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Planetary Phases and Aspects

The Cycle of Planetary Relationship

Aspects in astrology are particular arcs between the zodiacal positions of two planets. A cycle of planetary relationship begins when a pair of planets occupy the same degree of the zodiac. This originating aspect is known as the conjunction. Its arc value is zero. The New Moon is the archetypal conjunction. In time, the faster moving planet rushes ahead of the other in the sky. The arc measuring the cyclic distance between the two grows. Eventually the opposition aspect of 180 degrees is met. The Full Moon is the archetype of this aspect and its symbolism is known to anyone who has watched the sun set while the moon rose. After the opposition, instead of moving away from the other body, the faster planet begins to move toward the other. Finally the two once again meet in conjunction, further along the geocentric zodiac than their last conjunction. Aspects are important arc encountered along the cycle of unfoldment from 0 to 360 degrees.
      The primary set of astrological aspects is based upon dividing the cycle by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8. Additionally, divisions by 5, 7, 9, 10, and 12 are significant, but they carry a more abstract meaning which is difficult to get a tight fix on, so traditional astrologers seldom use them, but they are depicted in this series.
      The study of astrological aspects, and the configurations formed by networks of aspects, is one of the most fascinating areas of astrology. Those who wish to explore the subject further are referred to my A Handbook for the Humanistic Astrologer.
      The eternal flow of astrological aspects can be thought of the cyclically unfolding relationship between two planets. All cycles may be divided into a series of phases. Each phase, comprising the span between exact aspects, characterizes particular modes of activity and relating. The nature of activity appropriate during any phase is determined by its place or sequence within the entire cycle extending from conjunction to conjunction.

Waxing And Waning Aspects
The cyclic relationship existing between any two planets is constantly changing, never static. All cycles of planetary relationship begin and end with the conjunction aspect of 0 degrees. A cycle is not a circuit of empty and meaningless "eternal return", but a spiralic process of evolutionary growth.
      The spiralic nature of the planetary cycles is shown by the fact that each successive cycle begins (conjunction) further along the zodiac than its predecessor. The character of the first or waxing hemicycle of planetary relationship, from conjunction to opposition, is of decidedly different character than the waning hemicycle extending from opposition to conjunction. The character and meaning of the waxing and waning hemicycles of planetary relationship follows closely that of the Lunation Cycle the archetypal cycle of relationship.
      In brief, the waxing hemicycle and waxing phases are related to involutionary, subjective and self-building activities. Here plans are best formulated. Materials should be gathered and organization developed. Subjective, instinctual, and spontaneous activities are featured. The waning hemicycle and waning phases signify multi-functional relationships directed toward some kind of objective realization and purpose. Outside factors come into play and the meaning and ultimate social goals of activity receives attention. The keynotes are inclusiveness, expansion of understanding, and participation.

The Phases and Aspects Essentialized
The depictions of the 36 cyclic aspects recorded in this series concern not merely the moment of the exact aspect, but the character and meaning of a phase of unfoldment which begins at one exact aspect and ends at the next. That is, exact aspects signal the beginning of a phase of unfoldment. The character of a particular phase carries the meaning of the aspect which marks its beginning. This means the times of transit aspects listed in astrological calendars should not be viewed as unrelated fragments of time that simply come and go. Rather they signal the beginning of a new phase of unfoldment.

The depictions of the 36 phases or aspects of the cyclic process which follow are purely archetypal and highly symbolic, they are not meant to characterize individual persons or particular situations, they are merely symbolic word-images attempting to capture the essence of the cyclic processes active within a particular phase. They are something quite different from the "cookbook" formulas typical of much astrological literature, and they are liable to confound and bewilder the casual reader seeking "fortune-coookie" interpretations of astrological aspects.

To "sense" the dynamic of cyclic process, the depictions need to be read in sequence, from beginning to end. They are meant to help you "tune into" the essence of the Eon and its phases of unfoldment. As you read the depictions, try to get a feel for the cyclic movement as a whole, as well as its particular moments. Meditate on each, resonant to the vibratory quality of the Eon.

Copyright © 2000 by Michael R. Meyer.
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