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Understanding Transits


The basic astrological chart captures a freeze frame of the position of the planets upon the celestial equator. And using mathematical techniques we can calculate the placement and movement of the planets for today and far into the future. And by knowing the placement of particular planets today we an see how this affects us by the contacts they have with our own astrological chart.

People share so many things and have much in common, we can all be predictable in many respects. But one of the things that differentiates us is our choices, the choices we make at our milestones. What is fated is the timing of these points in one's life. The freewill comes from where you go from that point, the choice at that moment. If you think back, I'm sure you can recall a time where the choice you made has put you where you are today, and that if you chose different, you would be far removed from where you are today.

Various facets of Astrology can show us our timing, and here we are using the technique of transits. We can observe the normal crisis periods, as well as our own personal crisis, by watching our transits. We can better work with these crisis periods by understanding what causes them. Transits tell us how long the pressure will last and they allow us to comprehend what we are learning abut ourselves so we can begin to use the energy constructively.

Transits basically signify important periods in life where awareness is brought to specific concerns and issues in one's life. A transits can set off chart complexes, for example, a Jupiter transits may signify a period of opportunity, but that opportunity may not be easily recognized if the transit also activates a natal Mars-square-Sun. Instead, it will energize the natal aspect, and until the natal condition is understood, the person with the Jupiter transit may not be able to see the opportunities that present themselves.

Understanding Aspects, and Their Implications.

The aspects in astrology describe the angles formed between two planets in the sky. Transits are angles formed between  a planet as it is now in the sky, and the position of a planet sometime in the past, as it is recorded in a birth chart. Thus, a planet can transit its own former position, or the former position of another planet.

Aspects indicate current relationships between planets, and transits indicate the influence of present conditions on something established in the past, in defining the meaning of aspects and transits, we can speak of them together because the interpretations are similar and can be modified by the reader to fit the conditions.

The major aspects are the conjunction, the semi sextile (30 degrees), the sextile (60º), the square (90º), the trine (120º), the inconjunct (150º), and the opposition (180º), in general, those aspects based on division of the circle by multiples of two are considered the most important, largely because they signify difficulties in relationships, and hence are most noticeable.

The aspects are roughly divided into two groups, depending on the ease with which humans can deal with the energy involved. The square, inconjunct and opposition are called the "difficult" or "unfavorable" aspects. The semisextile, sextile and trine are called the "easy" or favorable" aspects. However, these names have nothing to do with the inherent energy of the aspects themselves, and are just valuations from out perspective.

The following quick reference table briefly describes the list of aspects and their nature.
Aspect Degrees   
Nature of  contact
Conjunction 0°  potential, intensity, inspiring, birthing, creating
Opposition 180° awareness through differences, separation
Square 90° dynamic tension, independent activity
Inconjunct 150º adjustment
Trine 120° efficient, flowing 
Sextile 60° same as trine but not so strong.
Semisextile 30º same as sextile but not as strong

The Conjunction - When two planets are close to each other (7º for the planets, 12 º if the Sun or Moon are involved - these are only rough approximations), the energy of the two planets combine. When the planets are very close together (within a half of a degree), they converge to such and extent that the separate energies of each become indistinguishable. The simplicity of this aspect makes it the easiest to understand. However one should note the differences between the meanings of the planets involved to really appreciate the effect of a conjunction. If the planets are rather opposite in character (like Mars and Venus), if one of them is particularly demanding (like Saturn), or if any of the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto), conjunct the personal, inner planets (Mercury, Venus and Mars), we will have a combination of energy which will be so out of the ordinary that it will produce distinctive effects, possibly unpleasant ones.

The Semisextile - Two planets semisextile to each other will support one another in a very external sense, but will not share any true inner attunement. This aspect should not be considered or great importance.

The Sextile -This aspect gives a communication, that is, exchange of understanding, between two planets. However, this interaction is generally not potent enough to contribute significantly to the work of either planet.

The Square - In this aspect two planets fight against one another, with each trying to get the upper hand, trying to make the other conform to its mode of operation. The fight is continual and can only be overcome not by favoring one side or the other - as we so often do - but by accepting the claims of each identifying with a higher truth and unity. In this way we accept ourselves (if the aspect is in our natal chart), or our challenges from the outside world (if it is a transit) and allow for the true expression of these energies - conflicting, yes, but each valid in its own particular way.

The Trine - This is the most important of the favorable aspects, in that the two planets, rather than merely supporting or communing with each other (semisextile and sextile), now share a similarity of purpose. By this we mean they help each other to accomplish their tasks. However, the trine is less often noticed than the square or opposition, probably because people don't count their blessings as often as their curses.

