by Steven Forrest
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Cue the Rolling Stones doing Street Fighting Man, with one minor modification: Summer’s here and the time is right for fighting . . . with endless security clearance queues, homicidal maniacs on the highways, and lucha libre family vacations.
I know you know what I mean. Many of us will soon be hitting the road, one way or another. Today traveling is not as easy as it once was, but for most of us it is still often worth the effort and frustration. The next four months will find me personally in New Orleans, North Carolina, Maine, New York, down to Australia, back to New York, back home to the Anza-Borrego desert, then over to China.
Obviously I am crazier than most.
But not many of us will stay home. We’ll hear that Siren call – or at least the call of familial obligation. And everywhere we visit, the energy feels different. Some places just make you feel happy. Some trigger uneasiness. Some feel like home the first time you see them. Some never will. Many of those reactions are pretty straightforward – no need to look at an astrological chart to help you fathom why a beach looks so good to you on a hot summer day. But sometimes the reasons we react to a place in a particular way are more slippery.
That’s where astrology comes in.
There are three different relocational techniques that I use in my practice: Astrocartography, Local Space, and Relocated Charts. They are all indispensable tools. Each approach does certain things very well and they don’t overlap very much. If you leave out one of the three techniques, you will be missing about one-third of the available information and insight. Use them all, in other words.
In this newsletter, I want to introduce each of these methods, talk about their strengths and their blind spots, and offer a few guidelines about how to best employ them.
Let’s start with the simplest and in many ways the most powerful of these techniques . . .
THE RELOCATED CHART
I was born on January 6, 1949 at 3:21 am Eastern Standard Time in Mount Vernon, New York. I moved to Borrego Springs, California, in 2008. What if I had actually been born here? That is, what if I had been born at the same moment in time, but here in the desert instead of New York? What would my chart have looked like? That’s the relocated chart.
Be careful when you are casting it. You’ve got to make sure that your computer doesn’t fool you. Depending on what program you are using, there is a good chance that the machine will see California and “helpfully” turn my birth time to 3:21 am Pacific Standard Time. Wrong!
When I was born, it was actually 12:21 am out here in California. If you simply enter that corrected time, you will have the right chart: that is, January 6, 1949, Borrego Springs, CA at 12:21 am-PST.
Or you perhaps can override the software’s insistence on PST and just enter 3:21 am EST, even though EST seems weird for the west coast.
Either method works fine, so long as it’s the same date, but the new place. 12:21 PST is the same moment as 3:21 EST. That is the point. The only thing you want to change is the location.
Here’s a quick check to make sure you got it right. Look at the position of the Moon. If it is not in exactly the same degree and minute, something went haywire. At the instant of my birth, the Moon was in 3 degrees 17 minutes of Aries everywhere in the world. No matter where you relocate your chart, the Sun, Moon, nodes and planets will remain in exactly the same sign positions. It is only their house positions that change.
Houses, of course, relate to behavior, circumstances, and events. The new House positions in your relocated chart will be evident in what is happening in your life in the new place. Yacking about myself is not the point of this newsletter, but very simply, in my relocated chart for Borrego Springs, there is a strong shift into Houses three and six – and I have never worked so intensely (6th House) at writing and teaching (3rd House), nor traveled, nor hiked, so much (3rd House again). There are deeper things I could say, but again I don’t want to “over share.”
While all your planets remain in exactly the same signs in your relocated chart, that is not always true for the all-important four Angles. Move far enough east or west, and you will have a different Ascendant. Here in Borrego Springs, my Ascendant moves from natal Scorpio backwards into Libra. That change ripples into making Venus the ruler of my relocated chart, taking that honor away from Mars and Pluto. And the biographical signature is quite evident: I live in a beautiful landscape, in a beautiful home full of flowers and paintings, with a beautiful professional artist whom I love. She even has Libra rising.
Going a little deeper, what exactly do we see in a relocated chart? How can we understand this tool and use it correctly? What does it mean?
First question: does the relocated chart replace the birthchart? Absolutely not. Your birthchart is your birthchart, cradle to grave. You can’t escape it – and if you are wise, you do not want to escape it. We will say more about that in a moment.
