The Mountain Astrologer home pageSubscribe to The Mountain AstrologerSee the Beginner's Series from The Mountain AstrologerGet Back Issues of The Mountain AstrologerSee highlighted articles from The Mountain AstrologerUse the cross-referenced index for your TMA libraryContact The Mountain AstrologerGet special offers from The Mountain Astrologer

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13


Transits and an Introduction to Progressions: Part 9 of 12
by Mary Plumb

In this series, we have looked at the signs of the zodiac (and their elements, modes, and rulerships), the houses, and the planets and their aspects. In Part 8 of this series of articles, we introduced the subject of Cycles, and now we can go farther and look at transits and progressions.

In looking at transits, we will be seeing the cycles or movements of the planets again but with a more focused lens. When we speak of transits in astrology, we mean the positions of the planets (in relationship to the backdrop of the zodiac) at any given time. To become more personal and specific, we look at where that planet falls in any particular chart. (For simplicity's sake, let us refer to the example of a natal or birth chart, although transits and progressions can be used for any type of chart.) So, we have the birth chart that remains constant, (it is the picture of a particular moment in time – the chart of the transits of your birth, in fact), and the day-to-day movements of the planets against or through that energy field. By watching the movements of the planets through your chart, you can see where (house) and how (planets and aspects) the influences of the time are affecting you or asking you to participate.

What is the quality of energy now and what is being requested of me by the greater whole (or by my own inner prompting) at this time? Where are my greatest resources and strengths? What is the nature of the resistance that I might feel in being asked to fully live? If I fully face that, does it dissolve? The questions here could be endless, but let us be more specific.

Although there are many computer programs and excellent tools available that will calculate transits for you, it is really fun and engages you further into the mysteries of astrology if you consider doing it yourself. You will need to be familiar with the glyphs of the signs and planets and have a current ephemeris1 which shows the positions of the planets at noon or midnight for every day (as well as Full and New Moon times, eclipses, direct/retrograde station times, etc.). An ephemeris will be needed at some point in your studies, and students often invest in one, when they are starting to track the daily movements. Ephemerides are available for long time periods (1900 to 2000) or in smaller versions that have only the current decade or year. The most comprehensive are calculated for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), but the smaller ones may use Pacific or Eastern Time. Whichever you use, it is easy to convert the time to the zone you are living in. Any are fine to start with, bearing in mind that as your interest and understanding grow, you may want to look back at key events in your life as well as ahead more than the current year, so the comprehensive ephemeris is eventually well used by a serious student. You will have a tremendous resource for your further study at your fingertips.

In any event, once you have the current positions of the planets, you are ready to start seeing your life at this moment through a lens that reveals the majesty of the signs of the zodiac transmitted through the great planetary beings through your own resonating field, the vehicle of your birth chart! And what a great and profound discovery this proves to be – the specific help and challenges being whispered (and roared!) to you can come alive in an objective way, allowing an ever – deepening and broadening self-knowledge and observation of the world.

To begin, draw the transiting planets on your chart and see where they are falling. Are any planets angular, that is, the Ascendant, Descendant, IC or Midheaven? What natal houses do the transiting planets fall in? What natal planets are being touched, either directly (by conjunction) or by other aspect? You can start with the slowest-moving planets, Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus, and see, first of all, if any of these outer planets are near an angle in your birth chart. Are they about to cross, or have they recently crossed, one of these very sensitive points in your chart? [The fact that these three planets travel very slowly leads us to realize that the crossing of an angle (or any planet) in the natal chart by a transiting outer planet is of very great importance and may well describe the overall themes of a period of three or more years in the life.] Then look at the house position and any natal planets being affected, either directly (by conjunction) or by any other aspect. By combining your understanding of the meaning of the transiting planet with the particular sensitive point involved (i.e., angle, house position, natal planet and aspect, etc.), you can begin to gain insight into the situations manifesting in your life at the time of the transit.

