What exactly is a progressed chart & why does it matter?
A progressed chart is created by taking the natal chart of an individual and “progressing” it according to the current time, essentially to see where and how the person has grown, matured, changed and evolved throughout their life. It is a sense of who you are becoming throughout your life. You can study it from the moment of birth, because it is calculated by the patterns of the planets through time (approximately 1 day per year for the Sun & Moon for example). The way a Solar Return shows our themes of personal growth and evolution within a year, our Progressed Charts show our potential path of evolution throughout our lifetime. These are ways that we will inevitably grow and evolve throughout our lives, and it’s something we can look at for every person with a birth time.
It’s also through using progressed charts that you can rectify a natal chart, for example, if someone doesn’t know their exact time of birth. It’s a challenging process, and it requires other important and specific dates of major events, such as a new job, marriage, divorce, significant death or children being born, etc. There are many talented astrologers who are very well adept at this and it certainly offers a major service to people that don’t know for certain their time of birth. You can double check that what you think is your birth time is correct using this method. For example, there are certain indicators, like Venus or Saturn for marriage, the Moon making certain aspects with the 5th house for children, and other indicators to double check that your time is right.
Using the progressed chart is also good if you want to plan for a time to have children, get married, or start a new career, as there are certain planetary affinities and aspects that make these changes favorable. There are also certain aspects that make it slow, drawn out, or not happen at all. You can see how the timing is key here… for example, many partners try to have children at say, “the wrong time”, and when they’re unable to conceive, they believe they simply can’t have children. They’ll spend a lot of money on testing, seeing doctors, therapy even, because of the feelings of sadness and loss. Then maybe 4 years later they’ll try again and by “some miracle” they are able to conceive.
Some call it fate; some call it the Divine plan (which I also believe), yet there is also the element of Divine Timing, that you can use astrology for as a supportive tool. It really is like a map left for us by the Divine so we can understand our lives better. It’s not a guarantee in each case of timing out something important in your life, as our Souls and the Spirit of the Divine is more expansive than an astrology chart, but there are many cases which statistically make astrology a favorable and valuable tool for timing and decisions.
What does the Progressed Sun indicate?
As the Sun is the Light of our Consciousness, our Progressed Sun shows how we have evolved spiritually and consciously. Since it takes 30 years for the Sun to transit through a full sign in a progressed chart, it’s common that most people will end this life in the 3rd sign away from their natal sign (for example a Taurus Sun at 7˚, if they live to 90, will end this life with their Progressed Sun at Leo 7˚). The Sun sign we are born under stays as the primary leading force and energy behind the chart, as the Sun is our vitality and Spirit, yet the way we’ve evolved will start to take on the characteristics of whatever sign our Progressed Sun is in. A personal example: My Natal Sun is at 21˚ Sagittarius, and moved into the sign of Capricorn when I was 9 ½, which was also the time when I started babysitting my newborn baby brother since my parents had to work, and then other kids in the neighborhood, beginning my path to working in the community. The ingress into Capricorn is generally marked by a heightened sense of responsibility, and being a “young-adult”, which is what I perceived to happen in my own life, and have continued to evolve through a Capricorn lens, of course always maintaining my basic Sagittarian Spirit.
***It’s also important to note the house that the Progressed Sun moves into, and to note that the Ascendant and Midheaven also progress. The way we move through the world, and the way we contribute to society are also always evolving and changing by degrees (literally)!
The Sun represents our current life purpose, and it’s important to remember that we are always growing, evolving and changing. Ultimately, we are expanding our sense of consciousness, and as we add on these layers of astrological understanding, you can see how we are complex and multi-faceted beings. That’s why I am adamantly against using only “Sun-Sign Astrology” as has been predominantly popularized in the media and recent history, where the Sun has been considered the only important factor, and astrologers reduced to mere “fortune-tellers”! It’s obvious that there is so much more to grasp within this ancient Star Language that is actually useful to people's lives.
What about the Progressed Moon?
This is something that we all experience around the age of 28. It’s rather poetic that there are roughly 28 days in the Moon’s full orbit around the Earth. The Moon takes 27.3 days to orbit Earth, but there are 29 ½ days from New Moon to New Moon. These ages, from 27 to 29 ½ are deeply transformative and bring a new sense of perspective to our lives, usually. This all depends on your awareness. But many important cycles come to a “return” around this time. At 27, we have a Lunar Node reversal, meaning the transiting South Node conjuncts your natal North Node. This is often a period of time where we experience full force many of the gifts, strengths and challenges of our past. In a sense, we picked up where we left off when we were born into this life, but as we come to a more mature age, we start to see how there are things we know we must expand and grow into if we don’t want to become stagnant.
Around this time many people make big decisions that change the course of their lives. Often there is an element of the past, but doing it in a new way that is more balanced with their evolutionary intention. (I had a baby at 27, and my South Node is in the 5th house for example, the house of children. It’s clear that this experience has drawn me into the past so that I can create a new and more balanced future, looking toward the North Node. It also reminded me of the gifts of my past, of being a parent, that is actually something extremely rewarding. This is also what the South Node represents).
