A transit (literally: to pass through) occurs when an actual moving planet forms an aspect to a horoscope factor in the natal chart, i.e. to either a planet or an axis (and even to midpoints in a more detailed analysis). When the aspect becomes exact it is said to trigger or activate the horoscope factor involved.
Transits are among the most important predictive methods in astrology. They are both a simple and powerful tool to help understand which themes will be active and dominant during a particular period of time. The way in which this happens is indicated by the transiting planet.
A transit is also said to occur when a planet simply moves through a particular house in the horoscope.
The transits of the slow-moving planets Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are considered to be more important than those of Jupiter and the fast-moving planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars). In principle the rule applies that the effect of a transit increases the slower the planet concerned is moving (Diurnal Movement). However, it makes little sense to compare the significance of the transits of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto because they are all significant in their own way.
Period of validity
Because of their retrograde motion, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter sometimes pass over the same degrees of the zodiac three times, Saturn does this frequently, Uranus Neptune even more and Pluto passes over all the degrees of the zodiac at least three times - Neptune and Pluto can even pass over some degrees of the zodiac up to five times. This is called a threefold or fivefold transit and can considerably extend the length of time for which a transit is valid. In the case of Jupiter this can range from several weeks to months, with Saturn up to one year and with Uranus, Neptune and Pluto up to two or three years. Mercury, Venus and Mars transits are considered to be more significant if they occur during a phase of retrograde motion and pass three times over the same degree of the zodiac. The effects from transits of the Moon and the Sun last, if they are felt at all, for either a few hours or one to two days.
Transits from Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto often indicate life-changing events or processes.
When a planet transits a house, the most important times are when it transits the house cusps at the beginning and end of the house because these are the times at which the essence of the transit is apparent.
It is not possible to give a definite answer to the question of how much an aspect can diverge from exact and still be considered valid, in other words, how large the orb should be. Sensitive individuals who are receptive to subtle energies and who tend to be self-reflective are likely to feel the transits of the slower moving planets long before the aspect becomes exact and will also be receptive to the daily changes and nuances caused by the transits of the faster moving planets. The transits of the faster moving planets are more important in the lives of children because children have a different perception of shorter periods of time than adults - with increasing age time appears to pass more quickly (Astrology of Children).
The initial recommendation is to use a small orb of around one degree, meaning that a transit is considered valid as long as it is within one degree of exactitude. The orb can then be increased to three or five degrees and observations made for this period to see if the effects of the transit are still felt. In any event the effects of a transit are usually stronger leading up to the moment at which it becomes exact and begin to weaken fairly quickly after this point.
The stationary phases are considered to be very significant. A planet is stationary for a while after changing from direct to retrograde motion and vice versa. An aspect formed during this stationary phase is thought to be very powerful.
It is common practice to concentrate on the main aspects - the conjunction, sextile, square, trine and opposition - but it is certainly no mistake to consider the so-called minor aspects, at least in the case of the slow-moving planets. The conjunction, formed when a transiting planet is at the same degree of the zodiac as a planet in the natal chart, is generally the most important. The next most important aspects are the square and the opposition, the so-called disharmonious or analytical aspects and finally the sextile and trine, or so-called harmonious aspects. However, the distinction makes less sense when dealing with the transits of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, although it is possible that the the so-called harmonious aspects make it easier to deal with the changes they herald.
The long-lasting nature of transits from the slower planets means that other triggers play an important role during this period. It might be a new or full moon conjunct an important degree. The influence of an eclipse that effects one or more chart factors will be greatly increased. Another possible trigger would be the transit to the degree in question by one of the faster moving planets; especially Mars, because it is an activating instigating principle. Another possible trigger is a planet transiting the natal position of the slow-moving transit planet.
It is important to find out which role the transiting planet plays in the natal chart, i.e. its position by house and sign and the aspects it forms to other horoscope factors. This is the background energy against which the individual concerned will experience the transit. The ten planets in transit have the following effects:
- Transits of the Sun increase the conscious awareness of a certain issue.
- Transits of the Moon describe emotional atmospheres or moods.
- Transits of Mercury indicate intellectual understanding, communication, and short-distance travel.
- Transits of Venus relate to sensual perceptions, relationships, and fine arts.
- Transits of Mars can energize and activate the area of life in question, but also incidate times to watch against quarrels and accidents.
- Transits of Jupiter stand for periods of growth in the search for meaning in the area of life in question.
- Transits of Saturn stand for phases when an individual matures and concentrates on what is essential in the area of life in question; but can be times of limitation, disappointment, or increased responsibility.
- Transits of Uranus ideally are revolutionary and liberating, but unexpected and unwanted turns of events can also be the cause of great anxiety for people who fear change.
- Transits of Neptune increase sensitivity but can also create disappointment, disillusionment and dissolution.
- Transits of Pluto destroy existing structures that have become outdated and can lead to healing and transformational processes that give us a greater sense of personal wholeness.
- The Horoscope in Manifestation. A psychological approach to transits and progressions (Liz Greene, 1996)
- Saturntransits (cafeastrology.com)
- Reinhold Ebertin: Transits - Forecasting using the 45 degree Graphic Ephemeris, translated by Linda Kratzsch, Ebertin-Verlag, Aalen, 1973. ISBN 0-88231-122-0.
- Brady, Bernadette, 1999. Predictive Astrology: The Eagle and the Lark, Weiser Books.
- Forrest, Steven, 2008. The Changing Sky, 2nd ed. Seven Paws Press.
- Hand, Robert, 2002, (rev. ed., 1976), Planets in Transit. Life Cycles for Living, Whitford Press. ISBN 978-0-914918-24-0.
- Sasportas, Howard, 2007. The Gods of Change: Pain, Crisis, and the Transits of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, The Wessex Astrologer.
- In the morning of June 8th, 2004; see also the Venus pentagram.