One issue Whole Sign House users run into from time to time is the varying house placement of the MC/IC axis. Most of the time it’s in the 10th/4th, but many times it can be in the 9th/3rd, 11th/5th, the 12th/6th, 8th/2nd and even the 1st/7th and 7th/1st!!! Indeed, this is one of the main criticisms from surprisingly salty Whole Sign House reactionaries, because the MC defines the 10th house cusp in all quadrant-based house systems. What should we do?
Freak out! Just kidding. Whole Sign House users through antiquity knew about this issue and it was apparently NBD. Here’s Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens talking about it:
An example: Gemini in the Ascendant, MC in Aquarius when calculated by degree. This X Place includes the Places relevant to action, to rank, and to children. It also includes the Places of Foreign Lands and of the God, since it is found (when calculated by sign) in the IX Place from the Ascendant, and the transmission operative from places 4 and 5 signs apart acts from it to the Ascendant, while the transmission operative from places 9 and 10 signs apart acts from the Ascendant to it. In the same way the sign in opposition to Aquarius (Leo, which is IC) includes the Places relevant to buildings, estates, and parents, and the Places of the Goddess, brothers, and strangers; the transmission from places 3 and 4 signs apart acts from the Ascendant to it, while the transmission from places 10 and 11 signs apart acts from it to the Ascendant. Let the same calculation be made for the other signs, particularly for those of long rising time, because in those signs, MC would be sextile . In short, if we calculate the Places and the distances between stars by degree , we will not go astray
Vettius Valens, Book V, Chapter 6 of the Anthology, pg 105, trans. by Mark Riley
Essentially he’s saying that the presence of the MC or IC in a house other than the 10th or 4th just adds significations of the 10th and 4th to those houses. Which is fine, but the basic problem remains that we now have potentially two places related to one’s actions and one’s origins operating simultaneously. How should they be distinguished? I mean, as Chris Brennan pointed out in his epic “Master of the Nativity” podcast episode, technically we have three “Midheavens” in astrology:
- The MC, the intersection of the Sun’s path with the meridian, the dividing line between east and west for a given location. The opposite point is the IC.
- The Ecliptic Zenith/Nonagesimal point (commonly referred to just as “Zenith” which is technically incorrect), the 90th zodiacal degree from the Ascendant and Descendant, the middle of the ecliptic. The opposite point is referred to as the Nadir.
- The Whole Sign 10th House, the 10th sign from the ascending sign of the zodiac which always contains the Ecliptic Zenith/Nonagesimal point. The Whole Sign 4th House is the opposite sign and always contains the Nadir.
The main astronomical difference between these points is that the MC is where the Sun is in the middle of the sky from the perspective of east and west, whereas the Zenith is the middle of the sky from the perspective of where the ecliptic meets the eastern and western horizon. We’re gonna need some visual aids.
The Midheaven – Where the Sun’s Path is Angular to East and West
In the picture above, you are in the northern hemisphere looking due south. The light blue vertical line is the meridian, due south. East is exactly on your left, west is exactly to your right. When the Sun reaches the meridian, it is exactly in between east and west of your location, either south if you’re in the northern hemisphere, or north in the southern hemisphere. It also reaches its greatest height in the sky. Take a look in the video below, and you’ll see the Sun reaches its greatest height when it aligns with the Meridian (when the Sun is conjunct the MC).
Just as the Sun crosses east when it rises and crosses west when it sets, here the Sun culminates when it reaches the southern/northern angle. It’s the “horizon” of the sky.
The Zenith – Where the Sun’s Path is Angular to the Ascendant and Descendant
In the picture above, you are in the northern hemisphere facing slightly southeast. At this point in the day, the Ascendant is closer to northeast rather than due east, and the Descendant is closer to southwest rather than due west. The animation below depicts the Sun reaching its zenith. Don’t pay attention to the light blue meridian line, instead try to spot when the Sun reaches the midpoint between the Ascendant and Descendant. It reaches the zenith at the end of the video.
It’s easier to find a planet culminating on the MC, because you just face south and you’re in the ballpark. It’s harder to tell from observation exactly where the ecliptic intersects with the horizon, where the Ascendant is. Here’s how much the Ascendant moves around in the space of one day.
In this video, you’re facing due east, so east is in the exact center of the frame. You can see the Sun rises due east, but the rest of the time, the Ascendant is wobbling around east. So it’s more eastish rather than just east. Same for the Descendant, it’s westish.
Because the ecliptic appears to wobble around so much, so does its intersection with the meridian (due south in the northern hemisphere, due north in the southern hemisphere). When we look at a chart wheel, we make the Ascendant and Descendant (the zodiac) our fixed framed of reference, and this is how we can see the daily wobble of the MC/IC, despite the fact that it technically represents the fixed meridian and it’s actually the zodiac which appears distorted by obliquity (which is how we have signs of shorter and longer ascension). Here’s how much the MC/IC axis can wobble in one day.
