10 Astrology Habits to Break

1. Using the Astrological Alphabet 

Whether you learned this from a teacher or read it in a book, please stop limiting yourself with the application of sign = planet = house style rulership. Indeed, Aries is the domain of Mars, and Taurus the domain of Venus (and on it goes), BUT that does not mean Aries/Mars is the same thing as the first house. It's simply not. A planet associated with war and separation does not equate to the house of Life, Body, and Spirit. And Taurus/Venus does not equal the second house of your income (Jupiter is the planet pertaining to wealth actually). 
Scorpio does not = the eighth, Aquarius does not = eleventh, Pisces does not = twelfth. 

Aries may be the first sign of the zodiac, if you work that way. But there are other ways to work, and other perspectives to take. For instance, Capricorn could be the first sign of the zodiac: when it is darkest in the northern hemisphere, think of a gestating seed. Or if that feels limited, when the sun has bottomed out and begins its travel upwards (from our perspective on earth) from its most southerly declination at the Tropic of Capricorn.

Or you might want to think of the sign Cancer as the first position. As it is the first house in the all-important Thema Mundi (see the diagram below). Vettius Valens, in his Anthology from the second century, writes: it is the house of the moon, feminine, solstitial, the Ascendant to the universe. . . With the Thema Mundi in mind, consider Jupiter's exaltation in Cancer (life giving and life promoting) versus Mars' exaltation in Capricorn (the seventh sign, and traditional house of death: the place of the setting sun). And Libra on the fourth, Saturn's place of exaltation: under ground, under earth, the crypt — also one's family, parents, origins, history, ancestors. Even Valens notes, a diminisher of estates, the Lower Midheaven of the universe . . . And Aries upon the tenth, where of course the Sun is exalted and shines maximally in its culmination: . . .the Midheaven of the universe and the cause of rank, writes Valens. Sexy Scorpio as the fifth sign; divinatory and dream-rich Pisces on the ninth; Aquarius, Saturn's domain (a planet of death) on the eighth; and so on.

Give it thought. Expand your vision, exercise your mind, and end the habit. 


2. Outer Planet Rulership 

In my view it's absurd to even think about ruining the perfection and intelligence of this cosmic symmetry (above). If you still think Aquarius is ruled by Uranus — why? Why the willfulness and defensiveness around it? Actually, that may provide a clue in itself. If you have Aquarius on an important angle in your chart, or your Sun or Moon is there, and you just can't see yourself as Saturnian, you may have a limited perspective on Saturn. See Joseph Crane's Liberating Uranus and Aquarius

As for Mars and Scorpio, do you think it's okay to strip Mars of its transformational qualities? I don't. I doubt Mars does either. Please participate in restoring Mars' wildly potent transmutational and revolutionary sides. Much of this quality comes in and through this planet's connection to the sign Scorpio. Pluto does its own thing; sometimes very unrelated to Scorpio. Think about it.  

Same goes with Pisces and Jupiter. This is the sign of arts and music and great love, precisely because it is the exaltation of VENUS. And it's the sign of spirituality and dreams and exploring the collective psyche and unconscious, because it is the domain of Jupiter. Neptune conveys a few things related, sure, like with film and projected images (tied to the timing of its discovery). But we all know Neptune can signify a lot more than that, sometimes quite troublesome, nebulous, deceitful and draining in nature (significations taken from Saturn, honestly). These are habits of correlation that Pisces and Jupiter (and I) would like to see end. 

Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto each mean so much more than what could possibly be derived from the zodiac signs. These are trans-personal, outer planets for a reason. They have more to offer, and to tell us, much like the asteroids actually. They govern over extremes and surprises, genius, and utter destruction, topics and areas that simply transcend the day to day experiences symbolized by the zodiac signs. Please liberate them from this treatment. 
 

3. Essentially Dignified Planets are always Awesome

So you have a planet in its own sign, huh? Before your ego expands to wild dimension, I'd just like to remind you, so did Jeffrey Dahmer, FOUR of them. 

