Note* Originally this article appeared in the Winter Solstice 2008 edition of the Geocosmic Journal, a periodical published by the NCGR, one of the world’s foremost astrological organizations. I was limited to a certain size for the article at the time, and have revised it somewhat for clarity, and for your enjoyment – Roy
A Little Background
Many of my teachers and colleagues in both the east and the west believe that modern astrologers rely too heavily on transits. I agree in principle, but in terms of our visual experience of the apparent changes in the heavens, transits should be at least as significant as the myriad symbolic omens commonly employed by practicing astrologers.
I don’t believe that the problem is simply one of philosophy; despite the precise measurements we are now capable of, we have fumbled in trying to tie together an efficient and reliable system of transit analysis. Too many of our methods become too complicated, as if baroque complexity somehow validates the technique.
Like a minimalist composer or architect, I try to experience the subject (the celestial sphere) in the simplest structural form possible. This way, I feel that I can experience greater clarity when building an analysis of a chart. This minimalism frees me from much of the clutter and embellishment that fills astrological textbooks. I’ve come to believe that in astrology less is more. The ancients had less to work with, but devised methods that still perform exceedingly well.
The ancient astral philosophers divided the heavens into two kinds of motion and two kinds of stars. The first of these, or primary motion, is the apparent clockwise movement of the celestial sphere that carries the fixed stars with it – this is the motion that we see when we watch celestial bodies rise and set.
Secondary motion is the movement of the planets, or wandering stars and luminaries, from west to east, or counterclockwise, as they proceed through the Zodiac signs in order.
To the ancients, the first type of stars were the “fixed” stars, which moved along with the celestial sphere, and the second were the “wandering” stars, or the planets.
Stations and Retrogrades
The most significant observable phenomena related to secondary motion occur on a regular basis for every object in the solar system other than the Sun and Moon. A planet appears to halt its eastward course and then travel clockwise for a time, only to stop and resume its anti-clockwise motion again. These points at which the planets appear to stand still are called stations, and the clockwise travel between the stations is called retrograde motion. This pattern of movement is one of the most powerful predictive indicators in astrology.
The pattern of retrogradation is equally important in the secondary progressed horoscope. Unlike other symbolic directions, secondary progressions equate a day in the ephemeris with a year in the life, which means that the proper motion of the planets is involved.
Mercury retrogrades three or four times (6 to 8 stations) a year; consequently many people experience the progressed station of Mercury during their lifetimes. Those born with Mercury close to its western elongation (shortly before it goes retrograde) may experience both stations of Mercury during their lives, with several significant points along the way.
The effects of this phenomena are too numerous to cover here, but I have seen people give up graduate school to play music, drop a promising career in fashion to enter the business world or otherwise change the way they apply their skills or learning. The Mercury Cycle will be the subject of an upcoming article.
The other planets may achieve progressed stations during the life: if they do, they will remain in the same degree for many years. For instance, in September, 2008, Jupiter entered the 13th degree of Capricorn, stationed, and began to slowly move forward, finally reaching the 14th degree 34 days later. By the rate of secondary progression, this movement of only one degree would take place over a span of 34 years. It entered this degree while retrograding in August, 2008, which means it had passed through the same degree while in direct motion some time before, adding a minimum of 5 years to the time spent in that degree. It should be obvious that it’s possible for one of the planets beyond Mars could spend the better part of a human lifetime in a single degree of the Zodiac.
While planetary stations occur when the Sun, the Earth and one of the planets are specially aligned, Eclipses are special alignments between the Sun, the Moon and the Earth. Eclipses on the points where planetary stations have occurred, or stations on a degree where an eclipse has recently occurred have very powerful effects on personal or universal (mundane) horoscopes.
Stations can reveal limits or turning points. They can indicate that something expected or promised may not materialize, at least when they are expected to. Unlike their indications in Horary Charts, they do not always symbolize that which is incomplete or denied. Stations in Natal or Business charts can represent deadlines or time limits within which action must be taken in order to manifest the result we seek.
