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The Role of the Least-aspected Planet in Astrocartography. New Insights Into the Spirit of Place


by Robert Couteau


A New Look at Planetary Symbolism in Astrocartography and Transcendental Astrology


What is Transcendental Astrology? Why have so many of those responsible for cultural, historical or creative contributions lived near the line of their Primary Transcendental Planet? What is the significance of a Transcendental Midpoint-Field? How is a Transcendental Planet defined, and why is its significance so crucial in the life of the native? How does the Transcendental Energy manifest in psychological functions or in temperamental traits? What role do Transcendental Planets play in precisely-timed historical events, and why has their function never been noticed by astrologers in the past? Can anyone benefit by relocating to the vicinity of their Primary or Secondary Transcendental Planet?

Meaningful planetary placements: A brief history

"Fame is a measure of outwardly realizing a great inner potential for success." To the extent that this statement is true, we are left to wonder why some realize their potential for achievement — and attain the fame or notoriety which sometimes accompanies it — while others do not, even though they may endure just as noteworthy a struggle to accomplish their goals.

The thesis put forward in The Role of the Least-aspected Planet In Astrocartography attempts to answer this question, at least from one unique perspective. Relocation astrology — the art of casting a horoscope not for the true place of birth, but rather, for a desired location — is probably almost as old as astrology itself. Yet two events in very recent history have significantly altered this method of inquiry. With the statistically verifiable researches of Michel Gauquelin, astrology gained a secure foothold on the path to recognition as a scientifically meaningful pursuit. By studying planetary positions as they occurred during the births of high-achievers culled from the Who's Who?, Gauquelin found a higher than average placement of certain planets consistently placed in certain positions. These positions were the compass-like "four points" of the traditional zodiac: the Ascendant or the degree of the zodiac rising at the eastern horizon at the moment of birth; the Midheaven or degree of local apparent noon; the Descendant or point opposite the Ascendant, where the setting Sun appears; and the Imum Coeli or "bottom of the sky"; the point directly opposite the Midheaven and corresponding to the position of the Sun at local apparent midnight. At the moment of a person's birth the planets are positioned somewhere between these four points, as visualized from our location on the earth. What Gauquelin discovered is that the points signified by these four compass-like demarcations are actually meaningful; that high-achievers are born when certain planets are in close proximity to one or more of these points. His work (originally undertaken to disprove astrology) thus reaffirmed the significance that traditional astrology has placed upon these four fundamental "portals" of the human psyche.

Jim Lewis, an astrologer with considerable computer-programming skills, designed a software program which uniquely combined a person's birth data with the image of a world map.

In the late 1970s, Jim Lewis, an astrologer with considerable computer-programming skills, designed a software program which uniquely combined a person's birth data with the image of a world map. Superimposed on the world map were a series of curving and vertical lines, representing the planets in their rising, setting, Midheaven an Imum Coeli positions. Thus, a "bell curve"-like line might represent Venus, seen in its rising or Ascendant position, curving over Western Europe. A vertical line drawn over the U.S. might show the same planet in a noontime or Midheaven position, illustrating how, at that moment, Venus was simultaneously in its apparent noon position over several midwestern states. Jim Lewis's software accomplished in minutes what before would have taken many months to calculate. In addition to assisting the technical work of relocation astrologers, Lewis theorized that the traditional symbolism assigned to a particular planet would somehow manifest in the native's life when he or she travelled to places touched by these planetary lines. A location with Venus rising at the moment of a native's birth might, years later, have a significant effect on the native's romantic life if he were to travel through that locale or meet someone who was born there; while a country crossed by a Mercury line might enhance his or her "everyday interactions" with the "common people" — qualities traditionally ruled by each respective planet. Lewis's book, Astro*Carto*Graphy, published in 1980, contains the "astrocartography" or mundane maps of over 100 famous people. Along with author Ariel Guttman, Lewis briefly discusses the patterns of the planetary lines of each person in question, citing the traditional symbolism associated with the planets to show how such planetary lines may have affected their lives.