I find it useful to start with the three planets mentioned and then move inwards (that is, toward Earth), looking next at the positions of transiting Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. These planets move more quickly, but the same points of observation are important, i.e., are the transiting planets near an angle or planet in the natal chart? What house are they traveling in and for how long? How are they aspecting natal planets? The movements of Venus, Mercury, Sun, and Moon are tracked in the same way: draw them on your chart and watch them move through the houses and across the planets of your natal chart.

In my experience, this is one of the truest ways to learn astrology – watching the transits of the planets through your own chart and observing what happens, both inwardly and outwardly. Keep a journal of impressions and observations. Some days it might be quite elaborate about some previously hidden aspect of your psyche that all of a sudden (with a transit of Sun to your natal Uranus, and transiting Pluto visiting your natal Moon for an extended stay) you see clearly and strongly. Some days you may just jot down brief notes (maybe transiting Moon in your natal 3rd house or in aspect to your natal Mercury) about how busy you were, how many tasks were required of you, or how you couldn't really settle down into any one thing that day.

You might want to choose one planet, perhaps the ruler of the Ascendant in your natal chart, (particularly if it is one of the faster-moving planets), and watch it for a complete cycle. You will be busy doing this if you have Cancer rising (or Cancer on the Ascendant) or if you choose the Moon to observe, as she travels very quickly. We can see a great deal about our emotional, feeling, receptive nature by watching her cycle around the wheel, which is the quickest cycle at 27-1/2 days. Watch her (and feel her) move through the houses and across the planets of your natal chart for an intensive learning experience for your emotional body! As a different example, the Sun cycles around the wheel in 365 days, or about one degree per day (remember that his apparent path around the zodiacal wheel is how we define our year). Since the transits of the Sun will bring solar vitality around the birth chart, you can follow his course for a year and see what is being highlighted in your chart by the solar rays. What happens on the day the transiting Sun crosses (conjuncts) Jupiter in your natal chart? Does anything happen? What is activated in you when the Sun transits your 4th house, or, more specifically, transits natal Saturn in your 4th house? Sometimes you may be surprised and delighted at the obviousness of what occurs and sometimes you may see nothing. Your observations will get more subtle and you may begin to see layers of meaning about this whole wonderful field of astrology that were previously hidden. This is where your own observation and experience of transiting planets become very real and very much a part of you. You will have a glimpse into understanding the possible meaning of a transit the next time it comes around, or you may see it for someone else, because you have lived it yourself.

Progressions are another tool we use to bring the chart into the present moment, so to speak. While transits measure the planets' movements across the zodiac now, progressions, or progressed charts are a way of looking more at the inner development of the individual. They are usually measured by taking each day after birth to equal one year of life. For example, if we count in the ephemeris to day five after birth, this will correspond to the fifth year of life, whereas 30 days from birth (or where the planets were 30 days after birth) will relate to the 30th year of the individual's life. There are many widely used methods of progressing a chart (Secondary, Naibod, Solar Arc Directions) and they each reveal a different view of the mystery of a human life. I think the main thing to recognize at this point is that there are many techniques that astrologers use to look at where you are now on your life path, and that the progressed chart (especially the Progressed Moon) reveals a subjective or inner state that you may have inwardly grown (or "progressed") into that is quite personal and felt deeply within, not easily recognized in your outer life. Although this whole question of inner and outer gets more transparent the more I study these things, to be very general for the sake of space, we might say that the transits are usually somewhat obvious and recognizable in your life, while the progressed planets describe a deeper, more underlying current or theme of a particular time in life. The progressed planets move around the chart in much the same way as the transits, although their movement is much slower. As the most basic example, the transiting Moon travels around the chart in 27-1/2 days, while the progressed Moon takes 27-1/2 years to sojourn around the complete wheel.


1. Neil Michelsen's The American Ephemeris for the 20th Century; ACS, are very comprehensive.


Steven Forrest, The Changing Sky; ACS Publications., 1989.

Robert Hand, Planets in Transit; Para Research, 1976.

Alexander Ruperti, Cycles of Becoming: The Planetary Pattern of Growth; CRCS, 1978.

Howard Sasportas, The Gods of Change; Arkana, 1989.

Nancy Anne Hastings, Secondary Progression: Time to Remember; Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1984.



© 2007 The Mountain Astrologer. All rights reserved.