A few words on Midpoints

I have been asked to post a few words on my use of midpoints in many of the charts on this blog. I find midpoints to be quite indispensable in many cases of delineation, especially when rectification of the chart is needed, as we saw with the recent Israel piece. They are quite a useful tool in cases of rectification. But they are also very descriptive in terms of psychology, national horoscopes and in cases of medical astrology, but especially event charts. We will get to why they are so effective and also important after a little history.

Midpoints in astrology emerged out of Germany in the 1920s, starting with Alfred Witte, the force behind the Uranian school of thought in astrology. The school was formalized in 1925 by the physical founding of the Hamburg school. That date is of more than a little interest, especially to students of Alice Bailey’s works, as the 25th year of every century is a year, as a median date, when new occult dispensations are given out. That also happens at the 75th year. 1925 marked a period wherein there were some of the most significant advances in applied science for the 20th century, especially in the realm of physics. That was also an era of profound geopolitical shifts and events that would shape the remainder of the century.

Regarding geopolitical shifts, Witte began his investigations of midpoints during the first World War, when he was stationed on the Russian front. He was seeking a way to time the artillery barrages by the Russians, because conventional astrology, with its reliance on houses, standard rulerships and Ptolemaic aspects, was found to be lacking. Witte:

…established a sophisticated system of spatial reference and founded the Hamburg School. He was an occultist, psychic and astrological author. While serving on the Russian Front during WW I, 1914-1918, he attempted to predict the times that Russian artillery barrages would take place based on astrological records he kept of the sequence. He insisted that anomalies must be due to an incomplete reference and that other planets, as yet undiscovered, were responsible. The advocate of an esoteric and experimental astrology, he was the initiator of Uranian Astrology and one of its most progressive innovators.

Thus, midpoints are a more scientific approach to astrology, and as such, given the timing, it might be said that they were part of the dispensation that was given out to the world in that period. However, midpoints in astrology originated much further back than Witte’s use of them. They were originally investigated by Guido Bonati (1123–1300 ?) to refine timings in event charts. But his investigations involved Arabian Parts, primarily. Of interest to note is that his book, Liber Astronomiae, was published in 1277 (re: the 75th year of any century), and remained a classic book on astrology for two centuries. Bonati’s work was also based in predicting military events, and like Witte, he is said to have met a violent end. We’ll return to Witte a little later.

To round out the historical part of midpoints, there was another adherent to the system, one of Witte’s unofficial students, whom I have referenced several times: Reinhold Ebertin, founder of the Cosmobiology school of thought. He described his system as follows:

Cosmobiology is a scientific discipline concerned with the possible correlation between the cosmos and organic life and the effects of cosmic rhythms and stellar motion on man, with all his potentials and dispositions, his character and the possible turns of fate; it also researches these correlation and effects as mirrored by earth’s plant and animal life as a whole. In this endeavor, Cosmobiology utilises modern-day methods of scientific research, such as statistics, analysis, and computer programming. It is of prime importance, however, in view of the scientific effort expended, not to overlook the macrocosmic and microcosmic interrelations incapable of measurement.

Ebertin didn’t use Witte’s hypothetical planets, preferring instead to use only verifiable data. My work follows more on the Cosmobiological model than on Witte’s Uranian astrology, not to discount Witte’s work in any manner. Witte was the founder, the pioneer, and there was a certain purity in his approach, whether or not one agrees with his four hypothetical planets (later expanded to eight by one of his collaborators). With the preceding in mind, what exactly is an astrological midpoint? As the name suggests, it is the exact mathematical midpoint between two planets, angles of planets and angles. The formula, then, is (a+b)/2=c, where ‘a’ and ‘b’ are the main points, and ‘c’ equals the midpoint, since we are talking about mathematical precision. In astrology it is expressed, for example, as Sun/Jupiter=Mars.

Although the midpoint system appears simple on the surface, it can become quite complex when other planets form midpoints to the same midpoint, for example: Sun/Jupiter=Moon/MC. And there are frequently more than two planetary patterns that interact in such a manner. And, to top it all, the entire picture has to be taken into account, such as the prevailing conditions around the event or birth, conventional astrological factors in evidence, such as singular transits or progressions to planets or angles, house placement and so forth. One point of real interest here, though, is that neither the Uranian school or Cosmobiology use house systems as a general rule. The angles are the only points that are taken into account (Ascendant or Horizon axis, and the Midheaven or Meridian axis). We can add to this as well the Vertex axis. Let’s define some terms, then.

