One of the things I do as a teacher, which admittedly drives some of my more advanced students crazy at first, is insist that, whatever level they’ve reached in their astrological studies, we cover the basics for the first couple of lessons. We cover (or re-discover) the power and purpose of the Sun, Moon and angles, and the phasal relationship of the Sun and the Moon.
And, without exception, they end up thanking me for it, because no matter what intriguing bi-quintile of Chiron and Venus we’ve found relevant to our own charts, going back to the basics and doing it thoroughly reveals the chart from the inside out. We begin to feel what it feels like to live this chart, and be this person, and that is always the first step of vibrant astrology. It makes the Sun, Moon and angles sexy again.
But one thing I always take into consideration, which is new to almost all of my students, no matter what level, is the dispositor of the Sun. For the newbies out there, this is the planet that rules the sign the Sun is in. When I’m first considering the Sun and the Moon in the chart, I’m factoring in aspects and houses as well, not just signs. If the Moon is conjunct Uranus in the 11the house and the Sun is conjunct Jupiter in the 12th, I know that this person has come into this life comfortable with change, and with a more intellectual attitude towards its surroundings, more visionary, more head than heart. Constant upheaval in the early years might have left this Moon deeply insecure and hiding behind a facade of detachment. But if the Sun/Jupiter conjunction is in the 12th, this person will spend a lifetime making connections with universal and archetypal energies that will replace the early insecurities with a firm knowledge of its place in the greater, rather than the lesser, scheme of things.
All fine and good, but what’s missing? What’s missing is how the Sun will determine the end result of these experiences. If the Sun/Jupiter conjunction is in Virgo, and it falls in the 12th, how do we find the area of life that will create understanding out of the Sun’s creative impulses? We do it by finding the solar dispositor. If the Sun is in Virgo, the dispositor will be Mercury; Mercury can never be far away from the Sun, but in this case it’s in the first house, in Libra. By filtering the Sun’s 12th house experiences, by weighing the balances as only Mercury in Libra can and by processing the solar experience through that first house, we come to understand (Mercury) the Self (1st house). This person’s definition of Self will develop throughout life, according to the solar experience and will be under constant change, and it will be necessary to communicate the new understanding of Self directly. What if the dispositor was in the 12th in Virgo, or in the 11th in Leo? In the 12th, that Mercury would very likely be turned inwards towards ever deeper journeys into the collective unconscious, the end result being (mostly solitary) telepathic or paranormal experiences. With Mercury in the 11th, the solar 12th house experience would render the Moon/Uranus more compassionate, more heart oriented, and actively expressing 11th house creative or humanitarian issues as a result. Three different outcomes for three identical charts, save for the solar dispositor. With the first house Mercury, the development of the Self is primary; with the 12th house Mercury, an understanding of the archetypal will be the priority, and with the 11th house Mercury, the Sun’s path will relate back to the 11th house Moon’s path towards community, compassion, and the knowledge of group dynamics.
What all dispositors do is provide an outlet for the energy of the planet–an end result of the planet’s experience of the house it occupies. Again, going back to basics (and something often forgotten) a planetary energy is expressed in the area of experience defined by the house it resides in. The sign gives the flavour of the energy–thick, slow and sweet, like Taurus, or fleeting, refined, electric in Aquarius. Colour, flavour, however you want to describe it, it isn’t to be confused with the area of experience, the area of operation for the planet, which is defined by the house. Once the planet has experienced the house and reacted with the flavour/colour it was born with, the result of the ensuing friction/change will end up in the house where the dispositor resides.
This is especially potent when we are dealing with the Sun, because on the whole we can’t wrestle with our solar energy and rope it down and use it, the way we can with the rest of the inner planets. You can grab hold of all of the planets between the Moon and Saturn if you really want to. They aren’t transpersonal, like the bullies are (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto), they’re the way we interact with our day to day reality. Sure, if we’ve got one of the bullies aspecting our personal planet, we have a tinge of the other-worldly running through that planet, but on the whole we can still grab hold and make it useful to us.
I began to describe this in my five part series, (the first articles I wrote for this site) The Mystery of Solar Fire–the ungraspable nature of the Sun. The Sun is the essence of the chart, the heart. It’s the creative energy which negotiates the material world (represented by the Moon) and creates the ever-evolving present and future from the past. No wonder our ancestors worshiped it. The Sun is the path by which our outer and inner worlds can meet, and by which creative light can emanate into the inherent darkness of the lunar world. Trouble is, it’s too hot to handle. We can’t even look at it, literally or figuratively. So we need assistance in order to experience the Sun. And the solar dispositor is just that–the Solar Secret Agent.
