As astrologers we have many tools available that allow us to interpret past, present and future planetary energies to our birth chart. The most used technique is of course daily planetary transits with the next most used one being Secondary Progressions or more commonly just as “Progressions” even though other types of progressions are also used in astrology.
So, what are Secondary Progressions?
Secondary Progressions use the system known as “a day for a year” formula. The idea in calculating this type of progression is to consult the ephemeris to look at the position of the planets at our date of birth and then take the planetary positions of the following days as if they were years.
For example, if we count in the ephemeris to day five after our date of birth, this will correspond to the fifth year of life, whereas 30 days from birth (or where the planets were 30 days after birth) will relate to the 30th year of the our life. Modern computer programmes such as www.astro.com calculate these Secondary Progressions in a precise and rapid way.
In a similar way to transits, Secondary Progressions have to be compared to the natal chart in order to be understood. Very tight orbs are used for Secondary Progressions (1° before and after the aspect) but there is another fundamental difference between the two1
- transiting planets in aspect with each other or with other planets in the birth chart usually manifest in a more obvious, external manner in our lives because they are usually totally new pieces of energy that we have to assimilate and the external event is necessary so that we can observe and desensitize the energy before integration into our mind-set. Transits manifest “on us”.
- Secondary Progressions describe the deeper, more underlying currents or themes of a particular time in life which we have already experienced during the first few months of our lives. Being familiar to us in some way therefore they manifest first as a feeling and only afterwards (and not always) as a physical action. Secondary Progressions manifest “through us”.
The progressed planets move around the chart in a similar way to the transits, although their movement is much slower. For example, the transiting Moon travels around the chart in 27½ days, while the progressed Moon takes 27½ years to make its journey round the wheel.
Of particular importance is when a progressed planet moves into another sign or house in our natal chart or when it crosses an angle since these occurrences are likely to bring about significant changes in the way that planet is played out in our lives by taking on the energy of the sign or the matters of the house it enters.
Progressed planets can also go retrograde or turn direct when retrograde in the natal chart. These too can manifest as important happenings in our lives. For example, the year my natal retrograde Neptune turned direct by Secondary Progression was the year my daughter was born, Neptune rules my 5th house, that of all types of creativity, including children of course!
Interpreting the planets in Secondary Progressions
Let’s have a quick look at what the planets might mean in Secondary Progressions.
The Progressed Sun
The Progressed Sun travels through a sign in approximately 30 years. Some characteristics of the natal Sun sign will remain throughout your life but as the Sun progresses through the next sign it takes up some of the features of that sign and also of its modality. For example if you are born with a Gemini Sun, which is a mutable sign, then sooner or later your Progressed Sun will move into Cancer, a Cardinal Sign, and eventually into Leo, a Fixed sign. The year in which your Progressed Sun changes signs or makes an aspect to a natal or progressed planet or angle will probably be an important period of personal development and self-expression.
The Progressed Moon
The Moon is about moods and feelings, protection and nurturing as well as patterns of behaviour and routine. It progresses through the signs in about 2½ years and takes on the flavour of the sign it progresses into. Every 28-29 years the Progressed Moon will begin a new emotional cycle as it conjoins the natal or the progressed Sun in your chart. This is known as the Progressed New Moon. Transits from and to the Progressed Moon are very important since the Moon moves quickly and each degree of orb will be active for approximately two months. This is one of the most important planets to follow in the Secondary Progressions.
The Progressed Mercury
Mercury describes the way our mind works, our thinking processes, how we learn and communicate. As it progresses around the chart it takes on the hues of the sign it is journeying through. Difficult aspects to and from this progressed planet might indicate periods of restlessness or constant activity. When progressed, for Mercury, Venus and Mars, the orb of activity will last approximately two years, longer if the planet is stationary direct or retrograde.
The Progressed Venus
Venus shows how we relate to others and socialize, it’s also about love (including self-love) and values in general (including finances). Contacts to and from progressed Venus could involve increased social contacts, focus on relationships, creative expression and all things to which we give value. Hard aspects may indicate difficulties in these areas.
The Progressed Mars
Mars represents our physical energy and how we meet the challenges in life. It’s also our aggressive qualities and our sexual drive. Aspects of progressed Mars often represent times of increased physical activity, opportunities for new beginnings, being more assertive or reckless and impulsive etc.
Progressed Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto
These slower moving planets will rarely form new aspects to natal planets by progression. When they do form a new aspect to the natal chart (mainly if they happen to be on a house or sign cusp) then their effect will be generational.
Progressed Ascendant and Progressed Mid-heaven
The sign of the Ascendant and Mid-heaven in progressions are of major importance and the year in which they change sign or house should herald significant changes of attitude. Any planets in the 1st or 10th houses and the ruling planets of Ascendant and Mid-Heaven should also be considered.
- Brady B (1999) “Predictive Astrology, The Eagle and The Lark”, chapter 3 Secondary Progressions, pp 99-163, Red Wheel/Weiser LLC, San Francisco CA USA.
Lynn Holt is a professional, fully qualified Western astrologer (DM Astrol) and member of the Association of Professional Astrologers International. She writes regular horoscopes and articles at her website My Sky Pie and specialises in the interpretation of natal charts and solar returns.
Have you explored your own Secondary Progressions?
Human beings change dramatically over the course of our lives and Secondary Progressions can provide insight into this process. Secondary progressions transform the natal chart from a static blueprint into something dynamic and evolving, representing much more accurately our personal growth and development over time. If you have explored your Progressed Chart and have found it useful please share your experiences below.
Although originally appearing on Insight Astrology this article has since been published on the Kepler College website.
If you don’t have one yet, you can get a free birth chart at astro.com. To understand how to read your birth chart, and follow the transits in your own life, download my free ebook The Language of Astrology.