Since they can be calculated, they are very useful when making business plans, travel arrangements and so forth. The retrograde periods can give us second chances, or the opportunity to play catch-up after being waylaid by distractions from our goals.
A range of two or three degrees is prudent when judging transits to stations, although they usually are quite expressive at a range of five degrees or more. I have seen them remain active for a year, but this is not always the case. When they are involved in multi-planet structures, like a Grand Trine or Stellium, more leeway can be allowed.
Consider that all the planets beyond Mars retrograde once a year, making 10 stations (2 each for Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto). Mars and Venus retrograde about every other year, and Mercury, as mentioned, will have six to eight stations during a year.
Even in the years where Venus and Mars do not retrograde, we have 16 to 18 points in the zodiac that become exceedingly powerful for a time. Several of them may be active simultaneously. Add in four to seven Eclipse points and the stations of other bodies you may choose to work with, and the Zodiac becomes far more complex, at least in terms of the narrative relationship it holds to your Natal chart.
The Decision Points
Among the most interesting and useful of all the planetary stations are the prenatal stations of Mercury, also known as the Decision Points.
I rediscovered them while unpacking an old notebook after a move, written as: prenatal Mercury stations = Decision Points: remember this! I had forgotten that notebook over the years, and looked everywhere for a reference that would tell me where I got this bit of information, but I could only remember it being in a magazine in a used bookstore. I started working with them on my own, and after a thorough investigation, I knew that this was a powerful technique, wherever it came from. I have been using them ever since.
Finding the Decision Points is simple. Just look for the dates and longitudes of the last time Mercury went stationary direct (SD) and stationary retrograde (SR) before the native (or subject) of the chart was born. If Mercury was retrograde at birth, do not count the station after birth. Only consider the last two stations prior to birth in the prenatal epoch, even if they are several months apart. The image on the right shows how the Decision points would be found for someone born on February 2nd, 1970, or on any date before the next retrograde of Mercury occurs.
Using these Decision Points (DPs) is as easy as finding them. Just insert them into chart wheels and consider them as permanent stations. Look at their progressions and directions. I call the retrograde and direct Decision Points DPR and DPD respectively, and abbreviate them accordingly throughout this article.
These points are responsive to both transits and progressions, through their Conjunctions, Oppositions and Squares. They are active in Uranian harmonic dials and should be noted in the graphic ephemeris. Accommodating Trines and helpful Sextiles to the DPs are as useful as the hard aspects for building the narrative of the celestial changes.
Careful observation demonstrates that in periods when the need to make up one’s mind becomes a theme in the individual’s life, the DPR is prominent; the DPD is active at a time when a decision is made and action is taken to implement it.
The DPR can represent interventions that impel us to re-evaluate the course of our lives, and the DPD shows the commitment to the new course of action. Sometimes one is emphasized more strongly than the other, because one action may come from several re-evaluations, or one re-evaluation may result in several actions.
Eclipses within five degrees of the DP’s or their Oppositions are more intense than planetary stations on (or aspecting) these points. They usually signify crucial, or even life and death decisions.
Both Natal and progressed DP’s are carried to the angles of a horoscope by the primary motion of the heavens – they rise and set just like any other point in the Natal chart. This means that four times a day, each of the DP’s are on one of the angles, or making an Ascensional Transit. They can form combinations that are important during Solar or Lunar returns if they are on one of the angles of the chart, or in the Argos Topos, if you use the Sidereal method of analysis.
The DPs can also gain moments of prominence when these returns are considered dynamically via the quotidian charts derived from them, or when using daily progressed Natal charts. These are more advanced techniques in use mostly by the Sidereal school of thought that can be used to fine-tune predictions, but only when they reflect something similar to an indication in the Birth horoscope or the return charts.
In Tropical versions of Solar and Lunar Returns, DP’s will often represent a decision being made, or acted on that particularly concerns the topics indicated by the house in which they are placed, and are usually activated by transits, as are the Natal Decision Points. </p>
Here’s a brief list of what you might expect when the planets are configured with a decision point in a Natal chart:
Sun: Decisions about one’s future direction; decisions that affect the reputation and health; choices about leadership; parental or political decisions.