You can see from this that for a good amount of the time, the MC/IC is aligned with the zenith/nadir, or at least is in the Whole Sign 10th/4th. This is likely the reason that ancient Hellenistic astrologers often referred to both the angle and the whole sign 10th as “Midheaven”, and why they both have similar meanings.
The way in which these angles appear to wobble around like a spinning top is part of the reason why they’re called kentron or centers, pivots, hinges, turning places. They’re the places where the Earth itself revolves, and accordingly the angles are associated with the turning points of life, the focal times around which life revolves. The Earth’s daily turn gives the appearance of a life cycle for the Sun which is then poetically associated with the ages in a life.
- Ascendant/Sunrise – Birth
- Just as the Sun rises to begin a new day, so is the Ascendant a place of beginnings and emergence, birth and youth.
- MC/Midday – Height of Life
- Just as the Sun culminates at midday, so is the MC a place of action and height of career and reputation, a place of accomplishments and renown, adulthood and maturity.
- Descendant/Sunset – Death
- Just as the Sun sets at the end of the day, so is the Descendant a place of endings and mergings, old age and death.
- IC/Midnight – Origin of Life
- Just as the Sun is completely invisible at midnight, so is the IC a hidden underworld, a place of origin, where the Sun has returned to before making its journey to rise again.
It’s the spaces around these angles which give us significations of the houses. The cadent places represent conditions prior to or in proximity to the main event associated with each angle, while the succedent places represent conditions after each angle. Hopefully this should make the pattern clear:
- 3rd (Pre-4th, already rested) Siblings, Relatives, Neighborhood, in Proximity to Origins
- 4th (resting) – Midnight, Origins, Parents, Home
- 5th (Post-4th, about to rest) Children, Removed but in Proximity to Origins
- 12th (Pre-1st, already risen) Childbirth, Conditions Prior to Birth
- 1st (rising) – Sunrise, Birth
- 2nd (Post-1st, about to rise) Material Sustenance, Conditions After Birth
- 9th (Pre-10th, already peaked) Preparation Before Career, Exploration, Travel, Knowledge
- 10th (peaking) – Midday, Life, Actions, Career
- 11th (Post-10th, about to peak) Consequences of Actions, Acquisition, Awards, Allies
- 6th (Pre-7th, already set) Injuries, Illnesses, Conditions Prior to Death
- 7th – Sunset, Death
- 8th (Post-7th, about to set) Inheritances, Legacies, Conditions After Death
This arranges life into triadic episodes or narratives. There is a prelude (the cadent house), followed by the main event on which everything revolves (the angle), followed by the aftermath and consequences of the event (the succedent house). This gives us 12 distinct sectors, so the zodiac is a natural frame of reference for this diurnal cycle. The tropical zodiac is especially appropriate, as the quadruplicities of the signs match the same triadic pattern as the houses. The cadent houses are similar to mutable signs where seasons are in transition, a prelude to the new season. The angular houses are similar to cardinal signs where the onset of a new season begins, around which everything revolves. The succedent houses are similar to fixed signs where seasons are stable and continuing, the consequence of the season having begun.
Since the tropical zodiac is tied to the equinoxes and solstices, it can be used virtually forever no matter how much the stars in constellations shift. This makes the tropical zodiac a reliable frame of reference from which to judge the wobbling of the angles. The unchanging nature of the tropical zodiac gives its interrelationships a kind of eternal archetypal significance. But the variable nature of the angles reflect an element of indeterminacy. Kind of like the difference between heimarmene, the blueprint of one’s fate versus tuche, the role of random chance. This is pretty close to the way Lots are conceptualized against natal planetary placements, and looking at the Midheaven as a kind of Lot is not without precedent. In fact, astrology superstar Robert Hand suggests this could be a way to look at the Midheaven when it isn’t in the 10th whole sign house.
In my view, having the MC fall in the Whole Sign 10th house establishes a kind of typical or archetypally conventional arrangement of how one’s life unfolds. The cadent 9th would be times when we’re not doing our most important work, preparing for the time we will. The angular 10th would be times when were are doing our most important work, at our most active, visible, and influential. The succedent 11th would be times when we get recognition, awards, compensation or otherwise experience the consequences of what we’ve done, for better or worse. A time for retirement or when we’re resting on our laurels.
So if the MC falls in a house other than the 10th, then other parts of this narrative may become more central. For some people, their public/professional lives revolve around learning and exploring, a continual voyage rather than making a singular distinctive action. For other people, their period of greatest acclaim might only come after having accomplished their main actions in relative obscurity. Sort of like how a meal is comprised of appetizers, a main course and a dessert. The main course will always be the core of the meal, but maybe you enjoyed the appetizers the most. Or another person thought the dessert was better than everything else.
