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October 19, 2007 – 3:23 am | 62 Comments

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Home » astrological techniques and concepts

The Importance of Yods in Astrology

Posted by on July 26, 2010 at 5:21 am44 Comments

A “yod” is an aspect pattern that some astrologers use.  It involves two planets in a close sextile (60°), with a third planet ‘quincunx’ (150°) to both of the planets in sextile.  Click here to view a full-sized diagram of a yod.

The truth about yods is that they aren’t terribly important, or at least not as much as they are made out to be by some people.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that the yod is one of the most over-hyped configurations in astrology, at least relative to its actual merit.

Yods are often given all sorts of lofty sounding titles, like “the finger of god”, or “the finger of fate”.  I’m not really sure who first ascribed the configuration with these names, but I would like to point out that they are bogus, and here is why:

The Quincunx

The ‘quincunx’ is not an aspect.  What do I mean by ‘not an aspect’?  I mean that it doesn’t conform to the same standard that the other major aspects do, and therefore it should not be attributed an equal level of importance.

The Visual Component of Aspects

In modern times we are accustomed to thinking of aspects simply as geometrical distances, but that is not the entire story.   The term ‘aspect’ comes from the Latin term aspectus, which itself is from the Latin aspicere, which means “to look at”.  In the earliest traditions of astrology the aspects were conceived of in visual terms, and they denoted the ability or inability of the planets to look at each other, and thus to be able to comment upon what the other was doing.

While it is true that part of this visual conceptualization was based on geometrical rays which emanated from the planets and conformed to regular polygons, there was also a notion that in order for the planets to be able to “witness” each other, they had to have some sort of affinity between them.   Their surroundings had to be conducive to their attempt to look at one another.

Affinities Between Signs

This is where the signs come in, and this is the crucial piece that is missing from the modern dialogue about the aspects.  The five major ‘Ptolemaic’ aspects, the conjunction, sextile, square, trine and opposition, are not just based on the geometrical shapes and distances that they correspond with, but they also connect together signs of the zodiac which share an affinity with one another through their gender, element, and modality.  Here is how that breaks down:

  • Signs that are sextile share an affinity through the same gender.  So, Aries and Gemini are both masculine signs, and that is what they share in common.
  • Signs that are square share the same modality.  So, Taurus and Leo are both fixed signs, and that is what they share in common.
  • Signs that are trine share the same element as well as the same gender.  So, Cancer and Scorpio are both water signs and they are both feminine, so that is their affinity.
  • Signs that are in opposition share the same gender, although they also share a special connection through the polarity of their domicile lords, since the rulers of those signs traditionally are diametrically opposite but complementary in their characteristics.

Minor Aspects Are Lacking in Zodiacal Affinity

It is this affinity between the signs that the planets are placed in, combined with with the geometrical distances, that make the 5 major ‘aspects’ special.   This is what is missing from the minor aspects, and in particular the quincunx.  The quincunx is supposed to connect planets that are five signs away, although you will notice that these signs shares none of the affinities mentioned above, neither by gender, element or modality.  The signs share no affinity at all, and therefore they cannot rightly be called ‘aspects’ in the truest sense of the term.

This is pretty simple and straightforward, especially if you are coming from the largely zodiacal framework of Sun-sign astrology.   So then why do so many modern astrologers assume that the quincunx is an aspect, and by extension that the yod is special since it is essentially a double quincunx?

Johannes Kepler and Modern Aspect Theory

The answer can be found in the guy who introduced the quincunx and the semi-sextile, as well as a host of other ‘minor’ aspects, the famous 17th century astronomer/astrologer Johannes Kepler.  You see, Kepler was really into geometry, and he thought that this was one of the strong points about astrology.  He wasn’t as impressed with the zodiac though, and he sought to marginalize it in his astrological work.

This is the main reason why Kepler was ok in breaking with the tradition by introducing aspects that were entirely geometrical in nature and not tied at all to the zodiacal framework.  The modern conceptualization of aspects is still largely rooted in Kepler’s thinking on this matter, and this is why aspects are thought of almost entirely in geometrical terms, despite the fact that the zodiac still plays an integral role in the astrological construct.

The Yod as a Midpoint Pattern

So what does this mean for the yod?   Well, if the quincunx isn’t technically an aspect, or at least it isn’t actually representing a connection between the two signs involved, then that means that the yod isn’t really an aspect pattern at all.    It is actually something else: a midpoint pattern.

A midpoint is a sensitive point in the chart that is determined by measuring the shortest distance between two planets and then finding the degree that is midways between them.

So, in the example to the left the Moon is at 13 Aries and the Sun is at 13 Gemini.  The midpoint between them, then, is 13 Taurus.

The midpoint in-between is often a sensitive point in the chart that bears the combined significations of those two planets.  For example, a number of astrologers use the midpoint between the Sun and the Moon as an important degree for studying relationships in a person’s life.   This can be done either by studying transits to that point, or, more importantly, by studying natal planets that are configured to it by one of the hard aspects (i.e. conjunction, square or opposition).    When a third planet is closely configured to the midpoint between two other planets, this creates a “midpoint pattern” or a “midpoint picture”.   This is where the yod comes in.

You will notice that in the example here the two planets are in sextile, which is 2/3 of what it takes to make a yod.    Most people say that a yod configuration has to be really tight – that the planets have to be within 1 or 2 degrees of orb for it to be a true yod.   The reason for this, I would argue, is because a yod is nothing more than a midpoint picture that involves the planet at the apex in opposition to the midpoint of the two planets in sextile.

