Progressions and Transits - 2
Secondary or "Solar" Progressions
According to the principle of this type of progressions — today the most commonly used — what occurs in the sky during the day following birth gives us symbolic information concerning what can be expected to happen during the first year of actual living. The positions of celestial bodies 48 hours after the birth-moment thus symbolize the biopsychic condition of the infant as he or she begins a third year of life. The astrologer finds out what the "progressed" positions of all the planets will be when the client has passed his or her twenty-first birthday by looking for them in the ephemeris for the year of the client's birth, 21 days after the actual day of birth. The usually stated formula for such progressions is "one day in the ephemeris equals one year of actual living."
The value of such a symbolic procedure is constantly demonstrated, but the character and meaning of the information thus gained are often either exaggerated or wrongly interpreted. Most astrologers do not even question why it is that the technique gives significant results. They simply use the one-day-for-a-year formula as if there were nothing puzzling about it. Some astrologers with a more inquiring and philosophical type of mind have tried to find the logic in this correspondence, and the best explanation has been that any whole cycle of motion can in some way be considered analogical to any other cycle
. Thus the day cycle produced by a complete rotation of the Earth on its axis is analogical to a year cycle produced by the Earth's revolution around the Sun — or, on a still larger scale, to one Complete gyration of the polar axis in nearly 26,000 years (the cycle usually referred to as the cycle of "precession of the equinoxes").(1
In spatial terms this would also mean that the Earth's equator (any point on it accomplishing a complete rotation in one day) symbolically "corresponds" to the Earth's orbit — that is, in astronomical terms, to the ecliptic, and astrologically speaking, to the (tropical) zodiac. This is one way in which the surface of the globe has often been divided into twelve longitudinal zones, each being made to correspond to (or be "ruled" by) one sign of the zodiac.(2
Such a type of justification for the technique of secondary progressions is abstract and symbolic, and I had accepted it as valid until some years ago, when I realized that today one might consider the ideal, complete life-cycle of a human being to be about 90 years; and that in order for the prenatal period of gestation of a human being to cover a full yearly cycle of the Sun-to-Earth relationship, it would have to last some 90 more days. One might assume that since the Sun is the source of all life on Earth, in order for the life-force in a newborn baby to be fully developed, the formative period of gestation
should have to encompass a whole yearly cycle.
The next question to come to mind is this: why should this entire
formative period be passed in the closed
field of a physical womb? And the answer is that while the physical body of a human being is normally developed in the mother's womb in nine months, the part of the total human being that is more than a physical body requires for its development 90 more days (3 months) in a relatively open
field — a field in which the organism, by breathing air, is potentially related to all other living organisms in the biosphere (as air circulates around the globe quite rapidly) — organisms which also breathe air. In the field represented by the home, the baby comes in contact with people and experiences the basic rhythms of life. The baby's senses react to light, heat, moisture. He or she experiences hunger, pain, and we may assume, a sense of isolation in a strange world. Yet the baby is still held within a "psychic womb" — primarily the mother's psyche, especially when he or she is breast-fed, and truly loved.
All these primordial and basic experiences and affects are necessary for the development of the psychic nature of the child, and for the development of what I mean by intelligence
. I have defined psychism as the power that integrates a human being into his or her community and culture (and first of all his or her family environment). This power, binding as it is, is as necessary for the growth of a fully developed personality as the nine months in the physical womb are necessary for the formation of the physical body. By "intelligence" I mean the capacity inherent in a human being to make whatever adjustments are needed to successfully operate in a biological, and, especially, a sociocultural environment. Biological adjustments are at first entirely instinctual and remain so at their deepest level when life-or-death situations suddenly arise; but a person's adjustments to society — to family, religion, school, peer group, and business — require a conscious and deliberate process of adaptation, which is really what is meant by "intelligence". In its more primitive form, intelligence is cunning. In school it is the ability to deal not only with the mass of knowledge one is supposed to remember and assimilate, but with what teachers and the whole educational system expect of a student. What we call "intelligence tests" are given to ascertain the ability a person has to function effectively and in a normal way in a particular
society and culture.
