I have been fortunate to come across a number of interesting techniques in my 40+ years as an astrologer, such as Local Space, Deep Space Astrology, Heliocentrics, and others. The technique I am introducing here is one of the most important and powerful methods I have ever come across and well worth your wading through my explanation of it until you see how it works. I call it Full-Phase Aspects and the chart: Full-Phase Chart or Phase Chart.
Phase Aspects offer a new way to look at astrological aspects, and aspects are something we astrologers all subscribe to, the angular separation between celestial bodies like the Sun, Moon, and planets – aspects.
Each planetary pair makes what is termed a “Synodic Cycle,” which simply means that the faster of the two planets makes a complete circle of 360 degrees through the zodiac in relation to the slower planet. The most obvious example of a synodic cycle is the cycle of the lunar month. Each month the Moon completes a 360-degree circle or cycle, going from one New Moon to the Full Moon and on around to the next New Moon.
All heavenly bodies do the same, each to the other. The slower planet appears like a fixed object, while the faster-moving planet cycles around it in a big circle or cycle.
The point here is that at every moment of the day or night each planetary pair is forming some angular relationship, some angle or aspect with the other. The sum total of all the angular relationships or aspects in our chart (and what they mean) represents a lot of what astrology is all about, modern or ancient.
Each angular relationship, each angle between any two planets, is either leaving or approaching some major aspect like a Conjunction, Opposition ( whatever aspects you use) and actually both. As we leave the edge (separate) from one aspect, we begin to approach the edge (apply) to the next aspect, and on around. There never is a time when the angle between two planets is meaningless any more than there is ever a time when the two planets are not somewhere in their cycle of relationship. Traditional exact aspects are a convenience, but they can obscure the fact that something real is always happening with any two bodies in relation to one another.
In fact, we can examine the relationship of any single planet or body in its relationship to the planets in the system in terms of the phase or the angle they form to one another. And it is important to know which is the faster-moving planet and which moves more slowly. Let’s forget for the moment that some fast-moving planets (like Mercury) sometimes slow down and turn retrograde. We can discuss that at another time. Here we are just interested to know, in general, which body moves faster than another, and thus makes a synodic circle or cycle around the other. Traditionally, the bodies (in order of average daily motion) are as follows: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Here are their average daily motions.
For this discussion, what we want to know is what phase angle (angular separation) does the planet (the faster body) make to the another (the slower body)? That angle starts at zero when the two bodies are conjunct one another against the backdrop of the zodiac and goes from the Conjunction (0-degrees separation) out to the Opposition (180-degrees separation) and on around. When the two bodies are moving ever-farther apart, this is called “separation” or (more commonly) “Waxing.” After the Opposition point, the angular separation starts to close up and get smaller as the faster-moving planet heads toward the next Conjunction with the slower body. This is called an “Applying Aspect,” or more commonly a “Waning” aspect.
We can lay out the planets in a common natal chart on the 360-degree wheel and look for which bodies are Waxing or Waning in relation to any other. However, this requires constant awareness on our part to make sure we don’t have it backward, that is, by mistake, think that the Sun is applying to the Moon, when it always is the other way around: the Moon can only apply to the Sun and never vice versa.
To make these angular separations easier to spot (and this saves forever juxtaposing the two bodies in the mind), I have found it much easier just to lay the bodies out on a ordinary 360-degree wheel, using any planet as the focus. I call this a “Full Phase Chart” or simple a “Phase Angle Chart.” It only takes a few minutes to create a Phase Angle chart for each planet and then you have them forever. We are adding this chart form to Matrix Software programs, for those who want it done automatically. For example, here is my Jupiter phase-angle chart:
The Phase Angle Chart
As you can see, while there is some similarity between my normal natal chart (with Jupiter at the focus) and my Phase Angle Chart for Jupiter, there are also real differences. Keep in mind that all we are doing here is taking each planet in its relationship to Jupiter and asking ourselves if the angle between them is waxing or waning? If it is Waxing, we plot it on the left-hand side of the chart wheel – the waxing side, while if it is Waning, we plot to the right-hand side of the chart – the waning side. The result is a chart on which we can easily see how many waxing and how many waning aspects we have, in what quantities, hemispheres, and quadrants. We can see a lot more as well, but we will get to that a little later. Let’s recap:
If we take any planet we are interested in and place it at the zero or the conjunction point (at the top of a blank 360-degre wheel) and lay in the rest of the solar-system bodies out in terms of their particular phase angles with that body, we can learn a great deal about the body in question, in this case Jupiter. In fact, these Phase Charts tell a complete story of what that planet means in relation to the other planets and an accurate one at that. I have used literally hundreds of techniques over the years, if only because I have programmed them. Phase-angle charts are one of two techniques that really work for me and deserve some attention on the part of astrologers.
