Background and the Modern Premise
We are what we do. Our work takes up more of our living time than any other activity,
including sleep. More activities in our life are connected to our work than to any other
activity, including childcare. Our social status is determined more by our work and our
position within that work than by any other life activity.
Over history, customs dictated the transfer of power and authority through the
male extraordinarily more often than through the female. A man normally went into
his father's line of work. It was supposed to be that way, to keep life going in an orderly
way, and that is why the profession and one of the parents (traditionally, the father) are
both represented by the tenth cusp and House, the Midheaven.
The woman was a support for the man; children were the by-products of sexual activity
between man and wife, increasing the woman's responsibilities, i.e., fulfilling her
needs, driving the man harder to do more, earn more, and die before his wife. Extended
families grouped together to increase the scope of the family unit, the clan, their
earning/survival power. Families and cultural sub-groupings became identified with
certain lines of work.
Job structures took on social weight. Gradually, with ever-greater awareness
of individualization, artisan guilds, trade associations, and labor unions were formed to protect
workers' right against owners' (management's) exploitation. The individual grew in
importance, raising the significance of standards of performance and self-respect even
further. The job became a personal statement.
"What do you do for a living?" is a powerful question, and a very frequent one. The
answer is almost encyclopedic in what it can say about who we are: our income level,
our education, communication skill, political inclination, our imagination, emotional
accessibility (the accountant-to-poet spectrum stereotypes), how we dress, the way we
think, what we think about, what kind of person of the opposite gender we can normally
attract, and so much more. It is the question that determines the start of relationship,
i.e., "Do you have the profile/resources to make it beneficial for me to relate
Our evaluation of our job is key to understanding not only what got us to the present
stage of life but also to our self-evaluation process in terms of developing into the
future. In a negative situation, we say, "This job doesn't do anything for me." In a positive
situation, we say, "I love this job; I identify with it; it's just what I've always
wanted to do." For the most part, the days are gone when we do our job just to earn a
living. In full bloom out of the psychological century, defining ego identity as never before,
we now work to be who we think we are-and wish to become-and what others
expect us to be. Our astrology must reflect this very important change in perspective.
We've got to set our vocational course in our own best interests.
In the past, history's great astrology theorists established groups of professions to
suit well-situated planets. In every sense, these astrologers were fitting the reality of life
to the astrologically structured theory of their times; they were categorizing professions
simplistically correlated with people's proclivities to those professions. With a strong
Saturn, one would easily qualify to be a theologian, sculptor, or mining engineer. With
a strong Moon, we were to consider being queens, princesses, hunters and/or "common
people"! With Mars: soldiers or hunters, doctors or iron merchants. And people aligned
with the Sun? These were potentates, from ambassadors to popes!
We need more measurements, of course, which is to say that, increasingly with the
development of our times, we need to see how more of the individual fits into job outlets
established by modern society. At the same time then, we should be able to do
more than just label a job area; we should be able to suggest how a person needs to behave
at work, how he or she needs to express her- or himself on the job-and what kind of
job will accept and, indeed, utilize these behaviors. In this way, we begin to assess what
the person can do for what job and what that job can do for the person.
While our astrological tools are ageless, we must constantly give them updated correspondence sto modern realities.
One of the most important distinctions between our relation to work in modern
times and in times before is that, to a large extent, we can now choose what we want to
do for a living. Indeed, without specialized interests and training and certain physical
attributes, we can not be an astronaut, ballet dancer, or boxer. But within the career
categories of science, the arts, and sports, for example, there are many, many job avenues
from which we can choose in order to be part of those career fields that interest us.
Being part of the support team in a scientific project is being "in science." Being a
stagehand at a municipal theater is being part of "show business." Owning a gymnasium
or working in a physical training center is being part of "sports." In life and in astrology,
we use extremes, ultimates, to establish our orientations and prove our points,
but we must remember that there is an ever-lengthening spectrum of gradated job considerations in any career direction.
Job, Vocation, Profession
The word "job" comes from the obscure English word for "lump," as in a gathering of
concerns. A job is something that we've got to tend to.
In astrology, the operable word for the work we do is chiefly signified across the
board by "vocation," literally from the Latin vocare, to call. It is our "calling." There is
the sense of inspiration involved, but that seems to have fallen away from practical use
of the word to describe the work we do.