So the yod isn’t really an aspect pattern so much as it is a midpoint pattern.   The way it can be delineated is by determining what the midpoint of the two planets in sextile is supposed to mean, and then what happens when a third planet is closely configured to that midpoint.   There are a number of books which give delineations for midpoint combinations, the most famous being Reinhold Ebertin’s The Combination of Stellar Influences.

Don’t Believe the Hype!

Even as a midpoint pattern though, a yod is not necessarily going to be terribly important, at least not to the extent that it should be given some sort of special status in the chart, along with esoteric sounding names.

While it may mean something significant in your chart about the nature and course of your life, and it is certainly going to be sensitive to certain types of transits, there are a lot of other important things to pay attention to in the chart as well.  So please, take any statements by astrologers who try to hype the importance of yods with a grain of salt.

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About Chris Brennan

Chris is a practicing astrologer from Denver, Colorado, USA. He is the former President of the Association for Young Astrologers, as well as the former Research Director of the National Council for Geocosmic Research. He offers personal consultations and teaches online classes through his website at

Hellenistic Astrology Course


  • Lorenzo dello Smerillo says:

    Actually, Chris, I think that midpoints are more than simple geometrical measurement. We can relate them directly to synodic cycles of the planets, and thus to Time. At a synod the two planets are in 0 degree ‘aspect’. John Addey, Charles Harvey, David Hamblin and Michael Harding have developed the practice of analysis by Harmonics, which are practised in Hindi astrology as the Shodasavargas, of which the Navamsa (the ‘ninth division’) is one, and widely used after the Rasi or sign chart. (The Hindi system does its calculations by division of signs into fractional parts, the Western system uses multiplication, they end up in the same place.) Harmonics are an expression of the cycle aspects, from 0 to 0.
    When we ‘see’ an ‘aspect’ what we are actually analysing is a moment of time, or passage of time after the synod,or to its end; a certain fractional part of the synodic cycle, its third, quarter, half, two-thirds, three-quarters; and all the minor aspects in between, to the very small ones.
    The midpoint is thus also a measure of time, but freed from the basic geometrical pattern. What the midpoint is from this perspective of Time is the ‘combination of planetary effects’ it is the synodic moment as it traverses Time.
    Any one using the Lot of Fortune (day) or Spirit(night), is actually using a midpoint configuration. Take the Lot of Fortune, calculated from the ASC, SO and MO : ASC + MO – SO = PF.

    Thus SO/PF = ASC/MO.

    The same is true for ALL the Lots. Midpoints, like Lots, are symmetrical patterns; unlike lots they are measurements of Time.
    It is possible to analyse the combination of the various planetary synods ‘progress’ or ‘unfoldment’ over time:

    A VE configured at a moment in time by SA/NN, JU/NE, ASC/MO, and PL/MA will be a very different sort of VE than one configured by JU/ME, SO/UR, NE/NN, and MA/MC. Each of these symmetrical relationships is a measure of VE in relationship to other planetary cycles, it is a measure of how VE changes in Time, together with the changes in time of the synodic point of all the other planets. The relationship could be expressed by ‘aspect, but then it would miss out on the larger, more precise moment as seen by midpoint analysis.

    A Yod in this perspective is A either 1/6 of a cycle from 0 with B, or B 5/6ths of the way towards a new 0 with A. C, in quincunx to A and B, is thus either on the outgoing 5/12ths of a cycle or the incoming 7/12ths; either way aspects are a measure of Time, and the midpoint symmetrical structure expresses this relationship in Time.
    As such it is not limited to Ptolemaic or Hellenistic aspects, as every moment is an aspect of Time. Life and Being and Time do not stop and do nothing when two planets are not in square or trine… quite the opposite!

    Yod is a silly name. I call it Yoda.

    Any geometrical pattern is a midpoint pattern, provided the orbs are very tight: A Grand Trine, Kite, etc.

    Now, you will know this: Where exactly does Guido Bonati discuss midpoints in his works?

    ergon kallon! feliciter.


  • Chris Brennan says:

    Good points Lorenzo. I would still argue that the zodiac should play some role in aspect analysis though, and that is why the five Ptolemaic aspects might have some special importance.

    With Bonatti you are referring to that statement by Ebertin that that is where Witte got the idea of midpoints from right? I’m not actually sure why he said that. I always assumed that it had something to do with the Lots. Where are you going with that?

