Weighing the Effects of All Activations

What you sees is what you gets! Or is it?

by Marilyn J Muir, LPMAFA

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How many times have you as an Astrologer misjudged the impact of a pending activation… predicted really nasty stuff only to have it pass harmlessly into oblivion… or thought the lottery a sure win only to join the crowd of “wannabe” winners? How do you determine what aspects are significant and which ones will pass by uneventfully? Letus start at the beginning and wend our way into the future.

Natal Chart  It is the original blueprint, the game plan, our “set in stone” qualities. What does the natal chart promise? It is difficult to win the lottery if luck or good fortune in speculation is missing in your natal chart. The natal chart contains the primary promise for this lifetime. Of course, there are alterations to the script; but for the most part, if the natal chart does not promise it, do not put overwhelming weight on the activation. For example, good Jupiter/Pluto aspects have shown up in the natal charts of my wealthier clients. A good Jupiter/Pluto aspect by transit, progression or direction tends to point towards abundance. What if the natal promise between Jupiter and Pluto was a hard aspect? The good activation between the two planets will probably not manifest as major abundance. Things could be more abundant than normal, but not hit the motherlode.

Progressions  The emerging blueprint as you are changed by life and experience offers a secondary promise, not as strong as the natal promise, but a promise nonetheless. Most astrologers read progressed to natal, but the progressed chart can also be read as a stand-alone chart for the limited period implied. It has its own promises shown by the progressed to progressed positions.

Progressed to natal shows activations to natal positions and promises, triggering potential in both positive and negative ways. For example, a native born with a Sun/Saturn conjunct can, over the years, develop a sextile. While the conjunction may be difficult at times, it is not necessarily a nasty promise. The sextile should prove to be beneficial. If the natal aspect had been an opposition and the progressed aspect a trine, do not expect the trine to completely outweigh the negativity of the natal opposition. The trine is much better than the opposition, but it may be limited in its power to do good by the natal adverse aspect.

Transits  The same is true for transits whether they be to natal or progressed positions. Strongest are transits to natal, and secondarily transits to progressions. What was the promise between the natal or progressed positions of the bodies involved in the aspect? A nasty aspect by transit that sets off a wonderful natal promise may have some initial problems but could eventually point to success.

Who is triggering what?  How do you tell what is doing the activating and what is being activated? The natal is the receiver of energy and the moving position is the activator. Think of Saturn activating Venus versus Venus activating Saturn. Would you rather have transiting Saturn on your natal Venus or transiting Venus on your natal Saturn? That which is setting the action in motion is the moving position. That which is being acted upon is the natal or perhaps even the progressed position. Do not aspect transits to primary directions because directions are an arbitrary measure. Also do not aspect direct to direct, as the natal aspects are always present. Natal, progressed and transiting positions are a real-time measure, directions are not.

House position  How does house position affect the strength of the activation? Any aspects that occur in angular houses tend to have more direct, visible, perhaps critical (acute) impact on the individual. Activations involving the succeedent houses tend to emphasize value systems and act more chronically (duration). Activations involving cadent houses stem from or include environmental issues, dispersion or adaptive requirements.

Rulership  While it is quite easy to see impact by house occupation, it is important to look also at the rulership houses as they too will be involved in the activation. For example, Venus in the natal 6th ruling the 5th and the 12th trines Pluto in the 2nd ruling the 6th. The natal promise involves the 6th, 5th, 12th and 2nd houses. Activation to one sets off the natal pattern. If Venus by progression moves to the square of Pluto, you must look at both the progressed houses of occupation and rulership, plus the natal houses of occupation and rulership, to determine the details of the activation.

Which activations to watch Any activation that occurs seldom or once in a lifetime should be more significant than an activation that occurs repeatedly through the lifetime. For example, transits of the Sun, Mercury and Venus occur once a year. Transits of Mars occur once every two years, Jupiter once every twelve years. The outer transits: Saturn through Pluto provide activations which occur infrequently. Saturn may provide several hard aspects through the lifetime (a seven-year quarter cycle), but Uranusʼ hard aspects occur in a 21-year quarter cycle, Neptuneʼs in a 42-year quarter cycle, and eccentric Plutoʼs in a sixty+ year quarter cycle. A transit of an inner body can activate a few hours to a few days, the outers for months at a time, and Neptune and Pluto have the possibility of five passes in an activation that can last almost two years.

As I initially wrote this, we were experiencing a Saturn/Pluto opposition – quite a nasty aspect, evidencing itself throughout society, politics, ecology, and history. It has great impact because it does not occur frequently. Pay more attention to an infrequent aspect that impacts a chart. I am not talking about the usual public hysteria that accompanies some aspects. I recall everyone being in an uproar in the 80ʼ s because several planets were stationed at 17° (of any sign). Nothing in particular happened that I recall. The harmonic convergence had everyone in an uproar, the changing of the ages to some. It proved to be the culmination of a runaway stock market (a house of cards) that started to fall with the five-planets in earth with New Moon in Virgo, and eventually led to Black Monday. The seven planets in Taurus was another reality check, but not the end of the world – after all, we survived an even closer seven-planet in Taurus conjunction about 4000 years prior. Stay real.

Repetitive patterns  If a natal pattern starts repeating itself in emerging activations, pay attention; the original plan is evidencing itself. Let us say there is a Sun/Saturn conjunction natally. When transiting Saturn comes to the conjunction of the natal Sun, the natal pattern is being triggered. The same would be true to a lesser degree in the progressed chart.

