Language is the light of the mind.
~ John Stuart Mill

The Circular Stage

On the circular stage of the birth chart (Figure 5.1) are depicted and enacted the essential features of a life's drama: its specific talents, challenges, joys, confusions, tensions, inconsistencies, friendships, crises and resolutions. The planets are the actors. Each actor's script is determined by its position on each of the tree different circles around the stage:

Sample chartFigure 5.1 The Chart can be seen as a circular stage on which the planets act out their dramas. The twelve signs of the zodiac around the outside are the backdrops for the action. The twelve houses marked in the circles inside the zone demarcate the different areas of life in which the planets act out their stories. The lines in the central circle, show the kind of relationship between the planets, the aspects.
  • The planet's sign position (see Chapter 6) – its position in the cycle of the zodiac, which tells us its characteristic mode of expression.
  • The planet's house position (see Chapter 7) – its position in the daily cycle, which tells us in which area of life its activities are most likely to be expressed and experienced.
  • The planet's position along its circle of relationship with each of the other planets. This shows the aspects or harmonics the planet is making with other planets. These reveal who is talking to whom, and the likely nature of the relationship and their dialogue.

This chapter focuses on the aspects between the planets, a term which comes from the Latin comes from the Latin verb aspicere – 'to look at'.

Who is Talking to Whom?

In the last chapter we considered the nature of the planetary gods, their different functions, energies and needs. But whilst planets can, and do, at times speak in soliloquies and monologues, the real drama of life is created by the interplay of characters.

The nature of the relationship between the different actors in a particular chart depends on where they are in their mutual 'dance' around the circular stage. It is the geometric angle between the planets around the circle that determines how they relate to one another.

Those planets which are at an angular distance close to the division of the circle by a whole number will be brought into connection with one another according to the nature of that number. So, for example, the nature of the number two, which divides the circle in half, is to polarise and objectify. When we find two planets, say Moon and Saturn, in such an opposition relationship, as it is called, we know that they will in some way be in a tug-of-war within the psyche. There will be a strong need to reconcile and work with these opposites. In this case it suggests a tug between the capacity and desire to be spontaneously open and responsive, caring and nourishing (Moon) and the need to be self-controlled, purposeful and disciplined (Saturn). This may produce mood swings and periods of depression. However, with time and self-awareness, the dialogue in this opposition can produce someone who is in some way a professional (Saturn) mother (Moon), perhaps a nurse, carer, restaurateur, nutritionist or gardener. As we shall see in Figure 5.2 (phases), each pair of planets goes through a complete cycle of relationships as their relative motions bring them together and then apart again in an endless dance.

The Cosmic Dance

To understand what an aspect is, we need to remind ourselves that, over time, each planet moves through a cycle of 360° with each other planet. We are all familiar with this cycle from the monthly phases of the Moon. The Moon is in 'conjunction', ie together in the sky with, the Sun at New Moon. Because the Moon moves much faster, it gradually moves ahead of the Sun, until about seven days later it is 90° from the Sun, the First Quarter, known as the outgoing 'square' aspect. Then seven days later again it reaches Full Moon when it is 180° or in 'opposition' aspect to the Sun in the sky. At that point it begins to move back towards the Sun. Some seven days later it begins to move back towards the Sun. Some seven days later it forms the Last Quarter or incoming 'square' aspect and then finally, after a total of about 28 days, it conjoins the Sun again to form the next New Moon.

The total cycle is seen as symbolic of the natural process of growth and decay, analogous to the seasons of the year. At the New Moon, the conjunction, the seed is planted. It works in the earth and springs through the soil at the First Quarter. It develops, blossoms, is fertilised and a new seed is set at the Full phase. The developing fruit ripens and falls at the Last Quarter and gradually decays back into the ground to prepare for the new cycle of growth which begins again at the conjunction.

Whilst these phases mark four of the most important aspects in the cycle, the ever-changing relationship is in fact a continuous process. Each phase has its significance and contributes to the total unfoldment. And in practice the astrologer identifies several other distinct phases in the dance.