We say a planet that is essentially dignified has the power to do what it wants. That may or may not be good for the native. And that may or may not be good for anyone else. A planet with power to do what it wants, does not equate to doing the right thing or being very conscious, aware, caring, or enlightened. And a planet in its own domicile is actually, in a way, limited, as it is focused on what it signifies (the planet/sign/house) sometimes to the exclusion of other topics (planets/signs/houses). And without -or depending on the type of- reception and aspects, these planets can sometimes signify a ruthless single-mindedness (and selfishness), and can lack communication with -or act supportive to- other areas or people as signified in the chart. 

Also, if you're examining one of those oh-so important planets in their sign of exaltation—please remember that its dispositor is incredibly important. It literally has the power to make or break whatever this lucky planet signifies. Sometimes with a lack of continued coherence and support (or when in bad company) you'll see an exalted planet (person signified) behave in bombastically arrogant and ignorant ways, depending on what it rules or where it's posited. Additionally, a planet's immediate sign and house position is thought to signify the way something starts out, and where it disposits shows how the matter evolves or ends. So exalted planets that lead to less 'dignified' places, or lack reception, tell us a lot about where this matter is going . . . maybe nowhere.

A kind of natural confidence is usually what I think when I see dignified or exalted planets, but arrogance can ensue, especially in our culture where narcissism is rampant and a lack of compassion and empathy is pretty much encouraged. Please check your feeling of superiority. No one is finished with their work on this planet, that's why we're here.
 

4. Final Dispositor FOLLY

A final or sole dispositor in the chart is not always helpful and it is certainly not necessarily nice. For instance, having a planet like Saturn in Capricorn or Mars in Aries as the one and only dispositor might require a bit (or a lot) of extra caution. These two especially seem to wreak havoc. Capricorn being the nocturnal sign for Saturn, a planet that prefers the light of day—and so the diurnal signs, to warm its cold dry bones; and Aries for Mars, a nocturnal planet which can use some cooling and grounding, provided by earthy or watery (yin) signs—can both be prone to a bit of bullying, cruelty, and power-plays if not mitigated and/or used consciously. 

It also helps to have reception, especially mutual, to break up the dispositing. Several dispositors are good, or loops between them. Unless a chart is working for a benefic (in an advantageous house), sometimes the focus of a final dispositor can bring one down or bulldoze over others with its nature and unlimited pursuit for power. Even a planet like Venus, as I've seen many times with charts of people with drug or food addictions, can cause a lot of trouble for the native. 
 

5. North Node is Karmic and MOST Important

Seriously, it's an eclipse point. And it is the head of the dragon, Rahu, for a reason. Look at Donald Drumpf. And the south node, Ketu, also an eclipse point, is the tail: a place of release, sure, a place of gifts and wisdom, and mysticism and spiritual liberation, too. Please do more research if you actually think the south node is just a useless point to be ignored and left behind, or that the north node is entirely holy and the only way to go. Maybe in a ruthless, obsessive, money-hungry, and addictive culture Rahu is king. But I'd like to think there is more to life. 

As for karma, if it exists as we think, it is represented by the whole chart—not just the nodes, not just Saturn, not just the twelfth house, and definitely not Pluto alone. 

6. Hard Aspects Are Bad

Squares are productive. Squares blend polarity, like antiscia does (and unlike oppositions actually). Blending polarities: yin/yang, feminine/masculine, can be wildly energetic, creative, and fruitful. It conveys an attempt to make something complete and whole, or brand new. We all know nothing happens without pressure, without attraction or repulsion, love and strife. Squares move us.

Of course this doesn't mean all squares are created equal. Like with oppositions, and especially those in close degree-based aspect with malefics (specifically three degrees or less in orb), they can indeed be crunchy and cruel —also notable here: their house rulership, and/or superior position, and other players. 

7. Easy Aspects Are Good, Especially Grand Trines

Smooth flowing aspects are comfortable, compatible, and can be very lazy. Yes, they can show natural talent and luck. They can also show being at ease, or being in a big rut. Especially with the grand trine, it is ideal to have one factor (at least) in square aspect to another planet. Thank the gods if you do. Here's someone who, sadly, did not
 

8. There is Only One Kind of Reception: Mutual 

Astrologers need to note all kinds of reception, including one-sided and mixed. I am personally a huge fan of mixed reception and even reception with minor dignities (i.e. Bounds, Decanates, etc.). And I think it is the key to practicing really good astrology. Reception between planets in aspect tell us how and where things are actually working and where there is likely disfunction. If a planet is compatible, comfortable, and supported in its contact with another planet it's like it is saying Yes, let's do this. And if it is uncomfortable within the contact and rejecting what is offered (for instance an aspect with a planet in the aspecting planet's place of fall or detriment) it's saying, No thanks, I don't want what you have to offer. Of course this can work for good or ill, in both cases. A malefic can be strengthened for instance receiving an aspect from a planet in the malefic's domicile or exaltation sign, and without a lot of awareness, that might not be a good thing at all!

