Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys as we venture into the 2020s! To start off the decade I will be sharing with you the final part of my three part series on hidden or occult aspects, and this month we look at harmonics. The charts of several well known peeple including Martin Luther King, Nikola Tesla and Aleister Crowley will be examined as part of this post.
Each of the three subjects covered in this series has been about looking more closely at astrological aspects to reveal some of their hidden dimensions, relationships between the planets and angles which are not apparent or easily readable in a chart. In each case nothing is really being added to the chart, we are simply examining it in a way which relays deeper layers of information. With parallel and contra-parallel and out of bounds, we perceived how the dimension of height or elevation in the sky was completely hidden by the concept of traditional aspects being measured along degrees of the zodiac. With midpoints we perceived how each point in the circle of the zodiac is a sensitive point that has a relationship to other sensitive points of the zodiac, and that these can be regarded as an interconnected system. This is very much the same as saying that 12° of Gemini is connected to 12° of the other Air signs (by a trine), with the only difference being that midpoint connections are less obvious and represent greater details in the energy flowing within the chart. Midpoints gave us a more practical way of working with the 45° angle, which is a division of the circle by 8, but it only showed us part of the power of this aspect. To delve more fully into the meaning of this aspect and its representation in a chart and also the magic of the number 8 – or indeed any number or so called ‘minor’ aspect – we have to look at harmonics.
Harmonics have been around for thousands of years (the same technique is part of traditional practice in Jyotish, the astrology of India, for example, where they are called vargas) but are only now developing as an idea in the west, except for an early period in which they were studied. When you are first introduced to this topic it can be extremely confusing, and some of the math involved can be tricky, so before we get into what harmonics are and how we can use them I want to clear that up a little bit by explaining the math with an easy example which will also illustrate the concept of harmonics. After that I’ll go into more detail explaining what we are doing and then proceed with some examples of some of the harmonics which I am most familiar with.
Let’s imagine that we have a chart in front of us that has an exact trine between the Sun and the Moon, with the Sun at 10° Aries and the Moon at 10° Leo. We know from looking at this that the basic energy here is one of dynamism and power (Fire) expressing itself confidently (Aries and Leo) and smoothly, i.e. without challenge (trine). Now let’s say we want to look at this aspect in a 3rd harmonic chart, a chart which expresses the magic of the number 3 as it is present in this chart. The formula for calculating the degree of an objects 3rd harmonic position is simply to multiply its zodiac position by 3, the number of the harmonic. That’s really it, but if the resulting number is over 360° you must deduct 360° until you arrive at or below 360° to find the correct harmonic degree. Thus the Sun at 10° of Aries has a 3rd harmonic position of 30° of the zodiac (10°x3) which is the same as 0° of Taurus. The Moon at 10° of Leo is at 130° of the zodiac (Leo starts at 120°), which when you multiply it times three equals 390°, which is higher than 360° so that has to be subtracted to result in the number of 30°, or 0° of Taurus again. Therefore the position of the Sun and Moon in the 3rd harmonic in this case is at 0° Taurus in an exact conjunction. Last month in the article on midpoints I gave you a list of where each zodiac sign begins from 0° to 360° and that list can be useful here as well.
Note that in a 3rd harmonic trines become conjunctions. Always. That’s because a trine is an expression of the magic of the number 3 and in a 3rd harmonic chart that magic is expressed as a conjunction, a drawing together. Trines are ‘one with the 3’. All of the trines in the base chart will be converted into conjunctions in the 3rd harmonic chart. In this way they will immediately leap out and you will see a representation of the power of the trine and the number 3 in the chart. This fact becomes especially important when it comes to generating the 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th harmonics, because each of those charts will display a ‘minor aspect’ as a conjunction:
The base chart or natal chart is the 1st harmonic.
2nd harmonic = 180° or oppositions displayed as conjunctions
3rd harmonic = 120° or trines displayed as conjunctions.
4th harmonic = 90° or squares displayed as conjunctions.
5th harmonic = 72° or quintiles displayed as conjunctions
6th harmonic = 60° or sextiles displayed as conjunctions.
7th harmonic = 51° 24’ or septiles displayed as conjunctions.
8th harmonic = 45° or semi-squares displayed as conjunctions
9th harmonic = 40° or noniles (aka noviles) displayed as conjunctions
10th harmonic = 36° or semi-quintiles (aka deciles) displayed as conjunctions
11th harmonic = 32° 42’ or undecile displayed as conjunctions
12th harmonic = 30° or semi-sextiles displayed as conjunctions
There is slightly more to it than the above, but we will get to that later.
All this is pretty simple except for the fact that you must also calculate the fractions of a degree called minutes, because in a harmonic chart those distances add up, becoming more significant the higher the number of the harmonic being calculated. This is where a lot of people make mistakes in calculating their harmonics, and also their midpoints because fractions of a degree are also important there, and this is most often because they forget that they are working in a base 60 (where 60’ makes 1°). This, coupled with the fact that signs are all 30° in length makes the calculations prone to human error. I’m okay at math and I usually do the calculations in my head with the smaller harmonics, multiplying the minutes first as a separate quantity and then converting that result into degrees and minutes which I will then add to a second calculation I make using the degree position. But this is accident prone and I prefer to do it on paper, or more often with a computers assistance.