The Aspect Grid

Planets can be seen together in the sky and then gradually separating as they move through a 360° relationship with one another. At each phase of this cycle their relationship will be different. For example, if two planets are close together, 'in conjunction', they will for better or worse, be obliged to talk and work with one another. On the other hand, if they stand on opposite sides of the circle they will be 'in opposition' and tend to oppose and contradict one another.

To discover which planets are on talking terms, the astrologer calculates, or has the computer produce, an aspect grid (see Figure 5.2) and will usually show these connections between the planet with lines of different colours. The aspect grid and the lines show which planets are 'in aspect' or 'in a harmonic relationship', ie separated by distances which are close to a whole number division of the circle. The colour of the line will indicate the quality of the relationship. Harmonious aspects (see 'Co-operating or Quarrelling') are usually marked in blue, whereas tense, challenging relationships are marked in red, but this will depend on the colour associations of the individual astrologer.

All of the aspects in a chart will have some significance, but it is especially important to establish the relationships of the main characters, such as the Sun and the Moon, the hero and heroine, as it were, of any chart, and the ruling planet. If a planet is entirely unaspected, it is a loner and may create its own dramas.

Number: Establishing the Quality of the Dialogue

Aspects are based on the distance planets are apart around the circular stage. The degrees of separation – the angular distance – between any two planets will be a particular fraction or harmonic of the circle. For example, the opposition is half a circle, it is ½, one divided by two or the second harmonic. The quality of the relationship between the planets will be determined by the nature of the number by which the circle is divided. So when two planets are 180° apart, in opposition, in a second harmonic relationship, their association will take on the characteristics of Two-ness, ie it will be concerned with objective expression, with polarisation and the potential for manifestation. When 120° apart, planets will resonate to the idea of Three-ness, which brings out a sense of beauty and harmony in the relationship and will find expression in an ease and delight in working together. And so on with each number.

Hence, to really understand the significance of the aspects, and indeed the signs and houses, we need to learn the basics of numerology. This is a profound study in itself and can only be touched upon here. Some brief indications are given in the paragraphs on each of the main aspects.

The Table that follows gives a summary of each of the first 12 aspects. The 11th harmonic aspect is included for completeness, although it and its multiples are not currently in common use. In theory the division of the circle by any number will have its own particular meaning, adding subtler shades of meaning to the final picture.

Orbs

In any particular chart, planets are seldom found to be exactly aspecting one another. The 'orb' given in the final column of the following table indicates the distance, in degrees, from the exact aspect at which that kind of relationship between the planets will begin to be felt. As in everyday life, planets do not have to be exactly alongside one another in order to enter into a dialogue. When planets get 'within orb' they can, as it were, hear each other. The closer planets get to an exact aspect, the more intense and clear cut their conversation. As they separate from each other, they gradually move out of earshot, and will lose connection until they come into orbs of another aspect. The orbs listed are rough indications based on observation and experience over many years. In any particular chat, orbs may be extended if the planets involved are prominent or form part of a larger aspect pattern.

The Aspects or Harmonics

AspectDivision 0f 360 byAngleSymbolOrb
CONJUCTION 1 0
OPPOSITION 2 180
TRINE 3 120
SQUARE 4 90
QUINTILE 5 72 Q
BI-QUINTILE 2/5 144 BQ
SEXTILE 6 60
SEPTILE 2 51°26 1/7 S 2°30
BI-SEPTILE 2/7 102°51 2/7 BS 2°30
TRI-SEPTILE 3/7 154°18 3/7 TS 2°30
SEMI-SQUARE 8 45
SESSQUQUADRATE 3/8 135
NOVILE 9 40 1/9 or N 1°40
DECILE 10 36 1/10 or D 1°30
ELEVENTH 11 32°44 1/11
SEMI-SEXTILE 12 30
QUINCUNX 5/12 150

The orbs given are based on experience. Somewhat wider orbs can be used when the Sun and Moon are involved. Aspects are most powerful when closest to exactitude.

