Those who know Astrology can only indicate in a way what will take place in the future. Who else, except the Creator Brahma, can say with certainty what will definitely happen?
~ Hindu Dictum

As we have seen, astrology allows us to come to a systematic understanding of the formative qualities of time. As such it can be readily employed to analyse the potential of future times in general, and more specifically for individuals, countries and companies. It is understandable that many people feel a sense of awe and terror about the predictive aspect of astrology, for it speaks to that deep, inner knowledge within us that our control over our lives is limited. Astrologers themselves must grapple with these normal human anxieties, for being forewarned of impending ‘interesting times’, as the Chinese say, offers no magic wand to make Pluto go away. Some phases of our lives demand more courage and strength than others; astrology helps us to identify the timing of these phases and the meaning they may have for us.

We need to remember that ‘character is destiny’ and that the promise of our futures is within both the natal patterns and the mental attitude that has been nurtured since birth. It is interesting to note that some 13th-century and later Indian schools of astrology set their students the task of writing up reports on interesting times in the future. These Nadis, as they are called, are stored in the hereditary libraries of astrologers in different parts of India. If you visit such an astrologer he will hunt through to see if he can find a text for your date and time of birth and then read out what was written about the potential of that time many hundreds of years ago! In this sense all readings of an astrological chart are acts of forecasting the kinds of ideas that are likely to come to the fore at a particular time.

In this chapter we will be looking at what an astrologer is doing when a forecast is made, and at the various techniques that the astrologer uses to do this. These techniques can be applied to any area of life. Here we mainly limit ourselves to work with the birth charts of people, but the same principles can be applied equally to interpreting general trends, or to looking at how future patterns in the sky will impact upon counties and companies, or any other entity for which a birth chart is available.

Time and Time Again

In Chapter 2 we saw how the qualities of time as the ‘flowing image of the Eternal’ are unfolded by the planetary cycles. These cycles of the individual planets through the circle of the signs, and of each pair of planets from conjunction to conjunction, unfold the eternal round. It is therefore a relatively straightforward exercise, though one requiring a great deal of experience, background knowledge and symbolic imagination, to piece together the ways in which the ideas within a chart are likely to unfold at any particular time.

There are seven main methods used for forecasting:

  • Transits, which relate to the present positions in the sky to the birth positions.
  • Return charts, for the moment of the return of the Sun, Moon and other planets to their position at the moment of birth.
  • Progressions, which look at how the natal chart gradually develops or ‘progresses’ in the days preceding and following birth.
  • Solar Arc directions, which look at how everything in the natal chart moves with the progressed Sun.
  • Harmonic charts for the year, which look at how the chart ‘vibrates’ to the current age of the person.
  • Horary astrology, which sets up charts for the moment of important questions such as ‘What will be the outcome of these negotiations?’
  • Dasas, a Hindu method of looking at the life in terms of major planetary periods.

We will consider briefly each of these methods below, but first we need to look at the background assumptions of astrological forecasting.

The Flower is in the Seed

No matter what method of forecasting is used, it is a basic axiom of astrology that the life events in which an individual is likely to be involved are indicated in the birth chart quite as much as his or her likely personality. What ‘happens’ to us and how we happen to the world are two sides of the same coin. Not only ‘as above, so below’ but also ‘as within, so without’. The seed moment of a birth chart shows both the flower it will become and its path to flowering. By studying what has happened to someone in the past when particular areas of the birth chart were activated by transits, the astrologer can make reasonable inferences about the kind of issues that are likely to come up at particular times in the future.

For example, an astrologer might be asked to forecast the future trends for someone who was born with a strongly placed but poorly aspected Jupiter which is being powerfully activated. The astrologer will first explain that, in general, this pattern will not only make the individual extremely optimistic, opportunist and prone to over-extension, but also that at different points in their life they will have to face the problems which arise from uncontrolled extravagance, wastefulness and going to extremes. If the natal chart Jupiter is square Mercury and Mars in the ninth house, it is quite likely that the individual will have an incisive mind which is drawn to philosophical debate, controversy and passionate argument but also that they may be prone to get into legal disputes, and waste a great deal of energy and resources on litigation. This same pattern might equally express itself in a propensity to run into problems and accidents when travelling (ninth house matters) through carelessness and impatience. By flagging possible problems, and seeing when they may be activated, the astrologer can encourage self-reflection on this life theme which then allows the individual to take appropriate precautions.

