An outstanding addition to the limited list of books on solar returns. The author bases his work on the technique of 17th century astrologer Morin (whose work he has also translated in other books), giving a solid historical background in the process. Filled with examples and case histories, this is an in-depth and rigorous read.
An ebook version of this book is available through the usual websites.
Astrologers who use solar returns to forecast the future are not in consensus about the technique. While some astrologers swear by them, others say they’re unreliable. One of the main discrepancies is where to cast the chart. Should it be for the place of birth, the place of residence, or the place where the native is at the moment of the solar return? Another area of contention is about weighing the various factors in the chart. Which planets should be considered first, and should the solar return planets be considered in relation to the natal horoscope, or should the solar return chart be considered on its own merits? Astrologer Anthony Louis addresses all these issues and much more in his remarkably well-researched and comprehensive guide, The Art of Forecasting Using Solar Returns. What is particularly gratifying about this book is that the author has done his homework, and rather than stating his personal treatise on the subject of solar returns, he presents an overview that spans historical, technical, and obscure methods. He’s analyzing, synthesizing, and then arriving at a new understanding of how solar returns work. He’s adding something new to the field of astrology. So many newcomers to astrology try to make a name for themselves by re-packaging what has already been published. For example, over the last four months, this column has reviewed four new beginner books, with each one being a cookbook delineation of the planets in signs, houses, and in aspect to each other. While it’s great that the public is advancing beyond Sun Sign astrology, the astrological community is already well-stocked with beginner books. What Anthony Louis has done with his investigation of solar returns – and one hopes that more astrologers will follow his example – is break new ground based on what astrologers have figured out before him. His scholarship and ability to bridge diverse techniques is a model of intelligent and practical astrology.
Louis begins with an overview of the solar return techniques used by the French astrologer Alexandre Volguine, which is a good starting place for understanding solar returns in general as a forecasting tool. While Volguine is a relatively modern astrologer (who published his work in 1937 and died in 1967), much of his methodology was derived from the 17th century French astrologer Morin de Villefranche – a contemporary of the famous horary astrologer William Lilly. Morin wrote in Latin, and not until the 20th century were his writings on solar returns translated into English. Louis devotes four chapters on Morin’s work alone, which he finds exceptionally accurate in delineating solar returns. Among the considerations used by Morin is the primary importance of the Rising degree, especially when it makes an aspect to a planet in the natal horoscope. Morin weighs planets based on their essential dignity or detriment in the same way that horary astrologers judge planets’ relative strength or weakness. Saturn and Mars are generally considered bad, while Venus and Jupiter are good. Planets in the 8th and 12th houses are especially difficult or unfortunate since these houses are associated with death, danger, grief, secret enemies, sickness, and imprisonment. Chapter Ten summarizes Morin’s contributions with a list of 31 aphorisms for judging solar returns.
Louis illustrates the various solar return techniques throughout the book using celebrity examples and from his personal files. Among the celebrities examined are notables from Morin’s time, such as King Gustav from Sweden. And then we learn how Morin predicts his own death. Virtually all the examples deal with unusually catastrophic years, which in this way demonstrates that the Solar Return chart must be used in concert with the natal chart. Richard Nixon’s solar return for the year he resigned the presidency (1974) isn’t spectacular in itself. But when compared to the conditions in his natal chart, the crisis couldn’t be missed.
While not many books have been published on solar returns, Louis takes care to survey the field. Authors discussed include Marc Penfield, Raymond Merriman, Mary Shea, and Celeste Teal. In Louis’s view, Merriman’s 1977 work stands out since he independently discovered a way to progress the solar return chart over the coming year, a way which reiterates Morin’s identical technique, but which Merriman couldn’t have known about since Morin’s work wasn’t yet available in English. While much of The Art of Forecasting Using Solar Returns is narrative, Chapter 14 presents a cookbook of aspects, a section which makes an excellent reference. Chapter 15 – “Putting it All Together” – can also be used as a reference, since it distills all the techniques discussed.
Kudos to Anthony Louis for this fascinating exploration of solar returns, and for inspiring astrologers to take another look at this underused and under-rated forecasting tool.
Chris Lorenz – Dell Horoscope
Solar returns are a popular tool amongst astrologers these days. They first became widely used by the medieval Arabian astrologers, and then Western astrologers began using the technique as part of their predictive system. In the 16th
century William Lilly and John Gadbury wrote about solar returns but not a great deal. Most of the detailed study was done by Jean Baptiste Morin in the 17th century. French astrologer Alexander Volguine (1903-1976) spent a long time studying Morin’s work to develop a detailed system of his own.
Anthony Louis has brought all this research together and put it in a language that we can readily understand today. There are plenty of examples throughout the book to help illustrate his techniques. The solar return, or revolution, is treated by the older authors as part of a greater predictive system. Nothing could occur unless it was promised in the nativity. Progressions and transits were used to time events, while eclipses, Arabic parts, solstice and equinox points and fixed stars were also considered. Solar returns were never judged alone.
Louis also looks at some contemporary authors who do not always use traditional rules. He gives their ideas without judgement even though he may not agree with them. Later in the book Louis also puts a cookbook of aspects in solar returns. At the end there is the chapter on bringing it all together and an excellent further reading list.
This book has a huge amount of well researched material giving the reader inspiration as well as all the practical knowledge one would need to forecast using Solar Returns.