Moon: Decisions about habits, and things that affect the emotions; following feelings rather than making informed decisions; changes of heart; moving or buying a home.
Mercury: Decisions that change business policies; planning and travel decisions; changes of mind, ideas, or procedures; negotiations that lead to change.
Venus: Decorating, fashion and artistic decisions; financial decisions; decisions about beauty or comfort; decisions that strongly affect relationships.
Mars: Decisions that involve risk; choices regarding acting aggressively or the appropriate response to the aggression of another; tactical decisions; impulsive decisions.
Jupiter: Philosophical decisions; decisions about education and growth in any form, i.e. childbirth, family expansion, diversification of one’s assets; decisions that affect one’s long-term plans or spiritual life.
Saturn: Decisions concerning structure or tradition; choices regarding security; cautious moves; decisions about separation; decisions one may regret later, decisions that may not be able to be changed easily.</li>
Uranus: Decisions that break old patterns or start new activities; reckless, sudden, or shocking decisions that turn out differently than expected, major decisions regarding technology; decisions about individuality.
Neptune: Imaginative choices; decisions based on dreams, visions, or magical thinking; decisions that are difficult or impossible to implement; decisions about creative projects; medical decisions involving drug protocols.
Pluto: Choices with long-term consequences; ultimatums; life-changing decisions; decisions in which one has no part, such as decisions made at the corporate or government level with which you must comply.
A Natal combination of the planets and a DP usually represents a recurring theme of decision-making related to that planet’s nature. For instance, someone who has a DP connected to the Moon may move a lot. Mars close to a DP could show a pattern of mean or selfish actions in a child, while it could represent tactical decisions while under pressure for an adult. Natal Neptune closely aspected to a DP may reveal a pattern of making decisions made on the basis of false or incomplete information, or tendency to make decisions while in a state of emotional excitement.
Please remember that these are very general guidelines and necessarily so, because every chart is different, and the DP’s will only act in the context of the chart being examined.
For our first example, here’s the chart of Yusuf Islam, the popular singer formerly known as Cat Stevens. He was born July 21, 1948, and noon is given as his time of birth. Although I disagree with the AstroDatabank that this is a reliable time (they call it AA data, although it was a memory reported by a third party), the accuracy of the Ascendant is not a major factor in this example.
No doubt that a change of lifestyle, career and appearance as indicated by this decision point narrative would act upon the Ascendant and Midheaven of his chart, these obvious effects are the result of what happened during this transformative period of his life. In other words, the Ascendant and Midheaven of a chart are points upon which the moving planets act, and are the houses describe the fields or topics of life through which they express themselves. Yes, the Midheaven and Ascendant may have been closely involved in this set of DP configurations, but they don’t tell you what the Decision Points DO – their involvement is obvious.
His DPR is located at 7 Cancer, and occurred on June 11, 1948. The DPD happened on July 5, 1948 at 29 Gemini, closely Conjunct Natal Uranus. After spending many years as a popular musician, he dropped off the radar of the pop music scene, committed to a personal spiritual quest, and converted to Islam on December 23, 1977.
In 1977, transiting Mercury passed Opposite the Natal DPD on November 29th, and stationed on December 12th, at 7 Capricorn, Opposite the Natal DPR. Jupiter, the planet of religion, had stationed on the DPR, 7 Cancer, a month earlier. The Sun transited Opposite the DPD on December 20th, and then Mercury transited Opposite the DPD again on the 22nd.
Transits alone begin to tell this story: it almost appears that Mercury passed the direct DP in order to move Opposite the retrograde DP and pick up the energy that Jupiter activated there, bringing it back to the place of action, the direct DP. </p>
A more recent case of the storytelling quality of the Decision Points can be seen in the chart of the world famous celebrity Angelina Jolie, born June 4, 1975 at 9:09 AM in Los Angeles. This is a verified and well-tested birthtime. Her DPR is at 24 Gemini. She was born in a year when there were fewer retrogrades of Mercury; and the DPD occurred way back in February, on the 20th, at 11 Aquarius.