Over ten years later, in the early 1990s, while living in Paris and researching the lives of people who had made significant artistic or cultural contributions, I began using astrocartography maps in my own biographical studies. I found that Lewis's A*C*G software provided an important pioneering tool, and in many ways it seemed the logical, visual follow-up to Gauquelin's revolutionary breakthrough in biographical research. But there remained one rather large, puzzling question raised by these astrolocality maps: why so many successful people had achieved success in one particular location and not in another. Where was the unifying principle differentiating locations of "success" from locales of "disaster"? In the astrolocality map of the paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin, for example, Teilhard's research near his Pluto Midheaven line in China led to the discovery of Peking Man. Yet in another map, we see that Amelia Earhart's Pluto was setting precisely above the locale where she disappeared — north of Lae, New Guinea — and where she was reportedly held prisoner, in Saipan. Why was Teilhard's Pluto such an important, positive indicator; and why was Earhart's Pluto location so negative and destructive?

Instead of using the maps to "explain" the subjects, I began by searching for key transformative locations in the biographies of such famous or noteworthy personalities. Beginning with biographies with which I had already gained some familiarity, I soon discovered a principle linking astrolocality patterns in the lives of significant "culture bearers." Michelangelo's Venus over Florence; F. Scott Fitzgerald's Pluto over France; Princess Grace's Mercury over Monaco; Arthur Rimbaud's Pluto over Charleville; Madame Blavatsky's Neptune over Tibet; Charlie Chaplin's Sun over Hollywood; — I found that all shared a singular astrological principal in common.

Transcendental Planets

In each of the above we have well-known examples of locations which proved to be crucial regarding the achievements, discoveries, development or recognition of the person in question. Knowing this in advance, I calculated maps for each of these subjects to see which planetary lines would be found above the locations in question. Finding the planets was the easy part — in each case there was at least one planet in the "key" location. The next, more difficult question was, why this particular planet?

The answer involved such a basic tenet of astrology that I might have easily overlooked it: the planet corresponding to a key location in the life of the person in question was the least-aspected planet in that native's birth chart. For those uninitiated in the fundamentals of astrology, all this means is that the planet involved had few of the significant "mathematical relationships" or special positions in stellar degrees traditionally deemed meaningful in relation to the other planets. In astrology, we call these meaningful relationships of degree aspects. Thus, this "least-aspected" planet had few of the major aspects, minor aspects, or aspects to the Ascendant or Midheaven routinely analyzed in natal chart interpretation.

In traditional astrology, the less aspected a planet, the less "tied-in" are the life-energies represented by that planet to the other planetary energies. An underaspected planet is thought to represent a sort of free-floating, unintegrated aspect of the psyche. Bearing this in mind, I have referred to this especial planet as the Transcendental Planet, as in astrolocality it forms a vital link between the more consciously developed energies, represented by the most-aspected planets, and the more unconscious, inaccessible, or mysterious elements of the self represented by the underaspected planet or planets. Thus, the Transcendental Planet forms a bridge between the customary mode of psychic functioning — which we learn to rely upon but which often becomes stale because of this reliable, predictable nature — and the vital springs of the dormant, potential personality, which lie untapped and yet remain fecund, possessing enormous unconscious potential.

The Primary Transcendental Planet

Using astrolocality maps similar to those created by Jim Lewis's A*C*G software, then, we see that this least-aspected planet — what we have coined for our purpose the Primary Transcendental Planet — reveals global locations of special importance to the native. In my initial study, using only clean, reliable birth data — rated "AA", "A," or "B"1 and provided by the renowned data-researcher Lois M. Rodden in her book, Astro-Data II — I discovered a reoccurring phenomenon in the astrolocality of my subjects. Many were born in close proximity to their Primary Transcendental Planet, while those who were not born in this Primary Location often travelled or relocated to the vicinity of their Primary Transcendental Planet and there had a "Transcendental experience." They either underwent a crucial developmental experience (John F. Kennedy's PT-109 adventure in the Solomon Islands, under his Primary Transcendental Sun; Victor Hugo's childhood travels to Elba and Naples, near the line of his Primary Neptune); made a crucial contact (Grace Kelly in Monaco, under Primary Transcendental Mercury; John Lennon's introduction to Paul McCartney in Liverpool, under Primary Transcendental Sun; Liv Ullmann's chance encounter with Ingmar Bergman on a street in Stockholm, under Primary Transcendental Saturn); created a significant body of work or achieved great fame and recognition for their efforts (Pablo Picasso in Paris, under Primary Transcendental Sun; Michelangelo in Florence, under Primary Transcendental Venus; Simone de Beauvoir in France, under Primary Transcendental Saturn; Charlie Chaplin in Hollywood, under Primary Transcendental Sun; Catherine the Great in Moscow and St. Petersburg, under Primary Transcendental Mercury; Auguste Rodin in Paris, under Primary Transcendental Jupiter).

