THE TENTH STEP -
The Study of Transits and Natural Cycles
Transits vs. Birth-chart
For many millennia the one great spiritual effort of mankind has been to realize the full and actual significance of two basic ideas. The first was that the world of change should not be considered (and feared) as a chaos of energies senselessly forming and dissipating themselves, but instead as an ordered realm of universal activity in which motion is inherently periodical or cyclic even when it does not appear to be so to our superficial senses and, even more, to our disturbed and fearful emotions. The second basic concept is that, if one knew how to define cycles properly, one would see that each cycle could be considered as the life-span of one specific type of entity retaining specific characteristics, biological or psycho-spiritual, during the entire cycle.
It was on the basis of this second concept that the millennial efforts of the spiritual leaders of mankind have progressed, to the end that every man be able to realize himself as a permanent identity permanent, that is, through the entire span of a cycle. We see the concept developing in ancient Asia and Chaldea, first, by building up the image of cyclic gods (AEons), gods who operate from the beginning to the end of immense cosmic Ages time having become divided into periods of divine manifestations and periods in which the gods sleep, reawakening when the new cosmic dawn occurs.
However, after millennia of mental development, a few men began to think of a Supreme Being who did not sleep during the periods of universal dissolution or rest; who not only maintained the integrity of his self throughout all conceivable phases of time, but also remained active in a mysterious and transcendent way. About five thousand years ago, Hindu philosophers and Yogis came to the further realization that such a mysterious and transcendent condition of being need not remain unknown. They taught that man is inherently identical in essence with the Supreme Being, and therefore that be need not be the slave of sleep or death. Man could remain his self beyond the close of the life-cycle in which he emerged as an individual. He could bestride cycles and know his self God if he were willing and able to submit to very rigorous disciplines of behavior and thought.
In this evolution of the spiritual consciousness of man, astrology played a most momentous part. It gave, first of all, the visible and demonstrable proof that the first of the two great concepts above mentioned was correct i.e. the proof that time was cyclic, that change meant a periodical sequence of measurable and predictable transformations or metamorphoses. Astrology, later, provided also an at least symbolical representation of the concept that every man is a potential individual; that is, that there is, in him, beyond all superficial change of moods, temperament and character, a permanent structure of individual being. This permanent structure must be there, if there is to be "individual immortality." It is the unchanging identity the "archetype" of the individual person at the core of all bio-psychological changes. It is the astrological birth-chart.
The birth-chart does not change, but the world goes on and celestial bodies pursue their cyclic motions as if nothing had happened. Yet something tremendous has happened; a man has been born with the potential ability to stop time in himself and to immortalize the structure of his selfhood the structure patterned after the entire sky at the moment of his first breath. If he succeeds in so doing, he becomes, actually and as a living human personality, his own sky that is, God's projection upon the earth of one phase of His universal being at one moment of time. Individual immortality is thus the overcoming of the constant fatality of change by something which resists change or, abstractly speaking, the overcoming of time by space. This means also the overcoming of "Nature" by "self," for self is the unchanging identity of the individual the "I"; and the "I," is fundamentally the stable structure of being to which every changing factor has to be referred if there is to be consciousness.
If the "I" and his celestial representation (or "signature"), the birth-chart, do not change, Nature, on the other hand, is perpetual change. It is the multitudinous expression of the interplay of forces and energies forever waxing and waning, configuring themselves into what we perceive as bodies (from molecules to planets), then disassociating themselves and letting the evanescent material entities crumble away. Thanks to astrology (and to the sciences which grew from it) we know now that Nature is ordered; its manifestations are cyclic and measurable by the regular motions of celestial bodies. Knowing this, we need not fear these natural changes old age and bodily death among them and yet, we have to realize that to maintain (and perhaps to immortalize) our individual selfhood means to overcome Nature, its ceaseless transformations and disintegrations and its universal tendency to run down to a dead level ("entropy").
Astrologically speaking, this means that the integrity of our birth-chart should be maintained against the pressure of the universe of change (Nature) thus, against the further dynamic impact of all celestial bodies altering their positions after our birth. These constant impacts refer to what astrologers call "transits." A transit is the focused manifestation of the unending pressure applied by Nature upon the natal, archetypal structure of our selfhood. It pits the power of the universe of change and of the collective, social factors in individual experience which constitute "human nature" against the integrity of the individual; thus it pits the ephemeris against the birth-chart!