The Outgoing and Incoming Phases

Figure 5.2 illustrates the cycle of aspects using the monthly dance between Moon and Sun. This is the basic model for all pairs of planets. We can see that, in fact, the Moon goes through the above sequence of aspects twice in its monthly cycle with the Sun. The first time, following the New Moon, when she is moving away from the Sun, is known as the outgoing or waxing phase. The second time, as the Moon continues her journey back towards the Sun, is called the incoming or waning phase.

Thus there are two forms of each aspect. For example, we see the outgoing or waxing square, the First Quarter, when, following the New Moon, the Moon has moved on 90° from the Sun. Then, following the Full Moon, there is the incoming or waning square, the Last Quarter, when the Moon has 90° left of its journey to the next New Moon.

It will be seen that, whilst these two aspects appear to be identical, the waxing square relates to a time when there is the challenging pressure produced by an impatient spring-like desire to build up and move out into the world and get to grips with the principles involved. By contrast, the incoming square relates to the challenge of the autumnal process of harvesting and giving back the ideas of the cycle to the world. For example, Jung was born with the outgoing square of Sun to Neptune. His life was spent getting to grips with individuating (Sun) himself and his patients from the Collective (Neptune). By contrast, the medical missionary, Albert Schweitzer, who had the incoming square, spent his life honing his creative gifts (Sun) in music, theology, philosophy and medicine so that he could better give his life (Sun) back in sacrifice to the lepers and sick (Neptune) of Lamberene.

Sample aspect gridFigure 5.2. The Aspect grid shows the angular relationship, the aspect, between each pair of planets. The main aspects are shown in the lower left triangular grid. The top right grid shows those planets whose orbits are in parallel or contra-parallel, ie at the same angles north or south of the equator.

The Relative Strength of Aspects

The closest aspects in a chart will always be of importance, and the qualities of the planets involved are likely to be strong in the character. However, aspects are not of equal importance. As a rule, we an say that the closer the divisor of the circle is to unity (number one), the more universal will be the significance of the aspect; the more remote the number from unity, the more particular will be the aspect's qualities and meaning.

So, for example, the conjunction, which is based on the number one or unity, is by far the most important aspect. By contrast, an aspect based on, say, the division of the circle by 17, will have a very particular meaning, which would only be of significance to a highly experienced expert fine-tuning a chart reading.

The Cosmic Dance Unfolds the Planetary Ideas

The planets are constantly circling the Sun and changing the relationships with one another. These changing positions in the dance come about because the planets move at very different speeds. As we saw in the last chapter, Mercury, which is the closest planet to the Sun, takes just 88 days to complete one orbit, whilst Pluto, the most distant, takes some 246 years. Because of this difference in speed, a faster planet can be seen to catch up with a slower planet, join it for a moment, the moment of 'conjunction', and then move on ahead, as shown in Figure 5.2. In due course, the faster planet arrives at a point in its orbit at which it is opposite the slower planet, the 'opposition'. It then moves on round to the next conjunction. This cycle from conjunction to conjunction is the basic element in the cosmic dance. The aspects mark out the different main stages of this cycle.

It is these cycles that, as Plato's 'instruments of time', are constantly unfolding the formative eternal ideas of the planets into our individual and collective consciousness. The birth chart, as a freeze-frame picture of one moment in this ever-changing dance, depicts the particular combination of creative ideas that are being released at that moment.

Going Retrograde

Viewing the dance of the heavens from Earth further complicates the picture. For whilst the planets are steadily circling the Sun in one direction, there will be times when, viewed from earth, a planet will appear to slow down, stop and move backwards with increasing speed across the sky, to 'go retrograde' (see Figure 5.3). Then, after a while, the planet will slow down, apparently stop and then move forward again with increasing speed. This means that the relationship between any two planets during their mutual cycle goes through a kind of 'pause' and 'emphasis' phase. These retrograde periods highlight important times when unfinished business relating to the two principles can be more thoroughly grappled with, and sometimes resolved. For example, when Mercury is retrograde it suggests that the mind is more inwardly directed and that instead of simply communicating outwardly there is a greater capacity for reflective thought. If Mercury is retrograde in aspect to Saturn it shows a very strong critical sense and desire to engage with, understand and unravel problems.

