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The Astrology of Local Space Date Published: by Michael Erlewine
Bio: Michael Erlewine

Author Michael Erlewine Besides being the author/astrologer behind our top-selling Astro*Talk, TimeLine, and Friends and Lovers report programs, Michael is the man who founded Matrix back in the late '70s. Michael and his brother Stephen Erlewine (Stephen is still head of all astrological programming for Matrix) built Matrix into the leading producer of astrology software.

For many years Michael lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he was much in demand as a counseling astrologer specializing in relationship and vocational advice. He also taught astrology at local schools and colleges, working with groups of as many as 1,200 people.

Michael is also known for his entrepreneurial drive which, in addition to Matrix, led him to create the All Music Guide - the largest music database in the world - and the All Movie Guide, as well as several award-winning websites, including

Michael also founded the Heart Center Library, the largest astrological library in North America that is open to the public. He remains curator of the works contained in this library, tapping this resource for one of his pet projects - a complete astrological encyclopedia.

Today Michael lives in the northern Michigan community of Big Rapids with his wife of 33 years and his family. He still does occasional private astrological counseling as people from around the world continue to seek his advice.

Those interested in a personal reading by Michael may contact him at:


[The following article was first published in 1977 in the 6th number of the Cosmecology Bulletin as published by Charles A. Jayne. Although astrologers had worked with the Horizon system before, Erlewine was the first to define the concept of local space as presented here. In particular, the combining of Celestial positions (stars, planets, etc.) with directions on the globe (cities, places, etc.) and the concept of relocating toward a planet first appeared here. This was before the advent of the home computer and Erlewine had worked out the tedious mathematics of local space first on a scientific calculator and later on one of the programmables. Your Astro*Map is a dream-come-true compared to those early days when a signle chart could take an entire day's calulation using tables.]


There seem to be at least several distinct levels or dimensions to our life, and depending upon the clarity of the day, our awareness may be centered in a dimension ranging from the very mundane on up thru an occasional sharing in some sort of more transpersonal or cosmic form of consciousness. It is becoming clear to many astrologers in these times that this multi-dimensionality of our life perhaps may best be represented and examined thru a series of astrological charts; and that an attempt to extract all levels of our life — the many quite different dimensions — from the geocentric ecliptic chart alone is bound to be a frustrating experience. In a word it is: un-necessary.

Astrologers make regular use of three very different systems of coordinates (whether they are aware of it or not) each time they erect a natal chart: namely, (1) the Zodiac or Ecliptic, (2) the Equatorial system (right ascension and declination), and (3) the Horizon system of coordinates. The actual distinction beteen these different systems of coordinates are lost to most of us, and they are jumbled together to form some kind of zodiac pie. It has become my realization that these basic physical planes of reference — the Horizon, Equator, Ecliptic, and even the Galactic and Supergalactic planes — correspond symbolically to the various different dimensions or levels of our consciousness — as they exist NOW, in mutual interpenetration. These levels can be sorted out; and as astrologers I may learn to read these different levels as separate, yet related and whole dimensions of our experience.

Let me rephrase all of this. Our Universe, and therefore our Life, can be described or expressed in astrological terms using any one of several fundamental planes of reference: Ecliptic, Horizon, etc. These different planes and their respective coordinate systems are like different languages (or algebras), in that they each can express the same moment in time, the same planets — in fact, each can express the entire universe; and yet each orders these same objects and data in a different way so as to bring out and raise a particular dimension of reality above the general threshold of our life and awareness. Since our life and consciousness appear to flow thru, at least, several quite distinct levels, it is my conviction that the most sensible method by which to express or map these different levels is thru such fundamental orderings, or reference planes. As astrologers, our almost exclusive concern for the plane of the earth's orbit — the ecliptic or zodiac — and the relation of all activity to this plane results in a loss of contrast and dimensionality that the use of these alternative coordinate systems provide.

