What’s The Difference Between Progressions and Solar Arcs?

When I am doing a consult, I use a quadi-wheel, which has the natal chart on the inside, secondary progressions next, the solar arcs after that and then the current transits on the outside wheel.

This is what I look at, to get an overall picture of what kind of energy is a) your hardwiring from birth and b) how that’s being activated. The chart I’ve included is of John Belushi, since I mentioned him in a recent article. I’ve pulled up his secondary and solar arcs for the date of his death, along with the transits of that day.

Secondary progressions are the inner planets’ movement around your chart as you age, with the movement based on each planet’s orbit at the time you are born. The Sun’s movement is constant, so every single year, your progressed Sun moves ONE DEGREE. That’s a degree per year, so if you lived 360 years you’d have a *progressed* Solar return. Let me know how that goes.

The Moon takes *roughly* 29 years to circle your chart, but speeds through some signs by progression faster than others. The progressed Moon is a very good indicator of when a transit is going to trigger an event. You get a *progressed* lunar return once every 28-29 years.

So then you have Mercury, Venus and Mars. Since these planets occasionally (or often) go retrograde, you really need to be Einstein, or have a good computer program, to know where they have progressed to at any given time in your life. But like the Sun, you are never going to live to see those 3 planets revolve all the way around your chart. At best, Mercury might get through 4 signs, Venus 3 and Mars 2-3 signs. But throw in the retrogrades and … well, now you’re overwhelmed.

However, as the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars are traipsing around your chart, they make aspects to your natal chart, and are also aspected by the current transits. This has a great deal of meaning! The secondary progressions are the soul’s journey through life, I like to say. Whatever aspects you have natally (basically called the “promise” of the chart), gets lit up by both transits to the natal as well as the progressions. Sometimes, after an event happens, you don’t see the “cause” of the event just by looking at the natal chart and transits. You must ADD IN the secondary progressions to see the trigger!

Outer planets… their orbits are tooooooo slooow to see much secondary progression. Jupiter can move up to a whole sign away, so there’s some punch there, but Saturn, Neptune and Pluto hardly move much at all… Saturn at best a few degrees, which, meh, won’t mean much unless it happens to *perfect* an aspect that is close when you’re born. Example: I have Sun at 23 Virgo, Saturn at 19 Sadge; Saturn inched up by secondary progression to perfect the square to my Sun when I was in my mid-50s and BOY OH BOY, that was a really hard year or 2, because Saturn perfected one of the “promises” of my natal chart, i.e., the Sun/Saturn square.

Next, I use Solar Arcs. This is a simple formula. Move *every single planet* ahead one degree per year. The only time I have ever seen Solar Arcs do a major trigger is when the S.A. planet makes a conjunction to a natal planet. For instance, I was born with Uranus at 14 Leo, Sun at 23 Virgo. Moving that Uranus ahead a degree per year (i.e., when I was 1 year old, Uranus moved to 15 Leo, when I was 6 years old Uranus moves to 20 Leo)… until finally that Uranus Solar Arc’d on my Natal Sun and I had a major “coming out” as an Astrologer. Quit my day job (My Sun’s in the 6th), parked my butt in a shared space with another artist and opened for business as an Astrologer. Outer planets moving to conjunct natal planets by Solar Arc is a *big deal*.

John Belusuhi astrology chart with progressionsWarning: If you are easily overwhelmed, the following chart may make you dizzy. Click to see full size.

So— Belushi’s chart. His natal is the innermost wheel. Right away you see the Jupiter/venus in Capricorn in the 1st, squared by Neptune in the late 9th house. Huge issues with “moderation” right off the bat, and the transits (outer wheel) are pummeling him. So the transits are showing an activation of the natal issue. But then, he’s got the progressed Moon (2nd inner wheel) squaring natal Chiron (with transit Uranus sitting right on top of it!) .and opposing natal Saturn! Major pain this man is trying to avoid. And, notice that the Nodes have progressed into a completely different sign? I could do a whole article on that alone…

Then the solar arcs (3rd wheel from the center). His Solar Arc Ascendant is falling right on his natal Sun. It’s a critical, critical time for him. His prominence in the world “out there” is unavoidable. I won’t get into the “ifs” of the choices he made, because that’s not the point of this example. His Sun is Aquarius, and right now, the ruler (Uranus) is transiting around causing havoc in his chart.

