Whatever visual impact Altair and Aquila have on an observer facing north they are an imposing sight. In the south the eagle is in mid-plummet, and there is rapacity in its vision. The asterism which leaps to my eye is of a great bird the other way up, but a long-necked bird in uplift like a goose rather than a bird of prey. Aquila from the south looks all the world to me like a fern, the national symbol of the Kiwis, rugged adventurers who make uncomfortable enemies. All of those aspects are milling in the keyword ‘vision’.
Stargazing in the south has the potential to confirm the northern resonances of the constellations, because we see them in the opposite season to their conjunction with the sun. The same opposition in the north was I am sure the seed of astrology’s structure of polarities.
On the other hand, conventional astrology in the south continues to assert seasonal resonances on the basis of where the sun is. Can we marry the zodiac’s interplay with personality by season with our experience of seeing the constellations? I don’t know, but I continue to develop a synthesis to that end.
The two most prominent constellation groups in the culture I grew up in were Scorpius and Ophiuchus in winter, and Orion, Taurus and Canis Major in summer. I didn’t focus on Ophiuchus or Canis Major while the scorpion and saucepan were being pointed out to me, but they were in my field of vision, and a definite sense of possession accompanied their dawning familiarity.
I embrace the astrological importance of cardinal directions because they confirm my experience. They are familiar like the great dog and the shield, secrets out of the corner of my eye. Looking east does feel different from looking west, a rising star does have power over a sinking one, and turning west does bring my awareness back, from a quickening of the spirit in the east, to the complexities of my time and place in the world and their eclipse.
This is the basis for my exploration of the resonance of the orientation of the zodiac. If its arc is crowning to the west when I am oriented to the meridian, a different significance imposes itself than what I feel if I have to slew east. The secret I have discovered out of the corner of my eye in this regard is that the stars of the zodiac and its background have a different weight according to whether they are west or east around the crown of the zodiac arc.
It is there for you to discover that the zodiac crowns north at the solstice points, Sagittarius on winter evenings and Gemini in summer, that it is moving west with Sagittarius and east with Gemini, and that it changes direction with Pisces and Virgo as the solstice points rise and set.
It seems to emphasise the extremes of its oscillation by standing still for a month as it changes direction. We have a sol-stice and a luni-stice, and this period could be called an eclipti-stice, when the dim fishes are a ghostly jockey on the back of Pegasus with the wasp of Cetus investigating his rump, or when the diamond facet of Denebola, Arcturus, Spica and Vindemiatrix imposes its irony on the imperceptible outline of Auntie Virgo’s crib.
Have you noticed how long the zodiac seems to be dominated by emptiness? It is not merely that Pisces and Virgo are the zodiac’s largest constellations, but also that they hog the crown for so long.
There is one other phenomenon to tax you with, if you have read to here, and it occurs as Sagittarius tops the arc and then crosses the meridian. At all other times the background stars to the high point of the ecliptic follow each other in succession as they move westward, but at the summer solstice point the midpoint of the zodiac arch moves from third to fourth house, and we couldn’t allow the highest point to trail its marker star behind in a different house, could we?
Accordingly, just before the alignment of ecliptic and equator, we see Scorpius and Ophiuchus move into the fourth house and my marker star becomes Nunki, the vane of the arrow in Sagittarius. The readiness of Nunki is about to be replaced by the vision of Altair, when suddenly the background influence reverts to caution as the midpoint passes into the fourth house now occupied by Rasalhague and Ophiuchus’ unmistakeable outline of a shield (beneath the danger of the scorpion).
All signs have different stellar influences except Scorpio and Sagittarius. You may be unimpressed by this nebulous concern I call a familiar secret, but it just might bear on the characteristics of these two signs, that one faces east and the other west as it crowns, each with the same stellar influence, caution. Perhaps I am an astrologer after all.
My recent endeavour has been to identify stars which are so spaced apart as never to occupy the same house and so to give the houses an appearance. Appearance is hugely important to a star-gazer arguing against northern hemisphere interpretations of what is in our sky.
