The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 328, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Rick Levine
Episode originally released on November 22, 2021
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released November 24, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Joining me today in the studio is Rick Levine, and we’re going to be talking about minor aspects in astrology, or as Rick will encourage me to call them, the ‘non-Ptolemaic aspects’, but we’ll get into that. So hey, Rick. Thanks for joining me today.
RICK LEVINE: I really wish you would have started differently.
CB: You really don’t want them to be called the ‘minor aspects’.
RL: Well, first of all, thanks for inviting me back after blowing out the power last month.
CB: Yeah, we are not going to say anything negative about Uranus. Uranus is a very nice planet, and I appreciate it very much. I hope it doesn’t end this podcast episode.
RL: No, I think we’ll be fine this time.
RL: So my problem with calling these aspects ‘minor aspects’ is it relegates them to a less-than position. And it’s my experience from having worked with them over and over and over again for decades now that they are no less important, they are no more minor than Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are minor, or than any one particular technique is minor.
We can do a chart without Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto and because of the fractal nature of the universe, it’ll work. For that matter, we could do a chart with someone’s Sun, Moon, and rising sign; I mean, it’s a beginning. However, when you use the non-Ptolemaic aspects, you fill in information that simply wasn’t there. And there’s no amount of inference from the information without the minor aspects. Can you actually jump to what you get when you begin to use them?
CB: Right. So let’s get into that debate, but let’s hit the backdrop first. So that’s your position and you’re a minor aspect or whatever aspect proponent. We’re going to come up with some terminology as we go that’ll make me more able to do this.
So part of the backdrop is I did an episode earlier this month to set the stage on the five, what I call, ‘major aspects’, let’s say ‘Ptolemaic aspects’, and that’s the ‘conjunction’, ‘sextile’, ‘square’, ‘trine’, and ‘opposition’. And for 2,000 years now, those have been the primary aspects that astrologers have used in Western astrology, starting in the ancient Hellenistic, the Greek and Roman traditions, going through the Medieval traditions, and then the Renaissance traditions.
So those aspects are just for the diagram. Our designer, Paula Belluomini, made me a little diagram today that shows those major aspects. And the conjunction is 0 degrees, the opposition 180, the trine 120, the square is 90, and the sextile is 60 degrees.
RL: And around what time period did these major aspects become cemented? ‘Ptolemaic-ly’?
CB: No, in the 1st century BCE. So that’s one of the issues that I have. I’m never going to call them ‘Ptolemaic aspects’ because Ptolemy lived three centuries later after these were introduced.
RL: But rather than being 2,000 years, then let’s call it 1,400 years. Because the actual first additional change to it was Johannes Kepler some 500 years ago.
CB: Yeah, okay, so that’s good. So let’s set up our time frame; I like that you’re doing that. So 1st century, let’s say, around 100 BCE, we have this new system that’s introduced that introduces some aspects of older traditions from Mesopotamia and some traditions from Egypt. And one of the things that it introduces at this time is what are called aspects, configurations, or forms of testimony or witnessing, where the planets were said to be able to see each other through different ways, both by degree, like we just showed, but also, by sign. They were also using sign-based aspects as well as degree-based aspects and that was actually intimately tied into the rationale for the five configurations.
CB: So that’s introduced then. It’s then used for over a thousand years past that point, and then, yeah, we have this astrologer who comes along. James Holden talks about this in his book, A History of Horoscopic Astrology, when he mentions Johannes Kepler. He says: “Kepler invented several new aspects: 18°, 24°, 30°, 36°, 45°, 72°, 108°, 135°, 144°, and 150°.” He goes on to say: “Of these, the 30°, [the] 45°, [and the] 135°, and [the] 150° aspects have [become] adopted by most astrologers.” And then he goes on and talks about something else, secondary progressions.
RL: Now the 30° and 150°, weren’t those by signs part of the Ptolemaic construction, but they were specifically non-aspects?
CB: Yeah, they were called ‘aversions’. They were specifically thought to be the absence of an aspect. So for example, if a planet was in Cancer, it was said to aspect seven other signs: the sextile, square, trine, and opposition signs, as well as the conjunction. And then it was said to be in aversion to or not aspecting four other signs, and those four signs would roughly coincide with what is today the ‘inconjunct’, ‘quincunx’, or ‘semi-sextile’.
RL: Right. And the inconjunct theoretically would be both semi-sextiles and quincunxes because they’re non-aspects. And this is a little bit of a ‘languaging’ problem that I think we have in modern astrology is the sloppy use of the word ‘inconjunct’ because technically an inconjunct would be either or both. Whereas a quincunx is a quincunx and a semi-sextile is a semi-sextile, and they very specifically clarify that we’re not talking about the Ptolemaic universe.
CB: Yeah, so the inconjunct or the quincunx, those are two names in modern times that are used for the 150° aspect; that’s one of the things that you were saying.
RL: Yes. But what I’m saying is that the use of the word ‘inconjunct’ I believe goes back further and actually was used as a way of describing either the quincunx, the modern quincunx or the modern semi-sextile.
RL: And so, I think that sometimes the use of the word ‘inconjunct’ was like an intermediate word between aversion or–it’s like a non-aspect. If you think of the word ‘inconjunct’, it’s like there’s nothing there, so to speak.
RL: And I think that it’s important for us modern astrologers, if we are using the 30° semi-sextile and the 150° quincunx, to use those words rather than that intermediate word, inconjunct. It’s just a little ‘languaging’ thing of mine.
CB: That makes sense to me. Okay, so we’ll say quincunx when we’re talking about the 150° aspect, and we’ll say semi-sextile for the 30°.
RL: Yeah. And I think it’s interesting also because in interpretation, I know a lot of people who before they have real experience think that the semi-sextile functions like a trine, a half-trine, and a half-of-a-half-trine. In other words, the semi-sextile is like a half of a sextile, which is a half of a trine and that’s the sequence. And the fact of the matter is that the semi-sextile functions much more closely to the quincunx.
RL: It’s not an easy aspect. It’s an annoyance. It’s an aversion. These two planets–it’s not that they’re just not connecting, it’s that they are absolutely disconnecting. It’s almost like a misalignment rather than a no-alignment.
CB: Yeah. And I guess one of the important distinctions we’ll have to get into is to what extent is an aspect always the forming of a connection between two planets versus when is it sometimes not a relationship or a non-relationship between two planets, which sounds like what you’re describing there.
CB: So I think one of the reasons why I still maintain and think the terminology of major versus minor aspects might still be appropriate is I do think that there’s something unique and important about the five major aspects because they’re situated not just as geometric configurations, but also, they’re tied in with the zodiac, the zodiac signs, and the interactions between the signs.
RL: And I think that that is very significant and that then begs the next question and the observation that it was a brilliant mathematician like Kepler who noted that aspects may not be a function of the zodiac. They may actually be a function of what we ‘moderners’ might call ‘mathematical harmonics’, and therein lies part of my issue with calling them ‘minor’.
As you know, I’m probably more of a modernist. I totally respect all the old traditions and have studied them, certainly not as much as you. But as modernist, there’s a part of me that is at least partially willing to acknowledge the fact that there are not 12 signs up there, there are12 signs in here, and that the magic of 12 as a patterning agent is incredibly powerful for all of the mathematical reasons we know because you can half it, third it, and quarter it.
It’s totally facile and it makes absolute sense why we use a base 12 in keeping time or anything that is cyclical in nature because of its high level of functionality. But–this is a big but–but I do not believe that astrology is dependent upon 12 signs in the zodiac, even though it’s the fundamental piece to how we use astrology.
CB: Yeah, it’s not dependent on it, but this is really the rub when it comes to the minor aspects. Part of the reason Kepler introduced minor aspects is that he rejected the zodiac and he wanted to get rid of the zodiac. So that’s a problem because even though later astrologers have followed Kepler in adopting some of these other minor aspects, they have continued using the zodiac.
CB: Most Western astrologers do not agree with him that there’s no value; that there’s no practical value–not just conceptually or abstract–or actual practical meaning for the 12 zodiac signs.
RL: And I would fall on your side of that equation rather than Kepler’s just to be clear.
RL: I’m not a radical revisionist saying that the zodiac does not function–it does. At least that’s my observation. But as an interesting side note, it’s interesting to note that Kepler could not to septiles. He absolutely specifically wrote, “God does not use 7s; they’re too complicated.”
RL: And herein is another little lesson that I think we have because of the difference of the modern mind and the Renaissance mind and the Hellenistic mind–we’ve actually developed tools, techniques, and computers. Kepler might have felt very differently if he had a computer to calculate the 1/7, 2/7, and 3/7 which do not come out evenly; they’re not expressible as decimals.
And so, that bothered him, and he said, “Nope, can’t use them.” But it is intriguing that there’s a lot of breakthrough geniuses who go so far and then go, “Can’t go any further because that doesn’t work,” and then it takes someone else to take another step.
CB: Well, yeah. Or another way of looking at it is that every astrologer draws a somewhat arbitrary and somewhat subjective line somewhere about the amount of points that they’re willing to incorporate into their system.
CB: So an example of that that’s happening today is the amount of celestial bodies that one could incorporate into your astrology has just ballooned and everybody often ends up drawing a line somewhere. Are you going to use just the seven traditional planets? Are you going to incorporate the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto?
If you incorporate Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, maybe you’re okay with that. But then do you incorporate the new, minor planetary bodies like Eris, Sedna, and other stuff like that? And then if you incorporate those, do you incorporate the smaller asteroids such as Ceres? Ceres is the largest asteroid. But then if you incorporate Ceres, how many other asteroids? And do you incorporate fixed stars, or do you use Arabic parts or lots? Everybody has that line somewhere.
RL: Has to have it, has to have it. I mean, right now, NASA is tracking about 600,000 objects with orbits around the Sun; over a hundred thousand asteroids.
RL: 10,000 of them or so, maybe more, are named. And yeah, so this becomes an absolute significant piece of the puzzle, and yet, it’s very likely that in some future astrology there will be some mathematical tools that will be completely artificial intelligence, computer-driven that will do complex analysis on bodies that we can’t even handle. For me, handling 10, 12, or 13 points is about as much as for my feeble brain.
And I’ve used asteroids. And you’ve left out of course not only Chiron, but Chiron as the lead planet that represents a whole class of what we now call ‘centaurs’. And if you’re talking about Eris, Makemake, and some of those planets, well they’re really ‘plutoids’; they’re of the same kind of stuff that Pluto is.
And so, in a way, if you use Pluto, you’re using it kind of as a placeholder for these other planets. Like if you use Chiron without using Nemesis, Chariklo, Pholus, and so on, you’re using Chiron kind of as a placeholder for that whole class of objects. But yeah, you’re absolutely right. Part of the question is where do we draw the lines on the overwhelming amount of information that we have at our fingertips?
CB: Yeah, and at what point are there diminishing returns when you just have too many things, too many factors, too many variables that you’re taking into account. And I know that was one of the questions that came in through Twitter today that maybe we’ll get to at some point. Maybe we should step back and establish more of a basis.
CB: I wanted to put some of these diagrams up that Paula made just to give people a visual representation of some of the minor aspects that we’re talking about. So let’s imagine you point in the middle of Cancer, let’s say 15° of Cancer. If you draw a 30° aspect line both early in zodiacal order and later in zodiacal order that brings you to the semi-sextile, which is 30°. Then there’s the semi-square, which is 45°.
RL: And the semi-square is often referred to as either the ‘half-square’ or the ‘semiquadrate’.
CB: Right. Because both of those two aspects are basically just half of the larger aspects that they’re named after; the semi-sextile being half of the 60° of a sextile and the semi-square being half of the 90° of a square.
RL: Also, the semi-square is technically an ‘octile’ because it’s 1/8. So you see that referred to more in some of the Germanic traditions, Uranian astrology, and so on, but it is also referred to that way.
CB: Okay. Let’s see, other aspects that we have here. We’ve talked about the 150° aspect, which is the quincunx.
CB: But then there’s also the ‘sesquiquadrate’, which is 135°.
RL: Right. And I would say that if we’re using ‘semi-square’, for parallel construction, we would use ‘sesquisquare’; whereas if we were using ‘sesquiquadrate’, we would say ‘semiquadrate’, but we could also call those the ‘octile’ and the ‘tri-octile’. Again, part of the thing is naming these can be complicated, but they’re not as scary as it appears on the surface.
CB: Okay. And then the other diagram that Paula made for minor aspects includes the ‘novile’, which is how many degrees? 40°?
RL: 40°, which is 1/3 of a trine.
RL: So in other words, if you’re going to really do that trine reduction thing, it would be that a trine is 1/3 of a circle and a novile is 1/3 of a trine. 1/3 of a third is 1/9. 9 times 40° is 360, so the novile is 1/9 of a circle, and an important aspect in Vedic astrology.
CB: Okay. Let’s see, going back, and then we have the ‘quintile’, which is 72°.
RL: And of course, when we divide a circle by 5 and get that 5-pointed star, the series of quintiles is actually quintile-biquintile; biquintile, on the other side, and then quintile. In other words, it’s 5 points around on a 5-pointed star. And it is my contention that of all of the so-called minor or non-Ptolemaic aspects that the quintile is the one that holds the most power and the most importance in this whole opening of this vast array of complexity.
CB: Well, the quintile is actually important to me, as somebody that doesn’t use minor aspects, because it’s one of the only ones that does create a polygon in the same way that the major aspects do.
CB: No? Or an equal-sided polygon, I should say. For example, if you inscribe some of the major aspects on a circle, the trine creates a 3-sided triangle that connects together 3 signs, or the square creates an actual 4-sided square, a polygon.
CB: The sextile creates a hexagon. And that was actually the original name for the sextile; they would call it the ‘hexagonal aspect’.
RL: Right, which is basically every other sign. And since the major aspects are all based on 12, they all divide evenly into 12, they all hold up–I was going to say the ‘illusion’. They all hold up the illusion of the zodiac. And again, an illusion can be real; it’s just something that is imposed by the mind onto reality. But with the quintile, you get a 5-pointed star. It’s still a 5-sided polygon.
RL: But with the septile, you get a 7-sided polygon. It doesn’t matter what the number is dividing into 12, even if it doesn’t come out zodiacal; the quintiles do not come out zodiacal. Meaning that what we call the major aspects, if two things are at 12°, we immediately know that they are within an aspect because the whole system is based upon that 1 through 30 every 30°. And so, if you have two planets that are 12°, they’re either going to be conjunct, opposed, trine, square, sextile, inconjunct, or having aversion.
RL: But with the quintile series, it’s still a 5-pointed star or polygon, a pentagram, but it no longer maintains its zodiacal numbering. It kind of falls through cracks that way. But we’ll come back to why that’s more important in a little bit.
CB: Okay. So let’s see, to finish off this, we said a quintile is 72°, the biquintile is 144°. The septile is how much?
RL: Actually it’s roughly 51° and 42 or 43 minutes. You see, when you divide 360 by 7, it’s one of those numbers like Pi that never resolves and never repeats itself.
RL: And so, the septile, it’s just under 52°. I mean, you can do exact; it’s 51° 40 minutes, 27 seconds, something and it’s never exact.
CB: And then, finally, the last one is the ‘quindecile’.
RL: Actually that is referred to as the ‘quin-de-cil-e’ because it was…
CB: Following Noel Tyl.
RL: And without being dismissive, I would consider that to be less important. Although I know there is a whole school of people who believe that at least with medical astrology, the quindecile is incredibly important.
But back to the septile for a second, the thing about the septile is that that’s 1/7 of a circle. Now in our minds, we can all imagine a 5-pointed star–in fact, we could all draw one–but there is a 7-pointed star that has the angles a little bit tighter. And if you’re talking about the septile, you have to also talk about the other points on that 7-pointed star because they’re all part of that aspect series.
So you have the septile, the ‘biseptile’, the ‘triseptile’, and then around to the other side, the triseptile, biseptile, and septile back. So there’s 7 points: the septile is just under 52°; the biseptile is a little bit more than 102°; and the 3/7 is about 154-and-a-quarter.
RL: And so, all of these points are not points that I would calculate on my fingers or my abacus. But because the computer does it, it reveals a very deep layer of magic that we’ll also get to in a little bit. But again, a 7-pointed star is also a regular polygon.
CB: Okay, so Kepler was the one that introduced a bunch of these. He was like 15th-16th century?
RL: He was late 1500s, early 1600s. Yeah, 15th-16th century.
CB: Okay. And he was a famous astronomer primarily, but also, an astrologer.
RL: Well, he was a famous astronomer because there was no difference between astrology and astronomy at the time. And he slaved for years and came up with the laws of planetary motion, which is the basis of modern astronomy. So even though his job was mathematicus, he was an astrologer. That was his day job, the keeper of time for Emperor Rudolf. And his great contribution was the Rudolphine Tables, which were a major improvement because they had the orbit of Mars corrected from Ptolemy’s 8 minutes of arc a year that were off, and Kepler did that. But he was an astrologer.
