Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys for a Full Moon Halloween! This month I want to talk to you about the adventure that is life as a human being on Earth and how simply knowing the day you were born can help you map out the course it will take.
In a few days from now, on the day when I publish this, autumn will have lain 50 golden carpets at my feet. When I walk through the nearby woods each morning I am aware that life is fleeting, swifter than the mind can grasp, filled with cycles that are endlessly creative, the dramas that ebb and wane, with all kinds of situations that come and go, but which maintain a musical rhythm like the passing of the seasons. New life must first take root and establish itself, forcefully push itself through the dirt toward the light and the warmth that will nourish it, and when it breaks through the surface there is explosive growth leading to rapid change and ultimately a fruitful flowering that turns to inner reflection and the harvesting before decay and loss take what was once of the Earth back to the Earth, the mother of all, to fertilize and provide nourishment for the new seeds that have fallen from the fruit. Nothing is fully guaranteed – poison, bitter winds, storms and drought can wither any crop – but the cycle as a whole goes on steadfastly. And so it continues, within and without, above and below, in the grain of sand and the mighty mountain, and in all of it, in the whole of it, there is a beauty and a wonder that never ceases to be. The dark times, the long, lonely years like 2020 has been for so many of us, are never places we want to revisit, and the memories of them can sometimes haunt us if we do not know how to let them go, but they are as much a part of life as the sweetness of springtime. Ultimately they teach us things that we could not learn otherwise. We gain peace when we accept them and learn from them, when we forgive the wrongs we do and the wrongs done to us, do our best to make amends or do better, and then make the most of every moment without getting trapped in ways that repeat the past that way again. All of this needs to be done with love and care for ourselves as well as any others involved, or it’s not real.
Yet on most if not all of those walks through the forest a perpetual shadow follows me even on the sunniest of mornings. It has always been there, or at least I first encountered it in early childhood and it has never been far away since, but it has grown. What haunts me and has done so all of my life is that we are all at the crossroads where the balance of nature is in question. It is possible, indeed at this point it seems very likely to me, that human activity will bring about a catastrophic disruption of natural cycles in this century, forcing life on Earth to reset itself in horrific mass extinctions in order to adjust, but it is not yet inevitable. Part of the hope that remains is in the technology we could potentially unlock if we pour enough resources (time, effort and more importantly will, in addition to cash) into areas that lead to it, but the main part is in the human spirit itself, the innate goodness and the love of nature that we see all over the internet in the form of cat memes and puppy pictures and the like. Those things are just the fireworks popping on the surface, behind them is a genuine and profoundly deep love. It connects us and always has.
So there is another part to that hope, too, which is that we have an innate connection to nature itself within us, being part of it, and this connection cannot be sundered. We are part of its beauty and its wonder. Part of life. The seasons turn within us, and they are reflected in the stages of life we live through. With astrology, it is possible to connect with these seasons in a way that sheds light on the adventure of life we have set out on, how it will shape our core nature through experience and ultimately leave us different to who we were when we came in. This is obviously cool and everything, but what’s really cool is that doing so heightens our awareness of our connection to nature, teaching us to live in better harmony with it. This is kind of a side effect of exposure to astrology, because once you figure out that this stuff actually works it upends your thinking in quite a number of ways. Importantly though a close observation of astrology strengthens our connection to nature because it is referencing things in nature – in particular in western astrology, the seasons – as well as the cyclical nature of time.
And so, this is what I want to share with you on my 50th birthday – a simple way in which anyone reading this article can shed light on the life adventure they are on, using my own as an example. I hope that you will enjoy both this journey, and the one you are on in life, and that what you learn will help you not just to reconnect with yourself, but to reconnect with life and nature.
THE SPIRIT OF YOUR LIFE & ITS JOURNEY
This is the first thing you need to know – knowing the day you were born on not only tells you what your Sun sign is, it also allows you to map out how that Sun sign creates a life adventure that has distinct stages. Here’s what you need to know, followed by what you need to do.
