PLANETARY STRENGTH - A Commentary on Morinus
published by Wessex Astrologer, February 2011
(see below for price and ordering information)
Excerpt from Chapter Two: Terrestrial State
“First: the four angular Houses (1, 10, 7, and 4) are inherently more powerful than the other Houses.” <Morinus Book 18, page 73> “Next in strength to the Ascendant comes the Midheaven, then the Descendant, and finally the Imum Coeli.” <Morinus Book 18, page 74> “The angular Houses take precedence [in strength] over the succedent ones, and these in turn over the cadent Houses.” <Morinus Book 18, page 76>
The disposition of the planets with respect to the circle of the houses gives rise to the dignity of Terrestrial State, or propinquity to one of the four angles of the birth chart: Ascendant (ASC), Midheaven (MC), Descendant (DESC) and Nadir (or Imum Coeli, IC). Terrestrial state refers to the natives’ approach to social relationships. A planet posited in an angular house (1st, 4th, 7th, 10th) tends to find social relationships stimulating; a planet posited in a succedent house (2nd, 5th, 8th, 11th) tends to find social relationships challenging; a planet posited in a cadent house (3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th) tends to find social relationships overwhelming. Angular planets do not indicate favorable relationships (which is shown by being well-aspected) so much as an easy control of relationships – an ability (symbolized by the particular planet) to land on one’s feet and dominate the proceedings. Cadent planets, by contrast, are more in thrall or in bondage to their social relationships – these planets bring a schooling in self-denial or renunciation. Terrestrial strength – more than any other type of dignity – is a measure of adaptation to social conditioning. Where celestial strength is inborn – a gleam in the eye – terrestrial strength refers to learned strategies of social dominance. Angularity is not merely a matter of social skill. It also implies a certain take on everyday society – thoroughness, leaving nothing to chance or happenstance, enforcing one’s own will rather than just crossing one’s fingers and hoping for the best (as most people do). Therein inures the real strength of an angular planet: taking complete responsibility for the proceedings. In general, society trains people to shut up and obey blindly; to take as little initiative and personal responsibility as possible. However, some people – at least in some areas of their lives (shown by their angular planets) – come to the realization that it’s all just a game; and that the game does have rules; and that those rules can be manipulated to advantage. Often this knowledge is learned from rather singular parents, who tended to make or break the rules themselves. This is perhaps why Gauquelin found that “children tended to have the same angular planets as their parents, especially if the latter’s were just past the Rising Point or MC.” (see Geoffrey Dean, Recent Advances in Natal Astrology, Astrological Association 1977, page 391)
“Observe whether a planet is in the angular, succedent, or cadent houses; for planets in the angles indicate effects which are continuous – especially when also in the fixed signs … But in cadent houses and moveable signs the planets indicate things which are unstable; in the succedent houses the effects are intermediate.” <Morinus Book 21, page 94>
In any given area of life, most people are milling around aimlessly, waiting for someone to tell them what to do, and there’s a small minority of people giving all the orders. These latter people are symbolized in astrology as those who have angular planets. Actually, angular-planet people don’t know much more about what’s happening than anyone else, but they seem to: they have a facility for projecting the impression that they know what they’re doing. There’s a self-assurance and economy to their actions that induce other people to defer to them and cede them the lead.
Angularity symbolizes a sense of belonging, of being in the know, on the inside track. Angular types are not unconventional, but rather are above convention. They go through the motions of meeting – indeed, exceeding – social expectations; but they put very little importance upon appearances. They are aware (as most people are not) that social conventions and expectations are wholly arbitrary and not to be taken too seriously. Therefore, they are able to make social role-playing a joyous, fulfilling, fruitful activity, rather than an onerous or daunting enterprise (as it seems to cadent planet people).
Practically everyone is personally ambitious; what distinguishes angular types from the rest is their understanding that there is a science to life – a technology for getting what you want. They don’t sit around waiting for their “lucky break” to drop down from heaven; nor do they just put in the time while slowly moving up the ranks. They intuit that life is a game, with definite rules – definite steps and decisions that can be made to succeed in the game. Where most people obey the rules, or more accurately, stumble around in the dark trying to figure out what the rules are, angular types make the rules.
Angular planets have an angle: they have a come-on, a spiel. They are like used-car salesmen – in one way or another, they are selling themselves. Angular planets show a technique of self-promotion (depending upon the particular planet). Angular planets usually manage to land on their feet, and to dominate or capitalize on their situation. Angular types possess a talent for self-promotion, not in an officious way, but with a definite noblesse oblige. In contrast to the strength conferred upon planets by virtue of their being posited in their ruling or exaltation signs, angular planets exhibit little exuberance or effusiveness. They possess a natural self-control which arises not so much from discipline as from a sense of ease, patience, and forbearance – a sense that life is at one’s service, so there is no need to be pushy or overreaching. There is nothing blatant or indelicate about angular planets; their energy is not expended needlessly in demonstrativeness or attitudinizing, but is conserved, held back in reserve until needed. All angular planets make for a hard, cold practicality – even the so-called “nice” planets (moon, Venus, Jupiter) are nice only because that is the easiest way to manipulate people and get one’s own way with them.