At the end of January, 2008, during the Screen Actors Guild awards, the knowledge of her being pregnant with twins went public. On the 10th, Venus was Square the progressed DPD. I would assume that it was a challenge to keep the good news a secret any longer. On the 28th, Mercury stationed at 24 Aquarius, Trine the Natal DPR, and on the 30th Mars (the ruler of her 5th house of children) stationed at 24 Gemini, at the DPR and Natal Mercury.
In mid May, there was news that she and her partner, Brad Pitt, had acquired a secluded villa in France. At the time, Jupiter stationed at 22.5 Capricorn, a key point on what Uranian/Symmetric astrologers call the Earth Axis. This station is not directly related to the Natal DPs, but it occurs at the midpoint of Saturn (buildings, old estates, privacy) and Venus (gardens, beauty, wealth), and is also Conjunct the Ascendant axis (environment, personality) of her chart. One of Jupiter’s traditional indications is childbirth.
Transiting Mercury conjoined the progressed DPD on May 13th, and on the 26th, it stationed at 22 Gemini, its Natal position, and well within range of the Natal DPR. Decisions about procedures and matters that affect business are being re-evaluated here. At the same time, Neptune stationed at the 25th degree of Aquarius, forming a Grand Trine with Natal and transiting (stationary) Mercury, Natal Uranus (tying in Jupiter by proximity) and the DPR. Unusual and even false reports flowed from the press at this time, dominating the tabloids and legitimate outlets alike.
On the 26th of June, transiting Uranus stationed at 23 Pisces, Square Natal Mercury, the Natal DPR and the previous station of Mars. Uranus being prominent near the time of childbearing, especially when combined with Mars, often signals a surgical intervention. I have seen hundreds of charts with Uranus on or in hard aspect to the ascendant of those who either had a difficult birth, or were delivered through surgical actions.
When the 13th of July arrived, the twins were born, with transiting Saturn conjoining the Sun Opposite the May station of Jupiter (the one that looked like it was unrelated to the Decision Points). The recent station of Uranus was Trine the position of the Sun-Saturn Conjunction and made a Sextile to the previous station of Jupiter. It was also Square the January station of Mars and the Natal DPR, building a structure that indicated the decision to have the children delivered by caesarian section. The aforementioned Trine and Sextile show assistance (Sextile) and ease (Trine.)
After the children were born, it became known that the couple had chosen in vitro fertilization, in order to reduce the chance factor in conceiving because of their busy schedules. If we go back 10 months, to October of 2007, we find that on the 13th, transiting Mercury made a station Square to the Natal DPD. On the 2nd of November, Mercury (strategy) went direct in Trine (to make things easy) to the Natal DPR, to be followed by the stations of Mars (intervention, surgery) in Trine to the progressed DPD and Uranus (technology), who is within a degree of this Decision Point.
The Business of Beer
Decision Points are often important in business and universal (mundane) horoscopes as well. In May 2008, shortly after the news that the Belgian brewing giant InBev was about to make an offer to buy Anheuser-Busch, a client asked if I thought the deal would take place. The first thing I did was study Anheuser Busch’s Sidereal Solar Return chart, based on its first-trade chart of April 16, 1980 at 10:00 EST, New York City. The Solar Return didn’t have anything to say that jumped out to me, so I found and began to study the Decision Points.
The Natal Decision Points are 22 Pisces for the DPR, and 8 Pisces for the DPD. The progressed DPR had just completed its retrograde (that takes about three weeks in the ephemeris, or 21 years in real time) and currently is very close to the Natal DPD. It is rare to see the Natal and progressed Decision Points so close together. I immediately interpreted this to mean that a drastic decision must be made quickly.
In December 2007, Saturn had stationed at 9 Virgo, within range of the progressed DPD and the Natal DPR, as described above.