The Inconjunct - Of all the aspects this is probably the least understood, but the most influential in terms of raising havoc, and perhaps the most interesting. Its effect is not as noticeable as the other "unfavorable" aspects (square and opposition), but this just makes its effects all the more difficult to deal with. When an inconjunct occurs between two planets it signifies that there is a slight disharmony between which the conscious mind dies not grasp. In fact, the conscious mind assumes that an uplifting integration of the forces of the two planets is not only possible, but just around the corner. This makes the inconjunct the aspect of false hopes and aspirations, and expressions which are slightly "off the lark". Often the person experiences the inconjunct feels as if he almost has some [problem taken care of, and yet the solution continually slips his grasp. If the problem is externalized, so that the person thinks that it is some problem in the environment which he is almost ready to correct, then it becomes particularly grating to those around him or her. If the problem remains internal, the individual will be continually frustrated and deceived by false hopes.

The Opposition - While the square produces a quarrel, and the inconjunct as unconscious misdirection, the opposition produces a standoff; a stalemate that is only relieved by compromise. The two planets in opposition to each other desire to operate in their own fashion and cannot conjoin in expression. The only solution for this is to find a balance, to allow each to have its turn, reassuring the other that its time will soon come, and to once again identify with a higher truth than that found in the strife and opposition.

The following brief example will highlight varying contacts (aspects) that two planets can have.

Identifying the Planetary Symbols, Their Associations.

Planet Keyword Duration
Sun illuminating. 1-2 days
Moon experiencing. 2-3 hours
Mercury moving, learning, worrying.  1-3 days *
Venus loving, socializing, financing.  1-3 days*
Mars energizing, accelerating, disrupting.  2-3 days*
Jupiter expanding, legalizing, inheriting.  3-10 days* (30)
Saturn ambition; structural development.  8-14 days* (8 weeks)
Uranus individuation; change and separation.  2-10 weeks *(2-3 months)
Neptune vision; spirit development.  4-8 weeks * (3 months)
Pluto perspective; grand alteration.  several months (a year)
* Unless the planet is retrograde (stationary or moving slowly backwards)

The Sun - When there are transits to the Sun in a birth chart or from the Sun in the sky, the keywords are vitality and will. Your Sun Sign is also how you "impress" others because it's where you feel the most sure of yourself. One of the most important times of the year is when the Sun is traveling through your own Sun Sign. This is the beginning of the new year for you. When the transiting Sun is two or four signs from your Sun you can either rest on your laurels or push for what you want; you are now more likely to make a good impression and a lot of progress. The times when the Sun is either three signs or six signs away fro your Sun can indicate two things: (i) you are too willful and/or run into people who are boastful and willful. (ii) you are able, however, to make important decisions and stick to them by putting out extra effort and energy. You automatically feel a tension when these times come. During easier times you must consciously "push" yourself because of your tendency to be lazy.

The Moon - The study of the New Moons, Full Moons and eclipses helps you know when to begin and end projects. The New Moon means the Sun and Moon are in conjunction (in the same degree and sign). This is the beginning of a cycle and indicates one project ends so that another can start. The New Moon also indicates the beginning  of a new phase of an old project. With the Full Moon, the Sun and Moon are 180º apart. You feel a conscious awareness concerning theses same projects. The Full Moon also indicates endings because you get the full view of something and decide to drop it. If these Full Moons are also eclipses the emphasis is stronger and can last from six months to a year.

Mercury - Mercury transits and aspects always relate to communications, thinking and learning. If Mercury is involved with other planets in squares or oppositions, there is a tendency toward misunderstanding, confusion and excessive worry. When Mercury is in an easy aspect, you can communicate more easily so that you will be understood more readily. Mercury aspects also contain a little of the con artist, promising more than you can deliver. Be cautious when you see these possibilities.  When Mercury goes retrograde, it changes the way you and others communicate. You are more likely to communicate about deeper, more subconscious things in your life. It is a time when communications are delayed or not clearly understood. Be cautious during retrograde periods of Mercury about papers you sign because something may be missing. Mercury retrograde also can indicate changes of mind so if you make a major decision or purchase during this time, beware because you may change your mind later and feel some regrets. Usually Mercury retrograde has a stronger effect on Gemini's or Virgo's because it is their "ruling" planet. At a later date I will be adding a whole section dedicated to Mercury Retrograde.

Venus - Venus along with Mercury, is never far away from the Sun, just as thinking (Mercury) and your values (Venus) are never far removed fro yourself (the Sun). When Venus is emphasized in transits, values, money and social life are activated. Venus brings with it whatever you value whether it is money, romance, travel, new clothes or more freedom. When the aspects to or from Venus are easy, life is smooth and without worry. It is also a time when you see beauty in all things. However, when the aspects are squares or oppositions, there is more tension involved in spending; your socializing is more forced; you do not feel attractive, and you send money on new clothes to feel better.

