For the uninitiated, transits are typically considered the cornerstone
of predictive, modern astrology. Transits occur when planets
make specific angular relationships to the positions of the planets
in one’s birth chart. Transits are not isolated incidents
but are happening all the time and correlate with the minor to
life-changing incidents, maturation periods, psychological shifts,
and transformations in our lives. When planets transit important
factors in your birth chart, they “light up,” ignite,
catalyze or emphasize the energy and psychological factors associated
with the factor being transited.
Too often, transits are approached from a perspective of correlating
with either a concrete determinism (that is, transits are the
signal that a specific, easily predictable event is about to
unfold) or a lack of accountability (the universe is a system
of causes upon which we can attribute our various successes and
failures). However, at a deeper level, transits represent an
invitation to communion with something greater than the limitations
of the separate self. Arguably what distinguishes New Age spirituality
from the Judeo-Christian tradition are techniques and ideas that
allow direct spiritual access into something transcendent or
divine without the mediation of dogma or a spiritual leader.
From this spiritual perspective, transits can allow one to relate
to something beyond the individual self.
Before describing astrological transits from a technical point
of view, that is, before defining them in precise terms, it is
arguably best to utilize some analogies when discussing the underlying
principles of transits and how they work. I will borrow two examples
from my childhood. On a particular trip to Disney World, I fell
in love with the amusement ride known as “Mr. Toad’s
Wild Ride.” Sitting in a small vehicle, the ride’s
participants are whisked and jerked around into different rooms,
with each room having a particular atmosphere—each room
was in marked contrast relative to the room that preceded it.
Exhilarating as it was stupefying, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
quickly became a favorite ride of mine, one that I would want
to ride over and over again to the chagrin of my parents. We
will return to how this describes transits, but for the moment
let us enter into a second childhood reminiscence.
The second childhood memory that can help elucidate what transits
involve concerns a particular children’s book. The book
featured the travels of a penguin as he circumnavigated the globe,
and, like a lot of children’s books, this particular book
was interactive. The gimmick and selling point of the book—the
wow factor—was that a cardboard cutout of a penguin could
be manipulated by a magnet. That is, a magnet would guide along
the penguin as he went along on his journeys across the world.
The illusion to a small child was that the penguin was moving
by some unknown force, as the magnet was hidden beneath the page.
Each in their own way, these memories can serve to illustrate
the core concepts and guiding principles concerning astrological
transits. The example of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride speaks to
the experiential quality of life as it evolves. If we are conscious
and aware of the rhythms and patterns of our life, then we might
notice that many episodes of our life are radically divergent
relative to the episodes that came before. Standing where we
are right now in our lives reflect back 3 years, 5 years, or
even 10 years. Are not the current experiences, motivations,
and environments different—perhaps radically so—from
time periods that came before? From the perspective of the soul,
the answer is unequivocally yes.
If indeed life has its own distinct episodes and chapters, then
who or what is doing the changing? Is the ego making conscious
decisions to write different chapters in our life or is something
else? The childhood example involving the book with the magnetic
penguin speaks to this dilemma—the sense that some force
or forces are guiding our life’s journey in various directions.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride alludes to the soul’s truth
that life is constantly changing. Like being on an amusement
ride where we are whipped around to different rooms, the experiential
quality of life’s constant change is reflected by astrological
transits. The example of the penguin’s children’s
book refers to the deep mystery of life’s ever changing
flux. Are we in charge of these changes—a comfortable illusion
we often cling to—or like the magnets that shape and contour
the penguin’s travels, are there deep and powerful forces
that guide our life’s evolution?
Keeping these core principles in mind—that transits concern
our rapidly changing evolution and the deeper mystery of life—we
can now speak of transits in more precise and technical terms.
Transits occur as planets move about in space making significant
angular relationships to the positions of the planets at the
moment of birth. We may think of the positions of the heavens
at our birth as a snapshot of our soul’s potentials. As
planets move about in space relative to the snapshot of the heavens
at our birth, we experience different possibilities and potentials.
Just as in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, we change rooms and experience
different possibilities and potentials in our lives when planets
make major angular relationships to our birth chart.
are not only one of the most powerful techniques of astrology
but they are powerful. Period. Not only do they unlock
a hidden dimension of the universe and our life’s meaning
in the cosmos, but they illuminate something like a global mind
or universal intelligence that is informing, permeating, and
infusing everything we experience, from the most mundane periods
of life to the most powerful and transformative experiences in
our individual and collective lives. Transits may be utilized
by different people for different reasons, but if one believes
that our experience on earth is to understand, to know, and to
discover, then transits are one of the deepest, amazing, and
illuminating methods to true knowledge that we have yet to unearth.
