Interpretation of Transits:  The Makransky Keyword System (abridged version)


Bob Makransky


            I have long been an admirer of the heuristic method employed in Ronald Davison’s Astrology – perhaps the best beginner’s book on natal astrology ever written.  The basis of this system is a set of keywords, and a concise but elegant set of key phrases and ideas.  Davison succeeded magnificently in reducing natal astrology’s complexities to a bare-bones armature, over which the neophyte astrologer could drape his or her own ideas and intuitive insights.  I have often wondered whether the same sort of systemization might not be applied to the theory of transits.1

            The basic system for interpretation of transits given here is meant to be suggestive, not definitive.  You could call it a rough sketch.  Only transiting conjunctions and oppositions are taken into account here; not because other aspects cannot be effective – they often are (particularly transiting squares).  But by only taking transiting conjunctions and oppositions into account are we obeying Dr. Marc Edmund Jones’ injunction to keep things as simple as possible.2  This system of interpretation is based upon the fundamental idea that when a transiting planet conjoins or opposes a significant point (planet, angle, etc.) in your natal chart, then: 

1) the nature of the expected event is described by the symbolism of the

transiting planet;

                        2) the nature of your emotional response – or the area of your life affected

– is described by the symbolism of the natal point contacted.

            Following this assumption, the following table of Keywords results: 




Transiting Planet
(nature of external event)


Natal Point
(nature of your response)






















































See Appendix I below for more detailed interpretations for the transiting and natal planets. 

Before giving some examples of how to apply these keywords to actual cases (using Theodore Roosevelt’s life and horoscope as the model3), let us consider some basic issues in transit theory.  What follows below is meant to be a mere suggestion – a set of pointers – based upon one practitioner’s own experience.  This is not to imply that there aren’t other approaches which can be equally or more effective in a given horoscope or for a given practitioner.   Astrology – like healing – is a science; but it is even more so an art.  There’s no right way or wrong way of doing it:  all approaches made in good faith, in a true spirit of searching for truth, are valid. 

Overall Expectation:  The technique of transits – like that of zodiacal primary directions – tends to produce concrete physical events in one’s outward life (whereas secondary progressions tend to produce emotional or psychological states – karmic lessons – rather than actual events per se.  Although they can and do).  Transits – unlike zodiacal primary directions – fail frequently. Also, major events in the life can and do occur without any relevant transit, progression, or direction which can be held to account for that event.  That’s life.  Astrology is not a tocsin which unfailingly sounds the alarm at the precise moment it’s supposed to.  This doesn’t mean that we have to use every astrological point imaginable – e.g. the transit of the moon’s node to the quincunx of the Chiron – Lillith midpoint – to “prove” anything.  Nor does it mean – as the rationalistic materialist critics of astrology would have it – that astrology is a false doctrine.  On the contrary, astrology models life perfectly, because life is imperfect.

Note:  the given interpretations do not take into account whether the transiting planet and the natal planet contacted are intrinsically harmonious or disharmonious in nature, which modifies the interpretations.  For example, a transit to natal Mars by a planet intrinsically disharmonious with it would tend to impede or block ADVANCEMENT rather than facilitate it.  See the Table of Harmonious and Disharmonious Planetary Combinations in Appendix II. 

The Natal Chart:  It is often said that transits cannot bring events which are not promised in the natal chart; but I haven’t found this guideline especially useful in interpretation.  House positions and rulerships do not seem to be as important in determining how a transit will operate as do the essential meanings of the transiting planets and natal points involved.  Do, however, pay attention to any aspect in the natal chart between the planet which is transiting and the planet or point being transited, since e.g. a natal sextile or trine will tend to bring fortunate events even if the transiting aspect is an opposition or square (though usually these necessitate expending effort or overcoming conflict in order to benefit the native); and a natal square or opposition will tend to bring conflicts or disappointments of inflated hopes even to nominally benefic transits.    

Transiting Planets:  In a general way, the transiting conjunctions and oppositions of Uranus and Saturn, respectively, are the most effective.  Transiting Jupiter and Mars can be quite effective, especially when transiting their own positions in the natal chart.  The effects of Neptune and Pluto tend to be more vague; but not necessarily (the point is, don’t count too much on them).  The other, swifter, planets tend to be less effective, except in combination.  That is to say, when transiting swift planets conjoin or oppose each other within a degree or two of a significant position in the natal chart, then this mutual transit is likely to produce a noticeable event.  For example, the Superior Conjunction of Mercury or Venus (the transiting Superior Conjunction of these planets with the sun) in conjunction or opposition to a significant point in the natal horoscope, usually produces, within orb of a day or two, a noticeable event. 