The Sun moves into a new zodiac sign about a week to 10 days before the end of each calendar month, sometime between the 19th and 23rd depending on the month and the year. It’s pretty regular. So if you are born in these periods of the month you are ‘on the cusp’ of 2 zodiac Sun signs, especially if you are born on the day the Sun changes a sign. This can lead to confusion as to which Sun sign you actually are – you can only be 1, not 2, although this article will help explain why some people born on the cusp feel that they are more like the following sign than their actual Sun sign. This is settled once you have a birth time and have a full chart calculated using that birth time.
The dates below serve as a useful ballpark for Sun sign changes:
March 21: Pisces changes to Aries
April 21: Aries changes to Taurus
May 21: Taurus changes to Gemini
June 21: Gemini changes to Cancer
July 22: Cancer changes to Leo
August 22: Leo changes to Virgo
September 22: Virgo changes to Libra
October 22: Libra changes to Scorpio
November 22: Scorpio changes to Sagittarius
December 22: Sagittarius changes to Capricorn
January 21: Capricorn changes to Aquarius
February 20: Aquarius changes to Pisces
However, the above information is far more useful than it appears to be. To make use of it you have to know one other thing, and that is the approximate rate at which the Sun moves by secondary progression in astrology, which sounds like a lot but it’s really very simple. I will dive into this shortly but for now it’s only important to know that it’s just a long technical way of asking, how far through the zodiac does the Sun move per day? The answer is roughly 1° through the zodiac, because it takes a month or 30 days per sign, as shown above, and each sign is exactly 30° in length.
So now you know two things, in addition to your birthday – the date when the Sun changes signs, and how far it moves each day. Now you need to make a simple calculation involving these 3 factors and figure out how many days passed after you were born before the Sun moved into the next Sun sign after yours. For example, if you are a Gemini person born on June 8th, then looking at the information above you can tell that the Sun left Gemini and entered Cancer on or near to June 21st, which is 13 days after your birthday. This is your answer.
The magic here is that these 13 days get transformed into 13 years by the theory of secondary progressions, meaning that at some point when you were 13 years old your Sun in Gemini progressed into Cancer, marking a significant change in both your life and your understanding of yourself. Your Sun in Gemini along with all of your natal planets do not go away at this time, but they adapt and begin to express traits of a new sign.
Another neat trick is that once you know the year of your life in which the Sun first progressed into a new sign, you simply add 30 years to that age to find the time in your life when it will progress into the next sign, adding a further layer. For example the person born with the Sun in Gemini in the example above will have this progress into Cancer when they are 13 years old, then into Leo when they are 43 years old, and into Virgo when they are 73 years old. If they lived to be 103 years old then they will also see the progression of that native Sun in Gemini finding its path all the way to Libra.
There is so much to unpack here that honestly I could just do that with the rest of this article but there’s more to share with you than this. However I will pause for a while and start unpacking some of it with you.
Firstly, notice that if you are born very close to the cusp where the Sun changes signs each month, the transition period where the Sun progresses into a new sign will fall at the extremes, either very soon after birth or very close to 30 years afterward. For example, if you are born a Cancerian on July 20th and the Sun entered Leo only a couple of days later, it means that it was only a couple of years before your native Sun in Cancer started to behave more like a Leo than the average crab. Alternatively, if you are born on July 24, just two days into the Sun in Leo period, then it will not be until you are about 28 years old (28 days after you were born) that the Sun will move into Virgo.
In the first case, the newborn does not have a lot of time to become comfortable in the ways of their native Sun sign before it starts to adapt. In the second case the native has almost 3 decades to become comfortable and familiar with their own Sun Sign traits and its nature before they are faced with natural adaptations. The essence of this insight tells us that people born on the cusp either have very well established roots in their Sun sign traits (because they are born after the Sun transitioned) or almost no established roots in their Sun signs ways and behaviour (because they are born before the Sun transitions). Those born just before the cusp still behave like their Sun sign nature indicates, but they will be far more flexible with it and their identity will have less invested in the maintenance of certain traits. On the other hand people born after the cusp will have greater confidence in their own character, more experience with the Sun sign traits as they grow up with them in a dominant and pure state of awareness. They behave more like loyal members of their zodiac clan throughout life, while those who experience an early progression of Sun sign traits have greater insight into its flaws, which they may not identify with and actually not even possess, since many such flaws are ingrained habits formed by early experiences. In essence – people born at the end of a sign identify with it less than people born at the very beginning of a sign.
