The Role of the Least Aspected Planet in Astrocartography.

Planetary Symbolism in Astrocartography and Transcendental Astrology,

by Rob Couteau.

All text © Copyright 2005,2011 Rob Couteau


V. Beyond the ‘Trigger Effect’: A Personal Note on the Numinous Consciousness

The Question of ‘Triggers’

As interest in Transcendental Astrology continues to grow, many readers have been asking: “Is relocation the only manner in which underaspected planets can be effectively channeled? If not, what other mechanisms are involved in expressing the least aspected planet?” Indeed, LAPs are rarely enhanced only by relocation. In general, they symbolize an internal guiding principle: an inherent raison d’être or spiritual focal point. 

Points of Inner Focus

Underaspected planets represent a primary focal point: a core ideal and key element of our spiritual journey. Historical biogra­phies and the biographies of personal acquaintances each revealed that the traditional notion of underaspected planets as portraying an “unintegrated element” in the horoscope was erroneous and that the opposite notion seemed to be true: that underaspected planets symbolize our essential psychic nature: what we are meant to do in this particular lifetime. Subsequent scrutiny of biographical data revealed a par­allel between horoscopes and the geographical locations of clients, vis-à-vis least aspected planets.

Traditional Definitions, Traditional Assumptions

What makes such energies special is that, when underaspected, the planetary principle is unfettered. It is pure, so to speak; it is its own master. It can express itself without being tied down, through aspect, to other planetary focal points.1 ”
        Why did it take so long to discover this astrological principle? It may simply be a case of believing things without testing them: of allowing ideas to be passed along, without asking the fundamental question, “Why?” But it may be something else, as well:

        If it is indeed the case that least aspected planets (LAPs) are rarely, if ever, “untriggered,” and if the reverse is true–that LAPs signify energies at the forefront of our nature, of our exis­tential purpose: our essential spirit–then why did we originally develop the false assumption that underaspected planets are indicators of “unconsciousness”?
        When I first encountered this traditional notion–that underaspected planets reflect “an energy that cannot be integrated with the other planets: a free-floating, nonintegrated principle”–I immediately became intrigued. My approach to astrology was influenced by a psychological orientation, so this naturally raised the ques­tion: If it’s not operating consciously, then which region of the psyche does it symbolize? From a psychological point of view, we often think of a conscious / unconscious duality. Therefore, it was a natural assumption to conclude that underaspected planets represent an unconscious complex. But a deeper understanding of archetypal psychology will result in a more complicated view regarding such matters.

Beyond the Duality of Triggered-Untriggered; Conscious-Unconscious

We may have become too habituated to approaching things in a dualistic fash­ion, especially as regards what is “conscious” and what is “unconscious.” For there also exists what the Rudolf Otto calls the “numinous consciousness”: an experience of the holy: of grace; a participation with a sacred dimension in life. Otto took the Latin term numen (deity), and coined the adjective, numinous. Later, Jung borrowed the term from Otto. Jung wrote that the difference between his psychology and Freud’s was that Freud focused on the neurotic while Jung was concerned with the numinous.2 This difference is crucial. It reflects an essential difference between a sacred and a profane experience: an experience of grace as opposed to an experience of life as a mere linear succession of meaningless events.

“Numinous consciousness”

Otto, the encounter with the sacred is a revelation of “numinous conscious­ness,” i.e., a direct experience of the numinosum, of the mysterium. And this experience for­ever alters us: after such a revelation (mysterium tremendum = yang) and revaluation (mysterium fascinans = yin), we are no longer the same. In this experience, we transcend ordinary consciousness, as the self has been graced: destined to encounter a higher Self–the eternal god within.
        Such an experience transcends a dualistic notion of conscious versus uncon­scious. Here the smaller self (ego-complex) is suddenly “opened” or “expanded,” and what the expansion of consciousness reveals is a Sacred Absolute: an Absolute Knowledge (and Absolute Feeling) of a mysterious and transcendent whole­ness. This is a realm about which we cannot really speak (as certain traditions have it, the “name” of God is never spoken by one who has been truly touched by Him).
        Otto’s was a reverent and feeling-toned (rather than hyper-intellectualized) approach to the sacred: to what he called the mysterium fascinans et tremendum. Here is how he portrays it:

