©1-4-2011 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
The astrological community is prone to tedious debates that go on for decades and never get resolved, since we’re such a bunch of opinionated old Uranian cusses. One ongoing debate poses the question of which parent is signified by the Midheaven (10th house cusp) and which one by the IC (4th house cusp).
Some argue that the 10th house is the father and the 4th is the mother. Others argue that the mother is the 10th and the father is the 4th. My observation is that the side of the argument you take depends on which parent wore the pants in your house growing up.
Whole countries chime in to espouse one of the spouses or the other. I was never asked to speak in Switzerland and only once in Germany after I was so foolish as to equate the Moon with the mother.
They contend that anyone with half a brain knows the Mother is ruled by Saturn. (I can only guess that they’re all born with Moon in Capricorn, so cookie baking is streng verboten.)
Resolving the Midheaven/IC Debate
I do have an answer to that inevitable question, and I invite you to test it out on your own chart and share your conclusions in the comment section.
To me, the Midheaven represents the authority function of the parents and the 4th represents the nurturing function.
In some homes, there’s a clear distinction between the two. The authority figure predominantly makes the rules and metes out the penalties for not following them. (“Just wait ‘til your father gets home!”)
The other parent—the nurturer—soothes you, bandages the scrapes, and, yes, bakes the cookies.
In the modern, emotionally sustaining, politically correct home, both roles are shared to some extent by both parents. Daddy’s good at bandaging the scrapes and can whip a meal when Mommy’s late from the office.
Example: How an Aries Moon on the Midheaven Fits Both Parents
Even in more traditional homes, however, the astrological signatures of the MH and IC tend to work.
For example, I have the Moon in Aries on my Aries Midheaven. You can guess who wore the pants in my family. (That would be Mean Aunt Bernadine’s younger sister and avid disciple—my Mom.)
However, the Moon on the Midheaven also described my Dad, who was a lunar type. Any nurturing I got, I got from him and his mother, my beloved grandmother.
He was very emotional, and he loved to take over the kitchen in the summer while Mom spent the day gardening. Dad had Mars in Cancer in the 1st and built one of our homes from scratch. (Some of you have already met him here: How to Survive a Pisces Dad—and How I Survived Mine.)
So, yes, the Moon near the Midheaven or Cancer on the Midheaven could certainly indicate the mother as the dominant parent in the early years. It might be a single Mom or a household where Dad was absent much of the time.
Other Planets and Signs on the Midheaven
The Sun or Mars are likely to represent the father. Jupiter could be either, with both parents acting more like benign teachers than authority figures.
Saturn might represent either parent, unless, of course, you happen to be Swiss or German, in which case, it can only be the mother, Dummkopf!
Mercury often represents an older sibling who took over parenting roles that one or both parents were unable to fulfill.
Neptune on the Midheaven shows one or both parents as too caught up in addictions or other dysfunctions to meet the children’s needs. Offspring may then be placed in the position of caretaking the parent and siblings.
With Uranus on the Midheaven, parenting is often erratic and unconventional, with parents and even stepparents coming and going.
Pluto, surprisingly, is likely to show a grandmother as the dominant figure—or someone else who functions as a matriarch. One of my New York colleagues whose name escapes me talked about this in a lecture. I’ve clinically tested it over the years and often found it to be the case. (That might be Pluto/Midheaven, Pluto/Moon, or Pluto on the Ascendant.)
Though I’ve mainly been talking about planets that are conjunct the Midheaven, not everyone has one. Having a planet on the Midheaven is similar to having the sign it rules, 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 the planet on the Midheaven is awarded roughly double the points that the sign it rules receives. (The test for Jupiter, for example, is here: How Strong is your Jupiter? Here’s the Score!)
The Midheaven for Grownups–From Mom and Dad to the Boss
Why is it important to understand the Midheaven/IC axis and what it reveals about the authority figures in your home growing up?
It’s because those early authority figures and your relationships with them shape your perceptions and expectations of authority figures throughout life.
It spills over into your relationships with bosses and other authorities. Briefly, If our parental authority figures were harsh, we can become fearful and angry at authority figures in general. That fear or that anger would then cause us to behave in ways that hinder our chances of success in our careers.
AND, when you become an authority figure yourself, it affects your ways of relating to your children and employees. All too often, we live what we learn. We’ll be exploring these themes as this series progresses.
PS: Here’s still another way of looking at the MH/IC Axis: I just got my advance copy of the Feb/March issue of The Mountain Astrologer, and a timely article by Frank C. Clifford, “Searching for Parental Significators in the Horoscope,” says: “It is often quoted that the ‘shaping’ parent (the one who most prepares or conditions the child for the outside world) is indicated by the 10th house complex, while the more ‘hidden’ parent is linked to the 4th.”
Readers, how does the Midheaven/IC axis reflect your Mom and Dad? Tell us about it in the comment section.
Related Posts on Skywriter:
- Readers Ask—Q & A about the 10th House
- Readers Ask: Q & A about the 4th House
- Readers Ask—Q & A about the Midheaven
- Midheaven 101—What the 10th House Cusp Shows about You
- The Midheaven in Synastry—Meaningful Career Connections
- Neptune Square the Midheaven—How It Affects your Career
If you’re enjoying this series, sign up for a subscription, and get a FREE EBOOKLET for Skywriter Subscribers Only: Mothers, Daughters, and the Moon, a 50-page excerpt from The Moon in your Life. Read more about it here: New: Free Booklet For Skywriter Subscribers!
If you’re already a subscriber and want a copy, forward the most recent email post to me at email@example.com . To sign up for a subscription, go to the top right hand corner of the blog and click on “Subscribe.” Then send me an email with your subscription confirmation or an email post with a request for the booklet in the subject line.