Orbs:   As in the theory of primary zodiacal directions, the tendency is for the event to trail (rather than lead) the exact date of the aspect in time. 

Outer planets which transit the same natal position three times (direct, retrograde, direct) or five times (direct, retrograde, direct, retrograde, direct) may produce an event anywhere within the time frame between the first and last direct transits; but the overall tendency is for the event to occur at – or shortly after – the first direct transit (and in the case of the slower planets, the following year or two is spent in clean-up or reorganizing in response to the effect of the first direct transit).4  But this is not always the case.  For example, an informal study of the Demi-Uranus Return (Uranus’ transit to opposition its natal place) – which occurs in early 40-something natives – shows that the expected SURPRISING event which brings LIBERATION can occur anywhere between the first and last direct transits.5

Transiting Uranus tends to produce events sharply-defined both in nature and in timing.  Transiting Saturn produces events which – albeit sometimes associated with a particular moment in time – even then spread their effects out over a period from a few months before, to a year or two after, the exact date of the first direct transit.  Transiting Neptune is vaguer (of course); transiting Pluto can produce definitive, transformative events (like 180 degree changes – deaths and rebirths), whose repercussions go on over a year or two of time.  Jupiter’s return to its natal place – and sometimes its transit of the Ascendant – produce joyous, serendipitous events within a month of the exact transit date.  The swifter planets in combination refer to events that should be timable within a day or two of the exact time of the transit – usually following it rather than preceding it.

Your emotional response – or the area of your life affected – here we follow traditional astrological symbolism, e.g. that the sun symbolizes honor, reputation in the world, career, life work, life purpose; the father, the husband, boss or authorities.  The moon symbolizes feelings, mood, past life influences, the mother, the wife, employees; and lacunae in one’s quotidian life (travel, sickness, psychic experiences – any break with wonted routines).  Mercury symbolizes mind – the particular set of self-justifications and images with which you present yourself to the world for approval (or rejection); as well as routine issues and relationships: siblings, neighbors, coworkers, children.  Venus is love in the sense of infatuation, embellishment, art, creativity, sociability, the girlfriend or female lover, art for art’s sake.  Mars is aggressive energy – courage, valor, athletics, self-sacrifice for a cause; male friends and lovers, dynamism.  Jupiter is enthusiasm, benevolent impulse with no thought of reward; money, religious / philosophical interests; aunts and uncles, as well as detached advisors and friends who wish the best.  Saturn is discipline, limitation, karma.  We all have dues to pay – which are accessible in our past life regressions – and Saturn symbolizes where (by house position) and how (by sign position) we have to slow down and wake up to the lessons which our life is teaching us. It symbolizes frustration, obstruction, older people, difficult people.  Uranus introduces an element of disruption and surprise into our lives, without which we could never understand the meaning of freedom.  Neptune is psychic, intuitive, otherworldly knowledge (or its opposite – spaced-out irresponsibility).  Pluto is cunning and obsession; as well as complete transformation – ability to begin anew after total wipeout.


Examples of Interpretation of Transits


In these examples the cookbook interpretations – cobbled together from the keywords in the Table and the Detailed Interpretations from Appendix I, are given first; and these are followed by a description of what actually happened in Theodore Roosevelt’s life at that time.  Examples for the slower planets (which often spread their effects out for a year or more) will be listed first; followed by examples for the swifter planets (which are usually effective only for a day or two).  Exact dates of transits by the slower planets to TR’s chart are given in Appendix III. 


Jupiter:  Transiting Jupiter’s return to its natal place every twelve years usually brings a month of serendipitous events – new spiritual or business connections, new ideas, new relationships – which become of great importance in the future.  In TR’s case Jupiter’s return in 1870-71 was also accompanied by its transit of his Ascendant, which augurs a CHEERING event: an opportunity to lighten up, join together with others, and take a detached, generous, and conciliatory overview; and this event brought him FULFILLMENT and REORIENTATION – he found that things fell right into place with no effort on his part.  He got to do something he’d wanted to do for a long time, and he began a new phase or epoch in his life.

