Looking Again at the Astrological Houses –
Concluding Article: Time’s Wheel
From the moment we are born, the natal chart that, if it is accurate, is the still of the Heavens at the moment of a baby’s first independent breath, is in motion putting new degrees on key points and moving luminaries and planets into different houses.
One of the undesirable consequences of a reliance upon computer-generated charts is that students do not properly understand what this calibration that we call the natal chart represents, or how time affects it.
Does this matter?
I consider that it does, and insist that all my personal students master manual chart construction. They may not create many charts manually, but they will know how to if ever they should need to; they will be able to work with a fuller range of time-working techniques than transits and solar returns; and they will have a better grasp of the movement of the Heavens.
The outer circle of Western style charts represent what we observe from Earth, and it is a 2-D presentation of a 3-D reality that merges the ecliptic along which the luminaries and planets move in a counter-clockwise direction with the house frame generated from the axial rotation of the Earth, which is also counter-clockwise.
From Earth, we observe that the Heavens move clockwise, with stars, luminaries and planets rising in the East and setting in the West because axial rotation is significantly faster than even the motion of the Moon, which is the fastest moving celestial body. And so, as Astrology is built upon what we perceive from Earth, the movement of the chart is also clockwise.
Why does it matter?
It matters because the movement of the Heavens as seen from Earth is the Astrologer’s most basic tool, and it is a mark of respect to our discipline, which will serve us in direct relation to the time and care we give to it. It matters because unless we have awareness and regard for time, and learn to manage it intelligently, it bowls us along like tumbleweeds.
We do better to make it our ally.
These circular motions: the luminaries and planets following the Sun around the ecliptic, and the axial rotation of our planet represent two different aspects of the human condition. The first, the counter-clockwise motion, is the unfolding of consciousness; the second, the clockwise is the passage of time that is being registered by the physical vehicle.
It is very easy to get carried away with talk of our development and what is going on for us within. In the New Age we did much of that and were generally lofty about the physical/material as if it did not concern us spiritually-aware people. In these circumstances we can easily forget that all our opportunities take place in time and in the physical world, and that when our time is up so too are our opportunities.
We can forget also that if we waste time, we lose opportunities, the nature of which changes as we move through our span of years because our physical being and its awareness is changing.
The Seventeenth Century English poet, Robert Herrick, made the following observation in his famous poem
Counsel to Girls:
The glorious Lamp of Heaven, the Sun
The higher he’s a getting
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer
But being spend, the worse, and worst
Times, still succeed the former.
This is the truth of where we are with ageing in the West. It is what we experience and observe, because it is what the human family has created for itself.
Western spirituality talks about the wisdom of the old in sentimental terms; we do not truly believe it.
To the Toltecs, old age is one of the four constraints upon working for liberation. They do not fudge a fact of life that we need to grasp very firmly whilst we still have choice.
1. The Counter-Clockwise Movement – Releasing Awareness
According to Theosophy, at age seven, the dense Physical and the Etheric bodies connect; at fourteen the Emotional body is developed and integrated; and at age twenty-one the Mental body is developed and becomes fully integrated.
Practicing astrologers know that between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-eight, the developing individuality begins to challenge the conditioned reality.
In his book, The Astrological Houses, Dane Rudhyar hooks into this idea with the concept of the moving Point of Self. The Point of Self, which is generated by the Ascendant, reaches the IC, by counter-clockwise motion, at age seven; at age fourteen it reaches the Descendant; at age twenty-one it reaches the MC; at age twenty-eight it returns to the Ascendant before starting out again on another counter-clockwise journey to release consciousness in each of our three bodies.
This counter-clockwise motion identifies where we are in the unfolding of the personality flower of which the baby is the seed.
2. The Clockwise Movement – Returning On The Path We Came
Driven by the axial rotation of the Earth, the degree of the natal Ascendant, which denotes when a baby draws its first independent breath, moves after birth in the direction of the MC, passing though H12, H11 and H10. Meanwhile, the Descendant, which indicates what we experience as Other, is moving through H6, H5 and H4.
This motion reverses the period in the womb (or in utero, as the astrological tradition expresses it), the study of which the astrologer, Tad Mann, made his principal contribution to our field of knowledge. Conception takes place on the cusp of H9 when the Spiritual Soul releases the intent for a new Life onto the Mental plane. Then the foetus forms and has its own experiences, finally emerging into the world when the ecliptic intercepts the rational horizon (the Ascendant). At this moment, the life-force or Spirit enters the body and independent life begins.
After birth, the natal Ascendant starts moving towards the progressing MC, taking the being, now with an independent life, back the way it has come. The clockwise wheel, through the passage of time, returns the life force of the being in incarnation to its source, the Soul on its own plane of Spiritual Soul, and its awareness to the Human Soul on the mental plane. It is a journey in time; it is a journey every human being takes.
To reach the MC, the natal Ascendant has to move though H12, H11 and H10 in the progressing house frame. Meanwhile, the Descendant, which indicates what we experience as Other, is moving through H6, H5 and H4. Reflect upon this.
If we live until we are in our 80s, then we will die when the natal Ascendant is in H10, the House of Capricorn, which provides many of the characteristics that we associate with old age: rigidity of body and mind, a focus upon the physical, fear and isolation, and finding comfort in a past always perceived as a better time.
This simple concept gives to an average length life, three significant phases of life that condition our ability to recognise and engage with opportunity:
The fluidity, impressionability and flexibility of babyhood, childhood and youth – H12; Element: Water
The purposeful steering of life according to a plan that includes making a life with like-minded people and children, and expressing individuality – H11; Element: Air
The increasing separation involved in the final years of life. It is harder now to draw together with others. We identify with past achievements. If we wish to continue to work at our lives we must be prepared to stand-alone. Releasing the Spirit is often achieved through a painful deterioration of the Physical- Etheric vehicle (to which the intellect belongs) - H10; Element Earth
If we could manage to live on past 120, we would have a much easier passing back into Spirit from the House of Jupiter H9 - Element Fire, where the physical no longer binds us and acts as a barrier to Spirit. At this older age we could connect far more readily with our Higher Selves, and perhaps this was how it was in those historic cultures, which venerated the old. Perhaps, because they would have had such ready access to their higher principles, the old really were wise.
Exactly how long the degree of the natal Ascendant will spend in each house (and each phase) depends upon the length of the life, obviously; the time of day of the birth and whether the signs of short ascension are involved.
To calculate this with precision, one needs to be familiar with the simple calculation to progress the MC that I give in both Working with Time and Making A Journey of The Lifetime.
It is possible to approximate by advancing the degree of the natal Ascendant by 1 degree per year, but this will become increasingly inaccurate over time, especially if the signs of short and long ascension should be involved. In such cases, as a guide to whether a person was still in the fluid H12 phase or had moved into H11 it would be unreliable, and become even more so in respect of the transition from H11 – H10.
As a professional astrologer, I want to know where a client’s degree of the natal Ascendant is located, because it is shaping their physical/mental ability to perceive and engage with opportunity. Many of my own clients (and myself included) are now transitioning from H11- H10. Our lives are changing. We need different expectations and a new perception and appreciation of opportunity.
This involves a different level from the lifestyle advice that is given out to ageing people about staying active and interested in life to keep youthful, etc., etc. It is about making a suitable relationship with the stage of the journey back to Spirit, which is a journey in time for a being in a physical body.