Astrological Structures

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Astrological Structures

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:35 pm

Astrology, like language, has both vocabulary and syntax, or meaningful content and structural framing. Astrology's vocabulary includes its elements of meaning, all of the interpretive factors with which we are most familiar. Astrology's syntax consists of certain structural elements that provide the framing within which these meanings are found.

In many ways, the structural framing is more important than the interpretations. This is certainly true for the astrological researcher. It is also true for the field practitioner. [flesh this out later]

Astrology's interpretations are variable across time. Astrology's structures are invariable (though our understanding of them, of course, is not).

Astrology's interpretations are variable across time and condition because human beings (individually and collectively) are variable across time and condition. The same root principle expresses itself differently in different conditions, e.g., different cultures, different cultural conditions, different ages or genders or economic conditions. Consider something as basic as aggression, and how it manifests differently (and is responded to differently) in men vs. women, children vs. adults vs. the elderly, within different races in one culture or another, and at different points in time. The social framework in the United States has shifted so dramatically since the 1970s that my Sun-sign interpretations from that era are quite antiquated on nearly any matter touching gender and sexual orientation, among many other topics.

The more concrete the interpretive statement about an individual, the more it is beholden to the context and conditions of the individual.

Another important area of variability (especially over longer periods of time) lies in the prevailing paradigms (cognitive frameworks) of an era. For example, astrological interpretations and thought for most of the last century has been framed especially is the language of psychology. This wasn't always so, of course, because a century and a half ago there was not yet any field of psychology resembling that of today. We might regard this simply as progress; for example, I personally would like to think that this is where astrology was always necessarily heading. In truth, though, we can't yet objectively say that it is progress, only that it is change.

Astrology's interpretations are variable across time, even when they "keep meaning the same thing they always did."

And yet, we cannot even begin the process of observing astrological verities without understanding the structures within which their meanings exist. Therefore, the most important astrological research of the last 60 years has been not so much the determination of interpretive meanings (important as that is), but rather the nature of astrological structures.

For example, it is more important to know that the ecliptic is divided into 12 equal segments, with exacting boundaries at specific places, than to know that the 12th part called Leo has such-and-so a nature. Both are important, of course; but the meaning side eventually can be uncovered if we know the structures, while the structures are difficult or impossible to discern from our efforts to observe and catalogue meaning.

In each section below, I will articulate what I believe we currently know about astrology's structures. I will, in this place, neither present the evidence to substantiate these statements nor debate their truth. I will simply state them as certainties. Certainties are subject to reassessment with the arrival of new information. But at any given point in time, we need a platform of certainty - a working model - within which to ply our art.

I have never spelled all this out in one place, and have felt that it is time to do so. I've previously intended that this would arise in the writing of eventually planned books, but I think this should not wait.

All of this surely will evolve over time.
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Astrological Structures: The Planets

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:36 pm

Astrology's primary motive forces are embodied in the PLANETS. In psychological language, these are especially expressions of fundamental needs and other primitive energies.

The astrological structure called THE PLANETS comprises Moon, Sun, and the eight planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

This category may also include other valid planet-like factors. We know for sure that it includes the above, and we are less firmly persuaded that it includes other factors.

Other valid planet-like factors may include various astronomical bodies within our solar system, stars and other astronomical bodies or structures outside our solar system, or astronomical intersections such as lunar or planetary nodes or equinoctial points, for example. We have greater confidence in some of these than others, and some may only be useful for certain purposes. Or, perhaps none of these other objects or points is astrologically valid.

Among factors that might best be categorized here (or might better have its own category, or be considered a type of aspect) are MIDPOINTS. The points half-way between two valid planets (or other points), usually along the ecliptic, but sometimes in other frameworks, behave, in some respects, like planets. (Midpoints are among the factors we know to be valid, the only uncertainty is how to categorize them.)
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Astrological Structures: The Constellations (Celestial Framework)

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:36 pm

The celestial sphere is meaningfully divided into twelve lunes (think "orange slices") based on an exactly equal twelve-fold division of the ecliptic. These divisions are sidereal, i.e., exempt from precession of the equinoxes. Two of these twelve sections began 24°02'31.36" east of the two equinoctial points (mean position not yet adjusted for nutation) at epoch 1950.0, and the others at 30° intervals. We believe these boundaries to be correctly determined to within 1-2".

Their boundaries are precise: There is no overlap or blur ("cusp effect") at their borders.

These lunes are called CONSTELLATIONS, or, colloquially, signs. Notice that this definition is not the same as the astronomical convention of the constellations established by 20th century astronomers, but rather fits the definition in the first paragraph above.

Placement of planets in constellations is astrologically meaningful. Different contexts (e.g., natal horoscopy vs. mundane astrology) differently value which planets' constellation positions are most important.
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Astrological Structures: Angles (Mundane Framework)

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:37 pm

The primary framework for determining planetary expressiveness are the ANGLES; specifically, proximity of each planet to the horizon or meridian.

Historically, this effect was described as "strength" of the planets; but this may be misleading as there are many kinds of strength. The specific phenomenon measured by proximity to the horizon and meridian is expressiveness, especially external (manifest) expressiveness.

The root idea of "proximity to horizon and meridian" is the most important consideration for this structure. It can be measured in several ways. Evidently, the most-satisfactory way to measure it is along the prime vertical. (This has other implications discussed under ASPECTS.)

Planets sufficiently proximate to the horizon or meridian are termed angular or foreground.

The peak effect of planetary expressiveness is exactly at the angle. It then tapers off, more or less bilaterally (perhaps exactly bilaterally). There is no hard boundary where this effect ceases, although there are thresholds past which the drop off appears more acute. Discernible drop-offs seem present at about 3°, 7°, and 10° from the horizon or meridian.

