Most astrologers subscribe to some version of the idea that nothing can happen that is not "promised" in the natal chart. While this thesis is subject to modification or enlargement, the basic premise supporting it is unquestionably the backbone of astrological theory -- the idea that planets are energetically related to each other in ways that tend to be repeated throughout life.
For example, astrologers are aware that Mars-square-Pluto is an aspect associated with anger and the potential for power struggles, some of them violent. While a person might work diligently to curb his or her tendency toward overt aggression, internal issues around power and authority will nevertheless consistently tend to be "hot-button" emotional triggers. The only way to subdue the negative manifestations of Mars-square-Pluto is to acknowledge, understand, and work with the aspect on its own terms. That is, the person will eventually need to assume his or her own dominance in some area and use it wisely. Otherwise, running from the issue will only force the energies to work out via projection onto partners and others in the environment -- in which case, the person becomes a victim. Either way, for the person with a Mars-square-Pluto, power is a determinative issue.
Subsequently, when a progressed, directed, or transiting planet triggers or aspects either Mars or Pluto, some version of the power dilemma will present itself (not necessarily on the physical plane). At that time, the person will resonate to the issues represented by Mars and Pluto, and he or she will have the opportunity to work consciously on those areas of life. Seeds of genuine change can be planted; creative thinking concerning the struggle can take root. This developmental process can be seen at work in all astrological signatures.
The viewpoint of esoteric astrology, which is the approach taken here, is that inner purpose determines the evolution of every form and structure, including the unfolding events of our lives. According to this view, we relate physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to life energies embodied by (and cyclically transmitted through) the planets, stars, constellations, and other celestial bodies within and beyond our solar system. The totality of our response to these energies imbues us with consciousness.
Esoteric astrology has its roots in the philosophy of hylozoism, which asserts that life and matter are inseparable; that life is, in fact, a property of matter; and that matter or substance builds upon and reflects spiritual elements. Hylozoism is also the basis of today's much discussed Gaia hypothesis, which is the theory advanced by contemporary scientists, such as James Lovelock and Rupert Sheldrake, in which Earth is a living, self-sustaining organism.
The principal idea behind esoteric astrology (and esotericism in general, as the study of underlying essence, energy, and force) is that space is a conscious entity, and all beings -- including the stars and planets -- participate in that vast macrocosmic life. Thus, a planet is considered to be the physical body of an indwelling soul. According to this view, states and conditions of matter reflect levels of consciousness, from the densest to the most refined. The viewpoint of esoteric astrology is that each human being is a microcosm, and all of the forces at work in the universe are operative in every person. Hence, evolution (individual and collective) progresses from density to subtlety in stages that are described by astrological progressions, directions, and transits.
Esoteric astrology is vitally concerned with differentiating cause (the subtle origin of any phenomenon in the realm of thought) from effect (the external situation built up through a steady application of mental activity). This process is carried out through the planetary cycles as they unfold around and within each of us. Between the confluence of the natal aspects and their current astrological triggers, life becomes a laboratory, in which one is his or her own alchemist. Viewed in this way, progressions and transits are ambassadors or heralds of some kind of change taking place within one's own psyche through the principle of harmonic resonance. The physical planets relate us through the macrocosmic etheric web to processes also at work in our own lives.
When a progression or transit triggers some planetary aspect in our natal chart, a corresponding aspect of ourself is stimulated. The two are inseparable -- inner is outer; as above, so below. Because the planets, and we ourselves, are members in the body of the universe -- which is itself the expression of a yet greater being -- all participate in each other as specialized forms of the One.
The planet Mars, for example, speaks to a part of us that resonates Mars-ness. We have within us, as it were, Mars "receptors". When Mars in the birth chart is aspected by a progression or transit, the "receptor site" is stimulated, and we have enhanced access to Martian energies. Through those and other energies, we participate in the life of the overall cosmic system. Spirit expresses through evolution, or change, and since change is characteristic of spirit, it is also characteristic of us. The precise timing of the progressions and transits to our natal charts is an index of the appropriateness and necessity for change in our lives as we reflect and participate in the development of life itself.
Conventional wisdom correctly has it that we are never given more than we can bear. To that it might be added -- we are given what we are ready to bear. The outer planets, whose transits and progressions share a reputation for being difficult, link us extrinsically and intrinsically with the far reaches of our solar system and beyond, and with the ring-pass-not of our temporal awareness. Their function is to refine us. Metaphysically speaking, the reason they were not discovered until relatively recently is that prior to their discovery dates, the consciousness of the human race was insufficiently developed to apprehend their messages.
We are now able to learn certain subtle lessons in unity that can only be mastered through conscious forgiveness, sacrifice, relinquishment of attachments, and unconditional love. These lessons are difficult. But when they come to us, we can be sure that they have done so precisely because we, individually and as a group, have met the preceding requirements. At such times, we as individuals have the right to call upon the collective wisdom of the human race to assist us with our personal struggles.
The outer planets correspond to the group soul of humanity reaching out through consciousness toward spirit. Long before the discovery of Pluto, there was death, but only since 1930 has the majority of humanity set out to seriously understand death's journey and meaning. Prior to that time, death was signified astrologically solely by Saturn, the planet of form. We now collectively recognize that there is more to life than form, and therefore more to death as well.
Long before Uranus was discovered, select individuals experienced the lightning flash of intuition, but only since 1781 has humanity, as a group, actively sought enlightenment. Prior to that time, illumined states were represented astrologically by Jupiter, the planet of religion. We are now able to recognize self-selected paths to truth.
Similarly, mysticism and expanded states of awareness were the province of the dedicated few prior to Neptune's discovery in 1846. Only members of priestly orders, symbolized by Jupiter, were instructed in the "mysteries". But concurrent with the sighting of Neptune, the human race began to realize its own potential to rise up with the gods.
Chiron is probably a comet and, therefore, not strictly classifiable as an outer planet, but his energy is profoundly transformative. Chiron was discovered in 1977, which was about the time we humans began to awaken to deep noncorporeal dimensions of our collective identity. In action, if not in form, Chiron qualifies as an outer planet and always works in that manner in horoscopes. It now seems clear that some of the characteristics previously attributed to Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are actually properties of Chiron. He occupies a unique position in the order of planets and seems particularly adept at helping us to make good use of the energies of the outer planets.
Transits and progressions of outer planets to natal planets and points thus signify our individual readiness to participate in the group life as it changes and evolves within the broader spectrum of the universal life. These planetary movements enable us not only to recapitulate the spiritual progress of the race, but to enlarge upon it. The slow movement of the outer planets creates a long-term vibrational climate in which our responses to life can be shaped by insight and experience. While it is true that transits trigger progressions, transits of the outer planets are sufficiently powerful on their own to catalyze natal planetary placements.
Continued on the next page:
* Bridging the Gap with Jupiter and Saturn;
* Outer Planets as Trendsetters;
* Pluto: Change or be Changed;
* Four Options for Change.
Alice Bailey, Esoteric Astrology, New York: Lucis Publishing, 1985.
Alan Leo, Esoteric Astrology, Rochester, NY: Destiny Books, 1983.
Ruth Miersa, Ray-Centered Astrology, San Diego, CA: Libra Publishers, 1986.
Errol Weiner, Transpersonal Astrology, Rockport: Element, 1991.
Kees Zoeteman, Gaiasophy, Hudson: Lindisfarne Press, 1991.
?1996 Bonnie Wells - all rights reserved
by Alan Leo.
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About The Author
Bonnie Wells has practiced astrology since 1970. She specializes in esoteric astrology and is a student of metaphysics, in particular the Alice A. Bailey material.