Monday, February 27, 2012
Getting an angle on the astrological angles
You're at a party when someone asks "what's your sign?" While this question is starting to sound a bit like an antiquated pick-up line, nearly everyone would at least be able to answer. Most of us know our "sign"- which is our sun sign, the location of our sun in the zodiac when we were born. The sun sign represents our identity and ego, so it's no coincidence that we've incorporated this meaning linguistically ("I am a Pisces").
As you may have read about in the Celebrity Moon Sign Series (check out the post on Grigori Rasputin here!), Some of us may also know our moon sign, the location of the moon in the zodiac when we were born. This represents our emotional, instinctual side, as well as our childhood.
Perhaps not quite as commonly known (but just as important) is the ascendant, or the sign of the zodiac belt that was just coming over the eastern horizon when we were born. While the sun and moon signs are based only on your birth day and time, the ascendant incorporates birth day, time, AND place (since where on earth you were born will affect your perspective of the sky, and therefore what degree of the zodiac belt was on the horizon- the ascendant). This distinction highlights the significance of the ascendant in astrology- it signifies your role, the impression others have of you, and the unique way in which you respond and adapt to your environment. The ascendant also represents your physical body and "colors" the manner in which your chart manifests outwardly.
The ascendant is the first of four chart angles, four points which make up a cross around which the rest of the chart is oriented. The ascendant, and its opposite point, the descendant, form the horizontal axis. The Midheaven and IC (Nadir) points form the vertical axis.
While the ascendant represents you, the descendant represents others. The role of relationships and other people are represented by this point. The midheaven is the zodiac point corresponding to the highest point in the sky the sun reaches as it travels across the heavens. As the highest point of the sun, the midheaven corresponds to our most public, career, or professional aspirations and inclinations. Meanwhile, the opposite IC point represents the more personal, private parts of our lives along with our roots and foundations. The zodiac ring, and the planets along it, are oriented according to these angles. The angles are also used to form the 12 houses of the chart (the ascendant is the beginning of the first house, the IC is the 4th, the descendant the 7th, and the midheaven the 10th).
Planets and zodiac signs on these angles are some of the strongest indicators in chart analysis. A planet can change meaning dramatically depending on how close it is to one of these angles, and which angle it might be. The sun, for example, can go from outspoken and physical vitality (ascendant) to deep foundations and a strong identity with home life (IC) to a strong orientation towards partnership and connection to others (descendant) and finally to a strong public, career-oriented expression (midheaven).
Not only is the axis of the astrological angles necessary for building a chart, but it is also an example of a recurring archetype in cultures around the world. The cross in different myriad religious traditions, the "cross of matter", the compass rose, and the traditional Native American medicine wheel all share this common symbolism. The angles of the chart connect the heavens to the earth, and simultaneously orient the significance of the planets in the zodiac to different parts of our individual lives.
The importance of the angles is also essential to relocation astrology and the corresponding study of Astrocartography (to be discussed more in future posts!). The use of angles in relocation highlights one of the most enduring lessons of the angles- the essential connection between time and space in using astrology. Maybe someday soon, people will be asking "What's your ascendant?" You never know...
Readers- do you know your ascendant? Are any of your planets on the angles? Leave a comment!