Recently publicized data indicating the crucial importance of the experiences to which a baby is subjected during the first weeks of his or her existence may be thought to provide a general, but existential and concrete, support to my interpretation of the reason why progressions can be exceedingly significant if used in the proper manner. This, however, does not alter the fact that progressions have a symbolic character. For example, it would be rather absurd literally to expect that bringing a baby to a doctor on the third or fifth day after its birth — or a visit by the grandparents on one of those days — would have definite repercussions on the course of events during the baby's third or fifth years of life. Yet in some instances, an apparently routine event might leave a deep psychic impression which could produce a psychosomatic reaction at a later date. Generally speaking, astrological progressions do not refer directly to concrete events; they symbolize the particular manner in which the more-than-physical, psychic and mental, parts of the human personality develop. Concrete events evidently affect this process of growth; but one might also reverse the situation and believe that it is the character of the process which, according to the newborn's karma, precipitates outer events of various types.
In the ninety days that follow birth, the Sun moves about 90 degrees, thus through three zodiacal signs (or possibly four, if one is born with the Sun at the very end of a sign). During that period only the planets closer to the Sun than Jupiter advance far from their natal positions; some may even regress a few degrees after the day of birth. The more distant planets, from Jupiter outwards, move only very short distances, either forward or (during their retrograde periods) backward. The Moon alone completes not only one, but three turns of the zodiac — its sidereal period lasting 27 1/3 days, equivalent in progressions to 27 1/3 years.
The passage of the progressed Moon through each of the twelve houses of the birth-chart has therefore a unique meaning. As it passes through a house, the progressed Moon indicates the field of experience in which the development of the intelligence and the psychic nature of the person can be expected most significantly and/or successfully to operate. The first revolution of the progressed Moon is primarily a period of formation; the second, one of personal or individual expression and at least relative achievement — if all goes well. If the individual remains solely at the level of individual consciousness, the third period, after the 56th year, should be one of either personal fulfillment or gradual degeneration or crystallization. If, however, the individual has deliberately and consciously entered the path of radical transformation and remained on it, the last third of the life can be the most important, as it may bring clearer and steadier transpersonal realizations, and the ability to radiate at least a degree of mature and spiritually illumined wisdom.
The passage of the progressed Moon over each of the four Angles of the natal chart usually coincides with, and helps us interpret, some important inner or outer changes in a person's life and consciousness. The passage over the Ascendant is particularly important, for it often correlates with a change in one's environment or in one's psychological or physical relation to the environment. The change should lead to some kind of personal readjustment, perhaps the readjustment of one's intuitive feeling of identity in terms of the new environment or of a new realization of the meaning and value of the already familiar life-situation — the sense of individual selfhood being always intimately related to and most often conditioned by the various kinds of close relationships and associations one has entered, positive or negative as these may be.
When the progressed Moon crosses the Descendant of the birth-chart, changes in relationships are often expectable, or rather as this progression is about to occur one should try to pay closer attention to the quality of the relationships one is involved in, and to reassess their value.
The crossing of the natal Nadir (the cusp of the fourth house) by the progressed Moon may stir the feelings and should impel one to become more objective to what these feelings are and arise from — perhaps the home situation. As the progressed Moon crosses the Midheaven, a new approach to one's mental, social, or professional activities may seem valuable, if not imperative.
In my book The Astrological Houses,
) I discussed the basic meanings of the houses considered as categories or fields of experience, and I shall only briefly summarize here the characteristics which are of most value in terms of the progressed Moon's passage through them.
In the first house, a person tends to experience the results of being-an-individual; in the second, that of having to use and manage resources or possessions — and, more deeply still, the experience of "potency" or lack of potency in any field. As the progressed Moon passes through the third house, a person would do well to focus his or her attention on problems dealing with the family environment, the neighborhood or matters concerning a learning situation — and as the progressed Moon crosses the I. C. into the fourth house, the focus should shift to defining one's personal space, whether in a physical or psychospiritual sense. This includes matters concerning one's place in one's home and/or country, and one's relation to the parent who most deeply affects the roots of one's feeling nature.
The fifth house refers to experiences resulting from desiring to be or seeing oneself multiplied in a biological or psychological progeny; the sixth house to the realization that it is necessary, willingly or not, to fit into some kind of sociocultural or interpersonal pattern of development — and often of "service" at whatever level service may be asked of the person. The seventh house is the field of experiences produced by associating with, or merging one's identity into, the life of another or several partners for an implicit common purpose. In the eighth house, a person experiences the results of partnership in terms of set patterns of social or "occult" activities; this is the house of business (the result of contractual agreements), and of communal rituals (whether sociocultural or religious), in which a number of people participate.
