An Introduction to Helio Astrology

Moderator: Michael Erlewine

An Introduction to Helio Astrology

Postby Michael Erlewine on Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:30 am

Nothing has changed me more astrologically than the discovery of my heliocentric chart and what it told me about myself. Since there does not seem to be any other posters, I feel free to start out with a description of what the helio system is all about. Please forgive me if this is too introductory.

From my point of view at that time I discovered helio for mysef, heliocentric planetary positions were just another astrological coordinate system that had to be programmed. After, all, I learned early on that to get our standard geocentric astrological chart planets, I first had to calculate their heliocentric positions and then convert those positions to the ones astrologers have used for centuries. That is the way astronomers still do it today, for the most part.

It never occurred to me that this Sun-centered perspective, these heliocentric planet positions, had any other or any markedly different meaning than the geocentric planet positions I had been using for many years. They were all the same to me, or so I thought.

Heliocentric Astrology?

In fact, many astrologers wondered why the heliocentric planet positions should even interest astrologers. After all, we don’t live on the Sun. We live here on Earth. It was just another piece of programming work as far as I knew, but I was curious to find out what my helio chart looked like.

It took some time working with the helio system before it began to dawn on me that I was now working in a different coordinate system, one which offered a different perspective or view of my favorite astrological subject, me. And my approach to heliocentrics was by definition traditional. After all, up to that point all I had ever known was standard geocentric astrology, the same astrology that had been used by astrologers for centuries. I had nothing to compare my astrology to and no idea that there was or could be another point of view. Standard geocentric traditional astrology as I knew it up to that point was my only point of view.

There Were No Helio Ephemerides

Now all of this was still some years before home computers. There were no accurate ephemerides of heliocentric positions outside of the governments “American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac,” which did list heliocentric positions for the current year only. And there was one remarkable book by an astrologer (Hugh McCraig) called “The 200 Year Ephemeris,” and it had rough heliocentric positions, but only for the first of each month. But by that point, my curiosity was peaked and I definitely wanted to know more about this new coordinate system, the heliocentric.

I spent many months trying to find a solution to getting heliocentric planet positions, armed only with my little calculator. In the end I found I had to create my own heliocentric ephemeris, which became my first published book. It was called “The Sun is Shining,” and it was an accurate heliocentric ephemeris that covered a 400-year span of time, starting from 1750. This was 1975. For me at that time, this was a remarkable effort on my part. Why would I go to all this trouble?

The answer has to do with what I was finding out about those heliocentric positions and charts, so let’s get on to that.

Helio Work

As I slowly learned more about heliocentric astrology, I brought all of my traditional astrological knowledge with me. After all, that was the only knowledge I had. And of course, I found that everything worked well in the helio system. I looked at signs, aspects, and what not. It was all very familiar. Some things, however, were different. For example, there is no Moon and no house system in helio astrology, for those have only to do with the earth and standard geocentric astrology. At first, things did seem a little Spartan, with no Moon and no houses.

But then I began to have a very unusual experience, and with it many of my traditional astrological techniques began to just sort of fall away. It was not that all of these traditional techniques I had been using for so long were not meaningful; of course they were. Instead, it was the fact that something brand new was emerging from all of this helio work, something I could not ignore, and that was a brand new view of myself, of me. It was so earth-shaking that I kind of just left off at applying my traditional astrological tools and turned to stare at and study what I was now seeing.

Another Dimension

All this did not happen in a day. It took time for what I was slowly realizing to sink in, for me to “get it,” the fact that this was a very different vision of me that I was seeing in this heliocentric mirror. Here were the same planets, the same exact birth time… everything was the same, except one thing: I was now looking at my birth from a different perspective, a different view, and getting an alternate picture of myself. It was like suddenly getting a second opinion, when up to then I never knew one even existed. Until then I thought I was my astrology chart, and so on. All of my astrological life there had been only that one chart of me, but suddenly I had another and very different view on the same subject, and that subject was me.

The Techniques

In the beginning, as mentioned, when I compared my heliocentric chart to the geocentric chart I was so used to, I noticed that the planets were not always in the same places. Let me give you an example: Mars.

My geocentric Mars is in tropical Aries. Mars in Aries, just about as hot a place as you could name for Mars, and astrologers had chided me about this for virtually ever. And I did have a bit of a temper. Everyone could see that.

Now along comes the helio chart, where my Mars is in Aquarius, not in Aries. So, outwardly (geo) my Mars is in Aries, but inwardly (helio) it actually is in Aquarius. Actually, out there in the solar system, as it circled around the Sun, my Mars was in Aquarius and not in Aries. It only appears to be in Aries because the earth is embedded in the solar system and from its vantage point Mars appears to be in Aries, when it actually is in Aquarius. What was I to thinking? This point requires a bit of a digression.

The Helio Perspective

It might help to better understand just what the helio perspective is, which in turn should make clearer just what the geo perspective is, the one we astrologers have been using since folks first did astrology – way back when. It is funny that we can walk around with our idea of our self and never think to question it, in particular if that is all we have ever known. Certainly that is what I had been doing, astrologically speaking. Up until that point, I had nothing else to compare my chart to. I am reminded of the classic jazz tune by Les McCann, called “Compared to What?” Good question!

Compared to What?

In a word, our traditional geocentric natal chart is nothing other than a snapshot of the heliocentric solar system as seen from the earth’s perspective at the moment of our birth. That’s just what it is, a snapshot or picture of the heliocentric solar system, the same one scientists used to get a space capsule to Mars.

In other words, our traditional geocentric natal chart is simply a snapshot of the whole solar system, a picture taken as the earth rides around the Sun in its yearly orbit. Keep in mind that the earth is forever embedded within the helio solar system, you know, the ‘third stone from the Sun” sort of thing. We are inside that solar system looking out and around, and whatever we see from in there is a snapshot taken from within that solar system.

