According to Plato triangles are the basic building blocks of the universe because they are the most stable of forms. The Egyptian pyramid, built to last for all eternity, is composed of four triangles which together create an ideal balance and stability.
Pythagoras, the Greek mystic who united mathematics, astronomy and music into an ordered whole, coined the word ‘kosmos’ to describe the universe. He found beauty and structural perfection in nature, seeing the mathematics behind natural forms as evidence of a spiritual intelligence at work.
The heavens also bear witness to a grand design, presenting an awe-inspiring spectacle of geometry in motion. Planets move in time in and out of significant alignments, creating geometrical relationships with the horizon and with their fellow planets. The birth chart is a moment of frozen time, a snapshot of the geometrical patterns of the moment. When we find a grand trine of three or more planets in a chart, this mirrors a phase in the complex dance of the planets when a great triangle had formed in the sky.
In sacred geometry the triangle stands for transcendent harmony, and is special because it is said to contain the golden ratio. It represents perfect equlibrium, God resting within his/herself as the trinity- the one in three and three in one. In numerology one stands for unity, and is represented by the point. Two stands for division and duality and is represented by the line joining two points, and three represents a third transcendent point above the line and equidistant to the first two points, which resolves their conflict and carries their meaning onto a higher level. Therefore the triangle is a symbol of spiritual development.
The planets involved in a trine work together and support each other, as energy flows freely round a trine without blockage, conflict or stress. However if transpersonal planets* are involved, there will be karmic problems to work through before the positive manifestation of the planetary archetypes can be accessed.
Seen from the viewpoint of karmic astrology, our lives upon lives provide us with situations and opportunities for spiritual growth as we gradually become masters of the elements within us. Earth, water, air and fire stand for four different spiritual paths on which we refine and perfect our physical body (earth), our emotional/astral body (water), our mental body(air) and our etheric/energy body (fire). In order to understand our specific karmic tasks in the present life, we can look at which elements are accentuated in our charts by planetary placements.
Each element is represented by three signs of the zodiac (Fig.1) in a horoscope. Trines connecting planets in the same element are like the rungs of a `ladder to heaven´ enabling us to climb upwards through using the resources of that element. However, before we can climb a ladder we need to make sure the rungs are safe, and we must always start at the bottom.
An order of priority in our karmic work is indicated by the order of the signs. Thus Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer represent the first-rung level of the four ladders, Leo through to Scorpio the second rung, and Sagittarius through to Pisces the third. We have come into the present life with some rungs in place and with some rungs missing. Transpersonal planets* in our trines indicate that the respective rungs are unsafe, and karmic issues need to be resolved before we can use them to climb. Habits of feeling (water), thinking (air), acting(fire) and relating to the material world(earth), formed in past lives, cause problems until we change them.
A ladder is only complete if a grand trine has formed. A grand trine, for example in earth, shows we have mastered earth skills in our past lives, and developed our physical body to be a fit container for our spirit. The presence of one or two sides of an incomplete triangle indicates that we can already access many of the resources of this element, but we still need to add the dimension symbolised by the missing rung.
The wheel of the houses is conventionally divided into four `quadrants´ each consisting of three houses. A study of trines requires us to divide the wheel up into three groups of four houses which I call `trigants´(Fig. 2). These are valid both for the wheel of the houses and for the wheel of the signs. The first trigant is cardinal, the second is fixed and the third is mutable in its energy.
I have set the wheels in Fig. 2 so that the houses match their corresponding signs. You will see that the points of the triangles shown in Fig. 1 are each anchored in a different trigant (Fig 2).
The order of the trigants indicates an evolution as we pass round the wheel. Aries to Cancer (houses 1-4) is concerned with personal empowerment. Here we individuate by developing our personal resources in the elements fire, earth, air and water. We are developing a secure sense of self to act as a firm foundation from which we can relate to others and play a role in the world. In the second trigant, Leo to Scorpio (houses 5-8), the energy is fixed and concentrated. This is the trigant of crisis, where are mirrored back through our relationships with others, and where our ego clashes with other egos.
The third mutable trigant, Sagittarius to Pisces (houses 9-12), is the field of ego transcendence and transpersonal involvement. Depending on how far we can let go of personal desires, we can be creative here with the transpersonal levels of fire, earth, air and water by identifying with dimensions greater than ourselves.