CB: He figured out the planetary orbits were ellipses rather than perfect circles.
RL: Exactly. And he also figured out that when the planets were closer to the Sun, they moved faster. And he is really, as a human, separate from the astrologers that we are. He was really the first human to push into the divine proportion, into the realms of God and actually come up with how God thought, if you will. I mean, that was his blasphemy.
CB: Okay. Yeah, I’m just remembering that you’re a big Kepler fan. And you’re actually the reason why Kepler College is named ‘Kepler College’, aren’t you?
RL: That is true.
CB: Okay. How did that happen?
RL: There we were, sitting in a room; there were a dozen of us.
CB: Like 1991 or something?
RL: Yeah, I think it was ‘91 or ‘92.
CB: It’s Seattle. It’s 1991. Is it like a smoky room?
RL: It’s an upstairs room. Maggie’s Bookstore at the time was ‘astrology et al.’.
CB: Okay, famous Seattle astrology bookstore. Just every astrology book you ever would want to see.
RL: And they offered classes. And there was a group of 12 of us that Maggie invited to talk about the possibility of creating a real astrology college. And it was an interesting group of people, and it was a very animated discussion. And at some point in it, I said if this is going to become a reality, and none of us certainly know whether it can be or ever will be, but it’s going to need a name. And I think that we should be careful in naming it because part of this is about reclaiming astrology’s place in academia.
So if we did something like name it after a famous astrologer, like Johannes Kepler, it would be like a Trojan horse. There’s this college of astrology named after the icon, who’s called the ‘father’ or ‘grandfather’ of modern astronomy, and it would be like an ‘in their face’ thing. And 11 people in the room went, “Yes, let’s do it,” then that was it; not even any further discussion.
CB: Yeah, because Kepler is still a major figure in the history of science and the history of astronomy because of his contributions, and especially that discovery about the planetary movements, building on Galileo.
RL: Well, he and Galileo had an interesting relationship because they were technically not allowed to talk to each other because Galileo was in the realm of the Pope, and Kepler was in the realm of the people who had escaped from the Pope. Rudolf was the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire that was part of the whole Protestant thing.
And so, Kepler was totally caught up in this Protestant versus Catholicism. And a couple of times there was a big debate of when Easter should be, and he goes, “This is a religious question, not a scientific question; I have nothing to do with it,” but they did communicate some. But the thing about Kepler is that he also made huge contributions to the study of music, optics. I mean, he was definitely a Saturnian of his day.
CB: That reminds me of Ptolemy who did something similar where he wrote works on astronomy, harmonics, optics, geography, and astrology.
RL: Yeah, yeah.
CB: Okay, so Kepler did make major contributions to astronomy. I think he famously said something about astrology, of ‘not throwing the baby out with the bathwater’.
RL: That was in Tertius Interveniens, which actually translates to something like ‘the third man in-between/in the middle’–tertium; ‘third man in the middle’–and it was basically his position on astrology. And the quote is very close to when we moderners–this is in the late 1500s–look at the blasphemies contained in the ancient superstitions of astrology; we should be cautioned ‘not to throw the baby out with the bathwater’.
RL: And he hated the public use of astrology. What he hated about it was that the emperors and the ruling class were basically using astrology to fight wars and to figure out when it was a good time to get laid–it’s like some things never change. And that use of astrology, that crass use of astrology to him was very offensive.
CB: Whereas he’s discovering the nature of the universe, the harmonic ratios of the cosmos, and stuff like that
RL: Yeah, yeah.
CB: Okay. So that does place him in a position where he is a bit more skeptical, or there are some things that he’s rejecting and one of them that he wants to get rid of is the zodiac. And he creates a type of astrology that some people have tried to replicate later where you don’t use the zodiac; you just use planets and aspects and that’s the main focus. And there’s echoes of this in some 20th century astrologers, like Michel Gauquelin, who also…
RL: Michel Gauquelin. John Addey.
CB: Yeah, John Addey who did harmonics, or even to some extent Richard Tarnas’ approach in Cosmos and Psyche. And some of those who follow him really do emphasize planetary aspects and configurations with each other, and there doesn’t seem as much emphasis on zodiacal signs.
RL: Yeah, I would say that that is an accurate representation. I would say that on a scale, I would fall toward that side, but I would never release the zodiac in this process.
RL: I think before we started, we had a short discussion. I mean, the fact is that the zodiac is a manmade construction.
CB: Is it? I don’t know if I can take that for granted because the zodiac that looks like the tropical zodiac is partially based on the equinoxes and the solstices, which are objectively-occurring phenomena.
RL: Which divides the cycle by 4, but the zodiac divides it by 12.
CB: Yeah, because that division of 4, which is the seasons, has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
CB: Each season has a beginning, middle, and end, so you get 3 parts to each season and it creates 12…
RL: No, understand me. I’m not suggesting in any way that the mathematics of 12 is anything but extraordinary, magical, beautiful, and there really couldn’t be a more perfect number than 12 for what this whole system is.
RL: I’m not saying that. What I am saying is that there are not 12 constellations up there. There’s 12 constellations in here because constellations are just the groupings that we’ve put together in our mind.
CB: Yeah, but we’re not talking about constellations. We’re talking about the tropical zodiac, right? We already know that we’re talking about a reference point that has to do with actual objectively-existing mathematical phenomenon in the way that our solar system is set up.
RL: But I am suggesting also that there’s no reason why we couldn’t have created a zodiac based upon 18, that’s all. I’m not suggesting, like Kepler, to throw that piece of the baby out with the rest of the bathwater at all. I’m just suggesting that I think there is something to be gleaned by working that middleground or by understanding that there is a zodiac. I mean, one of my favorite pieces of writing was–now that I’ve said it I can’t remember his name, who wrote The Reflexive Universe and The Mathematics of Meaning, and he was the patent holder on the Bell helicopter. Arthur Young.
And Arthur Young wrote this brilliant broadside monograph–it was maybe about 40- or 50-pages-long–and it was an unfoldment of the zodiac as a basic metaphor from Newton’s laws of motion. And again, it was brilliant. I’m not suggesting that the zodiac is not useful or that we should throw it out. I’m only suggesting that there is more to whatever the mechanism is in astrology that has to do with some very important sacred geometry.
Because I am of the belief that everything in our universe is ‘architectonic’, is mathematical, is patterned in its origin, and when we only look at the universe through the 12-fold zodiac, it’s like being a biologist and saying, “I’m only going to look at the world through a 300-powered microscope.” And you miss that when you change powers there’s all kinds of other things that you don’t get to see, that’s my suggestion in this.
CB: Sure. And you mentioning the geometrical thing I think is really important because one of the major shifts that started to happen after Kepler is that once you take the aspects out of the zodiacal framework–and you start focusing primarily on degree-based aspects and you start focusing primarily on aspects as geometrical configurations–that does open up a whole other world because then you’re no longer constrained by just those initial five configurations that were constrained by the zodiacal framework, and you realize that there can be other geometrical ratios as well.
CB: So is this where harmonics come in? At what point is the concept of harmonics relevant here?
RL: When I’m teaching aspects, I’ll often ask at the beginning of the class, “So how many people here use aspects in their normal work in astrology?” and pretty much everyone looks around going, “Uh, doesn’t everyone?” “Okay, how many people here use harmonics?” and usually a few hands go up. In a class of 40 or 50 people, maybe 3 or 5 or 8 hands will go up. I’ll go, “Okay, put your hands down.”
I’ll go, “Here’s where we’re starting this class. Aspects and harmonics are identically one and the same thing. It’s just a difference of ‘languaging’ and it’s a difference of frame of reference. If you’re using an aspect, you’re using harmonics.” “So how many people here use harmonics?” and of course then everyone raises their hand; it’s kind of a little bit of forced issue.
But I mean, a square, you divide a circle by 4, that’s the 4th harmonic. A sextile, you’re dividing a circle by 6, that’s the 6th harmonic; that’s what harmonics are. And the importance of harmonics is that separate from astrology, harmonics are the basis of every piece of electronic gadgetry that we have: from digital cameras, to computers, to old phonographs, to radio transmitters/receivers, to all music, to all written music throughout history; it’s all based on harmonics. And when you realize that as astrologers, when we aspects that we’re really working with harmonics, it basically opens up people’s visions to understanding the mechanism and the magic of how charts work and how they actually express.
CB: Can we get a definition though? I guess there’s a missing word there in that phrase, which is ‘ratio’, right? Harmonic ratios? When I think of harmonics sometimes I think of music theory or things like that. In other instances, we’re talking about divisions of zodiacal signs; some astrologers refer to that as harmonics. So how do you define ‘harmonics’?
RL: I think a harmonic is a multiplication of a base frequency.
RL: So with a harmonic, you need a frequency. In other words, that’s something that’s repetitive. Whether it’s the Earth going around the Sun once a year, that’s a frequency.
RL: In music, an orchestra tunes to the note A below middle C and that’s 440 cycles a second. When we hear that note, we do not hear pure notes. We hear the note and it creates other notes that are multiples of and divisions of that notes simultaneously. When we hear, let’s say, a cello, a trombone, a bassoon, or a piano, they can all play the exact same note; or a saxophone. They all can play the same frequency note, but we can tell which one is the cello and which one is the bassoon.
Because even though they have the same frequency vibration, their harmonics, their overtones, the harmonics again are double the note, triple the note, quadruple the note, 1-1/2-times the note, half of the note, a quarter–it’s all the mathematics that are above and below that note that are related to it by multiplication or division. And so, it’s the emphasis on those different harmonics that create a smooth-sounding flute or violin compared to a rough-sounding trumpet.
And in astrology, when we are looking at charts, we are looking at the harmonics, and the aspects actually show which harmonics are the most potent. Now we’re not talking about what does Mars square Saturn mean, or what does Mars trine Saturn mean. We’re talking about a chart filled with trines; that’s a different harmonic emphasis than a chart that’s filled with squares.
And so, this harmonic analysis actually gravitated in the 20th century even before computers to the work of John Addey who contributed this whole body of knowledge about harmonics. And I think that there may be some historical underpinning going back to the Germanic school, Uranian Astrology, and using a harmonic wheel. It was sometimes called the ‘4th harmonic wheel’ or the ‘90° wheel’ that actually takes the zodiac out and looks at the planets in relationship to one another from a harmonic analysis.
CB: So I have no background in music theory, but I can sort of get onboard with the idea that aspects represent different notes and that there’s different types of notes, like musical notes on a piano, and that a square might sound like one note and then a trine might sound like a different note. And then part of the access point then for minor aspects, as you were saying, might be that there can be different variations of the same note and that’s what a minor aspect is in some way. Is that correct, or is that what you were saying?
RL: I’m not sure.
CB: My friend Patrick Watson would be cringing right now because he’d be a much better person for this conversation about musical theory, having studied that in college and being a trained, professional musician.
RL: You see, the thing is that with the ratio of notes, the flute and a violin can actually play the identical note that’s the same frequency.
RL: So that’s the same note that they’re playing. And yet, you can tell which instrument it’s coming from because one of them–let’s just use this as a metaphor–one of them has more trines to that note and the other has more squares to it. In music, there are harmonics that sound rough to the ear and there are harmonics that sound smooth.
A trine, for example, might be considered to be like a perfect 5th in music. I’m not saying there’s a one-to-one correspondence, although I know people that would argue there is. And here’s an interesting thing, in geometry, a chord is a line that connects two points on a circle. So if you have a closed circle and you make any line inside of it, that’s called ‘a chord’. A diameter is simply a chord that goes through the center of the circle.
In astrology, when we take two points on a chart, that becomes a chord. And aspects are kind of like two notes that are sounding together, and whether it’s a square from Aries to Cancer, or a square from Taurus to Leo, the square has sound to it that is tempered by what the zodiac sign is. But there’s something about the actual harmonic ratio, and the ratio is simply just the mathematics between the two of them. Ratio is in there, but something can just have harmonics.
In fact, when you’re doing music engineering, if you have too much amplitude going through, you get feedback. And those are called ‘spurious harmonics’. It’s just, “Rrrrrr,” the sounds that a rocker would like to make.
CB: Yeah, it also makes me think of the difference between a harmonious sound versus something that sounds discordant or not easy on the ears.
RL: Exactly. And I would suggest that a quincunx might be considered to be a minor 7th; there’s something discordant about it. Or two notes on a piano, if you take two notes that are right next to each other, two keys–a black key and a white key right next to each other–and strike them hard, that sounds horrific compared to striking two keys with four keys in between them; that’ll sound harmonious. And in a way, it’s mathematics, it’s music, it’s harmonics, and it’s also aspects.
CB: Right. All right, so I want to get into aspects as divisions of a circle. But before we get there, I want to backtrack to, again, the early conceptualization of aspects in the sign-based versus degree-based and how the signs were tied in. Because part of the basic premise of how aspects work is that they had to do with what signs the planets were located in and there being either an affinity in the qualities of those signs or a lack of affinity.
CB: So for example, the primary qualities of the zodiacal signs, here’s a diagram for those watching the video version. So for example, Aries is a masculine, cardinal, fire sign, and so it forms a sextile with any planets in Gemini because Gemini is also a masculine sign. So they share that in common and as a result of the commonality between those two signs, they’re able to form some sort of relationship. A planet in Aries can form a trine with a planet in Leo because Aries and Leo are both fire signs. So that’s partially how the aspects were set up originally.
CB: It was partially due to that background. So then the lack of aspect or the aversion aspects, for example, planets in Cancer and planets in Sagittarius share no commonalities. So Cancer is a water sign that’s feminine and cardinal, whereas Sagittarius is a fire sign, which is masculine and mutable. So it shares none of those three qualities in common, and therefore, that lack of any affinity or commonality in those signs is what set it up so that there was no aspect or no relationship between planets in those two signs.
CB: So this is part of the conceptual structure underlying it that makes the major aspects a little bit different because it has part of that backdrop. But also, what happened then when Kepler came along and he rejected the zodiac is he started focusing on aspects and focusing on aspects as divisions of a circle and all the different ways that you can cut up a 360° circle into different portions, just like a pie.
RL: Yeah, yeah. But the thing here of course, where I assume you’re going to in a moment, is that although there seems to be–and I concur with this observation–that two planets that have a relationship, an aspect relationship by sign have a relationship, whether they’re close or tight or whether the harmonic analysis would bring them very close together. Let’s use the Aries/Leo thing. You have a planet at 15 Aries and a planet at 15 Leo, first of all, they’re trine by sign–they’re both fire signs–so that gives them some smooth connective points in their relationship with one another.
And we even have developed a system now of saying how close is that aspect in that sign, so that two planets at 15° would have a 0° orb or would be partile because they’re at the same degree number. Now if you have that same planet, one at 15° and one at 29°, that still has that resonance by sign. But by orb, it’s now pushing 14°-15° out, and so it may not be as focused.
Now here’s where we have to go with this, and this is what happens if we have a planet at 29° of Aries and a planet at 0° of Leo. 29° of Aries and 0° of Leo, well, they are trine by sign.
CB: By sign.
RL: But by degree, they could be within a degree of being square.
RL: And so, here is the problem when we try to juxtapose these two different ways of looking at things; and I, for one, believe that both ways work.
RL: And so, again, I don’t throw the zodiac away when we move into the realm of certain other harmonics. See, here’s another thing about harmonics that has to do with physics. It was Pythagoras who basically said ‘all is harmony’. Pythagoras said the universe consists of vibration.
CB: All is number.
RL: All is number. All is vibration. All vibrations occur in sympathy with other vibrations. Remember, Pythagoras gave us the scale that we have. And he took a string and stretched it taut and pulled it up and let it go, and it went, [makes a lower pitch sound]. And then he took half that string and did the same thing, and it went, [makes a higher pitch sound], and he realized it was the same note, just an octave higher; you know, “Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do.” You have these two notes that are the same note, but an octave apart; if you half the string, you double the frequency.
So Pythagoras basically gave us the idea that everything in the universe is vibration that can be measured by number and that all vibrations are sympathetic with other vibrations. But then he also noticed that when you take that string and you pluck it, if you watch it really carefully–and it helps if you’ve had a little wine or smoked a little something–you can see the string isn’t just going like this; the string is wiggling in all different ways. You can do it when you look in a piano. You just hit a bunch of notes, and you look and you can see the strings are moving more complexly than just simply up and down, that multiple notes are being created.
And so, physicists and musicologists or musicians know that you can measure a note by what they call the ‘fundamental’. The fundamental is play a note, [makes a musical sound], that note consists of a certain frequency, how many times a second it impinges on our ear; again, A above middle C is 440 cycles a second. And so, we hear that note, but we’re also hearing all kinds of harmonies along with it, although the note itself is called the fundamental and that’s the strongest.
