Posted by: Donna Cunningham | September 1, 2010

In the Eye of the Storm—How Outer Planet Transits Work

©9-1-2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

As the east coast waits for Hurricane Earl—the fifth storm in this year’s hurricane season—I’m struck by what a perfect metaphor it is for the way outer planet transits work.   Any one of the slower-moving planets is likely to cross over the same degree three times and thus to make three aspects to any planet or point you have at that degree.

Occasionally, it crosses that point more than three times, sometimes—if you’ve already learned a particular lesson and learned it well—only once, but most likely three times. Like the path of a hurricane.   Stay with me…you’ll see it, too.

 Let’s pretend you know nothing about how hurricanes work, never been through one, never watched one on CNN. You do know there’s the potential for a big storm…they’ve been monitoring it for days, hoping it will turn out to be nothing more than a tropical storm.

 You sense it in the sweltering air. If you’re prudent, maybe you’ve stocked up on food and emergency equipment.  Maybe even boarded up a window or two as it got closer.  Thought about evacuating, decided not to. How bad could it be, really?

 But the weather gets rougher and rougher…winds and waves higher and higher.  And suddenly it’s right up on you…a full-fledged hurricane, the kind you’ll tell your grandkids about.  Earl, back in 2010. You hang on tight…hold on for dear life…pray, make vows to change your life if only you make it through this. 

And, suddenly, miraculously, the winds stop.  There’s an eerie quiet, but the winds stop.  You catch your breath, thank God with all your heart that it’s over, and that nobody died. Your home is still standing, it wasn’t that bad, life will go on like always. 

(Remember, we’re pretending you don’t know how hurricanes work.)

 And just as you start to let go of the fear that you’ll lose everything, the wind picks up again, stronger than ever, the waves higher.  You turn the radio on again, and they tell you that blessedly calm interval was just the eye of the storm, a point dead center of the hurricane’s path.

 Now Earl is back, stronger than ever.  You still have to make it through the second half of the storm.  Oh, shit!  

 The three passes of a typical outer planet transit are sometimes a lot like that.  The first pass can be rough, especially if you’ve never had the benefit of astrology to guide you through a transit from that planet or to that part of your chart. 

You can be overwhelmed, at sea about how to manage and control those energies. You can make a variety of costly errors in judgment, groping blindly in the dark with no hurricane lantern.

Then the planet goes retrograde and backs away from that point. (Like Saturn backed into Virgo and like Uranus is backing up into Pisces before they both go Cardinal.  Like the Pluto-Saturn square now close for the 3rd time. )  Like the calm at the eye of the hurricane, things settle down. 

 The crisis passes or seems to, and you rejoice that it’s over.  It was just a short storm, you tell yourself, an isolated incident.  Nobody really got hurt, nothing has to change, we can go back to the way things were before. Maybe pick up a tip or two about living better, no biggie.  

But no, the planet turns direct and goes back over the exact aspect.  The problem comes to a head again, and now you have to confront it or it confronts you. You engage it, you ride the storm, you sort out the damage, take in the changed landscape and rebuild.

If you prepared prudently, having heard the cosmic weather forecast and understood the implications, maybe you’re even in sounder shape than before the storm.      

Here’s a small segment of a table that covers transits from 1990-2012.  Download the whole table here: Transit Tracking Table for 1990-2012.         

2009 Saturn: 15 VI-3 LI Uranus:19-26 PI Neptune: 23-26 AQ  Pluto: 0-3 CP
2010 27 VI-14 LI 23 PI-0 AR 24-28 AQ 2-5 CP
2011 10-25 LI 26 PI-4 AR 26 AQ-0 PI 4-7 CP
2012 23 LI-6 Sc 0-8 AR 28 AQ-3 PI 6-9 CP


 That’s earl, folks!  Do you have planets in the early degrees of the cardinal signs, and have you been in the eye of the storm while they’re retrograde?  What have you done with that interval to prepare for the next passes of Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto?  Tell us about it in the comment section.

Some Articles that may be helpful:

LINKS TO THE BLOGATHON ARTICLES COLLECTIONS ABOUT THE CARDINAL T-SQUARE:  The International Astrology Day Blogathon was dedicated to helping people understand and work with the Cardinal T-square and included collections of more than 70 articles about transits by Pluto, Uranus, and Saturn.  Go directly to the individual collections here:   


  1. Great post, thanks! Am waiting to hear more….

  2. Wow, you’re fast! I just added some links that may be helpful. Donna

    • I’m not very savvy about all of ‘this’, but yesterday was my birthday #59! I am at the 3rd and final stage of my 2nd Saturn return, and by the end of this fall I ‘think’ my Pluto transit will have accomplished — whatever!

