What are Progressions?

natal chart is a `snapshot’ of planetary positions at the time of birth. It shows the potentials of the new born child, the tools with which he or she has to work in building their own lives. But the planets don’t stand still.

Within moments, hours, days, years, they are moving again. Life is motion, both above and below, and the motions of the planets are reflected in that original natal chart. Astrologers call this `progression’. The most common calculation used is `year for a day’, in which progressions are calculated at the motion of the Sun. Thus to look at the progressions of some aged 25, we would chart the progress of the planets 25 days after the birthday. Some, like the Sun and moon, would have moved quite far – others, like Uranus and Pluto, would barely have moved at all.

Take the Sun. At birth it may be at 5 degrees of Cancer. Taking the ‘year for a day’ calculation, we would look at the Sun’s position 25 days after the birth,which would correspond to the age of 25. As there are 30 degrees in a sign, the Sun at 5 degrees of Cancer has 2 degrees to go before it enters the sign of Leo. This corresponds to 25 years in the native’s life. So at the age of 25 or thereabouts, we can see that the natal sun will have progressed into a new sign. So what does this mean for the natal chart?

It means a new influence is at work in the native’s life. Cancer is a more retiring, home centered sign than Leo – but with the warmth of the progressed Sun entering Leo, that native now has the opportunity to come out more, to shine and show off his or her talents. The native might indulge in a complete makeover, change the focus of the primary relationships in the life (Cancer is far more likely to put up with manipulation and poor treatment than Leo), and generally widen the horizons to include more possibilities.

The progressed Sun entering a new sign indicates a change in life direction – the Sun represents our goals and aims in life, and the new sign offers not only new possibilities, but also new opportunities.

But the Sun, in its progession, can also come into aspect with other `set’ planets in the natal chart. For example, if the native has Venus at 25 degrees of Cancer, the Sun will come into conjunction with Venus some years before progressing into Leo. For our sample chart, this would occur around the age of 21. This could indicate that the native marries at this age – it may be a typical Cancerian marriage, with the Cancerian taking the more passive role, then along comes the Sun’s progression into Leo, and suddenly our native wants a stronger role in life. This is not invariably how it pans out of course, but it does explain why people we think we knew well, suddenly metamorphose into someone completely new.

Aspects between progressed and natal planets must be exact. In transits we can allow up to 10 degrees either way, but in progressions, the progressed planet must be 1 degree or less in aspect to the natal planet. Progressed aspects are very powerful and signify major changes in the life.

The Moon, of course, progresses at a much faster rate. It only takes two or three years to progress through a sign, but it also has quite a strong influence, and its aspects to the natal planets, while no less exact, are also important.

The astrologer also looks at the progression of the rising sign – for example, a natal chart can show the ascendant to be 10 degrees Capricorn, but 20 years later (with the ‘year for a day’ calculation) it will move into Aquarius. The ascendant shows the image we present to the world. Ever wondered why a conservative, buttoned up acquaintance suddenly sports tattoos and a motor bike? Blame Aquarius rising by progression.

`Di I contradict myself? Yes, I contradict myself. I am multitudes.” Walt Whitman wrote. he could have been talking about progressions.


~ by Heather Blakey on May 28, 2008.

4 Responses to “What are Progressions?”

  1. Gail, very nice description to help others understand progressions.

  2. The Moon, of course, progresses at a much faster rate. It only takes two or three years to progress through a sign, but it also has quite a strong influence, and its aspects to the natal planets, while no less exact, are also important.

    Sweetie, I thought the Moon circled the entire Zodiac in apoproximately 28 days, and remained in eadh sign for 2 to 3 days. I understand how much of Progressions is a yearly thang, and it is so easy to slip into that groove.

    Thank you for explaining transits and progressions. I struggled for years to figure them out, and I never knew about the One degree rule for aspecting to the natal horoscope.

    That, most likely, is because I taught myself astrology, and I flunkrd trftrdhrt math in Middle School.

    The book that I have used the most gives the 5 degree arc for Sun and Moon aspects only all otheers are 2 degrees and less. I always thought that the 5 degree orb applying and separating was a BIG arc!! That equals 1/3 of an entire sign!

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoy having someone to ‘talk shop’ with about astrology. I will be back here frequently.

    Hugs and kisses,

  3. I’m talking here about the Natal Moon’s progression through the birth chart of course, which is different from its monthly arc through the signs. The 28 days of the normal cycle translates to 28 years by progression, which is about 2-3 years in each sign.
    Progressions are very different from transits, that’s why a much smaller arc is used. With 5 degrees, we are talking about a period of five years using the year for a day calculation. That’s way too long! Thew influence will only show up about a year ahead, so an arc of 1 degree or less makes more sense.
    Progressions can also be worked backward through the chart and some astrologers find the aspects match up – it’s not something I have ever done but it might be a cool experiment.

  4. Don’t forget theres a thing called Saturn Chasing the Moon and the Moon chasing Saturn. As the Moon takes about 28 years to go around the zodiac via progressions and Saturn return taked 29 1/2 years to return to its natal position

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