Mysterium tremendum: “A mystery inexpressible and above all creatures”

We are dealing with something for which there is only one appropriate expression, ‘mysterium tremendum’. The feeling of it may at times come sweeping like a gentle tide, pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest worship. It may pass over into a more set and lasting attitude of the soul, continuing, as it were, thrillingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies away and the soul resumes its ‘profane’, nonreligious mood of everyday experience. It may burst in sudden eruption up from the depths of the soul with spasms and convulsions, or lead to the strangest excitements, to intoxicated frenzy, to transport, and to ecstasy. It has its wild and demonic forms and can sink to an almost gristly horror and shuddering. It has its crude, barbaric antecedents and early manifestations, and again it may be developed into something beautiful and pure and glorious. It may become the hushed, trembling, and speechless humility of the creature in the presence of–whom or what? In the presence of that which is a mystery inexpressible and above all creatures.
–Otto, “The Analysis of Tremendum,” The Idea of the Holy, chapter IV.

        For any astrologer worth his alchemical salt, this is synonymous with the symbol of  “Pluto,” which I posit as the extreme yang point (or tremendum) in the planetary spectrum (i.e., Sun-Mars-Saturn-Pluto).
        But that is only one-half of Otto’s mysterium:

Mysterium fascinans: “The Dionysiac-element in the numen”

These two qualities, the daunting and the fascinating, now combine in a strange harmony of contrasts, and the resultant dual character of the numinous consciousness, to which the entire religious devel­opment bears witness, at any rate from the level of the ‘daemonic dread’ onwards, is at once the strangest and most noteworthy phe­nomenon in the whole history of religion. The daemonic-divine object may appear to the mind an object of horror and dread, but at the same time it is no less something that allures with a potent charm, and the creature, who trembles before it, utterly cowed and cast down, has always at the same time the impulse to turn to it, nay even to make it somehow his own. The ‘mystery’ is for him not merely something to be wondered at but something that entrances him; and beside that in it which bewilders and confounds, he feels a something that captivates and transports him with a strange ravish­ment, rising often enough to the pitch of dizzy intoxication; it is the Dionysiac-element in the numen.”
–Otto, “The Elements of Fascination,” The Idea of the Holy, chapter IV.

        This represents a succinct and marvelous description of the Neptune principle: some­thing that “captivates and transports”; a “strange ravishment”; a “pitch of dizzy intoxica­tion.” Thus, in the fascinans we have a portrait of the classic yin qualities (Moon-Venus- Jupiter-Neptune), which reach their final form in the transpersonal sym­bol of Neptune. And while Neptune allures with as great a promise of otherworldly power and delight as Pluto, it can destroy one through “bliss”3 as surely as Pluto will rend one asunder in agony.
        It is my contention that, in partaking of the numinosum (the sacred dimen­sion), all the astrological principles embody what is primarily a fascinans or primarily a tremendum nature. (At any rate, that is how we experience them.)

Lines of development

As I have illustrated in my essays on “Transcendental Planets,” there is a specific line yin of development, beginning with the Moon and progressing through Venus, Jupiter, and Neptune.4 There is a parallel line of yang, beginning with the Sun and progressing through Mars, Saturn, and Pluto.5 Mercury (hermaphroditic, and traditionally described as possessing a “dual nature”) acts as a liaison in the overall dynamic,6 while Uranus (asexual) transcends such fixed dualistic expressions of yin/yang and acts as a cosmic switch or circuit breaker, especially in regard to the outer planets and the attempt we make to integrate them psychologically.7 The Uranian principle serves an enantiodromian function by reversing conditions (similar to the moving yin or yang lines in the I Ching) whenever an extreme point has been reached, i.e., extremes change into their opposites. Therefore, Uranus rules the principle of “dynamic reversal.”8
        But where does the least aspected planet fit into all this?

