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Planets and signs are just a small facet of the astrological mandala – the geometry of the relationships between the planets is the factor that deepens our understanding of the unique individual that bears a particular birthchart. The angles that the planets make to each other describe the way the functions represented by those planets interact and create a completely unique energy imprint on our personality.
The traditional (or Ptolemaic) angles in the birthchart include what I call the “3-series” because they divide the chart into thirds: sextiles (60 degrees) and trines (120 degrees), and what I call the “4-series” because they divide the chart into fourths: of squares (90 degrees) and oppositions (180 degrees). These basic aspects give us triangles of all kinds as well as hexagons – they also create rectangles and half-squares. The geometry of the birthchart is all contained within a circle, one of the most sacred symbols of all.
When the points of a triangle are connected they form a circle, and circles have long been associated with the heavens, the infinite and the creative spark of divine consciousness. The square is associated with the manifest earth – finite and able to be grasped with the human mind. The alchemical process seeks to transmute that which is finite and earthbound (lead) into something divine (gold), and in alchemical psychology and transformation astrology we seek to transmute the challenges and burdens that keep us locked into an existence of habit and compulsion into divine gifts that open the doors to greater self-awareness and higher levels of understanding.
The circumnambulation Jung describes, the process of “squaring the circle” or “circling the square” has an uncertainty built into the journey: do we ever achieve individuation or is it a goal that is ever just out of reach? It is important to take the path that the mandala represents, to revolve around the center, to rotate near and around the center, and hopefully, move towards the self.. As Jung remarks “… the self is our life’s goal, for it is the completest expression of that fateful combination we call individuality…” [article by C. Clogston]