  • Greetings Chris, May I just say that as a Professional Astrologer of some 30 years, you don’t mind if I disagree with you, do you? I have to say, that your argument may be intellectual, and as all we Astrologers know, we like nothing better then to banter about our own viewpoint as to the “whys” and “wherefores” and the “true meaning” of anything Astrological! However, I am a Soul Level Astrologer, and I use YOD’s as a way to show, “The Finger of God” in the chart. This is a Hebrew Word,”YOD” and Sacred Letter in The Hebrew Alphabet, which have their own sacred, special and individual powers based on the Letters of Flame in Kabbalah. Now, as it happens, and although I am from a Jewish background and have studied and taught Kabbalah, which brings great meaning to the letter and the configuration of the YOD in Astrology, anyone who is neither Jewish or a Kabbalist can and could understand this. Also in the 78 Tarot Cards, which I am also a teacher and professional Tarot Reader of some 30 years, the YOD, as the Hebrew letter appears in many Major Arcana cards, and for good reason. This Special and Sacred Letter illustrates a connection to the Divine. So to toss it out as “no meaning, only a midpoint” is truely misunderstanding it’s Higher Purpose and delagating it to worthlessness of which it most certainly is not! When I see a YOD in a chart, that is my indication in the chart that this person, my client, is here, incarnated for a special and divine purpose. The Apex of the Midpoint or YOD tells me what it is, by the sign, placement in the chart and any and all aspects to this. If Astrology is not Divine, then what the heck is it, just a random placements of stars and planets??? I think not. It is a “Finger of Fate or God” and it is a divinely placed aspect and without it, well, we are all monkeys who have evolved…! Sorry but I am not that, nor is the Human race. If we want to know why we are here, and what our purpose is, as to why we reincarnated, and to what point we are at in our Soul’s evolution, all we need do is look at Retrograde Planets, aspects to the Nodes, Saturn, etc. and especially if someone has a YOD in their chart. This person has been given a deep and worthy gift. The life is never easy, but the work, mission, or reason for being is always divinely inspired and definately worth the journey. I hope you will reconsider what you have said, and know that without such placements in the charts, we are all just staring at cookbooks! Wishing you divine intervention whenever you see it in the charts, Ms. Shawn Cohen, BSc. Metaphysics, L.V.N.

  • Chris Brennan says:

    I think that we will have to agree to disagree here, although I appreciate you sharing your opinion on the matter. Its not that I am unaware of the ideas that you’ve expressed, as I think that a lot of what you said is common to the contemporary dialogue about yods. I was really into them for a few years for that very reason when I first got into astrology, but eventually my views changed on the matter as I became more familiar with chart delineation. While I agree that they can be important sensitive points in the chart due to the midpoint and the planets involved, I don’t think that there is anything particularly esoteric about them. That’s just my opinion though.

  • Well, isn’t it just great that Astrologers can disagree, and this is what makes Astrology never boring, nor is it the same for every Astrologer. So when a client wants to know the inner workings of their esoteric journey then they will seek out an esoteric astrologer and when they want a matter of fact and rational look at their chart, they may seek out you. This is horses for courses, and what makes us all valuable in the profession. All the best, Shawn Cohen

  • Fascinating post Chris but I have to respectfully disagree. That said, I was very interested to read why you feel the way you do and learned a lot in the process. It’s always good to have some debate.
    Personally I’m with Shawn above who said it far more intellectually and eloquently than I could! As someone with a perfect yod in my chart I sense it’s action when it is triggered. When I see it in someone else’s chart I have the same intuitive gut feeling that there is something extremely important this person is able to do in this life, and most likely they will be guided to it.
    I completely understand what you are saying about the zodiacal relationship but for me the geometric makes sense. In fact, the more I work, the more I tend to view a quincunx as a major aspect. Oh no – now I’ve gone and done it… :-))

  • Eric Purdue says:

    Chris, thought you might like a comment that agrees with you! Minor aspects are so ingrained in modern astrology, that if you don’t use them, then it seems you are “missing” something.

    On the other hand, if you are practicing modern astrology, minor aspects are integral to practice, whereas traditional astrology doesn’t even hiccup without them.

  • Axel says:

    Hi Chris! You must be reacting to the people who are all Ooh! Ah! over the presence of a yad (sic) in a birth map. The tone of your article is more doctrinaire than usual – after all, what is the operational difference between a yad and a midpoint pattern? None – except that in a yad there is the sextile in addition to the midpoint contact, so there is a point to considering it a special pattern. If some astrologers prefer to see it that way and give it a colourful name, why not?

    As for the reasons you give for discounting the quincunx, much could be written. You are arguing from authority, referring to the absence of similar (classical) properties associated with any two signs in quincunx. But why not regard the lack of shared properties as itself a special feature of the aspect? To your argument from authority I will oppose an argument from analogy. In mathematics, the absence of a property will be considered just as significant as its presence. For instance, one of the integer sequences I submitted to Sloane’s On-Line Encyclopedia consisted of “Numbers which are not the sum of a prime and a nonzero square.” [Emphasis added.] It was given the keyword “nice” – the only one of my 21 entries to be so honoured – so a team of mathematicians found a certain degree of cuteness in the concept. But to generalize, exceptions to rules are not just cute: they are usually important in any context, whether it be a star that doesn’t fit the accepted model of stellar evolution or a car going the wrong way on a one-way street.

    So what trumps, your authority or my analogy? I guess it’s a matter of personal bias. You seem to prefer the exclusive approach, “Anything in my left field of vision does not count”, whereas I prefer a distinquishing attituude, “The fact that something appears in my left field of vision creates a significance of its own.”

    A third approach might be “There is no special significance; one side mirrors the other.” I think that was Kepler’s and it is worth considering. Kepler’s approach to aspects prefigured the harmonic analysis of John Addey, for whom any angular distance mattered if it was a multiple of any set of equal segments (thus considering the Zodiac as the vibrating string of a cosmic harp). At this point I might ask why you prefer ancient authority to Kepler’s authority; but it would be more cogent to note that Addey performed the most thorough statistical investigation of aspects up to his time. Addey was not always successful, but at least he was not just relying on authority.