Reviewed by Alison Feiner for the Federation of Australian Astrologers magazine December 2014
This very comprehensive well researched text offers readers unparalleled detailed explanations of the major techniques available for the interpretation of Solar Return charts. Well known for his work with Horary astrology, Antony Louis’ fascination with the work of William Lilly’s contemporary Jean-Baptiste Morin (a contemporary of Descartes), as well as his interest in the work of Alexandre Volguine, is evident throughout this thorough text. One of the great skills of the author is his ability to dance back and forth between traditional and modem approaches, including the writing of Mary Fortier Shea, James Eshelman and Ray Merriman, as he invites us to question and consider all possibilities. In fact, rather than merely presenting theories, Antony Louis skilfully engages us throughout this somewhat complex information with his own helpful research and suggestions. In the true manner of real teaching, this invites us as readers to embark on our own exploratory journey of true learning. ·
The basic premise we are introduced to at the start of the book is that ”the solar return is a key that in any given year unlocks certain potentials of the birth chart. A complete picture will not emerge unless it is related to the birth chart.” Having set the context, Antony addresses the issues of precession as well as timing related to death, and considerations related to Solar Returns when the birth time is unknown. The ample interesting examples throughout this thoroughly researched book consistently bring the theory alive. There are also many helpful aids such as keywords for the houses, planets and the Solar Return ascendant, a final cookbook section on aspects in Solar Returns, and an excellent recommended reading section. The step by step outline for delineating a Solar Return together with the detailed case study at the end of the book is particularly useful.
I will leave you with the words of the author: “a systematic approach to the Solar Return chart helps in mining all the treasures buried in the annual chart” bringing forth certain potentials when ”there exists a concordance between the annual chart and the nativity, the current natal directions and progressions, the current eclipses, the lunar returns and the ongoing transits.”
I would suggest that this excellent book is ideally suited to astrologers who have a good knowledge of the basics.
ISAR magazine December 2011
Books on solar returns, like those on electional astrology, are far and few between. For many years the practice of solar returns has been more an option for astrologers rather than a necessity, and this is primarily due to the lack of adequate and researched
texts on the subject. As a result, the subject has been caught up in contradictory methods and fraught with complications such as whether or not to precess or to relocate annual or monthly returns. But now Anthony Louis has come to the rescue and has produced a work that both builds upon and tests the sources of much of our original knowledge of returns, that of Jean-Baptiste Morin and his 20th century follower Alexandre Volguine.
In The Art of Forecasting using Solar Returns, Anthony Louis provides the reader with a solid historical background on the technique and lays out clearly how Morin, one of the greatest astrologers of all time, used it in the 17th century. He then proceeds to test this methodology rigorously with example after example – most from recent history featuring recognizable celebrities and also a few persons known to the author. Every
aspect of return interpretation is raised and examined, including those promoted by the few modern-day writers on the subject. By the end of this dense and thorough book the reader is offered a methodological summary and worked example.
To my knowledge, nothing this complete has ever been published and a serious reader will find the work to be all they need to guide them through the interpretation of solar and lunar returns, as well as their progression through time. Louis also tackles the thorny problem of precessed returns – do they work and what does one do with them?
Unlike other authors who take an either-or view on this topic, Louis shows the uses of both in example after example. Unfortunately, Louis does not engage in the same level of testing in regard to the relocation issue, though he mentions it as a technique used by both Morin and Volguine, the primary sources for his exposition of return techniques.
Overall this is a complete work and one that I would enthusiastically recommend as the one book to acquire on this subject.”
— Bruce Scofield – November 2006 (http://onereed.com)
From the Preface, by the author:
What if there were a method that would enable you to learn how the promise of your birth chart would unfold in the year ahead? What if that method would allow you to utilize everything you already know about astrology and simply apply it from a new perspective? Well, there is such a method and it is called a Solar Return (or Solar Revolution, to use a more antiquated
This book is about Solar Returns, specifically about how to use your Solar Return in conjunction with your birth chart annually to forecast the major themes and events of your life. The focus of this text is on technique. It is decidedly not a cookbook, plenty of which already populate the market, though you will find cookbook-like sections that catalogue information for easy reference. By the time you finish reading this book, you will have a solid foundation in delineating a Solar Return chart within the context of the nativity. Our approach will be to study the techniques of the masters who have devoted themselves to understanding solar revolutions, and the outcome will be an enhanced ability to think like an astrologer and also a greater
appreciation of the potentials inherent in the birth chart.
The approach in this book is not dogmatic. In astrology as in much of life there are many ways to skin a cat (my apologies to cat lovers), and we shall consider several of them. I have selected for inclusion techniques from the literature that have proved useful in my own experience, and I have added a few methods of my own for the reader to try. Learning is best by doing, and many example charts are included for study. From these well-documented cases the reader will be able to judge whether these procedures are valid.
I come to Solar Returns from horary astrology. Having spent
considerable time learning the techniques of traditional horary, particularly the method of William Lilly, I became fascinated with the ideas of Jean-Baptiste Morin, a brilliant French contemporary of Lilly. So great was my interest that I translated into English Morin’s Book 18 on the dignities and debilities of the
planets. This text represents my own struggles to piece together traditional ideas with modern astrological concepts while remaining grounded in empirical reality and the evidence of verifiable case histories. These cases are based on well-documented stories that make excellent illustrations of technique.
After completing the manuscript, I noticed an unintentional emphasis on death, accidents, life-threatening injuries, murders, and similar misfortunes. Such a focus on the dark side occurred in part because these types of events are common in the traditional textbooks, especially the writings of Morin. It is likely that I am drawn to such themes because of the prominent Pluto and
Saturn in my own nativity, and indeed my entrance into astrology was characterized by a study of the planetary conditions active at the time of my mother’s untimely death. Yet a deeper reason may underlie the focus on issues of mortality in this text. Only after finishing the first draft of the manuscript did I have the “aha” experience that the Taurus Ascendant of my 2005 Solar
Return, which was active during the year that I was writing this book, was drawing my attention, outside of my awareness, to my natal 8th house with its Taurus cusp. Ah, the wonders of astrology!