      Yesterday was a HOOT! I was given a gift I could not have imagined, and it will change the rest of my life – I am certain! Wondrous!

      And, by golly, I am going to MOVE and DANCE my way through all of this! I am reading the Saturn in Libra return links with a new ‘eye’. Thank you to all of you excellent writers and truly SAVVY people for the help you offer especially to the total neophytes like me!

      • I’m really glad if it is helping. About the 2nd Saturn return, there’s a website devoted to that on the blog roll: Saturn Return–You Will Survive. Donna

      • Hi alchemynow,

        Happy (belated) Birthday! I felt compelled to say hello since I’m currently finishing my 1st Saturn Return – my natal placement is at 3 degrees Libra. Glad you’ll be waltzing your way through it – you’re most definitely in the home stretch at this stage of the game.

        Funny, I actually had something nice drop into my lap the other day as well – yesterday, as a matter of fact. I’m not really used to it when things just kind of fall into place, but have to say I am definitely grateful and certainly enjoying it. Wishing you all the best and glad you’re finding lots of good info here – Donna’s the best!

      • happy birthday! glad to hear this stuff didn’t get you down. My 59th is later this year.

  3. I seem to be escaping aspects to all the planets outer planets except Neptune, and that’s in the late degrees of Aquarius now so it has been nowhere near the big Cardinal Cross. But it’s retrograde so it’s been walking back and forth slowly over a couple of big aspects in my natal chart: Neptune opposition Pluto, and Neptune Square Sun. And since my Sun and Moon are conjunct within 2 degrees, I suppose I could consider it Neptune square Moon too, although my astro software doesn’t (yet.. it will soon enough).
    I am getting a little tired of these aspects, I wish Neptune would move on and do something else. I’m not quite sure what it’s doing now, but I’m quite sure I could use a change.

    • Neptune transits do seem to take forever. Here are some articles about managing Neptune’s energies: Donna

      • Thanks for your comments, as always, Donna. Yeah, I know Neptune moves slowly, but this retrograde across major aspects is just too slow to bear. I am reading some of the articles you recommended in that link, I particularly noted one of your comments that a heavy Neptune aspect will make you feel like you’re moving away from something, not moving towards something. Oh how I know that feeling.

  4. I have natally 2º Libra Pluto square to 0º Cancer Saturn.

    Honestly it just seems like “same old, same old”. Maybe I’m just used to the energy…

  5. It a “let’s just get on with it” feeling for me. I know it’s coming back again, so let’s get it over with! Maybe it’s the very active Uranus in my chart, but the waiting feels like a long night in a bus station. Settling into the “eye” energy is exactly what’s needed to prepare for the next round of activity.

    Great analogy, Donna! Thanks.

  6. After reading this, I guess I better get ready for the storm. LOL I have Mars, Uranus and Asc in the early degrees of Cancer and have not given any thought to how they will be affected. Also Cap decendent at 13 degrees. I would guess anything under 10 is considered early degrees.

    Better start reading up and see what I need to do to prepare.

  7. Sometimes it easier to see this in others than yourself. I have a BFF of 22 yrs who has pluto conjunct her sun (Dec 24) and has been talking about and thinking of getting divorced for a while now. When pluto retrograded back, she caught her breath and got to a ‘new normal’ I think. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for her as it conjuncts it exactly again. I’ve set her up on and told her pluto is conjuncting her sun, etc., but with these things, people have to find their own way and don’t always respond to astrology the same way I do.

    I have two other friends born on December 23 and they are both working their asses off; one just published a book and the other is in an org that has had layoffs and is doing two jobs basically.

    I’ve already lived thru pluto conjuncting my sun; now it’s conjunct saturn in my 12th. And transiting saturn is squaring my natal saturn (almost done with this one), but about to conjunct my venus. Sometimes it seems like it just never ends.

  8. LOL – Do I have planets in the early degrees of cardinal signs?

    My dear, I have 5 planets in either very late degrees of mutable signs or very early degrees of cardinal signs. In recent times I’ve dealt with more major transits than I can shake a stick at. The Cardinal T-square has been running ALL OVER my multiple natal T-squares, to which Tr Uranus has been filling in the missing “leg” and thus making a Grand Cross! And don’t forget to add in a Saturn Return for good measure 😉

    How does one ever prepare for something that epic? I don’t think you do – life just happens and you have to make the best of it. Hasn’t been all bad, mind you. Have also had Tr Uranus trining my natal Uranus placement. Is it any wonder astrology has been a BIG help in sorting out what I’ve been going through?