So here’s how this relates to astrology. Because when we have a planet at a particular location in the zodiac, that becomes the fundamental. That becomes the singular note that is the loudest, that is the strongest. And then the 2nd harmonic–which astrologically we call the opposition–is the second-most fundamental, or basic, or loudest; and then the trine, 1/3 of a circle, and then the square, 1/4 of a circle.
And the physicists will tell us that as the harmonic gets higher and higher, a sextile, 1/6 of a circle, a quincunx,12th harmonic, 5/12 of a circle. As the harmonic gets higher, the potency of the aspect gets lower, and in many systems, this is why we automatically use wider orbs for the lower harmonic aspects. We give a wider allowance to a conjunction than we do to a sextile.
CB: I mean, is this not then setting up a validity of the distinction between minor and major aspects though?
RL: Well, it is to a point. So let’s just throw out some rough forms. Whatever orb anyone uses, astrologers have their own ways of doing it.
CB: And I have a theory about that. I think that the complete lack of agreement on orbs historically–over the past thousand years and especially in modern times–is because the planets come into configuration as soon as they move into a sign-based aspect, and it just gets more intense the closer it gets by degree to exact.
And I think that’s why the orbs are so fuzzy because it’s in a major aspect already as soon as they’re configured by sign. I mean, that being said, there is still something to out-of-sign aspects that still works for degree-based aspects and there is some range there.
RL: Yeah. And again, you have that planet at 1° and hit’s, kapow, as soon as the planet changes signs because it’s so close in orb; I don’t disagree with any of that. I mean, we all have rough rules of where we make our own breaking point, and I don’t think there is such a thing as a cut-off point. I mean, I remember in a class someone said, “So what’s the widest orb you’d ever use for a conjunction?” And Noel said, “360° if I need it.”
RL: Now it was said sarcastically, but there’s an element of truth that orbs are sloppy. Some people use very tight orbs of 2° or 3°, and in my mind, they’ve never done a chart of a human then because obviously there’s some influence wider even by sign. But here’s the issue…
CB: But that being said, one of the points that you’re making is that generally speaking people that work with minor aspects use a wider orb allowance for major aspects and tighter orbs for minor aspects, right?
RL: Well, largely speaking, but I think that’s a mistake. That’s part of the problem because when we use a smaller orb for what you call ‘minor aspects’, we automatically delegate less importance to them, and we miss what they might be bringing us. Let me be specific.
CB: We should come up with a name that you like better for minor aspects that’s not Ptolemaic. I liked in our previous Uranus discussion when we started getting into Newtonian versus quantum aspects. I mean, that’s kind of a cool name, I don’t know.
RL: Well, I’ve sometimes referred to them as ‘physical and metaphysical aspects’ because it seems like the 12-fold zodiac does impinge upon the physical realm. Obviously, squares, oppositions, and conjunctions, more so than trines and sextiles, but they still have physical manifestation, where my observation is that the metaphysical aspects don’t.
But this now asks, what do we do with the semi-squares and sesquisquares? Because they technically would be minor aspects, but again, anyone who’s worked with them, anyone who’s done cosmobiology or Uranian Astrology understands that there is nothing minor about semi-square or sesquisquare.
RL: But regardless, here’s the spread.
CB: Okay, hold on, because I think that’s going to be long. Can I make a joke really quickly about branding? Branding is really important. Somebody was talking about the nodes recently and how they preferred the Mean Node, but it’s just not a very good name. Everyone uses the ‘True Node’ because that sounds way cooler.
RL: Call it the ‘Happy Node’.
CB: Yeah, well, if somebody wanted to promote the ‘Mean Node’, they just need to come up with a better name for it, like the ‘Freedom Node’, the ‘Cool Node’, or something like that. And I think that may be a similar issue here if you want to rebrand minor aspects. ‘Non-Ptolemaic’ doesn’t have a very good ring to it because then it’s still comparing it to something else.
CB: But I know you’ve written a book called Quantum Astrology and that’s kind of your thing. And so, I don’t know, that has a certain ring to it, ‘quantum aspects’.
CB: Okay. Continue, sorry.
RL: I’m liking ‘metaphysical’.
CB: Okay, ‘metaphysical aspects’.
RL: By the way, that book, which is out of print, which needs to be rewritten before it ever reappears in print, the full title of it was Quantum Astrology: Essays on the Physics of Metaphysics.
CB: That’s a good title. You actually have a whole DVD which you reminded me of and I forgot about when I did the ‘Movies for Astrologers’ episode a few months, and I found it literally days after that. But is that still around and available? It’s called Quantum Astrology.
RL: Yeah, it is.
RL: I think it might be orderable through Gaia, Gaia TV. Gaia owns it, I think.
RL: I’m going to ask you to do this for me. What I want you to do is–we’re going to start with the conjunction–just give me a sense of, under normal circumstances, whatever that might be, what’s the widest orb that you would use typically. And I know there’s always reasons to use less or more, but for a conjunction, just give me a number that you would use for an orb, natal.
CB: I would look at it by sign. If they’re anywhere in the same sign, they’re conjunct, and if by degree, I would say there’s going to be ranges. 1°, 3°, maybe 10° is something I’ll put in Solar Fire just to know what when it’s really closely-conjunct.
RL: Okay, so let’s work with the 10°. That’s kind of the number I’m looking for.
RL: And incidentally, your little range thing there, I agree with that. And when I’m working with aspects, I do the same; I mean, it’s a sliding scale. And just because two planets are 11° doesn’t mean that they’re not in some way connected.
RL: Okay, so let’s say 10° on a conjunction. Opposition?
CB: Maybe the same, honestly.
RL: Okay. Square? Oh, no, let’s go with trine next.
CB: Yeah, it’s by sign intensity, by degrees–at the most 3–is the next level, and then, yeah, maybe up to 10, honestly.
RL: Okay. Square? Same?
CB: Yeah, I guess so. Maybe a little bit tighter for a sextile.
RL: A little bit tighter.
RL: And do you ever use quincunxes?
CB: No, I don’t. I just note that the planets are not in any relationship if they’re in signs of aversion; that they have a lack of an aspect or configuration.
RL: Well, most normal people would say 10 conjunction, 10 opposition, maybe 8 on a trine, or an 8 on a square; maybe 10 all the way down. For sextiles, many people would jump down to 3° or 4°. Then if two planets are much wider than that, still the sign thing is there, but to be an aspect, they would want it to be more like 3°-4°, 5°. And then for a quincunx, many people would want it to be 2° or 3°.
RL: That’s pretty typical.
CB: I think that’s what Bill Tierney gives in Dynamics of Aspect Analysis, which was one of my first books that dealt with both major aspects and minor aspects.
RL: Okay, so my approach to this is that aspects are in fact an artifact of harmonics, and that knowing the lower the harmonic, the louder the note would lead me to want to apply as the harmonic goes up, 1st harmonic conjunction, 6th harmonic sextile. As the number goes up, that would cause us to narrow the orbs, so that a conjunction would have a much larger allowance, whereas a sextile would have less and a quincunx or a semi-sextile would even have less.
RL: By that standard, one would need to use–and I’m saying by that standard. And I’m not selling that standard to you, although we’ll get there.
CB: Maybe I’ll be converted by the end of this. We’ve still got like an hour or so.
RL: But by that standard, when people say, “Well, what aspects should I use?” “Yes, I use quintiles.” “What kind of orb do you use?” “2° because they’re a minor aspect.” And I would say, “If you’ve ever been fishing, you’ll know that the size of the net that you use determines what fish you’ll never see.” If you’re out net fishing for tuna, you’ll never even know that there’s an anchovy in the ocean because they’ll always slip through the net.
And so, if you’re using an orb that’s so tight, you may never gain the familiarity with what it is. And so, here for a quintile–because a quintile is a 5th harmonic–my rule of thumb says that for the 5th harmonic, you need to use an orb that’s equal-to-or-less-than what you use for the 4th harmonic and equal-to-or-greater than what you use for a 6th harmonic.
So for those people who use 4° on a sextile and 8° on a square, by this way of envisioning aspects as harmonics, you have to use 5° or somewhere in there for a quintile or you’ll never give them the same potential weight of importance; and therefore, you’ll never see enough of them to make any judgment as to how they work.
CB: So you would use a 5° orb for a quintile?
RL: I vary. I mean, just like with my conjunctions, I am not ‘orb anal’.
RL: But yeah, in Solar Fire, as I know you know, you can set up different aspect sequences, and I have a bout 30 or 40 of them that I’ve saved for research purposes and uses, but I do have one more where I use 5° for quintiles and biquintiles. But then we get into an interesting situation because a quincunx is 150°.
RL: And 150°, let’s say you’re using 4° on a quincunx–there are some people who use a wide enough orb on that–but a 4° orb on a quincunx would have 146° aspect as a quincunx with a 4° orb.
RL: However, a biquintile is 144°, so 146° would be a biquintile with a 2° orb. In other words, there’s an overlap between the 2/5, the 5/12–5 (quinc)/12 (unx), 5/12–and the triseptile at 154°. It turns out that the 150° point–the 0° Virgo point, if we’re leaning on the illusion of the zodiac–that 150° point is the least-stable point in the zodiac. Why? Because it has a 5th harmonic, 6° less than, and it has a 7th harmonic, the septile 4° after. In other words, the halfway point between the 2/5–that’s the biquintile–and the 3/7–that’s the triseptile–is 149°.
And I had long discussions with Marion March, when Marion was alive, who was a quincunx fan/fanatic. She studied them, worked with them, knew them, and it was her belief–and I’ve heard this from other people who work a lot with quincunxes–that whether they’re applying or separating the 149° quincunx is always stronger than the 151° quincunx; both 1° off, 1° orb.
RL: And I think the reason is that the quincunx typically wants to jump to a more fundamental, lower harmonic; it wants to jump to the 5th harmonic or the 7th harmonic as it would musically. And most people who use quincunxes widely use the same word. If you ask a hundred astrologers who use quincunxes, “What word would you use for a quincunx?” most of them would say, “Oh, ‘adjustment.”
I mean, other words would come up–annoying, uncomfortable, bothersome, irresolvable–but most of them for the first word would say ‘adjustment’. Because like that Virgo, you try to adjust it and it’s too loud, and then you adjust it the other way and you can’t hear it. And you can’t get it quite right because it’s jumping from the 2/5 to the 3/7; it’s totally unstable.
RL: So just back to the orb thing for a second, I typically use about 5° for my quincunx, and I typically use 4° for my sextile because that has to be, theoretically, less than because it’s a higher harmonic.
CB: Yeah, a quincunx is 5, and a sextile…
RL: No, we haven’t gotten to the quintile.
CB: Quintile. Okay, sorry.
RL: For the quintile, I would use 5°.
RL: For the sextile, which is the 6th harmonic, I would narrow it down to about 4°.
RL: If, for the quincunx, I’m using 3°, that’s going to step on the other biquintile and triseptile. So I typically look at a chart with what I call the ‘major aspects’, but I include the semisquare and sesquisquare in that run. And then I take a completely different look at it, the same chart, and I look at it with the quintile series–that’s the 1/5 and 2/5, the 72 and 144–along with the septile series that I use a 2-1/2° orb on. The computer doesn’t care: you can set it for 2-1/2; you can set it for anything you want. But that way, my rationale is consistent because I’m tightening the orb the higher the harmonic.
And I’ll often for research purposes use 6° on a quintile and 3° on the septile series. And again, the septile series is the septile at 51°+, the biseptile at 102°+, and the triseptile at 154°+.
RL: And it’s extraordinary when you begin to open up your eyes and see how these aspects resonate in charts that you already know that you already use. Someone told me a story once that Mark Robertson did a talk at some astrology conference many, many years ago before Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali. And he did a chart, it was an unnamed chart, and the group interpreted it, and he finally put Cassius Clay’s name on it. And it was at the end of the class that someone realized, “Hey, there’s no Mars in the chart.” And he said, “Yeah, I left it out on purpose.” Without Mars in the chart, it still made sense.
Without looking at half-squares, semi-squares, and sesquisquares, without looking at quincunxes and semi-sextiles, without looking at quintiles series and septile series, a chart makes sense. But if there’s a tool that can quickly help you see another layer of magic that you’re otherwise missing, that’s a technique that I will use.
CB: Okay. Well, let’s get into some charts. But first, before we get there, to round out some of the historical component, it’s really interesting that after Kepler–I think it was within a century or so–we already start seeing the minor aspects coming into the tradition. And William Lilly actually in the middle of the 16th century…
CB: 17th century, in 1647, in Christian Astrology, which was the first major English language textbook on astrology…
RL: Right. And that’s only about 50 years after Kepler wrote about the quintile.
RL: And there’s an interesting story there that we can come back to in a moment.
CB: Okay. So let me just read the quote where he’s introducing aspects and talking about how to read an ephemeris. And at one point, he has this digression where he’s talking about quintiles, and he says: “[W]e seldome use more aspects then the conjunction, sextile, square, trine, [and] opposition: to there of late one KEPLER, a learned man, hath added some new ones, as follow[s].” And then he gives a list of the minor aspects. He says: “A Semisextill…consisting of thirty degrees. A Quintile…consisting of seventy two degrees.”
RL: The ‘tredecile’ is like a ‘tridecile’. A tridecile is actually a ‘sesquiquintile’. In other words, a quintile is 1/5 of a circle, so half of a quintile would be 1/10 of the circle, a ‘decile’.
RL: A tredecile at 108° is 72 plus half of a–it’s like a sesquisquare, except it’s a sesquiquintile. So yeah, Kepler also introduced that.
CB: And what are the other ones? He mentions the quincunx.
RL: The quincunx.
RL: And the biquintile.
CB: Okay, 144°, 150°.
RL: It’s interesting that he mentions the quintile-and-a-half, the tredecile, the 3/10, but he doesn’t mention the decile, which would be 36°. Interesting.
CB: Right. So he ends this section basically saying: “I only acquaint you with these, that finding them any where you may apprehend their meaning.” So he’s kind of telling you how to read an ephemeris because I guess other astrologers or ephemeris-makers must be using them. I think he does return to it later and starts using them in the context of natal astrology or something like that, or primary directions.
CB: It’s interesting that early though that Kepler, similar to Ptolemy, Kepler was an astronomer who made major changes and influenced the history of astronomy so significantly that also his astrological work ended up influencing things as a result of that.
RL: Immediately. In fact, there was a book a number of years ago; I want to say the title was “Something Urania”. It was a British publication, and it was a whole collection, a scholarly collection, of a number of essays around the idea of the ‘sky god’ and Urania. For some reason, one of the articles in that was this correspondence from a doctor, a physical doctor, who was a contemporary of Johannes Kepler. And the doctor wrote to Kepler something like, “Who the hell do you think you are changing Ptolemy’s aspects, these aspects that have been in use for 1,500 years?” or however many years. “And what makes you think that these work?”
And Kepler’s response, and this is available, I’ve read this many times, not recently. Kepler’s response was fascinating because his response was, “On March 8, 15-,” blah, blah, blah, blah, I don’t remember the date. “But on this particular date, there was a quintile between Mars and Saturn. I verified this myself and later had Tycho Brahe,” some people say ‘Tycho’, but I was trained in Danish to say ‘Tycho Brahe’.
Tycho Brahe actually noted this quintile. In other words, there was not even any way of knowing that there was a real aspect unless you went out and sighted it and then had proof from someone else. He said, “On this date, there was a coronation of such-and-such duke that had to be canceled because there was a storm.” That proved it.
CB: So he had sort of an empirical justification for some of the aspects? It wasn’t just abstract for him?
RL: That’s correct. But that particular empirical observation, as if that proved it, was to me totally intriguing. There was a storm that day. Oh, and there were no other aspects in the sky that day, so it had to have been the quintile between Mars and Saturn.
RL: An interesting observation. But yeah, apparently he did look for empirical. It wasn’t just all conceptual.
CB: Right. It makes me think of there’s an archetype of that astrologer, and to some extent, it lives in every astrologer that comes along, that has this scientific background, that sees that there’s something to astrology and they want to take the best parts that seem legitimate to them and get rid of the parts that don’t. And there’s the famous scientist version, which is Kepler. Ptolemy was doing that to some extent as well. He was taking the parts that made sense to him and sort of repackaging them as a system.
RL: Michel Gauquelin.
CB: Gauquelin. Yeah, that’s a really good one.
RL: Percy Seymour is another one who wrote The Scientific Proof of Astrology and another couple of books. He was a professor of astronomy in England; I can’t remember the exact credentials. But he wrote this thing and basically it was a “I’ve discovered astrology. It’s based upon magnetics, and this is a brilliant thing that I’ve discovered. It’s like Columbus discovering the New World.” No, it was there. You didn’t need to discover it for it to exist.
CB: Right, or Michel Gauquelin’s early 1990 or 1991 book Neo-Astrology.