All transits (except the passages of planets over the places they occupied in the birth-chart) tend to distort and disfigure the basic pattern of our self, to throw it out of balance. They are therefore challenges. If we meet them and remain true to our own archetypal "truth" (which can be read in the birth-chart), then we have gained greatly in consciousness and in power. We have learnt, by overcoming change or opposition, more about what we are as a changeless self. We are thus able to live a fuller life, to incarnate more of our self into earth-life, to express more convincingly our character, to become in act what we are in potentiality which is the foundation for "personal immortality."
The Techniques of Transits, Old and New
These statements can be made clearer and more workable when we consider the technique by the means of which the astrologer studies these transits. Having before him the birth-chart calculated for the exact moment of the first breath (the first moment of independent existence as an individual) the astrologer opens his ephemeris. If he wishes to determine the transits in force at any particular time in relation to this chart, he looks at the ephemeris for that year and day and he notes the zodiacal positions of all the planets. He then places them within the unchanging "frame of reference" of the birth-chart, and sees in which houses they fall. He also calculates the angular relationships formed between these new planetary positions and the positions the planets occupy in the birth-chart.
Let us imagine that, in the birth-chart being considered, Neptune was placed on Cancer 19°48' (August 1, 1910). On May 5, 1946, according to the ephemeris, Saturn is to be found at the same zodiacal point, Cancer 19°48'; Jupiter is located ninety degrees away on Libra 19°48', opposed by Mercury passing then through Aries 20°. The astrologer will then say that Saturn is transiting over the natal Neptune; that both Jupiter and Mercury are forming by transit squares to this natal Neptune. Also about the same time Mars will make a conjunction by transit with the natal Sun (on Leo 7°).
The astrologer will consider these several transits and seek to determine the meaning of each; then, he will try to coordinate the indications thus obtained into a more or less coherent picture of what the native may expect on or close to that day, May 5, 1946. He will say that the power of the transiting Saturn, superimposing itself upon that of the natal Neptune, will affect whatever Neptune stands for in the natal chart perhaps his social consciousness, or his awareness of spiritual values, or his subconscious. If there is a predisposition to illness related to the natal Neptune in Cancer position, Saturn is likely to harden or consolidate such a tendency; but also if Neptune-in-Cancer signifies a diffuse and unsteady awareness of home responsibilities, Saturn, by moving over this natal Neptune, may compel the native to assume a more steady attitude, even though it may be under painful and somewhat oppressive conditions.
The transit of Mars over the natal Sun in Leo would be interpreted, on the other hand, as an emotionally stimulating and fiery indication; while the fact that Jupiter and Mercury square by transit the natal Neptune would tend to increase the social and mental pressures upon the native. In other words, the relationships between each "transiting planet" and each "natal planet" will be considered and interpreted according to the traditional meanings listed in text-books, old and new.
Besides this strictly analytical method there are, however, other approaches to the study of transits. The one that has been most validly demonstrated of late is based on a consideration of the cyclic relationship by transit of the moving planets to all the natal planets, and also on a study of the meaning of the periods of life defined by the stay of the transiting planets in each of the twelve houses, or each of the four quadrants of the birth-chart.
In the example above-mentioned, Saturn at birth was located at Taurus 6°18'. Because the sidereal period of Saturn averages 29 years and 9 months, this planet, moving in the zodiac after the day of birth, will return to its natal place in about 30 years. As its motion is watched within the frame of reference of the birth-chart that is, as the astrologer scans through the pages of the ephemeris, month after month and year after year it will be seen that this moving Saturn will come in conjunction with every planet of the natal chart and will cross successively every house. Thus, if an entire 30-year cycle of the moving Saturn around the fixed birth-chart is plotted, "critical periods" will be discovered; that is, the years and months when this Saturn makes strong aspects to the natal planets, and when it passes from house to house and especially from quadrant to quadrant (the four "angles" of the chart, defining these quadrants).
