Management of Measurement Constructs

Shadow Transits: A Hidden Forecasting Tool

by guest astrologer Frank C. Clifford

Frank Clifford is an astrology writer, teacher and consultant living in London, England. He is Principal of the London School of Astrology. His work on Shadow Transits was featured in The Mountain Astrologer (Dec 2008) and can be found in his new booklet for astrology students and professionals, ‘Solar Arc Directions’, available postage free from his website

As a student astrologer, I never found secondary progressions to be particularly useful, especially once I discovered Solar Arc Directions and added these to my forecasting toolkit. And then I used to wonder if transits to Solar Arc directed positions ‘worked’ and, if so, were they any different from transits to natal positions? I searched but couldn’t find any literature on this. Fortunately, some years later my clients started to bring examples to me and, in 2004, I began to develop an additional forecasting tool that I named ‘Shadow Transits’.

In my experience, transits to directed positions in the horoscope work very well, but I was curious to know how they differed from transits to the natal chart. Is one more important than the other? Is it a case of either/or? Well, I discovered that not only is the transit to the directed position (what I call a Shadow Transit) as important as the original transit-to-natal event, it also has a strong link to the themes that came up and developed under the original natal chart transit. That may not be a surprise, but it has, in my practice, become a very useful tool and enabled me to discuss a past event with a client in order to help them draw parallels and gain some insight into the process currently unfolding under the Shadow Transit.

The Shadow Saturn Return

We astrologers often see clients around their first Saturn Return, but I was a bit flummoxed when clients returned at age 31–32 saying they were experiencing similar situations and themes to those at 28–29. I soon realized that the Saturn Return isn’t really over until the Shadow Saturn Return occurs some two to three years later, i.e. when transiting Saturn meets up with Solar Arc directed Saturn 31–32 degrees further in the zodiac. This would take around 2.5 years to catch up and, by then, the Shadow Saturn Return occurs in a new sign and often a new house (depending on the house system used).

Repeating Themes

Since 2004, I have worked with Shadow Transits in consultation (and while researching charts) and have found that they repeat themes, events and feelings that transpired during the original transit to the natal horoscope. I believe that the event gives us another chance to tidy up unfinished business, another stab at an opportunity, or a further possibility to recognize a pattern from the past – and to make different choices, if necessary. For example, while writing this piece (June 23, 2011), I have just finished a phone consultation with a client who has TR Neptune conjunct her Solar Arc (SA) Descendant at 0° Pisces. She is attempting to be in relationship with a man who is uncertain about his sexual orientation but is more interested in pursuing his first opportunity with a man. He is, simply put, unavailable. My client ‘feels’ that they have a very important link and is attempting to forge a further bond by wanting to start a committed relationship.

As we spoke about this, I mentioned several dates in 1992–3 when TR Neptune was conjunct her natal Descendant. At this time, she was immersed in a one-sided, devotional relationship trying to ‘save’ a man who was non-committal and troubled on a number of emotional levels. During the consultation, my client was able to see the link and its importance on a number of levels, and realize that this was a ‘second chance’ to revisit and examine her own compulsion to rescue or pursue the unavailable. In her words, she didn’t want to ‘drown again’ in a less-than-ideal situation. (With a heavy emphasis on the Water signs in her chart, there is a strong natal theme of dependency in relationship.)

Knowing what happened during the transit-to-natal period enables us to understand themes that might be revisited when that transiting planet finally catches up with the SA position. Of course, the length of time it will take to do so depends on the transiting planet, so it may not happen in our lifetime. The Shadow Transit will bring up the same issues (planet/angle) but with a different emphasis (sign) and usually in another arena (house).

An Acid Reign

The chart of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,* with natal Saturn in Scorpio less than two degrees from her Ascendant, depicts a controlled, humourless Iron Lady who was famously ‘not for turning’. Saturn transits or directions prove to be pivotal times in a politician’s career. At 58, during her second Saturn Return (and TR Saturn conjunct Ascendant) in January–April and September–October 1984, Thatcher faced two of her sternest tests while in office. First, in March 1984, there was the start of a year-long coal miners’ strike (a major confrontation between the workers’ unions and her government), and then, a narrow escape from an assassination attempt by the terrorist IRA on 12 October 1984.

Some six years and 65° later (in October–November 1990), TR Saturn caught up with directed Saturn–Ascendant (her Shadow Saturn Return, now in Capricorn). Mrs. Thatcher was vulnerable again. There were conflicts with key members of her Cabinet concerning European integration and a single currency, as well as great unpopularity over a government house tax deemed unfair by much of the UK. A leadership challenge and lack of support from her Cabinet (Capricorn) were the deciding factors in her resignation on 22 November 1990. (SA Saturn had also reached a square to her natal Sun in Libra.)