The difference between the underaspected planet and the Transcendental Planet

As the following studies will illustrate, by combining Gauquelin's findings with astrolocality and in-depth biographical research with an analysis of the Primary Transcendental Planet, a new understanding emerges. The "underaspected" planet is not merely an unintegrated, or "on-off" toggle-like expression of energy (as it is traditionally described). Instead, when experienced through relocation as a Transcendental Energy, it may become a primary motivational factor in the lives of highly accomplished people. When thus Transcendental, the traditional qualities associated with the rulership of the planet in question manifest in the forefront of the personality and professional life. Again, birth, travel or relocation under the line of the Primary Transcendental Planet, the Secondary Transcendental, ... the Transcendental Planet is qualitatively different than the underaspected planet ... or the Transcendental Midpoint-Field formed between the two seems to be an essential factor in "turning on" or "triggering" the underaspected planetary energy. As we shall see, the Primary Location often points the way to "fated" encounters yielding larger social, cultural or historical dimensions. Indeed, the transpersonal nature of the Transcendental planetary energy signifies a collective psychic participation or origination of the energies in question (in a manner somewhat similar to the "archetypal" or collective unconscious spoken about by the Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung). For all these reasons then, the Transcendental Planet is qualitatively different than the underaspected planet, which is in effect merely a mechanical gauge that measures the Transcendental potential of the planetary energy. The Transcendental Planet is by its nature "underaspected" or more "highly concentrated" than the other planetary energies, but on the other hand the underaspected planet is not necessarily considered Transcendental. While the underaspected planet signifies the potential for a Transcendental experience, such an experience is not guaranteed: only physical relocation to the Transcendental Location will determine whether the underaspected planet will emerge into consciousness as a Transcendental factor. The least-aspected planet thus becomes psychically activated when, through birth or relocation, the native is placed within the path of its geographic proximity.

Once activated, the underaspected planet is no longer merely a symbol for dormant energies but it is now considered Transcendental and is experienced as a singular guiding principle within the life of the native. This, then, is the essential difference between the underaspected planet and the Transcendental Planet. The dormant state of planetary energy found in the merely underaspected planet, once triggered by relocation, is activated and experienced as an extra-mundane or Transcendental energy, one capable of lifting the native out of the confines of his or her ordinary state of being and into a new awareness of life-potentials and desires. The Transcendental planetary energy could be considered as a function linking unconscious psychic dispositions and potentials with a conscious awareness and means of fulfilling them — a function that enables us to transcend the limiting parameters of ordinary ego-consciousness by linking the ego-function with a higher source of cosmic energy.

