Astrology and Midlife Transits

In astrological terms, midlife is the period of roughly 37 to 47 years of age when major transits of the outer planets signal striking changes in our lives. Below is a table of birth dates affected by Midlife transits in 2011. If you already know something about transits, you'll see right away that the table allows you to quickly judge what the year brings to those affected. If transits are new to you, or still a fuzzy idea, pay attention to the following brief description of what to expect, especially if you find your birth date in the table.

Midlife transits mean major re-evaluation of the value and meaningfulness of our lives. Have we achieved the goals and dreams of the past? Are those dreams still relevant? Are our current circumstances serving us? This reevaluation is much like a birthing process, transforming life from one phase to the next and defining how we are going to live the second half of our life. At times the changes can be so profound we hardly recognize the person we were before. This process, both painful, and exhilarating, is a re-birthing, a redefining of who we are that brings us into deep contact with our own soul. And just like being born, this period can be marked by alternating periods of tremendous pressure, chaos, and intensity (the contraction), interspersed with calm (the relaxation) and, finally, the exhilaration as something new and promising comes into the world.

This mid-life time period is marked by four astrological transits, all involving the outer planets, which represent the deepest level of change available to us as human beings. They are as follows: 

  • Transiting Pluto square natal Pluto. This means that the current position of the planet Pluto is at a 90 degree angle to its position when you were born.
  • Transiting Neptune square natal Neptune. Neptune is at 90 degrees to its position in your birth chart.
  • Transiting Uranus is in Opposition to natal Uranus. Uranus is at 180 degrees to its position in your birth chart.
  • Saturn is in Opposition to natal Saturn. Saturn... well, you get the idea.

Here is a brief description of what we typically encounter:

Pluto square Pluto frequently throws us deep into inner turmoil, thrusting up repressed, forgotten aspects of ourselves. Imagine it as a volcano exploding, or oozing out lava, the source of which is deep in the core of our being. Old dreams, desires, wounds, fears, compulsions and problems surface—anything that is unresolved from our past. Or we find ourselves involved with the intense issues that Pluto symbolizes—power, control, and manipulation (of others, or even ourselves), betrayal, jealousy. The time period is marked with an emotional and psychic intensity and can be merciless toward those who try to ignore these urgent messages from the unconscious. The solution? Look it in the eye!

What helps with Pluto? Deep psychological work. Get into therapy with a counselor who knows about psychic depths, try bodywork (Rolfing, bio-energetics, rebirthing), look for experiential workshops and try to express these deep currents through art, journaling, music, or consistent exercise. Seriously watch your dreams and the symbols that emerge. What is your deep self saying now? Are your dreams directing you somewhere?

The point is to try to do something constructive with the energy. Move it. Work at it. Birthing take effort after all, as the Mothers among us will testify, and just like birthing a baby something new comes from us that is precious, having its origins in the very core of ourselves. 


Neptune square Neptune (occurring at one fourth of its 168 year cycle) expresses itself by stimulating feelings of confusion and contradiction, and by giving us difficulty in focusing. When this transit is strong we have a harder time choosing a course of action, and when we look to our future and reach out to grab it, our hand grasps thin air—very disconcerting especially for strong Saturn, Capricorn "in control" types and for those with charts strong in the fixed element—Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius. (You are used to seeing what you want, planning, executing step-by-step movement and getting success.) This proven approach usually doesn't work now. This period can also put you into rather sticky situations in dysfunctional organizations, working for dysfunctional bosses whose inefficiency or inattention to detail costs you. Or you can be placed among dishonest, untrustworthy, or otherwise inept individuals. (Just yesterday a client told me she was up for a job promotion, and through the grapevine learned that someone had accused her of being a poor time manager--the offer was postponed--and she's left with only a fuzzy idea of who made the false accusation.) Another classic way this Neptune transit manifests is with boundary issues. If bosses at work ask you to do something above and beyond, instead of getting "extra credit" you may just be taken advantage of. Or you may be hired into a new situation that isn't exactly as portrayed, or you work your head off in a company that's a sinking ship.