Now that you understand what the calculations are and what the most common error is as well as a bit about what the harmonic chart is showing us it’s time to delve a little bit more deeply into exactly what is being displayed when we calculate a full harmonic chart. The most important point to grasp is that this is the same chart as the base chart but it is simply being displayed in a different way, through the filter of a numeric wave-form. In essence, there is more than one way to display the same chart.
To help you grasp this, imagine that we unfold the zodiac by unpinning Pisces from Aries and then laying out the zodiac in the form of a ruler, a straight line with Aries on the left and Pisces on the right. We leave all the positions of the planets where they are, all we do is turn the circle into a line. In this form of display the conjunctions are still really easy to spot because they are on top of or adjacent one another on the ruler. However, all the other aspects have become a little bit harder to spot. It’s no longer easy to see the oppositions for example, but if we turn the chart back into a circle again those oppositions are much more obvious.
This is all a harmonic chart really does – it displays certain aspects in relationships that are much easier to spot and therefore it shows the presence, patterns, complexes and forms that are created by that aspect much more clearly. From a magical point of view the harmonic chart is simply more clearly showing the astrological power of a specific number as it is manifest in the base chart. Thus, the harmonic chart for a particular number is a powerful chart for the magician to know and work with when working with the inherent magic of its number. Harmonics truly facilitate the reintegration and reunion of magic and astrology in this way. By studying a harmonic chart we can see a clear and rich symbolic representation of our own unique astrological relationship to specific numbers. Any whole number can be applied to the base chart in this way. As astrologers we can come to understand what the magic of a certain number actually is, simply by studying how different charts of the same harmonic compare. We can also track the significance of a particular planet or Light as it manifests its power in different numerical wave-forms, i.e. the relationship your Sun or Moon or whatever has to different numbers. This is knowledge now very muddied by centuries of confusion and cultural overlay, so this is a very useful tool for anyone studying magic or astrology, but especially one practising both. Interesting discoveries have been observed by John Addey between the strength of the 7th harmonic and people with an emphasis on mystical, spiritual and religious matters, for example, suggesting 7 as a number is connected to those things – a motif we find repeatedly in magic, religion, mythology and the occult.
A few more points need to be understood. First, there is the question of aspect orbs. We multiply the base chart position of an object to find its harmonic chart degree, and that means we have also multiplied the distances involved between it and every other object by the same amount. For example if your Sun is at 10° of Aries and your Moon is at 15° of Aries, then they are 5° apart in the base chart. That is a pretty strong conjunction. But if we multiply those positions by 5 to find their 5th harmonic then we end up with a position of 50° for the Sun (or 20° Taurus) and 75° for the Moon (or 15° Gemini). There is now a 25° gap between the Sun and Moon, not a 5° gap, and they are now in different signs. The base conjunction has gone and the Sun and Moon are no longer in any aspect.
A much smaller and tighter orb between two objects in conjunction – for example, a gap of only 04’ between them – will maintain itself across harmonics, it will have more integrity (in the sense of being whole and undivided). Close aspects in the natal chart translate as close aspects in harmonic charts, and close junctions maintain their form across multiple wave-forms, except at very high harmonics, unless it is exactly 0° of separation in which case it always maintains form as a conjunction. Think deeply about that.
As with anything in astrology there are varying views as to orbs and harmonic charts. David Cochrane divides the harmonic number into 16 to find the orb used in a harmonic chart, so the 16th harmonic chart would have a 1° orb for all aspects, a 4th harmonic 4° and a 5th harmonic 5°20’, and so on. This is a good method. I just use a maximum 8° orb in every harmonic chart (the orb David uses for the 2nd harmonic) and focus on the aspects which are closest (within 2 or 3°) and major aspect patterns, and this works good in practice. Up to the 8th harmonic an 8° orb works very well as an average that will pinpoint base chart aspects within 2°, a good orb to use for minor aspects in the base chart.
A further important point is that when you are studying a harmonic chart you have to drop most of the baggage you come with regarding the interpretation of major aspects. The nature of the aspects is also transformed by the wave-form of the harmonic, by the essential meaning of the number. Just as all the trines in a 3rd harmonic have been displayed as conjunctions, so too the display of other aspects have been transformed by the nature of the number. Thus, the nature of each aspect in a harmonic chart differs from its basic interpretation – a close sextile in the base chart becomes an opposition in the 3rd harmonic chart, but a close trine retains its form as a trine in a 4th harmonic, for example.
