As we study the birth-chart of a person, what we have in front of us is essentially a formula indicating what are the potentialities inherent in this particular human being — potentialities only, we should not forget! While the birth-chart of a person is to the entire life of this person, once it is lived, as an acorn is to the majestic oak tree which has weathered countless storms, nevertheless, this oak which comes out of the acorn need not be majestic, need not weather storms or escape pests. It may be trampled upon when young by large animals or cut as a sapling by careless human beings. The pattern of the oak which one might see in the acorn, if one were "clairvoyant," is the guarantee that the tree growing out of it will not be an elm or an apple tree; but it is no guarantee that the acorn will turn into a magnificent, well-formed oak.
In a similar sense — though with some fairly obvious differences which will be clarified later — the birth-chart of an individual shows us what particular kind of a human being the person can become; but it does not tell us of itself whether this individual will fulfill the congenital potentialities of his own nature and to what extent the actualization of these potentialities will be frustrated, thwarted, distorted during the process of growth.
The growth of a human personality is a very complex process because all sorts of things may happen to it. A child grows to maturity (or to what passes for such!) in the midst of a society which is an infinitely complex and ever-changing network of relationships. Every relationship makes an impact upon the growing child; and the child is not able to adjust simply and spontaneously to this cultural, religious and interpersonal or social environment, as, for instance, a lion cub adjusts to the pressures and dangers of an African jungle. The cub may die; but if he does not, life is most likely to be quite "normal" for him in the way of leonine normality. For a modern city-bred child, there is really nothing that can compare to this kind of natural normality and life expectancy.
We grow through endless confrontations and problems — and today far more so than in the past. Some basic turning points or crises of growth are found in any life, the more so the more the person lives actively, deeply and as an individual. Some of these crises are essentially biological and are met at certain ages — for instance, adolescence. Other crises are strictly individual and may happen at this or that time in the life span. The potentiality of such crises at such and such times is inherent in the birth-chart. We deduce the timing and nature of the crises from what we call "progressions" and "transits."
Given a thorough knowledge of all planetary cycles in their complex interplay, all progressions and all transits can be deduced from the moment of birth — that is to say, the whole future of the solar system is implied in that moment. But to visualize where all the planets will be during the whole life of a person and the relationship between this ever-changing patterning of all the planets and the birth-chart would be nearly impossible. Thus, astrology distinguishes usually between the study of the natal chart as a pattern in itself — and, in a sense, as an unchangeable pattern, a basic frame of reference — and the study of progressions and transits.
Progressions are usually based on the principle of the symbolical equivalence of a day (a complete cycle of rotation of the earth around its axis) to a year (a complete revolution of our planet around the Sun). Thus, we say that what occurs ten days after birth (as the ephemeris will reveal) is a symbolic key to the understanding of events or inner changes to occur actually ten years after birth.
Transits, on the other hand, refer to the positions of the planets at any time of the life being considered. So, in order to know what will be the transits for your child born this year (1959) when he will be 20, you would need to consult an ephemeris for the year 1979.
There is often a good deal of confusion in people's minds concerning the difference between progressions and transits. Some astrologers rely entirely on transits; others "swear by" progressions. Why the two types of approaches? The only answer which seems to be logical and sound is that progressions refer essentially to a process of internal or subjective growth in which the potentialities of the individual's selfhood unfold, much as leaves unfold out of a bud. On the other hand, transits refer to these changes which mainly come from the outside or with reference to the position the individual self occupies within a larger cycle — for instance, the changes which come to a plant because of the weather or of the passage from one season to another.
It is true, of course, that both types are inherent in the time of birth; but the progressions deal with transformations of the rhythm of the self — while transits refer to the impact of the environment as a whole upon the self. To return to our plant illustration; the transformation of seed into germ, into stem and branches, flowers and fruit is internal, spontaneous — while a frost and a drought which impair or destroy the plant are factors which, while they affect the plant just as much, belong to the larger whole of the earth environment and climate. A bad seed produces an unhealthy plant; this is "progressions." A wet, cold spring may also produce an unhealthy plant; but this is "transits."
The Progressed Lunation Cycle
The lunation cycle refers to the period from one New Moon to the next — a New Moon being a conjunction of the Moon with the Sun. It lasts between 29 and 30 days. Any birth occurs within a lunation cycle, either when the light of the Moon is increasing or when it is decreasing. Except in relatively rare cases when birth occurs exactly at New Moon time, there has been a New Moon less than 30 days before one's birth, and the next New Moon occurs some days after birth.