I no longer consider a planet foreground when it is more than 10° (measured along the prime vertical) from the horizon and meridian. However, there truly is no hard boundary. In astrological practice, one is ultimately concerned with the relative expressiveness of all the planets - looking for the mix of different psychological energies within an individual. If all the planets were in the very least expressive parts of the chart, except one that was 12° from the angles, I would observe it to be the most expressive planet in the chart, but would not extend the label "foreground" or "angular" to it.

The drop-off effect, moving outward from the angle appears best measured by a sine curve that drops below 50% at a distance of 10°. (Or, as an alternative mathematical model that might be easier to sustain, letting the 50% threshold fall at 15° orb then gives a significant 75% threshold - 50% of "above the line" effect - between 10° and 11° degrees, and a next clear stepping-up at 7.5°.)

Discussions of such angularity always require discussion of the Gauquelin work which is simplistically reported as showing angularity peaks in cadent areas past the actual angles. Bypassing several possible sub-conversations, Michel Gauquelin told me personally that, in their larger studies, the actual peaks - the strongest results - were in the segments exactly at the angles themselves. (The question of how this recedes from that peak is better left for the section on Angularity Variability below._

By tradition, and as reflected in the Gauquelin results, Ascendant and Midheaven are significantly stronger than Descendant and IC. This may be qualitative instead of quantitative: Descendant and IC, for example, are historically associated with more private, personal aspects of life and character than Ascendant and MC. In any case, it is clear that planets on any of these angles are drastically more expressive than planets not on an angle.

Other points act as secondary angles. "Secondary" primarily means that their orbs are very narrow, though exact contact probably produces as strong an effect as exact contact with the horizon or meridian. These secondary angles (1) are all points that are square (90° aspect) to the primary angles and (2) are all distinct astronomical points in their own right.
  • The Zenith & Nadir are the intersections of the meridian and prime vertical. Their celestial longitudes are exactly 90° from Ascendant and Descendant. Contact is measured in longitude. (When measured along the prime vertical or equator, they are simply MC and IC.) They have a strong effect within 2° and seem to drop off completely after 3°.
  • The Eastpoint & Westpoint are the intersections of the horizon, prime vertical, and celestial equator. These are effective along two measuring circles. First, they are exactly 90° from Midheaven and IC in right ascension, the framework in which they are correctly measured. (Points called Eastpoint and Westpoint portrayed in a horoscope are those ecliptical points with the same right ascension.) They have a strong effect within 2° and seem to drop off completely after 3°.
  • Additionally, the celestial longitudes of the actual Eastpoint and Westpoint are exactly 90° from MC and IC (along the ecliptic). This contact is measured in longitude. (When measured along the prime vertical, they are simply Asc and Dsc.) They have a viable effect within 2° and seem to drop off immediately after that.
Proximity to the prime vertical does not seem to have importance in t he same way as proximity to the horizon and meridian. The most compelling explanation for this is that the prime vertical is the framework within which the phenomenon of angularity is measured, so cannot, itself, be a variable in that exact phenomenon. It may have other characteristics not yet detected. The intersections of the ecliptic with the prime vertical are called Vertex and Antivertex. They keep drawing our attention, with an instinct that something worthwhile is there, and then do not stand up to close scrutiny. I suggest proximity to Vertex and Antivertex be measured mundanely (in azimuth), with an orb of no more than 3°.


(I need to harvest stuff from my older discussion of angularity frameworks, and add it here.)
http://solunars.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1496
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Astrological Structures: Angularity Variability

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:38 pm

While it is quite certain that angularity peaks exactly at the angles, it is less certain where expressiveness is least. It may even be that the structures are different for human and non-human astrology. In fact, I think this is the case.

Three theories present themselves: (1) The weakest/least expressive part of a quadrant is exactly mid-quadrant, 45° along the prime vertical past each angle. (2) The weakest/least expressive part of a quadrant is exactly at the cadent cusps, 30° along the prime vertical past each angle. (3) There is no "weakest spot." Instead, if a planet is not foreground, then it is not foreground, and therefore has no unusual voice arising from angularity.

Based on available evidence and experience, I think (1) and (2) are correct, depending on context. In order to make this clear, I have to vary from my decision not to discuss evidence in this particular thread.

IN MUNDANE CHARTS: The largest stable statistical examination of this issue is the Bradley et al. study of Jupiter and Venus angularity in Caplunars for maximum precipitation, one of the strongest studies of any kind in the history of science. This study unequivocally shows the weakest / least expressive points to be mid-quadrant. From this, I accept that the angularity / expressiveness curve to be a regular wave that peaks at the angles and troughs halfway between them.

IN NATIVITIES & RETURN CHARTS: However, other studies, much smaller but nonetheless competently performed (especially by Bradley in the early 1950s, but also small studies I've done over the years) show peaks at the angles and troughs at the cadent cusps in natal horoscopes and lunar returns. Accepting this evidence at face value, and seeing it confirmed in practice, I take this to be the correct pattern for charts pertaining to a specific individual.

The theoretical explanation for this is that something in the human psyche includes a factor of repressiveness that is an independent factor from the angularity expressiveness. (Knowing human nature, this isn't at all a strange idea.) The repressiveness curve would peak at the cadent cusp and trough half-way between them. Whichever of the expressiveness or repressiveness curves is stronger at a given point prevails and, when both are (say) above 50% in strength, they blend to produce a middling effect that is startlingly similar to statistical graphs produced by observed phenomenon.

As a practical working model based on the interplay of the independent expressiveness and repressiveness curves, and emphasizing that the true picture is a gradually rising and falling strength in these curves, I have offered the following working definitions that function well in practice in nativities and return charts: Foreground is 10° either side of horizon and meridian, or 20° out of every 90°. Background is from 10° before the cadent cusp to 10° before the succeedent cusp, or 30° out of every 90°. Middleground is what's left, meaning the middle third of cadent houses, and the area 10° before the succeedent cusps to 10° before the angular cusps, or 40° out of every 90°.

Notice that the background areas are mostly from the peak strength of the repressiveness curve, and partly from its intermingling with the weakness of the expressiveness curve.