The Seven Ages of Man

All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man (Sun) in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the Infant (Moon)
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms’
Then the whining school-boy (Mercury), with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwilling to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’s eyebrow (Venus). Then a soldier (Mars),
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the bard
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice (Jupiter),
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon (Saturn),
With spectacles on nose and pounch on side,
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything (Saturn).

This passage from Shakespeare’s As You Like It (Act II, Scene 2) reminds us that there is a natural human life-cycle that runs from baby to child to adolescent to young adult, middle age, retirement and old age. Each phase of life has its purpose and dominant characteristics, which has affinities with a different planet as we have annotated above. Interestingly, Jacques’ lament ends with two Saturn phases (an indication of Saturn’s crucial role in incarnation?) whilst the Sun is not allocated an age as such but is the ‘one man’ who experiences all.

Despite the cultural changes of modern times, these ages are still relevant to us all and have been studied and plotted most recently by Gail Sheehey (a non-astrologer) in her book New Passages (HarperCollins, 1996). Whilst each of these progressive phases of life do not have precise ages attached, we can all recognise the loud, noisy, rebellious Mars period of adolescence and early adulthood when surly teenagers connect with their wild side, take risks, rebel against authority and experiment sexually. Major transits and progressions involving Mars during this period of life are likely to express themselves much more forcefully than, say, during old age. Likewise, major developments involving Saturn during the vulnerable years of childhood will be much more difficult to handle than in the last phase of life when Saturn comes into his own, often bringing patience, inner strength and a more contemplative attitude.

By the same token the astrologer recognises that, for example, lunar aspects will relate to matters to do with the mother and the mothering process of early childhood, and how the mother was experienced. And, because mother is always a primary figure in our development, it will be possible to make important deductions about significant childhood developments from the Moon’s position, aspects and midpoints. So likewise a strongly Saturnine chart may struggle early in life but gradually blossom with retirement, and so on.

Transits

Transits are simply the positions of the planets in the sky on a particular day. By studying how the current positions of planets relate to the birth chart it is possible to make a fairly accurate assessment, not unlike a weather report, of the current situation in a person’s life. Transits are normally important in direct proportion to their speed. When a slow-moving planet, such as Pluto, Neptune or Uranus, aspects a planetary position in the natal chart, and especially by conjunction or opposition, then that planet’s activities are likely to be experienced very profoundly. However, it is not the case that Pluto, for example, will be making someone ‘do something’, but rather the Pluto part of the outer cosmic clock will be especially tuned in to the Pluto part (and possibly other parts) of the individual’s inner cosmic clock – the birth chart. Transits of these outer planets, which will often be in effect for one or two years, present opportunities for making major life changes.

The scope of this book does not allow for a detailed elaboration of all possible transits. These can be explored in the books listed in the Bibliography. However, the following brief descriptions offer a guideline for thinking about the influence of transits of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

Mars

When Mars transits a natal planet or house, the associated areas of life will be energised, and the need to be competitive and to assert one’s individuality will be activated. Mars transits help one to learn about one’s personal energy and anger and how one deals with competition and conflict.

Jupiter

When Jupiter transits a natal planet or house, the associated areas of life will be given opportunities, expansion, upliftment, but there is also a proneness to take too many risks, to exaggerate expectations, and to overdo. Jupiter transits stimulate us to seek more out of life and to help our consciousness to grow, but at this time our waistline our waistline and self-importance can grow, too.

Saturn

When Saturn transits a natal planet or house, the associated areas of life will be constrained and challenged, bringing a need for us to focus careful attention on a particular part of our world. Saturn transits demand self-examination, responsibility, hard work, patience and honesty; and although often difficult and painful, Saturn’s influence usually leaves us feeling stronger and wiser, with our world in a more manageable structure.

Uranus

When Uranus transits a natal planet or house, the associated areas of life will be suddenly upset and the status quo changed. The purpose of Uranus transits is to challenge rigidity, to confront complacency, to stimulate the mind, to remind us that there is no absolute stability in life, and to bring us a fresh and larger view of the world and the role we may play in it.

Neptune

When Neptune transits a natal planet or house, the associated areas of life may become uncertain, confused, and prone to projections of our wildest fantasies. Neptune transits dissolve boundaries and make one extremely sensitive at many levels. It is best to ‘go with the flow’ and realise that we cannot come up with precise answers until this transit is over.

Pluto

When Pluto transits a natal planet or house, the associated areas of life will undergo upheaval and transformation. Pluto transits bring powerful experiences which can shake us to the very core. We may try to resist the changes that Pluto brings, but we eventually learn much about ourselves through this god’s cathartic and renewing effects.

