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Comments on Progression, Direction
and Return Techniques

Michael Munkasey, © 1998


Just what are progression, direction or return techniques? What are their differences? How does one calculate these? There are over fifty different varieties of progression, direction, or return techniques, and that is without counting the possibly thousands of variations within each described method! Including all possible variations within each method would create thousands and thousands of different ways to progress or direct a chart. There are so many different ways of describing progressions, directions or returns that I am more confused after compiling this material than I was before I started. I remain confused over what seemed to be a simple subject: the projection of a chart for future trends.

Traditional astrology tells us that if you want to see future trends evolving from a natal chart then use progression, direction or return techniques. The astrological term "progression" usually refers to a secondary progression, also called a major, or a major progression. To add to the terminology confusion "progression" sometimes is used as a generic astrological term for any natal chart cast to depict future trends. Other popular methods of chart progression are called primary, tertiary, minor and diurnal. Besides progression methods there are also forecasting techniques called directions, ingresses, returns and arc charts. Progressions, arcs and directions each move the planets and angles of a chart to depict evolving times and/or circumstances. Progressions and returns are based on real planetary positions, while arc or direction techniques yield planetary positions which do not exist at any future time (except for the directing, or arc, planet). Returns and ingresses require a single chart cast for a specific moment in time. The location chosen for this chart, needed to compute the chart's angles, can vary according to the user's desires. Astrological literature which is quite ancient discusses or mentions the existence of these techniques.


Progressions, directions and returns use different approaches. Progressions involve movements of the planets and angles in time based on actual planetary motion in the hours or days following the birth event, while directions involve moving all planets and points by the same angular (or arc) distance. Normally this arc is derived using the Sun, but arc chart techniques can use any planet as the basis for the angle to be moved. Returns refer to a chart set up for a moment in time when a body "returns" to a natal or otherwise significant position. In progression movements the planets in a chart constantly change their angular relationships to each other, while in direction or arc movements the natal angular relationships remain constant. Returns or ingresses do not use movement techniques. This article deals primarily with various methods of secondary progressions. However the other types of progression and direction methods also need definition and testing.


This article had its origin in a seemingly simple question. An astute person asked me why different results were being obtained among the secondary progression charts generated by different astrological computer programs. In researching this I found that there are many variations in what astrologers call a progression. The answer to his question was that each computer program used a different method of computing a secondary progression. You can begin to understand these differences when you study the different methods.


Secondary progressions work on the principle that one day's worth (i.e., 24 clock hours) of planetary movement after birth represents one year (i.e., 365 or 366 calendar days) of future life. Technically, though, the words 'day' and 'year' have more than one definition, and this adds to the overall confusion. The seemingly simple ideas of 'a day of motion,' or, 'one year of life' can take on different meanings for different techniques. When considering secondary progressions, on the twentieth day after one's birth, the planets will have moved from their birth positions. Each planet moves its own rate of speed during that twenty day period. Astrological theory states that where the planets are on the twentieth day after birth represents their progressed influence in the twentieth year of life.


There are two parts to calculating a progressed chart: calculating the progressed chart's angles, and calculating the progressed chart's planetary positions. Within all progression methods the planetary movements are set by the planets themselves, but the chart angles move distances according to the rules of the particular method of progression chosen. There are three described ways for moving the planets (see the "Variations" section of this paper, paragraph four), but twenty-four different techniques for progressing or directing the chart angles. With such a large choice of methods people can and do get different chart planetary positions and angles when using different techniques. Confusion exists over which particular computational method should be the astrological standard.

Directions differ from progressions in the way both the planets and angles are moved. In directions both the planets and the chart angles are moved by the same amount. Usually this distance is the angular difference in degrees and minutes between the natal and the progressed position of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Vertex, etc., depending on which directing influence is chosen. The Sun is the most popular choice, but other means of obtaining arc angles have also been proposed and used. These angular differences are usually measured along the ecliptic, but some people measure them along the celestial equator. These choices can yield slightly different final planetary directed values.


The rest of this article is divided into these sections

• progression terms, including some definitions and comments

• varieties of choices available within each progression method

• descriptions of the individual secondary progression methods

• example calculations using most of these methods

• a chart comparing the example results (the Box Score)

• references


Please read through and study these sections. This article was never intended to be a definitive description for all forms of progressions or directions. Nor did I ever intend to furnish rigorous definitions for all progression methods. I simply wanted to list the most commonly described methods of progression along with one example so that astrologers could evaluate these methods. There may be slight errors in some of my definitions of the terms, and there may be minor errors in the way I described or calculated some of the progression methods. There is some difference of opinion among astrologers on the exact definition of some of these methods. Some of the methods described herein were invented and proposed by only one person. Others have been used by thousands of people. I simply hoped to bring some order to the chaos which presently reigns. A rather lengthy book with multiple examples and case histories of the subjects is needed to address this entire topic properly.


A word to pioneers. It is easy to take the material in this article and invent new methods of progressions or directions. If that were all that would result from this work then this would sadden me. Pioneers have already walked through this material. What I would like to see is for others to take this material and investigate the methods to see which works most consistently in their client practice. Twenty-four methods of progressing a Midheaven are more than enough. Rather than inventing new progression methods, let's put our energy into testing which of these described method works most consistently to describe the events and circumstances occurring after the birth event.


When you finish with this article the important question of which progression method to use still remains. My personal opinion is that either the method B or the method P described in this paper is the best place to start. I recommend starting your investigations using tropical years with all planetary measurements taken along the ecliptic. I also recommend using the apparent (that is the actual, not the average) planetary motion at the time of birth. In my opinion, this selection should set the 'standard' against which all other progression or direction methods are compared. Perhaps all methods described herein work. Perhaps only one or two produce acceptable results. What method works for one person may not work for another person. As I said, confusion reigns and it is time to start rigorous testing.


I don't know which one of the described methods is best for you, but I do have an opinion on where to start judging all of the methods described. In my personal testing with clients, self and friends I find inconsistent results when using secondary progression methods. I have found that solar arc directions and transits give me more dependable results than any of the secondary progression methods. Hits in my progressed chart tend to affect me more at a psychological or inner level than at an external event level. Events in my natal directed or arc chart tend to show external events in my life more consistently. Maybe secondary progressions would work more reliably if astrologers had clearer and more consistent thoughts about how to calculate and apply them.


Please direct any comments, suggestions, etc., concerning this paper to the author. Written responses and your reasonings are preferred. You can imagine the confusion if I were to receive numerous telephone calls on this particular point or that particular point. Notes in the margin of my paper would begin to overlap, and the views of one earlier caller may be not available to a later caller. I may or may not copy a caller's response correctly. Please, if you have a relevant comment concerning these matters, write to me.

Michael Munkasey

35109 Hiway 79, Unit 271

Warner Springs, CA 92086 USA


Adjusted calculation date (ACD): A daily ephemeris lists planetary positions once each 24 hours. Birthdates or events occur at any time or on any day. Progressions are sought for a future time. Finding the progressed planetary positions for future dates requires interpolation in the ephemeris between the daily planetary entries. The ACD is the date of the year on which the planetary positions as listed in the ephemeris are exact for the native. The use of an ACD saves a complicated interpolation step for each year progressions are calculated by hand. For example, a chart may be erected for June 23rd at 11:06 AM, but the ACD may be Jan. 26th. For this chart the daily ephemeris' printed entries are exact in the progressed chart on Jan. 26th of the subsequent years. In this example, each daily ephemeris line entry runs from Jan. 26th to Jan. 26th, and not birthday to birthday. Charts are rarely erected for the exact time (e.g., midnight Greenwich time) which corresponds to the printed ephemeris entry.

Anlunar return: The is the return of the Moon to the position it held in the native's latest solar return. Please also see "Planetary return."


Apparent motion: The actual, as opposed to the average or mean motion of a planet or body. This is measured in degrees, minutes, and seconds.