The Transcendental Midpoint-Field

Another significant finding of this study is the occurrence of what I have coined the Transcendental Midpoint-Field. While famous people are often born or relocate to the vicinity of the least aspected, or Primary Transcendental Planet, the second least-aspected planet, the Secondary Transcendental Planet, is also often found in close proximity to the birthplace or area of relocation. When the lines of the Primary and Secondary Transcendentals run in close parallel or proximity to each other, the area between them is highly charged and is considered to be of particular geographic significance to the native. Here, then, we can speak of a Transcendental Midpoint-Field. Within the center of this field runs a theoretical line representing the midpoint between the Primary and Secondary Transcendental Planet. When a person is born or relocates to an area within this field, the effect upon the native is considered to be especially powerful, perhaps endowing him or her with special skills, perceptions or vocational ambitions. The visionary French poet Arthur Rimbaud is one example of a famous birth in a Transcendental Midpoint-Field; the evil dictator Adolf Hitler, born between his Primary Uranus and Secondary Mercury, is another. Occasionally, the third least-aspected planet will also be in close proximity to the Primary and Secondary Transcendentals; the combined force of all three planets in a Transcendental Midpoint-Field often leads to events of great consequence. Richard Nixon's famed "China Opening" is an example of all three key Transcendentals forming a tight, close-knit Transcendental Midpoint-Field over the significant location of the Chinese mainland. (For the purposes of our study, however, the third or Tertiary Transcendental is usually considered only after the other key Transcendentals and only if it is notably underaspected; is in close proximity to the Primary or Secondary Transcendental; or if the native in question has had an exceptionally meaningful experience under the Tertiary Transcendental line.)

Transcendental Intersections

Occasionally, rather than running in close parallel or proximity to each other, the lines of the Primary and Secondary Transcendentals intersect over habitable regions of the globe. I have referred to these points as Transcendental Intersections.2 (Not to be confused with Jim Lewis's "crossings," which denote the point of intersection between any two planetary lines on the map, and which are theorized to sometimes have an effect on the entire latitude where they "cross.") Examples of Transcendental Intersections may be found in several of the studies which follow, including those of Sigmund Freud; the bombing of Nagasaki; and the U.S. Declaration of War against Germany. Transcendental Intersections seem to have an enhancing effect on the Transcendental Energies in question; they also point rather specifically to geographic locations of prime importance in the native's life. Such intersections also seem to have a "rippling effect" upon the entire radius surrounding the point of intersection, creating a "power circle" with a diagonal length of about ten longitudinal degrees.

Leading Planets

Lastly, while the bulk of this study concerns itself with the Transcendental Planet, both in its significant appearance over the birthplaces of notable personalities and over relocations of obvious significance in their well-documented biographies, additional mention should be made here concerning the role of the most-aspected planet in our studies. The most aspected or Leading Planet seems to play an often pernicious role in relocation. Signifying in the natal chart a psychological area or theme that may in some way be overdeveloped or overemphasized, in astrolocality the line of the Leading Planet is often found above geographic areas where we may lose our focus in life. In the Leading Planet we may find the key symbols of how we psychologically overestimate ourselves; our hubris or "inflation"; or simply an inner-area or concern where "too much is going on" for anything to be accomplished. The Leading Planet is akin to an overcharged circuit; and relocation to such an area will often short-circuit this abundance of a particular form of psychic energy. In the case of Adolf Hitler, his Secondary Leader, Saturn, was found at the geographic locale where he most overreached himself: the Russian front.

Leading Planet Intersections

When the line of the most aspected or Leading Planet intersects the line of either the Secondary Leader or Tertiary Leader, a Leading Planet Intersection is created. Unlike Transcendental Intersections, the Leading Planet Intersection points to an area that it is best to avoid. An example of a Leading Planet Intersection is found in the biography of Amelia Earhart, whose plane disappeared in the vicinity of her Leading Moon / Secondary Leader Pluto Intersection. While approaching Howland Island, Earhart passed directly under the lines of her Leading Moon and Secondary Leader, Pluto, which intersect in the center of the Pacific Rim area, south of Japan near the Japanese headquarters in Saipan. It was in the vicinity of this Leading Planet Intersection that she was conjectured to have either crashed or landed; biographers have also conjectured that she was held captive in Saipan, where a "white woman flier" was reportedly imprisoned. Indeed, the presence of these Leading Planets, particularly in forming a Leading Planet Intersection, indicate that she had here "overreached" herself or had in some way "overestimated" her own abilities (the nature of the Leading Planet) in a manner resulting in "emotional turmoil / and death" (Moon / Pluto).

