Posted by: Donna Cunningham | December 29, 2010

Midheaven 101—What the 10th House Cusp Shows about You

©12-29-2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

 This is the first post in a series about the Midheaven suggested by Elise, a Grand Prize Winner in Skywriter’s recent contest to find new topics for 2011.

For those of you who are wondering about your career and where it’s headed, the Midheaven of your astrology chart is the place to start. Today you’ll get an introduction to this important chart feature and the levels of meaning it reveals about you. It’s such a rich topic with so many facets that I’ve created a list of 10 articles about it for 2011.  

I coulda nailed two proposed series at once by doing a post called Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Midheaven but Were Afraid to Ask. I won’t do that because the Midheaven is too important for a flippant approach.

If you’re new to astrology, you may be wondering  why it’s called the Midheaven and where it is on your chart. In most house systems, it’s the 10th house cusp.  It’s what was literally in the middle of the heavens at the moment you were born—the point directly overhead in the skies. It was at the zenith, the highest point of the 360° astronomical circle called the zodiac at that instant. In classical astrology, it was also called the Medium Coeli, the middle of the sky, and is often abbreviated as MC or MH. 

 Here are 5 of the most common questions students ask about this chart feature:

 1)      What does the Midheaven represent?

 It’s one of the most significant features of your chart. The Midheaven is crucial in many applications of astrology, especially in forecasting career shifts and other life-changing events. It shows your career path, major goals, achievements, life direction, and your status or reputation in the eyes of the world.

 It describes important dynamics in your relationship with your parents as authority figures, how you deal with authority in general, including your bosses, and what happens when you yourself become an authority figure to your children or employees. 

 Along with the Ascendant, IC, and Descendant, it’s one of the 4 angles of the chart. They’re like LIVE WIRES, in that whenever a natal or transiting planet falls near them, it is supercharged and very active in your life.  Those 4 points are also highly sensitive to transits and progressions, which generally correspond with important shifts or events.  

 (NOTE:  none of the other 8 house cusps respond in that way, as they vary significantly according to the house system used. The Midheaven is the Midheaven whether or not it’s the 10th house cusp in your system of choice.)

 2)      What is its Role in Vocational Planning? 

Of course, the Midheaven’s sign and aspects aren’t the only chart features you’d consider. You’d include all planets and signs in the 10th, as well as planets and signs in the 2nd (the house of earnings) and the 6th (work habits and conditions).

Other factors include the house the Sun is in or a stellium, then cast an eye on what Saturn is up to natally and by transit. By that time, you may have come close to exhausting the many career possibilities each of us contain.  

 However, the Midheaven is the most crucial vocational factor. You’d especially want to consider any planets within 10° of that point in either the 9th or 10th house, because that area of the chart was shown by Francoise and Michel Gauquelin’s research into more than 60,000 charts to be the most powerful.    (For more information, see: Gauquelin Planetary Effects – Frequently Asked Questions  and Is There Really a Mars Effect? by Michele Gauquelin .)

3) Is Having a Planet on the Midheaven Similar to Having the Sign it Rules?

Yes, the qualities they bring to the career and the type of vocation are similar, but the planet is always stronger than the sign. If you’ve taken any of the tests on this site that measure the strength of the planets, you’ve seen that numbers are assigned to various factors in the chart. The scores are based on my 40+ years of observing clients through the lens of their astrology charts.  

The test for Jupiter, for example, is here: How Strong is your Jupiter? Here’s the Score!  The points awarded for Sagittarius on the Midheaven are 5; the points for Jupiter on the Midheaven are 10. Jupiter, then, is roughly double the strength of Sagittarius.   

4)      Does my Choice of House Systems Matter?

In your astrology chart, depending on the style of diagram, you’ll find it either at the top of the wheel or nearby. It‘s the cusp of the 10th house in most house systems, including the Placidus, Koch, Campanus, Regiomontanus, and Meridian house system.

In the Equal or Whole House systems, the Midheaven can be buried in the 9th, 10th, or even the 11th house, which is the major reason I wouldn’t adopt either of them. You need to highlight the Midheaven’s degree, sign, and aspects or it’s easy to lose sight of important information about your life path.  

 5)      Why is an Accurate Birth Time Important?

Under major transits or progressions, the degree on the Midheaven reflects the timing of important changes in the career or status of an individual.

 Therefore, in vocational astrology, an accurate birth time becomes crucial. The Midheaven is time-sensitive, in that it changes by one zodiac degree for every four minutes in birth time. 

When slow-moving planets like Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto transit the Midheaven, a difference of as little as ten minutes between the real and reported birth times can throw forecasts off by two years or more.

In addition, if someone is relocating to improve career prospects, an error of 2-3° on the Midheaven may displace the lines on the Astro*Carto*Graphy map by a state or more. That’s a costly error, considering the financial and energetic demands a move can be and how much is at stake in the person’s career.

Here are two articles to help you figure out if your time of birth is trustworthy:

Read more about the Midheaven here:  

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