A comewhat tedious discussion of fine points of this:
http://solunars.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=173#p1105

Mikestar13 offered a way to calculate a graduated angularity score based on this model:
http://solunars.com/viewtopic.php?f=15& ... 1105#p9905
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Astrological Structures: Aspects: Reference Circles

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:39 pm

I need to discuss three important topics concerning ASPECTS: (1) reference circles, (2) specific harmonics, and (3) orbs. This section addresses REFERENCE CIRCLES of ASPECTS.

Aspects may be defined as particular, astrologically meaningful geometrical relationships between the positions of two planets, that are deemed to dynamically connect the natures of the two bodies. This definition requires that we identify how to measure that geometrical relationship. Specifically, it requires that we identify the reference circle along which an angular separation can be measured.

Aspects appear to operate in terms of multiple reference circles, at least under some conditions. In most cases, this measurement occurs by projecting the two planets onto the reference circle, i.e., by dropping great circles through each body perpendicular to the measuring circle. To give a familiar example on the surface of Earth, instead of measuring the distance from Chicago to London by a direct route "as the crow flies" (3,952 miles, or 16% of Earth's circumference), aspect measurement is like finding the difference in the geographic longitudes of the two cities (0W10 to 87W39 = 87°29', or approximately one-fourth of the way around the globe).

One thing we know for sure: Aspects in celestial longitude (measured along the ecliptic) are valid. These are the foundation of most astrological work with aspects. Both experience and objective (statistical) assessment substantiates this. (John Nelson's work especially demonstrates their importance.) The ecliptic is our primary reference circle.

But it is not our only measuring circle. The prime vertical has proven nearly as important. In particular, mundane astrology (work with Sidereal solar and lunar ingresses) has shown beyond reasonable doubt that close-orbed Moon aspects along the prime vertical are valid independent of whether they are near the angles.

Also, aspects have seemed, at times, valid along other measuring circles, such as the equator (in right ascension) or the horizon (in azimuth). These, however, may not be aspects in the usual sense but, rather, a special case of co-angularity; for the only cases in which these have been well-demonstrated are aspects between two planets proximate to angles. For example, if one planet is on Midheaven and another on Eastpoint (two points defined explicitly in terms of the celestial equator), the precision of their square in right ascension often has been found much more exact than their square in longitude. The same is true of planets on the Vertex-Antivertex axis when their positions are measured in azimuth instead of longitude. But the same validity has not been observed in other RA or azimuth aspects that are away from the angles. Possibly, this simply has been missed so far, and will be found relevant in future investigations; but, based on evidence at hand, we can only attest to these aspect formations right at the angles measured in those frameworks, which means they may not actually be aspects but, rather, an artifact of co-angularity (such as timing based on the averaging, or "best fit" peak of their relationships to the angles).

Prime vertical aspects (also called mundoscope aspects or, simply, mundane aspects) have no such limitation, based on the validity of PV Moon aspects regardless of placement within a chart quadrant. I recommend any testing of RA or azimuth aspects follow the same path: Use Sidereal solar and lunar ingresses for testing, since there is no question of accuracy of "birth time," and concentrate on the extremely important Moon aspects as a starting point.

Mundane aspects may only be valuable in certain situations. This will be addressed in later sections below.

Other measuring circles that have been proposed include great circles vertical to the equator (measurements of declination) or horizon (measurements of altitude) for measuring one or another variety of parallel aspect. These appear to be invalid.

Parans are a special form of aspect. They are actually not as complicated as they usually are portrayed, and we don't really need this separate name for them. Parans (modern nickname for parantellonta), as used by contemporary astrologers, exist when two planets are simultaneously on some angle, and the geometric relationship between the two angles is a conjunction, opposition, or square in some framework; e.g., one planet rising and another culminating, making them 90° along the prime vertical. In other words, parans are simply ordinary mundane aspects where both planets are simultaneously angular.

Therefore, parans are a subset of the broader category of Co-Angularity. This is an aspect-like condition that exists when two planets are simultaneously on an angle, and can include cases where they don't actually have an aspect in the usual sense (e.g., one on Midheaven and one square Ascendant). It seems these should be treated much as if they are in aspect.

Another aspect-like condition is Mutual Reception, This occurs when each planet is in a constellation ruled by the other, e.g., Moon in Aquarius and Uranus in Cancer. Since each planet is then in a condition where it is being modified or conditioned by energies like those of the other planet, the effect is quite similar to the effect from them being in aspect. However, because sign placements (especially of outer planets) is weaker than that of aspects, the effect is less intense.

The one exception to the statement that measurement of aspects occurs by projecting the two planets onto the reference circle is the category some astrologers call "3D" aspects. These are measured along a great circle passing directly through the two planets, rather than "referring them" to another circle such as the ecliptic. This is like measuring the distance from Chicago to London "as the crow flies."

The idea is theoretically elegant and deserves attention. First, because most planets remain close to the ecliptic, the difference between 3D aspects and the familiar ecliptical aspects usually will be slight: One could have been mistaken for the other over time. I list it as a viable theory. However, I no longer have confidence in the theory: In a few dozen charts of people I know well, I concentrated on 3D aspects of Pluto (the planet that can move farthest from the ecliptic) and found many cases were a Pluto aspect existed in either 3D (direct grand circle) or longitude (ecliptic) but not the other. In nearly every case, the ecliptical measurement appeared to give the correct result, i.e., close ecliptical aspects of Pluto were singularly expressive, while close 3D Pluto aspects (without an ecliptical aspect) were not.
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Astrological Structures: Aspects: Specific Harmonics

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:40 pm

The astrological value (meaning) of an aspect expresses an interaction of the nature of the two planets, regardless of which aspect they form. This interaction of the two planets can be viewed in different ways, e.g., a co-existence and interrelationship of the needs corresponding to each planet, a "firing off" of the two circuits simultaneously, each planet modifying or conditioning the expression of the other, etc. Ultimately, these are all variants on the same idea, and likely will be valid approaches as long as they boil down to the co-expression or interaction of the two planetary ideas.