What we have in the relocated chart can be understood – if you will forgive a flagrant oxymoron – as permanent transits. Think of it like this: if Mercury transits across your Sun, for those few days your email inbox is flooded, your phone is buzzing, and your friends are so wired on strong coffee that they can’t shut up. Then Mercury passes. If you move to a place where Mercury relocates to your Ascendant, the same kinds of effects and correlations can be expected. For as long as you are there, that “transit” will be “permanent,” so to speak.
Stay long enough, and you might actually write that novel you’ve been thinking about for years. The longer the exposure, the deeper the effect. But you will even feel it on a week-long vacation.
Your birthchart is your birthchart, cradle to grave, as we said – let’s think deeply about that point for a moment. In evolutionary astrology, we understand that there is nothing random about the chart you have. Everything in your present chart is there for a reason – and those reasons pre-date your birth. It is all karmic, in other words – and, stemming from that karma, the chart contains remedies and prescriptions for your evolution.
Now, in the light of all that, give the following idea a reality-check: “I hate my karma! I hate that I was such a snake in a past life!”
Then the cartoon lightbulb lights over the dummy’s head.
“I’ve got it!!! I’ll just move to Denver and I’ll have a different south node! That’s it! Problem solved!”
You may detect elements of weakness in this reasoning.
Use relocated charts, by all means – but never fall into the illusion that they replace your birthchart.
I would say the same thing, by the way, about relocated Solar Return charts. There’s a cottage industry in telling people where to go for their birthdays – “Go to Tahiti because Jupiter will be conjunct your Solar Return ascendant there!” This is not a totally misguided notion – but it is bad practice to ignore the Solar Return to your natal place. If you wonder why I say that, read the last couple hundred words again.
Astrocartographic maps look like straightforward maps of the world, or a region of it. The only difference is that they are covered with lines associated with planets, some vertical, some curving across the map. The idea is that when you are near any of these planetary lines, you feel their signature energies.
If you understood the reasoning behind the relocated chart, you can quickly grasp the logic behind Astrocartography – a term coined by the late Jim Lewis. You will also quickly see its major blind spot.
A moment ago, we imagined you moving to a place where Mercury was relocated to your Ascendant. If you looked at your Astrocartography map, you would see that place was on a Mercury line.
When you were born, naturally somewhere on the earth Mercury was rising. That is your Mercury line. It is a line, not a dot on the map, because of course Mercury was on the eastern horizon in more than one place.
Here’s an easy way to visualize it: think of the familiar image of Earth floating in space, half sunlit, half dark. Everywhere along that “terminator” line, the Sun was rising.
You’ve got it: that is your astrocartographic Sun line.
Astrocartography is ever so slightly more complex than what I have described. Somewhere on the Earth, Mercury was setting too. Somewhere it was on the Midheaven and somewhere it was anti-culminating – on the 4th House cusp, in other words. So there are actually four Mercury lines, four Sun lines, and so forth – rising, setting, culminating, and anti-culminating. Look carefully at the map and you will see notations such as this: “Mars/MC.” Obviously, that would be the geographical line along which Mars was on the Midheaven at the time of your birth.
When a planet is relocated to an Angle, it indeed becomes very powerful. That is why Astrocartography often works so well. But planets can become powerful in others ways – ways that Astrocartography misses. For example, Mercury rules the 3rd House. If you move or travel, Mercury might be relocated to the 3rd House cusp. It would be strongly emphasized there – just not for the reason of angularity. Your astrocartographic map will not show that.
Usually, in the practical realm of astrological counsel, the client is “thinking of moving to Asheville, North Carolina” or some other specific place. In that situation, I never bother with Astrocartography. I just set up the relocated chart. Relocated charts may lack the digital “bells-and-whistles” of Astrocartography, but they are a much more powerful technique. They don’t miss anything. You would see that Mercury on the 3rd cusp, for example.
Occasionally people come in for counsel who want to move, but they are not sure where. That is not unusual, for example, when a person is contemplating retirement and has many possible destinations. Then out comes the Astrocartography. Using that map, we get a start on scoping out the big picture – but it is not long before we have narrowed the list down to a few appealing places and we are back to relocated charts.