The LAP as a Psychic Focal Point of Numinosity

We are all moving, in telic fashion, toward the Self: toward our own futurity: to the as-yet-undefined, undiscovered Self. As such, we will progress in only one of two pos­sible manners at any one time: along either the yin (fascinans) or yang (tremen­dum) scale of values. As Jung has shown, ultimately there is no dualism. Yet when the archetype (the mystery in life) approaches, we must split it in half, for we cannot digest it in its enormity. If we attempt to do so, either we will dissolve (fascinans) or be crushed (tremendum) by it.
        With the inherent limits of our ego-bound perceptual processes, we can only chip off a tiny piece of the godhead, and that piece will serve as a guiding stone: like a magnetized compass that points to the unknown and that beckons us to follow, no matter the trepidation, fear, or horror (mysterium tremen­dum); no matter the bliss, intoxication, or joy (mysterium fascinans). That is the nature of the numinous. The underaspected planet sym­bolizes this. It represents a crucial aspect of the future Self: an expression of the higher Will, of the unknowable spirit that attempts to lead us toward meaning.

Numinology and the Transcendent Function

As Jung has demonstrated in his studies, the creation of a numinous con­sciousness is assisted by the transcendent function. This is a term I assume he borrowed from Hegel, which he defines as a “uniting function that transcends [the] tension of opposites.” Therefore, the transcendent function is a “psychic function that arises from the tension between con­sciousness and the unconscious and supports their union.”9
        Since the least aspected planet is portrayed as an isolated energy (due to lack of aspect interaction), it symbolizes an energy that is less reflective of such conflicts of opposites. In that sense, the LAP serves the same role as the transcendent function. Therefore, its numinous quality is probably not coinciden­tal. The LAP serves as a focal point through which several antithetical views (or energetic tensions) come into parity–since it stands not only aside from them but, also, above them, transcending their dualism. As such, it is the ter­tium non datur or “reconciling third.” “[Nature] acts symbolically in the truest sense of the word, doing something that expresses both sides, just as a waterfall visibly mediates between above and below.”10
It is with this in mind that we speak of a Transcendental or “reconciling” symbol. For it stands there between two worlds, as a kind of twilight guidepost. It is through its presence that we discover a telic, purposeful, and forward-moving drive. It resembles a bridge that links two worlds, simultaneously making them one as it creates a third transcendent possibility: “a mystery inexpressible and above all creatures” (Otto).11

