December is a great time to start planning for the year ahead with a look at coming transits to your natal chart. But how do transits work? Read below to learn how transits create events, not feelings, so the choice of whether the coming year will be a “good” one or a “bad” one is always up to you!
My son and I occasionally watch a show called Daniel Tiger, which is sort of the animated re-boot of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The show puts its various pre-school homilies to music, short phrases that are sung every time Daniel has “big feelings” about something (which is every episode). In one episode, Daniel has conflicting feelings, and the lyric that repeats throughout the show is, “Sometimes, you feel two feelings at the same time, and that’s OK.”
Last week, I experienced a minor transit, that of Mercury retrograde opposing my natal Jupiter. The transit triggered two small events in my life, neither very noteworthy in themselves, but interesting because they produced two very different feelings in me, at the same time. After the Daniel Tiger song about mixed feelings popped into my head, I started to think about how often my clients focus on the “s-c-a-r-r-r-y” potential of the bogeyman planets, Pluto and Saturn, to the exclusion of the very real gifts these planets offer. Conversely, anyone just the slightest bit savvy in astrology knows to get excited when Big Daddy Jupiter comes through town, raining gifts and money like Santa Claus.
And yet – my sense is that most planetary transits, whether from the malefics or the benefics or the too-new-to-be-categorized, show both their comic and tragic faces to us. Especially when a transit is long, like Saturn’s movement over any point in a chart which can last up to a year, I tell the client that she can expect to experience the gamut of that planet’s energy: the good, the bad, and the neutral.
Last week I did a transit reading for a client in which I had to tell her about some heavy Saturn and Pluto activity that was impacting her natal chart. A transit reading is a look at the year ahead, and it is personalized to your birth chart. It is distinct from the general astrological projections you can find on the internet, which interpret the current motions of the planets in relationship to themselves, and which I refer to half-jokingly as “the weather.” Example: in 2018, the planet Uranus moved into the sign of Taurus. And while this is interesting, and relevant to mundane astrology, it’s probably not very relevant to you as an individual – unless of course you were born in the last third of the month of April! In that case, transiting Uranus will be making a conjunction to your natal Sun within the next few years. You can expect your life to go topsy-turvy for a spell. A transit reading from an astrologer will tell you how the planets are affecting your chart in particular, not just how things are going generally in the world.
Anyway, I could perceive that my client, who is a dear and who I’d hate to disappoint, was bummed about all this Saturn and Pluto activity. I had to talk to her about hard work and responsibility (Saturn) and confrontations with dark power (Pluto). But there was also a part of me that was confused about her reaction; I half wanted to say, “just because Saturn and Pluto are going hard at it this year, doesn’t mean this won’t be the best year ever! I never said anything about how you were going to feel!”
And it occurred to me then that we tend to equate transits with feelings, but this is very much a modern, post-psychology way of approaching them. Every Full Moon, my social media feeds are awash with astro reports that inform us how we are going to feel; will it be a rough Moon? Or are the gates to the transformation portal opening wide? Are we heading straight for bliss town? I’ve never understood these types of posts, and I’ve never written them. I believe my feelings are a choice, and I’m proud to have gained a certain amount of control over them.
Alright, now let me prove that to you. Last week, the morning of that aforementioned Mercury transit to my natal Jupiter, I did something stupid. I shot my mouth off on social media on a friend’s post that I didn’t have complete information about. Mercifully, this is not something I do often. I got challenged, made a public OOPS and apology, and then later felt a burning mortification and shame. Please notice that my shame and mortification were feelings, my reaction to the transit, and not the event prompted by the transit, which was to shoot my mouth off. Mercury (communication) in connection to Jupiter (expansiveness) can be prone to barging in and acting like a know-it-all, without adequate information.
I didn’t have to feel mortification and shame. A more fiery person than myself might have shrugged it off with a “Who cares?” I had the choice to feel nothing. I also had the choice to double-down on my idiocy and go out swinging, in which case I could have been feeling angry and self-righteous last Friday instead of ashamed. I also could have become extremely anxious and embarrassed over looking stupid in front of my friends, but I didn’t feel that way. I just experienced some ego-based shame about being wrong.