There are at least two basic factors to consider when examining the various coordinate systems available to us; and they are summed up in the familiar axiom, "As Above, So Below; yet after another manner." The first factor, "As Above, So Below", is an indication that the various coordinate systems may be ordered to form a hierarchy in terms of a progressive "inclusivity", or greater comprehensiveness. In other words, the Galactic coordinate system includes the heliocentric within itself, the heliocentric includes the geocentric, the geocentric includes the Horizon, and so forth. This represents the "As Above, So Below" portion of the phrase; and this "wheels within wheels within wheels" concept is well understood, and a popular one thru which to express the various dimensions of consciousness. In other words, a large frame of reference or coordinate system somehow involves information of a larger or more meta-physical kind when considered in relation to a more particular or less inclusive system.

The second factor to be illustrated in the phrase, "As Above, So Below; yet after another manner" while of equal importance is less well understood. The great reference planes and their respective systems of coordinates are not only inclusive of one another (that is, larger and smaller in relation to each other), but they are also inclined at different angles or attitudes to one another. In other words, learning to use and understand the nature of a more inclusive system such as the Ecliptic or Zodiac system, in relation to the Equatorial or "Right Sphere" system, is not only a matter of ordering the information along a different plane (taking a larger view or picture); but also involves a fundamental change in attitude, or inclination. This shift in attitude, or reorientation of attitude, is an important concept for astrologers to consider and to absorb.

Let me present an analogy which might relate to interpreting these various planes in our everyday life. As a society, I are becoming ever more aware of the Cosmic or transpersonal perspective as being associated with the idea of expanded consciousness, with a more whole-view, etc.; yet I have not understood on this same broad social level, that such a change in scale or scope may also involve a basic change in attitude: a fundamental change in the approach to life.

...growing up is not just a process of taking a more inclusive approach, it can involve a change in attitude or perspective.

In other words, growing up is not just a process of taking a more inclusive approach, it can involve a change in attitude or perspective. We can no longer be inclined in directions we once were; and this must amount to a radical change — that is, change at "root" level — in our activity! Furthermore, a basic misunderstanding as to what is involved in spiritual growth has resulted from an attempt to view such growth exclusively as some kind of "enlargement"; one wistfully looks forward to growing beyond the particular terms of his everyday existence. This is a result of ignorance of the change in attitude — the change in point of view, or vantage point — that accompanies true spiritual development: a change very difficult to imagine or assess for one not aware that such change is a natural and expected part of any deeper initiation.

So much for metaphysics. Much of my own research has revolved around these various coordinate systems and the dimensions of life they describe. In particular, I have been concerned with the inclinations or attitudes of one system to another. I like to tell myself that the reason for this interest may be due to the fact that I was born with such a "bad" attitude toward some facets of life in this world, that vast changes in attitude on my part have been necessary simply for my survival. Let me repeat: these different coordinate systems are great languages or orderings of our total reality and each one raises to our attention its characteristic gestalt or whole dimension of life. To my knowledge, L. Edward Johndro was the first modern astrologer to make a life-long concern the articulation of the difference between whole coordinate systems (Ecliptic and Equator). And in my opinion, a final assessment of Johndro's work may not deal so much in terms of his technical genius alone as with the scope and comprehension of his vision; and in particular, that focus of it relating to the essential differences between events as interpreted on the ecliptic or on the equator. In recent years, this research has been carried on and developed further by Charles Jayne, Theodor Landscheidt, and others.

My own research has centered on the difference and relationship between the Geocentric and Heliocentric ecliptic systems and, in recent years, on questions of cosmic structure; in particular on an attempt to assess the meaning of the galactic and supergalactic planes as they stand in relation to one another, and to the zodiac. With these ideas in mind, I are ready to examine a most particular and fascinating system of coordinates: that of the local horizon. There is no intention here to document or "prove" the validity of this system in this very preliminary article. My purpose is to present the impression I have formed regarding the dimension of our life I have found to be mapped in the chart of local space; and to provide those interested with the means to calculate such charts. We would very much appreciate feedback and comments from those of you who investigate this very interesting dimension.