Our Embedded Perspective

By that very fact, we should know that we will not be seeing the planets and the solar system as they are in themselves (in relation to their center the Sun), but only as the earth sees them from its embedded perspective, therefore: the two views, geo and helio.

We have the view of the solar system from earth and we have the view of the solar system as it actually is to itself, with each of the planets (including earth) orbiting the Sun in whatever zodiac position they happen to be. Again, the most important point here is to answer the question: what is the standard geocentric natal chart a snapshot or chart of?

And the answer is: it is a snapshot of the heliocentric solar system as seen from earth. Therefore and here is the “therefore” folks:


If the earth’s perspective (natal chart) of the helio solar system is so important to us, why is the view or chart of the helio solar system itself not important to us? That is a good question. In fact, the helio chart is important, at least as important as the traditional snapshot we have of it, the one we call our standard natal chart. In my many years of research in this topic, I have come to understand that the helio view is more important for some crucial information about ourselves, especially if we want to get down to the very heart of our personal astrology and speak of our Life Path or Dharma. The helio chart is just that.

Yet, astrologers don’t use the helio chart. We might ask why and how? All of this came about from a very simple mistake that happened a long time ago, when astrologers and astronomers first discovered that it was the earth that orbited the Sun and not vice versa.

Way Back When

Way back then, the road diverged and astronomers went one way and astrologers went another.

Actually, it would be more correct to say that the astronomers went both ways and astrologers went one way, for astronomers have to be totally familiar with both geocentric and heliocentric positions, and so they are. Astrologers on the other hand never picked up on heliocentric astrology and somehow just walked on, armed only with their traditional geocentric perspective. They never looked back, until now. I am one of a few modern astrologers who are taking a second look at heliocentric astrology, and it is about time. Why is this so important for astrologers?

The Other Way Around

The discovery that Earth orbited the Sun was not another insignificant piece of science; it was earthshaking. It took a little time, but it turned the world of astronomy as it was then upside down. It was a revolutionary idea, no pun intended.

The heliocentric perspective, once grasped, explained every anomaly that had been troubling astronomers for all those centuries, during which it was thought that the Sun orbited the Earth, and not vice versa. A simple change of center and all the discrepancies fell into place, like magic. It changed how the world saw itself, forever.

Esoteric Meaning

And now I want to ask each of you a question. In the study of astrology, which depends so very much on what things mean, on signs and houses, and aspects and what not, we are used to amplifying whatever signs or signals the cosmos presents to us and interpreting what those signs might mean to our life here on earth.

What goes on out there and what happens down here on Earth are not merely linked; they are synchronous. It is the same thing happening out there in the heavens that is happening down here on earth and at the same time. That is the modern astrological view.

And yet, a discovery as revolutionary as the discovery of heliocentric astrology was not picked up on and interpreted by astrologers at that time or (for the most part) since that time. Astrologers just ignored it, and it is my belief that that ignorance has cost astrologers dearly.

It was then that the astronomy part of us and the astrologer in us parted company, the astronomers (who went on to become pure scientists) stopped using astrology, and the astrologers (who had not interpreted the Copernican revolution) just ignored the heliocentric. They never tried to find out what it could mean to astrology, this great revolution in view. And so it is to this very day. Now, back to my personal story.

Inside the Helio

Like astronomers before me, heliocentric astrology also changed me and in a big way. All I can remember of that event is that I was using my geocentric astrological technique to evaluate heliocentric astrology and before I knew what was happening, my personal astrological world had been turned upside down (flipped) and I was seeing everything I knew (astrologically speaking) from a heliocentric perspective. And it never flipped back.

And like my astronomer colleagues so many years before me, there was no turning back. Once I saw things heliocentrically, I never again saw things the way I had up to that point, anymore than astronomers ever tried to continue considering the heavens geocentrically once they knew it was the Sun that was the center, not the earth. There was a flip, and a point of no return was reached. I saw things differently, and (for me) ever so much more clearly. It all began to make so much more sense.

Worlds within Worlds

Just as the heliocentric system (i.e. the solar system) contains the geocentric system within it, so my new discovery of myself, heliocentrically speaking, contained within it everything I had known about myself up to that point, and much more. It was like I had been looking at life, as the old saying goes, “thru a glass darkly,” but now it was suddenly clear.

In other words, the helio system is a superset of the geocentric system; the helio contains the geo within itself. The geo system is Earth’s view from within the solar system, a view or vantage point from which Earth sees the helio solar system. The helio system is what the standard geocentric natal chart is a snapshot of, plain and simple, that is: what the Earth is looking at.

The Life Energy of the System

Therefore, if we simply look at the helio system by itself, look at a helio chart for our birth date and time; we have a complete (and clearer) view of what the earth view (the geocentric chart) is but an interpretation of, that is: the life energies of the solar system itself at the moment of our birth. In other words, in a very real sense, the helio chart is the essence of what the geocentric chart is a view of.

Of course, we have both charts (geo and helio) and each view is unique and valuable - two distinct views of our life. In fact, where these two charts intersect and overlap provide us with a triangulation, a stereo image of our life and self.

So the helio natal chart does two things for us at once. First it presents an alternate perspective (a second opinion) of us that we did not have before. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have something to compare what we now know about ourselves to.

And second, it is a view that is a superset of what we have been seeing and studying up to that point. By “superset,” I mean that the helio chart is the mother view and the geocentric chart is the child or subordinate view. The helio embraces the geo, and not vice versa. Simple astronomy tells us this.

For all our ability to interpret astrology, often seemingly making mountains out of mole hills, this geo/helio perspective (such a vast change in perspective) ought to be grist for our interpretive minds.

What Is the Sun?