Mysteries within mysteries await your contemplation here, and I give you a little bit to go on below. What is important to grasp is that what the harmonic aspects are showing is an energetic relationship structure embedded in a numerical wave-form, but the qualities of the aspects are not the same as the qualities we traditionally give them. So, drop the idea that squares and oppositions are bad, entirely. You should have dropped it in the base chart anyway, but you are forced to here. Instead view the aspects, and especially the close aspects, as indicators of connection, and let go of figuring out its type. Its type is essentially related to whatever harmonic you are using and cannot be interpreted the way you do in the base chart. However, the three basic types of aspects – ‘hard’, ‘soft’ and ‘conjunction’ – still exist in the same way we understand them in the base chart. Squares and oppositions convey energy and force, trines and sextiles harmony and form, conjunctions a fusion and synthesis. However, you have to understand this as it manifests through whatever harmonic number is being applied. You have to understand what energy and force represent to the number 5, or 7, or what the concept of harmony and empathy are between planets in a 6 or a 9 wave-form, and so on. As a basic rule the conjunctions are the most important alignments in any harmonic and the next most important are the aspects which match the harmonic number, for example the trines in the 3rd harmonic and the squares in the 4th, etc. The closest aspects are also always the most important ones.
Delving deeper into this transformation of aspects in a harmonic chart we can see that harmonic charts group aspects which are multiples of one another as integrated aspect patterns within that wave-form, which means that in the 5th harmonic chart, for example, not only will all of the 72° aspects be grouped together as conjunctions, but also all of the 36° (half of 72°, the semi-quintile) and 144° (the bi-quintile) aspects in the base chart will be part of the major aspect patterns in the harmonic – they are its building blocks. In a 5th harmonic chart where we are looking at the conjunctions as instances of 72° aspects in the base chart, the 36° aspect (half of the 72°) will become an opposition (a division of a circle in half), but the 144° bi-quintile will be displayed as a conjunction, because it is just two waves of the same wave-form. In this way you cannot tell from the harmonic chart whether in the base chart the conjunction is one, two, three or four or more multiples of the aspect. In the 6th harmonic chart for example, 60° in the base chart will be drawn together as a conjunction in the harmonic, but so will the trine (2×60° or 120°) and opposition (3×60° or 180°). A 30° aspect will show up as an opposition in the 6th harmonic (half of 60 becoming equivalent to half of the circle).
If the orb in the base chart is wider than a degree or two, however, there will be less of a drawing together as I have explained above – harmonics also sharpen the lens onto close aspects. So sometimes you have to go back to the base chart to check on whether or not there is any aspect between the two bodies, and what it actually is. You might find that in the 5th harmonic, for example, two planets are in a conjunction but in the base chart they are 216° apart (5×72°) and are thus not actually in any base chart relationship. However, the dynamic being displayed in the harmonic in these cases is a real one regardless of whether or not there is any aspect in the base chart. This is because harmonic wave-forms are built using the same basic building blocks as midpoints are, the geometry and magic of the circle. In these cases, however, the lack of any base chart aspect means that the connection is more indirect and intangible.
Take a good look at this breakdown of how base chart aspects transform into 2nd harmonic major aspects:
2nd harmonic aspects
Base chart conjunctions and oppositions will be displayed as conjunctions.
Base chart sextiles and trines will be displayed as trines.
Base chart squares will be displayed as oppositions.
Base chart semi-sextiles will be displayed as sextiles.
Base chart semi-squares will be displayed as squares.
Can you spot the pattern? Take a look at the same for the 3rd harmonic:
3rd harmonic aspects
Base chart conjunctions and trines will be displayed as conjunctions.
Base chart sextiles and oppositions will be displayed as oppositions.
Base chart squares will maintain form as squares.
Base chart aspects of 20° will be displayed as sextiles.
Base chart noniles (40°) will be displayed as trines.
What is happening is that the base unit of an aspect is being multiplied by the harmonic number to find its equivalent aspect in the harmonic, so in the 2nd harmonic the semi-sextile of 30° is displayed as a sextile, because 2×30° = 60°. The base unit of the conjunction is 0° (or to give it a substantial form, 1°) which is why it maintains its form in every harmonic – 0 multiplied by any other number equals 0. It represents the unified field of the circle itself. Additionally, some aspects maintain their form even when multiplied by a higher number because aspects are always made from two potential places in the zodiac. Think about the square in the 3rd harmonic, for example. 90°x3=270°, which is not an aspect of its own but instead the pair of the 90° aspect – both are 90° away from 0° Aries. If you know what a Grand Cross aspect pattern looks like, you understand that the four points are all at 90° from two other points, each of which is in a different direction. That’s why 270° counts as a square in the 4th harmonic, and will therefore be displayed as a conjunction.
