For those looking for previously-noticed but rarely-mentioned astro-phenomena (older terms like “besieged” and “Cazimi” come to mind), here’s one. Alternately called Moon chasing Saturn or Saturn chasing Moon (properly the former, as the faster applies to the slower), it happens when the progressed Moon (with a 27 ½ year cycle) locks into aspect with transiting Saturn (with 29 ½ year cycle). It’s most noticeable in nativities with Moon conjunct Saturn, as the poor child has transiting Saturn right on top of its progressed Moon for its formative years. Depending upon the speed of the Moon and the closeness of the original aspect, it can be as brief as three or four years or last into the teens, as the Moon plods along and Saturn backs and fills around it in alternating direct and retrograde motion.
The same relentlessly-long effect occurs with nativities with Moon square or opposite Saturn, emphasizing and prolonging the Saturn effect well after birth and into childhood. You’ll usually find it referenced in relation to the natal chart, but it happens to everybody as a progression-transit tangle, at least twice in an average lifespan, with two succeeding Moon-Saturn involvements, though not always hard aspects. That’s because the synodic period of the two is about 420 years, and so roughly every 35 years they engage one aspect further along (if you’re only using Ptolemaic aspects plus semisextile and quincunx, more if you use others). If you’re born with Moon near the waxing trine (120 degrees) with Saturn, come age 35, they will have worked themselves into a quincunx, and by your late 60s they’ll be in opposition. Or, if they were near a waning square (270 degrees) at birth, around 35 you’ll be experiencing a supportive waning sextile (300 degrees) and finish off with a waning semisextile (330 degrees). And if you live to 105, you get three versions.
Of course, if your natal Moon and Saturn aren’t in aspect to begin with, you’ll get your first lock-in at a different age, but they’ll usually be about 35 years apart. As a rule of thumb, if your natal Moon is, say, 20 degrees from its next aspect to Saturn, then your first Moon-chasing-Saturn aspect will be that aspect and start around age 23 or so, the next one at the following aspect 35 years later at around 58. But, because the speed of the Moon varies so much, it’s best to do it on a computer, as that general rule can be as much as a decade off for periods when the progressed Moon is very slow or very fast.
Some sources, notably Celeste Teal, have rather dire things to say about the hard aspects, and others paint it as a rarity, which it’s not. Here are some opinions on the subject ranging from Devore, Teal, and others, which themselves have further references:
* From Kingsley’s blog about Ben Cousin’s chart
* From Café Astrology, comparing it to Lemony Snicket
* From Celeste Teal’s site
* From Devore’s Encyclopedia of Astrology
* From Identifying Planetary Triggers (Teal)
Although you usually see it brought up in reference to individuals, you can also see a mention of it in America’s national chart in our own Dark Days piece a while back. For the Sibly chart, anyway, the Moon will be chasing Saturn by conjunction right around the period of America’s first Pluto return. The opposition happened in the early 1800s, starting some time after the War of 1812.
It’s a little piece of astrological cycle arcana unto itself, but in the end, it is just another example demonstrating what most astrologers already know as a general rule: easy aspects at birth mean good fortune early in life but often progress into a more difficult older age, especially if native talents are taken for granted. Conversely, hard aspects at birth mean you make all your mistakes early and have to work it out, with progressions bringing you a flowering maturity born of experience. These kind of alternating experiences are part of the whole picture, the rolling overlaps of natal, progressions, and transits that are fundamentally integrated because most of the planetary periods are all simple mathematical functions of each other. Another even tighter one is transiting Saturn and progressed lunations, both with almost precisely the same period of 29 ½ years, locked into the same relationship in succeeding signs for life. So, by comparison, when you find that Saturn and progressed Moon are chasing each other’s tails for a few years, remember that this too will pass, with another interesting variation lined up for the next chapter in your life.