If someone claimed they could predict my future, I’d tell them to get lost. They would need a request from me first, and that’s the first rule of prediction: the person needs to request it. Nevertheless, the entire astrological tradition is based on the ability to predict how the future unfolds. If you know where planets have been, and what that meant, and you know where planets are going, then you can predict what will happen. That’s what astrology does.
The trouble is, a million things could happen. What prediction techniques do is narrow down the realm of possibilities. The best known techniques for doing this are Transits, Progressions, the Solar Return, Directions, and Horary. Really, horary is just a more finely calibrated method of using transits. With Directions, the symbolic movement of the Sun where one day after birth represents one degree, is applied to all the planets in the birth horoscope, which for example at the age of 25 would all be moved forward about 25 degrees.
Many astrologers get great results from Directions, but personally I prefer Secondary Progressions, which also use the formula 1 day = 1 year but this is applied to all the planets, so at the age of 25, the astrologer calculates a completely new horoscope reflecting where all planets have moved over the period of 25 days. Secondary Progressions are really subtle, but they are the best tool for predicting life-changing events.
The Solar Return is a horoscope valid for one year and calculated for the exact return of the Sun to the degree and minute of its position at birth every year on or close to your birthday. I used the SR chart for many years, but ended up dropping it in favor of the horary or consultation chart calculated for the arrival of the client. That has proved to be an incredibly accurate prediction tool over the years.
Transits and timing
At any given time, all the planets are moving through the 12 signs, weaving a complex web of aspects to each other. Generally, the slow-moving planets are the most significant transits: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Some people might like to use Chiron or distant planets like Eris, but that might be a complication, and with prediction, it helps to keep things simple. Of course, the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars are also transits, but normally their influence is over in just a few days. The exception is when Mercury, Venus or Mars move retrograde, which can have an effect for two, four or seven months respectively.
Transits tend to last for a clearly defined period which is the shadow period. For example, if you have a planet at 20 degrees Aquarius, Saturn will have hit that degree in March 2022. Moving retrograde at 24 degrees it will return to hit the degree again and moving direct at 18 Aquarius it will return to conjoin the planet for a third time, finally going past 24 degrees in January 2023. The period from 18 – 24 Aquarius (from February 2022 to January 2023) is the shadow period and this will normally reflect a specific process that the client is going through from start to finish. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s a good guideline.
Whilst the shadow period of Saturn is about 6 degrees, it is more like 4 degrees for Uranus and 3 degrees for Neptune and Pluto. For Jupiter it can be as much as 10 degrees. However, Jupiter and Saturn often simply speed past a planet and do not return by retrograde motion, in which case it’s a very short influence lasting one or two months. On the other hand, Neptune and Pluto can make as many as 5 hits so that the transit period can last 1 ½ years.
It’s easy to gauge the psychological influence of a transit, but slightly more tricky to work out what is actually going to happen. Pluto transits are associated with transformation, which means that something changes completely. Psychologically this is accompanied by a sense of exhaustion and often considerable pressure until something becomes intolerable. Repair is not often an option, renewal is. So if you can identify what a person is completely tired of, then that is what they have to drop. But clients are often very attached to what torments them, whether it is a job, a person or something else, and they often feel that there is no choice but to continue. In actual fact, when they eliminate the problem, it is like a rebirth, and they will never regret it.
Neptune transits are associated with sorrow and disorientation. They evoke really strong feelings of longing or sadness. The situation represented by the transit has to be allowed to run its course. There is no magic remedy. Acceptance is the key. It helps to recognize the universal nature of suffering, so that the focus is also on the problems others face. Neptune’s function is to bypass the rational and awaken the deeper sensitivities of the soul. It is a bit like watering a plant after a period of drought. This brings an awareness of a colorful spectrum of emotion in what earlier was a grey environment. Neptune transits awaken creativity and bring spiritual awareness.
Uranus transits are foreshadowed by a restless feeling. A sense of boredom is the precursor of change. There is a lot of unpredictability involved because Uranus evokes the need to ignore fear of consequences and just act. Fast. There is often a strong social element with a need to meet new people who enhance the sense of awakening that is taking place. This transit often brings travel, and often to very distant destinations. For example, a Uranus transit to Venus might bring a relationship far away, which necessitates journeys back and forth. Clients with Uranus transits need to break away from circumstances that no longer fulfil them, and experiment with new activities which get the adrenalin flowing.
Saturn transits are more straightforward, but they are not designed to be easy. There will always be a challenge represented by the planet Saturn aspects, and the pressure keeps building up until the challenge is resolved. At first it can seem insurmountable, but by planning, and breaking up the tasks involved into manageable chunks, concrete results are attained. Saturn can easily evoke a sense of depression and initial lack of self-confidence, but the recipe is always the same: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The result is the construction of something lasting and worthwhile.
Jupiter is said to be the bringer of good fortune, the ripening of good karma perhaps. Sometimes this is true, sometimes not. Jupiter awakens a sense of exhilaration and faith in the future, which can be the fuel to achieve a treasured goal. It can also signal hubris and the tendency to bite off more than you can chew. This probably depends on how favorable Jupiter is in the birth horoscope. Above all, Jupiter awakens a sense of right and wrong, so that there is a modification of what the client believes in, and a willingness to argue strongly for those beliefs.