The more one applies the truth of transits to one’s life,
the more the divine mystery opens up, the more one’s perceptions
change, and the more one’s orientation changes. Through
transits, one learns that the earth and one’s life are
not meaningless and arbitrary, but one opens up to a new world
of meaning and significance.
the vantage point of scientific materialism, the possibility
for the legitimacy of astrological transits is both absurd
and untenable. There is a fundamental incongruence between
view of science and the world view of astrology. From the world
view we have inherited from Western science, the universe is
machine-like and devoid of any intelligence, accept the intelligence
arbitrarily produced through the blind machinations of Darwinian
evolution. Astrology, however, has held and still holds that
the universe is patterned through and through with a deep intelligence,
an anima mundi, or world soul.
The cosmology of some ancient cultures viewed the night sky
as a dome, where stars were not unlike holes in the dome which
allowed light to shine through. Not unlike a giant, upside-down
strainer or colander, the night sky filtered light into the universe.
Analogously, as the stars were seen as portals to a light beyond
the dome, transiting planets can be seen as gateways or portals
to archetypes, or universal dimensions of human experience. This
vantage point is simply not defensible nor plausible under the
implicit assumptions of scientific materialism.
In no small way, astrological transits can break
down the hold of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm, the prevailing
the Western World since approximately 1650. Although a break
down of this world view occurred with the results from quantum
physics and Einstein’s theory of relativity, the basis
of these theories are so far removed from everyday experience
that one can comfortably lead one’s daily way of life as
if nothing really ever changed or was revolutionized. This is
simply not the case with transits. If one experiences the maturing
or constrictive energy of transiting Saturn, the stimulating
wildness of transiting Uranus, or the dissolving, unifying quality
of transiting Neptune, then one has a direct experience of something
that is in radical contrast to the mindset and world view of
the Newtonian Cartesian paradigm. In a similar way in which ancient
cultures saw the stars as illuminating something beyond the dome
of the heavens, astrology affords an illumination into something
beyond the material world, where the planets serve as symbols
into something beyond three-dimensional reality.
Increasing Empathy with Others
Empathy is one of the characteristics of emotional
maturity, and is considered a defining characteristic of emotional
Carl Rogers, the humanistic psychologist, defined empathy as
follows: “The state of empathy, or being empathic, is to
perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy
and with the emotional components and meanings which pertain
thereto as if one were the person.” (1) Although empathy
is found in animals, it cannot reach the level of sophistication
and complexity as seen in human beings.
Astrological transits can be a method of deepening
empathy with others. When one goes through a significant transit,
in a sense,
one is participating with an energy that is larger than one’s
self, and one is able to connect with universal themes. Transits
allow one to feel into—empathize—with individuals
that may possess a similar configuration not by transit but in
their birth charts. When one endures a Saturn transit to one’s
natal Sun, for example, one can develop greater empathy with
the individual that is born with the combination. Through transits,
one is able to understand to a much greater degree than the psychology
of others, because one is able to directly experience archetypal
themes that contour and design another’s psyche. It some
sense, transits can eliminate the guess work when trying to “step
into the shoes” of another individual; they grant tremendous
insight into another individual’s psychology.
Often individuals use astrology as tool for control
circumstances. Still others still use astrology as an instrument
for self exploration and personal growth. However, one of astrology’s
great untapped potentials is to transcend the narrow confines
of self-interest and to understand the psychology of others.
When one endures a difficult rite of passage in life as characterized
by a challenging transit, it may be seen as an invitation to
cultivate compassion with those that are challenged by a particular
energy not just for a short period, but in a lifetime. In this
instance, one may use one’s transits not solely for self
gain or self interest, but to broaden and deepen one’s
empathic connection with others.
Almost all attempts to define the relatively
nebulous domain of spirituality include transcendence as an
of this domain. Transcendence may be defined as the experience
and appreciation of a dimension beyond self, or a path beyond
ego. Astrological transits may be used as a timing device to
demonstrate when a heightened sense of the transcendent may be
available to one’s experience.
To some degree, all astrological transits may be assumed to
be spiritual or transcendent in capacity, because all archetypal
energies connect us with a sense of something larger and greater
than our selves. However, certainly the outer planets of Neptune
and Pluto carry expressions of self that are beyond typical,
mundane experience and can be considered the planetary symbols
most associated with the transpersonal or transcendent. Transits
from Pluto and Neptune can demonstrate times in our lives when
incorporating spiritual or transcendent dimensions into our lives
takes precedence over and above our normal biographical concerns.
Neptune is certainly the planetary symbol that
is most often associated with spirituality and transcendence.
a therapist who has discussed the transpersonal implications
of transits from Neptune and Pluto, suggests that “[there
exists] the human yearning for transcendence, for the peace that
only comes from experiences best described as timeless, ecstatic,
sacred, or mystical…Neptune symbolizes the expansion of
our consciousness into dimensions beyond the mundane, material
world…It represents our longing for spiritual unfoldment
toward the state of enlightenment of Self Realization.” (2)
Significant transits from Neptune can align our consciousness
with a heightened recognition of the importance of spirituality.
During Neptune transits, we may connect with a mystical subpersonality,
commune with nature, integrate meditation in our daily lives,
or incorporate numinous dimensions of reality in some capacity.