Arc direction: This involves the adding of an arc angle to each chart position to create a directed chart. The difference between the natal and the progressed Sun is the basis used most often for arc angles. Arc angles may be measured along the ecliptic or the equator. The ecliptic is the more commonly used circle. The arc angle obtained is then added (or subtracted) equally to all planetary and angle positions in the natal chart. The Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Vertex, etc., may be used to calculate an arc angle. Arc angles may also be used at half or twice the original arc interval. The mixing of whole arc, half arc, or double arc planetary or angle positions has also been suggested. Some people feel that forward arcs describe events which occur after the birth, while backward arcs represent events which occurred before birth. Other people differ with this position and use either forward or backward arcs for events after birth. For calculating new chart angles, normally the arc difference is added to the natal Midheaven and then a new set of house cusps and personal sensitive points are calculated using this new Midheaven value. More rarely, the practice of adding (or subtracting) the arc difference directly to the house cusps, Ascendant, Vertex, etc., is done, but some object to this practice. Astrologers also recalculate the cusps and points using the new MC for the location of the person or event, and not for the original birthplace.


Calculated date: Please see "Adjusted Calculation Date."


Calendar day: A calendar day contains 24.000000 clock hours.


Calendar year: This is 365 calendar days, except in a leap year when it is 366 calendar days. For most simple calculations, a year of 365 days is used.

Clock hour: The passage of sixty minutes of time as indicated by a time piece.


Daily progressions: Please see "P" in "The Methods Section."

Direction or Directions: Please see "Arc direction," and/or "Solar arc."

Diurnals: This fourth method of progression constructs a chart using the current day of the current year, and the clock time and time zone for your birth, and either your birth or current location. Erect a chart for each day of your life this way, and you will have a diurnal chart for that day. See also "Quotidian."


Draconic return: A return chart calculated for the time that the transiting Moon's true North Node returns to the same position as that found for one's natal true North Node. The Draconic cycle averages 18.61335757 mean tropical years.


Duodenary: The division of each sign into twelve equal parts, giving a division of two and a half degrees. Similar to the Vedic dwadashamsha. This two and a half degree interval can be used as an arc of direction. See also: "Sub-duodenary."


Eclipse year: From Earth conjunct the Moon's Node to the next conjunction takes 346.62003 days.


Elapsed time during a year: This is the time, noted as a part of a year, from a native's birthday and birth time to the day and time to which the progression is being made. E.g., born on May 5th at 3:27 AM, and you need an elapsed time to a progression date of June 12th at 6:14 PM. The elapsed time is 39 days, 11 hours, and 47 minutes, or 0.10812 of a Julian or Tropical year, or 0.10819 Calendar year.


Ephemeris: This is a listing of planetary positions, usually for each day of a year, ten years, a century, etc. An ephemeris may also contain other helpful planetary data like an aspectarian, times of new and full moons, eclipse data, etc. An ephemeris is normally calculated for either midnight or noon Greenwich time. Use of a midnight ephemeris for astrological work ultimately requires less calculation work than use of a noon ephemeris.


Fast Novenary: An annual arc of measure that is three degree and twenty minutes (3° 20') in length. Obtained from dividing the thirty degrees of a zodiacal sign by nine (9). Similar to the Vedic navansha in usage.

Gregorian calendar: Generally used after 1582 AD. The date of adoption between the Julian and Gregorian calendars varies greatly country by country.


Gregorian year: The Gregorian year contains 365.2417 calendar days.


Ideal year: Good argument has been made for using "ideal" orbital values in any astrological calculation, as opposed to using the current "exact" numerical values. The ideal value uses a 360 day year. The actual year is 365.242 days. There is material in ancient sources debating these points.


Ingress chart: A chart calculated for the time a transiting, solar arc, or progressed planet enters zero degrees and minutes of a designated zodiacal sign.


Julian calendar: Generally used before 1582 AD. A "Time Change Atlas" can tell you which calendar is used in a country. See also "Gregorian calendar."


Julian year: The Julian year contains 365.2500 calendar days.


Key system: Please see "F" in "The Methods Section."

Kinetic lunar return: A return chart cast for the time that the transiting Moon is conjunct the progressed Moon.

Kinetic return: The same as a planetary return, but the planet's return is measured to the progressed planet's position rather than its natal position.

Kinetic solar return: A return chart cast for the time that the transiting Sun is conjunct the progressed Sun.


Local Sidereal Time (LST): A time used to find the ASC, MC, and house cusps from a table of houses or by equation. It is derived by adding together birth time, longitude correction equivalents, Greenwich sidereal time, etc.


Lunar ingress: A chart cast at the time and date the transiting Moon enters 00° 00' of a requested sign.

Lunar month: There are five different defined lunar months, each differing in their length of time: anomolistic, nodal, sidereal, synodic and tropical.


Lunar return: A chart constructed for the time and date the transiting Moon returns to the exact zodiacal position of the native's natal Moon. See also, "Planetary return." Variations of this practice for the full and quarter Moon returns are called "demi-lunar returns," etc. Once the data is obtained, the chart can be cast for the native's present location, the native's birth location, etc.

Lunation rate: New Moon to New Moon occurs (on average): 29.53059028 days.


Major, or, Major Progression: A secondary progression.


Mean Sidereal day: This is 23 hrs. 56 mins 56.555 secs. as measured in clock days, which are the standard 24 hour day.


Mean Solar day: This is another term for the normal 24 hour clock day. This is also 24 hrs. 03 mins 04.091 secs. as measured in mean sidereal solar days.

Mean motion: This is the average motion of a planet either per day or some other agreed to time period, as opposed to the apparent or real motion.

Mean year: This is the same as the Julian year.

Measure of Death: See "Quaternary Direction."

Metonic cycle: An Eclipse cycle of exactly 19 years (measured date to date) when eclipses occur in the same zodiacal longitude degree. Some 23% of the eclipses which occur do not follow this cycle. See also "Saros Cycle."

Metonic return: A return chart calculated for the time that the transiting Sun and transiting Moon occupy their natal degree positions and thus have the same natal Sun and Moon angle. This event reoccurs almost exactly every 19 years.


Minor progression (Minor): Each sidereal lunar month (27.321661 calendar days for tropical charts and 27.321582 days for sidereal or precessed charts) after birth represents one calendar year (365.24219879 calendar days for tropical charts and 365.25636042 days for sidereal or precessed charts) of life. A person born on March 1 at midnight, would sometime on March 28, experience a set of planetary positions which would describe his or her minor progression for the first birthday. The 20th lunar month (return) represents the 20th year of life, etc. See also "Tertiary Progressions."


in Mundo: Aspects which are measured in right ascension, along a great circle which is also related to a house system, like the equator, prime vertical, etc.


Mundoscope (Campanus): This is a variant method of progression which involves the projection of the natal planets onto the prime vertical and the use of Campanus houses. Other systems of house division have also been proposed.


Naibod: Please see "C" in "The Methods Section." Originally from the writings of Valentine Naibod, a Renaissance professor of mathematics. The application of 59' 08.20" of arc (which is the mean or average motion of the Sun over a year per day; (e.g., 360 degrees divided by the 365.24219879 days in the year). This value is applied in the same manner as a directional arc. In the Naibod method this arc is applied in Right Ascension. In the Radix method this arc is applied in Zodiacal Longitude.

Naronic Arc: (from Naros, a Chaldean term). A measure based on a 600 year period implied from Biblical Old Testament writings. It is equal to one six-hundredth of the 360 degree zodiacal circle, and yields an arc of 0.6 degrees per year. Used to measure periods of "depression and expansion in any life."


Nodal month: The nodal (lunar) month is 27.21222 calendar days.


Nodal period: The sidereal nodal period is 6798.663 days, or 18.61412 years.


Nodal return: Please see "Draconic Return."


Nonagesimal: The point above the horizon and on the ecliptic which is ninety degrees in zodiacal longitude from the ascendant of a chart. This is also the longitude of the zenith, and the zodiacal point highest above the horizon.


Obliquity of the ecliptic: The astronomical angle between the ecliptic and the celestial equator. It was 23° 26' 44.84" in 1950 and cycles back and forth over large periods of time. This important number is essential in house mathematics.


Paran (Paranatellon): Occurs when two or more planets are simultaneously conjunct important astronomical circles, usually the meridian and horizon.