In another way, repetition of a theme by activation emphasizes probable impact (i.e., if a theme occurs):

  • Once – that theme is possible,
  • Twice – that theme is probable,
  • Thrice – you can bank money on it.

Example: A Sun/Saturn conjunction by progression (once), accompanied by transiting Saturn aspecting the ascendant or midheaven (twice), accompanied by the chart ruler moving into Capricorn (thrice) emphasizes a Saturn/Capricorn theme.

Resonance  In the late 1940ʼs a large number of people were born with a Saturn/Uranus conjunction, implying a bridging between the past and the future. In the 1980s a new Saturn/Uranus conjunction set off a resonance pattern in the lives of the 40ʼs generation, with or without an aspect to the natal or progressed charts. I call this activation resonance. If you have a room full of tuning forks and ring a single tone, all the tuning forks for that tone will resonate whether or not they have been physically struck. People resonate to natal aspects. Full Moon births can resonate to the Full Moon throughout their lifetimes. When a natal aspect re-occurs in the sky, pay attention.

Minor Aspects  Most minor aspects bring a call, the knock on the door, the delivery of a message or a letter. Alone they do not seem to be that significant. (They may later prove to be very significant. It is doubtful that the Creator did anything insignificant!) At times, several minor aspects occur simultaneously and the sheer power of the multiplicity involved can trigger an event. Think of the proverbial “straw that broke the camelʼs back.” Numbers of minor aspects can collectively produce a major effect. A seemingly minor aspect can become the second hand for timing a major aspect elsewhere in the chart. For example, transiting Mars frequently acts as a trigger for an eclipse point. The activation occurs at the point of the eclipse, but the Mars connection turns it into “today”.

Orbs  In general, tighter is stronger, sooner and more visible. Loose is weaker, later, less tangible. Thanks to a workshop given by Astrologer Delphine Jay of Orlando many years ago, I developed a better grasp of orbs and timing. A close aspect in the natal chart is very visible early in life. A wide aspect may take time to develop and show up later in life.

Also, the width of an orb may be dependent on the nature of the person. A reclusive person will respond more to tight aspects. A more adventurous person may respond to orbs of 8-10° on major aspects. I, for example have an 8° opposition between the Sun and Uranus. I was 31 before that really kicked into view – surprise, surprise. I also have a 9° opposition between Mars and Saturn. By progression, exact to the minute, my mother died. Those are very wide orbs, but they did work in my case. I do tend to reach out into life rather than staying closed up or cloistered.

By progression, direction and transit, watch 1° applying, and 1/4° separating. In my experience, 95% of actual activation occurs within 15ʼ applying and 5ʼ separating. Since directions travel 1° per year, that equates to three months applying and one month separating. Progressions and transits travel at varying speeds, so the times involved must be calculated individually, but the same rule applies. Closer is sooner.

  • Make a note that Saturn tends to act close to exact, occasionally just past. Saturn rules time.
  • Uranus tends to precipitate events, acting just prior to exact.

Eclipses and, to a lesser degree, New and Full Moons It is true that eclipses are transits but they have their own rules.

  • I use a 5° orb for the eclipse point to natal (you can also apply this to progressions if you choose – I donʼt). Closer is stronger, 5° is questionable but does seem to work.
  • Timing = 1° per week, either side of the eclipse point. Within 1°, activation is close to the eclipse date. 1-2° orb, 1-2 weeks from the eclipse date, 3, 4, or 5° orb, 3, 4-5 weeks from the eclipse date (wide = weak = questionable).
  • Out of sign weakens the aspect.
  • Conjunctions, squares and oppositions usually work. Softer trines and sextiles are not as predictable as expected.
  • If an eclipse is visible (the eclipse path actually runs through the personʼs part of the world), it is stronger than if the eclipse path is not visible running across another part of the world.
  • A total eclipse is stronger than a partial or annular.
  • The Sun and Moon are not isolated from the balance of the transiting planets. Any eclipse is flavored by the balance of their entourage.
  • Solar eclipses tend to be life-shaping. Lunar eclipses can have great impact, usually emotional, but may not have long range influence*. For example, I lost my father and my sister to solar eclipses, major life changes. A personal attack at a lunar eclipse had great emotional impact but did not have the same long-range influence on my life.
  • Triggers to the eclipse point occur as transiting planets hard aspect that point. Transiting Mars conjunct the 12th house eclipse and square my natal Neptune (in natal 4th, natal 10th ruler) signaled the day of surgery and death of my father within 24 hours. Transiting Sun at the square point (90°) can also act as a trigger.
  • Solars have a six-month influence, strongest in the first three; lunars a three-month influence, strongest in the first six weeks.

Published in AFA Monthly Bulletin v80#6 Jun 2018, republished with slight editing.

*Several years after this article was originally written, the universe taught me another lesson (and viewpoint) about Lunar Eclipse activations. My daughter had a cancer scare and I could not find it in her chart. She was awakened one morning about 4 AM by a voice that said, “Tell your Mother to look at the Lunar Eclipse.” Yes sir… immediately… There it was, the activation. It was cancer. We had fourteen more years together (the then current eclipses and planets were triggering the old eclipse activation by opposition). I got to learn that while the Lunar Eclipse was emotional, it could also be life changing. 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.