RL: Oh, yeah.
CB: He was putting forward the idea that we get rid of everything in astrology except those things that can be validated by statistical evidence. And he’d only been able to validate some things like the Gauquelin sectors where Mars rising or culminating or other planets rising or culminating would indicate eminent sports athletes or things like that.
RL: Yeah. And I think that those tools and those things we will see more of those as computers have more and more of a creative role with a new generation of astrologers who are coming with the computing capabilities along with the interest in the metaphysical side of astrology, but that doesn’t mean that one replaces the other.
Although for 30 years or more, I’ve been convinced that some day there’s going to be this major announcement from MIT or CalTech that graduate students in some field of astrophysiology, whatever, have discovered a new form of low frequency electromagnetic vibrations that instead of being measured in hertz or megahertz–instead of being measured in trillions of cycles a second like light waves–are measured in cycles per century or millennia. And of course this has nothing to do with astrology, but there seems to be a correlation between these low frequency rhythms and some of the planetary cycles, but it has nothing to do with astrology.
CB: Yeah, I mean, that was always something Robert Schmidt always said. Like someday, some scientist is going to come out and they’re going to find some small piece of astrology that can be verified empirically and scientifically, and the headline’s going to read, “Astrology Proved (or Legitimized),” but then it’s going to be just one small piece of that, and the rest of the 99% will be left out.
CB: But anyway, that archetype exists in the astrological tradition and comes along periodically. We’re still kind of waiting for another modern version of that that will create sort of a unified field theory that includes astrology in the same way that Ptolemy did for his time period, which was eventually invalidated because all of those are sort of temporary in some sense just based on what the current scientific understanding of the world is.
But there’s some part of that archetype that I think lives in every astrologer. Because every astrologer has this impulse to focus on the things that seem to work and make the most sense to them, and to kind of have rationales for the things that they don’t think work or that don’t make sense to them for some reason; and therefore, sort of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater by keeping some parts of astrology, but also, rejecting some parts.
RL: Yeah, yeah.
CB: All right, so one thing that I wanted to transition into talking about with modern aspect theory is how it was kind of reconstituted in modern times in the 20th century through the work of Dane Rudhyar and through the ideas of synodic cycles between planets and divisions of that circle. You have two planets and each of those planets forms a relationship of some sort as they move around their relative orbits and eventually come back and conjoin each other, and then start moving away from each other and eventually oppose each other on opposite sides of the zodiac, form squares or other things.
RL: The easiest way for most people to understand what you’re talking about–although most astrologers should–is basically looking at the New Moon/Full Moon cycle.
CB: Yeah, the lunation cycle.
RL: The lunation cycle. And then to understand that although with the lunation cycle, we can actually see it because the Moon grows and shrinks, if you will, through that 28-29-day cycle. Every pair of planets has that exact same dance that they do–some are more complicated because of retrogradation–but the Jupiter-Saturn cycle, that 20-year cycle, is basically the same thing as the New Moon to New Moon.
And those cycles themselves not only seem to have some significance in interpretation in a natal chart, but also have great import in understanding the mundane cycles. Of course the basis of most of Rick Tarnas’ historical reconstruction is based upon those cycles of the outer planets. But Dane Rudhyar’s work basically–even with the phases of the Moon and then looking at that through any pair of planets–we can extrapolate the same idea, yes.
CB: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the pinnacle, not pinnacle, but the foundational work of all modern aspect theory is the idea that aspects represent cycles between planets and different phases in the cycle or the relationship between two planets, in the same way that the lunation cycle is the primary archetype or reference point for not just the Sun and Moon’s relationships but all planetary cycles.
RL: Yeah. You may know this, other people may not, but I’m a tremendous Buckminster Fuller fan, student. I’ve read pretty much everything that that guy wrote, and he wrote a ton, including some of his mathematical stuff, a two-volume work, which was basically Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking. And a lot of that book is almost unapproachable, but there’s some fascinating things in it.
And a lot of it’s done by numbering sections where he has axioms and corollaries, and in one place he calls it ‘Universe’; he never uses ‘The’ before ‘Universe’. And he wrote, “Universe consists of frequency and angle.” Universe consists of frequency and angle. And I always found that totally fascinating, and then several years later, in another part of the other volume of the same book, volume two, just as enigmatically, he writes, standing by itself, “Angle is subcyclic.”
RL: Angle is subcyclic. And in a way, whenever you have any two pairs of planets, you have a cycle. It’s kind of accepted in a lot of the esoteric traditions that time is actually the result of the revolution of one body around a center.
RL: And so, if you have the idea that the universe consists of frequency and angle, and that angle is subcyclic, all of a sudden we have astrology, in my mind.
CB: Yeah. And I think that’s really important because that’s my access point as a traditional-leaning astrologer and as somebody that primarily uses the major aspects and thinks that they do stand on their own as special, unique, and important. Looking at aspects as cyclical or relationships between planets would be my access point of how minor aspects could still make sense in that context.
Because if you take it outside of the zodiacal context, not entirely, but focus instead on what is the relationship between two planets–and there being different types of important turning points during the course of that cycle of the synodic relationship or cycle between two planets–then there are a bunch of different turning points in that cycle that could be important for different reasons.
CB: And I think that’s probably to me what seems like the most conceptually interesting way to approach minor aspects.
RL: It still bugs me when you say ‘minor’.
RL: I want to use ‘metaphysical’. But the problem with ‘metaphysical’, everyone has a little bit of a problem there.
CB: What did we call the other ones? Physical? It’s referencing back to something.
RL: Yeah, yeah, because the physical stuff is based upon numbers that are real and that are based upon the Platonic solids; basically the squares and trines fall into that category. I don’t know.
CB: What’s the problem though? Even if we do them within that context of synodic cycles and we talk about the lunation cycle as the archetypal synodic cycle of the entire universe and of all relationships between planets, built into that we do have four of the major aspects of conjunction, which is the starting point, the Sun and Moon together at a New Moon. We have the first quarter, where the Moon is half lit up; half of it’s dark, half of it’s light, and that’s at the 90°; the opening waxing 90° square.
CB: Then we have the opposition when the Moon is full and is at its brightest and that’s 180°. Then we have the waning square at 90. It’s like right there is, what, three or four of our major aspects.
RL: Right. And that’s why I would tend to call them ‘physical’ because they’re based upon a real perception. You can see it in the real world. It connects with other things in the sensible world. The 90° angle, the cross, the ‘Cardinal Cross’, connected with Saturn, is connected with that which is, the gate between the metaphysical and the physical. But when you go into the realm of 5, all of a sudden it is not physical.
The 5-fold pattern is connected with the feminine Earth religions. The tradition of witchery, of wizards, of Wicca–all of that is based on non-physical. It’s metaphysical. And of course it’s totally fascinating that when we look at the synodic cycle between Venus and the Earth, we actually do come up with that Grand Quintile. And even more fascinating is the connection between the 5-pointed star as the only constructable geometry; I say ‘constructible’ meaning you can make it with a compass and a straight-edge.
The 5-pointed star is the only constructable geometry that can get us to Golden Mean, the Divine Proportion, which our boy, Johannes Kepler said was the ratio that God used to create ‘like from like’. That’s a great quote. And in fact, he said there were two gems in geometry. There was the law of the hypotenuse of the right triangle (Pythagoras a2 + b2 = c2) that he said was a diamond, and the law of the mean and the extreme, which is the Golden Mean, was an emerald; those were the two gems in geometry.
RL: And the magic of the Golden Mean is that it is inherent in all forms of life. It’s not only the spiraling arms of the Milky Way galaxy and the definition of the spiral of the nautilus shell, but it’s also the shape of the ratios in the human body; the segments of bones are based upon the Golden Mean or the Divine Proportion. The Egyptians knew this. The Greeks knew this.
The architecture of the stone masons, their great secret was using the Divine Proportion in all the windows and doors and floors in all the great cathedrals, so that when you stand in them in Europe, you go, “Something here is pretty powerful.” It’s this ratio that Leonardo da Vinci illustrated an entire book on about the aesthetics of beauty.
The question then is, is beauty something that is natural, or is it something that we create depending upon our culture, our society? And the Renaissance artists basically came up with the idea, no, the Golden Mean is the source of beauty. Albrecht Dürer’s human portraits and his figures of Jesus all have Divine Proportion from the width to the heights of the eyes, the length and the width of the nose, and so on, and so on.
So what does this have to do with the quintile? The quintile, the 5-pointed star, makes diagonals. And in a 5-pointed star, every line on that 5-pointed star–which is actually showing the 5 points on the Grand Quintile–they each intersect one another by dividing each line into two segments. So that if you could just imagine that 5-pointed star, every line crosses two other lines, dividing every line into a shorter and longer segment. And the shorter-to-the-longer ratio is exactly that 1.62. Well, actually 1.618. Actually 1.6180339….; it’s one of those that goes forever.
But interestingly enough, this perfect aesthetic, this thing of beauty, this ratio of the perfect proportion that is also the basic building block in the human body, we get structure in our cells from something called ‘endoplasmic reticulum’; they’re microtubules. That’s the word I was looking for, ‘microtubules’. And it used to be thought that they were the skeleton system of the cell. There’s several molecules-wide, but they’re a particular protein that has 5 molecules then 8, 5 then 8, 5 then 8. And 5/8 is basically the Golden Mean.
The numbers in the Fibonnaci number series basically get closer and closer and closer to the Golden Mean. Every plant has a ratio in it that botanists use to classify plants called ‘phyllotaxis’, and it’s how many spirals that the plant makes in order to have a perpendicular over a bud, so that it’s not just opposite sides. All phyllotaxis are Divine Proportion, Fibonnaci numbers 5 over 3, 8 over 5, 13 over 8, etc.
So here’s the crazy thing. It takes the Earth 365.24 days to go around the Sun. It takes Venus 224.5 days to go around the Sun. 365.25 divided 224.5 is 1.62. Venus is the Golden Mean to the Earth. And what does it stand for? It stands for beauty. It’s the feminine. It’s the Goddess. And it’s not like the Saturnian, magnetic, Martian, physical realms of astrology. Venus and the Moon are both arguably metaphysical. Mercury goes both ways. But the other planets arguably impinge upon the physical realm.
And so, the 5-pointed aspect, the 5-pointed star, basically when you look at that in a chart, you see something that otherwise falls through the cracks. You see the creativity. You see the magic of the soul. You see that which is not physical, but you’ll never predict a marriage or a divorce or something physical based upon someone’s nativity of having a lot of quintiles.
CB: Mm-hmm. Venus also makes a pentagram, a 5-pointed star through its retrograde cycles.
RL: Well, that’s what I meant, what I call ‘the star of Venus’. That is actually tied to the fact of the ratio of 5-to-8 because it makes five conjunctions, five synodic conjunctions, heliocentric conjunctions with Earth, five every eight years. 8 divided by 5 is the Golden Mean. It’s 1.615, 1.625.
CB: So that’d be really interesting then if the reason why Venus signifies beauty, for example, or aesthetic appeal–that which we perceive as aesthetically appealing–ultimately boils down to a numerical reason.
RL: That’s exactly what I’m saying. And there’s no way to prove it, but it’s like all the planets are in some way architectonic of some basic number or something.
RL: And so, Venus making that aspect to Earth, being in that exact ratio to Earth, Venus being the Golden Mean proportion to Earth is representing everything that historically we’ve always ascribed to the Golden Mean: beauty, aesthetic perfection. A photographer knows that if they want to have a subject that’s perfect in a picture, you don’t want it halfway between the top and the bottom, you want it closer to 2/3. Why? Because 2/3 is already closer to the Golden Mean, because 1 + 1 = 2; 2 +1 = 3, 2/3; 3 + 2 = 5. And you keep going down, 5/8 and so on, and you get to all those things that are beautiful.
It’s kind of crazy. But when you start looking at the quintiles in someone’s chart, you all of a sudden have a picture of the non-physical dimension of where is this person’s creativity, where is their magic, where is their charisma. And you see strong quintiles in charts of artists and poets and philosophers, and just even people with strong charisma. Oddly enough, comedians again, and again, and again show powerful quintile configurations, meaning more than just two planets, one quintile, or biquintile, the other, but a third forming pattern that is on that 5-pointed star.
And you see them in charts of John Cleese, Groucho Marx, and Charlie Chaplin, Harpo Marx, Woody Allen, I mean, on and on and on and on. And I know we’ve kind of slipped into the chart interpretation. I don’t know whether we did it prematurely.
CB: Yeah, I know you have some charts you wanted to show to demonstrate. Do you want to look at those right now? Do you want to take a little break?
RL: What I would like to do first is just say a few words about the septiles.
RL: Because the charts that I have, I have a handful of charts where we can look at them with the normal, regular aspects. Many of them will be charts that we’ve looked at, that we might already be familiar with. And then I have a different version of that chart only showing the quintiles and septiles, and some of them are pretty shocking just by what comes across. And the reason why I focus on the quintiles and septiles in my research and even in my consulting practice is that they are the lower harmonics, which theoretically are more fundamental.
I mean, anyone who’s done any work in harmonic analysis and vibrational astrology–which is David Cochrane’s rebranding, if you will, of John Addey’s work–knows that there’s no end to what harmonic you can use. You can use the 125th harmonic, 375th harmonic, it doesn’t matter, because it’s like an oscilloscope. As you tune it, you’ll get certain frequencies where all of a sudden, it’ll go [makes a sound], and all of a sudden you’ll hit these points where everything seems to be in tune with everything else. Now that certainly has taken the zodiac out of the picture, but I think that we will find that there’s something there that is incredibly powerful that will feed into whatever it is that we do.
But the reason in particular I focus on the 5s and 7s is that most of us use aspects that go up to the 12th harmonic–most people. Obviously, strict Hellenistic astrologers will not use the 12th harmonic; you’re basically using the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th harmonic. 1st, 2nd, 4th, 3rd, and 6th, that’s the five major.
CB: So the 1st is conjunction, the 2nd harmonic is opposition because there’s two points. The 3rd harmonic is trine because there’s three points.
RL: Grand Trine, three points.
CB: Grand Trine. I meant to put some diagrams up that show those aspect patterns because that might be really helpful in this part of the discussion.
CB: Let me see if I can locate those. That’s a yod, which actually we should get into.
RL: Well, the ‘yod’ is of very particular importance because, again, people who have done a lot of natal work and who have looked at yods just know how strong or how powerful they are. Yeah, so there we have in effect what we would call a Grand Trine, but it’s really just the 3rd harmonic with planets at the tips of that 3rd harmonic.
CB: Okay, so when you’re talking about harmonic, you’re talking about 3 points…
RL: Talking about the circle divided by 3.
CB: Okay, versus a Grand Square, which is the circle divided by 4.
RL: That’s a 4th harmonic.
CB: And so, the square is connected with the 4th harmonic.
RL: Now hold that just for a second because in the 4th harmonic, we also have oppositions. But if you hated fractions, you’re going to hate this because a 4th harmonic, the 4th is 1/4 of a circle. 1/4 is the 4th harmonic, but 2/4 is a 1/2. So you have the opposition that is not only the 2nd harmonic, but it also falls on the 4th harmonic.
CB: Right, that makes sense. And one of the things of course that’s nice in the way that this gets integrated into the traditional system is that the two easier benefic aspects in the traditional rulership scheme, when you draw aspect lines from the Sun in Leo and the Moon in Cancer, the sextile goes to Venus.
RL: Venus and Jupiter.
CB: Yeah, and the trine goes to Jupiter and those are the two positive aspects. And then the square goes to Mars and the opposition to Saturn and those are the two malefics.
RL: And that is primarily the reason why I would never drop the zodiac because it’s just too magical the way it all goes together.
CB: Yeah, those overlapping, different rationales that then help to inform each other about the nature and gives you an access point for understanding the deeper meaning of some of those pieces.
RL: Yeah. Now can you go back to the yod, ‘the finger of God’?
RL: And the word ‘yod’ actually comes from the Hebrew word yod, which is the 10th letter of the alphabet; and there are 10 fingers on the human hand. When the Jews read the Torah, you weren’t allowed to touch the Torah because, a) it was sacred, and b) the oil from your fingers would actually degrade the papyrus or sheepskin that the Torah scrolls were written on. And so, they used this device called a yod, which was this silver pointer about the length of 1-1/2 pencils, and at the end of it there was a little fist with a finger like that that you used to read it.
And I think that the concept of the yod, where you have two planets at the base–here we have the Sun and Saturn at the base of the yod–connected by a sextile.
CB: Sextile, okay. 60°.
RL: 60°. Which means that if there is a planet at the opposite midpoint, what do I mean by that? If you have the Sun and Saturn 60° apart, there’s a point 30° in between them, that’s halfway between them.
