|Updated: 24 april 2001||To the Software table of contents|
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Charts in arctic regions of the earth
Calculating charts for latitudes north of the northern arctic circle (66°23.5' northern latitude) and south of the southern arctic circle (66°23.5' southern latitude) makes it necessary to consider some odd behaviour of the horizon relative to the plane of ecliptic.
I hope my contribution will help bringing a little more clarity to this issue and point to which user-options software developers has to put in the astrology software.
These regions of the earth are called the polar regions. The plane of ecliptic also might be named the plane of the tropical zodiac.
In the polar regions some period of the
year the sun never rise above the horizon, i.e. it is night all 24 hours of
the day. At another period it's eternal day because the sun never is below the horizon, i.e.
the sun is
visible all 24 hours of the day (the phenomenon of the midnight sun).
During these periods the sun's degree of the zodiac never
cross the horizon, and thus never will be the ascendant nor the descendant.
At certain times of the day the ascendant will be retrograde.
Twice each day
the meridian will intersect the ecliptic at exactly the same points as the horizon,
i.e. the Ascendant/Descendant axis and the MC/IC axises will coincide.
During the period of eternal day the sun will be seen on the meridian circle above the horizon twice each day. The first time it's culminating in the south at noon. The second time it is reaching its lowest point in the sky to the north at midnight.
Most astrologers having pondered the problem of charts erected for polar regions agrees on what to do with the ascendant
When the ascendant move forward through the zodiac and coincide with the MC/IC axis it becomes stationary and then reverse its direction of movement from direct to retrograde motion, i.e. the point of zodiac having ascendend will hover on the horizon and then slowly slip down below the horizon. On the opposite side of the zodiac the point having descended will begin to rise above the horizon. In the chart this is reflected this way: the ascendant has to "jump" to its opposite point in the zodiac.
When the ascendant is retrograde and coincide with the MC/IC axis it becomes stationary and reverse from retrograde to direct motion. In the chart the ascendant will "jump" to its opposite point in the zodiac.
In reality no such jumps occur. To the eye the eclitiptic is making a seesaw motion in the heaven. It will rise with its zodiac signs in their usual order (first 2° Sagattarius rise, then 3° Sagittarius, etc). Then it will rise slower and slower until its doesn't move at all. After that it will move in the opposite direction (first 3° Sagittarius will fall below the horizon, then 2° Sagittarius, etc). Later it will again reverse its direction of movement. Twice each day this reversal of movement occur.
There are two mutually exclusive opinions on what to do with the MC depending on how you define it:
MC is the intersection of the meridian circle with the
ecliptic above the horizon.
The advantage of this is that MC will always be above the horizon.
During the period of the ascendant's retrogradation you will have to accept these two facts:
- MC will be in the north on the other side of the north pole.
- MC will be the point of the zodiac having reached its lowest point in the sky.
In the chart the consequence of this is that the MC has to "jump" to the opposite point of the zodiac at the same time as the ascendant reverse its direction of movement (jumps to its opposite position in the chart).
MC is the point of the ecliptic culminating.
This point always is the intersection between the meridian and ecliptic in the south. The advantage of this is that MC is the point of the ecliptic having reached its highest point in the sky, and it is always in the south.
During the period of the ascendant's retrogradation you will have to accept one fact:
- MC will be below the horizon, and IC above the horizon.
In the chart MC will not "jump" to the opposite point of the zodiac when the ascendant turns retrograde.
Which definition is to prefer? The ancient astrologers i Greece and the Middle East never had practical reasons to confront this problem because at their geographical latitudes a point on the ecliptic always culminate in the south and above the horizon. They were however aware of the special situation of certain parts of the zodiac always being above the horizon (this is clear from Almagest by Ptolemy). I assume they never met someone born i polar regions so they never had any practical reason to decide whether the MC derived its symbolic meaning from the act of culmination or from intersecting the meridian above the horizon.
When it comes to charts for polar regions we will have to make this decision because it is impossible to define the MC as both the culminating point and as a point above the horizon. Culminating is one thing, and being above the horizon is something else.
Presently there are no hard evidence favouring either definition. So, until someone present such eveidenceas it's a matter of which definition the individual astrologer find most attractive.
We can decide that MC receive its symbolic meaning from the
fact that it is the point of ecliptic intersecting the ecliptic above the
In that case we choose definition 1 and accept that MC at certain times will be the point reaching its lowest point, and that this point is in the north. We also have to accept that the point of the zodiac reaching its lowest point in the heavens is associated with the usual meanings of MC: aspirations, the goal we are striving towards, the career, ones position in the world, etc. Personally I find this a little hard to stomach, while I am at the same time attracted by a MC being above the horizon.
On the other hand we can decide it is the act of
culmination that is giving MC its symbolic meaning.
In that case we choose definition 2 and accept that MC at certain times will be below the horizon, while IC at the same time is above the horizon. We have to accept that a point below the horizon is associated with the usual meanings of MC. Unfortunately that cause a very annoying inconsistency in the symbolism, so it is not easy for me to accept that MC is below the horizon, while I at the same time find it appealing with a MC as the point of cumination.
The ancient doctrines of houses are intimately coupled with the symbolism of east (rising, life, strength), west (descending, death, weakness), above horizon (public life), and below horizon (private life, hidden life). Deborah Houlding in her comprehensive and elucidating book Houses - Temples of Heaven argues that the ancient Egyptian world view has influenced the meanings of the houses, because they begun to show up in horoscopes during the period when Alexandria was a vital centre of astrology. We still use some of this ancient symbolism, e.g. IC is the point of endings and beginnings because at that point below the horizon the sun-god died and was reborn. Will this symbolism still be appropriate when we are using definition 2 and are faced with an IC above the horizon? Or is this symbolism adhered to in a better way when we use definition 1 giving an IC always below the horizon?
I am inclined to favour definition 1 because it sticks with the symbolism of above and below the horizon.
Collecting horosocopes and character descriptions of people having retrograde ascendants might be a way to settle this issue.
As this is not an issue having a self-evident answer I suggest the software developers ought to supply both alternatives for the user to choose between.
Now, let's look at some charts to see what happens. I have split them up on several pages to decrease your download time in case you have a slow internet connection (most pages are 70 Kb, some a little more than 100 Kb).
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