The word "profession" comes from the Medieval English wordstem for avowing,
adopting a belief, usually in religious terms. This word shares equal standing with the
word "career," an Old French root for a road, a course, or passage to progress.
Normally, the profession, the career, requires more education, training time, and
specialized experience than a vocation or a job. A doctor, a lawyer, a performing
artist, an astrologer has a vocation, a profession, and a career. The house painter or
beauty salon operator or salesperson has a job.
Regardless of label nuance, we must see the enormous importance of the work we
do as it relates to the sense of fulfillment we seek from life. Myriad numbers of people
do not have the right job for their needs, talents, and dreams. They were not led in
their development to express their individual needs and talents into their best directions;
they were not supported and rewarded for their individual proclivities and
choices; circumstances caused detours. They entered the workplace wherever they
could. Some remain there for a lifetime; some finally break out to change around the
thirtieth birthday (the transiting Saturn return) or even later, with concomitant jarring
astrological measurements; they can finally get their train onto what is the right track
The astrologer is witness to this process, active within it. Guiding someone into a
vocation, through a change of vocation, or into a second simultaneous job is one of the
most crucial services offered by an astrologer to the clients she or he serves; it affects the
client's entire life. It is also one of astrology's most demanding disciplines-and this is
not an overstatement.
A Modern View: The Midheaven Extension Process
For the past ten years especially, I have worked intensely to modernize vocational guidance
practice in my astrology work. I wanted to capture the focus of the individual's
reigning need in development and his or her aptitudes and interests; and I wanted to
place that into a vocational framework that would trigger recognition within the individual,
"ring a bell," and set a fulfilling course for this major developmental stream in
life. I knew the astrology would have to be holistic, embracing as much as possible in
development, from innate endowments through parental influence or the lack of it,
into education or the lack of it, and into time structures of vocational experience. But
I wanted to get away from, if it were possible, all the band-aid details inherited over the
generations of astrological thought, used to shore up weaknesses in any approach, all of
which made vocational analysis very cumbersome.
A key astrological concept inspired what I call the Midheaven Extension Process: we
know that our Sun shines light throughout its entire system. To one degree or another,
that light illuminates every planet within the system. That's the holistic premise.
The gradation of illumination within the system-the varying positions and
inter-relationships among the planets as they receive the Sun's light-this is the individuating
I took this premise and related it to the Midheaven, bringing the Midheaven to
life symbolically as the focal point of vocational reference. When we extend the Midheaven
and its symbolism throughout the horoscope system, we involve all or most of the
planetary symbols within the horoscope. In this way, the holistic outreach of vocation
can be focused individually.
We extend the Midheaven in creative ways:
Through the Midheaven sign(s) and the condition of the planet(s) ruling the
Through dispositor dynamics from the Midheaven ruler out to the planets with
which it may be engaged by aspect;
Through a powerful planetary placement in the Midheaven, usually near the
Through aspects with the Midheaven itself; those planets and their dispositor
Through mutual reception if present, somehow relating to the Midheaven or its
With any stellium, increasing focus on a particular House;
background and the modern premise 5
Through the oriental planet;
With outstanding key measurements: the quintile, the quindecile; peregrination;
the Aries Point; the Sun/Moon midpoint;
And, perhaps above all, so very often, with the House position and sign of the
This list of nine analytical considerations may appear daunting, but please know
that the Midheaven Extension Process can often distill vocational direction within
twenty seconds, most often (with some practice and confidence) within two minutes of
study, and, having been tested in perhaps three to four thousand cases, seems to have a
validation rate of about 80 percent or higher! The measurement considerations, which
we will study carefully in a moment, are really quite easy and can be seen at a glance;
not all of them are involved in every case, of course. The analytical art of the process is
in our selectivity among the extension contacts . . . and the common-sensical framing of
development potentials within the client's reality. Please keep this in mind as we study the
many examples and build our routine of seeing.
The key here is not tied to detailed memorization or overmeasurement; it is tied to
our understanding of the premise: that the Midheaven signal is being extended throughout
the horoscope, touching so many of the symbols of our behavioral faculties and our needs.
This holistic premise gains individual punctuation quickly, as we shall see.
Observations: The Analytical Considerations
The Sign and the Planet Ruling the Midheaven
The Sign on the Midheaven ignites the Midheaven Extension Process.
