Nowadays when we talk about “progressions” we are actually talking about “secondary progressions” because there is a more ancient technique called “primary directions”.
The fundamental idea behind this technique is the same as that of secondary progressions: there is a correspondence between the day and the year.
The day and the year are two fundamental cycles, defined by two fundamental motions: the primary motion is the daily rotation of the earth around its axis: the Sun, the Moon, the planets and the stars seem to be moving around us, they rise, culminate and set, day after day.
The secondary motion is the movement of the Sun and all the planets through the zodiac. For the Sun, it takes one year. Of course, as we know, the Earth revolves around the Sun. Seen from Earth, the Sun goes through the zodiac in that time.
Notice that there are 365 days in the year, and 360 degrees in the zodiac. So the Sun moves at the pace of almost exactly one degree per day. If we were children we could draw a big yellow Sun with legs walking around the zodiac and each step would measure a degree.
Now imagine the first day of the life of a baby. Let’s say, me, as an example. I was born when Cancer was rising, more precisely the degree 22 of Cancer. Some people would say that’s a killer degree but you can see I’m still alive. The Sun was in Scorpio, degree number 12.
During the first hours of my life, after Cancer, Leo came to rise, then Virgo, Libra, Scorpio… There was a moment when the 12th degree of Scorpio, the degree of my Sun sign, was rising. Changing my time of birth on astrodienst I could easily calculate that it would actually take 12 hours before the exact degree of my Sun came rising.
You may find it surprising: 12 hours to get from 22 degree Cancer to 12 degree Scorpio? If the movement of the signs rising on the horizon was regular, in 12 hours, we would have seen half of the zodiac rising on the horizon! We should see Capricorn 12 hours after Cancer!
But no, the geometry is a bit more complex, the axis of this earth is tilted, the earth doesn’t revolve in perfect alignment with the zodiac; as a result there are signs that rise quicker, they are called signs of Short Ascension, it take them less than two hours to rise; these signs are Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus and Gemini.
Pisces and Aries are the quickest. If you are Pisces or Aries Ascendant, bravo!
The signs said of Long Ascension are the other half of the zodiac, from Cancer to Sagittarius. These signs take more than two hours to rise.
So from 22 degree Cancer Rising to 12 degree Scorpio it took 12 hours.
So in my case, the primary direction of my Ascendant to my Sun is useless, because in this system, one hour becomes 15 years.
My progressed Ascendant would only conjunct my natal Sun when I would be 180 year old! – This would certainly be a time of major achievement and brilliance if I lived that long. If my Sun was in the first house, I would have had a better chance of living a major moment indicated by this technique. Same with the MC and a Sun in the 10th house.
It’s also possible to progress planets with these methods, with some added complications that I’m not going to explain here.
Why does one hour translate into 15 years? At that rate, four minutes become one year, and four minutes, that’s the time it takes for any planet to move forward one degree in primary motion. You’re probably lost here, don’t worry, it’s just the nerdy moment, but you can do without all that jazz. This too will pass. Primary motion it’s the earth rotating. The speed is one degree every four minutes. A degree, that’s also what the Sun runs through in one day, through the zodiac, in secondary motion. And with the thinking that there is a correspondence between the day and the year, this little degree that takes four minutes of time in primary motion becomes one year.
Just remember that this ancient technique was used in Hellenistic and Mediaeval Times, and, what’s most important, the idea is that what happens at the beginning of life, not only the fixed birth chart, but how the movement carries on during our first hours means something that can be translated into years of later life.
Secondary progressions, or simply progressions, which are much more in use nowadays, are based on this same symbolic equivalence: one day becomes one year.
I suggest you make a little pause, flush your mind of whatever confusion may be lingering, and be merry: from now, it’s going to become much easier, and also more useful.
With secondary progressions, the positions of the planets on your, let’s say, 20th day of life are the progressed positions of the planets for your 20th year.
It is the same thinking: the small cycles – the days at the beginning of life – are a kind of miniature representation of the big cycles – the years to come.
