A horoscope shows the division of houses in the wheel, with sign-degree positions of the house cusps, and the sign-degree positions of planets in the houses. With this core structure, you can draw the aspects between planets, and between planets and the angles. Now you have a great deal of information on which to hang the interpretation of the natal chart: personality, world-view, habits, proclivities, and so on. But life is complex, and while an interpretation of planets in houses plus aspects gets us well into the dynamics of what makes a person tick, we can get even deeper, and often, surprising insights using another level of information called midpoints.
A midpoint is exactly what it means: it is the point that is exactly in the middle of the shorter arc between a pair of planets, a planet and an angle, a planet and a node, a node and an angle, or the ascendant and midheaven. Let’s take a look at the midpoint between the Sun and the Moon in the following horoscope:
The shorter arc between the Sun and Moon goes counterclockwise from the Moon in Sagittarius to the Sun in Pisces. The midpoint of this arc is at 04 Aqu 03. The midpoint is written as Sun/Moo. By itself, a midpoint is not of much consequence, it’s just sort of sitting there waiting for something to make it come alive. But, if a planet, or point such as MC or ascendant or one of the nodes is at the midpoint, then you have something cooking. In this horoscope, there is no planet or point at the midpoint of the Sun and Moon.
You can eyeball the chart and see if a planet could be at the midpoint of a pair of other planets. One that catches my eye is the pair Jupiter/Neptune, whose midpoint appears to be right around Mercury:
The Jupiter/Neptune midpoint falls at 02 Ari 41, which is 28′ shy of Mercury at 03 Ari 09. In other words, Mercury falls at the Jupiter/Neptune midpoint within less than half a degree of orb. We write this midpoint configuration as Mer=Jup/Nep. A maximum orb of 2 degrees on either side is permitted when assessing the occupation of a midpoint by a third entity. So, for instance, with the Jup/Nep at 02 Ari 41, a planet or point falling anywhere in the band 00 Ari 41 (2 degrees before) through 04 Ari 41 (2 degrees after) would qualify.
Midpoints were first introduced by a school of astrology that was rooted in the geometrical relationships between planets, such as aspects. The geometrical relationships included the Ptolemaic or major aspects–conjunction, opposition, square, sextile, and trine–and the minor aspects such as the inconjunct (150 degrees of separation), and semi-sextile (30 degrees of separation), and expanded out to include the semi-square (45-degree) aspect, and the sesquiquadrate (135-degree) aspect. The natural next step was to look at the geometric midpoint between pairs of planets and points. Each of the aspects had been ascribed a meaning. The same needed to be done for midpoints.
What happens when a planet (or point) is at the midpoint of another pair? In this example horoscope where Mer=Jup/Nep, the energy of Mercury synthesizes the combined energies of Jupiter and Neptune. The conscious thought and communication functions of Mercury channel the combination of Jupiter and Neptune. But what is the combination of Jupiter and Neptune like? It is as if Jupiter and Neptune are conjunct at the midpoint. The effect is not as strong because they are not actually together there, but they lend their combined energies to some degree at the midpoint, which gets sensitized accordingly.
An astrologer named Reinhold Ebertin compiled the meanings for midpoints in a book titled “The Combination of Stellar Influences” (COSI, as it is affectionately known to astrologers), which was published in 1940. In COSI, Ebertin not only wrote up descriptions of every single midpoint pair between planets and points, but also the significance of every planet at each of these pairs. This was one very exhaustive and significant compilation. In their book, “Working with Astrology”, authors Michael Harding and Charles Harvey say that COSI is one of the single most important works on astrological interpretation ever written.
For each midpoint pair by itself, Ebertin describes the effect of the pair according to five categories: principle, psychological correspondence (pros and cons), biological correspondence, sociological correspondence, and probable manifestations (pros and cons). For Jup/Nep, this is what he has to say about its principle effect: “Apparent happiness, speculation.” For probable manifestations on the pros side he says, “The pursuit of idealistic inclinations, a merciful and compassionate nature, the tendency to speculate, gain without effort.” On the cons side he says, “A poor speculation, seduction, a scandal which is caused through one’s own instability, losses (Political conflicts).”
The midpoint pair is an inert thing. It’s a pool of energy that’s sitting at the midpoint location, waiting to be harnessed. Whether it is harnessed at all in the natal chart depends on whether a planet or angular point (or the nodes) “sits” on that point. The Sun/Moo midpoint in the illustrative horoscope has no occupant. But the Jup/Nep midpoint is occupied by Mercury.
What does Ebertin have to say about Mer=Jup/Nep? “An active an intense imagination, rich powers of perception and visualization, the gift of inspiration.” This is Albert Einstein’s horoscope, did Ebertin nail it or what! It’s like this description was written specifically for Einstein. You would be hard pressed to come up with this interpretation without midpoints. Mercury is not in strong aspect to either Neptune or Jupiter.
Several decades after the seminal work by Ebertin, the astrologer Noel Tyl modernized and amplified the Ebertin’s word images of the midpoints in a book that was published in 1991, titled “Prediction in Astrology”. For the Mer=Jup/Nep midpoint activation, he writes “Active imagination; learning to communicate fancifully; visualization; changing character; inspiration.” This reads more or less like Ebertin’s description, to which Tyl adds two new meanings: “learning to communicate fancifully”, and “changing character”.
In the next post, I will get into some more details on midpoints and how to use them. For now, just a few small conventions to note:
- For any midpoint pair of planets, we always write the faster moving planet first. So we wrote Jup/Nep, not Nep/Jup. The exception is Sun/Moo because the Sun is the “stationary” center of the solar system.
- If the midpoint is for a planet-point pair, the point being midheaven, ascendant, or the nodes, the planet comes first, as in Jup/MC or Plu/Asc. MC is alternatively written as Mid, as in Jup/Mid, and Asc is alternatively written as AS, as in Plu/AS. Similarly, if the midpoint is for a planet-node pair, the planet comes first, as in Mar/Nod (Nod means north node, sometimes also written as NNo).
- For a midpoint between the node and MC or Asc, we write the node first, as in NNo/MC or NNo/Asc. Lastly, for the midpoint pair of MC and Asc, we write Asc/MC.
- A planet or point may not be repeated in a midpoint-trio configuration. For instance, in Einstein’s chart, Mercury is conjunct Saturn to within a degree of orb. Technically both Mercury and Saturn would be within the 2-degree acceptable orb of the midpoint between them. So we could write Mer=Mer/Sat, and Sat=Mer/Sat, but they wouldn’t give us any new information since there isn’t a different third entity.
- We don’t use write in IC, descendant, or south node in midpoints. The reason is explained in the next post, on indirect midpoints and the midpoint sort.