I am a big fan of this technique. I find it every bit as powerful as Astrocartography, but strangely it is not nearly as well known. Like Astrocartography, Local Space produces a normal-looking map with planetary lines on it, however the way they are derived is entirely different. They are based on Azimuths . . .
A child is born. At that moment, we point to the Moon. It lies high in the sky, but let us say it bears due east. If we were to drop the Moon directly down to a clear true horizon, we might see that it lies at a bearing of 92° – actually just a bit south of due east. That is the Moon’s Azimuth.
In the same way, all the planets would similarly have their own Azimuths. It is really almost like pointing a finger at them. Some of course would currently lie below the horizon. No problem – just raise them until they are on that true horizon and take that bearing.
Now fire a magic bullet at the Moon. It goes all the way around the Earth and hits you in the back of the head. There would, in other words, be two paths you could go by in order to get to the Moon. Either direction would do. Another way to say it is that Local Space lines point both exactly toward and exactly away from a planet.
Draw those lines on the map and there’s your Local Space map.
It is easy to distinguish it at a glance from Astrocartography because in Local Space you always see lines exploding outward in every direction from your birthplace. In Astrocartography, there would be no such epicenter.
In practice, Local Space works just like Astrocartography: if you travel along those lines, you will experience the energy of those planets.
Local Space has an important practical advantage: it can work on very small scales. Let’s say you are planning to move house, but to remain the same city. Astrocartography would cast no light on that question at all. It only works on larger geographical scales. In that system, there is no real distinction between the south side of Chicago and the north side.
But maybe in Local Space you see that due north is the direction of your Saturn line – or your Jupiter line . . .
We just learned two things: first, that Local Space can be relocated – maybe you were not born in Chicago but your Saturn line is always pointed north anyway. Secondly, we learn that Local Space works over short distances as well as over long ones. The technique can even work as a kind of astrological feng shui in your own home. If you have trouble sleeping, don’t put your bed on your Uranus line – or try moving it to your Moon line.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
The practical bottom line in applying all these techniques is that when you relocate, you emphasize an altered set of astrological powers in your life. But you need to think deeply about that. As evolutionary astrologers, we are ever-wary of one-dimensional, “lucky” or “unlucky,” interpretations: planets are simply energies. You can use any of them well or poorly. Saturn locations, for example, imply the need for disciplined effort – and caution us about loneliness or despair. How will you use that energy? Will you really get your teeth into something or will you just feel isolated and depressed? It is up to you, not to Saturn. Similarly, Neptune locations support spiritual and creative pursuits – and warn of lassitude, feeling lost, and escapism.
We use all our basic, familiar archetypal planetary imagery, in other words. The translation from the core principles of evolutionary astrology into Astrocartography, Local Space, and Relocation is straightforward.
I groan when I hear of astrologers who suggest that “you should never move to a Saturn line.” Maybe you want to do something difficult – write a novel, get your doctorate, build a house. Saturn energy can support that kind of focus and discipline.
For similar reasons, I despair when I hear an astrologer exhorting everyone to “move to their Jupiter line.” It is not that simple. I’ve seen people use Jupiter energy simply to get fat! And of course, all that glitters is not gold.
In applying these techniques in your own life, ask yourself some penetrating questions: What are your intentions? Why are you moving – or taking that vacation in Italy? What do you want out of it? What are your liabilities? What has your actual experience been with, say, Venus? Do you really want to emphasize that energy in your life?
Your answers are naturally personal, unique, and 100% your own business.
We think “Venus” and we naturally think of relationships. Fair enough. But what if your natal Venus lies in Virgo in the 10th House? Then that Venus is charged with the energy of career and mission. Move to your Venus line and you will be electrifying those potentials in your life – and no astrocartographic “cookbook” would tell you that. Such books can only treat the planets generically.
In other words, to get the full benefit of these mapping techniques, you need to take into account the specific meanings and possibilities of each planet as it actually fits into the signs, houses, and aspects of your chart. In a way, there is nothing as simple as “Venus.” You can’t separate the planet from its particular conditions.
With those caveats in mind, click through to read a quick thumbnail sketch of the high and low action of each planet as it operates in the context of both Astrocartography and Local Space.
Meanwhile, happy – and safe – travels this summer!