I am using Jupiter as an example. Above is my Phase Chart using Jupiter as the focus. The other bodies are distributed according to their phase angle with Jupiter. Note that this chart is not the same as my natal chart if we were to use Jupiter as the focus in that chart.
Jupiter is the focus in the Phase Chart and all the other bodies are placed in this chart according to their phase angle, their actual angular separation with Jupiter, either waxing or waning. It can take a few moments and some thought on your part to understand what a Phase Chart is, but once you do, you will see how convenient this type of chart is to examine for meaning.
The Hemispheres and the Quadrants
Throughout the history of astrological wheels, whether we look at house wheels or any other kind of wheels, we tend to divide the one wheel first into two hemi-spheres and often further into quadrants. Using the familiar lunar cycle as an example, it would be traditional to say that the hemisphere containing the New Moon represents the ‘inner” hemisphere, while that for the Full Moon represents the outer hemisphere. We can also divide the chart into the Waxing hemisphere (from the Conjunction to the Opposition) and the Waning hemisphere (from the Opposition back to the Conjunction).
These hemispheres can, in turn, be divided into quadrants or quarters, so that we have four of them as follows:
(1) Inner-Waxing – From the Conjunction to the 90-degree or Square point.
(2) Outer-Waxing – From the 90-degree or Square point to the Opposition.
(3) Outer-Waning – From the Opposition point to the 270-degree Square point.
(4) Inner-Waning – From the 270-degree Square point to the next Conjunction.
Looking at the hemispheres and the quadrants in my Jupiter phase-angle chart, we can see at a glance that some quarters and hemispheres have more planets in them than do others. This leads to some interesting interpretation as we will see. Let’s take my Jupiter phase chart as an example and jump right into some interpretation. Please bear with me.
Let’s keep in mind that Jupiter typically represents our career or life path, literally the way we go through or handle Saturn. This is why lawyers are connected to Jupiter, because they are expert at handling the law – Saturn. Jupiter is the lawyer but also the guide, our path through the obstacles of Saturn in our life, the Life Path.
For my Jupiter Phase Chart, the outer or public hemisphere shows what planets are available to me to advance my career or life path, publically. In my case there is only one, and that is Neptune. We will get into this later, but we can note here that perhaps my most significant contribution to the public sphere are my two Internet sites, All-Music Guide (allmusic.com) and All-Movie Guide (allmovie.com), which sold recently for some $80+ million dollars. I would say that is some measure of success. No, I did not get that money.
My point here is that Neptune is the only planet (relative to Jupiter) that is in the outer or public sector AND it is in the third quadrant, which means it is waning. As we shall see, the second quadrant has to do not with building or creating new structures (waxing), but the third (waning) quadrant has to do with drawing meaning out of previously created structures. The extensive guides I produced for film and music were all about rating and reviewing all music and film – very much a third quadrant activity. They involved critique and reviews, always a waning function – the ending of the cycle. I hope you can begin to see how we might interpret these phase charts.
Another factor we want to look at in the Phase Chart are traditional aspect sets, which can be organized into the following groups:
The Four Aspect Groups
(1) Conjunction, Opposition, and the Waxing and Waning Squares
(2) The Four Waxing and Waning Trines and Sextiles.
(3) The Four Waxing and Waning 45-degree type
(4) The Four Semi-Sextiles and Inconjuncts
I have tried to make these aspects groups easy to spot by placing four colored rays in the chart, with about a five-degree orb. This way you can see what kind of aspects you have on hand just with a glance.
In the center of the wheel you will find four types of colored rays, red, green, yellow-like, and purple. These mark some of the more common types of aspects:
Red: The Semisquares or 45-degree multiples.
Green: The Sextiles or 60-degree multiples.
Yellow: The Square or 90-degree multiples.
Purple: The Semi-Sextiles and Inconjunct aspects.
We can see at once that my Sun is in a red zone, meaning it is forming a semi-square aspect to my natal Jupiter. Not only is it a semi-square, but it is a “Waxing” semi-square, which just means it is in the process or expanding or going out from the Conjunction with Jupiter toward the Opposition. My Sun is some 45-degrees from Jupiter and it is “waxing,” that is: separating from Jupiter. All planets on the left-hand side of the Phase-Angel chart are waxing (separating) just as all the planets on the right-hand side of the chart are waning (applying).
