“Yes, when you can neither stand nor sit with comfort, you take refuge in the horizontal, like a child in its mother’s lap. You explore it as never before, & find it possessed of unexpected delights. In short it becomes infinite.” ~ Samuel Beckett
I have a chronic illness. And as a result, I have spent many years “exploring the horizontal,” particularly from the view of Astrology.
Astrology books tend to focus on the emotional, psychological and spiritual effects of transits. Unless you are reading a book on medical astrology, the physical impact of a transit is not usually described. Yet every transit we experience has a physical effect on the body. Each transit comes with its own specific set of benefits (and burdens) to the health of the human body. And when you have a chronic illness, you are particularly sensitive to these effects.
This article looks at some of the ways that the transits of the outer planets are physically experienced when you have a chronic illness. This article is the second one in a series on astrology and chronic illness–you can check out the first article here which looked at solar and lunar transits and how to use them to maximize your physical energy and quality of life.
The Transits in Question
While all transits have an effect on the physical body and energy, the transits that are the most noticeable on your physical health are:
-transits of the outer planets through the 6th house (and perhaps also the 12th, especially for chronic conditions). The condition will be especially strong as the planet aspects the cusp of the 6th house.
-transits of the outer planet to your natal or progressed Sun (Sun = vitality)
-transits of the outer planet to your natal or progressed Moon (Moon= the physical body)
-transits of the outer planet to your natal Ascendant (AC = physical body)
-and to some extent, transits of the outer planet to your natal or progressed Venus (physical body) and Mars (physical energy).
-solar and lunar secondary progressions through house 6 and 12
-profection year 6 (see end of article for more info on)
And don’t forget that the condition of the natal planet that is receiving the transit determines how how the transiting outer planet is experienced by the body, whether in a positive or adverse way.
So let’s look at the planets themselves now and the impact their transits have on a chronic condition. While I have listed a few body parts and ailments that each planet rules, it is a rudimentary list at best. You might wish to consult a medical astrology textbook for a more in-depth look at each planet.
Rules the head and adrenal glands
Technically, Mars is not an outer planet. Nevertheless, his transits have a noticeable effect on energy levels and so I have included him here. Mars transits are brief, but can be potentially energizing in a positive way for people who are dealing with chronic conditions. When Mars transits your 6th house, for example, you might experience a month-and-a-half of increased physical energy. You might feel like you want to be more active, and have a desire to increase your physical exercise. A similar effect might occur during your Mars Return.
Potentially, you can gain some ground in your healing now. You might become more enthusiastic about trying new treatments or become interested in visiting doctors and other health professionals in order to improve your health. This transit is especially nice if mars goes through a retrograde or if your 6th house is really large, because this positive energy will hang around longer, allowing you to make a few gains in your health. If your 6th house is in bad shape, then Mars’ trip through this house could indicate fevers, headaches or inflammation.
Rules the liver, hips and thighs.
Jupiter transiting your 6th house is one of the most fortunate placements for health. Technically, it offers a bit of protection for your health. Your symptoms might get a little better, and you might feel like you have a little more energy. Opportunities might come along for you to try out some great new treatments, or you might luck out and get a chance to see a wonderful new specialist. Relatively speaking, you will seem to be able to “get away with more than usual” for about a year–you might find that you can push your body past its usual limits and might tackle some activities that normally leave you flattened. This does not mean you will be automatically healed, but that your illness is not as severe as usual. But please don’t blow all of this great energy by burning the candle at both ends because as soon as this transit is over you might feel like you were run over by a bus.
This is not the time to waste away your newfound energy on frivolous activities. If you do get a boost of energy during a Jupiter transit, use it to seek out new healing regimens or to improve your nutrition, exercise or hygiene. You really might not want to think about your disease right now (because you are more interested in spending your energy on fun things) but it would be a real waste not to take advantage of the health opportunities that are available to you now.
