Synastry Studies: The M.C./I.C. (Part One)

Again, another long article.  I apologize, but it’s important to get these initial concepts before we tackle the angle contacts themselves.  Put your feet up and take it in small bits.

You may want to read the articles on “The Roving “I, The Shadow in Synastry” before moving on to this article on the MC/IC.  The Roving I deals with the attraction factor in relationships; the MC/IC angle is concerned with what is developed from that initial attraction.

We’re going to start discussing the M.C/I.C. as another relationship angle in the chart.  There isn’t much written about this axis in regard to partnership.  However, most astrologers who do synastry will have noted that MC/IC contacts (with the angle or angle rulers) are prominent in long term relationships.  Recent statistical data has come out supporting this.  (A note on punctuation.  The midheaven should be written as M.C. (medium coeli) and the nadir should be written as I.C. (imum coeli), but it’s too much of a pain to type so I’m throwing the periods out the window.)

I promised you that we would start with Saturn, but when I sat down to write I realized that I couldn’t start talking about Saturn without first discussing its partner, the Moon.  Silly me.  Begin at the beginning.  Of course I have to start with the Moon and the IC.  We have to begin with our roots, with our heritage, with our childhoods, with our inner selves before we can discuss what we need to become.

One of the reasons that the MC/IC isn’t much discussed is because, as an axis, it’s rather complicated.  It represents our familial experience and our heritage versus our social standing (commonly linked to career) and the life we build of our own volition.  From a psychological perspective, is it our inner world (me in here) versus the outer (all you out there), our internal patterns as opposed to our external behaviours.  Our MC is very much about what we end up showing the world.  The IC is my hidden world.  The fourth house represents my chthonic, grounded, personal power, the root kundalini of the chart.  The MC is the power that I may wield, the power that others see.  In traditional terms, the 4/10 opposition represents family versus society, home versus work, mother versus father.

The IC  seems to have lost favour recently.  People dismiss the fourth house as ‘the house about family.’  In other times, we were all very much defined by where we came from.  In our society, we are more concerned about where we’re going (MC), about who we want to be in world.  However, if our IC isn’t grounded and healthy, we may get to the MC, but we end up with empty hands.  Saturn (MC) needs the materials of the Moon (IC) to build something lasting.

It might be easier to appreciate the IC if we look at it in sequence.  The fourth house is a water house.  All water houses are all profoundly internal.  It is cardinal water, and carries the power of the initiating energy that all the cardinal houses carry.  Whereas the Aries energy is simply movement forward, the I defined by movement, the fourth house represents our internal processing of the experience of the first three houses. It is the “I” not simply as an acting force, but an “I” with an idea of who it is.  It is an I with awareness.  The fourth house is related to birth and death, beginnings and endings.  The ‘birth’ that we are talking about in the fourth house is the birth of consciousness itself.  It represents the deepest level of our inner world.

The fourth house is an alternate ascendant, the ascendant of our psychological selves.  The I with internal means and motivations.  In the fourth house, we begin to define ourselves, to understand who we are.  And once we are aware of who we are, we are also aware of who we are not.   This is not the simple “I” and “You” of the Aries/Libra opposition.  The I/You of Aries/Libra is primarily concerned with the dynamic of outward movement.  I am moving forward because I sense I am not complete in and of myself (completion belongs to the 12th house and Pisces.) If I am moving outwards, I am moving outwards towards something, and that something as an absolute is other.  However, in the fourth house, we learn about our inner life, and like small children testing themselves, we learn that there is something outside of us that is not part of our interior world.

All of the water houses tell the story of the development of our interior states as they relate to the outside world.  The fourth house is the birth of the conscious self, which tests itself against ‘what is not I.’  In the eighth house, our interior selves begin to merge with ‘other’ to test (Scorpio) the validity of the inner self.  (The Life and Death challenge of Scorpio/Pluto).  In the twelfth house, we take this newly tested inner being and relate it to the cosmos (Pisces).  The water house story begins in solitude and ends with becoming at one with everything.  In esoteric terms, water houses show where we need to flow. The fourth house represents the way we function psychologically—the way we move towards inner experience and conscious development.  The actual Ascendant is concerned with having experiences, whereas the IC is concerned with having conscious experiences.  When we say that the only way towards real growth is to test ourselves through other, we’re talking about the journey of the water houses.

The natural opposition to the water houses are the earth houses.  Earth houses are about solid things: what I own (second), my physical self and how I serve and work with what I have (6th) and how I use it to build my world (10th).  The oppositions from Earth to Water bring up natural questions.  The merging and potential loss of self in the eighth house questions what I own and have in the second.  The surrender to a higher power that occurs in the 12th casts doubts on how I am using my energy in the world (sixth).  The deep interior examination, the treasure trove of inner experience that is the birth of consciousness in the fourth house brings a crisis of awareness of anything outside of the internal cave.  What is out there and what does it want of me?  If our fourth house is afflicted, our very foundations are shaky.  We may think of the world as a hostile place.  We may not be in touch with our true power, a power that is not dependent on anything external.

