefore be the Moon, Jupiter and Mars.

The Moon and Jupiter trine each other and the modern ruler of Pisces (Neptune).  They are also in “mutual reception” ie the Moon rules the sign Jupiter is in and Jupiter rules the sign the Moon is in. All three are connected by water.

My life would be more difficult if they didn’t get along.

Get the idea?

In the example above I used traditional ruler-ships, but there’s no reason why you can’t experiment with Uranus, Neptune and Pluto as well.

In this case, mine would look like:

  • Sun/Moon/Mercury (in Pisces)- Neptune (in Scorpio)- Mars (in Scorpio)- Pluto (in Virgo)- Mercury (in Pisces)…and so it goes around
  • Venus/Saturn (in Aries)- Mars- Pluto (in Virgo)- Mercury- Neptune…and so it goes around
  • Uranus/Pluto (in Virgo)- Mercury- Neptune- Mars- Pluto- Mercury- Neptune etc.
  • Neptune/Mars (in Scorpio)- Pluto….etc
  • Jupiter (in Cancer)- Moon (in Pisces)- Neptune- Mars- Pluto etc

Using the modern rulers, I can’t afford to take my eye off the ball at all. No planet is in absolute rulership.

This is called a “ring” disposition. If this is you, you will be interested in absolutely everything, will be good at a lot of things, will wish that you were more focused, but were actually born to be this versatile. Jack of all trades and master of none? Be a little kinder to yourself . Maybe I should take my own advice?

Anyways, have a go at this yourself.

Were you surprised by the results?




Ask AstroJo: Traditionally Yours

Mooloolaba Beach at sunrise
Mooloolaba Beach at sunrise

I’ve been on a family holiday/roadtrip to the Sunshine Coast. Along the way I had some connectivity issues which, whilst convenient for me, meant that I haven’t posted on here for simply ages. Here’s one I prepared earlier…I’ll post more astro later today (& maybe some travel stuff as well) after I finish emptying suitcases into washing machines. Oh, and thanks to those readers who asked these particular questions! Keep ’em coming.

Sometimes you talk about Traditional Astrology. What do you mean by that?

Traditional astrology is the craft as practised hundreds, ok thousands, of years ago. It uses techniques as taught back then.

Traditionally people weren’t interested in things like relationship astrology, or what their Aries boss was like or whether you had control issues as a result of all the Pluto in your chart. Traditionally, Pluto didn’t exist- the Universe existed only to Saturns boundary. No asteroids, no Chiron, no Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Life spans were shorter and priorities were very different and seriously, if you were feeling unfulfilled at work, well, it was a 14th century case of buy some cement and harden the flip up.

Medical practitioners studied astrology, and for most of the population, astrology was useful really only for what we now now as “electional” ie pick a time, and “horary”, single question purposes.

The aspects were as expressed by Ptolemy (this dude who lived forever ago) and were simple: conjunction, square, opposition, sextile, trine.

Fixed stars and calculated points or “arabic parts” (such as the part of Fortune, the part of Misery, the part of Spirit, the part of Barley) were used widely.

These days most astrologers use a combination of modern and traditional techniques. By default, as soon as you start looking at personality profiles and psychological astrology, you are in modern territory. Some stick purely to the traditional, while others bring in every asteroid or moving part in the Universe and every possible aspect.

Ultimately, it is what suits you.

Personally, I like a mix of both- traditional, with some modern. I tend not to use asteroids (but that isn’t to say I won’t get into that in the future) mainly because I don’t like to complicate things and I really haven’t spent much time learning about them. Having said that, they illustrate a chart beautifully and absolutely have a place. I especially like to see the impact of Lilith and find Ceres fascinating when it comes to looking at eating disorders and weight issues- but that is just something I am playing around with at present.

I also follow other traditional “rules” such as I consider only same sign aspects. As an example, I have the Moon at 27 Pisces, and Saturn at 1 Aries. Many astrologers would consider that conjunct. I don’t. To me, there is no aspect at all. The possibility of my Moon to make as aspect with Saturn ceases at the border of Pisces. Same sign only. But, that is my opinion.

Do you use traditional and modern rulers when you are writing an article of in one of the FAA exams?

FAA is the Federation of Australian Astrologers.

It depends on the topic. When I did the electional and horary questions in the advanced paper I stuck only to the traditional planets and traditional rulers.  Traditional astrology questions = traditional rulers.

When it comes to more modern topics ie relationship astrology, personalities etc I use both- as I believe both have a role to play. I don’t think you can understand Pisces from a personality viewpoint without considering the nature of both rulers- and the same applies to Scorpio and Aquarius.