Over the years, my fellow astrologers have told me why they don’t want to consider the heliocentric chart. I have heard it all, things like: “We don’t live on the Sun, so why should heliocentric have any meaning for us?,” etc. Many of these kind of comments have the materialistic pseudo-scientific stain of our times, words to the effect that the Sun is somehow just atoms and molecules, bricks and mortar, scientific stuff and substance.

Yet we are, ourselves, spiritual, spirits, selves, something more than just atoms and dust. We assume this spiritual element to ourselves, but don’t extend it to the world we live in, and to the Sun that is the source of all warmth, light, and life for each of us.

A Kindred Spirit

It would seem, to listen to many an astrologer’s view, that the Sun does not share in our spirit, has no spiritual essence of its own, and so on, and so on.

It would seem to me that whatever spirit animates us also animates the Sun and every other being to be known.

In traditional geocentric astrology, every astrologer I have known (and myself too) reaches deep into their natal charts to find that spiritual essence and unity they feel is there within the chart, which is within themselves. For centuries we have been interpreting heliocentric astrology through the prism of the geo chart. We need that inner deep knowledge in a clear form, the heliocentric natal chart.

The helio chart is all about the spiritual insight we have been trying to squeeze out of our traditional natal chart. It is far easier just to look at the helio chart itself along with the standard geocentric natal chart . There you will find a clear picture of your more spiritual self and that is why I refer to the helio chart as the “Dharma Chart,” a chart of whom it is we are after we run through all our personal changes in the geo chart.


In the very beginning of my heliocentric studies, as mentioned, I applied all of the many standard astrological techniques I had learned up to that point, and to real success. For example, I interpreted the difference in position between the helio and geo planet positions for my natal chart, looking at the difference in zodiac signs between the two positions for any planet. I checked out helio transits and found them to be as useful as I found geocentric transits to be. In brief, everything I tried worked as well in the helio coordinate system as it had in the geocentric coordinate systems - no better, and yet not worse. At that early point, I found no essential difference between the two charts, as far as the astrological techniques I knew were concerned. But there were things I did not yet know.

The Sun Rises

I guess I first began to see some difference when I started examining aspects and then aspect patterns. In my astrological studies, I was aware of the work that Marc Edmund Jones had done with larger aspect patterns, had found these patterns interesting, but had never used them to any real extent. Of course, I was aware of major traditional chart patterns like the grand trine and the T-square, but had not done much with these either.

I suppose I am typical of many astrologers (and not very scientific) in that the way I judge any astrological technique is whether it works in my own natal chart. No matter how hallowed a technique, if it does not work for me and in my chart, I seldom pursue it. Sure, I will program it and distribute it to others, but as for using such techniques myself, not a chance. What would be the point?

The Heavenly Patterns

But with the advent of my helio chart, all of this changed. Without the Moon and the twelve houses, there was not a whole lot left for me to look at, other than the planetary aspects themselves, and the kaleidoscopic patterns the planets formed through time. Like the time-lapse photography of clouds, I began to see how these large patterns formed in the sky, held together for a moment or a while, and then dissolved to form still other patterns. There was nothing new in that for me, either. I had studied the ever-changing planetary patterns before in the standard geocentric chart years before.

One Individual: Two Views

Yet there was something about these large-scale patterns in the helio that was more persuasive of my attention than I could remember experiencing. They were somehow more real, more emphatic. They caught my attention and then held it in a way that had not happened in the past.

Sure, it started with my own chart. My geocentric, standard natal chart was interesting in many ways, and of course I had counted those ways using every astrological technique at my disposal. Yet, I was always felt like something was missing that I needed to hear. I had never fully identified with my traditional chart, but sought to twist and turn it with techniques to somehow extract from it something deeper, something more about how I saw myself. That traditional geo chart was not all of how I saw myself, not all of how I felt myself to be inside, and I had worked hard to get inside my chart.

My Helio Chart

However, my helio chart caught my attention right off. For one, this chart had a very exact grand trine configuration in it, a single pattern shared by no less than six of the nine planets, and with Earth as the focus of the configuration. Augmenting that was an opposition of Earth to Pluto, which converted the grant trine into a configuration that is called the “Kite.” It was very prominent and easy to see at once. However, it took me quite a while to begin to get any idea of what it might mean or represent as far as interpretation.

My Helio Chart
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My Helio Grand Trine

As I began to calculate charts for my family and other people I knew or had known in life, I could see other large-scale whole-chart patterns in their charts, things like the T-Square, the Grand Cross, and of course other Grand Trines and Kites. Soon I had run through all the common traditional patterns used in the history of astrology and was learning about patterns that at point had no name. Of course, I ended up naming them, just to make it easier to identify and refer to.

Rather than saying that a pattern was an opposition with a trine and Sextile, I ended up just calling this configuration a “Wedge,” because it looked like one. And so it went. Pretty soon I had dozens of patterns that I regularly came across. I would draw them out, using colored pencils and pens to help identify them, and I published many dozens of these patterns in color back in the mid 1970s on the cover of the “Circle Books Astrological Calendar,” but got little response.

Friends and Enemies

Of course I did the helio charts of my family and everyone I knew, but I still did not understand very well what the various chart types meant or how to best grow in my understanding by studying them. Perhaps the first real clue on the value of these whole-chart patterns came when I began to assemble a collection of the charts of people I did not get along with or who did not get along with me, my so-called not-so-friends.

I had poured over the charts of these people for years, trying to get a handle on what made these persons tick and (more to the point) what made them not-tick with me. However, I soon found that I had been going about it all wrong, looking for this planet in this house, this planet in this or that sign, and so forth. There was no overriding message coming out of that research from that approach.

Seeing Myself!

But when I looked at this same group of not-so-friends using these helio whole-chart types, there was no mistaking the message: almost all of them had chart patterns just like my own! It was as clear as day that I had been seeing myself in these folks and I didn’t like myself all that well back then. A better statement might rather be that I didn’t know myself that well back then, and we all tend to fear the unknown.