I have watched a lot of people waste the opportunities presented by this transit. They use their energy on pursuing some activity that feels good, but is short lived, and because they pushed so hard, they are often worse off at the end of the transit, and have nothing to show for it, health-wise. If you are lucky enough to be blessed with a little more energy now, consider investing it in your health instead. Try some new treatments. Be sure to rest more and look after yourself more, not less! That way you might make some real long-term strides in your healing and after the transit is over you might come out of it even better than how you went in.
The dark side of Jupiter…
Not everything about Jupiter is all sunshine and roses. Jupiter can lead to diseases of excess, such as weight gain (especially if it is parked on your ascendant or afflicting your Venus). And a Jupiter trine might be the last thing you want if you are dealing with tumors, because it could exacerbate their growth. Diabetes and liver conditions are also ruled by “Mr. Benefic”.
Then there is an interesting emotional side-effect of Jupiter that is common for people with chronic illnesses. Jupiter is technically the “jovial” planet, but when one has a chronic illness, this planet can be the source of a whole lot of dissatisfaction. Wherever Jupiter travels, he wants MORE — more opportunities, more expansion, more FUN. But when you are living with the limitations of a chronic illness, you are not always in a position to satisfy this desire for fun and expansion. Dietary restrictions, activity restrictions, and socializing restrictions might be part of your everyday life in order to manage your disease. Other restrictions include pain, fatigue or immobility. Living with constant restrictions can make you feel like you are struggling just to exist, day-in/day-out. Therefore, when happy-go-lucky Jupiter suddenly makes an entrance in a big way in your chart by transit, he can trigger a whopping case of dissatisfied yearning more than anything else. You might suddenly feel an incredible desire to seek more fun out of life, but this desire can be a huge pain-in-the-butt if you are not able to realistically do anything to improve your situation to begin with.
Coping with chronic illness takes a lot of daily mental gymnastics in order to maintain an even emotional keel and not give in to depression and despair. If we are lucky , we eventually learn to be grateful for what we have and not to focus on what we don’t have. But then along comes good ol’ Jupiter, whose mission in life is to throw ‘what we don’t have’ into the spotlight, then light a fire in our bellies to go after it. In a single moment, the carefully cultivated acceptance of our disease can get totally blown apart. Suddenly we feel miserably hungry again and want nothing less than to roam freely, explore and follow our bliss. Caught up in the Jupiter optimism, we may throw caution to the wind and try out new activities, new foods, and set new goals, in an attempt to follow our joy in life. However, if done too fast or too extreme, this can make symptoms flare in a dangerous fashion. We are then left between a rock and a hard place. Jupiter has shown us the goal, and has lit our enthusiasm for it on fire again but, as we are painfully aware, we might never achieve that goal in our lifetime. And that can be all kinds of hell when you have a chronic disease.
So Jupiter transits call for some creativity if you are going to reap the benefits of them in a healthy way. When Jupiter’s hunger hits your chart, try to improve what you can in your life, even if it is something small. Then savor that growth. Something in your life is itching to expand, but instead of going out in an extreme fashion to achieve your goal (in typical Jupiter style) make sure that you first test your limits in a grounded and gradual way. If you find that your life naturally and easily expands, without a lot of opposition from your body, then proceed with your goal. But do not force an expansion to happen just because you desperately want one to. You might find that you snap back to reality rather painfully, like a rubber band, when you haven’t been realistic enough about what your body can and cannot do.
Rules the skin, teeth and bones
During Saturn transits, chronic conditions often worsen. Emotionally, we don’t tend to fare much better because we are brought face to face with reality, and that includes facing the limits and restrictions of our physical body and how it affects our life. Ugh. For example, when Saturn transits your 6th house, you can’t get away with what you usually do. Something comes to a head that you can’t ignore anymore, forcing you to take action and get more responsible about your health.