As, according to the usual system of progressions, one day corresponds to a year, if a New Moon has occurred 18 days after your birth, this means that when you were 18 years old, you experienced a conjunction of your progressed Moon and progressed Sun — that is to say, a progressed New Moon. As the period between the two actual New Moons is (approximately) 30 days, the period between two progressed New Moons in your life is a 30-year period. We speak of a "lunation cycle" lasting about a month; so we may speak as well of a "progressed lunation cycle" lasting about 30 years.
Such a cycle has not been given much, if any, attention by astrologers — at least, not as a basic factor in the development of a human personality. Yet, the monthly lunation cycle and the New Moon chart are constantly being used, especially in mundane astrology. If there is validity in the study of this (approximately) 30-day cycle concerning human affairs, then there is no reason why the corresponding 30-year cycle of the progressed lunation cycle would not be even more important in a person's life. Moreover, if there is validity in casting a chart for every New Moon, month after month, then there should likewise be great value in erecting charts for the two or three progressed New Moons which an individual lives through. These should logically characterize the general — very general, yet significant — quality of the 30-year periods of life which they initiate.
The reason such progressed lunation cycles have been left mostly unnoticed, no doubt, is that no man lives through the progressed cycle of any planet except that of the Moon — no other progressed planet returns to its natal place during a human being's life span. Thus, the very concept of "progressed cycle" can be applied only to the progressed Moon (which returns to its natal position in a little more than 27 years) and to the conjunctions of this progressed Moon to other progressed planets. Of these conjunctions, only that of this progressed Moon to the progressed Sun (i.e., the progressed New Moons) is really characteristic.
Another reason is that most students of progressions pay attention primarily (and often exclusively) to the aspects formed by a progressed planet to the natal positions of the other planets; hence, most astrologers would tend to consider the conjunction of the progressed Moon to the natal Sun more important than the conjunction of this progressed Moon to the progressed Sun (that is, the progressed New Moon).
This progressed New Moon, however, occupies a unique place because the basic pattern of human growth and of the changes in the operation of the vital energies (the bi-polar "life force") should be referred to the positions and motions of the two "Lights" — Sun and Moon. The true frame of reference is not either the Sun or the Moon considered singly, but the forever evolving relationship of the Sun and the Moon (the lunation cycle).
I have occasionally discussed in this magazine the meaning of the various phases of such a cycle; but I had not considered until recently the value of making exact charts for the progressed New Moons as indicators of the basic "tone" of the 30-year cycle which these new Moons usher in. I find, however, that such progressed New Moon charts are very worth while making and studying, that they throw a very interesting light upon the 30-year life periods they define. I have, moreover, come to the conclusion that these progressed New Moon charts should be made for the localities at which the person lives when the actual New Moon occurs. By this, I mean that if a New Moon occurred 20 days after, your birth, the chart for it should be cast for the place where you lived at the age of twenty days, not twenty years. This means, of course, that in most cases the charts are cast for the locality of birth, as few children travel far before they are, say, 90 days old!
I have tried the other way — that is, casting the New Moon charts for the localities to which the native may have moved at the corresponding age, counting years from birth instead of days — but this did not seem to give as significant results. The point is that astrology is, I believe, an interpretation of the actual astronomical facts as they happen and where they happen. The New Moon which occurs when you are 20 days old is actually seen from the place where you are then. Now, we interpret symbolically this actual event by means of the technique of progressions when we say that the state of the solar system 20 days after birth indicates the phase of personal development which we reached at the age of 20 years; but this interpretation — 20 years — does not alter the fact — 20 days! As we erect a chart for a progressed New Moon, we erect it for the actual fact; and the actual, fact is that we experienced this New Moon as a 20-days-old baby from the angle determined by our locality at that time.
Some people would say to this that by having moved to a new location when we are 20 years old, we alter the effect of the New Moon which actually occurred when we were a 20-days-old baby. But this to me sounds unconvincing. It results from an inaccurate grasp of what man can do by his so-called "free" will and also from a misunderstanding of what astrology presents to us. As I wrote at the start of this article, a birth-chart deals with potentialities but not with the actual life events of the native. If a New Moon occurred when you were 20 days old, what the chart for this New Moon shows is the basic framework and quality of your personal development from the time you were 20 to 50 years of age — but this framework, this basic quality of personal existence, is shown as potentialities only — that is, when you reach age 20, your potential of life energy will have such and such individual characteristics. The chart reveals, we might say, the schedule and the basic type of activity needed for your growth; but whether or not you actually fulfill this schedule and develop to the extent you might have developed, that no one can tell precisely.