I guess if I had to state it formally, I’d say something like this:
The Zenith/Whole Sign 10th describes the central period in the narrative of one’s career and their actions but the house placement of the MC shows which part of that narrative was incidentally the most personally significant and in the context of topics associated with the house. Similarly, the Nadir/Whole Sign 4th House describes one’s biological/national inherited origins but the house placement of the IC shows their incidental foundations, insofar as what they personally consider to be their most formative influences, their ‘adopted’ origins, in the context of topics associated with that house. The whole sign house shows what is prescribed by ‘default’ but the angle shows what is incidentally personally significant by choice, chance or otherwise.
In any case, this theoretical wrangling isn’t worth much if it can’t make sense in practice, but luckily for you I overdo everything so, here we go with a solid example of each combination.
MC in the 9th/IC in the 3rd
With the MC in the 9th, one’s reputation, work or period of greatest renown may not be defined by their actions or by their consequences, but instead by the path they took to get to that point, what was learned and explored. “It’s the journey, not the destination”. Meanwhile with the IC in the 3rd, one’s foundations are not necessarily set down by one’s inherited biological family and birthplace, but instead through extended family, friends or “adopted” families and local communities.
Example: Neil Armstrong
Aquarius 9th/MC in Aquarius 9th – Neil Armstrong was born with the Ascendant in Gemini and the Midheaven in Aquarius, the 9th whole sign house. He’s the first human being to ever set foot on the Moon. So in a very basic way, he’s most famous for a big journey he made, and one of the main significations of the 9th is travel. His career as an engineer, test pilot and astronaut was not just what preceded his global fame as the first human being to land on the Moon, it was the most important and active period in his life. Nothing he did afterward could quite compare to everything that led up to that. His Aquarius 9th/Aquarius MC is ruled by Saturn in Capricorn in the 8th. Accordingly his career was dangerous, grueling and spent largely in obscurity, but with the presence of the MC, it showed that this was what his life’s work really revolved around.
Pisces 10th – His resulting global fame was the result of the culmination of his preparation as an astronaut. This is represented by the Whole Sign 10th in Pisces, ruled by Jupiter in Cancer 2nd in mutual reception with the Moon in Sagittarius 7th. He returned to Earth a hero, with many opportunities for financial gain, sitting on the boards of many companies. He left NASA, moved away to a farm, became a college professor and tried as best he could to live a somewhat more normal life. This is interesting because the Moon is in the Sagittarius 7th, a place of exile, and so in a sense he exiled himself away in the ivory tower of academia, away from the glare of international celebrity.
Aries 11th – Over the years as public enthusiasm and investment in space exploration waned and Armstrong’s white-hot celebrity dimmed, he developed a reputation for being ornery, cantankerous, reclusive and pettily litigious. This would theoretically be shown by the ruler of his Aries 11th, a post-angular phase ruled by Mars in Gemini 1st.
So we can see how the 9th, 10th and 11th give a basic outline of his time as an adult. And while the 10th house shows he was destined for popularity, prosperity and comfort, the MC in the 9th shows us it was really the first part that was most active, what mattered most to him and what he was ultimately most known for.
Virgo 4th – Armstrong’s 4th Whole Sign House is in Virgo, containing Mercury, Venus, and Neptune. Mercury in Virgo 4th is not just the ruler of the 4th but also Armstrong’s Ascendant ruler. He was an objectively brilliant engineer, so appropriately Mercury is in its best sign of Virgo, ruling his Ascendant. He was also known for being modest, practical and humble, which are all very Virgoan adjectives. He was also strongly influenced by his father who took him to airshows and took him for his first airplane ride and got him flying lessons. Neil Armstrong had his pilot’s license before he even had his driver’s license! His father’s job moved him and his siblings around a lot, living in 16 towns over 14 years. This kind of flexibility, transience or flux in the home is likely how an astrologer would interpret a mutable 4th house with Mercury. He was described by his siblings as someone who was always in some corner of the house reading, surrounded by books and it was his mother who encouraged his reading and learning, and Mercury is after all, the planet of language, reading and writing.
IC in Leo 3rd – And yet his IC is in fixed Leo, containing the Sun in Leo, showing that in some way his foundations didn’t rest on his biological origins, but instead just outside of them, in proximity. This is usually associated with siblings, but I think the way it showed up for Armstrong was through his close formative friendships and leadership in the local Scouts troop. Armstrong was no ordinary Scout, achieving the status of Eagle Scout at age 17. It wasn’t just something he forgot about once he became an adult either. For decades, Neil Armstrong wrote letters to congratulate new Eagle Scouts. Of the few items he took with him to the Moon, one of them was his World Scout Merit Badge. Indeed, in the Armstrong biography First Man it is stated “The Scouts can take a lot of credit for Neil Armstrong”. Here’s an article which basically says this outright in its headline: “What ‘First Man’ Missed: How Scouting Built a Young Neil Armstrong into a Nation’s Hero”.
