Progressions: A simple explanation – Maybe.

©March 2011 by Fabienne Lopez

progressions in astrology are calculated a day for a yearThe quest for a simple explanation

I teach a beginner’s astrology class. During one of our sessions, a student inquired about the spiritual and philosophical explanation for progressions in astrology.

She knew how to calculate them – a year for a day.

What she wanted to know is why astrologers use progressions? What need do progressions fulfill in astrology?  What do progressions accomplish in the chart that is not done by transits?

Two Types of Explanations

I took her question to the Professional Astrology Group on Facebook.

Two different explanations emerged from the discussion. The first type was more philosophical, the second one more mathematical.

in astrology, progressions have both a plhilosophical explanation and a mathematical oneThe Philosophical Explanation

Progressions are growth indicators.  They measure how we change as we age. One of the astrologers compared it to a landscape a person is walking through.

Another astrologer identified progressions as states that we “are ready for” at different times in life.

Transits would fill in the details of the progressions by bringing people and situations that would help us learn.

The mathematical explanation

The more scientific oriented astrologers in the group thought of progressions as fractals – a geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is a reduced-size copy of the whole.

Taking this definition into account, we could apply the qualities of fractals into progressions. Planetary aspects on day one (day of birth) would be similar to those at 1 year, etc… They would carry the same pattern over time, since time and space are on the same continuum as Einstein told us.

Continuing with the fractal analogy, another participant in the discussion pointed out that time – in terms of day, month, and year – is composed of dark and light alternations.  The smallest fraction of time (a day) has a similar alternation pattern of a month and a year.

Progressions repeat symbolically the night and day cycle on a different scale: day= year.

Another scientific concept that could be applied to progressions is the concept of half-life from the atomic field.

Progressions can be explained as symbolic fractals of timeHalf-life is the period of time it takes for a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half. Scientists use the mathematical formula to observe the rate of atrophy of atoms. Each rate contains a shrinking number that signifies the state of decay.

If we applied this pattern to progressions, each day would contain in itself an increasing number that “symbolizes the foot step, the increment of change which goes on, sometimes unnoticed until aspected. A Day for a Year.” (quote from CF).

My thoughts on Progressions

Reading all the explanations, I noticed they all pointed out to the symbolic nature of the chart, transits and progressions. They all were linked in some various degrees to the “Doctrine of Correspondence”, the esoteric tradition that affirms “as above, so below”.

They all indicate a need for a degree of faith in the mysteries of life.  Mysteries that are not yet all discovered and backed up with scientific theories, experiments, and research.

Humanity’s scientific progress does not make it possible at the present time to explain the all the correspondences between the material and the spiritual world. Maybe over time, science will. It has already started.

Personally, I do not need to understand the why of progressions. I know they work. I see in my own chart and the charts of my clients. Maybe it is my own way of cultivating an open-minded attitude towards the mysterious, the elusive, the spiritual, and the unknown. My personal homage to the power of Neptune.

I hope this will help my student.

I wish to thank all astrologers who participated in the discussion. CF, GC, JB, EW, LW, BT and MO’R.

Any misrepresentations are entirely my responsibility.

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Photos Credits: Flickr Creative Commons

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About Fabienne Lopez

Astrologer, Blogger, Life-Coach. My mission is to help you discover, develop and nurture your creativity no matter what transit you are going through.
This entry was posted in Astrology, Astrology In Real Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Progressions: A simple explanation – Maybe.

  1. katley says:

    I find progressions quite interesting. Right now my progressed sun is headed towards Virgo. I’m afraid this change is going to turn me into a cranky, old and boring person, and I’m not looking forward to it :(

    There’s a website that I use that will calculate progressed charts. It has an extensive chart selection, as well as astrocartography maps. Do you know of it? It’s very good, here’s the link.

    • Fabienne Lopez says:


      I love that site. It’s excellent. I understand your hesitation and not wanting to become a progressed Virgo. Virgos don’t have a”good” reputation, especially coming after Leo.
      I was not looking forward to my progressed sun in Gemini. I don’t do Geminis too well. But low and behold, I am enjoying the curiosity, the sociability and the deep passion for writing that it has brought me. There is a special Virgo gift waiting for you. -:)

  2. Gian Paul says:

    There cannot be “a simle answer to a complex phenomenon such as progressions” how good you said “maybe”, Fabienne. My own experience with progressions, until giving up using them for myself, for reasons similar to those mentioned by Katley.

    The explanation I have (simple “comme la lune”), is that whatever technique one uses, even enhanced computer programs, we are dealing with destiny here, all the time. Far better, I believe, being in the right, receptive mood when looking into such mysteries. One can even just toss a coin (!) – or go through all kind of brainy calculations. The “problem with complex methods (like progressions) is that they bind our minds where possibly an “un-bound mind”, Neptunian as per Fabienne’s idea, is more productive (what a horrible word).

    • Fabienne Lopez says:


      I absolutely agree with you. An unbound mind when approaching a chart is often times a very good approach. My idea with this post was to answer the question of one of my students of my beginner’s class. I so remember when I started studying astrology and wanted the why to fill a rational explanation. It did not always agree with the answer, but they gave me a basis where to start, sort of a “hypothesis” to start with and see where it leads me. As I noticed in my Facebook discussion groups they were many different possibilities and many ways to use progressions. It’s a matter of seeing if they are a good too for you as an astrologer. It depends on the practitoner and their talents.

  3. katley says:

    I saw something on the Internet recently “A messy desk is the sign of a creative mind.” So a little Neptune is a good thing, GianPaul :) A life outside the box is better than a life within one….
    Progressions enhance the natal horoscope, but they don’t replace it. It’s something like putting gravy on your potatoes.
    As for progressed Virgo, Fabienne, the one gift it’s probably going to give me is lots of hard work.
    Gemini is a sign I happen to like, since it rules writing, and my progressed ascendant has been there for a number of years. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the ride with Gemini. And it looks like you are too :)

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