In any given area of life, most people are milling around aimlessly, waiting for someone to tell them what to do, and there’s a small minority of people giving all the orders. These latter people are symbolized in astrology as those who have angular planets (planets located within six degrees of the Ascendant, Descendant, Midheaven, and Nadir). Actually, angular-planet people don’t know much more about what’s happening than anyone else, but they seem to: they have a facility for projecting the impression that they know what they’re doing. There’s a self-assurance and economy to their actions that induce other people to defer to them and cede them the lead.
Angularity symbolizes a sense of belonging, of being in the know, on the inside track. Angular types are not unconventional, but rather are above convention. They go through the motions of meeting – indeed, exceeding – social expectations; but they put very little importance upon appearances. They are aware (as most people are not) that social conventions and expectations are wholly arbitrary and not to be taken too seriously. Therefore, they are able to make social role-playing a joyous, fulfilling, fruitful activity, rather than an onerous or daunting enterprise.
Practically everyone is personally ambitious; what distinguishes angular types from the rest is their understanding that there is a science to life – a technology for getting what you want. They don’t sit around waiting for their “lucky break” to drop down from heaven; nor do they just put in the time while slowly moving up the ranks. They intuit that life is a game, with definite rules – definite steps and decisions that can be made to succeed in the game. Where most people obey the rules, or more accurately, stumble around in the dark trying to figure out what the rules are, angular types make the rules.
Angular types possess a talent for self-promotion, not in an officious way, but with a definite noblesse oblige. In contrast to the strength conferred upon planets by virtue of their being posited in their ruling signs (such as the sun in Leo, moon in Cancer, Mercury in Gemini or Virgo, etc.), angular planets exhibit little exuberance or effusiveness. They possess a natural self-control which arises not so much from discipline as from a sense of ease, patience, and forbearance – a sense that life is at one’s service, so there is no need to be pushy or overreaching. There is nothing blatant or indelicate about angular planets; their energy is not expended needlessly in demonstrativeness or attitudinizing, but is conserved, held back in reserve until needed.
People with angular planets are the winners in life because they make that assumption – that they are winners. And because it’s lonely at the top, angular planets also indicate a certain solitude and isolation: disinterestedness, detachment, impartiality regarding others. If those with angular planets quite consciously manipulate people and make decisions for the group, they also understand the responsibility that this entails.
Angular planets give people that sense of easy self-assurance associated with being a member of the ruling class. In earlier ages this meant membership in the aristocracy; in today’s meritocracy it shows the educated and upwardly mobile as well as those born in the upper classes of society. People born in the upper classes have a winning attitude inculcated into them from birth (that they “belong”, that they are destined to rule), which is why angularity is associated with high social class and success in life. The members of the upper classes were historically the people who were “bred” to lead and succeed.
Of course, there are always wealthy and upper-class natives who have no angular planets. These are the ones on whom this born-to-command-and-control-one’s-destiny attitude doesn’t stick or fit properly. They turn it into an attitude of snobbery, or one that says that life owes them a living. In other words, although exposed to the “angular” attitude by virtue of their upbringing, they fail to catch the meaning of what a natural sense of prowess, adequacy, and leadership actually entails. They understand the superficial trappings of angularity (success) without grasping its essence (personal responsibility).
By the same token, there have always been instances of people born in the lower social classes who by sheer gumption raised themselves up in life in spite of all handicaps. The people with no angular planets who “make it” on their own in a big way don’t contradict the theory; all this means is that these people made it even without a native sense of fitness to command. Perhaps they stumbled into the limelight; or maybe they did it through driving ambition, determination, and force of will. In any case, this success will be found to have been accomplished as a freak of nature, or else as a tour de force, rather than as the end result of a natural process of unfoldment. It means that these natives’ success in life was not the end result of a conscious sense of fitness but rather was the result of extraordinary talent, effort, or luck. In other words, success can come in spite of an absence of angular planets, but in that case the native has to work harder or hit the right combination of fortuitous circumstances in order to get the same effect.
It must also be noted that angularity shows nothing of the degree of success attained in life – whether the native set his or her sights high, or aimed for a comfortable niche; whether big success was attained with little pother, or at the cost of great sacrifice and suffering; indeed, whether success was actually attained, or whether the native went crashing down in flames. This sort of information is shown by benefic / malefic angular planets, and by how well-aspected or afflicted they are.