In other words, a New Moon occurring when you were a baby three weeks old sets, as it were, the schedule and plan for what you should do after you come of age at 21. The "setting" is done where you were at the age of three weeks, not at the age of 21! At 21, you may have moved far away from your birthplace; but that was part of your response to the possibilities shown in your birth-chart — and in a sense also in the New Moon before your birth, a subject I cannot discuss in this article. The moving does not alter what had been "set" three weeks after your birth; it only changes the way you may respond to what had been set.
I discussed this matter at some length because it affects a number of astrological techniques — and, indeed, the whole approach to astrology itself. We are usually very eager to show forth our power to change or control circumstances, to make "decisions" which will alter our life. But, in truth, we do not change our potential of existence — no more than an acorn can modify itself into an elm!
Our "freedom" of decision resides in what we do with this basic pattern of our selfhood. We may fail to take advantage of some crucial possibility, and this may alter the events of our succeeding years and decades; yet that will not change the basic pattern of what might have unfolded ten years later. Only, we shall perhaps be able to actualize but a small fraction of that possible unfoldment because of the failure of ten years before; at worst, what we shall actualize will have taken a negative coloring — a frustrated or thwarted potential of growth often turns negative. Our unlived life indeed can invalidate or kill us!
Progressed New Moons in Roosevelt's Chart
I am taking as an illustration the two progressed New Moons in the life of Franklin D. Roosevelt because his well-known chart usually can be shown to symbolize very accurately his character and significant life pattern. He was born on January 30, 1882; I believe an at least approximate 8:45 P.M. time of birth is now well authenticated. The first New Moon after his birth occurred on February 17, 1882, at 9:50 P.M., in Hyde Park, New York, his family home (as far as I know, he should have lived there 18 days after birth); the second progressed New Moon occurred on, March 19, at 7:17 A.M., presumably also at Hyde Park. The charts for these New Moons are given here and should prove quite revealing to students.
The first New Moon refers by progression to the time when the young Roosevelt was just about age 18 (mid-January, 1900). His father died 11 months later. He probably had just entered college, as he graduated from Harvard in 1904, then was admitted to the bar in 1907. His first public office began in 1910 (New York State Senate).
We see the first progressed New Moon chart stressing an exact trine of Venus, the Sun and Moon at the entrance of the fifth house, with Mars in the ninth house (the law). All planets are contained within that trine except Uranus, singleton in the eleventh house — and, of course (as in the natal chart), trine the Taurus planets: Neptune and Jupiter. Pluto squares, however, the triple conjunction of Venus, the Sun and Moon. Pluto is in the eighth house ("regeneration," in one sense at least).
With Libra (ruled by Venus) rising, this chart shows at once an extreme of emotional self-assertion and will to expansion; yet the massive multiple square between the Aquarian and Taurean planets holds the seeds of tragedy. Uranus in the house of friends and social ideals bespeaks a potential "reformer" seeking to bring about new patterns of association and of business (cf. the trine with the seventh--house planets).
This New Moon chart, of course, is not too different from the natal one; but the points of emphasis are different. Above all, Mars is in the ninth house and Uranus in the eleventh. Mars is the point of initiative, and it is logically found in the house referring to legal practice and also to foreign relationship. Roosevelt's first executive post in Washington was as Assistant Secretary of the Navy; and his interest in foreign affairs became insistent, especially after his official trips to Europe in 1918 and 1919.
This progressed New Moon chart has validity for the period extending from January, 1900, to July, 1929, at which time the second New Moon after birth begins to "operate." Just before that later date, F. D. Roosevelt had triumphed over his paralysis to the extent that he was elected Governor of New York State in 1928. Four years later, he was elected President of the United States. Thus, a third chapter of his life had begun — the first one being his childhood and adolescence up to 1900.
In the second progressed New Moon chart, the planets are disposed very differently. The very last degree of Aries is rising; and the four massive planets in Taurus are in the first house. These planets are — in connection with Uranus trining them from the sixth house (work, labor, the services, etc.) — the symbol of the New Deal. There is a significant square between Mars and Venus, rulers of the first and seventh houses — the houses of self and of relationship and of all associative processes. A significant quintile of Mercury to Neptune could be referred to his "Brain Trust" composed of rather young, idealistic intellectuals.
We shall note that, while in the natal and the first progressed New Moon charts the Sun is in Aquarius, now the lunation occurs at the end of Pisces, in the twelfth house. In a sense, the White House is a prison; it is, at any rate, an "institution"! It represents the culmination of efforts — and a heavy "karma" or burden to bear, a place for potential "sacrifice."
This sacrifice is suggested by the opposition, rather distant though it be, between the sixth-house Uranus and the lunation degree. The first progressed New Moon chart could be said to show a struggle of the self seeking expression (fifth house) against "death" (eighth house); the second New Moon chart shows the basic struggle against illness and overwork, also the struggle between new Uranian ideals and techniques and the karma of our Western civilization.