In other words, whatever Saturn represents in the chart the Saturn function in its individualized expression can be seen evolving through a 30-year period of the individual's life, as a result of the manner in which it finds itself related to the other planetary functions within the personality. Every planet has its own cycle, and the same procedure can be followed with each. Thus while the birth-chart indicates the starting point of these functional activities (the heredity factor, primarily), the transits indicate their continual evolution from birth to death.
Such an interpretation of the meaning of transits is entirely sound and valid. Yet it fails to realize that the birth-chart is the unchanging archetype of the individual selfhood, and not only the original and fundamental starting point of a person's life. The birth-chart, being such an archetype, establishes a goal. However, this goal is constantly clouded by the interplay and by-play of the unconscious and elemental energies of nature unless the individual succeeds in clarifying and strengthening his realization and understanding of this divine goal meeting successfully the challenge of nature and of change.
What the actual events of a human life are and will be depends upon the everyday outcome of this contest or conflict between self and Nature, between the individuality structuring from within the human person and the pressure of everchanging collective and cosmic forces, of society and climate between the birth-chart as a whole and the entire sky, as pictured in the ephemeris during the years following birth.
To study planetary transits is to compare the birth-chart and the "state of the heavens" at any selected time; and on this all astrologers basically agree. Here they differ somewhat is on the manner in which they interpret the relationship between the two factors being compared. In my estimation the transiting motions of the planets after birth do not represent directly an evolution of the functions, the individual character of which was indicated by the natal positions and aspects of these planets, but rather a challenge to the structure of the birth-chart considered as an unchanging archetype of individual selfhood.
Let us consider a birth-chart in which Jupiter is in sextile to Saturn. From my point of view, the motion of Jupiter after birth, revealed by the ephemeris, will tend to blur and distort the natal Jupiter-Saturn relationship (thus, the archetypal form and goal of the social or religious functions in the individual, his orientation to communal interchanges, his sense of social-personal stability and security all things being connected with this Jupiter-Saturn relationship). The birth-chart defined the character and purpose of the relationship as a "sextile." Yet life, day after day, tends to alter this definition, by transforming the relationship making it a square, an opposition, etc. Does this mean an "evolution" of the relationship? I say that it means instead a "challenge" to the individual as a whole, of whose permanent spiritual character the Jupiter-Saturn sextile was an integral part.
The change in the positions of Jupiter or Saturn will mean, however, a strengthening of the natal individuality when the planets return to their natal positions, and also, when the aspect between Jupiter and Saturn in the sky is once more a sextile two entirely distinct occurrences. A challenge, however, may mean as we already saw either an increase in consciousness, if successfully met, or a blurring of the basic spiritual pattern of individual selfhood and character. Which of the two alternatives will be the fact is something almost impossible to determine with any degree of accuracy; this impossibility, indeed, is the mark of the individual's spiritual freedom. What can be fairly well determined, nevertheless, is the nature of the challenge and the general type of circumstances in which it will take place.
When in August 1921, Franklin D. Roosevelt was struck with infantile paralysis the fateful power of natural energies, of climate and viruses presented him with an awesome challenge. If we look for, astrological transits to interpret the meaning of such a challenge, what do we find? A conjunction of Mars and Neptune in Leo and in the eleventh House in opposition to Roosevelt's natal Sun and Part of Fortune, and in square to his Saturn-Neptune-Jupiter grouping in the eighth house a conjunction of Sun and Mercury on Leo 29°49' at the entrance of the twelfth house, in opposition to his natal Mercury (the chart's ruler) and in square to his Mars in the tenth house a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on his Ascendant (according to the birth-time given in his father's diary).
Following the first method of estimating these transits the astrologer would take them one by one and evaluate their strength and meaning. For instance, the Neptune opposition to the natal Sun impairs vitality, and Leo and Aquarius suggest spinal and heart trouble as well as injury to the legs. Moreover from the fact that Mars is conjunct Neptune we may infer a sudden and pernicious type of occurrence, which as Saturn, Neptune and Jupiter are squared is likely to affect adversely social position and strength, etc.
The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on the natal Ascendant is a transit from which many things can be deduced, if considered alone. It could mean a new responsibility, a linking of personal destiny to national destiny; it implies indeed, a challenge. But what kind of a challenge, and how can we expect the individual to respond to it? The newer methods of transit-analysis win help us to answer these questions.
