Challenge Corner Answer
The first-born twin was the larger one who died in about 9 hours. The most obvious change in the 7 minutes difference in birth times was the shift of the Uranus-Mercury conjunction from the first house to the twelfth house. I’m always delighted by evidence which challenges the traditional astrological assumption that the twelfth house has to be negative. (Of course I believe that nothing in astrology is inherently negative or positive. Every principle depends on how we handle it.) Personal faith, often mostly unconscious, determines how one manifests letter twelve factors. As has been pointed out many times to our readers, the Gauquelin research demonstrated that highly successful individuals significantly often had planets in the twelfth house correlated with their vocations and their personalities. Astrologers tend to see clients who have problems associated with letter twelve factors—Neptune, Pisces, and/or the twelfth house. When we have realistic faith in ourselves and/or in a Higher Power, we manifest our potentials and succeed. When we lack such faith, we tend to be anxious, hold back, and may need to look to others (including astrologers) for help.
Faith is obviously not all of the picture, but it is one key. A first house placement suggests that the individual has faith in his/her personal power while a twelfth house placement points more to faith (or lack of it) in a Higher Power. In general, the twin with greater personal faith would tend to be the one to say (unconsciously) “I can handle the world,” and to push out first in the birth process. The faith in oneself might be justified. Often, the first-born twin is the stronger of the two and is more able to survive. In this case, the first-born’s personal faith proved rash and inaccurate. His lungs were not sufficiently developed to sustain life on his own. The rising Uranus, of course, suggests a strong urge to be independent as soon and as much as possible.
Mercury is our traditional key to the lungs, among other physical organs, to our ability to breathe and talk. Both twins have the Moon in the eighth house quincunx Uranus and Mercury, but Twin One also had his Ascendant quincunx the Moon. The Ascendant along with all factors in or ruling the first house are important in our health, our ability to do what we want. An exact quincunx between the first and eighth houses is often found when we let go and move on. With letter eight, (Pluto, Scorpio and the eighth house,) we are learning what is ours and what is not ours, when is enough, and how to let go. The heliocentric (H) positions of the planets also point to the first twin as the one with the crisis, since he had H Uranus conjunct his Ascendant within one degree and opposite H Vesta which is often associated with health issues.
The Ascendant had moved to 3 Cancer by the birth of the second twin. This Ascendant had both a quincunx to Chiron in the sixth house which could have indicated a health crisis, and a sextile to Saturn in the third house. The latter aspect suggests personal ability to handle the physical world, including the lungs since the third house has the same meaning as Mercury and Gemini. These twins support my experience that Chiron is not always associated with health problems. If it were always a key to a chronic health weakness as is suggested by many astrologers, Twin Two ought to be the one who died with Chiron exactly quincunx his Ascendant, especially from the sixth house with its Virgo meaning.
By the birth of the second twin, the dwad of the Ascendant had also shifted from Cancer to Leo, which might mean more vitality with a fire dwad, but I would not trust this unless there were supporting evidence. The MC of the second twin made a similar shift from the Cancer (water) to the Leo (fire) dwad. The Antivertex did not change dwads in the seven minute time interval, but the East Point moved from the Scorpio to the Sagittarius dwad, again a shift from water to fire.
One of the reasons that work with twins is so helpful to astrologers is that it lets us test new or less-used factors. There is obviously not enough time to test all our possible techniques on every chart that we interpret, but we can take extra time when we get recorded data for multiple births along with information on major differences in the health and lives of the individuals. Among such extra techniques are dwads, planetary nodes and Arabic Parts. The latter were known to the ancient Greeks but were developed much more by the Arabs while Europe was in the Dark Ages. For new readers, dwads are divisions of the zodiac signs into 2 1/2 degree sectors which carry an overtone of the 12 signs so in effect, a whole zodiac exists in every sign. The first 2 1/2 degrees in each sign are the same dwad as the sign and the rest follow in the natural order, so 0 to 2 1/2 degrees of Cancer is the Cancer dwad, 2 1/2 to 5 degrees of Cancer is the Leo dwad, etc. When studying multiple births, aspects to the chart angles (MC, Ascendant, East Point and Antivertex) remain the primary techniques to differentiate the babies, but dwad changes for the angles can also be useful at times.
