Solar return

Deep down, I suspect that most of us tune into something that feels special about our birthday, whether we admit it or not; and I feel that’s something to do with a certain power we sense around it, a window of opportunity for us to call the shots and be ‘in charge’ of things a little more than we sometimes, otherwise, feel. Perhaps being in denial of this, so a sort of misdirected version of this feeling, is why it has been, culturally, redirected towards a quest to accumulate more ‘stuff’, to focus on demanding and expecting ‘things that we want’ as gifts rather than doing the inner work.

It was my birthday yesterday and, for the first time (honestly) ever, I seemed to have no cravings whatsoever around the acquisition side of it at all; I chose to get a few things I would have got anyway and coincided the timing with my birthday but refused to have anything wrapped as it seemed ridiculous, this wasn’t what it felt all about to me anymore and I wanted done with some of the silly ritual of it.


What this stance did was leave space for was some real gifts. The insistence that she not go out shopping and spending her pocket money on something neither of us knew I wanted delivered to me the best gift I could never have imagined from my daughter; a home-decorated jam jar stuffed full of tiny scrolls and miniature envelopes or folded notes and minuscule symbols of all of our happiest shared memories. Its a gift that just keeps on giving since, explored without rushing, I am able to dip my hand in whenever I want and pull something out that makes me smile or tears glisten to discover that she remembers the same moments that I also hold dear about her childhood. Such a gift is priceless.

I suppose my real gift to self was to have my solar return reading done the evening before…to have my astrological charts read by someone who had read my charts before. It was a wonderful, insightful, session which (I’m sure, if anything like the last time) will keep presenting me with gifts throughout the year as the a-has of what was shared unwrap themselves in my experience. Its not that I rely on such a reading as any kind of forecast of what will happen ‘to’ me but as the unlocking of certain pre-existing potentials in my conscious mind in ways that help me to continue to be the director of my own best experience and I relish the sense this gives me of, more fully, stepping into my own power and the undeniable feeling of making full use of all my own resources that this gives me. For I have come to experience it as my reality that I chose when to be born (I LOVE that I was born on May Day and couldn’t wait to come out soon after sunrise on the festival of Flora) and, in so doing, to align myself with certain cosmological events, which is why astrology is so meaningful to me. In other words, I set it up that way, with my stars serving as my own map back to me and in a way that is a readable hint as to my own (if you like) life-time agenda. Its a simple case of getting to know myself better!

As part of this, and a reason for the timing of this reading, I was also told exactly when my ‘ten hours of power’ were going to be; these being the ten hours of super power that pivot around the time of your birth which, if known about, provide an opportunity to harness something special. So much emphasis was put on explaining that whatever I allowed to be the flavour of my experience during those ten hours of power would colour what my experience would be for the rest of the year – and, straightaway, I knew that I had already (somehow) known this and that it had influenced the importance I had placed upon birthdays all of my life. This was the first time I had given such a window of opportunity any conscious consideration and yet, at some level, I knew I had been harnessing it, on my birthday, for as long as I could remember; had always know there was something very special and freely available at my finger-tips for those few precious hours. Like an energy groove I somehow knew how to get into, it was like a stepping into personal power that would seem to evade me the rest of the year.

So shortly after waking, on my birthday, I performed a solar return ceremony…quietly, intimately and with a great deal of reverence for what I was enacting. This included preparing two handwritten lists of all that I want to experience in the coming year, reading this out and then burning one of these to release it into the void of all potential that is ever eager to receive such deliberate instruction in a universe full of seeming accidents.

What was so tangible afterwards was that everything felt especially blessed about my day…it really did feel gilded from then onwards; perhaps it was the conscious act of thinking this through, writing it out, saying it out loud – being on purpose about it all (and we should never underestimate the power of that). It was as though nothing could touch me in any way that truly bothered me or knocked me off preference; whatever presented to provoke or confound me, I managed to easily turn away at the door.

For instance, emails that sent that stab of annoyance or of urgency…something to be dealt with or done…were put quickly  into proportion and postponed, to another time when I might actively choose to take them on but not now.  Items in newsfeed that didn’t resonate were quickly passed by, choosing not to enter in where I didn’t want to go. I knew without hesitation that I wasn’t prepared to be taken away from my chosen flow of feeling today, for anything or anyone; I was no longer a leaf on the wind of circumstance and had set my path – and I started to imagine how it could be if I learned to live like this every day! This approach was so quick to deliver – taking me right away from the compulsion to control and manipulate what gifts I was (like a petulant birthday child) demanding from life; which, so often, take the form of what we think is the best or safest option, the culturally conditioned option or making-do with the lesser of two compromised possibilities yet missing a whole other layer of potential that lies beneath. Instead, it delivered  some extraordinary gifts of its own.

