The East Point and the Antivertex
The angles of a horoscope are based on the intersection points of great circles. A great circle is the largest circle it is possible cut through a sphere, that is, the circle with the greatest radius. All great circles go through the center of the sphere. (Small circles do not pass through the center of the sphere.)
One familiar great circle on Earth is the Equator. That is the circle going around the middle of the Earth which is equally distant from both the north and south poles. Latitude on the Earth is measured north or south of the Equator and parallels of latitude (imaginary lines we visualize on the Earth and draw on our maps) are all small circles parallel to the Equator.
Astronomy (and astrology) work with a number of great circles on the “celestial sphere”. (The celestial sphere is an imaginary sphere centered on the Earth. Everything in the sky is assumed to be on the surface of this sphere for convenience in measurements and calculations.) The ecliptic is one such great circle. The ecliptic is the Earth’s path around the Sun. (From our vantage point, it is the apparent path of the Sun around the Earth. We know, of course, that the Earth revolves around the Sun, but it appears that the Sun revolves around the Earth.) Another common great circle is the horizon. Most people refer to the place where earth meets sky as the horizon. This is the visible or apparent horizon. It is a small circle because it does not go through the center of the Earth. If we take the four cardinal points of a compass (north, east, south and west) and connect them in a circle, parallel to the visible horizon but through the center of Earth, we have created the great circle that is the rational horizon. The poles of the horizon great circle would be the zenith (the point directly overhead for the observer) and the nadir (the point directly beneath the observer). Gravity pulls from the zenith toward the nadir. [Astrologers who call the Midheaven of the chart the zenith and the IC the nadir are using language that is incorrect and likely to confuse others.]
Another great circle is the Meridian. This circle goes through the north and south points of the horizon; the north and south poles of the Equator; and the zenith (directly above) and nadir (directly below the observer). Yet another great circle is called the Prime Vertical. It goes through the zenith and nadir and the east and west points of the horizon. An unnamed great circle goes through the north and south poles of Earth and the east and west points of the horizon.
The traditional four angles of the horoscope (Ascendant, Midheaven, IC and Descendant) are all intersections of great circles. All are treated as sensitive points by most astrologers. Using the East Point and Antivertex merely extends the basic principle of angles.
The Ascendant is formed by the intersection of the eastern section of the (rational) horizon with the ecliptic. The Descendant is the intersection of the horizon and ecliptic in the west. The visible intersection of the ecliptic with the Meridian (above the horizon) forms the Midheaven. The IC is the ecliptic-Meridian intersection below the horizon. The intersection of the ecliptic with the Prime Vertical in the east forms the Antivertex; in the west that intersection marks the Vertex. The East Point is the intersection of the ecliptic with the unnamed great circle passing through the east and west points of the horizon and the north and south poles of Earth, and the West Point is its western opposition. The East Point has also been called the Equatorial Ascendant because it is the Ascendant on the Equator at the sidereal time of birth.
To obtain the East Point is simple. Use your standard Table of Houses (Placidus, Koch, Campanus, whatever system you prefer). Once you have calculated the correct local sidereal time of birth (LST), find that LST in your Table of Houses. Rather than looking to the latitude of the birth you are interested in, go to zero latitude (the Equator). Interpolate as necessary to obtain the Ascendant at zero latitude for the exact local sidereal time. (As indicated, the East Point can also be called the Equatorial Ascendant.) If your Table of Houses does not include zero latitude, there is an alternative method. Add six hours to the correct local sidereal time (LST) of birth. This rotates the Midheaven exactly one quarter of the circle. (The East Point can also be defined as 90 degrees east, along the Equator, of the intersection of the Meridian with the ecliptic.) For that LST (six hours later), perform any necessary interpolation to calculate the Midheaven. That Midheaven (six hours later) is the correct East Point.
The Antivertex is slightly more complicated to calculate.
1. Subtract the latitude of birth from 90 degrees. Call your answer the co-latitude.
2. Add 12 hours to the LST of birth.
3. Take the LST from Step #2 into the Table of Houses as if you were going to calculate the house cusps from it.
4. Look for the Ascendant for that LST at the co-latitude. Interpolate as needed.
5. The result is the Vertex. The Antivertex is directly opposite (same degree and minute; opposite sign).
A variation is:
1. Same as above.
2. Note down the IC of the chart.
3. Find that IC in the Table of Houses AS IF it were a Midheaven.
4. Find the Ascendant for THAT Midheaven (which was originally the IC of the chart) at the co-latitude. Interpolate as needed.