These are the major activities in Belushi’s chart at that time. They signify a huge life-and-death struggle between reality and illusion (Ruler of Ascendant & 1st house planets resides in the 8th and are squared by Neptune). I do not believe the “natal promise” is that he would die—I think the natal promise was the issues of confrontation vs. avoidance— and from there… free will takes over. The transits and progressions triggered this “promise” for him hugely and he chose, once again, avoidance. As Pluto crossed his Midheaven he embodied the most basic form of Pluto on the Midheaven: fame through death.

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What’s The Difference Between Progressions and Solar Arcs? — 14 Comments

  1. Interesting stuff Diane. With Solar Arcs, is it purely the conjunction and only to planets? (e.g. not angles, nodes, vertex, and nothing seen with change of houses or sign)

    Back in October I had SA/Prog Sun conjunct 6H Uranus and that’s definitely leading to a new line of work. In the next 18-months, SA Moon and Venus will also hit Uranus – the joy of a compact natal stellium!

    And then in 2019 I have SA Uranus hitting natal 7H Jupiter followed four years later by it hitting Neptune.

    Along with standard transits, including Uranus across my Ascendant, the next couple of years really feel like they are the turning point in my life.

    • For me, the Solar Arc has the noticeable punch when it makes a conjunction to planets or angles. Your SA Moon/Venus conjunct natal Uranus sounds exciting, especially if there are other indicators of that flavor!

      • Thanks for the clarification Diane.

        Other indicators of that flavor … t-uranus trine sun/moon/venus through this year!

  2. Wow, thanks Diane! I just looked it up, and my progressed Saturn has been retrograde in Leo for my entire life. It goes direct in a few years. I had only been looking at solar arcs before…

  3. Gemini7, that means that you have progressed Saturn stationing direct, so this is a very powerful time for your Saturn. Look at your other secondary progressions (inner planet) and transits for more info on the real power time windows!

  4. Thanks for this, I spent a good few hours investigating my Solar Arc directions. I’m gonna have a big year when I turn 38 (2022), 3 SA conjunctions and 2 squares (some folks say squares and oppositions work too)! Solar return and secondary progressions charts for that year are also massive. This year I’ll have SA Sun conjunct natal Jupiter, wonder what that’s about, it’s natal 2nd house Sag Sun and 3rd house Cap Jupiter.

  5. Thank you very much for this. I had not used these like this before. It looks interesting so will definitely investigate further.

  6. I love this way of graphically plotting these three present cycle layers over the natal chart. I do something similar, but oddly, I like to ink in transits rather than add a 4th wheel… to un-wheel-ed-ly I guess! 🙂
    I have struggled a bit with Solar returns, which I love working with. One reason is that I find both precessed and not work, and I’ve yet to figure out the fundamental distinction between the two. I also get confused when looking at them along with a natal chart. AT one time it made sense to put the natal chart on the outer ring of a bi-wheel, but the I forgot why that worked for me! OMG… senior moments…
    Any thoughts on this?

  7. Hi Diane! Thanks for this awesome article 🙂 It’s great to learn about the Solar Arc…I was always aware of secondary progressions, but this adds another interesting layer onto the chart. Belushi’s chart is pretty stacked! I had a little look-see at my own chart, and have SA Mars on my Natal Sun (!), plus some other stuff going exact over the next few years. Very cool!

    Question for you: what orbs do you like to use for SP’s, SA’s and transits? It seems many astrologers use 1-2 degrees on either side, more applying than separating. However when I read your mention of transiting Uranus in Belushi’s chart, it was ~3-4 degrees away so I didn’t register it right away. That said — I personally believe that outer planet activity, because it is so slow, has a greater (if diffused) effect on the psyche…as in, many among us will feel something, have some sort of pre-cognition of the exact aspect/event/shift in circumstance or personal outlook…what do you think?

    • Hi All, how many degrees are the orbs on Solar Arc transits? For example if my SA Venus is @ 8 degs squaring my Natal Mars @ 8 degs, how long before and after this year is it felt?

      • Hi Christina!

        I’m not sure what the typical orbs are, but because this is a type of progressed chart I apply 1° applying and separating, give or take…I think you ‘feel it’ as it becomes more and more exact in your chart. Also, if it’s hitting a sensitive point in your chart, I also believe that you can feel it further out, and its effects for longer. My 0.02 cents..

    • As she said, the only solar arc aspects worth worrying about are the conjunctions, not the squares, trines, sextiles etc. I wouldn’t worry about it.

  8. Thank you Diane! Just a few days ago I made my Solar Arc on Astrodienst and was wondering why the Solar Arc is hardly ever mentioned by astrologists, or so it seemed to me.

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