We can consider the transiting cycle of Saturn as a whole and we can say that the coming of Saturn to the Ascendant releases some kind of a seed of futurity which, however, will not germinate and grow until Saturn reaches the Nadir of the natal chart and begins to climb up the chart toward the Descendant and the zenith. Thus the Saturn transit is shown as one critical phase of the 30-year Saturn cycle and similarly the Jupiter transit over the Ascendant, as a critical phase of a 12-year cycle.
We can go a step further. Jupiter and Saturn were conjunct in Roosevelt's natal chart. Such a conjunction recurs every 20 years (or approximately so, considering the retrograde movements of the planets). If we refer to what I stated before, the conjunction of 1921 should be understood as having strengthened Roosevelt's individual selfhood because, here, "Nature" (in its summer 1921 condition of change) repeated the pattern which is found in the structure of his permanent "self" (the birth-chart). Likewise the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of 1940-41 restated Roosevelt's social prestige and he was re-elected for an unprecedented third term or office. The strengthening in 1921 was further defined by the fact that it occurred in relation to the Ascendant; the conjunction then drew forth the strength of the original will of the individualized spirit that was F. D. Roosevelt. But, in 1940-41, the strengthening was social and based on the fruits of his associations with fellow-workers, because the conjunction occurred in the eighth house (that of fruition of relationship) and in conjunction to Neptune. The strengthening was also particularly great in that the new Jupiter-Saturn conjunction occurred in the same area as the natal one.
This type of analysis may be applied to the above-mentioned Mars-Neptune conjunction which occurred as F. D. Roosevelt was stricken with paralysis. In his birth-chart Mars retrograde in the tenth house was in semi-square aspect to Neptune in the eighth; but in August 1921 Mars and Neptune came to a conjunction on Leo 15° in the natal eleventh house (social aspirations, hopes and wishes, etc.). Thus, because the semi-square is a sign of arousal and mobilization. Roosevelt's task, according to his archetypal pattern of selfhood and purpose, was to mobilize his professional initiative and mental power of penetration (Mars in Gemini and the Tenth House) in an effort to arouse his people (the Neptunian collectivity) to the need for regeneration (eighth house Neptune) and for a "new deal" in social organization (Jupiter-Neptune-Saturn conjunction).
When August 1921 came "Nature" tried to pull the natal Mars-Neptune semi-square toward the condition of a conjunction thus to alter and distort Roosevelt's individuality and spiritual purpose by sapping (Neptune) the very foundation of his hopes to achieve his ideal of Martial leadership (Mars-Neptune in the eleventh House). This was the challenge of Nature to his self. Because Roosevelt met it successfully and individualized in himself the need for a new society (the Jupiter-Saturn force being "assimilated" by his natal Ascendant), the challenge of the August 1921 sky to his individual self led to a far greater consciousness of spiritual power and purpose.
Much more should be said to show the possible practical application of the concepts I have attempted briefly to define; but I trust that the general principle has been made clear. What the transits and the geocentric pattern of the solar system day after day reveal is the constant pressure exerted by all the collective and unconscious factors which perpetually challenge the stability of an individual's character, purpose and essential selfhood. Yet, there is magic in such a pressure of Nature against the boundaries of the individual self, similar to the pressure of the sea against the organisms which live therein. By resisting this pressure man can become fully conscious of his self and his God-appointed purpose. By being confronted with the impact of a Nature which moves on, impassible and mysterious, clothed in the unending sweep of cycles of birthing and dying, man is under the compulsion to make himself immortal or to disintegrate together with all seasonal growths.
Nature, change, time are so many names for this compulsion which Hindus called "maya," illusion. But Maya is also Mary, universal motherhood, the sea by overcoming which, the "likeness of God" latent in every man can become individualized and incorporated into an immortal personality. The astrology of transits plots for us the path to our immortality on the pages of the ephemeris, because it outlines for us that which we shall have to overcome and to assimilate. If it does detail with certainty concrete events, it is because what we call "events" are the results of the meeting of our individual selfhood and purpose with the many waves, eddies and undertows of Nature. Nature alone will not produce events. It is our contact with it whether it be conflict or mating which gives rise to events. Fate is only one of two partners in life: the divine Idea, that is our individual core, is the other. Every event registers our God's victory, or his defeat until the contest is tried again.
