Most online astrology content focuses on transits or describing the current weather of the planets. Planet comes from the word "wanderer" as in ancient days it was the planets moving across the sky that helped differentiate from stars. In this way, astrology comes alive in observing time through the sky.
While we can get a lot of great information from transits or where the planets exist in chronological time, but this really only covers one layer of time. We know reality exists simultaneous in several dimensions, and astrological timing techniques can help us explore more potentials. Sometimes transits mirror our experience, and other moments it might miss something that can reveal more subtle. Horary and more traditional forms of astrology have incredible techniques for predictions. I prefer to utilize a few techniques for finding themes for preparing and working with rather than trying to figure out what might happen. (Though I have to brag that I have certainly predicted several pregnancies and partnership meetings over the years.;)
I like to think of different techniques as focusing on an external clock and Chronos time and a behind the scenes clock with more symbolic and seasonal time related to Kairos time. The best big picture of how to focus our time and energy at any give moment involves both. This also includes astrological discernment when we realize what we are reading about isn't personalized to us and may not resonant. Knowing what to pay attention to in astrology is a skill of knowing your own chart.
Transits can be a great entry point, but expanding to the others can be a fun way to explore. Particularly looking back on past experiences with some of the techniques listed below. The magic also comes alive when several of the cycles seem to align together, with similar themes. Time telling techniques I use most in my astro sessions:
Chronos and outer clock:
Transits: Comparing sky to natal chart, noticing what is crossing different houses, aspects to sun, moon, rising, descendant and angles. At any given time there are plenty of transits occurring to our natal chart, but not all of them are noteworthy. Paying attention to the outer planets versus personal planets are often a better indicator of more long-term themes rather than quick ones. Example: Pluto transits can last years while a Mars or Venus transit may only be a day, unless they are retrograding. We have some transits once a month, such as a Lunar Return, or a Solar Return when our sun returns to same degree as when we were born--once a year.
Transits give us an opportunity to become more intimate with a particular archetype. In this way, first part of a transit tends to show us the more difficult or shadow aspects of that planet. As it continues and we get more of the lessons we needed it tends to loosen its grip a bit as we integrate what it wants to teach us.
Personal example: I've had a Pluto transit for the past four years with it squaring my moon and it has been a beautiful entryway into understanding the planet more deeply. It has also been incredibly difficult, and as the transit ends I feel more integrated with how it moves through me.
Symbolic/imaginary time techniques I like to use more so for predictions:
Secondary Progressions: Every day after birth represents one year, a strange way to think that your entire life could happen within 90 days of arriving on Earth. I pay attention to what moves forward if it was retrograding when someone was born. Also noticing around 2.5 year lunar cycles as the moon moves through the signs and the ever so important 30 year solar cycles as our identity begins to take a new shape. This shift often can really change someone's direction in life and huge career decisions. The moon as it moves around the chart gives us a focal point for our emotional realm and home life of where to put attention.
In my dream astro world I would move with the 2.5 year cycles as it can often be a big change in our sense of beauty and home desires. I love ritualizing shifts in secondary progressions and encourage clients to put them in their calendar and find their own way to honor inner world.
Personal example: When my sun progressed into Cancer eight years ago, I got a cat and suddenly didn't want to go out and do anything anymore. Right before it changed I completed my thesis research--very Gemini--and felt much more identified with my mind, versus now where my emotions tend to be more on my forefront.
Solar Return Chart: The “Solar Return” is a transit that happens once a year, often called our birthday (though I call it my “Earth birth”). This day astrologically harnesses the energy of the sun and can be recharge or re-evaluation for your life purpose and soul’s journey on Earth. It’s important to note that your birthday and Solar Return may or may not occur on the same day. This makes sense when considering the calendar year and the need for Leap Days every 4 years since the year is not really 365 days, but 365 ¼ (dang confusing Gregorian calendar). The timing of the solar return also depends on your location since the astrology chart also relies upon latitude and longitude for the degrees of the zodiac wheel. I love using the solar return chart to look at possible events or realizations for the year ahead.
I recommend celebrating birthdays on the solar return day in a way that honors the year ahead chart. Such as if the Moon is in Libra on your solar return chart, you might want to celebrate with one other person. If it has an Aquarius Moon, maybe traveling or doing something more adventurous.
Personal example: My solar return chart this past birth year had the moon in Capricorn conjunct Pluto, and I was crying a lot for reasons I didn't understand. I wished I had spent it alone or in more solitude and instead I was more of an emotional mess than I wanted to be. I see now this birth year has been a deep exploration of my need for quiet and facing my loneliness more head on.
Annual Profection: A yearly advancement through the chart by house based on the age. Beginning with the Ascendant or 1st house and moving through and around to each sign. During that year of life that house and the planetary bodies in it would be activated. This technique is associated with more traditional astrology but I find it useful for understanding subtle themes by year. Particularly I pay attention to the planetary archetypes in that house. This works nicely with the Solar Return chart to peek into what things may feel like a good place to spend time and energy over the next year of life.
Personal example: I'm currently in a 5th house profection around being seen and the two planetary bodies in that house for me are Ceres and Uranus. I started by 40th year working at a farm and have been diving back into permaculture and farming. Now I'm at my half birthday and Uranus has been activated through wanting more adventure and writing.
There are many other timing techniques and ideas, another popular one is Solar Arc Directions where each planetary body advances one degree per day to reveal important life events. I tend to use that more in hindsight for understanding timing and the others for themes to focus on, but it is also one I'm less familiar with.
Whichever techniques resonant for you the most obviously stick with those, these are just my favs that I feel connected with. I'm also not a traditional astrologer, as archetypal astrology is much newer lineage with less of a focus on predictions, but I still like to flirt with them. :)