The Role of the Least Aspected Planet in Astrocartography.
Planetary Symbolism in Astrocartography and Transcendental Astrology,
by Rob Couteau
All text © Copyright 2005, 2012 Rob Couteau
VI. The Least Aspected Planet as the Focal Point of the Horoscope:
The LAP as a Metaphor of the Soul
I first began to study the role of the least aspected planet (LAP) in the early 1980s. It was not until the mid-’80s, however, that it became apparent to me that the function of the LAP is to symbolically reflect the nature of the soul in a unique yet archetypal manner. Indeed, the LAP is the central focal point of the birth chart. While the horoscope will tell us much about the idiosyncratic path and character of a person, the symbol of the LAP portrays the larger archetypal pattern that we are dealing with at the core of the chart.
The second- and third least aspected planets further refine this overall portrait. In addition, they describe how the other planetary principles function as auxiliaries or “helpers”: energies that, when functioning properly, assist the LAP in moving us forward, so that the future personality or Self will eventually manifest. This is called the Primary Direction: the movement of the unconscious Will, as uniquely portrayed by the LAP.
For example, with Primary Jupiter and Secondary Mars, Mars will continually assist Jupiter in carrying out its mission. But the Mars principle will also color the native’s life, i.e., there will be something quintessentially Martian within this portrait and biography.
With most aspected planets (MAPs; also referred to as Leading Planets), a rather different dynamic is at work. Leading Planets portray our hypo- or hyperconscious tendencies and habitual responses. While they do not represent a deeper, more Transcendental mission, it is important that such energies be placed fully in the service of the least aspected or Transcendental planets. They must be directed to a central spiritual goal, which is symbolized by the LAP. Otherwise, psychic one-sidedness will result. When they are properly directed, however, MAPs serve an important role in helping us progress in the Primary Direction: that is, to the raison d’être, symbolized by the LAP.
If this does not occur, and if the Leading or most aspected planets attempt to dance only to the beat of their own drums, they will become split off and operate autonomously. While LAPs have traditionally been defined as split-off agents, in fact, the Leading Planets are the ones that are more likely to function in this manner. When the MAPs split off, the native will lose a sense of meaning in life. When we follow the dictates of the most aspected energies without regard for our true destiny, we will feel “hollowed out”: spiritually depleted. This is what occurs when the role of the least aspected planet is ignored or when it has been usurped by a most aspected or Leading Planet complex.
Why does the LAP assume such a central role in the biographies of those who have made significant cultural contributions? And why does it appear as a focal point in the lives of ordinary people, as well? There are several likely reasons.
The LAP represents a distilled or pure form of psychic energy. To use the language of astrological metaphor: a result of having few significant relationships (aspects) to the other planets, the LAP remains free to operate as it pleases: to express its “true nature.” Relationships demand a give and take: a compromised form of exchange. Jung has compared relationships to the reactions of chemicals; either nothing happens or each chemical is altered and transformed: changed into something else. While the former describes the LAP effect, the latter describes what happens when planetary energies are affected by many aspect effects.
This free, unfettered energy symbolizes something positioned at a crossroads between the conscious and the unconscious realms. Historically, the closest analogy to such a “numinous connection” or “numinous consciousness” is reflected in Jung’s definition of a transcendent function: the function that links and unites each realm. Jung has described it as a bridge that links the opposites and creates a new or “third” thing.
The LAP is also analogous to the process of individuation (a progression toward one’s uniqueness, marked by insights that arise when the conscious and unconscious identities form a synthetic whole. (Synthetic: from the Greek synthetikos: of composition, component, from syntithenai: to put together.) This process is also related to the notion of “fate”: a term rooted in the Latin fatum, literally, what has been spoken. Thus, our fate follows from what has been spoken (i.e., experienced psychically).1
These are metaphoric terms: intuitive expressions we use to discuss phenomena that cannot be described scientifically. They point to a mystery: one that remains beyond the limit of science. Yet, such means of imaging the role of the LAP are based on empirical observations and research (i.e., they represent a metaphoric, nonrational method of portraying objective truth and objective reality). Most importantly, they describe something within us of crucial import: a point, a center, a spark, toward which all psychic factors must eventually turn, i.e., the numinous entity symbolized by the Primary Transcendental.
The nature of the LAP is further described by discussing what it is not. For instance, the LAP does not alter the core nature of the other planetary energies. A least aspected Jupiter does not make a most aspected Saturn “no longer Saturnian.” Yet, Saturn will assume a special role in that it now serves the LAP. Therefore, the LAP does not infuse its energy into the core points represented by the other planets. Instead, it attracts them to its unique task. Otherwise, how could someone manage to live without a Saturnian principal at work, which creates order, discipline, and structure, and which helps us not only to adjust to reality but also to transcend it? Indeed, how could Primary Jupiter’s raison d’être be realized without that most helpful ability of Saturn to “make things tangible and real?” Only Saturn can assist in accomplishing this.
The role of the LAP should be always be considered when analyzing dynamic symbols, such as transits, solar returns, and progressions, as well as the more static factors in the horoscope. For example, if a philosopher with least aspected Jupiter (e.g., Friedrich Nietzsche) is experiencing a Saturn transit, we might ask: How will Saturn affect his Primary Jupiter mission? Will it help him to manifest a higher wisdom and insight: a realization reflecting the “soul of the society?” (Jupiter). While transiting Saturn may also symbolize something mundane (e.g., Nietzsche’s need to come to better terms with his body; with his ill-grounded living conditions; with his difficulty in paying the rent; with his miserable health), such questions must be asked within the larger context of: Who is this man and what is he meant to manifest, to incarnate in life? If LAP Jupiter is the key metaphor of the soul–as the LAP surely is–then what does it mean that Saturn is having trouble being integrated within him? If we can illustrate how Saturn will properly function as an energy at the service of the LAP–and, therefore, in the service of life–we help such a client to further his central goal. Then we will witness how the LAP principal works its magic, especially when the other planetary complexes are working on as conscious a level as possible.
