Month: March 2019

Q & A: Transits Applying to the Progressed Chart

I recently received an astrology question that I felt worthy of a fleshed-out answer. So, it’s time for another installment of the Q & A blog series.

Question: I’m not trained in astrology but I’m curious about why it is that astrologers seem to stay fixated on the natal chart? Wouldn’t that just be a snapshot of what you entered this plane of existence with? Or would the progressed chart be more of what you have the opportunity to develop internally?? I’m just thinking about how transit charts are usually drawn up in relation to the natal and not the progressed. You came to mind during these intuitions so I thought I’d ask what your reflections or thoughts are about that.

Answer: I appreciate your thoughtfulness and questioning of convention. The layers of your questions here beg for unpacking. In my astrological pursuits, I’m always trying out ideas to see how/if they work, and really I would recommend you do the same here. Try comparing transiting planets to your progressed chart, and see if something clicks. Certainly it won’t work the same as transiting planets around the natal chart. But perhaps something of value awaits you there.

I look at the progressed chart as an unfolding of a person’s greater life narrative. The energies presented there definitely touch on personal evolution sprung from within, but just like astrology as a whole, they also reflect one’s narrative outside of inner life. I’ve seen health issues culminate and relationships come in, as well as rises to prominence and shifts into hermitude in progressed charts. My main resource on how to approach progressed charts is Bernadette Brady’s amazing book on predictive astrology The Eagle and the Lark. She is so incredibly thorough and attentive. And I recall her asserting that one’s progressed chart does not receive energetic influence from transiting planets. I had the same curiosity as you, but I decided to blindly trust her. She is so convincing! Or perhaps to give myself some credit, my inner being knew she was right, as I had some feint recollection of experimenting with it myself. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t being pulled to look into this for some reason.

A tri-wheel of author’s chart. From outermost: current transits; progressions; natal chart.

Astrology was not always fixated on the natal chart. It developed very slowly, as the planets facillitated. And most astrologers/astronomers were concerned with the stars’ bearing on their collective/tribe/community moreso than on the individual (this is called “mundane astrology” in current language). I suppose times have changed! The first natal chart was drawn a little over two millenia ago, and now, natal astrology has taken over the entire field, aside from small interest in mundane, horary, and electional astrology. It makes sense, given all of the healing we need on the individual level at this time, perhaps in order to progress into some newly tinted ancient ways of living (it helps me to idealize the future). There is so much work to be done toward healing the planet, but I believe it has to start with the self, otherwise one’s work will be rendered ineffective by their unaddressed pain.

And yes, the natal chart is exactly a “snapshot of what you entered this plane of existence with.” A moment chosen by the higher self. We are born and develop into some version of the being reflected in that soul map, and the fully actualized self is the one who is most integrated with it. Why does it work when we compare transiting energies to this snapshot? Within the current knowledge paradigm, we can’t answer this with certainty. I started studying astrology as a doubter, but very quickly I grew comfortable with its built-in leaps of faith. So, generally, when I’m asked any number of questions about why astrology does this and that, instead of some other thing (and the debate goes on and on, even among astrologers’ nitpicking of techniques and house systems), I tend to encourage exploration. Because a lot of stuff works. And sometimes, a technique clicks and makes sense to one person, while to someone else it’s a jumbled mess. Astrology is a form of divination, and we ourselves are divine. There could be infinite applications! Just seek with reverence and the planets will respond.

Astrology and the Birth Chart Through the Lens of a Traditional Dagaran Teaching

I recently read the outstanding and revelatory book Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman by Malidoma Patrice Some. The book is an autobiographical narrative which gives amazing details on Malidoma’s adolescence and initiation into adulthood in the Dagara tribe in Burkina Faso. As Malidoma begins his initiation, gathered around a fire with a group of other young tribesmen, a Dagaran elder offers the brilliant teachings of their tribal concept of the circle. 

As I read this, I was immediately struck by the insights provided into astrology’s layout of the birth chart, and specifically the four angles or pivots around which the birth chart is arranged (Ascendent, Midheaven, Descendent, and Anticulminate). The elder’s teaching is paraphrased by Malidoma and then translated from Dagaran into English—an amazing feat in itself—and was delivered to the Dagaran initiates seated around this fire in the mid-1970s.

But first, Malidoma Some introduces the teaching. “What he said was this: the place where he was standing was the center. Each one of us possessed a center that he had grown away from after birth. To be born was to lose contact with our center, and to grow from childhood to adulthood was to walk away from it.”

Roughly, the birth chart is a circular astronomical map capturing a moment in space and time, with the center of the circle being the native in their birthplace. Imagine the native lying on her back, feet facing south. If she rolls to her left, she will see the eastern horizon, or the ascending point. Rolling to her right, she will see the descending point. All that is below the native is shown in the lower half of the chart, and all that is in the sky is shown above the Ascendent/Descendent axis, or horizon. When interpreted, the chart’s tellings are a reflection of the native in the center.

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