Second, note that the structure of the zodiac is set up so that each sign is a reaction to the negative extremes of the previous sign in the sequence. Aries is a sign of action and poor or zero regard for the consequences this has on others because of the extremes of Pisces which often paralyze us through deep and confusing consideration of how others will feel. Taurus then looks at Aries and says hey, slow down, you klutz! You’re trampling all over the meadow with your charging about, take it down 1000, come over here, look at the trees with me and chew some grass while you cool off! And then Gemini comes along, looks at Taurus stuck in a muddy field, never knowing what is beyond it, just staring and chewing stupidly into space while life happens elsewhere and takes off with the first breeze that comes along, like a spore seeking liberation from the status quo and the repetitive cycles of nature. And so it goes on.
What this means is that when the Sun does progress into a new zodiac sign, it’s a big notable shift that everyone around us at that time will observe, since we go from being one kind of person to being a markedly different individual in response. There is usually no or little struggle or effort involved in making this change – the Sun just rises on a new day, and then everything is changed. It might take time to dawn upon us, but dawn it will. However even though it usually comes without a stressful identity crisis the consequences of this change can have massive repercussions in our life and on those around us, as we will often seek new goals and new experiences to feed this new part of our self that has just awakened. The core of this major change is usually connected to the way that a new Element suddenly becomes important, as Fire signs first learn to be more like Earth signs, then like Air signs and finally, like Water signs, following the order of zodiacal Elements.
If you think about this for a while you realise there’s a lot more there to unpack. The fact that all the Fire signs first start learning how to come down to earth, for example, while the Water signs (which first progress into Fire signs) are first taught how to act willfully with their sensitivity, teaches us about the curriculum of this incredible stellar nursery that is our home. This curriculum addresses the enlightenment or ‘progression’ of an individual spirit through a series of developmental life cycles, each of the 4 Elements having a specific order in which it unfolds or adapts.
Fire Sun signs all first learn how to be Fire with Earth added, then 30 years later how to be Fire (Earth) with Air added, and 30 years after that how to be Fire (Earth/Air) and Water.
Earth Sun signs all first learn how to be Earth with Air added, then 30 years later how to be Earth (Air) with Water added, and 30 years after that how to be Earth (Air/Water) and Fire.
Air Sun signs all first learn how to be Air with Water added, then 30 years later how to be Air (Water) with Fire added, and 30 years after that how to be Air (Water/Fire) and Earth.
Water Sun signs all first learn how to be Water with Fire added, then 30 years later how to be Water (Fire) with Earth added, and 30 years after that how to be Water (Fire/Earth) and Air.
The magicians reading these words will immediately understand their connection with regard to the analogies of the Elements and the equilibrium of the mental and astral Elements. The school of life is an instruction in the equilibrium of the Elements because it is this equilibrium that is the cornerstone of human spiritual development on this plane.
Remembering that the Sun will be in each sign by progression for 30 years you can appreciate that these periods are major ones. They divide the average lifespan into 3-4 levels, usually 3, much like the Saturn return but instead of the Saturn return which fixes this evolutionary development at the same age for everyone (i.e. everyone goes through them together, first around 28, then at 56, and finally at around 84), the developmental cycles and evolutionary path outlined by the progressions of the Sun are not fixed in this way but are instead dependent upon which day of the month you are born on (the first can happen at any time in the first 30 years of life, with each subsequent change being 30 years after). They are individualised.
One more thing here – notice how, with people born on the cusp, regardless of whether they are born before or after it, they will have the Sun progressed into a new sign and the Saturn return happening around the same time, the age of 30. For them alone the two cycles are in sync and will remain so for their lives but as they get older the Saturn return will start to occur a few years or more earlier than the Sun sign change does.