All of the angles symbolize strategies for controlling relationships. What is shown is a deftness in handling people, getting one’s own way, getting other people to accept one on one’s own terms, bending other people to one’s own will; and these strategies are usually quite successful, which is why angularity is considered such a great strength. People with angular planets detach themselves from other people rather than allow themselves to be dragged along by others’ caprices. Angularity produces a sense of fearlessness – or at least an insusceptibility to the doubts and second thoughts which hamper most people. Angular planet people need less validation and reassurance from others before they act.
All four angles show strategies for capitalizing (imposing one’s own rules) upon relationships, and the four angles symbolize four different types of relationships:
The Ascendant (ASC) symbolizes casual relationships;
The Descendant (DESC) symbolizes close relationships;
The Midheaven (MC) symbolizes group relationships; and
The Nadir (IC) symbolizes solitude.
That is, the Ascendant shows a way of facing people (of coming onto them); the Descendant shows a way of getting around, through, or past people; the Midheaven shows a way of dominating or directing people; and the Nadir shows a way of standing alone.
Planets conjunct the Ascendant symbolize a social ease, openness, candidness, straightforwardness – a way of laying all one’s cards on the table that cuts across the usual formalities and rituals which society imposes on casual relationships. These people have nothing to hide or apologize for, and nothing to fear or be ashamed of. They feel no need to ward other people off through such defenses as pride, irritation, brusqueness, preoccupation, etc. They are soft-spoken, yet firm and unyielding. They have a clear sense of personal space – their own and other peoples’ – which is in no way puffed up or stiff. They are calm and relaxed, with no need to prove themselves or allow other people to impose upon them. People with rising planets succeed by disarming others; they make direct eye contact and are frank and outspoken without being offensive. They manifest an intimacy which is neither warm, compassionate, nor sweet, but is genuine nonetheless. They immediately put themselves on a personal basis with other people by being pleasant and inviting of manner, and by dealing with others on a basis of equality; and yet they are fundamentally cold – always maintaining their distance and reserve.
Planets conjunct the Descendant symbolize a species of psychological jujitsu – a way of winning people over by giving way to them. The action of a planet conjunct the Descendant is indirect; it reveals a basic stance or mood vis-à-vis other people rather than a superficial role being played. These planets let others take the lead overtly, directing the flow of things or pulling the strings from the background. Those with setting planets project a part of themselves onto other people, get other people to act out a role for them; therefore the action of a planet conjunct the Descendant can only be seen operating in close relationships, where propinquity and confinement make manipulation possible. After a fashion, setting planets do describe the marriage (or business) partner in the sense that they symbolize what natives seek in partnership – what part of themselves they want others to act out openly for them.
Planets conjunct the Midheaven show people controlling or taking the lead in a group, putting themselves in the saddle, pushing themselves onward and upward. Natives with these planets make a basic assumption of leadership or superiority (dominance): they possess a sense of special destiny and an urge to strike out on their own. Where those with rising plants know who they are, those with culminating planets know where they’re going. They project a cool competence and expect to be looked up to and esteemed – role models for others to follow. Planets conjunct the Midheaven have a parental or mother-hen sense to them – responsible and protective, but also tending to herd other people around.
Planets conjunct the Nadir symbolize rootedness, conservatism, stability, staying power, firmness. Natives with these planets have an ability to remain unmoved and unruffled, to withstand the pressures of daily living by tuning into deeper currents or meanings in life. While all the angles symbolize a “holding apart” from other people, the Nadir especially symbolizes going it alone. Planets conjunct this angle don’t wait for others, rely on others, or depend on others. There is a spiritual manifestation with this angularity rather than a material one: from the spiritual point of view, the Nadir is actually the most powerful angle, since it is not as tied to the standards of success in society as are the other three angles – it shows a self-validating form of strength.
The following table gives key words for the various planets when angular. For example, the keyword for the moon when conjunct any angle is emotional. Thus the moon conjunct the Ascendant shows emotional intimacy = tender; the moon conjunct the Descendant shows emotional manipulation = fervent; the moon conjunct the Midheaven shows emotional dominance = protective ; and the moon conjunct the Nadir shows emotional firmness = whole-hearted.
Keywords for the Angular Planets
Sun/ASC – Sincere – you are down-to-earth, earnest, and plain-spoken. You have a sense of rightful place and fitness, and you are self-assured in any social situation without being snobbish or pushy (complacent). You command respect by your sheer reasonableness and unruffled insouciance.
Sun/DESC – Influential – You are unassuming and solicitous, but don’t permit others to get too close or too personal (cold). Egalitarian and encouraging, others nonetheless quite naturally defer to your authoritativeness and resolve.
