Thursday, 31 July 2014: I woke this morning to the clock radio announcing that a young correction’s officer had died in a skydiving accident on Long Island, not far across the Sound from where I live in Connecticut. The young man, who would have turned 26 years old today, fell to his death yesterday due to a parachute failure. According to the NY Daily News, the deceased man’s mother “told the Daily News that she was supposed to be celebrating her son Gary’s 26th birthday on Thursday, but was instead gathering with family reeling over the Medford man’s death.”
As an astrologer, I wondered about the young man’s chart and about what was going on in his solar return which was about to transpire. Given his occupation (correction officer) and his fondness for excitement, risk and speed (skydiving), I speculated that he must have a prominent Mars, an emphasis on Pluto, and probably lots of fire in his chart (from his late July birth date I already knew that his sun was in Leo). The time of birth is not known, so I cast a general sunrise chart for the place of his place of residence.
As expected, he has five planets in fire signs: Sun, Mercury, Mars, Uranus and Saturn. Thus, 50% of his natal planets are expressed through the fire element, which is associated with enthusiasm, risk-taking and a fondness for adventure. He has three planets in their home signs: Sun in Leo, Mars in Aries, and Pluto in Scorpio. (Mars is the traditional ruler of Scorpio, and Pluto is its modern ruler.) Mars in Aries is usually fond of competition, risk-taking, speed, adventure, and adrenaline rushes. In the sunrise chart, Mars happens to be in the Placidus 9th house, which governs air travel. Pluto in the Placidus 4th house of endings stressfully squares his natal sun in Leo.
Now let’s look at his solar return of today, calculated on the basis of his sunrise chart since we don’t know the actual birth time.
The most significant planets in a solar return are the angular planets. Here Jupiter is almost exactly on the MC, which would typically mean a year of career opportunities and advancement. Unfortunately, Jupiter is squared by Mars, powerfully placed in Scorpio in the 1st house of the body. Mercury in the 9th (and ruling the 9th of air travel) is also conjunct the solar return MC and receives the square from Mars in the 1st. Mars square Mercury is often an indicator of accidents related to travel or speed. Saturn also in Scorpio occupies the first house (physical integrity of the body). The presence of both traditional malefics in the 1st house of the return warns of possible health problems during the year, especially because Mars rules the 6th house of illness in the return.
Venus rules the solar return Ascendant and is thus a symbol of his bodily well-being. Venus in the 9th of air travel receives an opposition from Pluto in the 3rd of local travel. This Venus-Pluto opposition is squared by Uranus (sudden disruption, accidents) in Aries in the 6th of health problems. This powerful T-square formation involving the 3rd, 6th and 9th houses warns against taking risks while doing any form of traveling because of the likelihood of an accident (Uranus) affecting health (6th) and bodily integrity (Venus ruling ASC of solar return).
Given the turn of events, the symbolism of the general sunrise chart and its solar return are quite striking.