The Coronavirus Pandemic

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month there can really be only one topic of discussion – the global coronavirus pandemic and its potential consequences.

Rod of Asclepius

This equinox we came to a truly significant crossroads between darkness and light and our choices now will impact the future of everyone and everything for years to come. As I write these words in late March much of the world is under quarantine, lock-down or extreme restrictions as we attempt to blunt the spike of infections by the Covid-19 coronavirus. If we fail individually and collectively to deal with this pandemic not only will many people die or suffer unnecessarily but we will also overwhelm the medical and financial systems we depend upon and enter a protracted period of economic, political and social turmoil that will probably be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. World order is already on the verge of collapse, with consequences for everyone to come.

Many people understand this now, scary as that is to let sink in, but people who have been paying attention to astrology will have been more prepared. What is less widely understood or accepted at this point but which is beginning to grow in our awareness is that this is also an opportunity to change the rules and the attitudes of our societies, the traditions and principles which guide our collective awareness and the way it operates. That change is coming whether we like it or not and we need to be ready to define what the future should be. If we do not make the necessary changes a far greater disaster will inevitably arise in the near future, so it is imperative that we do something to change the path we are all on. I don’t claim to have those answers because they are things that we must discover and agree upon together. My hope is that many of you are using some of your extra time at home to reflect upon what our future together should be like after this crisis passes, as all crises eventually do. Returning to the way things used to be is, I feel, a major failure to learn anything meaningful from this time.

For starters before diving any deeper into this topic I would like to say a few words to those who have already been infected or are infected now, but also for those who may be infected in the future. I understand if you are frightened. This virus has already infected three people within my family and just last night I learned that one of my friends may now be infected. Although I have had no physical contact with these people and am myself in no danger from their condition it is a concern for me at this time. This is a nasty virus even for a young otherwise healthy person to experience, but the majority of people – I have read 80% – recover from it. Know that you will recover from this virus. The will to live and survive is both a powerful defence and a weapon against it. Part of what it feeds on is our fear. If you are sick try not to waste your precious energy on resenting or fearing the fact that you are unwell and just accept it so that you can redirect your energy onto recovery and fighting the infection. Spend whatever time you can on imagining yourself in full health again because it is a mental and emotional instruction to your body to fight.

If you are currently physically well and healthy but are one of the billions who are confined to your homes, either alone or with others, please remember that you must not only guard against physical infection during this pandemic but also the effects of isolation and quarantine on your mental and emotional body. Loneliness has been shown to have a biological effect which weakens your constitution, but loneliness is not alone in this. In truth there are all kinds of mental and emotional conditions which we must guard against in order to stay truly healthy. If you have a daily meditation practice it is currently more important than ever. If you don’t, now would be a good time to start. Additionally make sure you have something to do with your time that is meaningful to you. Try not to let your days become empty. Lastly, while observing the limitation of social distancing, do not underestimate the healing power of community. Learn to give the gift of your full attention to others again in your wireless communications. Reach out from a distance to those who may be feeling more alone or vulnerable than you are. One of the easiest ways to dispel feelings of loneliness and the sense that your day is without meaning is to do something for someone else, and this magic works on them even more. Any reminder of our common humanity in this time is helpful to everyone. It is not the time to assign any blame or to compare one against the other, instead it is a time for compassion and unity. It is my personal view that this nightmare also offers us an opportunity to rewrite the rulebook as I have said, and we should not let that just happen to us, so it is time to communicate together over what the new rules or the emergent new society should be. I repeat that ignoring these questions and hoping to just go back to the way things were, is, in my view, a deeply foolish thing to do that will have even more dire consequences within a short period of time.

Okay with that out of the way if, as any observant astrologer will tell you, it was easy to forecast that something serious and dire would be transpiring at this time (a Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto conjunction in Capricorn was our biggest red alert), then what can astrology say about it now and in the future? This question is magnitudes more complex and difficult to answer. Astrology makes it laughably easy for astrologers to forecast that something global and breathtaking is going to occur as well as when it will emerge and it also makes it somewhat easy to describe its approximate shape and nature, but it makes it much harder to pinpoint exactly what form it will take, where in the world it will apply or how it will impact individual lives. In essence the focus of the camera is blurred to the details – like weather forecasters we can tell with surety that the big swirling shape over there is a giant hurricane, but we can’t tell you exactly where it will hit the coast or where the first drop of rain will fall in an oncoming storm. Some mysteries just protect themselves.

On the question of events which take place and unfold over a period of time, in other words in answering questions like “how long will this last?”, astrology as a tool is somewhere in the middle of making it neither easy nor difficult, just tricky. Part of what makes this tricky is that the things that happen can have consequences that far outlast the actual events, and these shadows can also be part of the ‘many years’ that some patterns indicate. Another thing that makes this question tricky is that in order to answer it the astrologer has to solve a puzzle. The key way in which astrologers answer this kind of question is by identifying the planet or configuration which is symbolic of what is happening and then determining when that influence will abate. A disruption in trade which has its root in a Mercury retrograde and nothing much else going on in the sky at the time will probably end in a few weeks, but one which seems to be connected to an alignment between the slower moving planets like Neptune or Pluto can go on and on for months or even years in some cases. Sometimes it is just planets moving into new signs which initiate things which then unfold for a number of years while that slow-moving planet remains in that sign, but most of the time the things which happen to us on a global scale have their expression in aspects formed between the slowest moving planets, and more often a clustering of them in a short time span. In some cases these patterns can dissolve after only some weeks or a couple of months. In others they will last longer and even reform after discontinuing, possibly more than once (because of retrogradations). This is the kind of pattern we would expect in a pandemic with multiple waves, for example. All patterns ultimately pass, however, just like all things.

In Western astrology these assessments are often called predictions but I prefer forecasts because it puts them in the same bracket as economic or weather forecasts – they are assessments of probabilities, calculations based on solid data and a lot of not so solid interpretation. In short these things are not destined to happen, they are simply likely or reasonable to expect. As I have said many times in my writing, the raw astrological potential is shaped by our intention and our actions as well as by what is necessary or consequential. You behave or respond in a certain way, you reap a certain result. The choices we make now will determine the form that these patterns ultimately lead to. The form the patterns are taking now arise from our previous choices, individual and collective.

In this months message I want to concentrate on the question of identifying the astrological influences which seem to me to be symbolic of this pandemic along with some thoughts on its teaching and meaning. Because the answer to this question is far more complicated than a Saturn/Pluto conjunction, this will be enough information to present for now but I will be making further posts on this topic in the future, probably next month depending on my research and events in our world. In this message I will set out the findings of the research I have been doing, leading into deeper and deeper layers of the astrology behind this pandemic and outlining some of the things and people that are likely to be directly impacted by this crisis as well as offering you a forecast of the path ahead, in both the short term and the long.

Neptune and Mars: Outbreak

We will start with the major background influence. Neptune has been drifting slowly through Pisces for almost a decade now and has about 4 or 5 more years before it reaches Aries for the first time. As modern astrology has held for decades now, Neptune in Pisces carries with it the danger of global pandemics – Neptune is the invisible in all its manifestations, and Pisces resonates with that too (Virgo is tiny microbes and its polarity Pisces is intangible things). Neptune is not only viral (not exclusively, but it is a strong signification) but also any kind of mysterious illness or ailment, and Pisces is connected with transferable infections and things which transmit through water droplets. For these reasons many modern astrologers have been expecting a pandemic in the period between 2011 and 2025.

Covid-19 is that pandemic. It is this generations version (in terms of experience, not virology) of the more individually dangerous 2003/4 SARS coronavirus which infected 29 countries and 8,000 people. About 800 of them died. Those of you who were witnesses may remember that China and Hong Kong were completely at its mercy. Toronto was also at the centre of a serious outbreak, but nothing like today. At that time Neptune was in Aquarius. The SARS outbreak subsided and since 2004 there have been no new cases but it was never considered eliminated, instead it was assumed to exist in an animal reservoir from which it could conceivably re-emerge. In December of 2017 researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, China, published their discovery of a remote cave of bats in Yunnan province where they found a strain of coronavirus with all the genetic building blocks of SARS. Appropriate lessons were not learned from this time, which brings us to todays far more consequential pandemic.

At the beginning of this year, as China and the rest of the world were beginning to wake up to the existence of this outbreak, Mars entered Sagittarius and began approaching a square to Neptune in Pisces. This square symbolised the news of the rapid growth of the pandemic across international borders throughout January, as Mars did not reach the exact square until the end of the month. Once it reached the exact square Italy was declaring a national emergency and the WHO was categorizing the outbreak as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”. This aspect therefore symbolises the rapid spread of the virus and the escalation of paranoia, panic and emergency actions as people began to wake up to the hidden threat.

Additionally, Mercury has been in Pisces since January at this stage, taking a long retrograde tour of the sign. Pisces is a sign that confuses Mercury and clouds clear analysis and thinking. An aggravating issue here has been the co-presence of Neptune which further undermines the sharpness and clarity that Mercury needs. The result of this is an uncertain, confused, chaotic assessment of the situation that could even be described as delusional. We have heard stories of people drinking bleach, avoiding Chinese food, gathering on beaches in rebellious parties, drinking lots of water and claiming that a sauna will kill the virus, among others, and there have been often dangerous claims that this or that will be an effective treatment or that a vaccine is ready or will be very soon, even that the outbreak will miraculously disappear. Critical emails about ventilators were lost in spam folders, tests and other vital products were in short supply and the shipping and travel industry ground to a halt or an extreme crawl (remember also that in the beginning the outbreak involved cruise ships). While Mercury was retrograde the WHO dithered, only declaring a pandemic when Mercury stationed direct on March 9th, effectively ending uncertainty over the seriousness. None of this has been helpful and Mercury will remain in Pisces until April 10th, making a final conjunction with Neptune on April 3rd. It seems we are not out of this ‘wet, fuzzy thinking’ period until mid April, and the first half of April will likely contain further confusion, misinformed opinion and possibly even intentional deception or spin. Once Mercury enters Aries our heads will clear of a lot of this nonsense and thinking will hopefully become drier, crisper and more directly focused on actionable advice. However, Mercury has another powerful partner to dance with in Aries, an extremely important matter which I will come to.

Saturn/Pluto: The Existential Threat

At the same time as all of the above the world experienced the conjunction between Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn. This was the core of the super-villain team up that is the heart of this emergency – the Doctor Doom/Thanos duet, if you like. Saturn/Pluto conjunctions occur once every 35 to 40 years, but what made this one special was that Saturn was in a sign of its rulership and was joined by Jupiter in Capricorn, a sign that is his Fall (a place where he has weak essential dignity) and also the South Node or Dragons Tail (which in mundane astrology tends to stir up bad situations into worse ones). This is an important part of what made the conjunction worse, as Jupiter was unable to provide a silver lining. The symbolism here is of the people and institutions that could provide assistance being unable to do so – essentially, the medical and health care system, industry and the financial institutions – businesses and stocks began a breathtaking decline as cessations in Chinese productivity and pandemic fears closed in on the markets. Thor, the potential hero on the scene, to continue the metaphor, was totally outgunned by Mars, Saturn, Pluto and their backup. In many ways the Fall of Jupiter is a problem of globalization, the placing of all eggs in one collective basket.

Backing up a bit it is important to understand this Saturn-Pluto conjunction in the context of the Saturn-Pluto cycle. Prior to this there was the Saturn-Pluto square of 2009 (Saturn in Libra, Pluto in Capricorn) during which global economic activity was crippled after massive financial bailouts of the banks were made. However this was also the time of the so-called swine flu or H1N1 epidemic. Prior to this there was the Saturn–Pluto opposition of 2001/2 (Saturn in Gemini, Pluto in Sagittarius), the time of the 9-11 attacks which changed the landscape of our lives and also the dot.com financial crisis. Yet, again, this was also the time of the outbreak of ‘foot and mouth’ disease in the UK and the beginning of the SARS virus outbreak mentioned previously. The previous square to this opposition was in 1993 just prior to an epidemic of bubonic plague and pneumonia in India (thankfully quashed) but following the break up of the Soviet Union, while the previous conjunction to the current one was in Libra in 1982 and came to symbolize the outbreak of the HIV epidemic which changed sexual practices forever (it is perhaps hard to believe but going to get tested for STDs was much more shameful before then than it is now). So there can really be no question now that hard Saturn and Pluto interactions like this one are connected with outbreaks of life-threatening diseases that bring threat escalated changes to society. On January 11th 2020, that overdue threat came due with the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto at 22° of Capricorn. On this day the Chinese government announced the first death and a couple of days later the Covid-19 genetic information was published and the first death outside of China occurred in Thailand.

This means that the Saturn/Pluto conjunction is connected to the potential death toll. There is cheering news here as this will be the only exact conjunction that they make out of a potential 3 – although Saturn is now in Aquarius (more on this below) it will retrograde back into Capricorn on July 1st and creep back to within 3° of Pluto before stationing direct on September 28th and then moving into Aquarius full time just before Christmas this year. The end of September seems to be critical because by the end of September Mars will also be in late Aries in a square with Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn. The fact that Saturn does not retrograde all the way back to Pluto for a second conjunction and then a third after turning direct is definitely a reason to feel a little relief. It seems likely that the threat will return in September/October but it will not reach the same intensity (perhaps because of preparedness). However, this news does not mean that the death toll will be small – I think it will actually be very grim – but it seems it wont be as bad as it could be, as serious as all the worst projections.

In fact the Capricorn sign suggests that instead the coronavirus event is simply a precursor to a more destructive financial and political event that will take years and indeed lives to bite through. As regular readers of this journal will know, the first 5 years of this decade have been repeatedly forecast as bringing about the potential for economic Depression and the rise of dictatorships, along with the rapid decline of US hegemony and potentially also the other superpowers. Whatever the outcome of this crisis, nobody in the world is currently looking to Washington for a solution. Election season is looming and questions remain as to whether or not it can take place. Beneath the sudden storm of the pandemic, all the divisions and ruptures in US society remain. The same applies in the UK over Brexit and other situations in the world. The pandemic has just poured accelerant all over these fires, but our attention is currently occupied with dealing with the outbreak. It will eventually return to these issues, and there are likely to be consequences for China.

Saturn is, however, now out of Capricorn and in Aquarius. This takes him temporarily out of the team up in Capricorn but it leads us into new potential problems. The Pluto in Leo people with us are clearly among the most vulnerable over the next two to three year period. Social care of the elderly is more important than ever. Frugality and social distancing have immediately become the new rules, so large gatherings and wastefulness are out. People are using the internet more heavily than ever before. The internet itself is having its first Saturn return, a coming of age. All of this raises a certain concern in the mind of the astrologer – are we about to break the internet? Measures have already been taken to account for the massive demand, but what if this goes on? Whether there are partial or complete collapses, restrictions are placed on our usage or there are no such problems, it seems that in the short term we will all have to be more responsible with our use of time online, and take care that we do not spread ‘bad vibes’ or ‘fake news’. For the next 2 to 3 years we can expect massive investment in and buildup of the structure of the internet, probably involving VR and definitely involving 5G as well as other developments like robotic labour forces, as this pandemic will be used as a justification for robust and powerful changes to the WWW. It has finally arrived in its adult form, and we are now set to see that growth over the coming years. There are also likely to be many new laws regarding the web, further establishment of the internet as an inescapable reality of our lives, and a justifiable increase in fears over surveillance. Prototype quantum computers may arrive. We should in my view push for our privacy to be protected by law and through technology in any way that we can so that the rights of future generations will be protected. Taking the cynical view that the laws will be useless is missing the point Saturn always makes – what matters is not success or failure, what matters is trying. We have Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius squares with Uranus in Taurus to face over 2021-22, and given the financial dark clouds this may also mean a transition to electronic currencies (especially if reports surface that the virus was transmitted via cash). The battle lines over control of a new economic and technological reality seem about to be drawn.