For example, if we see Virgo on the Midheaven, we instantly think of things archetypally
Virgoan and Mercurial: discrimination, communication, library things, dietary
concerns, pets, putting things in order; if Cancer, we instantly become aware of things
archetypally Cancerian and lunar: caring, nursing, cooking, affairs of the home, providing
security, real estate (since Cancer is naturally aligned with the 4th House); if
Capricorn: business administration, getting things accomplished; if Aquarius: inventiveness,
humanitarian issues, technology, and so on.
Every astrologer learns these sign and planet identifications very early on in astrological
study, and all that information comes to the forefront of analytical awareness
immediately at the beginning of this Midheaven Extension Process, keyed by the Midheaven
sign and its ruling planet. An initial premise is established, and the next steps of
observation determine development of the initial theme one way or another.
The planet ruling the Midheaven is the chief "spokesman" initially for the early vocational
statement. If there is a sign intercepted within the 10th House, the ruler of
that sign is a co-ruler of the Midheaven, of course, and is also a spokesman for the vocational
statement. [This is not an issue that is complicated or difficult; it works itself
out easily through dispositor dynamics and other observations, as we will see.]
Gemini and Pisces (and sometimes Sagittarius) are viewed as double-bodied signs (con-
firmed within their glyphs). When a double-bodied sign is on the Midheaven, more
than one vocation-line of work-is strongly suggested, simultaneously or in succession in
the life. The ruling planet-Mercury or Neptune, respectively-will develop the potential.
We find that the talents need more than one outlet for development; the appeal
of variety can not be put aside; there can be vocational confusion. We easily understand
the myriad output potentials for "communications" (Gemini, Mercury) or aesthetic
creativity (Pisces, Neptune).
Retrogradation plays no role in the Midheaven Extension Process. Neither, for the
most part, does the nature of the aspect the Midheaven ruler may make with another
planet. What is important is contact. Contact is contact, and no nuance is usually required.
Certainly, we shall see that a triple conjunction, involving the Midheaven ruler,
for example, will indeed have something special to say. That goes without explaining;
that approaches our respect for a stellium (see page 15).
Immediately as the process begins, we should be asking ourselves, "Where is this
Midheaven ruler going?" Or, even better, "Where does it want to go?" We want the
ruler to take us somewhere conclusive, gathering up strength and definition as it extends
its statement throughout the individual's need system.
Sometimes the routing of the ruler is very brief; the process is very short. Sometimes
it is lengthy.
The word "dispositor" is not in the dictionary. It has come into being and into astrological
use probably as a nicer way to say "that which disposes of." We are really saying
that planet y, ruling the sign holding planet x, is the dispositor of planet x; it influences
x's position, colors it, and can even take over x's position.
If Neptune is in Virgo, its dispositor is Mercury. Mercury's influence colors Neptune
because Mercury establishes the descriptive sensibilities of the sign Virgo. Mercury
can carry the sense of this Neptune forward.
If that Mercury is in Capricorn, it is in turn disposited by Saturn, and if that Saturn
is in Pisces, it is in turn disposited by Neptune . . . and we are back to where we started.
This is important. We are discovering a routing-a loop-that links Saturn-Neptune-
Mercury together, although they may not be in aspect to one another.
Sometimes the loop will end abruptly; it will not go any further; it will seem like a
"dead end." This always occurs when we encounter a planet in its own sign, like Venus
in Libra or Saturn in Capricorn or Mars in Aries. This "end-of-the-line" planet can present
much emphasis within the vocational profile. It is called the final dispositor. Think
of it as a reservoir of all the planet guidelines that led to it. But we can go further thereafter
through planets in aspect with the final dispositor!
Often the networking in dispositor dynamics will bring us to a conjunction of two
planets: for example, Jupiter in Capricorn is disposited by Saturn which is in conjunction
with Venus. When this happens we have to be alert that perhaps a key "target statement"
is being made by the conjunction and the two planets' outreach to the Houses
they rule . . . or within the House in which the conjunction finds itself.
In this study, we are going to be talking an enormous amount about one planet dispositing
another; it's an awkward phrase. I am recommending and using throughout
the book a simple notation that says, "is disposited by." I am using the dot (), which is
used nowhere else in astrological notation. Our example here-Neptune, the ruler of
the Midheaven (the 10th House) which is disposited by Mercury, which is disposited
by Saturn, which is disposited by Neptune-would be written this way: P10 O R
P10 O, and so forth.