Book Review: “The Art of Forecasting using Solar Returns”

I recently acquired a copy of Anthony Louis’, “The Art of Forecasting using Solar Returns” *. The blurb on the book said, “…the reader…[is provided]… 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…” My curiosity was aroused, and so I bought the book.

Let me warn you. Anthony Louis is a modern astrologer, so one has to make some amends. On the whole the book has a systematic approach, which is to be commended. There are highlights, but I was disappointed with the judgement of the charts. The author makes extensive use of modern rulerships (Uranus co-ruler of Aquarius. etc.) and signification. For a rigorous application of Morin’s method I would have expected the use of the traditional rulerships first and then if at all necessary then the use of the outer planets, and if one really must then modern signification. For how can one test the method when one doesn’t apply the means used by Morin? Morin was a great proponent for astrological purity, and he wasn’t squeamish in denouncing anything that he thought absurd. The outer planets have a strange fascination. I don’t want to condemn their use, but it seems that they are overrated and that the fascination with them quite often sets up a barrier to “seeing” the more traditional testimonies, testimonies that sometimes are much more significant and have greater weight.

An example: The author looks at the primary directions and the solar return chart for the year that the initial draft of the book was made. A very good idea and methodically correct, as the determinations of the solar return are underlined further when there are also primary directions also involved. The following primary directions are listed:

  1. Jupiter directed sextile to radix Jupiter, L3 radix
  2. Saturn L10 directed trine to radix Jupiter
  3. Pluto directed sextile to radix Mercury, L9 radix

Then the solar return activations are given:

  1. Venus (s.r.) L1 conjunct Jupiter (s.r.) L9 (s.r.)
  2. Mars radix is in 9, Mars (s.r.) is in 1
  3. Mars radix L2 and L7 conjunct cusp 3 (s.r.)
  4. Mars (s.r.) in 8 radix
  5. Sun (s.r.) conjuncts Moon (s.r.) in 5

The first two primary directions listed can have some relevance, but I find that it is stretching it to consider, “Pluto, a general significator of in-depth research” ( p. 168 ) especially when Saturn L10 of the solar return conjuncts the Moon L10 of the radix! Of the listed solar return activations I think the first is the most relevant, the other four are secondary. What is overlooked is the conjunction of the antiscion of Mercury L3 (s.r.) with the Ascendant (s.r.) particularly since Mercury is L9 of the radix. Mercury (s.r.) is also close to conjunction with its radix position. Now that has to do with writing!!

Another example: On pp. 105-107 the charts of Rachel Corrie are discussed. Here the author brings the lunar return before the death of Rachel Corrie into the discussion. Again methodically a very good idea.
Here the determinations given by the author:

  1. Libra Asc (s.r.) on radix 8
  2. Venus L8 radix in 8 (s.r.) conjunct radix Emerson’s Part of Death
  3. Mars (s.r.) L8 square Uranus (s.r.) radix Ascendant is Aquarius
  4. Moon (s.r.) in 6 square Saturn L 4/5(s.r.) L1 radix and Pluto which is in radix 8 ,the author notes that a similar t-square between Moon, Saturn and Pluto is also in the lunar return

The given lunar return determinations are:

  1. Jupiter L1 (l.r.) is in 9 of (l.r.) square radix Emerson’s part of Death
  2. Jupiter L1 (l.r.) in opposition to Neptune (l.r.) Pisces is on the IC of lunar return
  3. Jupiter (l.r.) semisquare Moon L8 (l.r.)
  4. above mentioned T-square, Saturn (l.r.) conjuncts Mars (l.r.)
  5. Sun (l.r.) conjuncts Uranus (l.r.) in house 3 (l.r.)

For the solar return only two connections with the radix are given. The square of Mars to Uranus and the connections with the Emerson Part of Death are used as the main determinations. What the author ignores is that there is a very important radix return determination (Morin would immediately have seen this) and that is Saturn L1 radix almost exactly conjunct the 12th house cusp of the return chart. The antiscion of radix Saturn is conjunct Mercury L12 of the solar return chart and this within 5 degrees of the 8th house cusp of the return chart. Saturn in the lunar return chart conjuncts the South Node in the solar return chart. The conjunction of the antiscion of Mars to the Moon in the radix chart isn’t mentioned, but it is this that is activated by the square of Mars L12 (l.r.) to the Moon L8 (l.r.) That Saturn also is part of the T-square makes it even more critical. Again, in comparison, the outers are not that significant.