By the way let me point out that seeing correspondences between the houses and the signs is completely consistent with this most ancient way of thinking. . The small cycle is a miniature representation of the big cycle. The year is in the day. In the year there are 12 signs, in the day there are 12 houses. So it makes complete sense to consider them as analogically related.
Back to progressions.
With secondary progressions, one day stands for one year.
In fifteen days, the Sun will have run through almost exactly fifteen degrees. It’s easy to calculate!
Thus, it takes fifteen years for the progressed Sun to move half a sign forward. Thirty years per sign. As you can see, that’s really slow.
In fifteen days, the Moon will have moved through half of the zodiac and a little bit more. A Moon cycle, from New Moon to New Moon, is twenty nine days and a half. A progressed Moon cycle is twenty nine years and a half – which is roughly the same speed as Saturn’s.
The progressed New Moon – when the progressed Moon conjuncts the progressed Sun – is a very meaningful time, marking a new beginning. If you’re using Astrodienst, in chart type, choose “natal and progressed Moon”. You’ll see where it happened in terms of sign and house, but what I find the most revealing are the dates. For me, for instance, my last progressed New Moon was towards the end of 1994 and that’s at that time that I found out that I could be a good storyteller and writer, which is something that would become very important in my life.
New starts are not always obvious, they are little seeds, but with hindsight it’s possible to understand what started growing then.
I have written a blog post about the progressed moon cycle, using the story of a kid who wanted to be a clown as an illustration of the various phases of the Moon, from New to Full and back.
Check my blog, find it through my website if you’re curious. The progressed phases of the Moon are in my view the most worthy thing to know about progressions.
The progressed Moon, like Saturn, takes about two years and a half to travel through each sign, and on average the same time through houses. Our current mindset is more specifically focused on the themes associated with this sign and house, and possible aspects to other planets, when there are.
In general, when checking progressed planets, the important moments are when something changes. The moments of change are when something happens..
That’s when we notice, when we have to adapt and adjust to new conditions. Things can happen within our own psyche, usually progressions are said to be about the development of our own energies and transits are more like external conditions, but I don’t agree with this view, because what’s going on within ourselves and what comes from outside is so interrelated that we can’t make such a clear distinction.
In the progressed world, changes happen when the progressed planet ingresses into a new sign or house, when a progressed planet goes retrograde, or becomes direct if it was retrograde, or when it forms aspects to natal and progressed placements.
Check if any planet changed direction during the first months of your life, if yes, at what age this moment corresponds in terms of progression.
For aspects, take tight orbs, otherwise the timing will span over years!
Looking at the birth chart, it’s possible to guess which major aspects are likely to be formed in the months to come.
No need to stress out and try to know everything in one go. No need to spend hours writing down all the aspects between all the planets that happened over these two or three first months of life. No need to turn our studies into a nightmare. There is too much anyway. We can just check major conjunctions that will be formed by the Sun and the Moon to get a first feel without panicking. .
For instance, my natal Sun is on the degree 12 of Scorpio, my natal Mars on the degree 23 of Scorpio. Moving at the pace of one degree per year, my progressed Sun did conjunct my natal Mars when I was 11. Around the same time I had a transit of Pluto on my natal Moon, so we could have looked only at transits and guess times were difficult.
When we see more than one indication that something is going on, we can think that the hammer is hitting the nail insistently. There were nasty little bullies in my life at that time.
The progressed Moon progresses at the average speed of one degree per month. Again the degree is a really meaningful unit, a month is a unit of time that comes from the length of the Moon cycles.
So if we were children, like I said with the Sun, we could draw a Moon with legs, and she would progress at the pace of one degree per step.
Looking at our natal Moon we can guess at what time the progressed Moon will conjunct certain planets. My own progressed Moon came in conjunction with my natal Saturn when I was nine year old. I went to another school and there was a very stern teacher.
Stephen Arroyo says that ninety per cent of what’s going on in a person’s life can be seen through transits.
So it’s good to know about progressions, and especially about the progressed Moon and its phases, but it’s all rather time consuming so we better prioritise and focus on the big, the obvious and the essential.
Good day or Good night!