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Astrology Interpretations - Reading Your Planetary Degree Sabian Symbols

Astrology: Bridging Real World Factors with Free Will Potential

I was recently asked about why we don’t round down to find the Sabian Symbol if a planet is less than halfway through the degree.

Today we examine my own experience with rounding up and down, and why Jones and Rudhyar were clear that we always round up.

Some people are told by well-meaning astrologers who don’t know how to apply the Symbols that rounding down is the way to go, regardless of how far into a degree a planet is. So why do we round up to the next degree?

Dane Rudhyar and Marc Edmund Jones Specified Rounding Up

The explanation for rounding up is because the reasoning is the same as how we state our age. We are only 1 after we've completed our first year. When we are 29, we've actually part way through our 30th year. The beginning of a thing ultimately leads to the next ordinal.

We’re never in our “zeroth year” after we’re born; we’re in our first year, culminating in our turning 1. Then we’re in our second year, culminating when we turn 2. That's why the Symbols are 1-30 and not 0-29.

Since there are 30 degrees to a sign, there are 30 symbols. In working with the Sabian Symbols, 0 degrees 1 minute through 1 degree 0 minutes of any degree = 1. 1 degree 1 minute through 2 degrees 0 minutes = 2. The reasoning is the same as how we measure our years. That's why there's no "zero" degree, but there is a 30th degree, since there are 30 degrees in a sign.

I believe the intention of the author should guide how we approach the Sabian Symbols. Marc Edmund Jones gave us a baseline we can work from that gives us clear guidelines how to use the symbols. This is related to the methodology he used with Elsie Wheeler when they worked together in Balboa Park that fateful day about a century ago. He used a rather rigorous method for getting the symbols, with the interpretations coming later. I believe that rigor was absolutely associated with what came forth for each degree.

We don't count degrees from 0 through 29, but rather 1 through 30. We can use the same method of calculating degrees for the progressed positions, as well as transits. Students of the craft who study their progressions using the Sabian Symbols will see a natural evolution of the planetary function as it slowly moves through the signs from one degree to the next.

Dr. Jones and Dane Rudhyar also studied various other systems for degree symbols. In earlier years I studied many different symbolic degree systems, including La Volasfera, Sepharial, Kozminsky, Charubel, Carelli, Henson, and others. Some of them are rounded down, some are rounded up, and some split it at the half degree. Regardless of these other systems, in using the Sabian Symbols we always round up.

Rudhyar was of the opinion that the Sabian Symbols are unique in that they represent an organic whole. They are a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 15, 30, 90, 180, and 360-phase way of looking at a fluid reality than may express itself any number of ways in each particular degree of the 360 phases. Thorough study finds amazing correlations between symbols which are in trine, square, and opposition, and though Dr. Jones specifically stated that we shouldn’t take the symbols literally, I’ve seen them work out literally in dozens of ways over the past 50 years.

Over many years I investigated all the systems mentioned above in hundreds of natal and progressed charts to figure out whether rounding up is always more valid than either rounding down or going to the degree closest to the number of minutes. The author of each system explained how it was to be used, and so I set about evaluating charts by seeing the results from rounding up as well as rounding down, or to the nearest degree.

While I found valid correlations using all three approaches, I question how much of that was in my mindset or the tendency of the mind to engage in “wishful thinking” and generate the “observer effect.” That affects what we find in any search, since we are always looking to find some part of what we expect. This is “the secret” of the "observer influence.”

Do Our Expectations Influence How Symbols Express Themselves in our Life

This is a common problem in interpreting the potential expression of a symbol. We all have a mindset, and it requires training to "get out of our own way" so we can see things with some objectivity rather than through the filter of a predisposition. And yes, our predisposition affects all "lesser" divining tools, including pendulums, crystals, Applied Kinesiology, as well as other body feedback techniques.

The mindset of the observer conditions what is searched for and therefore found to whatever degree it manifests. The symbol “a woman pursued by mature romance” could have 10,000 applications and meanings which would all be based in the subjective experience of the one whose symbol it is. Symbols, embodying elements or archetypes, will always have individualized meaning to each person.