People with angular planets are the winners in life because they make that assumption – that they are winners. And because it’s lonely at the top, angular planets also indicate a certain solitude and isolation. If those with angular planets quite consciously manipulate people and make decisions for the group, they also understand the responsibility that this entails.
Angular planets give people that sense of easy self-assurance associated with being a member of the ruling class. In earlier ages this meant membership in the aristocracy; in today’s meritocracy it shows the educated and upwardly mobile as well as those born in the upper classes of society. People born in the upper classes have a winning attitude inculcated into them from birth (that they “belong”, that they are destined to rule), which is why angularity is associated with high social class and success in life. The members of the upper classes were historically the people who were “bred” to lead and succeed.
Of course, there are always wealthy and upper-class natives who have no angular planets. These are the ones on whom this born-to-command-and-control-one’s-destiny attitude doesn’t stick or fit properly. They turn it into an attitude of snobbery, or one that says that life owes them a living. In other words, although exposed to the “angular” attitude by virtue of their upbringing, they fail to catch the meaning of what a natural sense of prowess, adequacy, and leadership actually entails. They understand the superficial trappings of angularity (success) without grasping its essence (personal responsibility).
By the same token, there have always been instances of people born in the lower social classes who by sheer gumption raised themselves up in life in spite of all handicaps. The people with no angular planets who “make it” on their own in a big way don’t contradict the theory; all this means is that these people made it even without a native sense of fitness to command. Perhaps they stumbled into the limelight; or maybe they did it through driving ambition, determination, and force of will. In any case, this success will be found to have been accomplished as a freak of nature, or else as a tour de force, rather than as the end result of a natural process of unfoldment. It means that these natives’ success in life was not the end result of a conscious sense of fitness but rather was the result of extraordinary talent, effort, or luck. In other words, success can come in spite of an absence of angular planets, but in that case the native has to work harder, or hit the right combination of fortuitous circumstances, in order to get the same effect.
It must also be noted that angularity shows nothing of the degree of success attained in life – whether the native set his or her sights high, or aimed for a comfortable niche; whether big success was attained with little pother, or at the cost of great sacrifice and suffering; indeed, whether success was actually attained, or whether the native went crashing down in flames. This sort of information is shown by benefic / malefic angular planets, and by how well-aspected or afflicted they are.The angular houses are houses of action, whereas the cadent houses are houses of thought. Angular planets do; whereas cadent planets hold back and watch rather than jump in and stir things up. Thus, being cadent isn’t as bad a debility for mental planets such as Mercury and Jupiter as it is for active planets like the sun and Mars. What is shown by terrestrial state is how the native interacts in social groups – as a leader or follower, and in what ways. Angular planets are puppet masters, or Pied Pipers, who have everyone dancing to their tune. In one fashion or another (shown by the particular planet) angular planets maintain the upper hand: their POSITION is DOMINATING, whereas that of cadent planets is REACTIVE. The particular planet involved indicates how the native interacts (e.g. in a Mercurial, Jovial, Saturnine fashion); and the particular angle involved indicates in what type of social group the native interacts in that fashion.
Angular planets symbolize strategies of control, and the four angles symbolize four different types of social relationships: casual, face-to-face relationships (Ascendant); formal and group relationships (Midheaven); intimate relationships and partnerships (Descendant); and standing alone (Nadir). Here we are only concerned with the dignity of angularity as a strength factor, not with what individual angles or planets conjunct the same mean in terms of personality factors, which will be discussed at the end of this chapter.
All of the angles symbolize strategies for controlling relationships. What is shown is a deftness in handling people, getting one’s own way, getting other people’s acceptance on one’s own terms, bending other people to one’s own will; and these strategies are usually quite successful, which is why angularity is considered such a great strength. Natives with angular planets detach themselves from other people rather than allow themselves to be dragged along by others’ caprices. Angularity produces a sense of fearlessness – or at least an insusceptibility to the doubts and second thoughts which hamper most people. Angular planet people need less validation and reassurance from others before they act.
All four angles show strategies for capitalizing (imposing your own rules) upon relationships, and the four angles symbolize four different types of relationships:
The Ascendant (ASC) symbolizes casual relationships;
The Descendant (DESC) symbolizes close relationships;
The Midheaven (MC) symbolizes group relationships; and
The Nadir (IC) symbolizes solitude.
That is, the Ascendant shows a way of facing people (of coming onto them); the Descendant shows a way of getting around, through, or past people; the Midheaven shows a way of dominating or directing people; and the Nadir shows a way of standing alone. …
Keywords for Terrestrial State of Planets
Mars Angular: DOMINATING ACCOMPLISHMENT = PLUCKY: You have a very original point of view and slant on life, and you express yourself candidly and fearlessly. Self-assured and devil-may-care, you go your own way and do your own thing without relying upon other people’s approval or support, and by improvising whatever is needed. Although your self-confidence can verge on self-congratulations, you always stick to your guns, and you are inimitably yourself at all times.
