by Wojciech Jóźwiak. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook»
When we astrologers read horoscopes, we don’t use the whole “bodies” of them; in order to process numbers into humanistic (understandable to the human mind) information therefore we do not use the coordinates of the planets, literally as they are. The numbers that show the positions of the planets in the zodiac (or on the ecliptic) are needed only as an intermediate stage, because with their help we look for something else in the horoscope: we are looking for the structures. Or, in other words, for planetary configurations. We get the positions (coordinates) of the planets from ephemeris tables or with the use of direct computer calculations and usually draw a cosmogram based on them (today automatically by a computer), i.e. we visualize the numerical raw material. This activity is very important, since we human are visual and in this way we want to use our best perception apparatus for analyzing data: the sense of recognizing of shapes and patterns.
We remember the horoscope (and we, astrologers, remember and keep many horoscopes in our minds) not as a collection of planetary points with distinct location, but as a set of structures.
It is better to illustrate this operation with an example, e.g. Marylin Monroe. Admittedly, she has been dead for 57 years, but everyone knows or should know who she was. Here is her natal chart:
Marylin Monroe’s natal chart. For more details see astro.com.
Where are those structures, or that, what astrologers consider, compare and remember? The first type of structures are planets on axes. The question or direction of searching is: which planets are close enough to an axis (ascendant and descendant, imum coeli and medium coeli, or horizon and meridian) so they could be considered to be close enough to an axis in the natal chart of a person? As for MM, these are:
Venus on medium coeli
The Moon on the descendant
Neptune on the ascendant.
Of course, the actual horoscope is “vague”, inaccurate, not perfect therefore it is blurred. The accurate horoscope would be perfect and focused (i.e. seen as through the lens) if, during the birth of a small Marylin Monroe (then Norma Baker or Mortenson), Venus stood exactly in medium coeli, the Moon was exactly setting and Neptune was exactly rising. By the way: these three dominant-axial planets herald the great intensity of sex appeal. But such exactitude of the planetary axial positions was not possible. First of all, at this latitude – Los Angeles, 34 degrees north – that day there was no time when Venus was culminating and the Moon was setting. The actual positions of the planets could only approximated that ideal state. The horoscope of MM shows that they did it quite well: Venus more or less moved away from the MC as much as the Moon did not reach the descendant. Due to the inaccuracy of Neptune’s opposition to the Moon, these two planets could not have been on the horizon at the same time.
The second type of the structures are aspects, i.e. the arrangement of planets so that there are “round” angles between them. We consider as aspects the angles: 0° (conjunction), 180° (opposition), 120° (trine), 90° (square). Let’s take into consideration that these angles are 0, 1/2, 1/3 and 1/4 of the 360° full angle, respectively. This is a general rule for aspects: angle is an aspect when it is equal (k/n)*360°, where k and n are small natural numbers. For example, for k=5, n=12, we have the angle (5/12)*360°=150° called quincunx.
Aspects form the rings of aspects. Coming back to MM, she had a ring of Neptune, Saturn and the Moon. This arrangement of planets was responsible for her acting talent, for the ability to concretize emotional states and present them in a form that the camera gladly recorded, as well as it was responsible for her tendency to depression. This ring consists of Neptune-Saturn and Saturn-Moon squares, and the Moon’s opposition to Neptune. This particular ring is so important in astrology that it has its name: a semi-cross, or a T-square. However, this ring of squares and opposition is not accurate. The respective planets lie at the following points of their signs:
The aspects would be exact if Neptune, Saturn and the Moon occupied the same position in their signs, e.g. their 20°55′ average. A few hours after MM’s birth, this T-square became more precise when the Moon moved 2 or 3 degrees forward. But it never happened exactly. However, this does not bother us and we analyze the MM horoscope as if it contained this figure, trying to somehow evaluate how strong this planetary configuration actually was. Its strength was increased by the fact that two involved planets, Moon and Neptune, were in the axial positions: they were near the horizon.
Square-and-opposition ring of Neptune, Saturn and the Moon
Another prominent MM’s ring is the quintile ring drawn in thick red lines, i.e. aspects 1/5 or 2/5. This ring consists of: Neptune, Uranus, Sun and Mercury. It undoubtedly means an outstanding skill of self-creation, i.e. creating a “different self” – an excellent gift for an actress. The ring composed of mentioned planets, as a result of the presence of Mercury in this set, also manifests itself as a high “intelligence of self-creation”. Without Mercury, MM would be a naive actress, following only her impulses. Mercury claims that she was cunning as the actress. She could have played fluently not only “by ear” but also “from the score” – if we can use musical terms for acting. This ring is also not exact, although the three planets – the Sun, Neptune, Uranus – are very close to accuracy. The angles between them are: 71.45°, 71.78°, 143.23° – and they should be 72°, 72°, 144°. Mercury sticks out more from the ideal, which can be seen immediately, because the lines next to it are drawn with a thinner strokes. Also Mars is attached to this ring with a thin line.