Aside from this Saturn in Aquarius can bring about important scientific and technological developments of all kinds, a potential leap in the trans-human direction, and with all the focused activity on developing vaccines it seems likely that some unintentional discoveries will take place in the medical sciences. Perhaps we will soon discover some of us are immune to this virus. We may be about to understand something new and important about how our world works, something that has a typical Aquarian twist, surprise or innovation to it. Scientific rules in general are due for a major overhaul and revision in this period. Saturn in Aquarius may also herald more determined efforts to spread humanity into space as a consequence of this pandemic. In amongst all of this astrology itself may mature in some way. At the very least, all of the above should help make it clear that Saturn is still in a rulership position in Aquarius and is in no way deposed by Uranus.

In the coming year, Saturn will retrograde back into Capricorn on July 1st, move all the way back to within 3° of Pluto before stationing direct on September 28th, and then leave Capricorn for Aquarius on December 17th. This means that as far as the trouble in Capricorn is concerned, things are already better but that around the beginning of July of this year they will start to look bad again. The fear that is abroad and about us now will make a threat of return, either because the pandemic threat is actually returning or because of the consequences of the current situation, for example we could be looking at a time of severe economic turmoil beginning in that month. Whatever the manifestation turns out to be it is set to continue to worsen until it reaches a peak in September/October. This may well indicate a further shutdown. However, slowly but surely, after October the situation will decrease in threat, but then as I have said in 2021 and 2022 we have to contend with Saturn square Uranus, and so the difficult times stretch on in typical Saturn fashion. This crisis is an endurance marathon, not a sprint.

As far as the next month (April 2020) is concerned we have a very difficult period in the first half during which Mars exits Capricorn and joins with Saturn in Aquarius while both of them are in a square with Uranus, all under a Libra Full Moon. There will probably be some bad news and some freaking out in this period. This is very likely connected to the situation in the United States and the UK where the spread of the virus has not been properly contained. Additionally in this period we have the muddled problems with Mercury in Pisces conjunct Neptune which I mentioned above. So we need to brace ourselves for a rough couple of weeks ahead. The co-presence of Mars and Saturn in Aquarius continues until the middle of May when Mars enters Pisces, which may well be a mercy in the form of isolation being lifted in many territories. However, we have an extremely long period of Venus in Gemini in play which will not change until August, indicating people are going to get a bad case of cabin fever and suggesting isolation may be a feature of life until mid to late summer. Jupiter in Capricorn will be less besieged in the months ahead as a result of the exit of Mars, but once Saturn re-enters the sign his troubles are really beginning again. His conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn has proved to be timed with massive bailouts and relief packages (the last one was 12 years ago).

We could stop here. We have enough of an idea of the astrological picture. Yet that would be a mistake because there are other powerful factors involved , and one of them we ignore now at our peril. I suggested that astrology itself may change during Saturn in Aquarius, and if I were a betting man my money would be on one candidate.

Image is artists impression from Wikipedia

Our Dramatic Introduction to Eris

Bottom line up front: Eris, a planet probably larger than Pluto and only discovered in 2005, has been in late Aries throughout this crisis forming a square with everything in Capricorn. It’s time to accept that she is a thing. I am not the only astrologer pointing this out right now.

I’ve been writing about the astrology of Eris since 2010. In ‘The 26 Keys’ I explained my position at the time:

“Eris is the one who finally overturned the centuries old apple cart of classical astronomy enough to force its revision and a reclassification of the word ‘planet’. She is acting among us as a restorer of the active and dynamic (as opposed to passive) power of the feminine. As the more recently arrived goddess in the solar system she sees the treatment of the feminine in humanity and she is not going to take it lying down like Venus might (and has, in the view of Eris). She also highlights the discord we are creating in the balance of life on the planet. Eris is an initiator into the deeper feminine mysteries and the re-empowerment of the feminine in all of us, the magic beyond the trite ‘who is the fairest of them all’ syndrome it has been bound by. She introduces discord as a measurement of harmony so that any false harmony is revealed. The truth is, we have to get a little bit crazy and break out of our chronic rut of complacency before we are empowered enough to face the challenges of these do-or-die times. So Eris also signifies strife, she brings about discord such as the economic crises we are facing today, but such strife is merely a struggle to introduce something which is not unsustainable or too ossified and orderly.”

Make no mistake, Eris is terrifying – in her darkest forms she has a destructive nature that delights in our wails of despair, she can be devastatingly destructive like any force of nature, but even more so when she is disrespected or provoked, yet she can spur change and destroy things that are violations of good sense or things that are symbols of hubris and arrogance. She has no patience for excuses, she does not bluff, she gives no second chances, she just escalates. She is a celestial wrecking ball and we must come to terms with her on her own terms. To be blunt, this crisis is a blow to the gut that will be followed up with a knock-out punch if we do not let go of the old order and start to focus on a new one, right now. We may well be facing that sooner than we would like.

Eris will be a big issue in the problems of this September and October as she will be present in Aries to square Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn. In addition Mars will be in conjunction with Eris in late Aries, throwing the same squares to Capricorn, and in early October the Moon will join Mars and Eris. This is an extremely tense moment and with events developing so rapidly hour by hour at this point it is very hard to forecast what it signifies. Involvement of a strong Mars in Aries suggests a new threat. It is sobering and humbling as well as horrifying to imagine what would happen were humanity to be suddenly confronted by a new problem this year, such as a volcanic eruption or a major earthquake, or a war. We can all feel our entire civilisation hanging by a thread, vulnerable to all kinds of apocalyptic complications in this time, from the medical to the political and economic, the social and ecological. Eris is really trying to make it clear to us here! We need to wake up! The message is that WE are the discordant notes, not her, and I think Mars is set to help her drive this home come October. Seen from this perspective, Eris is a positive evolutionary force of nature, the inevitable chaos we encounter when we venture far enough out of harmony with the world, a chaos that either removes the problem or forces it onto an entirely new track, for good or ill.

From that point on the latter part of this year leads us out of the current situation very slowly as Jupiter and Saturn move forward into Aquarius and leave Pluto behind, alone in Capricorn. By January 2021 both Jupiter and Saturn are in Aquarius and the new situation involving squares with Uranus in Taurus begins, like a new chapter in the events. It is reasonable to interpret this as meaning that at that time the coronavirus pandemic will have passed, but its consequences will linger and the potential for it to make a return is still there. Saturn in Aquarius (from now until March 2023) could easily signify an endurance test of multiple periods of isolation or social distancing. The big picture with Neptune in Pisces goes on for about another 5 years and during that time other pandemics may emerge, as Neptune can be deceptive and illusory. This crisis may well pass only for us to have to literally rinse and repeat at a later date. Our strategies need to take this into account. And of course, just because Neptune moves into a different sign it does not remove the threat of pandemics, it is more that it describes a general mutation or shift in the viruses. And then, of course, there is Eris and Pluto, who are going to remain in a square until Pluto enters Aquarius in 2023/4. This means that the late degrees of the Cardinal/Active signs are challenged by the Pluto/Eris square for the next 3-4 years. The key strategy with this is to accept the need for radical transformation and even disruption in order to embrace a new order of being, probably without even knowing what that new order of being even looks like. Old rules are being irrevocably shredded in the late degrees of these signs, so it is a place of renewal for anyone brave enough.

It is worth taking a moment here to run these degrees through some significant charts to show how they are each affected:

  • The New York Stock Exchange and the 1801 UK Act of Union have Eris in the latter part of Capricorn.
  • The Euro and the Australian Dollar have Venus in the latter part of Capricorn.
  • The Japanese yen has the Moon rising in the latter part of Capricorn.
  • The USA has Pluto in the latter part of Capricorn (it is having its Pluto return) as well as Chiron in the latter part of Aries.
  • Saudi Arabia has its Sun, Jupiter and Saturn all rising on the ascendant in the latter part of Capricorn.
  • Russia has a chart which is relatively untouched but Saturn conjunct Pluto is on the cusp of the 6th temple, signifying national health-care and the medical workers being directly and seriously hit.
  • Italy has Venus and Saturn in latter parts of Cancer and Jupiter in the latter parts of Libra.
  • Donald Trump has Venus and Saturn in the latter part of Cancer.
  • Vladimir Putin has Mercury, Saturn and Neptune in the latter parts of Libra.
  • Boris Johnson has a Moon in early Scorpio in out of sign squares with Saturn/Pluto and an out of sign opposition with Eris.

In the long run there is also a ticking clock, as by 2048 (when the children being born under the astrology of this crisis are having their first Saturn returns) Eris will enter Taurus, and at that point history strongly suggests that we will no longer have a choice, as I wrote in 2011:

“It has been noted by many astrologers that the 80-100 years of Eris in Taurus has a pattern involving the collapse or destruction of long established civilizations – first with the ending of ancient Egyptian culture under Cleopatra with the arrival of the Romans (the decades prior to and surrounding the switch from BC to 1CE), then with the fall of Western Rome itself (late 5th century through to early 6th), then with the final collapse of the Maya and the beginning of the decline of the Byzantine Empire (late 10th century), followed by the annihilation of the Aztec and other aboriginal cultures and the Fall of Constantinople in the 1500s. Given this pattern and the problems our civilisation faces in the 22nd century, the signs from Eris are that it will at least go into decline and that we must all prepare ourselves and our children for exceptionally difficult times. These times, while carrying notes of great strife, discord and an intercession of the scheduled programme, all serve a purpose, as the history of the pattern shows”.

By engaging now in a conscious co-operation with Eris we can create a new world rather than be eventually forced to rebuild everything.

There is one more layer of the astrology surrounding this pandemic that I would like to draw your attention to, the stars in parans with the outer planets, because not only is this a very powerful part of the picture but they also help us to see why certain territories have been hit longer and harder than others.

A Rising Tide

If you don’t know what parans are they are relationships that can exist between planets (or planets and other objects in the sky) that bind them together. There are four sensitive places in the sky wherever you are on the surface of the Earth – the horizon in the East where objects rise and the horizon in the West where they set, the point above in the sky where they reach the point where they as high as the Sun climbs that day and the opposite point below the Earth where they reach the point that the Sun is when it is at its lowest. When any two objects occupy any of these places at the same time, they are in a paran. This usually lasts only a few minutes, but it characterizes events in that location for each day that it continues to occur, a length of time that is determined by the speed of the faster of the two objects in paran. The Moon for example has parans that last only a single day while Pluto lasts months, however a Moon/Pluto paran will still only last a day. However, fast moving objects like the Moon can quickly reform parans just by moving on two or three signs of the zodiac. In this way, Moon/Pluto parans appear for a day and then reappear a few days later, just slightly differently because the Moon has moved to a new phase and sign.

Parans are ideally suited to working with stars, most of which live off of the ecliptic and so do not really form aspects with planets. By looking at the parans of slow moving planets with the stars in the sky we can see influences which symbolize mundane events. Additionally, we can see clues which indicate where on the planet those events will accrue or manifest. Paran lines always manifest as horizontal rings which circle the globe like the equator, but they gradually move north and south of the equator like oscillating rings between it and the poles. They always come in two pairs of two, two rings which are north of the equator and two rings which are south of the equator. As time passes these two pairs of rings either

A) Move gradually further away from the equator, kind of floating back and forth until they expire as the planet moves away from being in paran with the star or the paran rings reach the poles, at which point they collapse

or

B) Do the opposite, starting near the poles and moving towards the equator.

Visually, then, parans are like dual tides floating in the northern and southern hemispheres. Take a look at this image of the globe, which shows the paran lines for a paran between Pluto and Vindemiatrix (of Virgo) on November 1st 2020:

Notice the position of the yellow rings, this is the paran between Pluto and Vindemiatrix. Notice that it manifests on both sides of the equator in a pair of rings. Notice also that each ring extends directly east and west around the globe. Now compare it to the image below which shows the same paran on April 1, 2020:

Notice that both sets of rings have distanced themselves from the equator, one set going north and another going south. They move like a bobbing level of water, rising and then sinking back but always gradually moving towards the poles. Take a look at the same paran in Dec 2024:

This is just before the outermost rings reach the poles and are nullified. The lowermost rings will follow some time later.

The Light of Vindemiatrix (its astra-mental resonance) expresses the principle of sympathy and antipathy, the flow of attraction and repulsion. It has a power that can both pull things in closer towards and push them farther away from each other. It can both introduce spaces (quarantine) and close them off (borders) at the same time. It teaches us to be sympathetic to one another and other things and also to develop antipathy towards unpleasant and unhealthy ways. The Pluto/Vindemiatrix paran has the qualities of a vortex of energy which sweeps things up into it like a tornado. It is symbolic of major disruptions and natural forces which we cannot control. Because Vindemiatrix is a Virgo star this affects the medical world and behaviour regarding hygiene. Vindemiatrix also means ‘grape gatherer’ indicating it is connected to social gathering and celebration as well as harvesting food.

When we look at the same paran line – Pluto/Vindemiatrix – at the start of this month (March) but instead of looking at it on a globe we look at it on a rectangular world map we begin to see the relevance of what I said about where things manifest (all images on this site enlarge with a mouse click):

You can see that in the more populous northern hemisphere the upper paran line is now passing through Italy, Spain, New York and Chicago. Japan, Greece and southern Europe are also being covered. It is also just north of San Francisco and Iran, which it passed through in February. Mexico and Cuba, Florida, Saudi Arabia, India and northern Africa are bisected by the lower paran of the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa are bisected.

As the month moved on, this paran continued moving towards the poles in both directions. It continues to move towards the poles and the paran does not cease to exist entirely until the late 2030s. The two lines closest to the poles fade out in 2024. Throughout the period 2025 – 2035 the lower paran is still present throughout northern Europe, the UK, Russia and Canada. It is extremely long lived and its long shelf life means that we are dealing with its consequences somewhere in the world for the next 20 years. Its power will ebb and wane, rise and fall, throughout that period. Note that this paran is not necessarily symbolic of the actual coronavirus but instead the presence of ‘out of control’ tornado like situations of some kind. But this paran line is worrying for the current pandemic situation in New York because it is an indication that NYC was being infected at about the same time as Italy was.

Uranus has also been in paran with Hamal, the head of Aries, while Neptune has been in paran with El Nath, one of the long, sharp horns of Taurus. This has lent the situation a thrusting momentum and a puncturing, piercing quality – it is something we have to get out of the way of, like a charge from both of these animals at the same time. Both Hamal and El Nath are connected with the Fluids, Hamal with enlivening them and El Nath with balancing the active and passive forces through the Air Element. It often manifests as acts of nature. Neither paran helps with calming the situation as Uranus/Hamal creates major disruptions, it is pushing, forcing, leaving no choice but the hard and challenging path, honing independence and self sufficiency, crises which call for bravery and collective action on multiple fronts, while Neptune/El Nath brings a sense of hopelessness, loss of control and sacrifice in the face of acts of nature. Eris has also been in paran with Vindemiatrix and El Nath, amplifying the threat.

SUMMARY

The astrological picture is complex but the core is a Mars/Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto stellium in late Capricorn, square to Eris in late Aries. The first half of April heralds bad news and some rash actions, and most places will not be emerging until May at the earliest. Yet starting in July the fearful clouds are gathering again, leading to a new peak of bad news in September/October. After this, the current situation gradually changes into a different one that challenges us throughout 2021 and into 2022. Overall it looks like there is a brief respite from the crisis but either a return to isolation, hard consequences from the period we are in now or a new threat emerging in October. After this there is some kind of battle over what the new rules should be and a period of ‘on again off again’ while Saturn is in Aquarius.

I will be 50 years of age this year. Looking back, it is clear to my mind that this is the most tumultuous time I have witnessed so far. My heart on the other hand tells me there is much more to come. Looking within me, I perceive within my soul two distinct groups of feeling as I reflect on this, one is anxious concern, love and empathy for other human beings in this collective trial, for those helping others and those needing their help, the other is an immense relief for everything that is not part of the human collective, the rivers, clouds, trees and animals, etc. In perceiving these two very different states present in my soul at the same time, I also perceive that there is a way to reconcile them by bringing that sense of relief to the human world. Ultimately, it is not only possible to bring relief to the human collective temporarily in this way but also permanently. So it truly is a crossroads between light and dark this equinox. We are presented with a golden opportunity to change direction. If we do so, we will evaluate this time very differently in the decades and centuries to come.