The discovery of how the least aspected planet functions in astrocartography poses as many questions as it answers. For example, studies have revealed that many natives are born quite close to their LAP (i.e., birth under a “Primary Location”). When the least aspected planet is in proximity to the “Lords of the Four Quarters”–the four cardinal angles within a horoscope–we find it operating in an especially powerful, meaningful fashion.2
In addition, by examining not only the “high flyers” composing the international Who’s Who3 but by selecting an even more culturally significant group for our study, we notice Primary Locations appearing with an even higher frequency in such an especial group. Personalities such as Michelangelo (LAP Venus) and Emily Dickinson (LAP Saturn) exemplify the importance of Primary Locations, as do many of the other biographies in our study.
Other select groups have raised additional questions. For example, more American presidents have Saturn and Pluto as LAPs than any other planet.4 In terms of planetary symbolism, these are precisely the planets one would expect to find when examining personalities bearing such significant social-collective and transformative powers. In studying mundane events, we have examples such as the “first oil strike,”5 during which Neptune was the Primary Transcendental (Neptune traditionally rules petroleum) or the astronomical discovery of Pluto at a moment when both Pluto and Saturn (its lower octave) were the least aspected planets.
In such horoscopes, the role of the Transcendental House is usually of great symbolic significance. For example, during the first oil strike, Neptune resided in the Second House of the horoscope: a sector symbolizing wealth and resources. In the chart of LSD guru Timothy Leary (who extolled the importance of the “death experience” while using LSD and who authored The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead),6 we find Primary Neptune in the Eighth House: the celestial sector symbolizing metamorphosis, death, and psychic rebirth. Such Transcendental Houses must be examined to further comprehend how and why the LAP serves as a metaphor of spirit and soul, especially as these manifest in the three-dimensional world, i.e., the twelve horoscope houses.
Finally, I should note that the references throughout my work to C. G. Jung are more than incidental. One of the first to view the unconscious in a positivistic sense (as more than a mere junk heap or as something to be feared), Jung portrayed it as a realm of potential riches and value. When I first explored the phenomenon of the least aspected planet, his view of the psyche and his special understanding of numinous consciousness played a central part in pointing me in a worthwhile direction.
Astrology and depth psychology each provide us with an invaluable collection of metaphors with which to explore the acausal reflections of psyche. Such systems of inquiry are based on “metaphoric possibility”7 rather than on “scientific probability.” As Jung has demonstrated, such possibilities are valid expressions of the imaginal world of the soul.
–May 31, 1999, Paris.
1. The LAP symbolizes the task that we have been called upon to complete in this lifetime.
2. “If the experiment [of individuation] is denied to the self, the self is fed up after a while and says, ‘Well, the experiment is not worthwhile, I prefer to disappear’. As its purpose has been thwarted or starved, so you will be starved of life [...] you are left as a mere wall decoration, two-dimensional, flat [...] and then ... the self wants to perish.” Carl Jung, Seminar on Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, Abridged Edition, p. 121.
3. This was Michel Gauquelin’s approach, as he explains in various works such as Cosmic Influences on Human Behavior (New York: Stein & Day, 1973), The Cosmic Clocks. From Astrology to a Modern Science (New York: Avon Books, 1969), and Your Personality and the Planets (New York: Stein and Day, 1980).
4. As of the year 2005, there were 9 presidents with a least aspected Saturn (21.4%); 4 with second-least aspected Saturn (9.5%): and a total of 13 (30.9%) with first- or second-least aspected Saturn. Although George W. Bush is referred to as the “43rd” president, one president, Grover Cleveland, served two nonconsecutive terms. (Earlier versions of these statistics were first posted online on December 1, 1998, and were partially reproduced in the final issue of Aspects magazine.) LAP Saturn also makes an unusually high appearance in the “birth” of nations. (See below.)
5. Data reference: Nicholas Campion, The Book of World Horoscopes, pp. 479-480.
6. “Dying was built right into it. Why do you think we were using the Tibetan Book of the Dead as our guiding text?” Leary, on the role of LSD and the death experience. After he learned that he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, Leary’s final act was to “celebrate his death.” (See Mikal Gilmore, Rolling Stone interview, July 11-25, 1996.)
7. A term employed by my friend, Joseph Krausman, when referring to acausal systems such as astrology. (Private correspondence, spring 1999.)
VII. Zones of Intensity
II. Transcendental Biographies | III. Transcendental Events
IV. Psychic inflation - Summary of Planetary Symbolism
- Transcendental Planets
V. Nodes / the Triple-zero Transcendental | Appendices: Orbs / References / Data
Additional Maps | Notes | Bibliography | FAQ
I. Interview in Astrolore | II. Transcendental Nations | III. American Presidents & LAP Saturn
IV. World Events | V. Numinous Consciousness
VI. The LAP as a metaphor of the soul | VII. Zones of Intensity |
VIII. Complete Index of Names and Events | IX. Order Charts / Home Page / Contact
X. Search this entire site | XI. Purchasing Books about Astrology
| Home Page: Astrocartography |
All text © Copyright 2012 Rob Couteau and cannot be used without the written and expressed consent of the author.
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