Nonetheless, once we understand the primary meaning of an aspect to be the co-expression of the two planets, we also find distinctions between different aspect types (different angular separations). The most obvious distinctions appear to group in families of aspects. The aspect families are based on the division of the whole circle by a prime number, and then the successive halving of that value one or more times, each halving representing a degradation of strength and simplicity of the aspect's expression.

We need to keep the greatest interpretive attention on the natures of the planets involved, not on the type of aspect Were it the other way around, we could argue that all planet pairs are in some sort of aspect at any time, and our job is to identify which aspect they might have - and interpret it accordingly. This doesn't match astrological experience with the aspects with which we are most familiar, and so likely doesn't match how other aspect types work.

This being so, the primary distinction is whether two planets are in aspect. (They have gradients of strength for those in aspect; but still, in practice, more like a light-switch that you punch to turn on-off, and turn to adjust intensity. Even though there is no absolute "off" setting, there do appear to be thresholds beyond which the drop-off is acute. In my model, this is the 50% threshold, where the strength of an aspect expresses the odds that it will manifest, so dropping from 51% to 49% strength means crossing a line between still more likely to manifest than not to not likely to manifest.)

While some meaningful connection theoretically could exist with any prime division of the circle, there comes a point where the practicality of a further "family" of aspects collapses because we start to lose distinction between whether a planet pair is "in aspect" or not. For example, 1/7 of the circle is 51.4°, not all that close to any other aspect; but 1/11 is 32.7°, and 1/13 is 27.7°, not only close to each other but close to the 30° aspect (semi-sextile) that may be of some importance. It would be absurd if aspects of 27.7°, 30°, and 32.7° all existed, even if they had only a 1° orb. This simply points out to us that there has to come a point where we stop defining further aspects!

Here are known aspect families, and what I believe are the distinctive characteristics of each. The divisors are all prime numbers.

Division by 1: 360°/1 = 360° = 0°. Theoretically this includes the CONJUNCTION (0°). I actually wonder if there is a "1 series," though, because aspects are measured by the angular separation between two great circles. The great circle (say, the circle of celestial longitude at right angles to the ecliptic) passing through a given planet wraps around the whole 360° of the celestial sphere and includes the opposition point on the opposite side. That is, if we measure the angular separation between two great circles, the conjunction and opposition appear to be the same aspect. (This doesn't mean we can't distinguish between one and the other half of the same great circle, but it does solve a few small technical problems.) Consider the conjunction as included in the next paragraph along with the opposition. [NOTE: In practice, conjunctions do seem to have more of a sense of identification, while oppositions often have more sense of one planet working on the other.]

Division by 2: 360°/2 = 180°. This is the OPPOSITION Family. This aspect set is also called hard aspects or dynamic aspects. They share the characteristics of dynamic action, incentive, and movement. The word "dynamic" broadly implies activity, force, energy, and change. These aspects seem more instinctual, direct, and impulse-driven. The CONJUNCTION (0°) and OPPOSITION (180°) are the first tier members of this family. The first degradation (first halving) produces the SQUARE (90°), which is nearly as strong and of similar character. A second degradation (second halving) produces the SEMI-SQUARE (45°) and SESQUI-SQUARE (135°) which are weaker, but still quite important, and of a similar nature (but perhaps having a more discernible friction, or drag against resistance, than the square). Some astrologers, especially of German schools, apply a third degradation to the 22.5° series: I have seen this operative in Solar Arc directions and Secondary Progressions with very tiny orbs, but firmly dismiss them in natal charts: The second degradation appears to be the effective drop-off point in natal astrology.

NOTE: While another name for the semi-square is the octile (one-eighth), and for the sesqui-square the tri-octile (three times one-eighth), I question the need to distinguish between their names at all. There is no interpretive value to be gained, and the problem becomes much more complicated as we move through later aspect families. I propose calling both of these aspects "octile," which we understand to be short for "a member of the octile family." (This solves several linguistic awkwardnesses.)

Division by 3: 360°/3 = 120°. This is the TRINE Family. This aspect set is also called soft aspects or static aspects. They share the characteristics of placidity, quietness, stillness, and a lack of visible change. For example, in natal astrology they portray a status quo in the personality where a person naturally is disinclined to change or move. These aspect manifestations seem more structure-bound within the personality and often intellectual, so they may be specifically structures within the rational-cognitive part of the psyche which is more complexly architected and less instinctual. The TRINE (120°) is the first tier member of this family. The first degradation (first halving) produces the SEXTILE (60°), which is nearly as strong and of similar character. A second degradation (second halving) produces a 30° series which, aside from other aspects already identified, adds the third tier SEMI-SEXTILE (30°) and QUINCUNX (150°). These already seem extremely weak and of questionable value: Since third tier aspects in other families seem strong, the likely explanation of the weakness in this case is that the static, unmoving quality of this family has become so frozen and entrenched at this level as to be effectively immobile. Understandably, ancient astrologers termed these two aspects inconjunct or no aspect. Occasionally they seem more like anti-aspects, their presence showing disjunction between two planets, even a sense of alienation of one from the other.

