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Tectonic Triggers: The Hidden Power of Station Points (Part 1)

by Ray Grasse

Order at Wessex Astrologer or amazon.com

Under a Sacred Sky is a fascinating collection of essays by the author on the ancient art of astrology, ranging from discussions of its use in our personal lives to its value for understanding historical cycles and patterns. Along the way Ray Grasse also interjects the story with some of his own personal experiences in the discipline, while exploring its broader implications for subjects like synchronicity, spirituality, and the yogic concept of the chakras. This book includes interviews with Rick Tarnas and Laurence Hillman and is suitable for both beginner and advanced students of the subject.
This article is part 1 of the chapter on station points taken from Ray Grasse's new book.

Branding ironHave you ever looked at someone's horoscope and felt puzzled by the discrepancy between the planetary energy expressed in their personality and what was suggested by their chart? For instance, a person with a heavily Saturnian chart but who exhibits an unusually Jupiterian personality? Or someone with a confident-looking horoscope who acts relatively timid in person?

There are any number of possible reasons for discrepancies like that - overlooked declinations, alternate systems of measurement (such as Vedic or Hellenistic), or simple misinterpretation. But one factor I've sometimes found to be responsible involves what astrologers call the station point. Look up that term in any basic astrology source and it will usually say that it's when a planet slows down and stands relatively still before changing directions, and either starts going backward ("retrograde") or forward ("direct"). Think "station" as in stationary, in other words.

But while many astrologers look to the station point primarily for what it tells us about when and where a planet is changing direction, stations possess another level of meaning that's often overlooked, and which could be even more important in symbolism than its role as a directional marker. Why? Because in the process of slowing down and grinding to a seeming halt, the influence of that planet is dramatically amplified, creating what one early teacher of mine called a "branding iron" effect.(1) To use a simple analogy, imagine you're walking very quickly across a surface of freshly poured cement. You'll make impressions on that surface, no doubt, but they probably won't go deep. But if you were to stop midway across that surface and stand motionless for a minute or two, your feet would sink considerably deeper, making a more noticeable impression.

Station points are like that. Because a planet occupies one spot in the zodiac for a longer period, it has the chance to make a deeper impression on your horoscope than it normally would. Just as importantly, not only will that planet's energy be amplified, but any aspect it forms to other planets will be, too. Grasping this simple fact can hold dramatic implications for our astrological practice, and has led me to believe that station points are among the most significant - but overlooked - tools of our trade. What I'll be doing in this chapter is examining some of the implications of station points for both personal charts as well as mundane, socio-cultural horoscopes, as well as for prediction. To begin with, let's look at their role in the natal horoscope.

Station Points in the Natal Horoscopes

Nikola TeslaWhen looking at charts, many astrologers will naturally check to see whether a planet is retrograde or direct, but comparatively few stop to examine whether that planet falls within the broader span of its station, or what might be called the "stationary zone" - those days on either side of that shift in direction when the planet is comparatively motionless. Much of the reason for that oversight is no doubt due to the fact that modern computers perform most of the calculations for us nowadays, thus eliminating the need to even open up an ephemeris - a simple act that would quickly reveal whether or not a planet falls within a stationary period.(2)

Of course, many of the horoscopes you study might not include any planets directly within the penumbra of a stationary period. But when they do, it can provide added clarity and insight into individual's lives. Consider the case of inventor Nikola Tesla, who famously displayed extraordinary intuition into the hidden laws of nature. His understanding of electricity and other "invisible" forces was so profound he's come to be regarded by some as almost more of a mystic than a scientist. Born on July 10, 1856, in Smiljan, Croatia (0.00 AM LMT) his chart shows that Neptune was at 20 degrees of Pisces, and was trining his Sun, widely squaring Mercury, and forming a sextile to Uranus in his 1st house. Together, these factors show an intuitive and imaginative personality - but not necessarily anything extraordinary.