Time and time again, as I looked through this collection of not-so-friends charts I found myself staring at the same StarType as in my own natal helio chart. Now it all began to make sense. I understood, and my attitude toward these not-so-friendly types changed from that very day. I had been looking at myself in them and was not too happy about what I was seeing.

Learning about StarTypes

There was competition and all kinds of head bumping going on between me and others of my own chart type. From that time forward I gave this type some slack and soon found my focus on them as unfriendly began to loosen and dissolve. It was not a real problem any longer.

Now, here were astrological results with a very practical effect for me. My interest in resolving the meaning of these StarType patterns strengthened and I rededicated myself to understanding them. Keep in mind that this was before any home computers were on the scene, and all the calculations had to be done with pencil and paper, and later with a 4-function calculator. After I published my heliocentric ephemeris in 1975, it was easier, of course, but before then it was a real job, for sure.

And I drew each chart out by hand using colored pencils and pens, so that whatever patterns were there would stand out. And I did this for both geocentric and heliocentric charts each time. Keep in mind that, although I am presenting the helio chart and perspective in this book, I never abandoned geo astrology. Of course I used them both and still do, although now I always look at the helio chart first, and then the geo.

In the many years of personal readings that I have done since then, I always calculate both charts (and sometimes others, as well), although it is the helio chart that I most want to see, for that chart contains the fundamental dharma of the client. The helio chart is the key to the Life Path of the client, as far as I know.

The Learning Curve

I feel I have given you a pretty fair idea of how I got into looking at these chart patterns in the first place, that is: how they first caught my attention. I don’t remember my learning curve in perfect detail, other than to point out that over time and through looking at many tens of thousands of charts, I gradually evolved an understanding of what the main StarType patterns were, something about what they meant, and how to interpret them.

And each step of the way, anything I learned or saw in these chart types was put to a reality test through the counseling process, by doing readings for people. I not only did in-person sit-down readings, but I also did many hundreds of written readings for people all over the world, people who were otherwise unable to see me in person. In each reading, I always calculated and drew out both the geocentric and heliocentric charts.

That being said, let’s turn our attention to some of the main StarType patterns and what they might mean.

StarTypes Interpretation

As I look back on my work of some 35 years ago, I can remember what it was about helio astrology that was so compelling, and that was the fact that not only did everything work so well when viewed heliocentrically, but for the first time in my experience I was able to see and understand a great deal about my self, who I was, and why I might be here on earth just now. This was the kind of information I had been looking for all these years.

I had tried valiantly for many years to extract information about my spiritual life from the standard geocentric natal chart and of course had some success, but it was more like panning for the occasional flake of gold.

Once I got a hold of the helio perspective, it was like I found the mother lode of what I had always been looking for. It may sound trite or repetitive to say this, but my experience was probably very much like that of the astronomers many hundreds of years before, when they switched the center of their attention from the earth to the Sun. Things all became clear. I can’t prove why this is so, but this has been my personal experience.

Perhaps it is because the Sun is the actual physical, gravitational center of the solar system, and that using the earth as the center is not (physically speaking) as central or meaningful. I can’t say. What I do know is that once I shifted my emphasis from the earth to the Sun-centered chart, I found an astrology as strong in spiritual content as I had always dreamed it could (or should) be. From that time onward, I was completely satisfied with the amount and quality of the astrological information I was getting. My astrology worked for me, and not just vice versa.

A New Center

I suppose someone more traditionally religious might say that I stopped thinking about my personal self (geocentric) and started thinking about something greater (heliocentric). I can’t speak to that. What did happen is that the heliocentric perspective and dimension had the power to resolve and put into relief much of what I had been struggling to understand in my more personal geocentric chart. That much I know.

Keep in mind the huge change astronomers went through when they switched their emphasis from the earth as the center of the solar system to the Sun as center. Everything suddenly fit in and the long history of anomalies and exceptions were explained. It was the same in my own case, although here I am referring to the spiritual or interpretive nature of this change in focus or center. Everything came into focus, just like that, not because I had fallen in love with heliocentrics, but because heliocentrics actually explained myself to me better than anything I had known previously, better than I could.

As my teacher would say to me, I now say to you: It is not true because I say it; I say it because I find it to be the truth.”

Astrologically speaking, I had never previously gone from a more limited point of view (geocentric) to a more encompassing point of view (heliocentric). Once I did, I have never turned back, not because I am chauvinistic about helio astrology, but because helio astrology has transformed not only my view of astrology, but my view of myself, and that is what astrology at its best is supposed to do.

Pattern Leap

Now let’s turn to looking at some of the major StarType patterns and what they might mean. I will leave off at this point showing you how I stumbled upon the helio perspective (my personal story), and move toward just presenting the results of these many years of working with heliocentrics. I believe I have given you at least some idea as to how you too might approach this subject.

Geocentric and Heliocentric

I hope by now that you have the idea that I feel that it is the heliocentric StarType patterns that best define the inner or essential nature of a person, and not the geocentric patterns. Of course StarType patterns also exist in your natal geocentric chart, so why not just use that chart?

Of course, you can do that, and I have too. The difference is that I find that the helio StarType best defines the spiritual nature of the greater self or individual one is. It is the helio pattern that best represents what the entire solar system is doing (aspect wise) at any given moment, and the geocentric patterns may or may not reflect these helio patterns at any given time.

Geocentric and Heliocentric Charts

When the two charts concur, there is no problem. When they do not agree, then I have found that the helio chart best represents what is going on in the particular natal chart.