Division by 5: 360°/5 = 72°. This is the QUINTILE Family. Members of this aspect set represent functions of the psyche that unfold as self-actualization (in the Maslow sense) and deeper spiritual unfolding/disclosure occurs, or genius unfurls, and, therefore, are of no interest or value in the vast majority of horoscopes. The QUINTILE (72°) and BIQUINTILE (144°) are the first tier members of this family. (I don't know that they need separate names: "quintile" serves them both.) The first degradation (first halving) produces the DECILE (36°), which is nearly as strong and of similar character. A second degradation to the 18° series appears to be valid for the highly specialized purposes of this aspect family. (The best way to observe these is a 5th harmonic chart, in which conjunctions, oppositions, and squares represent the three tiers, and orbs are instinctual.) A more thorough study of this series is here: http://solunars.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=301#p1981

Division by 7: 360°/7 = 51°26.7'. This is the SEPTILE Family. I have not been able to discern a distinctive characteristic of this family, even though I have theories, and even though I have motivation since my own Sun and Moon are in triseptile aspect. (It arguably would be a defining theme in my life.) My theories center around one-seventh being the basis of a series of irrational numbers, but I have no evidence that this is relevant, or what it would mean in practice. (Some astrologers credit these aspects with an inspirational or other-worldly character, which I find nearly as obscure. John Addey, from his Harmonics research, characterized it as having a "repressive and disturbing" character, but with more concrete details that don't hold up. Dane Rudhyar theorized that it gives an "anti-social predisposition" that "tends to escape from collective constraints." I have insufficient evidence to substantiate either of these.) The SEPTILE (51.4°), BISEPTILE (102.9°), and TRISEPTILE (154.3°) are the first tier members of this family. (The best way to observe these is a 7th harmonic chart.)

Beyond this point, there seems no reason to explore further families. The Septile family seems not understood at all. Division of the circle by 11 and 13 produce aspects of 32.7° and 27.7°, respectively, which are so close to a semi-sextile that they provide little or no opportunity for two planets to be out of aspect. We seem to have hit our practical limitation. Most of the TIME, we will only find practical value in the Opposition and Trine series.

On the other hand, there are highly specialized situations where micro-aspects have proven useful. John Nelson's work comes immediately to mind, in which we descended to at least the 22.5° and 15° multiples and maybe further to refine his techniques of sunspot and solar flare formation. Obviously, the orbs in such instances are negligible, and a raw geometric mechanics of the universe is evidently in play with little or no planet-distinctive characterization.

NOTE: There is a kind of exception, outside framework of the above. Siderealists have widely embraced the validity of either the Novien or Navamsa sub-chart, a form of 9th harmonic. Hard aspects in these are often given considerable importance. To get all conjunctions, oppositions, and squares in the Novien or Navamsa, one can simply look at all 10°-multiples. The orbs for these, however, are quite small, one-ninth the orbs in a nativity; generally under 0°40'. I suspect that most impressive examples of semi-sextiles and quincunxes are actually simply 10° multiples.
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Astrological Structures: Aspects: Orbs

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:40 pm

ASPECT ORBS begin nowhere exactly, and build to a peak strength at the point they are exact. Planet pairs move rhythmically in and out of aspect - the measurement of their interaction we call their aspectivity - rising from no connection through increased connection to maximum connection, then down the other side of the slope.

I see this variability in aspect strength as measurable with a sine wave. Bradley thought this also, until late in his life, and then switched his thinking to a different kind of wave. I stick with the sine wave shape because (as I will document below) it shows the same strength thresholds that we have long observed in practice.

If aspects occurred every 30°, the curve would be obvious: 100% aspect strength when exact, 0% strength at 15° away. (It can't be any further, because then you would be overlapping a different aspect.) This does seem to be approximately the curve for the major aspects, with a tweak or two along the way.

I take aspect strength to reflect the probability an aspect will decisively manifest. Thus, in going form 0% to 100% strength, a score of 50 means that there is a 50% chance of a manifestation. That is, closer than this threshold makes it more likely than not of a result. (A score of 90 means a 90% chance it shows. A score of 99% means a virtual certainty. Etc.)

Aspect orbs are functionally different in different contexts. The widest ones are in natal charts. I think this is simply a matter of one's whole lifetime being a broader framework for subtleties to emerge and develop, and for quieter trends to become obvious. These variations will be discussed in later sections below. Functionally, this present discussion refers to a natal chart, and then will narrow from there.

I recommend Bradley's tactic of listing aspects in three groups according to orb. He recommended 0-3°, 3-6°, and 6-9°. I have tweaked these a little, and have called these Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 aspects, respectively. We can also call them (respectively) close, moderate (or no adjective), and wide. (One could also tabulate Class 4 and Class 5, but it seems pointless since, most of the time, we don't even read Class 3.)

One substantiation of this breakdown, other than convenience, is that statistical studies of aspects keep showing optimum results with orbs in the 3-4° range. This, of course, is a collective (aggregate) effect, not a final orb for individuals' horoscopes; but it does mark a significant threshold.

For sextiles, squares, and trines, I retain the plus-minus 15° curve. For conjunctions and oppositions, the larger gap between them and the next main aspect, plus observation of them in practice, led me to widen the base to a plus-minus 20° curve. (There is a theoretical justification for making this 22.5°, though the resulting larger orbs no longer match observation.) After doing this, practice suggested I narrow the trine and sextile orbs slightly. These are all micro-judgement calls, and you might want to assess them differently. In fact, until you develop your own experience base, I suggest you start with Bradley's original cut-off recommendations of 3°, 6°, and 9°.

For the record, here are my thresholds for Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 aspect groupings:
Conjunction & opposition 4°, 7°, 10°
Square 3°, 6°, 7.5°
Sextile & Trine 3°, 5°, 7.5°

Other aspects surely have their own tight little strength curves, quite acute, though I haven't attempted to graph these. For octiles, I use 1° for Class 1, 2° for Class 2, and don't bother with a Class 3. For quintile series, use 1/5 of the orbs above (or just do a 5th harmonic chart and apply the orbs for the major aspects listed above).

The 10° multiples that arise out of the Navamsa/Novien method have 1/9 the orbs of the major aspects in order to produce the same conjunction, opposition, or square in the 9th harmonic. One-ninth of a 7° orb is 0°47', one-ninth of 6° is 0°40'. Class 1 aspects in this series are within about half that.

In watching aspects, we can see certain thresholds. For example, partile aspects (those within 1°) have something magical about them. Another obvious threshold is about 3°, then about 6°, then the drop-off. (Extend these slightly for conjunctions and opposition to their Class-distinction thresholds.) These thresholds are well described by the behavior of the sine curve in measuring their strength.