There is rhythm and music here, the beat of 2,4,6,8 and the tap of 3,6,9,12, the poetry of number being expressed in geometric configurations that mirror the approach of numerology, for is not 90 understandable as 9+0=9, as 270 is 2+7+0=9, and 180 and 45 also an expression of ‘nine-ness’? They are all part of the same wave-form, and we will see this relationship come together in the 9th harmonic as all of these aspects will maintain their base chart form in a 9th harmonic chart – a 45° aspect remains a 45° aspect and a 180° and even 135° degree aspect will also maintain their forms. Any major or minor aspect whose integers add up to 9 and divides into 360° as a whole number or is a multiple of one of those numbers (such as 135°) will do the same. This is a property that the 9th harmonic has, but not other harmonics – there are as I said many mysteries to contemplate in this field of study. Oppositions, for example, alternate between being conjunctions and oppositions, so in the 2nd harmonic they become conjunctions, in the 3rd harmonic they switch back to oppositions, and so on ad infinitum (or until the multiplied orb separates them), expressing the binary and polarized nature of the aspect throughout all wave-forms.
The temples/houses and signs also need some explanation here. The essential meaning we assign to both of these things does not fit well into the framework of harmonics. Aside from the angles of the ascendant and the midheaven, both of which must be based on accurate birth time to be useful in harmonic studies, the temples are best ignored. Use the base chart temples instead – for example if your Mars in Gemini is in the 7th temple in your natal chart then interpret all of its harmonic positions from a 7th temple perspective, because that is the functional level. If a planet in a harmonic chart is placed upon an angle however, it gains an ability to influence the physical world that it may not have had in the base chart. A planet could rise on the ascendant in your 7th harmonic but be tucked away in the 3rd temple of your base chart for example. Here we might be looking at the chart of someone who writes and talks a lot about the 7th harmonic and its topics, for instance.
The signs are slightly different. They do have harmonic equivalents, but they are sub-divisional ones whose main significance is in maintaining aspect structures within the zodiac. To explain this, let’s imagine a 3rd harmonic arrangement of the signs as it would visually appear if placed in the base chart. Starting at 0° of Aries the chart will be divided into three equal sections or pie shaped wedges, one slice being made at 0° (start of Aries), one at 120° (the start of Leo) and then another at 240° (the start of Sagittarius). The circle will then resemble this image:
Next we will add all 12 zodiac signs to each of these three segments, starting with Aries. Since each segment is 120° in length, each sign will get 10°, and the process will be repeated for each of the three segments.
Thus, the harmonic zodiac is a zodiac within a zodiac, much like a fractal. These smaller and smaller harmonic zodiacs maintain their form as 12 signs but as sub-levels within the primary zodiac. In the 3rd harmonic we have just described, the first zodiac sign in the birth chart, Aries, has been divided into three parts, an Aries–Aries part (0-10°), an Aries–Taurus part (10-20°), and an Aries–Gemini part (20-30°), like it is divided for the decans. If you have a planet in Aries in your birth chart it can only show up in one of these three signs in its 3rd harmonic chart. There is no way for it appear in any other sign. In fact, all of the Fire signs in a base chart meet with the same outcome at the 3rd harmonic level – they all have Aries, Taurus and Gemini sub-levels, but no others.
Another example using the 4th harmonic: the base chart zodiac will be divided into four equal sections, cut at 90° from one another. The first segment is thus made up of Aries, Taurus and Gemini, the second segment of the next three signs, and so on. The 12 signs of the zodiac will now be placed four times, once in each of these segments. Each of the 12 signs in these segments will get 7.5° or 7° 30’ (90° divided by 12). The base chart Aries will now have 4 whole sub-signs to itself (Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer, because 4×7.5°=30° or one entire base sign). This means in the 4th harmonic a planet in Aries in your base chart will show up in one of the first 4 signs of the zodiac and never anywhere else. Only when you reach the 12th harmonic does the entire zodiac structure collapse into a wave-form that is wholly contained within each sign, with each 2°30’ of a base zodiac sign being one sign at the 12th harmonic level.
So we can see that our interpretation of the qualities we give the zodiac signs in the base chart is deeply problematic when we apply it to harmonic charts, as for example what is in Leo in a harmonic chart can actually be in the base chart Aries or an even more different sign, but the integrity of the aspect structure of the zodiac, with Cardinal signs being square to other Cardinal signs etc, is maintained in every harmonic. The jury is still out on whether signs in harmonic charts have the characteristics and qualities that we are used to giving them in western astrology. Indicators are sometimes very strong, as the examples below will show, but it doesn’t always work out and if this is the reality then it means that every zodiac sign has some of the qualities of every other zodiac sign, which gets very messy. You will have to decide this matter for yourself through your own investigations.
