When we study aspects we use a degree of inexactitude. For example, we might say Moon is square Venus when the first is at 13 Pisces and the second at 15 Gemini. Orbs address the question of how wide is an allowable level of difference between the numbers; the orb is the size of the gap between actual and exact. There is no agreed definition of what is permissible, and we have to make up our own minds about how wide we choose them to be.
This applies as much to transits as it does to birth charts, so the exact conjunction of say Saturn and Pluto, which occurs on 12 January 2020 may not be the moment when its influence shows - it almost certainly will not be. In fact it could be months earlier or later, and will very likely be obscure until astrological historians look back from a future date.
In a birth chart reading we all have our own methods and principles, so each of us decides how big an orb to have, which affects the lines printed on the chart, and how much importance to give each of them.
Personally, I use tight orbs...something like this:
Conjunction 10 degrees; Opposition 8; Square 5; Trine 4; Sextile 3; Semi-square 2; Quincunx 1.5 and yet other astrologers, even the big names, vary up to quite large ones. It depends on several factors I would say:
5/11/2018 04:27:45 am
What does Neptune transiting my descendant mean?
In 2019, transit Neptune are going through my descendant, so I want to know about it.
Neptune transit Descendent
The four angles are primary in chart interpretations and when one of the slower planets transits an angle then we may expect major life reorientations, which have permanent impact. These angles are the two major axes: IC|MC and Asc|Desc. The first has a lot to do with home and career, the second usually refers to our sense of who we are, how we relate generally to the world, and specifically to a partner. Any transit to the Descendant is also a transit to the Ascendant, so we cannot separate the two aspects of this one transit. Neptune is conjuncting the Desc, in opposition to the Asc – the exact hit is in 2019, so already in 2018 the forward-echo will have been experienced, and even in 2020 the after-shock will be reverberating. It is not always easy to have any real sense of what is occurring during a transit because we are too involved subjectively, and this is truer for Neptune and Pluto than for say Saturn, Uranus and Chiron.
Neptune’s role in astrology is all to do with illusion and delusion. It creates illusion by the use of glamour. We all have an image that we believe describes who we are and what the world is like. In Hinduism it is called Maya, in Sufism, Ishq. It is the illusion of desire, what we project onto the facts of outer life to give it personal meaning. Because we have or have not certain qualities or experiences some of us believe ourselves to be important, some believe the opposite that we are not important. This can be physical strength or beauty, emotional drama, executive ability, teacher, leader, healer, wise man, fool…these are all examples of glamour; they are stories we make up about ourselves and the life we live. Just stories. As Neptune moves through its 176 year cycle it glamourises different aspects of life – fashions in music, clothes, sexual attractiveness, political ideals, religious teachings and so on. None of it lasts forever and some of it passes very quickly.
On a personal level, because it is so slow, Neptune is likely to cross and angle only twice in a lifetime so we cannot refer back to earlier experiences to gain better insights, we must use theory and intuition more.
We can see the Ascendant as a map of reality, a false personalised projection of our fears and desires crystallised into a set of behaviours and opinions that together make up the vehicle we are using to navigate our way forward; this is the personality. We create the circumstances of our lives by what we expect to happen, and that expectation is a powerful attractive force. The Descendant is the shadow of the Ascendant – all that we pretend does not exist – but in fact it does, as aspects of our hidden self. And we attract that too, typically through one-to-one relationship, either a lover or an enemy; and of course lovers can turn into enemies when they show us what we really don’t like about ourselves and try to deny. Relationship is always not so much about making us happy as making us honest.
During a Neptune transit to the Descendant we are very likely to be offered a relationship which seems wonderful at first and yet is not what it seems. The partner might be a victim, an addict or other type of needy person wanting to be saved. And we have the glamour of being a rescuer, a healer or whatever. It is so hard to resist because we can get caught into the false belief that we can be rescued or that we can rescue another person. We feel saintly and humble in our self-sacrifice, and that feels so very spiritual!
Yet Neptune also has the ability to expose illusion, to dis-illusion us, and reveal the deeper mysteries beneath all the lies and false promises that life offers. So this transit is also likely to be the time for a seed to be planted of true spiritual liberation. When we know we are living in a dream, we can relax and enjoy the movie we have created for ourselves, without accepting the story as anything more than entertainment and symbolic guidance.
However, what is false is dissolved. We may therefore lose things we love and, even though they are unreal and temporary, that can be rather upsetting for the self-love of the ego. We must refocus to see that what has replaced the false is deeper, more precious and more real.
I am aware that Ruby’s Ascendant is at Virgo 19, “A swimming race”. There is the sense of wanting to be in control (mastering the emotions of the water element), getting things perfect and competing for excellence. Neptune’s transit is across Pisces 19, “Master instructing his pupil” giving a sense of spiritual knowledge being passed to the next generation through the surrender of the student to the gentle state of having faith in the teachings.
So, in summary…
A period of some confusion is to be expected during which there will be disillusionment and loss of control, yet clear vision and faith will begin to replace them. The two main temptations that need to be carefully examined are the promise of a perfect romantic relationship and the promise of an unrealistic spiritual truth. No major commitments are safe for a year or two until the fog has lifted, so give things time and wait for challenges to arise in relationship and spiritual guidance so they can prove themselves true.
Be careful about people who promise you a dream world; if it seems ‘too good to be true’ then probably it is not true. Also be careful about fantasy things – alcohol, drugs, self-sacrifice and rescuing others – all fantasy is riskier for a while.
Scientists and other materialists disparage the validity of astrology because it does not conform to their methodology; yet esotericists awaken the part of mind that goes beyond limits of rationality – as of course does love, genius and imagination. The learning process is not especially esoteric at all; it conforms to normal learning practices. We need to apply ourselves to study what others think, then to find new interpretations and understandings and bring our own knowledge into some useful application. We trust that our point of view is valid, even if it contradicts accepted ideas – despite the danger of affirming a foolish understanding simply through lack of skills and insight. We address this point here, by offering a way to track the transit of slower moving planets through the individual degrees and keep a diary of the events and feelings we encounter. I suggest that at first we include only Saturn – which crosses a few degrees per month – and Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – which typically show in only one or two.
In order for this process to be instructive it is necessary to come to terms with each of the variables: a) The planets’ core meanings in our lives; b) The qualities of each stage of a transit; c) The significance of personal events; d) The mystery of the Sabian Symbol for each degree.
Stages of a transit
A planet appears to move both forward and backwards, and so typically crosses the same degree three times, although it can be once or five times. Here are the nine stages typical of a transit.
Stage 1 Approach Forewarning
Stage 2 First hit Shock
Stage 3 Moving away Assimilation
Stage 4 Retrograde approach Reminder
Stage 5 Second hit Echo
Stage 6 Going back Revision
Stage 7 Second approach Preparation
Stage 8 Third hit Realization
Stage 9 Moving on Application