Saturn transits are work. And when your health already requires a lot of work (as it does when you have a chronic illness) then a Saturn transit can turn into a struggle. Time seems to drag during Saturn transits: “Oh when, oh when will this be over???” Your body might feel more heavy or weighed down, like gravity just doubled its effect on you. Moving around might feel harder than usual. And you tend to think about your illness more (because circumstances are likely forcing you to). Depression and grief may worsen. Arthritic conditions or conditions of contraction (paralysis) might worsen temporarily. Teeth and bones might begin to need attention. We tend to lose weight, and this is especially challenging if you are already too thin due to your illness.
With challenging aspects, you might spend a lot more time at the dentist or you might develop a rash or some other bothersome skin condition. An underlying weakness might come to the fore now. Symptoms associated with old age might also be highlighted.
Fortunately, along with all these problems, Saturn will give you the willingness to work on your health, too. This is especially the case if he is travelling through your 6th house. You might find that you are more willing to put some effort into your treatments or that you finally get around to making some badly needed changes in your nutrition, exercise or hygiene routines. If you have been the type of person who eats a lot of junk food and basically ignores your body until it breaks down, this transit might see you suddenly buying salads, reading up on vitamins and learning to use dental floss. Saturn transits (whether or not they are challenging squares or positive trines) can also give us a more mature outlook about our bodies and our health, and can give us the stamina we need to achieve our long-term health goals. We are more willing to put off short-term gain for the long-term benefits. So you might finally get around to trying out that complicated health protocol that you have been putting off for some time.
Rules the feet and hands
While Chiron is technically called a minor planet by astronomers, his role in chronic illness is major. Chiron is the planet of wounding and healing and if you are sick, you need to pay special attention to him. Challenging Chiron transits (conjunction, square, opposition, quinqunx) can have severe negative effects on the physical body and could signal a major downturn in health. Chances are, when you came down with your condition in the first place, Chiron was involved. Chiron transits can also signal relapses or exacerbations of chronic illness.
Even positive Chiron aspects (sextile, trine) can be rough to undergo. While they are more likely to indicate physical healing, Chiron’s healing is not exactly a picnic. Chiron can heal but only if the illness or wound is fully faced first. So it is like a “no pain, no gain” type of situation. A boil must be lanced before it can heal, and so sometimes healing hurts at first. Sometimes Chiron trines and sextiles can feel as brutal as the squares or oppositions, but healing generally happens faster with the positive aspects.
A number of Chiron trines in your chart can signal that healing is underway, and if you are fortunate enough to experience this, it is time to put some effort into a healing protocol. Try out new treatments, see new doctors and do whatever you can to assist this process because you might cure a condition (or at least considerably improve one) that has plagued you for some time.
Rules the ankles, the nervous system and the electrical system of the body
Uranus, planet of “the sudden and unexpected”, can shift your world in a blink of an eye, for better or worse. Often, the transit itself need not be particularly challenging in order to produce a challenging event. For example, if a natal planet is afflicted, receiving a Uranus trine is no better than a square or opposition. Because of its disruptive nature, Uranus transits can be especially problematic for people who already suffer from seizures or circulation issues. For example, Uranus in challenging aspect to a natal Sun that is afflicted could signal heart rhythm abnormalities or heart issues. Uranus can also be related to sudden accidents and electric shock.
Uranus transiting the 6th house can lead to an unstable period in one’s health with a lot of ups and downs. As he travels through the 6th, your health might seesaw wildly as Uranus aspects the rest of the natal planets in the chart. Uranus transiting the 6th can also signify a desire to change your usual health routines. It is like you suddenly wake up and survey all the habits you mindlessly follow each day and suddenly see them with fresh eyes. For example, if you are used to eating the same thing day after day, you might suddenly get more creative in the kitchen, concocting the latest health shakes or experimenting with new healthy dishes. Or you suddenly get interested in the latest exercise fad. You might also decide to try out unusual healing treatments, especially those involving alternative medicine or ones that use cutting edge technology. Regardless of the effects of all this experimentation on your state of health, you will likely enjoy the novelty of it all and find it a very interesting and stimulating experience. And with any luck, if transiting Uranus makes a favorable contact in your natal chart while he is in the 6th, you might be rewarded with a sudden and fortunate shift of health thanks to all your efforts.
