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Eric Francis Astrology Q&A
Friday 20th August 2004

Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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Dear Eric
What do you think about progressing charts? How relevant are arbitrary measurements such as year for a day in interpreting our destinies? Please enlighten...blessed be.

Natasha x

Dear Natasha
I was recently entrusted with the office of a brilliant, genuinely competent astrologer. While he was out, a friend of the astrologer's stopped by for a visit, and related to me some difficulties she was having with her child. I cast the natal chart and the progressions, which I will always look at, and saw something in the progressed chart that was astonishing, and which pointed to some clear advice for the person, as well as information about timing. In particular, the progressed Sun was about to pass from the 12th house to the 1st, making a conjunction to Pluto (in Scorpio) in the process. Everything was conjunct within one about degree progressed Sun, natal and progressed Pluto, natal Scorpio ascendant -- clear and powerful.

Then the astrologer came back. I showed him the chart and the progressed event I was considering and he said something like, "Progressions? I don't use them, I don't believe in them." The astrological community is not unanimous on the theme of progressions, or much of anything. It is however always interesting to see how different astrologers develop their methods of working. Each must deal with all the oddities of astrology that seem to defy belief, science, common sense and the rest of it.

But as it turns out, progressions have a distinct basis in science that I will get to in a moment, which helps us understand how astrology works at all.

Yet whether scientifically sound or not, I have yet to seriously experiment with an astrological method that does NOT work. Thing is, some astrologers are more sensitive to some methods of astrology than others. Everyone has their preferences and fetishes. Also, some clients are more sensitive to some methods than others. Therefore to young aspiring astrologers I would say that a good craftsman should be versed in as many techniques and have as many tools in the toolbox as possible. Don't worry about how they work or whether they work, just use them, experiment, and get a feeling for the method.

Progressions are nothing new; they are one of the oldest methods in astrology, and they are well established by both tradition and modern experience.

First, what are progressions? Astrology generally begins with the birth chart. The birth chart is based on a particular day, time and place. Progressions are, in turn, derived from that information. The most common form of progression is called "secondary progression" and it is very simply done by advancing the natal chart one day from the birth time, per year of life. So if you are 22 years old, your current progressed chart is the chart for your 22nd day of life (factoring in fractions of a day down to the hour and minute, for a very exact calculation, thankfully done by computer). Therefore, if you're born Jan. 1, 1980 and are 22 years old, your progressed chart will be set for some time on the day of Jan. 22, 1980. Progressions are an important part of why we need a good birth time, but they can also help us rectify a missing birth time.

There are probably two dozen methods of progressing charts, with various timing methods (a day per month, and so on), but they all amount to the same thing: some formula by which time is advanced, and where one timeframe symbolically represents another.

Progressions are different than transits. Here is how. Transits are based on the movement of the planets in real time, as related to the natal chart. You can actually look up in the sky and see Jupiter in Libra and if your ascendant is Libra you know Jupiter is crossing your rising sign. If you are born with Pluto in Virgo at 21 degrees and Pluto gets to Sagittarius 21 degrees, you are having a transit called your Pluto square. Transits often have an external quality; they are in fact external; and they often relate to events and turning points that happen to us. On the other hand, think of progressions as the natal chart itself unfolding from the inside. They are entirely specific to the individual in question and are, as a result, an extraordinarily personal, even private method of studying the movement of time. They are about something happening within us, and that something may expresses itself outwardly. This is why progressions help us see the timing of events.

There is no special trick to reading progressions except to say that you must look at the chart very carefully. You look carefully at the degrees, and exactly what happened last, and what is about to happen next. Well, that's the whole trick. One must be extremely precise and not miss much. Really, one puts the chart under a microscope and looks at every little subtle movement. Tradition holds that when using progressions you work with extremely small orbs, within one degree on either side of an aspect. As the aspect applies or forms, some kind of development or experience is approaching; as the aspect is perfected, the experience is in full strength; as the aspect separates, the experience wanes and gives way to the next one. Progressions train an astrologer to look at the chart very carefully. That is a fine habit and it only supports intuition.

In addition to talking about inner growth and often pointing to corresponding shifts in the outer life, progressions help us understand the natal chart. Usually the progressed chart is cast as a biwheel around the natal. When you look at the natal chart alone, you cannot generally find out much about any planet's movement; the planet is just sitting there. But when you look at the secondary progressed chart in relation to the natal chart, you can tell if (for example) the natal planet has stationed retrograde or direct in the weeks and months after birth; you can tell about how fast it's going; you can basically get a sense of its movement. It is no longer merely a static particle in space: it is a wave form with energy and momentum. Progressions give you a picture of that wave form and remind the astrologer that the universe is constantly in motion.

If you want to learn progressions, the most vital notion to get over is that you don't know how to do it. The progressed chart is merely a chart, like any other; when reading a chart, you read the thing and get the information you need. The more you practice, and the more you relate astrology to life, the more information you get.