    Loved the hurricane analogy, BTW – very clear explanation for those who aren’t familiar with the process of retrogradation.

    • Wow, you’ve been a busy gal with all those transits. It sounds like you have one of those charts where either nothing is happening for a good long time or else everything is happening at once. It’s what happens when you have a clump of planets all clustered in one narrow degree range. Donna

  9. Pluto will be stationed direct on my natal Mercury for it’s last pass. Does the exact station conjunct my Mercury in minutes make it stronger? I know I have really been out of sorts. Also have Neptune making it’s 3rd pass on my ascendant in November. Saturn will conjunct my natal Neptune in Libra in October. When Jupiter and Uranus goes back to Aries my Mercury will be squared again. Mars in Libra has been setting of my cardinal t sq also.
    Having a cardinal t sq with Aries being the open end and a stellium in Capricorn there will be many aspects.

    Donna, when you wrote about your move it really set off a storm in my thoughts since I really need to downsize and stop trying to maintain this home and yard. I have lived in Florida since I was 5yr old and have never been able to walk to anything due to distance. We have terrible bus service and if you don’t drive you are literally depend on someone else to even take you to the grocery store. So this prompted me to look at some of the aspects and Saturn will square my moon in Oct of 2012 which really isn’t that far away Jupiter will be transiting my 4th then. So I really need to start think about how I need to put this all in motion especially with a dead housing market.Your sharing has really help me look at my situation. Thank you Donna.

    • An exact station is really, really strong. But I don’t think Pluto transits to Mercury are altogether a bad thing. It makes your thinking on certain patterns crystal clear, so that you can begin to change things. Analytical, the BS meter on high, you start to realize things you might have been in denial about. And, yes, a Saturn square to the Moon could mean getting yourself into a sustainable housing situation. Donna

    • Hi Adrienne,

      Just read your comment – Pluto SD @ 02Cap47 is in extremely tight opposition to my natal (Rx) Mercury (02Can54), so I have something very similar going on. It is quite potent indeed for me. Over the last year or two and more specifically in the last few months I have really come to see myself as a writer. I’ve always been verbal, but Pluto opposing my natal Mercury has unearthed (pun intended) a side of me that I’ve always seen some glimmer of but never was able to do anything with until recently. Has also made a lot of people take notice of my writing in a very good way – lot of completely unsolicited compliments about my style of writting and the subject matters I’ve covered.

      As to what Donna mentioned about the B.S. detector, with my natal Pluto in the 1st (conjunct my Asc) it perpetually works overtime anyway so it’s tough to tell, LOL! All joking aside I have used the major transits that have been going on for me (see above comment), including this one to work with a therapist on some residual issues. Pluto-Merc transits can be great for attending to mental health matters and can help to root out any “stinkin’ thinkin'”.

      Additionally I have found this transit to have fundamentally changed how I view some of my sibling relationships, but for me it’s a bit more convoluted and difficult to say whether one could attribute this to the the Pluto-Merc opposition alone or the fact that this transit is simultaneously highlighting my 3rd & 9th house axis. Maybe some of the “flavors” are similar for you, maybe not, but thought I would just add my 2 cents to help reinforce and demonstrate what Donna was saying in her comment to you.

      • An excellent summary of what a Pluto transit to Mercury can do for you, Alethea! You’ve used it so well. Donna

      • I began seeing a therapist, too, when Pluto was transiting my Mercury (by square). It’s been tremendously helpful. Pluto transits are perfect times for this.

  10. Donna:

    Love the metaphor. Such a great way to explain retrogrades and outer planets transits! I think you also have explained very well how to prepare for such events:
    1) you listen to the cosmic weather report
    2) get a sense what it means for you personally
    3) put in some hard work and learn deal with the transit.
    That said, it is worth mentioning that you also need a certain willingness to listen to the weather report and not put your head in the sand. A lot of people are very reluctant to accept the fact that they are in for a rough time and need to deal with it. Easier to ignore and wish it will somehow go away.
    A certain amount of self reflection is also necessary when you are getting a sense of what that transit means for you personally. I find it useful to go back to previous transits and think about what was going on at that time and what was the theme. Good chance it will be a similar theme.
    As I prepare to face yet another Saturn in Libra opposing my Aries Sun, I am in the early stages of getting ready for that looooong transit (3 hits) and deal with the issues and legacies of my relationship with my father, this time at a deeper level.
    But the preparedness really starts with your willingness to face the storm.