Sun/MC – Utopian – You dedicate your life to a cause or belief system, and measure your progress against some abstract standard of morality and comportment, rather than in terms of social rewards (superiority). Where most people are intent upon the path beneath their feet, you are always looking beyond the horizon towards an ideal reality.
Sun/IC – Staunch – Low-key and polite, you are also resolute, unyielding, and possess an unflagging perseverance and determination (obstinacy). Other people rely upon your integrity, scrupulousness, and deep sense of personal honor.
Moon/ASC – Tender – You are soft, gentle, innocent, and easily moved (wounded). You show your feelings quite openly – you wear your heart on your sleeve – which makes you a sympathetic listener on the one hand, and outspoken and tart on the other.
Moon/DESC – Fervent – You are lively, voluble, and vehement (touchy). You possess an intense energy and sparkle which dazzles other people, and inclines them to accede to your wishes.
Moon/MC – Protective – You possess a refinement and delicacy (prissiness) that is attuned to psychological subtleties and the feelings of other people in your social milieu. You project a sense of emotional equilibrium – of calm in the storm – to which others look for refuge.
Moon/IC – Whole-hearted – You are sensitive and tenacious, and responsive primarily to your own inner voice (solipsistic). You are self-reliant and prefer being alone and on your own in life.
Mercury/ASC – Fresh – You are artless and guileless (naïve). You have a youthfulness and eagerness that take delight in the simplest of things. You inspire others with your high spirits and cheerfulness.
Mercury/DESC – Judicious – You possess a down-home simplicity and objectivity (remoteness), and you are willing to take other people’s feelings and viewpoints into account. You are believable and reasonable, and hence inspire the trust of others.
Mercury/MC – Glib – You are unabashed, frank, and cocky (brusque). You are a good talker, offering a wry and perceptive commentary on the passing scene. You have a highly original point of view and slant on life, and are a wellspring of good ideas.
Mercury/IC – Canny – You are cool-headed and high-principled, with keen powers of analysis (cynical). You are shrewd and emotionally guarded, with a capacity for sober judgment in any emergency.
Venus/ASC – Vulnerable – You are genial, unaffected, and innocent (self-indulgent). You have a knack for getting on a familiar basis with everyone you meet. You endear yourself to others with your unsophisticated impetuousness and optimism.
Venus/DESC – Game – You are plucky, experimentative, and willing to give other people’s ideas and impulses a shot (gullible). People are swayed by your naïve enthusiasm and buoyancy even in the face of difficulties.
Venus/MC – Feisty – You are irreverent and possess a devil-may-care alacrity (peppery). You are a good facilitator because you have a mischievous, elfin, or saucy quality which seduces the acquiescence of others, making any activity enjoyable.
Venus/IC – Gracious – You are obliging, mannerly, and correct (stuffy). You are meticulous and orderly, and are repelled by any harshness or indelicacy. You strive to create an agreeable and congenial environment for yourself and the people around you.
Mars/ASC – Adamant – You are unflinching, and possess the ability to stand fast and hold your own in the face of adversity (contrary). Your placid, tractable exterior barely conceals an intense, high-wire energy. You are blunt, outfront, and do not shy from expressing your opinions.
Mars/DESC – Steadfast – You are mild of manner, but iron-willed (headstrong). You are good-natured and obliging in the nonessentials, and have a knack for being forceful and unyielding without being overreaching or giving needless offense.
Mars/MC – Gutsy – You are fearless and adventurous (pigheaded). You are willing to take risks and to fly with your gut-level hunches, and you have a knack for always landing on your feet.
Mars/IC – Assiduous – You hold your feelings inside, keep a stiff upper lip, and cannot be diverted or deflected (heedless). You have good powers of concentration and the ability to bring all your energy to bear upon your project or object of the moment.
Jupiter/ASC – Understanding – You are hopeful and altruistic (know-it-all). You prefer harmony and coexistence with other people, and take pains to respect their feelings and give them their due. You are not so much compassionate or sympathetic as humane, with a feeling of detached good will towards men.
Jupiter/DESC – Avuncular – You have a benevolent and accepting outlook on life and other people, and are enthusiastic, forward-looking, and disinterested (haughty). Your cheerfulness even in suffering calls up the sympathy and good wishes of others in turn.
Jupiter/MC – Perspicacious – You are a model of equanimity and patience (mulishness). You are able to take a long view, and so are undaunted by temporary setbacks. You are the backbone of any group because of your ironic good humor and ability to take difficulties in stride.
