Progressions and Transits between 1858 and 1866

(age 16 to 25)

kateri-n-oteroBlessed Kateri Tekakwitha by Nicolas Otero (contemporary santero)

In my first post on Mary MacKillop I concentrated mainly on some salient aspects of her Birth Chart. In this post I would like to explore the major Transits and Progressions that constellated her life. They make, I feel, an interesting astrological tale.

A fascinating example of synchronicity is occurring now, as Mary MacKillop becomes again a household name in Australia, after the confirmation that she will become a Saint sometimes this year. Tomorrow New Moon will be also an Annular Eclipse of the Sun, with a major alignment of Planets in Capricorn. This Eclipse is eerily similar to the one that occurred  just prior Mary’s birth in 1842, with the major  Capricorn alignment that was reflected in her Birth Chart. Notice in the two Horoscopes the same zodiacal positions of Neptune and Jupiter. The Charts are cast for the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, where I live. What it is of interest here is just the similarity and near identity between these two otherwise unrelated phenomena. To read more about the Eclipse preceding Mary’s birth see my previous post on The First Australian Saint. And for a description of this present eclipse see my related post, here.

To make the similarities between these two separate events more obvious here are the pictures of the two Eclipses, at the top the 1842 one, and below the one of January 15 2010. She has returned in our collective consciousness through this powerful Eclipse, endowed with the same psychic energy she carried with her throughout her eventful life. Sometimes being fascinated by a mystery like this synchronicity is enough, without the need to ‘explain’ it, one way or the other. A lot of Astrology is like that for me. The mystery is more convincing and feel more right than any clever theory on the subject.









Mary Ellen was born in 1842, just 50 years after Australia became colonized by white settlers. Hers was the life of a pioneer and a missionary, a truly romantic heroine. Those were the times surrounding the ‘discovery’ of Neptune (23 September 1846, while the planet was transiting the end of Aquarius, the same position Neptune is now in). This was a highly idealistic period, when many mystical branches of learning and the spiritual and occult revival known as romanticism flourished. These were times when also socialistic political movements were born and ideologies that had the welfare of humanity at heart (Marx’s Communist Manifesto was published February 21, 1848).

Mary Ellen was but a child when the Gold Rush spread like wild fire in Victoria bringing with it the seeds of many social and moral problems for this early Australian community, the native inhabitants as well as the white colonists, bankruptcy, alcoholism, violence and broken families.

Mary’s life literally began with Saturn, Lord of karma and hardship, moving during her first two years over her many Planets in Capricorn.

We shouldn’t forget that Saturn was a sort of super-ruler in Mary’s Birth Chart, having sway over all her Planets and Sun in Capricorn, the appointed Sign of Saturn. Furthermore Saturn was conjunct Jupiter at her birth, so that success and fulfillment of potentials (Jupiter’s stuff) could come to her only via the trials that are Saturn’s personal signatures.

Mary was born with Saturn behind the Sun in longitude (rising before the Sun).

The First pass of Saturn over her Venus (March 2, 1842) coincided with her Christian Baptism on February 28 1942, around 6 weeks of age, a very poignant synchronicity, indicating a symbolical initiation into a life of austerity and chastity, a solitary path (Saturn) yet filled with love and positive feminine energy (Venus). Saturn then became retrograde and moved again over her Venus in June and then November 1842, to make a deeper and longer lasting impression on the baby’s psyche. Love, the maiden Venus, is here hand in hand with Old Man Saturn, the ancient Ripper, Lord of Time and Old Age. Love is serious stuff here, far from superficial, very grounded, responsible and steady. This position also shows her leadership ability, as well as her exceptional practical skills. At another level early disappointment in love are sometimes the expressions of this profound but somewhat melancholic conjunction.

The need for father’s love and approval will constellate Mary’s life, via her encounters with pivotal male figures, mentors and gurus (such as Father Geoghegan and Father Julian Tenison Woods), as well as stern authority figures who played a major role in the shaping of her destiny (bishop Sheil who excommunicated her, and others, positive as well as negative figures in the Catholic Church).

After visiting Venus in 1842 Saturn proceeded to move over Mary’s Mercury (February 1843) and Sun (March 1843) and returned in retrogradation over them for the duration of 1843, finishing off with a conjunction to her North Node, the end of her Axis of Destiny that points to the future.

All these Saturn’s hits represent a rather ‘hard’ start, often manifesting as lack of security, fears, limitations of all kinds, poverty, sometimes even lack of proper nurture. Beginning with life itself this early transit gave her existence its tone and colour.

