Astrology and New Year Resolutions

2014 by L Blake Finley, M.A.

(Updated 2014Jan10)

This is a re-cap and elaboration on a point made in a December 2013 21st Century Uranian astrology newsletter.

While teaching Ruth Brummund's method of uranian astrology with her assistance, students approached me with the question of why solar returns were excluded in her methodology.  Ruth's response included the standard comment of how an efficient methodology for daily astrological practice requires determining and abandoning marginally-functional methodologies. Many, including myself, had previously used solar returns for years with quite satisfactory results. Overall, however, there are other ways of doing things, and just as techniques vary, so do their outcomes. Ruth asked me why I need solar returns when there are solar arc directions along with comparisons/synastry between the Universal Chart (Capricorn solar ingress) with the natal chart.  This set me to thinking, and to investigate and then reflect, and I set about to test the other way that Ruth recommended, to see what the outcomes were. I needed to think before blindly perpetuating habit, and be open to different ideas and techniques, for maximum results. What is needed is a pragmatic decision based on observation of results rather than partisan or doctrinaire reaction. 

Thus, I compared solar returns with Universal/winter-solstice chart synastry/comparison and arc directions, and reflected on their technical origins and cyclical implications. Such considerations and reflections are common in much of the uranian astrology literature, yet often overlooked in mainstream astrology, as well as among astrologers who use uranian midpoint methods as a marginal adjunct to mainstream classical methods rather than as the core of their astrological methodology. To keep with the original spirit of Witte's and the Kepler Circle's astrology, one tests and verifies methods for relative efficacy rather than just parroting idolized authorities. The astrologer needs to make choices of technique based on results shown, rather than simple replication of predecessors, if credible and functional techniques are to result. Ruth had also reminded me that arc directions are indicators of how the potential already in the natal chart manifests dynamically throughout one's life -- directions are the natal positions moved forward in time. Whether arc directions are 'symbolic' or not is left up to debate, and both Alfred Witte and Ludwig Rudolph wrote on this issue, as did  Johannes Kepler centuries ago, no doubt among others. One translation of Kepler's writings on this topic, presented by Dorian Greenbaum and J Cornelia Linde, was published in Culture and Cosmos journal in 2010, and Witte and Rudolph echoed the same idea in the 20th century, while many of today's astrologers overlook an issue that may add a new dimension of understanding of the technical reasons for what we often describe as 'symbolic' methods.

Back to the main point... solar returns are the personal, subjective 'new year' that starts on/near one's birthday when our Sun returns to the original degree-minute-second position at time of birth -- i.e. the actual transits at that specific point in time -- and per earlier popular advocate Alexander Volguine, most useful when compared to the natal positions rather than used alone as an independent chart. Volguine's view on natal/solar-return comparison versus independent solar return chart is still debated, reminding us that the idea that the choice among reliable/verifiable techniques is based on what your objective is. Each sound and verified method may be valid in its own way, and we choose which seems most effective for our objectives. (And in testing solar returns, look at both precessed [sidereal-based/-adjusted] and non-precessed [tropical] returns to compare the pertinence of indicators.)  Some astrological authors have rooted their ideas in such pragmatic testing and critical thinking to varying degrees; while others seek primarily to 'preserve traditions' of 'the authorities of yore' rather than test their relative efficacy, or have replicated tradition unthinkingly.  The same can and has occurred in other sciences, contributing to mindless parroting and even disconnection from evolving and current realities in a world that really changes, constantly in fact -- where people sometimes wear names and labels of idolized authority figures rather than speak from experience in practical testing/application and demonstration in practical examples.

Universal Chart (Capricorn solar ingress/Winter Solstice) comparisons to the natal chart, in contrast with natal/solar-return comparisons, and in line with their astronomical significance, describe how the individual relates to objective public realities of the universal public solar year rather than stages of relatively internal personal development during the personal solar year based on one's birthday. Determining which is more important is based on what you want to study and base your prognoses on. For example, is the person you are reading for more focused on personal internal development and self-discovery issues primarily, or more on social/transpersonal/mundane issues?  Should a client's age, psychological maturity, or professional condition, be considered in making a choice between the two, if indeed both methods are not used?

Setting speculative theory, philosophizing, and sheepish replication aside, you can test the method out, in application, and see the results, and should probably do so, as with any and all methods, if you are to feel truly confident in, and competent with, the results. In other words, don't take anyone else's word on a technique, but instead see for yourself if and how it works. Johannes Kepler generally did not parrot and blindly believe, but skeptically tested each method to see the validity for himself before proceeding, and he did that centuries ago, when independent thought was rare and perhaps a rare luxury in an era of marginal social literacy and relatively minimal access to literature. And while the conclusions in his writings may reflect the limitations of access to information, and of the substantially different social, political, and cultural/ideological realities of the century and culture he lived in, the core principle of a rational scientific approach to astrology is relatively timeless and is perhaps more pertinent and needed today than ever, and should of course be practiced with ethical implications in mind, as should each and every science. (This does not mean submission to astrolophobic skeptics on a mission to bash and discredit astrology to satisfy their dysfunctional unresolved sadistic urges or other psychological insecurities.) The Universal comparison method points to the objective consensus Winter Solstice rather than the subjective individual's birthday as the seed-point for a new but different cycle, both of them valid in their own way. Use of the Universal/ingress comparison becomes personalized by its relationship/synastry between the natal chart and the solstice/universal chart, in effect reading the transits at the starting point of the astronomically-defined new year as an indicator of the full year to come. 