RL: And if you go to the opposite point, that’s where Mars is on this, it’s at the opposite midpoint, which turns out to be the quincunx point. So if you go around the circle, it’s 5/12 from Saturn to the Mars, it’s 5/12 from Mars back to the Sun, and it’s 2/12 from the Sun to Saturn, adding up to 12/12. What this means is that the ‘finger of God’ or the yod is actually a 12th harmonic configuration. Even though there’s a sextile in it, it’s like doing fractions in the lowest common denominator; it’s basically a 12th harmonic pattern. It’s like taking a Grand Trine and putting in a midpoint opposite to and calling it a ‘kite’.
CB: Yeah. Well, and I think that’s one of the reasons why some people like Bill Tierney recommend using tight orbs for it. Because when you start dealing with midpoints, you are talking about things that are mathematically close to a very specific point that is the midpoint between two other planets.
RL: Maybe. Bill isn’t doing astrology these days, but I think Bill uses…
CB: Is he still around?
CB: I was thinking about that recently.
RL: I think Bill uses tight points because he was a ‘tight’ type of person.
RL: And I don’t mean that negatively. I mean, that was his personality. Freud would say that perhaps he was–‘anal retentive’ would be the word. And I’m not using this as a diagnosis, Bill, if you’re listening. But at the other end of the spectrum, I would probably be what Freud would call ‘oral’, which is rather loose and sloppy, so what can I say. No judgment here.
RL: But the thing is…
CB: This is a family show, so let’s keep it…
RL: But the thing is whenever you have a configuration, you always have to reduce it to a kite. Even though there are trines in it and an opposition, it’s a 6th harmonic aspect configuration because there’s sextiles.
CB: Here’s a kite.
RL: Yeah, so you can see there’s a Grand Trine, so we know there are trines in it.
RL: There’s the Jupiter opposite Mars; there’s a 2nd harmonic in it.
CB: So let’s describe it for people just listening to the audio. So what we have is an exact Grand Trine of three planets that are in 120° aspects. It forms a big triangle around the chart.
CB: And then there is a fourth planet, which is in this instance Mars which is opposite to one of the planets in that Grand Trine, and it’s simultaneously sextile to two others.
RL: Yep. And so, my students would quickly identify this as a 6th harmonic configuration. Why? Because you take the lowest common denominator. The sextile is 1/6.
RL: The trines are 2/6. The opposition is 3/6. And so, this is a 6th harmonic configuration. Now could we go back? And in using charts and doing analysis for natal charts, when you have configurations, the lower the harmonic configuration the more powerful it is. So a Grand Square or a T-Square–which are 4th harmonic patterns–are stronger than a ‘finger of God’, which is a 12th harmonic pattern.
CB: Okay, here’s a T-Square.
RL: So there you have a square, a square, and an opposition. A square is 1/4, an opposition is 2/4, and altogether you go around and you get 4/4. It has to add up to 1 in order for it to be a true configuration.
RL: So here’s the deal, if we can hang on to that quincunx just for a second.
CB: This one?
RL: Everyone would call this a yod. I would call this a ‘quincunx-yod’.
RL: Why? Because I think that this is a shadow of a larger more significant archetype.
RL: What I mean by that is that if we look at the yod–can we go back?
CB: Yeah, hold on.
RL: So if we look at the base, we have the Sun sextile Saturn. If we widened that aspect from a sextile of 60° and we widened it to 72° that would be a quintile.
RL: That would then narrow the quincunxes up to the apex, which would be going up to Mars. And so, if we widened the Sun-Saturn sextile to be a quintile, 72°, then the Saturn to Mars and the Sun to Mars would be biquintiles. And in fact, you would have 3 points on a 5-pointed star.
RL: That pattern, which I call a ‘golden yod’, is now oddly enough been picked up by other people. I see in The Mountain Astrologer being called that. I first called it a golden yod about 35 years ago. And I called it a golden yod because a 5-pointed star is how we get to the Golden Mean. And so, the configuration I’m talking about–which we’ll see in a couple of charts in a moment–is basically 3 points on a 5-pointed star.
And when I see one of those in a chart, that’s way more powerful. It’s a 5th harmonic configuration. Theoretically, that’s more powerful than a kite, which is a 6th harmonic configuration; certainly more powerful than a ‘finger of God’, a traditional quincunx yod because that’s a 12th harmonic configuration.
Now if we hold tight just one second on the same picture, if we take that Sun and Saturn and instead of widening it to 72°, if we narrow it by 9° to 51°, that’s close to a septile. And that would then make the Sun to Mars and the Saturn to Mars triseptiles, or about 154°. Now we would have 3 points on a 7-pointed star.
And again, when I see that in a chart, man, I know exactly where to go. And I can point this out in the chart of someone who’s been an astrologer for 35-40 years, and I point that out in their chart and they go, “Holy crap. This explains something about me that I never quite could see in my chart, but I get it.” That’s what happens again and again and again and again to me.
So I use the quintiles and septiles because they’re the lowest harmonic of these metaphysical, non-Ptolemaic, futuristic, quantum aspects that are not minor because they are important; but maybe they’re minor like A minor or B minor in a key is not less important than A major, it’s just a different nuance. There’s a thought.
CB: Yeah, it still just makes me think of the last conversation we had in the Uranus episode about how you can have Newtonian physics and that operates on the visible world really well. And NASA still launches ships to the Moon or other planets based on Newtonian physics and the rules of that..
RL: And the math works just fine.
CB: Yeah, on this level, on this realm. But then there is also quantum physics and quantum mechanics which goes down to a much smaller realm. Things start operating in a different way that may not be visible to us and may operate by very different rules but still may be relevant in some way.
RL: Yeah. And of course, as we talked about during that, I believe the same strange things that happen at the quantum microscopic level are reproduced ‘as above, so below’ at the quantum macroscopic level. That’s why I think we get these alterations of space and time, and time being bent out of shape somehow by this relationship to the planets or the cosmos.
CB: Yeah, and what you were talking about earlier when you were talking about strings vibrating and harmonics and stuff a while back made me think of modern string theory. Isn’t that part of the basis of modern string theory–the theory at least that things boil down at a fundamental level to strings vibrating in order to create most of the basic mechanisms in the universe?
RL: From what I know about, yes.
RL: I would not pass myself off as a string theory expert.
CB: All right, so we are back from break. And before we get into charts, I put up a post on Twitter that we were going to do this today. It was kind of impromptu. It was funny because we just recorded the forecast last night. I’d gotten done with this very long two- or three-hour forecast and that was my last podcast this month.
I was looking forward to taking it easy for the rest of October and my birthday’s coming up, and then I looked at my phone and you called, and you said, “I’ll be in Denver tomorrow.” So it was time to record the minor–the non-Ptolemaic aspects episode. So there were some questions that came in through Twitter that I wanted to get to for a little bit to just see if there’s any interesting ones that are worth discussing before we move into chart work.
CB: So I was unable to share the screen, so I’ll just read them off my phone. David on Twitter asks: “Why Ptolemaic aspects as seen make sense for traditional visible planets. Perhaps for the invisible planets, minor aspects can tell us more, especially about the slow, outer, less likely to reach standard aspects in the modern world.” What do you think about that?
RL: Maybe. Although if I see a Moon quintile or septile Sun, it can be the most powerful thing in a chart. So I think that the internal, the faster-moving planets, when they make these aspects, they can be just as every bit important, every bit as strong.
CB: Okay. Noel says: “Why do we need minor aspects when the Ptolemaic aspects already do a great job at delineating the natal chart in full? What imperative information do minor aspects add to delineations?”
RL: I think we’ve covered some of that today. But the fact of the matter is that Descartes was wrong: no amount of formulas and analytics will describe all the mysteries. One cannot look at a chart and know all the answers to all the questions in the chart, there’s always mystery. And these non-Ptolemaic or metaphysical or additional aspects, it’s like having a Crayola box, Crayola crayons with 8 colors, then to discover there’s one with 16 colors, and then to discover there’s one with 128 colors.
RL: Why do you need all those other colors? Why do you need additional instruments in an orchestra? It adds richness. It adds to the fabric.
CB: Subtlety and nuance. Sara Juliet Fruman asks: “How should we interpret them in natal charts versus mundane?” So is there any difference between natal interpretation versus mundane?
RL: This is a really good question and I’m going to give a short answer. The short answer is I don’t use them much in mundane, as the champion that I am…
RL: …of these aspects. Chris, you and I have been having this ongoing discussion about what we should call them because I don’t like ‘minor’ because it makes them sound like they’re less important. And quite frankly, when you look at a few charts, you realize that they can be the singular most important thing in a chart; they can be major.
CB: I’m still voting for quantum aspects.
RL: Quantum aspects may work, but there is something to their ‘metaphysical-ness’. Even when I write my daily column Planet Pulse, I don’t lean on these aspects a lot. I can sometimes, but they don’t seem to have as much import in the outside external, three-dimensional world as they do in the metaphysical realm.
CB: Metaphysical–are you saying that they don’t manifest as much in concrete external events? They mainly manifest as internal, character, or psychological events?
RL: Yeah, that’s partly it. In other words, there was a time when we believed that if it wasn’t sensible, meaning of the senses, it didn’t exist. There were metaphysical traditions or mystics who knew there were other things, but largely, culture said, not until Lavoisier discovered oxygen did we have any concrete proof that things existed that we couldn’t perceive; and yet, we’ve moved into a realm with discovery and comfort we now have with the non-sensible planets, meaning the planets beyond our senses. Bucky Fuller used to quip that 99% of all science is being done in areas of the universe that we cannot perceive with our five senses.
And so, the reason why I don’t use the quintiles and septiles and other non-Ptolemaic quantum aspects in mundane work is that in mundane work, we’re typically looking at events in the outer world. I would not use a quintile or a septile transiting to point to a physical change of job or a move or illness; they’re more internal states. But when I bring this into a discussion or in the charts that we’ll look at in a few minutes, you’ll see how excitingly important they are, and that really makes a chart into something different than it would be without it. And that’s about as much as I can say there.
CB: Okay, so that’s important or could be important. Kepler’s defense of it with that one letter was more of a mundane event.
RL: Right. Absolutely.
CB: Yeah, so that’s tricky. All right, let me check some other ones. Oh, yeah, the other thing, going back, talking about shades of crayons. The other thing about the quantum thing is that it also has this idea of quantum things being very small, which is a nice alternative then saying minor. But when we talk about quantum things, we don’t have as much of a stigma of that being somehow lesser; like quantum can still be important.
CB: I just wanted to throw that out there.
RL: Well, quantum can be important enough that it defines. In other words, what’s under the ocean defines what the foam is that we see on top.
CB: Right, that’s a good one. A bunch of people keep asking about the difference between a quincunx and an inconjunct. I think we discussed that as a terminological issue.
RL: We did, we did.
CB: Somebody was asking about that in terms of an aversion. Like the way you were describing that, would you agree with the more traditional view? They would say it’s a lack of an aspect, or a lack of connection between two things. It almost sounded like you might go that direction because you were saying there was like a–what were you saying? What was the specific term that you used?
RL: Instability. It’s almost like ‘avoid spot’ where it wants to jump to somewhere else.
CB: Avoid spot. I mean, yeah, that sounds very similar.
RL: It does, but I’ve seen it again and again. Sometimes I think of it as the mosquito that you hear just as you’re ready to fall asleep. And you know what’s worse than hearing [makes a sound] is hearing it stop.
RL: You know it’s landed on you somewhere. And so, what happens is that you kind of do that and you think you’ve got it, then three minutes later, just as you’re dozing, you hear it again. And finally you go, “All right, it’s either you or me,” and you sit up and you turn the lights on, and you wait and you say, “I’m going to get it. We’re not going to both be in this room (or in this tent).” And you wait and 10 minutes goes by–nothing. So you close down shop again, and just as you’re falling asleep, you hear the mosquito. I’ve seen this be the way that quincunxes work.
Another way I’ll explain it to a client who has a close–and when I say close, I mean a tight orb 150°, give or take a couple of degrees. If we take our hand and we put it elbow right angle, and we wiggle our fingers and we move our hand forward and backward, there is a place where we can tell something’s moving but we can’t tell what it is. And a quincunx is like imagine that my hand is connected to my ear by a steel bar, which means that when I go to look to see what the hell it is, it turns with me.
CB: You’re talking about the optical blind spot that’s right there.
RL: The optical ‘almost’ blind spot.
RL: It’s right on the edge of perception. And I can’t make it go away by looking away because when I do, that spot follows me. And so, it’s more than just nothing’s there. It’s nothing’s there and I know it’s there and I can’t get rid of it, and I can’t bring it into focus.
CB: Okay. Well, that sounds very interesting and reconcilable with that traditional notion of aversion or there being a blind spot for the planet in some sense.
RL: Yeah, I agree.
CB: Okay. Let’s see, any other interesting ones before we move on. Oh, yeah, the next one is actually from André. “Minor aspects disregard the optics principle. So what’s the inherent rational[e] to care about them?” And it has to do with divisions of a cycle in harmonics.
RL: And that’s right. And I think that one of the things that I think is an important differentiation between the tradition of Hellenistic astrology and some more modern looks at how the universe works is that optics is just a narrow slice of the electromagnetic spectrum that we can’t see. Optics implies that there’s a visual kind of metaphor, if you will, and there’s a lot of things humming on the electromagnetic spectrum that are infra- and ultra-, below and above the frequencies of what’s visually perceivable.
CB: Yeah, and the ancient and Hellenistic optics thing was based on and partially incorporated geometry because geometry and optics were integrated in the Greek model or the Greco-Roman model as visual rays that emanated from the eye and struck objects. And that’s how you could see certain things, but why you can’t see around corners or things like that.
RL: Right, right.
CB: So this just takes one piece of that, which is the geometrical part, and integrates it much more deeply.
RL: But that geometrical part also is used extensively in electromagnetic circuitry, what they call integrated circuit analysis where it’s mathematical and harmonics, but there’s a geometry in how circuits are laid out, if you will.
CB: Okay. All right, let me see if there’s any other good ones. Yods. I’m glad you brought that up, a yod, because I did an aspect patterns episode with Carole Taylor a year ago, but we didn’t get to yods because we mainly focused on the other aspects that were formed by Ptolemaic aspects or the patterns formed by Ptolemaic aspects. And the yod is a weird one because it’s two quincunxes that are sextile another planet.
CB: So yods sometimes get very hyped in modern astrology; I would say sometimes overhyped. It sounds like you’re not as pro overhyping yods as some might be. Where are you at with yods?
RL: Well, I think they’re important. But I also think that throughout the 20th century, because we had Neptune-Pluto holding an almost consistent sextile for 130 years, that there’s more yods than there have been in centuries before or after. Because every time a planet moves through that opposite point in the sextile, to the Neptune-Pluto sextile, there it is, so it’s kind of become overplayed. But I’ll tell you when I see a quintile or a septile yod, which we’ll see in a few minutes, I get excited because those seem to be way more profound.
CB: Okay, that’s a good answer. And it seems like there’s things like that though that some astrologers either specialize in or focus on and sometimes that’s how something gets overhyped. It just becomes an important piece in one school and sometimes one school will tend to overhype it, but that happens in a lot of different things.
RL: I agree with that.
CB: Like the nodes, Pluto, or the Lot of Fortune. I’m trying to think of other things like that where some school emphasizes it so much that it almost becomes a little bit too overhyped for some reason.
RL: Yeah, I would agree with that. And another part of the, I don’t want to say, ‘taking the wind out of the sail of the yod’ is I actually think that any isosceles triangle that falls on a harmonic functions as a yod.
RL: In other words, whether it’s a traditional sextile quincunx yod or a T-Square, it’s an isosceles triangle with a base and an apex. The energy is still the same; it’s the opposition that creates the stress or tension that is fed up through the apex, that’s the 90° points to both. ‘Thor’s hammer’, where you have a square and a half-a-square and a half-a-square; again, not a traditional configuration, but man, you see these in people’s charts again and again and again, these other configurations that are based upon symmetrical geometry and harmonics, they just seem to work.
CB: Okay. All right, that might be good for the questions as far as I’m seeing that we haven’t covered because we’ve actually covered so much already.
RL: Before we jump into charts though I just want to say a quick thing. Because we’re going to be now looking at some charts that we’re going to look at through our normal filter, and then we’re going to look at them through the quintile–not quincunx–quintile-septile filter. And I’ve done a lecture on and off for years called ‘The X-tiles: The Truth is Out There’…
CB: That’s a good title.
RL: …in which X-tiles are the quintiles, the septiles, the turnstiles, the kitchen tiles, the infantiles, all the different tiles.
CB: The reptiles.
RL: The reptiles. Erin Sullivan, who’s in my ‘septile hall of fame’–I have hall of fame for each of my minor aspects–every time I see her, she goes, “Hey, Rick, how are my reptiles?”