Transits of Uranus, Neptune, Pluto
Some of the challenges represented by transits have a long-range objective. The changes they can bring about in our personality are slow in showing up. Their ultimate results are almost beyond us, beyond the possibility for us to experience them to the full in our short life-span. Yet we can see them unfolding whether they tend to disintegrate our body, or to immortalize our personality even if we cannot or dare not see the ends of these processes. I am speaking here of those challenging processes which can be measured by and are an expression of the sidereal cycles of the remote planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
Uranus revolves around the Sun in 84 years; Neptune in nearly twice the period (i.e. about 165 years on an average); Pluto in a little less than three times the same span (248.4 years). The relationship between these cycles (3-2-1) is quite extraordinary and must reveal some fact of profound significance. Mythological traditions speak of the "three steps" taken by the creative God at the beginning of the worlds; but this refers to the process of concentration of universals into particulars. In terms of the individual's evolution, the three trans-Saturnian (i.e. beyond Saturn) planets symbolize the three phases of a process of universalization, which if successful frees the consciousness from the limitations and the narrow focalization imposed upon it by the Saturnian rigidity of the ego.
I have said that the continued year-by-year motion of the planets after birth represent ever-changing "Nature," in contradistinction to the "individual selfhood" defined by the birth-chart. But, according to all religious or occult teachings, man is that being within whom two kinds of nature come in contact and eventually should become integrated, the focus for the integration being the Saturnian ego. We may call these two natures celestial and earthly, or by any other name we choose; essentially they refer to the two poles of all consciousness, the universal and the particular. The cyclic motions of the trans-Saturnian planets symbol the pressure of "universal Nature" upon our limited ego; those of the other planets (from Saturn to the Sun), the pressure of our particular type of organic, earth-conditioned, human nature. The Uranus-Neptune-Pluto transits challenge us to become more than man; the other transits, to become bigger and better men. The distinction is a very significant one.
The main cycle with regard to the former process (the becoming "more than man") is that of Uranus, because it alone may be spanned during a normal human life exceptions notwithstanding. This cycle divides itself into 12-year and 7-year periods the twelve 7-years periods referring mainly to the development of the higher facets of character, the seven 12-year periods dealing largely with changes in our social and financial outlook (as the 12-year cycle is essentially a Jupiterian cycle). These periods are related to the aspects which the moving Uranus makes to the position of Uranus in the birth-chart. Roughly speaking, Uranus comes by transit in opposition to its natal place when a man is about 42 and this refers to the psychological crisis of the forties, the psychological (if not biological) "change of life" in men and women alike. Square aspects by transit occur around 21 (the "coming of age") and around 63 (the "age of philosophy," the ingathering of all biological energies toward a spiritual "seed" or their crystallization into a state of senility).
These crucial age-periods witness challenges to metamorphosis, challenges to become as an individual more than what collective man is at present thus, to transcend the norm of present-day mankind (even of the cultured, intelligent average). These challenges operate, generally speaking, through the release of mental or psychic stimulants which tend to make us dissatisfied with what we are, and thus which challenge indeed our ability to reach beyond, or (as Nietzsche wrote) "to jump beyond our shadow." The jump may mean breaking our neck, but it does lead men to new realms of consciousness now and then!
These transit periods apply to all human beings, and thus are "generic." But the aspects which the moving Uranus makes to the other planets of the birth-chart refer to "individual" opportunities for growth or to partial loss of personal integrity, if the pressure is not used constructively. Whenever the transiting Uranus meets a planet, the function represented by this planet tends to be highly stimulated or upset; the challenge of "higher Nature" is for this function to operate at a more universal level. All Uranian revolutions have this transcendent goal. If it is not reached, then the revolution results merely in an external change which changes nothing in reality, or in a meaningless upset.
