Development-over-time astrology – the kind of astrological work some people call “predictive” – has a lot of moving parts. Transits, progressions, and solar arcs are enough to keep most of us busy, both as astrologers as we try to keep track of them, and even more so simply as human beings as we live them. In every chart, there’s always a lot going on all the time, in other words – too much really for the human mind to collate. Part of the art of surfing these waves of astrological complexity lies in taking a “first things first” approach – don’t sweat the small stuff until you’ve sweated over the big stuff. And when it comes to the big stuff, there’s nothing bigger than the progressed Sun.
- The progressed Sun is the Evolving Self. As it moves through the chart, ever so slowly the lessons of life make it through our thick skulls and become part of what we are. We change at the most fundamental level.
Of all the things the progressed Sun can do, the most important ones are when it switches from one sign to another or from one house to another. A close second would be when it forms a conjunction with a natal planet, followed down the “poker hands” of the rest of the aspects. Any one of these events is virtually guaranteed to change the direction of your life.
On August 13, for only the third time in all my years in this world, my progressed Sun entered a new sign. I will say a bit more about that at a personal level after a while. Right now I want to start by speaking more generally, hoping to set out a few ideas that will be useful to you when your own Sun goes through such changes, or when you are helping someone else go through them.
First, my computer lies to me with great authority, telling me that my Sun progressed into Aries on August 13, 2022 at precisely 8:46 am-pdt. (Your own computer will lie to you with similar authority.) At the risk of winning Astro Nerd of the Year, let me point out that what that date and time actually mean is that the center of my progressed Sun’s disk crossed the Aries line in that moment. The Sun is actually a circle in the sky – ask any kid in kindergarten: when you draw the Sun, it’s a circle, not a dot. It’s actually about half a degree wide. Add one more fact: by progression, the Sun advances by about one degree per year . . .
- That means that by progression it takes the Sun about half a year to drift across any sign frontier. It’s like slowly pushing a coin across a line you’ve drawn with a ruler. It does not happen in an instant.
That means that my progressed Sun actually began entering Aries – made first contact with the Aries cusp, in other words – three months or so before August 13. That happened in mid-May. That’s when the leading edge of the Sun first kissed Aries. At the other end, it’ll finally drag its tail over the line in about mid-November, three months or so after the center of the disk made the crossing. Then, I will fully be in Aries.
- This “inter-sign” period of about six months is actually quite real in its subjective impact. You have a sense of being caught between two worlds.
As we’ve seen, assuming that the Sun advances “one degree per year” is a neat form of shorthand for figuring out its motion. (The same method works well for all the solar arcs too since they are synchronized with the Sun.) You can cure insomnia by doing calculations in your head that way – seeing what was going on astrologically by solar arcs or the progressed Sun when you met Mr. or Ms. Wrong, for example.
Even though the competition is always fierce, let me honor my new Arian warrior status by making a second bid for Astro Nerd of the Year . . .
In the northern hemisphere winter, earth is actually a little closer to the Sun than it is in summer. I know that’s totally counter intuitive, but it’s true. (Things make more sense in the southern hemisphere, where we’re closest to the central fire when we are actually warmest.) One effect of this astronomical fact is that, being closer to the Sun, earth is actually moving faster in its orbit in January than it is in June.
- That means that if you were born in the northern winter, your Sun actually progresses a little faster than one degree per year. Born in the northern summer, it slows down a bit.
When you’re young, the difference doesn’t amount to much, but as you get older it can start to pile up. For example, when my Sun entered Aries last month, I was 73 years, seven months, and six days old. By then, my Sun had actually progressed 74 degrees 17’ – a little further than one degree per year. Nerd of the Year material maybe – but it counts in a practical way when you’re thinking about aspects. If I calculated them by one degree per year, my timing would now be off by eight or nine months. One degree per year works in your head when you’re wrestling with a sleepless night, but as professional astrologers we need to be more precise.
So what does it all mean? How do we interpret the Sun entering a new sign? So far, this has all been astronomy. What does it mean astrologically?
