Planets Unaspected, Feral, Peregrine.


(An excerpt from my forthcoming book.)

The term peregrine is much misunderstood in astrological practice. Nicholas DeVore in his Encyclopaedia of Astrology defines it as being “Foreign, alien. Said of a planet posited in a sign where it possesses no essential dignity: where it is neither dignified nor debilitated. … However, no planet is reckoned peregrine if it be in mutual reception with another.” Essentially, this traditional understanding of the term derives from its literal Latin root, pelegrinus, meaning an outcast, wanderer or outsider. Clearly the term implies a being who is not at home, with all the resultant discomfort such a condition confers. Astrologically then, here is a planet that is not in any sign of dignity or debility, nor is it in its own triplicity, term or face, nor is it in mutual reception by ruler, exaltation, triplicity, term or face. It has no natural connection, good or bad, with the position which it occupies.

If you imagine this placement as a person, then clearly, he is going to struggle to get anything done. If you were suddenly transported into an environment where you knew nobody, you were considered out of place, strange or undesirable, you were unable to speak the same language as others, you had no home, no shelter, and no means of making yourself secure then you would find yourself in a fairly threatened state. Indeed, you would be catapulted into a very real struggle for survival.

This is exactly what happens when a planet is found to be traditionally peregrine. It is considered a very unfortunate situation, because there is no support, the planet is homeless and vulnerable and it cannot therefore project itself because it has no secure base from which to operate.

Noel Tyl extended this concept to include the incidence of unaspected planets, those which have previously been termed ‘feral’. He has received some criticism for this from various astrological students who cite the potential for confusion: they claim that he is using a previously earmarked term for a new concept, which of course is confusing. Fundamentally however, this view fails to comprehend that Tyl is not referring to a new concept at all, because an unaspected planet is unable to project itself since it has no secure base from which to operate, in exactly the same way as a planet without essential dignity. It too is pelegrinus. Indeed, I would argue that a feral planet is in the majority of cases much more peregrine than a planet without essential dignity. Our understanding then must not be limited to a specific rendering of ferity or essential dignity or debility, but we simply have to gauge: how peregrine is this archetype?

When we understand the depth of peregrination, for whatever reason, then we begin to understand how desperate – if you like – is the situation for that archetype. If we again liken the peregrinated planetary energy to a person placed in an alien environment then we can quickly grasp some of the very urgent and compelling contingencies of that situation. The person with no home, no security, no means of making themselves understood will be forced to muster enormous focus and energy simply to stay alive. Starvation or hostility are real threats that must be countered, the person that is outcast has to work astoundingly hard just to operate at the level that everyone else simply takes for granted; it is that or perish.

Granted, some do perish. Severely peregrinated nativities are very often tragedies in the making.

Before we move along further let us consider the technical arrangement of peregrination by aspect. In my work I generally use an orb of 6 degrees for the conjunction, opposition, square and trine and an orb of 3 degrees for the sextile to determine whether a particular planet is peregrine. I consider no other aspects at this stage.

This does not mean that we discount wider Ptolemaic aspects, nor do we ignore the influence of minor aspects. We are simply making a determination at this juncture about the ease of expression of a given planet: a planet that does not have access to an ‘obvious’ aspectual outlet will struggle to express its quality, therefore the native will overcompensate or alternately carry on with life seemingly oblivious of that facet of their nature. So a chart with peregrine Moon might, for example, evince a quincunx between Sun and Moon which ought to be quite urgent, but it is not an aspect which expresses itself powerfully, even if it is quite intense; the major aspects alone have this effect; so whilst we can say that there is an innate dissatisfaction with the results of expressing his needs, this in itself is not a ‘big enough channel’ for the lunar quality. It does not have the required bandwidth. Only the major aspects within this fairly tight orb structure have the requisite bandwidth for proper archetypal expression.

If we use the example of peregrine Moon, one of the key qualities of the lunar archetype is a sense of emotional attachment to the myriad rhythms of life: a severely peregrinated Moon in its detriment or fall, very often creates a life that is characterised by disconnection, a separateness that in a difficult sign, such as Scorpio can become deeply uncomfortable. Contrast this with peregrine Moon in the opposite sign of Taurus: there is a disconnection with life, but it is entirely comfortable, safe and protective, the native has no desire to connect; indeed, it is in making the connection that insecurity is felt, life is better inside the bubble.

So, herein lays the nub of the peregrination issue. When the energy cannot be easily expressed due to some severe friction, due to a lack of bandwidth then the themes of that placement are writ large on the life arc, either through being over-experienced or utterly absent. In the former case, the quality of that experience becomes paramount; if the placement is inherently uncomfortable then inevitably it will colour the entire life-situation with discomfort.