Despite this the harmonic chart is still responsive to conduction but if you want to explore and interact with a harmonic chart just stick to using the primary base chart zodiac since it is the unifying zodiac for all harmonics. Just do the conduction as you would normally but refer to the harmonic chart as an additional chart that simply reveals deeper layers of the activation and planet key. Think of these as furniture and objects within that signs chamber, and your planet key activates all of them. Activations take place throughout all of the harmonic expressions of the base chart at the same time as they occur within the base chart. So when you have an activation of your Sun key, your Sun is also being activated in all of your harmonic charts. This gives you many more options and a deep understanding for each of your planet keys and Light keys, as well as the 1st and 10th temple keys. You can study activations across layers of meaning now. The dignity of planets in signs and their affinities and sympathies/antipathies seem to remain intact throughout the harmonics, so Mars in Scorpio is a super powerful Mars wherever it occurs. It may also have the qualities of Scorpio – willpower, intensity, deep perception – added to its base chart interpretation, but if so only – and this is vital to remember – in the context of the harmonic numbers meaning. Scorpio Mars in the 5th harmonic is not the same as Scorpio Mars in any other harmonic, especially the 1st. All of this has to be remembered when interpreting these charts as well, of course, not just for conduction activities. Additionally, the higher the harmonic number is the more specific and detailed the interpretation must become. High harmonic numbers reveal more subtle, refined and detailed textures within the base chart.
Before we move on from this discussion and begin looking at examples of different harmonic charts I would like to suggest that if you are beginning to investigate this fascinating topic that you initially focus on the conjunctions and the major aspect patterns of a harmonic chart along with the nature of the planets involved and leave aside the signs and the houses/temples because the conjunctions and aspect patterns will teach you about the inherent magic, power and meaning of the number and its associated minor aspect, as well as focus you on the key properties of that particular harmonic chart.
INTERPRETATION & CASE STUDIES
The study of harmonics is a gigantic area and an extremely interesting one. It is completely impossible for me to give you a complete or detailed guide in this one journal entry, what I can do is give you some basic advice and instruction and show you how I work with some examples. This is literally the first time I have shared some of this information with anyone, and some of it is of special interest in magical training.
Firstly the nature of a harmonic chart is closely tied to the astrological nature of the specific aspect it resonates with. For example the 2nd harmonic, which resonates with the opposition of 180°, is about the power of polarity and relating, which are the qualities of the opposition aspect. The 3rd harmonic is therefore tied to the trine, the 4th harmonic with the square, the 6th harmonic with the sextile, and so on. It is therefore initially easier for us to comprehend the nature of the harmonic charts which are tied to the major aspects we use in astrology:
0-1°: Conjunction, 1st Harmonic – integration, synthesis of all harmonic levels, unification.
60°: Sextile, 6th Harmonic – stimulation, pleasure, easy sharing, equilibrium.
90°: Square, 4th Harmonic – struggle, forceful energy, challenges, pressures.
120°: Trine, 3rd harmonic – ease, smoothness, natural aptitude, stability.
180° Opposition: 2nd Harmonic – polarity, relationship, projection, divisiveness/co-operation
When we see planets in closely knit conjunctions or in impressive aspect patterns in these harmonics it indicates that the individual has a great deal of power at that harmonic level, and the planets (and maybe signs) involved describe that powers qualities. For example, a chart with a very strong 3rd harmonic involving the Sun, Pluto, Uranus and Mercury in a stellium in one of the Air signs shows someone who has a great deal of ease working with the Air Element, and the 3rd harmonic will show the overall stability that results from this in far clearer and more detailed symbolic form than the birth chart does. It will literally leap out by showing itself as conjunctions or a major aspect pattern that integrates all other forms of ‘three-ness’.
Note that this does mean that the 3rd harmonic, which is based on trines and thus the 4 Elements, is a harmonic that reveals the ease and strength of natural connection we have with the Elements via certain planets, and is thus useful in establishing a stable equilibrium for magical purposes (especially as far as integration of the physical, astral and mental awareness or attaining a simultaneous triple awareness is concerned), while the 4th harmonic, which is quadrapolar and based on squares and thus 3 Modes (Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable), is about the challenge of attaining a dynamic equilibrium of all four Elements (the Mode most emphasised in this chart potentially points the way). This is another way of saying that the 12th harmonic (3×4) collapses the entire zodiac into each sign.
Let’s take an example using Aleister Crowley, the famed occultist. To start with take a look at his birth chart below, and note whatever strikes you first about it.
What strikes me is Leo rising with Uranus in Leo in the 1st/2nd in an most exact opposition with Saturn in Aquarius in the 7th/8th, with both square to Pluto in Taurus in the 11th. Mars is also strong (exalted) and in a T-square with Chiron and Sun/Venus. It is pretty explosive stuff indicating a rebellious and controversial figure with the charismatic power to truly destroy and rebuild things on a collective scale. The Leo qualities aptly describe his demeanor – brilliant, egotistical, dramatic, colourful, vain and proud – while the addition of Uranian Fire is an unmistakable symbol of eccentricity and weirdness, Promethean inventiveness, the occult and a showy, theatrical, ceremonial style of magic.