Diagram of retrograde motionFigure 5.3. Retrograde motion (shown by the symbol R) is the apparent 'moving backwards' of a planet in relation to the Earth. In its orbit around the Sun, the Earth overtakes it at the point of opposition. At position one, two, and three, the planet moves forward; at four and five, it is seen to move backwards; at six and seven it moves forward again. In the birth chart, retrograde planets seem to have a more intense and introverted influence.

Unfolding Ideas

In Platonic terms, each cycle, from conjunction to conjunction, unfolds a basic idea or theme. So the cycle of Mercury-Pluto unfolds the changing relationship between individual mind (Mercury) and the deep urge to survive and have the power to control and shape the world (Pluto). When on good terms (ie in harmonious aspect), these two can produce penetrating thought, acute intellectual analysis, and great powers of persuasion. When arguing with one another (ie in a tense aspect), there is a preoccupation with survival issues, suspicion, verbal power struggles, and a tendency to paranoia.

You may be a strongly mercurial type. But what do you talk about? And how do other facets of your personality get on with your endless curiosity and nervous energy? A study of the geometrical relationship of Mercury to the other planets in the chart will help answer such questions.

If your Mercury and Mars are on talking terms, ie in aspect with one another, we need to know whether their conversation is generally convivial, tense and argumentative, high-flown, practically constructive, intellectually stimulating, or even inspiring.

Co-Operating or Quarrelling?

Trines and sextiles are traditionally considered to be soft, easy, harmonious, good or 'benefic' aspects. Oppositions, squares, semi-squares and sesquiquadrates are considered to be difficult, hard, inharmonious, 'malefic' or evil aspects. There is some truth in this in as far as the easy aspects between planets do produce co-operation ad mutual encouragement, whilst the hard aspects usually indicate some measure of tension and produce the challenge to 'get to grips' with the issues involved and make things happen. In practice, however, aspects can indicate much subtler shades of meaning, and hard aspects often 'deliver the goods' whilst soft aspects may generate great aspirations but little of the necessary perspiration to make things happen.

Aspects Are Like Relationships

Aspects, like relationships, come in many varieties. Some are simple and straightforward; others are subtler and more complex. Thus the conjunction, when two planets are standing next to one another, demands that these two gods will have to get used to living together, or 'in each other's pockets': a close relationship is inevitable. Whether or not it is a happy coexistence will depend on:

  • The essential nature of the partners;
  • The sign they are placed in – (see Chapter 6)
  • The house they are standing in – (see Chapter7)

For example, Venus and Jupiter both like the good things in life, and each will easily fan the other's happy expectations. But Venus and Saturn in conjunction is more of a marriage of opposites and makes for harder work. Venus relates through her feelings. She is delighted by the beautiful in all its forms. She desires to experience happiness through a love which merges herself and her lover in total oneness. Saturn, by contrast, is an essentially intellectual god. He seeks order and needs to establish and clarify boundaries, to be cautious, factual and reserved. However, if Venus and Saturn are in the sign Libra, this could be very much more harmonious, as both planets 'joy' (the technical term used to mean very happy) in this sign, which brings out the intellectual and justice-seeking qualities of both planets. If, on the other hand, Venus and Jupiter meet in Virgo, a sign in which both feel relatively uncomfortable, their dialogue is likely to be far more restrained, cautious and abstemious than one would normally expect of these two party-goers.

So, too, the house in which a planet is standing will be more or less congenial and will have its impact on the quality of the relationship and focus of the conversation. Venus and Saturn in the second house are more likely to be interested in discussing values and economic matters, whilst in the fifth, their preoccupations will be more obviously creative and concerned with self-expression.

The Cycle Of Aspects

There is no room in this short book to give even a brief account of each of the planetary combinations. Instead, here are some essential factors about each of the aspects. Examples of the Sun and Neptune at each phase are used to illustrate the principles involved.