Uranus has a strong effect on the nervous system and the electrical system of the body. Often this is not good news for people who already suffer from nervous tension, insomnia, anxiety, PTSD or ADHD. If your ordinary waking state tends toward the anxious, hyperactive and stressed-out end of the spectrum, a Uranus transit of any kind will put this into overdrive. With too much Uranus energy, one feels ungrounded, disconnected, jittery, anxious, irritable, unfocused and restless. Your mind races all day and does not shut off at night. If you don’t already have ADHD, you might begin to feel like you do. Your mind spins like a hamster wheel and you run around multi-tasking. Life speeds up dramatically and you lose your patience with those who move at a slower pace than you do. Stay in this state for too long a period and you begin to experience adrenal fatigue and burn-out, which can lead to more serious health conditions.
So it is time to get back into your body and out of your head. Meditation and grounding is strongly required now, but it will probably be the last thing you feel like doing. Have you ever noticed that when you are over-tired then that is the time when it is really hard to get to sleep? A similar thing happens with a strong Uranus transit — you get overcharged and overstimulated and then it is really hard to slow down or rest or simply operate at a moderate, healthy pace in life. You will know if you are in this state because it will take a lot of effort to slow down and just breathe or meditate. And it may even feel uncomfortable or painful to attempt to do so at first. And you will think of a thousand things you should be doing instead. But do it anyway. Slow down. Rest. Breathe. Meditate. Ground.
What is grounding anyway? It is a way of getting all that nervous energy (generated by too much thinking and mental activity) out of the body and quite literally, into the ground. When you are not grounding Uranus’ electrical energy properly, you are bouncing off the walls with too much nervous energy because it has nowhere to go. During challenging Uranus transits, you might also develop sensitivities to electromagnetic frequencies, which can worsen an already over-stimulated nervous system. It is important to unplug from technology as much as possible now. Stay away from activities that involve screens and go outside. Sit in nature, or do some mild form of exercise in order to get into your body again. Stay away from wireless or cell technology and if you have to use phones or computers, use wired devices instead of wireless.
Also helpful is avoiding stimulants like caffeine or sugar because Uranus transits are stimulating enough and anything more can create imbalance in the body, leading to poor health.
Rules the feet and the pineal gland
During Neptune transits, the body becomes more physically sensitive. Neptune dissolves whatever it touches, slowly over time. So by the time you notice a health problem under a Neptune transit, things are well on their way to deteriorating. Wasting illnesses that are slow and insidious are common. And fatigue worsens. We run out of energy more quickly and we just feel more physically vulnerable, like we lost our protective shell.
Neptune transits are particularly problematic for those who already suffer from brain fog. Neptune exacerbates fuzzy thinking, mental confusion, memory problems and forgetfulness such as the kind that accompanies menopause, ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s Disease and other chronic conditions that have cognitive symptoms. Neptune also signals allergies and sensitivities -whether airborne or ingested.
Negative physical reactions to medications are very common under a Neptune or 12th house transit, and you might experience an unusual sensitivity or allergic reaction to all substances that are foreign to the body (even natural medicines and foods). Treat new medications with great caution–they could be stronger than you think. You might end up breaking out in a rash or having some other strange reaction. If your doctor or naturopath gives you a new medicine, ask them if it is okay to start with half the dose that is usually prescribed. You might find that it is more than enough.
Under Neptune’s influence, you tire more easily and so you need to take more care of yourself. Tune into your body now because things have changed–your status quo of health has shifted somewhat and you might not be able to handle the physical activities you usually did before.