When I was doing the exams, I kept it consistent and also “worded in” that I was using both. Oh, and yes, I passed 🙂

How close to the cusp in your natal chart do you read for the planet being in the next sign? What about house cusps?

I don’t. At all. When it comes to planets they are either in a sign or they aren’t. The first degree and last degree seem to have a huge amount of whatever that signs energy is, so enjoy it.

Eg if you have your Moon at 29 Pisces 36’, it is a Pisces Moon and shouldn’t be “read” into Aries…assuming your birth time is correct, that is (as an aside, any time you have a Moon within 5 degrees of a sign (ie 0-5 or 25-29 degrees) make sure that the birth time you are using is reliable.

Now, to house cusps…this one is a tad trickier to answer.

If you read any of John Frawleys’ Real Astrology texts, if a planet is in the same sign as the house cusp and within 5 degrees of that house cusp, he “reads” the planet as being in that house. Eg say the cusp of the Midheaven (or 10th house) is 10 Taurus and Venus is at 7 Taurus, you would “read” that Venus as being in the 10th house.

Other astrologers may argue with me (and that is fine), but I only apply this logic when I am working with horary, electional or other traditional techniques. I do not apply this to natal charts. In a natal chart, that Venus at 7 degrees is a 9th house Venus- in my humble opinion.

This is what has worked for me. Again, though, be consistent and listen to what resonates with you.

Where is the Server? A Horary Chart


Regular readers will know that I have been doing some facility relocations recently- it is part of my partition job, and actually one of the parts I like the best. During the most recent move a server went missing somewhere between Adelaide and Brisbane.

So, where is it?

Horary astrology is, to quote the master John Frawley (from his book The Horary Textbook) “the art of drawing specific answers to specific questions from an astrological chart set for the time the question is asked.”

A traditional technique, charts can be drawn for any specific question from “how does he feel about me?” to “should I take the job?” to “when will the tradesman turn up?” to “should I stay or should I go?” to “where the flip is this flipping server?”

So, for keen students of traditional astrology, here is the chart for the minute that I asked the question plus some of my ideas from the chart. But please, if anyone has any ideas, send them on through! It may be old, but it is much loved and missed. And, as is usual with missing items, domestic blindness counts for a lot & someone un-related may just see what we have missed…or may read the chart completely different to me &, in so doing, find the flipping server.

Step 1- What planet signifies the missing server?

We need to find the significators of the server. Usually moveable possessions are signified by the 2nd house, but in this case, the server doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to the company I work for. My job (and my boss) is signified by the 10th house, so the server is the 2nd house from the 10th, ie the 11th house. The sign on the cusp of the 11th house is Taurus, the ruling planet of Taurus is Venus. Therefore Venus could be the missing server. We call the ruling planets of the sign on each cusp the “Lord” of that house. But each planet also is the natural ruler of something, and Mercury rules computers and computing equipment, so we will keep this in mind as well.

Step 2- Will it be found?

Are there any applying aspects between the significators? In this case, is there likely to be an aspect formed between Lord 10 (Mars, my boss) and Lord 11 (Venus) or Mercury (the server). If there are no applying aspects it is pointless looking for it any further- it is unlikely to be found.

In this case, Venus (at 3 Pisces) makes no aspect to Mars (at 27 Pisces). And Mercury? Mercury is stationary about to turn retrograde. Mercury will, however, meet up with Mars when Mars is Aries and Mercury is retrograde. I reckon we will get it back.

Step 3- Where is it?

This is where horary is difficult for lost objects. With just 12 houses and 7 planets (in horary astrology we use only the traditional 7 planets- Saturn signifies the limits to which planets can be seen by the naked eye & we treat outer planets in horary much like a fixed star) to signify every possible position and situation, well, you can only imagine. At least for job or love questions, the outcomes are substantially more limited. Does he love you? The answer is generally yes, no, or he just wants a shag.

Planets within 5 degrees of a house cusp in the same sign as that house cusp are said to be within that house (in horary astrology). Mercury is therefore in the 10th. If I didn’t know that the premises in both Adelaide and Brisbane had been thoroughly searched I would take the guess that it was there.

What other (increasingly loose) guesses can I come up with? Mercury is at the top of the chart, so it is somewhere north or up high-ish. It is in a fire sign, so it is somewhere hot and dry. Hmmm maybe it made it to Brisbane and is on a shelf somewhere? Brisbane has, after all, dried out again now. I think I will contact the courier company & get them to check in their Brisbane warehouse…again… Anyone else with any ideas?