We’ve all felt it at one time or another, that feeling of instant ‘ooo la la.’ Our eyes meet another’s, we feel a frisson of electricity, and then we know. We’re at home, at peace, and it feels good to be known. We’re complete. This is the ‘other’ we’ve been waiting for.
There are a lot of aspects that are responsible for this kind of sudden attraction, usually from the outer planets: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. The “three bullies,” as I call them, all act as magnets when they attach themselves to one of our more personal or sensitive areas.
But the most potent, and dependable, source of attraction is something a lot of people don’t pay enough attention to in synastry, and that is planetary contact with the angles and angle rulers. (The “angles” are the Ascendant, IC or Imum Coeli, the Descendant, and the MC or Medium Coeli.) It doesn’t matter what planet it is; if it falls on your angles from someone else’s chart you will feel it immediately, and often profoundly. And because the angles are what they are, they provide a kind of intimacy that often eludes the outer planet attractions.
Angle Ruler ContactsComparison of angles and angle ruler contacts used to be considered crucial in synastry. In fact, it used to be an astrological ‘rule’ that you couldn’t have a long-term relationship unless the angles of one person hit the relationship planets (Venus-Mars, Moon-Saturn and the Sun) of another, or the angle rulers were in contact, in some way.
The Sun and the Moon are a natural archetypal pairing, much like Yin and Yang. But the other planets here are considered relationship planets because they have to do with our relations with the external world. We have the polarity of Aries-Libra, and their natural association with the Ascendant/Descendant and ‘Self’ versus ‘Other.’ But we also have the polarity of Cancer-Capricorn and Moon-Saturn. This is the polarity of ‘inside’ (Moon) versus ‘outside’ (Saturn): What I have within versus what I must make of myself. And these are the natural rulers of the fourth and tenth houses, representative of yet another angle, the MC/IC (Imum Coeli/Medium Coeli). Who can deny that both conditioning (IC) and status/growth (MC) play their part in our attractions?
Angles and the Cardinal CrossIn essence, our relationships are determined by the archetype of the cardinal cross. Cardinal signs are known by the keyword ‘initiation.’ In other words, our cardinal houses, and our angles, get things going. This is how love makes the world go round. It’s no accident that our relationships are often the greatest spur to our spiritual growth.
But, for some reason, angles are not treated with the respect that they deserve. While we’re all busy figuring out the meaning of the midpoint between Ceres and the Black Moon, the angles languish in confusion and anonymity. A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of the rising sign itself, and mostly we relegate each angle half to one or two keywords: the Ascendant is ‘the mask,’ the IC represents ‘family,’ the Descendant is ‘partner,’ and the MC is ‘career.’ What a sad and simplistic description for so dynamic and active a cross.
Angle CalculationsOur angles are gateways to our own becoming, which is why they are so potent in relationship ties. Angles aren’t static, but are descriptive of who we are as a work in progress. (In fact, you can see this clearly if you work with secondary progressions, in which the role of the angles becomes crystal clear.) When something touches our angles, it touches the deepest part of our experience as human beings. Angles open up the floodgate of meaningful experience. This is why transits to angles are often more potent than transits to planets.
Angles are as sensitive as antennae, as raw as nerves, and as responsive as fuel to a flame. Angles are calculated by a measurement of time and space. Time and space create our material reality. In a natal chart, this cross of matter intersects the eternal spirit (the circle). Ultimately, they represent how we negotiate our time on this earth. The natal chart is a diagram of the way our eternal spirit connects and evolves through our earthly experience. Without angles, we have no compass. We have no North to guide us.
One of the reasons astrology places so much emphasis on the angles in synastry, is that when angle meets planet there is constant stimulation. If a person’s planet is on our angles, and they excite or attract us in some way, they are likely to always do so. It isn’t the same with planetary pairings, who often learn their lessons and move on. The immediate attraction with angles often remains stimulating long after that Venus-Mars trine between the charts has become ho hum. Couples who are still holding hands after long decades together often have lots of angle contact, or angles emphasized in the composite chart. They still feel the initial ‘buzz.’ (Of course, this can go both ways. If there is someone irritating you with a difficult planet, or if your angle is hitting something uncomfortable in the other chart, you’ll feel that, too.)