In simple terms, the local space (LS) chart is a map of the 360 degrees of horizon surrounding an event such as birth... much as I might look around us toward the East, West, North, and South. In this coordinate system, the fundamental plane to which all else is referred is the horizon of the observer; and the position of the various planets as they appear from this location are projected onto the horizon using the coordinates: azimuth and altitude. Azimuth is the equivalent of zodiac longitude in this system and is measured, for our purposes, from the East direction, thru the North and on around in a counter-clockwise direction — in the same way that I measure the traditional signs and houses. The chart wheel is as if one were standing in the northern hemisphere facing South. Altitude, analogous to ecliptic latitude, is measured above and below the horizon to the poles from 0 degrees to 90 degrees. It is worth the emphasis of repetition to stress that, from the standpoint of the local space chart, the horizon is the whole azimuth great circle as it ranges around the wheel of the chart — not simply the line described by the astrologer's house cusps I and VII, as our astrological habituations tempt us to think. This, then, gives a sort of "flat earth" perspective, as it were, the visible horizon being much like a magical circle. And, as tradition teaches us regarding the nature of the magical circle: the circle is realized to be the equator of a sphere which extends above and below the plane of the local horizon (apparent or rational horizon cut the infinite sphere in coincident circles). Here is a map, in space, of an event from a topocentric perspective, or local center; and thus, an astrology of local space.

Before I dive into the techniques useful in this new dimension of local space, here is an impression of what it is all about: the general feeling of what portion of life is captured thru this coordinate system.

The most remarkable factor, and the key concept you may need in order to appreciate the particular quality of the local space chart, is that every object in the universe — whether celestial or mundane — has an equal and valid position in this chart. Not only the planets and stars, but on an equal basis, cities, countries, and even the local water tower or the neighbor's house can be represented. All that concerns us here is the direction of any object in space — not the distance. In other words, the celestial sphere and the mundane or geographic sphere exist side by side and are interchangeable! A star is a city is a neighbor. We can walk toward, write letters to, or get up and move into — for instance — our 7th house. Even more startling, we can travel toward our natal planets, since they also represent a direction on the globe in the chart of local space.

Here, in a hopeless intermingling of various reference planes and objects a strange and, I must confess, somewhat magical view of our world begins to emerge: one in which every city and friend becomes a radiating center of influence. Here for the first time the long history of magic, witchcraft, and sorcery take on a practical reality, where local dieties and preferred directions become the rule and we are thrust forever beyond the threshold of the just "slightly" remarkable.

The psychedelic character in local space charts is unmistakable and appears to be intrinsic to the system. The world seems to appear as a kind of grand talisman and vast ritual ground when seen through this perspective. The closest popular image of a similar nature in the modern consciousness is the remarkable world of Don Juan as generated by the author Carlos Casteneda. Here is no subtle plane, but a personal landscape painted in bold and clear strokes. A world where the modern man is learning to move across the face of the earth in an endless adjustment and tuning of his radix — of his self. Individuals driven in particular directions on a checkerboard world, unable to resist travelling to a goal that is no particular place on earth as much as it is a direction within them: the direction of a force, or of a planet: "There! where Power hovers", to use Don Juan's expression. In a word, here is perhaps the most vulgar system, where the obvious is enthroned and the subtle unnecessary. Here then, are some specific approaches I have found to be most useful in examining these charts.

The following remarks represent the most useful technique that has evolved from our research into local space. Space permits neither a gradual presentation of this information nor the history of, or sequence through which I arrived at these thoughts. Any technique is the very essence of a much larger experience; and every statement here should be investigated and tested out with local space charts in hand.

