The Not-So-Grand Trine…

Theoretical wisdom (an oxymoron if ever there were one) tells the astrologer that there is nothing as fortunate in all of astrology as the grand trine. If I had a dollar for every message board missive I’d read proclaiming one’s great good fortune at being the recipient of such a favoured configuration then I would have an appreciably more polite bank manager and it goes without saying that if you could buy such constructs on Ebay and have them grafted on to your own nativity somehow, then they would be no doubt among the most desirable of items, fetching kings’ ransoms as a matter of course.

And I would probably be one of the very few not bidding.

Having said that, I do absolutely concur that a grand trine does ostensibly confer the most delightful of blessings, a sense of ease and harmony according to the nature of the planets or angles that the pattern incorporates. If, as conventional wisdom suggests, the trine designates flow then a grand trine ought to create a rather regal and supercharged flow altogether.

My sense impression of easy aspect patterns as a rule is that they operate much as the rubber bumpers do in a pinball machine, as the pinball hits the bumper a kinetic kick is added to the mix. This creates a real buzz within the element and for the most part it is experienced subjectively as enjoyable.

Broadly speaking therefore, and by way of an example, a grand water trine ought to create a sense of inner richness, emotional ease and contentment, a feeling of being at peace within oneself and with a gift for expressing the feeling-nature. This sounds rather wonderful and indeed, it probably does feel that way for the owner. My experience in counselling however posits a very different understanding of the much vaunted grand trine.

At this point, I would like to make a clarification which might add insight over the course of this discussion. I very rarely receive requests for astrological interpretation from individuals whose charts evince grand trines: although their less celebrated counterparts – the kite – feature very heavily in my consultations. The kite is a pattern whereby two of the planets or points of that are in trine are bisected by a 4th point which is in sextile to both of these and in opposition to the other which creates a pattern which looks like a kite (and obviously therein lies the etymology).

Here, for the purpose of edification is an example:


This particular example is both rare and remarkable and it has not yet come into manifestation. This is the nativity for 10:19 am on 18 September 2031. This is the closest kite that most of us will ever see in our lifetimes (assuming we all make it that far). The only previous kite of such exactitude occurred on 6th August 1905. The key understanding I wish to convey about the kite however is that it is given developmental tension through its opposition (in the example above between Moon and Neptune), this is important and it explains exactly why the kite owner is so much more likely to consult with an astrologer or counsellor than the owner of the basic grand-trine.

An opposition promotes awareness, usually through difficult interactions with others, and it is for this reason that the kite-flier will begin to suspect that all is not well in their harmonious land of free-flowing ease and plenty, because, whilst they may enjoy the pleasant experience of subjective ease promised by the trine, they eventually become aware of a dissonant note in their personal relationships which causes them to begin to question the situation. Thus, they might say to themselves, “I feel good, but why do people react in this way to me all the time?”

In the theoretical example above, this would be experienced as a rather transcendent feeling of warmth, artistic and cultural appreciation and an easy ability to realise financial benefits from artistic projects with a cross-cultural basis. I would consider it thus and then account for the houses accordingly:


Immediately you might be able to see how this pattern would promote a sense of easy control of feel-good passions and a love of art, music, culture and an ability to generate enthusiasm accordingly – in the fire element. This ought to be fantastic, and quite rightly it is experienced both subjectively by those born with it, and objectively by astrological textbooks, as a desirable and beneficial configuration.

Then we add in the opposition to Moon from Neptune. Neptune in Aries ought to refine the impulse to self-pointedness, so there would be a dissatisfaction with one’s Martian quality acting as a spur to spiritual evolution. The Moon in Libra needs to be fair in all senses of the word, physically, morally and socially. The opposition creates tension usually experienced through subtle projection in interaction. The experiential quality of this aspect therefore ought to be that the kite owner experiences tension in interactions due to taking offence at perceived insensitivities, the native won’t understand why this keeps happening because they are so very concerned with promoting harmony. Moon in the 11th too requires social approval to feel secure and the opposition to Neptune will make others appear selfish, but in all likelihood, it is a subtle farming out process that is the problem: in order to be approved of and to maintain the social grace that Libra Moon requires the disappointment that is felt at not being the centre of attention will be projected onto others. They don’t value you enough, they’re too insensitive and selfish. It amounts to an annoying dissonant buzz that undermines the soaring symphony of the grand trine.

