Secondary Progressions and Solar Arc Directions
A number of our readers have requested that we discuss our approach to current patterns in The Mutable Dilemma. This article is in response to those requests.
Before we do current patterns, we always interpret the natal chart. You need to know the foundation before you can extrapolate beyond it. Therefore, we will begin with a brief analysis of the natal potentials of the chart of a female born May 19, 1952 at 9:13 P.M.
We note an identification with idealism (Chiron in the 1st house and Sagittarius rising). This can indicate the life-long seeker—someone always searching for answers about the meaning of life, whether they travel, look to religion, metaphysics, spiritual quests, education, etc. It can point to high personal standards (“I should be perfect”) or an identification with the Absolute (“I am perfect” or “I have all the answers.”) If the latter is carried too far, one potential is the missionary: “I have the truth, the whole truth, and no one else’s truth is right.” Constructively channeled, the hunger for meaning leads the person to explore many by-ways in seeking truth. Often, there is an instinctive sense of humor, a good ability to laugh, to enjoy life and to entertain others as well.
We also see a need to work, to accomplish, to achieve in the world, and the potential of some self-criticism if the person is not satisfied with their tangible attainments (East Point—secondary Ascendant—in Capricorn and Capricorn occupied in the 1st house plus Saturn, ruling the Capricorn in the 1st, occupying the 10th house). Saturn also squares the Chiron in the 1st, so we suspect a potential clash between ideals and reality. This is an inner struggle for the woman involved, but could also play out between her and her father (or authority figures) since Saturn is involved in the picture (and the 10th house).
Despite the mutable Sagittarius rising, we note a very strong fixed component to the basic identity. Mars (natural key to self) is in fixed Scorpio and the fixed 11th house. Jupiter (ruling the Ascendant) is in fixed Taurus in the fixed 5th house. The Antivertex (secondary Ascendant) is in fixed Aquarius in the fixed 2nd house. Clearly the issues revolving around sensuality, sexuality, finances, possessions and pleasures will be important to this person. We see again the strong potential of early conflict over these issues with a grand cross involving: Mars square Antivertex, square Jupiter/Ceres/Mercury, square Vertex—all in fixed signs and fixed houses. Of course, this is primarily an INNER issue. Let’s call our example Ms. A. She has to deal with the tension between self-indulgence (whether over food, sex, alcohol, drugs, money, etc.) and self-control, between security and risk, and has to learn to share power, possessions and pleasures easily with a mate. Since Ceres is involved in the grand cross, we suspect some of the self-against-self (inner tension) could again come out with parents, especially mother (figures). It might also involve lovers or children and the tension between indulging herself versus indulging others. We would certainly expect a highly sensual nature.
The mother (or mother figure) is implied as an important role model (positive or negative—Ms. A may want to be like her mother, or to be the opposite of her mother). Jupiter (Ascendant ruler) conjunct Ceres (the earth mother asteroid); Aries (identity) occupies the 4th cusp (a parent) and Aries is also occupied by the Moon (usually mother). This can also point to strong nurturing urges within Ms. A, although we do note a conflict between the nurturing/closeness focus (Ascendant ruler in 5th and conjunct Ceres; Mars in Scorpio; Aries in 4th and occupied by Moon) versus the freedom needs (Mars in 11th; Chiron in 1st; Antivertex in Aquarius). The stellium in the 5th, however, strongly represents the importance of being onstage, recognized, admired, creative or in some way pouring out into the world and being noticed. This could be artistic creativity (with the Taurus involvement), children, love affairs, advertising, promotion, teaching, etc.
The Sun in the 6th again suggests Letter 5 activities in terms of work, as does Venus in the 5th since Venus rules the 6th and the MC. Mercury (natural ruler of the 6th) and Ceres (connected to Virgo and work) in the 5th again repeat the theme. All the Taurus in the 5th can be earning money (one potential of Taurus) through Letter 5 activities. The Capricorn in the 1st and Vesta in Virgo in the 9th also tie earth (work) to fire principles of excitement, vitality, action and restlessness. There is, however, a grand earth trine (Jupiter to East Point to Vesta) to suggest potential endurance, although it does occupy fire houses (again the urge for the adrenaline rush). Partnership or aesthetics is suggested by the Libra Midheaven, Saturn in Libra and two planets in the 10th occupying Libra as well as Juno (partnership and beauty) in the 2nd house of income. Saturn in the 10th as well as all the Letter 5 repetitions suggest Ms. A would rather run the show if possible, but this is softened by the idealism of Neptune in the 10th—professional artist or savior or victim and the sharing urges of the Libra and Juno placements.