However, some divinatory tools are not entirely subject to the observer effect, since they convey information that may have little or nothing to do with the understanding or skill of the interpreter. Astrology is one of them. While each astrologer interprets the positions and contents of the planetary, sign, and aspect symbols in front of them, those are somewhat fixed archetypes which are not subject to being interpreted any other way than their nature.

Mercury has its own unique “department of labor,” just as all the planets do. Taurus has its unique and specific qualities which are not subject to being interpreted any other way than they are. And a trine always works as that particular phase relationship, even if it expresses its qualities in a variety of ways.

The Tarot is another divinitory tool which can operate beyond the subjective mindset of the one consulting those symbols. While some readers do get locked into static forms of interpreting the symbols and cards, the cards are able to convey meaning beyond any predisposition we may have if only we can hear our inner voice attuned to our superconscious mind. Another tool beyond our subjective limitations and expectations is the I Ching. While we may consult oracles to find meaning, some oracles are unaffected by our predispositions.

That is the fundamental issue with all methods of interpreting symbols. While anything could mean anything to anybody at any time, the trick to understanding the meaning of a symbol in our life is to figure out what is being communicated. Sometimes this means we have to detach from our expectations about what something should mean. A horse can mean all kinds of things, depending on the context. So can a door, or a house, or a bird, or the Wheel of Fortune, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Astrology is one of those rare crafts which is both mathematical and symbolic, measurable and yet subject to interpretation. While the stipulations about the planets, signs, houses, and aspects are fairly clear and well known, how they are combined and expressed in the “real world” is the difference between a relative beginner in Astrology versus one who has studied and practiced for over 40 years. The longer I’ve studied, the more I’ve understood about “the dance of the planets,” and how their movement from sign to sign shifts how we experience various departments of our reality.

I'll close with something for amateur and professional astrologers to consider. The Sabian Symbol for a natal planet shows an inherent inclination and theme for that planet’s life unfoldment. We see the unfoldment through the progressions of that planet. As it moves through the degrees, we see naturally unfolding themes which are natural to those signs. And just as there is an order to each five degree sequence of “experimental,” “sensitive,” “receptive,” “responsible,” and “inspired,” so as each planet progresses through each five degree sequence we can see how each of these is unfolding.

Transits have to be interpreted by seeing the degree positions of the planets as a relatively quickly moving "gestalt," or atmosphere, as that planetary function expresses it in any of 10,000 ways. We can see the “real world” unfoldment of the sequences as each planet moves through each five degree span and can learn the nature of time and evolution.

We can also use the Sabian Symbols in Horary Astrology. Horary posits a question seeking to find answers in the celestial positions and patterns. In the snapshot of the moment the question is asked, we can see the qualities and answers to questions with the various symbols offering insights into the meaning of that planetary factor regarding whatever the Horary chart is about and what areas that planet rules.

I hope you have had all kind of questions you didn’t know you had answered by this brief piece concerning degree rounding, symbol interpretation, and the observer effect. There are many things to consider and be aware of when we enter a "symbolic reality."


Reprinted on crystalwind.ca with written permission from Robert Wilkinson. Copying this article to other blogs is strictly prohibited. It is copyright protected. 

© Copyright 2024 Robert Wilkinson


© Copyright 2024 Robert Wilkinson - https://www.aquariuspapers.com

About the author:

Robert wilkinson An internationally-known astrologer, author, public speaker, metaphysician, and futurist, with over 25 years experience as a counselor and educator. He has presented hundreds of public talks on all aspects of Astrology, the Eastern Wisdom tradition, the Western Wisdom tradition and promoted many mass gatherings and cultural events. Some of his specific areas of interest and expertise include personality profiles, degree patterns, integrative astrology, various aspect harmonics, among others.
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Reprinted on crystalwind.cawith written persmission from Robert Wilkinson.

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