The Difference Between Natal Aspects & Transits
Your birth chart is a snapshot of the sky, taken at the moment and from the location of your birth. The sky itself continued to move — it never stops. However, your birth chart provides a freeze-frame: a thumbprint of your life, self, and purpose.
Think of it like a selfie. You are always changing and growing. If you take a photograph of yourself today, that doesn’t alter the fact that your hair and fingernails will continue to inch longer, or that your cells are rebirthing themselves every second. The selfie, like a birth chart, captures a single moment. In this analogy, your changing body is comparable to the changing sky. For more information about birth charts, read this article.
Transits refer to the planets in the current, ever-changing sky. The word “transit” simply means to move from one place to another. In astrology, transits refer to how the planets in the current sky engage with each other, as well as how they engage with the snapshot that is your birth chart.
Whole Sign Aspects for Natal Placements
When interpreting your birth chart, the CHANI app includes aspects by whole sign, rather than by degree. If two signs are in a traditional aspect with each other (i.e., the signs form a sextile, a square, a trine, or an opposition), we include those aspects — even if the exact aspect is distant in degrees.
For example, if you have Mercury at 9° Gemini and Jupiter at 24° Aquarius, we would consider your natal Mercury and Jupiter to be in a whole sign trine with each other. They’re both in air signs, so there is flow and harmony between these two planets, even if the exact trine is 15° away. The degrees between two planets in an aspect with each other is called an “orb.” In this example, Mercury would be within a “15° orb” of Jupiter.
This way of working with aspects is based on traditional techniques, where planets involved in a whole sign aspect are thought to “behold” or “witness” each other. The range of potency intensifies as the planets draw nearer, especially if the aspect hasn’t completed yet.
Degree-Based Transits to Natal Placements
When interpreting how the current planets interact with your natal placements, the CHANI app lists degree-based transits — not transits by whole sign. Some transits take a long time to complete, especially the planets that are farther from the Sun. In order to present the most timely and pertinent information — and to avoid cluttering or overwhelming your screen — we present the transits as they are likely to feel most potent.
To illustrate this point, let’s say your Sun is at 27° Capricorn. Pluto entered Capricorn in 2008. Pretending this app existed in 2008, if we presented your interpretation for Pluto conjunct the Sun back then, you might start to get bored or gloss over it by the time the exact aspect rolls around, 14 years later. Instead, we highlight transiting Pluto conjunct your natal Sun by degree, so you can work with this transit when it is much closer to occurring — and therefore more relevant to your life.
Why We Calculate These Differently
When it comes to your birth chart — that personal snapshot, or selfie, of the sky — you have your whole life to live out that one picture. When it comes to transits? They happen in real-time. We don’t work with a transiting Moon square Saturn for a lifetime, like we do a birth chart. The Moon moves fast, so this aspect would dissipate within a few hours. That makes it important to capture this transit just before it occurs and while it’s happening.
We use whole sign aspects for natal interpretations because the ancients believed that planets in signs that traditionally behold each other (i.e., form one of the traditional Ptolemaic aspects) have a special relationship. Think of friends — or frenemies — standing across the room at a party. The first moment they realize the other is present, the mood has shifted, even if their paths haven’t physically crossed.
As explained above, we use degree-based aspects for planets transiting your natal placements because we want to present you with the most pertinent and accurate intel. We’ll let you know what transits are activated for you when they’re the most potent, but you may feel the energy shift a little earlier.