I gained a sudden wave of insight into why birthdays had always felt like such hallowed ground…its that, out of the whole rest of our year, its probably the most likely time when we are going to allow ourselves to play out the role that is our birthright (yet we forget this) as the creator of our own experience – our wedding day being perhaps the only other I can think of, which is why brides seem to get taken over with a sort of brain-fever of organising every minutest detail like their very life depends on it, not getting that they could spread the flavour of this life management that they find they enjoy so very-much across the whole of their lifetime and in a much more heart-directed and profound kind of way. The problem is, we are taught by our culture that we are only allowed to step into our power on these very particular days of our life…that it is the exception rather than the rule.

On these ‘special days’, we allow in the reality that we get to choose what we experience, to steer our boat into flowing waters rather than be swept against life’s rocks. So determined do we become to ‘have a good day’ that we suddenly remember (albeit temporarily) what it’s really like to be in charge of our own life…yet sadly believing it will all end and the slipper be lost as we race to our carriage at the stroke of midnight – back to the rags of an ordinary life!

Its like a card we think we are only allowed to pull once a year when, really, its in the pack and just waiting for us all the time…is so much more than just a birthday card, reserved for special occasions.

There was a touch of real magic about my day yesterday that was the undeniable evidence of all I am saying here.

One of the first magical things that happened, that felt like a flag to tell me I was deeply in my power, was that I pulled an oracle card, as I often do, and it was one I had never pulled before; ‘Metamorphosis’. If you have read my most recent blog about my recovery process, or even its conclusion, you will know how laughingly on-the-nail that was; everything I am going through, hence my frequent use of the metaphor, feels like I am going through a process of metamorphosis (transforming from one thing into entirely another, after a long period of being pulled into my cocoon) yet I have been struggling with the process of releasing from that cocoon, physically and – I suppose – metaphorically. Something about the solar return reading I had just had and the flow of my week had made me wonder if my birthday would come as some sort of breakthrough in this process…and here was I pulling the very card that said so. I was already laughing long and hard, with this card in my hand, experiencing it as such a gift and an affirmation of what I already felt was occurring when the next sparkle-dust settled on my day.


What followed swiftly after, like such an emphatic nod from the universe, was that – within about 3 or 4 minutes of pulling this card – I found a stunning image sitting at the very top of my newsfeed from one of the Rhodesian Ridgeback groups I follow yet rarely receive notifications from: a photo of a dog that could actually be my dog, it looks so incredibly similar, staring intently at a butterfly that is close enough black-and-yellow to be the same one from the oracle card. This is the kind of “stranger than fiction” synchronicity that I navigate my life by and I defy anyone not to be impressed by such a bizarre and rapid match-up of circumstance or to tell me it was meaningless coincidence. This could have been a picture of my dog Rudi, looking straight at my metamorphosed-self, thinking “What the….? She’s got wings!”

So, having performed my solar return ceremony, I was already in the spirit of leaving my requests out there to come back to me in whatever form they wanted to take. Already, a day later, I am seeing new evidence of how this is manifesting, including an email that delivered the first significant movement on one particular request, after months of feeling ‘stuck’ in this area!

Love and friendship were on my list and I have never felt in such a flow of love…so many messages received from friends over the course of a day, in a way that was quite overwhelming and unprecedented, telling me just how much my world has blossomed open in just one year.

So, with my ten hours of power in full swing, I didn’t choose to rush around making things happen but allowed time to luxuriate, to pamper and preen with lovely scents and favourite products in a bathtub by candle light; to swan around in dressing gown drinking tea, checking messages and skimming over my newsfeed; to browse the internet playing music and exploring wherever I felt led to go. We’d set a timetable for how our morning would fit together (having a table booked for lunch) but I allowed that timetable to stretch and distort to what was only just barely achievable yet I refused to be rushed…and as it happened, this new version of our timings allowed for a walk between rain showers and presented other gifts that would otherwise have been missed if we’d set-off earlier…the lapwing overhead as we stood by the river, a robin waiting by the car when we returned…subtle but tangible affirmations I was, on some other level that was purely my own, ‘perfectly on time’.

We made it to our restaurant just 11 minutes late and had the place virtually to ourselves; usually popular and crowded, there was just one other group across the room and we got to pick our favourite table by french windows to the garden which, dipped in a glaze of May Day drizzle and dressed in newest green leaves and blossom and the most blowsy of tulips, was vibrant and glorious.

Birthday 17

The waiter was entertaining. The music was extraordinary; so eclectic, it could have been my own diverse collection rigged up to the speakers and certainly not your average restaurant backing track. The food was lovely, the company (of course) the best. But what really made me smile was when one of the party of four in the corner, who had until then been talking so quietly that they could barely be heard, suddenly started quoting the long passage from Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus about Helen of Troy “sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss…give me my soul again. Here will I dwell, for Heaven is in these lips…Oh, though art fairer than the evening air Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars” so that I suddenly felt like I was in receipt of a birthday poem-a-gram! I couldn’t prevent a knowing smile to tickle around my own lips…

My ten hours of power ‘ended’ at 3.07 as we strolled in the wet garden enjoying vibrant flower beds against glistening leaves and admired some of the most extraordinarily tall trees I’ve ever seen, towering many times higher than the building (we’d been here many times before…how had I never noticed that?) to the sound of bird song and the call of red kites gliding above. It had been, I knew, a very deeply blessed time…something very special indeed.

