There is quite a difference between intersection points in space and the physical bodies we term the planets. A planet occupies a specific location and has mass, orbit, speed, energy, influence and orb. An intersection point in space has none of that. There is no body, no mass, no orbit, no energy of its own, yet astrologers and astronomers bestow such a point with both motion and influence. Why? As astrologers, how would you feel if you did not have the ascendant, the midheaven or the lunar nodes to work with? That got your attention, didn’t it? I cannot imagine a chart without an accurate ascendant because I am not a solar chart astrologer. I cannot imagine a chart without an accurate midheaven, nor can I imagine a chart without lunar nodes. Most astrologers use those three points on a regular basis and they are not physical objects, they are merely intersection points in space.
The ascendant in a chart is an intersection between the ecliptic (Earth’s orbit around the Sun), which is the centerline of the zodiac belt and Earth’s eastern horizon at the moment of birth. We look to the eastern horizon at the moment of birth to determine the degree and sign of the ascendant. There is usually no object there. Most of the time it is a point of empty space. Occasionally a planet will rise along with the ascending degree and the planet and the empty point are considered individually. Each individual body or intersection has value and each can overlap in influence. For example, of Gemini is the rising degree then communication and information will be a strong influence on the individual. If Mars is also happens to be rising at that moment, Mars will add its influence and the communication and information indicated by Gemini rising will become faster, more active, and can, at times, be belligerent or assertive. Most astrologer use the rising sign as if it were a planet and it is not a planet. It is, however, an important personal sensitive point, that we would not want to lose for interpretation.
The same is true of the midheaven. The midheaven represents the highest point to which a planet can rise at the moment of birth. It is that point before that planet starts to move towards the descendant or setting point. Midheaven is commonly confused with zenith. Zenith is the 90 degree angle to the horizon (directly overhead). The midheaven may or may not be at that 90 degree angle at the moment of birth. At times zenith and the midheaven do coincide. If I were locating zenith or midheaven, either would be an empty point in space. Each of these points have influence and motion even without a planet in that location or point in space. The distinction is important because each succeeding four minutes of birth time brings up one degree later of the zodiac on the midheaven. The zenith moves with a slight variation depending on the actual movement of the ascendant.
In my astrological study and practice the ascendant and midheaven are primary placements. Slightly less prominent are their axis partners, the descendant and the 4th house cusp (I.C.). I use all of these points in my readings. What about the lunar nodes I mentioned earlier? The intersection points used for the north and south node of the Moon are trajectory points of the crossing of the ecliptic. The North node travels in a south to north direction and the South Node uses a north to south direction. I use these lunar points extensively in my readings and would not want to lose their guidance just because they are intersection points rather than physical bodies.
Ascendant, midheaven, lunar nodes, zenith, and many other points are used astronomically as well and the tables astrologers use stem from astronomical tables. Scientifically and allegorically these points of empty space are useful for measure and for meaning. The ascendant and midheaven are determined by great circle intersections such as the horizon, ecliptic or prime vertical. There are other great circles that are not as well known.
If you are a practicing astrologer, you should be familiar with the Vertex and Anti-Vertex in a wheel. You may choose not to use them, but study, learn and choose whether the information is useful to you. Don’t deny or ignore such positions merely because they are unfamiliar or don’t involve actual physical bodies. Ignorance is never your friend and these points, and their study, will greatly enhance your knowledge and understanding of astrology.
The Vertex is usually (not always) located on the western (left) side of a wheel. I use it as a point for relationships, karma and expectations from the environment – my choice of meanings based upon years of study, research and application. The Anti-Vertex is the axis opposite of the Vertex. Less is known about the position other than it appears to be causative to the Vertex. Again, either point is just that, no physical body. The intersection point itself is sensitive and can be read.
These are only a few of the personal sensitive points and there are several other, definitely lesser known points, but astrologers are diligently working to ferret out their meaning and application. As I said, ignorance is never our friend, so we will take a brief look at a few other PSPs. If you were beginning your studies or making a choice of which tools to study, I would suggest you focus on the ascendant, midheaven and lunar nodes. Once you are comfortable with your knowledge and application of those personal points, turn your attention to the Vertex and its partner. Then you can decide if the balance of the PSPs are of interest to you.
The Aries Point is so easy to determine, simply find 00 Aries in any wheel and you have your Aries Point. It is always 00 Aries and is considered quite useful by Cosmobiologists and Trans-Neptunian practitioners. The other three PSPs are called the Co-Ascendant, the Polar Ascendant and the Equatorial Ascendant and all three are intersection points determined by specific combinations of great circles. Most of the current astrology programs will inform you or insert these positions automatically but you will have to do the research for application yourself. I’m going to limit myself to the points mentioned but be aware there are more.
I have researched two projects on all the PSPs including the Aries point. The two studies were the 43 U.S. presidents and my serial killer research project. The common PSPs, the ascendant, midheaven and lunar nodes seemed to be more specific than the less common PSPs. These are ongoing projects and I am far from a conclusion on either but I am diligently researching all the PSPs through those two major projects and will report on them once conclusions are reached.
There are distinct differences when aspecting a planet and a point. The planet has the capacity to affect or be affected by the energy of another planet. Venus and Saturn will act upon and be acted upon by each other. For example, Venus will both influence and learn from Saturn and Saturn will both influence and learn from Venus. A natal personal point can be influenced or modified by a planet as well, but the point does not influence the planet in the same way as a body would. There may be influences that have not yet been formally studied, but for the purposes of this article the point merely a location in space.
What about the orb of influence for these points? Would the same planetary orb be justified or should some modification take place? I use traditional orbs, eight degrees on the majors but I have a tendency to reduce those orbs of influence if a point is involved. I am a person with two planets square my ascendant and I can see both of them working in my life and each orb is six degrees. I can clearly see how the planets affect my ascendant but I cannot see as clearly the effect of my ascendant on the two natal planets. That to me is the distinction between planets and points.
Think about natal planet (A) influencing or being influenced by natal planet (B). Then do the same mental exercise using natal planet (A) with natal personal point (C) to note any difference in expression and involvement. Be sure to look at all combinations possible such as planet A to planet B and planet B to planet A and determine the effect each has on the other. If a natal planet aspects a natal personal point, it does influence that point, suggesting planet A to point C as an example. To me that is very readable. Does point C (intersection point in empty space) likewise influence planet A? This reminds me of the old adage of a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear… does it make a sound?