I liken this Neptune influence to this scenario: It's late at night, you're on a mountain road you've never traveled before, it's foggy and you're in a hurry! How do you respond? You can try to see by putting your high-beam headlights on. What you find is they blind you more. (You can't force or will your way through.) What is required? You need to realize you are in a situation now much bigger than you have the ability to control or manipulate. You have to let go—"turn it over," as they say in the twelve-step programs.

So what to do? Slow down! Make no big decisions, take one step at a time, keep your attention close at hand--follow the center line of the highway. Ask yourself, "What can I accomplish this hour, this day, this week?" In this way you can have small accomplishments and at least feel you're moving. While you're biding your time, focus on your spiritual life, do inner work, read uplifting books, study your dreams. In time the fog will begin to lift and you can see where you are.

Drugs? This is the worst possible time for them. They just make you more confused, though may make you think you've temporarily escaped the confusion. You are more susceptible now to the subtle vibrations around you and can pick them up like a dry sponge. This transit may be more easily accepted by those of us comfortable with ambiguity.

Yet Neptune does have its rewards: A waking-up to your inner life, a re-finding of lost dreams, and the priceless learning that, rather than always having to control life, you can flow with its currents and rhythms.

Uranus opposite Uranus (occurring at one half of its 84 year cycle), manifests with abrupt, unexpected events, and with extreme restlessness, especially if your life has become too predictable, routine, and boring. Like the lightening bolt out of the blue, it can catalyze the release of pent up energy, shake up your life, thrust you forward. Uranus is conniving now to break up old, outworn patterns—to bring you a new sense of freedom. Just watch how radically and abruptly you make these changes. This transit is harder (potentially more explosive) for those afraid of change and easier on those who can adjust, adapt, and flow with change.We see a typical manifestation in women who get to this age with an unfulfilled desire to have a child. They feel a tremendous sense of urgency—Life is passing me by... I'm getting old... I've got to have a child now." What is interesting is to watch these women cope with their urgent feelings and then talk to them after the energy of the transit has passed. "I'm not old, why in the world did I feel so pressed about this." Men offer another classic manifestation of the transit: "I'm getting older. That terrifies me. Maybe a younger woman will help me stave off my panic." And they start an office affair disrupting both career and marriage.

Ask yourself, "What in my life need to change? What situation is limiting and suffocating me?" That is the arena to pay attention to and begin to do something about. If you begin to move, even in the smallest way, the tension gets released (just like popping a safety valve), and you are more able to methodically bring forward the changes that will refresh your life without blowing things up. When worked with consciously, Uranus will bring the needed fresh breeze into your life, blowing away the dusty, habituated parts of you and giving you a fresh arena for action.

What strategies can help? Well, your mother was right—count to a hundred (a thousand?) before making an impulsive leap. You can't always tell you're at the deep end of the pool. And if you must act when this influence is strong, try to do so with heightened awareness of what you are doing—make a plan, begin to move methodically with whatever control you can muster. But don't just sit still. This is the time to change the career to one with meaning, to go back to school, to start the business—even to end the bad marriage.

Finally, we experience the Saturn opposite Saturn transit (occurring at one half of a 30 year cycle.) Saturn manifests in two ways, and we usually experience a little of both. Either you reach a point where your efforts are blocked and frustrated (controlling bosses, "glass ceilings," and inflexible rules and regulations come to mind.) Or you can be deeply troubled by self-doubt or criticism. If you have been conscientiously building and re-building all along, clearing away outworn structures and patterns, this time can mean receiving the reward for your efforts well done. It can be a highly successful time where your efforts are acknowledged and goals accomplished. If you experience the more problematic aspect of this transit you may need to completely reassess your situation. Is the locked door telling you that you need to be doing something else, or to approach this stuck situation in a new way? With effort these changes can pave the way for a new foundation upon which you can rely.

With this introduction, any and all should be able to use the table above.—Barbara.