    • Hi, Fabienne, I couldn’t have summarized it better myself. Head in the sand is surely a way to put yourself in the path of the worst a transit might do. Part of learning about transits that’s very useful is doing a kind of retrospective of times when particular parts of your chart was triggered in the past. That’s where the transit tracker I linked to in the article is quite useful. Donna

  11. I am in the midst of the transits that hit in the early 40s with nep sq nep and uranus opp uranus. Really loving that. Uranus went over my IC and looks like he will be going back over it again heading back into Pisces. Saturn passed over my stellium in late Virgo at my midheaven and is conjunct my uranus at 29 virgo currently. Feeling unsettled and I agree with CJ Wright, it is like a very long night waiting at the bus station. I live in the desert and just watch hurricaine info on TV so really liked the analogy.

  12. I decided to leave my husband and will be moving into my own apartment next week. Uranus has been conjuncting my natal Mercury, and the communication in my marriage has not been good. A year or two ago when Pluto squared my Mercury, we went through marriage counseling, which helped me learn to speak up more and stop stifling myself. But things came to a head a couple of weeks ago, and it became clear to me that it was time to leave. Freedom – I’m looking forward to it.

    In one of your earlier posts, Donna, someone commented on the number of Aries women leaving their husbands during this T-square. Guess what – my sun is in Aries.

    • Is Uranus also conjuncting your sun? And / or Pluto squaring your sun?

      Good luck with your divorce!

      • Thanks, Karen.

        My Mercury is at 29 degrees Pisces and my sun at 26 degrees Aries, so the Pluto/Uranus etc. transits to my sun happened a while ago. I suppose there may be a lingering influence, though. The Pluto transit to my sun was associated with a lot of emotional upheaval and change. Even though it was a trine, it was quite difficult. The most obvious result of the Uranus transit to my Sun was a significant improvement in my health.

    • Rough going, Margaret, but it sounds like you’re really clear on what needs to happen. The Bach flower remedy Walnut, available at New Seasons, really helps in huge transitions like that. (BTW, I no longer live in your neighborhood–at least the old one–I now live in the NW 23rd area.) Donna

      • Thanks, Donna – I will try the Walnut. I’ve used some other flower remedies that have been really helpful. Didn’t know you ever lived in my neighborhood – what a missed chance. But I’ll be living downtown by this time next week and more mobile – would love to meet you in person one of these days!

  13. Looks like in 2012 I get both Saturn transits (to ascendant) AND Uranus (to Mercury). Eeek.

  14. ooh, I just signed in to get the latest Earl prediction ! What a delight to read this !

    I was born during Hurricane Hazel. I am/have had Mars/Venus transits of my Sun and Neptune this week… I know Venus goes Retrograde later in the month, so I wonder if we will be doing this again soon ?

    I am hoping that this impossible to predict storm (I suspect due to Mercury Rx in Virgo) does eventually make that right turn !
    And I have a 9* Cancer Ascendent too.

    Well, times a wasting.

    See you on the Other side of the other side !

  15. I have Mars opposite Uranus natally. Currently I have transit Pluto conjunct natal Mars, opposite natal Uranus, square natal Saturn…also, transit Uranus and transit Jupiter square natal Mars, square natal Uranus and opposite natal Saturn. There’s more: transit Neptune conjunct natal Jupiter.

    I only feel changes that have been building for several years. Maybe I’m in the eye of the storm; I know Uranus is supposed to bring “sudden and unexpected” changes, so I’m hoping for the positive!

  16. I certainly empathize w/ all those born under a plethora of early cardinal planets. Just having my solo natal planet, Mars @ 3Cancer, as the 4th point of a Grand Cross that includes this season’s wicked Cardinal T-Square is enough to place me smack in the middle in one helluva whirlwind! Hang on, all; this too shall pass.

  17. I’ve been watching my husband (with Saturn at 1 degree of Libra) get bounced around horribly by the management structure of his job. he gets smacked, gets back up, gets his balance again, gets smacked again… He still doesn’t know if he’s going to get canned or not.. Been a rough ride.

  18. and as for me, with my Saturn return in the works, this stuff has been hitting me in Mars (2 deg libra and Jupiter, 4 deg aries)
    I think for me it has a lot to do with my health (Saturn in the 6th house). I have recently been taking mega Vit D on doctor’s orders and have been getting Hellerwork Therapy ( like Rolfing) After all these years of troubles, I am really hoping this will turn my physical problems around by the time I get the saturn return at 12 deg Libra

  19. Hi Donna,

    I really can relate to your eye-of-the-storm analogy.

