Planets in Transit
To finish out the year, I picked up the most dog-eared book in my collection of astrology books, Planets in Transit by Robert Hand. First published in 1976, this book has stood as a useful guide to understanding the impact of transits in my life for over forty years.
That Uranus transit in opposition to my 10th house Sun in 1991? “Unexpected circumstances that force you to change your course of action.” Against my better judgment, I let myself, a retiring at-home mom, be talked into serving as the PTA President and suddenly found myself at a conference addressing lecture halls bursting with fellow PTA moms.
Saturn conjoining my 11th house Mercury in 2005-6? “Your mind is very disciplined” but you can “think too narrowly” and “lose your sense of perspective.” A colleague at work left unexpectedly and was not replaced for over a year. I was expected to take on her work and struggled on my own to learn her job while doing my own. I worked long hours and life seemed to consist of little else. I never felt I was succeeding. “Be careful that you do not become too concerned with unattainable perfection,” Robert Hand warned me.
Jupiter in square to my 8th house Venus in 1979? “There is a tension between the closeness of Venus and the love of freedom of Jupiter. It is quite possible to combine these into a very creative relationship.” On a trip to San Francisco, my boyfriend (now my husband of 41 years) and I put together a spur-of-the moment wedding and returned home married.
Robert Hand very carefully explains his philosophy of using transits in the introduction. Planetary energies do not simply land on us and cause circumstances to occur. We have within us a certain intention, a “creative core,” to follow our unique life path and encounter the experiences we need to grow towards this end. When we connect with this intention, we consciously integrate what has happened in our outer lives with our inner being, and a growing sense of confidence develops. Rather than feeling that life is happening to us, we take responsibility for who we are and “are consciously in control.” Studying our natal chart shows us the innate potential in our lives; studying the transits to these natal planets reveals how that potential is tapped and unfolds.
Robert Hand describes the basic aspects of the ten planets’ transiting conjunction, sextile, square, trine, and opposition to the natal planets and the Ascendant and Midheaven.
A conjunction brings a new cycle, “matters involving the self alone.” The day after election day 2020 in the US, for example, the Sun met Joe Biden’s natal Mars, which is “an excellent day for starting a new project” and one is eager to demand recognition and likely to fall into disputes if not satisfied – an apt description of the subsequent struggle with the concession-adverse Donald Trump.
The sextile is “a time of balance,” when one can take the opportunity to act with “little resistance from outside circumstances.” Now, in December 2020, as Kamala Harris prepares to take the oath as the first woman vice president of the US, Mars is making a second sextile to her natal Mars, which is conjoined her Midheaven. This is a time when we can defer our immediate ambitions and patiently lay the groundwork for our future, Hand writes, neatly describing a candidate who dropped out of the race for president and accepted a role which positions her to run for president again in four years.
A square can challenge us through circumstances or others to change our course of action or improve the way we a living our lives. After he leaves the presidency, Donald Trump will experience Neptune in square to his natal Sun. This is a period of confusion, Hand writes, a time when we can experience “disappointments” in our life path and we can become disoriented, unsure of what to do next. To understand the growth opportunities during this time, it is necessary to recognize that we may not have been following a path which is a “true reflection” of ourselves. Making the correction requires that we align ourselves with occupations or interests that truly express our own passions and not the expectations we adopted from others.
The danger of a trine, Robert Hand warns, is that circumstances are flowing so easily or smoothly that we fail to use these times to expand our horizons or “make creative changes.” During the 2016 presidential campaign, for example, Hillary Clinton was experiencing a trine from transiting Uranus to her natal Saturn in Leo. “You may appear ambitious,” Hand writes, but “you are really working carefully to expand your world and avoid undue limitations on your life.” While Hillary Clinton broke the glass ceiling as the first woman candidate for president, and while she won the popular vote, one can argue that a certain lack of drive kept her from studying the electoral college and hitting the rust belt “swing” states hard. One can even ask whether she truly wanted to experience the lack of freedom and “undue limitations” being president would have entailed, and after some disappointment, settled into the fulfilling role of an international celebrity and a spokesperson for human rights.
Finally, the opposition lends itself to confronting others, or to events culminating in a life, or a “total collapse of some area of your life that has not worked successfully.” It is also a “time of dynamic changes.” As Jupiter and then Saturn are lining up to oppose Barack Obama’s Mercury at 2 degrees of Leo, much of the reading world is caught up in “A Promised Land,” Barack Obama’s long-awaited memoir of his early years and the first term of his presidency. Written carefully and honestly, the book shows the author coming face-to-face with his own limitations and his stumbling efforts as a young man and then as an untried president to learn as he grows and to live according to an inner ideal, “a promised land,” which never quite materializes in the world – but which must never be lost in our hopes and dreams.
Using Robert Hand’s Planets in Transits as a guide, we come to understand that planetary transits signify times of challenge, growth, and ease, times when experiences meet us at just the right juncture to move our souls forward, times which remind us of the great wisdom and benevolence of our divinely ordered universe.