Introduction to Predictive Astrology – 1:
Transits in Astrology
– Written by Philip Graves, February 03, 2003
– Reformatted for WordPress, June 9th, 2016
What is predictive astrology?
In predictive astrology, we consider the astrological factors inducing and influencing temporary states and changes in the condition and situation of human beings, relationships, organisations and even countries. Such states and changes may be of a physical, mental, emotional or more subtly psychological nature, and include actions and decisions taken consciously; inclinations of thinking, feeling and activity; new awarenesses and drives; and events that seem to arise from external agencies of cause affecting oneself or those around one.
There are several different types of factors that are influential. The most direct mode of operation of predictive astrology, and logically therefore the first recourse when investigating the changes to which a human being or other entity will be subject during a specified period of time, is known as transits.
What are transits?
Transits are the real-time physical astrological influences arising from the connections made between the present placements by zodiacal sign and degree of the planets, luminaries and nodes at the time under consideration, and the placements of all the planets, luminaries, nodes, angles and houses in the birth chart for the individual or entity being studied.
At any one period of time, transits from each of the luminaries and planets to at least one or another of the houses (ideally, two, since both ascendant and solar houses should be separately tracked) in the birth chart will be active; and from time to time each luminary and planet will form different transits by aspect to planets, luminaries and other individual points in the birth chart.
Since the planets, luminaries and nodes each move through the entire zodiac in a fairly regular period of time specific to the planet, luminary or node concerned, all transits are cyclical in nature; and the cycles of the luminaries, Moon’s Nodes and planets from Mercury to Saturn are repeated in their entirety on multiple occasions in the average lifetime of a human being. The period of Uranus is about 84 years, so only those who live to this age or greater will experience its complete cycle of transits to the factors in their birth charts. The periods of Neptune and Pluto extend to approximately twice and three times (respectively) the average life span of a fortunate human being; and therefore each of us will only ever experience a certain portion of the full cycle of Neptune and Pluto transits to our birth charts.
The mean geocentric periods of the different luminaries and planets are approximately: Moon – 29.6 days; Sun, Mercury and Venus – 365.24 days (since Mercury and Venus are within the Earth’s orbit they always appear to circuit the zodiac at the same average rate as the Sun); Mars – 686.98 days; Jupiter – 11.68 years; Saturn – 29.46 years; Uranus – 84.01 years; Neptune – 164.8 years; Pluto – 247.7 years. These periods divided by twelve give the average amount of time that each luminary or planet takes to transit each sign, and therefore on average (allowing for different house sizes) each natal house. However, because of eccentricities to their orbits and factors connected with the movement of the Earth relative to the Sun, the planets do not all move through each sign in the same amount of time. The apparent speed of motion of the Moon changes considerably; it takes sometimes as little as just over 48 hours to transit a sign; other times well over 60 hours. Pluto takes over twice as many years to transit some signs as it takes to transit ones on the opposite side of the zodiac, and has been in the fastest-moving part of its cycle in our lifetimes.
1. Transits to the planets, luminaries, nodes and angles operate by means of aspects, in exactly the same manner as aspects in the birth chart, except that they are transient (temporary) rather than radical (lifelong) influences.
However, whereas in natal astrology quite large allowances are made for the orbs of influence of the different types of aspects, where aspects by transit are under consideration the orbs allowed are very much smaller. Opinions vary as to the size of allowable orbs for transiting aspects, but their effects will be felt most strongly when they are exact to within just one degree, and are very unlikely to be felt at all outside a distance of three degrees. This applies right across the board for all the major aspect types. It is perhaps advisable to allow three degrees for conjunctions and oppositions; two degrees for squares and trines, and no more than one degree for sextiles, semisquares, sesquiquadrates, quincunxes, semisextiles, quintiles and biquintiles. All other aspect types are best disregarded as immaterial.
While a luminary or planet is aspecting by transit a celestial body, angle or node in the birth chart, the transit will be experienced as the transiting body exerting a temporary influence, corresponding to its general nature and the type of aspect formed, upon the features of the personality, body and psychology governed by the aspected point in the birth chart. Whatever the nature of the influence, it will adjust the condition of the aspected point in the birth chart while it lasts, and may variously offset, clash with, harmonise with or accentuate the effects of the natal aspects and sign and house position of this point.
Transits by the planets from Mercury to Pluto are more complex events than the straight direct passes through the zodiac evidenced by the Sun and Moon, involving repeated periods of slower retrograde motion in the reverse direction through the signs and degrees of the zodiac, interspersed with the more rapid direct motion in the normal direction through the zodiac. Whenever one of these planets ceases to move in direct motion and turns retrograde, it appears to come to a halt, and is said to station retrograde. When it ceases to move in retrograde motion, it comes to a halt again, and is said to station direct. When a planet is close to one of its stations, it moves very slowly, and any aspect it forms by transit to a point in the birth chart will last much longer than it does on average. When a planet stations within aspecting orb (especially within one degree) of a point in the birth chart, the effect of the aspect by transit will be not only much longer-lasting but also more strongly and keenly felt than a regular passing-by transiting aspect of the same type between the same bodies.