What happened in summer-fall 1870 was that twelve-year old TR was very sickly, plagued since birth by chronic asthma.  His father challenged him to make his body; and the boy began working out daily at a local gymnasium as well as in a gymnasium at home which his father had stocked with athletic equipment.  His sister later wrote:  “For many years one of my most vivid recollections is seeing him between horizontal bars, widening his chest by regular, monotonous motion – drudgery indeed.” (this belies the “no effort on his part” interpretation from Appendix I – but nothing is perfect).  He exercised throughout winter-spring 1870-71, and by the summer of 1871 he had cured himself and strengthened his body immensely.  “Glorifying in his newfound strength, he plunges into the depths of icy rapids and clambers to the heights of seven mountains. … Along with this physical exuberance, he develops a more studious interest in nature.”6   

Saturn:  Transiting Saturn’s aspects are not necessarily bad; but even the good ones require considerable discipline or sacrifice.  Also, what Saturn giveth, Saturn taketh away.  In TR’s life, transiting Saturn opposed Venus and conjoined Jupiter just before crossing his Ascendant from summer 1884 through summer 1885, which one might expect would bring a CHALLENGING event – having to overcome obstacles directly; not shrinking from difficulties but holding his own ground and securing his position in life.  This event emphasized INTIMACY and FULFILLMENT and brought REORIENTATION: He attended to family, social, or relationship matters which impacted on his gregarious, romantic, enthusiastic side; and found that things fell right into place with no effort on his part.  He got to do something he’d wanted to do for a long time; and he began a new phase or epoch in his life.

The preceding fall he made his first trip out west and loved it.  That winter his mother and wife died suddenly (the same day) which completely shattered him emotionally, and to get his mind off it he returned to Dakota in June 1884; made some important new friends; found a perfect site for a ranch house, and bought it.  He returned east in October and spent the winter writing Hunting Trips of a Ranchman.  In April 1885 he returned to Dakota and finished building his ranch house, bought a herd of cattle, and spent the month of June on a roundup through the Badlands.  According to his biographer this experience changed him drastically:  “Some extraordinary physical and spiritual transformation occurred during this arduous period.  It was as if his adolescent battle for health, and his more recent but equally intense battle against despair, were crowned with sudden victory.  The anemic, high-pitched youth who had left New York only five weeks before was now able to return to it ‘rugged, bronzed, and in the prime of health.’”7  Long afterward he said that “If it had not been for my years in North Dakota, I never would have become President of the United States.”8

Another example:  Transiting Saturn conjoined TR’s natal moon and opposed his Mars between summer 1886 and late spring 1887, which augured a CHALLENGING event to his ASSURANCE and ADVANCEMENT.  Obstacles had to be confronted directly; he couldn’t shrink from difficulties but had to hold his ground and secure his position in life.  His deep-seated instincts came to the surface and he had to pay attention to what his own inner voice was telling him.  Since Saturn is disharmonious with moon and Mars we take a negative interpretation from Appendix I:  his forward motion was blocked; his plans and projects shattered; and he was depressed by failure and despair for the future. 

TR remarried in December 1886, but the event to which this transit probably refers is the destruction of his western ranching business and dream due to the terrible winter of 1886-87, which killed all of his cattle.  He made a trip out west in April 1887 to survey his losses, and returned east thoroughly depressed.  “The losses are crippling.  For the first time I have been utterly unable to enjoy a visit to my ranch.  I shall be glad to get home.”9  Returning broke, with no political prospects, he determined that he would have to write for a living, and so began working on his magnum opus Winning the West. 

Uranus:  Transiting Uranus crossed TR’s natal Venus – Jupiter opposition from late 1901 through late 1902.  This SURPRISING, unexpected, serendipitous event shook TR out of his ordinary routines and doldrums and brought him INTIMACY and FULFILLMENT:  he attended to family, social, and relationship matters which impacted on his gregarious, romantic, enthusiastic side.  He found that things fell right into place with no effort on his part, and he got to do something he’d wanted to do for a long time.

            This period corresponds to TR’s first year in the White House, which he entered the preceding September 1901 upon president McKinley’s assassination.   It was like releasing a fish into water:  that first year he began the first major national anti-trust case (against Northern Securities); he introduced his plan for a Panama Canal; he settled a major, violent strike in the anthracite coal fields; and he squared off with Germany over a crisis in Venezuela.    It was a year of triumph and success on all fronts (except for a serious accident suffered on 9/03/1902 when his carriage was hit by a trolley car, which killed his bodyguard; almost killed him; and was the beginning of a life-long leg pain which required many operations over the next few weeks).  But by the end of 1902, TR was assured of renomination in 1904:  “The power of one man thus to cover his party with the mantle of his own strength is unprecedented in the history of American politics.”10 