CB: Nice. All right, so our first chart…
RL: No, wait, before we actually do this first chart…
RL: …there’s a huge difference between quintiles and septiles.
CB: All right.
RL: Quintiles are natural. They occur in nature. It’s the 5-fold. It’s the starfish. The rose is a quintile; it’s a 5-pointed star spiraling inward. There’s a lot of quintile radial geometry in the natural world. There’s almost no 7-pointed star that’s natural. Seven is a manmade construct more often than not.
There is the ‘seven virtues’, or there’s seven days in a week, or seven colors in the rainbow, primarily because Isaac Newton was ‘a seven freak’. Because of the prophecies of Daniel, he added indigo to make it seven colors. But there’s no natural; seven is otherworldly. So the quintile that we talked about earlier based upon the Golden Mean is beautiful. It can be painful because the 5-pointed star inverted is the symbol of satanic religions.
RL: And so, you see strong a quintile–that’s the 5-pointed star–you see strong quintile configurations in charts like the Marquis de Sade, Albert Speer, and Adolph Hitler, just a few that come to mind. But most quintile charts are natural and beautiful. Now compare that with the septile charts, which are otherworldly. They’re so complicated that they almost have to squeeze into three dimensions.
There’s been research done on the preponderance of septiles at UFO sightings and in people who have reported those kinds of experiences. When I see a chart with strong septile emphasis, I immediately go to the question of, so what’s the deal with non-physical consciousness? Ghosts, goblins, spirit guides, ancestor guides, aliens, things that go bump in the night. Psychic mediums. I’ve done charts of many professional psychic mediums and the septile aspect overwhelmingly shows up again and again and again.
RL: So what’s interesting is that they’re both in a way metaphysical, but the quintiles are more natural, more beautiful, and more charismatic; whereas the septiles are more brilliant, but they’re harder to maintain because it’s almost like other dimensions are leaking into this world for a glimpse.
CB: And a quintile is 72° and a septile is 51.43.
RL: But just as a matter of record, when I say ‘quintiles’ I mean quintiles and biquintiles.
RL: In natal interpretation, there’s a nuanced difference, but basically, it’s about quintiles being quintiles and biquintiles. And when I say ‘septiles’, I’m referring to septiles, biseptiles, and triseptiles, which are not on that little map.
RL: But again, if you think of a 5-pointed star, and point 1 point at any degree of the zodiac, the other 4 points fall on the quintile-biquintile points.
RL: And if you think of the 7-pointed star and make the point on whatever the point is you’re looking at, the septiles will be the closest to the before and after–the septiles will be the closest points–the biseptiles will be the next, and the triseptiles will be the ones closest to an opposition. But there is no opposition, like there is no opposition on a Grand Trine. If you have an odd harmonic, there’s no opposition. There’s no opposition on a Grand Trine, on a Grand Quintile, or on a Grand Septile.
RL: So now let’s jump into a couple of charts. And can we work these backwards? The first one I’d like to look at is Ram Dass.
CB: Really quickly, are these glyphs? Paula used these glyphs and I hadn’t seen some of these. I’ve seen the ‘Q’ for quintile, but I hadn’t seen some of the other glyphs for some of the other minor aspects. Are any of these standardized?
RL: Not that I know of.
CB: Okay, so I just wanted to point that out because I don’t want to accidentally popularize some glyphs that I don’t even use necessarily. I think the quincunx, that and the semi-sextile, glyph are pretty standardized.
RL: That is. And that’s basically the straight line with the triangle below or above it pointing towards the straight line.
CB: Yeah, because that’s just like half a sextile basically.
RL: Yeah, exactly.
CB: So that’s pretty straightforward. The semi-square glyph…
RL: And the sesquisquare are also both very common.
RL: The semi-square looks like a ‘V’ on its side down by Leo, if you go to the bottom right here, if you put your pointer.
RL: That’s the semi-square. And that’s the sesquisquare.
CB: Got it, okay. And then Astro.com, I know I’ve seen the quintile and the biquintile as a ‘Q’.
RL: I use a ‘Q’ and a little ‘2’ by the ‘Q’.
CB: Okay, and a 2.
RL: In my work I use an S1, S2, S3 for septile, biseptile, or triseptile.
CB: Got it, okay.
RL: You’ll see them on the aspect grid when we look at them in just a few minutes.
CB: All right, so what chart did you want to start with?
RL: ‘Ram Dass 1’.
CB: I don’t have the numbers on here, but can we put it visually? There’s Ram Dass.
RL: Okay, that one will do. That’s it.
RL: So here’s a chart of someone who’s a spiritual guru, a psychologist. You look at this chart and…
CB: Who is he? What’s the context just for anyone that’s 10-years-old and listening?
RL: Ram Dass was one of the three Harvard psychologists who was experimenting with psychedelics. He and Tim Leary and Ralph Metzner got fired, and Tim Leary kind of went off on his own and kind of touted LSD. Ram Dass went to India, found a guru, and became kind of like a spiritual leader/teacher. He wrote the book Be Here Now. Whenever anyone says ‘be here now’, whether they know it or not they’re actually referring to Ram Dass’ work.
CB: Okay, so he became like a spiritual guru.
RL: Spiritual guru and an amazing storyteller. And he’s all over the internet, and if you just wanted to be rocked into some place of comfort with the universe, Ram Dass is a good person to do that with.
CB: And we already talked about how I stumbled across his chart at one point. I was surprised at how amazingly dignified his chart is from a traditional astrological standpoint, where he has almost every planet either in one of its major dignities of domicile/exaltation or mutual reception by domicile, so that’s pretty interesting
RL: Pretty interesting. He also has a very close Sun-Uranus conjunction. And in the spirit of full astrological disclosure, I should say that I was born on April 6, but I was a bit younger.
CB: Of the same year?
RL: No, not of the same year.
CB: Okay, sorry.
RL: Yeah, he was born in 1931. He passed away a couple of years ago.
RL: But he did have a Sun-Uranus conjunction, and he certainly was an out-of-the-box, eclectic, unusual person. The Mercury-Neptune trine certainly worked for him. He could tell stories and you’d think he was singing songs. I mean, he just had this voice that was entrancing. And of course the Moon in Sagittarius that was trine the Uranus-Sun conjunction, when he lectured, he sometimes would say, “You guys have all come here to see me talk. But I’m just in my living room and you’ve all stopped by.” It was that Moon kind of always being at home while he was on his adventure.
CB: What time are you using for him? You have Virgo rising?
CB: Okay. For some reason, I had in my files a different time with Cancer rising.
RL: Well, for what we’re doing here it doesn’t matter.
CB: Right, because we’re not really focused on the houses.
RL: We’re not focused on the houses. And it’ll turn out that what we’re really focused on is, if we could shift gears, there should be a ‘Ram Dass 2’ that maybe will follow this, hopefully.
CB: Is that it?
RL: Hold on. Nope, that’s David Bowie. You don’t have the file names listed anywhere?
CB: I had it up just a second ago there.
RL: Yeah, okay. So here what we’re showing is I’ve taken out all of the regular aspects, and what we have is the mustard-colored lines; the yellowish lines are the quintiles and biquintiles.
CB: It’s very visually-appealing, the pink and mustard.
RL: And the pink is the septiles, the otherworldly septiles.
RL: And so, and I’ve put aspect grids on these because with these aspects, you can’t just look at the degree numbers, so they’re not as obvious how close they are. And I’m also using a feature here in Solar Fire that as the orb approaches 0, the line gets very thick. So here we can see, for example, that the Jupiter septile to Neptune is 0° 2 minutes of orb, so that line is very thick. And that’s a very strong septile, but they’re outer planets. But this is part of his connection to other times, other places, that septile connection with the other worlds.
But he has two slightly off-centered quintile patterns that I think are hugely significant, and one is what I would call a ‘golden yod’ or a ‘quintile yod’–I referenced this earlier, and that is that Mercury is–let me just get this right. Mercury is quintile to Jupiter. Now I’m using 5° orbs here on the quintiles, which people who say, “Oh, yeah, I use quintiles. They’re minor aspects, I use 2° orbs,” you’ll never find the magic of them if you narrow your orbs that much. You have to open them up and treat them as if they were really going to be important.
RL: But here the Mercury to the Moon, and the Moon back to Pluto and to Jupiter, you can kind of see that this creates 3 points on a 5-pointed star. Then we have the Venus to the Mars, that Venus-Mars is less than 1° of orb, and it then reflects up to the Chiron, and certainly his role as mentor, teacher, and healer was certainly significant.
We’re not going to delve really deeply on these. I’m just trying to point out how symmetrical geometry in these other aspects can add nuance in a chart. If you looked at Ram Dass’ chart without looking at this, nothing strikes you as extraordinary. Okay, so there is a fair amount of dignity, and on some level, it’s a clue of extraordinary. But here because we have these quintile symmetrical patterns, it takes it to another level.
CB: Okay. So in terms of practical terms, I’d like to think of myself sometimes as an anthropologist of astrologers. In practical terms, you have two different charts here for our presentation. In your order of looking at a chart, or sitting down with a client, will you look at first the Ptolemaic aspects and then you’ll do a second chart with the quantum aspects?
RL: It varies. I actually have one aspects set that has them all, and I’ve trained myself to work with them.
CB: As a whole, both of them.
RL: Although that can be overwhelming for some people. Even when I’m teaching, I like to run two different versions of the same chart. Even though I would look at the Ptolemaic version first, it’s not because it’s more important, it’s because it’s a starting point And then I’m switching the power on the microscope.
RL: All of the examples that I’ve taken today are ones that have strong patterns in the quintile and septile realm. However, if you just took 10 charts at random, half of them or more would almost have nothing. I mean, just like some charts have no sextiles, some charts have no squares. And so, we’re looking at ones that have a strong preponderance or showing of those aspects.
CB: Okay, so there are some charts that are going to have more minor aspects, and there are some that are going to have less. Do you restrict it in terms of points? Which points are you drawing your minor aspects to? Are you using Ascendant/Midheaven, Descendant/IC?
RL: Sometimes I do, it varies. Just like it varies when I’m looking at my regular–sometimes I just have so much noise that I won’t draw in the aspects. I’m not drawing them in here to the Ascendant and Midheaven; however, I’ll note it when I see it.
CB: So you’ve been doing it so long that you can actually visually notice when one of those aspects shows up at this point.
RL: Normally, if I’m doing research or working with accurate times, I will calculate in the Midheaven and Ascendant. I’m showing them here at the bottom of the chart, I just don’t have the lines drawn in. So for example, if I can make this a little bit bigger on my screen, we can see that Saturn is biquintile the Midheaven 1° orb.
CB: Okay, so the aspectarian in the bottom-left.
RL: They’re showing, yeah.
CB: Got it. You did horoscopes and daily, monthly, and weekly forecasts for years. Something I just realized is if you say you’re not using it for mundane, you probably didn’t integrate them into that work, right?
RL: I do occasionally.
RL: If there’s a day when there is a Venus-Jupiter septile and a Sun-something else biseptile, and the Moon is making septile/biseptile/triseptiles to all those points, I’ll know that there’s something weird about that day. I won’t analyze the individual aspects by themselves because the quantum astrologer in me wants to put this together into a hum rather than isolating out the particulates.
CB: Wasn’t the Harmonic Convergence in 1987 based partially on some minor aspect patterns or something like that?
RL: Not that I know of, no.
CB: Okay, it was something weird way back then, kind of like the 2012-ish thing, but the ‘80s version of that.
RL: As far as I know there was nothing astrological. Although obviously when a lot of people get together and think the same thing, if it’s a cool thing, that’s a cool thing. But no, I know nothing about any astrology connection to either the Harmonic Convergence or to December 21, 2012.
CB: Yeah. I mean, it seems like sometimes people come up with stuff for non-astrological reasons and then later attempt to shoehorn an astrological reason onto it.
CB: I meant to ask, when did you start using these aspects?
CB: So was that from the beginning?
CB: From day one.
RL: And I started to tell you this story before we were on mic, and that is one of the first books that came to me as senior in college, psychology major, thinking that I was going to be a Jungian analyst and go to the Jungian Institute, one of the first astrology books that came across my desk–actually two of them were Dane Rudhyar’s Astrology of Personality and the other one a book called–I just looked at this before. A Handbook for the Humanistic Astrologer.
RL: And that was by a man named Michael Meyer who’s never been a part of the astrology community that I know of, but is still kicking around and his website’s amazing; he does really good work. And he was a student of Dane Rudhyar, and in the forward of his book, he says that, “My teachings are based upon the teachings of Dane Rudhyar.”
RL: And in it, he uses quintiles, septiles, noviles, squares, sextiles, conjunctions as if they were all aspects. And so, from the very beginning, they were part of how I thought.
CB: Did Rudhyar?
CB: He did, okay.
RL: Yeah, he got that directly from Rudhyar. And interestingly enough, if I could simplify Rudhyar’s take on quintiles and septiles, it’s interesting because Rudhyar said that quintiles were about talent and he said that septiles were about fate; those were his bottom lines for each of those aspects. Well, the quintiles may have talent connected to it, but you see someone like Rachmaninoff playing a concerto, and you see with what ease and grace and how talented he is, and yet, you don’t see the years of bleeding fingertips from practicing 20 hours a day.
RL: Quintiles aren’t just about talent. They are about the manifestation of things that were not physical into the physical realm that are inherently in the beauty polarity. I guess it could be beauty or it could be horrific. But often, people who seem to be talented have strong quintiles. We’ll see a few of those in just a moment.
RL: Now with septiles, he said that was about fate. But you see, Jung very clearly pointed out that fate was about the unaspected parts of our subconscious. If we integrate things, then we co-create our future; but if they’re not integrated, then shit seems to happen to us all the time. And septiles are very complicated.
And so, therefore, you look at a chart, for example, of the bombing of the World Trade Center Towers, it’s one of the most heavily septiled charts. Now I know I just said I didn’t use septiles in mundane…
CB: Are you talking about the first time?
RL: I’m talking about September 11.
RL: The 9:10 AM or whatever the time was, that first hit of the Twin Towers from the airplane. That timed chart had more septiles in it than any chart I’ve ever seen. And fate, something comes crashing through. It’s like people on another dimension are playing a game of chess, and then all of a sudden something here happens, and boom, it’s checkmate; but the game has been way more complicated than what we get to see. And so, there’s always this connection with things coming crashing through. And I don’t argue with Rudhyar’s fate, but that’s the symptom, that’s not the cause.
RL: We’ll see more of those in just a minute. All right, which chart?
CB: Ram Dass.
RL: We’re good with Ram Dass. Let’s do David Bowie because that’s such a clear one.
RL: So David Bowie, just looking at his regular, old, ordinary chart…
CB: And again, who is this for the 10-year-olds in the audience?
RL: Oh, my God, David Bowie was a rock-n-roller who kind of broke through the gender issue with Iggy Stardust. This is ‘Earth to Major Tom’. What’s that song? Space Oddity. He was a rocker who reinvented himself in different personalities that were alien, that were literally spacemen. And also, very heavy costumes and definitely bisexual or at least extrasexual–is that a word? There was an energy of him that was not contained by the normal sexual modes, and he was one of the first people in popular consciousness who really busted through that very, very strongly.
CB: Okay, and we have a 9:00 AM chart for him, right?
RL: We have a 9:00 AM chart for him.
CB: Okay, cool.
RL: And we have a Mars conjunct Sun in Capricorn, and Mercury in Capricorn.
CB: And Aquarius rising.
RL: And Aquarius rising. License to be weird.
CB: You cast these in whole sign, but what do you normally use?
RL: I normally use Koch.
RL: And I use it for just as a stupid a reason as anyone uses whatever house sign they use. It’s like orbs, none of them work, or they all have an area. The reason I use Koch houses is it’s the most modern.
CB: It’s the most recent?
RL: Yeah, it’s the only 20th century. It was an add-on correction–I guess is what you might want to say–to Placidus by a German mathematician named Walter Koch.
CB: Yeah, if I’m remembering correctly, he did a really good book on house division with another astrologer that I’ve discovered in the past year in German. It’s actually really good.
RL: Anyhow, I use that arbitrarily, but I also use whole signs. I mean, I go back and forth. Obviously, when I’m writing and researching, I probably spend more time in whole sign houses, and even Aries rising whole sign. When I do lunations and stuff like that I don’t run them from a place on a planet because people watching the video can be anywhere on the planet.
RL: And so, I find that rather bothersome that someone would run a chart from a particular place for those types of mundane events, but that’s just me regardless.
CB: Can you give me, or for the kids in the audience, some historical context about the rediscovery of whole sign houses and how that just didn’t exist until the ‘90s in the community? It just wasn’t a concept, right?
RL: No, but people did use equal houses.
RL: And equal houses was a concept where whatever your Ascendant was, 13° of Aquarius, then 13° of each sign was the cusp all the way around. So the houses were equal, which put the Midheaven either in the 9th or the 10th, could be even in the 11th, no one used whole sign houses.