If Ms. A does not come to terms with her fixed issues, we would anticipate potential power struggles around sensuality, sexuality, finances and possessions. Initially, this might be with parents (as indicated above), but lovers and children could also be involved (with the Jupiter/Ceres/Mercury part of the grand cross in the 5th and the several oppositions across the 2nd/8th houses). Ms. A may feel torn between earning money herself, versus being supported by others. She may overindulge and then overcontrol in terms of food, drink, drugs or other material indulgences. She may confront these issues with children or lovers (perhaps indulging them rather than herself with the Taurus in the 5th). The challenge is to work toward a balanced enjoyment of the sensual and sexual world and to be able to give, receive and share easily and comfortably with those close to her.
First, we will present an outline of the sorts of things we look for in current patterns. Then, we will discuss each item of the outline with our example chart. (This outline is NOT intended to suggest that you must follow this specific order. We tend to do #1 first and #10 last, but many of the items are on par with each other.)
1. Check for any long-term aspects (holding one-degree orb in secondary progressions for years and years).
2. Check for any conjunctions involving angles (angles to planets or planets to angles)—including Antivertex/Vertex and East Point/West Point as well as Ascendant/Descendant and MC/IC.
3. Check for any changes of house or sign (new chapters).
4. Check for any changes of direction in secondary progressions.
5. Note house and sign of progressed Moon for over-all emotional tone of the period.
6. Look to see if any major configurations are being formed (new stellia, T-squares or grand crosses, etc.) or natal ones being triggered.
7. Note any conjunctions (natal to progressed, progressed to progressed or solar arc to natal).
8. Note other major aspects (especially oppositions, quincunxes and squares for major shifts).
9. Seek repeated themes in terms of planets, houses and signs involved in aspects (e.g., planets in and ruling 10th all tied into a conflict pattern suggests challenges around career, responsibility, authority, power).
10. Watch aspects to progressed Moon for fine-tuning the timing.
One of the first items we look for in secondary progressions is to see if the individual has any aspects that hold for years and years. Remember that progressions use a strict one-degree orb. So, when outer planets are involved, especially if retrogrades are in the picture, they may be in aspect for many years of a person’s life.
Ms. A has three such aspects. One is the Neptune/Pluto sextile which many, many people have. This holds—within a one-degree orb—from about birth until around age 42. It suggests potential harmony in blending her ideals with her needs for intimacy and a mate. It also implies potential assistance and mutual support between her achievement needs (10th house Neptune) and her partner and/or partner’s income and support (8th house Pluto).
Ms. A’s Neptune (by progression) also holds a quincunx to natal Venus for her entire life (unless she lives to be more than 120 years old). This represents potential challenges in integrating her idealistic side with her desire for love, money, affection. It reiterates an artistic theme (two planets of beauty), but suggests actualizing the talent may take extra effort (challenge aspect). The signs involved (Libra and Taurus) are also Venus-ruled, so we suspect that beauty issues could be involved, or pleasure in some form. Love may also compete with work (5th house quincunx to 10th house), including children with career or other creative/expressive outlets with her responsibility/achievement needs. Indulgence or passivity could be part of the issue as both Venus and Neptune are inclined to seek the easy route.
Ms. A also has progressed Saturn holding a quincunx to natal Mercury until her mid 60’s. This repeats the potential tension between love (5th house) and work (10th house) as well as personal pleasures (Taurus) versus joint activities (Libra). Saturn/Mercury implies tension between solid accomplishments and practicalities versus curiosity for its own sake and a lighthearted approach. Inhibitions or doubts (Saturn) could affect communication and thinking (Mercury). Fifth house activities (Venus and Mercury both being there) might be blocked, delayed (Saturn) or overly idealized (Neptune). Career ambitions (Neptune and Saturn in the 10th) might be challenged by restlessness/variety needs (Mercury) or the desire for pleasure/indulgence/beauty (Venus).