Neptune and Pluto:  Transiting Neptune crossed TR’s natal moon – Mars opposition; and transiting Pluto crossed his Ascendant; from late summer 1908 through mid-1910.   Transiting Neptune produces UNUSUAL events – odd, out-of-the-ordinary occurrences; strange vibrations and undercurrents; which provoke powerful attractions or repulsions on his part.  The event impacted upon his ASSURANCE (his deep-seated instincts came to the surface; he had to pay attention to what his own inner voice was telling him) and also impacted his ADVANCEMENT – impelling him forward to make new plans or projects, motivated by a sense of progress, accomplishment, and hope for the future.  At the same time the interpretation for transiting Pluto conjunct Ascendant is a REVEALING (disorienting, transformative) event which forced him to take command, rise to the occasion, get on top of things.  This event produced a major REORIENTATION:  he began a new phase or epoch in his life.

This period embraced TR’s last few months in office and the victory of his hand-picked successor (Taft) whom TR believed would follow his policies.  Just before he left office, TR’s Great White Fleet returned from its round-the-world cruise, which one of his biographers called “the apotheosis of Roosevelt.”11  From March 1909 – March 1910 he went on a safari in Africa which was the fulfillment of a long-held dream; and he wrote a series of articles on his adventures.  He returned to the U.S. on 6/16/1910 to a triumphal welcome (a parade up Broadway hosted by the mayor of New York).  His friends considered that he had become a changed man:  “He was just the same in manner, in appearance, in expression, yet there was something different.  We, all of us who had been closely associated with him in the past, felt it.  I spoke of it.  Senator Lodge spoke of it.  Secretary Meyer … spoke of it; and so did Nick [Longworth].  Loeb and I, for we rode together in the procession, talked almost entirely of him and each of us felt that there was a change in him.  Mr. Meyer thought he had grown older, but it wasn’t that.  Loeb, Senator Lodge, and I figured it out to be simply an enlarged personality.  To me he had ceased to be an American, but had become a world citizen.  His horizon seemed to be greater, his mental scope more encompassing.”12


            The swifter transiting planets produce transient events – perhaps within a day or two of the precise date they are due.  They fail often.  Transiting changes of station (from direct to retrograde or retrograde to direct) usually work quite well; mutual transits (the conjunction or opposition of two transiting planets falling on or opposite a significant point in the natal horoscope) are usually more effective than single-body transits.13 

            Mars:  Transiting Mars conjoined its natal place on 3/2/1879, bringing a FORCEFUL event:  intense involvements with other people (though not necessarily conflictive) in which he had to take a position, stand up for himself, be willing to fully commit himself; the upshot of which brought him ADVANCEMENT: impelling him forward, motivating him with a sense of progress, accomplishment, and hope for the future.  What happened was that the previous day TR embarked on a fabulous two-week hunting trip to Maine, where he made some fast friends for life:  “The emerging politician got great satisfaction out of his ability to converse, on equal terms, with backwoodsmen as well as Boston Brahmins.  So, too, did the hunter exult in chasing a caribou for thirty-six hours through the snowy forest, with neither tent nor blankets to protect him.  The naturalist collected specimens, while the sometime invalid worked up ‘enough health to last me till next summer.’”14 

            Sun-Venus:  Transiting Venus’ superior conjunction with the sun on 2/18/1890 conjoined TR’s natal Midheaven, auguring a DECISIVE, SOCIABLE event:  one which calls for an exercise of will in which he had to follow his heart and stay his course; do what he felt was right; involving encounters, gatherings, or events which played upon his affections (note that sun and Venus form an intrinsically disharmonious combination so their conjunction is usually brings disagreement, conflict, tension in relationships).  Falling on his Midheaven, this transit impacted on TR’s HOPE – it gave him something to set his sights on or to shoot for.

Three weeks earlier Congress had appointed a committee of TR’s enemies to investigate him; and on 2/19/1890 hearings began: “As always when confronted by a challenge, Roosevelt instantly took the offensive.  He intended so to dominate the hearings that he would be entirely vindicated.” (which is what happened).15 

            Mercury:  Transiting Mercury turned retrograde on 5/28/1883 on TR’s natal Jupiter, which produced an ENCOURAGING event which changed his attitude, viewpoint, or self-image.  He saw himself in a new light, in a new role vis a vis other people, and need tact, aplomb, and confidence in his own abilities.  This event brought him FULFILLMENT – he found that things just fell right into place with no effort on his part.  He got to do something he’d wanted to do for a long time.