    A comment on words and letters. The Hebrew grapheme usually referred to as yod is a little tick, hardly reminiscent of the dagger-like 150-60-150 pattern. On the other hand, the small pointing hand used in reading the Torah – often handsomely crafted in a precious metal – is uaually called a yad. That shape is more like the aspect pattern, so I prefer yad. (I have been told by knowledgeable people, however, including a rabbi versed in astrology, that the two transliterations are really interchangeable – thus yad is just one of my stubborn Fixed-sign idiosyncracies.)

  • I’m pretty close to Axel on this one.

    A tight quincunx is a profound, significant phenomenon, IME. It produces very strong results, whether by transit, progression, or any other major astrological method.

    Whether or not to call a quincunx an aspect is about semantics. It gives powerfully noticeable, discordant results between the 2+ planets involved, no matter what we call it.

    The biggest danger, and this happens a lot from what I’ve seen, is that by emphasizing that it’s “not an aspect,” people mistakenly think it doesn’t mean anything and can be ignored. That’s not true in the least, and it’s really bad astrology when you don’t pay attention to them.

    As for the yod, again call it what you will, but I have found that it is a real geometrical phenomenon and it does indicate a powerful “fate” or certainty that propels events towards the focal planet.

    However, it’s not necessarily positive or negative IME. It depends on the whole picture. Saturn-Mars-Pluto pointing at the 8th is very different than Venus-Mercury-Moon pointed at the 9th.

  • Lynn Bell says:

    Hi Chris,
    I love the geometric contemplation of images, and you could also make a drawing entirely composed of yods, which like any geometric figure within the circle, would be worth reflecting on. The ptolemaic aspects are ‘perfect,’ a reflection of a clean intellectual construct, of ideological purity.
    As Axel has mentioned, the very lack of similarity, in element and modality is the essence of the quincunx. Whenever I have taught them, I have found they carry humor, creativity, and density, though rarely ease.
    There is even a reference to them in Hellenistic astrology.I remember a feeling of excitement when I found a reference to quincunxes in Paulus Alexandrinus. He didn’t use that name of course, but spoke of “signs that do not behold each other” and how they gave conflicts between master and servant, parent and child, etc.
    Richard Idemon called them more “opposite than oppositions” Yods are a bit different, and like any complex aspect pattern, raise the ante.I am not sure they are always as dramatic as they are made out to be, but the increased tension they embody often seems to push people into major shifts in life experience.

  • Khryseis_Astra says:

    Quote: “If Astrology is not Divine, then what the heck is it, just a random placements of stars and planets??? I think not. It is a “Finger of Fate or God” and it is a divinely placed aspect and without it, well, we are all monkeys who have evolved…”

    And that would be the finger of *which* god, pray tell? We’re not all monotheists or monists, contrary to popular opinion. 😉 When speaking of things “divine,” it’s important that one remembers that there are a multitude of opinions on the subject and no “proof” to be had. And I say that as a believer in *multiple* deities, that I do not see as facets of one big “mirror-ball” god. LOL

    At any rate, I’m not sure how I feel about the Yod. I have one, with an opposing planet to the focal point, so even without the formation called a Yod, it’s points are still significant to me, regardless of whether one wants to see it as an overall aspect pattern or as a midpoint picture. I have Mercury opposing Pluto (Aries/Libra), with Moon in Virgo and Uranus in Scorpio for the sextile.

    I’ve never liked the “Finger of Fate” descriptor, as I don’t believe in a fatalistic kind of astrology. I can get behind the concept of a destiny that one may or may not choose to fulfill, but not a set in stone fate of any kind. Fate implies a lack of choice; my own view is closer to “you do X and you can expect Y.” It might look like getting Y is “fate,” but it’s really the natural consequence of choosing to do X.

    As an aspiring-to-be-published writer, I’d like to think that having Mercury at the focal point of a Yod helps, but the jury’s still out. 😉

  • Fwiw, I think it’s interesting that there is, to some extent, a quincunx aspect in vedic astrology. Mars aspects 210 degrees in front of itself (8th house aspect), and every other planet makes the same 210-forward aspect with 75% impact. OTOH, no planet makes the 150-ahead aspect. Go figure, but jyotish aspects are very different than western aspects.

  • Michael Halliwell says:

    Hello Chris,
    I read your article. I think it’s interesting. But I disagree with you. To me quincunx is very important aspect and I always pay close attention to them. I think you should pay more attention to them. If you look closely you might find out that they are very powerful.
    I like seeing yod in someones chart. It’s very interesting, but I don’t have some nice opinion about it. I don’t see yod as positive thing. I’ve met few people who has yod in their birth chart, and to tell you the truth their lives haven’t been blessed or special in any kind of way. Most of them had terrible problems and suffered a lot in their lives. Though it might not be connected with it, but like I said yod is not something I like to see, regardless of what anyone here says.
    I liked this debate very much and looking forward to participate in a new one very soon. 🙂

  • Kristina says:

    I find it quite interesting what you say regarding the affinities of the five traditional aspects. Makes sense to me. Hmm… Maybe there is more to it than just math:) Did some searching and found the name yod was given to this configuration by an astrologer named Carl Leipert.

  • Chris Brennan says:

    Thanks for your comments everyone!

