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Enriching Aspects

“Astrological Aspects: A Process Oriented Approach” by Dane Rudhyar and Leyla Rael

Dane Rudhyar was a 20th Century astrologer who wrote deeply thought-out, very profound books on astrology. In this book on astrological aspects, he demonstrates how a richer understanding of each aspect in the chart can be found when looking at the cycle of the two planets. The chart is never static, he believes, but always in motion, always showing growth – or, if one does not choose to accept growth, the reverse.

Just as the Sun and Moon complete a cycle each month, with the Moon first meeting the Sun in a dark and hidden space, waxing gradually into fullness, then waning back into darkness again, any two planets perform the same ritual. The faster moving planet takes the role of the Moon, while the slower moving planet anchors the cycle just as the Sun does in the lunar cycle.

Dane Rudhyar carries the reader through each step of the cycle, pausing at each 30° increment to assess its meaning. At the Venus-Mars conjunction, for example, the principle of relatedness meets the energy of independence, self-will. This is the “Well-spring” of the cycle, as the two energies begin their journey of working together within the psyche and life of the individual. This is considered Phase 1, with the subsequent phases to unfold as follows:


Phase 2 (30° or waxing semi-sextile) – brings a “focusing” as Venus begins to assert herself and gets a sense at the 45° (waxing semi-square) angle that there is a path she is treading. She senses a goal, much as a child would imagine what she might be when she grows up.

Phase 3 (60° or waxing sextile) – indicates organizing, as Venus begins to relate or create, yet still anchored by the self-will of Mars. This is much like the child going off to school, getting some objectivity from home but still rooted in family life.

Phase 4 (90° or waxing square) – is a time of “decision,” a cutting away from source. The child is now a teenager, with his own set of values and priorities. Venus here would be taking on relationships that run counter to one’s will and self-interest.

Phase 5 (120° or waxing trine) – has the keyword “expressing.” With Venus in a waxing trine to Mars, harmony is established. The decisions made at the square are able to be executed. Venus finds connections which balance with Mars’ need for independence and leadership. At the 135° angle of this phase, however, there is a testing of the commitment made at the square. The child has now gone to college, appreciating the independence balanced with support from home, but questioning whether she is on the right path.

Phase 6 (150° of waxing quincunx) – indicates as the planets are approaching their opposition, this is a phase of “improvement.” What needs to be done before reaching fulfillment? What does Venus need to learn about relationships before she finally finds that balance between self and other she seeks? The child has finished his education but is struggling to find a job, to get a career moving forward. What does he need to do to reach that final point of independence?

At this point, Rudhyar pauses to explain the transition from the waxing to the waning phase. In organic matter, a plant, for example, the waxing phase indicates the plant’s growth and flowering, and the waning phase describes the plant’s decomposition, as it drops its fruit to the ground, releasing the seeds which bring the next cycle. With human beings, though, growth is just beginning in the waning phase. As the planets move from the conjunction to the opposition, we are experiencing life, bringing in new people, skills, challenges. After the opposition, we process that experience, we understand the meaning of what has happened to us. We accept certain truths about ourselves and the world we live in, and we learn to release what is false. And this process is described in the phases of the waning cycle.


Phase 7 (180° opposition) – is described as “realizing.” We objectively see ourselves in the polar opposites of the two planets. Venus wants to relate; Mars wants to maintain independence. Compromises need to be made. The child is now an adult, independent, but realizes that her power comes at the cost of leaving behind what has made her secure. It’s not quite the life she envisioned.

Phase 8 (210° or waning quincunx) – indicates “sharing.” One adjusts to the realities of life and begins to give it meaning. Venus understands the perfect relationship which meets all of her needs does not exist; she will have to bring her will and energy to the relationship. Our adult settles into a career very different from the one he imagined and yet finds purpose in his work.

Phase 9 (240° or waning trine) – tells us that we have reached “understanding.” Rudhyar refers to this as the harvest of the cycle. Compromises have been reached, and our Venus and Mars are functioning well as a couple. Our adult is advancing and contributing through her career, understanding that her childhood dreams may never be realized, but something more meaningful has emerged in her life.

Phase 10 (270° or waning square) brings a “revaluing.” Just as there was a cutting away from the roots at the waxing square, there is now a cutting away from the life one has built at the waning square. Venus says, I want more, and Mars waits to find out what she decides. Our adult is having a mid-life crisis, believing, there must be more to life than this. It’s time to quit my job and sail around the world, or start that business I have always dreamed of.

Phase 11 (300° or waning sextile) is a time of “reorganizing.” The cutting away of the waning square has been accomplished, and life begins again on new terms. Venus and Mars have a more equitable relationship. Our adult has grown out his beard, bought a motorcycle, and started a part time business which still gives him a work-life balance. At the 315° mark, the waning semi-sextile, he starts to think of the future, a future he will no longer be part of, and what will his life have mattered after he is gone.

Phase 12 (330° or waning semi-sextile) – is the point of “releasing.” What is no longer needed is let go, and what remains goes into a mysterious limbo of things dying and other things waiting to be born. Venus is not sure where she begins and ends in relation to Mars. She surrenders and accepts that what she has contributed may or may not be part of the new cycle. Our adult cannot keep up her home and turns to an assisted living arrangement. She stops going into her office after her partner takes over the business. She spends curating old photo albums, wondering if anyone will take interest in them. She watches her grandchildren play and imagines the lives they will live which she will never see. Eventually, she feels herself to be one with the force of the universe which carried her into this cycle of life and is now carrying her away. To what, she has no knowledge but she releases the need to know.

Bringing this understanding to each of the aspects in our charts, then, enriches what the planets are seeking to accomplish in their relationship to each other. Are they in the waxing, the growing in experience, phase? Or are they in the waning, the learning from experience phase?

If we look at a very dominant force in Bill Gates’ chart for example, the Moon, we can understand the role of waxing and waning cycles in his chart. Because Bill Gates was born at night, the Moon is the primary light, and it is given particular emphasis because it is the highest planet in his chart and the only planet above the horizon, in the public sphere. All the need for independence, doing things his own way, and being first in everything of an Aries moon is on full display.

Being the fastest moving body in the chart, we can see that it is in the waxing phase with six of the other nine planets. It wants to experience, gather more, grow bigger and say, Look at me!” It’s interesting, too, that the Sun, Neptune, Mercury and even Mars (not quite at exact opposition) fall in the waxing quincunx phase of the cycle, the “improving” phase, which indicates a time of dissatisfaction and a need to perfect before meeting the opposition. Bill Gates is notoriously a difficult boss, and he has a great drive to “improve” the world through his charitable foundation. With his Venus Saturn conjunction, the aspect falls in the waxing trine phase, showing his ability to build (Saturn) wealth (Venus) and power (Scorpio).

And what about the planets in the waning phase with the Moon? Uranus, Jupiter and Pluto all in the second house (with the Jupiter Pluto conjunction indicating wealth), all in the waning sextile, receive the benefit of the experiences he has gathered in the world. All the energy poured into his bank account.

While the material in this book takes time to grasp, once it is learned, this system for examining aspects opens up a wealth of meaning for the practicing astrologer.


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