Preparing an Esoteric Horoscope

An outline of the key factors essential to esoteric astrology, as applied to the personal horoscope. The in-text links lead to specific further details, which can also be found throughout the site.


Esoteric astrology concerns itself primarily with the unfoldment of consciousness […] This astrology has nought to do [with…] the outer plane of existence… our effort lies along the line of psychological life history… (EA 145, 417-18)

There are some fundamental principles and practical steps that make sense of esoteric astrology, although the process—as with any serious astrological work—is an intuitive one in which analysis alone cannot reveal inner purpose. Instead, we need to detect the connections in a chart, synthesise them and intuit the underlying meaning: how does the chart come across as a whole? What correspondences stand out? What behaviours match the predominant mode and ray influences? Does the Ascendant have connections that strengthen it or pull in other ways? Is the chart patchy, or are there multiple connections that hold it together? Does the chart as a whole feel coherent or disparate?

If you’re already familiar with transpersonal/psychological astrology, or the “person-centred” approach of Dane Rudhyar, these can be a useful bridge between strictly personal astrology and the occult/cosmic perspective of esoteric astrology. If not, you can approach the subject without preconceptions.

As a prerequisite, it is essential to grasp the nature of the seven rays that permeate the esoteric philosophy behind esoteric astrology, and to have on hand the meaning of the esoteric planets and their rulerships, most of which differ from the familiar rulers.

Emphasis by Cross as Life Indicator

In an esoteric chart, the predominant cross or mode determines the overall life focus and area of development: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable. At the personal—rather than the archetypal—level it’s not a hierarchy; none is more advanced than any other as we all experience life on each cross as necessary. However, most charts have a predominance of one cross, a balance between two or (more rarely) all three.

Cardinal Fixed Mutable
endings, beginnings, initiations resolving and containing conflicts learning through lived experience
integrating personal elements into a coherent whole overcoming illusions, gaining focus and direction urge for change, trial-and-error, new opportunities

These three crosses form the fundamental backbone of an esoteric reading. The four elements—although significant—are of secondary importance in the esoteric chart as the esoteric meaning of the elements is informed by the same occult philosophy as the rest of esoteric astrology.

The crosses can be weighted in the usual manner by planet (with extra for the Ascendant, Sun, and to a lesser extent the Moon), although sympathetic esoteric connections can add extra emphasis.

Three Key Planets for Each Cross

Once the predominant mode or dominant cross is known, you can examine the placement of three specific planets that reveal the focus of each cross:

Cardinal Fixed Mutable
Jupiter Saturn Mercury
point of synthesis focus of intensity need for experience

The placement of these three planets indicates the quality of experience on each of the crosses, so when one, two or all three are strongly placed in a sign by:

the influence of the cross associated with the planetary focus for that cross will be enhanced (for more details, see planets: Jupiter/Saturn/Mercury)

Aspect Families and the Crosses

Although aspects are not covered by Bailey in Esoteric Astrology, it is possible to integrate aspects into the general esoteric scheme and simplify them into three main families that correspond to the other ternary groups in esoteric astrology. Closed patterns of three or more points show established personal life forces, and can be connected to the rays and modes to see how well they integrate with the inner self and overall life purpose. The distribution of the three main aspect families (odd/Cardinal, even/Fixed and tertiary/Mutable) can also lend extra weighting to the three crosses; a predominance of one aspect family can strengthen the influence of the mode to which it belongs.

The three aspect families and 12 parent polygons
The three aspect families and 12 parent polygons

As always, the degree of integration of aspect families with the main esoteric facets in the chart will indicate how closely life experience matches inner purpose. For instance, a chart with a Fixed sign emphasis but many Mutable aspects (3,6,9,12), can indicate that the Fixed learning process is mediated by lived-through personal experience. If Cardinal aspects (1,5,7,10) predominate, the personal emphasis of the dominant cross will be via integration and the will to co-ordinate intelligence, motivation and action through mental consistency. Similarly, if Fixed aspects are in the majority in a Cardinal-based chart, opportunities to progress the Cardinal process of initiation and synthesis will be offered through conflict resolution and intensity.

The process of the dominant cross gives the overall emphasis, while opportunities to develop or enhance this emphasis may be suggested by the dominant aspect group or patterns (three points or more) in an aspect group; for example the Finger of Fate is a mutable aspect pattern while the Grand Cross and T-square are fixed patterns.

Assess the Balance of Rays

One or more rays may stand out because a planet is placed sympathetically by ray or esoteric rulership. Note that although ray 4 can have a connecting role, its sympathy is with the fixed cross.

However, while any ray can influence each area of development covered by all three crosses, the three rays of aspect (1,2,3—and four rays of attribute under them) have fundamental sympathies with each cross:

Ray one Ray two Ray three
Cardinal Fixed Mutable
integration intensity activity
(5,7: mental coordination) (4: harmony through conflict) (6: emotional experience)

This means that (for instance) the Cardinal signs that express Ray 3 (Cancer-Capricorn, Libra) can also involve the “Mutable quality” of practical application and lived experience in their drive for synthesis, as well as a sympathy with the grounded learning influence of the Ray 3 planet Saturn, even though these both serve the “Cardinal purpose” of integration that is inherent to Cardinal signs.