So his Whole Sign 4th House described the topic of foundations by default (one’s home, birthplace and parents) while the IC in the 3rd described the topic of foundations by choice or chance (his local neighborhood, friends “like family”). Sometimes these are the same, sometimes they’re not.
MC in the 11th/IC in the 5th
With the MC in the 11th, one’s reputation, work or period of greatest renown may not be defined by the journey they take, or by their actions themselves, but instead by the results and consequences of those actions. “For every tree is known by its fruit”. Meanwhile with the IC in the 5th, one’s foundations are not necessarily set down by one’s inherited biological family and birthplace, but instead through the family they make with their own children, or in assuming a parental or stewardly role toward the next generation.
Example: J.K. Rowling
While we don’t have an exact birth time from J.K. Rowling, she has disclosed that she was born when Aquarius was Rising. For the entire time Aquarius rose in her birthplace on the day of her birth, the Midheaven was in Sagittarius, the 11th Whole Sign House.
Libra 9th – Her Whole Sign 9th House is in Libra. Mars was present in Libra and ruled by a fallen Venus in Virgo in the 8th House. This suggests that her young adult years would be difficult, full of frustrations and tainted benefits. She was a nobody, a destitute single mother filing restraining orders against an abusive ex-husband. She felt that she was a failure since graduating from university. In the midst of all this, she began to write. Her Mercury in Virgo is the final dispositor of her Mars and Venus.
Scorpio 10th – Her Whole Sign 10th House is in Scorpio. Neptune was present in Scorpio and ruled by Mars in Libra 9th. Her actions revolved around diving deep into the creation of the magical fantasy world of Harry Potter. She was still largely in the same situation as before, and this can be seen by the fact that the ruler of the 10th is in the 9th, suggesting continuity between these periods. She also struggled to get her book published, having her first Harry Potter book rejected by 12 different publishers. This is also suggested by Mars in the 9th. And just as before, the final dispositor of her Mars is Mercury in Virgo, showing the role that language and writing had in what she does.
Sagittarius 11th/MC in Sagittarius 11th – Her Whole Sign 11th House is in Sagittarius, and so is her MC. It is ruled by Jupiter in Gemini 5th, conjunct her IC. This shows that the consequences of her actions would be fortunate, and that they revolved around the topic of children and youth. They would also be of a literary nature with Jupiter in Gemini ruled by Mercury in Virgo. And so it was that her Harry Potter fantasy series for kids and teens became incredibly successful and a veritable global phenomenon.
Jupiter also rules her 2nd house of money and possessions, and she has become one of the richest authors who ever lived. The 11th house also has connotations of alliances, groups and networks, and she founded Lumos, a charity which promotes an end to the institutionalization of children worldwide. This again underscores the topical association of the 11th house and its ruler in the 5th house of children.
Taurus 4th – Her Whole Sign 4th House is in Taurus, ruled by her fallen Venus in Virgo 8th. Her childhood and teenage years were unhappy. Her inherited foundations were not well supported. Her mother was sick for most of the time and she is no longer even on speaking terms with her father, who now tries to profit from her accomplishments. We can see how Venus’s poor condition reflects the outcomes of both houses in her chart.
Gemini 5th/IC in Gemini 5th – She now by all appearances has a happy family life, but it is certainly with the one that she has made for herself with her own children rather than the one she inherited. At the same time, since it contains Jupiter, the ruler of her MC, we can also see how she is famous among young people for her books. On Twitter and on Pottermore she has demonstrated a genuine affection for her fans. She has taken on a kind of parental or stewardly role toward the next generation, advocating for youth and children, and many other political causes.
MC in the 12th/IC in the 6th
With the MC in the 12th, one’s reputation, work or period of greatest renown may not be defined by their actions, the journey they take, or by the consequences of those actions, but instead by encounters with uncertainty and adversity, straying from a preconceived linear path to unknown destinations. “Not all who wander are lost”. Meanwhile with the IC in the 6th, one’s foundations are not necessarily set down by one’s biological parents, but instead through struggle, illness, duty, inferiors and servants.
Example: Prince William/Duke of Cambridge
Virgo 10th – William’s whole sign 10th house is in Virgo, ruled by Mercury in the 7th house. This would suggest being a mediator of sorts, especially with the general public, of or relating to the topic of relationships. Interestingly in this article about what Prince William and Kate Middleton do all day, there is a list of their royal duties:
“…to assist the Queen in carrying out her duties and also to carry out work in areas of public and charitable service, according to the official website of the British Royal Family. Overall, every year, the Royal Family as a whole carries out over 2,000 official engagements (which can include things like state funerals, national festivities or presenting honors); entertains over 70,000 people at dinners, lunches, receptions and garden parties at the royal residences; and receives and answers 100,000 letters.”