Then, at approximately age 28, sometimes a little bit before, the Moon re-enters the same sign as your Natal Moon within your Progressed Chart. This is also known as a Progressed Lunar Return. This is often when we come to the awareness of how to get our emotional needs met in the most authentic way. The Moon, evolutionarily speaking, represents the balancing force between past and future. It is our Self-Image, how we see ourselves, the reflection of our Spirit (the Sun), and keeps us in a space of integrating our changes from past to future in a balanced manner. If we were to say, all of a sudden change into someone else, we wouldn’t feel authentic or true to ourselves. Most change for most people is slow and more or less steady. There are a few examples of extreme cataclysmic events, but that is less common. The Moon, our Self-Image, is what keeps us grounded in the present. It’s a major way we know ourselves, the reflection of our consciousness, and many call it the Soul.
I believe the Soul is bigger and more expansive than any single point in the natal chart, yet there is merit in saying that the Moon represents that part of us that lives Soulfully. So as we come to our Progressed Lunar Return, we are experiencing a renewal of that Soulfulness that keeps us grounded on our evolutionary path. Maybe we connect more with the Soul at this time more than ever. Maybe there is the element of reminding us about why we came here, and what we’re doing to align with our Purpose. We feel this way, our hearts are opened, and then comes the Saturn Return (29 ½) the following year. Now we are ready to dive deep, in the sense of Self-Discipline, to launch or activate our purpose that we instinctively know we came here to fulfill.
Do all of the planetary points progress?
Yes, but since the movement of the outer planets is so slow, they may move only a couple degrees throughout a lifetime, especially if there are planets retrograde (which can continue in retrograde motion in the progressed chart, then go direct again, then retrograde again, etc). (There are many particulars about charting this process, and the overall aspects of the Progressed chart, how they layer the transit chart, solar arcs, natal chart points, midpoints, etc., which if you’re interested, we will be covering in the Advanced Astrology Course.)
What other planetary cycles are important?
There are many cycles that we can track astrologically speaking, and here’s a list of some for you to reflect on:
Since the inner planets Mercury, Venus and Mars move so quickly, their returns are more frequent. We can talk about their aspects more often, as this is something that is more evident in our personal lives on a monthly basis. Below, we're looking mostly at the big aspects of the Outer Planets (Jupiter through Pluto). There are more aspects than are listed here, but these are good to start with. I challenge you to go through to each age listed below in your own life, or that of your children or other significant people that you've seen grow up, to try to account for what may have been going on at these times in order to understand the meaning behind the aspects for yourself.
Saturn’s full cycles are every 29 ½ years, yet the angular aspects (waxing and waning squares, the opposition and conjunction) are all very important times. Think ages 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, and 28-29 ½. Think back to what was happening at those times, and how you might have “matured” or found yourself in need of discipline, or a strict “reminder” of why you’re here.
Jupiter’s full cycles are every 12 years, therefore every 12 years we have a Jupiter Return. Think 24, 36, 48 and so on. These times are marked by expansion and a more in-depth connection with your Higher Self Aspirations. They are usually marked by an increasing knowledge or wisdom about yourself and the meaning of life in general.
Uranus’ full cycles are every 84 years. We will only have 1 Uranus Return (if we’re lucky), but the angular aspects again are very important, and mark certain shifts and changes that connect us with our true individuality, within the collective sense. Uranus is also the God-force, and if you are not in a state of awareness or presence with your life, you might perceive the changes that happen at these points in your life as “out of your control” or “random, sudden changes”. We have to remember, that they are always to jolt us into alignment with the true reason we are here. Uranus’ squares and oppositions are important times too. Think ages 21, 42, 63, and of course 84. Notice how the waning Saturn square aligns with the waxing Uranus square. 21 is a pretty big deal, a big step into adulthood, usually, for most people. There is a mark of knowing who you are, and what you want to do with your life that becomes very prominent around this time.
Neptune’s full cycles are approximately every 164 years (although there is much debate on this in the astrological community, no doubt due to Neptune’s highly elusive nature as a planet, deity and consciousness). When you go through a Neptune transit, by square, or by aspect to another planet, there is generally a sense of confusion initially within the cycle. This usually prompts us to find a deeper meaning, or to peel back the layers of illusion in front of us. It can be a rather enlightening time.
Pluto’s full cycles are every 248 years. Therefore, we really only experience our Pluto squares (most of us). Pluto spends a different amount of time in each sign, and therefore the square happens at slightly different ages for everyone, depending on the sign of their natal Pluto. The Pluto square is definitely marked by the need for major decision-making. Pluto always brings choices. The options are either in alignment with past patterns, or with evolution, or some degree of both, which is most common. These difficult decisions that we are sometimes “forced” to make in our lives, are what propels us into evolution and growth. It’s not easy to choose, but it’s also not easy to live a life of stagnation, which is what happens if you attempt to resist growth. It’s either stagnation or “forceful” change, in which you have no choice but to change. It’s preferable, like I always say, to make the change consciously, which mitigates the feelings of suffering.
All of us have a unique birth chart, unique transits, and also a unique Soul and level of Consciousness. Looking at these types of cycles can be an open door to further self-exploration and expansion, true alignment with your Soul and your Divine Why for being here. It’s important to not look at these aspects and cycles as are only defined here in this simplistic way. You are a whole being, and this is a helpful first step to reading your Soul blueprint and enjoying your evolutionary journey.