            That evening TR was guest of honor at a meeting of the Free Trade Club, where he met Henry George.  But more importantly, “a chance meeting occurred which directly influenced the future course of his life.”16  TR met Commander H.H. Gorringe, who invited him on a buffalo hunting trip out west, which was a dream TR had nurtured for a long time.  This invitation was the beginning of TR’s interest in the west; and the seed of his cattle-ranching venture in Dakota, begun the following year.   


Appendix II – Table of Harmonious and Disharmonious Planetary Combinations



















































































Appendix III – Exact Dates of Theodore Roosevelt Example Transits


JU conj JU = 8/15/1870 – 12/15/1870 R – 4/06/1871

JU conj ASC = 9/22/1870 – 11/05/1870 R – 5/02/1871

SA opp VE = 7/10/1884 – 1/14/1885 R – 3/21/1885

SA conj JU = 8/05/1884 – 12/08/1884 R – 4/24/1885

SA conj ASC = 6/02/1885

SA conj MO = 8/12/1886 – 2/06/1887 R – 4/25/1887

SA opp MA = 8/22/1886 – 1/21/1887 R – 5/10/1887

UR conj VE = 12/28/1901 – 7/07/1902 R – 10/15/1902

UR opp JU = 3/05/1902 – 4/18/1902 R – 12/07/1902

NE conj MO = 9/23/1908 – 11/16/1908 R – 7/11/1909 – 2/19/1910 R – 5/04/1910     

NE opp MA = 8/13/1909 – 1/04/1910 R – 6/14/1910

PL conj ASC = 8/26/1908 – 10/26/1908 R – 7/01/1909 – 12/28/1909 R – 5/18/1910



<Morris I> = Edmund Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Ballantine NYC 1980

<Morris II> = Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex, Random House NYC 2001

<Brands> = H.W. Brands, T.R. – The Last Romantic, Basic Books NYC 1997




[1]  R.C. Davison’s book The Technique of Prediction, while also excellent, is aimed at advanced students of astrology rather than beginners.  Also, it is concerned more with secondary progressions than with transits. 

2 which Dr. Jones invoked as the principle of “Occam’s Razor”; and which contemporary computer theory embodies in the principle of KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

3 Theodore Roosevelt was born on 10/27/1858 at 7h49m25s pm LMT in New York City.  This is four and a half minutes later than the “B” rated time given in AstroDatabank (7h45m pm) and by his biographer <Morris I, p 32> since it has been rectified by zodiacal primary directions to angles equated to time with the Placidian True Solar Arc in Right Ascension measure.  The difference between given and rectified times does not materially affect the timing of the transits to the Ascendant given in this article.  The rectification assumption was that Mars’ direct conjunction with the DESC occurred at the time of TR’s mother’s and wife’s deaths on 2/14/1884.  This assumption leads to the following zodiacal primary directions to angles:

            Saturn conjunct IC c = 3/1/1878  =>  Father’s death = 2/9/1878

            Uranus conjunct ASC c = 9/21/1880 => 1st marriage = 10/27/1880

            Moon conjunct ASC d = 10/17/1882 => moved into 1st home = 10/?/1882

            Pluto conjunct ASC c = 8/13/1898 => Battle of San Juan Hill = 7/1/1898;

triumphal return to U.S. 8/15/1898

            Sun conjunct DESC d = 3/14/1900 => nominated V.P. = 6/20/1900

Mercury conjunct DESC c = 1/4/1901 => won V.P. = 11/6/1900

Mars conjunct MC c = 2/28/1901 => inaugurated V.P. = 3/4/1901

For more information on these primary directions, download the author’s free book Primary Directions – A Primer of Calculation from  The calculations are by Rumen Kolev’s indispensable Placidus Primary Directions software, available from

 4 Colin James, in his book The Relative Strength of Signs and Planets, holds that it is the retrograde transit – rather than either of the two direct transits – which more accurately times the expected event.  Every practitioner must come to his or her own conclusions, based upon one’s own individual experience. 

5 See The Chance of a Lifetime by Bob Makransky, The Mountain Astrologer issue # 128, August/September 2006, page 60.

6 <Morris I, p 61>

7 <Morris I, p 303> 

8 <Morris I, p 374>

9 <Morris I, p 373> 

10 <Morris II, p 170>

11 <Brands, p 637> 

[1]2 <Archie Butt, quoted in Brands, p 670>

13 For copious examples of mutual transits in TR’s horoscope, see the Mutual Transits article in the How to Use Magical Almanac folder posted at: (you have to sign in with a Yahoo ID, which is free).

14 <Morris I, p 111>

15 <Morris I, p 418>

16 <Morris I, p 197, 342>