☌  The Conjunction - The Number One

360/1 = 360. The first harmonic. Life starts with the union of opposites, with the coming together of male and female. The conjunction represents the beginning of a cycle and suggests a merging of principles. When male and female are conjoined as in marriage, they are brought together in unity. But marriage is not just a union. Just as a fertilised seed contains subjectively within itself all the vast potential that can spring forth from that pregnant unity, so the conjunction aspect is fully of potency. Lord Mountbatten, Admiral of the Fleet during the Second World War, was born with ☉☌♆.

☍  The Opposition

As we have seen, this is the number of polarity. In terms of the divine descent from unity into

multiplicity, two represents the primary moment of ex-pression.
The opposition (180°) occurs when planets are placed on opposite sides of the circle, suggesting confrontation, tension and, eventually, complementariness. Again, the degree of tension generated from this aspect is determined by the nature of the planets involved. If the Sun is in opposition to Neptune, for example, there will be a constant tug between the desire for purposeful, individual self-expression (Sun) and a tendency to abandon oneself to float on the great sea of life and the collective unconscious (Neptune). The individual (Sun) will either be fed by the collective and become immensely creative, insightful and imaginative, or fall in and drown.

Mozart is a classic ☉☍♆, both highly individual and yet plugged into the collective so that inspiration poured through him. 'I write as a cow pees', he was reported to have said. The ☉☍♆ is reflected at another level in his deeply ambiguous relationship with his father (Sun).

△  The Trine

If the opposition puts the opposing view, the antithesis, then the trine, which brings in a third view, is the synthesis. For example, the poet TS Eliot had an almost exact Sun in Libra trine Neptune in Gemini. He aspired to, and delighted in the quest for the eternal realities. His work is full of Sun-Neptune imagery, as in The Four Quartets:

The river is within us, the sea is all about us
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time

◻  The Square

Four is the product of 2 x 2. It is two to the power of two. It is therefore very much to do with making things manifest and the exercise of the will. It is related to challenge and effort and the need 'to get to grips with' the planetary principles involved. It produces restless striving, but, since the two planets are at right angles to each other, it can also mean that the two actors 'go off at a tangent' to each other, or block each other's expression.

Jung was born with the Sun in an almost exact outgoing square to Neptune. He was challenged by the need to integrate (Sun) the unconsciousness (Neptune) into his life path (Sun). This led him to focus (Sun) much of his life's effort (square) on Neptunian matters such as dreams, myths, alchemy, mysticism, and the process of making this personal (Sun). It also produced a major crisis when he went into a state of psychosis, and personal identity (Sun) was nearly swamped out by collective issues (Neptune). It also meant that he could at times be vague and unreliable.

Q  The Quintile

Although referred to in older textbooks as a 'minor' aspect, the division of the 360° of the circle by five = 72°, the quintile aspect, and its multiple of 144°, the bi-quintile, is of primary importance. Five is the number of consciousness and choice. It represents the creative power of we human beings to shape our own life according to our own understanding and intentions. Martin Luther King had his Sun exactly 144° Neptune. This is the signature of someone who will consciously aspire to focus (Sun) their own life around some kind of vision or dream (Neptune). When King said 'I have a dream' he was speaking from his visionary heart. The downside of such an intimate union with Neptune can be a lack of personal boundaries, so that, for example, it is now known that King copied a substantial part of his doctoral thesis from an unacknowledged source.

⚹  The Sextile

The endlessly busy worker bee creating its hexagonal honeycomb is a perfect symbol of the number six, which as 2 x 3 is the objective expression, two, of the life principle, three. The sextile combines both the life, vitality and motivation of three-ness with the manifesting, objectifying qualities of two-ness. Hence it is motivated activity: busy-ness, business, business-like. It encourages a working relationship between the planets and angles involved. It is the practical idealist. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the philosopher, was born with the outgoing sextile, as was Arthur Koestler who worked on a kibbutz, became a dedicated (Sun) communist (Neptune), had a mystical experience (Sun-Neptune) and went on to espouse the integration (Sun) of a transcendent dimension (Neptune) into everyday thought. His last years were spent actively campaigning for euthanasia, the voluntary (Sun) dissolution (Neptune) of the individual.