This split of consciousness into an interior and exterior existence is related to the Moon and Saturn.  The Moon and Saturn create another relational archetype which is divided into sexual roles:  Moon as mother (interior experience), Saturn as father (exterior experience) is the most common one.  Basically, it is about how me in here relates to you out there, the separate being.  If we don’t see our partners as individuals in their own right, and are looking at them through the lens of our own needs only, we are seeing them from the point of the Moon.  The Moon relates to our needs and instincts, where Saturn is representative of our recognition of our place in the world and our duty towards it.  It represents our psychological maturity, the balance between satisfying our hungers and taking our place in the world, fulfilling our responsibilities to ourselves and others.  The Moon represents our instinctive selves; Saturn is about being conscious of how we need to grow in order to contribute.  Saturn is time.  Saturn is the outside world, with all of its duties and expectations.  Saturn represents what we need to do in real time, in the real world, in a real way.

One of the mistakes people make with Saturn is in thinking that you can process Saturn issues internally, the way you can other planet’s issues.  If I have hard aspects with Mercury, or Venus, or Jupiter, I might be able to work those things out by thinking about them.  With Saturn, we have to deal with the outside world.  We have to do real things, in real time.  No virtual worlds allowed.  The Mom in us, the Moon, wants us to nurture ourselves and pamper us and see that our needs our met.  The Dad in us, Saturn, kicks us in the pants and tells us to get a job.

How does this affect our relationships?  It would be irresponsible to think that it doesn’t.  We often project our Moon issues or our Saturn issues on to others.  Even if we don’t, our Moon and Saturn issues directly affect our interplay with our partners.  Have a problem with authority, and balk every time your partner asks you to do something around the house?  Saturn.  Feel unsupported and unappreciated by your partner?  The Moon.  Both Saturn and Moon issues have a way of making themselves known in our everyday lives.

Often, relationship crises are about the way our interior worlds are reflected in the environment.  If my IC is afflicted, I may throw all my energy into the MC, which is easier to grasp.  This makes me emotionally unstable at best and completely distanced from my feelings and needs at worst.  If my IC has problems and I marry someone whose planets fill my fourth house, they might cause me to feel safe and understood for the first time in my life.  However, if my partner isn’t accessing his own fourth house, and is pouring all his energy into his career, or if he’s loaded with seventh house planets and has to relate to others (who are not me) all the time, those planets are not going to fill my fourth house world, they may aggravate my feelings of powerlessness there.

The interplay between IC and MC defines how we mature; it moves us from birth to death.  The interplay between the Progressed Moon and transiting Saturn (which are interrelated in cycles of 7 years) is representative of this opposition, and defines our maturity as we grow.

Saturn represents the maturity of the instinctual self for both sexes. The angles are the cross of matter, representing the eternal self as seen from the perspective of time and space (Saturn).  It is no accident that the natal chart is cast from the perspective of the MC (10th house, Saturn, the apex of the sky at time and place of birth). Saturn and the Moon both concern themselves with the material world, and the MC/IC represents how our spirit/soul selves move within space and time.  If you look at the circle of a natal chart and begin with the IC, there are two roads to the MC.  You can get there via the Ascendant, Mars side or through the Descendant and Venus.  These represent the pathways that each of the sexes take on the road to maturity.  The crises points of how I take my inner being through the outer world, of how I use my power (4th) in the world,  is through my relationship to my self (Aries) and with others (Libra).  We all start at the Moon, with childhood, and with our instinctive selves. Depending on our sex, aspects and natal orientation, we move through our maturity via the Venus (Libra) path or the Mars (Aries) path at first (in adolescence) and then through both as we incorporate both masculine and feminine within us as a process of our growth.  Balancing Asc/Desc and Venus/Mars is crucial, because without it we will skip steps on the road to maturity and consequently fail our Saturn lessons.  If we do, we fall from the 10th to  fail the rebirth implied at the first house and take our death in the fourth, powerless.  The fourth house is also about endings.

We tend to forget in this society that Saturn is not only about lessons and responsibilities, but it is about great rewards (often material) for work done well.  Satisfaction can come to us in the form of healthy, balanced relationships full of emotional and physical support, understanding and mutual respect.  A balanced IC/MC axis acknowledges both our needs and our duties to ourselves and others, and sees that they are both fulfilled.

More about the IC/MC and its role in relationships next week.

The MC/IC (part two). See also, “The Inner Script.”