Management of Measurement Constructs

I have invited excellent Seattle astrologer Barbara Banfield to be guest author of the "Analytical Techniques" essay this month. Barbara is a highest honors graduate of the Noel Tyl Master's Degree Course, has lectured at the ASTRO2000 convention and authored several articles in "The Mountain Astrologer." She can be reached at (206)328-1228

Midpoint Interpretation

By Barbara Banfield

Much information about the use of midpoint pictures in astrological analysis has already been presented in two previous articles posted here. In quick summation: it is best to take a look at midpoint pictures after one has already done some initial analysis of the horoscope and has identified important themes present in the chart. The midpoint pictures will either reinforce and amplify those chart themes or else will introduce new or contradictory elements - important counterpoints which modify the original impression.

One of the problems that can arise when learning to incorporate midpoints into chart analysis is that it's easy to be overwhelmed by the number of relevant midpoints in a given horoscope. Most of us can master some understanding of the 9 planets, the nodes, and the angles of the chart with much study and application. But no one could be expected to memorize the meanings of over a thousand possible midpoint combinations!

There are excellent books with midpoint definitions and such reference material is a "must-have" for any astrologer working with them (Synthesis and Counseling in Astrology by Noel Tyl; Combination of Stellar Influences by Reinhold Ebertin). However, it is far too time-consuming to look up the meaning for every combination present in a given chart to see if it is important or relevant to the analysis. My aim is to help astrologers see quickly which trees within the forest of midpoints will add important information to chart analysis.

Rather than trying to memorize or look up the "exact" definition of all the midpoint pictures, the astrologer should develop a "feel" for the various combinations, allowing quick recognition of those that are most important to incorporate into the analysis.

What follows is a quick guide to interpretation of various planetary pairings, to help you get that "feel":

Harsh, Difficult Realities Shape Life Experience

Saturn + the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)

Frustration, Inner Criticism, Self-Mastery, Achievement

Saturn + the inner planets

Emotional Sensitivity, Intuition, Artistic Sensibilities

Feminine + Feminine (Moon, Venus, Neptune)

Creativity, Artistic Expression, Charisma contributing to Social and Personal Success

Masculine + Feminine (Sun, Mars, Jupiter) + (Moon, Venus, Neptune)

Emotional Difficulties, Fears, and/or Inhibitions in Relationships

Venus or Moon + Outer Planets (Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)

Intellectual Gifts, Communication Skills, Influence

Mercury or Jupiter + Saturn, Uranus, Pluto

Power, Assertiveness, Drive, Courage, Sexual Passion

Masculine + Masculine (Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, Pluto)

Idealism, Perfectionism

Mercury, Venus, Neptune in any combination

Let's look at an example of how astrological analysis can be enhanced by using this "quick take" method of midpoint interpretation. Let's use the Moon as an example. If we had the midpoint picture Moon=Sat/Pl, we could expect that this person encountered (or by Arc, 'will encounter') some kind of harsh reality affecting the expectation for comfort and emotional bonding. This individual might be defending strongly against emotional vulnerability, fearing some kind of harsh response in return. The initial impression given may be "I don't need anyone."

But what if the Moon=Ven/Nep? We could expect this individual to have extreme sensitivity to the needs and feelings others. We get the feeling of idealization occurring in relationships. There are strong artistic sensibilities as well. This individual might have difficulty with emotional boundaries in close relationships. Emotional security may be derived from pleasing others (who are idealized in some way) and taking care of their needs.

As we can see, the Moon is going to be operating to one degree or another in a different manner depending upon the midpoint with which it is configured. We can use key phrases such as harsh reality or emotional sensitivity to quickly enrich our understanding of the core emotional needs of the individual. It is always possible to look up the specific meanings later in order to start to understand ever more subtle levels of nuance in interpretation.

Another hurdle for the astrologer first attempting to incorporate midpoints into analysis is deciding which ones to "use" for any particular chart. Every midpoint picture that occurs in a particular horoscope does not have to be notated and used in analysis. A good place to start is to note any midpoints associated with the Sun, Moon, Asc, and MC of the chart. Note any midpoint placements that amplify the general themes of the chart. These quickly strengthen confidence in the the first study of the horoscope. Note midpoints that apparently contradict strong chart themes. These types of midpoints can add critically important information to the accuracy of interpretation, helping us to avoid over-generalization and to be effective in dealing with the complexity of the client's experience.

Check to see if any planet is at the midpoint of Sun/Moon or ASC/MC. In the case of the Sun/Moon midpoint, this planet will color the expectations and experience of close relationships. Planets at the midpoint of ASC/MC play a critical role in the ongoing process of integrating life experience and becoming ever more whole as an individual. These planetary energies will play key roles at critical junctures in life, when important turning points are reached.

Midpoints associated with the Aries Point (AP) have their own importance, which has been explained well in Don's "Techniques" essay in January (see archives).

All of this can be quickly accomplished without looking up the meanings of specific midpoints - with just relying on "feel." For any given chart, there are usually somewhere between 3 to 6 significant midpoint pictures to be considered in natal analysis. You should have a general idea of what they mean and what their significance is without having had to look anything up in a reference book.

Once you have selected the points you deem important, you are free to spend some time delving into the specific meanings in more depth. Go ahead - look them up! Now that you have narrowed down your choices, there is time to study and reflect on the nuances of meaning between, say, Sat/Pl and Sat/Nep. They may both represent "harsh realities," but they do have distinctly different flavors. The first is more outright crushing to the spirit and is loss orientated; the second has the effect of undermining the individual over time, eating way at self-image.

As you work with midpoints, you will be able more and more quickly to pick out the ones that add that extra depth of understanding and complexity to your synthesis. The key is not to get bogged down in the specifics until after you have narrowed down your choices to those that speak the loudest and/or say the most significant things. Don't worry too much that you have left something out by not notating all of them. Start working with the ones that really speak to you.

Once you start adding midpoints to your analytical work, you will be amazed at how much extra depth of insight they add. The horoscope analysis can take a major turn, pivoting on the insight of one crucially appropriate midpoint picture. ---Midpoint pictures are like the right herbs in a soup - they heighten and bring out the complexity of flavors of the various ingredients - they help to create a uniquely coherent whole.

Next Update: March 30, 2001


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