So essentially his prescribed role is as an ambassador/communicator, which he does with his wife. Which is a fairly plain description of Mercury ruling the 10th in the 7th.
Scorpio 12th/MC in Scorpio 12th – William has his Ascendant in Sagittarius and his MC is in Scorpio 12th. His Ascendant ruler Jupiter, is conjunct his MC, appropriate for his royal status. But how should we interpret the MC in Scorpio 12th? is Astrologer Kelly Surtees made this prescient observation about William’s 12th House MC in her article “Why I Use Whole Sign Houses”.
“This can show that one’s career is directed towards 12th house topics or activities. Depending on the sign(s) and planet(s) involved this might mean working in a charity, working with those suffering spiritually, emotionally or mentally, or working behind the scenes to support the success of others. It might mean working in a setting that involves retreat or being separated from society, like a hospital, prison, retreat centre or other facility where people go to health and recover (addiction treatment centre for instance).”
Just a few months after she wrote this, William announced the formation of a new charity to destigmatize and provide assistance for people with mental health issues, called Heads Together. Of all the things that William could turn his attentions to and attach his name to, it’s in this very 12th house arena.
The 12th house is a diurnal house which is supposed to relate more to the spirit or mind. The 12th is the Joy of Saturn, because like Saturn, the 12th is diurnal and malefic. And so the 12th relates to some Saturnian topics like suffering in the realm of the mind and spirit, which is pretty descriptive of mental health issues.
So we can see the difference between his Whole Sign 10th and his IC – his prescribed “default” role vs his incidentally adopted role.
Pisces 4th – His Whole Sign 4th House is in Pisces, which again emphasizes Jupiter’s conjunction to the MC, describing the prominence of his family, even if it is largely ceremonial and uninvolved with actual governance (Jupiter/MC in the cadent 12th?). His home is a swanky apartment at the lavish and opulent Kensington Palace, and likely will one day live in the world-famous Buckingham Palace. So this would seem to match Jupiter’s rulership of his whole sign 4th House.
Taurus 6th/IC in Taurus 6th – His whole sign 6th House is in Taurus which contains his IC. The 6th house relates to struggle, servitude and servants, because a planet in the 6th is pushed down by diurnal motion while it struggles to rise up against it in zodiacal motion. He was largely raised by nannies rather than by his mother and father, especially after his mother Princess Diana died, and nannies would certainly qualify as 6th house employees or servants.
Interestingly, Venus is present in the Taurus 6th. According to Valens, the Sun represents the father and Venus represents the mother in day charts. In William’s case, Venus in the 6th would reflect that his mother, Princess Diana, was a “commoner”, albeit a lovely and beloved one. Since Venus is in the sign of his IC, perhaps it indicates she had a bigger influence on him than his father. After all, the press noted how she actively chafed at the nannies forming bonds with her children. His father the Prince of
Whales Wales would be represented by his recently eclipsed Sun in the 8th, a perennial King-in-waiting.
MC in the 8th/IC in the 2nd
With the MC in the 8th, the most significant actions of their life or their period of greatest renown may not be defined by the journey they take, by the actions in their career or by the consequences of those actions. Instead, their most personally significant actions and reputation revolve around or are defined by the consequences and topics of loss and death, somehow shady, tainted, compromised. “One man’s loss is another man’s gain.” Meanwhile with the IC in the 2nd, one’s foundations are not necessarily set down by one’s biological parents, but instead through material necessity.
Example: Tony Blair
Pisces 10th – His time in high office was characterized by his Pisces 10th House ruled by Jupiter in the 12th house, which seems to indicate actions characterized by betrayal, adversarial alliances, or good intentions with deleterious consequences. In so many ways, his public career had the appearance of being good (Jupiter) while not always actually being good (12th). This can be seen with his “Third Way” approach to modernize the Labor Party, which ultimately meant conceding to elements of Thatcherism in order to have enough support to win elections, which translated to targeted betrayals of Labor Party principles. Blair betrayed his friend and political ally Gordon Brown when he broke their infamous “Granita Pact” by running for a third term as Prime Minister. One also thinks of how it was Blair’s well-intentioned insistence on maintaining the UK’s “special relationship” with the US that cemented a one-sided alliance with Bush on the Iraq War. His reputation was brought down so low as a result of the Iraq War that he resigned from the office of Prime Minister. On the other hand he did help negotiate peace in Ireland, establishing friendship between enemies (Jupiter in the 12th).
