Why I Don’t Use Midpoints, Fixed Stars, Asteroids and Minor Aspects

Most people tend to mix with like minded souls, so its likely that astrologers do so too. That being the case its a fair bet that the average astrologer comes across someone talking about left / right brain issues on a regular basis.

Its hard to know exactly what is meant by the left / right brain but generally the person talking about it will be thinking in terms of the difference between academic and emotional intelligence. It is a kind of Air / Water division.

Its also highly likely that the person airing this view will be wanting to stress their own association with the right brain side of things. It’s probably not so common a topic of conversation amongst left brain science types.

Astrology is a symbolic science and many of its followers talk in terms of getting a” feel ” for the symbols and working from there.

So if we are presented with the chart of a famous female movie star we look for connections between the Moon, Venus and possibly Neptune because we feel that those planetary symbols match the energy that we are looking for.

Likewise if we are dealing with the chart of a serial killer we look for Mars, Saturn and Pluto.

When we find a connection between some of these planets we say we have the indication we are looking for. This is the right side of the brain in operation. But how far will we go in search of this connection ? Is any link permissible ?

And what would someone operating more from the left side of the brain have to say about this method ?

If there is such a division between left and right, you would think that the ideal would be for someone to be using both sides evenly and in balance.

Capricorn Research believes that many people making observations on the basis of astrology focus to much on the symbolic feel for something and in the process can lose sight of the logic of what they are actually claiming.

What they are losing is the grasp of the statistics of astrological phenomena. When we make statements about a link between planetary positions and phenomena or human behaviour we need to know whether what we are saying has significance or would those actions just have occurred purely by chance ?

Obviously when we are just dealing with Sun signs, we know where we are with this. If someone is an assertive, direct and competitive person with quick reactions and temper and we know they have the Sun in Aries, we know that we have made a significant symbolic link because the chances of having the Sun in this sign are 1 in 12.

They might not have the Sun in that sign, but possibly the Moon or Mars there, so we can still with a degree of confidence point to this as a fair indication even though we know that we have now reduced the chances to 1 in 4.

But if we allow any of the 10 classical planets to be our indicator it becomes meaningless because we are operating more or less at the level of chance.

This might seem strange but Capricorn Research has read quite confident pronouncements about the assertive character of a person based on the fact that they have Uranus in Aries, despite the fact that everyone born within a 7 year period will share this placing.

This is all relatively simple when dealing with signs but becomes very much more complicated when looking at aspects.

And Capricorn Research is willing to bet that many astrologers making a pronouncement about a person’s behaviour do not have a clear sense of how often such a link would occur through chance alone.

Take as an example the chart of a serial killer. As already suggested we would look for connections between Mars, Saturn and Pluto.

If we give ourselves the standard orb for a major aspect of 8 degrees, this means that the conjunction takes 16, the opposition 16, and the squares 32. So if we find one of these between Mars and Pluto we know its significant because its 64 degrees out of 360, so we have something that is almost 6 times greater than chance.

We might not find a Mars / Pluto but perhaps Mars is square Saturn so we confidently say that is the connection even though we are now operating at 3 times greater than chance.

But what if its not Mars but we see the Sun in hard aspect to Pluto or Saturn ? We are now down to just under 1.5 times greater than chance.

However, it might be the Moon. In the chart of Belgian serial murderer Marc Dutroux there are no major aspects between the Sun or Mars to Saturn or Pluto but the Moon is conjunct Saturn and square Pluto.

Now its perfectly reasonable to see these lunar aspects as the link to Dutroux’s murderous activity and we might back it up by saying the Sun is conjunct the Ascendant in Scorpio but in fact we are allowing something ( Sun, Moon, Mars in major aspect to Saturn or Pluto ) that would come up in more charts than not simply by chance.

It goes without saying that the more options we give ourselves in terms of aspects the more likely we are to be finding something that would have occurred anyway.

Some astrologers would include the trine or sextile aspect between some of these planets, many would say that its important to look at inconjunctions because of their particular connections with the 8th house of death.

Obviously the minor aspects would be given smaller orbs but we are still giving ourselves more options and thereby increasing the likelihood of our findings being no more than chance.

Even if we come back to one pair of planets, say Mars and Pluto, the trines would take 32 degrees, the sextiles even with a 4 degree orb would take 16, inconjunctions with a 2 degree orb would take 8.

If we allow a 2 degree orb for quintiles, septiles, semisquares, sesquiquadrates and biquintiles as well, we have reduced the chances of our link having a meaning from 1 in 6 for the conjunction, opposition and squares to little over 1 in 2.

And even without looking at the Sun or Moon, just Mars in relation to Saturn or Pluto will only score roughly the same as chance.

The trouble is the right side brain will see a sesquiquadrate or an inconjunction between Mars and Saturn and feel that this is the significant link. We tend to forget that we would have also allowed all the other aspects, and just focus on the one we see. We think we have got it, when in fact all we have got is something that would have occurred by chance anyway.

This is without even beginning to look at midpoints. Reinhold Ebertin was a German physician and astrologer who brought together research done by Alfred Witte to write the classic on midpoints. Ebertin together with his book ” The Combination of Stellar Influences ” evokes a left brain approach to the study of astrology.