The passage of Uranus by transit through the four quadrants of the birth-chart and through each house provides also basic indications, as it establishes a four-fold rhythm of spiritual unfoldment and gives added meaning to the house-position of Uranus at
What Uranus sets in operation, Neptune substantiates which may mean either the dissolution of Uranus-shaken Saturnian walls, or the gestation of the transcendent universalistic seed projected by Uranus. Whenever Uranus comes by transit to Neptune such a Uranian fecundation can occur which does not mean that it necessarily will, human inertia being what it is! In most cases Neptune does not even reach by transit the opposition-point to its natal place. In other words, the Neptunian challenge to the Satumian ego proceeds at most only half-way in a life-time the other half deals with the after-death conditions which the ego meets, and which challenge this ego to a type of growth (or dissolution) of which we know, alas! very little indeed.
Pluto's transit-cycle is only at most a third completed during even a long life. While Uranus acts characteristically as a one-pointed, straightforward drive, Neptune's action is two-dimensional spreading like oil and Pluto's power operates like a whirlpool, in spiral-like suction or explosion. Pluto's challenges, if they are to be met successfully, demand of man an unusual power of structural integration. Either explosive energies are to be contained within a strong "engine" and their use controlled, or the individual must stand in utmost firmness to resist being drawn into some kind of whirlpool. Whenever Pluto crosses by transit an angle of the natal chart, a strong demand is usually made upon the individual as to the nature of his essential life-purpose. Where Pluto is, there is the key to man's greatest contribution to society, and to the universe.
Transits of Saturn and Jupiter
These two planets define an individual's place and participation in society, or in any larger whole in which the individual operates as a functional part. Their transit-cycle establishes opportunities in social participation as well as changes in that place one occupies in society or in any permanent collective organization (for instance a religion, a traditional political Party, etc.).
Saturn establishes the individual's rightful and secure "place" in the collectivity and also his subjective sense of "I" resulting from such a placing in the greater whole. Saturn's cycle of nearly 291/2 years can be repeated three times in a normal life-span, and these three cycles correspond approximately to the complete Uranus period. Here again we find the "three steps" pattern already mentioned. These three Saturn cycles theoretically represent the three successive polarizations of a man's ego at the three basic levels of selfhood biological, psycho-mental and spiritual. At the first level, Saturn is the physical father; at the second (from 291/2 to 59), the individual ego; at the third the divine Fatherhood (59 to 88) or rather, Saturn is the type of security (and of consciousness of "place") which corresponds to one's reliance upon (1) the physical father, (2) one's individual ego, (3) God-the-Father. These three types may obviously be felt at any time, but each of them is normally emphasized (to a lesser or greater degree) during the corresponding life-cycle.
The consciousness of one's place in the family, or in the collective organism of society, or in the spiritual universe, unfolds through the cycle of transiting Saturn. The transit-pattern can be studied in the way which I briefly described with reference to the Uranus transits. As Saturn moves from the one quadrant to another, changes occur in, both, one's subjective approach to the root-factors of individual being, and one's actual relationship to, or function in, society. When Saturn is in the first quadrant the best opportunities for inner repolarization generally occur. "Nature" or society, challenges man to reconsider his attitude to "self" in the second quadrant to improve or renew his techniques of expression in the third quadrant, to spread out or deepen his base of operation in the fourth quadrant, to stamp his image and his purpose upon society (i.e. to assume public responsibility), or reap the harvest of the past and prepare for future growth.
Jupiter's transit-cycle covers a period of less than 12 years on an average. It deals with man's sense of participation in society his confidence while participating (which attracts to him success and expansion), or his doubts and hesitancy which attract failure and frustration). The 12-year period has been used to measure the pattern of a man's financial and social ups and downs each period beginning when Jupiter returns by transit to its natal position, and each of the twelve years being considered as a "mansion" of Jupiter with characteristics similar to those of the regular twelve houses, The ordinary way of analyzing and interpreting transits through the four quadrants of the birth-chart is, however, as significant in Jupiter's case as in that of all the other planets.