It is with this in mind that I would consider ferine planets to be in serious difficulty, which will be subjectively experienced most especially according to the conditioning of the sign in which they are found. In a sympathetic sign the sense of experiential discomfort for an unaspected placement would be far less than a planet in its detriment or fall, however, the drive or impetus to inclusion of that archetype would be intense in the extreme. A person with a feral Moon in Taurus would be compelled to express and integrate lunar themes just as powerfully as the person with Moon in Scorpio, but they would feel a great variance of discomfort in the condition accordingly.

This is where the concept of polarity becomes powerfully important, because it is time and again proved unhelpful to view opposite signs as separate, or even as opposed! Consider instead that they are a single entity, concerned with identical issues and themes, but approaching a shared objective from different ends of a spectrum. Both Taurus and Scorpio are concerned with security and safety, but while Taurus seeks material comfort (more is more, I will be safe in the physical world), Scorpio operates from an emotional perspective (less is more; the best things in life are free). Since the lunar principle is primarily one of comfort, security, safety and sustenance, there is no question that it is easier to realise those objectives through the physical and material route of Taurus than the protectively emotional route of Scorpio. The Moon in Taurus eats for comfort, the Moon in Scorpio finds comfort in not needing to eat; that’s a tough route to security by comparison.

Thus an unaspected planet looms large in the unconscious, becomes a kind of psychic collapse with an enormous event horizon, sucking everything around into itself in an attempt to be fulfilled. It can completely devour the entire life-direction in this manner, subjugating all other drives to its own fulfilment. For this reason, an unaspected planet experiences a major adjustment in terms of dignity and debility evaluation. If a planet is in a sympathetic sign, so the discomfort of it is not so keenly felt, you will of course have to moderate your analysis accordingly, but it will not prevent that energy from being equally as dominant in seeking its own fulfilment as a placement in an unsympathetic sign, but in the latter case the subjective sense of that archetypal energy might feel considerably more difficult and therefore that person will no doubt be experienced by others as more difficult.

This is the nub then of peregrination. It does not matter which condition qualifies any given archetype as peregrine, rather, the key understanding is that the archetype is out of place, struggling, in dire difficulty and the native’s experience of it will reflect that selfsame difficulty.

Therefore, and if you follow this philosophy, you will be able to grasp the emergent reality which it hints at: within the greatest weakness and difficulty lies our greatest potential strength and peregrination – in whatever guise – prompts the soul to create an imperative, as though it were laid out thus from the instant of birth: a great, wondrous arc leading tentatively to emancipation, if only we have the necessary quality to strike out for its marvellous conclusion.

Look at those cases where peregrination was not at all in evidence; by essential dignity alone, Muhammad Ali’s ‘weakest’ planet is Mars, and yet, here is the greatest fighter the modern world has seen. The same condition is found in the nativity of Mark Spitz.  Julie Andrews’ weakest planet? Venus! And Albrecht Durer, whilst primarily an artist, influenced art theory, mathematics and Renaissance thought profoundly and Jupiter was his weakest placement. The list goes on.

But then, when peregrination is brought to its logical extreme, and we seek examples to underpin our suspicion, the circle becomes complete:

  • Sylvia Plath who dedicated her short life to expressing her inner emotional life through poetry has unaspected Moon.
  • John F. Kennedy, perhaps the archetypal leader of the free world, had unaspected Sun!
  • Agatha Christie, the best selling writer of all time, has unaspected Mercury.
  • Brigitte Bardot: unaspected Venus.
  • Sylvester Stallone, the action hero: unaspected Mars.
  • Germaine Greer, feminist philosopher and writer: Jupiter!
  • Ted Kennedy, the most respected senator of modern times in the USA, had peregrine Saturn.
  • Alan Watts, a thinker, writer and speaker of profound insight and unmistakable genius, had peregrine Uranus (as does Gary Kasparov and Barack Obama).
  • For the ruler of film and fantasy, Neptune, how about Walt Disney?
  • Peregrine Pluto is a difficult energy, and it is easy to spot the common theme in the list of those whose nativities evinced the unaspected placement: Buddy Holly, John F. Kennedy, his wife Jackie, Marilyn Monroe and Natasha Richardson.

What we see then is that where a planet is weak or lacking in dignity it creates a struggle which is felt experientially by the native, and this condition is enormously exacerbated through a lack of aspects. For the most part we will never comprehend the destinies of millions, who struggle through lives marred by the imperatives of such conditioning, but occasionally, prominence is thrust upon individuals and the themes of peregrination are writ large upon the world stage for all to see.