Planetary return: The time at which a planet returns to (i.e., conjuncts) its natal position is used to generate a 'planetary return' chart. This positional return is usually calculated in zodiacal longitude. Popularly, both planetary return charts and normal lunar return charts are used. A chart is erected for the date and time of this event, and a location (e.g., birthplace, present residence). It is very difficult to accurately time a slower moving planet's exact time of return to a natal position.


Precession corrected planetary return: The same as a planetary return, but the return is calculated against a fixed (sidereal) zodiacal framework rather than the moveable tropical zodiac. This is also called a Sidereal Return. In general precession advances at the rate of one degree of backward movement in the zodiac every 72 years, or an average arc of about 50" per year.

Primary directions, or, Primary arc directions: This is really closer to a method of direction (arcs are used) rather than progression (where a period of time equals one year of life). The natal planetary positions are moved by a direction arc in their direction of diurnal (daily) motion. A lifetime of primary arc motion is covered within a few hours after birth. Aspects made between planets and the natal angles are significant in this theory of direction.


Quaternary Direction: An arc of one-quarter of a degree. Used as a arc direction for a yearly measure. Used to depict drastic changes.


Quotidian: This dictionary defines this word as "daily." During the course of a year (365.24219879 calendar days for tropical charts and 365.25636042 days for sidereal or precessed charts) the quotidian MC will progress daily at a rate of about one degree, so that over a year the MC will travel completely around the chart. Users maintain that Quotidian angles produce the only true day-for-a-year or secondary progressed angles. The quotidian MC derives directly from the mathematics of the derived date and time which produces secondary progressions. The subsequent house cusps produced are close to those calculated as "diurnals." Please see "P" in "The Methods Section."


Radix: Please see "E" in "The Methods Section." The application of 59' 08.20" of arc (which is the mean or average motion of the Sun over a year per day; (e.g., 360 degrees divided by the 365.24219879 days in the year). This value is applied in the same manner as a directional arc. In the Radix method this arc is applied in Zodiacal Longitude. In the Naibod method this arc is applied in Right Ascension.


RAMC: Right Ascension of the Midheaven.


Return: A chart cast for the return of a transiting body to its natal place.


Right Ascension (RA): The commonly used astronomical planetary positions, like Mars at 94° 14', or Moon at 212° 37', etc. Right Ascension is measured along the celestial equator from the point of Aries. Measurements are most commonly given in hours, minutes, and seconds, rather than degrees and minutes of arc.


Saros cycle: The time interval between successive Solar or Lunar eclipses which occur at the same zodiacal longitude. This is about 6585 1/3 days (18 years, 11 to 13 days - depending on leap years in between), which is 223 Lunations. There is also an important third harmonic of this cycle which occurs at 54 years and 33 days. This harmonic has to do with the Eclipses occurring in the different decanates of the signs, which they will do, in order of their occurring. When completing this harmonic the Eclipses return to the same Terrestrial Longitude they started from. Another variation of the Saros Cycle goes 1260 years and has 70 or 71 Solar Eclipse repetitions at 18+ years each. See also: "Metonic Cycle." See also my compendium of Eclipses from 1450 to 2200.


Secondary progression: The theory of secondary progressions states that each day after birth represents one year in the life of the native. Calculation of an adjusted calculation date (ACD) helps when reading these progressions from a midnight or noon ephemeris. Most variations of secondary progression methods are described herein. Please re-read the opening section of this article. Please see also the comments under "Minor Progressions."


Septenary: An annual arc of usage obtained by dividing the thirty degrees of a zodiacal sign by seven (7); yielding an arc of four and two-sevenths (4° 17' 09") of a degree.


Sidereal day: This is about 23H 56M 56.56S of a clock day. It compensates for the fact that the Earth both moves in space in its yearly travel about the Sun, and the Earth also rotates once each day. How you measure the end of this rotation determines the actual length of the day itself. Clock time measures this rotation by using the Sun and sidereal time measures rotation by using the Point of Aries.


Sidereal month: The sidereal (lunar) month is 27.321582 calendar days.


Sidereal period: This is the interval of time it takes for a body to complete one revolution around the Sun, or for the Moon to complete one revolution around the Earth, etc. Measurements are usually taken from zero Aries to zero Aries, or from a defined fixed star and then a return to the same fixed star.


Sidereal return: Please see "Precession corrected planetary return."

Sidereal year: The sidereal year is very close to 365 calendar days, 6 hours, 09 mins. and 10 seconds long (more exactly: 365.25636042 days).


Solar arc (SA): Please refer to the definition given under the term "Arc direction." Solar arc specifically refers to using the difference between the natal Sun and the progressed Sun for the arc difference used.


Solar ingress: A chart cast at the time and date the transiting Sun enters 00° 00' of a sign; usually, but not always, the zodiacal sign of Aries.


Solar return: A chart constructed for a selected location (birthplace, present residence, etc.) at the time and date the transiting Sun returns to the exact zodiacal position of the native's natal Sun. See also, "Planetary return."


Sub-duodenary: See "Duodenary". The Sub-duodenary is one-twelfth of the Duodenary interval of two and a half degrees; or 144th of a thirty degree zodiacal sign; or, 12' 30" of arc.

Symbolic Directions: Refer to Nina Holly's article mentioned in the "Selecteed References" notation at the end of this paper.


Synodic month: The synodic (lunar) month is 29.53059028 calendar days.

Synodic period: This is the interval of time between a chosen alignment of body 1, body 2, and body 3 in space, and the next successive return to that alignment. E.g., Earth, Sun, and Spica; Jupiter, Saturn, and Sun; etc.


Synodic return: A return chart cast for the time that the transiting Sun and Moon are at the same angular separation as the natal Sun and Moon.


Tertiary progression: Each sidereal day after birth is taken to represent one sidereal lunar month. The sidereal period of the Moon is 27.321661 calendar days (tropical zodiac), or 27.321582 calendar days (sidereal zodiac). Equally vocal claims are made for the validity of using either the sidereal and tropical zodiac. A common tertiary variation involves the use of the tropical day and the synodic lunar period (29.53059028 days) for the originally defined sidereal day and sidereal lunar month. Different people advocate these calculation methods. See also "Minor Progression". Often these methods are confused with each other. Tertiaries are 'day for a month,' while Minors are 'month for a year.'


Transits: The positions of the planets for or at any defined moment.

Tropical measurements: Tropical measurements are made from conjunction to conjunction. For example: the Sun, Earth and Jupiter are in alignment. time passes and each moves in its orbit. The next time these bodies are in conjunction would define their tropical period. See also 'Sidereal.'

Tropical month: The tropical (lunar) month is 27.321661 calendar days.


Tropical year: The tropical year is very close to 365 calendar days, 5 hours, 48 mins. and 46 seconds long (more exactly: 365.24219879 days).


Zodiacal longitude: The commonly used astrological planetary positions, like Mars at 4 4 14, or Moon at 16 8 54, etc. This is measured along the ecliptic.



Some interesting variations to the described methods of calculating secondary progressions can be made by asking (and then answering) the following questions. Not all of the methods described herein address these questions directly. However, almost all of the described methods can be modified and varied to some degree by applying variations of some or all of these seven points. An exhaustive treatise describing every possible variation is left to the reader.


1. Is the elapsed time during a year of a native's life measured by

a) the angle between the natal and the transiting Sun,

b) the percentage of time in days since the native's last solar return, or,

c) birthday to birthday (average motion)?


2. Should you measure progressions in clock, sidereal, or apparent solar days?


3. Which calendar type (year length) should you use: Julian, Gregorian, Tropical, Sidereal, or Lunar? (There are also Draconic and even fiscal year lengths).


4. Should you use progressed positions based on natal planetary rates of motion, mean rates of planetary motion, or on the rates of planetary motion occurring at the time of the desired progression?


5. Should you use the ecliptic, the equator or other coordinate circles along which to measure the changes the planetary positions?


6. Should the times for a planet's return to its natal place be measured against its sidereal, synodic, or nodal periods? Should you measure to the original natal or return planet to planet angle, or just use average cycle times for sidereal, synodic, or nodal cycles?


7. Should you recalculate all natal house cusps and personal sensitive points using the progressed MC, or should you advance each house cusp by the same arc difference you used to advance the natal MC?


