How Do Transits Actually Work in Astrology?

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Transits in astrology

May 27, 2024, 8:41 a.m. Alexey Borealis 8 min. to read

Transits are the passages of planets through essential points in the horoscope. During these passages, the natal chart realizes the events promised. The crucial points in a horoscope include:

  • The positions of planets, their aspects, and antiscia at the time of birth
  • The positions of house cusps and the Part of Fortune


What is the Essence of Transits?

In traditional astrology, it is believed that each planet carries an inherent universal nature that has been present since the solar system's formation. As planets move through the celestial sphere, they change their states—sometimes, their positions align with their original nature, and at other times, they are opposite. We call these "good" or "bad" celestial states of the planets.

When a person is born, some planets are in a dignified celestial state, while others are in a detrimental state. These states of the planets imprint on the person's psyche, making their future behavior effective or, conversely, destructive in various areas of life.

When planets in their movement return to the same positions they were in at birth, they "renew" their states. It may happen that a planet in an unfavorable house at birth (i.e., in a "bad terrestrial state"), after several cycles through the zodiac, again ends up in an unfavorable house. In such cases, its "bad" influence will be strengthened for the next cycle. Conversely, the planet might move into a good house, "smoothing" its destructive effect and not causing the harm promised in the natal chart.

The moments when a planet returns to its original state (as in the birth chart) are called returns or revolutions, and the horoscopes cast for these moments are called return charts. An example of such a revolution is a solar return.

However, there are times when moving planets approach the natal positions of other planets (as well as their aspects and antiscia). These moments are called the passages of planets through the sensitive points of the horoscope, or more simply—transits.

Since planets (relative to an individual) signify certain things in their horoscope throughout their life, the moving or transit planets also signify specific things from their transit chart. When transiting planets approach the places where other planets were at birth, this transit creates an event—the contact of two objects in a person's life.

For example, suppose the cusp of the 2nd house signifies the native's wealth and a planet, indicating the native's vigorous activity, approaches that 2nd house cusp. In that case, the person will receive a bonus. Someone with a different horoscope will experience an entirely different effect according to his radical figure during the same transit.

What to Pay Attention to in Transits

It is important to remember that a transiting planet:

  • On one hand, signifies certain things from the natal chart itself,
  • On the other hand, represents an entire class of things according to its universal nature.

For example, transiting Venus—the natural significator of love—passing through the Ascendant can bring love or its loss, depending on its celestial state in the natal chart. On the other hand, this same Venus may be accidentally related to the 12th house if it occupies it. Then, the transit of Venus through the Ascendant can bring captivity or release from captivity—depending on its celestial state.

Therefore, the first thing to remember is that a planet can act as both a natural and an accidental significator of things and phenomena in a person's life. Transiting planets have no other meanings.

In addition, always pay attention to the celestial state of the transiting planet itself.

Suppose both the natal and transiting Venus, passing through the natal Ascendant, are full of dignity. In that case, this strengthens the significance of the natal Venus—such a transit can bring both love and release from captivity. But if the transiting Venus is in an opposite celestial state compared to the natal Venus, this transit will disrupt the good (or conversely, mitigate the bad) promises of Venus:

  • If the natal Venus promises love and release from prisons and illnesses, the transit of a debilitated Venus through the Ascendant can bring a brief separation or a short illness.
  • If the natal Venus promises overall loneliness and captivity/illnesses, the transit of a dignified Venus can bring a short romance or recovery from an illness, but not for long, as the natal significance of Venus will get the sickness back at the next suitable transit.

Do Events Always Happen During Transits?