Once you have mastered the mathematics (Programs that calculate local space charts are available from Matrix Software for most popular name computers.) involved in erecting these charts, and have laid them out on 360 degree wheels similar to those pictured herein, a probable series of questions you want to investigate may arise. Let us consider some of them.

Compare the planets in the local space chart with your geocentric natal chart. As you will soon note, the individual aspects between two planets can be very different in the two kinds of charts; also, the larger whole-chart patterns may indicate a different quality. A planet may achieve great focus in the local space chart that is not brought out in the Geo chart; and yet you may have intuited and sensed the added importance of this planet or principle in the make-up of the individual involved, and yet had no physical basis for your intuition.

The single most important use of local space in the astrologer/client relationship in our experience has been in locality shifts. One of the most frequent questions asked this astrologer during a reading is: "Where would be a good place for me to live?" I have made use of the quite valid and useful traditional technique of adjusting the RAMC of the radix to the new locality and coming up with a new Ascendant and so forth. The radix positions then are read in terms of these new angles. local space is by nature suited to express both celestial and geographic positions on one map or chart. Its special nature introduces several concepts not encountered in other techniques.

Radix Local Space Charts

Aside from the planetary aspects, there are two primary indicators of strong or high focus in the radix local space chart: (1) a planet is on or near the horizon (it has low altitude); and (2) a planet is conjunct to one of the four angles or cardinal directions. It is worth noting which of the planets is closest to the horizon, even if not conjunct. We use standard orbs for Azimuth — although I haven't arrived at any final rules in this respect. It is also worth noting which planet is most elevated (has the greatest altitude). And the parallels and contraparellels also need investigation. We are now ready to examine a technique that gets to the heart of what these charts are all about. At this point I have in front of us our radix local space chart, with the various planets plotted on it. As I mentioned earlier, we can also plot the positions of cities and places on the earth on this map; so, our next project then will be to translate all of the important cities in our lives into their equivalent positions on our radix map of local space. We should be sure to include not only the places I ourselves have lived in or visited, but also the cities that we have always thought that we might like to visit — that bring a warm feeling to mind, and so forth; the positions of cities where friends and no-so-friendlies live, where there are business relationships, etc.

We then examine these places in terms of their position (or direction) on the LS chart with these thoughts in mind: Are these cities in aspect, in particular by conjunction or opposition? Are they in alignment with planets in the chart? In what quadrants and houses do these cities fall? And are any on the angles? We have found that individuals tend to move toward cities that are also in the direction of planets that represent the particular kind of energy they may require at that time. An individual, for instance, needing to invoke the key to success often obtained thru Jupiter, may make one or several moves in that direction.

Although its concept is so simple as to be almost embarrassing, this technique has shown itself to be of great value. In any case, its value seems to be substantial rather than hypothetical. Next to, for example, some of the cumbersome and ultra-traditional place rulerships, proposed national birth-charts, etc. — most of them very arbitrary — the complex and confusing juggling of all these factors seem a rather specious approach to the locality problem, and their results rather tentative. The LS chart, at least, can show a concrete, measurable relation of the individual to any place — a relationship which can vary from individual to individual, even in the same locality, as much as their LS charts vary from one another.

Whatever may be the intrinsic character of a place — and places undoubtedly have this — a selection of people could react very differently to it from the point of view of each one's own make-up. Moreover, each one could react differently at different times and under different astrological directions. Although the mathematics involved in this system may seem a bit complex, the application of its technique is simple and direct; and this does much to recommend it.

Locality Shifts in Local Space

After the basic information in the radix chart has been taken in, I may want to construct secondary charts for the various localities where the individual has lived or travelled. These charts are equivalent to ones cast for this locality at the time of birth, as if one were born there. This involves a transformation of the radix planet's position, as well as a shift around the angles of these positions. Aside from the initial direction from the radix of the locality shift, there are other factors to note. Thru a shift in locality, a planet (or even a city) may be brought into (or away from) the horizon. We have found that a planet achieves high focus when on the horizon, in terms of its activity within the individual. In other words, we can adjust and tune our radix — and ourselves — thru locality shifts, much like we might tune a musical instrument.