    @Axel: I’m not necessarily trying to be doctrinaire, but I’m just trying to introduce what I see as a conceptual and practical distinction between the five major aspects and the minor ‘aspects’. It is true that the tone of the article is partially in reaction to what I see as a bit of an overemphasis on the configuration though. I think that the outpouring of support in favor of yods in the comment threads here and on Facebook shows that I’m not off-based in my characterization of the level of importance ascribed to them by many. The question, then, is just whether or not that is justified. After being really into yods for a number of years, due to some statements about their extreme importance and esoteric significance in books I read early in my studies, I decided it was not.

    I’m not sure why you say that I’m merely arguing from authority by pointing out the distinction between planets which have an affinity through signs versus those that don’t. If I was just appealing to authority then I would just make the assertion without any sort of conceptual argument.

    Regarding why I would not just rely on Kepler as an authority here, I would say that I cannot because I do not agree with his conclusions about the zodiac. I don’t think that most modern astrologers do, yet in a strange way they are by accepting his model for the aspect doctrine.

    @Moses: Its not just a matter of semantics for me, because I do see a conceptual and practical distinction between the five major aspects and the minor aspects.

    @Lynn: Thanks for stopping by! And thank you for mentioning Paulus. That is important because it raises the point that it is not that I’m not paying attention to the signs that are 150 degrees from another sign as being significant in some way, as Axel said even the lack of something is significant itself, but it is just being conceptualized a bit differently – that the lack of affinity puts the signs on a different level than the major aspects. This is the reason why we still conceptualize the houses that are quincunx to the ascendant as being associated with illness (6th) or death (8th), whereas the others that aspect the ascendant by one of the major aspects are associated with more positive things such as siblings (3rd), family (4th), children (5th), marriage (7th), etc. That is one access point for conceptualizing the distinction, but also seeing how it is already ingrained in our system.

    In addition to Paulus, I would also point out that Valens has a chapter on an 11 fold lunation cycle, sort of similar to Rudhyar’s in a way, and within that context he references what we would conceptualize as the semi-square and the sesquiquadrate. This is within the context of dividing the broader cycle into segments, and since Rudhyar this is one of the primary ways that the aspects have been conceptualized in modern times.

    This is where I think that there is a middle ground between the ancient and the modern positions on major and minor aspects. On the one hand we have a set of aspects that are based on zodiacal affinities, and on the other hand we have another set of distances that are based on divisions of the circle into smaller segments. Even though the two have been conflated in modern times, as this was Rudhyar’s access point for conceptualizing aspects starting with the lunation cycle, I would like to submit that perhaps they are not entirely one and the same.

    That is where my thinking has gone on this issue over the past several years, and that is the way I’ve tried to find a way to reconcile the major and the minor aspects. Each may have their proper place.

    Re Moses again: The aspects in Indian astrology are based on a much different conceptual structure, and no one seems to know how they arrived at it or what its rationale is. So, I don’t think that we could bring their use of the 210 degree range for one planet into this.

    @Kristina: Could I get a link for the page you found?

  • Every jyotish planet makes that 210-forward aspect. Mars does it at 100%, and every other planet does it at 75% influence; that’s very clear in Parashara. I agree it’s a totally different framework for aspects, but jyotish aspects work quite well in practice. It’s interesting, anyway.

  • Kristina says:

    I didn’t find much on this astrologer, Carl Leipert, myself. I think he was German. There are a few sites that look to be written in German. I found his name at under yod. I also found a book titled “The Star Wheel” by Thyrza Escobar, a golden seal research book 1965. “…based upon Carl Leiperts concept of the spiraling of the cycles in a measured rhythm…” At Also “yod” is the tenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The letter represents a hand, or a single divine point.

  • Chris Brennan says:

    @Moses: My general understanding is that most Indian astrologers don’t actually follow that, and they only use the special aspects plus the opposition. So, in practice Mars is the only one that makes that aspect. DeFouw points this out as well on pg. 60 of Light on Life.

    @Kristina: Thanks for the references!

  • That’s true Chris, but it’s right there–plain as day–in Parashara. Ernst Wilhelm, for example, uses that rule and programs it into his calculation of aspects in his Kala software.

    Ernst makes the point over and over that vedic astrologers tend to be technically lazy and have picked up a number of bad habits based on that tradition. There are mathematical rules in the texts that they choose to ignore, and just because that becomes the norm doesn’t make it right. I agree.

    That same part of Parashara, for example, has every planet making 120 and 240 (trines) at 50% strength, and it gives vedic astrologers a technical and textual basis for paying attention to close trines, which as we know makes a lot of sense in practice.

  • Chris Brennan says:

    Ernst also tries to say that Indian astrology was originally tropical for a sizable part of its history, which is a hugely controversial and potentially wrong argument to make, so appealing to him as a historical authority may have its pitfalls. I should point out that I’m not saying that he is wrong, but he is kind of a controversial figure in that community for some of his arguments and theories.

    DeFouw and Frawley however are mainstream leaders who restrict the use of the aspects, as do most practitioners of that tradition.

    It is worth pointing out that only the special aspects appear in the Yavanajataka, so those probably were the original set. Parashara then would have been expanding upon the tradition or innovating. If this is the case, then modern day Indian practitioners who restrict the usage to just the special aspects would be adhering to the earliest part of that tradition, and rejecting what may have been a later development by Parashara.

  • But if they had the choice between the Yavanajataka and Parashara, they’d take Parashara 100 times out of a 100. Parashara is a far superior text.