I truly love you all. I send my love out to surround and protect you, and through this screen it reaches your mind from mine. Together, but apart, we grow stronger. Please remember that staying healthy is more than just being responsible with your physical body. It is also about nurturing your emotional and mental well being, which means thinking positive thoughts and not letting fear get the upper hand in your heart. Be good to one another, and just as good to yourselves. Exercise your power – whether you believe it or not, you have it in a vast supply. Bring it home, send it out into the world where it is most needed, and instruct it to lead us all out of the darkness.

We are in the crucible of transformation, let us push life towards a saner reality for all life.

The Harkening: on Retrograde

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month I have some thoughts about planets in retrograde motion as natal, progressed or transiting influences.

For The Traveller

It is something we are all familiar with – you are planning a holiday, but your car tire blows a week before the trip. After fixing it the flight is then delayed by several hours, leaving you waiting. There is a weird problem with you at customs. Then your luggage is sent to the wrong destination, and you spend the rest of the trip trying to track it down from an overbooked hotel you had to tussle with to get a room – just not the one with a view that you booked. Later you are delayed again on the way back, and something else is wrong with the car when you return. Something like that, anyway.

Or how about this one – they broke your heart, but in the kindest way. You suffered terribly from unrequited love, struggling to keep a friendship alive. Things got easier when they went away. But then they came back and just when you thought you were over it all you find yourself ,more deeply and hopelessly lost than before. Or maybe you were the one who went away, thinking that would solve things. 

If you are nodding your head, you have been touched by the power of a retrograde planet.

For those not encountering this term before, retrograde is an apparent reversal of the normal motion of a planet through the longitude (degrees) of the zodiac. What was moving forward now moves backward. Long, long ago, our ancient ancestors were watching the sky at night where the planets appear like glittering stars, only they observed that these lights were different because they moved, and not only that, sometimes they seemed to stop, reverse direction, then stop and go back again, performing loops and wheels in the sky.

As far back as the Hellenistic era (two thousand years ago), where records of modern western astrology essentially begin, astrologers have a familiarity with retrograde. Texts refer to it as ‘anapodosmos’ (‘walking backward’, but some confusion arises because this was a term also given to descriptions of Mercury, the most frequently retrograding planet) or ‘hupopodizontes’ (‘retracing their steps’). Surviving texts do not tell us much about how it was viewed but there seems to be some flexibility over how to interpret it with a general consensus on basic principles.

In even earlier times they did not have the understanding of planetary orbits that we have, viewing the worlds in the sky as living entities roaming the heavens, and so they could not have realised that these movements were astronomical mirages (this was a secret taught in some advanced Mystery Schools, however), but they could still predict retrograde planets since there is a mathematical way to do so, given enough observation and record keeping, which they were excellent at.

In its easiest to understand form, this mirage – it’s only an apparent reversal of normal motion´- is the same phenomenon that occurs when you are sitting on a fast moving train that passes a slower moving one. Although the slower train is in forward motion, it appears to be moving backwards. With planets, however, the effect is not generated by relative speed but by angular relationships formed from the position of the Sun, Earth and the retrograde planet, and the scale of the orbits involved. It is about trains moving on circular tracks, all arranged as smaller rings within bigger rings. Since the objects in our solar system all orbit the Sun circling in the same direction (counterclockwise when viewed from above the Suns north pole) but are vast distances apart and thus have different orbital periods, it can sometimes happen that as we are looking out they appear to sometimes move backwards through the sky as if reversing their orbit. This can happen with any object orbiting the Sun – the Sun itself and the Moon, which orbits Earth, are never able to retrograde.

It’s also worth noting at this point that the opposite of retrograde is prograde, and that both of these terms refer to whichever direction the object at the centre of the orbit/s is turning (i.e. upon the axis of rotation of the primary physical body in the system). For example, the objects in our solar system all have prograde orbits – they orbit the Sun in the same direction that the Sun itself is rotating on its axis. It’s also worth noting that in our solar system all except two planets have prograde axial rotations (they rotate in the same direction the Sun rotates). The two exceptions are Venus and Uranus, which have retrograde rotations, but still have prograde orbits.

BAD NEWS?

Let’s get this out of the way early, because modern notions of retrograde planets are largely caught up with Mercury retrograde which typically is said to bring unwelcome news, delays and travel jams, and the ancient view is typically negative as well, especially on Mars and Saturn retrograde. Some sources, stemming back to ancient times, state that the nature of the planet itself is important, with Mars and Saturn retrograde being very bad.

Is retrograde in general bad news? No, it isn’t. It very much depends on the circumstances and who you are, and how you feel about the current momentum of things symbolised by that planet. The fact that this momentum is going to reach a halt for some reason and then recheck ground just covered holds the future in a state of suspension, which is generally not welcome, but the real factor here is who or what gets to be postponed, delayed, rendered dormant or discontinued, and who will cop the worst effects of that loss of momentum and the need for revisiting. The effect may just be a temporary one where things resume in the normal manner fairly soon, once the retrograde activity is over, but by then a lot of damage can have been done – plans may have been canceled, major policies reversed, journeys prevented, old flames foolishly reignited by temptation. Or, seemingly impending disasters and tense situations could be averted, dodged, defused, miraculously prevented by a last minute save. Retrograde is a turning back, but a turning back that offers us not just a second but a third chance at things. It also offers us an opportunity to dig deeper into things that matter to us. Retrogrades have a bad rep because typically we only remember the ones that sting. 

So the entire question of whether retrograde is good or bad is problematic because it is so circumstantial. One thing that seems clear to me is that the person to cop it wont normally be the person with that planet in retrograde motion in their natal chart, as they seem to thrive under retrograde transits of that planet, but also to have to make more of an effort during direct motion periods of that planet (i.e. most of the time). It’s like finally things are going their way after long periods of struggle. In this way, slow moving retrograde planets (from Jupiter out) seem to be more problematic than fast moving planets (from Mars in), but ultimately more rewarding as their payoff for sustained effort is bigger when it comes due. I say now to those people as someone born under Saturn retrograde – don’t give up! Just learn the right timing for when things will go more the way you want them to, and at a much quicker pace, and when the wind is blowing in the other direction again push even harder into it towards the next shift when things will swing your way again. Just learning this rhythm and accepting it will take you a long way.

The better question with a clearer answer than ‘is it bad news?’, then, is if it can be used pro-actively, and the answer to that is a definite yes, and it’s where we will focus on here. First, we need to have some understanding of the various stages of a retrograde, as it is not a single event but an extended period, and each part of the period has a different significance and potential. This means it is best for us to start with looking at transiting retrograde planets (and by inference progressed ones), so we can understand a natal retrograde planet in the context of this period.

RETROGRADE TRANSITS

As stated above all planets in the solar system can go retrograde in the zodiac, only the Lights cannot  (or, as my mum often said, “life goes ever on”). They will all do so on a fairly regular basis, and sometimes there can be a number of retrograde planets at the same time. Mercury and Venus if retrograde will be relatively near to the position of the Sun (but can also be in direct motion while conjunct the Sun, it depends on whether they are on the far side or near side of the Sun relative to Earth), while the other planets will be retrograde when they are relatively near to an opposition with the Sun (and not when they are near to it). This means that Mercury and Venus can sometimes be retrograde as well as combust, under the sunbeams or cazimi, but the other planets cannot ever be both. This also means that if you know the zodiac position of the Sun and the other planets in the solar system you can often work out roughly when the retrograde periods are going to be for that year, but Venus and especially Mercury are trickier, and the further out a planet is from the Sun the longer its retrograde periods last (meaning they can be a few signs away from an exact opposition with the Sun, so it really is a rough rule).

Our calendar does not measure celestial cycles well, but in general:

  • Mercury has 3 retrograde periods per year. They are spread about 4 months apart and last about 3 weeks each.
  • Venus has 1 retrograde per year. They are spread about 7 months apart and last about 6 weeks each.
  • Mars has one retrograde every 2 years (plus a month or two) and they last 8-12 weeks.
  • Jupiter has one retrograde per year lasting 4 months.
  • Saturn has one retrograde per year lasting 4 and a half months.
  • Chiron has one retrograde per year lasting 5 months.
  • Uranus has one retrograde per year lasting 7 months.
  • Neptune has one retrograde per year lasting 5 months.
  • Pluto has one retrograde per year lasting 5 months.

Because planetary orbits are not perfect circles but instead elliptical they can be close (at one of the sides of the ellipse) or far away from the Sun (at one of the sharper curves at the ends). This accounts for why Neptune and Pluto currently have a shorter retrograde period than Uranus even though they are further away from the Sun in terms of orbital position. The length of the retrograde period of these planets can change from those I have given but these figures are good for a few decades from now.

There are also very interesting patterns to these retrograde patterns in terms of their appearance in zodiac signs. These patterns are sometimes disrupted by things like when retrogrades occur at the boundary (beginning or the end) of a particular zodiac sign, but they are still continuing in the same way, these are just anomalies that arise during special transitional periods, and they serve to give extra emphasis to something:

Mercury retrogrades appear in clusters following a sequence of the Elements in the order of Fire, Water, Air, Earth. Each of the 4 Elements will normally have at least one Mercury retrograde in each of its 3 signs, with some signs often receiving more than one retrograde, before the Mercury retrograde sequence moves on to the next Element. For example in 2020 we are in the period where Mercury will turn retrograde while in each of the 3 Water signs. In 2021, he will retrograde in each of the three Air signs, and so on, following the order of the Elements given above. However in 2022 he will repeat the Air signs before moving on to Earth.

Venus is all over the place in terms of the Elements (she is not, she is actually following a grander beat but is still visibly following a pattern through the modes of Cardinal/Active, Fixed/Stable and Mutable/Reactive signs. This year for example her retrograde is in the Mutable/Reactive Air sign of Gemini, next time it will be in the Cardinal/Active Earth sign Capricorn. This pattern is strongly affected by irregularities like those from sign boundaries as explained above.

Mars retrogrades in a steady march through all 12 zodiac signs, but he sometimes skips over one or even two impatiently. For example this year he will retrograde in Aries but next time instead of retrograding in Taurus he will retrograde in Gemini instead and then he will skip Cancer as well and retrograde in Leo before returning to the order and continuing with Virgo, Libra and Scorpio. Then he will skip Sagittarius and retrograde next in Capricorn, then he will skip Aquarius and do it with Pisces, then he will skip two signs and retrograde in Gemini. Basically he does what he wants, but he has to keep going forwards.

Jupiter retrogrades like Mars, in zodiacal order with sometimes a skip of a sign, but not so rushed that he skips two. It’s worth noting that with Jupiter the steadier pattern also follows a march of being in a different Element, visiting each of the Four Elements in turn like Mercury, but again he sometimes breaks the pattern. For example this year Jupiter will retrograde in the Earth sign of Capricorn, the next time he will retrograde in the Water sign Pisces, then in the Fire sign Aries and then the Earth sign Taurus again before retrograding in an Air sign, Gemini. Unlike Mercury however he generally follows the zodiacal order of the Elements – Fire, Earth, Air, Water. When he skips an Element he always then just continues with it wherever he lands, so if after an Earth sign he skips an Air sign and retrogrades instead in a Water sign, the next time he will retrograde in Fire. Mars does not have this attunement to following the Elements in turn, as he breaks the pattern of following the zodiac more often.

Saturn also proceeds in an orderly fashion through the zodiac, but he never skips a sign. Instead he sometimes lingers in one for an extra long visit before moving on to the next sign.

Chiron retrogrades also proceed in an orderly fashion through the zodiac, but because Chiron has great eccentricities in its orbit it lingers in some signs for longer than in others, which means retrogrades in those signs occur more often and over longer periods of time. For example he is currently in Aries and over the course of his remaining time there he will retrograde 6 times, once a year until 2026, but he will then move onto Taurus and retrograde slightly less often in each of the following signs until he eventually reaches Scorpio where he will only go retrograde once. Things will then start to pick up again in terms of the number of retrogrades in a sign.

Uranus gives 6 sometimes 7 retrogrades for each sign, gradually marching through the zodiac in order.

Neptune gives 12 sometimes 13 retrogrades for each sign, gradually marching through the zodiac in order.

Pluto has eccentricities in its orbit similar to Chiron and so spends a varying amount of time in the different signs as I’ve explained in a previous article – he lingers for an extremely long time in Aries, Taurus and Gemini (about 30 years each) but zips through Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius (only about a dozen each). He is currently on an ascending scale which will peak when he enters Taurus. This sign will see him perform 32 retrogrades (this period starts in 2095 and marks the transition into the 22nd century), while Scorpio will only get a casual 12 (but they will be mega-intense due to the affinity between Scorpio and Pluto). Some signs just need more retrograding over than others in his eyes. This fact allows us to pick out areas in history which are intensively transformative, such as the transition into the 22nd century mentioned above.

As can hopefully be seen, observance of these retrograde patterns may have given the visible planets some of their ancient identification with deities and their traits. Mars is willful and Saturn is slow and orderly but sometimes extra strict, and so on. Also note that after Jupiter, the planets are strictly tied to retrograding in arcs that follow the zodiac signs. This is a manifestation of the order imposed by Saturn. 

image from wikimedia commons showing how Mars appears to move retrograde.

LIFE OF A RETROGRADE

A situation in which a planet is going to retrograde will be composed of two stations, points at which it appears to be stationary in the sky from one night to the next before changing directions, and these two stations generate five phases for that retrograde.

In the course of the retrograde cycle the prograde planet will first begin to steeply slow down as it approaches its first station, whereupon as I said it will appear to be motionless, after which it will reverse direction and become retrograde. This motion will generally be slow, but it will grow even slower as the planet approaches the second station. At that point it will be motionless again, and then it will turn direct and begin its prograde motion once more. Thus, the two stations are points of vast energies held in abeyance, similar to the energy in a pendulum when it reaches the extreme end of its arc and swings backwards, but involving planetary scale momentum.

The five phases are formed from these two stations and the two mirrors of those points in which the prograde motion encounters them. For example if Mars goes retrograde at 15° Virgo and then turns direct when he has retreated to 26° of Leo, then the two stations are 26° of Leo and 15° of Virgo, and the two other important parts in the cycle are when Mars first passes 26° of Leo in direct motion before the first station, and then when he passes 15° of Virgo in direct motion after the second:

Example Using Mars

  • Phase One: Begins when it enters the arc in direct motion at 26° Leo
  • Phase Two: Stations and turns retrograde at 15° Virgo
  • Phase Three: Travels in retrograde motion back through the arc.
  • Phase Four: Stations and resumes direct motion at 26° Leo
  • Phase Five: Continues until it leaves the arc at 15° Virgo

Phases 2 and 4 (the stations) are short events that last only a day or two, while the remaining phases have varying lengths measured in days, weeks or months, depending on the planet.

This delineates an area of the zodiac which will be highlighted by the retrograde movement, in the example above with Mars an area between 26° of Leo and 15° of Virgo. In my practice I think of this area as “the arc of harkening”, a zone which harkens us to revisit it, to consider it again, intensifying its significance by more deeply etching it into our lives or forcing us to look at it very deeply. During any planets individual orbit around the Sun the degrees of the zodiac which it will harken us back to will be different to the degrees it harkened us back to during its previous orbit. In this way we can see the individuality that each planets orbit around the Sun has through how it brings a stronger emphasis to certain degrees of the zodiac.

The phases each have a slightly different significance.

When the planet first enters the arc of the harkening (i.e. when it first crosses the stationary point at which it will later finish retrograde motion and turn direct), we can justifiably consider this as the beginning of the slowdown period approaching the first station, but a more accurate view is that whatever occurs or emerges from the planet at this time will become something we are drawn back to at a later point.

As a planet moves further into the arc it decelerates rapidly, much like the way a pendulum decelerates as it approaches the zenith of its swing. The energy within the planet is gradually being held in abeyance, away from motion and towards suspension.

When a planet reaches its first station (the point at which it turns retrograde), all of its energy is in abeyance, but has reached the point at which it has to now expend that energy by swinging backwards. It is the point of realisation that we can no longer proceed as we have been, but must now revisit things before we can move forwards again.

