Dynamic Astrology II
luminous spaghetti - understanding astrological connections
"Billy Pilgrim says that the universe does not look like a lot of bright little dots to the creatures from Tralfamadore. The creatures can see where each star has been and where it is going, so that the heavens are filled with rarefied luminous spaghetti. And Tralfamadorians don't see human beings as two-legged creatures, either. They see them as great millipedes-'with babies legs at one end and old people's legs at the other,' says Billy Pilgrim.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Slaughterhouse Five
There are words to describe our ability to see random patterns in nature, for example seeing faces in cloud formations and patterns in smoke; our ability to see any connection in random or meaningless data is called apophenia. Pareidolia is used to refer to our ability to specifically find images and sounds in random stimuli. The 'face on mars' phenomenon is an example of pareidoliac apophenia, where a single image from a spacecraft orbiting Mars suggested a carved face upon the surface in the region of Mars called Cydonia Mensae.
So, in order to be certain that what we are seeing is worth believing, we have to carry out experiments which enable us to increase our confidence that a given idea is either true or false. Taking a second, much clearer, photograph of the face on mars is a simple example of this type of experimentation. And closer examination of the 'face' reveals it to be a natural feature, which appeared face-like in the earlier low resolution photograph.
The analysis of patterns is carried out across many social and scientific areas, its main purpose being to allow us to focus on patterns in data which we can influence. For example in crime pattern analysis, we might focus on a series of similar crimes in order to catch the perpetrator and therefore prevent similar future crimes. Thus far, applying pattern analysis to astrology has been hampered by the innate complexity of the subject.
In 1997 I stumbled across an astrological connection between two charts which made me think that it would be possible, under certain circumstances, to provide demonstrable proofs of astrological effects. Nonetheless, it was quite a leap from my single observation to the actual demonstration of astrology. The "certain circumstances" I envisaged were far from simple to achieve. One correspondent at the time suggested that in order to achieve this there were just too many places where I needed to "<insert a miracle here>". The inevitable path would be to experiment and to see if a "miracle" would be forthcoming. The reason you are reading this now is that more than one of these fortuitous facts turned out to be valid.
Experimentation with astrological patterns is not simple and requires much more than knowledge of traditional astrology. Over the next eight years I followed a steep learning curve with regard to statistics, spherical trigonometry, astrometry as well as history; becoming immersed in the biographies of many famous people. Slowly the process started to reveal some patterns.
Astrological literature is widely available. While some commentators have made an issue of the fact that there are more astrology books published than science books, the majority of astrology books re-iterate the same facts, sometimes with a new spin, but generally there are more books telling you about your horoscope for the year ahead than there are about how to read a birth chart. There are more books about how to read a birth chart than there are about the philosophy of astrology and there are more books about how astrology should work than books containing genuine experimental results declaring how it does work. Discovery is rare in astrology. As the 20th century advanced the practice of astrology experienced a boom not seen since the middle ages, and, while new ways of looking at astrology were forthcoming in the form of the midpoints of Cosmobiology, John Addey's harmonics and the AstroCartography of Jim Lewis, there was no shift in academic status until the early 2000s when some astrology-related degree courses were re-instituted. The number of highly literate works on astrology is very small compared to science. Perhaps a few dozen really top quality, progressive and exploratory works have been published in the past fifty years. Authors like Reinhold Ebertin, Richard Tarnas, Patrick Curry, Nick Campion, Bernardette Brady, Steven Arroyo, Garry Phillipson, Geoffrey Cornelius, Arthur M. Young and Robert Hand are some of the names that spring to mind when I think of genuine attempts to move astrology forward in a considered way.
There is a lack of investment in astrology, even though a large amount of money is spent on astrological products. Journalistic astrologers or, perhaps more accurately, astrological journalists take the largest cut of the astrology dollar. And if any of this money finds its way into good quality research it is not widely known about or publicized. This may be due to a number of reasons, but one of them is undoubtedly the belief among some astrologers that astrology, as it is practiced today, is a complete and unimprovable product. As far as sun sign astrology is concerned, this may be true even though sun sign astrology itself largely isn't.