A solar eclipse in Pisces on March 9th 1997 directly preceded his election as Prime Minister on May 2nd 1997. This suggested the beginning of a new chapter in his career and public reputation, because it happened in his Whole Sign 10th house. The Iraq War began with the ingress of Uranus into Pisces, his Whole Sign 10th house, foretelling the chaotic disruption this event would ultimately have for his time in office. He announced his resignation as party leader on September 7th 2006, the very day of a lunar eclipse in Pisces, his Whole Sign 10th house. This showed he had gone as far as he could go, just as the Moon goes as far from the Sun as it can at a lunar eclipse. Less than a year later, he formally resigned as Prime Minister.
Capricorn 8th/MC in Capricorn 8th –Theoretically, this should show that his most personally significant actions and reputation revolve around or are defined by the consequences and topics of loss and death. This was true in a very literal sense – it was only due to the sudden death of the Labor Party leader John Smith on May 12th 1994 that Blair had his chance to run for Labor Party leader, which he would use as a launchpad for Prime Minister. On the day this tainted opportunity arose, Uranus was exactly on the degree of his Midheaven in the 8th House. A sudden death indeed.
A couple of months later, he was elected the new Labor Party leader. The ruler of the 8th, Saturn, was transiting through his whole sign 10th. Together they seem to indicate the assumption of a big public responsibility enabled by another’s loss. Once Neptune reached 26 Capricorn, he was elected Prime Minister. Ultimately, he lost his position due to the rising death toll in the Iraq War, so in another literal sense, his career hinged upon the 8th house topics of loss and death. Saturn is definitely a player in the outcome of his career, as it was at his first Saturn Return that he became an MP for the first time in 1983.
So we can see how the whole sign 10th house of Pisces shows by ‘default’ how he is motivated to act but the MC shows us some of the incidental circumstances of his rise to power.
Virgo 4th – His whole sign 4th house is in Virgo, ruled by Mercury in the Aries 11th. His Mercury also rules his Ascendant. This is generally true for all Gemini Risings – Mercury will rule their 1st and 4th houses. His father was a scrappy self-made lawyer, which is a Mercurial job since it primarily involves argumentation and parsing legalese. He had unfulfilled political ambitions. Blair would go on to become a Mercurial politician himself, showing the connection between the 4th and the 1st house being ruled by the same planet.
Interestingly, before Blair got into politics, he was a notably talented theatrical and musical performer in his teen years and young adulthood, which are also Mercurial pursuits. (Mercury sure does signify a lot!) What is fascinating about this is that because his father was adopted, Tony Blair never knew who his real grandparents were, but it appears he inherited their Mercurial gifts as well:
“But there was another part of the family tree whose genes influenced the young Blair. His natural grandparents (his father was adopted) had been actors and dancers, and Blair followed in their footsteps during his student days. He got rave reviews for his performances at Fettes College, organized gigs for rock groups, and later as a student at St. John’s College at Oxford University, he was the lead singer for Ugly Rumors, a rock band playing the music of such groups as Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones, and the Doobie Brothers.”
This shows that for whatever else is foundational in Blair’s life, his inherited origins were decidedly Mercurial, which only makes sense with Mercury’s rulership of his whole sign 4th house.
Cancer 2nd/IC in Cancer 2nd – His IC is in the Cancer 2nd ruled by the Moon in the Aquarius 9th of travel, philosophy, law. The 2nd house is the last phase of the rising triad and reflects one’s early childhood. Between the ages of 2 and 5, Tony Blair lived in Australia where his father was a law professor briefly.
In general however, this shows that in addition to his inherited origins, there was an incidental foundation for his life and career that was related to the concept of necessity, material scarcity or abundance.
“Blair’s father, Leo Charles Blair, was a prominent attorney who ran for Parliament as a Tory in 1963, when Tony was 10 years old. Devastatingly, Leo had a stroke right before the election, rendering him unable to speak. As Leo convalesced over the next three years, Tony and his siblings, older brother Bill and younger sister Sarah, learned to fend for themselves and adapt to stressful financial difficulties. From an early age, Blair felt compelled to follow in his father’s footsteps and one day achieve the political goals his father was forced to abandon.”
“After his illness it transferred his political ambitions on to his kids. It imposed a certain discipline. I felt I couldn’t let him down.”
-Tony Blair, Tony Blair: Prime Minister by John Rentoul
This seems to be Blair saying that this pivotal event of his father’s stroke and the resulting financial hardship laid a foundation in his life that would lead him to pursue his father’s dreams. We can see that the ruler of the IC, the Moon, is in the 9th house of law and politics. His father’s stroke occurred somewhere between August 5th-December 31st 1963. On July 27th 1963, there was a solar eclipse at 27 Cancer, 1 degree off from Tony Blair’s IC.
Later on in life, Blair has amassed an incredible amount of wealth from his real estate portfolio/property empire, a plain confluence between the topics of the IC (lands, property, real estate) and the 2nd house of money, finances, possessions.
While his 4th whole sign house reflects his mercurial heritage of his parents and grandparents, his 2nd House IC reflects the incidental circumstances of his lunar focus on law and the connection between his finances and property ownership.
