This is a revised edition of a book originally published in 1992. Mary Shea, who has a M.A. in Counseling Psychology, has written a comprehensive book on the subject of solar returns. The author has found solar returns to be most useful for understanding self-development and inner growth; her book specializes in the psychological issues represented in the solar return chart.

Ms. Shea's counseling talent is well represented as she describes the range of issues likely to manifest in any year, along with valuable advice on how to make best use of the time. The author has a mature understanding of the kinds of personal issues that can emerge in an astrological consultation; i.e. self esteem, creativity, intimacy issues, anger, making this an excellent reference for those astrologers working with clients. The ideas given here can be applied in client work; it is constructive throughout and contained within the scope of most astrologer's skills. Although she addresses a wide range of possibilities — from spiritual transitions to business concerns — she stays within the range of issues that most astrologers can safely address in a consultation; this work is not designed to trigger emotional minefields or process very difficult therapeutic issues.

In the beginning of her text, Ms. Shea demonstrates the cyclic patterns that the Sun and Moon make in successive solar return charts — a phenomena that occurs if one stays in the same location (and is not too far south or north in latitude). One of the strengths of her book is in placing the solar return in a cyclic context, showing how one can take advantage of opportunities for each year while preparing for the next year.

Retrograde planets, hemispheric emphasis, element and mode balance are covered before a discussion of planets paired by aspect. The main part of her text, however, is the planet's position by house, which she has found to be the most important influence. (This work emphasizes reading the solar return chart as a separate chart, without reference back to the natal.) Mary Shea writes for at least a page on each planet in each house, making this a very thorough text. She reports many events from her client files, with the view that the actual events have been motivated by the inner urges.

I have referred to Mary Shea's work often in working with solar returns and have recommended it to those ready for a new focus in their studies. She is positive, growth oriented, experienced, and communicates in a very clear and well organized way. (For readers familiar with the earlier version, this edition has expanded sample charts and interpretations, as well as some new graphics.)

Reviewed by Mary Plumb for The Mountain Astrologer, Feb. 2000 issue.