We are all born at a distinct moment and place in time. The position of the planets at that moment indicates our life path in terms of how we assert, relate and communicate. Yet we are not static creatures. We are always changing.
One of the changes we go through – in an astrological sense – is a kind of inner shift in how we experience life and express ourselves. In contrast to transits – in which the planets “out there” make significant angles to the planets in our natal charts – there is another form of predictive astrology called progressions. There are many forms of progressions, but the most popular kind is called secondary progressions. In calculating secondary progressions, one views a day of your life as equivalent to a year in your life. Metaphorically, this makes sense. You wake up (Spring). After a while you start getting really active in your day (Summer). You wind down in the afternoon (Fall). And at night you go to sleep (Winter).
Technically, secondary progressions work like this: Let’s say you’re 20 years old. You look at where the planets were on the 20th day of your life. So if you were born on April 15, you would look at where the planets were 20 days later in the year of your birth (or the year after if you were born in late December). It’s rather easy to get your progressed chart for free at sites like astro.com, but to see them in action it helps to look at an ephemeris, which is a set of tables illustrating where the planets are on every day of every year.
Let’s look at the ephemeris for 1990 (PDF). For someone born on April 15, we see that Venus is at 9 Pisces. (Look at the fifth column.) Count twenty days (you’ll have to move into May), and you’ll see that the numbers get higher and then go back to 0. That means that on the 20th day of this person’s life, Venus is now in Aries. Venus has changed signs.
How is this significant? Well imagine that all throughout your teens – and let’s say you’re female – you express your femininity and attract others through being one of those wispy, ethereal, poetic girls who are hard to pin down and seem perpetually lost in her imagination (Pisces). Then around age 19 or 20, you noticed an inner shift in which you feel much more assertive and direct. You’re more forward in letting guys know you’re interested. You don’t beat around the bush when talking about what you desire. (Aries!)
This doesn’t mean you’re no longer a Venus in Pisces. As Lara Owen puts it, “A progressed planet doesn’t change your nature…. But when Venus progresses into another sign, you get an overlay of the new sign, and this can affect you deeply, broadening your nature and experience.”
If you didn’t know astrology, you might think you’re going crazy. This is quite a drastic shift from how you’ve expressed your Venus all your life. With an understanding of secondary progressions, you can see this change as a natural development of yourself as a soul over time.
Secondary progressions are not always this simple, though. Venus also moves retrograde (apparently backward), so it could move into the previous sign during your lifetime, and then move direct back into the the sign of your natal Venus placement. Or it could not change signs for your entire life. For example, Venus will enter Scorpio on September 8, 2010 and not move into Sagittarius until January 7, 2011. In secondary progressed terms, that’s over 100 years, so a child born, say, in late September will not see a change in the sign of her progressed Venus in her lifetime.
This is why it’s important to get a “visual” of the movement of your Venus by looking at an ephemeris rather than just getting a copy of your progressed chart for today. (To get a free copy of your progressed chart, go to Astro.com > Free Horoscopes > Horoscopes Drawings & Calculations > Extended Chart Selection, and then choose Progressed Chart from the drop-down menu.)
It is beyond the scope of this article to explain the meaning of every progressed Venus placement. One useful resource is about halfway down the page of The Astrology of Love in Midlife, in which Lara Owen discusses the progression of Venus into two consecutive signs later (e.g., Aries into Gemini). (Please let me know in the comments section if you’ve found other useful websites that discuss the progression of Venus into a new sign.)