Mars Cadent: REACTIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT = MALCONTENT: You are caustic and opinionated, and are somewhat inelegant or gauche in expressing yourself. You are easily misunderstood – or feel that you are – and are skeptical of other people’s motives. You have a sense of being weary, overburdened, or bogged down by circumstances; and at your wits’ end over other people. On your positive side you are punctilious and dutiful in carrying out your responsibilities.
Mars/ASC – OUTFRONT – You are unflinching and candid, and possess the ability to stand fast and hold your own in the face of adversity. Your placid, tractable exterior barely conceals a high-wire energy which is hardheaded, forceful, and domineering (on the negative side, contrary and deaf to reason). You are bold, blunt and never shy from expressing your opinions and making your presence be felt.
Mars/DESC – STEADFAST – You are mild of manner, but also are headstrong, iron-willed, and something of a control freak in relationship. You are good-natured and obliging in the nonessentials, willing to give way when required, but never backing down from your basic position; and you tend to attract partners who are as hardnosed as yourself. You have a knack for being forceful and unyielding without being overreaching or giving needless offense.
Mars/MC – GUTSY – You are fearless and adventurous, with considerable personal derring-do and panache. You are willing to take risks and to fly with your gut-level hunches, which at times can make for a pigheaded or absolutist streak. But you do have a knack for getting your own way by hook or crook, and always landing on your feet.
Mars/IC – ASSIDUOUS – You hold your feelings inside, keep a stiff upper lip, and cannot be diverted or deflected. You are cautious, thorough, and unrevealing, keeping your motives and plans to yourself. You have good powers of concentration and the ability to bring all your energy to bear upon your project or object of the moment.
Excerpt from Chapter 4: Comparison of Different Canons of Planetary Strength:
Mars Good Celestial State + Cadent: WHOLE-HEARTED but MALCONTENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: You have a sassy, ironic sense of humor and a sardonic view of life and your fellow bipeds. Although you are free-spirited and basically do your own thing come what may, you nonetheless have a tendency to grouse and complain. You are scrupulous in discharging – even exceeding – your obligations; but you also maintain a jealous watchfulness over whether others are pulling their share of the load as well. Although your everyday attitude is brisk and ready for anything, you often feel as though you are just drifting through life, or struggling on an endless treadmill – unrewarded and unfulfilled.
Mars Angular + Bad Celestial State = PLUCKY but INDECISIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT: You are outgoing and gregarious, with a sincere and unvarnished bonhomie – a gentility and nobility – which others find real and inviting. You tend to prefer consensus to initiative, and there may be an air of futility or resignation about you. You lack an underlying sense of conviction or self-certainty, so you can become overly dependent upon the cooperation of other people in order to get anything accomplished. You try to ameliorate rather than to challenge, and you are overly trusting and naive in your relationships. You have high expecations of yourself and equally high expecations of other people; but as a result you easily feel easily deceived or betrayed. When forced to take a stand you rely upon mulish obduracy rather than finesse to get your own way.
Mars Good Celestial State + Afflicted = WHOLE-HEARTED but ORNERY ACCOMPLISHMENT: You possess a good-humored audacity and spirit of derring-do which can be very charming in their proper moment. However, your cocksure self-assurance and brash swagger can wear thin on people constantly exposed to your bumptiousness, or those who have to work with you rather than under you (you are magnanimous with people you consider your inferiors). You love to argue, and you have a genius for niggling wrongheadedness – scoring points for yourself rather than working things out. Although inclined to pose and strut, you nonetheless are courageous and outfront, and you are in your element when bold action is called for.
Mars Well-aspected + Bad Celestial State = EFFICIENT but INDECISIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT: You possess a self-conscious, inoffensive, and unassuming personality. You don’t make waves or attract undue attention to yourself, but rather try to ingratiate yourself with and to please other people. You are diplomatic and politic, and you shun or ameliorate conflict wherever possible. On the other hand, you can be overly neutral or vacillating when definiteness and commitment are called for. But you are straightforward, aboveboard, and always on the square.
Mars Angular + Afflicted = PLUCKY but ORNERY ACCOMPLISHMENT: You are bluff, short, impatient, and trenchant – utterly lacking in subtlety, social grace or niceties. You are glib and frank, with nothing to hide or apologize for; and at times you can be gratuitously brusque and abrasive. You possess a cocksure insolence which ploughs it own furrow in life and has no thoughts or worries about consequences. You are highly individualistic with an original point of view – off on your own vision quest and determined to keep free of any constraint or restriction.
Mars Well-aspected + Cadent = EFFICIENT but MALCONTENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: Albeit you are easily annoyed and tend to keep up a running commentary of complaints about other people’s failings and the ills of the world, you nonetheless always maintain your cool and you don’t allow people’s antics or adverse circumstances get you into a sweat. You keep yourself under tight control; and your forbidding reserve and critical mindset tend to keep other people from tangling with you. You are imperturbable, impassive, and go about your business with a minimum of pother.
(Copyright © 2011 by Bob Makransky. All rights reserved).
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Planetary Strength - a commentary on Morinus
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