An effect becomes more likely than not when it is 50% likely to manifest. Based on the sine wave scaled for sextiles, trines, and squares, a 50% threshold is at 7.5°, which is where I put my most extreme, outermost practical orb for these aspects. An interesting 75% threshold (half the strength above the 50% baseline) falls at 5°00 (Fagan's preferred "one pentade" orb). Looking toward that magical 3° cutoff point, which easily marks Class 1 aspects (and is both the aggregate or statistically-visible threshold in every study known to me, and the aggregate or collective impact level usually seen as practical in mundane astrology), we find a score of 90% - 90% likely to manifest - at 3°09'.

A score rounding to 99% marks the partile threshold; or, to be exact, 0°58'. The lowest score to round to 100% (reaches 99.5%) is at 0°41'.

These entirely make sense in terms of what we actually see happening in astrology.

When we widen the base for conjunctions and oppositions, we get proportionately similar results that continue to make sense:

50% at 10°00' (the farthest I go in extremis for a conjunction or opposition)
75% at 6°40' (I use 7° to demarcate Class 2 for these aspects)
90% at 4°05' (I use 4° as my cut-off for Class 1 oppositions or conjunctions)
99% at 1°17' (essentially the partile spot)
100% at 0°54' (essentially partile also)
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Astrological Structures in a Natal Horoscope

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:40 pm

THE PLANETS
In all areas of astrological practice, the same planets highlighted above seem operative.

THE CONSTELLATIONS
The zodiacal constellations are fully operative in natal horoscopes. Of all sign placements, those of Sun and Moon are clearly the most important, as well as any constellation that has (say) four or more planets. Behind these, the constellation of Mars is next in importance, as a fast planet substantially independent of Sun's position and associated with strongly egoic energies.

Other sign placements are technically valid, though of dramatically lesser importance. From Jupiter outward, the farther a planet is from Sun (the longer it spends in a given sign), the less its placement distinguishes the individual from other people in his or her formative community. Mercury and Venus placements are limited by Sun's placement and do seem to be meaningful for areas of life associated with the particular planet (Mercury or Venus), but do not form a part of the character core.

Planets on angles seem more likely to express themselves in terms of the constellation they occupy.

THE ANGLES
In all areas of astrological practice, the Angles (including minor angles) form the mundane framework of planetary expressiveness, as outlined above.

With regard to inexpressiveness, the complex two-curve model described above for nativities and return charts (expressiveness + repressiveness curves) applies. The point of least expressiveness in each quadrant is the cadent cusp.

THE ASPECTS: Reference Circles
Aspects are clearly operative zodiacally. This is the primary framework for identifying aspects.

Preliminary evidence suggests that mundane aspects (measured along the prime vertical) may be effective natally as well. This requires much more study to determine. I have more conviction that changes in mundane aspects are perceptible between birthplace and a new geographic location.

It seems clear that mundane aspects on or near the angles are valid. This may be an aspect effect, or it may be a variety of co-angularity. Other reference circles may also have value for measuring aspects, and have not yet been sufficiently researched.

THE ASPECTS: Specific Harmonics
The full range of aspects discussed above are effective within natal horoscopes, though some of the higher harmonics may not be relevant for all people.

In general, the Opposition Family to the third tier (Conjunction, Opposition, Square, Octile) and the Trine Family to the second tier (Trine, Sextile) are the important ones in a nativity. Others may be incorporated on their own terms as needed.

THE ASPECTS: Orbs
In natal charts all three classes of aspects are operative. As a point of practice, one usually would begin with Class 1 (plus Class 2 luminary aspects) and add layers only as needed. Generally, Class 1 aspects (plus Class 2 luminary aspects) help frame the primary energies of a chart, and Class 2 are quite operative and an important part of the character. Class 3 aspects may rarely be read, though they are valid at least as supplemental or nuance traits.


SUMMARY
For natal charts, we use pretty much everything. The most expansive rules of practice were created with natal charts in mind. Nativities have the fullest opportunity to develop fully, incorporating even subtle traits, and the most opportunity to experience these subtlties.
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Astrological Structures in Transits & Progressions

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:41 pm

THE PLANETS
In all areas of astrological practice, the same planets highlighted above seem operative.

THE CONSTELLATIONS
Zodiacal constellations seem to have, at most, a minor role in Secondary Progressions. Usually, it is possible to see a shift in life themes during the two-to-three years progressed Moon is in a given constellation. Shifts of other planets into a new sign may be evident when they happen, or may be identifiable as broadly long-term trends when viewed across the course of their duration.

On the other hand, it is quite specifically not evident that the signs of progressed planets act as if they were replacement or overlay signs with respect to the natal chart. (If this would otherwise, Siderealists would likely all think they really did fit their Tropical Sun-sign better - since that the Sidereal placement their progressed Sun would be throughout three very important decades of their life.)

Transiting planets' sign placements come under the heading of Mundane Astrology. See below for this.

THE ANGLES
In all areas of astrological practice, the Angles (including minor angles) form the mundane framework of planetary expressiveness, as outlined above.

THE ASPECTS: Reference Circles
Transiting and progressed aspects are clearly operative zodiacally. This is the primary framework for identifying them.

Aspects from transits or progressions in other frameworks are more questionable. There is interest in (but little research regarding) paran transits. Transiting and progressed aspects in other frameworks than ecliptical have barely been explored.

THE ASPECTS: Specific Harmonics
Progressions employ the full range of aspects discussed above. Even more subtle ones might be considered because of the slowness of progressed planet movement so that the presence of progressed aspects are rarer, e.g., including Trine Family third tier (semi-sextile, quincunx) and Opposition Family fourth tier (22.5° series). Nonetheless, the conjunctions, oppositions, and squares will stand out dramatically from the rest.

Progressions include the Trine Family because they are not just about events. Progressions refer to incidents in the life, those passages that represent unfolding of intrinsic patterns inherent in the original patterning, whereas transits represent accidents, or active intersections with the environment.