Facit: if you are a traditional astrologer the book gives a good and concise summary of Morin’s method and the many thematically well chosen example charts alone make the book of value. The only deficit is that you will have to examine each chart independently, as the author’s interpretations are interesting if you want to see what a modern astrologer does with a traditional method, but they often do not get to the core of the charts. Perhaps the time will come when the author will also engage traditional methods with traditional means, and the result should truly be a book well worth reading.

* Anthony Louis, “The Art of Forecasting using Solar Returns”
published 2008 by The Wessex Astrologer Ltd.
ISBN 9781902405292

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10 thoughts on “Book Review: “The Art of Forecasting using Solar Returns”

  1. Hello Thomas,

    I have not read the Louis book your reviewing, but I consider myself a ‘modern’ astrologer, that has become increasingly interested in traditional techniques. Here are some mundane observations regarding Burma’s radix, and it’s 2008 solar return.

    Burma: Jan. 4, 1948, 4:20 am, Rangoon.
    MC = 14 Virgo 54 = 2008 solar return Uranus 15 Pisces 27.
    This contact is clearly relevant to Cyclone Nargis.
    AS = 10 Sagittarius 40.

    Solar return PoF = 9 Virgo = Saturn 8 Virgo = radix Mars 7 Virgo.
    Solar return Neptune = 20 Aquarius, completes a grand cross with the radix t-square between Saturn(22 Leo), Nodes(22 Taurus), and Chiron(21 Scorpio).
    The May 5 New Moon at Rangoon:
    MC = 22 Leo, and AS = 21 Scorpio.

    Solar return AS = 13 Cancer = radix Sun-Mercury 12-13 Capricorn = radix Neptune 13 Libra = radix Moon 18 Libra.
    So the radix square with both luminaries and Neptune, is highlighted by the return horizon.

    Solar return Mars = 29 Gemini = Pluto 29 Sagittarius. Mars conjoins the violent star Betelgeuse. (The 9/11 attack Moon, and the Asian tsunami Moon, were both conjunct Betelgeuse.)

    Solar return AS lord is the Moon at 17 Scorpio -90- Chiron 13 Aquarius, and Neptune 20 Aquarius in the 8th house.
    I guess a ‘modern’ astrologer would notice the apparent prominence of Neptune repeated.

    The May 28, 2000 Grand Conjunction for Rangoon features Neptune right on the AS.
    AS = 6 Aquarius = Neptune 6 Aquarius.

    The Feb. 21 lunar eclipse degree is being activated by the station of Saturn at 2 Virgo. And the lunar eclipse angles were by triggered by Venus(AS lord), and Mars on the IC(26 Cancer), when cyclone Nargis first slammed Burma. Eclipse AS(4 Taurus) conjoins the malefic star Sheratan.

    Anyway- I just wanted to share a few observations that attempt to blend the ‘modern’ perspective, with traditional methods, as may be applied to solar returns.

    I like your blog. :-}
    Cheers,
    David

  2. Good Morning Thomas!

    What a coincidence!

    By synchronicity I myself have just received two books! One is the book you have just reviewed (‘The Art of Forecasting using Solar Returns by Anthony Louis’) and the other is the “Astrologia Gallica Book Twenty-Three Revolutions” by Jean-Baptiste Morin and translated by James Hershel Holden.

    I thought I would read Tony Louis’ book first, as his book on Horary written ten years ago is a well thumbed favourite, despite his predilection for upsetting the ‘harmony of the spheres’ by assigning house rulerships to the outer planets.

    Thank you for your review. I shall print it out and keep it with me for reference when I read Tony Louis’ book. 🙂

    Love
    CarO

  3. Dear David,

    How very interesting. I will print out the charts later and hope that I have a chance to look at them more closely on the weekend. And if at all possible I would like to devout an article to your comment.

    I am not a ‘rabid’ 🙂 traditionalist, although I don’t use the outers I do welcome other views, and promise to activate them for the charts you have mentioned. I personally prefer reading a pure traditional reference first and have the ‘outers’ as a sort of footnote. This would have been a definite advantage in the reviewed book. If I hadn’t liked it to a certain degree I would never have reviewed it!

    I know many good traditional astrologers who use the outers, as a sort of ‘fixed’ star. They are not given rulership of the signs.