As the progressed Moon passes through the ninth house, a person would do well to focus on the opportunities to expand and to fit, more meaningfully or successfully, into either legalistic, intellectual-academic, or religious-cosmic patterns. This should lead to a more significant or valuable type of participation in one's community or nation — thus to professional or public experiences adding a larger dimension to one's field of activity; all of which relates to the tenth house. In the eleventh house, this tenth house type of participation will show its results — as various kinds of social and cultural enjoyments and entertainment, or as frustration and experiences of revolt or transformative activity. In the twelfth house, the results of an entire cycle of experience have to be concentrated upon, accounts should be closed, and a person should prepare to enter a new cycle, perhaps at a higher level of consciousness.
What has just been said refers more particularly to the personal and individual levels of interpretation, but these have to be considered when one deals with progressions because it is very rare for a young person before the age of 28 to definitely commit his or her being to the ideal of radical transformation. What may seem to be such a commitment refers most likely to the process of individualization and liberation from family and/or sociocultural patterns of behavior, feeling, and thinking. In the vast majority of cases, transpersonal realizations emerge out of the much-publicized crisis of the forties — which I once called adolescence in reverse. Yet under the pressure of the at least partial breakdown of our traditional Western culture and religion, and often through the action of psychedelic drugs, young people in their twenties experience at least a yearning for transcendent realities and a presentiment of what they entail. This, in many instances, leads to an intense, though not always steady and lasting, involvement in mystical or pseudo-mystical groups and practices, especially the practice of some kind of "meditation".
Every house of a chart can refer to several levels of experiences. A person-centered interpretation primarily stresses personal experiences to which a meaning is given in the light of the ideal of personality integration and fulfillment. On the other hand, a transpersonal type of interpretation would normally see, in the passage of the progressed Moon through a natal house, a special opportunity to deliberately adapt the experiences which the house symbolizes to the goal of transformation. The twelve houses can thus become twelve stations on the transpersonal way — the first house and the Ascendant which begins it marking, at least theoretically, the decision to consciously change one's sense of identity. As we already saw, on the transpersonal path the Moon can be interpreted as the "soul"; thus, lunar progressions can sometimes be interpreted as referring to the relation of this soul — as I have defined the term in preceding chapters — to the "higher collectivity" rather than merely to the process of constant adjustment to the "lower collectivity" represented by family and society.
1. Cf. my book, The Astrology of Personality
(1936), especially Chapter 4, "A Key to Astrological Symbolism", and in terms of the historical significance of the cycle. Astrological Timing: The Transition to the New Age
A great deal of confusion has been spread by the use of the "solar arc" method of calculating secondary progressions. In this technique all planets each day (or year) after birth are supposed to move forward at the same speed as the Sun does. This procedure actually refers to what Sepharial called the Radix System, which was meant as a simplification of the more involved "primary directions" dealing with the daily cycle of the Earth's rotation. Everything in the birth-chart was moved ahead a whole degree for each year of actual living. Later on, the average rate of the Sun's motion (0° 59' 08") was substituted to the archetypal measure of one degree. This, I believe, is not a sound procedure, considering that these systems are purely symbolic. In an archetypal
sense, the year has 360 days. From an existential
point of view, the ratio between the lengths of any two cycles is never a whole number. The reason for this is that in the realm of actual existence, the immense multiplicity of interrelationships in operation constantly introduces a factor of indeterminacy. Nothing is ever exactly what it was meant to be. In principle, 360 rotations of the Earth should correspond exactly to a complete revolution around the Sun; but in fact an infinitely complex set of pressures slightly lessen the Earth's speed as it moves along its orbit.
In The Astrology of Personality
, I gave a different interpretation to the Radix Directions, speaking of them as the translation of space-values (one zodiacal degree) into a time-value (one year of human time). This technique, when applied to the degree distances between important factors in the birth-chart, gives very basic results which mainly refer to the karmic structure of a human life. It can be profitably applied to the distances between planets and angles in rectification, when the exact birth-time is not known, but it must not be confused with secondary progressions. Return
(New York: Doubleday & Co., 1972). Return