5. Same as above.
For those who prefer working directly with trigonometric functions, the formulae for these angles are:
East Point = arctan (cosST/(-sinST * cos obl))
Vertex = arctan ((-cosST)/(sinST * cos obl-sin obl/tanlat))
Antivertex = Vertex +/-180 degrees
Where obl is obliquity and lat is latitude and ST is local sidereal time, and the quadrant of the answer can be determined from the algebraic signs of the answer and the numerator in the arctan.
WHERE DO THEY FALL?
The East Point is usually in the twelfth or first house of the chart. The Antivertex is usually in the eleventh, twelfth, first or second house. At extremes of latitude, the Antivertex can vary widely, falling into the third or tenth houses and occasionally into the west side of the horoscope.
The Ascendant, East Point and Antivertex all intersect at zero degrees of Aries and zero Libra. Thus, these angles will begin to cluster from late Pisces through early Aries and late Virgo through early Libra. The Ascendant, East Point and Antivertex will be the most spread out (often in three different signs and houses) when Cancer or Capricorn is rising.
Note that the East Point will always be within a five degree square to the Midheaven. If it is not, check your calculations.
Both the East Point and Antivertex can be interpreted as auxiliary Ascendants. That is, they function as additional keys to one’s basic identity, action, energy, drive and self-expression.
They do not seem to be AS important as the actual Ascendant, but do offer useful clues to major themes in the nature of the individual. Either angle requires more attention when a planet falls closely conjunct it. This is almost as significant as having that planet conjunct the Ascendant. The planet(s) involved denote major, keynote principles of that individual’s sense of self, identity, assertion and being in the world.
A good example is former President Jimmy Carter. His East Point conjuncts his Saturn in Scorpio. His Antivertex conjuncts his Jupiter in Sagittarius. His East Point and Saturn conjunct his Juno in Scorpio. The conjunction with Saturn symbolizes his energetic pursuit of executive power, the ambition to make it to the top. Jupiter symbolizes our ultimate values, including traditional religious beliefs (as well as education, spiritual quests, travel, etc.) Jupiter combined with the Ascendant, Mars, first house, Aries or East Point or Antivertex can manifest as the missionary type: “I have the truth and it is the only truth. Take it, world!” The conjunction of the East Point to Juno, the “marriage asteroid” indicates a close, personal involvement in a committed partnership; the desire for an equal sharing. Jimmy Carter demonstrated his power drive in seeking and obtaining the U.S. Presidency. His marriage to Rosalyn was and is very equalitarian; she is reported to have tremendous influence and impact in his decisions. His strong (Baptist) religious convictions were particularly unusual for a modern-day politician.
We begin with house placement because it is the most limited and simplest to cover. Since it IS limited, it is NOT the most important factor, but a part of the picture. (Aspects are the most important factor, in my experience.) Generally, house placement suggests very mild themes. Pay attention when a theme or issue is repeated by other configurations in the chart. Always, what is most important in the nature and horoscope will be repeated—said over and over again.
When the East Point or Antivertex falls in the twelfth house, there is a slightly Neptunian flavor to the identity, assertion, basic self-expression. This can manifest as idealism, high expectations, grace in action, escapism, or a number of variants. Extremes include, “I am perfect and can do as I please.” versus “I SHOULD be perfect and if I am not, then I am nothing.” God and the infinite are a role model for self.
An eleventh house placement suggests Uranian overtones to the identity. There is a hint of the rebel, the revolutionary. Personal freedom is more emphasized. Unique self-expression is more significant. This can be original, innovative, creative or chaotic, unpredictable, destructive. Friends and open-minded activities, associations are role models for the individual.
Placements in the first house add a little emphasis to the “I am what I am” theme. There is a little more directness, forthrightness in personal self-expression. Freedom needs are slightly more intense. Whoever the person is, the identity is in a bit more “pure” form, more readily apparent.
Second house placements tie the theme of pleasure from the material world to the self-expression. This can range from pure self-appreciation (“I like myself.”) to hedonism, potential over-indulgence in food, drink, possessions, collecting or spending money, etc.
THE WEST SIDE STORY
If the East Point and Antivertex operate as auxiliary Ascendants, then logically the West Point (opposite the East Point) and the Vertex (opposite the Antivertex) operate as auxiliary Descendants. Again, they are not usually as important as the actual Descendant, but do imply themes. If repeated elsewhere in the chart, the themes are significant.