    It of course pleases me that you like my blog. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Thomas

  4. Dear CarO,

    Although I have never read Anthony Louis’ book on horary I can well imagine that it is a well thumbed favourite. He has a very methodical approach and tries to cover as much as seems relevant to the topic of the book, at least from what I can observe in the above volume.

    You have quite a read before you! 🙂

    Love,
    Thomas

  5. Thomas wrote:

    “The author makes extensive use of modern rulerships (Uranus co-ruler of Aquarius, etc.) and signification.”

    Oh Thomas, doesn’t Anthony Louis know that Ouranos is really the co-ruler of Capricorn? Or that since Neptune is invisible to the naked eye (therefore unable to have heliacal phenomena), it can have neither hypsomata nor domicile? Or that Pluto is not in play because its rays cannot be conveyed to us by any visible planet? Ah, the vagaries of modern astrology! 😉

    And what are these directions of promittors to promittors? These are but the “mutual aspects” used with “secondary progressions.” Heaven and saints preserve us!

    But seriously: thank you for this review. Anthony Louis’ book on horary is one of my favorites. I’m sure his book on solar revolutions will be well worth the look. I would like also to commend the section on revolutions in Gadbury’s primer on astrology. A wonderful collection of aphorisms and some witty advice as well.

  6. Let me join the chorus of those who have not read Tony Louis’ book, yet, but plan to, and yet think the book has potential. Solar returns, or “revolutions” as Morin would have called them are one of those techniques that everyone knows about and very few know how to use. I remember attending a lecture by Rob Hand a few years back on solar returns and how he breathlessly informed us that the medieval or traditional way of using solar returns was not the way they were done today. The fact is at that time, very few modern astrologers were doing them at all, and many were disparaging them. Hand used Gadbury as an example and Gadbury pretty much does them the same way Morin did. Abu Mashar is on the same page as near as I can understand.

    That being said, Morin’s book 23 of Astrologia Gallica on Revolutions of the Sun and Moon (never, ever forget the value of lunar returns) is one of the most instructive astrology texts I’ve ever read. The reason is that this book (chapter really) has numerous worked examples, unlike the more widely read Book 21. We can actually sit down and follow Morin and his thinking with charts in hand. Trust me, the effort is amply repaid.

    This is not to say Morin is infallible or that he is never inconsistent or unclear. At times I wonder exactly where one of us, me or Morin, wandered off the plantation. However he is thorough, and he follows his own natural philosophy in order to validate his astrology. The problem in the text is that the tables he used weren’t all that accurate and the Moon’s position could be off by a degree or more. This doesn’t sound like much, but when we try to construct a lunar return and the Moon is off by a degree, the chart could be off by a few hours. That changes everything. Still it’s his knowledge we want not his accuracy.

    Morin and others used a predictive technique that makes perfect sense and perfect use of the art. He first looked for broad brush indications in the primary directions. From there he looked for confirmation in the solar return, then refined it further with the lunar return. Transits, the “be all; end all” predictive technique of the moderns, might be useful as triggers. Gadbury, Lilly, and others worked this way as well. So when Morin discusses the solar return for the year of the death of King Gustav Adolphus of Sweden, he almost causally mentions that all the terrible stuff in the return charts occurs (what kind of traditional astrologer would he be if he didn’t kill off a few people now and then?) under the influence of a nasty direction of the MC to Mars. The perfection date of that direction didn’t interest him. Primary directions are not a stand alone technique.

    I am made to understand that Louis’ book is not a simple explanation of Morin’s method. Morin can be tedious reading and the length of his sentences challenges the attention span of even the most dedicated reader. His translator had to shorten them from the original Latin and/or use some pretty creative punctuation in order to keep the contemporary reader on track. Still the use of directions (or progressions, or solar arcs if you prefer them), solar returns, lunar returns, and transits in that order has a lot of merit. If Louis’ book points us in that direction, modern rulers or not, he’s done us a service.

    Tom

  7. Hello Andrew,
    I have been remiss in answering your comment! Time to make amends. Thank you for the Gadbury reference. As you may notice, Dame Detrimenia recently received a letter about hypsomata and hypsomania. What a coincidence! 🙂
    best wishes,
    Thomas

  8. Hello Tom,
    Thank you so much for your very thoughtful comment! Yes, there is indeed a tendency to be fascinated with primary directions as a means of ‘timing’ events, but they are, as you point out, an even better broad brush. One has to begin somewhere! So one can just as well look at primary directions and if there is a bundle of them then to look at the solar, lunar returns and transits for that period.
    best wishes,
    Thomas

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