One of the things that is often trickiest to get a hold of when you study progressions is the inter-relationship between the progressed chart and the natal. For example, if a progressed planet is making an aspect to another progressed planet, how do you interpret that progression in relation to the natal chart? On the whole, unless you’re very young, the inner planets will be in very different places from the natal. The outer planets don’t move very far, retaining a kind of overview, a supervisory position, acting as a spiritual anchor in the progressed chart, but the planets most near will be scooting around, causing havoc. The way to cheat, of course, (and many astrologers do) is to skip progressed to progressed positions entirely and concentrate on progressed to natal. Unfortunately, the laugh would be on you, because the progressed to progressed positions are the most vital tools we have in depth astrology, telling us exactly where we are in spiritual terms. Can I tell you how to interpret progressed-to-progressed aspects in regards to the natal? The answer is, yes, but not hypothetically. It depends on the planets and it depends on the houses and it depends on their relative importance in the natal chart. It also depends on what transits are affecting both the progressed and the natal at the time. The rule of thumb is that the action of the progressed aspect manifests in the houses of the natal, but there are many exceptions to this rule. Interpreting the progressed chart is an art form that takes time, experience, and a real understanding of cycles to perfect.
But one of the progression cycles that is quite easy to grasp is the cycle of the Progressed Moon and its relationship to the Saturn cycle in the natal chart. This is so vital to our soul development and our work in the world that I’m surprised it isn’t discussed more on astrology sites on the web. Especially since you don’t need an ephemeris to ‘get’ it.
I’ve touched on this before in my Moon/Saturn articles (you can find part 1 of the series here). It’s important to understand the creative relationship between the Moon and Saturn in a chart. The energy flow of the I.C. and the M.C. (natural houses for the Moon and Saturn) is all about how we bring the world ‘in here’ (the birth of consciousness at the I.C.) through our creative expression and create something ‘out there’ that is useful in the world. When this flow of the angles is working properly, we not only feel connected to a sense of personal power (I.C.), but by using that inner core of power, we feel legitimate and validated. We have a sense of inner authenticity and authority that no one can take away from us.
Part of the journey towards authenticity has to do with the development of the sense of “I.” We do this by the Asc/Desc axis and by testing our sense of “I” through the vehicle of “other.” One of the reasons that partnership is such a ferocious quest when we’re younger isn’t really to do with sex, but has to do with this inner need for self-definition. By partnering, we connect the male and the female halves of the psyche and get to experience ourselves through another. As we mature, partnership isn’t such a panic because we’ve been through these self-defining experiences. Not that the quest doesn’t go on–it certainly does–but it doesn’t have the same urgency, and sometimes we wish to avoid losing what was hard-won.
Everyone who knows anything about astrology has heard of the infamous Saturn return. That’s typical of the emphasis on the M.C. (external success) in this culture, and our equally silly avoidance of all things relating to Saturn. But yes, the Saturn return is difficult, because for the first time in our lives we’re faced with a responsibility that is all our own. We have to grow up. We have to start doing the things that we were put here to do, actually make a little impact in the world. But why is this so hard? Because the year before the Saturn return, we have been stripped of all our security by the Progressed Lunar Return.
Like all returns, the Progressed Lunar Return is both an ending and a beginning. However, the Progressed Lunar Return is the queen of all returns. And she’s the one who takes our security blanket away because she doesn’t like the way we’re clinging to our past. The calculation is simple. It takes the Progressed Moon twenty eight years to return to its own place in the natal chart. Usually, the year before the return is exact, when the Progressed Moon is ten to twelve degrees before the conjunction, we begin to lose our footing. Familiar things slip away, or we have the urge to get rid of things, habits and patterns because we’ve outgrown them. Usually, depending on the condition of the Moon in the chart, we get one of two reactions: we either have a real break from the past, or we become further enmeshed in family/tribal patterns and rituals, most often out of fear. We have a deep desire for change of any kind. Sometimes we wish to consolidate our familial duties and obligations, but this particular return is not the time for it. It’s asking for a shedding of the old and an initiation of the new. Again, a lot depends on the condition of the Moon at birth. I have a Moon/Uranus conjunction, and on my first lunar return I left for Europe, a marriage abroad, a brand new life.
