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Dr Z's:
The Vertex in Astrology

(or Destiny's Gate: the Electric Axis)

(Originally written and posted in 1996, but significant revision and expansion of content March 11, 2009)

So you're hungry for a little info regarding the ever illusive astrological Vertex and its interpretation? Well... you've come to (or rather stumbled into) the right place! It would seem there's not much good, solid info that's ever been written about the Vertex...

If you found this popular Vertex article via Google - and it's your first experience traveling with me - then I'll warn you that I'm an irreverent iconoclast with a warped sense of humor.

Boring Intro Vertex Remarks
In 1996 I chose to moniker the astrological Vertex with the nickname: "Destiny's Gate"... it feels nice being responsible for the coining of a term... even when it's only the relatively obscure astrological Vertex.

According to the dictionary, the Vertex is: "the summit, the highest point reached in the apparent motion of a celestial body or other points. Taken from the Latin - vertere, meaning 'to turn.' "

In the horoscopic chart, the astrological Vertex is calculated as being the point located at the intersection of the Ecliptic (path of the Sun) and the Prime Vertical, a plane that divides the celestial sphere into front and back.

Huh? If none of that mumbo jumbo chart calculation stuff makes any sense, then don't worry too much about it. It's primarily here for those few certain pesky eggheads (who are generally greatly offended by my referring to them as pesky eggheads) that might possibly know what to do with it and/or like to think about such weighty things.

In order to aid you in more fully understanding what the Vertex potentially represents, you'll have to first bear with me as I discuss what I call the primary Incarnational Axes.

Incarnational Axes – "Openings to Transcendence"
Through the passing of years I came to the conclusion that there were three primary "incarnational" chart axes that tend to be of foremost significance when looking at any type of chart. And we're all, of course, rather familiar with these three incarnational axes...

These three primary (and familiar) incarnational axes are the:

• Ascendant/Descendant axis - magnetic axis
• the Midheaven/IC axis - gravity axis
• and the Lunar Node axis - karmic (or fate) axis

Openings to Transcendence

“People have had experiences of the soul’s transcendence since time immemorial. Yet we continue to wonder...What do these experiences prove? Do they offer a genuine vision of reality, or are they only products of human imagination? Are they rooted in human desire, in the wish for immortality, in projection?

There are certain special moments in life, call them “openings to transcendence,” when we confront a symbol and see reality much as the Unconscious (according to Jung) sees and regards it [reality] all of the time. At this level, the psyche knows no difference between spirit and matter. They are identical. Figures from both dimensions of reality are experienced as woven of the same threads.”

Short excerpt from Jungian Analyst and author Dr. Murray Stein’s lecture on "The Reality of the Soul" 2000

The word transcendence comes from two Latin words: trans and escendo. Trans literally means "across." Escendo means "to climb." So transcendence literally means "to climb across." As Dr. Stein explains: an opening or signal to transcendence allows us "to climb across" the artificial division between spirit and matter.

So... astrologically, the incarnational axes of the birth chart act as entry points or (put another way) as “openings to transcendence.” These astrological “openings to transcendence” are sensitive to all the various planetary symbols: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

Whoops! Did I forget to mention that I later decided there is a fourth incarnational axis that I now look at and consider...

Enter The Fourth Incarnational Axis
The astrological Vertex is actually part of a two point axis comprised of the Vertex and Anti-Vertex...
and as a chart axis... if your Vertex is located in 10 degrees of Scorpio, then your anti-Vertex is located in 10 degrees of Taurus.

And like all self-respecting incarnational axes, the Vertex/Anti-Vertex axis generally functions as a "gate," "funnel," or "transcendent opening" into the astrological chart. The Vertex/ Anti-Vertex axis is for good reason (that I'm about to explain) also nicknamed the Electric Axis.

Some astrologers have devised fascinating distinctions between the Vertex and the Anti-Vertex, with the Anti-Vertex generally having the more negative and/or lessor effect. In practical experience, I haven't noticed much of a difference.

Due to the "nature of the beast" - in any astrological chart, the Vertex is normally found lurking around in either the 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th house.

Vertex In Astrology (the Nitty Gritty)
So anyway, based on the astrological Vertex being located on a "turning point" in your sky chart, it then probably has something to do with "turning points" in your life. It does. Based on it being located in the 5th through 8th houses, then you can also bet it quite often has something to do with "meetings of people." Again, it does.

Here's my personal astrological rule of thumb definition of the Vertex: the astrological Vertex is a sensitive point on the chart (any chart) that during unusual, extraordinary times feels like an electric, fortunate "turning point" or a meeting with "Destiny's Gate."

As mentioned above, all self-respecting axes function as "gateways," "funnels," or "openings" into the astrological chart. As such, when a birth (natal) planet is conjunct your birth Vertex/anti-Vertex axis it may typically add strength to this planet's placement and its potential efficacy in your life.

In practice, the Vertex often feels like a compulsive, yet fortunate experience and meeting up with destiny that you couldn't avoid (even if you wanted to). According to Bill Meridian (Mountain Astrologer, June/July 2001), astrologer, Charles A. Jayne who (along with Lorne Johndro) first proposed using the astrological Vertex, "felt this point was fated and that it represented matters beyond our control."