Saturn’s Transits

The cycle of Saturn around the chart is always an important indicator of ‘where things are at’. Therefore, we will take a closer look at this planet’s sojourn through its cycle. As we have seen, Saturn is a reality principle of space-time incarnation. It is the ‘tester’ and ‘quality controller’ who demands that we confront issues squarely and take stock of our performance. Saturn does two things: it slows things down so we have to concentrate all our skills on the task in hand, and it gives us an ‘end of term report’ when we have finished. This is especially true at the conjunctions, squares and oppositions to its natal placement in the chart. When Saturn transits our natal planets, there is always a demand that issues around that god be focused upon and given serious attention. At the time, we may kick and scream about this, but after a Saturn ‘work-out’ we generally feel much healthier and sometimes a little bit wiser.

Saturn's transitsFigure 9.1. As Saturn transits around the birth chart, different facets of our life will be tested and often strengthened. Saturn’s position at any time shows where we need to focus serious attention and effort.

So, for example, Saturn transits to the Sun challenge us to deepen our sense of focus and purpose in life and to take ourselves seriously. If we have been failing to live up to our full potential, this may be a time when we go into over-drive in order to bring some of our potential into manifestation. On the other hand, if we have been well focused, this can be a time of recognition and of reaping the rewards of our previous efforts. Saturn transits to the Moon are usually sobering; they bring situations that test our emotional maturity and the way we get intimacy needs met. When Venus is transited by Saturn, our social life, partnerships and aesthetic values are tested. Sometimes Saturn to Venus brings crystallising of the affections, so that someone who has been playing the field may establish a stable and long-term relationship under this aspect. Saturn to Mercury helps to deepen and clarify one’s thinking and ability to concentrate mentally. A Saturn transit to Mars tends to focus the will and curb impetuosity, but in the process this transit can generate a great deal of friction between the individual and authority figures. Saturn to Jupiter, like Saturn to Mars, can be experienced as frustrating, but it may also help us to consolidate and develop the interests, talents and opportunities symbolised by Jupiter. With Saturn transits to Uranus we feel agitated and rebellious. This is a testing time when external situations and responsibilities challenge our own authority and independence, and sometimes the only way forward is to break with the past. Saturn to Neptune brings us down to earth, sometimes with a bump. This transit asks that we re-examine our ideals and expectations if we find that we are continually failing. Saturn transits to Pluto call us to purge our lives of structures and behaviour patterns that we have outgrown.

Saturn’s Transits to its own Position

Saturn’s transits to its own natal position are always significant for the development of one’s life. Saturn takes 29-30 years to complete one cycle. Around this age we experience the first Saturn return; the second occurs when we turn 58-59, and the third around the age 87-88. In astrological terms, 29-30 is the age at which we grow up and reach our first maturity. This period is often a watershed when we confront what is and what isn’t working in our lives. We have to face the real challenges of adulthood with a more realistic attitude. This may involve the end and/or beginning of important relationships and jobs. At the first Saturn return we have a real sense of knowing ourselves well for the first time, and we feel ready to get on with out lives with renewed commitment. The second Saturn return is a period of completion when we take stock of our accomplishments and failures, and we begin to prepare for a gradual relinquishing of worldly power and concerns. The third Saturn return marks the end of life when we inwardly prepare for the final journey.

The different phases of the Saturn cycle mark important developmental stages. At about the age of 7-8, Saturn squares is natal position; it is said that at this time the child is fully incarnated and ready for intellectual development. At the age of 14-15, Saturn opposes it natal position; at this time puberty begins. At around the age of 21-22, Saturn squares its natal position again as it begins its final seven-year sojourn to its return; at this time young people begin their first experiences of working in the adult world. As you can see, every seven years or so Saturn is aspecting its own position by hard aspect (square, opposition, conjunction), bringing us further along our path to responsible adulthood. Along with the 28-year cycle of the progressed Moon, this movement correlates with the famous ‘seven-year itch’ and the tendency of many people’s lives to go through significant points of crisis and change about every seven years.