Keep in mind that the geocentric patterns are simply a snapshot of the helio patterns as seen from the perspective of Earth in its yearly journey around the Sun. The earth is embedded deep within the helio solar system, much more toward the center of that system, than to the outer edge. And from that embedded perspective, the earth sees what at times can be a somewhat distorted picture of what actually is taking place. What actually is taking place are the patterns the entire solar system, with the Sun as the center, is going through – heliocentrically. It is my thesis here that these heliocentric patterns are worthy of our attention and should be consulted, just as we consult the traditional geocentric natal chart.

The Geocentric Chart

Over many years I have found it mostly a waste of my time to try to interpret the large-scale aspect patterns (StarTypes) in the geocentric chart. They just do not hold up as well. Instead, I found myself peeking at the helio chart to get my bearings on a particular individual, to see what really is going on in there. After using both charts side by side for awhile, I found myself always looking at the helio chart first, and perhaps then getting around to looking at the geo patterns later on in a reading, if at all. In the great majority of the personal readings I have done, my client had all the information they needed about their inner spiritual nature or life path just from the helio chart, without ever having to even look at the geocentric chart, except for maybe some timing issues. Let’s go over this.

My Geo Chart
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The standard geocentric natal chart that astrologers have used for centuries is generally agreed to be a chart of the personality and circumstances in which each of us finds our self. The fact that astrologers chose not to absorb the heliocentric perspective those many centuries ago left us attempting to derive all the information about our life from this single (geocentric) chart. That is the historical fact.

For centuries, astrologers have derived both personal (circumstantial) information AND spiritual or deeper information from a single chart. Now we have a second chart (helio) that appears to be better at revealing our inner or spiritual life (our dharma chart), which does not mean that we are to stop using the standard geocentric natal chart. Not so. Both charts are invaluable. It is more like we now have a witness, a second astrological opinion, so to speak.

Geocentric Positions

The standard traditional geocentric chart continues to be where we look for anything personal, the circumstances in which each of us find ourselves embedded, just like the earth is embedded within the heliocentric solar system.

But right now, in these years, it may be necessary to emphasize the heliocentric chart, if only because we have avoided giving it any attention all these many centuries. We are just playing catch up, if nothing more. Let me give another example that I mentioned before.

Astronomers do not calculate astronomical information using the earth as a starting point and then deriving heliocentric coordinates, although it can be done. It is just very involved and round about. No, what astronomers do is to start with the heliocentric coordinates and then derive the geocentric positions.

From Helio to Geo

The order is from helio to geo, and not from geo to helio, which is not to say it cannot be done the other way round. It just is very, very difficult.

Using this simple analogy, astrologers have been deriving the inner or spiritual (helio) part of astrology from the personal and circumstantial (geo) chart for centuries. Of course we can do it; we have been doing it all this time. The point is that it is so much easier, so much clearer to just use the helio chart to look at spiritual or inner issues and to use the geocentric chart to look at the outer-world of personal issues.

I hope I do not confuse the issue by stating that it has been much easier for me to understand my own personal issues (geo) once I understood the overall dharma (helio) view of myself. In the helio chart I found more about who I am and what I am capable of, and this information helps me to better understand the personal circumstances and shape (geo) I am in. Sometimes, a glimpse of the big picture helps us to take responsibility for whatever details we are currently caught up in.

The bottom line here is that you can read from the helio to the geo with confidence, but not from the geo to helio with the same confidence. Reading from the geo to the helio is an acquired skill that, in my opinion, is not worth acquiring. After all, that is what we have been trying to do for centuries. Just as the astronomers go from helio to geo, so astrologers would be well advised to consider doing the same thing, interpretively – start from the helio view and then move into the geo or personal view.

The Helio Chart

Now let’s talk about what I feel the helio chart is all about. The view that I present here is more or less shared by other astrologers who have studied heliocentrics, so this is not just by personal opinion.

First of all, the helio appears to be a chart of our inner or essential nature, our inner self as opposed to our outer personality, a chart more about how we are inside when someone gets to know us, and as we get to know ourselves. I like to call it the chart of an individual’s dharma, and thus the Dharma of Life-Path Chart.

When each of us is done going through all our basic personal life changes, when we have rounded off all the rough corners of our lives, what we will end up with is our helio chart. The helio chart is about as close to that part of our self that is eternal or unchanging as we are going to get.

Your Dharma Chart

To be clear, I am not saying that the helio chart is somehow God or even the God in us, but what I am saying is that between the absolute awareness (call it God or Buddha or what-have-you?) and our personality and life circumstances are several main archetypes or dharma paths – ways of being.

In other words, there are all kinds of personalities and life circumstances, probably as varied in number as there are people in the world. Between these endless personalities and whatever common unity all persons ultimately share are a number of basic archetypes into which all these personalities can be grouped. This is what StarTypes is about, the basic archetypes or schools of thought to which each of us belong.

We are all unique persons and we all share some common essence. That is well documented by philosophers, psychologists, and poets the world over. However, between these two extremes are several groups, types and basic ways of being that persons can be typed as. I call them archetypes. They could equally be called lineages, schools of thought, approaches to life, etc. I hope you get the general idea here.

Carl Jung and others have written about archetypes and the concept should not be unknown to those of you reading this. The point is that these helio StarTypes, these large whole-chart astrological patterns are graphic and cosmic descriptions of what we might call basic life archetypes, basic approaches to life. As mentioned, I call them dharma paths and thus “Dharma Charts,” a chart of your main approach or path through life.

For those interested in this technique in more detail, see my book "StarTypes: Life-Path Partners," available in paperback on
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Re: An Introduction to Helio Astrology

Postby Bruce_Lyon on Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:32 pm

Hello Michael

Thanks for this post on heliocentric astrology. I also found it transformational and note that the two charts geo/helio
seemd to have particular resonance when the inner geocentric planetary placements progress to the point where the heliocentric placements are.
This seems to provide a bridge or doorway for the consciousness to transition from one to the other.