MC in the 1st/7th, IC in the 7th/1st
At extreme latitudes, things get…strange. At the North Pole, 0 Libra is always rising, so the Sun rises on the Descendant at 0 Aries and half a year later sets on the Ascendant at 0 Libra. At the South Pole, 0 Aries is always rising. The Sun rises on the Descendant in Libra and half a year later sets on the Ascendant in Aries. The further you go into the arctic circle, the signs closer to Cancer and Capricorn begin to never set, so the Ascendant/Descendant axis wobble in the signs around Aries and Libra, even appearing to go “retrograde” as it circles over the same areas of the zodiac.(!!!)
Check out a day in the absolutely frigid island of Svalbard, Norway. Over the course of 24 hours the Ascendant only ever moves from 28 Leo to 1 Scorpio, so the Sun never rises or sets for months at a time. Check out how the MC crosses over the Ascendant to immediately turn into the IC!
It’s at these extreme ends of the earth that the MC and IC can be in the 1st/7th or 7th/1st Whole Sign House, conjunct the Ascendant. Around the North Pole, the MC is conjunct the Descendant in “late night/morning” and in the MC is conjunct the Ascendant in the “afternoon/evening”. Around the South Pole, it’s the reverse. So how do we make sense of all that?
Well, Whole Sign Houses hold up in polar regions because it’s only dependent on the Ascendant and Descendant! So the topical associations of the signs stay in place, but it does suggest that certain topics are angularized here where normally they can’t in any other place. The specific interpretation of the houses could be a bit wonky on a more conceptual level since they depend on the interplay between diurnal and zodiacal motion, and there’s only apparent zodiacal motion at the poles. Otherwise, everything should still make sense.
With the MC in the 1st Whole Sign House, the most significant actions of their life or their period of greatest renown may not be defined by the journey they take, by the actions in their career or by the consequences of those actions. Instead, their most personally significant actions and reputation would revolve around themselves and their own force, identity, nature. Meanwhile with the IC in the 7th, one’s foundations are not necessarily set down by one’s biological parents, but instead through their relationships with others.
With the MC in the 7th Whole Sign House, the most significant actions of their life or their period of greatest renown may not be defined by the journey they take, by the actions in their career or by the consequences of those actions. Instead, their most personally significant actions and reputation would revolve around their relationships and partners. Meanwhile with the IC in the 1st one’s foundations are not necessarily set down by one’s biological parents, but instead through their own self-determination.
I suppose in the harsh environment of the polar regions, self-reliance, reliance on others, and ingroup/outgroup awareness take on a greater fundamental importance for survival. I realize that’s a bit vague, but that’s what I have from a theoretical standpoint. Unfortunately I could not find any natal charts with these configurations, so these theoretical conjectures will have to do for now.
I hope this helps to clarify my proposed difference between whole sign houses and the MC/IC angles – that the whole sign houses represent narratives within certain ages of life, and that the angles show points of focus within those narratives. Let me know if this works for you in practice!
24 Replies to “What To Do When the Midheaven Is Not in the 10th Whole Sign House”
Thank you for the time and effort you take on these articles. Not only are they informative but illuminating. I have struggled for sometime with a self-made almost god-like plutonic family member’s chart who was born in arctic circle Alaska.
And then this gem, just opened the chart right on up:
“With the MC in the 1st Whole Sign House, the most significant actions of their life or their period of greatest renown may not be defined by the journey they take, by the actions in their career or by the consequences of those actions. Instead, their most personally significant actions and reputation would revolve around themselves and their own force, identity, nature. Meanwhile with the IC in the 7th, one’s foundations are not necessarily set down by one’s biological parents, but instead through their relationships with others.”
E, you’re very welcome. I would love to learn more about this person with the MC in the 1st Whole Sign House! I couldn’t find any prominent natal examples. Let me know if you’d like to talk in greater detail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Excellent article on a very important topic! This is by far the best rationale and interpretive guide I have seen regarding these placements. Thanks Patrick!!
Astrology being scarily litteral again! I have MC in the 9th/IC in the 3rd and the description fits me to a T. I am estranged from my half my blood family & barely consider myself to have a “blood family” but I have a group of friends and we call each other “family”. Moreover, with my Saturn 9H, yeah, I will remember those 9H struggles LOL the 10H seems so far away I’m def going through the 9H at the moment. Funny how the chart works together to expand on certain themes.
It’s also funny how, with a few sentences, I knew “this is absolutely right”. I mean, since there are only few houses the MC can be in, you may think “the description is too broad! Who can it describe accurately if there are only ~3 configurations?” but no, the symbols can be relatable to loads of people.
You are an original and excellent astrologer Patrick. Love seeing new posts go up on your website keep up the fantastic work!!
