Turning Points

Much of our daily lives consists of schedules, bustling about, taking things for granted, and not paying much attention to what we’re doing. Except for feelings of vague disgruntlement with how things are going or wistful yearnings for some goal we hope and imagine is just beyond the horizon, we rarely stop to take stock of ourselves, to ask ourselves whether we’re on the right track and doing our best. Every now and again, however, an event occurs which jolts us out of our customary routines and forces us to consciously reflect on what we’re about.  These are the sorts of events symbolized by the transiting planets’ changes of station (shifts in motion from direct to retrograde, or retrograde to direct).

Transiting changes of station are, quite literally, turning points:  they symbolize a pause in our everyday routine in which our habitual modes of thought and action are suspended, and we become conscious of our true feelings, which we usually ignore or repress. The event symbolized by a station may be a major spiritual breakthrough or a minor memo from the cosmos to the effect that yes, things are okay, all is as it should be.  Stations highlight a need to be fluid, to just relax and let go.

The days when transiting planets change station are times of great karmic flux for everyone in the world, but people who have planets in their natal charts on or opposite the point of the station are particularly affected.   We will use orbs of plus or minus a day and a half in time, and plus or minus two degrees in longitude.  In other words, the event produced by the station should occur within thirty-six hours of the exact time of the station (though it’s much more likely to occur on the day before rather than the day after); and to be effective the station should fall no more than two degrees in longitude from the conjunction or opposition with a point in the natal horoscope (squares are sometimes effective; and three-degree orbs sometimes work too; but it’s best to keep the analysis clear and simple).

The basic felicity or infelicity or the event seems to be more a matter of the condition of the natal planet being contacted rather than whether the station conjoins or opposes that planet.  All transits (not just stations) to a natal planet dignified by sign or well-aspected will usually produce happy events; and all transits to a planet debilitated by sign or afflicted will usually produce difficulties.

There’s a very slight difference in flavor between the two types of station (stationary turning retrograde, and stationary turning direct).  Both types of station move you beyond something that was holding you back, but in a general way the retrograde station is unexpected (a new point of departure) whereas the direct station is long-awaited (gets you over a hump).

Whether the event produced by the station is of major or minor significance in your life, it usually gets you past a sticking point or hangup.  Dr. Marc Edmund Jones calls this a “critical regrasp of experience” – blocked energies are liberated and you must let go of your habitual concerns and worries, and fly with your gut-level intuition.  There is often a sense of relief or release of pent-up emotions. For example, you may get to tell someone exactly what’s on your mind, as in those impassioned dialogues between lovers or spouses that go on all night long.

At the same time, stations propel you forward willy-nilly, move you beyond your limitations, force you to shift your plans or begin a new phase.  For example, you may make a firm commitment to some new life direction, or you may meet someone for the first time who later turns out to be very important in your life. Indeed, it is often possible to predict the kind of relationships which will be affected by a station (or any transit) from the symbolism of the natal planet involved (e.g. sun symbolizes father, boss, husband, authorities;  moon symbolizes mother, wife, employees;  Mercury symbolizes children, siblings, neighbors, coworkers; etc.).

The retrograde stations can be significant as auguries or dress rehearsals for a long series of transits by a slow-moving planet to a natal body.  The question arises, when there are multiple transits by a slow planet over the same point – direct, retrograde, direct; or even direct, retrograde, direct, retrograde, direct – which one or ones will better time the expected event?

There doesn’t seem to be any hard and fast rule here; sometimes only one of the transits is effective, and sometimes all of them work as different stages in the unfoldment of a particular line of related events or relationships.  In my own experience the retrograde transits are the least likely to be effective, but Colin James, for one, claims precisely the opposite.  If one of the transits occurs at about the same time as a transit of Mars or a lunation, for example, over the same natal planet, then this may be the trigger that sets off the main event.  Generally speaking, however, the first direct transit sets into motion forces or potentials which are consummated (or exhausted) at the time of the last direct transit. The point of this digression is that the events signified by a series of transits by a slow planet over the same natal point are often prefigured in some way by a retrograde station almost, but not quite, at the position of a natal body.  So careful observation of the days when these stations occur may provide a clue to the events to come in the year or so following.

In the interpretation of the likely effect of a station, the transiting planet which is changing station symbolizes the impulse coming from without (the kind of event which might be expected); and the natal planet which it contacts symbolizes the feeling activated within the person (the emotional response). The following table of keywords is intended to assist in cooking up interpretations.  More detailed interpretations, with examples, are given below.

Transiting Planet
(nature of event)   


Natal Planet
(nature of response)





















































An event which changes your attitude, viewpoint, or self-image.  You see yourself in a new light, in a new role vis a vis other people, and need tact, aplomb, and confidence in your own abilities.

Example: Winston Churchill – T Mercury SD conjunct natal sun, 12/16/1899 (Encouraging event which accentuates determination).

(He had just escaped from a Boer prisoner of war camp, and was being hidden in a mine by a Mr. Howard, a British sympathizer). “On the 16th, the fifth day of escape, Mr. Howard informed me he had made a plan to get me out of the country.  Wool was packed in great bales and would fill two or three large trucks. The bales could be so packed as to leave a small place in the center of the truck in which I could be concealed.  Did I agree to take this chance?