My client files are packed with fascinating examples of these links. Often the same person reappears in our life or a similar situation arises that forces us to confront an area of our horoscope once again. One client with TR Neptune to natal Jupiter in Capricorn had, under the heavy weight of expectation (Capricorn), quit (Neptune) before taking her final exams at university (Jupiter in Capricorn). At the time of our consultation, TR Neptune was conjunct SA Jupiter in Aquarius. She was training to be a professional astrologer but shied away from taking the final qualifying exams. When made aware of this link between transits to her natal and directed chart, she realized how important it was to stick with her investment, and she ended up passing her exams and qualifying as an astrologer.

When trying to anticipate how a transit to a Solar Arc Directed planet is working in a client’s life, I now track the date of the original transit to the natal chart and ask, ‘What happened back then?’ Usually the client recalls an event that has a direct link to current circumstances. It may be a repeat, ‘here we go again’ experience but in a different setting with different players. With the benefit of hindsight, we can make useful, meaningful links between past and present conditions that can empower our clients to make informed choices about their lives.

* Margaret Hilda Roberts, born October 13, 1925, 09:00 GMT, Grantham, England, 52N55, 0W39. Source: From her, via her private secretary to Charles Harvey.

Please note that there are 12 years' worth of essays, some 140 in this department, some 130,000 words for your study. Just scroll past the end of the current essay and enjoy your library! In total --the three clearly marked departments: some 400,000 words.