I’ve now read this article three times, and I am even more impressed with your thoughtfulness and clear articulation of these principles.
I have one quick question: when discussing Neil Armstrong’s chart, you say, “the Moon is in the Sagittarius 7th, a place of exile,” and I’m wondering what you mean by this. In Chris Brennan’s Hellenistic Astrology course (and then the book), “exile” is the word he uses for “detriment.” Here you seem to be using the term differently.
Hi Michael, thanks, I’m really glad you’re getting something out of it! I was using the term ‘exile’ more literally in that case. I have occasionally noticed that the activation of planets in the 7th can send someone away, but not in a 9th house sense of vacationing but to escape (or elope), to be exiled or shunned, since it’s as far away from the Ascendant as one can get. Armstrong didn’t quite enjoy fame and retreated to the ivory tower of academia and living out on a rural farm, which I saw reflected in his Moon in Sagittarius 7th. I also like using ‘exile’ for a planet in its detriment.
Hi, this is really interesting. My daughter has a Scorpio MC in the 12th house with Virgo in the 10th – I’m trying to work out what that could mean for her future career? There aren’t many interpretations that consider the MC not being on the cusp of the 10th house, and I think it adds something to know that it might not be.
I have Neptune in 19th house in scorpio. what jobs or course should i study pl?
I’m sun Leo moon pisces asc Aquarius.
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Recently came across your site, Patrick, and your smart and sassy write-ups on seriously technical topics are some of the best out there! This article is an excellent resource, so thanks for this.
Found a chart with MC in the 7th! Jay Ramras, a politician and businessman born in Fairbanks, AK: https://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Ramras,_Jay
Thank you for the kind words and THANK YOU for finding an example of MC in the 7th. Turns out he got briefly famous for visiting New York to find a Jewish wife to bring back to Alaska when Neptune was close to his MC. The ruler of his Capricorn Descendant is Saturn in whole sign Pisces 9th – traveling far away to find a woman who shares his faith fits the bill. By Placidus houses Saturn is in the 11th. lol. The ruler of his Asc is the Moon copresent with Jupiter in whole sign Taurus 11th and he was successful as a restaurateur and hotelier, but Placidus would say his Moon and Jupiter are in the 12th. Lol. Thanks again.
Gemini rising, mc in the anaretic degrees of 9th house. Thanks!
Really informative Patrick, thank you. I have Virgo MC/Pisces IC in 9th, anaretic 29’55”, and Jupiter conjunct IC in Pisces – just about to have my third Jupiter return which is exact 7 April, one day before the Neptune/Jupiter conjunction. I also have balsamic out of bounds Gemini moon, so see my IC placement as a kind of duplication of this given the degree and sign.
Thank you for a great article! I myself have my MC in the 7th house (Aquarius) and have struggled making sense of it. I’m only 30, so I don’t have many ways to contextualize it, but when thinking about your framing, I realize I have only ever stayed put somewhere because of my connection to people, and I always find a partner (‘work bestie’, good friend or romantic partner) wherever I go. Those relationships ending is almost always a cause or consequence of me going elsewhere. I place value in human connection above all else, material value or money does nothing for me. As of now, I work as a high school teacher, and one-on-one conversations with my students are the best part of my job.
>Interestingly, Venus is present in the Taurus 6th. According to Valens, the Sun represents the father and Venus represents the mother in day charts. In William’s case, Venus in the 6th would reflect that his mother, Princess Diana, was a “commoner”, albeit a lovely and beloved one.
Firstly, thank You so much for Your article! It is of much use, I even printed it to use as the reference in case if I forget how the MC and Zenith work.
About William: I was thinking about his parents while reading Your analysis and my thoughts were as follow:
Mother is usually signified by the 10 house, and the ruler of the 10th place is in good condition, in his own house, in the angular place, while Jupiter the ruler of the 4th place, although being conjunct with the MC is not so good essentially (western, retrograde but becoming direct on the 5~6th day after birth and of sect), in the house of Mars (which is in detriment). And the history is that the current royal family has less right to the throne than Princess Diane who was a heir to Merovingian bloodline.
Even if we look from the perspective of planetary significators:
1) If we consider this chart to be diurnal: the Moon is in her house, strong, and gives this strength to Sun which “burns” it (Spencer giving future Windsor heir a historical blood legitimacy to the throne while being killed by the Windsors)
2) if we consider this chart to be nocturnal: Venus is in her house and gives the power to Saturn which resides in her house being exalted (mother gives “power” to the father and his bloodline but herself is in the servitude being in the cadent place)
But what is funny, the same picture can be seen if we look this way:
Jupiter as the ruler of the 4th is at mercy of not only Mars but also of Venus, since she is the ruler of the triplicity (in case if we consider this chart diurnal) and she is the dispositor of Mars (Jupiter’s dispositor) while Venus is rather independent.
With best regards!