Solar Illumination of Potential

The progressed Sun (also known as the solar arc), illuminates each planet that it comes in contact with through hard aspect. It shines its light on the planet, and we come to realize what the planet means to us, and how it is animated in our life.

If you were to reflect on the times when the progressed Sun aspected each of the planets in your chart, including Jupiter and Saturn, you will be able to get closer to understanding how that planet informs your life, particularly if it’s been a puzzle, or you have repressed it below conscious awareness. There is a new recognition of the energy of that planet, a better sense of how that planet is an integral part of the self, and how to live that planet’s energy in a way that is aligned with your life purpose.

For example, Saturn may have long felt as a burden, something that you would rather ignore because it is such a pain in the rear. But when the progressed Sun shines its light on Saturn by aspect, the role of Saturn in your life tends to crystallize. It becomes evident that without Saturn’s discipline, clarity, focus, patience, etc. you could not have advanced your plans and your goals that make you feel fulfilled. From here on out, you will befriend Saturn and welcome it’s energy in your life. Your victories gained with Saturnian discernment and perseverance will feel right, and you can savor them for much longer, pausing to enjoy the fruit of your effort before going on to the next project. You will get a good understanding of where to deploy the formidable Saturnian energy for success. Importantly, you will know what success means to you as different from anyone else or some hopeless societal definition that has nothing to do with who you are, what your Sun is aspiring to.

In the rest of this narrative, I will use the term solar arc instead of progressed Sun, as it is more evocative. The solar arc will impact a planet when the Sun’s arced position is in “hard aspect” to the planet, which includes the conjunction and any multiple of 45 degrees of separation, i.e. opposition, square, semi-square (45 degrees) and sesqui-quadrate (135).

I will leave out the impact of the solar arc on the angles. While these would for sure show up as events or milestones in the life, they won’t necessarily lead to growth or awareness towards one’s life purpose in the manner of the Sun’s impact on a planet, since angles do not actively emanate energy.

Leaving out the angles means we don’t need the horoscope wheel with houses. We can get all our work done on the back of the ephemeris, by doing a mental calculation of the approximate position of the arcing Sun and the corresponding age of the person. This will become clearer as we do the analysis.

Let us now look at the the solar arc’s singular impact in the horoscope of Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK was born on January 15, 1929 at 12pm in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Below is the ephemeris for his date of birth:

We find anchor at the position of the Sun, at 24 Cap 22. In high school, he became known for his public-speaking ability, an early foreshadowing of the gifted orator he would become. In his birthday ephemeris, note that Mercury at 10 Aqu 38 is just over 16 degrees away from the Sun. So the solar arc would have landed on this Mercury when he was around 16 years old, in perfect synchrony with the time when the public speaker who was finding his voice in high school when he was around that age. The Sun illuminated the gift of oration that arose out of this Mercury. It became one with his life purpose, culminating in his stirring “I have a dream” speech.

We can’t fail to notice that the Mercury is in Aquarius, the humanitarian sign that champions causes and seeks equality and fairness, which found voice through the Mercury placed there, in the being of MLK.

The next illustration is that of Mahatma Gandhi, born Oct 2, 1869:

The Sun is at 08 Lib 50.

There are three planets in the next sign, Scorpio: Mercury at 03 Sco 42, Venus at 16 Sco 19, and Mars at 18 Sco 19. Three planets in the same sign is a massive concentration of energy, a single minded focus and intensity, strengthened by the placement in Scorpio which is nothing if not passionate. Mercury is roughly 25 degrees ahead of the Sun, Venus is 37-38 degrees ahead, and Mars is 39-40 degrees ahead. Which means the the Sun, in tracing its arc, would shine its light on these planets when Gandhi was 25 (1894), 37-38 (1907), and 39-40 (1909) years of age, give or take a few months.

In 1894, as the arcing Sun shone on his Mercury, Gandhi helped found the Natal Indian Congress in South Africa. Through this body, he united the Indian community into a political force. He was beginning to find his purpose in life. In 1906, a year before the arcing Sun would land on his Venus, he tested his still-developing weapon of Satyagraha or non-violent protest for the first time.

In 1910, he established Tolstoy Farm, an idealistic farm in Johannesburg where he nurtured his policy of peaceful resistance. This was right on the heels of the Sun arcing over both Venus and Mars–whatever was brewing inside in that time had worked itself out into the farm.