Saturn through the Houses

Saturn’s journey around the houses of the chart shows where the ‘centre of gravity’ of our life is likely to be at any time. When Saturn reaches the bottom of the chart, the lower meridian or IC (fourth house), symbolically it and be a time of ‘hitting rock bottom’. At this time we are ending a period of withdrawal from the world, when we have needed to focus on ourselves. This is often a very introverted phase, good for inner work, and also a time of personal consolidation when we establish the foundations for the next 29-30 year cycle. As Saturn gradually moves from the IC up the chart through the fourth, fifth and sixth houses, we focus on our creativity and work, harnessing our unique talents and committing ourselves to their development through training and practice. As Saturn crosses the Descendant and then moves through the seventh, eighth and ninth houses, our efforts to attain our outer goals intensify as we engage with others in the world. The period of Saturn crossing the Midheaven often marks a time of recognition and achievement, albeit combined with fresh responsibilities. As Saturn descends through the eleventh, twelfth and then first houses, we go through a time of sustained work and achievement in society. As Saturn leaves the first house we will tend to be increasingly concerned with our personal life; this phase could even see a voluntary or forced withdrawal from previously successful work.

Thus, for example, Margaret Thatcher ascended to power as transiting Saturn climbed upward towards the Midheaven of her chart. She was elected in 1979 as Saturn reached the top of her chart, and she held the reins of power over the next 12 years. As Saturn crossed her natal Saturn and Ascendant and passed through her first house, she carried all before her, winning her third term of office in June 1987 as Saturn was leaving her first house. From this point onward she gradually met more and more opposition from colleagues, lost her grip on worldly power and was forced to establish a more private role.

A similar pattern can be seen in the case of Princess Diana. Her marriage to Prince Charles occurred on 29 July 1981 as Saturn was moving to the top of her chart. At this point she took on both responsibility and power. As Saturn moved over her Midheaven and through the fourth quadrant and then across her Ascendant in 1987, Diana became one of the most photographed and influential women in the world. Saturn arrived at the end of her first house and simultaneously returned to its natal position (her Saturn return) early in 1991. This was the point at which her isolation and separation from Charles became established and she began to withdraw from public life into her own private world. Saturn was almost exactly at the IC of her chart when her life ended so suddenly and tragically in Paris.

It should be emphasised that Saturn’s descent to the IC does not suggest a violent ending of life. What it does symbolise is the end of a cycle of maturation and work in the world. Several other difficult transits to Princess Diana’s chart coincided with Saturn’s movement towards her IC. At the time of her death, Pluto was transiting square her eighth house Mars-Pluto conjunction and her second house Chiron, a potentially dangerous natal configuration. The solar eclipse (a traditional forecasting marker of an important event) of 1 September 1997 was exactly on the IC through London and Paris (that is, the chart set for the moment of the solar eclipse). The degree of this eclipse fell very close to Diana’s eighth house Mars-Pluto, and the MC of the eclipse fell on her Chiron. The violent energy of this combination expressed itself in a literal way as a violent accident.

Progressions

Every day the Earth rotates on its axis. As it turns, the Ascendant and MC will pass over and, as it were, contact and catalyse every part of our chart. Progressions are based on the idea that each such cyclical unfoldment of the chart gives a preview of later cycles. As the Bible puts it, ‘a year is but a day in the sight of the Lord’. In this sense the cycle of astrological experiences of the first day of life will be reflected again in the first year of life (secondary progressions) and also in the first lunar month of life (tertiary progressions). Thus if you are 30 years old, what was happening in the sky on the 30th day after your birth has a direct relationship to what will be happening in the 30th year of your life. This again suggests that life, the great time-space continuum, is in some sense a great hologram in which each part contains the whole, in which each cycle plays out the same basic story at its own speed.

In the case of Princess Diana, at the time of her marriage in July 1981, her progressed Sun had just formed an opposition to her natal Saturn. This is a classic signature for a period of settling down and taking on heavy responsibilities (Saturn) and of focusing (Sun) on an older man (Saturn) and becoming part of the Establishment (Saturn). At the same time the progressed Sun was also just 30° from Diana’s Node, the point in the chart associated with major relationships. The month before the wedding her progressed Moon (feelings, intimacy) had formed an exact conjunction with Neptune, planet of glamour and romance but also of illusion and sacrifice. This progressed aspect was still in effect on the day of the wedding, and was also aligned with her progressed Midheaven. The Moon-Neptune also formed an almost exact trine to Mercury, the ruler of her seventh house of marriage. This progressed pattern vividly shows that in terms of her inner development Diana was prepared to take on a huge challenge (Sun-Saturn) in order to seek emotional fulfilment (Moon-Neptune). At the time, no astrologer could know how well she would weather the struggles and disappointments that this pattern promised. Nevertheless, Diana’s progressed chart for this time aptly conveys an image of a yearning for love within a marriage of duty.