Inner Planets to AnglesOn the whole, inner planets to angles are a positive thing, unless the planet is very troubled in the other chart. We get to know that planet intimately through another being. The planet person feels that planet enhanced and made stronger and louder through the contact. All aspects matter, but mainly we should be paying attention to the conjunction (and, by natural course, the opposition) and the square. These connections get even juicier if the planet involved is also an angle ruler, particularly of the Ascendant or Descendant.
Here’s a quick overview of the inner planets to angles:
- The Sun on any angle brings feelings of acceptance, warmth and a kind of creative liberation (I celebrate myself).
- The Moon falling on an angle brings a powerful intimacy, and a sense of feeling known and understood.
- Mercury on an angle stimulates the desire and ability to connect and share, and will mitigate any communication issues there may be between the charts.
- Venus stimulates pleasure, appreciation and often a sense of beauty in the other and in ourselves.
- Mars brings fire and desire to any angle it touches. It makes us feel alive. Aside from the sexual component, it provides a great stimulus to get things going.
Aspects to the IC/MCWe’re used to using the Ascendant/Descendant as the compass for relationship, but aspects to the IC/MC can be just as profound. When the IC is contacted, the other person feels like home to us. I’ve known him/her forever; words are not necessary (unless you have Gemini on the IC). Like the Descendant, the IC carries a bit of shadow to it. It isn’t the most open of houses. We take refuge in our IC; we keep our secrets there. It’s where we feel safe. We may welcome someone’s Sun or Moon or Jupiter there, but feel less sure whether we want to let Mars in, when he comes knocking. The IC symbolizes our seat of power, the place we are most deeply ourselves, and we can feel vulnerable, if that is exposed. Contacts to our IC from another person’s planet can either inspire a deep sense of belonging, or cause us to feel endangered and at risk.
Back in the days when social status was destiny (particularly for women), it is easy to see how the MC played a part in marriage and relationships. The MC represented your status in the community. A good marriage gave you status, and a partner whose Sun fell on your MC would fit the bill nicely. We like to think that that kind of thing doesn’t occur anymore, but we all know it does. Status can play a huge part in our choice of mate. When the MC is stimulated by another person’s planet we can feel newly awakened, ambitious and alive. This person’s perception of me is just what I wished my idea of myself could be. The MC plays a huge part in whether or not we achieve our potential. Synastry contacts there assure that our partner is our support and/or stimulus to our dreams. The MC is also emphasized when material security is an issue. This is particularly true if a woman is not in touch with her own masculine energy (Sun, Mars, Saturn). If she has problems ‘owning’ these planets, the quick fix is to marry them, and often there are contacts from the masculine planets to the MC when this occurs.
Angles in ActionNow, imagine that we’re walking around the earth with our angles sticking out, hungry for experience and life’s encounters. We meet someone whose Venus conjuncts our Descendant. This person seems to be perfection personified, the embodiment of everything we’ve ever valued or desired—everything lovely, in fact, that isn’t us. Now, if Mars is there instead of Venus, it’s more directly sexual. The shiver of attraction could be palpable. We may love the way this person does things—how he or she moves, walks, breathes. We feel the steam, no matter what sign, no matter what other aspects it may make. The person feels to us, deep down, as if s/he is our natural mate, and we can’t wait to get to him or her.
Of course, angles tend to exaggerate whatever touches them, so if our supposed ‘ideal’ of Venus/Descendant above also has Pluto opposite that Venus, and falling on our Ascendant, the power struggles inherent in the person’s Venus-Pluto tussle will profoundly affect my sense of myself, and my relationships. We will still feel the Venus, but it will be deeper and darker and slightly threatening, though we will feel no less attracted. We may be put through the wringer, but later will realize that the relationship taught us a great deal about our own inner strength, and the values that we attach to partnership.
I know of one couple where her Descendant ruler, Mars, is conjunct his Descendant, and his Descendant ruler, Uranus, is conjunct her Ascendant. These two have one of the most incompatible synastries I’ve ever seen, in terms of inter-aspects between charts, but the relationship has been running for some time on the fire of this attraction, backed with a couple of positive progressions. It’s also a powerful magnet if the Ascendant or Descendant rulers conjunct in any way. It makes us feel as if the other person plays a major part in our becoming whole.
Our angles can convey the very essence of what we need for fulfillment, and can reach out to connect to the essence of another. If you want to be a true student of synastry, closer analysis of your angles will give you greater insight into your attractions and teach you valuable lessons about sustaining relationships.