Solar arc directions are an extremely useful tool for the practicing astrologer. They are a viable alternative to other methods of symbolic movement of the natal chart, such as secondary progressions. Ease and effectiveness of use are two key reasons that I use Solar Arc Directions as my main means of forecasting, along with triggers from transiting planets.
To put it simply, a Solar Arc is the angular distance between the natal Sun and the secondary progressed Sun. The secondary progressed Sun is simply taking the position of the sun at birth and symbolically counting forward one day in the ephemeris for each year of life, then taking the new position of the Sun for the desired year as the progressed sun.
In Solar Arc Directions, the Sun is first progressed as in a secondary progression, then the position of the natal Sun is subtracted from it. This number or Arc is then added to all of the bodies and sensitive points of the natal chart, then the Arced placements are compared to the natal placements and exact aspects are noted.
With Solar Arc Directions, the movement of all the planets and points are approximately 1 degree per year, with slight variations depending on the season of the year in which the subject is born. This is what makes them so easy to use.
If you want to see where a particular point is arcing to in your natal chart, you can just take your age, and add that number of degrees to the natal placement and that is where, approximately, the point has arced to. For example, if you have Mars at 0 degrees Aries in your natal chart, at age 25, Mars would be, by Solar Arc Direction, at 25 degrees Aries.
Using this method, you can also look at a chart quickly and see what years were important in a client’s life. To do this, simply look for planets in the 12th, 3rd, 6th and 9th houses and count how many degrees those planets are from the next angle, and that is an important age.
As a personal example, I have Jupiter in the 12th house in 27 degrees of Sagittarius… and my ascendant is at 13 Capricorn. Subtract the difference between the two and you come up with 16. With Jupiter arcing to the ascendant at that age, would expect a change for the better in personal appearance, a measure of success, and since it is a Capricorn Ascendant with Saturn conjunct it, an increase in public visibility with Jupiter making the saturnian ascendant more sociable.
At age 16, I began my career as an actor, began seriously studying astrology, grew 8 inches in height, and greatly expanded my social circle. At the end of that year, as Jupiter hit my Saturn, my mother passed away and I became much more independent. If you don’t use Solar Arc Directions already, take a look you own charts or those of your friends, family or clients to find the same kind of correlations. You should then be convinced of the efficacy of Solar Arc Directions.
Again, the easy way to check for important Solar Arc Directions is to look for any planets in the 12th, 3rd, 6th or 9th house, subtract the number of degrees they are away from the angle and take that number as your age, giving six months orb on either side. Take the nature of that planet and the angle it will contact at that age and see if the description fits. If you have no planets in those houses, check planets in the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th and arc the previous angle to them. If you still have nothing to direct (highly unlikely) do it with two planets that have 15-30 degrees of separation between them and use them to find a good arc example.
After you have looked at the simple method for determining important Solar Arc Directions, it’s time to delve a bit deeper. Although the degree-for-a-year method I showed you above can be very easy to do right from the natal chart, for older subjects it becomes impractical. This is not only because as the subject gets older it is harder to see the arcs, but because the Sun does not move exactly 1 degree per day, but varies in speed due to season. By the age of 45 or so, the variance can be as much as 3 degrees/years, so we do need to be more accurate with older subjects. You can do the calculations by hand, which is tedious, or you can do as I do and have a computer calculate the directions for you.
I use Matrix Blue Star to calculate the Solar Arc Directions and assemble them on a printed “hit list”, which gives me the directed and receiving point, as well as the aspect formed and the date/time. Most other high-quality astrology calculation programs will be capable of this also. The date is important, but the time can be disregarded because we will take the date and use a six-month orb or either side of the given date on the hit list.
In most charts, there will be not more than a few Solar Arc Directions between planets and other major points in the chart for each year. So, how do we form a full picture using only 2 or 3 aspects? Well, there are a few ways.
Though the Solar Arc Directions to the planets and angles are very important and should be looked at first, one can also add in transits of the slower moving planets. Another method that I use in addition to the transits, and that is Solar Arc Directions to midpoints of significant chart factors. The discussion of midpoints is outside the scope of this article. If you would like more information on midpoints I suggest “Working with Astrology” by Charles Harvey and Michael Harding or “The Combination of Stellar Influences” by Reinhold Ebertin.
The aspects that I use when looking at Solar Arc Directions are the Hard aspects, that is those that are multiples of 45 degrees. These aspects are the conjunction (0deg), Semi-square (45deg), Square (90deg),Sesquiquadrate (135deg) and the Opposition (180deg). I use these aspects because I feel that they deal mostly with manifestation, while the other aspects are more inward directed. You may use whatever aspects you choose, but I suggest you try using only the hard aspects as an experiment. You might be impressed by how they show actual manifestation rather than more internal processes. I try to make my astrology very practical, so when doing forecasts, I use those methods that will give the best results to my clients, and the hard aspects seem to be more “concrete” for me.