Noting these kinds of connections, and rejection, lends a lot of refinement to your chart reading. There is a specificity and nuance that comes alive when you spend time with it. A deep study and consideration of this is well worth your time and effort.  

A good article on this is at the Gryphon Astrology site.
 

9. Peregrine Planets are Useless 

LOL. As I've already stated in several points above, so much depends on how planets disposit, and how (and by whom) they are received. A planet without essential dignity can be mightily supported with the right kind of reception and connection through aspects (by degree and whole sign!). A 'wandering' (peregrine) planet may even be more integrated in the chart as it communicates with several areas and topics if it is well received by several planets. This sort of thing could prove fruitful and unifying for several areas of the life! Too many planets that are essentially dignified, and not in reception, are not communicating with one another. These cases naturally lead me to wonder about a kind of fragmentation in the chart (and personality). Parts not conversant are indeed telling us something.
 

10. Debilitated Planets are Ineffective

It is my working/learning opinion that a planet not 'well-placed' by sign (including being in its detriment or fall) can have much influence and power to protect and foster the topics for houses it sees that are under its domain. Additionally, as my colleague Charlie Obert wrote about recently, there is a very real, tangible effect that comes with time and effort spent learning to be effective in realms these planets signify. All is not lost. 

You'll want to take note, as iterated many times above, the ways in which these planets disposit and are received. These are not minor details. In fact, especially note their so-called minor dignities. You'll see a planet in its own bound, decante, etc., can and does equate to a lot more than minor efficacy and power in actual practice. Well supported debilitated planets, imo, may point out more than just issues to work on, they are likely the path, the life's work, the point. Bless them. 

Be well. 

p.s. the notion of sex and the eighth house isn't entirely accurate . . . more on this at another time 

A Similar Maleficence : Fred West

Preamble: I do not believe the planets, stars, or signs cause people to do horrific things. We cannot blame our chart for our problems. It is up to each one of us to decide how we will express and direct our energy and impulses. I believe there is a higher and lower expression to everything. The symbols do speak to and show where there may be difficulty - but it is often these very same influences that compel people to do the most interesting work.


Dahmer reverberates - 
Another horrible story.  

When I searched my database for another 'contrary to sect' Mars in Aries in the whole sign seventh house, I didn't come up with much - an athlete, an actor, a few others, sure...  However I was totally creeped out when I found an equally (to Dahmer) disturbing character, Fred West. He has not only the same basic signature (Mars Aries 7H) as Dahmer, but other shared degrees and sign placements. 

West, along with his wife, Rosemary, was a serial killer, rapist, zoophiliac, torturer, pedophile, incestual father, and all around general criminal. He likely suffered a brain injury in his teens (Aries rules the head, the battering ram, and is in opposition to his Sun in the whole sign first house of the body) - though this hardly explains the atrocities he committed as many suffer mild to extreme brain trauma and do not harm others.
 

Creepy, even as a child.

Creepy, even as a child.

The birth time on this chart is 'B' rated (from a biography), so there is a possibility it is not correct. I found it too curious however to see such sign similarities to Dahmer to not share.

In addition to the powerful out of sect malefic Mars in the seventh (Mars is generally less good for people who are born during the day), we see the signs: Taurus, Gemini, Virgo and Capricorn inhabited again, as was the case with Dahmer. Shockingly, if the time is indeed correct (though it's quite likely rounded off), they share the same zodiacal degree rising - the degree of the Sun at its maximum fall:  19+ Libra. 

