The 4 Angles of the Chart – the Top, the Bottom, the Left and the Right – are our 4 main points of connection to the world. The MC, the IC, the Ascendant and the Descendant respectively. If someone has major transits to all 4 them, you often see their whole life change.
And I think the IC particularly can get overlooked compared to its more glamorous counterpart, the MC: career, vocation, how the world sees us, our place in the world.
The IC is hidden, it is the sign directly below our feet at the moment we are born, and is therefore invisible. (Imum Coeli means 'Bottom of the Sky'.) If any point can lay claim to the personal unconscious, it is surely the IC (Just as the Moon, the natural ruler of the IC, is the planet associated with the personal unconscious).
Planets and Angles are different things: the emphasis with planets is on what is within, whereas the emphasis with Angles and the other house cusps is that which is without, our connection to the world. The distinction, though, is not rigid. So the IC becomes those aspects of our behaviour which are invisible to us – unconscious - but often visible to others.
We’re on shadow territory here. The things your friends think about you but tell you at their peril. The way it comes out of course also involves the Asc/Desc axis, but I'm proposing it starts here, in the hidden recesses of the personality.
With Aries on the IC, are you a pushover, underneath your reasonable front? With Taurus, do you put your own comfort before emotional commitments (as Mr Obama is alleged to do)? Gemini: do you see the world in black and white terms and polarise around that? Cancer: are you, like Tony Blair, secretly narrow and partisan in your outlook? And Leo, do other people feel life has to revolve around you and your needs? Virgo: are you secretly judgemental of others? Libra: do you, like George W Bush, present a decisive front to compensate for an inner uncertainty? With Scorpio, are you quick to take offence, and less reasonable than you like to think? Sagittarius: Do you wander from teacher to teacher, unable to find your own sense of meaning within? With Capricorn on the IC, do your friends find you rigidly attached to the ‘proper’ way of doing things? Aquarius: have you really thought about those groups you’re involved in and whether they’re doing more harm than good? Pisces: do you put up a sign saying 'do not disturb' and project your aggression onto those who break your rules?
There are any number of ways the shadows of these signs could be put, this what I have ‘divined’ for now, maybe you’ll find they apply!
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But the IC isn’t just the personal shadow, it is much more than that. It is the foundation out of which a healthy MC can grow. It is childhood, it is family. It is where we are private and personal. It is the place where we regroup, 'downtime'. (It is not the solitude of the 12th House, which has a more collective and imaginative emphasis.)
The MC-IC axis is like a tree, with the IC as the roots and the MC (Medium Coeli: the Middle of the Sky) the branches. If you like, it is the World Tree of Norse tradition, Ygdrassil, on which we each have our place; or rather, among whose 9 worlds we are spread. At the top is the eagle, with his broad vision of the world. And underneath, among the roots, is a dragon, a symbol of the hidden power of strong foundations.
At the base of the tree are the Norns, the Fates who water Ygdrassil from the Well of Wyrd and who allot each child his or her future. The Norns are therefore associated more with the roots of the tree, with the foundations and the beginning of life, than they are with the branches.
So maybe in that hard-to-know place within, the Fates are at work, the pattern of our life is woven, and the MC is the expression of that pre-existing weave. The IC is in one sense our Fate in a psychological sense: often that which seems to ‘happen’ to us is a consequence of that which is within, but unexamined. As Jung said, Character is Fate. But the roots of Ygdrassil are very deep, they are not just ‘personal’. The IC takes us way back to a place we can only think about mythologically: past lives, timeless patterns, the Mind of the Creator – powerful archetypal images that we can connect with more consciously through the solitude of the 12th House. And the idea of Fate has these sort of resonances. Who knows what the gods have dreamed up for us? For Fate is also a dream, with all its multi layers and fluidity, and always with a mystery at its heart.
So encountering the IC is a matter of how deep do you want to go?
|Moirai: the Greek Fates|
I don’t want to get into a discussion of Fate and Free Will here. But I think Fate is best considered as an image rather than as an idea on its own. Those Norns are a very powerful image, and they suggest Fate as something living and human rather than dry and deterministic, which is something most of us reject. They suggest some bigger pattern that we are all part of. It is outside of time, and therefore in a sense ongoing, rather than set in stone at birth. Free Will doesn’t seem to have the same powerful imagery around it (try googling an image of it!), maybe because it is a more recent idea, and maybe because it suggests an autonomous humanity, freed from the ‘deterministic’ shackles of the gods who we imagine we have become, and who are the source of such powerful, archetypal imagery.
A transit to the MC is also a transit to the IC. In a way, the transit to the IC needs to be considered first, for any growth in the MC will emerge from the heightened self-knowledge that the transit to the IC will bring.
And a starting point with the IC is, like the Moon, an awareness of what it is that nourishes us, and the gaps we have that tend not to get nourished. This can be looked at not just through the sign on the IC, but through the condition of its ruler, the natal planets aspecting the IC and any planets in the 4th House.
But with the IC there is more emphasis on connection to the world than there is with the Moon: so it is not just about exploring feelings, it is about looking at home and family and the way that is an expression of what is most personal and close within ourselves.
The IC is much harder to ‘get hold of’ than the MC, but in a way it is more important, in that the MC flows naturally out of the foundation of the IC. The MC as career is one thing, and it is usually tied in with the necessity of earning a living. But the MC as vocation is another, and I think the MC in this sense is not something to worry about, to scratch your head over its absence and feel somehow inadequate for not knowing what it is.
That fretting itself is a sign of gaps and holes in the IC, along with modern notions that we need to be able to define our life and have a direction to it. That is the shadow side of Saturn, the natural ruler of the MC. Why not just live? say the IC and the Moon. Who says we need a ‘vocation’?
Who are we to judge that our lives are inadequate if ‘all’ we do is muddle along reasonably happily?
On the Norse World Tree a squirrel scurries between the Eagle and the Dragon, carrying malicious messages. Maybe there is an inherent tension in human beings between the MC and the IC, between the things we can imagine doing and what, if we consult ourselves, is the right thing to do. Through the MC we can do amazing things, but we forget the foundations. For the Greeks, this was hubris, and nemesis was the gods' way of restoring the balance.
In a way the MC and IC are not separable. The source of the IC is ultimately timeless, and the MC reaches to that same place, but in a way that has been lived. If we pay attention to that hard-to-know IC place with a wide, mythological perspective, what to do with our lives will tend to present itself to us.