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Astro*Dictionary by Michael Erlewine





2 articles for "Figure"

Figure [Astro*Index]

An outdated term for an astrological chart, not used today except by horary astrologers.

See also:
♦ Chart ♦ Horoscope ♦ Radix ♦ Astrological Chart ♦ Thema Coeli
Figure [DeVore]

An astrological or Celestial Figure, variously called Geniture, Map, Scheme, Chart, Theme, Mirror of Heaven, Nativity or Horoscope, as cast, erected or drawn by modern astrologers, consists of a circle of the heavens, representing the 360° of the Earth's orbit, divided into twelve arcs -- resembling a wheel of twelve spokes. These arcs may represent Signs of 30° each beginning at the Spring equinoctial point, or Houses of an indeterminate number of degrees beginning at an ascending degree. A Solar Figure, used where a specific moment of birth is not known, employs the Sun's degree as the point of beginning, or Ascendant. The Houses or geo-arcs, based upon the degree rising in the east at the specific moment for which the Figure is cast, supposedly represent the number of degrees which pass over the horizon in two hours from that particular longitude and latitude and on that day. The Sign-divisions, or heliarcs, are thus subdivisions of the Earth's annual orbit round the Sun, while the House-divisions, or geo-arcs, are subdivisions of the daily orbit of a particular point on the Earth's surface around the Earth's axis.

Most of the difficulties concerning astrological terminology result from the fact that this circle represents the celestial sphere, subdivided according to three different systems at one and the same time. This paradox ceases to baffle only when the one who employs the map learns to read and interpret it in each of the three ways, consecutively rather than simultaneously.

With the Earth as a center of reference, its annual orbit extends impersonally from the point of the Vernal Equinox, in successive 30° arcs, each corresponding to one sign of the zodiac. Therefore, if for a given day, month and year, the planets are placed in certain degrees of certain signs, this placement remains valid no matter at what point on the earth the observer is located.

If now we confine ourself to a given individual located at a given point on the Earth, and erect a map showing the Sun at the sunrise point, choosing the Sun as the point of commencement of a circle or experience, because it is a permanently powerful center of energy radiation, our twelve 30° arcs will be measured from the degree the Sun occupied on that day. Such a set of arcs would be applicable to any one born with the Sun in the same degree; but when the places of the remaining planets are inserted it will apply only to one born also on the same day of the same year. If the different planetary reflectors of solar energy, as they appear over the horizon at irregular intervals throughout that first day of life, stimulate a certain growth, there must result a cycle of sensitive degrees or points of receptivity. On successive days the actual places of these planets will advance, but the point of receptivity or expectancy remains-resulting in the "human time clock" to which physiologists frequently refer.

If now these twelve divisions of the circle are to be based on the diurnal rotation of the Earth on its axis, the twelve arcs must represent subdivisions of the Equator instead of the Ecliptic. Furthermore, this involves the question of time of day, and Latitude as well as Longitude of place. Such arcs are measured from the degree of the Horizon that is rising at that moment of time from that particular Longitude and Latitude -of place; and are measured in two-hour units along the Horizon instead of 30° units along the Ecliptic.

Since the Inclination of the Earth's axis introduces another factor, the degrees of arc that cross the horizon in two hours, vary with the Latitude and with the time of year. This expanding and contracting of the degrees encompassed in two hours throughout the year, is also doubtless involved in the factor of orbs. (q.v.)

Therefore, the map of a nativity is a combination of three maps: (1) of Signs, 300 subdivisions of a horizon, at right angles to a line between a Zenith and a Nadir (v. Celestial Sphere); (2) of Solar House, 30° subdivisions of the Ecliptic, at right angles to a line between the North and South poles of the Ecliptic; and (3) Of Houses, two-hour subdivisions of the Equator, at right angles to a line between the North and South Celestial Poles.

For this reason some modern scientific astrologers utilize the map in a method somewhat altered from the traditional method. The divisions of the printed design are the Signs, with 0° Aries at the left. A colored line is drawn through the Sun position to the opposite point in the orbit, and another at right angles thereto, indicating the solar houses. On the outside of the circle are placed the degrees of the cusps of the Geocentric Houses as measured from the Rising Degree, thus showing at a glance the unequal arcs that pass over the horizon in equal periods of time. In reading such a map, the design is read upright, or successively rotated to place at the left the Sun degree or the Rising Degree.

This explains the use of the terms Midheaven and Ascendant, as indicating the points at the top or at the left of the map, which terms are not synonymous with Zenith or Nadir. (v. Celestial Sphere.)

See also:
♦ Celestial Sphere ♦ Chart ♦ Horoscope ♦ Radix ♦ Astrological Chart ♦ Thema Coeli


Astro*Index Copyright © 1997 Michael Erlewine


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