I was born with the Sun at 7° of Scorpio, meaning I was around 23 years old when it progressed into Sagittarius. This was around 1992 to 1993. For the first 23 years of my life I was a performer working in drama, television, radio, movies, musicals and various performing arts. I did this even as a child because I loved it. During this phase of my life I started asking for books on the paranormal, magic and the occult at the age of 5 or 6, and my father read them to me and explained what he could of them. I also collected rocks, bones and fossils from the beaches and natural places I found in my home in the UK and spent my summer with my aunt and uncle visiting nearby Stonehenge. I had many intense paranormal experiences as a child, including a profoundly transformative meeting with my Greater Self in a school playground. At 7 I saved my fathers life when we were alone at sea on a boat, only to helplessly watch him die a few years later. My younger sister developed type I diabetes at around the same time, leaving me in a home with a heartbroken mother and a sick sister who didn’t yet understand how to take care of herself. I was constantly told I was ‘the man of the house’ now (this was the early 1980s after all). This made absolutely no sense to me, as I was already aware of my sexuality (at least, I was aware that it existed and that it involved enjoying the company of other guys as well as girls), and so I was struggling with an inner demon that I could never be a real man (as all boys and most men were, back then, and even today). Other stuff from this period also had a massive Scorpio quality to it, I’ve only publicly shared experiences I’m comfortable with sharing, but there was much more to this.
So, fast forwarding through that, I am 22 years old living by myself through a bad winter in a rat infested bedsit, studying for an M.A. degree in performing arts. My interest in the occult and magic has just increased and intensified all my life but especially in the period when I began to be able to actually seek out and get my own books and to practice. I am aware of a strong sense of dissatisfaction with my life. The courses I study are endlessly interesting and fascinating to me, involving a high degree of physicality and exercise as well as creativity and discussion, and I have made many friends as drama students tend to. Yet it feels off. One morning I wake up to watch the snow falling outside while enjoying the taste of a boiled egg with some bread and butter, and I notice how subtly different everything is. I was lost in this reverie for some minutes before finally realizing that what was different was me, and not just a little bit. I felt reborn, but there had been no external catalyst for this, and so it had been just there in the background for some time waiting for me to notice. I no longer wanted to do what I was doing, but I didn’t yet know what came next, although I had some thoughts. However when it came to it I didn’t really have the courage to go into my professors office and tell him I was quitting, nor to say goodbye to all my friends. At least not at first. I was in this place for only a short time, however, as two personal things happened together to give me a push – one was news from my family where there was a problem with my mums health, the other was actually a push from a couple of the people I was closest to, who never suspected that what they said had great meaning for me.
After leaving, my newly progressed Scorpio Sun in Sagittarius initially started throwing books at me, one in particular from my mother. It came with the exact words “I think you should read this” and was ‘How To Do Astrology’ by Jeff Mayo. I learned how to do this thing I am now publishing over 100,000 words on each year. Then while visiting a friend he suddenly exclaimed that he had a book that I had to read because there was something special in it for me, and this was my introduction to Franz Bardon (through The Practice of Magical Evocation, which was a major influence on my later writing my own book, The 26 Keys). Other things that happened in this period which are key to Sagittarius are that I started meeting all these far flung people for the first time and made great friends among them. Among the many souls, some dark most light, that I met were traveling Americans and Canadians, far flung nomadic Australians and New Zealanders (who seemed like astronauts to me, most impressive), people from all over the British Isles, working class Slovakian girls working as upper class London nannies, French students of art, Japanese musicians and my first Berliners. All of this took place not only pre-mobile phones but pre-Internet and pre-home computer! So all of it was actually physical, even intimate in some cases, and it added immensely to my picture of life in this world. I became much more outgoing (to call me insular before this is a great understatement, I was practically a wall of ice), more sexually active and more adventurous overall. I suppose the ultimate act of this period of Scorpio Sun progressed into Sagittarius was to move me physically from the UK to Germany where I have lived ever since, but it also took me to California to live for a while.
You can see that the essential theme is still there – magic, occultism, all the Scorpio Halloween treats – but now it’s about learning, publishing, exotic locations, books and finally teaching. This has been my theme of life for almost 30 years – in about 3 years I will be through it and into my progressed Sun in Capricorn times. You can see from this that the progressed Sun is not subtle! The Sun is a blinding, ultra energetic ball of nuclear fire in the sky after all. It’s powerful.
