The angles of a horoscope are the Ascendant-Descendant axis and MC-IC axis. Our perception of the world and our interaction with it, are concentrated and channeled through the end points of these axes. People with planets in the angular houses–the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th–connect with the world much more visibly than others. It’s as if they have an obligation to deal with the outside world in ways that people with planets in non-angular houses don’t. People with planets in angular houses, especially when these planets are very close to the angles, are inclined to fame in various degrees. On the other hand, such visibility draws extra scrutiny, as well as undue demands on their time.
In contrast, people with no planets in the angular houses, or planets in angular houses at a safe distance from the angles (say over 10 degrees away) have much less of an obligation to deal with the world. Not being in other people’s eye, they have the freedom to do what they please. Attention and fame may mean much less to them. For instance, someone with a strongly tenanted 5th house might be very creative, and spend much of their waking hours writing fiction. If they have a planet or two very close to the the angles, they may get published and their creative pursuit might grow into a full-time occupation. If not, they may continue to write as a hobby and derive a great amount of pleasure from it, while holding down a stress-free job that provides sufficiently for a comfortable living.
When you glance at a horoscope, note the modes in which the angles are placed and see how these modes compare with those in which the Sun, Moon, and planets through Saturn are placed. (The sign/mode of the outer planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are less important.) Say the angles are in mutable signs (Gemini, Sagittarius, Virgo, Pisces), but most of the planets are in fixed signs (Leo, Aquarius, Taurus, Scorpio). What does this say? The world needs this person to be flexible, but the planets drive the life, and they want to adopt a course and stick with it. This makes the person feel they are not quite up to the demands of life which seemingly keep asking her to be one way today, and another way tomorrow, which she is just not cut out to be.
Or, say the angles are in cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn), and the planets are mostly in mutable signs. The cardinal element is given to initiate actions that lead to rewards, and is extremely result-oriented. On the other hand, the mutable element is into taking things as they come, and enjoying a slew of experience without any particular agenda. This sets up a conflict: the world is asking for results, but the planetary energies are saying “Results, what results? We just want a breadth of experience”.
Often, the ascendant-descendant axis will be in a different element than the MC-IC axis. For instance, if the ascendant is in Leo (descendant in Aquarius) and the MC is in Gemini (IC in Sagittarius), then the ascendant-descendant axis is in the fixed element and the MC-IC axis is in the mutable element. The way this person interacts one-on-one with others in their circle will give the appearance of equanimity and stability, perhaps to the point of stubbornness. On the other hand, their public image (and private life) will be oriented toward seeking experiences in diverse areas and an easy going nature. The MC in the signs of Gemini and Pisces in particular–the so-called double-bodied mutable signs–generally shows up in the form of multiple professions either simultaneously or sequentially in the life.
While a planet will strike a discordant note with an angle that is in a different element, conflicts may also arise because the planet is in a house whose nature is different than the element of an angle. Consider the ascendant in a cardinal sign that is tuned to the world in a way that speaks of initiative and challenge. But the Sun and Moon may be in the 12th house, which by its nature is reclusive. The world is asking this person to move and shake, but they just want to be left alone!
Or, say the MC is in a fixed sign but the Sun is in the 3rd house which by is nature is curious, mobile, given to juggling several ideas, embracing a variety of experiences. The MC is asking this person to walk an unwavering path that projects an image of solidity while the Sun wants nothing more than to go where it feels like at any point in time. The MC in Leo wants the person to come across as a leader, but the 3rd house Sun has no such desire–leadership means constancy, something it can’t relate to. The MC in Aquarius wants the person to be firmly tethered to a cause, while the 3rd house Sun doesn’t really believe in causes.
Of course in both these scenarios, the Sun may also be in a fixed sign, in which case there is not such discord. For instance, if the MC is in Leo, the IC is in Aquarius, so a 3rd house Sun might also be in Aquarius. On the other hand, if the Sun were in the previous sign of Capricorn, then the 3rd house nature will still have the Sun wanting a variety of experiences, but being in Capricorn, the energy is tuned to making something constructive out of this variety along the 3rd house facility of communication: write a book, or do a podcast, or any productive activity with turns experiences into tangible outcomes.
Take a look at your own horoscope and you can quickly figure see how the elements of your angles might compare/contrast with the elements of your Sun, Moon and planets up to Saturn. Then work out how the relationship between these two factions of elements resonates with your life, in terms of your relationship to the world as well as your inner life. Going a little deeper, how do you see planets in the angular houses (if any) corresponding to your desire for an active engagement with the world? Of if you have no planets in the angles, do you actively distance yourself from worldly obligations, or try and limit them so you have more free time to engage in pursuits that are purely for your own satisfaction?