©April 2010 by Fabienne Lopez
I looked blankly at her. I was flummoxed on how to answer the inquiry. I launched into a convoluted explanation that made things murkier and more confusing for everyone.
As an astrologer, it was so obvious to me what a transit is to the point that the question made no sense at all. After all, astrologers breathe this stuff day-in day-out. We check the transits of the moon on a daily basis. When an event occurs, astrologers scurry to their ephemeris to see what transits were affecting the chart in question. We are always paying attention to transits of our clients, of ourselves, of family and friends.
So, what is a transit? How does it show up? Why is important to know your transits? She kept peppering me.
Don’t you know how useful understanding transits is, and how they help us…? I fired back.
No, I don’t! Why is a transit important? Transits are one of the main means used to predict events, forecast future trends, plan the correct time for events, and understand psychological transformations in our temperaments and personalities.
She looked at me with a “huh?” look on her face that I took to mean: I intellectually understand what you are saying, but I still don’t get it what transits are good.
It was time to do some research and come up with a better explanation than my previous one. After looking up “transits” in the dictionary (no real help there), and Wikipedia, only marginally better, I turned to the Astrology Encyclopedia by James Lewis. In his book, Lewis indicates that the noun, transit, comes from the Latin trans (across, beyond or over) plus ire (go), and has two related meanings:
1) The first is to identify planets that are moving across the sky in contrast to planets positioned in a birth chart. For example, the friend who asked the question about transits has her Mercury (Mercury’s natal position at birth) at 27° Gemini. Right now transiting Mercury is moving in the early degrees of Sagittarius (say 5° degrees). You could say a transit is an astronomical measure of movement in degrees.
The fact that Mercury is now moving through Sagittarius may or may not have an effect on my friend’s chart depending whether or not she has planets at an early degree of any sign.
2) The second meaning of a transit refers to the interaction between transiting planets that are making the aspects (the mathematical relationship between the transiting planet and the planets in the chart) to the “moment in time” planets of a chart for an event, entity or person (the birth chart). This is where the good stuff is.
To continue the example above: Knowing that her natal Mercury is at 27° of Gemini and current Mercury is in the early degrees of Sagittarius would alert me to the fact that when the current Mercury reaches 27° of Sagittarius, my friend will be experiencing in her life a Mercury opposition to her natal Mercury, which could manifest in her life as an increase of intellectual and communication activities.
There are different types of transits:
1) Transits to the inner planets (Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury). Short-term influences (usually a couple of days or maybe a few months when in retrograde motion) have a limited effect. They occur frequently and are fleeting in their influence. The moon transits are a good example of the fleeting effect a transit can have in our natal chart. Every month the moon will make an aspect, a relationship, to all of our planets, influencing our emotional responses to the world.
2) Transits to the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) are considered very important as they can last for years due to the slow motion of these planets.
3) The planetary return when the transiting planet returns to the precise position it was in at the moment of a person’s birth. A good example is what we call the Saturn Return that happens around the age of 29 and again around 60. Saturn takes 30 years to complete a solar revolution. Jupiter takes 12 years, Uranus 84. (The other outer planets are beyond a human life expectancy.) The planetary returns mark important periods in our life. A Saturn return generally heralds a time when we are forced to assume more responsibilities, work harder, experience delays and frustrations and come to terms with reality.
Among the 3 types of transits described above, the most important ones are the latter two: the transits to the outer planets, and the planetary returns. Both mark important transitions in our lives.
Transiting planets can exert a generic influence that affects everybody. For example, the popular Mercury retrograde period which has become a well-known phenomena in our culture. The period during which Mercury (associated with communication and concrete thinking) is retrograde (appears to move backwards in its orbit) is considered an inauspicious time to move things forward, and a time to re-consider actions taken in the past.
But when astrologers talk about transits they are thinking in terms of the interaction between the transiting planets in relation to a person’s chart. For example, my friend has her natal Moon at 26° of Pisces, the position the Moon occupied at birth. Currently, as of April 2010, Jupiter (a planet that is associated with expansion, higher knowledge, opportunity) is transiting, moving, over her Moon.
As her astrologer and friend, I told her that this transit will signify a period in her life where she will feel emotionally secure and in touch with her feelings while being able to express them clearly to herself and others. I also told her that experiences associated with women (Moon represents women, emotional needs and responses) will generally have a nurturing quality to it.
The transiting planets can also affect a person depending on the house through which the transiting planets are moving in a person’s chart. Thus, for this friend this Jupiter transit, through her seventh house — one-on-one relationships, either romantic, partnerships or friendships — indicates a good period for her on to grow and expand her networking, develop partnerships, mend relationships that were strained, etc., unless other transits negate it.
Got it! She said when I finally explained what a transit was in an intelligible manner. But what’s the benefit of knowing my transits? She came back after a few moments.
Transits allow us to know our timing, I answered. This is especially useful when a difficult (stressful) transit is showing up in the horizon.
Transits can also tell us how long the pressure of a personal crisis will last, therefore giving us the opportunity to better prepare for those moments of crisis. Betty Lundsted in her book, Transits, compares the challenging periods of our lives to taking a walk in the rain wearing a raincoat and rain boots and having an umbrella. She says that people dressed for the rain are not bothered by the rain nearly as much as those who have been caught unprepared.
In a more general sense, transits allows us to observe our personal crisis, and better work with them by comprehending what causes them, what are we learning about ourselves, and how we can use the crisis in a constructive way. Transits also allow us to take advantage of beneficial planetary movement and make progress towards our dreams and goals. Because there is no stress generally associated with a good transit, people tend not to take advantage of it. On the contrary, they tend to coast along. For my friend, if she takes advantage of her Jupiter conjunct Moon transit she will be able to build a support system that will help her deal with times of crisis.
Now you’ll know that when I tell you that Mercury is transiting at 27° of Sagittarius, you’ll know that Mercury is opposing your natal Mercury and creating havoc with your communication.
PS. If you’re curious to know how the current transits are affecting you, I’m available for astrological consultations.
Photos Credits: Flickr Creative Commons