The angles of the chart are the most personal (time-dependent) and extremely important in current patterns as well as in natal analysis. In Ms. A’s case, there were several important angle conjunctions for the period we are examining (April 25, 1982): progressed MC conjunct progressed Mars, solar arc Venus conjunct Descendant, progressed Ascendant conjunct Chiron (and progressed Descendant conjunct Uranus), and solar arc Vesta conjunct Midheaven. The Midheaven involvements suggest potential change in terms of career and/or status (place/identity in society). Mars and the Ascendant suggest her sense of identity and/or physical body and energy could be involved. Vesta suggests work and/or health issues. Chiron suggests ideals, values and long-range goals could be part of the picture. Venus suggests changes involving money, pleasure, beauty, and/or love and could involve 5th house matters as Venus is natally in the 5th and rules the 5th. (Venus also rules the 6th and the MC, so again work, career and/or status could be changed.)
When planets change houses or change signs, they suggest a new chapter in terms of the planet involved (perhaps its natural meaning, perhaps the area of the chart which it rules or where it is placed natally). In the case of Ms. A, the progressed MC is about to change houses (and changed signs about 1-3/4 years ago). This again suggests a change of status and/or career. Of course, solar arc Venus conjunct the Descendant means that Venus also recently changed houses. Venus on the Descendant is generally a strong focus on love (due to the nature of both Venus and the Descendant).
Changes of direction by progressed planets often point to significant shifts in the life. In the case of Ms. A, the year we are examining does not include any shifts in terms of planetary direction. Ms. A’s Mars did go from retrograde to direct around age 23 and Saturn went from retrograde to direct around age 24. The first suggests a shift in terms of personal identity, self-expression, action, health—or in terms of home and domestic matters (where Mars rules) or friendships, groups, organizations and social causes (Mars’ natal house). The second shift suggests possible change in status and/or career or in terms of income earned and pleasures (Saturn’s rulership in this chart) or career and status (Saturn natal placement by house).
Ms. A moved in with someone of a different race her last year of high school and became sexually active. She dropped out of college and went to northern California where she became a “flower child” getting involved with drugs, sex and the counter culture. She lived on the streets some of this period and had a precarious existence for a time. By the time her Mars and then Saturn went direct, she had begun to take more power over her own life. She held a variety of jobs, including kitchen manager at an ashram, several different day care situations and some artistic endeavors.
The progressed Moon’s position (house and sign) gives clues to the overall tone of a period. In Ms. A’s case, her progressed Moon is in Taurus and in the 5th house. So, we suspect a focus on pleasure, indulgence or money and on 5th house matters: love, attention, admiration, children, creativity, etc.
Configurations point to intertwined issues in the life, and can be triggered by progressed planets. In Ms. A’s case, he natal grand cross is not being activated. Her progressed Ascendant, however, by conjuncting natal Chiron activates the natal opposition to Uranus (exact) and the square to Saturn. (Although it is not within orb by progression, because the T-square is there natally, we consider it a current focus.) This suggests potential tension between ideals and reality (Chiron versus Saturn as well as freedom/unconventionality versus rules—Uranus and Chiron versus Saturn). Part of the struggle may be time/energy constraints between personal self-expression (1st house), dependency/nurturance urges (Cancer), partnership needs (7th house) and career/responsibility demands (Saturn/10th house). Revolving the cardinal dilemma is part of the challenge, but Ms. A must also make peace between dreams and expectations (Chiron) versus what is possible in the world (Saturn).
We note that Ms. A has a 10th house stellium with progressed Mars joining natal Neptune and Saturn, but that has been true since around age 10—pointing to an increased need to work, to find her place in society, to deal with the issue of self-will (Mars natural ruler of 1st and Saturn ruler of Capricorn in 1st) versus limits to self-will (10th house).
Just as in natal astrology, conjunctions are the strongest aspect, so we pay particular attention to conjunctions in current patterns. Ms. A has quite a few. We have mentioned progressed Ascendant to Chiron (personal action achieving ideals or long-range goal); Midheaven to Mars (personal action affecting status/career/authorities) and solar arc Venus to Descendant (focus on love/affection with potential change in relationships, status, work and/or children, creativity, onstage activities).
We also note that natal Venus is being conjuncted on one side by the progressed Moon and on the other by progressed Ceres. This strongly points to mothering/nurturing issues (given the nature of the Moon, nature of Ceres and 5th house placement).
Other aspects help round out the picture. We would notice that solar arc Saturn is opposing natal Ceres and approaching the opposition to natal Mercury. Since natal Saturn was quincunx that Mercury/Ceres, we expect possible developments in Ms. A’s handling of love versus work, inhibition versus expression, creativity versus discipline, etc. Similarly, we note that solar arc Neptune is approaching the opposition to Venus (and was natally quincunx). [Of course, the conjunctions of progressed Ceres and the progressed Moon to natal Venus also activate the natal Venus/Neptune quincunx.] Oppositions (indicating natural polarities with an inherent pull toward partnership) are easier to integrate than quincunxes, so she may have an opportunity to constructively deal with the issues of her natal Neptune/Venus and Saturn/Mercury quincunxes.