Now let’s move on to a few practical examples. The conventions here will be that the Arcing planet or point will be prefixed by “d” for solar arc direction and the receiving planet will have no prefix. The arcing planet or point will be first in order, followed by the planet or point receiving the aspect. The “=” sign will signify that some hard aspect is formed by the arcing point to the receiving point. I will not specify which most times, but will occasionally point up when it is a conjunction (CNJ) for emphasis.
The other abbreviations I will use follow: SU=Sun, MO=Moon, ME=Mercury, VE=Venus, MA=Mars, JU=Jupiter, SA=Saturn, UR=Uranus, NE=Neptune, PL=Pluto, NN=North Node of the Moon, A=Ascendant, M=Midheaven, PF=Part of Fortune. Now, now the first chart I’d like to look at in our examples is that of O.J. Simpson. In the Summer of 1994, O.J. reached his “Solar arc Mid-life crisis.” That is when the Solar Arc equals 45 degrees, making all his planets in hard aspect to their natal position. This happens to everyone around ages 45-48 or so. In addition to all his natal planets = their own position, O.J. also had dUR=SA in 1994/95. UR=SA is the breakdown of old structures, suddenly and with great surprise. Conflicts with authority and power structures are also indicated. In late 1995, O.J. has dJU=M, dVE=JU and in early 1996, O.J. has dNE=A, dNN=SU, dSA=MO and dMO=PL.
We can see from these directions that O.J. went through, and is still going through a powerful time in his life. The abundance of fortunate aspects at the time of his acquittal are telling, but now that the trial is over, O.J. still has powerful issues to resolve with himself and the public. NE, NN, SA and PL aspecting his personal points will prove to be a huge test for O.J. in this post-trial year.
Another “Solar Arc mid-life crisis” to look at is Prince Charles, who had his in 1993. Accompanying this was both dUR=JU and dJU=UR, representing his freedom from a loveless marriage perhaps. His Arcs for 1996 are dM=VE and dVE=SA. Perhaps he will get that divorce. His mother, Queen Elizabeth II, also has some interesting arcs to look at. In 1995, She had dJU=VE, dSU=NE, dVE=MA, dNE=VE, dNN=MO. With Neptune involved in the Arcs, we can see a degree of illness, disillusionment and confusion, and the Venus/Mars component shows her meddling in Charles and Diana’s marriage. I see her staying strong and resolute through early 1996 with dJU=SU (CNJ), but beginning to weaken toward the end of the year and in 1997 with dVE=NE, dMA=VE, NE=SU and NE=SU. 1997 may see the passing of the throne to other hands.
Staying “across the pond” we can look at Margret Thatcher, who was unexpectedly driven form the office of Prime Minister of Great Britain in November of 1990. At that time dME=SA, dSA=M, and dSA=SU were all active, showing a quick fall from power.
Yet another “Solar Arc midlife crisis” is the state of Israel, which had its 45 degree arc in 1995. This was accompanied by dME=M, dJU=PL, dPL=JU and dM=ME. Here we can see the peace talks process and the fundamental changes in the state of Israel, as well as the assassination of it’ leader. A key year to watch in Israel’s future is 2005, when dMA=A(CNJ). This configuration shows physical danger to the body and can signify a war.
The last examples That I would like to give on Solar Arc Directions is a short look at some of the major players of the Gulf War of 1990/1991. At the time of the invasion from Iraq, Kuwait was undergoing it’s Saturn Return. The main solar arcs at were: dMO=SU, dMO=A, dSA=MO and dJU=PL. These show a restriction of the population by force.
Iraq’s Arcs include dA=MA, dSA=M, dMA=NN, and SU=JU. After successful war and occupation of Kuwait (dA=MA) Iraq was driven out of Kuwait by superior forces (dSA=M, dMA=NN). But for all the talk about the coalition’s great victory, Saddam Hussein was able to retain his power and quash two rebellions against his rule immediately after the war (dSU=JU) (Hussein himself had dNE=SU early in the war and dMA=PL and dMA=JU after the cease fire, allowing him to stop the rebellions and retain power) Saudi Arabia was at that time going though its 90 arc, that is everything in the Natal chart was being squared by its own arcing position. Other arcs include dMA=NN, dUR=M, dPL=ME, dME=PL and dMO=MA clearly showing their involvement in the war.
The USA at the time had both dSU=A and dSU=NE, showing the great victory in Kuwait and the confusion and frustration in not being able to topple Saddam Hussein. George Bush was riding high in approval ratings, as high as 98%, during and shortly after the Gulf War (dPL=JU, dMO=SU, dVE=SU). But eventually dropped drastically in the polls and lost his re-election bid. (dJU=NE, dUR=MA, dUR=PL, dNE=A.) Neptune = the Ascendant was the factor that showed not only the disillusionment of the American people with Bush, but his own disillusionment wit the way that his campaign was run and the performance of his closest aides.
I hope you can begin to make some sense of Solar Arc Directions now and that you will find them as easy to use and as accurate as I have in my practice. Remember to start using Solar Arc Directions, just start counting the number of degrees from one chart factor to another.
If you have a chart printed out, you don’t even have to have an ephemeris to get started.
Enjoy experimenting with Solar Arc Directions!