Transits do not always produce events. It occurs for four reasons:

  1. First and foremost, a transit may not produce anything due to a logical dissonance with the context. For example, the transit involves the significator of the native's brother and the native's activities, but the native may not have a brother.
  2. The expected event may not occur because the natal chart and other predictive techniques indicate one thing, while the transit for a specific day suggests the opposite. For example, the natal chart, directions, and solar return predict a severe illness, but the transit for a particular day promises good health. It means the disease will not occur on that day but will occur during another suitable transit on a different day.
  3. Often, transits initiate long-term processes, such as a severe terminal illness or a divorce process. Sometimes, another transit completes this process, resulting in death or divorce on a specific day. However, there might be an "initiating" transit but no "finalizing" transit. In this case, the divorce or death occurs outside of any transits. Many practicing astrologers are puzzled that transits do not accompany some significant events, but the answer lies here.
  4. Sometimes, transit is not supported by other predictive techniques, indicating such inconspicuous everyday events that they can be easily "overwritten" by the current circumstances of the day. For example, a Mars transit through the Ascendant may suggest bumping into a doorframe or a bad mood. But if the person spent that day outdoors in the company of good friends, this circumstance could prevent the injury or lousy mood from manifesting.

A Single Transit Can Have Multiple Meanings

If we look only at the transit (without considering other predictive techniques), it is entirely unclear what a particular transit might signify.

For example, transiting Jupiter passes through natal Mercury. In the natal chart, Mercury signifies parents, and Jupiter signifies legal disputes. This transit could result in a legal dispute with the parents. However, for this to happen, there must be such a promise in the natal chart, and the relationships with the parents must be tense during this period. Otherwise, the transit will produce nothing.

On the other hand, Jupiter itself signifies money. The same Jupiter could bring them money, especially if it is full of dignity in both the natal chart and the transit, passing through the parents' planet.

On a third note, this same transit could cause an utterly insignificant event, such as one of the parents having a heavy meal. Everyday circumstances could easily overwrite this insignificant transit; for example, the parents were on a plane that day and couldn't have a heavy meal.

Technically, all three meanings are indistinguishable. So, how can we understand what to expect from a transit?

Transit as a Refining Technique

All events in a person's life can be generally divided into three types:

  1. Insignificant everyday events, such as bruises, a brief fit of aggression, losing a small item, etc.
  2. Moderately significant events—legal disputes, beginning a new romance, buying a car.
  3. Major life-changing events—imprisonment, loss of status, sudden wealth, moving to another country, birth of children, death, and so on.

The notion of "moderate" and "major" significance of events heavily depends on the context of a person's life. For some, buying a car is very significant; for others, it is another addition to their fleet of vehicles.

Depending on the astrological conditions in which the transit occurs, it can bring one of these three types of events—the everyday event, moderate, or significant event. Let's discuss this in more detail now.

Unsupported Transits

If no other predictive techniques supports transits, they tend to manifest as everyday events by default. Technically, we won't be able to distinguish a bruise from aggressive behavior or from spending money if Mars—the ruler of the 2nd house—passes through the ascendant of the natal chart. It might even happen that this transit will bring nothing at all. Therefore, forecasting based solely on transits without considering other predictive techniques is ineffective and resembles guessing.

However, astrologers use this technique to describe the "daily background." Still, the practical value of such an endeavor is questionable.

Transits Supported by Solar/Lunar Returns

If transits are supported by preceding solar or lunar returns, they confirm the indications of the solar/lunar returns and manifest as moderately significant events. The closer the confirming transit is to the start of the solar/lunar return, the more evident its effect.

The solar/lunar return indications must align with the natal chart, and the transit indications must match those of the solar/lunar return. For example, if a lunar return promises a severe illness (and the natal chart supports it), the confirming transit should connect the natal significator of illness with the transiting significator of the native or vice versa. For instance, the transiting Venus, the natal ruler of the 12th house of illnesses, should approach the ruler of the natal 1st house or the natal ascendant for the promised illness to occur during this transit.

Sometimes, the transiting planet takes its meaning not from the natal chart but from its natural rulership. For example, Saturn naturally rules diseases. Therefore, an illness promised by a solar return can also occur during the transit of debilitated Saturn through the natal ascendant.