Solar Arc Directions

The progressed Sun (see above) can be seen to mark the unfolding focus of the growing individual. The progressed Sun always retains its birth relationships with the other planets. Solar Arc directions recognise this fact and move the whole chart along by the same distance as the progressed Sun. So, if the Sun has moved through 20°, which would occur at about age 20, then all the other planets in the chart are moved by the same amount.

When a directed planet comes within about 1° orb (= about one year) of aspect to a planet or angle in the natal chart, this will begin to bring out that idea in the individual. As the aspect becomes closer so the effect will intensify. For example, Princess Diana had just had her 20th birthday when she married Prince Charles. The progressed Sun had moved through 19° 07’. If this Solar Arc is added to Diana’s Jupiter at 5° 06’ Aquarius it brings it to 24°13’ of Aquarius right with her Moon-Uranus-Venus T-square, the heart of her emotional life. It is applying to the conjunction of her Moon at 25°02’ of Aquarius, orb 48’ = about nine and a half months, the square of her Venus at 24°24’ of Taurus, orb 10’ = 2 months, and separating from the opposition of Uranus at 23°20’, orb 53’ = about ten and a half months.

Translated we see that over the period of her courtship and marriage, Jupiter, the ruler of her Ascendant and the traditional significator of joy, happiness and prestige, was triggering off all of her Moon-like feminine qualities, her sensual Venus in Taurus and her capacity for sudden joy. Ebertin’s The Combination of Stellar Influences, a standard dictionary for chart interpretation, describes Moon-Jupiter as ‘the girl engaged to be married, the bride’. Of Jupiter-Venus it says ‘the joy of love’, ‘becoming engaged or marrying’ and of Jupiter-Uranus ‘blissful realisation’ and ‘fortunate turns in life, a sudden change in destiny’.

At the time of Diana’s death when she had found a new love her Solar Arc Jupiter was at 9°38’ of Pisces, exactly trine her seventh house Sun, orb 1’ = 6 days, signature of ‘joy’, ‘success’ and wellbeing. Alas, at the same time Solar Arc Mars was at 6°11’ Libra just 8’ from the exact 30° her natal eighth house Pluto with which it was in conjunction at birth. The birth conjunction indicated an attraction to violent Hades-like energy, which expressed itself in her landmines campaign.

Ebertin associates Mars-Pluto with ‘violent assaults and injuries’. This pattern was further reinforced by Solar Arc Pluto at 10°35 Libra, 54’ from the square of the Sun and 32’ from the 135° aspect of the Moon. Ebertin gives as a possible expression of Sun-Pluto ‘martyrdom, danger to life, separation by Providence, force majeure’ and of Moon-Pluto ‘inner shocks and emotional upheavals’. This Pluto emphasis was tragically depicted as Diana and her lover sped into the Underworld of Paris underpass pursued by the Furies.

Harmonic Charts for the Current Age

As we saw in Chapter 5, a harmonic chart is calculated by multiplying the natal chart by the number that is wished to study. The resultant chart shows how we ‘vibrate’ to that number. Harmonic charts for one’s age are based on the idea that at, say, 20 years old we will have completed 20 orbits of the Sun and that this will ‘tune’ us to the idea of 20 and to our own particular expression of 20-ness in our chart. At the same time once one is a particular age, one enters the next year. So someone who is 20 has entered their 21st year. Hence at any one time we are in tune with a particular number and moving towards an understanding of the next number. So a study of both charts is appropriate.

When using these harmonic charts to assess an individual’s present and future ‘tuning’ it is important to look at the dominant patterns and major aspects in the chart for the current age and especially those involving the Sun and Moon. This should give a broad brushstroke picture of the main tone of the year. The major patterns and aspects in the chart for the coming year will give some indication of the ideas and issues that will be increasingly making themselves felt as the year unfolds.

In Princess Diana’s 20th harmonic chart, three of the main features are:

  1. Sun is conjunct Saturn and in a Full Moon opposition Moon.
  2. The MC is on Diana’s seventh house Sun and trine harmonic Jupiter and Uranus.
  3. The Ascendant is in a Grand Trine with Venus, Pluto and Chiron.

This suggests that this is a period when: 1) her life will ‘come to the full’ and when in some way she will need to ‘get serious’ about the focus of her life and probably take on heavy responsibilities, and may feel somewhat isolated; 2) her life will be focused upon (MC on Sun) happy and expansive (MC on Sun trine Jupiter) and successful relationships (Sun in seventh); 3) her approach to the world will be motivated by a sense of love and delight (Venus trine Ascendant) and passionate engagement (Venus trine Pluto) and when wounding and healing issues about relationships (Venus-Chiron) are likely to be to the fore.