The Descendant, Vertex and West Point are all keys to our close, committed relationships. They symbolize the feelings and experiences we seek through close others (spouses, live-in partners, therapists, etc). Often, they operate as points of projection, that is, these angles can point to qualities we tend to meet first through other people; attributes of ourselves we may learn to face through seeing someone else express the energy. The danger with projection is overdoing. If one person in a relationship is “doing it for” someone else, the first person is likely to do TOO MUCH of whatever the quality is.
So, each angle axis—Ascendant/Descendant; East Point/West Point and Antivertex/Vertex relates to that basic self/other polarity. Each gives us clues about balancing self-will and independent action with sharing and committing to others. Generally, it is easiest to personally identify with the eastern end of each axis. It is easiest to disown and see as “out there” (in other people) the western end.
This potential of “giving away” a part of who we are and unconsciously attracting other people to manifest that missing side contributes to what has been called the “fated” quality of the Vertex. Where other people are involved, we have less control and less power than where we are concerned only with our actions and attitudes as an individual. People who externalize responsibility for their own lives call such interactions “fated.” I prefer to operate within the world view that life is a mirror; we attract people we can learn from. Everyone in our lives is teaching us about a part of our own nature and potentials.
Both axes then (East Point/West Point and Antivertex/Vertex) point to a basic self/other polarity in the life that must be faced. In any opposition, the goal is integration. There is a natural complementarity. Both ends need each other to be fully effective. There are two major dangers with any opposition (polarity) in the horoscope. One danger is swinging from one extreme to the other. It is not uncommon for people to overdo one end of a polarity, then—in reaction—go to the opposite extreme. Some people spend their lives flip-flopping from one end of the seesaw to the other. The second danger is projection. In that case, the individual identifies with one end of the polarity and denies its opposite. So, unconsciously, that individual attracts other people who are expressing that opposite quality. The problem is, they are usually carrying it to an extreme. So, when we see exaggerated behavior, it is a good idea to look into our own psyches at what we may be denying.
Each opposition brings a set of themes connected to that polarity. So, East Point/ West Point or Antivertex/Vertex across the first and seventh houses is the basic self versus other polarity. This can be the pull between self-assertion and doing what one wants versus pleasing and accommodating to others. It can be the dilemma of freedom (personal independence) versus closeness (a committed love relationship). We can alternate between extremes or overdo one end, or pick someone (unconsciously) who will overdo for us.
Placing these angles across the second and eighth houses puts the focus on the issue of handling the physical, sensual world comfortably with others. We may be internally torn between self-indulgence (whether around food, sex, money, smoking, drinking, etc.) versus control of the appetites. We can externalize the conflict by identifying with one end and unconsciously selecting a partner to play out the opposite end of the seesaw. Then we spend our time fighting about spending versus saving or sex or other forms of giving, receiving and sharing the physical pleasure world. The goal is to be comfortable within ourselves in our handling of physical possessions and pleasures and also to be able to receive from others; give to others and share equally with others in an intimate context.
Where these angle axes fall across the fifth and eleventh houses, we are again dealing with freedom versus closeness issues. A part of us wants to be independent, off doing our own thing, unique, not following anyone else’s rules. Another side of who we are wants to love and be loved; to be special; to be admired and looked up to in an intense, emotional relationship. One side of our being emphasizes the intellect, the detached, objective mind; another side values the heart, feelings and emotional responses from others. We may externalize the conflict by feeling torn between friends and lovers or children. Or, we can identify with either end and attract the opposite from others in our lives, or flip-flop from one side to the other until we learn to have some of both in our lives.
The opposition across the sixth and twelfth houses by these angles points to a need to truly blend our dreams with reality. We are learning to be both idealistic and realistic. If not handled, we may swing from rose-colored glasses, gullibility and disillusionment or escapism to hard-nosed insistence on doing everything exactly by the book. Or, we can identify with one end, and attract significant others who overdo the opposite side. Our work arena (and our health) are often areas where we are learning to take the small, reasonable steps to reach our visionary goals. If we do not integrate this polarity, we may job hop, each time looking for a more ideal situation, or suffer from ill health because we are not doing that incredible, wonderful visionary work which we feel we OUGHT to be doing. It is all well and good to have a “calling.” We must just be able to ground our visions in the physical world, to do what is necessary to turn them into an actuality.
Remember, anything in the chart which is important will appear in the form of a repeated message. Major issues and themes are highlighted in a number of different ways. These two angle axes can suggest potential areas of analysis, but we need to look for confirmation in the rest of the chart to be sure the focus we choose is truly of major import.