Transits employ only the Opposition Family (down to third tier: Conjunction, Opposition, Square, Octile). This bias is because these are the aspects that actualize action and movement ("events," lit. out-comes). Trines and sextiles may operate in purely psychological ("no action, no event") ways, but this is usually so subtle as to question its usability. The one study where trine and sextile transiting aspects shined was a study of suicides, a condition marked by psychological sense of conviction there will be no change; and this may give some further insight on how to occasionally apply Trine Family aspects for transits.

THE ASPECTS: Orbs
Transits and progressions rely on partile orbs (1° or less). With progressions, the drop-off is quite acute outside this orb.

For transits, there is sometimes a softer start-stop for two reasons: (1) If a transiting aspect occurs in the foreground of a solar or lunar return, it has a much more generous orb, at least to 3° and commonly to 5°. (2) Due to retrogradation, an effect has been observed (especially with slow, outer planets) where the entire effect of a transit is in force from the first time it enters a 1° orb until the final time it exits this. However, within that longer time, the acute periods will be when it is partile and, especially, when it is exact.


SUMMARY
Transits and progressions rely primarily on partile aspects, especially dynamic aspects. The other factors somewhat support them, but understanding their aspects are the main points.
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Astrological Structures in Solunar Returns

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:41 pm

THE PLANETS
In all areas of astrological practice, the same planets highlighted above seem operative.

THE CONSTELLATIONS
Sign placements are probably irrelevant in solar and lunar returns. Occasionally a position may seem relevant - an extra theme may light up or be clarified by understanding a sign context. Generally, though, this is not the case.

For example, I've seen no evidence that Moon's sign in a Sidereal Solar Return is in some fashion a new Moon-sign for the year, or a substantial setting of new themes. Even in years when an afflicted SSR Moon is indicative of health problems, Moon's sign does not seem to particularize those health issues the way that natal or progressed Moon would do.

THE ANGLES
In all areas of astrological practice, the Angles (including minor angles) form the mundane framework of planetary expressiveness, as outlined above.

With regard to inexpressiveness, the complex two-curve model described above for nativities and return charts (expressiveness + repressiveness curves) applies. The point of least expressiveness in each quadrant is the cadent cusp.

THE ASPECTS: Reference Circles
Aspects in solar and lunar returns are clearly operative zodiacally. It seems certain that mundane (prime vertical) aspects are also valid, at least for the interaction of foreground planets. (This includes foreground natal planets which, however, must have precession deleted before their prime vertical / mundoscope positions are calculated.)

My current standard practice is to consider zodiacal and mundane aspects indifferently in solar and lunar returns (now that we have the right tools to do the correct calculations). If two planets are in aspect both ways, then their orb is the smaller orb of the two.

THE ASPECTS: Specific Harmonics
Sidereal solar returns, using the "Read Twice" technique, act just like new natal charts on the first read. For this first pass, aspects work exactly as they do in a natal chart.

For lunar returns, plus solar returns on the second read, only Opposition Series aspects are used(Conjunction, Opposition, and Squares; and, in a more retrained way, Octiles). The available aspects often is limited because focus is on foreground planets, and e.g. octiles rarely exist between these.

THE ASPECTS: Orbs
Solunar returns use no more than Class 2 orbs, with particular emphasis on Class 1.

A rule-of-thumb of about a 5° maximum has often been suggested. If one relies primarily on Class 1 aspects, and occasionally stretches to fill in, one will usually stop including new information before 5°.


SUMMARY
Solar and lunar returns are primarily "angles and aspects" charts - the heaviest reliance is on angles to determine operative factors, and conjunctions, oppositions, and squares within the return chart and between its planets and the natal planets.

Solar returns have some flexibility beyond this in a "first read" scenario, where they are seen like new natals. Having a full year to develop seems to give them extra latitude for subtleties.
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Astrological Structures in Mundane Astrology

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:41 pm

THE PLANETS
In all areas of astrological practice, the same planets highlighted above seem operative.

THE CONSTELLATIONS
The zodiacal constellations are fully operative in mundane astrology. Of all sign placements, those of the outermost planets are clearly the most important, defining years-long trends. This is especially true of Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus. Saturn and Jupiter often give the most distinctive stamp to a given year.

Mars' passages are often harder to see unless Mars is retrograde and, thus, spends many months in one constellation.

Sign placements are probably irrelevant in solar and lunar ingresses (other than to determine the time of the ingress). Occasionally, a placement will seem relevant, though this might be selective perception. It particularly does not seem true that (for example) the Capsolar's Moon-sign is a distinctive characterization of the year for which the Capsolar is the Master Chart.

THE ANGLES
In all areas of astrological practice, the Angles (including minor angles) form the mundane framework of planetary expressiveness, as outlined above.

With regard to inexpressiveness, the simple one-curve model described above for mundane charts applies. The point of least expressiveness in each quadrant is the exact center of the quadrant.

THE ASPECTS: Reference Circles
Aspects in solar and lunar returns are clearly operative zodiacally and mundanely (prime vertical), with no preference of one over the other.

THE ASPECTS: Specific Harmonics
For sidereal solar and lunar ingresses, use only Opposition Family aspects to Tier 2 (Conjunction, Opposition, Square).

For mutual aspects of transiting planets, all the aspects work (at least in the Opposition & Trine Families) that work in a natal chart, though emphasis on conjunctions, oppositions, and squares is foremost, and on trines or sextiles that supplement concurrent dynamic aspects.

THE ASPECTS: Orbs
In solar and lunar ingresses, use only Class 1 orbs.

For aspects in space (transit-to-transit aspects), this is more relaxed - a psychological effect can often be seen coming and going within roughly Class 1 orbs - but concentrated and visible manifestations are generally when the aspects are in partile orb.


SUMMARY
Solar and lunar ingresses, and the quotidians of solar ingresses, are "angles and aspects" charts, relying is on angles to determine operative factors, and conjunctions, oppositions, and squares to show the action. All of the interpretive guides for these charts are crafted to focus on factors that distinguish a specific locale from others.