What we can say about astrological literature is that there are consistent interpretations in astrology, the foundation of many can be traced back to Claudius Ptolemy in the 1st Century CE.
Aspects in Astrology
There is very little disagreement that a trine aspect - when two planets are 120 degrees apart in the zodiac - is favorable, or allows their principles to combine unhindered by discord. And that a square aspect (or quartile) - when two planets are 90 degrees apart in the zodiac - is unfavorable, or creates discord and hard work is required to overcome the impediment.
"a trine aspect is the most fortunate and best"."a quartile the lesser malevolent aspect"
(William Ramesey 1653)
Modern astrologers have revisited this type of interpretation and concluded that these aspects are not good and bad in themselves, but are functionally relevant. One astrologer attributes the sinking of the Titanic to a very efficient trine aspect - after all, the sinking did happen very smoothly and efficiently from an objective point of view. Square aspects are sometimes regarded as fortunate because they create situations which require resolution and are regularly found in astrologically congruent patterns in the horoscopes of high achievers. Conversely, trine aspects are regarded as being present in astrologically congruent patterns in the horoscopes of people for whom wealth and luxury comes easily and therefore find it difficult or unnecessary to work hard to achieve what many would regard as meaningful lives. So in modern astrology squares are for those who have dragged themselves up by the bootstraps and trines are for playboys (and girls).
It's also worth mentioning that trines and squares can occur in your birth chart, and they can also happen to your birth chart. If you count 90 days from your birthday, on or around that day every year the Sun is 90 degrees from your natal Sun and is therefore "squaring your natal Sun by transit" on this day you may be challanged. 120 days from your birthday and it is "trining your natal Sun by transit" on this day, you may progress about your business easily.
Sun transits aren't widely discussed in serious astrology, but as you might expect they provide the meat of Sun Sign astrology. I can't recall ever reading a book about how to write a newspaper astrology column, but if there is one, it will probably include interpretations for Sun transits. Rob Hand gives these interpretations in a very thick book that includes all the other planet's transits as well (called, of course, Planets in Transit ).
Transits constitute a kind of dynamic astrology. That is, the positions of the planets change in space over time and as they do so, they make new aspects with the planets in everyone's natal charts. The foundation of Sun Sign astrology is the relationship between these transits of planets and their relationship with the Sun in everyone's natal chart. For instance, Saturn takes an average of two and a half years to transit through one sign of the zodiac. When it was in Cancer between June 2003 and July 2005, at some point over that two year period it would make a 180 degree opposition aspect to the Sun in every living Capricorn's natal chart because Cancer is the opposite sign to Capricorn. Those born in December would be opposed first and eventually those born around 19th January would feel the opposition two years later. Transits are external influences that, purportedly, affect us all, but in different ways depending on the structure of our natal horoscope, which in turn depends on our time and place of birth.
But transits do not constitute a dynamic horoscope, because they are influences that are external to the natal chart which remains the same throughout the transit process. They are not part of a changing internal psychological process, they happen to us from the outside.
The angles made between planets (aspects) are the most common type of astrological connection which can be extrapolated into statistical data for pattern analysis. It is possible to create astrological research data in other areas, such as planets in signs, declination, in houses and hemispheres of the horoscope, but aspects form the most readily available and scalable data.
A conjunction aspect of two planets, where both planets are together at the same point in the zodiac, looks like this:
Natal Conjunction of Venus and Sun
Conjunction by Transit of Saturn and Sun
|An opposition in a horoscope looks like this:|
Natal Opposition of Uranus and Sun
Opposition by Transit of Saturn to the natal Sun
"But you must note that application by sextile or trine is good, for they are Aspects, of love, amity and Friendship; yet the trine is more forcible and better, for that a Planet in trine with another is out of houses of the one and the same nature, as fire with fire, earth with earth, water with water, and ayr with ayr."