When we look at this charts 3rd harmonic, we see a much more striking and detailed configuration which describes very acutely the matters with which Crowley found motivation to come with ease:
What strikes us here is that the Saturn/Uranus opposition has been maintained but the Sun has now been drawn into the pattern by being in a conjunction with Saturn in Scorpio (“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”, the doctrine of the True Will, etc.) Note also that Mars has been drawn together with Pluto in Virgo, a perfectionist writers sign, and that they are in an opposition with an exalted Moon in Pisces – a deeply mystical configuration that shows the draw in him to both the intellectual will to power and a drive for absolute perfection (Virgo Mars/Pluto) and transcendence (Moon in Pisces). This is all a Grand Cross involving Venus and Chiron in Mutable/Reactive signs. It’s not so important that there are oppositions here, because actually those oppositions are base chart sextiles – what matters is the close configuration and not the nature of the default qualities of the aspect itself so much. We are being shown a very focused symbolic representation of what came easy to him, what flowed as if gliding on ice. As far as a stable Elemental equilibrium is concerned although we can’t rely too much on the Elements in his 3rd harmonic, we can say that (staying focused on conjunctions) its connected with a Mars/Pluto attitude and a Sun/Saturn attitude. Those who knew Crowley as a magican well should recognise this, as it’s extremely forceful, sexualised, dominating, commanding and even severe chemistry. We’ll come back to Crowley later.
So, as explained above, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th harmonics are easier for us to decode, being tied to the qualities of familiar aspects, but the 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th and higher harmonics are a little or far more elusive and call for deeper study. If we can identify the qualities of these harmonics we can also identify the qualities of the aspect which they relate to, for example the 5th harmonic will reveal something about the nature of the 72° aspect (as well as the 144° aspect, the bi-quintile), but we must remember here to check what the aspect in the base chart is, if any.
The first thing to understand about these other harmonics is that they are related to lower harmonics by multiplication. The 9th harmonic chart, for example, is also the same chart as the 3rd harmonic of the 3rd harmonic (3×3=9). The resonance with ‘ease of eases’ makes the 9th harmonic a chart that can be read to show our ideal spiritual partner, the destiny we are always sliding towards or the spiritual bliss which will bring us ultimate peace. It is that which we are inevitably to become, but the actions we have to take to get there – the journey itself – are not shown, only the immanent destination, a Self we are living through the process of becoming. The 4th harmonic is similarly the 2nd harmonic of the 2nd harmonic (2×2=4, mirroring the creation of the 4 Elements and the Cross of matter by the binary Fluids). The 12th harmonic is the 3rd harmonic of the 4th and the 4th harmonic of the 3rd (3×4) – the result of the combination of the ease and stresses we encounter, in effect our ability to manifest things in concrete reality. The 8th harmonic is the 2nd harmonic of the 4th, and the 4th harmonic of the 2nd (2×4), so it is related to the way that challenges can divide us from ourselves, our attitude when we meet with challenging disagreements or problems, our productivity or output, and has qualities akin to the poles of a magnet. Within these patterns layers of meaning can be identified that help us to comprehend the essential meaning of these unfamiliar harmonics.
The 5th and the 7th harmonics resist this analysis, however, as do other odd numbers. These numbers are indeed stranger than the others, but they represent some of the most important things, especially in magic. The best way to learn about these harmonics is to cast the charts of people whose lives you know well and to study them and compare them to try to perceive the connecting patterns. I have been doing this for about 20 years now, and I’ve arrived at some conclusions which I will share with you.
The 5th harmonic, and thus also the 72°, 144° and 216° aspects, are related to the concept of art and power as well as creative drive and inventiveness, to the essence of our individual style. A strong 5th harmonic chart is the chart of someone who is inspired by or through their own efforts. The 5th harmonic will show how we willfully and intentionally use our own creative power as an art form. This transcends but includes the mundane concept of art and includes every potential activity, from science and politics to the art of looking after puppies or the art of dealing with government forms or intangible entities. It is essentially a harmonic which depicts our consciousness of our own innate magical powers and our capacity to manifest them inventively. In this respect the 5th harmonic can show the kind of magician we will become as a result of genuine training, the magic that draws us towards it. In broader terms, the 5th harmonic shows our capacity to establish our creative power over some area.
In Crowley’s case the 5th harmonic has Pluto (in Sagittarius) rising and draws Neptune into the Saturn/Uranus dynamic of his base chart via an Earth/Water Grand Kite (Saturn/Neptune-Mercury/North Node-Sun-Uranus) with Uranus in Pisces as the focal point and a Fixed/Stable Grand Cross (Mercury-North Node-Chiron-South Node-Venus) connecting to this configuration at Mercury/North Node. The second Grand Kite formed by the South Node in Scorpio is also telling. His willed, creative output is pretty rambling and chaotic and definitely inventive and inspired as befits the Uranus in Pisces focal point (and a Moon in Aquarius). The conjunction of Saturn and Neptune in Virgo in this 5th harmonic is especially striking considering his efforts at systematizing and categorizing so many analogies in 777, and other works which sought to impose an orderly, practical system on magical and mystical philosophy.