    It’s a very debatable point on the special aspects, no doubt. But just because something is commonly used, even by leading figures, should just about never be used as the justification for why something should be done in astrology. If we adhere to that, then you should be using Placidus houses and emphasizing yods 🙂

  • Chris Brennan says:


  • Patrick Watson says:

    There’s been a long exchange on Nick Dagan’s facebook about this post, here is the post that started a dialogue between Axel and myself:

    I’ve gone back and forth on the issue of a zodiacal-based astrology and and geometry-based astrology but I think I’ve come to a delicate balance on the issue. Either way you look at it, the so-called ‘quincunx’ aspect (150 degrees of separa…tion) should be distinguished from the classical aspects, and even from other minor or non-traditional aspects for the sole reason that they are derived from divisions of the circle by whole numbers and the quincunx simply cannot. You divide by 2, you get the opposition, by 3, the trine, by 4, the square, by 5, the quintile, by 6, the sextile, by 7, the septile and so on. To get the quincunx you have to divide the circle by 2.4. What is the point of that? I think everyone wants aspects to mean something, but in the case of the quincunx we should consider that there is simply a lack of meaning. The only kind of “aspect” you can have between two planets in “quincunx” signs is if they are in antiscia across Sagittarius/Cancer or Gemini/Capricorn, or in contra-antiscia across Libra/Pisces or Aries/Virgo.

    Interestingly in the Thema Mundi, Jupiter is at 15 Sagittarius in the 6th. I always wondered why the greater planet of beneficence would be in the anemic 6th. Then I realized that it was in an antiscia relationship to the Moon and Asc at 15 Cancer, and Jupiter takes it’s exaltation in Cancer. Venus, the other benefic, is in Libra and takes it’s exaltation in Pisces, the contra-antiscia sign to Libra. Hellenistic texts speak of planets in “quincunx” being in aversion, unable to “see” the other. However, when the aversions happen in signs that are co-ascensional or have the same rising times (the antiscia/contra-antiscia relationship), the aversions are “mitigated”. The very essence of a benefic then is salvation from unconnection. Nothing feels better than being bailed out of a bad situation, far better than things just being easy and free. Still, the “quincunx” otherwise is just that, a non-connection, a non-aspect.

    As for the yod or whatever other ridiculous name it has, I simply see it as a funny midpoint pattern, which while not unimportant certainly isn’t the most important thing in the world. One thing that could make it more interesting is if the two planets in sextile are both in antiscia/contra-antiscia (okay I’m sick of those terms, I think we should just use parallel and anti-parallel) to the apex planet. That would add more dimension to interpretation of the configuration, but it still doesn’t suggest a finger of god, or fate, or destiny or any of the other absurd titles it has. Why should this configuration suggest someone has a special destiny? Why is it any more “fated” or momentous than any other placement of any chart? Do the people who ascribe undue importance to the configuration really agree with the opposite of what they’re saying, that no one else in the world who doesn’t have this aspect is essentially unimportant, or have no special significance or purpose for why they’re here? And why is it that people everyone would agree appear to have a special or prominent purpose on Earth not all have yod’s? Perhaps it’s because yods are more like fingers going up your ass than pointing you towards destiny. Okay that was just a cheap shot punchline, but you get my point. A+ to Chris.

  • Lorenzo dello Smerillo says:

    a quincunx is a 5/12ths or 7/12ths of a circle called the zodiakos. The division is by 12.

    Aspects, in that simple form, are nice little geometrical cartoons if you like to doodle in circles, and if you like to do that in whole numbers, that makes it all the more simple.
    Fact is that what any aspect, and all aspects, measure is a point in Time between a synod (called erroneously a coniunxio) and the course over time of that synod as it splays out and back to a new coniunxio. Thus it is just as cogent to call 67.30 degrees an aspect as it is to call 33 degrees an aspect. Both are a measurement of time in the the cycle. As are 11 and 219. All are a point in a cycle moving from synod to synod. All are an expression of time passing. TIME is the essence of astrology. Why not measure it?
    And if several cycles cross hatch in 150-60-150, why not notice it? Surely one must if one is dealing with dynamic time, rather than with static Ideal Geometrical Forms?
    Perhaps the difficulty Patrick and others have is in coranic adherence to the aspicere root of aspect. But the Greek sxEma (usually translated as ‘aspect’) also means a dance step, and martupia means a witness or evidence of something or to something. True with epithewrEsis we are in the territory of ‘looking’ and beholding and being a tourist or an ambassador to an oracle (thewpos), but it also has a meaning as running. epiblepw can mean to envy…as well as to look upon. Porphyry (8) says: tous pros allElous twn astepwn sxmatismous kalousin epimarutias… i.e., the terms are interchangeable.
    So the excessive etymological rigour of aspicere is perhaps missing the step of Time. Music you know, time, rhythm, beat. Time

  • Chris,
    I’m completely with you here. Most folks who respond that they *do* find Yods (or other minor aspects) important are likely reading into the Yod information that is available through a thorough, classical delineation of their chart. As a Medieval style astrologer, I have found this over and over again: folks delineate a chart, and attribute a particular characteristic (which is obvious, not merely psychological or private) to a new planet, asteroid, aspect, etc.; when in reality, that very characteristic is obvious in the delineation of the classical planets, if one has a thorough grounding in the Tradition.

    One note: there are two quincunxes that do actually share something in common – Aries/Scorpio and Taurus/Libra – they share the same domicile ruler. So there may be something to those two, though I’m not sold on it yet.