On May 3, 2008, Uranus conjoined the Natal DPR at 22 Pisces, and on May 4th, Saturn stationed on the February 2008 Lunar eclipse, at the 2nd degree of Virgo. This eclipse occurred at the Sun/MC midpoint in the first-trade chart, clearly an omen of the coming struggle. Members of the Busch family did not want to lose control of the company, but the stockholders and many board members were more interested in profits than nostalgia and family traditions.
Only 5 days later, Jupiter stationed in Sextile to the DPR, assisting Uranus in making the deal look exciting and profitable to the stockholders. On the 26th, 3 days after the announcement, Mercury stationed in Square to the Natal DPR, and the negotiations had begun.
June was full of conflict and confusion. On the 11th, both Sun and Venus Squared the Natal DPR, and InBev outlined their first offer. On the 26th, when Uranus stationed at 23 Pisces (Conjunct the Natal DPR), Anheuser rejected InBev’s bid. Anheuser began to sell off units in an effort to get InBev to offer a higher price per share. The parties involved reached a very profitable agreement on July the 14th, as transiting Mars crossed the progressed DPR and Natal DPD—the owner’s resistance and nostalgia was undone. The Decision Points, in this case, were very explicit, and enabled a profitable trading decision to be made months ahead of time.
Eclipses, planetary alignments, stations and retrogrades are, without a doubt, the most important transits. The Decision Points, or prenatal Mercury stations, are useful points of reference to help us determine the significance of transits, and help pinpoint events that would otherwise be difficult to recognize.
Because they are so easy to incorporate into existing techniques and are compatible with any form of geocentric astrology, Decision Points should never be left out of the analysis of any Natal chart, whether personal or Universal. They can be read in the Natal chart by way of their combinations with any of the dwarf planets, asteroids, centaurs, KBO’s, SDO’s and other objects in the solar system, as well as virtual objects such as Midpoints and the Transneptunian “planets.” Fixed stars also figure importantly into the schemes they help define, as will be seen if future articles on the subject. Nearly unlimited in their application, these Decision Points are far too useful to be ignored.
“Orbs” are purely a matter of experience. The effective range of transits to planetary stations seems to vary with so many factors as to be difficult to define. I always allow more leeway if an event of this type happens near one of the angles of a personal return, eclipse or ingress chart.
To insert DPs into any dial, just find the equivalent degree and mark it as DPD or DPR as the case may be. For the graphic ephemeris of transits, just find the proper degree on the scale and draw a line with a ruler. Good resources for learning more about Uranian techniques and methods are widely available in print, on the web, and at the NCGR bookstore. My personal favorite is http://Treehousemountain.com, headquarters of Martha Lang Wescott.
Ordinal degrees number 1 through 30 in each of the signs. The 1st degree covers 0 deg., 0 min., 0 sec., through 0 deg., 59 min., 59 sec. The 30th degree runs from 29:00:00 through 29:59:59. This is fairly standard notation in traditional astrology.
“On December 23, 1977, Stevens formally became a Muslim and adopted the name Yusuf Islam.” From Answers.com: http://www.answers.com/topic/cat-stevens-yusuf-islam.
Angelina Jolie’s data comes from researcher Marc Penfield, as noted in AstroDatabank, with an AA rating from numbered birth certificate.
The BUD chart data come from “Bill Meridian’s Planetary Stock Trading III” by Bill Meridian. New York City, Cycles Research Publications, 2002. P.157. Bill is one of the world’s foremost financial astrologers, and can be found on the web here: http://www.billmeridian.com/index.html
I am using precessed positions in the Tropical Zodiac for this demonstration.
Dwarf planets and asteroids are self-explanatory. Centaurs are a special class of body, in that they cross the orbits of other bodies. Chiron, for instance, crosses the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), Scattered Disk Objects (SDOs), and Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs, which are not the points of Uranian Astrology), are little understood objects that comprise the outer edge of the solar system. Some have orbital periods of more than a thousand years, and only show their strength when they are picked up by something integrated into a Natal chart, like an active decision point.
© copyright Roy Kirkland 2011