[Here’s a draft section of the unpublished booklet I had been preparing for my presentations this past year on Ancient Stellar Magic, covering the basics of the Mundane Houses.]
There are two zones of the sky which have unusual properties that are of crucial importance to astrologers and especially magicians who wish to use astrology to enhance their magical prowess.
Imagine, if you will, the hours before dawn.
As the Sun creeps upward beneath the Eastern horizon a strange glow begins to render the landscape visible, comprehensible, less frightening, even colorful. The rooster crows, animals begin to stir, the scent of fresh dew is in the air. If you look about you, everything looks different, and feels clean and renewed.
When the Sun finally appears over the line of the horizon, it looks strange and distinctive; a ruddy cauldron of fire, surrounded by a golden-red glowing expanse of light. It is breathtaking. It is one of few things in existence which everyone on Earth considers beautiful, moving, and amazing.
To some, it is reminiscent of the blood of birth; many cultures have considered it the literal rebirth of the Sun god, and the renewal of the life force of the entire world. They’re not exactly wrong, either. The cold land begins to warm, nocturnal animals go to sleep, plants stop producing carbon dioxide and begin to turn light into energy. Without that marvelous dawn, nothing on this planet could live.
This beautiful, mesmerizing show of color and radiance finally passes into normal daylight, and the day truly begins…
The Sun has passed through the Ascendant. It has Risen.
The zone we call the Ascendant is the most powerful nexus of transition in astrology; a true liminal space which is also that of liminal time– a union of principles which ancient cultures truly took for granted. It is the division between one day and the next. It is the wondrous transformation of the world from one of sleep, danger, darkness, gray tones, and concealed things, to that of conscious awareness, mind, sight, color, and safety. The full experience of night and day, in pre-technological societies, are almost two different worlds. This zone of transformation is a place of great wonder, and even greater power.
The Ascendant and the entire system of Mundane Houses which derive from its position, does not exist in (an objective sense) in any fixed point in space. Like a rainbow, it is subjective in that it is wholly dependent on the position of the observer, and the angle of the rays of the Sun as they are cast across the surface of the world at especially sharp angles. Yet it cannot be denied that this has objective properties, or the color shift and the transformation it makes upon the surface of our world could not be so vividly apparent.
The only way to reach out and touch the Ascendant and grasp its power, is through mathematics. In fact, a lot of mathematics (especially geometry) originally came about in ancient times in order to quest for this power and plumb its many secrets– to literally use numbers as a bridge between our world and the ones beyond. And it isn’t remotely as frightening as it sounds.
From the perspective of the observer, if you were to divide the path of the Sun (and the other planets, which follow the same circular course) into a 360 degree circle, five to eight degrees on either side of the Eastern horizon are what we call the Ascendant.
When the Sun is directly overhead, is brightest at any other time of day, casts the fewest shadows, it is said to be crossing the Median Coeli or Midheaven, or is Culminating the arc of the heavens. Though less dramatic than the Ascendant visually, it has similar occult properties. Likewise, this zone is measured from five to eight degrees on either side of an invisible line drawn from the subjective observer straight up to the apex of the celestial hemisphere.
Much like the rays of the Sun exhibit strange properties which are connected with the optical, psychological, and ecological transformations which occur at dawn, the antecedents of astrologers in Mesopotamia came to believe that all planets and stars shed peculiar rays across the world when they approached and crossed the Ascendant and Median Coeli. The big difference was that these rays were not usually visible, but no less powerful in spite of that fact. These rays influenced the world we live in directly, but also through the invisible world which today we call the astral plane. All planets and stars emit both optical light and astral light, and just as photons nourish plants and through them all other living things, the astral double of light nourishes the spirits of all which live in the universe.
People came to believe that any planet or fixed star which was Rising or Culminating profoundly and permanently influenced anything which was initiated at that time, including human births. Though any number of things may be going on in the sky at any time, the events taking place in the Ascendant and Median Coeli are usually the most influential, and the most magical.
This is why all talismans require the source of its power be at either of these zones at the time of their creation. It does not matter whether it is a ring, an orb, a pendant, or any other thing. It does not matter whether the power comes from a planet, a star, or a more obscure astrological phenomenon. The Ascendant or Median Coeli are where the magic happens.