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Tough skies require new strategies for traveling birthday charts...

By John Townley, January 2014

In the last few years, the popularity of travelling to just the right place for you birthday, for the optimum solar return, has been on the rise – at least judging by the clients who have passed through these doors. Each consultation may have a different and unique focus – love, money, opportunity – but almost everyone makes a point of finding out the best place for the next birthday and then tries to get there.  If we had the time and inclination, we would start an astrological travel agency…

We have covered the whys and wherefores of birthday travel here on AstroCocktail, as well as other astrological sites and pop culture sites, so do check those out for the overall story, lots of details, and some fun personal tales. We even sell a self-authored Birthday Report, years in the making, which offers not only a solar return overview and advice, but also suggestions about more and less favorable places to go for the occasion. It’s something you can calculate for yourself if you’re up to it, and certainly worth a report or professional consultation to get it perfect if need be. With the right software, imagination, and a decent travel budget, you can usually improve upon your coming year, unless it happens to be just perfect right where you are.

But what if you just can’t get it right, anywhere? What if the skies on your birthday are really terrible just about any place you might go? What to do? That sounds alarmist, but many of you with birthdays in the late summer or early fall may already know what we’re talking about. Unless you were particularly clever, it was hard indeed to find a way to put a good spin on the ever-present cardinal T- and grand crosses that clogged the skies and even brought the U.S. government to a halt. For many who were used to at best a short, fun trip to fine-tune a positive, angular planet, suddenly the only good spots were many time zones away where the troublesome sky tangle could be properly disposed of, if at all.

   2/27/14 solar return relocation (l) makes the best of two T-squares, by moving them off angles, adding trines to Asc and MC

Fortunately, the astro-weather lifted in mid-October for a two-month break, including a nice, lingering Jupiter-Saturn trine, but just before the winter holidays the cardinal conundrum returned and will be an almost-constant factor in the daily skies all through the winter, spring, and early summer. Add Venus and later Mars retrograde in the middle of it, and you've got a real muddle -- one with year-long personal effects, if that's happening on your birthday. If it's angular in your solar return, it may take a two- to four- timezone move to make it succedent or cadent and thus damp down its effect on your year.

Nothing a nicely expensive trip can't take care of, just keep traveling until that mostly Uranus-Pluto-Jupiter-Mars cross is appropriately disposed of. But suppose the Sun, Moon, Mercury, or Venus of your solar return is fixed or mutable and in hard aspect to Neptune in early Pisces or Saturn in mid-Scorpio...or worse, both. Now you can't go anywhere without an angular affliction! Is your only choice to stay frozen in place and pray for the best? Is there a kind of planetary triage where you can make the best of a bad lot, leave the rest to hang?

Like in the venerable board game, birthday travellers may have a hard time finding a pirate-free spot to land on this year.

Well, there is, sort of. Three things to remember, really:

1. The general principles of an electional chart (such as you would do for a marriage, a contract, a voyage departure) apply here, since this is a yearly beginning (being the Sun, for your inner self, ego, enthusiasm and confidence, etc.). That’s the ship you’re trying to navigate, so you can at least point it toward what you like, even if it isn’t in itself something you like, to gain the best available results. Think of it as a useful, but expendable (it only lasts a year), pointing/nudging tool for your general direction.  In a good solar return, you would want to also lock it into the degrees of your own natal planets, so it’s more intimately connected with you. If it’s a disaster, you want to diminish its overall effect by pulling malefics off the Angles, putting them in less active and agressive positions in cadent or succedent houses. And, you certainly might like to steer it in a direction that doesn’t involve your own chart. Just as you’d put the natal planetary degrees of you and your spouse on a marriage chart, to involve both of you deeper and more permanently into the commitment (read: when it gets transits, so do both of you, putting it all into sync), with a problem solar return, you’d just as soon it not focus too tightly on you -- unless you can get your personal degrees on the Angles with particularly favorable aspects.

2. With that said, another thing worth looking at is where you have power and where you don’t, fundamentally, at your timesscale of existence.  The Lights, inner planets and Mars, and to a certain degree Jupiter and Saturn have repeatable cycles you can actually interact with and adjust to in this limited human lifetime. The outer planets not so – they concern bigger, historical and social trends you have little control over, and which manipulate you regardless of where they (or you) are. So, tuck the outers away where they’re not immediately in your face, and put the personal ones up front where you can make some difference. Even if the overall return is thorny no matter where you go, this can give you a little more wiggle room.

A key: embrace what's given you. Like, if you have to use a cane, do it with style, penache, even an attempt at authority...

3. And finally, figure out creative ways to embrace what’s given you and make the most of it – make lemonade from lemons, and all that. If you’re stuck with an overbearing Saturn presence, instead of fighting your limits, play the authority (also a Saturn role), the older, more experienced one, roll with what you can dig out of its limited benefits for the year. If it’s an afflicted Neptune you can’t escape, take the opportunity to act mysterious, and it may cover up some of the ongoing confusion underneath. In the case of Uranus, emphasize your originality, not your erraticism. Even dark Pluto can be played for a kind of fateful magnetism instead of obstruction. Whatever the year’s ailment, put your own creative stamp on it. Like, if you have to use a cane, feature it, do it with style – learn to spin it like Charlie Chaplin or Fred Astaire, instead of limping like a cripple, even if it hurts. If you have to sail against a head wind, tack like a real sailor and use it to develop and show off your life skills. And above all remember: this only lasts for a year and it’s not the only thing that’s happening astrologically.

More on the basic principles of travelling for your solar return:
Birthday Stars

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