Jupiter/IC – Brisk – You are good-natured, tolerant, and resilient (above-it-all). You don’t take things personally, but have a smooth and lofty manner which minimizes friction and bother, and which keeps you free of compromising entanglements.
Saturn/ASC – Poised – You are cool, self-possessed, and outspoken (curt). You have good analytical and critical faculties, and are definite in your opinions. You sway other people with your unvarnished frankness and unshakable conviction.
Saturn/DESC – Uncompromising – You are calm, level-headed, and serious (intransigent). You are undaunted, always ready to shoulder responsibility and go that extra mile; and your formidability awes and overwhelms other people.
Saturn/MC – Dignified – You have a strong sense of being anyone’s equal (broody). You permit no trespass upon your private space, and you endeavor not to depend too much upon others. You are at your best when working by and for yourself.
Saturn/IC – Modest – You are plain, unvarnished, and unpretentious (undiplomatic). You are neither timid nor shy, but rather are unobtrusive. You hide nothing, defend nothing, and keep your distance by being wide-open and nonjudgmental.
Uranus/ASC – Eccentric – You are truly an original, with a unique and unusual point of view, and an unabashed indifference to what other people think of you (toughness). Although you have a strong character and let it all hang out, you aren’t pushy but are inclined to give others as much space as you demand for yourself.
Uranus/DESC – Spontaneous – You are forthright, self-sufficient, and impulsive (capricious). Your imaginativeness, boldness, and irrepressibility create a momentum which sweeps other people up and carries them along.
Uranus/MC – Free-spirited – You are idealistic and visionary, and recognize no authority but your own (contumacious). You are perceptive and intellectually quick. You prefer to strike out on your own rather than conform to society’s expectations of you.
Uranus/IC – Fearless – You are dynamic, resourceful, and free-thinking (wrong-headed). You have a capacity for plunging ahead and making sudden, drastic changes in your environment and life-style whenever your life situation becomes too restrictive.
Neptune/ASC – Attuned – You have a great capacity for understanding the feelings of others (moody). You are able to pick up and address emotional undercurrents – what’s really going on beneath the surface – in any relationship. You are on your own wavelength: not so much spaced-out as brooding and introspective.
Neptune/DESC – Aloof – You are genial and pleasant, but keep your own counsel (uncommunicative). You are neither selfish nor reclusive, but rather trust completely in your own instincts, and thus have little need for the reassurance of others.
Neptune/MC – Retiring – You follow the dictates of your own heart rather than worry about living up to some self-image. Albeit outwardly sociable, this is just a mask you wear to fulfill other people’s expectations so that they’ll leave you alone (unmannerly). You lack worldly ambition since your chief desire is for an island of peace unto yourself away from the clamor of the world.
Neptune/IC – Hopeful – You tend to be upright, principled, and high-minded (quixotic). You have a positive approach to life which looks to the good sides of people and events without being naïve or easily gulled.
Pluto/ASC – Flashy – You come on strong and make a powerful impression, though you have the saving grace of an ironic good-humor (obstinate). You are alert and opportunistic, driven by a high-wire energy.
Pluto/DESC – Cunning – You are outspoken and to the point (sarcastic), and have a gift for seeing clearly through superficial role-playing and posturing. You are able to avoid the snares of other people because you are alert to their covert manipulation, and you are not afraid to call a spade a spade.
Pluto/MC – Competent – You are confident and decisive, and believe that you are capable of anything (snobbish). Together with your can-do optimism you are thorough, meticulous, and willing to go to any extreme to implement your vision.
Pluto/IC – Stubborn – You are self-assured and opinionated (deaf). You are capable of taking a position and making a stand without being arrogant or offensive. Overtly agreeable and tractable, you are skilled in the art of winning acquiescence without yielding an inch.
Ruler ASC conjunct ASC – Self-possessed – You are straightforward and direct, and mince no words (tactless). You are able to be yourself – natural and at ease – in any surroundings. You are proud, stately, and never compromise your dignity.
Ruler DESC conjunct DESC – Self-contented – You are breezy, insouciant, and unaffected (self-centered). You are confident and have a positive outlook because you feel complete unto yourself. You don’t need (or leave much room for) the support of other people in your life.
Ruler MC conjunct MC – Self-sustaining – You have an unflagging faith in yourself and your ability to succeed (overweening). You are never at a loss, but are able to make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in.
Ruler IC conjunct IC – Self-cloistering – You are friendly and sociable, but fundamentally are a loner, and you find sustained contact with other people grating or enervating (self-pampering). You are happiest and do your best work alone, on your own.
Bob Makransky’s Astrology Corner © 2001