So, if you consider that reality, what you get is a sense that the grand trine without any tension might become a kind of internal Shangri-La. Something that might be wonderful, but which is first and foremost intensely private. Nobody else can share it.

This then is the dark side of the grand trine. It is, if you like, a three sided moat which keeps you safe in its confines, but importantly, as a place of refuge, it also keeps everyone else out. The native can go on in this way for years, and in the case of the grand trine alone, probably will, for the remainder of their days on earth, but in the three sided construct that the pattern offers them, they will never be able to share those facets of themselves with anyone outside (thus anyone at all) and that is nothing more than a facsimile for isolation.

Now, don’t get me wrong: in the case of the grand trine, it is probably, as Disraeli termed it, an entirely “splendid isolation”, but that does not detract from the reality that while it promotes subjective comfort and inner harmony, it absolutely acts as an impediment to true intimacy with other human beings. The kite is truly a blessing in this respect because it offers a ‘breakout clause’ in the oppositional spine which is simply not available in the trine alone. The interpersonal discord that becomes apparent is experienced as a tension and isolation which is the result of the selfsame self-containedness in one’s relationships. I have seen many cases of individuals with an abundance of grand trines who are almost completely lost to the outside world even thought hey seem very content with things. The kite, conversely creates an awareness of this disconnection, at least by the time one has lived for thirty-something years, and if a break-out has not occurred by age 40 it can degenerate into a real sense of desperation and even loneliness.

Currently, with Mercury retrograde and  a mountain of correspondence and work to complete, I am going to leave this article at this juncture and aim to continue the theme with an example or two that ought to be very interesting. This is the theory lesson, what will follow is applied theory.

If you require insight into your own trines or kites, please visit astrologyhour.


Thanatos, Eros and the Uranus half-return.

Thanatos and Eros

It occurs to me – some 5 days and 2 hours before my Uranus half-return is partile for the first time – that there are very few uniform astrological opportunities of this magnitude available in a human life for evolution. I can only document my own experience of course, but there is no question that as an astrologer, I face the coming days and weeks with a sense of anticipation and reverence that surpasses even that of the Neptune squares which so stealthily dissolved my understanding of success and meaning in this life. I emerged from that transit (I prefer to say that I washed up ashore from that transit actually) having undergone a radical reassessment of my life priorities, although that might inaccurately convey a sense of revolution where there was none at all: the Neptune experience was much more of a return, a homecoming, after years of increasing isolation and loneliness, whereupon I found my way back to myself.

In the initial aftermath of that experience I was disorientated and driven almost insane by the shrieking dissonance between the expectations of a society blind to all meaning and my inner certainty that all the understandings with which I emerged from a difficult and lonely childhood were – despite the roaring remonstrance of that same society – absolutely true. I felt vindicated and cut-off in the same moment. In truth I felt like a stranger in a strange land, even among my own people. The blind society which I refer to was within my own camp: I simply did not recognise a single friend in all the world.

I experienced a most complete spiritual crisis. I could not question the dogma of the world without first understanding my own beliefs, and these, terrifyingly did not seem to exist. I had become a shell. A brittle ego with no inner support threatening to collapse at any moment under the weight of dogma being piled atop my spirit by friends, family, anyone I met, strangers, haters. I realised that I had nothing and, at that point, I began.

Deciding to live life with integrity is the most difficult decision a human being can take. The nature of that ideal – the intrinsic foundation upon which it is built – is first and foremost a determination to be honest with yourself. Not in a way that creates intractability and refusal to be moved compassionately, but in a way that accepts that while you have not lived your life in a way that respects your own needs you have let the ball of string unravel and become a hopeless tangle over the long years of your neglect. Some might have the means to unravel that knot of self-unawareness, or the time, but sometimes you simply have to accept that it cannot be undone. It can only be forgiven.