Mars - Initiative, aggression, energy and sexuality are associated with the planet Mars. If Mars is aspecting a planet in your birth chart, it will energize what that planet means to you. Mars energy is impulsive if you don't structure it. Mars energy is likely to get you into trouble because it makes you act aggressively. You don't want to take "no" for an answer. It does, however, indicate those times when you have extra courage and daring, if you need it. When Mars is connected to planets by squares, conjunctions or oppositions, expect a strong ego thrust either coming from you or to you from others. These are the times to watch your temper and your sexual drives because they can be difficult for people around you to cope with. When Mars is associated by sextiles or trines, you are very confident as you use your initiative to further your goals. People now accept your ego threat and energy more easily. Mars in your birth chart indicates you are aggravated and when you aggravate others.

Jupiter - Jupiter represents opportunities, optimism and expansion. By transit, you can expect this type of energy from the "Emperor of Planets". With the aspects of Jupiter, it is wise to be a little conservative to prevent overabundance.  With Jupiter, you expect more than you receive; you are able to exaggerate almost anything under a Jupiter transit. Jupiter works better on the spiritual, mental and philosophical level because its orientation is to abstract learning on a higher level. In the material world, it can bring you too much of a good thing - overeating, overweight, overconfidence, etc.  Jupiter, on the other hand, brings luck and rewards so that if there are aspects of Jupiter working along with aspects of Saturn, the timer, there are bound to be good results. Saturn and Jupiter work hand in hand to bring you what you have worked and hoped for.

Saturn - Saturn, the planet of ambition and structure, demands discipline and realism, which with the right attitude (Jupiter), you gain your rewards. Saturn transits are anything but fun, but they are necessary for achievement in your life. Saturn is  the world telling you what you must do, and also what you must give up in order to gain what you really want. Saturn narrows your path during its transits; you aren't so distracted by unnecessary things along the way to your self-fulfillment.  Saturn affects consciously planned activities. It, along with Uranus, is builder of the zodiac. Every time Saturn aspects another planet, we can expect that the area of life signified by that planet will receive conscious attention from social institutions and authorities. The area of life signified by the planet will undergo challenges and tests which will require conscious effort of for improvement to occur.

THE OUTER PLANETS - Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

It is the transits of the outer planets that most often mark our personal turning points, they offer their own distinct dilemmas, trials, and gifts. From these transits we can learn to use our life crises as opportunities for growth and development. And so due to the significance of these transits I suggest you take the information on them below as a mere introduction. I highly recommend that you read a book on the topic, to really get to the essence of their significance. The best  that comes to mind is The Gods of Change,  by Howard Sasportas.

Uranus - Uranus is associated with sudden, unpredictable changes. However, seen from a higher viewpoint which encompasses the reality of the spiritual worlds, we can see that what appears to be sudden to us, is actually the logical consequence of actions taken or dictated from a higher realm. It is through Uranus that higher energy can be channeled into the world. This energy has the capacity to make earthly events conform to its own nature.  Transits and aspects of Uranus should be watched for these sudden changes. Whatever planet or sign is involved will show the areas of life which are to be dramatically transformed in this way. Uranus, when transiting by square or opposition, to a planet in your natal chart, forces you through an inner tension to break away from old patterns so that you are more free and detached from things which hold you back.  The same freedom of self is likely when the aspect is a sextile or trine, but you may have to work a little harder to free yourself. With the square, opposition or conjunction, you cannot ignore the call to freedom. Uranus transits also bring unusual people into your life and also sometimes take old friends out of your life. When Uranus has moved on, you will have changed; you are more free, and you stay that way.

Neptune - When Neptune transits become prominent, you might not be sure what happened until it's all over. It brings with it a feeling of unreality - fogginess and idealism. If the aspects of Neptune are the more difficult ones - opposition, square and conjunction - the results are more hurting, because Neptune is otherworldly, the ideal; humans are not usually ready for universal love or true self-sacrifice. A Neptune aspect with Venus appears to be true love at the time which later brings disappointments. Later in your life, you realize it was for a more important reason than just physical love. If Neptune transits are used for creativity and spiritual growth, they are handled better and, consequently, they later bring less illusion and disappointment. Always be careful of Neptune transits because they make you want to escape from reality - and you may never want to come back.

Pluto - The transits of Pluto never happen at a superficial level. Pluto is able to get to the root of the problem, disintegrate it and leave it. Then you realize the opportunity to build again, but with a better and clever perspective - without all the "garbage". Again, as with Neptune, you are more likely to realize what the transit of Pluto meant after it has been in the past for awhile. Pluto, when it squares, conjuncts or opposes one of your natal planets, indicates you want to control something or someone in your life. It is really asking you to learn to control yourself. Pluto also influences your obsessions and those things which traditional society does not readily accept. When Pluto transits are in trine or sextile aspects, you more easily gain a new perspective or become involved with something or someone in a deep and intense manner.

How do I find out where the transiting planets are..?

There are mathematical means to find the locality of the planets at any time (past, present, future), and they are often published in the form of a book of tables called an ephemeris. This is a book of tables which pinpoints the exact location of each planet at 12 noon on every day of the year. For those of you who are keen, an ephemeris can often be purchased in your local large bookstore.



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