The Consultation Chart
Using the horary chart, or the consultation chart, which is calculated for the beginning of a consultation, and in the case of online consultations using the location of the client, what you see are transits under the microscope. So, if for example transit Pluto is aspecting a client’s Mars, then the House position of Pluto in the consultation chart and aspects to it will likely reflect where exactly a power battle is taking place, with whom and at what stage it is at. The consultation chart is a precision instrument, and the whole chart reflects the client’s situation. The Ascendant ruler will represent the client, the Descendant ruler his or her partner, the MC ruler the boss, the IC ruler the family and probably the mother. The consultation chart can even be used as a standalone horoscope, and is invaluable when the birth time (or even the birth date, as often happens with adoptions) is unknown. It’s a study in itself, and outside the scope of this article, but the reader can refer to my earlier set of 3 articles: Horary for a New Age.
Progressions and Personal Evolution
The Progressed Chart is based on the principle that any one unit of time, in this case one day, correlates with any other unit of time. With Secondary Progressions one revolution of the Earth on its axis corresponds to one orbit of the Earth around the sun. The big difference between Progressions and Transits is that progressions are entirely connected with personal evolution and are unique for the individual, whilst transits affect the entire collective. Transits are like outer storms: if your ship is seaworthy, you will weather the storm well, whilst if it is not, you will not do so well.
The evolution shown by progressions is gradual and subtle, punctuated by meetings and events which reflect the progression. For example, if you are born with Mercury turning direct and therefore moving slowly, with Venus catching up from behind and overtaking, then Mercury gathering speed and then overtaking Venus, then these two planets can be in conjunction through progression for twenty years. This could show an incredibly tight bond to a sibling which is of enormous significance.
One essential question regarding progressions is whether a personal planet like Mercury, Venus or Mars moves retrograde or direct during the course of the client’s life. Over 50% of clients will experience Mercury changing direction during their lives, whilst it is much rarer with Venus and Mars. The stationary period represents a sense of inertia and is often accompanied by a significant event. It’s as if the client has some baggage to pick up – a relationship perhaps – and once the pickup has taken place, then life can be continued on a new trajectory. President Biden won the 2020 election because his Mercury went stationary direct at 24 Capricorn exactly opposing his ruling planet Jupiter at 24 Cancer, which is the position of Mercury in the US chart. Mercury dwells on its stationary degree for three to four years.
A key factor with progressed retrograde planets is whether they will make a series of aspects to the same planet in the birth chart. In Sigmund Freud’s case Mercury went retrograde in Cancer and made a sextile to Pluto three times during the course of his life, very fitting for the founder of modern psychoanalysis. These repeat aspects can span the whole shadow period, which can last many decades. As such they reflect an important focus and life mission.
Progressed planets will also move from one sign to another. Mercury can do this as fast as every 15 years, Venus every 25 years and Mars every 40 years, provided they are not in a shadow phase. Progressions unfold so slowly, so Venus progressing through Virgo would hardly be noticed – until Venus enters Libra and there is a blossoming of love as opposed to duty, or aesthetic judgment as opposed to keeping things neat. Likewise, 15 years of Mercury progressing through Pisces becomes so much a part of life experience, that a client will not have much objective awareness of the suffering or chaos they go through in this period – until Mercury moves into Aries and they suddenly have agency, direction and purpose.
The progressed Moon takes about 2 ½ years to go through a sign, and several years to go through each of the 12 houses, returning to its birth position after a little over 27 years. Each movement through sign and house subtly colors experience and the areas of life where you are mentally absorbed.
The progressed Sun, as it aspects planets in the birth horoscope, shows meetings or events that awaken a new dimension of consciousness. For example the Sun conjoining radix Pluto could indicate a near-death experience or simply a meeting with a Scorpio type of person who accompanies them subsequently for a shorter or longer period. Progressed Sun conjoining Saturn could be the formation of a company or gaining a position of authority – it does not have to be negative at all. (Biden became President when his progressed Descendant conjoined Saturn.)
Very often, when a progressed planet aspects a radix planet, it represents a meeting with a person who has a significant long-term effect on the client. It represents an evolutionary process, so for example, if Venus progressed aspects Neptune, then there is a strong likelihood that the client falls in love with someone who for one reason or another is unattainable. Progressions are unavoidable because they are written into the DNA at birth, and the evolutionary process in this case would be opening the heart to love without a guarantee of fulfilment. If Mars was to aspect Saturn, then there would be a strong likelihood of meeting a person who was dominating or difficult, and the evolutionary process would be to build up resilience through struggle.
Whilst transits have a reasonably predictable effect, progressions do not. Yet they are still the best astrological indicators of milestones in a person’s life. Nothing is more accurate than the progressed movements of the four angles, and the personal horoscope is like a clock that rings each time an angle moves over or aspects a natal planet. But the birth time has to be accurate, as four minutes can make the difference of a year as far as the MC/IC axis is concerned. The progressions of the angles are the best tools for predicting marriage, job change, relocation and children.
Even so, it’s a risky business making precise predictions without help from the client. Prediction is something to be explored with the active participation of the client, which makes is much easier to rule out unlikely scenarios and to home in on the major preoccupations of the client. For example, if the client is single and is looking for a partner, then the progressed Descendant conjoining a planet in the 7th or 8th house will be a strong indication that this will happen. If the client is of child-bearing age, in a partnership and hoping for a child, then progressed Venus aspecting the Moon in a year would do the trick. If Mars was about to oppose Uranus and the client was wondering whether to relocate internationally, then they most likely will.
By enrolling the client in the process, prediction in this way is helpful. There is no sense of locking people into some unwanted fate – you are merely illuminating the path that they are planning or unconsciously wanting to take, and clarifying any doubts in a shared dialogue. Whether the path ahead is smooth or rocky, it’s a real gift to have something to navigate by.
Adrian Ross Duncan – January 10th 2023