By Mary Plumb | April 25, 2011
Ashland, Oregon has a lively and curious astrological community. Doug Kellogg is a long-time resident who was one of the first astrological programmers. In 1979, he wrote the first encyclopedic astrology programs for the emerging personal computer market, first sold by Quicksilver Productions and then by Astrolabe.
Doug gave a very informative and inspiring talk, An Astrological Microscope, at our monthly NCGR meeting last week. The subject was harmonic charts and I wanted to share a bit of it and send you to his web site, where you can enter birth data and see beautifully-designed charts for harmonics (which can be calculated at his website for harmonics from 1-24).
For those unfamiliar, harmonic charts offer a way to see the underlying patterns in a horoscope. The 1st-harmonic chart is the chart wheel we usually see; it relates to the number one, and the conjunction is its aspect.
We are also familiar with, and can readily see, the 2nd and 3rd harmonics in a chart. Dividing the 360º wheel by two (i.e., the 2nd harmonic) produces the opposition (180º) aspect; dividing 360º by three (the 3rd harmonic) gives the trine (120º) aspect. The 4th harmonic is a multiple of two and gives the square (90º) aspect. The 6th harmonic, a multiple of three, gives the sextile (60º) aspect. These are the basic and commonly recognized aspects: the conjunction, trine, square, sextile and opposition.
Getting a bit more complex, but still commonly used, the 8th harmonic chart (a multiple of 4 and 2) shows the semi-square (45º) and sesqui-quadrate (135º) aspects.
However, we move into more subtle territory by dividing the circle by the prime number five, the 5th harmonic, which produces the quintile (72º) aspect, and by the prime number seven, the 7th harmonic, which is connected to the septile (51.4º) aspect.
The ninefold division of the chart, the 9th harmonic, corresponds to the novile (40º) aspect, used extensively in Vedic astrology.
Although there are the ever curious who study all the different harmonics, the most commonly used are the 5th, 7th, and 9th harmonics.
The fifth-harmonic chart is connected to the qualities that make us human, i.e., the five senses and one’s talents and creative or scientific abilities. (Albert Einstein has a very strong 5th-harmonic chart.) The 7th-harmonic chart has had many speculative interpretations, including artistry and music, though some see it as connecting to chaotic or unusual worldly events.
This view of the 7th-harmonic chart and the septile (51.4º) aspect has gotten some attention recently. Tem wrote about the long 7th-harmonic (septile) aspect between Neptune and Pluto in recent years (2006 – 2012).
Astrologer Robert Wilkinson has called the septile the aspect of “the grand irrationality.”
For other resources on harmonics, there is a wonderful article in TMA, Feb/March 2003, by Edward Gillam, called The Septile and the Seventh-Harmonic Chart. He gives a good overview of the history of harmonics, including the seminal work of John Addey, Charles Harvey, and David Hamlin. (If you don’t have the issue, you can still order it here )
For some good introductory articles on the web:
Bob Marks has a clear explanation in his article, Harmonics.
Chris Mitchell captures the similarities between harmonics and music.
The late Jacob Schwartz wrote an eloquent article, The Music of the Spheres: Harmonic Charts. He summarizes nicely: “Harmonics is for those who love astrology because they love the mystery of order, because they see beauty in the infinite wisdom that correlates cosmic activity with human experience.”
But, for now, take a look at the visually rich harmonic charts you can generate (for free) at Doug’s site. Just enter you birth data and select which harmonic charts you would like to view. The design of the horoscopes is artistic and colorful; they evoke a different experience in seeing a horoscope.
To help orient you to the chart’s design, try looking at your horoscope in the first harmonic to start. This is the horoscope you are used to seeing and you can see some of the design conventions Doug uses. For example, a thin red line indicates the Ascendant and a purple line shows the Midheaven. The Ascendant stays in its familiar place in all the other harmonic charts, but the purple line for the Midheaven will appear in different places on the wheel.
Another clue: if you have a quintile (72º) aspect in the natal chart, it will appear as a conjunction in the 5th-harmonic chart. Likewise, a septile (51.4º) aspect in the natal chart will appear as a conjunction in the 7th-harmonic chart.
Although this simple blog is an introduction to a vast subject, I have a feeling that the visuals Doug has created will be appealing to many. Let your right brain and imagination guide you, and see what you can see. It is a way to begin to look at your own familiar horoscopes through a different lens.
Your comments and insights are always welcome.
Here’s to the music of the spheres. May we all have a harmonious week in all endeavors.