Neptune transits may be seen as overtly spiritual
because they have a quality that most would identify as heartfelt,
and peaceful. Pluto transits have a uniquely opposite flavoring,
pitting us in the darker terrain of our life. Once again, Greg
Bogart suggests, “Neptune is the transpersonal ideal, the
vision of unity, enlightenment, and universal compassion. Pluto
is the ordeal that tests us in preparation for the transpersonal
life, purifying us of self-centered intentions and motivations.” (3)
Pluto transits, often painfully and forcibly, rip us from our
attachments, our ideals, and our illusions. So, although transiting
Neptune and Pluto have radically different qualities associated
with them, they may be seen as two sides of the same coin. While
Neptune may gently ease us into a state of grace and transcendence,
Pluto may rather tear us apart from our attachments and what
needs to be outgrown.
of the Tao
Transits may also be an extremely important way
of articulating something which has always eluded concrete
definition: the Tao.
The Tao is “the intelligent ordering principle behind the
unceasing flow of change in the natural world.”(4) Like
a river of eternally changing phenomena, the stream of individual
and collective consciousness, according to the Tao, is eternally
present yet never static. Although the heart of an Eastern philosophical
tradition, the Tao has several analogues in many of the world’s
wisdom teachings: Chi (Chinese philosophy); prana (Vedic though);
Ki (Japanese thought); libido (psychodynamic theory); vital energy
(homeopathy); luminiferous aether (science); or élan vital
(Henri Bergson). Although there are important distinctions between
these terms, all terms point to the intuition that all phenomena
move through some sort of medium or substance that is impossible
to concretize but can only be known through reflection upon one’s
Transits are a way to uncover the logic of the
Tao, this medium that appears to carry life ever onward. Although
as the Eastern
mystics suggest, “the Tao that can be named is not the
Tao,” transits do allow one to understand the dynamic unfoldment
or logical progression of the Tao in one’s life. The Tao
is also a useful tool for understanding transits because the
metaphor of the river of life that is essential to the Tao often
provides an antidote to our Western way of viewing life with
discrete divisions and distinct endings and beginnings. The more
flowing, fluid way of entering into the dynamics of transits
that the Tao affords allows a more accurate understanding of
the presence of transits in our lives.
through the Visible World
With the advent of quantum physics in science
and the rise of depth psychology, the twentieth century was
referred to by author
Richard Panek as the “Invisible Century.” In psychology
and science, a seeing through occurred into dimensions of experience
that suggested that the visible world of three-dimensional reality
is shaped by forces that are not readily seen. Thus, the pioneers
of psychology and quantum physics plumbed the depths of their
respective areas of study with empirical tools to unearth the
rather amazing finding that there are things which guide and
contour life of which we were not fully conscious.
In order to fully appreciate the nature of transits,
it demands a perceptual shift of great magnitude. The invisible
never on the periphery of one’s sensing organs, but can
only be seen through with intuition and faculties such as imagination.
Often the enigmatic “eye of the soul” is the name
given to the sensing tool that can discriminate and perceive
things in the invisible world; however allusions to the eye of
the soul can often be off-putting to those who prefer to see
the world in a more literal, less symbolic fashion.
The Jungian analyst June Singer wrote of the
strange relationship between the visible and invisible worlds: “The proper relationship
of the one to the other is in a commitment to the process of
bringing about an understanding between the two worlds.” (5)
The commitment to studying transits is an excellent way to bridge
the seeming incommensurability of the invisible and visible world.
As transits defer to both the empirical and the symbolic, the
literal and the archetypal, the in-depth study of transits can
illuminate the rich interplay between these two worlds.
is a tool, and like any other tool or medium, such as the latest
advances in technology, there
is no intrinsic value
within the tool itself. As such, the study of astrological transits
has no inherent spiritual or ethical value, but, used properly,
it can propel one into a much deeper relationship to one’s
self and the world in which one inhabits. Although there may
be no inherent value in the tool of astrological transits, there
does seem to be an inherent egalitarianism to its study. For
those weary of spiritual matters and who do not believe in anything
besides the material world, astrological transits can be an excellent
gateway into spirituality because there is a bridge to the empirical,
sensory world. For those already on a spiritual path, astrology
almost invariably deepens one’s notion of what spirituality
is because of its complexity and potential for depth.
(1) Rogers, C. R (1959). A theory of therapy, personality and
interpersonal relationships as developed in the client-centered
framework. In S. Kock (Ed.), Psychology: A study of science:
Vol. 3. Formulations of the persona and the social context. New
(2) Bogart. G (1996). Therapeutic
Astrology: Using the Birth Chart in Psychotherapy and Spiritual
Counseling. Berkeley: Dawn
Mountain Press, p.184.
(3) Ibid. p. 191
(4) Definition from Wikipedia.org
(5) Singer, J (1990). Seeing
through the Visible World. San
Francisco: Harper, p. 220.