8. Should you cast the progressed chart for the native's place of birth, for the native's current location or residence, or for some other location choice?


9. Should the progression be made forward (direct) or backward (converse)?

The wide range of choices available within each method is mind-boggling. There are three choices available in numbers one, two, four and six; at least five in number three; two each in numbers seven and nine; and at least two in numbers five and eight. At a minimum these considerations offer at least an additional 6,480 possible variations within each of the following described methods.



A. Degree for a Year, MC, the Simple Method, or Ptolemy's Method: This is a commonly used method. It is also one of the simplest to derive, especially if you are doing the calculations without the aid of a computing device. On some days of the calendar year this method will closely approximate the results from method B below, but on other days it will vary more. Take the position of the MC at birth and add one degree to it for each year of life for which you wish to progress. Use the new MC to recalculate all of the personal sensitive points and house cusps. The planets are placed by their secondary progression positions (i.e., day 20 in the ephemeris after birth gives the planet's position for the 20th year of life, etc.). Fractions of a year can be ignored, or used, as you desire.

B. True Solar Arc: This is a more precise and rigorous form of 'A' above. Determine the position of the secondary progressed Sun (taking care to use elapsed time calculations), and subtract the position of the natal Sun from that. This gives the solar arc. You can measure solar arc along either the ecliptic or the celestial equator. Depending on your choice you will get slightly different progressed charts. Using the ecliptic for measuring arc differences is more common. For ecliptic arcs add the solar arc to the MC, and using this new MC value calculate a new RAMC. Add equator derived arcs directly to the RAMC. Use this new RAMC to calculate all personal sensitive points and house cusps. Adding solar arc to the planetary positions gives the planetary positions by solar arc. Calculating the planetary positions from an ephemeris using elapsed time calculations gives the secondary progressed planetary positions. One method yields solar arc planets while the other the secondary progressed planets' positions. The choice of how to move the planets is yours to make. See also 'D.'

C. Mean Solar Arc, Mean Arc, or, Naibod Arc: Naibod refers to the mean or average motion of the Sun in right ascension, which is an average value of: 0o 59' 08.33". Count the number of years you wish to progress and multiply that times the naibod value. Add this arc to the RAMC, and calculate a new MC. Use this new RAMC and MC to calculate all personal sensitive points and house cusps. The planets are placed by their secondary progression positions.


D. Solar Arc in Right Ascension: Measure the actual difference in position between the progressed Sun and the natal Sun in right ascension. Add this arc to the RAMC, and calculate a new MC. Use this new RAMC and MC to calculate all personal sensitive points and house cusps. The planets are then placed by their secondary progression positions.


E. Mean Solar Motion in Longitude: This is also called one of the Radix systems. Using the position of the natal Sun in zodiacal longitude, and using an average arc of motion in zodiacal longitude for the Sun of 0o 59' 10", take the number of years that you wish to progress and multiply it by this value. Add this arc obtained to the MC, and calculate a new RAMC. Use this new RAMC and MC to calculate all of the personal sensitive points and house cusps. (Notice that this average arc differs from the average arc given by the source for method C.)


F. Birthday, or, Actual Solar Arc Motion: Take the movement of the Sun over a twenty four hour period on the day of birth, and use whatever this rate of movement is as the value for the solar movement throughout life. The Sun will move between approximately 57' and 62' on any day in the year. Suppose the movement is 57' 22" on the day of birth. Take this and multiply it by the number of years you wish to progress, and then use that as an arc to move the MC to get the new RAMC. Use this new RAMC and MC to calculate all personal sensitive points and house cusps. This is also known as the Sun Key system, and can be done with the RA of the Sun as well as its zodiacal longitude. One question which arises from this method is whether the day should be counted from natal birth (birthday time) to natal birth time, or from zero to 24 hours as the clock measures.


G. Radix Method of Direction: The birthday arc is calculated as in "F", and the arc obtained is used as in solar arc, applied against all of the planets, house cusps, and personal sensitive points. The radix method is the Naibod arc in longitude. See both methods "C" and "E" for opinions on this arc angle's length.

H. Simple Ascendant Arc: Add one degree of arc for each year of life to the natal ascendant and calculate a new directed ascendant. Using this new ascendant re-calculate a new RAMC and then MC. Use this new RAMC and MC to calculate all personal sensitive points and house cusps.

I. True Ascendant Arc: Choose a method for progressing the MC, and using that re-calculate a new ascendant. Ascendant arc is the difference between the natal and this new ascendant. Apply that ascendant arc to each of the planets to get their ascendant arc placement. Do NOT use ascendant arc to re-calculate a new RAMC or an MC. A most common format is to move the MC by solar arc and calculate the new ascendant for the location of place. See also "B."

J. Mean Sidereal Time: Using the LST for the natal chart add 3M 56.56S of time (0.06571098 hours/day) for each year of birth to the LST, and calculate a new RAMC and MC. Use this new RAMC and MC to re-calculate all personal sensitive points and house cusps, etc. See also "X." Also known as "RAMS."

K. Vertex Arc: The MC is progressed by method of choice. Using this new MC a new vertex is calculated. The difference in arc between this progressed and the natal vertex is the vertex arc. Use this vertex arc in the same manner as a solar arc to direct all planets. The new personal sensitive points and house cusps are usually found by adding the vertex arc to their natal positions, but a variation includes recalculating them using the newly derived progressed MC.

L. Declination Arc Directions: The declination arc between the Secondary Progressed Sun and the natal Sun is measured, and applied, like solar arc to the zodiacal longitude of each planet or point. No explanation is given on how to derive a new MC. One interesting variation adds this declination arc to the declination of the existing MC, and then uses the declination of this new MC to calculate the MC's zodiacal longitude. No explanation is given for advocating the unusual addition of declination arc values to longitude values, nor for specifying whether the values should be added or subtracted.


M. Average Solar Arc in Declination: Similar to "L", but use an average solar declination movement of 0o 15' 24" for each year of life when calculating the total declination arc to apply to the other bodies.

N. Directing the MC by Solar Declination Arc: Calculate the actual declination arc as in "L" or "M" above, and apply this arc to the MC. Then convert this MC to an RAMC. Use this new RAMC and MC to calculate all personal sensitive points and house cusps, etc. This method is then identical to "L" or "M" above.

O. Symbolic Arc Directions: Choose a symbolic integer number to advance all planets and positions, by arc, for each year of life. This integer ( a whole number, or, a number without a fractional part; such as 2, 3, 7, etc.) is then used to calculate a new MC, etc. as in solar arc directions discussed above.


P. Quotidian progressions, or, Daily progressions: This method determines a new MC for any day of the year. The MC rotates through all 360° (a movement of about one degree per day) during the year from solar return to solar return. Determine your preferred method for calculating a progressed MC. Measure how far the progressed MC has moved from the natal MC. Add that amount (about one degree per day) to 360 degrees, and then divide that number by the number of days in the upcoming year (first choose a year type to get the exact number of days in a year, e.g., solar, tropical, etc. If you don't care then use 365 days). This gives an average daily movement of the MC for the upcoming year. Move the MC by that amount for each day, and get the new MC for each day of the year. Recalculate the chart angles and house cusps for that new daily MC, and place the progressed planets therein. Remember to progress the planets throughout the year too, as the progressed Moon moves about twelve degrees or so during the year, etc. There is also a "Mean Quotidian" computational method. In this method the MC is moved at the constant daily rate (the mean solar day) of 360° / 365.24219879 days per year. There is also an "Apparent Quotidian" method. In this variation the actual rate of Sun's motion per day is used (as opposed to the average or mean motion of the Sun's movement). This gives a slight shift to the Midheaven's rate of motion based on the equation of time. See also "T" and "U."

Q. Annual Harmonics: The user is introduced to two new terms: "harmonic multiplier" and "age arc". The age arc is determined by taking the length of a person's age in years as accurately as possible. Thus at age 38 years and 247 days, one's age arc is: (38 + (247 ÷ 365)) = 38.677. The harmonic multiplier (hm) is 360 degrees divided by the age arc. For this example the harmonic multiplier would be (360 ÷ 38.677) = 9.308. The harmonic multiplier is then used to calculate a harmonic chart, and the harmonic chart is examined to determine what will occur to the native. That is, the native's birth Sun is multiplied by 9.308 (in this example -- each day of life gives one a new harmonic multiplier), the Moon also, etc. for all of the planets and sensitive points, including the MC which is used to calculate a new set of chart angles.