It was Johndro that nicknamed the Vertex the "electric ascendant."

Here's how I typically use the Vertex (and the anti-Vertex):

Destiny's Gate can (among other things) be:

  • a person (and how they effect you)

    in synastry, the most effective when another person's natal Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Midheaven, Venus or Mars conjuncts your natal Vertex or anti-Vertex. I've gotten a wee bit stingy in my old age - and I only (90% of the time) use conjunctions when looking at the Vertex and anti-Vertex. Also, the slower a planet is... the more narrow my orbs tend to get when looking at cross aspects with the Vertex and anti-Vertex.
  • a time (when you meet a special person)

    when a transiting planet conjuncts your birth Vertex or anti-Vertex.

Be Careful What You Wish For
Through the years, I've discovered that it's a whopping big mistake to overly romanticize the Vertex and/or the people that it brings into our lives. In this regard, I especially like what my good friend Aussie astrologer Judy Crichton Weeks has to say about the Vertex. In a nutshell, she feels that the Vertex is a "relationship" point and a "wish fulfillment" point. When the Vertex is involved, we may get exactly what we wished for, but then again we might (or might not) get it in a "perverse manner."

Yep! You (like me) may feel as if you've literally "wished" this destined meeting with a person into existence. However, later on (after everything's said and done)... she... er, I mean... "Destiny's Gate" may not feel quite as "fortunate" as you originally thought! Okay?

This destined meeting often fills one up with the sense of needing to bring something (or someone) to "completion." As often as not, a Vertex person can complicate your life. You may even find that you simply can't "let go" of that pesky Vertex person (maybe for years or even decades) until the "business" between the two of you is finished and/or somehow felt to be complete.

Final Boring Word Of Caution
Now here's where some I'm going to lose some of you...

As previously mentioned, the Vertex is a sensitive point on the chart (any chart) that during unusual, extraordinary times feels like a fortunate "turning point" or a meeting with "Destiny's Gate."

When folks first discover the Vertex, they usually go a little "hog wild" with it! It seems like most us assume anything and everything about us and our chart is going to be unusual and extraordinary. It's not and we're not.

So... yes, there are those "unusual, extraordinary" times when the Vertex (and/or the Anti-Vertex) on a chart gets "lit up" and becomes very powerful. Then, it seems, that in every subsidiary chart cast (in relation to that original chart) - the Vertex is equally strong and "lit up."

But then, there are plenty of other times when it (the Vertex) ain't doing a blessed thing... there are plenty of times when (for example) the transiting Sun or Venus is going to pass over your birth chart and you're not about to meet a new and exciting lover (and/or you're not going to come into easy money). Other times... it may mean exactly that.

Here's one small concrete example:
My birth (natal) Venus is closely conjunct my birth (natal) Vertex. As such, I've gotten involved with two of the life changing (and gut wrenching) "loves of my life," almost exactly at the very moment the transiting Sun and/or Venus was passing over my birth (natal) Vertex and/or anti-Vertex.

The problem is that the Sun and/or Venus have also fortunately, once each year, each passed over my birth (natal) Vertex and anti-Vertex (so far, 108 some other times) when I didn't meet one of the life changing (and gut wrenching) "loves of my life."

The times that the Vertex did wisk someone significant into my life... there was, of course, lots of other major stuff going on in my chart and in their charts (including, in one case, where the transiting North Lunar Node was exactly conjuncting her birth North Lunar Node at precisely the moment we laid eyes on each other - and that "puppy" only happens once every 18.5 years or so).

So the example of the Sun or Venus passing over one's birth Vertex and/or anti-Vertex generally appears to serve as a minor transit that sometimes acts as a trigger for another more major transit, secondary progression, and/or solar arc.

Feeling Frustrated?
For all those folks who prefer and need solid, firm (1, 2, 3) definitions of astrological points and symbols that you can always dogmatically count on and use - the Vertex is going to be downright frustrating and elusive. Questions arise, such as: "How do I use it?" "How do I know when to use it?" "How do I know when not to use it?"

Good! I'm glad that it frustrates and confuses you. You may actually be on the verge of learning something very important about the true nature of astrology and artfully working with living, active symbols...

Major Chart Axes Rundown and Recap

  • The Ascendant/Descendant axis is nicknamed the Magnetic axis.
  • The Midheaven/IC axis is nicknamed the Gravity Axis.
  • The Lunar Nodes axis is nicknamed the Karmic (or fate) Axis.
  • and finally the Vertex/ Anti-Vertex axis is nicknamed the Electric Axis.

Suggested sites:

Kim Falconer's site where she also discusses the subject of the Vertex and ever so cleverly (and aptly) intuitively links it with the mythology of the Roman god Vertumnus and nymph Pomona. Darn... but Kim's good...

The Cycle of the Lunar Nodes in Individual Charts - Part 2 of Dane Rudhyar's article "How To Interpret the Lunar Nodes" at the Rudhyar Archival Project.

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