In my own personal theology, the Soul is the unchangeable, pure energy that has descended into the matter of the body. Once the Soul has come into form, it takes on an individuality that I call the Self. The Self doesn’t change, it’s the essence of who we are in this lifetime; however, the Self has attributes that I call the Personality which do evolve over time. (I make no claims that this is absolute fact, but merely a theology that works for me.)
The Personality is mapped in the birthchart, with the various planets, luminaries and points each illustrating a facet of the personality. The birthchart never changes, and our basic personality traits remain the same. An introvert will never transform into an extrovert, a fiery person will never lose that fire. However, as we learn and grow from our experiences these personality traits modify somewhat; our goals change and evolve and we are constantly seeing the world through new lenses. The progressed chart reflects those new lenses and describes the way our perspective is changing.
There are many different ways to progress a chart but the most common, and in my view the most accurate, is the secondary progressions which advance the chart one day for one year. Astrology is a symbolic system, and there is no way to explain why this would work; experience is the only proof. In the secondary system, the inner planets which are the fastest moving are progressed a day for a year, so that in ten years the progressed Sun would have advanced ten degrees. (We typically only use the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars and sometimes Jupiter in progressions.) The progressed chart doesn’t change who we are; it simply shows the change of perspective, goals and focus as we evolve through time. I view the progressed chart as a transparent overlay that goes over the birthchart.
The astrological Sun describes the quest or mission of the Self in its current incarnation. The Pisces Sun has come to earth to perfect the Pisces experience of dissolving the boundary of Self and merging with the infinite consciousness while still remaining grounded on Planet Earth. The Leo Sun has come to perfect the celebration of the ego from within, to shine from within without need for the admiration that can be Leo’s downfall. As we progress through life, the Sun progresses through the signs of the zodiac (usually two or three signs but possibly four, depending on the length of the life) and the progressed Sun adds another dimension to the essential spirit of the Self.
In the natural order of the signs, the element of each sign is incompatible than the element of the sign before or after it. The issues that arise from one sign to the next are very different, and this transition creates an environment where the personality can evolve and grow. For example, the person who is born at 28 degrees Pisces will progress into Aries at age two where they will add the Aries dimension to their personality. They will still experience the yearning of Pisces to merge with the great beyond, but they will now add another layer of fire with its courage and aggression to their quest. At age 30 this person’s Sun will progress into earthy Taurus and the urge to create a secure environment will begin to take precedence over other matters. Throughout their life their inner nature will be indisputably Pisces, but their personality will take on other facets as reflected in the personality.
We talk about “transits and progressions” as though they were the same, but in reality they are not. Transits describe the effect of planets in the sky today and the angles that they make to planets in our birthchart, and these cycles typically create events in our life that push us to grow. Progressions, on the other hand, are not so event-oriented, although we create events as we evolve and change. Progressions tend to be longer cycles that illuminate our continued awakening to new dimensions of awareness and consciousness, and give us new tools for our soul’s development.