THE FIRE LADDER
A personal planet in Aries trining one in Leo means that the first two rungs of the fiery ladder are in place. In past lives we have learned to trust our energy and to move with it, thus linking Aries vitality and drive with Leo´s centredness and creativity. We can be aflame with enthusiasm and gusto, able to act spontaneously and effectively to make things happen with the right timing through our willpower and intuition. Our confident and expansive energy gives us the power to command. Learning the art of living totally we can become afire with the joy of creation and can ignite others.
When a personal planet in Leo trines one in Sagittarius it means that our fire has become a torch to light the way. The spiritual fire of the third trigant gives us an overall view and higher understanding. We are able to set goals for our creativity and, powered by Leonine force, fly straight as an arrow to our target. Through letting go of personal ambition we open a channel for the cosmic creative force. The higher a flame mounts the more transparent it becomes until at its tip it completely disappears.
A trine from Sagittarius to Aries links the top of the fiery ladder with the bottom rung again. Not progress in linear form, as the ladder symbol seems to indicate, but a vision of life as spiralling cycles lies behind astrology. Thus, after mounting onto the highest rung, we return to climb again. However the experience of Sagittarius then gives the innocence of Aries a new flavour. Pushy, opaque ram fire is made luminous in this trine by the far-sighted wisdom of the archer. Filled with the fire of aspiration we now radiate more light than heat.
THE EARTH LADDER
Trines between personal planets in earth show that in past lives we have learned to ground ourselves. For example, Taurus linked to Virgo indicates an ability to value and utilise the physical plane. As a karmic benefit we may be blessed with a healthy, graceful body, and a comfortable, well functioning environment. We are learning to be alchemists and turn stones into gold, working to refine and beautify the mundane, and to create quality through touch.
A trine from Virgo to Capricorn means we can contribute our personal skills to projects of transpersonal scope. For example, using our business acumen to manage collective resources, we find fulfilment in both in serving those we know personally, and being of service to the community in general. On the transcendent point of the earth trine sits the occultist, whose wisdom can subdue nature to divine purposes. His task is to spiritualise matter, refining it to make the earth a temple for the human spirit.
In a trine from Capricorn to Taurus, the management skills of the former are combined with the talent for attracting abundance of the latter. We are hedonists enjoying what we have, but are also able to use our resources wisely for the good of others. Serious dedication to making a contribution to society is tempered here with an awareness that personal needs must first be met. Like an apple tree nourished by its own deep roots in the earth, we can then yield harvest upon harvest of rich fruit.
THE AIR LADDER
Trines between personal planets in air indicate that we have learned to use our minds. A rung between Gemini and Libra shows personal empowerment through clarity of thought and knowing our own truth. We have developed rhetorical skills in past lives and can express our ideas convincingly but, more important, we have also learned to listen. Dialogue with the other is possible and with it mutual understanding, partnership and love.
A trine from Libra to Aquarius shows that we can harmonise with others in groups as well as in one to one relationships. Our mind is less occupied with personal concerns than with issues relating to the collective and we are inspired by a humanitarian vision. The mental ego drops when we understand that intelligence is a function of the whole. Like snowflakes falling into a pot of water, touching the surface and disappearing, so true knowledge dissolves in us, becomes us and changes us.
That we have learned to be with others without losing ourselves is shown by a trine from Aquarius to Gemini. We can play a role in the world without compromising our own truth. Seeing the interconnectedness of all life, and understanding that we do not own our thoughts but that they come and go, we can relax our busy minds. Then all words lead to silence and all thought to the peace that passes understanding.
THE WATER LADDER
Personal planets in the water trine show we are becoming masters of our emotional body. The first stage of Cancer to Scorpio indicates the ability to access our imaginative and psychic powers. We have found emotional security, a home in ourselves, and can thus allow closeness in our relationships and be vulnerable without feeling threatened. We can encounter the dark side of the psyche in ourselves and in others with psychological understanding, nourished by our deep sources of love and trust.
The trine from Scorpio to Pisces indicates that we have made progress in overcoming the exploiting ego that blocks love. Understanding that the other is a glass mirroring aspects of ourselves increases our compassion and leads to altruistic commitment. Beyond the ego lies the ocean of the collective soul. Becoming porous, letting go and letting be, we are carried by the current and reach a state of equanimity beyond joy and sorrow.
The drop enters the ocean only to be reborn as a water drop again. In the trine from Pisces to Cancer, we experience the full range of human emotions while understanding the need to set personal boundaries. In this trine we integrate spiritual life and personal relationships, remembering that before we can truly love our need to be needed must disappear. Then we do not love, we are love.
* As personal planets I count: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter.
I see as transpersonal: Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Chiron.
Phoebe Wyss November 2006
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