If you want to test this method, and see it in action, here is what I suggest. Choose three vitally important dates in your life. Marriage, the birth of a child, a big move from one city to another, graduation from university, a major promotion, the death of a parent, that kind of thing. Then cast your secondary progressions for each of those dates and see what they are doing at the time. Look at the progressed chart's aspects to both itself and to the natal chart. Take at least half an hour for each chart so you know you're really taking your time. Make some notes. Don't interpret; just note the aspects. Interpretation comes later.

Study the progressed Moon carefully. What sign is it in, and what are its closest aspects? When did it last change signs, and what in your life changed along with that? Is the Moon waxing or waning? Is it near the Full Moon or the New Moon phase? Perhaps cast your progressed chart for your most recent progressed Full Moon or New Moon some time in the past and look at your life history at that point.

For fun and intrigue, cast your transits as well and see how they tell the same story in different ways. For example, you can look at your progressions at the time of your Saturn return or Uranian opposition and see how all these levels of astrology work together.

Okay, now for the scientific part. Anyone familiar with the concept of a fractal will recognize how this concept relates to progressions. A fractal is an image of a pattern in nature. The idea was developed by an IBM research scientist named Benoit Mandelbrot, who in the 1970s was working on graphic representation of complex geometric patterns. The work had the potential helping discover a method for how to store extremely complex images in very small amounts of disk drive space. What scientists soon discovered as a result of Mandelbrot's work is that nature is entirely a phenomenon of patterns. Even the most seemingly chaotic movements of nature -- the bubbles under a waterfall, the millions of twigs in a tree, or the shape of a coast line -- exist in distinct patterns.

Mandelbrot -

Essentially, if you look at a small piece of the whole -- a sample of the tree's branch system, for example -- you can use a computer and predict the shape of the tree. Studying the patterns in small samples of a shoreline will tell you something about the shape of the whole coast. There are no truly chaotic patterns in nature; they all reveal an underlying order if you know how to look for it, or rather, let yourself see it. This is called fractal geometry. A fractal is an image of a chaos pattern.

This phenomenon extends both to the study of astrology. Applying fractal theory to the progressed horoscope, we have a basis for the idea that a small sample of life (the first 90 days) is going to tell us something about the whole pattern of experience (the first 90 years). I believe that the progressed horoscope represents the first use of the concept of fractal theory even though it was discovered a thousand or more years before fractals were discovered.

Astrology is ultimately the art of pattern recognition. Time and the movements of the planets are based on natural patterns, as are our lives. This is why astrology works, and it's the best explanation of progressions I've personally ever come across.

More information is at this link:
Holographic Astrology -

Dear Eric
Have you ever heard of Astrobiology? It's a method of birth control based on astrology that I recently read about, and I was wondering if you had any information on it.

Dear Tara
I have never heard of Astrobiology (but apparently my spellchecker has, since it's not appearing underlined in red), though I would be very reluctant to use astrology as a method of birth control or contraception.

I say this knowing there are no perfect methods of birth control, and many bad ones. By the time you factor chemicals out of the equation, you're left with very little in the way of choices. Yet despite my passion for astrology, I personally would not risk an unwanted pregnancy any more than I absolutely have to.

This is of course a personal choice, but speaking as an astrologer who deals with parents who have had unwanted kids, with many kids who were born "at the wrong time" in their parents lives (note the quotation marks please), and with the pain of what happens as a result of adoption, I would be very careful about risking pregnancy. Unless of course you don't mind getting pregnant, and have a partner with whom you would like to raise a child -- in which case I would say it's a fine idea to work with Astrobiology.

Dear Eric
"This is a fantastic year for you!" said the astrologer who did my birth chart for me -- crap. (She betrayed me and did a runner.) I'm a Pisces, Libra rising, Moon in Gemini, Saturn in Leo. (D.O.B. 26.02.77. Local time: 22.20. Place: Queen Charlotte and Chelsea hospital, Shepherds Bush London.) Everything I loved crumbled to dust last September, and I am still fighting to rebuild my life. A lot of Fish I know have been through the wringer, too. My questions: 1. When's my career going to blossom? I work really hard at it, because it's what I love and have wanted to do ever since I was seven years old. 2. When will the fighting stop and positive stability begin? (Having a physical home and emotional calm.) I miss my home and ache for it, sorry I am trying not to cry as I type. Emotionally shaky too. 3. Someone's peripheral in my life, there's a magnetic pull that I can't explain and (I've experienced some very strange stuff in my life.) Is this positive/negative for me fleeting or bond? (Astrologer who did a runner said it was positive and a bond but....your input would be ace.
No Ideas

Dear No Ideas
The things you seek -- stability, peace of mind, love, productive work -- are qualities and experiences we cultivate over a lifetime. If nobody has reminded you lately, you are still a young woman. You have time. That may not make your life easier now, but if you remember that time is your ally in the process of living, you will live a lot easier. You will take a lot of pressure off of yourself.

If you are looking to astrology as something that's going to tell you when things are going to get better, I suggest you give up, because that's essentially what you've done by asking. To ask "when" is entirely passive. To ask "what can I do, what is my part, what teachings to the stars (or astrologers) have to offer," are other questions entirely. And they are, fortunately, questions you can do something about. But that doing something really means taking responsibility and ownership for your experience on the planet.