As another example, look first at the natal chart of Nikola Tesla:
Where is the incredible genius? Certainly, Uranus in the 1st trine the MC and Pluto rising in Taurus are powerful transformers capable of great invention, but there is very little emphasis being placed upon them other than this, and nothing else really leaps out and makes us think “wow!”. Much more striking than these two planets is the Cardinal/Active Grand Cross involving Sun/Venus-Moon/Mercury/South Node-MC-, but this only accounts for his manner, which was described as polite and soft (Venus and Sun in Cancer, Moon and Mars in Libra – he always made an effort to make a good impression). This chart seems to veil the inventive brilliance of the man we knew, described by many as the most important scientific genius who ever lived. In fact it does veil his inventive brilliance. Take a look at his 5th harmonic:
Note that Pluto has been literally ignited by the Sun, with both in late Virgo (super-science, but he was very perfectionist and so obsessed with bacteria that he used 18 napkins polishing his tableware while calculating the cubic capacity of every meal before eating), and Mars/Uranus have been joined together in Sagittarius and Capricorn to square it.
Here is the explosive creative power. It was occulted in the birth chart by an almost exact 72° aspect between the Sun and Pluto and a close bi-quintile (144°) between Mars and Uranus. The 5th harmonic squares connecting these two conjunctions arise from an 18° aspect between Uranus and Pluto (18° is one quarter of 72°, hence a square) and a 54° aspect between Sun and Uranus (54° is three quarters of 72°, hence also shown as a square) in the base chart. All of this is being aligned with the Pisces MC and Mercury/Chiron in Gemini – an almost mystical search for knowledge and ‘alternate currents’. Venus has arrived at the ascendant, showing great sensitivity to resonance and again emphasising the polite and courteous manner of expression, but also his interest in filming lightning effects, both created by himself and by nature. Biographer Margaret Cheney described these films as “loving and almost erotic”. Venus rising also expresses the colourful and showy displays of electricity dancing over his body and arcing around the room at his demonstrations, the showmanship and artistry of his style.
The 7th harmonic is strong in people who have a strong inclination to fantasize and imagine because it is a chart with resonates with our connection to paradigms and with muses, spirits which inspire humanity on all levels. The affinity we have with these beings is reflected in our 7th harmonic, but much will depend on the clarity of our perception and how aware we are of our own paradigm of reality. A strong 7th harmonic can show both a powerful spiritual or mystical mission or a kind of mirage that we live our lives by. For example, imagine you win the lottery jackpot, and no longer have to work or worry about money ever again. It may take you a while to let that sink in, and for that time you will still think, feel and operate as you did before – not splurging on things and counting the loose change in your pockets, for example. That is your inability to let go of the way you have related to your 7th harmonic chart, its expression needs to be updated to reflect the new paradigm you live by. This can and indeed does happen even without the intervention of a surprise life changing event. It is a naturally occuring situation.
The number 7 is a deeply mysterious and intriguing number, both from an occult and a scientific point of view, and has both elusive and enlightening qualities that go hand in hand. It represents our capacity to receive inspiration as well as to inspire others. Where the 5th harmonic represents a creative output which arises from our own predilections and style the 7th harmonic arrives like poetry on the wind or the curling of flames casting shadows on a wall, sometimes like a bolt of lightning. It is that which we are prone to imagine is real as well as subtle images which our unconscious is resonant with, images which can lead to divine inspiration.
Here is the natal chart of fantasist H.G.Wells, author of The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau, among others:
Knowing that he is a science-fiction writer we are immediately impressed by the Moon in Aquarius in the 1st, the focal point of a T-square pattern involving Venus/Saturn in Scorpio and Pluto in Taurus in opposition. This is pretty apt symbolism for novels about interplanetary war, time travel, animal cruelty, mutation and the problems of being an invisible outcast thanks to weird science. Mars/Uranus in squares to both Neptune and the Nodal axis are also suggestive. Yet when we open this charts 7th harmonic up, these indications are expressed in bold type:
Mars and Pluto are now in an almost exact conjunction in Aquarius and are drawn together with the MC and Uranus in Aquarius (brutal alien invasion from Mars involving red plants and war machines), both are opposite to a dramatic Leo Venus (heat rays), and everything in Aquarius is in a trine with a close Moon/Neptune in Gemini (how descriptive of the aliens being easily killed off by Earth bacteria is this?). The 7th harmonic is showing the muse, the inner imagery and fantasy which led him to put pen to paper (Sun in Virgo in both the natal chart and the 7th harmonic perhaps played a part in its taking this form of expression). The strength of Aquarius in this harmonic not only symbolises sci-fi but also humanitarian concerns and the fact that he was inspired multiple times by an unfettered imagination and inclination to fantasize. This 7th harmonic is extremely fertile and was able to inspire not only one memorable sci-fi fantasy, but many.
Another example, this one with a more spiritual focus, the chart of Mohandas Gandhi:
This chart clearly shows a perceptive mind with deep insight (everything happening in Scorpio) as well as his relationship to authority figures, ‘royalty’ and leaders (Moon in Leo at apex of T-square with Venus/Mars in Scorpio opposite Jupiter/Pluto in Taurus). However, the nonviolent, pacifistic approach, the intensity with which he committed himself to his cause, the extreme suffering he endured through hunger and the spiritual dimension to his life is obscured. Not in the 7th harmonic though!