In Diana’s 21st harmonic chart there are three main features:

  1. Sun is conjunct Jupiter sextile the Node.
  2. Mars is conjunct the MC on her natal Jupiter and trine Venus.
  3. Mercury is closely trine Pluto with Mercury on her natal Pluto.

This suggests a year when 1) Diana would be increasingly aware of herself as a person of importance and status (Jupiter) and developing working relationships with a large number of people; 2) Diana would be very purposefully and positively focused on developing her own sense of self (Jupiter ruler of her Ascendant); and 3) Diana would be developing her powers of persuasion and focusing on her survival skills.

These taken together give a vivid picture of this remarkable time in her life when she was catapulted into the public eye and became a star overnight whilst at the same time having to take on enormous responsibilities and disciplines, and learning the skills of surviving in another world and culture.

Planetary Periods – Hindu Dasa System

It is not possible to cover the rich and separately developed Hindu, also known as Vedic, tradition of astrology in detail in this book. However, the Hindu use of planetary periods, known as dasas, and their sub-divisions, or bhuktis, is not present in the Western tradition and deserves attention. In this system, each of the traditional planets and the North and South Nodes are said to rule for a set period of years in the following sequence:

South Node 7 years
Venus 20 years
Sun 6 years
Moon 10 years
Mars 7 years
North Node 18 years
Jupiter 16 years
Saturn 19 years
Mercury 17 years

Where in this sequence one’s life starts is determined by the precise position of the Moon at birth. The power of this system is that it can identify major life shifts.

Asking Questions – Horary Astrology

As outlined in Chapter 3, this is a specialist area of astrology which sets up a chart for the moment that someone asks a question, such as ‘Should I sell my house?’. Using a set of well-established rules, the chart is then read according to further precise rules. Such readings can throw enormous light on the background to the question, the issues that are involved, and the likely outcome and possible courses to take. In the hands of a knowledgeable and sensitive astrologer, this can be a remarkable tool for unravelling knotty problems and understanding the deeper issues that lie behind them.

Solar, Lunar and Other Returns

‘Many happy returns of the day’, is what we say to someone on their birthday. The moment that the Sun returns to the exact degree, minute and second that it occupied at the moment of birth is, as it were, the birth of a new cycle. This is known as the Solar Return. A chart set for this moment can tell a great deal about the main issues that will come up in the year ahead. The chart is interpreted as a chart in its own right but also in relationship to the natal chart. The house that the Sun is in at the Return is almost always of importance, as are any planets closely aspecting he Sun and any planets that are angular. A Solar Return showing Saturn setting in the seventh house of partnerships and marriage would suggest a year in which it will be necessary to seriously work on relationships. It may also suggest that older and wiser people will feature in a prominent way. What this means more specifically will depend on how Saturn is aspected and its relationship to the natal chart. Of course, an understanding of the individual’s present circumstances are also vital to interpretation. If the individual is single, it may suggest a year when someone will come along who makes them feel they want to settle down. On the other hand, if the individual is in a strained partnership, it may indicate a ‘crunch’ time when it is necessary to separate or at least to acknowledge the burdens one is carrying.

The return of the Moon to its natal position each month can be looked at in a similar way. This monthly chart gives a picture of the emotional climate for the month ahead.

Forecasting v. Predicting

The different methods described above will each give a different perspective on the prevailing climate. The great majority of astrologers work regularly with the first three methods and employ additional methods as appropriate.

No matter what methods of forecasting are used, it should be kept in mind that astrologers can only identify trends and processes; they cannot see ‘events’ as such. Just as a wise sailor works with the wind, tides and currents so likewise astrology provides us with a map of the prevailing climate. If we are aware of ‘what is in the air’ we can better understand what is going on and work with it. A Uranus transit over a seventh house Sun might for one person turn into the break-up of a marriage whilst for another it could lead to a radical reassessment of the relationship and a reawakening of the marriage rather than the destruction of it.

One way of thinking about forthcoming patterns is that these various forecasting methods are showing us the curriculum for the prevailing period and which classes, opportunities and exams lie ahead. What these upcoming planetary patterns do not, and cannot tell us, is how we will use these archetypal patterns. Given the awareness that astrology can provide, we all have the free will to work more consciously with the energies of the time and turn them, through our own choices, towards the Good, the True and the Beautiful.