S  The Septile

Before the days of the computer, the septile series of aspects of 51°26', and 1/7th part of the 360° zodiac circle, were almost impossible to see in the chart and so were ignored or classed as 'minor' aspects. In fact, the division by seven is one of the most powerful of all. This is not surprising as from earliest times the number seven has always been considered to be of supreme importance. The Bible tells us that the world was created in seven days, and of course the whole world still runs on a seven-day week. And in most languages the seven days are named after the seven planets. The seven series of aspects relate to inspiration, and being captured by the imaginative and mystical. George Harrison, the most mystical of the Beatles, has Sun bi-septile Neptune.

∠ ⚼  The Semi-Square And Sesquiquadrate

The division by eight = 2 x 2 x 2 gives 2 cubed, an aspect of 45°. Eight is the number of concrete manifestation, of real substance. This aspect and the aspect of 135 = 3 x 45 are to do with productive effort. The astrologer, idealist philosopher and mystic John Addey, the visionary founder of both the Astrological Association and the Urania Trust, had Sun semi-square a rising Neptune.

N  The Novile

The division by nine gives an aspect of 40°. Nine is 3 x 3, the delight of delight, and is related to the higher ideals which guide us and motivate us. The planets joined by a nine-based aspect will feature strongly in the ideals of the individual. Sun-Neptune connected on the ninth harmonic suggests an essential altruism. This is the picture of the idealistic and visionary (Neptune) leader (Sun). Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the UK, and President Clinton both have this contact as does businessman Richard Branson.

D  The Decile

The division by 10 is an aspect of 36° and the 3/10 is 108°. The number 10, like the 10th house and the 10th sign Capricorn, is very much associated with the career and profession, and special talents. Planets linked by decile work together to produce real knowledge (5) that can be expressed in the world and in a vocation. David Copperfield, the hugely successful professional illusionist and stage magician, has Sun-36-Neptune, a classic case of someone who 'knows how to create an illusion'.

⚺  The Semi-Sextile

Twelve is 3 x 4. It is a combination of aspiration (3) and effort (4), so a sometimes awkward but potentially fertile mixture of trine and square. Twelve is the number most related to the unfoldment of life. The division of the circle of the zodiac by 12 gives 12 30° segments of the zodiac. But when one planet is 30° from another they are in very different signs. This often makes for an awkward but potentially powerful conversation, which wants to be relaxed (3) but feels compelled to take action (4). Dustin Hoffman was born with Sun in Leo, sign of the showman who seeks to be centre stage, 30° from Neptune, and the Moon in Virgo, sign of the self-effacing perfectionist. Here the Sun, the capacity to be and to project oneself, is linked in this delighting, striving aspect with sensitive, imaginative Neptune, god of drams, illusions and the theatre. The whole of Hoffman's professional career has expressed a tension between these poles. His meticulous research, submerging himself in the image of another in order that he may shine, can be witnessed in his portrayal of the autistic brother in The Rainman. This imaginative dichotomy is most explicitly expressed in Tootsie, his self-mocking portrayal of the self-important, pretentious out-of-work actor who dresses up as the lovable, gentle 'real woman' Dorothy in order to get a part in a soap opera. The star who is not what they seem: a pure Sun-Neptune dance.

⚻  The Quincunx

150° = 5 X 30°, combines 3, 4 and 5. The quincunx is a more conscious (5) version of the semi-sextile. It can be a very powerful contact, but it can produce a certain 'divine discontent' and unease between the factors involved, which demands their conscious reconciliation. Jeffrey Archer, the politician, best-seller writer and former bankrupt, has Sun-150-Neptune. He both aspires to be a characteristic leader, yet is also a romantic. His enormous success as he worked creatively with his Neptune contrasts sharply with his earlier failure which put him 'all at sea'.