CB: Yeah, it just didn’t exist as a concept.
RL: It did not exist as a concept and is something that I think really came in the early ‘90s with Arhat and Project Hindsight is my assumption.
CB: Right. Yeah, that’s got to be one of the most major transformations of a really important basic concept that suddenly didn’t exist and then suddenly is reintroduced and a lot of people suddenly adopt it.
RL: And I think that a lot of people having adopted it is both good and bad. I mean, the thing is that whole sign houses to me acknowledges that you can’t compress the complexity of three dimensions onto a flat piece of paper without getting distortion; especially when you’re north or south of the equator and you’re mapping the celestial equator or the ecliptic actually. You’re going to get distortion; something’s got to give.
RL: I remember the first time I taught in Oslo and my first client had the Ascendant conjunct the Midheaven.
CB: Right. Yeah, that high north.
RL: Not likely here. I’m always amused by astrologers who use intermediate house cusps, quadrant-based, intermediate house cusps: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th. Intermediate house cusps by progression or by transit as a timing mechanism, as if it only works when you use Porphyry or Placidus, or only works when you use Regiomontanus, or it only works when you use Morinus. Something to me is inherently wrong about that because all these systems wouldn’t exist if any of them actually was universally the right one.
CB: Yeah, well, I did an episode with Luis Ribeiro a few months ago where we talked about the historical reasons for the introduction of some of the systems, and some of them were introduced based purely on historical reasons of the author trying to reconstruct what they thought Ptolemy did; introducing an interpretation of a text or a passage that introduced a new technical system but that may have been an interpretation, or may or may not have been an accurate representation of what that author said. So some of them were not originally introduced for technical reasons or due to empirical reasons.
RL: Right. But there are people who now follow that school of thought, who use them as if they were the only way to get to the technique that they’re getting to because the technique comes from the astrologer who invented or introduced that technique, and that’s the problem in my mind.
CB: And there’s actually an issue with that that came up on Twitter yesterday when somebody asked, “Do you use different house systems for different branches of astrology?” And the reason they were asking that I think is because they’ve started studying horary.
Traditional astrologers will start learning natal astrology and they’ll learn whole sign at this point because there are so many Hellenistic practitioners–like Demetra, Ben Dykes, or myself, or Austin, Kelly, or whoever–that teach natal astrology in the whole sign context, and so some students will learn that first. But then when they want to learn other branches, like horary, most of the horary specialists at this point follow the William Lilly school, so they use Regiomontanus just because they’re imitating William Lilly.
CB: And so, students will then sometimes learn horary in Regiomontanus context and then there’s this belief that you’re supposed to use Regiomontanus for horary, but you use whole sign for natal. So it’s setting up this weird division, but it’s only happened in the past 10 years. And it’s only like an accident of just what some of the different schools now are promoting rather than there being a good conceptual reason to use one system from one branch and another system for a different branch.
RL: Yeah, yeah, agreed. So I’ve run these in whole sign just because I know that’s what a lot of your folks are used to looking at. And it doesn’t impact the patterns that I’m talking about here anyhow.
RL: So looking at David Bowie’s chart, I mean, the thing that stands out would be a Venus conjunct the Midheaven, the Sun-Mars conjunction, Mars exalted conjunct the Sun in Capricorn. And that powerhouse in the 7th house of the Saturn contained by the Pluto-Moon.
RL: Uranus relatively, or not relatively, but unaspected.
CB: So Uranus is at 18 Gemini?
RL: Now if we change to the ‘Bowie 1’, I’ve added here the quincunxes and the semi-squares. The semi-squares are in orange, the quincunxes are in green. Now all of a sudden Uranus is in the equation, but Uranus isn’t necessarily a happy camper; those semi-squares are really loud. The–let’s see, what is it? Uranus to the Moon is 0° 9 minutes; that is like a powerhouse of the odd part of him not fitting into the showman part. It’s a creative conflict, but it’s hard to work with. And it certainly was difficult for him as he kept reinventing himself and coming out with different identities through the, geez, I guess probably the late ‘70s and ‘80s; I might be off here a bit.
And then we look at the Sun–it’s not the Sun. Let’s just see what’s here to Venus. Yeah, the Venus to Mars, the Venus to Mars being a half-square, also less than a half-a-degree of orb. And we can see now what we couldn’t see earlier: the conflict, the creative tension that this guy has to work off.
RL: And of course, here, if you’re using Chiron, the fact that Chiron is so closely square Saturn, we know there are issues and we know that a lot of the stuff may originate in earlier either hurtful situations, pain, or whatever; but there’s also that whole teaching aspect. And the Moon is trine Venus in the Midheaven.
But this as a chart by itself makes sense, but when we look at the next chart, which shows mostly the septiles–that’s what we’re concerned with here–all of a sudden we get transformed into another place. And the strongest patterns, well, the closest septile is actually the Neptune to Venus, which is 5 minutes of orb.
And again, the fantasy that this guy promoted, the Venus is conjunct his Midheaven. So it’s not just Neptune septile Venus, it’s Neptune septile Venus on the Midheaven. I mean, this guy basically created this whole illusion of something that people just never imagined. It was new, it was different, it was otherworldly, and it was more complicated than just a guy with orange hair and lipstick and makeup. It was complicated. He was an alien.
And then we look at the relationship between the planets in Leo and the planets in Capricorn, and they are intensely triseptiled. So they don’t show up as a normal aspect–I mean, as a traditional aspect–but we get Mercury to the Moon is 4 minutes of arc from being exactly 3/7 of a circle. That’s the Moon to Mercury.
And as we work our way around, the Sun to Pluto is less than a quarter of a degree; it’s 13 minutes of arc. And there’s a third one in there that’s really close. Oh, the Mars to the Pluto, that’s 18 minutes; so that’s just a little bit over a quarter of a degree. But all of a sudden we see this entirely different configuration. And even though the aspects get wider as we go out to that Uranus–I think here I’m working with a 3° orb–Uranus is under 3° triseptile to Uranus. It is triseptile to Mars by 2-1/2°, and to Jupiter it is 1° 20 minutes.
And so, all of a sudden Uranus fits in, but it fits in in this complicated, otherworldly, alien. David Bowie was an alien. And anyone who knows his work and is familiar with him, there was nothing ever quite like him. He was from another planet.
RL: As was Michael Jackson; now we’re not going to get into the specifics. By the way, Michael Jackson has dirty data.
RL: There are two birth times for him.
CB: At least.
RL: But there are two that are noted to be correct and they’re about eight hours apart.
RL: One is someone who got it allegedly from his birth certificate, and another is a family member who says they were there; I mean, there may be others. The point is that…
CB: There’s one that’s from a Vedic astrologer that says he gave him a reading once as well, I think.
RL: I don’t know that.
RL: I don’t want to spend a lot of time with this, nor do I want to get into the Michael Jackson craziness.
RL: All I want to do is point out that when you look at this chart just through the normal filter…
CB: What time are we using here?
RL: I’m using the 7:33 PM, not because I think it’s right, it was just one of the two choices.
RL: But I’m not considering any aspects to the Moon, and it’s likely the Moon was in Pisces no matter what time of day he was born.
CB: Okay, so the aspects would still be in effect for most of the planets.
CB: Got it.
RL: I mean, there’s still going to be a Venus-Uranus conjunction 4° orb.
RL: But the thing is when you look at this chart, nothing strikes you as, “Oh, my God, this is crazy extraordinary.” And whether you were a fan of his or not, he was crazy extraordinary. And when you look at his chart through the septile and just leave the Moon out of the equation, you come up with a chart that has 4 points on a 7-pointed star that are relatively tight aspects.
CB: This one?
RL: Yes. So we have Saturn septile Jupiter less than 1° of orb. Saturn to Mars, that’s a triseptile; that’s about a degree-and-a-half. We have Saturn to the Sun, that’s 7 minutes of orb. And then we have the Neptune-Jupiter, but the Jupiter down to the Mars, that’s just 2° of orb, and the Jupiter to the Sun, which is less than 1° of orb.
We basically have between Mars, the Pluto-Sun, the Jupiter-Neptune, and the Saturn. Regardless of what time of day we’re using, we have four planets on a 7-pointed star. And this is so strong that the damn guy lived in Neverland. I mean, again, there was something about Michael Jackson. He was too complicated to have fit into this plane, into this reality. There is something about them that just exudes this ‘septilean’ energy of being alienated or being an alien, being other-than-human, being something different.
CB: So again, just reemphasizing that idea of otherworldly energy.
RL: All right, let’s take a quick look at Emily Dickinson. I think she’s next here in line anyhow. Emily Dickinson was a 19th century poet, lived in the Boston area, central Massachusetts actually. And her claim to fame was that she wrote poems about every corner of the world and poems about travels. And her poems were all very weird and she never left home. I mean, she virtually never went outside. I’m exaggerating just a little bit, but she was a spinster. She was a self-contained person and she was isolated.
CB: Sounds nice. Sounds like my kind of woman.
RL: Saturn rising. Well, actually Saturn in the 1st house conjunct the North Node. But again, when you look at the chart, you can see her interest in writing about things far away; the Sun-Mercury and Venus in Sagittarius not aspected to anything. You can see the imagination, the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction certainly which is an aspect of unbridled imagination or it can be.
CB: This is a good timed chart.
RL: This is a good timed chart.
CB: Okay, that’s really funny that she has the ruler of the Ascendant in the 4th house, just from your description.
RL: Right. Someone said that she was never more than three miles from where she was born.
CB: Okay. That’s brilliant.
RL: Yeah. And again, I don’t want to spend too much time on any of these charts, but looking at the septile version of this chart there is a strong creative quintile. And in my experience, one of the strongest quintiles that really seems to manifest is the Saturn-Mars. In her case, I think it’s not just Saturn-Mars, I think it’s Saturn-Pluto. And that Pluto-Mars is so deep, so intense, and yet, somehow this is now tied to her creativity. I mean, she’s one of America’s great poetesses.
But now we look at the septiles and all of a sudden we see, again, this otherworldliness, this stuff coming through. The Moon triseptile to Pluto, and this is a timed birth. The Moon triseptile to Pluto is 0° 00 minutes.
CB: So it’s exact.
RL: It’s exact. I mean, it’s exactly exact.
CB: Exact, exact.
RL: And also, the Uranus septile to Venus is 4 minutes of orb. I mean, all of these septiles are close, but her chart just resounds. And I love the symmetry in this because it’s asymmetrical symmetry. What do I mean by that? There’s one triangle that is the Moon, the Sun, and Mars-Pluto, and that’s a septile, biseptile, triseptile. And then we have another pattern that is the Venus-Uranus septile, the Uranus-Saturn triseptile, and then the biseptile from Uranus back around to the Sun-Mercury.
And so, there’s a common point on these two septile triangles. And interestingly enough, the far-off points are connected by this biquintile. It’s a magical configuration. And it’s not surprising that someone who might seem like they have a normal, boring, ho-hum chart in life turns out to be one of the most extraordinary poets with such a rich inner life; she’s a widely-studied poet.
And again, in all of these I’m just trying to show how we can look at a chart. Let’s take a look at the next chart of Bob Dylan, a chart that many people have seen and many people know. And I was just up in Bob Dylan territory just a couple of days ago, up in Minneapolis, where he tried to go to college before he drifted off to New York City as a young teenager.
Anyhow, Dylan’s chart, also, if you look at the regular chart, you can see the basic stuff there. That Taurus stellium with the Moon-Saturn so close, and the Moon-Saturn-Uranus-Jupiter all in the 6th house–man, he was a workaholic. He was on the neverending tour. And yes, for those people who don’t know who Bob Dylan is, figure it out. No, Bob Dylan is the only poet, rock-n-roller ever to win a Nobel Prize for Literature.
CB: We actually didn’t explain who Michael Jackson was either and that’s going to confound some listeners.
RL: Well, Michael Jackson was also a pop singer who gained fame as a child as part of a family group, the Jackson 5. And his sister, Janet Jackson, is still a bit of a star. And Michael died several years ago, maybe about a decade or so ago; my timing might be off here. That was an overdose of a heart medicine from his doctor. I think for a while he was the largest-selling pop star or pop musician in history. Thriller was one of his breakthrough videos. You were going to say something.
CB: Just the level of fame that Michael Jackson had in the 1980s is hard to comprehend relative to today. Just stratospheric. Anyway, I didn’t mean to interrupt.
RL: No, that’s fine. And whatever level of fame and fortune Michael Jackson had it was nothing compared to Bob Dylan only because Dylan has been on the music scene for I think 55 years now, maybe 60 years, and he’s still producing. He’s on what they call ‘the neverending road tour’. I mean, he performs just crazy amounts.
And I think Bob Dylan, of modern songwriters, is the most often covered, even more than the Beatles. I mean, people who have written songs, The Byrds became famous on their first album for songs like ‘Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me’, Chimes of Freedom, The Times They Are A-Changin’, and Blowin’ in the Wind.
And Bob Dylan was the original ‘protest’ songwriter. He was with the Freedom Riders. He actually performed at the Martin Luther King ‘I Have a Dream’ rally in Washington DC. Bob Dylan, a young, scraggly-looking, white boy performed a song that he wrote about the death of one of the black freedom workers, Medger Evers. He was an icon and he was a musician’s musician, but really a lyricist. And he’s been steadily producing since 1962 or ‘63, 50 years, 60 years.
RL: 60 years. He’s 80-ish.
CB: Yeah, so he’s got that tight Taurus stellium in late Taurus of Saturn, Uranus–sorry, Jupiter, Uranus, Saturn, and the Moon. And then a smaller stellium of planets in Gemini, with the Sun, Venus, and Mercury all in Gemini.
RL: And he has this minor Grand Trine, or whatever you want to call it, that is Chiron to Neptune to the Taurus stuff. And a Sagittarius rising and the Mars in Pisces. Mars in Pisces square all that stuff. And Dylan really was the person who brought rock-n-roll into a new level. There was a whole folk revival tradition at that time, and he was like the darling of the folk world, and then he went electric. It was huge. He was booed off stages for over a year because people were angry at him for bailing on this whole tradition and becoming a rock-n-roller.
Anyhow, be that as it may, Dylan, when you look at his chart with the septiles and quintiles, again, you see in his chart two very clean patterns that integrate some of the stuff that in his other chart was not integrated. So first of all, the Mars in Pisces, which was only by square, now becomes 1 point on a 5-pointed star. I don’t call this a golden yod, I call it a golden triangle, but it’s still an isosceles triangle. And now we have basically at the point of that, we have Saturn-Moon, which is really what sits at the point. And that Saturn to Pluto is a quarter-of-a-degree orb and the Saturn to Mars is a 2° orb.
So when we go around here, we go to the Saturn-Moon, Chiron-Pluto, and Mars, and that’s 3 points on a 5-pointed star. And again, it points to the apex of this configuration; it’s still in the 6th house. I mean, it’s about his unrelenting Taurean showing up for work and doing things that were real. And then he has the otherworldly aspect: the Venus to the Neptune tied to Pluto. The Neptune-Pluto for most of us is sextile, for Dylan it’s 1° off of being septile. And the Pluto to Venus is less than 1°. No, the Pluto to Venus is 2° and the Neptune to Venus is less than 1°.
But again, we see here a mix of the person who has the charisma and the creativity and the person who’s otherworldly. I’ll give you a quick example of how otherworldly he is/was. When he first became famous, he would do two or three press conferences a day when he had new albums coming out. He would get asked the same questions at each press conference and answer them totally differently with non–how do I say it? With answers that couldn’t have been right for both of them.
In one, he would say, “Oh, I came to New York after hitchhiking from New Mexico.” In another one, he would say something totally different, “No, I’ve never been in New Mexico.” But he had this ability to charm with riddles because there was this whole thing of, again, he was an alien. He was otherworldly, there was something about him, but he had that quintile pattern that was creative.
CB: Okay, yeah, it was Uranus conjunct Jupiter, the ruler of the Ascendant. And that’s the focal point more or less of that pattern that you’re talking about.
RL: What’s next? Marilyn Monroe?
CB: There we go.
RL: All right, Marilyn Monroe. This is a timed chart. What do you think?
CB: Yeah, I’ve used her chart as an example before. She has a really interesting Leo rising, the ruler of the Ascendant is the Sun in Gemini conjunct Mercury in the 11th house, which looks really good. And that has a nice whole sign trine from Jupiter in Aquarius in the 7th house, but there’s some problems with that Mars conjunct Uranus combination in late Pisces in the 8th house that’s overcoming through a superior sign-based square with the Sun and Mercury, the ruler of the Ascendant, which is a little tricky.
CB: She also has a very tight Saturn-Neptune square…
RL: Yes, she does.
CB: …with Saturn at 21 Scorpio in the 4th whole sign house and Neptune at 22 Leo in the 1st house.