Like Dahmer all the so-called (in ancient texts) "licentious, wanton, lecherous, and filthy sexed" signs are covered here. Capricorn again at the bottom of the chart, a house pertaining to death and burying the relatives under the family home (in very ancient times this was not a corrupt thing, but a place of burial for the ancestors) - and is exactly what he and his second wife maliciously did. Capricorn is inhabited by the Moon (its sign of detriment). The Moon (family, feelings, body, mother, the irrational) dominates Mars by square aspect - again, like Dahmer, Mars receives an aspect from a planet in Mars' sign of exaltation and seems to be empowered for the worse. And the Moon is in a superior trine to Saturn, the other malefic. Saturn (the almuten) an alternate ruler of the Ascendant is in Taurus (the Moon's exaltation) and sees the Moon occupying his own sign (Capricorn) while placed in the whole sign eighth house, another house of death. This is, once again, a lot of seeing and receiving between the three houses of death (4, 7, 8). See a previous post if you are scratching your head as to why these three houses pertain to death.  

Mercury and Venus are in Scorpio (a sign of detriment for Venus) and disposit to Mars. Mars is in fact the final or 'sole dispositor' of the chart. I find when a malefic is the sole dispositor [especially if it is the malefic of the sect not in favor = Mars, when the native is born during the day, and Saturn, if the person is born at night] that it can be quite problematic for a person, and extra care and conscientiousness must be worked on. 

And what about that grand trine in earth?  =  Moon  Saturn  Neptune 
Grand trines humorously garner a lot of attention for being a good thing - but it is entirely dependent on a) the planets involved, and b) the person's consciousness.
Reinhold Ebertin in The Combination of Stellar Influences has things (on the darker side) like this to say:

The sickness of the soul.. the inability to mature or develop emotionally.. a low character.. pessimism.. pathological states of depression..

 

Inner wheel: West
Outer wheel: Dahmer

One chilling point in the chart that compelled me to post is Rahu, the north node of the Moon and head of the dragon, it resides at 21+ Virgo the exact degree of Dahmer's north node in the twelfth house - a traditional house of imprisonment and self-undoing.  

If anyone has insights about this particular degree of Virgo, or other observations, please leave a comment. 

 

Curious Maleficence : Dahmer

Essential dignity is important. Yet I think it is easily misunderstood, overemphasized, or used willy-nilly without considering a lot of other factors. Assessing dignity [like most things in astrology] is complex. Some people will make a really big deal about a dignified planet, but dignity does not simply make a planet good. Dignity is also strongly altered by planetary aspects and receptions. 

In a very dark example, likely the darkest expression of the day, we see a so-called 'dignified' (in its own sign) yet 'contrary to sect' malefic, Mars, configured with the Moon in the place of the setting sun (7th house). Mercury, Venus, and Saturn as well are all in their own domicile (sign), and therefore have essential dignity.

 

 

Some technical gymnastics:

The Ascendant in Dahmer's chart rises in Libra at the degree of the Sun's deepest debility. The Sun is most exalted at 19 degrees Aries and is at its maximum fall at 19 Libra. I think this is an immediately important factor since it is a daytime chart (the Sun is above the horizon and so is the luminary of the sect in favor). The ruler of the Ascendant is Venus (the benefic of the sect not in favor - it prefers the night). It has 'power' in its own sign, Taurus, so it is good at getting what it wants, even if this is not particularly good for the native. It is in the 8th whole sign house, so it does not see the Ascendant. The 8th house is the traditional house of death. Venus is also rising before the Sun, and so is a morning star Venus, showing her more assertive and warrior-like face. Venus connects to Rahu, the head of the dragon (north node of the Moon), by a close trine aspect, but it is the sign of Venus' fall (Virgo) in the 12th house. The exaltation ruler (and almuten) of the Ascendant is Saturn in Capricorn (its own sign) in the whole sign 4th, giving a strong connection to and esteem for the parents and tradition. Also think of the 4th as pertaining to things buried, or deep under the earth. Saturn is, however, in a tight square aspect to the Ascendant, so we see potential for stress and blockage here. Houses 4, 7, 8 all pertain to death; in the 4th we return to the place from which we came, 7th is the setting place, and 8th is the experience of death, often not our own but the experience of death and upheaval around us (sometimes called a place of transformation). Also of note here, as all these places are highlighted, houses 4, 8, 12 according to the 13th century astrologer, Guido Bonatti, were thought to be houses of varying kinds of imprisonment.  