Ephemeris Tesla But when we open up the ephemeris for July 10, 1856, we see that when he was born, Neptune was stationary and occupied the same zodiacal degree from May 13 all the way up through August 4 of that year (and occupied the same exact degree and minute from June 21 to 25). In short, Tesla was born well within the influence of the Neptune station. This amplifies the importance of his natal Neptune considerably, along with its associated aspects. Little wonder he had such an intuitive mind regarding nature's energetic forces (note the sextile to 1st house Uranus in Taurus) - just as it's also little wonder he also experienced bitter disappointments in his business dealings with colleagues like Thomas Edison (Tesla's Neptune squaring Mercury)!(3)

With these points in mind, let's take a look at some cases of well-known individuals born during planetary stations, using examples for each of the major planetary bodies (remembering, of course, that the Sun and the Moon never go retrograde). An important note: in the case of faster moving bodies like Mercury or Venus, a planet will slow down and occupy the same zodiacal space for only a few days, while in the case of slower moving bodies like Pluto, a planet can remain in the same basic degree for a month or two on either side of its directional shift - and can occupy the same exact degree and minute for seven or eight days straight. As a result, I naturally allow a wider berth for the date-boundaries of outer planet stations than for those of the faster-moving bodies. With that said, let us begin.

Mercury Station

MercuryIndividuals born during these periods display a heightened emphasis on the mind and communication, with the zodiacal sign involved providing further clues into its expression.

  • Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was born on October 27, 1914, exactly as Mercury was stationary in Scorpio, while the American poet John Berryman was born two days earlier, also within the influence of the Mercury station.
  • Hillary Clinton was born on October 26, 1947, when Mercury was stationary in Scorpio, having gone retrograde just one day earlier.
  • Straight-talking media commentator, Chris Matthews, was born on December 17, 1945 exactly as Mercury was stationing in Sagittarius.
  • Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was born on December 18, 1878, just as Mercury was stationing in strategic Capricorn, having turned retrograde just one day earlier.
  • Archetypal psychologist James Hillman was born on April 12, 1926, with Mercury stationary in Aries, turning direct the next day.
  • Filmmaker and businessman George Lucas was born on May 14, 1944, exactly as Mercury was stationing in Taurus, turning direct the next day.

Venus Station

VenusIndividuals born during a Venus station often display a pronounced interest in the arts, an appreciation of worldly pleasures, or a love of social interactions throughout their lives.

  • Actor, producer, and off-screen lothario Warren Beatty was born on March 30, 1937, while retrograde Venus was stationing in its own sign of Taurus.
  • Actor Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943, two days after Venus went retrograde in Virgo.
  • Singer Chaka Khan was born on March 23, 1953, during a double-header station of Venus and Uranus.
  • Singer Amy Winehouse was born on September 14, 1983, during a double station of Venus and Neptune.
  • Renaissance artist and sculptor Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475 exactly during a station of Venus in Aries, turning retrograde the next day. Saturn was also nearly motionless as well, turning direct on March 10.

Mars Station

MarsIndividuals born during a Mars station can exhibit a sense of power or assertiveness in their personalities, and sometimes a quality of sexual magnetism. If stressfully aspected, there may be issues with anger or power struggles in their personal or professional lives.

  • Led Zeppelin guitarist and occult aficionado Jimmy Page was born on January 9, 1944, during a double station of both Mars and Neptune.
  • Latina actress Chita Rivera, was born on January 23, 1933, while Mars was stationary.
  • Powerhouse soul singer Otis Redding was born on September 9, 1941, during a triple station of Mars, Uranus, and Saturn.
  • Wartime president Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, while Mars was stationing in Gemini, prominently situated near his Midheaven.
  • Writer James Joyce was born three days later on February 2, 1882, the same day Mars went direct in communicative Gemini.
  • U.S. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was born on September 8, 1941, during a triple station of Mars, Uranus, and Saturn.
  • Media mogul Rupert Murdoch was born on March 11, 1931, during a double station of both Mars and Jupiter in acquisitive Cancer.
  • Psychologist Carl Jung was born on July 26, 1875, during a station of Mars in Sagittarius, which turned direct one day earlier.

