Dividing the circle by twelve
The number twelve is of particular significance in astrology, of course, since we have twelve signs and twelve houses. The number twelve is the product of spirit and matter combined. If we take the trine of spirit and multiply it by four, then we have spirit made manifest. If we take the cross of matter and multiply it by three, then we have matter spiritualised.
The number twelve reveals, once again, astrology's central concern with the marriage of spirit and matter, the marriage of the heavens and the earth. And it is the tension between spirit and matter that is expressed in the two new aspects which emerge when the circle is divided by twelve. These two new aspects are the semi-sextile and the quincunx, or inconjunct aspect. These are awkward aspects, because it is difficult for the planets involved to recognise and therefore to accommodate each other.
Semi-sextile 30° and quincunx 150°
In the case of the semi-sextile you can see visually that the two planets only exist in each other's peripheral vision. They don't see each other clearly. They will also be in adjacent signs and, in the Equal House system, they will be in adjacent houses. And adjacent signs have nothing in common. For example, Aries is a positive, cardinal fire sign, and Taurus is a negative fixed earth sign. What is their relationship?
Audience: Chalk and cheese.
Clare: Exactly. The semi-sextile and the quincunx are awkward and vaguely annoying aspects because the two planets have nothing in common. They can't function separately because they are in aspect, but at the same time, they don't recognise each other.
Audience: That certainly sounds like the relationship between men and women.
Clare: When it comes to the quincunx, let's use the example of Aries and Virgo. In the Equal House system, this also describes the natural relationship between the 1st and 6th houses. Aries and the 1st house are about identity, action, movement, self, focus. It is not going to be very happy with Virgo and the 6th house, which is modest, self-effacing and conscientious. Aries doesn't care about that; Aries wants to act. Virgo wants to get it right. Aries to Scorpio is another example. Scorpio is sensitive to and aware of the environment, picking up underlying nuances and hidden emotions. Aries doesn't even notice. Aries is positive cardinal fire, and Scorpio is negative fixed water, so there is an immediate tension, since Aries wants to act and Scorpio wants to stay put.
Audience: I have that. I have Neptune in Scorpio in the 3rd house, and Sun-Mercury in Aries in the 8th.
Clare: Neptune in Scorpio in the 3rd house is imaginative, and indicates a kind of subtle, diffuse awareness. Mercury in Aries in the 8th house describes focused precision and penetrating thought. These two planets do not confront each other, as they would with a square, or support each other, as they would with a trine or sextile, but they are connected in a rather awkward and unsatisfactory way.
Audience: I have Chiron in Aquarius in the 8th house, quincunx Sun in Virgo in the 3rd.
Clare: Just putting Sun and Chiron together, what do we have?
Audience: A wound around our identity?
Audience: Self-expression as a healer or teacher?
Clare: The Sun in Virgo in the 3rd house indicates that you identify with your analytical skills, and with your ability to communicate them. But Chiron is the outsider, so you may feel that, in some way hard to define, it is not acceptable to be yourself or to say what you think. Since Chiron is in Aquarius in the 8th house, perhaps you sense that you could be scapegoated for your ideas and opinions, excluded from the group. Do you sense that?
Audience: I have always felt that. I have never really been able to say what I think, because people never seem to be able to understand what I am talking about.
Clare: Has anyone got any semi-sextiles we could look at?
Audience: Yes, I have Mars in Taurus and Moon in Gemini.
Audience: Does that mean that Mars lives in the body, and the Moon lives
in the head?
Clare: Yes. Mars is practical, and the Moon is intellectual. Mars wants to act, and Moon wants to think. Does that feel right?
Audience: Probably, but it is difficult integrating them.
Clare: Yes, and that is the whole point about semi-sextiles and quincunxes. They feel awkward, as if there is something we can't really get to grips with although we know they are there. They describe a kind of background tension and aggravation, and there is no nice, clean resolution.
Audience: That's what it feels like, but I have been unable to put my finger on it. It's like feeling that something isn't quite right, that I must have forgotten something.
Clare: The aspect pattern formed from two quincunxes and one sextile can provide a synthesis, because it creates balance where there was no balance before. This is known as a yod, or as the 'Finger of Fate', which can be quite dramatic and dynamic. As you would imagine, the focal point of the yod is the active planet at the apex of the two quincunxes. This planet functions like a pivot point, like a point of destiny around which our lives can change direction.
Audience: What happens if you have a planet right in the middle of the sextile, in semi-sextile to both the planets in the sextile and opposite the focal point of the yod?
Clare: Then you have a kind of 'dart', with three planets in a row exactly
30° apart, and an opposition. There is a very nice symmetry here, although
I am not sure if it has been named as an aspect pattern. Once again, we
would need to examine the specific configuration in its own terms, but
I suspect that the planets in opposition will be of particular significance.
I thought you would be interested to know that we have a yod in our own
chart, which I drew up at the beginning of our class last term. We have
Jupiter at 11° Gemini as the focal point, inconjunct to both the MC at
12° Capricorn and Venus at 12° Scorpio. And, as it happens, we also have
Pluto and Chiron in Sagittarius in the 8th house, opposite the focal Jupiter
and semi-sextile to the MC and Venus. This is, in fact, the dart pattern
We have all come together to give substance (2nd house) to our learning process, because that is what we value (2nd house). Jupiter in Gemini is very busy and active, and believes in learning about philosophical subjects and expanding the mind. Jupiter is in quincunx to the Saturn-ruled MC in Capricorn, so our purpose, the direction we are going in, is to work hard and to build an intellectual structure. There is a real focus to this cardinal, Saturn-ruled MC. The other quincunx from Jupiter is to Venus in Scorpio in the 7th house, so we are here to meet each other (7th house), and because we value deep feelings and have chosen to explore the depths of the psyche together (Venus in Scorpio). This yod describes what we are about and what has drawn us together. It describes our destiny as a group.
Even more to the point, Pluto and Chiron are in Sagittarius in the 8th house and opposite Jupiter. I would say that there is something very powerful going on here for all of us, as we explore the depths of our own personal psyches. Astrology is a powerful philosophical system, and Pluto in the 8th house is no doubt taking us all very deep. This is a private area for us, and maybe our experiences are both painful and healing, as we process and integrate what we are learning. No doubt there are many personal discoveries taking place that are not being talked about in the group, and this is quite right, since it is going on in the 8th house. Does this ring any bells for you? Many of us will be having profound personal insights, and the group itself is containing that.
Audience: You can say that again. There are so many things going on for me personally as a result of what I am learning, but it is very hard to define what is actually happening.
Clare: Because we have a yod in the chart, I imagine that many of us will look back on this class in years to come and realise that, in many ways, it was a turning point in our lives, a kind of fated encounter. We have not found ourselves in this class by accident. And, of course, we will all have our own personal reactions and responses to this group, which will depend on the way our own charts pick up the group chart. Next week I want to start looking at what is not in the chart, which seems like a contradiction in terms, but which in fact provides extremely useful information. We will be looking at the lack of an element or modality, and at unaspected planets.