  • Midpoint, as defined above, often simply indicated by MP
  • Midpoint tree: a series of planetary midpoints that all share the same midpoint, with a third single planet on the midpoint
  • Modulus: the angular relation to the main midpoint. The most common is the 90° modulus, meaning the conjunction, square and opposition to the main midpoint. The 45° and 22.5° are used as well. The 45° modulus incorporates the semisquare and the sesquisquare, as well as all of the 90° modulus points. All of these are lumped into the main midpoint.
  • Planetary picture: The pattern that emerges from a chart. The sum of all the geometric patterns formed by the midpoints in any chart.

To expand on this a little, the midpoints are also implicated in Arabic Parts, but the latter are a little more complicated. The most famous of those is the Part of Fortune. Arabic Parts are based in the mathematics, a +/- b +/- c=d, where ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’ are the planets, other Parts, or angles and ‘d’ is the resulting Part. Chinese astrology is also a system that is very similar to the Arabic Parts, in that its ‘stars’ are derived from various other factors and relations in the basic Four Pillars chart. And then, ultimately, the modulus used in the midpoint structures becomes the basis of the harmonic chart. We won’t focus on those other charts or methods here. The midpoints are the basis, though. So, what exactly do they represent, these midpoints?

A midpoint can be seen as a type of node, an intersection of two planetary energies. Every pairing of planets and angles has such nodal/intersecting points. These are points where the planetary energies merge and become a separate, or integrating statement, depending on how one sees it. There are over 100 of such points in every chart, far more if one increases the modulus, and depending upon which points/planets one uses. In my own practice I include the Vertex, Ceres, Chiron and at times the dwarf planets (Eris, Orcus, Varuna, Huya, Ixion, etc.). These are all observable, verifiable points.

To give a little more explanation on how they work, the exact midpoint between two planets or angles in a chart establish the main, or original midpoint. The modulus will tell us where to find the other connections with the midpoint. For example, a 90° modulus will give us four places in a chart where planets or angles form contacts with the main point, meaning the conjunction, squares and opposition to the main point. These four points are all said to be “at the midpoint of” the original point, as the three aspects just mentioned all activate the original point. This activation of the midpoint is in the same vein as that of an eclipse. And in fact, the 90° modulus is analogous to the Aries points in astrology (the 0° of the cardinal signs).

Technically, one could use any modulus for the determination of midpoints, but the ones that cause the greatest activation (stimulation) are the 90° and the 45° moduli. Referring back to eclipses, not only are the cardinal/Aries points the most powerful when eclipses activated them, but so too are the 15th degrees of the fixed signs, thus forming semisquares and sesquisquares to the Aries points. The 15th degrees of the fixed signs are known for producing very strong, sometimes disastrous events when eclipses fall on them, along with their subsequent activations by transit. Thus, a midpoint formed by a 45° modulus can be just as powerful as one formed by a 90° modulus. But with a 45° modulus, there are then 8 points in a chart instead of four where planets and angles form activations of the main midpoint. In my own practice I always start with the 90° modulus. If those MPs describe the chart well enough, I see no need to go further. But for more depth, I always go to the 45° modulus.

One of the great value of midpoints is that they indicate a deeper level of psychology than do the standard aspects, placement in houses, signs, etc. This is what makes them so valuable in rectifications (corrections) of birth charts, including national charts. If the psychology of a person or nation does not fit the chart, then the chart is probably not correct, unless the person involved is able to overcome their own conditioning. Midpoints will also show the nature of health issues and of events in a way that ordinary astrology will not. So, the key phrase here is depth of insight, keeping in mind that the standard astrological interpretations still apply. In that vein, midpoints should be seen as one of the more useful tools in astrology, and they can give great precision in delineation.