Interestingly, the closer one is born to the Winter Solstice, the more similar the planetary positions will be to those of the personal solar return -- saying something about Sagittarius and Capricorn Sun people and their inner attunement to social realities based on a Winter-solstice derived calendar. Does this correlate with the social facility and general popularity of Sagittarius, and/or the frequent social successes and status of Capricorn, in general, because of such natural attunement to the universal winter-solstice-as-new-year-seed cycle -- where Sagittarius seeks an overview of the implications of past experience, while Capricorn tends to start building on what has preceded it?  If you have not tested the method already, start with the last completed year if you are doing this around New Year, or with the current year if enough of it has past to see the correlations, and you may find the results quite remarkable. (Here to point out that the choice between Tropical and Sidereal zodiac is optional, and one should clearly considere that the two zodiacs will probably no longer have the same significance. Some primarily midpoint/uranian astrologers abandon signs altogether, other than to measure planetary longitude, to avoid this debate and because methods of thorough use of midpoints is considered by some uranian astrologers to replace sign interpretation with more specific indicators that make use of signs or even houses seem relatively vague and less specific, although not to the extreme point of being prescriptive or 'pre-ordained' and without latitude for free-will options.)

If you are an astrologer of any school/method/sort with regular repeat-clients, you may notice or point out how useful a New Year's Universal chart comparison reading can be before envisioning feasible New Year resolutions focused on dealing with objective global/social probabilities as indicated astrologically.  Such readings may be increasingly useful as we move further into a more globally-interdependent and globally-interactive society. It does not necessarily mean you need to 'ditch' solar return readings, unless you want to -- nor does it mean that solar returns are more useful in every way than arc direction or universal chart comparison readings.  These are methodological issues up for exploration among those astrologers who are still defining their own personal methodology for daily practice, and for those who are looking for other ways of refining and upgrading their existing personal methodology. Nor does use of universal/ingress comparisons mean that psychological factors in the comparisons are irrelevant and displaced by material considerations; rather, the psychological factors might be more geared to socio-psychological considerations.

As in any field of study, there are various methods and approaches available. Some techniques still in pop circulation and pop books and mags/rags are marginal in terms of unreliability and vagueness,and sometimes still based in centuries old analyses that excluded all planets except Sun through Saturn -- and so had to find something else, often based on assumed and often-debated and questionable planetary 'rulerships' to fill in empty space or houses now known to be occupied by since-discovered additional planets, asteroids, and significant nodes or barycenters that are measurable with relative precision and shown to have consistent reliable significance in interpretation. But, because astrology is today still not always approached as a science, and some prefer to see it as an 'ancient art' like pottery or painting, such questions and ambiguities remain open and unresolved.

As with all astrology, the smart astrologer will test each method s/he uses via feedback from family, friends, or clients -- rather than buying a brand name or idolizing methods or individual astrologers religiously. As in every field of professional study, theoretical or partisan dogmatism in astrology is not only as ridiculous and sophomoric as it is in entry-level academics... but it cripples the evolutionary advancement of astrology by abandonding critical scientific inquiry and replacing it with dogma-parroting and tea-party-style name-dropping guru-type astrology for sheep, oversimplified, or accompanied by dazzling conference displays of trivial gadgetry or clever quips that produce entertaining or mesmerizing momentary stage presentations, but little to no functional outcome once the show is over.

In any case, reliable astrology in 2014 remains in need of prioritization of methods, to increase its credibility, and a greater willingness to test still-debated astrological methods at very least via simple research projects. It is also in need of reviewing previous research for its validity and practical implications, even if it means abandoning nostalgically cherished notions. There also remains a need to not assume that truth is to be found primarily in the books and writings of yesteryear, particularly as the world is now changing so rapidly as the ice-caps melt, the coasts and rivers rise, the wind and ocean currents and weather change erratically, technology evolves dynamically, sciences and ideo-cultural systems merge, and the global ship's compass needle vacillates with each new and changing day.  The planets and stars, ironically, remain, overall, relatively stable and predictable in their movement, while mundane realities at hand seem relatively quixotic, remembering that astrology measures the movement of planets and other astronomical factors through space, only referenced to how they appear to be from the vantage point of our beautiful planet Earth.  If  you have not done so already, I invite you to study the impact of the Universal/Winter solstice/ingress chart on you own natal chart, as well as on those of family, friends, and/or clients. The comparison could serve as a useful pathfinder for each New Year that so many of us celebrate on January 1. It's no doubt been done by others before us, and the method, by its astronomical definition, puts our lives in context of the astronomically-defined world all around us, as viewed and experienced from Earth, here and now.

--- San Francisco Bay Area, 2014Jan01