The creative function of the Transcendental Planet

While the core of this study concerns itself with the notable geographic location of the Primary Transcendental line in the lives of people who have played a significant part in our culture and history, the purpose of isolating such a group is certainly, in part, to learn from such well-documented lives how the Transcendental planet may be utilized as a creative function in our own lives as well. Relocation to an area under the influence of a Transcendental line can have far-reaching effects, even if such a relocation is not a permanent one. By positioning ourselves under a Transcendental location, the previously untapped planetary energies, which before were experienced merely as an unconscious yearning or as an unfulfilled potential, may now become manifest. In gaining access to our Transcendental force we come into the full focus of our selves.

"Signifiers of greatness": The Transcendental Planet as a "pure form" of planetary energy

Another surprising result of our study was that attributes which are traditionally ascribed to certain planets — e.g., Mars as a planetary symbol of military wiles or "martial" skills; Pluto as the classic ruler of those possessing a manipulative, willful control over others — play an especially dominant role when focused through the powerful lens of the Primary Transcendental Planet. Benito Mussolini, with his Primary Pluto, and General George Washington, with his Primary Mars, are two excellent examples. Besides confirming Michel Gauquelin's conclusion that certain planets are found near the four cardinal directions during the births of high-achievers,3 the discovery that such planets frequently are underaspected (and are "triggered" at birth and relocation sites) further refines the notion of a planetary "signifier of greatness."4 Because it is relatively unaffected by other planetary aspects,5 the underaspected condition of the Primary Transcendental Planet creates a sort of "pure" form, an unsullied archetypal resonance. When the Transcendental, "pure form" planet is found near one of these four cardinal points, this effect of untainted psychic resonance becomes particularly intensified.

While Gauquelin concluded that only five of the astronomical planets are found in such statistically-meaningful cardinal placements,6 in our study the geographic significance of the Primary Transcendental Planet includes all the planets, including the Sun and Moon, with their astrolocality lines appearing either above the birthplace or over areas of notable geographical relocation. The latter factor is of great significance because Gauquelin's initial findings preceded the advent of astrocartography and therefore sophisticated relocation techniques remained beyond the scope of his studies. The significant appearance of "non-Gauquelin" planets such as Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Mercury and Sun as Transcendental Planets found in significant geographical areas of relocation included such notable examples as the dictator Benito Mussolini, with his Primary Transcendental Pluto setting above his headquarters in Rome; Madame Helena Blavatsky, whose legendary travels through Tibet transpired directly under the line of her Primary Transcendental, Neptune; author Jack London, whose numerous Klondike tales were inspired by his temporary relocation to that locale, which falls directly under the influence of his Primary Transcendental, Mercury; and many others. Again, the classic astrological symbolism associated with the Transcendental Planet in question expressed itself in a singular fashion with each of these people. The "massive social and political upheaval and intrigue" noted in Pluto symbolism is an apt characterization of the life and temperament of dictator Mussolini, born with a Primary Transcendental Pluto; the Neptunian quest for a mystic, occult wisdom clearly finds singular expression in the life of Madame Blavatsky; as does the planet Mercury's traditional rulership of writing in the life of the prolific novelist Jack London.

Transcendental Events

Perhaps the most controversial and intriguing result of this study was the finding that precisely-timed historical events often yield a Primary Transcendental Planet positioned above the locale of the event as it transpires or running over a location which will be greatly affected by the event sometime in the future. The Primary Transcendental Planet for the first controlled nuclear chain reaction, for example, is Primary Transcendental Mars, which runs precisely over southern Japan — the location of the only two cities to ever suffer the results of a nuclear holocaust. Another startling example is the murder of President John F. Kennedy: at the precise moment of his assassination, the Primary Transcendental Planet was the Sun, which was passing directly over Texas, the location of his fatal wounding.

Transcendental Astrology

The Role of the Least-aspected Planet in Astrocartography should be viewed as a preliminary investigation into the influence of the Primary Transcendental Planet, especially concerning the geographic role it plays in the birth of notable personalities or in their relocation to the site of a Primary Transcendental line. Although the focus of this book concerns itself with the historical and biographical significance of the Primary and Secondary Transcendental Planets — and especially their combined influence in the Transcendental Midpoint-Field — it also can be read in conjunction with the basic principles of traditional astrocartography, as the two approaches do work together in exploring the influence of planetary placements on births and events, as is revealed in the studies which follow.




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