Synastry Q & A: The Vertex

Question on the Vertex:

“I read that the Vertex is an important angle in synastry.  My wife and I don’t have any Vertex contacts.  Does it matter?

From Paul, Georgia

Vertex contacts aren’t necessary for long term relationships, the way Saturn contacts are.  In fact, it isn’t common to see Vertex contacts in sustained relationships. Vertex contacts usually bring forth the kinds of experiences that may be intense and life-changing, but often short-lived.

The Vertex is often described as a ‘spiritual ascendant.’ It is said to be a point where we have ‘fated encounters’ that alter our life plans.  However, the Vertex isn’t always about relationships. Anything eye and soul opening can enter our lives when the Vertex is activated. It can be jobs, creative projects, health issues, personal revelations. Much depends on what house the Vertex falls in.  It is a point where encounters or events will bring some kind of personal  enlightenment.

Why do Vertex experiences feel like ‘fate?’  We feel fated when our inner world meets the outer, when something is brought into our lives, seemingly from out of the blue, that feels as if it was meant to be.  The ‘fated’ person or event seems to come from a place beyond our everyday reality to change our life direction or alter our consciousness.  The Vertex is the place where we taken beyond mundane reality and are reminded that we are always profoundly connected to the greater mysteries and powers of life.

Whatever involves the Vertex will reach beyond ordinary mundane existence to remind and teach us that there is no such thing as ordinary mundane existence. Vertex happenings are a tap on the shoulder telling us that our ordinary perceptions are illusions, and that the truth of our lives is always found somewhere beyond material space and time. And this is why it’s considered a wake-up call to our real identity, our ‘spiritual ascendant’. The ordinary Ascendant causes us to define ourselves by our experiences; the Vertex concerns itself with what we are (or can be) beyond our external circumstances. Vertex contacts feel ‘fated’ because they lead us to roads we instinctively feel, but cannot yet see. Vertex happenings invoke the Watcher in all of us–the one who knows, the one who works hand in hand with the one who experiences.  This is the symbolic reason it appears on the opposite side of the chart from the Ascendant.  The Ascendant concerns itself with taking in ‘life’ experiences which reflect on soul; the Vertex concerns itself with spiritual experiences which ultimately effect life choices.

In practice, I’ve found that it’s the anti-Vertex more than the Vertex that is active in ‘fated’ relationship encounters.  If the Vertex is the spiritual Ascendant, the anti-Vertex is the spiritual Descendant.  It is ‘other’ through the deepest essence of Soul.   If we allow it, if we are ready for it, the anti-Vertex contact can be more powerful than any other contact in the chart comparison.  We feel as if this person is absolutely crucial to our soul’s development.  The significance of this contact can resonate for years, long after the relationship has ended.  However, there is one catch to Vertex and anti-Vertex contacts:  we must be at a point where we are spiritually ready for the experience, or the Vertex contact may come to nothing.  As Hamlet says, “the readiness is all.”  (The exception comes when we have our own planets on the anti-Vertex; another person’s planet or midpoint that conjuncts the Vertex affects the polarity point of the anti-Vertex planet.  It makes the Vertex a very active place.)

People with planets conjunct the Vertex are often driven forward in an almost magical way.  I know an actor, an Aries, with Mars conjunct the Vertex in the fifth house.  He hasn’t been out of work, give or take a month, since the age of 16.  Highly unlikely in any actor’s life, but that’s the Vertex at work.  It draws experience which moves us forward.

People with planets conjunct the anti-Vertex, particularly an important planet like the Sun or a ruling planet, are often unusually self-contained.  Whereas most people seek to find themselves through ‘other’, the anti-Vertex people have a tendency to be their own ‘other,’ and not be inclined to partnership unless it’s a serious one.  Not that relationships will not happen in their lives;  on the contrary, the relationships that do occur will be highly charged and deeply significant.  But you won’t find people with important planets on the anti-Vertex looking for any old warm body on a Saturday night. The planetary energy, whatever it is, is looking towards ‘other’ for spiritual completion, and nothing else will do.  In fact, if the influence is strong, they may have a hard time understanding the day to day relationships and attractions that others experience.  The planet involved with the anti-Vertex and the houses it rules will tell you the flavour of the encounters and what area of life will be affected via the anti-Vertex relationships.

In some, the Vertex is very active, in others, not so much. This depends on whether or not the Vertex is heavily weighted, and it depends upon the level of spiritual awareness, which cannot be measured in the chart.  Vertices with conjunctions or vertices that hit a number of midpoints are particularly sensitive. It also can be very active by progression. And it is also related to how open and ready a person is for new experiences and turns in the road, something which cannot be completely measured.  We all have the ability to turn away from fate.

If others’ planets conjunct our Vertex axis, we may very well feel as if we have waited for this person, for this experience, our entire lives.  And that may well be the truth.  Entire life directions, entire world views, can change when another’s planets conjunct our Vertex or anti-Vertex. We may divide our lives into ‘before’ and ‘after’ this Vertex-significant other.

If  planets square the Vertex angle, then the development of this planet is crucial to whether or not  I become aware enough (and brave enough) to meet my fate.  For example, if Saturn is square my Vertex angle, then Saturn development would open the gateway for Vertex-inspired experiences.  The more Saturn develops and the more we learn to use it constructively, the greater the possibility of Vertex experience.  This could happen natally or it could happen through a contact with another whose Saturn squares my Vertex angle.  If another’s Saturn squares my Vertex, their planetary development will affect my spiritual development.

Ultimately, interpreting the Vertex axis isn’t very different from interpreting anything else in the chart. Whatever house it falls in indicates the realm of experience the ‘awakening’ encounters will occur in. The sign describes the method/process of the experience and also the general flavour of it. The rulers of the Vertex axis play a  part, as do any planets conjunct the Vertex axis and the houses they rule.

It’s good to remember that the Vertex axis does work as a point of fate, but it can only allow experiences that reflect in the rest of the chart;  it opens doors to rooms we are not yet aware of.  It isn’t a magic wand, conjuring up what we wish for.  The Vertex impels us forward via the soul’s intention, but it cannot deliver what is not already there in nascent form.

You may think that the Vertex isn’t involved in your relationship, but look again.  Was the Vertex active in either of your charts on the day you met?  How about on your first date, the day you got married, or the birth of a child?  Is it active in the composite? Take a look.  You might be surprised.


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