We also note that solar arc Jupiter is quincunx Mars and square Vesta. The Jupiter/Vesta repeats the ideal versus real theme of Chiron square Saturn, so we expect the balance between hopes and reality must be kept. If this is constructively channeled, of course, we take steps to make our dreams INTO reality, to give a tangible focus to our visions. Jupiter quincunx Mars can be acting against one’s better judgment, but can also indicate lots of energy, enthusiasm, positive thinking and excitement.
As always, we are seeking THEMES—messages that repeat in different ways in the current patterns. They are keys to the major motifs. In this case, we note a very strong VENUSIAN focus: solar arc Venus is on the Descendant, natal Venus is conjunct both progressed Ceres and the progressed Moon. (Progressed Venus is not as dramatic. It is sextile and trine the nodes of the Moon and will reach the conjunction to the progressed Sun in two to three years.) We suspect that the 5th house placement and rulership of Venus may be particularly relevant due to the Ceres/Moon conjunction there.
We also note a lot of activity tied to the Midheaven and to Saturn. The Ascendant conjunct Chiron activates the T-square with Saturn. The progressed Midheaven conjuncts Mars and the natal Midheaven conjuncts solar arc Vesta, so changes in status and/or career seem likely!
Because it moves more quickly than the other planets, the progressed Moon is our major key to timing. In this case, we have provided an actual date for you. If, however, we had asked you to examine the first half of 1982, the progressed Moon would give you your major clues. An event is most likely (nothing guaranteed!) during the two months when the progressed Moon reinforces progressed Ceres conjunction to natal Venus. (Again, conjunctions are the strongest aspects so they are more significant than oppositions, squares, etc.)
Hopefully the above has given you a sense of how we approach current patterns. Before we give you the ending to the story, let’s summarize the transits as well.
Transiting Sun conjunct Ms. A’s natal Jupiter in the 5th (again the focus on ideal/goals and 5th house matters).
Transiting Moon conjunct Ms. A’s Sun (suggests nurturing/closeness themes).
Transiting Mercury conjunct Ms. A’s Venus (again the focus on Venus in and ruling the 5th house!).
Transiting Venus square Ms. A’s Ascendant-Descendant (self/partner relationships), sextile her Venus (pleasure/love) and quincunx her Pluto (issues around mastery, control or intimacy).
Transiting Mars conjunct Ms. A’s Midheaven (possible change of status, perhaps involvement of her physically, or clash between self-will and limits of reality).
Transiting Jupiter conjunct Ms. A’s Mars (again excitement, activity, a “high” and focus on ideals, goals, values and action).
Transiting Saturn conjunct Ms. A’s Neptune (activating the natal Neptune quincunx Venus in the 5th).
Transiting Uranus just past opposition to Ms. A’s Sun, but squaring Vesta (freedom versus work/effort) and quincunxing Jupiter (more focus on values, goals and beliefs).
Transiting Neptune sextile/trine Ms. A’s nodes (harmony between dreams/fantasies and relationship issues) and quincunx her Sun (may want more than is reasonable romantically, be artistically creative, express ideal images).
Transiting Pluto sextile/trine Ms. A’s nodes (harmony in terms of relationship issues).
On April 25, 1982, Ms. A gave birth to her first child. He was a healthy baby boy, much desired. Ms. A and her husband had been “trying” for a pregnancy for about two years. (Their second child arrived about 2-1/2 years later with progressed Venus conjunct progressed Sun.)
For those of you interested in working with quotidian (daily) progressions, we include them in this article as well. The major aspects were quotidian MC conjunct natal Saturn (new status, change in parental role, new responsibilities) and quincunx natal Ceres/Mercury (again activating the natal quincunx—Ms. A had to deal with her ambivalences about this creative act, to balance love and responsibility, indulgence and control). The quotidian East Point (secondary Ascendant) trined natal Ceres and Mercury in the 5th. (She handled the labor just fine physically.) The quotidian Ascendant sextiled Juno (her spouse was happy) and quincunxed the progressed Moon. The quotidian Antivertex squared Jupiter (again the warning light regarding too high expectations or overreach or indulgence), but sextiled progressed Pallas (again, harmony with partner).
May your explorations of current patterns prove fruitful and illuminating!