Why would anyone want to study harmonics when there is so much to be learned in traditional astrology?
Actually, harmonics are traditional astrology, but understanding them also borrows from numerology and certainly from Vedic astrology. Vedic astrologers have long used harmonic charts such as the Navamsa and Saptamsa, 9th and 7th harmonic, charts.
My curiosity was piqued when I heard David Cochrane refer to harmonics frequently in his lecture at the last AFA convention. He does not consider minor aspects to be minor, but he does admit that they are hard to see, especially those like the 7th harmonic, which is 51 3/7°. The harmonic charts show these aspects clearly so that the astrologer gets a deeper insight into a chart.
Harmonics essentially have to do with aspects. They are a way of studying a wider range of aspects than is normally used in traditional astrology. All planets have some relationship to each of the other planets. Theoretically, there could be as many as 180 (actually 179 since the 180th harmonic would bring one back to the 2nd harmonic – 360° divided by 180 equals 2) harmonic charts although only a few of them are usually used, the 4th to the 10th. The 360° circle is divided by any number to find these “minor” aspects. For example 360° divided by 9 gives 40°. This makes 80° and 160° (multiples of 40) 9th harmonic aspects too. The same is done with any number, such as 360° being divided by 5, which gives 72°, etc. Fortunately computer programs do this for us.
Then a chart is calculated by a somewhat elaborate method of dividing each sign by the number of the harmonic* to create a new chart. Computer programs do this too. (For Solarfire, press F6 to set one up.) An important square in a harmonic chart could be indicated by a semi-sextile in the radix chart. Partile (exact) aspects will usually show up in the charts of every harmonic chart although a radix square may be a conjunction or trine or vice-versa.
How to Use Harmonic Charts
Thus in counseling a person who may have much trouble expressing his energy, such as being violent or hot tempered, even though he has a sextile between the sun and Mars could have these two in square in his 4th harmonic chart. Talents and creative ability that may not be seen in the natal or radix chart may show clearly in the 5th or 7th harmonic charts. Addey has found that the 2nd harmonic may pertain to wealth or possessions, The 3rd, to communication or brothers and sisters; the 4th to home and property, etc. Doctors usually have the 6th and 12th harmonics strongest. The 7th is often a strong chart for clergymen and sacred matters, the 5th and 7th for creative people, and the 6th for rhythmic activity. He says the 5th (the quintile, 72° and multiples or divisions of this, 144° and 36°) shows single-mindedness as well as mental ability. He gives the examples of Hitler and Mozart (who both have many quintile aspects and thus strong 5th harmonic charts) explaining that the planets involved in these aspects indicate partly how one uses this single-mindedness and mental ability. Of course we usually have some choice of how we use these aspects. We’ve often heard that all sun-Mars aspects, or any other combination, indicate the same energy, but some people use that energy very differently from others. Cosmobiologists have long maintained that any aspect or combination of two planets (they use the 8th harmonic aspects, the conjunction, the semisquare, the square, the sesquisquare) has the same energy. Addey would add the other harmonic aspects too, such as the quintile, the decile, etc.
Degree Areas and the Wave Theory
In the 1970’s I wrote (or compiled) a book Degrees of the Zodiac. I had no understanding of why certain degrees had certain indications. The positions of Fixed Stars explained some but not all of them. It was a complete puzzle to me why indications like having any planet at 17° of Taurus indicated a sensitivity to color, 13° of any sign, severity, cruelty, or punishment, or planets near 27° of Leo or Aquarius and 11° of Virgo or Pisces were often in the charts of astrologers. John Addey explains this by using a wave theory. He cites Gauqueline’s work to support the idea of planetary energy expressing in waves around the 360° circle according to the harmonic used. This means that the 5th harmonic would have 5 peaks and troughs, the 104th harmonic 104 peaks and troughs, the 12th harmonic 12, and so on. This also explains why some degrees are areas of perhaps six or eight degrees while others are only one degree. By considering the meanings of the numbers themselves, he saw significance when several of these peaks or troughs coincided. This also would help explain the difficulty astrologers have in determining the orbs of aspects since the peaks and troughs have different lengths, and it also indicates that we should think of signs and aspects in these waves rather than as one box placed against another box with definite boundaries.
Numerology and the Interpretation of Aspects
Haven’t you wondered why trines are favorable and squares are not, or that trines can be creative or rewarding while squares demand action? The conjunction is regarded as two energies united or merged with each other. They are in the nature of Oneness or unity. The opposition is in the nature of Twoness as are the square 1/4th of a circle or 2 X 2 or 1/8th, which is 2 X 2 X 2, which form the semisquare, and sesquisquare. Twoness is regarded as hard or difficult. There is tension, conflict, challenge, difficulty, and effort since with Twoness there is the self and another.
Next, we have the trine which is regarded as soft, easy, harmonious, pleasurable, enjoyable, giving facility or a free flow. It is an aspect of pure Threeness. Then we have the mixed groups such as the sextile, semi-sextile, and the quincunx. The sextile is regarded as being mainly a soft aspect, but since it is made up of 2 and 3, an element of Twoness (tension, effort, etc. are combined with Threeness (facility and enjoyment). So we say that sextiles are favorable (Threeness) but effort is required to realize their benefits (Twoness). With the sextile, one is striving toward facility and enjoyment. The semi-sextile and the quincunx represent one-twelfth and five-twelfths respectively, and since 1/12 is 2 X 2 X 3, they have more of the elements of Twoness than the sextile.
Therefore, we see that most aspects are made up of Twoness and /or Threeness except for the prime numbers five and seven that also form harmonics. Now astrologers are having to look to numerology to understand Fiveness and Sevenness.
To answer the question “Why would anyone want to study harmonics?” I would say there is great value in studying it. It isn’t enough to blindly accept the fact that aspects both major and minor “work,” that degree areas “work,” or that establishing orbs of influence is very complex. Life is made up of cycles within cycles within cycles. The beauty of this is that it does all make sense. We haven’t yet discovered all the reasons it makes sense, but, after all, isn’t trying to do so the reason we all study astrology in the first place?
*See John Addey’s, Harmonics in Astrology, p. 100.
- Addey, John. Harmonics in Astrology. Somerset, BA 11 4AG, UK: Eyebright Books, 2002.
- Hamblin, David. Harmonic Charts. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: The Aquarian Press, 1983.
- Tierney, Bil. Perceptions in Astrology. Lynchburg, VA: Mercury Hour, 1980.
- Rudhyar, Dane. The Astrology of Personality. Berkley, CA: Doubleday Paperback, 1970.