“I was more worried about this than almost anything that had happened to me so far in my adventure. When by extraordinary chance one has gained some great advantage or prize and actually had it in one’s possession and been enjoying it for several days, the idea of losing it becomes almost insupportable.  I had really come to count upon freedom as a certainty, and the idea of having to put myself in a position in which I should be perfectly helpless, absolutely at the caprice of a searching party at the frontier, was profoundly harassing.

However, in the end I accepted the proposal of my generous rescuer, and arrangements were made accordingly.”

Venus: SOCIABLE – Encounters, gatherings, or events which play upon your affections.  They may symbolize a poignant moment in a personal relationship, or creative, artistic expression.

Example: Anne Morrow Lindbergh – T Venus SR conjunct natal Mercury, 6/7/1932 (Sociable event which accentuates understanding).

(Three months after her child’s kidnapping, and a month after his dead body was found):  Diary 6/6/1932:  “Came back to find Skean and Bogy (her dogs) lost, gone since Saturday night, probably stolen.  After our desperate efforts to avoid it by building a pen and keeping them in the house until it was finished. It was finished the evening they went off.

“I feel so hurt and terribly tired, terribly tired of perpetually trying to ‘think of other things.’ It is such a little thing, but completely in tune with my insecurity and lack of faith in anything.  I am tired of fighting.”

Diary 6/7/1932:  “C. came in and handed me a note: ‘Mrs. Lindbergh, the dogs are here.’  Then Skean wriggled in, showing his teeth in a smile, rolling on his back on the floor.”

Mars:  FORCEFUL – Intense involvements with other people (though not necessarily conflictive).  You have to take a position, stand up for yourself, be willing to fully commit yourself.

Example: Che Guevara – T Mars SR opposition natal Jupiter, 3/8/1967 (Forceful event which accentuates fulfillment).

(Fighting a guerrilla war in Bolivia): Diary 3/7/1967:  “Four months. The men are becoming more and more discouraged, seeing that we are reaching the end of our supplies, but not the end of the trail.  Food: three and a half birds and the rest of the palmito; from tomorrow on, only canned goods; then the milk, which is the end.”

Diary 3/8/1967:  “Inti and Ricardo dived into the water. Inti had difficulties and almost drowned; Ricardo helped him and they finally reached shore and disappeared.  All afternoon went by and they didn’t appear.  I was very worried: two valuable comrades were exposed to danger and we didn’t know what had happened to them.”

Diary 3/9/1967:  “About 16 hours, after a trying watch, (Inti and Ricardo) appeared. They brought back one pork, bread, rice, sugar, coffee, some canned goods, and fermented corn, etc. We had a little feast.”

Jupiter: CHEERING – An opportunity to lighten up, join together with others, and take a detached, generous, and conciliatory overview.

Example: Isadora Duncan – T Jupiter SD conjunct natal Venus, 12/15/1904 (Cheering event which accentuates intimacy).

(The day she met Gordon Craig, the great love of her life and the father of her first child):  “Here stood before me brilliant youth, beauty, genius; and, all inflamed with sudden love, I flew into his arms with all the magnetic willingness of a temperament which had for two years lain dormant, but waiting to spring forth. Here I found an answering temperament, worthy of my metal (sic).  In him I had met the flesh of my flesh, the blood of my blood.”

Saturn:  CHALLENGING – Obstacles which have to be confronted directly. You cannot shrink from difficulties but must hold your ground and secure your position in life.

Example: Richard Nixon – T Saturn SD opposition natal Neptune, 9/27/1961 (Challenging event which accentuates attunement).

(His decision to run for governor of California):  “I was more convinced than ever that my first intuition was right: I should not run for governor in 1962. Hall said, ‘Either you run or you’re finished in national politics.  Who will remember Dick Nixon? You can only win in ’64 if you run and win for governor now.’

“My own political judgment at that point told me that Kennedy would be almost unbeatable in 1964. The real problem was that I had no great desire to be governor of California.  Equally compelling was my knowledge of how strongly Pat felt against my running.

“Pat, as I expected, took a strong stand against it. We talked about it for almost an hour. Finally I went upstairs to my study and started to make some notes for the press conference, announcing that I had decided not to run for governor.

“Half an hour after Pat came in. ‘I have thought about it some more,’ she said, ‘and I am more convinced than ever that if you run it will be a terrible mistake.  But if you weight everything and still decide to run, I will support your decision.’

“After she had gone, I tore off the top sheet of paper and threw it into the wastebasket.  On a fresh page I began making notes for an announcement that I had decided to run.”

Uranus:  SURPRISING – Unexpected (serendipitous or calamitous) events which shake you out of your ordinary routines and doldrums.

Example: Albert Einstein – T Uranus SD conjunct natal Jupiter, 11/8/1919 (Surprising event which accentuates fulfillment).