R. Meridian of the Day: While not correctly a strict secondary progression method this technique does merit a description and inclusion in this article. There are several variations to the meridian of the day (MD): (SA = Solar arc). This can also be done in right ascension.

a. MD = Natal MC + SA ! + Transiting ! - Natal !;

b. MD = Location MC + SA ! + Transiting ! - Natal !;

c. MD = Natal MC - SA ! + Transiting ! - Natal !;

d. MD = Location MC - SA ! + Transiting ! - Natal !;

e. MD = Natal MC + SA ! + Transiting ! - Precessed Natal !;

f. MD = Natal MC - SA ! + Transiting ! - Precessed Natal !.

S. Diurnal: Using your time and time zone of birth, erect a chart for the day of the current year, for your location of choice. Use the chart obtained by this method to determine the effect of that location on you for this day.


T. Mean Neo-Quotidian: Obtain a value for the difference between the natal and progressed MC by naibod arc in right ascension. Add to that arc the natal RAMC and the difference between the right ascension of the transiting Sun minus the right ascension of the natal Sun. Use this new MC to calculate a daily chart, etc.

a. New daily RAMC = Natal RAMC + Naibod arc in RA +

RA Transiting ! - RA Natal !;


U. Apparent Neo-Quotidian: One apparent solar day (hour angle of the Sun to its hour angle the next day) is equal to one year of life in the secondary progression. The exact formula used to compute the new progressed RAMC is: to the natal RAMC add the difference between the RA of the progressed and natal Sun, and the difference between the RA of the transiting and the RA of the natal Sun.

V. Progressed Midheaven of the Day in Zodiacal Longitude: This is a technique introduced by the Hamburg School of astrology (Uranian astrology). It is similar in formulation to "U" except that all calculations are done using values in zodiacal longitude, and not in right ascension.

W. A European Variation: Similar to method "J," but uses a rate of exactly four minutes and zero seconds as the progression rate.

X. Some Church of Light Variations: Mark Pottenger suggested the names used for these variations. Whether one should measure in the tropical or sidereal zodiac is not mentioned. Other variations on these methods would be to substitute the sidereal or nodal periods for the synodic periods.

Synodic Tertiary: One day in the ephemeris is equal to one synodic lunar month (New Moon to New Moon). In the tropical zodiac, this gives a ratio of one day in the ephemeris being equal to 29.53059028 days of life.

Synodic Minor: One synodic lunar month (29.53059028 days) is equal to one solar year (365.25636042 days). In the tropical zodiac, each 29.53059028 days in the ephemeris corresponds to 365.25636042 days (12.36826639 calendar months) of life.


An example using most of the above methods is taken from the day and time former President Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981. His birthplace is Tampico, IL.

The latitude for Tampico, IL: 41N38, and the ecliptic obliquity used for that date is 23o 26' 50". One variation which arises includes calculating the new ASC for the location of the place of the shooting, i.e., Washington, DC (38 N 53). The latitude for Tampico, IL (natal latitude) is used in the calculations which follow.

Ronald Reagan was born with the following birth data (the time used is obtained from a chart rectification done by Alexander Marr):

Feb. 6, 1911 01:44:06 AM CST Tampico, IL 89W47 41N38

which gives a natal RAMC = 161o 33' 56" LST = 10:46:16

MC = 10 6 02 ASC = 25 8 50

Chart 1 shows Ronald Reagan's natal chart.

The longitude of Ronald Reagan's natal Sun is: 16 - 25' 00"

and the right ascension of his natal Sun is: 318o 52' 22"


Chart 2 is cast for the time Ronald Reagan was shot in Washington, DC, about 2:00 PM on 3/30/81. By secondary progression his Sun's position at that time is:

Longitude of progressed Sun: 26 1 19' 23"

Right ascension of progressed Sun: 024o 25' 05"

The zodiacal long. angle (SA) between his natal and progressed Sun is: 69o 54' 23"

The right asc. (RA) angle between his natal and progressed Sun is: 65o 32' 43". The time between birth and the incident is: 70 years and 52 days (= 70.142 years).

The abbreviations used are the standard ones:

ASC Ascendant

e The obliquity of the ecliptic

LST Local sidereal time

MC Midheaven

RAMC Right ascension of the Midheaven

RASC Right ascension of the ascendant

SA Solar arc

The Mathematical Procedures for each Method


The lettered paragraphs which follow refer to the methods described earlier. In the following examples the symbol + means add, the symbol - means subtract, the symbol * means multiply, and the symbol ÷ means divide.

A. By the Degree for a Year Method his progressed MC should be:

Age = 70.142 years at time of event * 1 degree/year = 70o 09' arc to add

Progressed MC = 10 6 02 + 70o 09' = 20 8 11

This gives a new RAMC of 227o 44' 19" (15:10:57) and new ASC of 25 0 49


Using the new MC and RAMC re-calculate all personal sensitive points and house cusps to get the progressed chart angles. The calculation of these and of all planetary positions is left to you as an educational exercise. Similar instructions could be placed at the end of each of the calculation methods which follow.

B. By solar arc his MC at this event will be:

Solar arc = 69o 54' 23" Natal MC = 10 6 02 (notice how close this true arc is to the results gained in method "A" above — if you want accuracy in prediction then you should use accuracy in your mathematics — if you don't care about accuracy that much then save yourself some work and use method "A" — the 15 1/2 minutes of arc represents about 15 1/2 months of time for this event. Is an error of 15 1/2 months in a forecast acceptable?)

160o 02 + 69o 54 = 229o 56 = 19 8 56

Using this formula to derive RAMC = ARCTAN ( TAN MC * COS e )

Where e is the obliquity of the ecliptic, and LST = RAMC ÷ 15

Then, using RAMC = 227o 29' 36" LST = 15:09:58

The new MC = 19 8 56, and the new ASC = 25 0 32

(Note: due to rounding and not using seconds of arc in the computation of the RA of the Sun, the actual answer may be slightly off — if you want to improve the accuracy of these calculations then please do so ... ).

C. Naibod arc: 70.142 years of age * 0o 59' 08.33" (or, 0.985647o) = 69.1353o

or, 69o 08' 07" or, 69° 08'. Adding this quantity to the natal MC gives:

Naibod MC = 10 6 02 + 69o 08' = 19 8 10. This gives an LST of 15:06:51; RAMC = 226° 42' 45"; MC = 19 8 10; ASC = 24 0 37

Compared to "B" above this gives results within about one degree. A year is about one degree in these measurements. Does making a forecast to plus or minus one year give adequate accuracy for you?

D. Solar arc in right ascension:

Natal RAMC = 161o 33' 56" Solar arc in RA = 65o 32' Adding these:

RAMC = 65o 32' 43" + 161o 33' 56" = 227o 06' 39"; the LST = 15:08:27

The Progressed MC = 19 8 34; and the Progressed ASC = 25 0 05

Continue as indicated above in "A."


E. Mean Solar motion in longitude method:

Age = 70.142 years. By definition, Mean Solar Motion = 0o 59' 10" = 0.986111o

Prog. MC = 10 6 02 + ( 70.142 * 0.986111o) = 160.0333o + 69.1678o =

229.20111o = 19 8 12 Calculating the new values:

LST = 15:06:59; Progressed MC = 19 8 12; Progressed ASC = 24 0 39

F. The Birthday or actual solar arc motion method:

On Feb. 6 the Sun moves 1o 00' 47" in 24 clock hours. For an age of 70.142 years: Progressed MC = 10 6 02 + (70.142 years * 1o 00' 47") = 160.0333o + 71.0577o = 231o 05' 28" = 21 8 05 This gives a new LST = 15:14:38

Using this LST to calculate a new ASC we get: ASC = 26 0 54


G. The Radix method gives an MC of 21 8 05, as in "F", but an ASC of:

Natal ASC = 25 8 50 + 71.0577o = 301.7472 = 06 - 54

H. Simple ascendant arc method:

Natal ASC = 25 8 50 + 70.142o = New ASC of 5 - 59

This gives an RAMC of: 235.9583o or an LST of 15:43:50

This makes the progressed MC = 28 8 13

I. True ascendant arc: This method depends on how you choose to progress the MC. Progressing the MC by ecliptic measured solar arc as in step 'B':

RAMC = 227o29' 36" LST = 15:09:58 Natal ASC = 25 8 50

MC = 19 8 56 new ASC = 25 0 32

Ascendant arc = new ASC of 25 0 32 - Natal ASC of 25 8 50 = 59o 42'

Add this ascendant arc of 59o 42' to each of the planetary positions.