February 28, 2011: Mutual Reception Review
October 31, 2010: The Transiting Pluto Backdrop
September 30, 2010: "An Easy Way with Duads" by guest astrologer Alice McDermott
August 31, 2010: "East meets West --Painlessly" by guest astrologer James Kenneth Williams
July 31, 2010: The Technique of the first Impression
May 31, 2010: "Saturn and Guilt" by guest astrologer Kathy Rose
April 30, 2010: The Gypsy in us!
March 31, 2010: Moon for Thought
February 28, 2010: William's New World?
December 31, 2009: Pluto by House
October 31, 2009: Understanding the Venus-Rx Signal
September 30, 2009: The Rites of Spring --The United States, Iran, and Israel--
July 31, 2009: "Major Rectification - Judge Sonia Sotomayor" by guest astrologer Lauren Delsack
June 30, 2009: Prediction Accuracy and Time-Orb
May 31, 2009: SA Aries Point Positioning, revisited
April 30, 2009: "Vertex Intensity" By Guest Astrologer Alice McDermott
March 31, 2009: The 3rd House Filter
February 28, 2009: Interpreting Measurements for Prediction Specifics
December 31, 2008: Saturn/Pluto Redux
November 30, 2008: Your Brain's Snapshot Reference Bank
October 31, 2008: Internal Consistencies
August 31, 2008: "Soul Astrology Down to Earth" by guest astrologer Lauren Delsack
July 31, 2008: Tapping the Horoscope's Memory
June 30, 2008: "Rectification with Topocentric Primary Directions" by guest astrologer Isaac Starkman (Part II)
May 31, 2008: "Rectification with Topocentric Primary Directions" by guest astrologer Isaac Starkman
April 30, 2008: "Who names the Asteroids Anyway??" by guest astrologer Jacob Schwartz
March 31, 2008: Framing Future Projections
December 31, 2007: Managing the Spirit - moving from idealization to strength
November 30, 2007: In Search of Muhammad
October 31, 2007: Assessing your own Technique
September 30, 2007: The Idiosyncrasies of Venus
August 31, 2007: How Peregrination becomes important
July 31, 2007: Have you choreographed your Computer?
June 30, 2007: Self-Analysis for Career Growth
May 31, 2007: The 'Denkpause': Letting the Brain work!
April 30, 2007: Ascendancy of the Precocious
March 31, 2007: Organizing Blocks of Synthesis
February 28, 2007: "Assessing the 12th House" By Guest Astrologer Don McBroom
January 31, 2007: 'Coloring' House Significance
December 31, 2006: Defining YOUR Process
November 30, 2006: The Art within Analytical Techniques
October 31, 2006: "Chiron: Choosing the Bridge to Freedom," by guest astrologer Roderick Benns
September 30, 2006: The Dimensions of Paranoia
August 31, 2006: "The How-To's of Solar Ingresses --Mundane Magic" by guest astrologer, Dean Bensics
July 31, 2006: "Solar Returns –Making Them Work!" by guest astrologers Kevin and Kathy Rowan-Drewitt
June 30, 2006: Royal Watchers
May 30, 2006: Measurements Leading One to the Other
April 30, 2006: The Difference the Moon makes
March 31, 2006: "Declination Conversion" by guest astrologer Donnalyn Kirchner
February 28, 2006: Startling Hypothesis: Independent Arcs to the AP
January 30, 2006: Computing the SP Moon Position/Age in your head
December 30, 2005: "Why We Need to Study Hellenistic Astrology" by guest astrologer, Robert Schmidt, Project Hindsight
November 30, 2005: HOUSE SALE: the Astro-Plan, the Prediction, the Success
October 30, 2005: Pivotal Understandings of the Mind-Set 3rd
June 30, 2005: The Sabian Symbol Analytical Weave
May 31, 2005: "The Vertex Axis: A Special Doorway" by guest astrologer Alice McDermott
April 30, 2005: Empty Houses and those Planets in the 12th!
March 31, 2005: Make the Deduction Leap; Open Up Inspiration
February 28, 2005: Measurements Pairing up for the Rescue
January 31, 2005: "Solar Return Interpretation Insights" by guest astrologer Mary Fortier Shea
December 31, 2004: Breaking Routing Blocks in MH Extension
November 30, 2004: "The Sabian Symbols & Astrological Analysis" by guest astrologer Blain Bovee
October 31, 2004: "Too Many Measurements Spoil the Astro-Broth" by guest astrologer Basil Fearrington
September 30, 2004: Seeing Vocational Confusion
August 31, 2004: Offsets of Difficult Measurements
July 31, 2004: Retrogradation Review and Rx Patterning
June 30, 2004: Is it too Much...or too Little?
May 31, 2004: "Financial Astrological Techniques For Investing" by Jeffrey Springer
April 28, 2004: "Why?" and "To What Extent?"
March 31, 2004: "The Black Moon" by guest astrologer Juan Antonio Revilla
February 27, 2004: Bringing Big Conjunctions down to Earth
January 30, 2004: The Subtle Powers of Mutual Reception
January 2, 2004: Advanced Synthesis: Angular Disorientation
November 30, 2003: Why the Angles are so Important – and some insight about Suicide
October 30, 2003: Anticipation Period for the Saturn Return
September 30, 2003: 11th House Orientation
August 30, 2003: Illuminating the 6th House
July 29, 2003: "A Second President Clinton?" by guest astrologer, Basil Fearrington
June 30, 2003: "Working Knowledgeably with Eclipses--Part II" by guest astrologer Jill Amery
May 31, 2003: Working Knowledgeably with Eclipses
May 1, 2003: Four Ways to See the Parents
April 1, 2003: The Vagaries of Precision
February 26, 2003: Nodal Axis Revisited
January 29, 2003: The Indispensable Sun/Moon Midpoint
December 30, 2002: Multi-House Signification
November 29, 2002: "Declination Waves for the Future" by Carolyn Egan
October 29, 2002: Establishing Focus within the Future
August 29, 2002: Jupiter and Saturn Each Upside-Down!
July 30, 2002: "No Moonwalk for Michael Jackson" by guest analyst Basil Fearrington
June 29, 2002: Martha’s Midpoint Garden
May 29, 2002: Synthesis: How to Begin the Art
April 29, 2002: Neptune-Pluto Contacts; an Occult Dimension
March 30, 2002: Resolving Conflicting Symbolisms
February 28, 2002: Corroborating Family Crisis Potentials
February 1, 2002: Let the First Impression Help You!
December 31, 2001: "Enron and a Fall from Grace" with guest astrologer Michael Munkasey
November 30, 2001: "The Proper Measurement of Fixed Points" by guest astrologer Philip Sedgwick
October 29, 2001: Counterbalancing Measures
October 1, 2001: CHIRON, Discovery of the Outer Planets, and the WTC Tragedy - by Prudence Nuesink
August 31, 2001: "More on the Quindecile" with guest astrologer Ricki Reeves
July 30, 2001: "Discovering How Solar Arcs Work for Countries" Elizabeth Teissier
June 30, 2001: Objectives Define Techniques
May 30, 2001: Reflections Upon the Moon
April 30, 2001: Elements Emphasized and De-emphasized
March 30, 2001: Midpoint Interpretation
February 20, 2001: The Crucial Consideration of Level
January 30, 2001: The Aries Point
December 30, 2000: Managing Midpoint Pictures
November 30, 2000: Sol-Lunar Aspects
October 30, 2000: Transit Considerations
September 30, 2000: Tertiary Progressions
August 31, 2000: Cusp Concepts, Interception Insights
March 31, 2000: Cusp Concepts, Interception Insights
February 29, 2000: Angularity and Development
January 30, 2000: The Essence of Synthesis
December 30, 1999: MidPoint Pictures
November 30, 1999: Peregrination
The October 30, 1999 article is regrettably unavailable (webmaster's error)
September 25, 1999:Derivative Houses
August 21, 1999: Sun Moon Blends
August 1, 1999: Quindecile Aspects
July 15, 1999: Hemisphere Emphasis


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