The retrograde period that follows is a revisiting of those things. It is an expenditure of pent-up energy. The retrograde planet is now in the business of underlining things, giving them emphasis and raising their importance. There is also a feeling of familiarity in this stage as the planet is revisiting places it has recently passed through.

Yet at some point in this process a realisation is made, which is that things have to go forward again somehow. The energies begin to be held in abeyance again as we realise there is only so much that can be undone or redone, that we have to accept the consequences of prior actions before we can move forward. These are the characteristics of the second station, the point at which the planet will begin to move in direct motion again.

Now the energy of the direct motion is different to the previous two times it has revisited the degrees of the arc, because this time it is deeply familiar with them and is trying to finish up whatever it has had to redo or revisit. This process will lead towards a resolution and a true moving on which occurs at the fifth phase, when the planet passes over the degree at which it turned retrograde and leaves it behind. This part of the cycle has the significance of tying things up and bringing them to some kind of closure, even if it is not completely satisfying.

Simply put, we experience all this in the following way:

  • From entering the arc to the retrograde station: the planets lessons are placed before us. The situation is set up.
  • From station to station in retrograde motion: the lessons are reviewed or revised. The delays or returns become unavoidably apparent.
  • From station to station in direct motion, to leaving the arc: the final tests are presented to see if we have mastered the lessons.

NASA imagery showing the dancing path of Mars retrograde in 2014 and 2016

In the case of very slow moving objects (Chiron, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto) an entire year can pass and then the retrograde happens again further along in the zodiac but not so far along that some degrees also fall within the arc of harkening again, receiving two further visits by the planet for a total of 5 activations of that degree over the course of a year. These degrees, sitting in the overlap between two successive arcs, receive an even more intense emphasis. This and indeed all the degrees emphasised by retrograde motion during a planets orbit are significant in evocation magic, but that is not the topic for this post.

Note also regarding phase 3 that for Mercury and Venus the point at which they are retrograde and precisely conjunct the Sun (i.e. cazimi) is the heart of the retrograde movement, while for other planets it is always the exact opposition with the Sun that is at the centre of the retrograde movement. We can also include the mirrors of that degree in phases 1 and 5. For example, if in the above example the exact opposition between the Sun and Mars will occur at 4° of Virgo, then that degree will become a sensitive point in phases 1, 3 and 5. This will relate to the crux of the matters at hand. Another important consideration that often causes matters of that retrograde cycle to become clear is a parallel or contra-parellel between the Sun and the retrograde planet.

A key word here for the entire cycle is concentration. At the stations when planetary motion is held in abeyance its energy is not gone, it is instead having its direction refocused and concentrated on that process. Concentration is also a keyword for the zone of harkening itself because we need to concentrate on whatever is emerging as we initially enter it so that when events transpire to bring it back to our attention we have not forgotten what we have already learned, and in the final pass we have to concentrate on getting everything right this time. Retrograde planets are therefore about training our attention through concentration and redirecting and reorienting ourselves.

An important point and a practical one to keep in mind here is that the concentration of these energies away from motion at the stations does not banish them, nor does the slowing make them ineffective, it just changes the path to manifestation. Even though you cannot see the pendulum moving any more, its astral state is still in motion and filled with the energy that will force it to return to movement. So the reality is that at the stations a planets power is not gone, it is instead withdrawn from making measurable progress with its agenda and instead invested in redirecting its energy, and in human terms this equates with our internal conviction with redefining and improving ourselves. Saturn in direct motion and at normal speed is a builder. Saturn retrograde is an architect. Venus direct is more likely to be looking for a lover, while Venus retrograde might be seeking a muse. Yet at some point as I have said stationary energy will be forced to return to movement, which means that the internal experience of these people as they work at improving themselves must eventually seek an external focus again. In some cases this may take more than a single lifetime. This is indicated in astrology by that planet always being in a retrograde state by progression, but it is not 100% the case.

RETROGRADE PROGRESSIONS

As I’ve indicated above, these can be very informative and important. If a planet in your natal chart is retrograde, then the time in your life when it turns direct by progression (if any) will signify a major turning point in your relationship with that planet. Similarly if a planet that is direct in your natal chart turns retrograde by progression, that too will be an important turning point. The stations of progressed planets are significant.

If you live part of your life with a planet in retrograde by progression, then that part of your life is about deeply intenalising your experience with that planet and probably involves revisiting something connected to your history with it, and any stations by progressions will be very intense moments with that planet. Those degrees of the zodiac that lie within the harkening of progressed planets can be during and forever after seeded with the events that are planted there, they may flower and bloom again when later transits or other progressions occur there. It may be something you have experienced in this lifetime but it may not and may instead be something from a former incarnation. After events are still fresh following a traumatic retrograde progression, for example, the need to process and continually review the events can become unconsciously conducted by the Moon, leading to the formation of habits and an inability to easily let things go. They then come back like hauntings every month when the transiting Moon passes through the harkening of the traumatic progression. More powerful hauntings then occur when other planets move through that area. If we face these things and work through it these hauntings become healings that eventually allow us to finally move onward with greater power and experience. Our mastery of the progressed planets retrograde lessons then becomes something that can truly help others.

One more important note about progressions in retrograde is that sometimes this means a progressed planet will move into a new sign by progression and then go back into the previous sign, probably the natal sign. This can happen with the temples and their cusps as well. For example you may have Mercury in Aries progress into Taurus. Your natural direct and pushy way of thinking about things may then slow down. Perhaps you learn something here about proceeding with caution after several encounters with a lack of preparedness. But then a couple of years later your progressed Mercury starts really slowing down and then stations and goes retrograde, fleeing all the way back into the familiar safety of Aries. However, as it comes to station in Aries and then turn to direct motion again, you finally learn what you need to about your Mercury and how to integrate it with the new way of thinking that progressed Mercury in Taurus brings, just as Mercury progresses into Taurus again. This is level up time for your Mercury, which was once just Mercury in Aries but is now Mercury in Aries with a practical and realizable plan, or maybe just some new ideas.

When you combine all of this with the progressed Moon phase as outlined in The 26 Keys, you can gain a very detailed and powerful guide to the lessons that the soul has chosen deeper initiation into and the degrees of the zodiac which correspond to those lessons, as well as the times in your life when those lessons will be presented. Transits also offer these insights, but compared to progressions these are much less personal and specific and are more to do with how we adapt to our environment as a result of experiences rather than how we ourselves go through internal character shifts as a result of our experience. A planet that goes retrograde by transit over a part of the natal chart offers us an extended period in which to explore a particular experience we are having at that time and the relationship we have with those planets, while a planet that goes retrograde by progression over a part of the natal chart indicates an inevitable evolution of our character, often manifesting as an internal dialog that causes changes to our environment rather than the other way around.

Illustration by Kepler of Mars retrograde cycles

NATAL RETROGRADE PLANETS

Now that we understand transiting and progressed retrograde planets it’s much easier for us to extrapolate the information and apply it to our natal retrograde planets. A natal retro planet is not just retrograde, it is either at or near one of the stations and also in one of the phases that I have outlined. As far as the initial and final stages are concerned, the stages where the planet is in direct motion but either slowing down or moving slowly and picking up speed, you will have to check the ephemeris to see if any of your natal planets were recently or would soon be retrograde in order to identify them as being in a part of a retrograde cycle. Once you have identified for yourself where a planet lies in the arc of the retrograde you can combine this with its sign and planetary qualities and its temple and aspects to arrive at your interpretation.

Generally we seek to externalise our experience and connection to the planets – with Mercury, we go out and enrol in coarses, browse libraries, talk to people. With Venus, we seek to relate to others and to be affected by art, etc. With retrograde planets, this default externalisation of a planets energy is reversed and we instead internalise it, seeking it within us rather than in the external. We are more committed to grasping that planet within us than with doing something out there with it. Consequently, the looking within turns us into a magnetic attractor for that planets energy and it begins to concentrate itself around us. Eventually, we can throb with its power. 

The key thing I would say that will help you the most of all is understanding what I have said earlier about things going much more easily your way once the planet that is retrograde in your birth chart goes retrograde by transit. As I have said, this will happen regularly – 3 times a year for Mercury, 1 or 2 for Venus, once for everything else, but slower moving planets will stay retrograde for much longer. Learn this tidal rhythm and build your activities and agenda with the retrograde planet around it. Below I offer some guidance on the potential of retrograde planets in a natal chart, but they are also useful for transits or progressions.

Mercury retrograde
Reassessment of options, rewrites, reversals of trade agreements or decline of stocks, editing, feedback in communication studies, revision, deeper topical study, return to the scene, analysis of clues, undoing errors in calculations, understanding news cycles, revisiting choices, developing social media profiles, creating backups of data, mental and intellectual development. Internalising the connection with Mercury.

Venus retrograde
That old feeling comes back, understanding repeating patterns in relationships, gaining closure in relationships, deep study of an art form, reigniting old flames, overcoming temptations, exploring sex appeal and the sexual urge to be conquered, clearing emotional blockages, making peace with bad feelings, all kinds of emotional development. Internalising the connection with Venus. 
.
Mars retrograde
The army tactically retreats, lessening of tension, abatement of conflict, truces and pauses in battles, definition of individual difference, laying down of swords, reconsideration of rash action, strengthening of the willpower, male bonding ritual, marathon or endurance based athletic activity, fitness routines, mastery of desires and the sexual urge to conquer. Internalising the connection with Mars. 

Jupiter retrograde
The momentum of belief falters and considers its integrity, probing of truth and assumptions, deepening of faith and virtue, pruning of exaggerations, assessment of our fortunes, philosophical or religious studies, examination of growth potentials, consolidation of gains, reviewing of spiritual doctrines, all kinds of development of the awareness of natural spiritual laws. Internalising the connection with Jupiter.

Saturn retrograde
The rules are redesigned, stretching of resources, tightening of schedules or plans, dealing with authority figures or institutions with official status, understanding our limitations, developing self-discipline and patience, increasing concentration, assessment of resources, re-evaluation of failure, rethink of major goals, drafting of boundaries, comprehension of karma, mastery of the most challenging lessons of the physical plane. Internalising the connection with Saturn.

Chiron retrograde
Physician heal thyself, creation of concentrated healing, retracing steps through the wilderness, extended repair work or renovation, deep studies of nature and its medicine, the healing of wounds and scar tissue, emphasising a particular teaching or lesson, feeling the pain that has been denied expression. Internalising the connection with Chiron.

Uranus retrograde
Adapting to outcomes that are twisting and uncertain, finally breaking free of something, learning that true freedom comes from within, instilling rebellions, overcoming contrariness, facing the chaos in your life, connecting with old groups or networks, developing a collective, exploring advanced or abstract metaphysical matters (for example kabbalah), catching up with the technology curve, understanding how we stand out and/or fit in. Internalising the connection with Uranus.

Neptune retrograde
The deception or the enlightenment?, assessment of the visions which guide us, deep contact with a muse, keeping a dream journal, psychotherapy, decryption or encryption via symbols, exploration of a mystery, training of psychic faculties, working through denial and delusion, deepening all kinds of meditation practice (especially trance states), connecting empathetically with anything, mysticism, drug rehabilitation, development of relationship with spirit world, all kinds of transcendence. Internalising the connection with Neptune.

Pluto retrograde
Rituals of rebirth, intense transformative magic, acceptance of both mortality and immortality, uncovering buried treasure (archaeological digs, psychic excavations), exposing corruption or criminal activity, grieving and burial rites, deep tissue regeneration, facing compulsive behaviour, dealing with the self destruct button, building an immune system, clearing out and recycling, cleansing of toxicity, deep letting go, reclaiming of power, understanding the multiplication power of decomposition and death, any kind of occult work. Internalising the connection with Pluto.

Retrograde cyles over time form beautiful geometrically balanced mandalas

RETROGRADES OF THE NEXT 5 YEARS

To finish with here are the details for all the retrogrades that will take place over the next five years. R is stationary and turning retrograde, D is stationary and turning direct. Dates use GMT and may push the event into an adjacent calendar day based on your time zone, but this will be uncommon.

Mercury retrograde 2020 – 2025
At the time of writing (February 2020) Mercury is retrograde in Pisces and will move all the way back to 28° of Aquarius before turning direct again on March 10th. This is coinciding with travel plans and trading all being affected by the Covid 19 outbreak and quarantines. After this, the next Mercury retrogrades are as follows:

2020: Water retrogrades (as of today)
R Jun 18 2020 14°Cn45′ (Leaves arc: July 26)
D Jul 12 2020 05°Cn29′ (First enters arc: June 2)
R Oct 14 2020 11°Sc40′ (Leaves arc: November 19)
D Nov 3 2020 25°Li53′ (First enters arc: September 23)

2021: Air retrogrades
R Jan 30 2021 26°Aq29′ (Leaves arc: March 13)
D Feb 21 2021 11°Aq01′ (First enters arc: January 15)
R May 29 2021 24°Ge43′ (Leaves arc: July 7)
D Jun 22 2021 16°Ge07′ (First enters arc: May 15)
R Sep 27 2021 25°Li28′ (Leaves arc: November 3)
D Oct 18 2021 10°Li07′ (First enters arc: September 6)

2022; Air retrogrades
R Jan 14 2022 10°Aq20′ (Leaves arc: February 24th)
D Feb 4 2022 24°Cp22′ (First enters arc: December 29, 2021)
R May 10 2022 04°Ge51′ (Leaves arc: June 19)
D Jun 3 2022 26°Ta05′ (First enters arc: April 26)
R Sep 10 2022 08°Li55′ (Leaves arc: October 17)
D Oct 2 2022 24°Vi11′ (First enters arc: August 20)

2023: Earth retrogrades
R Dec 29 2022 24°Cp21′ (Leaves arc: February 7, 2023)
D Jan 18 2023 08°Cp08′ (First enters arc: December 12, 2022)
R Apr 21 2023 15°Ta37′ (Leaves arc: May 31)
D May 15 2023 05°Ta50′ (First enters arc: April 7)
R Aug 23 2023 21°Vi51′ (Leaves arc: September 30)
D Sep 15 2023 08°Vi00′ (First enters arc: August 4)

2024: Earth/Fire retrogrades
R Dec 13 2023 08°Cp29′ (Leaves arc: January 21, 2024)
D Jan 2 2024 22°Sg10′ (First enters arc: November 25, 2023)
R Apr 1 2024 27°Ar13′ (Leaves arc: May 13)
D Apr 25 2024 15°Ar58′ (First enters arc: March 19)
R Aug 5 2024 04°Vi06′ (Leaves arc: September 12)
D Aug 28 2024 21°Le24′ (First enters arc: July 17)
R Nov 26 2024 22°Sg40′ (Leaves arc: January 3, 2025)
D Dec 15 2024 06°Sg23′ (First enters arc: November 7)

Venus retrograde 2020 – 2025
Venus gives us one station retrograde in Gemini, one in Capricorn and one in Leo:

R May 13 2020 21°Ge50′ (Leaves arc: July 29)
D Jun 25 2020 05°Ge20′ (First enters arc: April 10)
R Dec 19 2021 26°Cp29′ (Leaves arc: March 2, 2022)
D Jan 29 2022 11°Cp04′ (First enters arc: November 17, 2021)
R Jul 23 2023 28°Le36′ (Leaves arc: October 7)
D Sep 4 2023 12°Le12′ (First enters arc: June 19)

After these, the next is in March 2025 at Aries 10°

Mars retrograde 2020 – 2025
Mars will station retrograde three times, once in Aries, missing out Taurus (probably a relief for all of us, given the transit of Uranus through Taurus), then once in Gemini and once in Leo:

R Sep 9 2020 28°Ar08′ (Leaves arc: January 2, 2021)
D Nov 14 2020 15°Ar13′ (First enters arc: July 25, 2020)
R Oct 30 2022 25°Ge36′ (Leaves arc: March 16, 2023)
D Jan 12 2023 08°Ge07′ (First enters arc: September 4)
R Dec 6 2024 06°Le10′ (Leaves arc: May 2, 2025)
D Feb 24 2025 17°Cn00′ (First enters arc: October 5, 2024)