House changes are less common when the births are close in time, though Mercury and Uranus were significant in this case. Pluto was fully in the third house for Twin One but since it was still conjunct the cusp for Twin Two, it did not really differentiate between them. The placement is appropriate for a death due to lung problems. Juno was similarly on the second house cusp for both twins, and its Pluto-like nature along with its opposition to the eighth house cusp fits an experience of letting go, whether of one’s own body or of another individual. H Saturn in the house of lungs and siblings is octile Juno for both twins but its trioctile to the eighth house cusp is only exact to the degree for Twin One.
Another use of the eighth cusp occurs with the Arabic Part of Death. Arabic Parts are calculated by adding two factors and subtracting a third, so there can be dozens of them. As with all of the astrological factors, the principle can be manifested in many different details so the Part of Death might occur when a variety of conditions in the life are changing. With these twins, it falls at 22 Gemini 25 for Twin One so it is conjunct Mars within one degree. Twin Two has it at 23 Gemini 27 which is outside the important one-degree-orb. The formula is Ascendant plus eighth house cusp minus Moon, and I am using Placidus houses. Other house systems give different results. The next most commonly used systems, Koch and Campanus, did not give helpful results in this case.
The Arabic Part of Saturn (Ascendant plus Saturn minus Sun) is also meaningful with a conjunction to Pluto for the first twin and out-of-orb for the second one. The first twin also has the Arabic Part of Uranus (Ascendant plus Uranus minus Sun) opposite Vesta in the sixth house while it is out-of-orb in the chart for Twin Two. The most commonly used Arabic Part is the Part of Fortune—Ascendant plus the Moon minus the Sun. Though the name is somewhat misleading since it supposedly indicates either good or bad fortune so it is closer to being a “Part of Fate,” in this case, it supports the preponderance of the evidence. For Twin One it is quincunx Pluto while for Twin Two it is outside the normal one-degree orb. Twin one also has the Arabic Part of Pluto conjunct Jupiter in the eighth house while it is out-of-orb for Twin Two. Jupiter is often involved in important aspects at death when we travel to a new realm. Also, the Arabic Part of Jupiter is quincunx Venus for Twin One but past the aspect for Twin Two. It is also sextile the MC for Twin Two, a strengthening aspect, and lacks the aspect for Twin One. The standard procedure for calculating these points is to add the Ascendant to the planet and then subtract the Sun. Except for the Part of Neptune, the weight of the evidence offered by the Arabic Parts clearly points to the first twin as the one with the serious problem.
As mentioned above, planetary nodes are another of the less-used techniques in astrology. Just as the Moon’s nodes are the points where the orbit of the Moon crosses the plane of the earth’s orbit, the planetary nodes mark the place where the relevant planet crosses the plane of earth’s orbit.
The nodes of Mars and Mercury can be additional keys to an individual’s ability to be healthy—to do what they want and function efficiently. Both twins have the south node of Mercury closely conjunct Pluto, so it fits the problem. It is closer to an octile to the Ascendant for the first twin but not within my usual one-degree orb. It is in orb to H Vesta and H Uranus and the latter conjuncts the Ascendant for Twin One so the node supports him as the one with the critical problem. (The close sextile of Pluto itself to the East Point of Twin Two is an additional positive indication for the second-born baby.) The north node of Mars is conjunct the East Point in the earlier chart and square the MC of the later one, so it does not clearly differentiate. The south node of Uranus squares the MC-IC axis for both twins, further pointing to potential problems but not differentiating between the two individuals. South Neptune also holds a semisextile-quincunx to the MC-IC for both twins but north Neptune only aspects the angles of the first twin. The nodes of Saturn fall conjunct and opposite Juno for both twins but more closely on the 2-8 house axis for Twin Two, which might be misleading.
