The Chart Workshop section usually posts on Sunday, but I won’t have an opportunity tomorrow so here it is, a day early.
Question: “I just don’t understand the progressed chart at all. I look at it and I don’t get it. What does this have to do with me? Transits make sense. This doesn’t.”
Judith, New Jersey
That’s a big question. From what I get from my students, a lot of new astrologers feel this way. I can understand how, looking at the natal and then looking at the progressed chart, the two might seem entirely unrelated. But they aren’t. They’re very much related. In fact, you can’t look at the progressed chart without taking it back to the natal. It’s relation to the natal is everything. It is the natal chart itself moved on in time. You don’t look the same now as you did when you were born. Your natal chart, too, has grown. But you’re still you.
Your natal chart shows who you are, but your progressed chart shows you where you are now. You have moved on in your life. The progressed chart shows how you’ve moved on, according to a measurement of time. The progressed chart reveals nothing more nor less than the slow unfolding of your spiritual development. It’s the big picture. It’s also the ‘why’ to the natal chart’s ‘what’ and the transit’s ‘how’. Have you ever anticipated a big transit, and wondered after it was all over why it never manifested in any significant way? That’s because the planet was not primed to maximum impact according to the progressed chart. The progressed chart outlines the bigger issues. Sometimes a relatively small transit will affect our lives significantly. Again, that will show via progression, particularly if it’s a repeated theme in the natal (i.e. I have Mercury semi-square Pluto at birth. Mercury then progresses to a square with natal and then progressed Pluto. Those Mercury/Pluto issues will come to life at that time, particularly if something is transiting the natal or progressed aspect.) The most important factors in the progressed chart are the progressed Sun and the progressed Moon. The best description of them comes from Stephen Arroyo, who called the progressed Sun the hour hand and the progressed Moon the minute hand on the clock face of our lives. The Sun represents our current spiritual identity, the engine of the soul, and the progressed Moon indicates the means of our spiritual growth. (These are simplistic answers but will do for now.) When the progressed Sun aspects anything in the natal or progressed chart, it will illuminate the issues surrounding that planet or point. The progressed Moon also has a similar and often immediate impact. Both act as catalysts to our becoming, whether the shifts occur in the outer world or in our deepest selves.
Progressed charts have been falling out of favour somewhat, which is a crime. No one wants to take the time to think about them, in these days of instant answers. But it’s like throwing out the baby with the complicated bathwater. Frankly, speaking for myself, I wouldn’t attempt to do an analysis without it. How can you advise someone if you don’t know the state of their inner being, or what the soul is requiring us to focus on?
The progressed chart moves one symbolic day for one symbolic year of life. At age 30, the progressed chart reveals what is occuring 30 days after my birth. Why should this work? One symbolic turn of the earth (day) equals one symbolic cycle of the earth around the Sun (year). The outer is equal to the inner, the lesser to the greater. As above, so below.
I have a hunch that folks have a resistance to progressions these days because they in fact delineate the natural limitations of our lives. Intellectually, we know that we can’t live forever, but most of us live our lives as if we can. The progressed chart outlines our natural limits. In a life span, how many years can we expect to live? Let’s say we live to 90–the progressed Sun moves at roughly one day per year, so the chart at ninety days will move the Sun 90 degrees. That’ s a generous limit of my life span, and the planets there at the ninety day mark will delineate the limits of my existence. If the progressed Sun will only ever move 90 degrees within my lifetime, how important then is it when the progressed Sun changes signs, or houses, or makes aspects to planets? My Virgo natal Sun will progress to learn the relationship/balance lessons of Libra. Thirty years later, it will take the accumulated knowledge and move on to learn the intensity and focus of Scorpio. I remain a Virgo, but a Virgo who has evolved through the tests of the following signs and other planets that may reside there. The same goes for Mercury, Venus, Mars. The progressed Moon moves relatively quickly and shows us what we are focused on right now. Progressed aspects to the natal chart matter, but hard aspects between progressed planets come alive in a unique way. They are great indicators of change, both inner and outer.
Ignoring Jupiter, Saturn and the outer planets in progression is a common mistake. Those slower moving planets may make aspects in my natal chart, and when the slower planets move into exactitude, either by direct or retrograde movement, fireworks result. I may have a Saturn/Pluto opposition at birth within a few degrees, but when slow moving progressed Pluto moves into an exact aspect (within minutes) with slow moving progressed Saturn, all of the issues surrounding my Saturn/Pluto and the houses involved will be highlighted in my life. When this progressed aspect is transited by other planets, the stress will be the most intense. I’ve seen amazing things happen to people whose outer planet aspects became exact by progression.
How we find progressed angles and what methods we use is a complicated business, too complicated to get into within the space of a blog. Whatever method you use, remember that progressed angles, like natal angles, are electric, and when they touch something or something touches them it is immediately taken into our lives. If a progressed angle moves to touch a natal or progressed planet, that planet then becomes a driving archetype for that space of time (often a three year period, if not more). Again, transits to these configurations will intensify the lessons.
One of the easiest and most interesting tests of the progressed chart is to trace transits to it, particularly of the Sun and/or Mars. See if that doesn’t awaken your understanding of how the progressed chart illustrates your life.
I’m finishing up a book on progressions right now. My aim in writing that book is to clarify all the current confusion around progressions and allow people to make more holistic sense of them. We’ll also be tackling progression questions here in the near future, so stay tuned.