J. Mean Sidereal Time: the LST at birth was: LST = 10:46:16, and the average motion for sidereal time is given as 0.06571098 hours per year. Multiplying by the age of 70.142 years we get:

70.142 * 0.06571098 = 4.6091 hours = 4H 36M 33S

Adding this to the natal LST of 10:46:16 we get a new LST of 15:22:49

RAMC = 230o 42' 15" MC = 23 8 06 ASC = 29 0 21

K. Vertex arc: The natal vertex is 9 4 25. Using the same method of moving the MC as in "I" above, we get a progressed vertex of 28 5 59. Finding the vertex arc means subtracting one from the other:

28 5 59 - 9 4 25 = 49o 34 ' which is the vertex arc

Add this arc (as a vertex arc) to the planets, and continue as indicated.


L. Declination of the progressed Sun is 10 N 09, and the natal Sun is 15 S 55. The arc difference between these two figures is: 26o 04'. Add this arc difference like a solar arc to the longitude of the natal planets, ASC, etc.

M. Average declination arc: The average motion is given as 0° 15'24", and the age is at 70.142 years. Multiplying, we get:

70.142 * 0.2567 = 18.0055o = 18o 00' 20". Add this arc to all bodies to get their new progressed positions.

This arc, when added to the natal MC of 10 6 02, gives us a new MC of

28 6 02. Using this for our calculations we get:

MC = 28 6 02 LST = 11:52:48 new ASC = 9 9 03

N. The calculations were already performed in "M" above, and we got:

MC = 28 6 02. From our equations we get:

LST = 11:52:48 MC = 28 6 02 ASC = 9 9 03

O. Symbolic arc directions: Choose any integer for a symbolic arc; e.g., 3:

70.142 years * 3 = 210o 25' 34". Add this value as an arc to the natal MC. New MC = 10 1 28. Then derive the LST = 00:38:29; RAMC = 9o 36' 44"; and the ASC = 27 4 13. Other integer numbers like 2, 4, 5, etc. can also be used.

P. Quotidians: The MC progressed by solar arc for one day will move 1o 00' 47" (see "F" above). Adding this to 360 and then dividing by 365 for the number of days in the rest of 1980 and early 1981 we get an MC movement of:

361o 00'47" ÷ 365 = 0o 59' 21" of MC motion per day. Thus, on March 31 the MC would be (using the MC from "B" above) = MC = 19 8 56 + 0o 59'21" =

19 8 57. Or, add to the LST in this example 00:03:57.38 (hours, mins, secs) each day and then re-calculate the MC, RAMC, and ASC as desired.

Q. Annual Harmonics: The age arc is computed as 70 years and 52 days, or: (70 + (52 ÷ 365)) = 70.142. The harmonic multiplier (hm) is 360 degrees divided by the age arc. In this example the harmonic multiplier is (360 ÷ 70.142) = 5.1324. Reagan's birth Sun is multiplied by 5.1324 , as are all of his planets and sensitive points, including the MC which is used to calculate a new set of chart angles. For my purposes 5.1324 * 10 6 02 gives a new MC = 11 4 21; or an LST = 06:49:36, which gives an MC = 11 4 21, and an ASC = 9 7 45.

R. Meridian of the Day (MD): I will only calculate sub-type 'a' (the reader may do the rest as an exercise): a. MD = Natal MC + Solar Arc ! + Transiting ! - Natal !. Therefore: MD = 10 6 02 + 69° 54' 23" + 09 1 58' 54" - 316° 25' 00" = 283° 30' 17". The MD is then used as another planet or personal sensitive point in the chart. 283° 30' 17" = 13 0 30.

S. Diurnal: Ronald Reagan was born at 01:44:06 AM CST, which allowing for the one hour time zone difference translated to Washington, DC requires erecting a chart for 02:44:06 AM EST on 3/30/81 in DC. Doing this yields: LST = 15:06:32 RAMC = 226° 38' 00" MC = 19 8 05 ASC = 26 0 45.

T. Mean Neo-Quotidian: Ronald Reagan's natal RAMC = 161° 33' 56". The daily naibod arc in RA is 0° 59' 08.33". This gives an arc for the event of 70.142 * 0.985647° = 69.1353° = 69° 08" 07". The RA of the Transiting Sun minus RA natal Sun = 009° 10' - 318° 52' = 50.3078°. Adding these together: natal RAMC + naibod RA + (RA trans. Sun - RA natal Sun)

161° 33' 56" + 69° 08" 07" + 50° 18" 28" = 281° 00' 31" = LST of 18:44:02.

Progressed MC = 10 0 07; progressed ASC = 19 1 15.

U. Apparent Neo-Quotidian: Ronald Reagan's natal RAMC = 161° 33' 56". The RA arc between his natal and progressed Sun is 65° 32'. The RA of the transiting Sun for this event is 9° 10' 28". Using the formula:

RA Prog Sun minus RA natal Sun = 024° 24' - 318° 52' = 65.5333°

RA Transiting Sun minus RA natal Sun = 009° 10' - 318° 52' = 50.3078°

Neo-Quotidian progr. MC = 65.5333° + 50.3078° + 161° 33' 56 = 277° 24' 24"

This gives an LST = 18:29:38; or a new MC = 6 0 48; and ASC = 13 1 03.

V. Progressed MC of the day: Ronald Reagan's natal MC = 10 6 02. The zodiacal longitude of his natal Sun is 16 - 25; his progressed Sun for this event is at 26 1 19, and the transiting Sun for this event was at 9 1 59' 04". Combining these: Long. Prog. Sun - Long. Natal Sun = (26 1 19) - (10 6 02) = 133° 43'. The long. Transiting Sun - long. natal Sun = (9 1 10) - (10 6 02) = 150° 52'. Combining these: 133° 43' + 150° 52' + natal MC of 10 6 02 = 24 3 37. This gives values as follows: progressed natal MC = 24 3 37; progressed RAMC = 84° 13' 52"; progressed LST = 05:36:32; and progressed ASC = 25 6 23.

W. European Variation: the LST at birth was: LST = 10:46:16, and the average motion for sidereal time is given as 0.066666667 hours per year. Multiplying by the age of 70.142 years we get:

70.142 * 0.066666667 = 4.6761 hours = 4H 40M 34S

Adding this to the natal LST of 10:46:16 we get a new LST of 15:26:50

RAMC = 231o 42' 31" MC = 24 8 05 ASC = 00 - 35.