Following on from the reasoning that the helio chart with the sun at the centre contains the geo chart, would it not also make sense to explore a galactic chart?
The solar system is embedded in the galaxy just as the earth is embedded in the solar system. The astrological signs are as much the projection of an archetype that exists in consciousness on to the stars as the reverse so the same pattern of twelve signs could be used around the galactic centre. The sun earth moon system would be in gemini ( because the direction of the gc is in sag ) and would remain in each 'sign' for approximately 21 million years as the full gc orbit is 24 m.y. The galactic chart would not have any use in distinguishing personal traits but would serve as a reference for beginning to relate our system as a whole within the larger metaphysical entity in which it plays a part and also a basis for dealing with large scale time on earth - the extinction cycle for example. If geo centred astrology focuses on the personality and helio centric astrology is soul-centred, doesn't it follow that galactic astrology might provide insight into spirit? Interested in your thoughts.

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Re: An Introduction to Helio Astrology

Postby Michael Erlewine on Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:12 pm

Thanks for the post, Bruce and Welcome!

I believe you have seen my book “Astrophysical Directions,” which was published in 1976 from work I did earlier. Most of it is available now in paperback on in a book “The Astrology of Space,” for those interested.

Much of my early work has to do with the various astrological and astronomical coordinate systems, such as the horizon system (the microscope), the geocentric system (personality, circumstances), the heliocentric (Dharma, Life Path), and so on. Beyond these there is the center of our local system of stars, the center of our Galaxy, the center of our Local Group of Galaxies, and of course the center of our local Supergalaxy in very early Libra.

What is wonderful about using different coordinate systems to look at a birth is that we have the same birth, time, and place, but rather than a single view, we have alternate perspectives that achieve a kind of triangulation, with the result that we get what might be described as a almost a hologram.

No one coordinate system can show everything, which is why we have different kinds of algebras, each of which brings to light a particular way of seeing.

As for living the experience or the living experience of these centers, I have written quite extensively. The Local Space chart (horizon coordinate system) is as I put it the most vulgar system, with almost no subtlety at all. It is indeed a magical system and view.

The geocentric system, the standard astrology chart used over many hundreds of years now, represents the particular circumstances in which each of us finds ourselves embedded, our “Personality,” or as Gerard Manley Hopkins (my favorite poet) calls it, that “terrible crystal.” We all know that one up close and ‘personal.”

The Equatorial Coordinate system is simply a projection of the earths coordinates onto space, and so is a favorite for historical, political, etc. astrology, which for some strange reason has never interested me much.

The heliocentric system is the one that I have spent the most time with and the one I most identify with and have written about. I find it sad that I spent so many years trying to extract from the traditional geo chart what was plainly shown in the helio chart. Each coordinate system can be bent over backward to get a peek at the others. Of course, but what a waste time. I struggled to create a 400 year helio ephemeris back in the early 1970s, armed only with a pocket calculator. Seems silly now, but for me, then, it was a Herculean feat, especially since I hate math, etc.

I feel that I have felt and lived as best I could the coordinate systems described thus far.

When we move beyond them into outer and to deep space, I cannot make great claims. Yes, there are moments, a day or part of day, when I have felt in alignment or in the flow of larger information rivers. As for tying these down to a technique, about the most I have done is to draw out the equators, lunes, and poles of large systems like the Galactic system and the Supergalactic system.

A good exercise for me was getting to know all of the traditional constellations, not just the ones near the plane of the ecliptic. I made many star maps by hand, converting astronomical positions to astrological positions and so on. This was very laborious, but through it, I became familiar with and developed a feeling for some of the constellations over the others. I could not explain why I would have a bias toward one and not to all.

Then, when I began to plot these great equators on a globe and on maps and plot my entire natal horizon, poles, lunes, etc., I was shocked to find that some of the ones I was partial too were on my local horizon, which I would have had no way of knowing until that time.

So, my answer to your question is that I don’t believe my awareness extends to grasping or conceiving something as large as galactic awareness. It seems I have my hot spots, my alignments, and have been swept up time again by this or that epiphany, but I cannot say that I can conceive that view.

The same can also be said for the Supergalactic system, which as you know is my favorite. I believe I introduced it to astrologers and am especially fond of it, as I feel it is the heart center of what is called Buddhism, as far as I can determine.

I have noted many times in my writing how the great circles of the equators of the Galaxy and Supergalaxy are at approximately right angles to one another (84 degrees), and how the Pleiades (the most famous and watched of all stellar objects) is at where they cross.

I also have noted that the definitions of the signs, as all astrologers know them, can be drawn from these two great systems and their relation to the ecliptic, the earth’s orbital plane.

It is my understanding and belief that these great systems are coherent (that is hang together or last) only because of an information flow or circulation throughout the system, which is nothing less than the light in our eyes. After all, we are intelligent life, the eye of the galaxy, not the trembling humans shivering alone on the third rock from the Sun in a cold black universe. It is just the reverse, not the universe looking down on us, but we are looking out from it. We are the spaceman we keep looking for. We are already there, in outer space and have been. The earth moves at some 67,000 miles an hour around the Sun, and so on.

I owe a large debt to my friend the great Theodore Landscheidt for his seminal book “Cosmic Cybernetics,” which I am in the process of getting republished. It was he who first (to my knowledge) laid out the concept of the resonance of higher-order structuring and pointed out that these structures only cohere by the flow of information, which keeps them alive, so to speak.