- At the deepest evolutionary level, when the Sun enters a new sign, your soul is simply invited to learn a different set of lessons. What used to work for you won’t work anymore – what made you straight A’s in English class won’t help you much as you face Algebra, in other words. To stay in harmony with your higher calling in life, you need to start doing things differently. You might, for one example, go from learning about surrender and acceptance (Pisces) to learning about assertiveness and the right use of competitive energy (Aries.)
- Because of synchronicity, you will begin to attract fresh circumstances, people, and experiences to yourself – situations which are consistent with the evolutionary intentions of the new sign and which support you in maybe learning them. This adds a “predictive” element to the Sun entering a new sign – as astrologers, we can anticipate a few things about the nature of the new playing field you will be encountering.
- One result of snowballing the previous two statements together is that your personality itself begins to change as you adapt to the new possibilities. Experience shapes us – and different experiences shape us differently.
The transitional time – especially that six months or so when the Sun is still physically crossing the sign-line – is always tricky. For a while, you’re the new wine, but still in the old bottle. Habits that have served you well need to be questioned, but naturally they still grab the steering wheel from time to time. That’s why we call them habits.
Here’s a quick sketch of how it has worked for me over the years. In writing about personal experiences here, I am just trying to flesh out these abstract ideas with a human story. It’s the principles behind the events that are the real message.
On January 18, 1963, when I was just fourteen years old, my Sun progressed out of Capricorn and into Aquarius. I’d been raised in a fairly conventional way, and as a Capricorn, that social training “took” pretty easily. Right around that time, “by chance” I learned palmistry, which soon led me to astrology. But I would not have gotten into astrology if it were not for amateur astronomy – and right about that time, a kind “uncle-figure” named Marty Bresnick helped me build my first serious telescope: a 6” reflector.
My Aquarian individuation had begun. Try being “a science nerd” who also “believes in palmistry and astrology.” Who’s going to invite you to their party? Who even knows how to talk to you? Aquarian-fashion, I was getting used to thinking outside the usual boxes.
A spooky, very “outlaw Aquarian,” story unfolded in my life around the time my Sun progressed into Aquarius too. A psychotic neighbor in my New York apartment building told my mother that he planned to murder me. Literally. (Pluto was transiting over my MC/Saturn conjunction.) I suspect he thought I was meddling sexually with his daughters, which I further suspect was projection on his part – I’d never touched them, but one of them was busted for prostitution a few years later. The upshot was that I was sent for my own safety to a Fundamentalist religious school for two years. Talk about Aquarian alienation! I was getting “Judging Jesus” shoved up my nose, all the while reading Aldous Huxley, Edgar Cayce, and astrophysics, plus practicing palmistry – and worried that a crazy man was going to kill me. (I’ve got a Mercury/Mars conjunction straddling that Aquarian cusp, which complicated the Sun’s entry into Aquarius – it conjuncted those two planets at around the same time.)
I view the entry of my progressed Sun into Aquarius as, among other things, my initiation into my astrological career – it had to start off with getting me comfortable with an “outsider” identity. It worked.
My progressed Sun left Aquarius and entered Pisces on August 22, 1992. By then, I was forty-three years old. This transition was one of the most vivid internal astrological experiences I’ve ever had, almost like a rebirth. With the Sun in Aquarius, I had developed a chip on my shoulder about being an astrologer – I loved astrology, but I felt that I always had to be ready to defend myself about it. (Often that was actually true – astrology was a lot more controversial in those days, plus the process of individuation always involves some tension with the mainstream of society.) Then, when the Sun crossed into Pisces, my whole attitude changed. I found that, instead of expecting people to challenge me or be dismissive of me, I instead began to expect them to be interested and open about what I did. And it worked! I relaxed. I took myself more lightly.
- Aquarian-fashion, I’d had to learn about defending my individuality. Now Pisces-fashion, I needed to learn about love and oneness. I needed to get over myself.
People really began to be nicer to me about being an astrologer! About that latter point, somebody might say, “Steve, really it was all in your head – you just loosened up and started seeing people differently. They didn’t change. You did.” To that, I would say yes indeed, that’s undoubtedly right – but that’s how synchronicity works. It was in my head, but it was not just in my head. It was happening out there in the world too – and that’s because, in synchronicity, your head and the world are not actually as different as we are taught to think. One always reflects the other.
