Transits are your proof the Universe is on your side and is constantly sending an inexhaustible stream of emissaries to accompany you in different ways.
What Are Planetary Transits?
All planets are moving. Even when they are not moving, they are moving, transiting, moving at different speeds. NASA and contemporary astronomy will tell you that a transit occurs when a planet passes between a star and its observer. When using astrology as a tool or frame of reference the movements of the planets in the sky relative to Earth are called “transits.”
All planets in our solar system are moving at different speeds through the constellations of the zodiac as they orbit our Sun. Each planet has its own “energy” or “attitude” when it is transiting, depending on which constellation of the zodiac it is traversing at a given time. These planetary transits through the constellations of the zodiac really do influence and impact your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical being.
The Inner Planet Transits
The planets closest to the Sun are called the inner planets. These transiting planets cruise through the twelve constellations of the Zodiac in a matter of days or weeks.
The inner planets are the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, (and of course Earth.) These transiting planets move quickly through the constellations of the zodiac, and, as a result, they impact and sway your day-to-day life, moods, micro-trends, and habits.
The Outer Planet Transits
Planets farther from the Sun are known as the outer planets. These transiting planets can take months or years to complete a tour through a single zodiac constellation. Uranus, for example, takes approximately 84 years to complete a full lap around the Sun. The outer planets are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Chiron, and Pluto. Because they move slowly, they shape the bigger trends in your life. Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto orbit the Sun so slowly, they are said to shape entire generations and are thusly called generational planets. Pluto is the behemoth of slowness, taking 248 years to complete one wobbly lap around the Sun.
How Often Do Planetary Transits Occur?
Transits are happening every day, 24/7. When you think you have a reasonable understanding of the birth chart, the second type of chart to learn about are transit charts. Your birth chart is a snapshot of the transits of the planets at the time of your birth. The planets are always moving.
A transit chart is a snapshot of planetary transits in real time or a time of your selection. You can create transit charts on many websites for any day and time in the past or future.
What is the Effect of Planetary Transits in Astrology?
Tracking transits allows astrology to be a predictive tool, a horoscopic tool. And this makes astrology one more personal GPS at our disposal for broad-stroke views or surgeon-like views.
For the broad stroke view your natal chart (birth chart) is a snapshot of where the planets were at the moment you were born. In other words, it’s a picture of the transiting planets at the time of your birth. This chart never changes throughout your lifetime. With this snapshot, however, you can get an idea of your moods, strengths, weaknesses, and impulses just by looking at where the planets are located in relation to the signs of the Zodiac.
Similarly, a more precise way of using transits is to compare the position of the planets at the time when you were born with the position of the planets on the date and time for which you are wanting to forecast. A transit chart. This is such a clean comparison between the sky at the time when you were born, with the sky at a given date. Suppose you have a wedding coming up, you could do a transit chart for the day and time of the proposed wedding and glimpse the calm and the chaos ahead of time.
Why Should Transits Matter?
Transits viewed on their own (seeing in which constellations planets are transiting, and what aspects might be between them) are useful for viewing broader themes that may impact the planet and all of us living here as a whole. For example, Uranus is currently transiting the constellation of Taurus, and will continue to do so until 2026. Uranus's last Taurus transit, from 1935–1942, coincided with the Great Depression and WWII, an age of dramatic scarcity and unprecedented power which uprooted Taurean themes in science, culture, and diplomacy. This was a broad stroke influence that impacted everybody on the planet at that time. The Greatest Generation weathered Uranus in Taurus by living through the Great Depression and the War in Europe/WWII. We are still recovering from the Covid Pandemic and now there is war in Europe again. In this sense, transits can show us where history will rhyme with itself.
On a personal level, overlaying a birth chart with a transit chart is useful for seeing what aspects may be being made between transiting planets and natal planets. This can help us think about what energies are flowing easily, and which areas may be more challenged at times. This is a fantastic resource for those rainy days when we’re feeling aggressive and want to really make some changes in our voice, thought, and deed, thusly changing the road ahead for ourselves.
For example, when a Sun square Jupiter transit takes place, you might have big aspirations and the desire to succeed in life in a grand way. This might cause you to exaggerate and promise more than is possible, perhaps even being overly optimistic or Pollyanna. Tracking this type of transit, whether it is a natal placement or a placement occurring on a particular date you are forecasting for, can help you stay more grounded and conservative on days you may be prone to overpromise or have grandiose ideas fill your calendar.
What Are Retrogrades, and Do Planets Really Move Forwards and Backwards?
The answer is no. Planets do not move backwards in their orbits of the Sun. When planets have varying speeds and elliptical orbits around the Sun their position in relation to Earth can make them appear forward moving, stationary, and retrograding. All planets are always moving forward. In fact, Pluto’s orbit is so slow and wonky-elliptical, Pluto is seen as being in retrograde close to fifty percent of the time. Yet Pluto is always moving forward.
The Most Famous Transit - Mercury Retrograde
You may have heard people say, “Do not start anything new during a Mercury retrograde!” That is terrible advice. I do not know who started it, but they owe the rest of us fifty pushups. My hope is to share with you something about the most famous planetary transit phase, Mercury Retrograde, that, perhaps, you haven’t read yet.
Mercury has a 116-day synodic cycle. Every planet has a sidereal and synodic cycle. The Earth has a 365 cycle (we call this a year), and the Moon has a 29-day synodic cycle (we call this a month). Right smack dab in the middle of Mercury Retrograde, Mercury is conjunct the Sun, as seen from the Earth. Hence, a new Mercury cycle begins. When Mercury is conjunct the Sun (half-way through Mercury Retrograde) we have the “New Moon” phase of Mercury. “New Moon” or “New Year” phase of Mercury, and we might as well call it what it is: New Mercury!
Just as it is customary and highly advised to start new things on a New Moon or a New Year, starting something new at the time of New Mercury, halfway through the retrograde, makes beautiful sense.
Harsh Transits Versus Beneficial Transits
I am sure you have heard of both harsh and beneficial transits. My sister and I have never agreed on this topic. She likes to run transit charts for herself each day looking for boogeymen, bad things that might happen. In my sarcastic immaturity I have often called this mine sweeping. And in my own blindness have stepped on mines.
I still do not like to scan for trouble. I prefer to “plan it by the planets.” What I mean by this is suppose I had a project that needed some fierceness and passion to be completed the way I want. I would run a transit chart on myself for the days ahead in which I hope to start the project, and I would look for Mars transit.
My point is that transits being harsh or beneficial depend on the person who is experiencing them, the mood that the person is in, and the activity in which they are engaging, and so rather than wait for a transit to happen so you can call it harsh or beneficial, I say reconnoiter the time frame you wish to start your project and plan it with the planets. That is, plan your project/activity with a transit chart that covers the prospective days you have in mind for your activity. Whether a transit is harsh or beneficial is really predicated by the point of view of the observer.
Conversely, you will find many pieces of literature depicting which transits are bad news. But many of these are juxtapositioned with each other. Example: a notoriously bad transit is a progressive Moon on the wane. This is a time of loss and retreat, which is actually ideal for kicking a habit or losing unwanted weight or dropping bad friends.
My suggestion is to view transits as friends or family and teammates who come and go and then return again. You can look for them with transit charts and plan in time with their arrival or around their arrival. Transits are your proof the Universe is on your side and is constantly sending an inexhaustible stream of emissaries to accompany you in different ways.