All midpoints can be seen to be important, but there are some that come up again and again in consultations, and they bear mention here:

  • Sun/Moon: This is the basis, the male/female principles, and has a large bearing on relationships. It should take pride of place in interpretation, as it affects the vitality and basic biology of a person. It is often seen in relation to marriages, gender issues, divorces and childbirth.
  • Sun/Mars: a ‘vocation’ MP, often indicating success of failure in a career path. Sun/Uranus Sun/MC, Sun/Pluto and Mercury/MC are also important MPs.
  • Mars/Saturn: Otherwise known as the ‘death axis’. This is often indicated in cases of death, hence the name. It is also a MP that can indicate accidents, illness and poor decisions. It should always be checked for in relation to travel, for instance.
  • Saturn/Neptune: The ‘illness axis’. In questions of health, this MP should always be checked. Sun/Venus, Sun/Jupiter, Sun/Saturn, Sun/Neptune, Moon/Jupiter, Mercury/MC are also significant health MPs. This is especially relevant in wasting diseases, autoimmune disorders, diseases of difficult diagnosis and disorders of long duration.
  • Mars/Neptune: Another ‘illness axis’, but especially related to the blood, muscles, epidemics, weakness, poisonings and drug abuse.
  • Venus/Mars: another relationship point, especially related to sexuality. It represents people in love, the quality of sexual relations, one’s passions, but also nervous problems.

Of course, there are many MPs we could list, but these come up more often than others, as the ‘bread and butter’ of astrologers revolves frequently around what these MPs represent and their associated questions – career, health, family, etc. In the charts of nations, the above MPs all apply, but in terms of the collective, the outer planets, the Nodes and the Midheaven are especially important, along with Jupiter and Mercury, as they are all indicated in terms of collective destiny.

And in terms of importance, planets that form the foci of midpoint trees are quite important. In general, directions (primary and solar arc) to planets at the apex of midpoint trees are quite powerful and signify important events. Transits can activate MPs as well, but as the name suggests, they are more of a transitory nature. Directions (any system of directions can be used) can be seen in the same vein as eclipses, which are also important, although the effect is only for a year or a little better in the case of solar arcs or primary directions. And if an eclipse occurs on a significant MP, then the effect is greatly magnified, especially when a transiting planet activates the eclipse. Keep in mind, too, that when a directed planet makes a direction to another planet or angle, that also means that the entire midpoint tree of the directed planet is also directed to the planet receiving the direction. We see, then, that there is much to consider.

And then there is the orb to consider. Generally, the closer the orb, the more powerful the effect. And the accepted orb is seldom more than 1 to 1.5 degrees. The Sun/Moon MP can be extended to two degrees. And finally, directions simultaneously to two planets, even though there is not a MP, can be read as a MP. There is far more we could say, but perhaps the ideas are clear enough. An example will illustrate the preceding ideas rather clearly. To do so, we return to Alfred Witte, whose life ended in suicide at the age of 63, on 4 Aug 1941 at 4:01 am, Hamburg, Germany. His death was a tragic loss to the astrological community, one of its great pioneers gone. His chart at the time is below (bigger):

We cannot ask for a better proving of midpoints than to go directly to the source and certainly one of the most important events of his life. His death took place at the height of WWII in Germany. Witte’s work had been outlawed by the Nazis and his books burned. He was living in Hamburg at the time, and he feared for the safety of his family. He look his life rather than be sent to a concentration camp, and to protect his family. Many of his associates had already been arrested and sent to camps. As to the astrology, there were directions of Saturn and Neptune to his Pluto at the time, showing the deep depression in which he was caught. From Ebertin, “Pluto=Saturn/Neptune: Heavy emotional depression, difficult growth or development of one’s faculties. – A serious illness.”

Directed Neptune was also directed to both natal Pluto and the natal Node, forming a MP emphasis. Pluto/Node indicates the common destiny of a large mass of people. With Neptune, along with the depression he was feeling, the result was negative, giving separations and losses. Transiting Saturn squared his natal Mercury/Venus conjunction, which in and of itself does not indicate serious trouble, but Venus rules his 8th house (death). It was also transiting through the 8th house at the time. The directed Ascendant had reached an Aries point (0° Cap) and had activated the Uranus/MC MP, “sudden adjustments to new situations in life.” But more revealing is the direction of the MC to the Uranus/Pluto MP, “putting the gun to someone’s head, the enforcement of decisions”, in the negative. His suicide wasn’t exactly a positive development. With that direction we also had the following: Mars/Asc=Uranus/Pluto. These midpoint equivalents also indicate the conditions at the end of his life (IC indicates the conclusion of situations/end of life, esp. when the 8th house is involved) In midpoints, MC=IC always, as does Asc=Desc.

