Along with planets, every chart has pieces and sections, like an astrological pie. The chart is a 360-degree circle. Every chart has a horizon line that runs from the Ascendant at the left (Eastern horizon) across to the Descendent. And then there’s another line, the meridian that runs from the top of the chart (the Midheaven) to the bottom (the IC or Imedium Coeli).
Four Directional Points
When you hear astrological lingo about planets and points, the later are these four significant areas of your chart. Each one means something different, and are the subject of entire books (believe it or not!)
The ascendant is your public persona, and the filter between you and the world; the descendant is where you meet the other; the IC is your root of home, memory and the soul; and the MC shows your aspirations, as the pinnacle of the chart. The MC/Midheaven) is where you’re aimed, and your legacy.
Hemispheres and Quadrants
A chart, the basic circle, can become two hemispheres or four quadrants. These are used to refine your understanding of your astrological make-up. It can hint at whether you’re a mostly private or mostly public person, or whether you’re an individualist or a collaborator with your life’s work.
There’s a quirk with the naming that comes with an alert! Up is down and right is left! You could say it’s opposite day when you look at an astrological chart. North is South and East is West. The hemispheres are the opposite of what we’re used to seeing on a map. The southern hemisphere is above the horizon and is the realm of public life and image.
Northern and Southern
The northern hemisphere is below the horizon, is the realm of private, contemplative and self-focused pursuits. If most of your planets, for example, are in the northern hemisphere, you’re likely a self-contained person who prefers to keep a low profile. If you’ve got a packed southern hemisphere, you’re at home on the public stage and are preoccupied with broader social concerns.
Eastern and Western
The next division is the pie split with the meridian line into eastern and western hemispheres. Planets in the eastern hemisphere show self-motivation and what you generate on your own. Planets in the western hemisphere are reactive and interactive with other forces — individuals, ideas, or the public at large.
The four quadrants are a narrative of the journey of the Zodiac. The first quadrant is about identity and the concentration on the Self. The second is centered on the creative imagination, self-expression and healing others. The third quadrant leads us to relationships, and what we learn through others from that mirror. And the fourth quadrant deals in universal themes and is oriented toward human culture or society as a whole.
Horizon and Median
- The Ascendant (social mask, the way of being in the world) is at the left of the horizon line and the Descendant (relating to others) is at the right.
- The MC (highest aims) is at the top of the meridian line, and the IC (family origins, private life) is at the bottom.
- The horizon and meridian create a cross, and each of the four cardinal points, or angles, is a defining feature.
- Like a compass, the angles show the directional orientation in life.
- Planets in the first quadrant act as standalones, initiating actions from a sense of solo identity.
- Planets in the second quadrant are focused on manifesting, and being creatively productive.
- Planets in the third quadrant shine when engaged with others, whether through relationships, inspiring, teaching or deep intimacy.
- Planets in the fourth quadrant are geared toward the all of us in society, and often leads or take part in collective efforts.
- The planets above the horizon line were visible when you were born; those below it were invisible in the night sky.
- Many planets above the horizon make you a highly social creature, while if most are below, you tend to lead a more introspective life.
- Very public people have an emphasis above the horizon, like activists, leaders, or celebrities that always seem to be in the news, for good or ill.
- Those with many planets below the horizon live behind a veil so that even if very famous, they manage to live privately.
- Someone with many planets in the western hemisphere (right side) of the chart is responsive to others, but may often leave the initiating (of ideas, projects) to others.
- This chart emphasis denotes a person who thrives in the give and take of shared work.
- Someone with many planets in the eastern hemisphere (left side) of the chart indicates a go-getter type that blazes a trail.
- The eastern chart emphasis turns out a pioneer who makes her own opportunities in life.