And that is where I find myself, trying to take back my power, trying to learn to love and to trust for the first time in my adult life. Most of all learning to have respect enough for myself to no longer be denigrated, denounced and decried by the blind and frightened. The first part of that healing journey requires a reconciliation with my purpose and the methods by which I actualise it, and the second lies in finding truth and respect in that path. As an astrologer, I have found that path and that purpose. There is no question that I try, at the very least to dedicate my life to the ideal of helping others to navigate their challenges and difficulties. The process is very familiar to me now and one of these days I shall document it here because it is a simple and wonderful concept.

Most profoundly however, and herein lies the apex of all this preamble, this experience is the bridging mechanism of the Uranus opposition. It is the paradigm-shift from Saturn to Uranus writ into the small-print of my contract with the Universe. I cannot even begin to describe how moving, wonderful, powerful and daunting such a realisation becomes when you begin to understand it in this way. I feel myself being stretched and tempered and purified by it.

This will not be a polemic against the rationalised avarice of our times, however, it cannot be adequate to simply ignore the reality that the Saturnian mindset creates the enormous materialistic blockage of this age. I try to convey this with a little humour: “there was a time that I thought to myself I’d like to buy a Porsche, but when I turned eight it began to seem a little silly. ” And yet, grown men (and sometimes women) of fifty seem unable or unwilling to move on from the exact motivations and aspirations that they entertained in their primary school playground. (That quite frankly seemed a little silly to me even then…)

Astrologically, the process is quite clear.

At 30 (Saturn return) we are challenged to learn the lesson of Kronos and become proficient with the requirements of materiality and structure. Invariably this precedes a sustained period of 10th house focus where we concentrate our effort into vocational and career success and realise the tactile benefits of this innate stage of human development. It is universal, although unique. To some extent too we manifest the qualities of the 10th house through the concerns of Saturn’s natal house placement. That is to say that career and wordly success is realised to create a support structure for the affairs of the house wherein Saturn is found in the nativity. If Saturn is in the 4th therefore, then wordly success supports the need for stability in the home environment.

At 40, the Uranus half-return creates an entirely new impetus but it is one that is tempered by a raft of intermediary realisations. The Pluto square breaks down our most compulsive obstacles to evolution; the Neptune square dissolves materiality and (as with all Neptunian experience) acts almost as a goad to the spiritualising impetus by fostering a burgeoning sense of disappointment with materiality. Our society, cynical to its rotten and dead core, creates an ever-tantalising and diminishing nirvana of wealth however, such that, like the carrot on the stick suspended in front of the donkey we assume that our dissatisfaction might be cured by more

So while Saturn is earth, Uranus is sky. Mythologically, Saturn castrated Uranus and such is the fear of making the shift from earth to sky, the fear that we might be rendered impotent by it, and so, many of us stay fearfully locked into the Saturn cycle until age 58, when he comes home again and we are offered a final chance to let go of the earth and soar the wide blue realms. Then of course our opportunity is very much diminished.

Looked at in another way, in Freudian concepts at least, Saturn is thanatos, Uranus eros. At midlife we are presented with the choice: to remain with Saturn, wherein the soul dies and the long slow march into materiality and spiritual death ensues – and this is clearly the choice of the very vast majority in a Western society whose only wisdom is based upon a philosophy of greed – or instead to let go and allow ourselves to be infused with a reaffirmation of love and spirit. Here we are required to be enormously resolute in the face of outright derision and slander from all quarters, even, very often, within our own house. But with faith comes, not only emancipation from Saturn and his clutching disciples, but a slow exaltation and exultation, we are freed into our integrity and the changes ring into every corner of our being.

In my own experience I began to feel the rise of kundalini energy in my feet and lower legs many weeks ago. Burning, tingling feet, and occasional rushes of liquefied heat up through my knees and into my abdomen. I could feel the sluggishness of that molten river through the atrophied channels of my subtle body more insistently with each passing day, until like the reinvigorating sap of spring the sensations of clearing out have become less urgent as my solar plexus chakra has begun to clear. I am taking back my power and I will no longer defer to those who want to shout down my contribution to the world simply because it makes them feel insecure about their own.

Right livelihood, right intention, right speech, right action. Out of that resolution you will find those you love, and those who can love you, you will find your true friends, and your means of compassionately supporting yourself and your true family, genetic or otherwise, and all those who become your family. A family that is yours not through birthright, but because they are your own people.

So if you find yourself at this same crossroads: reach for the sky.