But the effect of setting all those glorious intentions really doesn’t end there, in fact doesn’t end at all (and as if to nudge me into the knowing of that, the florists was peculiarly well-supplied with of all my favourites when I stopped off on the way home…the uncoiling purple lisianthus, and tight pink peony blooms, sweet scented stock and my perennially favouite pale yellow roses…so that I could gather my arms full of them to take home). Like those flowers  now in my fireplace, the effects just keep unfurling and filling your space with sweetness; strongest of all for the next few hours and days but then continuing to work their magic for the whole of the coming year. The momentum you have set in motion during those first few hours of power rolling on and on whilst growing and growing like a snowball on a very determined path down a hill; yet also, like a bobbin, unraveling and leading you along all the magical, winding route of all those most colourful, playful and open-ended of intentions you have set in motion.

For those most logical amongst you seeking for the ‘why’ of all that, could it not just be because of this simple fact – that for a concerted time, when we briefly allowed ourselves to feel what it is like to stand in our own sovereignty, an effort was made and energy put into setting those intentions that were nearest to our heart then letting them go, like clockwork minions whose work it is to do our bidding, gathering in the flavour of that which we asked for – and all BECAUSE we did that asking. For a few concerted hours, we put our own wishes first and took the reins of our own choices, allowing that we were allowed to have those preferences (without apology); and so we specified what we wanted to experience, we lived ‘on purpose’ and we CLEARLY set intentions. Don’t ever underestimate the power of this…I never will again.

What had become so strongly apparent to me was that this had been a reminder of what its like to live fully in your power ALL of the time; a very hands-on demonstration of all that is possible every day, and not just reserved for special occasions…Even if I do sense, and so maintain, that a birthday is a very special time indeed; a time when we are most likely to get back in touch with our original intentions…the ones that had us picking this life, this world, this whole bag of experiences and, like the biggest box of everlasting birthday presents, playing with it all every day.

About Helen White

Helen White is a professional artist and published writer with two primary blogs to her name. Her themes pivot around health and wellbeing, expanded consciousness and ways of noticing how life is a constant dance between the deeply subjective and the collective-universal, all of which she explores with a daily hunger to get to know herself better. Her blog Living Whole shines a light on living with high sensitivity, dealing with trauma and healing from chronic health issues. Spinning the Light is an extremely broad-based platform where she elucidates the everyday alchemy of relentless self-exploration. A lifetime of "feeling like an outsider" slowly emerged as neurodivergence (being a Highly Sensitive Person with ADHD, synaesthesia, sensory processing challenges and other defecits overlapping with giftedness). All of these topics are covered in her blogs, written from two distinct vantage points so, if you have enjoyed one of them, you may wish to explore the other for a different, yet entirely complimentary, perspective.
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7 Responses to Solar return

  1. Happy Birthday Helen and what a wonderful day you had. On the one hand I’ve always struggled a little with birthdays and I think this is due to an underlying sense of not being ‘deserving’ of the focus on me; on the other hand, I love the feeling of release that comes with having ‘permission’ to do so and not to worry about anyone else!


    • Helen White says:

      Thank you Andrea. Interesting isn’t it – these attitudes to a ‘special’ day help to identify the self-judgement and lack of self-love that underpin the rest of our daily life (feelings of ‘not deserving’ have been a big theme in my life too) and so help us to see where there is work to do on those areas.


  2. Karin Van den Bergh says:

    Birthdays are windows of opportunities to get back in touch with our original intentions..the ones that had us picking this life and in this way showing us of what is possible all the time. I like that and it feels so very true. Living purposefully as if ‘every day’ is our birthday.. and in a sense it is, we are being born anew every day, every minute and given opportunities to start all over again. When tuned and celebrated into this expanded awareness, birthdays are indeed special and very empowering. So much love and prosperity throughout your new solar year, Helen!


    • Helen White says:

      Thank you Karin; I seem to have reached the place in life when there are so many unexpected gifts to be found everyday that I’m searching for less ‘stuff’ to fill the gaps of life than ever before x


  3. AriesIntrovert says:

    Return charts are wonderful “weather forecasts” for how energy might unfold. I have never had one dictate anything to me in absolute terms (even solar return charts with emphasis on the 8th house of death), but they are a wonderful tool to work with. 🙂

    I like your solar return ritual. I do a similar theme on my own birthday (and other fun times of the year like Spring/Fall Equinox or Summer/Winter Solstice). 😀


    • Helen White says:

      I’m the same; its a great hint of the potential that’s out there but I also know its open to interpretation and I might not choose to have it unfold in the way the reading tries to suggest. Glad you enjoy rituals too; will be sharing my solstice one in the next post 🙂 Thanks for commenting, I love to get feedback.


  4. Pingback: Awakening flu | scattering the light

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