When transiting planets turn retrograde, they very commonly form in retrograde motion the same transiting aspect they recently made in direct motion to a particular point in the birth chart. At this point, the same issues highlighted in the life of the individual affected during the first direct motion pass will be brought into focus again, but usually with a sense that there is more still to be done to resolve them. Then when the transiting planet involved turns direct once more and forms the same aspect in direct motion for a second and final time, the issues concerned will meet with their final outcome as affected by the transit that has been ongoing. Occasionally the outer planets such as Neptune and Pluto then turn retrograde again and move far enough back through the degrees of the zodiac to form the same aspect by transit in retrograde motion for a second time. When this happens, it will be experienced as a further recurrence of the issues highlighted by the particular transit concerned being brought into focus in a manner suggestive of slight backtracking or a lack of complete resolution. And then on the third direct pass of the transit the issues or activities will finally be definitively resolved as far as they are going to be by the transit that has been in progress.
2. Transits to the houses exactly resemble natal chart placements of planets and luminaries in the houses. When a real-time planet or luminary occupies a zodiacal sign and degree placement that falls within the area of the zodiac spanned by a particular house in the birth chart, then the transit of that planet or luminary to that house is effective. Within three degrees of the cusp of the next house, the planet or luminary concerned will exhibit some influence in the next house.
While a luminary or planet is transiting a particular house, the transit will be experienced as the principles governed by the particular transiting luminary or planet exerting a temporary influence upon the area of life corresponding to the transited house. Whatever the nature of the influence, it will adjust the condition of the transited house in the birth chart while it lasts; and its impact should be considered in the context of how the principles governed by the transiting body as expressed through the transited house sit with those governed by any natal planets in the house, as well as in the context of conjunctions it forms to them and aspects it forms to planets in other natal houses during its passage through the house.
Transiting configurations and their applications
Transits both to single points in the birth chart and to houses in it should be considered not only in isolation, but in the context of aspects between the transiting body and other real-time bodies. For example, a transit made by Saturn to a particular house will take on an altered, more awkward and conflicting feel while real-time Mars forms a square to real-time (transiting) Saturn, although real-time Mars is not transiting the same house or necessarily aspecting any planet within it. Transits operate both in isolation (where the transiting planets are not in aspect to any other real-time planets) and as configurations.
3. A particular case of transiting configurations that is very well known is that of transiting New and Full Moons. When a New Moon forms a transit to any point or house in the birth chart, the real-time Sun is in conjunction with it and forming exactly the same type of transit. The transit will be experienced as the combined effects of the solar and lunar principles synergically activating whichever house they are transiting or point in the natal chart they are aspecting. An extreme case of this is a transiting solar eclipse, whereby the Moon partially or completely obscures the Sun, blocking the path of its radiation to part or all of the Earth. This will be felt as a diminution of the energy of the solar principle in application to whichever house and / or single points in the birth chart are being transited by the eclipse.
When a Full Moon forms a transit to any point or house in the birth chart, the real-time Sun is in opposition to it and simultaneously forming the opposite aspect from any aspect made to a point in the birth chart by the real-time Moon (trine instead of sextile and vice versa, conjunction instead of opposition and vice versa, waxing square instead of waning square and vice versa). Whatever the nature of the transits formed by the Moon and Sun to points in the birth chart, they will be conditioned by the clashing energy of the Sun’s real-time opposition to the Moon. Full Moons which tie in by aspect (especially conjunction, opposition and square) to the luminaries and personal planets in the birth chart are felt particularly acutely by those subjected to them. An extreme case of a Full Moon is a lunar eclipse, whereby the Earth partially or completely obscures the Moon, blocking the path of the Sun’s radiation to all or part of the Moon. This will be felt as a lessening of the lunar pull and of the application of the lunar principle to whichever pair of opposite houses are being transited by the lunar eclipse and to whichever bodies and single points in the birth chart are being aspected by the real-time Sun and Moon.
Robert Hand states that eclipses transiting luminaries and personal planets by conjunction or opposition store up a powerful energy which is released the next time that the natal luminary or planet affected is in receipt of a major aspect over the coming months, usually from the Sun or Mars – and only at this time is the energy of the eclipse felt.
4. Perhaps the best known application of transiting configurations is Sun Sign Forecasting, as used by media astrologers all over the western world.
Armed only with the zodiac sign occupied by the Sun, as far as birth chart information is concerned, Sun Sign Forecasters have to draw as many predictive inferences as possible with very little knowledge of the specific conditions of the birth chart to aid them. Their foremost tool is the consideration of transits to the whole-sign solar houses. Strictly speaking, the true solar houses begin with the degree of each sign occupied by the Sun in its sign, since the solar houses are calculated on an equal 30º house division basis, with the first commencing at the degree and sign occupied by the Sun at birth, and so on around the zodiac in the usual direction. However, Sun sign forecasters do not have this degree-specific information related to the birth charts for which they are forecasting, and they therefore have to recourse to considering transits to any degree of the sign in which the true cusp of a particular solar house is found as falling within the solar house concerned. Of course, if an individual’s Sun is at 27º of Aries for example, this will result in transits made by a planet through the first 26 degrees of each sign being interpreted by the forecaster as falling within the solar house after the true solar house for the individual affected. On average, the solar house placements presumed by the forecaster will be accurate for only 50% of the population of each sign. This technical inaccuracy in relation to true solar houses notwithstanding, the method of whole-sign solar houses is in itself the most ancient of all the methods for house division with the possible exception of houses based on parts or lots, so it can reasonably be presumed to have some meaningfully applicable merit in itself.
Since the transits of the Sun, Moon and Planets through each whole-sign solar house in isolation provide only a limited amount of changing information for Sun Sign Forecasters to use when composing their forecasts for the different Sun signs, it is essential for them to also take into account the colorations introduced to each of these house transits by the configurations of transiting planets. In other words, they look at the aspects formed between the different real-time planets, and interpret them as modifying influences upon the impact of each planet transiting each whole-sign solar house.