Jupiter Station

JupiterBeing born under a Jupiter station can manifest as a more religious or ideological inclination, or simply as a more expansive vision in one's work or personal life.

  • The Dalai Lama was born on July 6, 1935, under the influence of a Jupiter station in Scorpio.
  • Businessman Donald (Bigger is better!) Trump was born on June 14, 1946, during a double station of Jupiter and Neptune.
  • Adolph Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in the midst of a Jupiter station in Capricorn. Hitler's political aspirations were nothing if not expansive; hailing from a commoner's background, his goals included nothing less than conquering the entire planet and creating a "Third Reich" that would last a thousand years.
  • Controversial religious leader Louis Farrakhan (birth name Louis Eugene Wolcott) was born on May 11, 1933, exactly as Jupiter was stationing in Virgo, conjuncting Neptune and trining the Sun.(4)
  • Actor Tom Cruise was born on July 3, 1962, just as a tightly stationing Jupiter amplified an already expansive grand trine to Neptune and the Sun.
  • Essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on May 25, 1803, the day after Jupiter turned direct in Virgo.
  • Singer Paul Simon was born on October 13, 1941, during a double station of Jupiter and Mercury.
  • Marlon Brando was born on April 3, 1924, during a station of Jupiter in Sagittarius.

Saturn Station

SaturnIndividuals born during Saturn stations are often notable for their tenacity and discipline, and can be "late bloomers" in their professional or emotional lives. There is sometimes an underlying heaviness to their personalities, as if they're bearing a heavy weight, but they can also reveal surprising depth.

  • Dick Cavett was born on November 19, 1936, the same day Saturn went direct in Pisces, while opposing Neptune in Virgo. Despite gaining acclaim both as a comedian and talk show host, Cavett confessed in later years to a lifelong struggle with depression.
  • TV commentator, social advocate, and former White House consultant Bill Moyers was born on June 5, 1934, during a double station of Saturn and Jupiter.
  • Actor Liam Neeson, whose stage persona one critic described as that of "somber gravitas," was born on June 7, 1952, exactly during a double station of both Saturn and Mars. It's perhaps fitting that Neeson gained his greatest box-office success as an aging action hero in his sixties, as the lead in the hugely successful Taken franchise!
  • Actress Gillian Anderson (agent Scully of The X-Files) was born on August 9, 1968, during a double station of skeptical Saturn and mystical Neptune.
  • Saturn can bring great success and achievement - but sometimes great falls from grace, too, as evidenced by these two examples: comedian Bill Cosby, was born on July 12, 1937 during a station of Saturn in Aries (the zodiacal sign associated with assertiveness and drive); and disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was born on September 18, 1971, just one day before Saturn turned retrograde in Gemini (the zodiacal sign associated with short-distance travel).

Uranus Station

UranusThose born under the influence of stationing Uranus can be independent with a strong concern for personal freedom and self-expression. Depending on aspects to personal planets or horoscopic placements, they may be interested in social reform and progressive social change or, at the other extreme, behave like 'free agents' who selfishly follow their own rules without regard for others.