    Axel suggested that the very lack of a common modality or polarity, etc., could be grounds for having something in common. This is true, and was referred to as “aversion”, and was specifically delineated as two planets avoiding each other. So while the idea is solid, what they share (lack of commonality) actually supports Chris’s post here.

  • Kristina says:

    Oppositions share the same gender along with ( think you forgot to mention ) modality. Interesting that trines and oppositions share two. I believe a grand trine or a grand cross are much more important. Your argument would support that. I think you’re right about the yod being simply a midpoint pattern. Thanks for the interesting article. Nothing like a good stir 😉

  • Seneca says:

    By logic, since the focal point of the yod has planets 6 and 8 houses away, if it to be assumed that there is an affinity between them, the yod shouldn’t be called the finger of God, but be the finger of Hell.

  • Seneca says:

    One last thing, and sorry for the double post. But in order for the mitigation to occur between signs in antiscia, and contra-antiscia to occur, the orb has to be within one degree. I have fought over this for many years and have finally come to recognize that it must be within one degree, or else there is no mitigation. Likewise, planets that aspect the antiscia of another planet also need to be within one degree, at which point, yes, there is definitely an interaction.

    Take, for instance, Whitney Houston’s chart, with Mercury in Virgo in the 7th house — the domicile master of the chart — in antiscia by less than 1/4 of a degree to Jupiter in Aries in the 2nd house, which receives the influence of the applying Moon. I will not go into details, but this chart illustrates antiscias very well. Jupiter is the 10th from Fortune and Mercury is extremely goaded.

    I am not, however, sold on the idea that a planet at 15 Taurus will see a planet at 15 Libra, just because they have the same domicile master. The logic is stretched too far. Furthermore, in this instance, Venus would need to be at 15 Capricorn in order to witness both planets, at which case, then, there might be an interesting affinity. But it is so rare that speculation isn’t even deemed worthy.

    To me, a planet 150 or 30 degrees away is in AVERSION — darkness — unless it has an EXACT antiscia/ contra-antiscia to spare them.

  • sky lady says:

    I have observed those without Yods consider them not too significant. How could you possibly know their significance if you don’t have any? I have 3 of them in my chart and while I am not an expert in Astrology, I have observed I am unlike other people. Several “Cosmic Events” have occurred in my life, unlike anyone else I’ve ever known. My Awareness in Metaphysics was more advanced by the age of 8 than others in their adult years. I was taken to my first Medium/Spiritualist at 8 which solidified my spiritual path. Yods represent to me, missions accepted before the time of birth to accomplish in the physical. They come in the form of teaching others quietly, without drawing attention to self in the physical. Many people I’ve met have made the same comment to me, that “I know you from somewhere” or “you look so familiar” but they can’t pinpoint where because it is likely from the schools in the etheric realm. So while trying to analyze what the Yods mean in one’s chart, consider that you may never fully understand them unless you have them!

  • Chris Brennan says:

    Ok Sky Lady…

  • Chris LaFond says:

    OK, I don’t mean to sound uncharitable, but here is a good example of what’s wrong with modern astrology:

    1. “I’m not an expert, but…” I’m going to tell you experts who have studied this for years why you’re wrong.

    2. “Yods mean, to me…” So everything apparently can mean whatever one wants it to mean. There is no standard. There are no rules or guidelines, and we can just throw 2,000 years of tradition out the window.

  • elaine says:

    i think i agree and disagree with you. in my experience yods can be highly important and not at all. as for defining it as an aspect, i think you are right in saying it is not an aspect, because the quincunx relates to two planets with no relationship common ground. you cannot be an aspect with a stranger on the street unless one or the other person actually sees, connects or otherwise makes contact with the other.

    Oh, sure, in the large picture, everyone on planet earth is in aspect with one another, which is why the quincunx is an aspect — Chris you go on and define it quite technically, and in that technicality, you are correct. However, I have found the yod to be a tool (aspect or otherwise) of consciousness connection. Which is why it is either very important or not at all.

    For most people on planet earth, the yod will mean very little because, truth be told, not too many people are actually trying to be more conscious then they currently have to be to maintain their lives at the status quo.

    For that one odd bird that is deliberately, consciously moving through their life, the imprint of a yod either natally, in progression, in transit or in a heliocentric view, can provide an enormous amount of insight as to what is “unaspected” in the consciousness in order to provide a conscious connection between energies that would otherwise move in tangents that just miss their connection with one another.

    In my experience, yods are opportunities. But like all opportunities, if you don’t see it as such, it doesn’t exist.

    P.S. Great work on the site, its wonderful!!

    peace & harmony,
    ‘freedom must be exercised to stay in shape!’

  • Cate says:

    I’m researching about what yod means, and I stumbled upon this blog.
    I have the following description on my birth chart:
    a Funnel, focal planet Saturn,
    Yod, focal planet Jupiter, Pluto

    finger of God, sounds really scary. am i doomed??? can someone elaborate what this means without the techie jargons.

    I’m not an astrologer just an avid reader.