1. Dr Victor Mansfield has kindly granted permission to use an insightful remark from a note I received from him on October 14, 1998: “I had a guru with an unaspected Sun. He always thought that it allowed him the maximum freedom of expressing the Sun’s meaning and function. Perhaps, aspects not only help manifest or express a planet’s mean­ing and function but they also limit its scope of action.” See his groundbreaking work, Syn­chronicity, Science and Soul-Making, Chicago, Open Court Publications, 1995.
2. “The main interest of my work is not concerned with the treatment of neurosis but rather with the approach to the numinous. But the fact is that the approach to the numinous is the real therapy and inasmuch as you attain to the numinous experiences you are released from the curse of pathology.” Carl Jung, C. G. Jung Letters, vol. 1, letter to P. W. Martin, p. 377. (Special thanks to Douglas Boyd of Galaxy: Archetypal Astrol­ogy (online) for reminding me of this fine quote.)
3. Homer’s Odyssey, a classic tale of such developmental dangers, poetically addresses the delightful (and harrowing) aspects of such “yin insanity”: the dissolution of the ego in “The Lotus Eaters” (Neptune); the imprisonment (and psychological regression) of Odysseus on Circe’s island (Moon); and, in a story of anima-ridden allure and enchantment, Odysseus bound and –his ears plugged with wax and his torso tightly fastened to the mast of his ship–listening raptly to the sweet nothings of the Sirens and their song (the personification of the anima, i.e., Venus). Indeed, yin “bliss” (and the effects of the yin planets that symbolize its incremental stages, i.e., Moon, Venus, Jupiter, and Neptune) is not always all it is made out to be, i.e., it is advisable to pro­ceed with caution.
        It is worth noting that this classic yin “adventure tale” the­matically follows in the footsteps of the Iliad–a yang adventure focused on the opposite side of the energetic spec­trum: the blood and guts of the tremendum, with its less nuanced and more overt dangers and pitfalls.
4. “Together, the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter represent successive stages in the evolution of consciousness ...”; “Neptune completes the sequence of the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter ...” Marcia Moore; Mark Douglas, Astrology, The Divine Science, pp. 40-43. Although consid­ered the original ruler of Pisces (yin), often Jupiter is considered a yang planet. Here, however, we have taken a different point of view, i.e., Jupiter as symbolizing social-collective yin.
5. “It is possible to trace a line of development linking the Sun, Mars, and Saturn, which parallels the line linking the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter.” Marcia Moore; Mark Douglas, Astrology, The Divine Science, p. 41. “Neptune is the higher octave of Venus”; “Pluto is the higher octave of Mars.” Alan Oken, As Above, So Below, pp. 317, 324.
6. We see this especially in alchemy, which speaks of Mercurius as effecting and personifying a union of opposites on a micro­cosmic human level (i.e., he partakes equally in (and at times alternates between) the yang (actively communicating and promoting) and yin (passively absorbing and comprehending) principle. He is the microcosm within which opposing planetary principles are united and through which their oppositional tensions are integrated and resolved (especially through the mediation of rational comprehension and reflective consciousness). In alchemy, Mercurius was envisioned as standing between Sol and Luna–the principle ele­mental forms of spirit (yang) and soul (yin)–and providing, through receptive awareness and active transmission of thought, a mediating function: one providing continual psychic evolution and stabilization.
7. As Linda Reid has pointed out (in an online Webfest post), trying to “integrate” the energy of an outer-orbiting planet is a misnomer. To paraphrase her remarks, an energetic complex such as Uranus is not so much integrated as it is held, for a brief moment, like a sparkling bundle of energy in the palm of one’s hand. For, how can we “integrate” something that is so much larger than the ego-complex?
8. Although certain astrologers believe that Uranus corresponds to the yang energy, our point of view is that it transcends the dualistic expression of yin and yang: that while Mercury is hermaphroditic (embodying each principle), Uranus is neither male nor female. Instead, Uranus symbolizes a cos­mic function that reverses yin or yang energy into its opposite form when either achieves an extreme state of expression. This principle of dynamic reversal is represented in the I Ching by unfolding patterns of energy (“hexagrams”) that switch into alternate forms (i.e., the “moving lines”). In the West, this notion is best exemplified by the ancient Greek notion of enantiodromia, a “running opposite or counter to,” promulgated by the philosopher Heraclitus (575?-641?): “Fate is the logical product of enantiodromia, creator of all things.”
        In modern psychological literature, Jung notes that enantiodromia is synonymous with an “emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time. This characteristic phenomenon practically always occurs when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life; in time an equally powerful counterposition is built up, which first inhibits the conscious performance and subsequently breaks through the conscious control.” He adds, “Sooner or later everything runs into its opposite.” Such reversals include the shift from one extreme form of behavior, perception, or ideation into a seem­ingly opposite form or way of being. Through the enantiodromian or “dynamic reversal” of Uranus, the form of Mercury’s ideation is transformed into a Uranus’s reformation (Mercury poses the question “Why,” while Uranus asks, “Why not?”). Ultimately, beyond this seesawlike energetic reversal, the final Uranian goal is to alternate currents of energy until a nondualistic or transcendent “third” form is discovered: ideally, one not as extreme as either opposite but that incorporates the best elements of each, in order to create a more manageable (i.e., more con­sciously operating) reformation.
        The above note excerpted from my essay, “Transcendental Uranus.” See also Sto­baeus, Eclogae physicae, cited by Jung in Psychological Types, p. 425. In discussing the “transformative princi­ple at work in nature and the harmony of opposing forces,” he notes: “Chinese philosophy formulated this process as the enantiodromian interplay of yin and yang,” adding (in a footnote): “The classical example being The I Ching or Book of Changes.” See Psychology and Alchemy, p. 245.
        One of the earliest references to enantiodromia in Jung’s work occurs in a series of lectures he gave in Swanage, England: “When something has been accomplished, an opposition must be established before anything else can occur. You may hold a Christian ideal, but this is also impossible, for though a mind may be spirit, you cannot go endlessly into spirit, as you constellate the materialism of the uncon­scious. A living system is a self-regulating system and must be balanced. Neither spirit not matter is good in themselves, for, in excess, both destroy life.” “Lectures at Swanage,” unpublished typescript, August 1, 1925, Lecture VII, pp. 51-52. He also discusses this concept in his Analytical Psychology seminar.
9. Daryl Sharp, C. G. Jung Lexicon, A Primer of Terms and Concepts (Toronto: Inner City Books, 1991), p. 135.
        As an incidental note, in mathematics the term “Transcendental Function” refers to a function involving real and imaginary numbers. “Transcendental Numbers” refers to “the theory of irrationality, transcendence, and algebraic independence of various numbers.” From “Number Theory IV: Transcendental Numbers,” Yu V. Nesterenko, N.I. Feldman, Encyclopedia of Mathematical Sciences, vol. 44.
        The relationship between numerals and archetypes was one of Professor Jung’s principal interests, especially during the final decades of his life. See C. G. Jung Letters, vol. 2, letter to Steven Abrams, p. 400: “… I have always come upon the enigma of the natural number. I have a distinct feeling that Number is a key to the mystery, since it is just as much discovered as invented. It is a quantity as well as meaning.”
10. Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis. Collected Works, vol. 14, par. 705, cited in Sharp, p. 134. Perhaps, it is not completely coincidental that Jung penned such thoughts in a chapter entitled, “The Conjunction,” bearing witness, as he often did, to the power of astrological thought and its influence upon him.
11. All Otto citations are from The Idea of the Holy, trans. John W. Harvey.