Diagnosis of disease is tricky when it comes to Neptune. You might develop a mystery illness that doctors can’t seem to pinpoint, or it might take a long time to get a diagnosis.
Similar to Uranus transits, it is helpful to practice grounding more during challenging Neptune transits. And try to stay away from wireless and cell technology as they can worsen the mental fog and confusion.
It’s easy to get completely unorganized when you are under a strong Neptune transit. Life gets more sloppy and chaotic. You may need to let some things slide more now (let the house be a little more messy) but you will have to struggle to stay on top of the important things. For instance, now is the time when you might have to write down each time that you take your medication, or risk taking double doses accidentally or forgetting it altogether. As well, try not to slide into habits that sabotage your health now, like indulging poor eating habits, procrastinating about going to your treatments or getting undisciplined about exercise. The best cure for a strong Neptune transit is a good dose of Saturn: self-discipline, boundaries and structure.
Rules the sex organs and the organs of elimination
Pluto is a wonderful planet to have at your back. His powers of physical regeneration are like no other. Positive Pluto transits can give you physical strength, stamina and a death-defying energy that can withstand a lot of challenges. No matter how long you have been ill, if a great Pluto transit comes along, it can really pull you out of the ditch. I have noticed that physical strength sometimes accompanies even the challenging Pluto transits of square and opposition. Pluto is about power. Period.
Of course, being the modern ruler of Scorpio which rules death/rebirth, challenging Pluto aspects will still likely leave you emotionally reeling. There could be severe health crises now–ones that force you to face the issue of mortality and make you stare death right in the face. However, Pluto will give you the strength to manage your fear and do what needs to be done. He will give you the power to take a trip into the underworld of your medical illness and eventually rise back to the surface once more.
Shamanic-type experiences of symbolic death and rebirth are common now, with illness as the vehicle. We may feel like we get chewed up and torn apart by a force that is greater than us, one that we cannot control, only to be spit out at the end of the transit, put together again in a completely different form, wiser and more humble. When Pluto is active, we are re-born, for better or worse.
Be prepared to get a little obsessed with your health or to do whatever it takes to heal because Pluto can make us act more compulsively. It is helpful to pause and do some self-reflection now and ask yourself what you fear the most. During Pluto transits, we tend to act in a compulsive way in order to combat that fear. Since having a chronic illness is usually a fear-laden experience, we may begin to act in compulsive ways to cope with the emotional anxiety of being ill. Exploring mind-body healing connections are particularly useful during Pluto transits and psychotherapy during this time can be particularly helpful.
Using Simple Profections to Spot Crucial Health Years
Profections are a predictive tool used by classical astrologers, but they are simple enough to use and be incorporated as an add-on to modern astrological analysis. Here’s how it works: Based upon your age, every year a different house is highlighted in your chart for 12 months. The first year of life is represented by the first house, the second year of life is the second house, and so on. (This system typically uses the whole sign system). Don’t forget that the first year of life equals age zero, and covers the age of 0 to 1 year. Every birthday you have, your profected year shifts to a new house for the next 12 months, highlighting that house for the year. Naturally, when your profected year highlights House 6, health will be a strong focus for that year. The 6th house is highlighted when one turns the age of 5, 17, 29, 41, 53, 65, and 77 etc.
The ruler of my 6th (whole sign) house is not in great shape in my natal chart. And so the year I first fell ill with my chronic illness was during a profection year — at age 29. Exactly 12 years later, in the following profection year, I had a severe relapse and ended up bedridden for a number of years. So it is well worth keeping track of your profection years, and the planets and their aspects that are in the profected house.
If you know a house 6 profection year is coming up, you might want to plan to take it a little easier that year and not push your body too hard. A lighter schedule and less stress goes a long way toward preventing relapses. Make an effort to look after yourself well, and reserve your energy so that your body can use it to heal. That way, you can come out of it a year later, ready to take on the world again.