The midheaven (MC) is a point of definition in the ecliptic coordinate system. It aims to find the part of the ecliptic that corresponds to the highest point in a celestial object's apparent daily traverse of the visible sky, midway between its ascension on the eastern horizon and descension on the western horizon. The midheaven does not represent the point immediately overhead (our local zenith), but the point at which that meridian intersects with the ecliptic.
In the northern hemisphere, the more northerly the latitude of the observer, the lower down on the horizon the midheaven point is likely to be, but it will always be the part of the zodiac that is due south at any time, indicating the point where the planets reach their highest declination in their arc between the ascendant and descendant. The reverse is true in the southern hemisphere where the planets culminate on the midheaven in alignment with due north. (This rule holds true for all locations outside of the tropics).
Use in astrology
The Midheaven is one of the most important angles in the birth chart. It traditionally indicates career, status, aim in life, aspirations, public reputation, and our life goal.
In the Alcabitius, Placidus, Koch, Campanus, Regiomontanus, Meridian and Krusinski house system, the local meridian passing through Midheaven forms the cusp of the 10th house. In the equal house system Midheaven can be found in the 9th, 10th or 11th house. The other end of this axis, 'beneath' the earth, is the point known as the IC or Imum Coeli ('lower midheaven').
Whilst the Midheaven is traditionally thought of as indicating a goal in terms of career or working life, it is not confined to this type of goal, and can indicate very personal or spiritual goals as well.
The individual will identify with and admire the qualities of the astrological sign on the Midheaven. The sign on the cusp of the Midheaven quite often indicates what kind of career, vocation, or reputation in life the native will pursue. It also reflects how an individual reacts to stressful situations.
The Midheaven quite often refers to a parent, quite often the mother, but sometimes the father. The other parent is sometimes represented by the angle at the opposite end, the Imum Coeli, or IC.
Combinations of Ascendant and Midheaven signs
Because of the obliquity of the Earth's axis relative to the ecliptic, away from the equator some signs take much longer to cross the eastern horizon than do others. In the northern hemisphere, the signs from Cancer through Sagittarius take longer to ascend than the signs from Capricorn through Gemini, whilst in the southern hemisphere the reverse is the case.
However, the Midheaven sign for a given sidereal time will remain the same regardless of the latitude of the location for which the chart is cast. This means that, for different latitudes, a different sign can be ascending for the same Midheaven sign. For equatorial latitudes, the sign on the Midheaven will generally be three signs before the sign on the Ascendant, but at very high latitudes this can vary between one sign before and five signs before the sign on the Ascendant. The greatest separations between Ascendant and Midheaven occur when short ascension signs (Aquarius, Pisces, Aries) are on the Midheaven, and the smallest when long ascension signs (Virgo, Libra, Scorpio) are on the Midheaven.
Ascendant sign Midheaven signs for middle northern latitudes Midheaven signs for high northern latitudes Midheaven signs for southern latitudes Aries Capricorn Capricorn Capricorn, Aquarius Taurus Capricorn, Aquarius Capricorn Aquarius, Pisces Gemini Aquarius, Pisces Capricorn, Aquarius Pisces, Aries Cancer Pisces, Aries Aquarius, Pisces Aries, Taurus Leo Aries, Taurus Pisces, Aries, Taurus Taurus, Gemini Virgo Taurus, Gemini Taurus, Gemini Gemini Libra Cancer, Leo Cancer, Leo Cancer Scorpio Leo, Virgo Leo, Virgo, Libra Cancer, Leo Sagittarius Virgo, Libra Libra, Scorpio Leo, Virgo Capricorn Libra, Scorpio Scorpio, Sagittarius Virgo, Libra Aquarius Scorpio, Sagittarius Sagittarius Libra, Scorpio Pisces Sagittarius Sagittarius Scorpio, Sagittarius
- ^ Deborah Houlding, The Houses: Temples of the Sky, 'Part II: Technical Basis and the Inherent Difficulties of House Division'; pp.101-102. (online reproduction); retrieved 26 September 2011. The Wessex Astrologer Ltd, 2006. ISBN 9781902405209.
- ^ This was probably the system used almost universally in Hellenistic astrology. According to Paulus Alexandrinus, "it is necessary to know that the Midheaven degree does not always fall in the tenth from the Horoskopos, on account of the inequality of the [sign]'s temporal ascension, but sometimes on the ninth, sometimes on the eleventh." (Paulus Alexandrinus, Introductory Matters, in Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus (with the Scholia of later Latin Commentators). [Translated by Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum.] Archive for the Retrieval of Historical Astrological Texts [ARHAT], 2001, p. 63.)
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