Notice that on Gandhi’s birthday, Pluto is at 17 Tau 51, and therefore very square both Venus at 16 Sco 19, and Mars at 18 Sco 19. Which means when the arcing Sun lights up Venus and Mars, it also lights up Pluto by the square aspect. The Venus-Mars combination is endowed with indomitable strength and power by Pluto, which in this case is taken up several notches more because Pluto rules Scorpio in which Venus and Mars are placed. In other words, Venus and Mars are both ruled by Pluto. So what does Gandhi do? He establishes a farm (Taurus) to practice peaceful (Venus/Taurus) resistance (Mars/Scorpio) and evolve it into a fighting (Mars) force (Pluto). The synchronicity is breath-taking.

By the time Gandhi returned to India, he had figured out how the Mercury-Venus-Mars array of energies could be used to fight for freedom with satyagraha and civil disobedience.

By sheer chance, in both examples, there is a strong activation of the life purpose earlier in life because one or more planets are placed not too far ahead of the Sun. This is likely to happen often enough in the case of Mercury and Venus since they are never too far way from the Sun: Mercury is never more than 28 degrees away, and Venus is never more than 48 degrees away. When either is ahead of the Sun, the solar arc conjunction to Mercury will happen within 28-29 years (longer if the birth is in June-July since the Sun is at it’s slowest then and the solar arc takes longer to cover the distance), and the conjunction to Venus will happen inside of 48-49 years.

If Mercury or Venus are behind the Sun, there are more variations. Let’s take a look at Steve Jobs’s horoscope in which both Mercury and Venus are behind the Sun:

The Sun is at 5 Pis 44. Mercury is at 14 Aqu 21, so the separation is a little over 21 degrees. A 45-degree (semi-square) aspect between the arcing Sun and Mercury will happen when the Sun has moved 24 degrees, when it will be at 29 Pis 44. At that time Jobs will be around 24 years of age. Here’s the solar arc chart drawn for Feb 24, 1979, exactly 24 years after Jobs was born:

The outer ring shows the solar arc’ed planets, and the inner ring is the natal chart. The separation between the arc’ed Sun and the natal Mercury is a little over 45 degrees, the exact aspect would have been made 4-5 months earlier, in late 1978. In May 1978, a few months before the exact aspect, Jobs’s daughter as born. Note that Mercury is in the 5th house of children. The baby was named Lisa, a name that Jobs liked. Also, according to Wikipedia, “during this time Jobs was preparing to unveil a new kind of computer that he wanted to give a female name” and as it turned out he named the computer Lisa.

Now let’s turn to Venus, which is at 21 Cap 10 natally. So the natal separation from the Sun is 44 degrees and 34 degrees, almost 45 degrees! So that first solar arc aspect to Venus would have happened right after birth, with no conscious awareness. So we need to look at the next solar arc aspect, which would happen45 years later when the Sun was 90 degrees out from Venus. That would be in the year 2000, when Jobs was 45 years old. The exact aspect happened in mid-November of 2000:

According to Wikipedia, “At the 2000 Macworld Expo, Jobs officially dropped the “interim” modifier from his title at Apple and became permanent CEO.” This was a momentous happening, which forever made Apple synonymous with Steve Jobs. It was as if Jobs’s life purpose had now become indelible.

If you were to do a roundup of all solar arc hard aspects to natal planets in Jobs’s chart that occurred after the age of 10 (roughly the earliest time at which a person can be reasonably aware of the impact of a life circumstance), you will find the following sequence:


There’s one eye-catching detail here, and that is the Sun’s arc was making an aspect to Jupiter at the same time that it was also aspecting Venus, at the age of 45. This was a double-whammy which powered his ascension to the throne of Apple as permanent CEO. As the reigning monarch of Apple, Jobs went on to change the world with the iPod, iPad, and iPhone.

Go ahead and find out the succession of solar arc aspects to the planets in your chart. You can do it with just the ephemeris (with some math that might make you go cross-eyed!) as I did in the MLK and Gandhi examples, or you can cast your horoscope and do it in a more visually appealing (and generally easier) manner as I did for Steve Jobs’s chart above.

To map the arc span to age, keep in mind that it depends on the speed of motion of the Sun. Generally you can use one year of age for 1 degree of arc span, except for when the Sun is moving much faster than usual, which happens in the dead of winter (Nov-Dec-Jan), or much slower than usual, which happens at the height of summer (May-Jun-July). For these winter months, I generally subtract 1 year for every 30 degrees of arc span. And for the summer months, I add 1 year for ever 30 degrees of arc span. If this is too laborious, you can ignore it. After all, major life circumstances typically develop over several months, and fitting the the target age to anywhere in this period is good enough.