    I have been feeling the effect of T Pluto squaring my Sun (0Aries) since 2007, activating my 4th and 7 houses. I felt the energy 2 degrees before the 1st exact square, so apprx. 2 years earlier.
    It started with a health issue (cancer, but fortunately early detection so I’m ok now, thank God!), then a divorce, then loss of my home.

    With the latest hit, involving Jupiter, Uranus and Saturn, I had to move in with my brother to save money in order to pay for my daughter’s college expenses – leaving behind my much missed privacy and independence.

    For an Aries Sun, the loss of independence and autonomy has been very difficult. I feel as though I’ve been stripped down to the core. And yet I wonder, when is it going to really end and can it really get better? With Saturn opposing my Sun in the 7th, I also have been thinking about ending the latest relationship that hasn’t been helping much with my sense of security.

    I guess the only thing that would make it a “perfect storm” would be that I lose my job.
    There has been several rounds of layoff and they recently just announced a big one coming up, so who knows – this ride could still get a lot more interesting before all the thrill is over.

    And that is why I picked up yoga recently! Just so I can find some peace, at least from within.

    Love your writings and insights!

  20. Hi all,

    My Pluto is 1 degree Capricorn..and , as you know, it is the middle of the Tsquare….I figure Pluto is change for the highest good. Thank God it is on it’s last pass over. And Uranus is squaring my sun at 27 Sag…on and off. The last 2 times I had to move. It turned out fabulously well.

    What I am doing now is cleaning up my health. I dumped sugar,all sugar substitutes, wheat and dairy. Have doubled my fruits and veggies (organic) and tripled my water in take ( from almost zero, triple is NBD). Also I eat every 2-4 hours. I quit eating at Taco Bell…this is a huge for me as I am always zipping around town and never plan meals.

    Results!!! More energy and more relaxed. Happy ,peaceful & joyous ( sounds so disgustingly New Age-y)….and, if Pluto is going to get last licks on the final go round…..
    -what I do know is that it will eventually turn into something grand. Lemons into lemonade. Get out the juicers.


  21. My Sun is at 3 Cancer 58 so Pluto has recently had its retrograde pass opposite … I lost my Dad at that point, something I was expecting as he was 82 and very frail, but not to happen right when it did. To say that losing a parent shakes up your world, flings you into dark, scary unknown territory, is putting it mildly. It’s a rite of passage. But in that space, I’ve discovered strengths – buried treasure – I didn’t know existed. You don’t find gold without digging.

    So I’m now waiting for Pluto’s final pass back across 3/4 Capricorn. I can’t wait (ha ha) for what he might fling at me across my chart on his way back!

  22. Been under some outer planet transits for awhile now. My natal Jupiter, Cjiron and Neptune from the 12 but conjunct the ascendant, has been getting opposed by Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Cap. Then transit Neptune/ Chiron in the 5th opposes my Sun as we speak.
    There is the ongoing concern over two baby Grand daughters and their fate. A court case in the works where someone ( do not know who) turned the mother in for child abuse. They are very young babies and helpless. I have been warning authorities for a while now but could not get any action so whoever the neighbor was that did get some action , I salute them.
    For some reason the local authorities have let her get by with things anyone else would still be rotting in jail for. It also seems they are purposefully trying to keep myself and son in the dark on their proceedings. My son is very upset because he loves those babies very much but is in his 4th year of college, and not well heeled;. He feels his education will get him a good job in the future so he is in a position to support the babies and raise them.
    The first 2 yr old baby has the same Jupiter, Chiron , Neptune conjunction that I do ; only hers is in Aquarius in her 3rd house and it squares her mercury in Taurus.I miss seeing her.
    The second one who will be a year old in Sept. has the same Sun Uranus opposition in her chart that my son does. Hers is in Virgo/ Pisces while his is Taurus Scorpio. Both myself and the first one have our conjuctions in Air signs. Interesting how the aspects have repeated themselves.
    My first Grand daughter is 9 and I have raised her since birth. Our charts mesh well. However she has an aspect in her chart; Pluto in the 3rd house opposition Saturn and these are conjunct her north and south nodes. To me it looks like siblings would not be a good thing for her and it holds me back from pursuing the 2nd two grand daughters. I would take them until my son is on his feet but I hesitate pursuing this. Perhaps the Neptune fog is not giving me a clear shot.

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