  • Susan says:

    Don’t know if this discussion is defunct, but came across it looking to see who named the aspect under discussion, a yod. Google search had that teaser info, but I couldn’t find it in the comments. I wonder if any of you have read Karen Hamaker-Zondag’s book on yods, which includes discussion of unaspected planets. Her views are similar to Chris’ vis-a-vis Kepler and the delineation of aspects, however, she makes a pretty cogent argument on behalf of the function of a yod in the chart. I feel her work is accurate from an exoteric astrological viewpoint, but didn’t yield as much help to me personally, as I had hoped. There is another book by Joan Kellogg on the esoteric significance of yods, which combines midpoint logic with other ideas and I’ve found her book to be tremendously helpful in understanding my own natal yod and its impact on my life from around my 20’s onward. Personal experience “proved” her theories in my own life, long before I had even a nascent interest in astrology. Reading her ideas at this stage helped me make peace with how the yod impacts me.

  • Chris Brennan says:

    My guess would be Marc Edmund Jones, since he wrote an early work on chart patterns, although that is a complete guess.

  • Jean Alkire says:

    I have been looking at close quincunx aspects, and yods in particular from the lens offered by Steven Forrest that they represent a kind of “hyper-focus”. The off-sign energy seems to create a kind of dynamic stress. I run into people who have an ability to accomplish much because of the intense focus on the positive side. The Yod makes it even more focused, in the sense it tells you more of where this energy is going to be most strongly available. In negative manifestation, this same energy for focus can appear as obsessive-compulsive behaviors. If you check your own data you may notice this too.

  • Sherrie Moore says:

    This could not be more wrong. Where does it say that aspects have to conform to the narrow, archaic interpretation in this article? The very essence of the Quincunx is that the planets in quincunx *do not* share any affinity, thus the difficulty of the aspect. Both the quincunx aspect and the Yod as a significant aspect pattern have been well researched. Never trust an article that so obviously has a specific ax to grind.

  • Bonnie says:

    I feel so much lighter after reading your blog. My yod has always been dormant and now I understand why. Thank you for this enlightening explanation..

  • Helen says:

    Hi Chris, sorry but I have to disagree. You are so so wrong about Yods and their effects. My son and I have been under the influence of a temporary Yod for some time now. Our charts are very connected and although our foot planets differ our apex planet is Uranus. This Yod has caused a major crisis in our lives. We are both undergoing the same problem from different angles.
    I have always had a minor interest in astrology but during this time of extreme crisis, I turned to astrology for answers. I noticed the Yod configurations in our charts and I knew that this was the cause of our problems but at that stage I had never heard of the word ‘Yod’. In my searches I found reference to ‘the Yod’ and I had a name for what we were undergoing. I read up on the Yod – get a copy of The Yod Book by Karen Hamaker-Zondag – and I now estimate that we will be free of this particular Yod in September 2012. You speak from the angle of someone who has never experienced the Yod – you are lucky but misguided. My dear friend I open your eyes and ears.

  • Chris Brennan says:

    I think that that is fine if you disagree, although I would like to point out that it isn’t accurate to say that I’m speaking from the perspective of someone that doesn’t have any experience with yods. I actually have one in my own chart, as do several of my close friends. One of them even has three yods in their chart, if you count the north node as one of the relevant points:

  • lrm says:

    I actually had never heard of a yod, until finally someone pointed out that I have two, intertwined, [a ‘bath tub’, apparently] and the description given was the best astrological info i’ve ever been given! Relief is the word.
    I’m not an astrologer, just a dabbler, and have had a few styles of readings over the decades, read some on my own, etc. and still I’d never heard of the yod [and believe me, with my interests, ‘finger of god’ or fate would definitely be something I would have come across in my studies or referenced it somewhere.]
    I’m just mentioning this b/c you said it’s overemphasized.
    The astrologer who told me said she was informed about her own yod via an astrolger who ‘wouldn’t touch it, said it was a reference point and a mission’, only….
    And, I’ve found precious little on the subject on google or otherwise, save for a few articles. Hence, here I am at your blog, and this article and subsequent comments are way over my head technically and frankly interest-wise, as well…but I am looking for yod info, so…..
    Anyway, I’m not getting that astrologers are all gung- ho on this aspect/non aspect.
    But, I will say that the description given me, fit to a tee. Perhaps others with no yod configuration have similar life experiences, restlessness, sense of block or knowing something is to be ‘done’ but cannot figure it out.
    I really don’t know; but if the yod shape in my chart can help clarify, assuage or otherwise assist, then I think it’s done it’s job; isn’t this what astrology is, anyway? A tool to help the human along on it’s journey?
    Perhaps your yod is related to you focusing on the yod? Your interest in debunking it’s ‘myth’ and breaking it down, draws more attention to it as a phenomena. Maybe this is your yod’s focus? To also remove superficial, ‘celebrity fervor’ that develops around the yod, related to ‘special mission’, since our narcissistic/self-absorbed current world tends to create plastic and facade around things with true depth and meaning-perhaps your rational shake down can keep some purity in the matter.

  • amy kinsman says:

    Thank you Chris for your article. I learned some important basics about the aspects. Your article sparked some excellent discussion.

  • John says:

    Your point doesn’t make sense as the Yod is a COMBINATION of minor aspects and their planetary energies combining. Minor aspects.. are minor. Minor aspects that combine to form a greater connection between them.. are special.

  • Barb says:

    I completely agree with Chris. It’s a midpoint phenomenon and should be treated as such. I’ve found over the years that midpoints are astoundingly profound, accurate and intense. For example, when my father was close to passing away, I was having a hard time timing it using the usual methods. Once I used transiting midpoint Pluto, I was able to time it within days. Midpoint Pluto was within 9 seconds of conjuncting my IC on the day he passed away. I use midpoints for everything.