- Maria J. Mateus
Almost a year ago, I posted about a new system of timing being tested that was returning very exciting results. Because it was new and had no name, I first began to call it a seasonal method and then adopted the Latin name Saeculum to designate the average 80 year period of the human lifespan that it encompasses. But since then, the method has expanded into a three-armed approach, which I've rechristened a Triquetra. Now, before I explain this method, I should say that I'm not one to get too enthused by a new -- or newly discovered, old -- technique. Astrologers are already juggling an insurmountable array of old and new techniques (many of which have yet to prove their usefulness) and surely do not need yet another one. In fact, I think astrology has become so unnecessarily overly-complicated that we are drowning in too much data and do not know how to sort out what is significant from what is not. But that is exactly why this method has become so exciting. Its strength lies in its simplicity, reliability, and clarity. It does exactly what a timing method should do: it outlines the most important changes happening within a native's life in easily, identifiable, chronological order.....and it does this using nothing more than what's already in the natal chart. With the triquetra method, we do not need to go on a fishing expedition throughout the multitude of timing techniques we possess looking for what's important. It's right there in the natal. So let me explain the mechanics of this method and how it has expanded from the seasonal approach we outlined months ago, into the current 3-armed approach. The original method consisted of calculating the seasonal age by dividing the current average human life-span in the US (80 years) into 12 segments. Each segment would then consist of 6.666 years of a person's life and be assigned to a zodiacal sign beginning with Aries. This is then called the person's Zodiacal age and makes up the 1st "arm" of the Triquetra. The other two arms use the same allotment of time, but are simply counted from different starting points. The second arm is called the Synodic arm because we start counting signs beginning with the placement of the Sun. However, this arm counts signs in a clockwise direction because it is responding to the primary motion of the chart that makes the Sun and its attendant planets daily rise and set over the horizon. The third arm of this "trinity knot" is called the Topical arm and it starts its count in zodiacal order from the Ascendant of the natal chart. Thus, all 3 arms are divided in time by the Zodiacal age calculated in the 1st arm, and only the Synodic arm is counted clockwise, while the other two are counted in the direction of the order of the signs.
Because the 80 year average life-span does not divide equally by 12, we can give roughly 7 years to each sign, but reset each quarter to 20 years in order to avoid a rounding accumulation over the lifetime. I've decided to distribute the 20 years as 7 for the 1st sign, 6 for the second, and 7 for the last. Thus, for the first quarter, Aries would get 7 years, Taurus would get 6 and Gemini would get 7.
Now this may sound arbitrarily discriminatory, but remember these period boundaries are just rough estimates for the signs and planets involved in the period. We are not timing exact events by them. They are in fact good ways to narrow down which areas of the chart are "activated" in order to know which planets might be significant in other timing methods. For me personally, I find when this method is combined with the timing of ascensional directions (as outlined by Abu Mashar), it narrows down quite well the exact events promised in the natal chart. When taken together, these two methods precisely zone in on the most significant life-altering changes and leave out changes which might be dramatic, but which do not specifically alter the direction of the life. For example, let's suppose that someone has a car accident that causes serious damage to their vehicle, but does not cause any lasting physical impairment. While this event might show up in the transits or in an annual chart, it will not be shown in the Triquetra. This method is about life-altering developments and the ascensional directions will show how those developments are progressing. For example, if someone is planning on having a child, that eventual birth will be emphasized in the natal Triquetra period. In other words, there is a hierarchy of significance that defines what is in the natal chart in terms of "life-altering change" and this tri-part method is at the top.
You now know how the 3 arms differ in terms of mechanics; but how do they differ in terms of interpretation? (Anytime you have a difference in function, you automatically have a difference in meaning. Not recognizing this astrological tenet is a pet peeve of mine because when differentiating functional parameters are ignored, you get saddled with an accumulation of nonsensical data. And this is where astrologers currently find themselves; but I digress...) We know that the traditional triquetra in some cultures was a symbol of the metaphysical trinity in that it stood for the spiritual, celestial or terrestrial realms of existence (as well as other trinities such as "the father", "the son", and "the holy ghost" in Catholicism). This also applies to our Triquetra and it's one of the reasons why I chose to call it that. However, while we can theorize the metaphysical correspondences of the trinity distinctions, the only way to precisely define them, is to empirically analyze the type of data that emerges from all 3 arms and compare them. I've already begun to do this, but their precise functional differences are still being refined. However, we do have some preliminary definitions in place that we can work with.