Jupiter retrograde 2020 – 2025
The 5 Jupiter station retrogrades move from Capricorn to Gemini but skip Aquarius and are as follows:

R May 14 2020 27°Cp14′ (Leaves arc: December 6, 2020)
D Sep 13 2020 17°Cp24′ (First enters arc: February 19, 2020)
R Jun 20 2021 02°Pi11′ (Leaves arc: January 9, 2022)
D Oct 18 2021 22°Aq19′ (First enters arc: March 27, 2021)
R Jul 28 2022 08°Ar43′ (Leaves arc: February 14, 2023)
D Nov 23 2022 28°Pi47′ (First enters arc: May 5, 2022)
R Sep 4 2023 15°Ta34′ (Leaves arc: March 23, 2024)
D Dec 31 2023 05°Ta34′ (First enters arc: June 11, 2023)
R Oct 9 2024 21°Ge20′ (Leaves arc: April 30, 2025)
D Feb 4 2025 11°Ge16′ (First enters arc: July 15, 2024)

Saturn retrograde 2020 – 2025
Saturn stations retrograde 3 times in Aquarius and twice in Pisces, beginning in May or June:

R May 11 2020 01°Aq57′ (Leaves arc: January 4, 2021)
D Sep 29 2020 25°Cp20′ (First enters arc: February 3, 2020)
R May 23 2021 13°Aq31′ (Leaves arc: January 15, 2022)
D Oct 11 2021 06°Aq52′ (First enters arc: February 14, 2021)
R Jun 4 2022 25°Aq15′ (Leaves arc: January 27, 2023)
D Oct 23 2022 18°Aq35′ (First enters arc: February 27, 2022)
R Jun 17 2023 07°Pi12′ (Leaves arc: February 7 2024)
D Nov 4 2023 00°Pi30′ (First enters arc: March 12, 2023)
R Jun 29 2024 19°Pi25′ (Leaves arc: February 18, 2025)
D Nov 15 2024 12°Pi41′ (First enters arc: March 24, 2024)

Chiron retrograde 2020 – 2025
Chiron stations retrograde five times in Aries, always beginning in July:

R Jul 11 2020 09°Ar26′ (Leaves arc: April 8, 2021)
D Dec 15 2020 04°Ar56′ (First enters arc: March 18, 2020)
R Jul 15 2021 12°Ar55′ (Leaves arc: April 12, 2022)
D Dec 19 2021 08°Ar26′ (First enters arc: March 22, 2021)
R Jul 19 2022 16°Ar26′ (Leaves arc: April 15, 2023)
D Dec 23 2022 11°Ar56′ (First enters arc: May 28, 2021)
R Jul 23 2023 19°Ar57′ (Leaves arc: April 18, 2024)
D Dec 27 2023 15°Ar27′ (First enters arc: June 1, 2022)
R Jul 26 2024 23°Ar32′ (Leaves arc: April 22, 2025)
D Dec 29 2024 19°Ar00′ (First enters arc: June 5, 2023)

Uranus retrograde 2020 – 2025
Uranus will station retrograde five times in Taurus, mostly beginning in mid to late August.

R Aug 15 2020 10°Ta41′ (Leaves arc: May 1, 2021)
D Jan 14 2021 06°Ta43′ (First enters arc: April 28, 2020)
R Aug 20 2021 14°Ta47′ (Leaves arc: May 5, 2022)
D Jan 18 2022 10°Ta49′ (First enters arc: May 3, 2021)
R Aug 24 2022 18°Ta55′ (Leaves arc: May 9, 2023)
D Jan 22 2023 14°Ta56′ (First enters arc: May 8, 2022)
R Aug 29 2023 23°Ta04′ (Leaves arc: May 13, 2024)
D Jan 27 2024 19°Ta05′ (First enters arc: May 12, 2023)
R Sep 1 2024 27°Ta15′ (Leaves arc: May 17, 2025)
D Jan 30 2025 23°Ta15′ (First enters arc: May 16, 2024)

Neptune retrograde 2020 – 2025
Neptune will station retrograde five times in late Pisces beginning in late June until the last retrograde which you will occur in early July.

R Jun 23 2020 20°Pi57′ (Leaves arc: March 19, 2021)
D Nov 29 2020 18°Pi09′ (First enters arc: May 6, 2019)
R Jun 25 2021 23°Pi11′ (Leaves arc: March 22, 2022)
D Dec 1 2021 20°Pi24′ (First enters arc: May 9, 2020)
R Jun 28 2022 25°Pi26′ (Leaves arc: March 24, 2023)
D Dec 4 2022 22°Pi38′ (First enters arc: March 7, 2022)
R Jun 30 2023 27°Pi41′ (Leaves arc: March 26, 2024)
D Dec 6 2023 24°Pi53′ (First enters arc: May 14, 2022)
R Jul 2 2024 29°Pi55′ (Leaves arc: March 28, 2025)
D Dec 8 2024 27°Pi07′ (First enters arc: May 16, 2023)

Pluto retrograde 2020 – 2025
Pluto will station retrograde in April/May four times in Capricorn before making his first retrograde in Aquarius:

R Apr 25 2020 24°Cp59′ (Leaves arc: January 25, 2021)
D Oct 4 2020 22°Cp29′ (First enters arc: March 3, 2019)
R Apr 27 2021 26°Cp48′ (Leaves arc:January 27, 2022)
D Oct 6 2021 24°Cp18′ (First enters arc: March 3, 2020)
R Apr 29 2022 28°Cp35′ (Leaves arc: January 30, 2023)
D Oct 8 2022 26°Cp06′ (First enters arc: March 4, 2021)
R May 1 2023 00°Aq21′ (Leaves arc: February 1, 2024)
D Oct 11 2023 27°Cp53′ (First enters arc: March 6, 2022)
R May 2 2024 02°Aq06′ (Leaves arc: February 3, 2025)
D Oct 12 2024 29°Cp38′ (First enters arc: March 7, 2023)

That’s all for this month, if you enjoyed this post please support the site through its Patreon page, also feel free to join in with comments or questions below, if you wish, and don’t forget to love each other!

Occult Aspects III

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.

COMPLICATIONS

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 Harmonicintegration, 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:

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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.

Occult Aspects II

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! For my last message of both the year and the decade I will add to the article I presented last month on Occult Aspects. In the process we will open up Mary Shelleys birthchart…

Last month we explored the areas of parallel and contra-parallel aspects, ways in which planets can be connected visually in the sky but which are not represented in a two-dimensional birth chart, and out of bounds planets, which have a degree of independence from the order of being imposed by the Sun. This month I had planned to add a second part covering two topics, but in the planning and then later in the writing I found that these two topics were so massive that I couldn’t really do justice to them in a single post, so I decided to make a three-part post instead of a two-part post, and I’ll share the last part next month.

Both topics are fundamentally about the principle of sacred geometry and the magic of number, in particular how these things are expressed in the zodiac and the aspects used in astrology. Although both of these subjects are fields of interest that have only recently been opened by the advent of the use of computers and software, they are, even when considered individually, still massive areas of exploration which an astrologer could easily spend their entire life dedicated to investigating. These articles will serve only as an introduction to both topics but I will also try to present simple techniques that you can easily apply and use in your toolbox as an astrologer without delving too deeply into their use. If you have a computer program like Solar Fire you will find it much easier to work with these techniques as it will do all of the calculations for you.

NUMBER & THE ZODIAC

First we need to cover some general ground about the relationship between numbers and the zodiac.

Working with numbers is an integral part of being an astrologer. First there are the building blocks of 12 signs split into 4 Elements with 3 modalities and the basic building blocks of aspects which divide the circle of 360° by specific numbers, numbers which imply shapes. For example the aspect of 90° is called a square because it creates a square out of the 360° of the circle.

0° – conjunction, the shape of the circle itself (1×360° = 360°)
60° – sextile, one side of the shape of a perfect hexagon (6×60° = 360°)
90° – square, one side of the shape of a perfect square (4×90° = 360°)
120°– trine, one side of the shape of a perfect triangle (3×120° = 360°)
180°– opposition, the shape of a straight line, or semi-circle (2×180° = 360°)

This shows a geometric relationship between certain aspects and certain numbers. The number 1 is related to the conjunction, the number 2 to the opposition, the number 3 to the trine, the number 4 to the square and the number 6 to the sextile. Notice that the number 5 is missing from the sequence. Expressed within a circle this number produces an aspect of 72°, one which is not widely used in astrology, and which produces a pentagon. Why is the 72° aspect ignored? We will have to return to this question in a moment.

In The 26 Keys I also explain the relationship between the visible planets and Lights with the aspects. The Sun and the Moon, having but one sign each, are cosmic Fluid condensers and are connected to the conjunction aspect, therefore to the number 1. Venus is connected to the sextile aspect, therefore to the number 6. Mars is connected to the square aspect, therefore to the number 4. Jupiter is connected to the trine aspect, therefore to the number 3, and Saturn is connected to the opposition aspect, therefore to the number 2. The connection that planets have to aspects is based on their ruling signs distance from the signs of the two Lights, Cancer and Leo. For example, the two signs of Mars, Aries and Scorpio, are both 90° away from one of the two signs ruled by the Lights (Aries is 90° away from Cancer and Scorpio is 90° away from Leo). Notice here that the planet Mercury, whose signs are both 30° away from one of the signs ruled by the Lights, is not generally given the same weight because astrologers do not generally use the 30° aspect, considering it a “minor aspect” along with the 45° (division of the circle by 8) and 72° (division of the circle by 5), among others. The primary explanation for this is similar to the reason why aspects from transiting Mercury are not usually given a great deal of consideration in astrological consultation – they represent small details more often than not, and much of the time only serve to trigger or activate more powerful transits. However, according to the scheme Mercury lends its nature to the semi-sextile aspect of 30°. It is therefore an aspect of hearsay, chat messaging and curiosities and tends to influence the mental awareness.

Returning to the question of why the 72° aspect is not widely used in astrology and the absence of the number 5 from the first six numbers attributed to the planets/Lights, we can see now that one possible rationale is that the 72° aspect is not measured in increments of 30°. Its planetary nature lies somewhere between that of Venus (60°) and Mars (90°), but is closer to that of Venus. It is something like astral force (Venus) transitioning towards or through individual will (Mars).

The question of the analogy between planets and numbers is a confused and complicated one because different systems apply different thought processes to the matter. The Kabbalistic Tree (in actuality, the Trees, since there are different versions of it) is for example one model which assigns numbers to planets, numbers which differ from those I have just presented, which arise from zodiacal aspects (additionally the numbers of the planetary sephiroth on the Tree/s are analogous to the spheres named after those planets, not the astrological nature of the planets themselves). When considering the relationship between numerology or number magic and astrology, such distinctions are very important to keep in mind. What we are going to be talking about here are deeper levels of connections which involve number in the mechanics of the zodiac. We are not talking about Kabbalah or any other model which draws parallels between the planets and numbers. This is a zodiacal model, and in fact it is not a rigid model but is itself approachable from a number of different directions. Nor is it the only one we could use, it is just the one that I present here.

The two techniques we will talk about this month and next, midpoints and harmonics, dive more deeply into the territory of this basic understanding of geometric patterns. In doing so many questions will be raised as this is a vast area to begin exploring. An excellent resource on both of these topics is the YouTube channel of astrologer David Cochrane. David has provided a vast amount of free material of a very high quality not only on these topics but on others which you may find very interesting. Of particular interest is his video lasting about 30 minutes on the Fibonacci numbers as a basis for the zodiac, something which I highly recommend you watch, because it puts you in the right frame of mind for appreciating the spectacle of symmetry and balance we are dealing with.

The Fibonacci sequence is a key creative tool of nature and is displayed in the patterns of the branching of trees and the arrangement of leaves on stems, the spirals of the shell and pine cone, the flowering of blossoms and the family tree of honeybees, among many other things. The first 9 Fibonacci numbers are 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13, and 21. Each number in the sequence is the sum of the two previous numbers, starting with 0+1. When the Fibonacci sequence is filtered through a base of 10 (i.e. each time the sum of the numbers goes higher than 10, you drop the first digit so that for example 21 becomes 1), the first 9 numbers become 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,3,1. If you keep doing this until the numbers begin to repeat the exact same sequence, you end up with a repeating string of 60 single digit numbers. The interesting astrological patterns begin to emerge when you plot these numbers into a circle as Davids video clearly shows. The patterns around the numbers 0 and 5 are especially significant.

What this patterning clearly shows is that the division of the tropical zodiac circle into 12 signs of 30° and the placement of the Active or Cardinal signs which initiate the seasons is directly harmonic with the Fibonacci sequence. It also magnificently displays the complex relationship between the mathematics of number and the formation of resonant geometric shapes, which are essentially what astrological aspects are, and the significance of spin or rotation. It makes clear in a very visual way the essential point of this message, the number one takeaway in probably all of astrology – everything is interconnected by the circle, and the circle (or spiral) is the fundamental shape of all life. The aspects that are presented in our birth chart which show the connections between planets in the circle of the zodiac – conjunction, sextile, square, trine and opposition – are called the ‘major aspects’ because they are the ones which are easier to recognise, not really because they are always more important. The Self is whole, the awareness of that Self, however, is partial, with some features rising to prominence and others remaining occulted until we bring our awareness to them.

The video by David Cochrane outlines another zodiac based number system we could use via the Fibonacci sequence, but odd numbers are more represented than even numbers in this system and each number is given 6° of the zodiac before a new number takes over from it. It would be nice if we had only one system for everything, but unfortunately nature and the law of analogy do not quite work like that. Every system will have oddities and ambiguities in it, for example in the zodiacal system I use there is no distinction between the Sun and the Moon, since they are both attributed the number 1. Using the Fibonacci sequence, odd numbers are twice as commonly distributed, and you have to work with 0 as a concept.

MIDPOINTS

With midpoints it is like we are looking at the zodiac through a high-powered and very adjustable microscope. With harmonics it is more like changing the lens of a camera so that it focuses in on a particular dimension or state of awareness by applying a coloured filter. Both topics also allow us to work more easily and insightfully with the so-called ‘minor aspects’. The first topic to examine, midpoints, will help us to work with the 45° and 135° aspects (half divisions of the 90° arc), while the second topic, harmonics, will help us work with the 30°, 32°42’, 36°, 40°, 45°, 51°24’ and 72° aspects (divisions of the circle by 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7 and 5 respectively). They will do this in different ways, but both topics give us a deeper understanding of how objects within the circle are interconnected to one another by being collectively present upon its circumference.

First, if you know anything about astrology and aspects already, you are already familiar with the idea of midpoints in their most basic form. The fact that charts have aspect patterns has taught you this. A square can be placed between an opposition and also in opposition to another planet on the other side of the zodiac that is also in a square with the same points, an aspect pattern which is called a Grand Cross because it is made of 4×90° aspects arranged in a perfect square and bisected by a cross that connects each of the opposite corners. Basically a square (90°) is half of an opposition (180°). A sextile (60°) is also half of a trine (120°) and one third of an opposition (180°) in the same way.

For example your Sun could be 12° Leo in opposition to your Moon at 12° Aquarius. Meanwhile, your Mars could be exactly square to both of them at 12° of Taurus. In its simplest form we would say that your Mars is at the midpoint of your Sun and Moon. It’s literally at the middle point between them in the zodiac being 90° apart from both of them, while they are 180° apart from one another. An astrologer would not miss this midpoint because they would interpret the squares between the Sun and Mars and the Moon and Mars as well as the opposition between the Sun and the Moon, because they all involve major aspects. This midpoint can be compactly expressed as the formula Sun + Moon = Mars.

However, midpoints exist between every pairing of objects in the birth chart, not just between those which are in a major aspect. So if instead your Sun is at Leo 12° and your Moon is at Libra 12°, while your Mars is at Virgo 12°, your Mars is still at the midpoint of the Sun and Moon because it is exactly 30° apart from both of them. Likewise, if your Sun is at Leo 10° and your Moon is at Virgo 16°, then they are 36° apart, the midpoint or half way point being 18° from the Sun’s Leo 10° position, thus at 28° of Leo. Any planet at 28° of Leo will then be at the midpoint between the Sun and the Moon. Even though it is 18° away from both of them, it will be intimately connected to each of them almost at a chemical level in terms of the astrology involved.