(William Ramesey 1653)
|The trine and the square, on the other hand, look like this:|
Natal trine of Sun and Neptune
Natal square of Mars and Sun
Most aspects are not as readily visible as the conjunction and the opposition in a circular chart.The other major aspects in astrology are the 60 degree sextile, the 30 degree semi-sextile and the 150 degree quincunx (AKA the Inconjunct).
Natal semisextile of Venus and Sun
Natal sextile of Uranus and Pluto
Natal quincunx (or inconjunct) of Uranus and Venus
The purpose of showing you astrological aspects is primarily to enable you to understand that astrological aspects are the connective angles that planets make in the zodiac; that they can occur between planets in birth charts or between planets in different charts and that if we decide to compare the two natal charts of couples, we can gain insights into their relationship using virtually the same rules we use to analyse potential in the birth chart.
If we see lots of trines between (planets in) the birth charts of a couple, we can assume the principles governed by the planets involved will blend with ease. If we see a square we can assume some conflict or discord in the area of the relationship that the planets involved are associated with. If it's a square between Saturn and Mars (which are quite serious planets), the consequences will be more significant than if the square is between the Sun and Venus.
By far the most conventionally harmonious astrological condition is the trine aspect which occurs when any two planets are connected by an angle of 120 degrees. The trine aspect is an enabling aspect, allowing the easy channeling of planetary principles (commonly referred to as energy). This is considered to be a good aspect to have in a natal chart even though the trine is not actually beneficial in itself, it rather draws together two principles represented by the two planets and allows their potential to develop unhindered. If trines occur between two people's separate birth charts, they are considered to be indicators of a point of complimentary harmony between the two people involved. Since the time of Ptolemy and possibly before this, astrologers have noted the apparently benefic nature of trines, particularly trines involving the five "personal planets" (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars). This kind of aspect will most likely create conditions that are popular for people in relationships because, generally speaking, people are accustomed to expect harmony and ease in relationships rather than conflict and discord.
The trine is followed in importance by the 60 degree sextile, which has a less powerfully harmonious, but still complimentary role.
Other aspects have either mixed, indifferent or conflictual natures, the 90 degree square (or quartile) aspect is generally regarded as an aspect of natural conflict. When planets connect by this angle they disagree and the result is discord. The result in relationships is said to be repulsion rather than attraction, although this repulsion may not be personal repulsion, but more often circumstantial repulsion (things getting in the way). The same conflictual disagreement can sometimes be said of the opposition, however, the phrase "opposites attract" is also true in astrology to some extent. The fact that this attraction is often followed by the realisation of a couples differences is often overlooked at lleast at the beginning of relationships. Sun Venus oppositions are markedly different conceptually than Saturn Mars oppositions, Saturn and Mars being regarded as planets whose influence is malefic, while the influence of the Sun and Venus is more likely to be conventionally beneficial.
The 30 and 150 degree aspects are regarded by most astrologers as unfavorable for relationships, on account of the indifference they create. Planets forming these angles are said to "not behold each other" which is not revealing of the aspect itself, after all, this is surely a more apt description of no aspect rather than a recognised aspect. As such a semantic revision of this may point to the lack of passion between planets which make this connection in relationships. A 30 degree semi-sextile for example relates to a relationship where one person may regard the other as property, or perhaps there is a more remote teacher-pupil or project-goal relationship. The 150 degree quincunx aspect describes a master-servant, nurse-patient or banker-borrower relationship.
So when we apply aspects to relationships we are forced by astrological rules to categorise aspects as follows:
Trine = Beneficial
Sextile = Beneficial
Conjunction = Depends on planets involved
Opposition = Depends on planets involved
Square = Discordant
Semisextile = Indifferent
Quincunx = Indifferent