Mars/Asc when under stressful circumstances can give a tendency to act or react violently. Uranus/Pluto under stress can quite violent also, as indicated previously. But then, we might also conjecture that under these influences he might have chosen a more daring sort of path, which that combination can also indicate, in that he could have faced the camps, or tried to hide his family away somehow, fought against the charges or gone down in a blaze of glory, taking his would-be captors with him. But then his family would have paid the price. The key there is the depressing transit of Saturn square the highly idealistic Mercury/Venus conjunction. He probably felt he had no other options. In orthodox astrology such a transit can indicate a very dark period and separations from loved ones. We see, then, that all factors have to be taken into account.

Reiterating, we saw Saturn and Neptune both directed to Pluto, the directed IC (often indicated in charts of death) to the natal Uranus/Pluto MP, which also involved the direction of the Mars/Asc MP to the Uranus/Pluto MP. And with the transit of Saturn to the ruler of the 8th house, the picture was pretty well complete. There is more we could say, of course, but we are looking for the most potent indicators. The directed IC also shows his family.

And what of the ‘death axis’? It is not always indicated in deaths, but if it is activated, then there will frequently be deaths around a person if not the person in particular. In Witte’s case, the Mars/Saturn axis was directed to 23° of mutable signs, using the 90° modulus, and 8° of fixed signs using the 45° modulus – to his natal meridian axis, in other words, at 8°06 of Leo/Aquarius. This is one of the classic ‘death indicators’. Witte’s system proved itself, even to his ultimate demise. It is quite a testimony, really. And although we are not using his interpretations or his hypothetical planets, the basic principles still apply. And in midpoints, the 45° modulus is just as valid as the 90° modulus. As yet, I have found no need to use the 22.5° modulus, again not to say it is not a valid approach. From the chart we also note that the Mars/Saturn axis is nearly identical with the Sun/Moon axis.

Confused? Don’t be. It takes practice and looking at all the factors. A midpoint should never be considered in isolation. They all have multi-layered meanings. And probably the best way to learn them is to make simple statements of them, Mars/Saturn, for instance: energy/inhibitions, or ego drive/focus, or muscles/bones, or strength/direction. Thus we see that the Mars/Saturn midpoint can mean many things. In general it points to tests of strength. It can point to great debility, or violent reactions to restrictions or overcoming tremendous obstacles. In all, the result depends on all the other factors present in the chart.

A few parting words here. If one reads Ebertin’s, The Combination of Stellar Influences the interpretations will often appear to be quite negative. And they can be, even brutal sometimes. But then, life is brutal sometimes. This system evolved in a period of warfare, remember. Noel Tyl has taken Ebertin’s interpretations and ‘sanitized’ them, making them more palatable to present-day readers and more sensitive types. (See: Solar Arcs: Astrology’s Most Successful Predictive System) However, I find in consideration of events and national horoscopes, especially, that Ebertin’s descriptions are often spot-on. The same is true in his medical readings of midpoints. I am often called upon to do rectifications, and am often asked about matters of health. In those two areas I have found midpoints to be indispensable. Future posts here will feature more positive examples, especially with elections coming up. But with the world in its present state of flux, if we want to know the undercurrents of an event, a nation or person, then one really cannot go past the use of midpoints when considering the deeper meanings of a chart.

Featured image: Witte, a midpoint wheel and Ebertin

2 Replies to “A few words on Midpoints”

  1. It amazes me how astrologers have for so long overlooked or ignored midpoints. When I completed diploma studies more than 20 years ago, I had a rude awakening when I realised how limited traditional methodology was in being able to account for personality traits or events in the life of a native.

    Why this is so remains unexplainable considering the advances that have been made in computing which renders the cumbersome maths redundant. My only explanation is that astrologers are not being trained properly to see the effects coming from midpoints.

  2. I agree, Ian. The approach with midpoints was born out of empirical data and investigations and cannot really be ignored. Astrologers do so to their detriment. I have found midpoints to be highly descriptive and accurate since I started using them. And I did so because the common methods of astrology fell short. Midpoints are especially useful in mundane and medical astrology, as well as being accurate in describing one’s personality. They are indeed a rich resource and, I would say, an indispensable tool.

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