When I first discovered how to compare the transits (planets in the sky at a given moment) to my own natal planets, the results were one of the reasons Astrology became a lifetime addiction. I found that if, for instance, Saturn was squaring my Venus, my love life went into a skid, or if Saturn was squaring my Sun, my self-confidence went south, I was overlooked professionally and I had to work harder than ever before.

On the other hand, when I had positive aspects involving Jupiter or Venus, everything seemed to proceed wonderfully. Just to clarify: Positive aspects are trines (120 degree relationships) between planets; sextiles (60 degrees)  or conjunctions, which brings the planets closely together in the same signs; Negative aspects are squares (90 degree angles) oppositions (180 degrees apart) or a difficult planet again in conjunction, right next to another. I met my husband when Jupiter conjoined my natal Mars (the symbol of masculinity) and I landed a once in a lifetime dream job when Jupiter trined my Sun and Neptune from a powerful angle of my chart.

Transits are straightforward and easy to clock. They are an example of energy manifesting in all its possible ways, either harmoniously or disharmoniously,  Watching how they work is a constant learning process. I remember one time long ago, when I was just starting to get familiar with astrology, I was mulling over the fact that Mercury in the sky was squaring my birthchart Saturn as I descended the steps of the New York City subway. I got on my train, it sped along for a bit and then halted abruptly in some dark tunnel as I stood squashed up against a crowd of commuters for some 30 minutes.

What is the disharmonious combination of Saturn and Mercury about? Delays, mechanical failures and unpleasant communications. And for some reason, knowing I was experiencing that aspect was a source of comfort to me. Why? I think it comes down to the reassuring awareness that life isn’t entirely random. There is a discernible shape and form to energy that–as far as I’m concerned–can give us more perspective.

A storm that comes out of nowhere and strikes suddenly and violently is more unsettling than one which has been predicted, happens and passes in the period of time anticipated. Knowing the transits can be much like a weather report. This kind of knowledge is helpful but it isn’t always entirely accurate (are weather reports?) and what it can’t predict is how well we will handle those changes life throws our way.

Seeing the transits play out is a wonderful way of observing ourselves and how reactive or proactive we’re capable of being. It can also help us to rise above the changes and stop feeling victimized by difficult experiences, passively reacting to what happens. Or to famed astrologer Dan Rudhyar put it, it’s not events that happen to people but “people” who ” happen to events.”