The results from some of the methods, in a tabulated form, are:




A 15:10:57 227o44'19" 20 8 11 25 0 49

B 15:09:58 227o29'36" 19 8 56 25 0 32

C 15:06:51 226o42'45" 19 8 10 24 0 37

D 15:08:27 227o06'39" 19 8 34 25 0 05

E 15:06:59 226o44'45" 19 8 12 24 0 39

F 15:14:38 228o39'30" 21 8 05 26 0 54

G 15:14:03 228o39'30" 21 8 05 6 - 54

H 15:43:50 235o57'30" 28 8 13 5 - 59

I 15:09:58 227o29'36" 19 8 56 25 0 32 Asc. Arc = 59o 42'

J 15:22:49 230o42'15" 23 8 06 29 0 21

K Find Vertex Arc using values derived in "B" Vertex Arc = 49o 34'

L Calculate the declination arc values

M 11:52:48 178o12'00" 28 6 02 9 9 03

N 11:52:48 178o12'00" 28 6 02 9 9 03

O 00:38:29 9o36'44" 10 1 28 27 4 13 with Factor = 3

P 07:16:39 109o09'45" 17 4 41 15 7 03

Q 06:49:24 102o21'00" 11 4 21 09 7 43

R N/A N/A 13 0 30 (Used as personal point)

S 15:06:32 226o38'00" 19 8 05 26 0 45

T 18:44:02 281o00'31" 10 0 07 19 1 15

U 18:29:38 277o24'24" 06 0 48 13 1 03

V 05:36:32 084o13'52" 24 3 37 25 6 23

W 15:26:50 231o42'31" 24 8 05 00 - 35


Writing this paper has been a long and arduous process. It was done in spurts over more than eight years. This paper presents a compendium of many different progression or direction techniques. The results from the methods used most popularly give results that are so close that it is difficult on a practical basis to argue one method over another for the purposes of astrological accuracy. However, as stated earlier, the purpose of this exercise was to list together in one location all of the methods I could locate on the subject of secondary progressions and directions within astrology. This exercise has all left me seriously wondering: "Just what are secondary progressions, directions or returns?"


Selected References

Blaschke, Robert, personal correspondence, 1997 - 98

Bridges, Tom, personal correspondence, 1988 - 93

Cochrane, David, personal correspondence, 1991 - 3

Dobyns, Zipporah, "Progressions, Directions and Rectification", 1975

Erlewine, Michael, "Blue Star, Level III, User's Guide," page 11.8 ff., © 1989.

Hand, Robert, "The NOVA Computer Program Documentation," Section 6. January, 1988. Also, personal correspondence and discussions.

Harvey, Axel, personal correspondence, 1992 - 3

Haskell, Dennis, personal correspondence, 1988 - 93

Hastings, Nancy Anne, "Secondary Progressions, Time to Remember," Samuel Weiser, 1984.

Hastings, Nancy Anne, "The Practice of Prediction," Samuel Weiser, 1989, page 61 ff.

Hickey, Isabel, "Astrology, A Cosmic Science," Chapter 28, 1970, Fellowship House, Watertown, MA.

Holly, Nina; Symbolic Directions in the Horoscope; The Mountain Astrologer; July/Sept. 2005; page 2 of the "Mercury Direct" section

Hone, Margaret, "The Modern Textbook of Astrology," Fowler, 1951, Chapter 12.

Jayne, Charles A., "Progressions and Directions," 1971, privately published pamphlet, Astrological Bureau, Monroe, NY.

March, Marion D., and McEvers, Joan; "The Only Way to ..., Learn about Tomorrow," ACS Publishers, 1988.

Meister, Maggie, personal correspondence, 1992

Milburn, Leigh Hope, "The Progressed Chart Simplified," 5th edition, 1936, AFA

Pottenger, Mark, "The CCRS '92 Computer Program Documentation," Chapter 19, et al., © 1992. Also, personal correspondence, 1987 - 93

Pottenger, Mark, "The Mutable Dilemma," Sagittarius, 1980; and, Virgo, 1981

See also various magazine articles and privately published works by such authors as: C. E. O. Carter, Robert DeLuce, Cyril Fagan, Brigadier R. Firebrace, Kuehr, Sepharial, Zadkiel, and C. C. Zain.

Toward a Definition of Astrology

Michael Munkasey, © 1996


Opening Statements

Astrology is a complex subject which is rapidly gaining in recognition and popularity. This growth begs for a more formal definition of what it is, and what it is not. Astrology is not easy to define because it is part craft, part art, part science and part written and oral tradition. Astrology embraces branches which view what it is and how it is to be practiced in quite different ways.

This begging need for definition also asks who has the right to use the title "Astro­loger," and what should the minimum expected level of ethics be for astrological activities. Assump­tions about astrology are currently being made with­out regard for its traditional defini­tions and practices. This is leading to a dilution of traditional ideas and standards and brings serious implications.

I think of astrology as showing three quite different facets. These are as a:

- language

- set of tools (e.g., planets, signs, houses, etc.)

- facility for determining human or event insights.

There are two quite different ways to define astrology: through Function (tech­nique) or through Practice (application).

- Function, or technique, implies that the definition centers on how the various astrological tools are used. Examples of definition of astrology by function include such schools of thought as: Cos­mobiology, Hindu, Uranian, Tropical Placidian, Medieval, the use of Degree Symbolism, etc.

- Practice, or application, implies that the definition embody the various applications used. Examples of definition of astrology by practice include such schools of thought as: Humanistic, Natal, Esoteric, Psychologi­cal, Compatibility, Mundane, Horary, Shamanistic, Religious (e.g., The X Temple of Astrology), Art Forms (e.g., Astro-Drama), etc.

It is important to note these distinctions when discussing how astrology is to be defined.

The advantage to definition through function is that various schools of thought and practice remain independent from the definition. The disadvantage is that practitioners may find themselves working in more than one area and thus the minimum standards required to practice are more complex.

The advantage of defining it through practice is that practitioners can easily switch among various functions or techniques. The disadvantage is that different schools of application could become a part of the definition. This could imply that the people who tout this practice then become part of the definition.

The fields of engineering and medicine are also complex. Engineering divi­des along lines of prac­tice such as mechanical, civil, electrical, computer science, electronic design, etc. The only relationship among some of these fields is their commonalty with the ideas of design and production. Each of these fields has their own professional organizations, accrediting practices, newsletters, etc. They also have colleges (e.g., the school of electrical engineer­ing) devoted to educating students in their practices.

The field of medicine divi­des into obstet­rics, internal medicine, ophthalmology, urolo­gy, radiology, etc. Their commonalty is a dedication to healing. In daily practice we recog­nize that if you need eye care, you do not go to a radiologist or an urologist. If we want a bridge or a building built we do not go to a computer design engineer. Yet, there are civil engineers who use computers. They just don't advertise them­selves as being experts in computer design.

Both the fields of medicine and engi­neering have done good jobs of educating the pubic about their various branches. There is an important lesson to be learned from this by those wishing to call themselves an astrologer.

In medi­cine a student takes four college years of general medical courses, four years of medical school courses, and then special­izes and practices in a field for a number of years before being examined and certified for public practice. There is both a state and a national certification process.

In engineering a student takes spe­cific courses in college but is qualified to practice in a field as soon as he or she passes an accrediting exam (e.g., obtains a civil engin­eer's license).

Licen­sing is also a requirement in the field of medicine, and a doctor is licensed for his or her particular field of interest. In both fields profession­al organizations are strong and encourage active membership for on-going educational practices.

Using these fields as an example it makes sense to divide astrolo­gy in a simil­ar manner, that is along the lines of practice. The ideas which unite the astro­logical fields include the use of solar system planets, zodiacal signs, as­pects (or harmonics), the personal sensitive points, houses, fixed stars, other solar system bodies, and long precessional cycles as basic tools. Astro­logical practices include psychological, predictive, business, synastry, esoteric, etc., divisions of fields.

Within psy­chologi­cal there are branches for counsel­ing, astro-drama, mythology, etc. Within predictive there are branch­es for horary, electional, the use of oracles along with or as a horoscope, pro­gres­sions, etc. Business ideas include both mun­dane and business applica­tions. Synas­try includes both counseling for inter­personal relationships and coun­sel­ing for company / employee interactions, etc. Esoteric includes prac­tices of astrology associated with religion, ritual, soul development, studies of past Master's teachings, stone circles, reincarna­tion, natural settings, rhythmic move­ment, etc.

Such diver­se parts to astrol­ogy are currently causing confusion among the public as to what astro­logy is as a practice, and who has the right to call them­selves or to practice as an astrologer.

Specifically omitted from these particular fields are practices which cause qualms among some astrologers. These can include the use of tarot cards (or a similar oracle) as a chart reading vehicle as opposed to using the traditional astrological tools while still retaining the title "astrologer"; the primary use of intuition as a vehicle for interpre­tation of a horoscope or oracle -- as opposed to studied practice; and the mixing of techniques from various oracular practices along with astrological symbols.

Few, if any, standards exist today within the professional practice of astrology to differentiate among practitioners who place large outdoor advertising signs depicting red-painted hands with symbols of Jupiter or the Moon imprinted thereon; or with practitioners who take the time to gain experience and accreditation in using more traditional astrological chart reading methods.