Jupiter and Saturn are polar opposites. They are the basic factors which control the growth of social groups and nations within the scope of their particular, organic existence, because they refer to the social interdependence of individuals within their traditional and normal ability to participate in a collective organism. Every 20 years, Jupiter and Saturn come in conjunction, and this 20-year cycle has been considered in the past as basic, wherever the destinies of nations and kings were concerned. It is still significant today in terms of the tidal movement of man's social consciousness and social fortunes; but, in a world dominated increasingly by universalistic values and international factors, more fundamental indications are found in the cycles of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto and still larger ones. Nevertheless, the places in which the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions fall in a natal chart (at 20-year intervals) establish foci of social destiny which are highly significant, especially in the lives of individuals who seek and assume public responsibility.
The transit-cycles of Mars and Venus last about two years. They include a period of weeks during which these planets are retrograde. The house (or houses) through which the planet moves back and forth are given a particular transit-emphasis. The challenge brought by "Nature" to the individual focuses itself there. It is primarily a personal challenge and an opportunity for the individual to reorient his desire-nature and his faith (Mars), and his sense of creative expression and of value, of attraction and repulsion (Venus) especially when the planet crosses three times its natal position.
Mercury, being never more than 28° away from the Sun, has a transit-cycle not very different from that of the Sun. During this approximate year-cycle, Mercury experiences usually three entire periods of retrogression, which thus establish three zones of emphasis in the natal pattern of individual selfhood. Whenever the character of these emphases can be recognized and understood, the individual should learn a great deal about his mental needs; but these are primarily subjective needs, and no one except the individual himself is likely to know their exact significance. However, the meaning of the houses in which the retrograde periods fall offers a basic clue. When Mercury transits back and forth over a natal "angle," the opportunity to develop the function which this angle represents is great but it is an opportunity under psychological stress, and perhaps in spite of difficult environmental or health conditions. These remarks apply as well to the retrograde transits of Mars and Venus, these transit-phases referring often to the need for regeneration or reconsideration of attitude. The periods are not usually favorable for truly new departures; but they offer real opportunities for setting right under pressure and with the risk of making matters worse what bad been wrongly or inadequately started.
The Sun and the Moon make their transits around the birth-chart respectively in a year and in a lunar month (271/2 days). It is often possible to establish a connection between the passage of the Sun and the Moon through each of the four quadrants of the birth-chart and a definite four-fold rhythm of the solar and lunar forces in a person's nature. The time when the Sun each year crosses the natal angles is often a challenge to the psychological functions these angles symbolize thus precipitating certain types of events. The birthday period every year and the day when, every month, the Moon returns to her natal position can usually be considered as times when the innate solar and lunar characteristics are given a new emphasis or revivified. Indeed the making of "solar return" and "lunar return" charts has been very much emphasized of late quite a few astrologers claiming that such charts provide the most accurate means for predicting life-events at the personal level.
Such charts are cast for the exact times at which the Sun and the Moon return to their positions at birth; but unless the very precise birth-time is known there is very little use in attempting to make such charts, because events during the solar year (or the lunar month) ahead are said to occur when planets cross the four angles of the chart. Usually the solar or lunar return charts are calculated for the place of residence at the time, but I am not certain that this is always the best method; it seems that the locality of birth gives better results.
I personally have found it just as significant simply to place the transiting planets at the time of the solar return on the outside of the natal chart and then to evaluate their relationship to the natal houses and planets. Yet if the exact birth-time is known it is no doubt worth while to calculate the zodiacal positions of the four angles of the solar return chart, and to see in what natal houses they fall.
Other techniques and so many are possible have value if they have a logical basis and when consistently used by a competent astrologer believing in their validity. For instance, the cycle of eclipses can give very significant indications in many cases. This is the Saros cycle of the Chaldeans, which measures the return of eclipses to approximately the same place in the zodiac (thus in the natal houses) every 18 years and 11 days. Eclipses result from an exact alignment of Sun, Moon and Earth. During a solar eclipse the Earth receives the full force of the soli-lunar conjunction. It constitutes an over-stressful challenge to start something new and to discard the old. It can mean either revolution or evolution, depending upon the strength of the inner structure of personality that is, upon the individual's ability not to be violently torn away from his center.
Lunar eclipses, on the other hand, are challenges to personal integration. The Earth is pulled in exactly opposite directions by the Sun and the Moon; this can mean disintegration or, as the Moon resurges from her ghostly appearance while eclipsed, a new adjustment to life, a new quality of integration of self with environment.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1969 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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