I have waxed long enough here, but this should be a start and hopefully somewhat helpful.
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Re: An Introduction to Helio Astrology

Postby Bruce_Lyon on Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:53 pm

Hello Michael,

Thanks for the response. I particularly resonate with the idea that we are the universe looking out and that the different coordinate systems offer a change of perspective. For a year I experimented with reorienting my consciousness to the galactic centre as the 'central sun' - rising and setting as it rose and set which of course is aligned with sunrise and sunset at the december solstice and opposite in June. I also attempted to view things from the perspective of that centre just as when one views things from the solar centre the earth now becomes objectified in the consciousness, so from the galactic centre the sun system becomes objectified.
The most interesting observation I have sounds obvious but like all simple things that are there all along, it had profound implications.

The sun and the earth were together at the same 'point' in space.

In the geo chart we see the sun ( and moon ) . In the helio chart the sun and moon disappear for we are now 'on' the sun and the moon is cojoined with the earth. From the galacto-centric position, the sun reappears and the earth disappears for it is now cojoined the sun. Two points that were opposite in the helio zodiac are now conjunct. The effect on consciousness was quite tantric.

If we are the universe looking out then presumably we can train ourselves to look out from different 'locations' or perspectives in consciousness as well through all perspectives at once. The helio perspective has had huge impact - not only to astrologers who were really behind the pace but to the earth itself - the copernican revolution and the renaissance. I wonder if a similar revolution in perspective is upon us when we can stably shift our consciousness to a galacto-centic view?

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Re: An Introduction to Helio Astrology

Postby Michael Erlewine on Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:34 pm

Hey Bruce,

Thanks for posting.

To me, the most important issue for astrologers to consider is what happened many years ago when astronomers and astrologers split up and went their own way.

The astronomer walked away with the heliocentric and the geocentric perspectives, and thoroughly took to heart the helio frame of reference. It is unfortunate that astrologers ignored the helio and did not take it to heart, especially when it is the ‘heart’ of the truth. We missed out, big time.

If astrologers would just consider that the geo chart is but a snapshot from within the helio system and, more important, it is a snapshot of the helio system from the earth’s perspective. Period. Why do we not care to look into what we are always taking snapshots of, the Sun and the solar system?

When I discovered helio, it came with an enormous change in my viewpoint, exactly similar to what the astronomers had to go through when they discovered that the helio solved all of the inconsistencies that had plagued them for centuries, in an instant. The anomalies went away. Aha!

Once astronomers understood the truth that Earth orbited the Sun and not vice versa, they never went back to the way they viewed things before. Of course, they could view it both ways, but just like we calculate our geo positions first in helio and then transform to geo, the helio is the mother and the geo the child. All our software programs do just that.

I can only assume that each geocentric astrologer out there has an enormous event waiting for them, not just to look at their helio chart, but to absorb the psychological and philosophical implications of that chart. It changed my life forever.

All of the tired refrains from astrologers to me that we “don’t live on the Sun,” etc. are embarrassing at the least, and sad. The Sun is the source of all light and all life for those of us here on earth. We have no problem ascribing all kinds of life to our selves and marveling at the light in our eyes, but we insist on looking at the Sun as just ‘material’ - heat and light. I wrote a poem years ago that addresses this problem that says:

“To fail ignorance by a meter or a foot…”

My view is that until astrology can manage to absorb the helio transformation that astronomers took so many years ago, a part of us will always be at a standstill. Unfortunately, it is the best part of us, our dharma or life path.
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Re: An Introduction to Helio Astrology

Postby Larry_Ely on Tue May 26, 2009 8:06 am


I would like to know what the astrological quality of the Earth is in the system of orbiting planets in the heliocentric frame. Can you provide us with empirical data for this, such as the Earth making transit ingresses into the signs of the zodiac or such as from Earth transits to a given planet in a natal heliocentric chart or such as from mutual transit aspects between transiting Earth and other planets?

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Re: An Introduction to Helio Astrology

Postby Michael Erlewine on Tue May 26, 2009 7:16 pm

Dear Larry,

I suggest you read my first post above. I also have a book in paperback on called "StarTypes: Life-Path Partners," which has a lot of information.

As for meaning, the Earth and Sun are equivalent, and follow the traditional meaning for the Sun, which generally points to the Self and its nature or lack thereof.
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Re: An Introduction to Helio Astrology

Postby Steve_Coleman on Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:06 pm

"It would seem to me that whatever spirit animates us also animates the Sun and every other being to be known."

Michael, this statement I have long believed internally, even before I knew anything about astrology.

Its interesting, we could really call the Geo chart the Ego Chart, by just transposing the positions of the first two letters letters. Egocentric, instead of Geocentric, hmmm.

First off, I would like to say that I am totally convinced about the heliocentric perspective, which is why I contacted you in the first place, and why I was interested in Landscheidt's work.

It would seem to me that the aspect work in the helio chart would be more powerful, for the simple reason that geo aspects are limited. Many aspects between the inner planets are not possible, and geo many conjunctions are illusions.

You say that houses are not used in the helio chart. But really, why would signs be used either? As far as I can see the signs are based on the Earth's passage around the Sun, and the symbolism of the signs may at least partially be based upon the seasons on Earth. For example, it seems to me that in the helio chart, Jupiter at 15 degrees of Leo only defines the tropical (seasonal) longitude location of Jupiter. How would this location carry the same meaning, when the Earth itself in a helio chart is in a position opposite where the Sun was located in the geo chart? So, if the Earth has a similar meaning as the Sun, but is in an opposite location in the helio Zodiac from the Sun in the geo Zodiac, how does this work?

Maybe I'm misunderstand this, but let me try to ask this question another way. Let say there is a geo chart where the Sun is at 15 degrees of Leo. This means that the Earth is at 15 degrees of Aquarius in the helio chart. So the symbolism that astrologers apply to planets in Leo, whose symbolism is derived based on the Sun's rulership of that sign, is applicable to the Earth when it is in Aquarius? So why wouldn't the symbolism of the entire Zodiac be reversed? And if the symbolism could be reversed, would this then mean that the symbolism of the Zodiac is not really applicable at all in the helio chart?