Lunar Aspects

The Moon in the chart speaks of our natural, spontaneous relationship and approach to the world. Her aspects will show the gods with whom she is on familiar terms and which will in consequence colour the individual's gut-level response to life. So, for example, if the Moon aspects Neptune there will be heightened sensitivity and imagination and a tendency to idealise and dream. If at the same time there is an aspect to Mars, it is likely that such ideals and dreams can be translated into action.

Solar Aspects

Planets in aspect to the Sun will normally feature clearly in the characteristic way in which we organise our life; the way we make decisions and make up our mind. Planets aspecting the Sun ca be seen as the close colleagues which the hero will need to work with in order to attain the goal of self-realisation.

Unaspected Planets

It has been found that when a planet has no major aspects, it can often be very 'pure' in its expression. However, its activity, not being especially connected with the rest of the chart, can be either all switched on or all switched off.

Multiple Relationships

Conversations are not necessarily just two-way. Many characters can be engaged in the dialogue and often are. Mercury, for example, may be aspected to Saturn, giving a demand for clarify and discipline to the thoughts and a somewhat conventional, practical, orthodox mind. Yet at the same time it may also be closely aspected to Neptune, stimulating the imagination and the ability to identify intuitively with others and an ability to communicate myths and fairy tales. Such a paradoxical combination can produce someone who is able to work professionally (Mercury-Saturn) with dreams (Mercury-Neptune), who is able to write and communicate clearly about intangible and normally elusive subjects.

Mid-Points

An especially powerful form of aspect is when one factor in the birth chart stands half-way between two others, ie on their mid-point, or in square or semi-square to the mid-point within an orb of about 1°30'. This pattern acts like a triple conjunction with the factor in the middle bringing together the ideas of the two on either side. Thus, for example, Freud has his Sun, the very focus of his life, exactly conjunct the mid-point of Mercury (mind) and Pluto (the Underworld), a combination that speaks vividly of depth psychology. Carl Jung, his pupil and close colleague who developed his ideas, likewise has the Sun with Mercury-Pluto; in this case it is semi-square the mid-point. Continuing the Sun-Neptune theme above, some individuals who had Neptune in aspect to the Sun-Moon mid-point, thereby placing Neptune at the heart of their lives, include Jacques Cousteau, the great underwater explorer, Leggs Diamond, the gangster who made a fortune peddling alcohol during prohibition, and St Teresa of Avila, the great exponent of mystical prayer and contemplation. In each case a totally Neptunian life, but at very different levels of expression!

Mid-point relationships are often impossible to see with the unaided eye but can be instantly identified by the computer which can set all the information out in a readily digestible form.

Lucky Numbers? – Harmonic Charts

Lucky numbers can be pure superstition, yet each of us tends to be more at home with some numbers than others. In these days of computers it is possible to look at the way in which a chart is resonating with each of the numbers. By getting the computer to multiply the natal chart by the number under consideration a harmonic chart is created. This shows in what way the planets and angles are brought together by this number. This is an extremely powerful technique for arriving at the working of the number archetypes within the individual. The use of such charts was developed by John Addey in the 1960s. Charles Harvey then went on to discover that these methods had in fact been used for hundreds of years in Hindu astrology. This powerful technique for studying hidden aspect patterns is explored in the books Harmonic Charts and Working with Astrology (see Bibliography).

Ruling Planets

As we saw in Chapter 4, each planet 'rules' a particular sign or signs. So, for example, the Sun is said to rule the sign of Leo. This means that there is always a connection between the Sun in a chart and the house in the chart where the sign Leo is found. So it Leo is on the cusp of the seventh house, and the Sun in the chart is in Sagittarius in the tenth house, the person will not only find themselves drawn into partnership with Leo types but probably individuals who are high-profile (Sun in tenth) adventurous explorers (Sagittarius) of some kind. Aspects to the Sun will further colour the picture in this case. Whilst the ruler of each house is important, a special emphasis is normally accorded to the planet which rules the rising sign. This is normally considered to be the ruling planet of the chart as a whole.

The way in which the planets talks with one another is subtle and various, but the more precisely and attentively we listen, the greater understanding we will have of the profound potential their geometries can provide.