  • President Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, the same day Uranus reversed directions while trining Mercury and Pluto.
  • Famed biologist Charles Darwin was born on the same day as Lincoln, and sparked a cultural revolution in both scientific and religious circles with his theories of evolution.
  • President John F. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, during a double station of Uranus in Aquarius and Mercury in Taurus (with both forming a square to one another).
  • Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769, just one day before stationing Uranus went direct in Taurus - amplifying an extremely rare grand trine between the outer three planets.
  • Singer and musician (Nine Inch Nails) Trent Reznor was born on May 17, 1965, exactly as Uranus was stationing in Virgo (while conjuncting Pluto, opposing Saturn, and squaring Venus/Jupiter in Gemini).
  • Shock-rock singer Marilyn Manson (real name Brian Hugh Warner) was born on January 5, 1969, while stationing Uranus was conjunct Jupiter and trining Mercury.
  • Pop singer Lady Gaga was born on March 28, 1986, while Uranus was stationing in Sagittarius and trining Venus and squaring Mercury.
  • Multimedia superstar Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935, during a station of Uranus in Aries, which was the focal point of a multi-planet T-square involving Pluto, Mercury, Venus and the Sun.
  • Filmmaker and TV personality Alfred Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899, while a stationing Uranus was forming a grand trine to his Ascendant and Midheaven.
  • Vice President Dick Cheney was born on January 30, 1941, while Uranus was stationing in Taurus near his Midheaven. Though a staunch conservative, Cheney acquired a reputation amongst both friends and foes as a 'lone wolf' who went his own way on matters of business and politics.

Neptune Station

NeptuneDepending on aspects to personal planets or horoscopic placements, those born under the influence of a Neptune station may show special sensitivity towards the arts, spirituality, or humanitarian concerns - or more negatively, a susceptibility to escapism, self-delusion, or messianic tendencies.

  • Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (also known as "Osho") was born on December 11, 1931, during a triple station of Neptune, Jupiter, and Mercury.
  • Jim Jones of "Jonestown" infamy was born on May 13, 1931, during a double station of Mercury and Neptune (with the latter planet trining Mercury and his Ascendant).
  • Just four days later, Marshall Applewhite was born on May 17, under the influence of the same Neptune station point (which was still trining Mercury but now also forming a square to the Sun).
  • Film director (The Sixth Sense) M. Night Shyamalan was born on August 6, 1970, while Neptune was stationing in Scorpio and opposing Saturn in Taurus.
  • Singer Rod Stewart was born on January 10, 1945, during a double station of Neptune and Jupiter (the latter trining his Capricorn Sun).
  • Writer J. K. Rowling was born on July 31, 1965, during a station of Neptune in Scorpio.

Pluto Station

PlutoDepending on aspects to personal planets or horoscopic placements, individuals born under the influence of Pluto approach their lives with a sense of both passion and will, qualities that can either lift them to the heights of creativity and spiritual achievement or plummet them into depths of anger or despair.

  • Singer Neil Young was born on November 12, 1945, one day before Pluto turned retrograde, while squaring his Sun and Ascendant, opposing his Moon, and trining his Mercury.
  • Young's fellow Canadian Scorpio, Joni Mitchell, was born on November 7, 1943, while stationing Pluto was squaring her Sun and Mercury, and sextiling her Uranus and Neptune. (Joni's friend and colleague, playright and actor Sam Shepard, was born two days earlier on November 5, 1943, under the same Pluto station.)
  • Norwegian adventurer (the "Kon Tiki" expeditions) Thor Hayerdahl was born on October 6, 1914, during a double station of Pluto and Jupiter.
  • Star of the hit TV series 24, Kiefer Sutherland was born on December 21, 1966, exactly as Pluto was stationing.
  • Visionary artist Alex Grey was born on November 29th, 1953, while Pluto was stationing and forming a square to Venus and sextiling Neptune and Jupiter.
  • When composer Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 31, 1685, Pluto was stationary and forming a close trine to Venus and Mercury, while squaring his Sun, Ascendant and Jupiter.(5)
  • A musician of a very different sort, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones was born on October 24, 1936, while a stationing Pluto was forming a square to his Scorpio Sun and a trine to his Venus.(6)

The Role of Station Points in Prediction

One of the major challenges for any predictively-oriented astrologer is being able to pinpoint not just the meaning of an emerging pattern but its timing. If one's approach to prediction chiefly involves working with transits, that usually includes looking at the dates when those aspects are exact by degree, or what some call partile.