(His theory of relativity had been confirmed, and the results announced to the international press the previous day): “Einstein awoke in Berlin on the morning of November 7, 1919, to find himself famous.  The publicity was ‘so bad that I can hardly breathe, let alone get down to sensible work.’  Throughout the day Einstein was visited by an almost continuous stream of reporters. He genuinely did not like it.  But he soon realized that there is a time for compromise as well as a time for standing firm.  There was, moreover, one way in which the distasteful interest could be turned to good use.  So there were no free photographs of Einstein; as one reporter later noted, ‘These, his wife told me, are sold for the benefit of the starving children of Vienna.’”

Neptune: UNUSUAL – Odd, out-of-the-ordinary occurrences; strange vibrations and undercurrents. May provoke powerful attractions or repulsions on your part.

Example: Betty Ford – T Neptune SD opposition natal Jupiter, 8/19/1974; Jerry Ford – T Neptune SD opposition natal Venus and conjunct natal moon, 8/19/1974 (Unusual event which accentuates fulfillment <Betty>; intimacy and assurance <Jerry>).

(They moved into the White House): “A helicopter picks us up and takes us directly to the White House. It’s the first time, and it’s a very strange feeling.

“That morning, our house in Alexandria had been left in utter chaos, crates and cartons everywhere, chunks of our lives uprooted and labeled for storage.  It’d been a very traumatic experience for me. That night we came back to new living quarters in perfect order.

“Our bed and bedding and pillows are in the First Lady’s Bedroom, and the room usually referred to as the President’s Bedroom has been made into a private sitting room for us. That night Jerry and I get into bed, and Jerry looks around and laughs.  ‘It’s the best public housing I’ve ever seen.’ he says.”

Pluto: DECISIVE – Events of a disorienting, transformative nature.  You have to take command, rise to the occasion, get on top of things.

Example: Timothy Leary – T Pluto SR conjunct natal Saturn, 12/21/1965 (Decisive event which accentuates discipline).

(His baronial crashpad at Millbrook had increasingly become the object of police surveillance): “We agreed that we had gone about as far as we could go at Millbrook.  The fun had stopped. The money, energy, able bodies, and utopian idealism needed to maintain a sixty-four room castle had been dissipated.  I announced that I would close Millbrook and retire to Mexico to write the story of our adventures.

“On December 20, 1965, we turned off the water and power, locked the doors, and piled into the new leased station wagon heading for the Yucatan.”

Interpretations for Natal Planets

Sun: DETERMINATION – You have to stand up for yourself, let your own views be known, make your own will prevail. You must disencumber yourself and take a step forward.

Moon:  ASSURANCE – Your deep-seated instincts come to the surface. You must pay attention to what your own inner voice is telling you.

Mercury: UNDERSTANDING – You must meet or communicate with others of like mind (opposition inclines to conflicts). You may begin new projects or relationships.

Venus: INTIMACY – You attend to family, social, or relationship matters which impact on your gregarious, romantic, enthusiastic side.

Mars:  ADVANCEMENT – You are impelled forward, make new plans or projects, and are moved by a sense of progress, accomplishment, and hope for the future.

Jupiter: FULFILLMENT – You find that things just fall right into place with no effort on your part. You may get to do something you’ve wanted to do for a long time.

Saturn:  DISCIPLINE – You must work hard, dedicate yourself, exercise self-control. You have to adjust yourself to limits imposed from outside.

Uranus:  LIBERATION – An expansion of your personal space and horizons. New doors open for you, and you have to release old assumptions.

Neptune: ATTUNEMENT – You need to overcome doubt, confusion and uncertainty and trust in your ability to just go with the flow.

Pluto: CLARITY – You must be calm and steady, and use sober, objective analysis. You have to put the situation into proper perspective.

North Node:  GUIDANCE – You need to reconsider your position, to be fluid and receptive to change.

South Node:  GRATIFICATION – Your ego gets a boost; you collect some debt from the past.

Part of Fortune: NOVELTY – You find you are able to take things in stride, to relax and enjoy yourself in a unique situation.

Ascendant: REORIENTATION – You begin a new phase or epoch in your life.

Midheaven: HOPE – You are given something to set your sights on or to shoot for.

Descendant:  COOPERATION – You change the tone or direction of a close relationship.

Lower Meridian:  RESOLUTION – You are required to stand your ground and consolidate your position.

1 Churchill, Winston, My Early Life, Manor Books 1972, page 288.
2 Linbergh, Anne Morrow, Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead, Signet 1974, page 225.
3 Guevara, Che, The Diary of Che Guevara, Bantam 1968, page 71.
4 Duncan, Isadora, My Life, Liveright 1927, page 182.  Date from Seroff, Victor, The Real Isadora, Avon
       1972, page 85
5 Nixon, Richard, The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, Grosset & Dunlap 1978, page 239
6 Clark, Ronald, Einstein – The Life and Times, Avon 1972, page 295
7 Ford, Betty, The Times of My Life, Ballantine 1978, page 180
8 Leary, Timothy, Flashbacks, Tarcher 1983, page 234.

Bob Makransky’s Astrology Corner © 2001

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