RL: So where’s the charisma? Leo rising, I get that. Even the Neptune coming up over the Ascendant or coming to the Ascendant opposite the Moon. So when we look at her chart through the filter of the quintiles, you see something I think is really extraordinary. Although the septiles here are supportive, I almost wish they weren’t in this particular picture because it looks like she has these two interlacing triangles that look like a diamond.
RL: You know, this is ‘a diamond is a girl’s best friend’. And what the quintiles do is they drop Saturn out of the picture. Actually that Saturn it turns out is part of a midpoint series where if you take the Moon and Neptune, then you take the Venus and Mercury, then each of these points, and there’s an access here that you can see. If you go right down the middle, that comes up with Saturn as the dividing point. But the interesting thing is that these quintile patterns pretty much involve every other planet in her chart and quintiles are charisma.
RL: They’re beauty. They’re magical. And all of a sudden that Gemini Mercury-Sun, forget the squares, forget the problems of obviously that Saturn square Neptune, she had a ton of problems. But when you look at this, you just see the glitter of that diamond is how I see it. I think that this is a beautiful chart just because it shows the energetics.
And these quintiles are close. The Neptune is 1/4 of a degree to the Sun, then the Uranus is 1/4 of a degree to the Sun. So you have Neptune on one side and Uranus on the other and they’re really tight. And then you have the Venus in the middle that’s quintile one way to the Moon, that’s 2° orb, and is quintile the other way to Pluto and that’s 2° orb. I mean, this whole thing it’s a study in the aesthetics of beauty.
CB: Mozart. Let me see.
RL: So this is also ‘A’ data; there’s the time for him. Although it’s 8:00, it’s considered to be ‘A’ data.
CB: Where is the Ascendant?
RL: Oh, you know what? This is one that came up in that whole sign fortune. I don’t know what that means, so I would not pay any attention to any of the houses on this.
RL: The planetary locations are correct. He was born with a Moon-Pluto conjunction.
CB: Got it.
RL: And anyone who ever saw the movie Amadeus gets that Moon-Pluto and how there was this whole obsession with death and the intensity with which he lived. Sun conjunct Saturn, Mercury in Aquarius opposite Neptune, and a Venus-Mars trine, how sweet is that? Now that trine is out of element. It’s 1° or orb.
CB: Right, but it’s applying within 1°.
RL: It’s applying within 1°, and it’s actually double-applying because the Mars is retrograde.
RL: I mean, it’s just applying, but it’s applying from both directions.
RL: And yet, it’s out of sign or out of element. It’s air to water. But when we look at this, Mozart’s chart is one of the most used charts in books on harmonics because when you run the 5th harmonic, which are the quintiles, there is so much energy. And again, we see one of these quintile yods with the Jupiter-Neptune base both of which are quintile to Uranus. And then we see other quintiles, including Venus quintile the Pluto-Moon conjunction.
And that Pluto-Moon conjunction and the Venus quintile that’s within a half-a-degree of orb. And so, again, we see here the creator, the person who has the charisma to be the creator, and yet, there’s also some strong septiles here that show, again, there’s something about him that is more complicated than meets the surface.
RL: Let’s take a look at one or two more that we’ll just breeze through. Ah, Princess Diana. There we go. A chart that a gazillion people have looked at. Grand Trine in water, if you use Chiron, that actually is part of a kite. And there is a whole sequence of, I want to say oppositions; but it’s the Moon Node and Chiron at the bottom of the chart opposite the Uranus-North Node and Mars-Pluto conjunction at the top of the chart.
And a very tight Venus square Moon. That Venus square Moon square Uranus–that T-Square with the Moon, Venus, and Uranus–certainly is indicative of her troubled married life, and the fact that she couldn’t get what she wanted because Prince Charles was never apparently willing to let go of Camilla, the extent at which that Uranus came through in her life and her breaking out of that lifestyle, that marriage. Yeah, and the fact that she was a Cancer; Mercury conjunct the Sun, she just really wanted to have a home and be loved, but I don’t think she ever got that. Anything to say about it before we look at the…
CB: Yeah, just from a traditional standpoint, I’ve used it as an example of some tricky stuff. From traditional astrology, having the ruler of the 8th house of death and mortality in the 3rd house of short distance travel and she ended up dying in a car accident. Also, interestingly, in my Hellenistic course, I use this as an example of an out-of-sign opposition because the Moon is actually applying to an opposition with Mars in a day chart within 13°. And especially for the Moon, the ancient astrologers would use a 13° orb for it because that’s its average daily motion over the course of a day and night.
CB: And if it’s applying within 13°, even if it’s across the sign boundary that would be taken into account. But in this instance, unfortunately, it’s a very difficult, or what they call ‘maltreating’–or the original word for affliction–aspect because that Moon’s headed headlong into that opposition with Mars.
RL: Yeah, interesting.
CB: That’s all I’ve got.
RL: And then when we look at the septile–we’ve got to back up one. Those were in the wrong order. So this is intriguing because this is an example of a chart with ‘septile yod’. And actually it’s hard to see here because the lines are so thick, it’s actually two separate septile yods that are about 5°-6° separate from one another: the Mercury-Sun is a 6°, the Uranus-Mars is 8°, the Jupiter-Saturn is 8°. And so, there’s really two interlocking septile yods where the base of the yod is the Mercury-Sun and the Uranus-Mars-Pluto, and the apex of the yod is the Jupiter-Saturn.
And there is a biquintile buried in here that’s Mars down to Saturn that’s a 2° orb, then there are a couple of other quintiles that are less important. But I think that the septiles here are so significant because this is the part of her life that was out of her control, going back to the Dane Rudhyar concept of fate. This is the part of her that she was a real princess and she lived in a real princess castle, and yet, she was more at home on the streets of Calcutta with Mother Theresa, with people in her face, and interacting with people like that than she was in the isolation wards of royalty.
There’s something about her chart that was so electric and eccentric that people loved her; they fell in love with her. And the other interesting thing that I don’t have here to show, but at the moment of her–I call it her ‘exit’ visa, her critical automobile accident, there were transiting septiles and biseptiles all over the place to her septile yod. And I know I said earlier I don’t normally look at septiles and quintiles as transits to predict events. But in her chart, with those septile yods being so strong, it was very interesting that they were incredibly powerful and quantitative. There were a lot a lot of transiting septile energies to her natal chart at the moment of that accident, as if it was already somehow said and done: boom, out of here.
CB: Right. Wow, that’s pretty interesting how that yod points to those two planets. And then Jupiter of course is the ruler of the Ascendant.
RL: Yeah, that might be enough there. There may be others, but that’s probably plenty. I think we’ve gone through them.
RL: And again, my point here is not so much in analyzing these particular charts, as all of these charts in some way show strength in either the septiles or the quintiles. And they wouldn’t show us anything we didn’t already know, but that’s not completely true because I think that looking at David Bowie’s chart, the extraordinary weight of those septiles is so descriptive of who he was as a pop figure. The same thing with Michael Jackson. For that matter, the same thing with Bob Dylan.
And it’s just interesting that when we open up our orbs a bit and we begin to look at these, we begin to see the ‘extraordinary-ness’ of these aspects without necessarily trying to nail any one particular pattern between this planet and that planet. Although I have to say that there are quintiles and septiles that over the years I’ve learned to like, when I see them in a chart I kind of get a sense of something.
But I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had over the years who have an extraordinary amount of septiles in particular and I talk to them about the septile energy. And maybe they’re a Capricorn with lots of planets in Taurus, and I start talking about this otherworldly piece that’s too complicated and that even people that know you can’t quite know the complexity, and you can’t quite describe it because you don’t have the language.
And I’ve had people where I’ve said that and they’re just melted and crying because it’s so familiar and so potent and no one’s ever put it to words. And it’s not because there’s anything special about me other than I’ve somehow fallen into this trap of thinking that these minor or non-Ptolemaic, metaphysical, or quantum aspects are important and need to be recognized.
We’ve said over the years, astrologers have claimed that planets are discovered at the time when the energy of the planets come into being: Uranus being discovered around the American and French Revolutions and the independence factor, or Pluto being discovered around the rise of mass fascism and atomics. Quintiles were actually discovered 500 years ago, but no one used them. People like Lilly referenced them, saying, “See what you think. I don’t know.” And yet, now, more and more people are looking at these aspects, and it’s almost like the metaphysical time has come.
We’ve reached the point where astrology is not just about the prediction of an event or about the occurrence of something in the three-dimensional world. There’s something that goes on in the metaphysical realms that feeds the physical and these aspects seem to bring them into light.
CB: Brilliant. Yeah, something I’ve been thinking as you were saying all of this is just the world is an extraordinarily complicated place, and sometimes with some of these additional factors astrologers use that are initially set out as minor or secondary things to look at, it complicates the picture and sometimes you run that risk of overcomplicating the picture or having too many variables or too much data for the human mind to actually process.
But in reality, when we think about the world and all of the complex factors that are constantly going on in any one situation or any one person’s life, or even in a city with all the millions of people living in it, the world’s a pretty complicated place. And you would expect if astrology is to mimic that, or if astrology is to reflect that, then the astrology also is probably pretty complicated as well.
RL: Especially compared to life 2,000 years ago, which had much more to do with the immediate issues of survival.
CB: Yeah, to some extent.
RL: Maybe not completely. Obviously, there were plenty of people who were living in privilege in cities with servants and had time to contemplate the cosmos.
CB: Yeah, I mean, most of our major philosophies and world religions come from that time period. So it’s not like they were completely unfamiliar with what you’re calling the metaphysical aspects of reality.
RL: True, true.
CB: Or the Golden Mean or what have you.
CB: Sure. But yeah, in terms of life has become much more complicated, there’s things that didn’t exist. Technology, for example, has really accelerated to some insane rate. You go from the start of the century of horse-drawn carriages being common to suddenly there’s billionaires flying out to space at this point on a regular basis.
CB: So sometimes times change, astrology sometimes changes, and sometimes new things do get incorporated in different ways as life continues to grow and develop and evolve.
RL: Yeah. So coming full circle, just to be clear, I’m in no way saying the zodiac shouldn’t be used. I use it in everything I do. I’m also not suggesting that we leave any of the traditional aspects aside regardless of what we want to call them: the major five aspects. But I am suggesting that there are not just nuances but jumps of awareness that we can gain when we begin to integrate the other harmonics into our 12-fold system, including the semi-sextiles and quincunxes, which we didn’t spend time with today; and including the half-squares and the squares-and-a-half, which we didn’t spend time on today; and including the divisions by 5, 7, 9, which we didn’t spend time on today, or even 11s.
The problem is that the higher the harmonic, the closer together the points become until it’s hard to visualize something with 27 divisions. And yet, I think that whether we like it or not, whether we want to use it or not, with the continuation of what’s going on in computer astrology interfacing, we will see more and more of this become part of a larger body astrology; not necessarily to replace anything, but again, it’s a confluence. It’s not one is more important than the other, there are just different ways of looking at things.
And I think you said very clearly and very well that as the universe continues, or as our world continues to ‘complexify’–if that’s a word, I think it is–so does how we reflect it in our metaphysics and in our astrology.
CB: Right. Brilliant. Are there any good resources for learning about these aspects or going into it more? Have you done any videos on your YouTube channel? I have to give a shoutout to you. You’ve been doing some great videos, and your channel keeps growing rapidly because you do these great forecasts really regularly.
RL: Yeah, there are some things there. There are some things on these aspects on the Cosmic Connection that I’ve been doing with the Astrology Hub. There are a few decent books, but this is a book that I have to write; it’s not just about doing a video on it. One of the authors I think who’s done a good job with a lot of this material is a British gentleman named David Hamblin.
I don’t know if you know David Hamblin. He wrote a book called Aspects, Harmonics, and Midpoints, and I think he wrote that with–I can’t remember. But he’s written a couple of books that are about harmonics and using these methods. He focuses more on the harmonics themselves, but focuses a lot on the septiles and quintiles. Beyond that, there’s not a lot of really great material on it.
CB: You had mentioned the book that you started with by Michael Meyer called A Handbook for the Humanistic Astrologer.
RL: And that also doesn’t have a huge amount of material. It’s just here are the aspects: conjunctions, squares, quintiles, septiles. So I didn’t know I was studying anything that other people weren’t studying.
CB: Yeah, I remember getting my Astro.com chart and just seeing in the aspectarian all those little weird ones that I never seem to find. And I think everyone has that drive seeing that to want to know what those mean.
RL: Yeah, and I think Astro, they do quintiles, but I don’t think they calculate septiles.
RL: They’ve bought into the Johannes Kepler, ‘God doesn’t use septiles, they’re too complicated’.
CB: Okay. Well, you should definitely write that book. People should let us know in the comments below maybe if they really want you to write that book, or maybe do some workshop or something on this in the future in order to get some of this down on paper.
RL: Yeah. And also, people can find me on Facebook, Facebook.com/RickLevineAstrologer. I would say you can find me on Instagram, but I seem to be having a little bit of a problem with Instagram these days.
CB: Oh, no.
RL: Yeah, my site got hijacked and reclaimed by someone else. I’ll either get it back or recreate it under the same name. It was RickLevineAstrologer on Instagram, but right now it doesn’t exist.
RL: So if you’re looking for that, give it a week or so and something will be back. But yeah, one day I went to my site and couldn’t get on it, and someone got a password, they changed the password, changed the phone number, changed the account name, and I don’t even know why. Why are they doing this?
CB: Oh, right, yeah, I got a message. So you’re saying that message that came from you that said that you loved me was not from you? Was that not true?
RL: I’m not touching that.
CB: All right, fine, we’ll talk about that later, off camera. What did we decide that your YouTube URL was?
RL: I don’t remember. You told me.
CB: Let’s call it that. I’ll put a link to it in the description below this video. Thanks a lot for joining me today. This was a lot of fun. This was unexpected, my Uranian friend who just told me last night you’re driving through Denver, and then we sit down and do this, but this is great.
RL: Good. Well, I hope it’s of some interest to some people. For my students who have been working with me for years, they can’t look at a chart without the quintiles and septiles, and yet, for other people it’s like a first time thing. And seeing people look at their own charts, all I’ve got to say is you can’t use scrunchy, little, tiny aspects.
If you’re going to look at them, if you want to see what they’re doing in your chart, use 3° or so on the septile series and 5° on the quintiles, otherwise you’ll never see enough to matter.
CB: Okay. All right, good advice. Well, I guess that’s it for this episode of The Astrology Podcast, so thanks a lot for joining me. Thank you everybody for listening or watching this episode. And that’s it, so we’ll see you again next time.
Special thanks to all the patrons that supported the production of this episode of the podcast through our page on Patreon.com. In particular, thanks to the patrons on our Producers tier, including: Nate Craddock, Thomas Miller, Catherine Conroy, Kristi Moe, Ariana Amour, Mandi Rae, Angelic Nambo, Sumo Coppock, Issa Sabah, Jake Otero, Morgan MacKenzie, and Kristin Otero.
If you like the work that I’m doing here on the podcast and you would like to find a way to support it, then please consider becoming a patron through my page on Patreon.com. And in exchange, you’ll get access to bonus content such as early access to new episodes, the ability to attend the live recording of the month ahead forecast each month, access to a private monthly auspicious elections report that we put out each month, access to exclusive episodes that are only available for patrons, or you can also get your name listed in the credits at the end of each episode. For more information, go to Patreon.com/AstrologyPodcast.
The main software we use here on the podcast to look at astrological charts is called Solar Fire for Windows, which is available at Alabe.com. And you can use the promo code ‘AP15’ to get a 15% discount. For Mac users, we use a similar set of software by the same programming team called Astro Gold for Mac OS, which is available from AstroGold.io. And you can use the promo code ‘ASTROPODCAST15’ to get a 15% discount on that as well.
If you would like to learn more about the approach to astrology that I outline on the podcast, then you should check out my book titled Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune where I traced the origins of Western astrology and reconstructed the original system that was developed about 2,000 years ago. And in this book, I outline basic concepts, but also take you into intermediate and advanced techniques for reading a birth chart, including some timing techniques. So you can find out more about the book at HellenisticAstrology.com/book.
The book pairs very well with my online course on ancient astrology called the Hellenistic Astrology Course, which has over a hundred hours of video lectures where I go into detail about teaching you how to read a birth chart and showing hundreds of example charts in order to really demonstrate how the techniques work in practice. So find out more information about that at theAstrologySchool.com.
And finally, special thanks to our sponsors, including The Mountain Astrologer Magazine, which is available at MountainAstrologer.com; the Honeycomb Collective Personal Astrological Almanacs available at Honeycomb.co; the Portland School of Astrology at PortlandAstrology.org; and the Astro Gold Astrology App, which is available for iPhone and Android. You can find out more information about that at AstroGold.io.