Speaking of marriage, marriages at this time are not particularly recommended. (I can attest to this personally, as well as professionally.) They can be an indication of a desire to cling to the tribe, rather than individuate, and may be a doomed attempt at filling the gap of emotional insecurity we feel at this time. They may also fulfill, albeit temporarily, the urgings we have to ‘move on.’ I have no statistics, but from my client database I can see clearly that marriages at this time can be short-lived (or perhaps this is only true for people who consult astrologers). The other thing that occurs at this time is divorce, the divorces of those early marriages that may have been substitutes for other kinds of internal development.
Have you ever noticed that the planets we call ‘relationship planets’ all rule cardinal signs? Aries–Mars, Cancer–Moon, Libra–Venus, Capricorn–Saturn. (The Sun carries a separate symbolism with the Moon, having to do with the 5th house expression rather than the 10th house expression of the masculine energy.) The ‘story’ of cardinality is the development of consciousness, which must be evolved through interaction with ‘other’ in the widest sense of that word (this is why Saturn is exalted in Libra). Aries is the movement outward, the life force, and is pre-conscious. This is our metaphorical Year One. Seven years later, the Progressed Moon has its first square to itself. Age seven is considered the age of reason in a number of religions, the age when a child is expected to know right from wrong and therefore is responsible for his or her own behaviour. This initiation of conscious awareness is the ‘birth’ associated with Cancer. We will also experience at this time Saturn’s first square to itself, emphasizing the element of responsibility.
At age 14 we go through hell–otherwise known as the Saturn opposition to itself combined with all the hormone-arousing, exaggerated feeliness of the Progressed Moon’s opposition to itself. No wonder we’re in total chaos at this time, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Our feelings are raging, we know we need to separate from the tribe but we can’t yet, we try to create new tribes of our own. We know we have to be responsible but the burden of that responsibility, combined with the emotional chaos, doesn’t sit well. We don’t want to do what we’re told but we don’t know what else to do, either. The one thing that does happen is that sex takes on more and more importance, and finding a partner becomes a focus and a priority, whether we dare to try or remain in a fantasy world. We’re now in what is strongly a Libra/Aries phase, where the notion of the union of Self and Other is urgent. The push towards Self-discovery is intense. In a lot of cultures, this is the year that a real split can occur between the masculine and the feminine, and there are rituals where we leave our childhoods and ‘become’ a man or a woman.
If we’re lucky, over the next seven years or so we sort this out, until we come to our first understanding of our partnership needs and desires. At age 21, we move into our first Capricorn/MC year–where the impetus is to find our place in the world. For the first time, we need to define ourselves in terms of ‘the world out there’. Both Saturn and the Progressed Moon are in waning squares to themselves in the natal chart at this time. The waning square is the most focused and intense in the cycle, because it knows it has little time to accomplish what it needs to do. We sense an ending in the distance, yet aren’t quite sure how we’re meant to fulfill our requirements. Like all first cycles, everything in the first 28 years of life is fraught with the new.
During all of the crisis points of this cycle, there are opportunities for retreat. We can fall into old behaviour patterns at any time, lose our enthusiasm for our own progress, find it easier to avoid change. With the first Progressed Lunar Cycle, we are forced to confront what baggage we brought into this world and what we should do with it. This has more of a feel of cleaning up loose ends from past lifetimes than the satisfaction of accomplished individuation that can arrive later. We may have fame, success, all kinds of achievements in store before age 28, but there is usually the strange sense that they are not our own. At the age of 28, we begin to step up to the plate of individual responsibility, and have a much stronger sense that our lives need to be shaped by something more than instinct. We begin to need, to crave, a direction. Some area where we can focus our newly discovered selves.
Part Two to follow. Some of this article is excerpted from THE INNER WHEEL: A New Guide to Secondary Progressions, which will be available later this year.