You also mention:
"I also have noted that the definitions of the signs, as all astrologers know them, can be drawn from these two great systems and their relation to the ecliptic, the earth’s orbital plane."

Could you tell me which of your books has detail on how you came to this conclusion?

The fact that you use the aspect patterns to identify types of people seems to point to less of a reliance on signs and more on the angles between planets. From what I can see there is a lot of strength in this approach. I don't have nearly as much experience as you, but this feels right to me. As a musician I know that there was also a kind of revolution going on in music that was the equivalent to the heliocentric point of view, and its taken most musicians (not all) just as long to embrace this musical revolution.

This is just coming from intuition, but maybe it would be better to consider important the line of apsides of each of the planets might be a better barometer of their symbolism. This along with aspects between planets. If, following Landscheidt and others, the positions of the planets relative to each other is important for how they influence the center of mass of the solar system (the Jovian planets), and also for their influence on Solar Tidal Forcing (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Jupiter), then it would seem that how close or far they were from the Sun would have some effect on this as well. And as you mention, the Sun is the heart of our solar system, what effects the Sun must reflect on the entire solar system.

Finally Bruce commented that:
"I also found it transformational and note that the two charts geo/helio
seemed to have particular resonance when the inner geocentric planetary placements progress to the point where the heliocentric placements are."

As far as I can see, geocentric Venus and Mercury only progress to certain areas of the Zodiac when the Sun itself is near these areas (as their geocentric maximum elongation from the Sun is limited). Another way of saying this (and the more accurate statement) would be that the perceived geo positions of Mercury and Venus are influenced by where the Earth is in its orbit around the Sun. Although this is more true for Mercury than Venus, it applies to both planets. So this is an illusion that I would not rely on, as the main timing here is based on where the Earth is in its orbit, I am not sure I would put much emphasis on connecting the geo and helio positions of Mercury and Venus.

Also I just wanted to reply that there were some astrologers like Johannes Kepler, who were great astronomers also. They did apply heliocentric astrology early on, but they seemed to be in the minority. From what I have read, Kepler did not believe in the house system and did not have a lot of faith in the sign system either. However he did completely believe in aspects, and as you know introduced a few of the modern aspects to astrology. It seems that Alfred Witte and the so-called Hamburg School picked up on a lot of Kepler's direction.


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Re: An Introduction to Helio Astrology

Postby Michael Erlewine on Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:29 pm

Dear Steve,

Getting ready to leave town, so I will be brief.

I would say your intuition is very good. Although I can use the language of houses and signs with the best of them, I use neither in my work, except for fun.

Any serious work I do is all aspect patterns. I have written all of this out clearly in many places, including here and on

My book “StarTypes: Life Path Partners” covers the whole-chart patterns.

The book “Burn Rate: The Retrograde Phenomenon” covers your notes about the geo relation of the inner planets, and the concept of retrogrades in that book is something that I am sure you will appreciate.

As for the derivation of the signs from the two great equators and their relationship, the Galaxy and the Supergalaxy, that has been mentioned in several places, including the book “The Astrology of Space,” I believe, but the point is this. The equators of the Galaxy and the Supergalaxy are at roughly right angles to one another (84 degrees). Their centers are at roughly zero Capricorn and zero Libra, again 90 degrees. To be VERY general, the galaxy center defines the Capricorn/Cancer axis, and the supergalaxy center defines the Libra/Aries axis.

I learned this after a prolonged study of the galaxy center, finally coming up with what I felt was the descriptive meaning for that center. When I put it all together, it turned out to be simply the combination of the meanings of the signs Capricorn and Sagittarius, right in front of me all along. In other words, this great center already has formed the sign meanings. In a similar way, the supergalactic center determines the signs Libra and Virgo. From these cardinal signs, the rest of the signs are easily derived.

And finally, I have written until I am blue in the face that the geo chart is simply a snapshot of the helio system, so if you like the snapshot, you will want to study the helio to see what it is you are taking a snapshot of.

The long and short of it here is simple: Your intuition is good. Of course, keep using it.

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Re: An Introduction to Helio Astrology

Postby Abd-Allah Meyers on Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:04 pm

Dear Mr Erlewine,

To begin a sincere word of thanks to you for your decades of serious, hard work in and for astrology. Having studied some schools of astrology and finding the experience beneficial rather than confusing, i should like to ask you a few questions about heliocentric astronomy and astrology to better ascertain the effort to learn it might be fruitful for me.

1) To what extent, if any, does a heliocentric perspective change the perception, shapes, positions, etc. of the unequal constellations (not signs)?

2)a. Much symbolism originally attached to unequal fixed star constellations has been transferred to astrological equal signs, be they 'sidereal' or 'tropical'. How important is such symbolism in heliocentric astrology?

2)b. If it is important, would it be acceptable in your view and experience to work with positions in unequal constellations rather than in equal signs in heliocentric astrology?

3. Would it be appropriate to work with a 360 degree dial in heliocentric astrology, dispensing with constellations and / or signs altogether?

4. Natal astrology is only one branch. What has heliocentric astrology to contribute to the disciplines of horary, mundane, elective, etc.?

5. How, if at all, does 'Magi Heliocentric Astrology' relate to your own work?

6. Briefly, what 'aspects' (or harmonic divisions of the circle of reference) other than the 'Ptolemaic' should one consistently use in heliocentric astrology?

7. To me it seems that, with the discovery of Haumea, Makemake, Eris (about 30 % more mass than Pluto!) and Sedna, with perhaps more to come, the late 20th century astrological paradigm of 10 planets ending with Pluto has died, Pluto being the first of a series rather than the last. How does heliocentric astrology, if at all, symbolically integrate the at times extreme ecliptic latitudes of the planets beyond Neptune?

Thank you and very best regards,

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