Events in my life echoed all of these changes, of course – synchronicity strikes again. My astrological practice took off. I began traveling to teach a lot more widely. Book sales were brisk. Synchronistically, right about this time, Jeff Green and I began working together, emerging as “the Pluto Brothers.” The fusion of our methods and our audiences triggered an explosion in the popularity of evolutionary astrology. I sort of transitioned into that Piscean fantasy land of “fame.” I became friends with “stars” in various fields. I hung out with Sting and Trudie over in the U.K. A former Secretary of the Treasury came to hear me lecture, and afterwards we shared dinner on our laps, yacking about sailboats. I never name my clients without their permission, but let’s just say I had the private phone numbers of a long Hollywood “A-list.”
As the Sun progressed into Pisces, my spiritual life also deepened. I had the blessing of meeting more Buddhist teachers. Reflecting that mystical drift, my astrological work had always been metaphysical, but now it became more so. I began to develop the deeper nodal theories that have been so central to the work of the second half of my life – the roots of them are actually all there in The Inner Sky, which came out way back in 1984, but my understanding grew. Reflecting these archetypal shifts, I simply let go of any Aquarius-the-Scientist pretentions and eased into simply being the Piscean Mystic. Under Aquarius, I’d often had thoughts about maybe going to graduate school in psychology, becoming a respectable “Dr. Forrest.” Under Pisces, those thoughts just went “poof.” I was not going to become an academic. I was a Water sign now, not an Air sign. I wasn’t living in my head anymore.
Outside of astrology, my then-wife, Jodie, had published her Rhymer and the Ravens trilogy – a long, winding tale about fairies, elves, and Vikings. I began writing and performing fantasy rock operas based on her books with our bands in central North Carolina. What could be more Piscean? Music and fairytales! Theatrical performances! Naked hippies dancing in the moonlight!
Naturally I could write a lot more about these two progressed Sun “volumes” of my life, but I am hoping that what I’ve sketched out here gives you some sense of how the Sun entering a new sign actually works – in a nutshell, the tone of our outer world changes and it reflects a change in the tone of our inner world. We’ve learned some lessons. Now it’s time to learn some different ones. The universe steps in and supports the process, both inside your head and in the realm of your “random” circumstances.
Now my progressed Sun has entered Aries. What a blessing it is to know some astrology! I am already feeling some of those fiery surges. I know I need to keep perspective on them. I have no idea about the details of what’s next in my life, but at least I understand the underlying principles. For one thing, I know that from now on for me courage is the only cure for fear – the warrior archetype looms.
Practically, my progressed Sun will remain in Aries until February 3, 2053, when I will be 104 years old. Obviously, from an actuarial perspective, that is on the optimistic side. Very likely, I’ll face the ultimate challenge of any warrior while my Sun is in Aries: the transition that we humans call death. But before that famous chariot swings low for me, I suspect I’ll have a few adventures.
As synchronicity would have it, this July, with the Sun already edging into Aries, I found myself on an arctic expedition, soaring in a helicopter above the glaciers of Greenland, motoring among icebergs in an inflatable Zodiac boat. Here’s a picture to prove it:
The timing of this trip was not planned to coincide with my Sun crossing into a new sign. The trip was a gift that a prosperous friend gave Michelle and me, and the timing was all in the hands of our benefactor. Once again, it’s a manifestation of synchronicity, where the outer world is nothing but a mirror of the inner one.
My school, the Forrest Center for Evolutionary Astrology, is in its second year now. We’ve got a lot of students – but also a lot of mouths to feed. Stress again. And there are other worthy astrology schools out there. That spells competition – another classic Aries word. Ditto for LILA – the astrology app for which I’ve been writing most of the text. We’re not the only cell phone app out there, so once again, we ring the bell with that Arian word: competition.
I now aspire to reach the best of Aries, and I am cautioned about the worst of it: let me delight in any victories we earn, and may my guardian spirits protect me from delighting in anyone else’s losses.
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