This chart gets an immediate “wow!” effect. It’s literally overloaded, and the symbolism is very clear. This is a powerful dreamer, someone with an epic mission at the 7th harmonic level. The stunning Grand Cross (involving Mercury/ascendant/Uranus square Venus/Mars/North Node/MC opposite Sun and square Saturn/Pluto/South Node) could hardly be more impressive and includes almost every available planet. The Sun is also drawn into a Fiery Grand Trine with Neptune and Chiron (self sacrifice). Pluto in Pisces, Mercury in Taurus, Mars in Virgo and that Fire Grand Trine are the symbolic representation of his call for passive resistance. The willingness (squares) to encounter suffering and self sacrifice for a profound cause is stamped all over this harmonic.
I want to talk about one more very interesting harmonic before I leave you to let this sink in and perhaps go on to dive deeper, the 9th harmonic. For starters, think about the number 9 for a moment. It is sometimes said to be the most complete number, because it is the last single digit number. It has a strong tradition in magical, religious, superstitious and mythological thinking – Odin hung from the World Tree for 9 days and 9 nights, the Tree of Life is 9 sephiroth suspended from Kether, cats have nine lives, Asian fox spirits have 9 tails, there were nine days to get through in the Greek Eleusinian initiations, etc. The motif of 9 therefore represents a full cycle of initiation, a bringing of something to its final stage, result or completion, and the state of bliss or ultimate fulfillment that arises from this condition. This makes it a profoundly spiritual number connected with our dharma and our enlightenment as well as with a manifestation of the kind of person we will experience a sense of completion with, an ideal marriage partner. If we can find a way to be this person for ourselves then everything else will fall into place effortlessly (3×3). This is different to the actualization of our holistic potential in the 1st harmonic, because the 9th harmonic is about the state of being that we attain when we are just being ourselves without all of the judgment and the need to actually do anything at all. The 9th harmonic is very resonant with the state of empty but boundless being we can attain in meditation and with what naturally arises within and without us when we are truly present in the universe and accepting our place within it. In more mundane terms the 9th harmonic is like an innate pattern which we are destined to always be moving towards, in effect employing our natal chart as a way to bring what is in the 9th harmonic into manifest existence, moment to moment. For this reason when it is strong it is often connected to people who express their ideals very firmly in some way or those who are always working towards something without knowing it. It is also strong in healers, people with a strong humanitarian side and those who concern themselves with making the world a better place for everyone.
Below you can see the chart of Dr Edward Bach who was a homeopath, bacteriologist and spiritual writer who is best known for developing the range of remedies called Bach flower remedies. He developed his remedies using an intuitive approach, basically passing his hands over the plants, after observing how sunlight refracted through dew on flowers.
The most striking features of this chart are the conjunction of Sun, Mercury, Jupiter and Uranus (mostly in Libra) in trines with a conjunction of Neptune (in late Taurus) and Pluto (in early Gemini). A Sun and Mercury square with Chiron also suggests a healer, but one who is using methods that bring challenges because of their lack of conventional logic and their unorthodox nature. Dr. Bachs 9th harmonic, is however, far more descriptive of his medicine:
Probably the first thing to catch the eye is the Venus/Chiron conjunction in Taurus – so much flower power! Yet it is just part of a Grand Kite focused on Pluto in Scorpio (transformative astral magic) and involving Moon/Neptune in Virgo (homeopathic water based tinctures) and a strong Saturn in Capricorn assisted by Mars and Jupiter – the Earthy but transmutative power here is very strong.
Another birth chart (above) and 9th harmonic chart (below), these ones belonging to Martin Luther King, brings his ‘dreamy’ natal Jupiter/Saturn/Neptune Grand trine into sharp focus with Mercury (oratory) while placing Uranus in Taurus (emancipation from bondage and slavery) on the ascendant in a Grand Trine with Jupiter/Neptune and the North Node. Venus, Mars, Saturn and the MC all tie themselves into the triple conjunction of Mercury/Jupiter/Neptune:
I hope that this introduction to this subject has been fun, illuminating and educational, and recommend you add this practice to your toolbox once you are familiar with it. Harmonics drive home the realisation that how we depict or look at a chart determines what we perceive in it. With the birth or base chart, the 1st harmonic, we are looking at the entire structure from the top down, and it is like looking down at the top of a cut diamond from above. But with harmonics we can turn that diamond in our hands and examine how the light catches it from different angles, revealing many more of its previously hidden facets. They also strongly imply that major aspects are only major in the sense that they are bigger and easier to spot, that minor aspects are only minor in the sense that they are micro or very small, hard to spot and work with. They may have little power in isolation, but when collected into constellations they can have as much power as any major aspect pattern.
Excellent article, thank you so much for helping me to understand this hitherto unfathomable topic
My pleasure and thank you!