Quintile ring of Neptune, Sun, and Uranus with Mercury and Mars
The second quintile ring contains Venus, the Moon and Pluto. It is more blurred than the previous one, but it was another source of the star’s sex appeal. Pluto plus Venus and Pluto plus Moon mean just this feature.
Let’s note another interesting ring, or rather a multiple 7-fold aspect: The Sun is in the biseptile (2/7) to Jupiter, and this aspect is less closely formed also by Mercury and Jupiter. Sun plus Jupiter is a generic indicator of success, fame, significance, and power. (Septiles, i.e. sevenfold 1/7, 2/7 or 3/7 aspects, are drawn here with blue lines.)
Quintile ring of Venus, Moon, Pluto.
Septile ring, or multiple septile of the Sun, Jupiter and Mercury.
Finally, there is a third type of structure: the overlapping of planets with cardinal and harmonic points on the ecliptic. Here we meet the same problem: the planets usually lie in some fuzzy vicinity of those points. A good example is Marilyn’s Uranus, which lies at 29°00′ Pisces: it lacks just one degree to the cardinal point of Aries, the zodiacal source of the Fire element. Similarly inaccurate are: Venus near the Earth 3-fold point (i.e. the beginning of the Taurus sign, a great plus for Venus!), The Sun near the Fire 5-fold point in Gemini (12° Gemini), Pluto very close to the Fire 7-fold point in Cancer (12°51′ Cancer), Neptune almost perfectly at the 7-fold Water point in Leo (21°26′ Leo; which explains the star’s sexual freedom) – and Saturn, counteracting the previous, at the 7-fold Air point in Scorpio (21°26′ Scorpio) that calls for boundaries and order.
Planets in harmonic points
To sum up: in the horoscope of Marylin Monroe we find, recognize and distinguish a number of structures that are:
a) the axial positions of the planets
b) aspects or rings of aspects
c) planetary covering of cardinal or harmonic points.
All these structures are naturally blurry, inaccurate. And, what’s important, there are no moments in time when all of these structures would be accurate. The distribution of planets can be shifted in time, but it focuses on a single factor only: e.g. in few hours, the Moon will catch up with Jupiter and their conjunction will be clarified; a few days earlier, the Saturn-Neptune square, etc., was accurate. The whole cosmogram, with all its structures cannot be focused in a real time.
However, the procedure of focusing structures is needed, especially if it is performed automatically: by a computer algorithm. Carrying out above considerations, I am actually looking for the mechanization (automation) of the intellectual work of an astrologer who analyzes the horoscope. Or rather, I’m looking for the computer support with this job. A suitable calculus or algorithm that would search, recognize and distinguish structures in a horoscope, would be a mechanical approximation or support of astrological intuition – just like automatic translation is an approximation and support of the work of a human translator or OCR approximates and supports reading and recognizing letters. Such a program would be very useful for us in astrological practice, especially when it is necessary to perform serial cognitive “conveyor” work – and this is the case with forecasting, even if you work with a single client.
How could we approach this task? Let us present the horoscope as a point in 10-dimensional space: as many dimensions as planets. (In the configuration space!) Next, let’s define in this space a function that measures the focusing of the horoscope. This function would take into account deviations of each planet from the horoscope axis, aspects between planets from conjunction (n=1) up to a certain maximum order (usually the order of 12, but omitting 11) and planets hitting the harmonic points. Of course, this function can be built in many ways. (I use a similar feature in a program that draws natal charts published in the AstroAkademia website.)
We note that near a given point (representing the horoscope – e.g. the birth point for Marylin Monroe) exist the local maxima of that focus function, each representing the focus of a certain structure. Therefore they represent the structure itself. The problem is how to find these maxima using mathematical methods.
Once again, I emphasize: those idealized (focused) horoscopes, which lie, as points in the configuration space, near the given horoscope, cannot be achieved in time. For them, there are no real sets of planets in the sky, existing in past or future time, which would be identical to them. They are a useful mathematical fiction, containing however, something basically non-fictitious: namely, horoscopic meanings. The structures representing meanings are beyond the real time. Although they are somehow “close” to it.
To find them you need a tool in the form of a suitable mathematical (and numerical) method that could be used to find the maxima of the function lying near a certain point in 10-dimensional space. Fortunately, this function is slowly changing and we will look for maxima no more than (about) 12 degrees (at 360) – but in 10 orthogonal directions at once. Therefore we have to explore a small fragment of space, but very dense – i.e. densely filled with dimensions.
If the issue, I am writing about, somehow reminds you of what you know from your work or hobby, I invite you for discussion and cooperation.
With gratitude to Agnieszka Marczewska for excellent stylistic refinement.