Here are 3 deeper levels for more advanced students of astrology, a new popular astrology concept I came up with for this Halloween and some thoughts on all of it that you can add to this knowledge base:
A BIT DEEPER…
Journeys are filled with events and adventures have challenges that must be overcome. With the secondary progression of the Sun, aspects it makes to your natal planets act as an “unlock” of some kind. For example, if your progressed Sun moves far enough ahead of its natal position to make a conjunction with your natal Venus, then the potential of that Venus will be unlocked in that year. It will come to life, and it will become a central (solarised) part of your life adventure, the journey you are taking with your Sun sign. You might fall in love, or find someone falling in love with you, or encounter a spectacular display of art, or suddenly discover how you can express your feelings. To know in what year of life that event will happen, you only have to calculate the distance in degrees between your natal Sun and whatever object in your natal chart is going to be activated, in this case Venus. If for example the Sun and Venus are 30° apart, then this will happen around the time you are 30. But it might not ever happen – Venus might be behind the Sun and not ahead – and if so it doesnt mean you are not destined to find love. Such things can be signified in many many ways through astrology. That’s hugely important.
The progressed Sun can make any kind of aspect to any of the objects in your natal chart, not just conjunctions, and these aspects have the same general feeling and interpretation as regular natal aspects involving the Sun. This is where the challenges part comes in – the squares and oppositions that the progressed Sun makes to your natal planets. The procedure for figuring out what year of life these will trigger in is the same, you just figure out at which degree the Sun needs to be at for a particular aspect to be exact, and then you calculate the years that will pass by progression until that point by figuring out the distance that the Sun has to progress. For example, let’s say you have a natal Sun at 10° of Leo, and you have Saturn at 17° of Pisces. When your Sun reaches 17° of Virgo by secondary progression, it will be in opposition to your natal Saturn. The distance between the natal Sun at Leo 10° and the target area of 17° of Virgo is 37° – so this opposition with natal Saturn will happen when you are 37 years old. It will represent a challenge for you similar to having a natal Sun/Saturn opposition, but it will only last about a year or two and it will involve finding a way to integrate what you are learning about Virgo with the innate reality of your Saturn in Pisces. You might feel unusually gloomy in this period and struggle with a temporary bout of depression as part of this integration. One possible interpretation of this kind of configuration and event is that the individual spirit will grow wiser and more understanding through a process which involves finding a more practically helpful way of applying their emotional inhibitions as a form of measured restraint.
One take away for popular astrology here is that everyone has a progressed Sun in a sextile with their natal Sun at age 60, a time in which there is a major shift in the vital energy and the output of the life force as we come to naturally see the strengths we have within us instead. This is akin to the glorious golden and red/green carpet that drifts down in autumn and flickers delicately like a guttering candle flame upon the leaves. Each Sun sign has a partnering sign with which it triggers this effect, which is the sign two doors down. For example for Aries, this is Gemini. For Gemini Sun sign people, it is Leo. Fire/Air signs are sextile, and Water/Earth signs are also sextile, so this progression can also help with mastery over a particular Fluid in the magicians life. For most people however it is about connecting with an inner source of being that emanates as greater light and beauty, not the superficial kind of beauty that comes with youth.
Every planet can progress, not just the Sun, so the entire system of progressions is beautifully complex. You need a good astrologer to dive into this for you, as it’s a maze. A practical way to work magically with all kinds of progressions was given in some detail in my book, but the essence of it is that you treat progressed planets as another kind of activator and work with their activations of the keys using conduction. You can learn everything you need to know about all of these concepts right here in the archives by searching for conduction.
GHOST SUN SIGNS
For the person who read that and thought, what was that?, the simple thing to take away is that when your Sun has entered a sign by progression and moves through it it triggers all kinds of stuff on the way and any activity that is going on in that sign – say, Jupiter is moving through it at the time – strongly applies to you. So it’s worth knowing where your progressed Sun is as well as your natal Sun and reading astrological forecasts with both in mind. The progressed Sun sign is like a ‘ghost Sun sign’ that you have for about 30 years.