When you take the word of an astrologer who tells you that you're going to have a fantastic year, at the same time you sign off on your responsibility for creating a fantastic year -- whatever that might be!

I am looking at your chart, and could make tons of comments. I mean, it's a very intense setup and I can see how you might live every day feeling like life is a battle, like no two forces in your life ever work together with one another, and yes, I can see how you might feel like there's going to be some huge payoff some day and life is just going go to get better. And maybe it will. Maybe it will. But I don't suggest you sit around waiting for that moment. Because it's not going to wait for you.

You have, fortunately, the kind of chart that's going to keep punting you until you figure out how to get hold of your life and live each day with a sense of mission and purpose. I suggest you do this even if you have to make your daily purpose removing from your path every obstacle to happiness -- and there are some things in the way that you might not have thought of. And, truly, I feel a bit frustrated that I can't sit with you for an hour and hear some of the stories that go with this astrology; your life would make a bit more sense if we could match up what has actually happened to you with some of the symbolism in your chart.

But if I had to offer two suggestions, this is what they would be, and I'm going to leave out my astrological justifications for saying these things, but they are plain to see.

The first is it's likely that the people around you growing up had no idea how to act in loving or even civilized ways. They related by contention and by conflict. You were a child, and you absorbed this chaos and pain. So for the third time (and it's now officially a tradition for this column) I'm going to recommend that you read, and read carefully, the book A General Theory of Love. I feel fairly safe saying that the people around whom you grew up were not happy, painfully so. And they did not give you happy ideas about yourself. And worse yet, they had some toxic ways of handling their own misery, which you need to make sure you grow out of, if you want to have a solid, content life.

The second suggestion is that you become an expert in the lies that you were told growing up, and the lies that people told one another. These include what are called lies of omission; the things that were left unsaid, or were buried or papered over with addictions. Then dig out the truth. What kind of lies? Well, they could really be about anything, but there is a lot you were told about yourself that was not true, and it didn't stop there. This is not casual business. In fact, it is somewhat dangerous territory because you need to question all the assumptions of your life. That is good, because you don't seem so happy with your life, so you might want to get to work on your foundations.

You are an unusually strong and determined person. There is, deep within you, what I will call the Original Woman, the you nobody knows, and she wants to burst out and express herself. You are a talented, creative woman, with a touch of revolutionary to you. Your chart thunders ARTIST but artist is a long and unpaved road, if it is a road at all; really it is a very direct approach to life.

What you need to learn how to do, as far as I can tell, is to put your strength to work for you. These days, most of what you fight against is your own power, beauty and passion. Give it up, dear. You have a life to live, and no matter what they told you, you really are free, and that life is really yours.

And yes, some very difficult transits have recently ended. Now the dust needs to settle, and you need to keep your faith in yourself and live like it really matters every single day.

Dear Eric
Next year I am due to begin my Saturn return and I am terrified! Some years ago I had my chart drawn but I don't know enough to be able to tell in which ways it will affect me. When Saturn was in Taurus (my Sun sign) a few years ago, I had a really tough time and hideous things were thrown at me, so I am really dreading a repeat prescription! Please can you give me some insight as to which areas Saturn will hit me so I can try to be prepared. Many thanks! Birth details -- 3rd May 1977, 15.58 pm, Reading, England

Dear Chantal
Thanks to the Internet everyone has now heard of Mercury Retrograde and the Saturn Return, and much of what people have heard is a bit scary. I have a feeling that people will be writing in to this column for ages inquiring about their Saturn Returns and we really need to have a comprehensive resource on this question. And I'm not quite ready to do that this week -- it would probably take three or four essays: one on how to work with your natal Saturn, another on ideas about Saturn and the Saturn Return as many astrologers have approached the question, and another on a practical approach to the return transit.

If anyone would like to participate in an editorial work brigade, I am pretty good at organizing such projects, and we can create the world's best Saturn Return resource center. Saturn loves when you invest time and energy into honoring what he's about, so if anyone from the Saturn in Cancer, Leo or Virgo generations (or other, but let's get the current crop of Saturn babies in on the project) would like to participate, please drop me a note.

I will say this. We need to approach any transit with a positive attitude if we want to have a positive experience. If you are experiencing fear, that may be a factor of lack of knowledge. Start with researching your natal Saturn position and work fro there. The natal position is important because that is the place to which Saturn returns at the Saturn Return. Meanwhile I will be back next week with an introduction to the Saturn return.

If you haven't already done so, I'd like to encourage everyone to visit my homepage, which is There is an amazing amount of free information there on a wide selection of subjects, by many different writers. Planet Waves also offers a subscriber service featuring my horoscopes, which you can find out about at

For people interested in doing private astrological sessions, I plan to be back in Paris in early September, and will be available there. And I would like to loop back through London in mid-autumn (around Scorpio time), so if you live in or near London and are interested in doing a session, please drop a note to To get started with your intake process and get into the queue, I suggest you call my U.S. office during Eastern business hours and talk to Chelsea. You can reach her at +206-463-7827.

See y'all next week. Love from Bamberg, Germany -- drop a note if you're in the area (as far as Nurnberg) and would like to get together.

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