PreviewBut station points can play a pivotal role in refining these interpretations. For instance, suppose Saturn is squaring a client's natal Sun over the course of a given year. The ephemeris or computerized 'hit-list' might show that this square will be exact three times during that year. But as often as not, you'll discover that the most important manifestations of that aspect won't occur when the aspect is exact, but at other times before, during, or after those precise dates. That's because the Sun/Saturn square can be triggered along the way by other, secondary factors, such as eclipses, transits from the other planets - or, as we'll now see, station points.

For instance, over the course of that client's year, Saturn will be stationary at various times while crossing over that exact square point, inching a little ahead or behind each time. Every one of those stationary periods will activate that Saturn/Sun square in a powerful way. As a result, what might have seemed at first glance to be three exact trigger points can actually prove to be five or even more triggers (especially if one includes the station points on either side of that square zone). In short, rather than simply noting the key times when the transit is exact, it's vital to pay attention to the station points associated with that entire period. Each one will provide further clues into the unfolding drama represented by that transit.

Along with that, station points can also play a role in what I call the "sneak preview" effect, by providing us with an early glimpse into impending trends long before they happen. To illustrate this, let's remain with our example of the client experiencing a transiting Saturn squaring their Sun. Long before that aspect becomes exact, Saturn will have slowly inched forward and backward through the zodiac, like the ebb and flow of a tide, while making its way towards the partile point. Every time it stops to change directions, those station points will activate that impending square, and thus serve as early 'windows' into what will likely happen more fully later on. In the case of our Saturn/Sun client, they could start seeing problems crop up at work, such as difficulties with their boss or an increased workload. If so, that will suggest that the exact square further down the road will likewise be work-related - or possibly even indicate a danger of getting fired or laid-off. Armed with that knowledge, the client can take necessary precautions by being more careful on the job - or even making contingency plans for alternate employment possibilities.

1. My thanks to the late Goswami Kriyananda for suggesting the “branding iron” analogy regarding station points.
2. If you wish to study planetary stations in horoscopes but don’t have a hardbound ephemeris on hand, there are several good ones available online for free. My personal favorites are those which feature color-coding to make the retrogradation periods more visible (like the one offered at Michael R. Meyer’s helpful site www.khaldea.com/ephemcenter.shtml).
3. When studying a stationing planet in someone’s chart it’s also important to note whether it is the ruler of the Ascendant, Sun, or Moon sign, since that makes its impact more pronounced. For that matter, any house ruled by a stationing planet will assume greater importance in someone’s life. Of course, it’s also important to consider whether the stationing planet is retrograde or direct, since that will color its expression in other ways.
4. Besides his notoriety as an outspoken religious and political figure, Louis Farrakahn hails from an unusually diverse background that mirrors the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction trine the Sun in his natal chart. As a child, he was an expert violin player and had played with the Boston Civic Symphony by the age of 13, and in 1946 was one of the first black performers to appear (and win an award) on the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour. In the 1950s he began a professional music career recording several calypso albums under the name of “The Charmer,” with one of his songs appearing on the top 100 Billboard chart for five years in a row.
5. Also, J.S. Bach composed what is arguably one of the most ‘Plutonian’ works in the annals of classical music – the famed Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor. Listen to any recording of this classic work and notice how its descending bass lines evoke the cavernous depths of the psyche in an almost Phantom of the Opera-like manner, while paradoxically hinting at the highest spiritual impulses as well.
6. Bill Wyman is a fascinating example of Pluto’s influence in a number of ways. Besides providing the thumping bass lines for many of the Rolling Stones’ greatest hits, Wyman has also enjoyed a hobby as an amateur archeologist, even designing and marketing a patented “Bill Wyman signature metal detector” that’s been used to find ancient relics in the English countryside. Wyman also gained notoriety for his offstage bedroom exploits, admitting to affairs with nearly a thousand women over the course of his career.

Current Planets
27-May-2018, 01:43 UT/GMT
Saturn759' 6"r22s19
TrueNode80' 0"r18n16
Explanations of the symbols
Chart of the moment
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