This doesn’t mean that midpoints are like having the planets in a major aspect or pattern in your birth chart, because midpoints do not have the prominence that those aspects do. If you have your Aries Sun and Libra Moon in opposition and with a Cancerian Mars square to both of them, that’s a major aspect pattern called a T-square while also being an expression of the midpoint Sun + Moon = Mars. If instead your Sun is in Taurus and your Moon is in Libra while your Mars in Leo is at their midpoint, that’s just Sun + Moon = Mars and not a major aspect (unless there is a sextile between Moon and Mars or square between Sun and Mars, which would still matter of course). The signs are important in the midpoint formula, and so are temples/houses. If the signs/degrees are not in a natural square relationship to one another, there is no square.

To help you calculate the distance between two planets quickly it is very helpful to memorize the places in the zodiac where the 12 signs begin and to do the calculation by degree of the zodiac, not degree of sign. For example Aries is from 0° to 30°, Taurus is from 30° to 60°, Gemini from 60° to 90° and so on. So the position of a planet at 6° of Gemini is actually 66° in the zodiac. Below is the order to memorize:

0-30: Aries
30-60:
Taurus
60-90:
Gemini
90-120:
Cancer
120-150:
Leo
150-180:
Virgo
180-210:
Libra
210-240:
Scorpio
240-270:
Sagittarius
270-300:
Capricorn
300-330:
Aquarius
330-360:
Pisces

To calculate a midpoint between two objects in your birth chart simply follow these 5 steps:

1) Figure out what each object’s position is in the zodiac (i.e. 0 to 360°) using the ordering above.
2) Deduct the lower number from the higher number.
3)
Divide the result by 2.
4) Add the result from 3) to the lower number from 2).
5) Then reconvert the result back into a sign position using the ordering again. This is the midpoint.

Alternatively, you can simply calculate your midpoints using a software program or online service. However, before you rush off to do so there are some other things that you need to know.

First, research has shown that a midpoint is not an isolated spot in the zodiac but is instead part of a resonant field which connects with other spots in the zodiac as part of a geometric structure. In total every midpoint has 8 sensitive locations in the zodiac. These locations then compose the structure for a single midpoint. You now need to find the other seven.

The first three of these are easy to find, while the remaining four are a little trickier mathematically. The first three are the degrees in the zodiac which are directly opposite to the midpoint as well as the degrees in the zodiac which are exactly 90° away on either side from it. So if your midpoint is at Scorpio 10°, then the first three other areas in the zodiac which are also considered the midpoint are Taurus, Leo and Aquarius 10°. In other words they are the remaining Fixed or Stable signs, and the degree is the same.

The remaining four are actually the midpoints between the four midpoints you have just found, in other words they are 45° away from each of these midpoints. So in the above example the next four midpoints are as follows:

Gemini 25° (Taurus 10° +45°, or one sign +15°)
Virgo 25° (Leo 10° +45°, or one sign +15°)
Sagittarius 25° (Scorpio 10° +45°, or one sign +15°)
Pisces 25° (Aquarius 10° +45°, or one sign +15°)

As you can see, once you have figured out one of these final four midpoints you can quickly figure out the rest just by changing the signs, because they will always belong to either all of the Cardinal/Active signs, or all of the Fixed/Stable signs all of the Mutable/Reactive signs. In the above example the first midpoint we worked out was 25° of Gemini, so we didn’t really need to work out the rest – all we really needed to do is change the sign to the other three Mutable/Reactive signs to find the remaining three midpoints. The degree is identical.

Now that you know all 8 sensitive parts of the zodiac which resonate with a particular midpoint, you need to know how big the orb of the midpoint is and the majority of astrologers agree that only 1° and no more should be used. There is a good reason for this and that is because we are metaphorically looking at the horoscope through a microscope, which tightens all of the orbs, but more importantly it is more accurate and severely restricts anything extraneous.

Now you can see why the advent of computers has made midpoints more popular even though they’ve been around for quite a few centuries at least – there is just a lot of information to calculate when you consider that every planet and object, including the ascendant and midheaven, has a midpoint with every other object and angle. Some astrologers even use the house cusps in midpoint work. With computer software all the midpoints in a chart can be calculated with the click of a button after a few selections from a menu. They have freed astrologers from the shackles that bound them and liberated them to actually do research in this area after centuries in which it has lain fallow. Almost 30 years have passed now since this became practical, and the forest floor is coming alive…

PRACTICE and INTERPRETATION

First of all assuming that you want to add midpoints to your understanding of astrology and include them in your work I advise you to calculate a couple of midpoints on your own, either in your head or on paper or with a calculator, before using any kind of astrological software to do so. It’s just better to have your own mental understanding of what you’re doing before you set the computer loose to generate reams of data. I have some advice on that below. Secondly, once you have all the data you need help interpreting it and there are some methods you can use which help you to organise it so that you can do so without losing your mind, as well as some tips on what it signifies. I have some advice on that too. Third, there are a couple of ways you can use this in conduction and during activations, as well as ways you can experiment with midpoints using these techniques. This will be all I have time and space for sharing in this article.

The first midpoints that you should calculate are the Sun/Moon and ascendant/midheaven midpoints. The latter is very dependent on you having an accurate time of birth, and in cases where this is off by more than 4 minutes the 1° orb of a midpoint will mean that you get inaccurate results. However this does mean that using the ascendant/midheaven midpoint is a way to rectify a birth time when it is obscure or possibly inaccurate, because you can use this midpoint as a way to check or fine tune a potential or likely time of birth. This is a massive task in most cases, though, even with software.

The next midpoints you should work out are the midpoints between the Sun and your ascendant ruler and the Moon and your ascendant ruler (assuming that they are different in each case) and then the midheaven and the ascendant ruler as well as the ascendant and the ascendant ruler. If you wish to carry on you can then do the same with the ruler of the midheaven. In most cases I consider these things to be the core chemistry of the midpoints in every chart. However if there is a particular planet I’m interested in probing more deeply then I will use midpoints to do so.

For example, suppose I want to know more about how my Venus operates. What I would do is I will calculate all of the midpoints that Venus has with everything else in the chart, and then I will check to see if there is anything in my chart that is 1° or less away from those midpoints. I might discover for example that my Venus/Jupiter midpoint is at the same spot as my natal Saturn. Then I will record that as a formula, in this case Venus + Jupiter = Saturn. Then I will use the software to generate data that shows me where Venus sits at the midpoint of other planets midpoints, for example Sun + Neptune = Venus. Here, Venus is sitting on the midpoint of somebody else, rather than having somebody else sitting on one of her midpoints. The difference between these two things is that in the first case Venus is the product of a combination while in the second case Venus is one half of two things being combined which are then expressing themselves in a certain way. When a planet is the product of the midpoint combination I call it the receptor and when it is one of the parts being combined I call it a contributor. So in the formula Venus + Jupiter = Saturn, Venus and Jupiter are contributors and Saturn is the receptor. Usually there is only one receptor but in the case of natal patterns that are very close (e.g. being born during an eclipse or a stellium within less than 1°) there can be two or more. The same is true for contributors. These are my own terms, not those of astrology as a whole.

It is common to find that a planet is the receptor for many different midpoints and in the case of certain charts (for example charts which have a Grand Cross or Grand Kite) an individual midpoint can connect with multiple receptors. From a natal interpretation perspective the midpoints which have receptors are more important than those which do not, since they will only gain receptors through progressions and transits, or by relationships with others. Therefore if you are using midpoints as a natal astrologer you can practically ignore all of the midpoints without receptors and just focus on those which do have receptors in the natal chart. Any object can be a midpoint receptor or contributer including a non-physical one like the North and South nodes of the Moon. We can call midpoints which have receptors ‘direct midpoints’ while those which do not ‘indirect midpoints’.

Many programs can organise information on direct midpoints into structures called midpoint trees which I find very helpful. As an example here are the birth chart and midpoint trees that Solar Fire generated for Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein:

Look at her Mercury midpoint tree, the last one in the list at the bottom of the report. You can see that the midpoint for Sun/Jupiter is only 14’ away, so Sun + Jupiter = Mercury. Next is Saturn/North node, so Saturn + North node = Mercury. But next in the list is the Moon. This shows that Mercury and the Moon in her chart are connected by midpoints. This is because they are in a close natal square with one another.

We can see that the Moon in Sagittarius is in a close square with Mercury in Virgo. Because of this they are both at the same degrees of different Mutable/Reactive signs and therefore any midpoints that focus on that part of the Mutable/Reactive signs will pick up both Mercury and the Moon. Also notice that I have selected a 45° modulus in the top left of the midpoint tree report – this is the modulus you must select to display the 8 midpoints I have described in this article as a tree.

If we were to just study her Mercury from its aspects and natal position, we do not see much prospect of success for her writing – even though it is a strong Mercury in Virgo on the cusp of the 5th, it squares both the Moon and the ascendant, indicating a struggle or battle to express her ideas. Look through the microscope of midpoints, however, and you see that Mercury and the Moon are part of the Sun/Jupiter midpoint, which certainly helped with her fortune, popularity and success. The Saturn/node midpoint can also be interpreted as being a sign of a lasting legacy. This was a bold Aries Jupiter in the 11th, a Jupiter capable of fulfilling hopes, and a private 4th temple Virgo Sun conjunct Uranus (weird science) that aptly describes the imaginary laboratory where her famous creation is both based and brought to life. The central question of hubris in the novel – does humanity have the right to play God? – is also certainly very resonant with a connection to the Sun/Jupiter and Saturn/node midpoint. The creature itself is pitiful but compassionate, like an abandoned child, traits we can trace to Saturn in Cancer, while its attempts to reach out to and communicate with a little deaf girl are resonant with the node in Gemini in the 12th. Mary Shelley’s Mercury in Virgo became a receptor for the combination of these ideas.

It was still a struggle of course – she cannot get away from the squares of the natal Mercury, particularly the square to the Moon – but the underlying chemistry of Sun/Jupiter must have given her extra confidence and motivation in spite of her struggle to find and express her ideas, and the Saturn/node midpoint probably helped to connect her with an important authority in the form of Lord Byron. Because these two midpoints relate to both Mercury and the Moon, we can say that they are also part of the chemistry of the square between the Moon and Mercury, which enables us to extract great detail about a single aspect.

Midpoint trees are showing intricate and sensitive connections between planets, almost like the nervous system in our own bodies as opposed to the organs (the planets) and the circulatory system (aspects). These are the ways in which planets resonate with one another invisibly through the power of geometric resonance within the circle, they are basically like aspects but they are placed as wiring under the board. Touching one part of a midpoint tree (for example via a progressed planet or a transiting planet, or synastry with another person) sends ripples and waves through the entire structure of the tree, activating many parts of the chart at once. In this they are like aspect patterns (like the Grand Cross or T–Square, etc), but the effect of activation is much subtler, more diffuse and spread out throughout the entire network at once. The exception here is when there is a natal receptor being activated by a transit, i.e. when it is a direct midpoint, since in this case there will be a large focusing and gathering of energy at the point of the receptor.

To put this into clearer form, let’s take an example by putting Mary Shelley’s Mercury under the microscope. Let’s imagine that she has a Jupiter activation of this Mercury going on. This will result in a direct and very strong activation of Mercury by Jupiter, as well as an indirect but also very strong activation of her Moon and ascendant (because of the natal square between them and Mercury). Her Venus and Chiron will also be getting some Jupiter energy coming their way, because they are in conjunctions with her natal Mercury. However, the midpoint tree structure will also be activated, which means that a subtler and more diffuse and gentler but still dynamic activation of the Sun, Jupiter, Saturn and the North node will also occur. Midpoint structures of the 45° modulus are dynamic, so even though activation by midpoint is subtler they still initiate activity. The main event in this activation will still be Jupiter conjunct Mercury and square Moon and ascendant, but there will be details added by the midpoint structure that Mercury is entangled with.

Midpoint trees are therefore very useful tools, much like the sensitive points listing I have described in an earlier article. They add very specific details to your interpretation of the planets in the signs and many of the aspects between them. Like the sensitive points listing, midpoints can also add very specific and granular detail to the territory of the zodiac and the specific parts of the zodiac which are enclosed by the temples. You can take a complete list of all your sensitive points and midpoints and sort them by zodiac signs or by temples so that you can see what the overall detail of that part of your chart is like. In this way even if you have a temple in your chart that is completely empty of natal planets, you can plot and chart the course of transiting planets through that ‘empty’ area of your chart in very great detail, making observations about the effect it has when it reaches the receptive points for all of the midpoints in that sign or temple. This is one of the more effective ways to generate your own daily horoscope, simply use the transiting Sun and Moon to add great detail to your interpretation of their daily and even hourly position in relation to a chart.

You can also use Solar Fire to organise midpoints into lists, for example you can generate a list showing all of the midpoints in a planetary order (for example all the midpoints where the Sun is involved, followed by all of those where the Moon is involved, etc.) or in zodiacal order from Aries to Pisces. To do this, however, you need to change the modulus from 45° to 360° so that the report will display information in the correct form. You will then end up with a report that looks like this:

I find the zodiacal order (called ‘sorted by angle’) to be more useful than the planetary sorting, since the zodiacal order is something I can use in conduction. However because we changed the modulus from 45° to 360° in order to get the zodiac back, the listing is only showing us the first of the 7 midpoints talked about in this article, the primary one from which the others were generated. The rest are missing from the list but can easily be calculated using the method I have described or by generating a different report with the program. In Solar Fire you just select midpoint modes report and change back to a 45° modulus, which will display the information below:

It can take a while to figure out what all the different options do and how to create them and then a little bit longer to work out your preferences, but once you have a handle on it after a few charts you will probably want to continue using midpoints in the future. Interpret these formula as ‘micro aspects’ or ‘cell chemistry’ in the chart. They can be remarkably accurate and informative but on a smaller scale so that they represent fascinating details and nuances to what is already present in the birth chart.

Pay special attention to the Sun/Moon midpoint, especially if you are a practicing magician. This midpoint is about how we integrate our life experiences, what we distill from them in terms of their meaning and significance. It is also a major midpoint for the expression of our character, our spirit and soul as a combined awareness and expression of life. I have found it to be especially significant for the magical equilibrium. The rhythm and pulse of the magical equilibrium is individually attuned to our astrological interaction with both of the Lights. The transit of the Moon every month over our Sun sign position acts to give us a monthly glimpse into the state of our equilibrium by showing us how we feel about where we are with it, while the annual transit of the Sun over our Moon sign position is similar but more powerful and shows us a glimpse of what our true state of equilibrium is actually like, even when we do not have it established. The Sun/Moon midpoint, however, is about our ability and opportunity to make adjustments which are in line with that individual equilibrium. Since there are 8 positions in the zodiac for the Sun/Moon midpoint there will be 8 days every year in which the midpoint is activated by the transiting Sun (i.e. the Sun becomes the temporary receptor for the Sun/Moon midpoint), and each will be about 45 days apart from the next. This phenomena will last about 1 to 2 days either side of the day the Sun becomes receptor for the midpoint, So in total there are about 24 days per year in which we are greatly assisted in making significant adjustments to our equilibrium, and the Sun/Moon midpoint shows when they occur. Similarly, there will be 8 days every month when the transiting Moon is the receptor for the Sun/Moon midpoint, spread about 3 1/2 days apart each. This phenomena is relatively short lived (like a mood as opposed to a state of being) so will only last a few hours and may entirely occur while we are asleep, which can result in extremely vivid, dramatic or powerful dreams that hold clues as to how our equilibrium is evolving or needs to adapt to situations we are experiencing.