I feel at this point in the article its important to say that I’m not against the use of midpoints or minor aspects or fixed stars or anything else. I simply want to show the impact of these choices.

Each combination of planets has a midpoint. So the Mars at 0 degrees Aries and the Moon at 20 degrees Cancer would have a midpoint of 25 degrees Taurus. So if the Sun were at 25 Scorpio it would be said to be opposite the Moon / Mars midpoint.

The problem with this is the fantastic number of options that it gives us. Each planet can connect with 36 different other planetary midpoints ( the Sun to Moon / Mercury, Moon / Venus etc ). If we include the Ascendant and Midheaven there are many more.

If we give ourselves a tiny 1 degree orb and just allow conjunctions, oppositions and squares, just the Sun’s possible midpoint connections will cover the whole 360 degrees of the Zodiac. And that’s without looking at the midpoint possibilities of the other planets plus Ascendant, Midheaven etc.

When we look at a chart and we see for example that the Ascendant is square the Mars / Pluto midpoint we start to hook the chart and the person’s experience to our understanding of the symbols of Mars and Pluto.

The chances of the Ascendant having an aspect to the Mars / Pluto midpoint are very small, one out of 45 so we think we have uncovered something significant.

But we forget that we are doing this because we want to see a Mars / Pluto signature and we haven’t been able to find one in terms of the actual aspects between the two planets so we are looking at midpoints and we are open to the possibility of any one of the major chart features, ( Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Midheaven ) having a connection with Mars / Pluto. We would probably also accept a midpoint link in reverse ( ie Mars being opposite the Sun / Pluto midpoint ).

So our desperation to find a Mars / Pluto connection for our serial killer has led us to the point where our connections are no better than chance, but we think we have uncovered something very significant.

And all this applies without venturing into territory beyond the conventional 10 planets. Once we start to bring in asteroids and fixed stars and arabic parts and all manner of things that are commonly used by both traditional and modern astrologers alike, we are simply creating more and more opportunities to find a link, without admitting that we would have taken all the other ones too.

Anyone with a GCSE in statistics would drive a coach and horses through it and be far less complimentary than anything I would say.

But when someone from the scientific world points this out we dismiss their arguments as being left brain obsessed and lacking the understanding of what astrology actually is.

When it comes to discussing different parts of the brain and their functions its easy to get mixed up. But there is a clear difference between the parts that are processing information and thought and those that deal with spatial awareness and the orientation of one’s body in space.

Some people have one operating more strongly than the other. We might use Stephen Hawking and Wayne Rooney as examples.

I am happy for astrology to be a symbolic science and for astrologers to have a feel for the links that they observe. But it would also be helpful if there was a bit more awareness of the actual 360 degree space that we operate in. How frequently would these connections occur within that space ? This might help us to know whether the particular connections we are making are relevant or just simply chance and therefore meaningless.

This is why I use a very narrow palette, sticking to just the conjunctions, oppositions and squares and only using the 10 classical planets. Its not because I don’t believe that the other things work, its just that I don’t wish to present astrology in a way that can’t stand up to statistical analysis.



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12 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Use Midpoints, Fixed Stars, Asteroids and Minor Aspects

  1. Yes, I agree, and the more factors we use, the more rope we give our enemies with which to hang us. Some branches of astrology could do with a good dose of Saturnian rigour. Okay, time to get down from my soap box. Thanks very much for replying to my comment.

  2. I began to study midpoints after being schooled in Western (traditional) astrology and began to find that the former method offers a more sharper focus to what is actually going on in the chart. Your comment about a “fantastic number of options” is valid and has been used against astrology when sceptics say that if there are enough factors at one’s disposal, then you can explain just about anything.

    This is potentially true with midpoints when you consider there are 78 combinations under Ebertin’s system which are capable of producing an overkill of data. The solution to this is to use very tight orbs, and by tight I mean something like 30′ of arc or less especially when looking at a 45° sort. This should show you where the action is taking place!

    • Thanks Ian. As I said in the article I am not against people using midpoints, fixed stars, asteroids or minor aspects. But even if you are just using 30′ orbs, 78 combinations with at least 7 different aspects ( if you’re using 45 degrees ) you have already covered the whole Zodiac 1.5 times.
      Using midpoints to explain a connection to something is not statistically useful because its likely that connection would have occurred by chance alone given the many combinations that occur, however tight the orbs.

  3. thank you so much!!! i am so tired of things like yod pallas ceres midheaven grand trine chiron vesta ascendant juno inconjunct pallas. it is exasperating . yet the same site might overlook an exact t square involving planets only , or a grand trine was not counted because the midheaven was NOT considered .but in another aspect eros was . ridiculous unschooled amateurism. scares me .if we want astrology to be taken seriously , we must remain serious , and focused .

  4. Just read this and thought thank goodness someone who does drive a coach and horses through the bullshit of so called astrologers who charge so much plutonian money to prove some stupid point. It’s cheered me up no end so thank you. And as for all the asteroids, eris etc, etc. After studying everyday for 5 years the unfortunate conclusion I have come to is that there is only one God and he is money. If you have plenty of it your life is so much better, richer in every way. So, a bit peed off with that, well more than a bit actually as I’m old and never had any. When you dispassionately look at a chart of say Trump and Boris, nothing in particular in them except lots of family money. Pluto rules OK. I have actually hated finding that out.

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