Her biographers say that her father became bankrupt when Mary was just a baby, when the family home was sold and a life of serious financial difficulties and reliance on the goodwill of relatives and friends began. Being the eldest of eight children Mary had to grow up before her time and sorely missed her childhood, a well documented Capricorn’s effect.

While the family may have been very poor, however, it was one for which culture, learning and spiritual practice were important. Mary’s father, Julian MacKillop, as ineffectual as he was as a farmer or politician, provided a sound home education to all his children, in particular Mary who was an intellectually gifted and high-spirited child. Two of her siblings, Alexandrina and Donald, also later embraced the religious and missionary life.


The first important life-change I have found in her biography occurred between 1856 and 1858, age 14-16, when Mary began to earn her living and support her family, by working as a governess, a clerk and a teacher. Of course 14 is the age for one of the most important stages of Saturn’s life cycle, when this planet reaches the opposition to its own birth position. In Mary’s case however Saturn not only opposed itself during this time, but also all her Capricorn Planets and Sun.

Mary’ Progressed Horoscope is also very interesting to describe this time in her life.

Here is Mary’s 1858 Progressed Horoscope, plotted around her Birth Chart.



The slow-moving Planets have hardly moved in 16 years, while the Moon had progressed all the way from the cusp Aquarius-Pisces to Libra. This is a socially active Sign, fitting well her adolescent spirit and the need for her to go out to meet the world. During the year the Moon also formed a 90 degrees angle to her natal Jupiter and Saturn’s conjunction, at the same time becoming conjunct to her Birth Chart’s Mid Heaven, the highest point, symbolical of career and the outer, most obvious expression of the life force. The square to Jupiter-Saturn indicates a mixture of excitement and fears, also a lot of demanding work, hardly remunerated (Jupiter and Saturn are in the Twelfth House of sacrifice and self-undoing). Saturn, also very prominent in Transit, was enhancing the intensity of this progressed aspect.

The Moon on the most elevated Angle represents a turn in the wheel of life, in particular the beginning of a new domestic situation. Often a change of residence accompanies the passage of the progressed Moon through one of the four Angles, as it did in Mary MacKillop’s case.

Few months earlier, in 1857, the progressed Mercury formed a conjunction to Neptune and sextile to Pluto in the Fourth House, signifying  a contact with deeper realities and spiritual ideals, and a  necessary separation from family, one with unforeseen consequences, evoking the end of childhood and innocence. These progressions remained active for a couple of years, until 1859, and helped to change Mary’s way of thinking and outlook on life.

In 1858 on the Transits’ front, Saturn in Cancer presided over the entire Horoscope, having reached the all important opposition to Mary’s Sun in Capricorn, while entering her Seventh Solar House, the relationships area. This a typical growing up transit, when the person gains a new sense of self through work and added responsibilities. Life and one’s own self perception became more serious and one needs to accept necessary restrictions. This is an important transit for anyone, but it was particularly significant for Mary with her concentration of Planets in Capricorn, because it meant that Saturn transited in opposition not only to her Sun but also to Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mercury, between 1856 and 1858, a very tough time for Mary when perhaps too many and too heavy adult responsibilities were thrust on her young shoulders.

Below are the slow-moving Planets’ Transits of 1858 (from Jupiter outward) plotted around Mary’s Birth Chart.



Looking at her life from another angle, between 1857 and 1858 Jupiter transited the Earth Sign of Taurus, forming positive aspects to all her planets in Capricorn, showing that this was also a time for expansion and improvement in her life, when her horizon widened and she became more confident. At the same time Uranus was also in Taurus, also forming a harmonious aspect to her natal Sun, fostering changes of attitude, greater personal freedom and the opportunity to become more independent. The transiting Uranus was in fact in positive aspect to the transiting Saturn, helping the expression of Saturn, making it less humdrum and more appealing to her sense of independence and her revolutionary thinking.

To complete the picture, Neptune became conjunct the natal Uranus, marking, again, a time for the unfolding of destiny in Mary’s Life, when she felt her calling and may have had profound religious and psychic experiences. Neptune was in fact moistening the budding Uranus’ genius with a strong flow of imagination, dreams and longing. This is a great transit to get inspired (Neptune) to follow one’s own unique path (Uranus in the Third House of Teaching and Learning). it will prove particularly irresistible for someone endowed with mystical sensibility.

Mary, despite being inspired at an early age to a life of teaching had to wait until 1866 to fully dedicate herself to her goal, when she embraced the religious life and her mission. Her family (parents and seven brothers and sisters) stood in need of her financial support for many years and she could not forget her duty to them (Saturn’s Karma, social as well as self-imposed limitations).

So what happened in between these important dates and what in 1866 changed in the sky to reflect such a transformation in Mary’s own life? If interested look up my next post on Mary, our Australian Saint.

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