The ascendant/midheaven midpoint is a very social midpoint connecting our public role with our conscious identity. This midpoint helps us to find our role in life, the profession or objective which we feel happy to dedicate our life’s work to, and to express who we are within that role. It enables us to engage with other people in discourse and shared planning for the future since it often falls in the 11th temple and so brings hope and companionship, community spirit. If the Sun, Moon or ruler of the midheaven or ascendant is on this midpoint it often makes it easier for us to know what we are born to do, what is innate in us to achieve, and how to achieve it. Knowing the locations of the midpoints themselves allows you to plot them onto a calendar as above, and again there will be 8 of them spread around the chart equidistant from one another, but if you stack them into trees you can also see how they relate to other objects and midpoints, and this can be even more helpful.

One final tip – I’ve noticed an interesting thing about activations (whether by transit or progression) and midpoint structures. Sometimes two different activations will activate the same midpoint tree at the same time. For example you might have Jupiter activating the Sun and Saturn activating Mars and because of the way your midpoint structure is arranged with Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all connected together these two activations then combine into a much more powerful experience. This is different to when the two activations are not connected in the midpoint tree, then they act more like separate experiences which are happening at the same time rather than a singular experience with many layers.

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If you are a patron for the site feel free to write to me and ask for all the reports I have given you in this article for any chart that you wish to examine. I’m also happy to talk about all of it with you if you wish. Those of you who are not patrons can also book time with me to discuss these options if you wish. I hope this short dip into the world of midpoints has tantalised you and made you want to dive deeper, I will be back with more in 2020. Happy New Year to all of you and may the best be yet to come! Make the world what it needs to be and don’t forget to love each other!

Occult Aspects I

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month and next I am continuing the loose Neptune theme of the last few months with a post on the connections between planets which are not visible in the birth chart. We will also look at the astrology of Amelia Earhart, David Bowie, William Faulkner and Anne Frank. 

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Fair warning – the techniques outlined in these two messages are more suitable for students of astrology at an intermediate or advanced level of study. For beginners these techniques could not only be confusing but also overwhelming because they yield more detail to an already complicated and detailed situation. Essentially we will be looking at the birth chart using a microscope to see some of the cellular structure or the wiring under the board. Understanding these articles is also helped by an understanding of mathematics and geometry, although in the modern world computers make the labour in this unnecessary. That said, however, beginners in astrology can still benefit from learning about these techniques – you may be one of the few who just gets it straight away, or you may just file it away and look at it again at a later point, as I did.

Both of these messages, this one and next months, will explore ways in which the objects (planets and Lights) in the birth chart can be connected to one another in ways which are not immediately readable from looking at the chart itself. They are also an advanced course in the topic of astrological aspects. We might term this entire field ‘occult aspects’ because they are aspects hidden from view as far as looking at a chart is concerned. This month I will talk about declination and the importance of parallel and contra-parallel aspects.

DECLINATION

To begin with it helps to identify what declination is by reflecting on the following – most people know that the Moon goes around the Earth about once every 28 days, giving rise to our word month. It’s also widely known that during that time there will be a period when it is filled with light as a Full Moon and a period when it can’t be seen at all, called the New Moon. The New Moon occurs when the Moon is in relatively the same position as the Sun in the sky, so she is not visible during the day because she is washed out by the sunlight nor is she visible by the night because she has descended below the horizon with the Sun. She has basically disappeared from view for a few days because she is very near to the Suns positioning in the heavens. It is also common knowledge that from time to time the disk of the Moon passes directly in front of the disk of the Sun, eerily covering it and giving rise to a total eclipse. The total eclipse of the Sun was one of the most fearsome and awe-inspiring occurrences in the skies of the ancient world and in early times it could create panic.

Fortunately, this was not a monthly occurrence! It is in fact comparatively rare, with most times that the Sun and Moon are in the same place in the sky being simple New Moons and not eclipses. The reason for this is that most times the Moon will be passing either above or below the Sun, not in front of it. In astrological and astronomical terminology this is called a difference in declination, a degree of distance north or south of the equator, projected into space. This celestial equator is a Great Circle around the Earth, and I will come back to it in a moment, for now its important to understand that this is different to the Great Circle of the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the Sun through the sky over the course of a year (actually caused by us going around the Sun, so seeing different backdrops of stars behind it). The ecliptic is where we get our zodiac positions from, in other words it is the central column of the zodiac. The ecliptic circumnavigates the sky around the Earth through the 12 constellations that also inform the 12 signs of the zodiac, which are seasonal divisions measured from the twin equinoxes and twin solstices, the places on the ecliptic where the time of sunlight and day is equal, or at its zenith or nadir, compared to the time of darkness and night. These signs of the zodiac are named after the constellations, but they are not the same thing. They are instead 12 divisions of the year, 3 parts for each of 4 seasons, measured from the soltices and equinoxes. This is the tropical zodiac used in western astrology, the sidereal zodiac uses the constellations instead, however both zodiacs arise from and are centred upon the Great Circle of the ecliptic.

Although we draw the zodiac from this ecliptic ring formed by the annual passage of the Sun against the backdrop of the stars (in the sidereal zodiac) or the seasonal rhythm of light and darkness, growth and decay that this delineates through the year (in the tropical zodiac), the solar system is a highly complex organism composed of interlocking cycles (including orbits, rotations on axes and boundaries between light and dark), and this is not easily represented on a piece of parchment or paper. As an example, the three dimensional ‘donut’ shape of the zodiacs ring is ‘squished’ and loses its three dimensional form when it is pressed into a two dimensional birth chart. The donut becomes a flat circle. Simply put, we can no longer see if the Moon is above or below the Sun when there is a New Moon. In fact, we can’t see this kind of relationship for any of the objects in the chart, because they have all been pressed down into a circular ring when they were once sprinkled throughout a three dimensional torus. Objects which once had a height in the sky have all been compressed and thus lost their distinctions by height.

Working with declination is how we restore this dimension to our work with the chart. Declination is a measurement of distance north or south of the celestial equator, which as I stated above is simply the equator of the Earth extended into space, forming another Great Circle. Declination is sometimes expressed as a plus or minus value instead of a north and south value respectively and it is measured in latitude, not longitude like the positions of objects in the zodiac is. Depending on when and where you are viewing it from, the Sun can be anywhere between 23°28’N latitude of the equator, or 23°28’S latitude of it (it can go very slightly over this number as it’s not exactly precise, but it is never further than 24° N or S). These are the boundaries on either side of the equator that we call the tropics, named for Cancer and Capricorn because these are the tropical zodiac signs that the Sun enters when it reaches them. If we also extend the tropics into space like the equator, the Sun never climbs higher north or south of these two tropical rings. During the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, as the Sun enters the sign of Cancer, it is at 23°28’N declination, which is as high as it can get in the northern hemisphere. It is the height of summer. During the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere the Sun is 23°28’S declination, entering the sign of Capricorn, and as low as it can get in the sky in the northern hemisphere. It is the depths of winter. During the equinoxes (day and night equal) the Sun is entering Aries (start of spring) or Libra (start of autumn) and crossing the celestial equator, switching hemispheres and heading towards the extreme north or south of its travels, the solstices. It will be at 0° of declination. The southern hemisphere keeps to the same timing (it shares the equinoxes and solstices with the north) but the seasons are switched with their opposites – winter to summer and vice versa and autumn to spring and vice versa.

Visually what this means is that the Earth has a donut shaped ring around its middle within which (from the surface of our planet) the Sun can be visible and it will never climb higher or lower than the edges of this torus. The apparent path of the Sun when viewed from Earth – the ecliptic – will always be within this torus. So the Great Circle of the ecliptic can be 23°28’ above or below the Great Circle of the celestial equator, but never more than this. We can imagine this as a donut shape within which (looking out) the ring of the ecliptic is threaded like a string or a strand of spaghetti, following the path of the Sun, and it is moving up and down from the middle band of the donut over the course of a year, forming a spiral as the Sun moves from top to bottom as well as around the inside. From the outside, it looks like this (all images in this article should expand when clicked):

Motion_of_Sun,_Earth_and_Moon_around_the_Milky_Way

Essentially, from Earth the Sun has a boundary or region in the sky beyond which it cannot pass unless the tilt of the Earth is itself catastrophically changed, or (even worse) we are knocked out of orbit. However every other object – including the Moon – is free to pass this boundary of 23°28, north or south, but most of the time they won’t do so as their orbits around the Sun are pretty much on the same plane in the solar system. The Moon is the most likely to range beyond the Suns boundaries in the sky because it is going around the Earth and not around the Sun. In other words, most of the orbits around the Sun are like the rings on a vinyl record, one which is only slightly warped. This means they are more often than not inside the 23°28’ (23.4°) boundaries, north or south – although their declination can be different from the Suns, they will still frequently be within the same zone that the Sun is confined to. This also means they generally only pass through the same backdrop of constellations that the Sun passes through, the main 12 of which are the zodiac constellations. These 12 constellations are therefore the Suns celestial family, for it never visits the other major constellations that shine beyond the zone it lives in, or only touches their edges. For example, there is no zodiac sign for Ursa, the Bear, because the Sun is never seen in the constellation of the Great Bear, it’s way too far north of the celestial equator. This is a manifestation of the Solar Logos, the body and intelligence of the Sun expressed as a celestial being. It defines the zodiac as the primary evolutionary coding of conscious life on this planet, the astral family of this life. Light from all of this family is within each thing that is born and lives here, animate and inanimate.

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PARALLEL OBJECTS

This being understood, when two objects in the sky are in the same hemisphere (i.e. both are north of the celestial equator or both are south of it) and they are at the same declination or within 1° of one another by declination, then they are parallel to one another in the sky.This parallel relationship, which cannot be seen in the birth chart, is closest to a conjunction aspect in nature because it joins the two planets together and unifies them in some way, they are on parallel tracks of flight like two birds in the sky. We can think of planets in parallel as being in a kind of invisible conjunction, no matter if in the birth chart they are in a conjunction, trine, square, or any other aspect, or not in aspect at all. If these two objects are in a conjunction in the chart, however, the parallel between them will serve to intensify and scale up the effect of that conjunction, putting an ! over it similar to the emphasis produced by placing the conjunction on an angle like the ascendant or midheaven. This is because if you were to look at it in the sky a parallel conjunction is an exact occultation between the two objects (like an eclipse) with the nearer object passing in front of the more distant object. It really looks like a conjunction in the sky when you look at it, because the two objects are occupying the same position relative to the view from Earth. In a non-parallel conjunction the objects will be separated because one will be above the other in the sky.

Take a look at this birth chart for Amelia Earhart, below.

EarhartBC

Note the close conjunction between the Moon and Pluto in Gemini (the sign of traveling). They are in a conjunction, with only 3° of separation. You might think they were next to one another, until you look at the declination. This is shown in the box in the top left corner below the breakdown of the Elements and Modes. After the symbol and name of the object (Moon, Sun etc.) there is a column showing its position in the zodiac (longitude) and the column next to that is the column for its declination. There you can see that the Moons declination is listed as +26° while the declination for Pluto is listed as +12°. This means they are in a conjunction but they are not parallel. When you look at it in the sky it looks like this:

EarhartMooPlu.JPG

The thick white line in this image near the bottom is the celestial equator. The blue line curving around the top of the picture with the tropical zodiac signs on it is the ecliptic, the path of the Sun. Notice that, even though they are both positioned on the relatively same point of that curved blue line, the Moon is about twice as far away from the thick white line of the celestial equator as Pluto is – in terms of distance from that white line, Pluto lies about halfway between it and the Moon. That’s a considerable distance when you look at it visually. It means that she has a close conjunction of the Moon in Pluto but that it is not parallel. It’s a regular conjunction.

Compare this to the chart for David Bowie, where the Moon and Pluto are both in Leo (the sign of the entertainer) but there is a gap of 9° separating them – probably still a potent conjunction, especially given the presence of Saturn forming a bridge between them, but not one that would be especially strong without Saturn.

BowieBC

Until you look at declination. In this chart I have put a red circle around the declination data, in case you had trouble finding it. There you see that both the Moon and Pluto are a +23°. They are parallel. When you look at this in the sky this chart looks like this:

Bowie MoonPlu.JPG

First, notice the distance between the Moon and Pluto. That is the space of 9° between them in the zodiac, which is measured along the ecliptic, the blue line that bisects the image from left to right, passing through Regulus. Now notice the celestial equator in the bottom left portion of the picture, the thick white line. When you measure the distance from the Moon to this line, and then measure the distance from Pluto to this line, they are about the same. That’s the parallel between them. Notice how Saturn is slightly closer to that white line. That’s because its declination is not +23° but instead +19°. This means that the conjunction between the Moon and Saturn is not a parallel conjunction, and nor is the conjunction between Saturn and Pluto. This creates two bridges between the Moon and Pluto in this chart, one which is formed by the connection by conjunction that they both have with Saturn, and one that is formed by their parallel with one another. A third connection between them is that they are all in Leo. A fourth is that all are in the constellation of the Crab, sometimes called the Cradle, or the Scarab. These stars are connected with rebirth and the reinvention of the soul. 

So what we call a conjunction is perhaps more properly referred to as an alignment, a close positioning relative to positioning on the Great Circle of the ecliptic, but not relative to the Great Circle of the celestial equator. A true visual conjunction is relative to both, and its called an occultation in astronomy and a parallel conjunction in astrology.

It’s worth stating again that objects in the sky can be in any aspect to one another or in no aspect at all, and still be in a parallel to one another. On its own a parallel relationship between two objects that have no other aspect with one another can usually be left out of discussion if time is a constraint. It only becomes powerfully significant if the nature of the parallel between the two planets somehow underscores a theme that is more obviously and strongly represented in the chart anyway, or is an issue at hand for the person because of transits or progressions. A parallel does have some important differences to a conjunction, though, and I will get to those. However, a conjunction and especially a close conjunction between two objects who are also parallel to one another is an exceedingly powerful conjunction that should be given extra weight in consideration of the chart as a whole. When you have a lot of conjunctions to consider, for example when you are dealing with a chart where there is a stellium, a multiple conjunction of four or more objects, then looking for parallels can help you to sort them and to focus on what really stands out. Later I will have more to say on how to interpret the different combinations. For now, we need to look at a mirror of the parallel.

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CONTRA-PARALLEL OBJECTS

The mirror image, reflection or opposite of parallel is when the two objects have the same declination (or within 1° of being at the same declination) but one is north (or positive in declination) while the other is south (or negative in declination). This means they will both be the same distance from the celestial equator, but on different sides of it. This is called contra–parallel. Again, planets do not have to be in an aspect for them to be contra-parallel, and they can also be in any aspect to one another in the zodiac. It is therefore possible for objects to be in a conjunction but also contra-parallel, or in a trine and contra-parallel, etc.

Here is an example of a contra-parallel conjunction from the chart of Nobel prize winning author William Faulkner. He was born with the Moon at 28° of Virgo (a writers sign) and Jupiter at 23° of Virgo, with Mercury between them at 26° of Virgo. All three of them are in a conjunction with one another. By declination the Moon is at -3° while Jupiter is at +3°. Mercury is at +0°, positioned precisely on the celestial equator. Here is how that looks in the sky.

Faulkner MooJup.JPG

Notice how the Moon and Jupiter are about the same distance away from the thick white line, the celestial equator, but on opposite sides, while Mercury is placed upon it. The Moon and Jupiter are in a contra-parallel conjunction, while Moon and Mercury and Jupiter and Mercury are in a simple conjunction which is not contra-parallel. Notice also that the Sun is centred on the ecliptic ‘(always, because it’s the Suns path) but is also not that far away (1° of declination) from the celestial equator – Faulkner was born just after the September equinox. The equinox occurs when the Suns path (the ecliptic) crosses the celestial equator, and we can see this in this picture because the path of the ecliptic (the blue line) has just intersected with the path of the celestial equator (the white line). We can also see that it is the September equinox rather than the March equinox because at the point where the intersection of these two circles occurs, the glyph for the sign of Libra appears on the ecliptic. A skilled astrologer or astronomer can read time as well as location from images of the sky, although location is harder to pinpoint.

To help you visualise all of this here is the same image zoomed out so that you can see all of one side of the Earth including the horizon line which divides the sky (the black area) from everything which is below it (the green area). It also shows the latitude and longitude lines (black coloured lines) used in map references.