The Sun isn’t direct in its behaviour. In life, we can’t look directly at the Sun for very long and that is true in astrology as well. It’s too big, too vast. It influences too much. It’s the life pulse of the chart, but it’s also a process that consolidates experience into understanding. Even the dispositor can’t look directly at it, but merely receives its messages. The dispositor of the Sun works independently, and needs no aspects from the Sun to achieve what it needs to achieve–but if there are aspects from the Sun to its dispositor, so much the better. This greases the wheels, whether the aspect is hard or soft. The dispositor catches the overspill of the Sun’s creative expression and puts it out into the world in a useful way, expressing the Sun’s creative task in a much more practical form. In an odd way, the solar dispositor is like those writers who used to front for blacklisted writers during the McCarthy era–delivering the goods for the greater power behind the scenes.
It’s especially powerful if the dispositor also carries importance in the chart. If it’s the chart ruler (rules the Ascendant) or ruler of any of the angles, it will put special attention on that angle. It may disposit a stellium of planets, or be on an angle itself. If the solar dispositor is tightly aspected by one of the outer planets, that outer planet will stand out in bringing wisdom from life experience. (Conjunctions are particularly vital.) If it conjuncts the Sun itself, the house it’s in will be crucial in the soul’s development. If conjunct the Moon, life experience will have an especially altering effect on conscious awareness. If conjunct either end of the Nodes, that Node will be under accelerated development.
If you just think of the Sun’s dispositor in Sun sign terms, it will explain a lot about the people around you. For example, with Mars as its ruler, there are twelve different possible types for Aries. A Sun in Aries with a Mars in Capricorn is a different being entirely from an Aries Sun with Mars in Leo. The Cap Mars will be much more serious and focused, less impulsive, than the typical Aries and will most likely throw himself into his work, whereas the Leo Mars will want to play, to lead, and be inclined to steal the limelight.
The signs that have Mercury and Venus as dispositors (Gemini and Virgo for Mercury, Taurus and Libra for Venus) seem to get cheated out of their variety of expression because of the limited degree of their orbit. Neither can be very far from the Sun itself. But what it lacks in variety gets made up in intensity, as each of these planets rules two signs and both signs will be affected by the solar dispositor. In other words, there is less variety of expression but the planet has more of an influence.
For signs which are ruled by outer planets, I use the secondary rulers as well as the transpersonal planets. The outer planet (Mars for Scorpio, Jupiter for Pisces, Saturn for Aquarius) will give the larger picture and the inner planet will provide the details.
“But what about Sun in Leo?” I hear you ask. “Sun in Leo has no dispositor.” Very good, class, you’re paying attention. I’ve always been entranced by the fact that Sun in Leo has no dispositor–it’s right, somehow, as if Leo needs no dispositor. And there is something magical about the Leo Sun, it’s unfettered and its expression is pure. When the Sun is in Leo, pay special attention to the house it’s in, then look at any Leo planets and where they reside, and especially examine what’s going on in the fifth house, the house Leo naturally rules. When the Sun is in Leo, anything Leonine will light up.
The Solar Dispositor is not as important as the Sun, the Moon, or any of the angle rulers, but examining it will tell you a great deal about where the life force is centering in this lifetime and where hidden gifts and abilities may reside. There is a great capacity to creative change via the Solar Dispositor, and that’s the kind of light we can all use a lot more of.
Take a look at some of these musical men and see what the Solar Secret Agent reveals. This is only a random sample off the top of my head, but note the influence of the 3rd and 5th houses, and of the MC/IC. (The angles are calculated via a solar measurement, via the MC.)
Some examples of Solar Dispositors:
Kurt Cobain: Sun in Pisces in 6, Neptune in the third, Jupiter in 11.
Jim Morrison: Sun in Sag in 10, opposite Uranus/Mars; Jupiter in Leo in 7.
Mick Jagger: A stellium in Leo (Sun, Jupiter, Pluto, Mercury, BML, and the NN); Venus and Neptune in Virgo in the 5th.
Frank Sinatra: Sun in Sag in 2; Jupiter conjunct Pallas and Chiron in 5.
Paul McCartney: Sun in Gemini in the 10th, with Mercury ruling the MC; Mercury in the 9th, with Saturn and Uranus also in Gemini. Virgo rising, with Neptune conjunct the Ascendant; Virgo North Node in 12.
Jacques Brel: Sun in Aries in the 2nd; Mars conjunct Pluto in Cancer in the 5th/6th.
Barry Manilow: Sun in Gemini in 11, Mercury conjunct Uranus in 11; Neptune at 29 Virgo in the 3rd.
Paul Simon: Sun in Libra in 2, Venus in Sag con IC opposite Saturn/Uranus con in late Taurus on MC.