Primary Direction

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Progressions and Directions usually are based on the movement of the Sun

General information

A predictive method based on the Earth's axial rotation. Roughly every 4 minute period after birth - which is the time needed for the Medium Coeli to progress by 1 degree (1 degree right ascension of the Medium Coeli; RAMC) - is equivalent to one year in a person's life. This method is only used to progress the axes, with other methods being used for the planets such as secondary progressions whereby each day after the birth is equivalent to one year.

The method of primary directions can only be used with birth times accurate to within a minute, because otherwise the inaccuracies in prediction are simply too large: A birth time inaccurate by one minute would lead to any prediction being incorrect by one year. Effective use of primaries depends on a precise radix time. But this is also the reason that primaries are a powerful rectification tool.


The following points are considered to be significant:

  • An axis which forms an aspect to a factor in the natal chart is regarded as a trigger, which means that it activates the factor in question.
  • When an axis changes signs by progression it signals a change of theme.

Modern practice

Rumen Kolev wrote two small booklets called "Primary Directions I & II" which give a clearly written presentation of primaries[1].

The main idea of primary directions is to move radix points on the celestial sphere in the direction of their daily motion in ascension[2].

Aspects of directed points to radix points (planets, cusps, sometimes even abstract points such as the PoF) are considered meaningful, as are reflections of radix and directed points around the main axes (local meridian and horizon).

There are variations in method along several dimensions:

Domification method

All systems of primary directions are associated with a quadrant house system that is capable of yielding "mundane" positions or "house longitudes". Historically, Regiomontanus, Topocentric and Placidus have been most used, though other well-defined systems such as Campanus can be used. Placidus is the most common method and its model of ascension is the most accurate.

Promissors and Significators

The kind of points to direct (promissors) and to which to direct (significators). The choice is between bodies with latitude ("mundo directions") or between ecliptic intersects of points ("zodiacal directions"). The latter is the more traditional method, while most modern astrologers who use primaries use the former.


This is the mapping of motion of the RAMC to time. There are two kinds of keys: static and dynamic. Static keys use an uniform rate of motion (degree for a day, Naibod, Cardan, etc). Dynamic keys vary the mapping based on astronomical motions (the Kepler key, equation of progressed sun in longitude to RAMC).


Uniform movement of all points or use of a time equivalence that includes actual planetary motion. Traditionally, all points are moved uniformly with their directed positions being calculated on the basis of advancement of the RAMC, but ignoring any proper motion due to the passage of time. This uniform motion is the common understanding of the word "direction". Another view is to consider the direction to be a mapping of an earlier time in the native's life to a transit time. In this approach, sometimes called "primary progressions", the proper motion of the planets between the radix and directed times is taken into account by erecting a normal chart for the directed time and comparing its mundane positions to those of the radix.

When using software to calculate primary directions, it is important to understand how the program decides among the above alternatives, and what options it offers to select among them.



  • Martin Gansten: Primary Directions: Astrology's Old Master Technique. Wessex Astrologer, 206 pages, 2009. ISBN 10: 1902405390 Review online (Deborah Houlding, 2009)

Notes and References

  1. There is a bit of maths in Kolev's presentation, but this is unavoidable if you want to get a good understanding of the subject
  2. Some people also use converse directions, moving them in the opposite direction