Outside of the ingress model, slow planet sign placements and aspects show longer and more trends, not attached to a particular location.
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Astrological Structures for Beginners

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:42 am

We don't have to use every tool in the toolbox from the start. Sidereal astrology has the benefit that beginners can get strikingly accurate results very fast because we have a clear sense of priority, i.e., of which factors warrant the most attention. This allows us to teach what I've sometimes called the White Lie model of astrology: We slightly fib about what's so, in order to get the beginner to work in a particular, narrow way with confidence.

I have posted the full story - what I believe to be the complete truth about astrology - in the posts above. This post will give a compressed version through which I will drizzle white lies. I strongly encourage all beginners to start with this approach to natal chart analysis (which is roughly what I put in The New Instant Astrologer in 1977).


THE PLANETS
Astrology's primary motive forces are embodied in the PLANETS. In psychological language, these are especially expressions of fundamental needs and other primitive energies. The planets comprises Sun, Moon, and the eight planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

THE CONSTELLATIONS
Placement of Sun and Moon in the constellations ae astrologically meaningful. The rest are not presently worth your bother. Focus on Sun-sign and Moon-sign.

THE ANGLES
The primary framework for determining planetary expressiveness are the ANGLES; specifically, proximity of each planet to the horizon or meridian.

It is better if you can measure this mundanely. If you can't do it yourself, feel free to ask us for mundoscope positions that show how close the planets really are to the angles. Concentrate on which planets are closest to the horizon and meridian, particularly within about 7°; don't go past 10°, and give more emphasis to whichever planets are closest.

Of similar importance are planets square Ascendant and Midheaven within 2°. Also, if you can, add the Eastpoint to the chart - you shouldn't be without it - and take planets within 2-3° of the Eastpoint or its opposite point.

ANGULAR VARIABILITY
Planets away from the angles are less expressive - seem less strong, possibly more blocked - especially if they are close to the cadent cusps or in the middle of the quadrant.

THE ASPECTS: Reference Circles
Aspects are measured along the ecliptic (the zodiac). There are also implied aspects (parans) whenever two planets are on angles at the same time, especially if they're about the same distance on the same side of the angles.

THE ASPECTS: Specific Harmonics
The meaning of an aspect is discovered in the meanings of the planets forming it. Of the five valid aspects, the conjunction, opposition, and square are strongest, having a particularly dynamic energy. Trines and sextiles appear weaker, and are more supportive, less energetic. You can especially regard them as adjectives and adverbs to any conjunctions, oppositions, or squares they touch.

THE ASPECTS: Orbs
Several factors determine aspect strength (or kinds of strength). If Sun or Moon is involved, the aspect is more descriptive of your basic nature. Conjunctions, oppositions, and squares are more dynamic than trines and sextiles.

Within this, the primary way to determine which aspects have the most energy of their own is in how small their orbs are. Aspects are at their maximum strength when exact, and then weaken as they are farther from being exact (on both sides, coming and going: larger orbs).

Closer is stronger. Wider is weaker. Look at conjunctions and oppositions within 7°, and prefer them within 3-4°. Look at squares within 6°, and prefer them within 3°. Look at trines and sextiles within 3°. Don't worry about any aspect if only unless Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, or Mars is one of the planets.
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Re: Astrological Structures

Post by Jim Eshelman » Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:19 pm

I have written (crudely, I fear) the first post on this thread. You can now see what this is all about.

I've also now started working on some of the individual entries.
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Re: Astrological Structures

Post by Jupiter Sets at Dawn » Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:14 pm

Jim Eshelman wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:19 pm
I have written (crudely, I fear) the first post on this thread. You can now see what this is all about.
This is exciting.
Astrological grammar. If you know the grammar of a language, you have the structure and can translate it without needing to know the meaning of the nouns or verbs. You can look those up in a dictionary.

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Re: Astrological Structures

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:34 pm

The two angularity sections are done. Now, on to the three aspects sections.
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Re: Astrological Structures

Post by mikestar13 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:38 pm

Jim Eshelman wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:19 pm
I have written (crudely, I fear) the first post on this thread. You can now see what this is all about.

I've also now started working on some of the individual entries.
If this is crude, I fear having my mind blown by something Jim would consider elegant! The series is off to a great start.
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Re: Astrological Structures

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:35 pm

Done. At least for this pass. It will evolve over time (if in no other sense than sane rewrite).
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Re: Astrological Structures

Post by mikestar13 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:34 pm

Jim this is by far the best summary I've read--and I've done a lot of reading in over forty years. When its's fully written please pin it to make it easy for noobs to find.

I have a very mild disagreement with you about the significance of Mercury and Venus constellations in natal astrology, especially if in a different constellation than the Sun. Though I would rank them behind the luminaries and Mars constellations, I still find them quite useful. My own chart is an example: my Moon-Mercury conjunction across the Aries-Pisces boundary. Now were Mercury also in Aries, the way my mind works and my consequent way I express myself would be palpably different.
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Re: Astrological Structures

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:22 pm

Yes, the way your mind works and how you express yourself... These are exactly the things that would be different. But that's not central to your character. They are your accessories.

That's what I meant to convey.
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Re: Astrological Structures

Post by mikestar13 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:59 pm

Jim Eshelman wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:22 pm
Yes, the way your mind works and how you express yourself... These are exactly the things that would be different. But that's not central to your character. They are your accessories.

That's what I meant to convey.
On this I can fully agree.
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Re: Astrological Structures

Post by Jupiter Sets at Dawn » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:19 pm

I hope when this takes final form it will include a mention the Sidereal Constellations are not the same as the astronomical constellations, and shouldn't be confused with them.

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Re: Astrological Structures

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:07 am

Jupiter Sets at Dawn wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:19 pm
I hope when this takes final form it will include a mention the Sidereal Constellations are not the same as the astronomical constellations, and shouldn't be confused with them.
OK. I added a note. (It's hard to include every caveat in every post that touches on a subject, so this is probably a good reminder.)
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