If I make a quick interpretation of Sun Waxing Semi-Square-Jupiter, I find:
Trouble at the Start
“Your ideas and plans for success can meet with delays or obstruction, but nothing that does not have a work around. The envisioned success needs to be firmly held in mind, and now is the time to persevere. You can shift your direction, subtly, away from just making plans to getting ready to achieve them.”
The four Semi-Square aspects in the chart I call the “Four Challenges” or the “Four Obstacles,” because these aspects in a chart can tend to slow you down or block any forward motion. And there are four types of Semi-Squares. Not all Semi-Squares are created equal:
The Four Challenges
(1) Trouble at the Start – 45-degree or Waxing Semi-Square
(2) Trouble Making It Happen (building things up) – 135-degree or Waxing Sesqui-Quadrate
(3) Trouble Understanding – 225-degree or Waning Sesqui-Quadrate
(4) Trouble Learning Lessons (trouble consolidating) 45-degree or Waning Semi-Square
The interesting thing here is that each of these four Semi-Squares presents a different problem AND each of them requires on our part a different approach or solution. Not all aspects of the same type act the same and this is a very important fact when it comes to understanding full-phase aspects. This is also true for ALL mirror aspects, such as aspects like Squares, Sextiles, Trines, etc., in fact every for aspect except the Conjunction and the Oppositions, which have no mirrors.
The Four Energies
Next, let’s look at the four energizing aspects, the two Trines and the two Sextiles, shown on the chart by the green rays. These are:
Energy to Begin – 60-degree or Waxing Sextile Aspect
Energy to Succeed – 120-degree or Waxing Trine Aspect
Energy to Conserve – 240-degree or Waning Trine Aspect
Energy to Finish Up – 300-degree or Waning Sextile Aspect
A quick look tells us that the only planet with the green ray boundaries is Mars – Mars Sextile Jupiter. This aspect falls into the fourth kind of energy aspect, as interpreted here:
Energy to Finish Up
“Examining your own efforts to succeed, with an eye toward improvement is indicated. Career drive and ambitions need to be tempered by careful analysis and sorting out what works from what does not. This is an optimum time for just that.”
What we might want to keep in mind is that when it comes to Jupiter, my Jupiter, the only real energizing aspect is my Mars AND it is in the waning or “taking” hemisphere, meaning I am not pumping out energy to build something new, but rather putting energy into distilling or receiving something FROM what has already been created.
Secondly, that energizing aspect is in the inner or private sector, and not in the public or outer hemisphere, which suggests that this is more something I do behind the scenes rather than in full public view.
With Full-Phase aspects, a standard Waning Sextile comes with two additional pieces of information, (1) the fact that is on the taking or receiving end of things, and (2) that it is inner or private, rather than outer or public. That is a lot of extra information. And it is true of all of the other kinds of mirror aspects.
The Four Turning Points
As for what is perhaps the most famous set of aspects, including the Conjunction, Opposition, and the two Squares, these are part of the yellow-rayed group. In the standard astrological chart there are four points in the chart that traditionally have marked change, a turning point in the current situation, a change from one state of being to another.
The Point of Beginning – 0-degree or Conjunction Aspect
The Point of Success – 90-degree or Waxing Square Aspect
The Point of Fulfillment – The 180-degree or Opposition Aspect
The Point of Conclusion – The 270-degree or Waning Square Aspect
As you can, see I have no planets in the yellow-rayed sections, so I don’t have any turning-point opportunities connected to Jupiter.
The Four Pauses
This leaves only the purple-rayed aspects and I do have the planet Mercury there. There are four points in the astrological chart that indicate a middle time, a time in-between, when the old is starting to fade and the new has not fully exerted itself.
Plans to Begin – 30-degree or Waxing Semi-Sextile Aspect
Progress Declines – 150-degree or Waxing Inconjunct Aspect
Understanding Dawns – 210-degree or Waning Inconjunct Aspct
Conclusion Concludes – 330-degree or Waning Semi-Sextile Aspect
My “Waxing Mercury-Semi-Sextile-Jupiter Aspect interprets as follows:
Plans to Begin
“Ideas relating to your career or life path, finding the words, are more accessible just now and perhaps even can be formulated into a real plan that can be carried out in the near future.”
That covers the sixteen main aspects used by astrologers. Now let’s look at other ways to read the Phase Chart.
The Directional Values
Now let’s explore briefly the Waxing and the Waning aspects, what I like to call the Givers and the Takers. Which one are you, a Giver or a Taker?