Again, this leaves a massive amount for you to unpack. I’m leaving treats all over the place in this post for you this month. Let’s start with the fact that human beings live about 80-90 years when left to do so. That’s about 3 signs for the Sun to move through (3 is definite if you live over 90, but can happen for anyone depending on when the first sign change happens). If you know what the rest of your chart looks like, then you can scan the three signs that follow on from your Sun sign to see who lives there, and do some quick math to roughly figure out which year in your life the Sun will meet them. Then you can look at the three signs opposite those three signs for anyone that lives there in your natal chart, since these offer the major challenges to the path. Finally, you can figure out when the progressed Sun will make trine’s and sextiles (aspects of 60° and 120°) to any of your natal planets. The year in which these aspects come to fruition by progression is usually one in which we receive benefits, aid, allies, support and opportunities from that aspect. However, these aspects are probably best understood as an energising and a bringing to life of the natal planet that is being aspected by the progressed Sun, especially in the case of a sextile, while in the case of a trine there is a strong Elemental affinity between the sign that the progressed Sun is in and the sign that the natal planet is in (they belong to the same Element) and so the trine is usually about encountering a greater supply of the Element in life.
While events and situations that are connected to the progressed Sun only last a year or two (except of course for its movement through signs which takes 30 years, but even in this case the transition will be felt most strongly for only a couple of years), once they have happened the effects of these events and situations are carried forward and continue to change the life. So, the supply of that Element from the trine to a natal planet will not go away, it’s gushing will abate but afterward something will have been turned on that will always be on from that moment forward. This is the nature of the Sun as an entity, it is always on even at night when we cannot see it and it appears to be off. It has no off switch, beyond death itself. It is ever radiant and ever living, and so symbolic of the essence of the life of Earthly spirits, for as long as the Sun exists, life has a way to live here.
So too the challenges of the squares and oppositions that we meet along the adventure of life – some of those will leave scars, you can be sure, because life always leaves its mark on those who take the journey. Yet the lingering nature of these challenges need not manifest as a wounded spirit, it can instead be carried forward as valuable truths about the self, life experience and the meaning of it all. These challenges also serve to ground and integrate the adaptations that we make as we journey, since they are about bringing new information to old parts of the natal chart, bringing it to life in a new way and thus also having to do with the principle of transformation and its relationship to eternal life.
I first started asking for information about the occult when I was 4 or so with books coming soon after, all when my progressed Sun reached the place of my natal Mercury in Scorpio. That meeting with my Greater Self in the playground and saving my fathers life in the middle of the Mediterranean sea took place when my natal Sun progressed to be in conjunction with my natal Jupiter in Scorpio. My father’s death took place when it progressed to oppose my Saturn in Taurus. At age 30, with my progressed Sun at Sagittarius 7°, it was in an exact sextile with my Mars in Libra, and I left the UK for Germany to help someone on a quest. Three years after that, when progressed Sun sextiled my Uranus in Libra, I was in California for the first time.
And so it goes on, in my life, in yours, in every life, and we carry it all forwards in our consciousness. I learned this by going the odd route of magician and actor to astrologer and magician – it’s not the plot (the sum of events in the story) that is being written in the stars, that’s all ours, it’s the narrative (the structure of events in the story). Boy meets girl is the narrative, but it’s not the story, is it? And as far as a narrative is concerned it doesn’t matter one bit whether it’s boy meets boy or girl meets girl or how it all turns out for them, or anything else.That’s all story, all plot, to be told only in the living of its moment. All the narrative cares about is architecture and an arc through it – it’s all going somewhere – but within that theme, the adventure story of life is free to happen in all kinds of ways.
This makes it a truly beautiful adventure. A new day is always dawning and a new year is always approaching. As we grow older our youthful vigor and life energy does not go away but instead transforms itself through its adaptations to experience, through its challenges, its failures, its losses and its laughs and loves. It is a beautiful thing and it is precious! Look within you, and you will see it. It is like a light that is always on and it is within you, it is within all of us, and though life leaves its scars it also leaves its treasures, the greatest of which it has given to all of us, the birds in the trees, the fish in the oceans, the light in the blue sky, the cool green grass for us to lie down on and stare at the stars in the night, and the many magical treasures of the human heart, all of which strengthens our spirit in the journey ahead.
So let’s look after all of it.