Transits Supported by Both Solar Returns and Primary Directions

If both the primary direction and the solar/lunar return for a specific year and month promise the same thing as indicated in the natal chart, and the nearest transit to the solar return also confirms the same promise, a major significant event, such as relocation, a battle, injury, life-threatening situations, or the birth of children will occur on such a transit.

Which Places Should Planets Transit Through to Produce an Effect?

Hitting "Resonant" Elements of the Chart

Transiting planets are similar to aspects in a horary chart. Suppose a transiting planet takes on the meaning of a particular thing, person, or circumstance from the natal chart. In that case, that planet should form an exact aspect in its movement with the corresponding part of the natal chart.

For instance, if Mercury in the horoscope signifies money from a successful marriage, then to fulfill this promise, transiting Mercury (money) should pass over the ruler of the 7th house, a planet in the 7th house, or the descendant (all places indicating marriage in the horoscope). This way, such a transit will fulfill the promise of the natal chart.

Again, remember that transiting Mercury should not be debilitated; otherwise, it will signify financial difficulties and create a dissonance with its natal promise. The transit should support the natal chart, the preceding solar return, and the nearest direction rather than contradict them.

Money from marriage could also come during another transit: the marriage significator—a planet associated with the 7th house or Venus—should pass over the natal Mercury (money) or the 2nd house cusp.

Therefore, the principle is that the transiting planet should aspect another planet in such a way that the meanings of both planets confirm the promise of the natal chart and the solar/lunar return. Alternatively, a transiting planet may form an exact aspect with its own radical position, reinforcing its promise. The form of aspect and the place it falls should support the indications of the planet in the horoscope, not contradict them. It could be corresponding planets, their aspects/antiscia, or the cusps of relevant houses. Other places are of no interest to us. Hence, significant points in the horoscope are the significators of the promised events.

There is also an important rule:

In the horoscope, we always consider two sensitive points in all transits, regardless of the event we are looking for. These are the cusps of the 1st and 10th houses (as they represent the life and activities of the natives).

If the Solar/Lunar Return supports the Transit

In this case, you can look at the positions of the significators and cusps of the houses in the solar and lunar returns that predict the event. However, transits over the same planets and houses in the natal chart hold greater significance.

For example, suppose Venus in the solar return confirms great fame as indicated by the natal chart because it conjuncts the cusp of the solar 10th house, the star Spica and simultaneously forms a trine to the natal ascendant. In that case we must add the following places to the list of sensitive point to transit through:

  • The cusp of the solar 10th house,
  • The degree of the solar Venus, and
  • The degree of the solar ascendant.

If a fame significator—the ruler of the natal 10th house, the transiting Sun (as the natural significator of fame), or another planet promising success in the natal chart—is dignified and transits through these points, this transit will manifest the event.

If a Direction Supports the Transit

In this case, you should also consider the places of the promittor and significator and their dispositors. If the transiting planet is the promittor/significator of the direction itself and it forms an exact aspect to its own position without being in an adverse celestial state (i.e., not contradicting its promises), this makes the transit effective. However, if the transiting promittor comes into contact with the natal significator, or the transiting significator contacts the natal promittor, the effect is even more significant. If these two contacts co-occur, then this transit will undoubtedly fulfill the promise of the direction.

There is also an important rule:

If a transiting planet passes through the cusp of a house, it is essential to look at the current (momentary) state of the ruler of that transit cusp. For example, if Jupiter, passing through the ascendant, promises wealth, but Venus—the ruler of the ASC—is currently in exile, retrograde, and afflicted by malefic aspects, then the 1st house of the native is unable to accept the noble transit from Jupiter, and the effect of such a transit will be negligible.

A promising transit also involves aspects between transiting planets themselves, particularly those that take on the roles of relevant characters in the natal chart.

Examples of Transits in Action

To better solidify the theory of transits, you can refer to the following examples:

Alexey Borealis

Alexey Borealis

Master of Science in Physics, Professional astrologer (QHC, DMA). About the author