Giving and Taking
This one is easy to see, as simple as how may planets are on the left-hand side of the chart (the waxing half from the Conjunction to the Opposition) and how many are on the right-hand side of the chart (From the Opposition to the next Conjunction). As you can see, as far as Jupiter is concerned, I have five waxing planets on left-hand side and four waning planets on the right-hand side of the chart, so I am predominantly a “Giver,” when it comes to Jupiter or my career. In other words, I probably put out or “give” more than I receive or “take,” although it is pretty well balanced, with the Sun on the waxing or positive side and the Moon on the waning or receptive side. That is quite traditional.
Introvert and Extrovert
So we know that in my career I will give, but also notice the upper and lower halves or hemispheres of the chart. All but one of my planets is in the private or inner hemisphere and only one planet (Neptune) is in the outer or public half of the chart. What does this tell us?
What it suggests is that when it comes to my career the main (in fact the only) planet in the outer or public sector is Neptune, so we could speculate that I will have to make my career (or it will be easiest if I do) in some Neptune-like occupation.
Well, Neptune and astrology are good partners, in particular since I am more interested in what astrology means than in the technology (Uranus) of it. Also, my main outer career was in creating the largest music data site on the planet and one of the two largest film sites in the world, plus I made my living as a musician when I was younger. Neptune is all about music and film. Tradition tells us that.
However there is more. My Neptune is not only in the outer or waning hemisphere, but it is in the waning or passive, that is: the receptive half of the chart. This tells me that instead of adding new Neptunian content to the world, I will be working with existing content and manipulating it, which is just what I did by creating a database of all known music and movies, and rating and reviewing them. Even when I performed, it was performing Chicago-style blues, helping to understand and perform that existing genre. I am an archivist of popular culture, so I have been told.
The story we can tell from looking at even one of the planets in our chart (here Jupiter) goes on and on. Look at how all but one of the planets are in the upper or inner hemisphere, which suggests I am a very inner-directed person, one who works more behind the scenes than in the public eye. Remember, it was my Neptune that is my way into the spotlight, and I have received scores of awards for my music and film sites and books.
And last, but not least, if we examine all of my eight planets in the upper or inner hemisphere, we see that five of them are in the left-hand or waxing quadrant, which suggests inner again, but more as nascent, the matrix out of which new ideas are born. My Sun is also there as is my Uranus, so you can expect new ideas (these full-phase aspects are an example of that) from this chart. In fact, I have a majority of these inside-out waxing planets embedded in the first quadrant of the chart.
However, we have three planets (including Mars and the Moon) in the inner hemisphere, but on the waning side. This points not to starting or giving birth to new material, but to consolidating or reaping from what is already established. The Moon, which stands for the Public is deep in the inside, in fact the deepest on this side. So let’s put that together:
In my career (remember we are talking about Jupiter here) my access to the public sector (aside from my Neptune which is in the public section) is through the Moon (Moon = Public), and here the Moon is very deep in the seed section (think Sagittarius) of the chart. So, to interpret it:
My career reaches the public by taking or gathering the essentials, the very essence of what? Well, of my one outer planet, which is Neptune, so of Neptunian stuff, like music, film, astrology, and so on.
The same kind of thing goes for my Mars. My career ambition or drive is very strong, since it is on an energy point and it is fourth quadrant, meaning it invests energy in reaping or consolidating. You get the idea.
Using the Phase Angle Chart we can rather easily tell the story of any given planet, in this case Jupiter. We have a lot of hooks to interpretation just built into the natural framework of this type of chart. And best of all, none of the hooks are bogus. We don’t have to guess or make filler, because we are working with the planetary aspects, just as all astrologers do, only conveniently arranged to show their phase relationship to the planet in focus.
I have told you a bit of my Jupiter story as I like to tell. We are all storytellers and everyone loves a story. This is why this is such a natural and powerful technique. You will of course tell your own stories, but the idea of stories is key here.
The astrology of the phase-angle chart is identical to what all astrologers use, just plain old aspects. What is different is that by using full-phase aspects, we suddenly have additional information that was not available to us before. In traditional astrology, a Square is a Square is a Square, although most of us would not mistake a First Quarter Moon for a Fourth Quarter Moon, but we probably would interpret a waxing Mercury Square Mars as we would a waning Mercury Square Mars. I believe that kind of interpretation will give way to full-phase interpretation just because it is easier and more informative to use the full-phase method. That is why I use it. Phase Charts are almost self-interpreting. They tell their own stories.
Part Two of this Introduction to Follow, an article on the standard aspects.
For those interested in these techniques in greater detail, please see my book "Full-Phase Aspects," available on Amazon.com.
Last edited by Michael Erlewine
on Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:35 am, edited 3 times in total.