Another objective that might be accomplished by a locality shift is to bring a yet farther away city to high focus — say, to an angle, or in aspect to a planet, allowing a second locality shift to be made in its direction. This alters or modifies the psychic interaction of person and place by altering the direction of approach to it. The effect achieved would be quite other than that invoked by approaching it direct. Some of the magical quality of the dimension can be seen in the checkerboard-like world concept that emerges, where individuals not only move in relation to a planetary energy they require, but are ever adjusting and jockeying into position to achieve the most resonant move. Aside from the focus achieved thru the angles and planets, we may compare aspects and whole-chart patterns with the radix loca space chart, considering changes in altitude, and so forth. Another point of interest which has proven very useful in our work is examining the aspects that the planetary positions in the local space locality shift make to the radix local space chart; in particular by bringing one planet to a conjunction with another. As Charles Jayne has pointed out to me, this amounts to progression of the chart through space, rather than time (a very elegant concept) — for those of us, perhaps, who find it hard to wait! We have found that both the conjunction and oppositions (the alignments), as formed by this progression in space, are most significant.

There you have the fundamental ideas with which I have worked thus far. The obvious value of these charts in the astrologer/client relationship should be clear. We have used these charts in our practice with success, and have found that many people are concerned with where they might live in order to bring themselves into resonant and satisfying focus. Perhaps modern man is developing an intuitive sense for self-adjustment and focus thru locality shifts — something that ancient man did very little of. It appears that one can enrich and complement various qualities of the radix thru location adjustment — bringing our needed energies to one place and time, moving elsewhere for another life episode at another time.

Astro*Map Hi-Res 1988

The above article was written back in the mid 1970s, before home computers made the scene. What a difference a program like Astro*Map Hi-Res makes to researchers into local space and related techniques! The following section is designed to introduce the wide variety of techniques available in Astro*Map and to sketch out several possible scenarios for personal exploration and research.

Astrology is, above all, a way to get to know yourself and your particular orientation to the Earth and its surrounding environment. You will be working with two different sets of maps: geographic maps of the Earth and celestial sky maps. While these maps are very different, they are but different perspectives for graphing the same information. The birth year, date, time and place remain the same. In other words, nothing changes but the coordinate dimension (our persective and attitude) — the way we look at this particular piece of time and space.

When we are working with the geographic maps, we overlay the celestial bodies and sky map to determine where the planets, stars and other deep-space structure were in relation to places (cities, towns, etc.) on the Earth. We want to find out our particular orientation (attitude) to the cosmos for any given time and place. For example, we know that at any given instant of time, the planet Mars is right overhead a particular place on the Earth. Astro*Map allows us to locate just where on Earth that is.

Local space techniques bring the heavens down to earth. Planets and stars are no longer "out there", some far off and unconnected objects.

In fact, we exist in a vast web or matrix of connectivity. The Earth is set, as a jewel is set, in time and space. All of the various planetary motions are inter-related and synchronizedand, like some vast cosmic clock. More important, as the Earth turns, it orients or points first toward one part of the heavens and then another. At any given time the planets are in exact points in space from where we now stand.

Thus the planet Jupiter may be to our west at birth. Not only is it to the West, but a straight line drawn from where we stand toward the direction of Jupiter passes thru a particular series of towns and cities. In fact, if we extend that line, it becomes a great circle stretching around the celestial sphere. Starting from where we are it stretches out toward a particular planet and ends up describing a great circle in the heavens (and on the Earth), returning at last to a point just behind us — a full 360 degrees. And this entire great circle and the straight line that describes it is related to that great planet Jupiter.

