If there is one secret to astrological insight and accuracy above others, what might it be? One main collecting principle, a focal lens of light around which the more intricate patterns can grow towards making sense? Several suggestions would at this point be made by different students and practitioners of the art of astrology. Some would argue for the holy trinity of the Sun, Moon and Ascendant's zodiac sign positions as a quick and handy summoning principle. Others will lean towards a more structural perspective in the Marc Edmund Jones way, seeing the patterning of planets in different energy formations as a skeletal foundation of the psyche. Related to this approach is the search for aspect configurations such as the "Grand trine" or "T-cross", indicating deep and colourful themes of the personality. Yet another suggestion is scanning for planets at important angular positions, meaning at or near one of the four main "corner" positions produced by the daily rotation of the earth's axis (rising, setting, elevated or lowest "nadir" position). This approach would emphasize one or a couple of planets as dominating the immediate psychological and sometimes physical expression of a person.
All these ideas have great merit, yet standing alone do not suffice to exemplify the driving, distinctive motif of a horoscope. The sun-moon-ascendant combination approach reveals much of the potential in temperament and "color tone" of an individual. Still, it won't set her apart from others in a fully satisfying way, nor explain any driving, compelling force of the nature. The structural methods may do this, but are on the other hand too rigid and set in advance to be quite satisfactory. Finally, an angular planet or two can indeed reduce the sauce to a manageable and illuminating focus, but won't reveal enough in its limited scope.
So, what is the magic alternative when the combination of all the above seems too vast or time-consuming? The simple and somewhat unfortunate answer is that there is no step-by-step magic alternative, but rather what could be termed an intuitive merging of horoscope themes. The basis for this is that any strong influence is either imbued with extra power and potential, or instead left in isolation by other factors. Usually we end up with some type of configuration that best unites two or sometimes three main components. Instead of determining zodiac sign temperament or structural logic within the horoscope, one will search for a border-crossing motif that sings, paints and reasons all at once. How is it to be done? It is a matter for the eye, mind and intuitive faculty in unison. The problem with the method (if there is an actual method) is that it will not work on all horoscopes. Many natal charts are less distinct in dictating a direction for the life and personality, and so unwinding their individuality is more difficult. Such cases need more rigorous and systematic study. Let's look at an example. The chart belongs to Edgar Cayce, one of the most famous American psychics, performing over 20 000 readings throughout his life. Cayce reported his visions through some form of self-induced state of sleep.Click on image for larger version
It's impossible to ignore the dominating stellium of planes in Pisces around the eighth house cusp here, but it is the task of the intuitive-theme searcher to find complementing and illuminating energies that direct and explain these influences. So, from the unusually strong Pisces/8th house influence (a quick scan also reveals that out of the Pisces planets, Mercury, Venus and Saturn are all quite closely conjunct) we figure there is potential for great sensitivity and for some form of spiritual quest, and with the 8th house connection some would point to psychology or occultism. By now an astrologer, without the final knowledge that we are endowed with, may very well have begun to think in terms of sensitivity to any potential "other side" of life. Perhaps mediumship, ESP, parapsychology, clairvoyance or spiritism. Or simply devoted religion, though a strong ninth house may have been even more likely.
Anyway, we quickly collect the fact that the Moon and Pluto, planets relating to the inner world of man, are elevated near the Midheaven in Taurus. This indicates something about the occupational possibilities and interests of Edgar Cayce. In Taurus, these subtle planets may embark on a healing/counselling mission. Neptune hovers at the beginning of the same sign. At the same time, Mars and Jupiter supports the Pisces stellium just like the Taurus planets do, this time from another earth sign, Capricorn. We can visually sense and approximate the harmonious triangle of earth surrounding the Pisces stellium, and we understand, perhaps, that this shows the potential for physically manifesting and harnessing the spiritual energies suggested by Pisces/8th house. This twofold influence, Pisces stellium in the eighth house sextiled by earth planets from two directions, presents us with the main theme of the horoscope.
However, one thing remains - most likely both aiming device and trigger of the unusual talent of this humble man. There is Uranus, closely conjunct the Ascendant and hence angular in a most powerful way (provided the birth time is reasonably correct). Here, the erratic genius of Uranus opens up the deepest intuitive faculties with amazing effect and speed. Uranus is a true catalyst, and when in cahoots with the ascendant will often produce automatic brilliance in some endeavour. This exemplifies how theme-searching astrology can work, in this case finding two focal influences that are triggered by a third, even though Cayce's horoscope seems more obvious than most.