©April 1, 2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
For several months, I’ve been running a series of tests to help people find out how strong the outermost planets are in their charts—Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. They’ve been wildly popular, easily becoming the top posts of all time on Skywriter.
For the 2010 International Astrology Day Blogathon, I decided to run a contest to see who had the highest total scores on Pluto, Uranus, and Saturn, the planets in the Cardinal t-square. My ebook trilogy, The Outer Planets and Inner Life, v.1-3, would be the prizes for the top 3 scores.
I promised to run the results after the contest closed on 3/27, and so here it is, along with the chart for the contest. I didn’t mean for this to be an article for Neptune Week, and I didn’t mean for it to be an April Fools joke, but it’s turned out to be both.
How the Contest Was Set Up
Earlier, readers had reported scores for Pluto and Uranus in the 70s, and I’d checked their results and found them accurate. Many born with the Pluto-Uranus conjunction of the 1960s were reporting high scores for both of those planets. Those at the top were born in 1967-8 with Saturn and Chiron closely opposite both Pluto and Uranus. Considering that Saturn also had many aspects in that era, I set the bar very high, saying that only people with scores above 150 could enter the contest.
They had to send in the score sheet with their birth data and scores for individual items. That was because I was going to have to verify all the top scores by casting the charts and calculating the scores myself.
The blogathon was taking up tons of time, so I created a folder in my email in box and saved all those entries until the blogathon weekend was over and I’d caught up a bit. Tons of people had participated by calculating and posting their total scores in the comment section, but only 12 people reported totals above 150. One reported a total of 188, seemingly the run-away winner.
And the Winner Was…NEPTUNE!!
Huh? Neptune wasn’t even in the contest. It was excluded because 1) it wasn’t part of the t-square, and 2) the test for Neptune hadn’t been created yet. So why would I say it won? You’ll see! And I think you’ll agree.
When the blogathon was all over, I went into the email folder and calculated the charts and scores for all 12 entries. It took hours over the course of two days because the scores I came up with were verrrrrry different from theirs. Only one of them had specified how they got the totals for each item, so I kept redoing the scores to see if I could figure out what chart features they were using.
I sent them all copies of the worksheets with my comments on them and asked what orbs they were using and whether they were scoring Chiron or not.
In the end, not one of them had a score as high as 150—most of them had overestimated their scores by 20-40 points. And therefore not one of them was eligible to enter the contest in the first place! There was no winner!
I don’t believe for one minute that they did it with fraudulent motives, as one Plutonian type named Charles had cynically predicted in the comment section. They all knew I would be casting their charts to verify the entries. The problem was a lack of clarity in the rules.
The Trouble with Orbs!
I had assumed we were all on the same page in using orbs, and so I didn’t add that part to the rules for several days after the contest began, in response to a reader’s question. And even after the orbs were added, nobody seemed to pay attention to them.
What I discovered from the feedback of the people who’d entered the contest was that they’d all gotten their charts done online on AstroDienst, along with the aspect grid, and AstroDienst uses much wider orbs than I do.
Here are the orbs I use for aspects and that I used in scoring the charts: 8° for a conjunction or opposition, up to 6° for a square or trine, 3° for the minor aspects. The only exception would be a conjunction to the Midheaven or Ascendant, and, using the Gauquelin system, that is 10°.
To me, these are pretty standard orbs among modern American astrologers, but I don’t know about European Astrologers, and AstroDienst is European. (If you’re aware of European standard orbs, let me know in the comment section.)
Check out the Chart for the Contest—Neptune runs Amok!
I was so flabbergasted by the results—and, after a good night’s sleep had restored my sense of humor, so tickled—that I started trying to reconstruct the chart of the contest. I knew Mercury hadn’t been retrograde, so I decided it must be a case of a Void of Course Moon, probably in Pisces.
But how would I ever find the chart? And what would constitute a valid chart in the first place—when I conceived of the contest, when my fellow organizers approved it as part of the blogathon events, or when the contest announcement itself was published?
Then it occurred to me that there is a time/date stamp on each published post, so I went with the announcement as the birth of the contest. It was on March 11, 2010 at 23:03 in Portland, OR. The chart appears below:
What stands out most about this chart is the overwhelming preponderance of Neptunian features. Having been deliberately excluded from the contest, the foggy planet seems to have seeped through the cracks and taken over. Neptune is like that. It doesn’t know how to set or respect boundaries, and what are orbs but the boundaries of aspects?
In interpreting an event or electional chart, the procedures are similar to a horary chart. The last aspects formed by the Moon before switching signs are one indication of how things will turn out, and the 4th house of the chart represents the end of the matter. The last aspects formed by the Aquarius Moon in the 3rd are conjunctions to Neptune and Chiron. The 4th house contains a Pisces stellium and multiple conjunctions of Jupiter, Mercury, Sun, and Uranus. All Neptune, all the time!
As befitting the chart, there was no real contest winner, since it all ended in confusion. A great many visitors took the tests, had a good time, and learned a lot about themselves, but nobody actually won a prize.
I’ll have to claim full responsibility for the mess this contest turned out to be—the rules were poorly written, muddled, and with many inconsistencies between the three tests. My lame excuses are that I was mentally fried, juggling two article collections for the blogathon, and had never run a contest before. And if I ever do another contest, you can be there won’t be any math involved!! I hope you’re at least laughing at how it turned out!
COMING NEXT: Today, April 1st, is the kick-off of National Humor Month. Considering how much grim stuff has been in the blogs and magazines about the Cardinal t-square, I and several of my blogging buddies are posting astrological humor pieces in the next week or so. Watch for them! Sign up for a subscription at the top right hand side of the blog if you really need a laugh. And if you know of any funny blogs or blog posts, send me a link at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In case you missed them, here are the tests for the 4 outermost planets:
- How Strong is your Saturn? Here’s the Score!
- How Strong is your Uranus? Here’s the Score!
- How Strong is your Neptune? Here’s the Score!
- How Strong is your Pluto? Here’s the Score!
LINK TO THE BLOGATHON ARTICLES COLLECTION ABOUT THE CARDINAL T-SQUARE: Blogathon Article Collection on the Cardinal T-Square. There are over 70 articles by talented professional astrologers sharing their insights about how to deal with these transit.