As you may know, the simplest house divisions are space-based. They may divide the ecliptic, but then either the orientation to the meridian is lost or the houses are of wildly unequal size.
Alternatively, they may project onto the ecliptic divisions of the prime vertical passing overhead from east to west, but these divisions are very difficult to see.
I use the meridian system, which divides the celestial equator evenly and projects the divisions onto the ecliptic by hour circles, or angles of right ascension. These are easy to see, and to relate to the constellations and the horizon, even if the cusps of the first and seventh houses are usually above or below the horizon.
Customary practice is to locate the planets in the houses according to their ecliptic longitude, so that if the cusp of the fourth house—remember that I number the houses in the order the rising sun passes through them, and the fourth cusp is due north in the visible sky—is at 4Libra say, then a planet at 5Libra is in the third house.
Unfortunately, lines of right ascension and ecliptic longitude are often so divergent in direction that a star or planet in one house appears unambiguously in another. Diphda, only about 21° above the ecliptic and 5Pisces in my zodiac, ‘passes’ the medium coeli when it is apparently 8° east of north. I have failed to identify bright marker stars that evade this problem, and the frequent problem of deciding in which house to place a planet some distance from the ecliptic is notorious.
The obvious solution is to position stars and planets in the houses according to right ascension, and this is what I propose to do. When a body is just east of north it is in the third house and when it passes west of north it is in the fourth. Stars some distance from the ecliptic can and must be visibly reconciled with planets and houses.
A week is a long time in astronogy [sic]. Dissatisfied with the anomaly discovered in last week’s chart which loses a sign, I experimented with various combinations of northern and southern hemisphere tropical and sidereal resonances in the quadrants, and concluded that I was losing the plot.By all means, I told myself, disturb immigrated archetypes based solely on bias confirmation, but do it without detracting from the connection with the real sky you’re trying to encourage.
Accordingly, for the present, constellations resonate only with their southern tropical archetypes.
With the series of chronotypes I am drawing your attention to configurations of the daily rhythm of a gyration involving the horizon with the ecliptic and the equator, which may or may not establish a palpable influence on your sensibility.
At the end of this post you will find this week’s Spring Chronotype, whose pulse has phased back into evening twilight and we’re about to progress to the evening culmination of the summer solstice.
First I want you to look at a synergy of northern and southern tropical interpretations which may cause you to think more seriously about who you are astrologically and who you are not.
First in a series of archetypes, here is ‘Gemini’. Note where you find the recognizable Gemini characteristics in the angles, and how they harmonise with what is actually in the sky. Let me remind you that the IC, the cusp of realization, is what you have to deal with in order to accomplish what is proposed at ‘mid-heaven’ as your highest challenge.
I may have overplayed my hand with regard to Southern Hemisphere Signs.
The characteristics of the Zodiac Constellations evolved through the experience of Northern Hemisphere seasons, and it seems to me the most glaring deficiency of sidereal astronomy to simply allocate to the Constellations their Signs.
I have attempted to undermine this practice by highlighting its arbitrariness. Northern Hemisphere conventions must be questioned for the Southern Hemisphere, whether tropical or sidereal.
To this end, I have divided the zodiac in two ways. The western hemisphere locates the conflict between Northern Hemisphere sidereal and tropical astrology, and the eastern hemisphere mirrors the conflict upside down. The hemisphere above the horizon, symbolizing what we are conscious of, is given to the siderealists, and tropical astrology rules beneath.
Perhaps it serves a basic human need to try to make the world a better place, but it is difficult to find an unequivocal example of success. Kant’s categorical imperative as a guide to action is more sanction than injunction, but we invite the charge of apathy if we are not actively campaigning for some good cause.
It is the Moon’s job to illuminate despair and ground anxiety, but while oppression has continued unrelieved in West Papua, and no solution to the transport problems of the western suburbs of Melbourne is forthcoming, secret trade negotiations are just one more reminder of the powerlessness of the citizen of a democracy.
On top of that, it seems likely that it will rain at the Full Moon.