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The contra-parallel is most similar in nature to the opposition aspect. Therefore, an opposition aspect that is also contra-parallel is an extremely tight and powerful opposition that will become a major life task for the person who carries it with them. It will be a “true” opposition rather than just an opposition in the zodiac, because the objects will be on diametrically opposite sides of both the celestial equator and the ecliptic. If the orb between the two planets in opposition is very small or exact, then a contra-parallel between them will tighten the screws considerably, locking them into an opposed relationship. Again, from an interpretive standpoint the effect will be similar to having the opposition placed at one of the angles such as the ascendant or the midheaven, but with the twist that it can do it in any of the houses/temples. It will also become dominant over other oppositions which are not in a contra-parallel relationship.

Here is the chart of the famous and tragic diarist Anne Frank.

FrankBC.JPG

You can see that her Sun in Gemini is in opposition with her Saturn in Sagittarius, a sign of a sober spirit enduring hardships and burdens, but they are quite the distance apart with the Sun at 20° of Gemini and Saturn at 27° of Sagittarius. At 7°, the opposition should be fading out leaving her with more room to maneuver and less confinement. However, the declination of her Sun at +23° and her Saturn at -22° puts them in a contra-parallel relationship which, for practical purposes, seems to have completely negated that 7° of distance and made her life an archetypal example of the tragedy and hardship that Sun opposite Saturn can bring, while still showing us something positive about the human spirit in her philosophical musings and her sad, private words that have left a lasting legacy. Here are two images showing the contra-parallel opposition (two are required because the Sun and Saturn are literally on opposite sides of the globe).

FrankSunSatoppcontrap1.JPG

In this first picture note the position of the Sun towards the upper left and its relative distance from the thick white line of the celestial equator below it. Also note the position of Uranus because it will be useful as a reference in the second image, below.

FrankSunSatoppcontrap2

In this image the globe has been rotated but you can still see Uranus towards the top. More importantly you can now also see the position of Saturn in the lower right, about as far below the thick white line of the celestial equator as the Sun was above it in the previous image.

A couple more things before we move on – notice from the birth chart for Anne Frank that the declination of the Sun was +23°07’. Remember that I said that 23°28’ is the limit that it reaches from the celestial equator, and you will realise that Anne Frank was born a few days before a solstice. Additionally, you can tell that it is the June solstice, because the Sun is at +23, not -23, and so it is almost as far north as it can climb.

And, isn’t it incredible that the people of the ancient world had this all figured out, merely by observation and meticulous record keeping, often on stone tablets or hundreds of thousands of bits of dried out parchment or leaves? That they not only knew all of these things, but went to the incredible effort of building monuments like Stonehenge, Machu Picchu and the Giza Plateau, just to express it in an earthly form? Does this not by comparison make our own city planning look like the result of children let loose in a nursery filled with plastic building blocks? We often think of ourselves as the pinnacle of human development, and certainly to our knowledge this is true technologically, but it is not true in others, and it may not even be true scientifically or culturally. The knowledge and centuries of time required to work all this out without basic technological tools and just water clocks for measuring the passing of time, and the effort then required to then express it in monuments, for whatever reason, surely gives us pause for thought about the comparative sophistication of our own efforts, and our own modern vanities. We may have a more complicated understanding now than we did then in some areas, but in flattening the splendor of the sky onto a two-dimensional birth chart, we lost something – an appreciation of height and depth that was innate to people of the ancient world because they did not look at charts, they looked at the sky. And they were patient, observant and very, very smart compared to what most people believe, they had to have been.

INTERPRETATION: WEIRD SCIENCE

Ok, your brain is likely well exercised by this point, so what now? What to do with this? 

As far as I’m aware not much has been written about the nuances that arise from the combinations between different aspects, parallels and contra-parallels – most interpretive stances on the matter of declination simply state that a parallel is like a conjunction and contra-parallel is like an opposition, and they interpret parallels and contra-parallels between two planets very similarly to those aspects. There is little distinction made between a Sun and Moon conjunction and a Sun and Moon parallel. They are read the same in most takes on the subject.

However, this ignores the reality of the situation in the sky. There is a difference, as the examples in this post should help to make clear. A conjunction usually takes place in a single sign, perhaps two different ones if the conjunction takes place near a sign boundary, but if it does involve more than one sign it is limited to any two adjacent signs. For example the Sun and Moon conjunction could take place in Libra with both the lights in Libra, or it could be that one Light is in Libra and the other in Virgo or Scorpio, the two signs either side of Libra. Thats because a conjunction is limited by the orb of a conjunction, usually about 7° or 8° of longitude, the degrees of the zodiac.

But parallel and contra-parallel declination is measured in latitude, and even though it has a tight 1° orb of influence by latitude it has no restrictions of orb by longitude at all. It is unfettered from the zodiacal sequence, and thus a parallel can exist between the Sun and Moon (or any planets) in any combination of signs. Similarly, a contra-parallel can exist between two planets in any signs, not just signs in opposition. Thus the parallel and contra-parallel represent hidden paths that can exist between two objects, allowing hidden messages to be passed between them. They add a more individual potential to planets and Lights because they enable them to communicate with each other in unconventional and special ways, bringing all kinds of zodiacal combinations into play which resemble conjunctions and oppositions but are given an extra twist by potentially being in exotic sign combinations. The parallel and contra-parallel therefore potentially express far more individuality and strangeness than a conjunction and opposition can. They also represent a refreshing challenge for the astrological mind – how does one interpret a conjunction between a Sun in Taurus and a Moon in Leo, or an opposition between Jupiter in Aries and Mercury in Pisces, for example? The result is a chimera, a hybrid creature that is more of a unique animal. The parallel and contra-parallel are like a magical potion that can produce strange and unusual results. This is wild magic, difficult to define. It’s powerful, transmutative stuff.

Added to this zodiacal chaos is the fact that parallels and contra-parallels not only occur alone but can also occur when the two objects concerned are in aspect. There can be parallel and contra-parallel sextiles, trines and squares, as well as conjunctions and oppositions. Taking all of this into consideration it becomes clear that there is actually a tremendous amount that can be written about the contra-parallel and parallel, many volumes more than the often repeated “like a conjunction or opposition”. In fact the entire topic is a goldmine just waiting for an astrologer to tap into both in terms of research and professional focus.

With all of this said there is a process that you can go through which will help you to reach an interpretation involving parallel and contra-parallel declination. This is my process which I have arrived at through 30 years of practice with astrology and about 20 years of practice with declination.

First, make a list of all of the parallels and contra-parallels in the chart. Many astrological programs can compile a report showing this information for you. Don’t be tempted to experiment outside of the 1° orb – declination does not involve a full 360° like the zodiac does and the distance between objects in declination can be much shorter over longer periods of time, so the 1° orb is the most practical one. Let it go even if it is 1°01’ of orb in declination.

Next, make a tier 1 grouping of all the parallels and contra-parallels which exist between objects that have an aspect with one another in the birth chart, no matter what the aspect is. Put everything else into a tier 2 grouping. If the tier 1 grouping is very large and requires some organization you can prioritize it either by the size of the orb of the declination (so that 0°45’ of orb is ranked higher than 0°55’, for example) or by the following scheme: Lights, chart ruler, angular planets, the rest. You can prioritize the second tier the same ways if you need to. 

The difference between the first-tier and the second-tier is that the first-tier admits more accessibility. The presence of a major aspect in the birth chart alongside the parallel or contra-parallel gives the hidden connection a way to express itself in recognizable form. It makes it easier for the person to recognise what that connection is and to communicate it to others. However there may still be challenges with this process if the aspect is a square, an opposition or difficult conjunction, and the influence of the parallel or contra-parallel will add a unique spin to the conventional interpretation of the aspect. Objects in parallel or contra-parallel in the second tier will be more difficult to access and define as well as communicate to others. However, the strangeness and wildness of their magic will be undiluted and far less conventionally expressed when it does find a way out. It can bring a spark of genius and an innovative twist on what we expect.

Pay special attention to any parallels or contra-parallels which involve either of the two Lights, as these can be very important to address. Also pay close attention to parallel conjunctions and contra-parallel oppositions of any kind as these will be especially strong, particularly if the orb of the conjunction or opposition is very small, so below 4°. People who are born during eclipses will display this in their charts, but others can too, as any two planets can have this relationship.

In building up your own general interpretation of parallel and contra-parallel it is helpful to meditate and reflect upon the following contrary combinations:

A) a conjunction that is parallel compared to a conjunction that is contra-parallel.

B) an opposition that is contra-parallel compared to an opposition that is parallel.

In the first case, a conjunction that is parallel is like a super-conjunction, but a conjunction that is contra-parallel implies that the two objects have a degree of separation and so there is potentially more objectivity in being able to view them as separate parts. They will be like two particles locked in orbit around a nucleus, rather than a fusion of two objects into a nucleus. They may merge and disengage periodically.

In the second case an opposition that is contra-parallel is like a super-opposition, but an opposition that is parallel implies that there is some kind of hidden alignment between the two objects in opposition which can be called upon to help them cooperate more. While the super-opposition can become a super support structure for the entire chart, providing lasting stability and strength through the long process of bringing opposing forces into balance, an opposition that is parallel is often easier to find balance with but trickier to keep in balance because it is less firm than the super-opposition.

After thinking about all of what I have said here for a while, you should be able to move forwards in your interpretation of other aspects which are parallel or contra-parallel and when you do this you will have embarked upon a journey into a wondrous territory of astrology which has seen very few visitors. There is one more thing I would like to tell you about before you go, however.

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OUT OF BOUNDS

I wrote earlier that:

“every other object including the Moon is free to pass this boundary of 23°28, north or south”

That’s important. What it means is that while most of the time the sky wanderers of our solar system are found within the same regions of the sky that the Sun is confined to, sometimes they slip outside this net. They go beyond the gaze and watchful eye of the commander and roam into foreign realms. The teenager goes away on holiday, leaving the nest to get away with things “off the record”.

Remember also that I said that the Moon goes beyond this boundary more than the other objects do, because it is going around the Earth and not around the Sun. That was only partly true – Pluto is also moving beyond this boundary quite often, and this is because of the incline of its orbit into the plane of the solar system, within which most of the other planets have their orbits.

When a planet goes farther north or south of this boundary then the Sun can, it is called “out of bounds”, meaning the bounds of the solar realm. It is sometimes even venturing into the territory of non-zodiacal constellations and collecting exotic forms of Light for the Sun from places it cannot visit itself, for ultimately it will always return to the solar realm to deposit this experience.

The general interpretation used by astrologers for an out of bounds planet or Moon is that it will act wildly and eccentrically, as if touched by some aspect of Uranus, but in my practice I find it more useful to consider where the planet is venturing into, where is it going where the Sun does not shine, and how will that affect its tropical zodiac sign position? In cases where the planet is only a short distance away from being over the boundary of 23° 28’ (which is most of the time), then it wont have ventured very far beyond the borders and will be collecting something from the zodiacal sign constellation, albeit an outlying part of it that is more exotic than the usual fare. This will give an inventive and creative spin to the expression of the zodiac sign, it will operate slightly outside of the box but near enough to it to be able to easily make sense of it as an expression of that sign. However in cases where there is an extreme venturing beyond this boundary, the object can visit star constellations that the Sun does not reach at all and in these rare cases there is something even more exotic being collected. It is still being collected for the tropical zodiac sign that the object is located in, and the object will still therefore express itself as its tropical zodiac sign nature inclines it to, but there will be a part of that object that operates without regard to the usual rules. This can be very good or very bad for the person, and the rest of us. It depends on how they choose to handle the fact that they are (in reality) somewhat outside of the rules as they apply to the rest of us, and what the innate behaviour of that planet is when it is given its freedom. A topical example of this is Donald Trump, who, with his (strongly placed) Mercury out of bounds, has (for example) no problem with claiming that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any supporters. It happens to be half-true, half-jest, in mercurial style. He also gives us many more obvious examples of the behaviour of someone with Mercury out of bounds. 

I hope that this explanation has been clear and that it excites you enough to begin including declination in your astrological work. Below I have given you a list of individuals who have notable parallels or contra-parallels so that you have some resources to begin looking into. Their chart data is available online.

Although this is an intermediate or advanced lesson in astrology, computers have made working with declination a lot easier in the modern world, and if our technological progress continues in the coming century it seems likely that it will become even easier and perhaps even find its way into the mainstream comprehension of astrology. If some kind of holographic or 3-D display technology breaks through we may finally have the ability to display the sky in a form that truly represents its complexity and shape, which may be truly revolutionary for astrology by doing away with the need for birth charts as we know them now. Parallels and contra-parallels would then become part of what we can see when we look at a map of our births, partly restoring the visual origins of astrology.

Where are the parallel and contra-parallels in your astrology? Are there any out of bounds planets, or the Moon? How do these factors play out in your life? Have fun considering these things, drop a comment or question below if you wish, and thank you for your time. Also, a very special thanks, always to the generous people who support this site through Patreon, you are the best!

Next month, more occult aspects!


Research Suggestions

Donald Trump (Sun and Uranus in parallel conjunction in Gemini, Sun and Uranus in contra-parallel opposition with Moon in Sagittarius, out of bounds Mercury in Cancer)

Ted Bundy (Moon and Mars in Sagittarius in parallel conjunction, Moon and Mars both in contra-parallel opposition with Uranus in Gemini, Pluto in Leo trine and contra-parallel Moon and Mars in Sagittarius)

Paramahansa Yogananda (Mercury and Venus parallel conjunction in Sagittarius, Mars in Aries in contra-parallel opposition with Saturn in Libra, Pluto in Gemini parallel Virgo ascendant).

Alexandre Dumas (out of bounds Moon in Taurus, Mercury in Cancer parallel Leo ascendant, Mercury in Cancer parallel sextile with Mars in Taurus, Mercury parallel Chiron in Sagittarius, Venus parallel conjunction Saturn in Virgo)

Christopher Reeve (out of bounds Moon and Mars in Sagittarius, Sun and Mercury in contra-parallel conjunction in Libra, Jupiter in Taurus contra-parallel Chiron in Capricorn, Uranus in Cancer parallel Pluto in Virgo).

Edith Piaf (out of bounds Moon in Gemini and Mercury in Sagittarius, Moon contra-parallel Mercury, Sun in Sagittarius parallel Venus in Capricorn, Uranus and the Dragons Head in parallel conjunction in Aquarius, Uranus/Dragons Head in Aquarius contra-parallel Pluto in Cancer).

Lucille Ball (Moon out of bounds in Capricorn, Leo Sun parallel Pluto in Gemini, Mars in Taurus parallel Dragons Head in Taurus, Jupiter in parallel conjunction with Dragons Tail in Scorpio, Uranus in Capricorn contra-parallel opposition Neptune in Cancer).

On Art & the Love of Life

Greetings and welcome back to Journeys! In the spirit of late October this months sharing will be about the rich world of feelings and emotions, with a special focus on their relevance and importance in the arts, magic and spiritual realisation. For students of IIH I will be sharing information on the astral body and the Water region of the mental body. journey deeper…

The Keeper of the Waters: II

Greetings and welcome back to Journeys! This month I bring you the conclusion of my long message about the planet Neptune. We will discuss the astrological history of the new planet, the chart for its discovery and its significance for individuals and the world. journey deeper…

Rising Signs II

Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month I give you the second part of my 24,000 words on the ascendant or rising sign. This month I cover Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces rising. Please join in the conversation in the comments for either post and if you would like to help contribute to the contination of this site please visit us at Patreon to make a pledge.  journey deeper…

Rising Signs I

Greetings, Solstice Blessings and welcome back to Journeys! 🙂 Things are still busy in my life, but I am returning to you this month and next with a two-part series that complements my earlier two-part series on rising planets published this year, “Arising Worlds”, by looking at each of the 12 signs on the ascendant. This month I take you through Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo and Virgo. I will cover each sign in terms of 5 categories: embodiment (how it affects the body, aura, attire and gait and posture), traits (mostly psychological), difference to the Sun or Moon sign, significance of rulers placement and well known faces. If you enjoy this or benefit from it, please consider pledging some support on Patreon. journey deeper…