Midpoints, the point between any two factors in a chart, are used by many more astrologers, and their aspects to angles often help to differentiate between twins. The MC/Ascendant midpoint is considered quite important and in this case, it supports the judgment already given by the other factors. For Twin One it is octile Mars but it is out of orb for Twin Two. The midpoints between the MC and the lunar nodes also point in the same direction. They oppose or square Uranus and Mercury for both twins but only aspect the Ascendant for the first-born one. The Sun/Vesta and Chiron/Jupiter midpoints give the same message. They are respectively square and opposite the Ascendant for only Twin One. Other aspects could probably be found, but the evidence offered so far is strongly supportive of the first born baby being the one with the critical problem.
As mentioned in the Challenge Corner, the data for the twins came from an astrologer who also lost her little sister. We will call her Sis to protect the privacy of the family. The child died at the age of eleven. The physical cause of death was meningitis which killed her very quickly. I don’t know much about that illness other than it is an inflammation of the brain so it is theoretically related to the Mars principle which is involved in both brain events and fevers. We can see in the chart that progressed (P) Mars had reached a conjunction with natal Saturn, indicating a confrontation between the child’s ability to do what she pleased and some kind of limits. The latter could be external in the form of natural or cultural laws or authority figures and/or internal in the form of one’s conscience or lack of self-confidence. The P MC, another form of the Saturn principle, was trioctile Uranus which is similar to Mars—a desire to resist any limits, so the aspect reinforces the idea that Sis felt blocked or limited or threatened in some way.
The desire for freedom was also suggested in Sis’s progressions by P Moon having moved into Aquarius about four months before her death. Her P Sun was also just about to move into Aquarius and she had just had a progressed New Moon in the last degree of Capricorn with both P Sun and Moon square Jupiter and quincunx her natal Moon. The aspects further emphasize her tension which could have involved problems with faith (Jupiter) and emotional security (Moon). At the time of her death, her P Moon was conjunct P eighth house cusp with both of them quincunx her natal Ascendant. As in the case of her brother who died almost immediately after his birth, the quincunx from the eighth house to the Ascendant shows the potential for leaving or letting go of others. The aspect is even stronger because the Moon rules the Ascendant sign, Cancer. And the message is given again by P Ascendant quincunx P Venus in the eighth house. It was also octile natal Moon and square natal Vesta, a frequent key to health. P Vesta in the natural house of Saturn, was trioctile Pluto.
Venus is one of the rulers of the fourth house, and traditionally both fourth and eighth house factors should have appropriate aspects when one departs. We have noted aspects involving Uranus and Saturn, rulers of the signs in the eighth house. The other ruler of the fourth house is Mercury which had progressed to form a sextile-trine to the lunar nodes while P East Point, an auxiliary Ascendant, opposed natal Mercury. The latter aspect fits her separation from her home and family which are symbolized by the fourth house ruler. Remember that even the most drastic events will be accompanied by some harmonious aspects while there will be some stress aspects for even the happiest events.
Other stress aspects included P Moon and P eighth house cusp square Neptune and octile P Mars, repeating the issue of faith or ideals or ethics as possible problems. P Chiron, another key to faith like Jupiter, was in a long conjunction with Venus. P Ceres, often indicative of a mother-figure but also in this case Sis herself since it is in the first house, was quincunx P Saturn in Sagittarius. P Antivertex was quincunx Jupiter, square natal Moon, and trine P Sun. P Juno was quincunx the north lunar node. Obviously, Sis was in a state of emotional stress over issues involving faith vs. fear and personal power vs. power outside of her control. We can surmise the source of her pressure when we know that her older sister (who provided the birth data) left home at the age of 14 to escape sexual abuse by her father. He started it when his girls reached puberty. Mars symbolizes our muscles, which we can control consciously if we have the strength to fight or the courage to run away. But it is the unconscious side of the mind which manages the immune system, including fevers which are designed to destroy invading bacteria and viruses. Sis escaped with the cooperation of her unconscious mind when she lost her faith in her parents, an abusive father and an impotent mother with whom she was identified but who was not able to protect her.