The Moon, luminary of the night sect (not the sect in favor), is waning and is right on the horizon, setting at the time of his birth. The Moon is configured in the whole sign 7th (traditional house of death = setting Sun) with the contrary to sect malefic, Mars, which is in its own sign Aries (making it strong, though potentially reckless). Moon (pertaining to body, nourishment, feelings, and the irrational) receives a dominating square from both Jupiter - which is debilitated in the sign of its fall, Capricorn, and is also the sign of the Moon's detriment - and Saturn, strong in Capricorn, but seeing the Moon in the sign of its own fall, Aries (which it does not care for). Mars receives these squares as well, and since Capricorn is the sign of Mars' exaltation, it is strengthened further (and apparently not for the better). Remember, strong does not equal good. Saturn sees Mars in this square and being the sign of its fall is not especially pleased. Mars is also the lord of the 7th house of partners and open enemies.

Mars severs, it is related to cutting and knives, it separates . . . 

Mars is also antiscia the moon's Node - a point symbolizing connections. Mars|Node can be work connections, physical, sexual, or athletic connections, connecting with men, or collaborative or quarreling connections. Mars can also sever or cut connections (Yikes!- when considered literally). Antiscia, being symmetry around the cardinal axis or Aries Point, is indicative of how we connect to the world. Dahmer connected via Mars|Node. Of course, a general Mars|Node connection means a lot of different things as noted, dependent on varied context and circumstance.

The Sun, the luminary for the day, is configured with Mercury, the lord of 9 and 12 and in the curious, dual sign Gemini. Mercury is a youthful and somewhat androgynous character, one that moves between worlds (the underworld and the earthly world). The primary trigon lord for Air signs in a day chart is Saturn, so both Sun and Mercury are tied strongly to Saturn at the bottom of the chart.
 

Chart set up from the Lot of Fortune. 
(Vettius Valens, a 2nd century astrologer, instructs us to use the Lot of Fortune as an alternate Ascendant.)


I read the chart from Fortune with whole sign houses, meaning: 0-30 Virgo is the 1st house, 0-30 Libra is the 2nd house, and so on. 


Pluto, lord of the underworld, rises with the north node, Rahu - the insatiable, hypnotic and deceptive head of the dragon. Neptune in 3rd - confusion and deceit in communication. Jupiter in its fall with Saturn in 5th - morally problematic pleasures and recreation; Venus' joy distorted. Chiron and Ketu, the tail of the dragon, indicative of loss, illusion, and wounding in the place of the other -the 7th. Moon and Mars - body and cutting and upheaval in 8th. Venus 'strong' in Taurus (strong for what? pursuing one's bodily desires? pursuing 'matter') and in the 9th, the traditional house of god and spiritual concerns; Dahmer's life was devoted to matters of the flesh. Of note here, Venus receives superior trines from both Jupiter (in its fall) and Saturn, in Capricorn; Capricorn is a notoriously lusty placement for Venus, and so due to the unimpeded flow (trine) it is highly affected by this influence. Sun Mercury in whole sign 10th - public image - Mercury in its own sign is receiving its only strong aspect from Mars, a superior sextile from the malefic contrary to sect. Mercury Mars is adept at handling tools, dissecting for instance [in his case, curiosity gone horridly awry]. Two faces, two places. Uranus in 12th - strange secrets. 

A brief interview with Dahmer. 

His father's perspective. 

This is of course a horrific example of a person with a serious mental illness. Astrology does not show that he is mentally ill, and it does not show that he would harm or kill people. It does show issues with emotions, parents, and others, but astrology does not say what a person will do or how conscious, conscientious, or aware they are. 

To recap, it seems clear that essential dignity does not make a planet good, it may make a planet good at getting what it wants, but this might not be good for others or for the person himself. Dignity does seem to strengthen a planet, but again that can be for better or worse. (Frida Kahlo for instance had an exalted Mars in the 6th (health, disease, accidents) and it was in partile opposition to her Sun in Cancer (the sign of Mars' fall) - it seems probable this powerful planet did more harm to her than it did good.)

One must look at the whole chart. Aspects relaying dignity or debility (called receiving and reception) seem to alter and affect things immensely, as does the way in which one chooses to direct and work with the energy.