Supplemental notes

The role of the least aspected or Transcendental Planet is especially highlighted in the follow­ing manners:

•Birth under or near the line of Primary Transcendental Planet.
•Relocation (or temporary travel) near the Primary or Secondary Transcen­dental. A temporary relocation often results in a “Transcendental experience”: a meaningful event that marks one’s psychic development.
•Through insight and emotional development, often initially expressed as a spiritual yearning. Remarkable natures learn to unite the ego-will with the unconscious Will. What the unconscious has in store, in the deepest sense, is often symbolized by the least aspected planet.1

1. It was in this sense that Jung spoke of “autonomous movements of the unconscious”: eruptions of archetypal material, but minus any causal connection to external personal experience: “It requires a very close contact with the unconscious, and an understanding of it, for a man to realize that the origin of his mythological or spiritual experiences is within himself, and that whatever forms these experiences may appear to take, they do not in fact come from the external world.” Analytical Psychology, p. 132.


Next Section:

IV. The LAP as a Metaphor of the Soul


Introduction Transcendental Moon Transcendental Sun
Transcendental Mercury Transcendental Venus Transcendental Mars
Transcendental Jupiter Transcendental Saturn Transcendental Uranus
Transcendental Neptune Transcendental Pluto Numinous Consciousness



Revised & updated: 5 August 2005


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I. Introduction

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

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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    |    

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