The Zodiacal arm gives the same sign to every native of the same age group. Therefore, it is a general indicator of the cohort's need, but a specific indicator of how any individual will meet it. In other words, as a social species, we all have similar needs that arise at roughly the same ages: we all figure out how to live in a physical body in our early childhood, we all go to school and learn a trade at about the same time, we all feel the need for companionship and identity at roughly the same ages, we all work and retire at roughly the same ages, etc. These developmental phases are "the seasons" of the human life and they are timed through the Zodiacal arm. But the places where we find those signs and their rulers, tell us the specific ways in which we deal with those seasonal demands. In terms of the metaphysical trinity, the Zodiacal arm corresponds to the celestial realm because the Zodiac is a clock that marks the annual seasons, which in turn are derived from the earth's celestial orientation with the Sun.
The Synodic arm is derived from the planets' relationships with the Sun's cycle. In terms of the metaphysical trinity, it is tied to the spiritual realm because the Sun in classical antiquity was symbolic of the Soul and its attendant planets can therefore be equated with impulses that arise from the soul. In Babylonian astrology the Sun and its attendant planets were anthropomorphized as a shepherd and his flock, living within a "sheepfold", known as the ecliptic. This illustrates well the idea that the Sun had an orienting influence over the remaining planets that we now know, circle it. The antiquity, solar deities presided over the swearing of oaths and promises. They were also arbiters of judgment and justice. The element of will and decision-making appears quite evident in the data coming from the indicators of this arm. Whatever sign and house is highlighted in the Synodic arm seems to be an area where our awareness, focus, energy is given and around which an important decision or judgment may have to be made. This is in keeping with what has come up in other timing charts calculated from solar cycles, such as the Solar Return, as well as with any timers involving the natal Sun itself.
The Topical arm is derived from a count that starts at the natal Ascendant and logically, therefore corresponds to the terrestrial realm of the trinity. Whatever topical sign the zodiacal age lands upon becomes an area that we will newly inhabit. Effectively, it becomes like an Ascendant for that period, which I've been calling the NTA: Natal Topical Ascendant. The houses derived from the NTA for any period, may be looked upon as an overlay to the natal house count, in the same way we overlay houses from the ASC of other timing charts such as Profections or the Solar Return. So for example, if you are in a Virgo Zodiacal age, which means that your NTA will fall over the 6th house of the natal chart, then your current period's 7th house will be laid over the natal 12th (7 from the NTA). We would then notate that as 7/12, with the natal placement always to the left of the backslash an the derived placement to the right. Because the NTA house itself functions like the current ASC, the matters of that house may undergo a physical rebirth, in the sense that its environment will become a new path that we carve out during the period. It's ruler will then signify the native. There is a special relationship between the Topical and the Zodiacal age that must be understood because it follows the same conceptual relationship that exists between a sign to its natural house. What is that relationship? In other words, why is Sagittarius the natural sign of the 9th topical place, for example? In the 12 letter alphabet of modern astrology, this relationship has been assumed to be one of equality; that is, the 1st house is assumed to mean the same as Aries, and so on for the other house/sign combinations. THIS IS NOT TRUE. The houses depict terrains that specifically satisfy the needs of their natural Zodiac sign. Sagittarius represents the need for direction -- that is what the arrow glyph of the sign signifies: it points us in a particular direction. What does higher educations, religion, or foreign lands have in common? They are all places where we find ourselves not only needing to be guided, but also being guided in a particular direction, whether that be by teachers, priests and gurus, or by tourism guides. Now, because the Topical sign will always coincide with the natural house of the Zodiacal age we are in, this relationship becomes significant. It means that we are always naturally seeking to fulfill the demands of the Zodiacal age by carving out a new path in the house that can best accomplish this. In other words, if I am in a Leo period, and this is the time when I and my cohort will be feeling a need to establish our identity in life, our Topical arm will also be active in our 5th house, whether or not Leo happens to be there. Therefore, appropriately, the house of children and creative pursuits -- which is what best fulfills our need for personal identity --- will become the place where we give birth to something new because it will be our NTA house. The relationship between these two house rulers and their condition, will indicate how we attempt to do this and how successful we are at accomplishing it during this period.
Chart Example #1: Anonymous Male
Let's look at this example of a man born in 1954, making him 66 years old. He's currently in his Capricorn zodiacal age, which roughly started at 60 in 2014 and ends in 2021 at 67. In other words, he's in his 10th sign period.