Ascendant, Sun, Moon

Broadly speaking, these indicate the future, present and past, or: the intuitive sense of inner direction and future self; the established personal self; and the legacy, “karma” and habits of the past self:

As a key esoteric indicator, the Ascendant reveals the area into which a life is moving, what can be refined in order to serve the inner purpose, and where there is work to be done. What is literally “on the horizon”. To determine how the Ascendant will affect the direction of a life, note:

Although stated to be a “dead planet” in Esoteric Astrology, there are rich indicators in the Moon’s placement, depending on whether the “lunar” part of a personality has built useful, neutral or harmful traits. It can therefore indicate automatic response and instinctive insight; or habits, prejudice and presumption as the “prison of the soul”.

The goal is to have all three working together as an integrated whole under the overall life direction or flavour—that is our first major psychological aim, and the prerequisite to the deeper side of esoteric astrology.

Later, when the personality has become an integrated whole, the Sun sign and its opposite become significant as a polar pair and the Sun sign itself becomes less of a focus, while the subtle influence of the Moon drops below the “threshold of consciousness”. This significant inner achievement marks the beginning (or initiation) of sense of purpose beyond the strictly personal. Individual goals sink below the threshold of consciousness, allowing the emergence of a life with a wider sense of being. We become more than just an individual, and grow towards connection with inner (or esoteric) groups working along the same lines as ourselves. These may or may not manifest in material life.

Assess the Nature of the Personality

Simple as it sounds when stated, the most fundamental point for astrologers to grasp today is the need for them to know—prior to interpretation—where, upon the path of evolution, the subject under consideration stands. … It is essential, for their right understanding that the astrologer knows whether the subject is relatively [unaware], advanced… or… upon one or other stages of the Path. (EA 335)

Without some sense of an individual, it is difficult to pinpoint their place in the cycle of development. Overall, however, a well-integrated chart with many cross-correspondences and interconnections indicates a coordinated personality. Outliers (as in exoteric astrology) indicate isolated traits that may either need to find points of integration in the esoteric analysis (by ray and mode) or remain isolated simply because they are already developed or are better left to one side. The predominance of a particular cross can also help identify the current cycle of development.

For example, one of the four elements may be missing. Although this is of less important in an esoteric chart, it can also indicate an area that not required for the current life purpose, or even previously-developed qualities (by inheritance or lifetimes) that exist at an automatic level an need to explicit presence. Progressions and transits can bring this missing influence to the fore, but its omission isn’t necessarily a lack—there may be good reasons. However, a cross that is under-represented is far more important as an indicator that its emphasis is not needed.

Planets in the Esoteric Chart

Apart from the need to use and understand the esoteric planetary rulerships for each sign, there are a couple more specific factors about planets in esoteric astrology to take into account.

Veiled Planets

The Sun and Moon, veiling… Vulcan, Neptune or Uranus

Where the Sun or Moon are the esoteric ruler of a sign, esoteric astrology gives three possible “veiled planets” that are likely to reflect the overall mode of the chart. Each of these planets have sympathies with one of the crosses, so their placement may strengthen or lessen the influence of both the planet and the cross:

In some software, Vulcan is taken as very close to the Sun (within 8°). However, since there is no known physical planet, the ephemeris is of limited value (see Vulcan). So, for Vulcan as a veiled esoteric ruler in a horoscope, look to the signs where it is strongest by rulership or ray sympathy (Ray 1, and also connections to Pluto), and by the strength of Mutable signs in the chart. For further information see Planets veiled by the Sun and Moon in Key Concepts.

“Sacred and Non-sacred” Planets

In esoteric astrology, planets are regarded as living beings with their own development process. They are at differing stages, with a distinction between those that have reached initiation, having graduated from the process of self-integration, and those yet to reach that stage. By correspondence, the sacred planets affect our own inner evolution and integration, while the non-sacred planets are primarily concerned with the adjustment of our personality to this inner evolution, and the outer circumstances that provide opportunities for this process.

Sacred/developed planets (Rays 1-7)
Non-sacred/developing planets

For further information, see “Sacred” and “non-sacred” planets.

Triangles as Esoteric Indicators

The many triangles (specific interactions between three signs, planets, stars) of esoteric astrology reveal the deeper meanings behind the transpersonal. They may come into play more prominently once the Sun sign and its complementary are synthesised, offering insights into how an individual life connects with the bigger esoteric picture or the overall evolution of humanity. Some may have specific personal meaning, if all three of their nodes are prominent in a horoscope, although this meaning may need “stepping down” to an individual human level. Triangles are of various kinds, and may—or may not—connect the individual to part of a greater process, especially if (say) the Sun, Ascendant and an esoteric ruling planet reflect the signs and/or planets of one of the triangles.

Some triangles have very abstract meanings while others express specific kinds of process, so it is up to the esoteric astrologer to step their meaning down to the individual role within the greater activity of the triangle. This may not be possible if the triangle only has abstract cosmic significance, although many triangles offer a wider esoteric context to individual development. Each sign and planet (and ray, star/constellation) has a list of related triangles for easy selection:

The triangle selector
The triangle selector

If identified within a horoscope, the three nodes of the triangle may also hint at which are the initiating/active, the mediating/receptive and the grounding nodes for that individual (NOTE: these esoteric connections do not have to be in trine or any other aspect to each other). This requires some knowledge of the cosmology behind triangles in esoteric astrology, and their impact on human life in general.

Ternary groupings provide esoteric astrology with a deep unifying foundation and triangles are part of this structure—the primary source being the “big three”: Great Bear-Sirius-Pleiades; cascading from this there are: Cardinal/Fixed/Mutable as synthesis/intensity/change and Jupiter/Saturn/Mercury as their focus, the grouping of aspects under these three primary principles, and even the Ascendant/Sun/Moon as future/present/past.

  1. Hierarchical rulers relate to the “Creative Hierarchies”—see Glossary