How significant and useful that relation is up to us to determine. I am certain that many will have no awareness of a connection. Others, like myself, will explore that Jupiter line and learn a lot about ourselves and that planet. Jupiter is connected to vocational matters, how me make a living or simply put: the way we go (our path) thru the obstacles of life. I travelled along my Jupiter line and took up residence in a town in that direction. It was in that town that I discovered my particular vocation (astrology) and I did not leave that town until that vocation was well set in my consciousness. In otherwords, I found success in life along my Jupiter line. Later, I moved elsewhere (along other lines) to strengthen and deepen that vocation.

World Local Space Map

For starters, you will want to enter your complete birth information and check out the planet lines (great circles) against a map of the world. This will give you an idea as to what countries and areas of the world are marked off in your natal chart by the various planets. And, since the world is a large place, you will want to zero in on the country (or state) where you were born for a close-up view of all this.

Take your time. Study your particular maps in the light of what cities you have been (or not been) to. And travel is not the only indicator. Where do your friends and not-so-friends live? Where are your business partners? Examine every relation and form of communication you have as regards its direction in relation to your birth map? What does it suggest or tell you? Don't forget to examine planets that are close to the horizon in altitude and/or toward the four compass points. These factors too carry great weight or meaning.

Next, you will want to relocate yourself to the various other places you have visited and/or wish to go. Again, don't forget to examine the altitude and compass points for planet action. Compare the change in planet strength from place to place with your particular experience of those places. It will be helpful to look at the local space chart wheels as well as the maps, since here the altitudes are listed for easy reference.

What you are exploring is your unique perspective and orientation to the Earth and the heavens — your particular attitude.

Prime Vertical. Don't forget to explore the prime vertical coordinate dimesion as well. Perhaps, it can wait until you get used to the standard azimuth maps and wheels. Still, keep this dimension in mind. It is every bit as important as the azimuth local space maps. In fact, the prime vertical is the natural complement to the azimuth projection. They are like the cross-hairs on a gun sight. You need both of them to get a fix on your target which is yourself.

Where the azimuth local space chart has to do with action and outreach on our part, the prime vertical dimension has to do with reaction, the response of the world to us. In a word, the prime vertical tells us about that which is fated or destined for us, the areas of life that will happen automatically and don't require effort on our part. The prime vertical charts those areas of life where we can't help but be involved. It is our destiny. None can say no to us where the prime vertical (and vertex) are involved. It is fated.


© Copyright: Matrix Software





Other articles by Michael Erlewine

Erlewine, MichaelSaturn: the Sequencer

Erlewine, MichaelThe Value of the Heliocentric/Geocentric Comparison

Erlewine, MichaelThe Counselor: Midwife of the Psyche

Erlewine, MichaelTidal Vector Forces: Lunar Phenoma

Erlewine, MichaelBurn Rate: The Retrograde Phenomenon

Erlewine, MichaelThe Uranian Signs

Erlewine, MichaelTibetan Astrology

Erlewine, MichaelOutline of Major Tibetan Techniques

Erlewine, MichaelThe Tibetan Calendar: The 12 Months of the Year

Erlewine, MichaelTibetan Astrology: Appendix A

Erlewine, MichaelAstrological Signs

Erlewine, MichaelThe Planets, Signs, & Houses

Erlewine, MichaelZodiac Cycles and Signs

Erlewine, MichaelAstro*Map Hi-Res 1988

Erlewine, MichaelLocal Space Astrology – Relocation

Erlewine, MichaelLunar Gaps: Taking Advantage of the Lunar Cycle

Erlewine, MichaelThe Lunation Cycle: East and West

Erlewine, MichaelScience and the Lunation Cycle

Erlewine, MichaelInterface: Planetary Nodes - Part I

Erlewine, MichaelInterface: Planetary Nodes - Part II

Erlewine, MichaelGalaxy: Circles, Cycles, Circulation

Erlewine, MichaelGalaxy: Higher Order Structuring

Erlewine, MichaelThe Galactic Nucleus

Erlewine, MichaelHeliocentrics

Erlewine, MichaelOur Roots in the Sun



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