But we will come back to the interpretations of his Capricorn house. It's always best to start interpreting with the Topical arm of the Triquetra because it establishes a new house count that becomes applicable when interpreting the other 2 arms. Since he's in his 10th sign age, we start the Topical count at the chart Ascendant and count 10 signs in zodiacal order. That leaves us in Aries in the 10th house. (As we said, the house of the Topical arm will always be the natural house of the current Zodiacal age.) Aries always signifies new beginnings and fresh starts. Developmentally, it is the sign of birth when we are struggling to establish a physically autonomous existence. Its primary need is for autonomy and independence. In the 10th, the native will be reborn and try to find autonomy in his occupation or his public status. Now, this fits well with a retirement rebirth. But Mars tells us more specifically how this public or occupational rebirth will occur. Mars is in the 6th, which is currently the 9th from the NTA in Aries. The public status he's rebirthing involves leaving (a Mars action) a foreign place of work (6th overlaid by the 9th or 6/9). This man has lived and worked in the Netherlands for most of his life; but he's not a native from that country. About 5 years ago, coinciding with the start of this age, he decided to retire back in his native country after he reached the official age of retirement. So the 10th place of a fresh start is as a citizen of his native government, where he plans a more unencumbered life. Mars shows the action needed to fulfill the need for autonomy. Venus' placement in the 10th tells us that he is acquiring a new relationship with his homeland government (i.e. citizenship) because Venus is provider of a relationship with a homeland (that is, it rules Libra in the 4/7).
Getting back to Capricorn now, this describes a developmental period when most of our cohort is retiring. It is during this time that we evaluate our earthly successes and failures and what we still might want to accomplish and leave as a legacy. This man has Capricorn on his 7th house cusp, which means he will try to fulfill his need for material accomplishment and legacy via a relationship. In antiquity, this house was also the place of migrations to other lands. This is not the first thing that comes to mind when I see the 7th, but we already know this to be true because we've seen it echoed in the Topical arm above. This is also currently the 10th house from the NTA, so his need for accomplishment and legacy could involve a relationship with his mother (7/10), or with the status of a partner (7/10). In fact, both are true. This man is an architect who had been unemployed for some time and had been waiting for his wife -- who was working -- to reach retirement age in order to migrate back to his homeland. Additionally, part of his plan was also dependent upon his relationship with his mother because he stands to inherit a portion of her vacation home and was counting on the proceeds to fund a dream house that he is building in his homeland, where his mother still resides. Note that the 4th from the 7/10 takes us back to Aries, representing the new public environment where he is starting over, as well as his mother's homeland. We can see that the mother is ill, because a) Chiron is in this house, and b) the triplicity lord of 7/10 is the Moon, which is placed in the 6th (place of illness) from the NTA. (We use the triplicity lord rather than the domicile lord here, because the relationship to his mother already exists. Triplicity lords are not providers of their topics, they are managers of them.)
Let's now look at the Synodic arm of the age. Counting clockwise from the Sun it comes to Gemini in the natal 12th, which is currently the 3rd from the NTA (12/3). This sign brings up a need to communicate with his siblings who are removed or somewhat inaccessible to him. Saturn is triplicity lord of Gemini and currently represents his sibling. In truth, his sister and only sibling, who also cares for the ill mother in his native country, has stopped speaking to him because she does not want to sell the family home and thinks he is being selfish (consistent with his Aries NTA). Her commitment to the vacation property is well depicted by Saturn in Scorpio in the 4/8, representing for him, an obstacle to the unrealized funds invested in the property. Notice that Scorpio is a sign that depicts the need to "purge" the home and that its bridging of the 4th and 5th houses by planetary placement, points specifically to a vacation property. (Again, we use the triplicity lord for the sister since his relationship with her already exists.) Notice also that Saturn is not only the sister, but is also the provider of the mother's place and the place that fulfills his need for accomplishment and legacy (i.e. the Capricorn 7/10).
Since these indicators represent the Synodic arm, we can interpret the situation as one in which his spiritual side is involved and into which he brings a degree of active energy and conscious awareness. We can also expect that it is a situation that will demand some type of decision to be made, since that is an integral characteristic of this arm. Either the sister will decide to give up the property, the native will give up and look elsewhere for funding, or he will resort to legal action. We can see the dynamics that are set up through the dispositions of the planets. Mars in Sagittarius, representing the native, is inclined toward Jupiter, which opposite in the place of the sister. This means he may be willing to resort to legal means. However, the sister, shown by Saturn is in Scorpio, so she is inclined to letting go of the house...however, it will not be soon (Saturn).
There are two directions occurring next year that will resolve the issue in his favor. But they also occur when he should be changing into his 11th Zodiacal age, moving his NTA to his Taurus house, and reconfiguring his natal overlay. These changes argue for a resolution to this matter but it would take too long to explain all of the changes in detail for the next period. However, for the curious students who wants to work it out for themselves, just know that it involves an ascensional direction of Saturn to Venus and one from the directed Sun to natal Pluto. We can see the significance of the Sun already in the current layout because of its placement in his natal 9th and its disposition to Jupiter, suggesting a legal decision. In the next Topical age, the Sun and Mercury will signify the mother's death and her inheritance. So ultimately, I believe the mother's death will resolve this and it will be equitable to both her children. But the native will have to wait until he enters into his next Zodiacal age at 67.