I’m sure there are other feelings I could have felt in reaction to shooting my mouth off – sadness? Excitement at being the center of attention? – but I think you take my point. The Mercury transit to Jupiter didn’t create my feelings; I had the feelings I am most prone to having – as a proper Virgo, I have a horror of being wrong!
Right after this unpleasant experience, I hopped in my car to drive to a new-to-me herb shop in Long Beach. It turns out I had met the herbalist before (remember, this is Mercury retrograde, when old acquaintance be remembered). She had once led my family and I in a May-Pole dance at the Unitarian church. Consequently, we discussed the church (Jupiter) a bit, and then I simply listened in awe as this benevolent (Jupiter) woman dispensed her green wisdom (Jupiter). And by the way her store is actually called Green Wisdom; the latter quality is traditionally associated with Jupiter.
So what I’ here to tell you is that the same transit that caused me to shoot off my mouth also led me to experience this wonderful serendipity (Jupiter) in the discovery of a local merchant (Mercury). I’m 100% serious.
I was feeling quite different as I left the woman’s shop: full of curiosity and excitement and gratitude. I suppose, if I was an old curmudgeon, I might have left the shop with more of a skeptical eye against “hippie stuff.” Perhaps if I was more of an enthusiast and a jumper-inner, I might have signed up for her apprenticeship program on the spot and been flushed with feelings of overwhelm around how to re-arrange my life. But I don’t think I need to go on spinning out possibilities here as far as how I might have reacted; you see the point, right? The transit just created the timing for me to visit the shop; my feelings about that event were my own, “typical” in that I love to be enchanted, but I’m also kind of a slow thaw.
Last Friday I had to weather the odd sensation of mortification and shame co-existing with wonder and gratitude. Now I will say that my natal Jupiter in Gemini being activated probably exacerbated the condition of “two feelings at the same time.” Yet I wanted to share this experience, because I found it to be such a good example of how transits work. Transits don’t create feelings, they create events – chance meetings, break-throughs and break-downs, accelerations and delays, happy and unhappy accidents. How you respond to them – how you feel – is up to you.
Recently I was having one of those “catch-up” conversations with an old hairdresser I hadn’t seen for years. This past year, transiting Pluto has been conjunct my Moon, and the shorthand on that one is that it’s been a shit-storm. But I delivered all this information about murder, demons, and PTSD to her in something of a matter-of-fact tone. “Hasn’t there been any good news?” she finally broke in, and I was a little startled.
I realized that she was interpreting everything I was telling her about my life as “bad” or a “bummer,” whereas I felt like I was just repeating the facts around the difficult situations I’ve been asked to deal with this year. I don’t have particular judgments around the events, heavy as they’ve been; I don’t feel unlucky, or like a victim, and that has everything to do with my discipline as a practicing astrologer. These loaded events have created feelings, like powerlessness and crippling fear, and the unlocking of buried trauma, all very consistent with Pluto’s m.o. And yet, perhaps because I know there is a kind of logic to these events and that they have an expiration date, I’ve been able to handle them with some measure of grace.
Having my transits at my finger-tips has virtually eliminated my feelings about my feelings. Perhaps these states are familiar to you: anxiety about your depression; anger at your fear; sadness over your powerlessness; terror of your success. Understanding the logic of the events unfolding in your current reality can help you move quickly out of judgement of your experience, which too often leads to extraneous feelings that distract from the issue at hand. A solid transit report or look ahead with a qualified astrologer fosters acceptance and productive coping with whatever you’re facing.
Hopefully I’ve eliminated some of the anxiety so many of you feel around “getting bad news” from a transit reading. The astrological events are just that, events, which life perennially offers up whether or not you’re ready for them. Book your “Fore and Aft” reading with me today if this choice-centered approach sounds like a good fit for you! Remember, you always get to decide how you feel.