If professionals in the field of astrology are to follow the successful public edu­cational practices used by medicine or engineering then these people should start to identify themselves not as "astrologers," but as "Natal Astrologers," "Electional Astrologers," "Business Astrologers," etc.

I am deliberately NOT addressing the issue of accreditation. Accreditation is a totally separate issue from a definition of astrology. There can be no move­ment to­ward public recognition of the practice of astrology without an adequate defin­ition of what astrology is and what astrology is not. There can be no move­ment toward an adequate scientific test of astrology without a definition of what astro­logy is and what astrology is not.

Accreditation involves the exami­nation and licensing of people to ensure that they meet certain levels of educa­tion and competence in their chosen field of practice. Definition of these fields allows any person to identify with the techniques and specific practices in which they choose to develop competency. This paper is about definition

The implications of what is being presented here are quite large. Should it be decided or shown that astrology is a language or a set of tools, then efforts toward the "scientific proof" of astrology make little sense. No one is trying to scientifically prove that German or French, or a hammer and wrench, are scientifically valid.

Requests for a "proof" of astrology are often mixed with trying to determine how astro­l­ogy works. Scientists do not test the validity of German or French. Rather they use German or French in situations to determine various aspects of our physi­cal nature. In a similar way, asking if right or left handedness, or one's hair color, is provable through astrology may be the wrong type of question to ask. Rather one should ask questions like "How does a skilled Horary Astro­loger use his or her tools to arrive at answers?" "Are the answers so derived cor­rect?" What is meant by the word "correct"? "Are such practices reproducible in other contexts?"

Suggested Definitions

Astrology is a practice designed to help people understand themselves or events, their current life situations, and their strengths and weaknesses. Astrology uses certain tools which are called the: solar system planets, zodiacal signs, aspects (or harmonics), the personal sensitive points, houses, fixed stars, other solar system bodies, planetary nodes, and long precessional cycles.

Astrology as a language. In English grammar we have nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. In Astrology we have planets, signs, etc. There is a correlation between these two ideas. That is, planets can be thought of as having a noun, adjective or adverb depiction. Etc. See "The Astrological Thesaurus, Book One, House Keywords" by Michael Munkasey for a fuller explanation.

An astrologer is a person who has studied the tools of astrology; knows and understands their definitions, applications and limitations; and can interpret a chart using them to answer questions or provide insight.

A chart is a traditional, symbolic and stylized diagram which uses at least three of the astrolog­i­cal tools depicted in a recognized manner. A natal chart depicts a birth, a horary chart a horary question, etc.

A horoscope is one of the tools that astrologers use, sometimes called the rising sign. The map or chart, often miscalled a horoscope, is just that: a map or chart of the various astrological tools drawn in a traditional way.

Planets. It is best to stick with the traditional astrological planets before adding in other bodies like the asteroids, newly discovered solar system bodies, hypothetical planets, etc. While these can work, and often in dramatic ways, the use and understanding of the traditional astrological planets should come first.

These are: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

Nodes. Nodes are derived from the intersection points of a planet's orbit with the plane of the Ecliptic. Each of the planets has both a North Node, and a South Node. These are opposite to each other in space. Nodes can also be measured in Heliocentric (Sun at the center) or Geocentric (Earth at the center) positions. Nodes can be determined by their "average daily motion" position (not recommended) or by their "true" position (recommended). The most commonly used and shown Node in astrological practice is the geocentric Moon's Node.

Personal Sensitive Points. Abbreviated PSPs. There are seven PSPs, or eight if you include the Moon's Node, which belongs included with the PSPs. Each of the PSPs has a focus (or main) side, and an opposite side. In my opinion an astrologer should learn and use the main side first.

Each of the PSPs is a real and definable point in space. These are not theoretical constructs. They are each powerful in their own way, and should not be ignored in astrological practice. Popularly there are two PSPs which are shown in the chart: the Ascendant (ASC) and the MC. The names of the other PSPs are the: Equatorial Ascendant (EQA); Vertex (VTX); Co-Ascendant (CAS); Polar Ascendant (PAS); and Aries Point (APT).

No one of the PSPs is any more important than any other. They are all important. The MC serves as an "anchor" for the chart, in that the MC connects the astrological chart to a point on the Ecliptic which becomes the foundation for orienting the chart in space. The MC represents "time" and the ASC represents the "horizon". The MC and ASC are also referred to as the chart angles, because they set the framework for erecting a chart diagram.

Aspects and Harmonics: These are two words which refer to the same idea, although they are slightly different in meaning. An aspect is the angle between two planets, or a planet and a PSP. For example, if Jupiter and Saturn in a chart are 47 degrees and 23 minutes apart, then that is their aspect (angle). The eighth harmonic (division) of the 360 degree circle of the Ecliptic falls at 45 degrees (360 divided by 8 = 45). Thus one could say that in this example there is an 8th harmonic aspect between Jupiter and Saturn.

Not all harmonics have to be whole or real numbers (integer numbers, e.g. 5, 16, 243). There can also be harmonic intervals with numbers having a decimal point (real numbers, e.g., 3.49, 1.392, 41.67). Real number harmonics can become a useful tool. The practice of "arc-transforms" uses real number harmonics, and it is a very powerful aid to finding a chart's power points.

Astrology can be divided into fields of practice, such as

Psychological Astrology

The use of astrological knowledge and tools to counsel people to help them understand themselves, their role in life, their strengths, weak­nesses, etc.


The use of astrological knowledge and tools to counsel people in inter­personal situations.

Business Astrology

The use of astrological knowledge and tools to counsel people in busi­n­ess, mundane, political, event, or historical situations. This includes the study and interpretation all forms of market cycles.

Predictive Astrology

The use of astrological knowledge and tools to answer people's questions about future, present, or past trends, select times for propitious astro­log­i­cal influences, etc. This includes horary and electional methods.

Esoteric Astrology

The use of astrologically based knowledge to help others identify with their culture, background, self, soul, etc. The use of and mixing in of various oracles along with the basic astrological tools may be acceptable.

Medical Astrology

The use of astrological knowledge and tools to counsel people concerning their medical situation.

Rectification Astrology

The use of astrological knowledge and tools to determine the time of a birth or the time of an event.

Cycle Astrology

The use of astrological knowledge and tools to forecast weather, sun spots, natural cycles in populations, etc.

Others (These require further development and definition)

Conclusions - It is Time ...

It is time to seriously address what astrology is and what astrology is not. If astrologers choose to follow the lead of the fields of engineering and medicine then it is time to start defining our various fields of practice, as well as the minimum educational levels acceptable within each field. It is time to start organizing astrology along these fields of practice. It is time to start educating ourselves and the general public about the differences among these various fields. It is time to start organizational groups within these fields. It is also time for the teachers and leaders in astrology to identify themselves and their students as "Medical Astrologers," or "Natal Astrologers," etc. The word "astrologer" has simply become too general to use as a one word definition.

What I have intended here is to open a community-wide discussion about the definition and role of astrology. Because we lack such a definition, along with its acceptance, we open ourselves to criticism from many different angles. A definition of what astrology is and what astrology is not is becoming increas­ingly necessary. Once such a definition is decided then it needs to be adopted by all astrological practitioners. This could take a long time, perhaps twenty or fifty or more years. I hope that my preliminary thinking can help bring some order to a very complex subject.

Michael Munkasy
Michael Munkasey has University degrees in Engineering and Management. He is a Vietnam Veteran and worked for over 30 years in the areas of Public Transportation, Medicine and Air Traffic Control as a computer systems analyst and data base specialist. He has the highest Professional Astrological Certifications from all major US astrological organizations. He started his astrological studies in 1969. He was a member of the Board of Directors for NCGR for 22 years, and authored their Constitution and By-Laws, initiated their SIG concept, and set the standards for their research approaches. These days he maintains for sale an extensive data base of information on companies traded on the major US stock exchanges. He also has had books published on Midpoints, Houses, and Uranian Astrology. Michael received the 2008 UAC Regulus Award for "Discovery, Innovation and Research".