A Rate of Progression
As these progressed New Moon charts cover, as it were, 30-year periods of life, I have attempted to find a rate at which the unfoldment of the potential revealed in the charts could be significantly measured. Of course, one could use the ordinary rate of one day in the ephemeris equaling a year of the life; but this applies only, it seems to me, to the natal chart, which refers to the completely open cycle of the natural life of a man on earth. By contrast, when we deal with progressed lunation cycles, we measure closed cycles. In the case of such closed cycles, one should logically equate the whole length of the cycle with the entire circle of the zodiac — i.e., 360 degrees.
A lunation cycle does not always last the same length of time, but it would seem best to use an "archetypal" measuring rod — that is, 30 days (and 30 years for the progressed cycle). Thus, a year of progression would equal 12 degrees of the zodiac — or 1 degree per month. What we can use, therefore, is a kind of "radix" method, according to which one moves all the planets one degree for every month following the time of the life to which the progressed New Moon corresponds in the usual type of progressions.
For instance, President Rooosevelt's father died on December 8, 1900. The first progressed New Moon chart refers to mid-January, 1900, in his life. Thus, to find the special progressions or "directions" in this New Moon chart for the death of his father, one must move the planets by about eleven degrees. This is very close to the distance between Saturn (which represents the father) and Jupiter.
His attack of polio occurred August 10, 1921-21 years and 7 months after January, 1900. This means a progressed motion of 259 degrees. If we advance the lunation point (29°24' Aquarius) 259 degrees, we get 18° 24' Scorpio, which is the point opposite to Jupiter — and Jupiter rules the sciatic nerves and lumbar region, which were paralyzed. The same advance brings Uranus to 6°15' Gemini, one degree before the square to Mercury retrograde (which rules the nerves); it brings Saturn to 26°10' Capricorn in the fourth house, trine Pluto (which may refer to the will to self-rebirth in the depths of the being); it brings Mars to an opposition to Uranus, Pluto to a square to the midpoint of the Neptune-Jupiter pair.
Such correlations are obviously not conclusive, and it seems that exact prognostications on the basis of such a system would be unwise; but, again, what such progressions or directions of the planets in a progressed New Moon chart indicate are not precise events, but trends of development. It is not important that Pluto, when so directed at the time of the polio attack, should fall exactly square Jupiter, ruler of the part of the body most affected. What matters is that during a period of months in the year 1921, Pluto was squaring the fourfold group of the planets in Taurus.
If we look at the second progressed New Moon chart — which corresponds to early July, 1929 — we may move the planets by 40 degrees to find their places for early November, 1932 — when F. D. Roosevelt was elected president. The lunation point (28°48' Pisces) will have reached 9° Taurus and the vicinity of Saturn — and Saturn has much to do with the U. S. presidency and any assumption of heavy public responsibility. The basic point, however, is that from the time the Sun-Moon pair crossed by "direction" the ascendant of the charts (winter, 1932), F. D. Roosevelt was entering the contest for the presidency. He actually took power on March 4, 1933, as the Sun-Moon point reached 12°48' Taurus, which is the midpoint of the Saturn-Neptune pair — and Saturn rules the tenth house of the chart. Mars, by the same arc of 44° (3 years plus 8 months), reached 20°46' Leo in the fifth house.
To put it differently: the progressed New Moon chart for July, 1929, shows one single basic square which, broadly speaking, links Sun-Moon-Venus to Mars. When Franklin D. Roosevelt reached power the two arms of that square struck the first and fifth houses, stressing personal initiative, creative imagination and risk-taking. In 1941, the Sun-Moon point had reached Leo — 23rd degree for the Atlantic Charter (square Jupiter) and 27th for Pearl Harbor (square Pluto); Mars then had reached Scorpio and early Sagittarius in the seventh house, the house of partnerships and of war. Mars opposed Neptune when Hitler invaded Poland; it was at the descendant when "Munich" occurred, which made war inevitable.
When Roosevelt died in April, 1945 — seven months after the "progressed Full Moon" of that cycle (he then began to die, actually) — the Sun-Moon point reached 8° Libra, just past the square to Mars and opposition to Venus. Mars was exactly at the chart's midheaven; and Neptune was opposing Jupiter, ruler of the eighth house. Another interesting point: Uranus had moved to the chart's Sun-Moon at the time of "Hiroshima" — and, after all, F. D. Roosevelt was the one whose decision it was to start the A-bomb project. This shows perhaps that the trends which our personality has set in motion do register astrologically even after we are dead!