Management of Measurement Constructs

Analytical Techniques, May 30, 2005

The Vertex Axis: A Special Doorway

by guest astrologer Alice McDermott

Alice McDermott is an eminent Australian Astrologer who, as Alice Portman, has consulted and taught professionally for 35 years. In 1984, she received her Professional Member of the Federation of Australian Astrologers (PMFAA) qualification and became an Examiner for the FAA in 1986-1988. She first spoke on the Vertex at the FAA International Conference in 1986.

The late L. Edward Johndro (30 January 1882, 12.30 am, Franklin Center, Canada – Vertex conjunct South Node in Gemini) was first to present the Vertex for consideration by the astrological world. He reasoned that if the Ascendant was determined by the intersection of the Great Circles of the Ecliptic and Horizon and the MC was determined by the intersection of the Great Circles of the Meridian and Ecliptic, there should also be a very sensitive point of energy at the intersection of the Great Circles of the Prime Vertical and the Ecliptic. He called the western axis of this point the Vertex and the eastern the antiVertex. He felt that the Vertex was the electrical axis, the Ascendant the magnetic axis, and the MC the gravity axis in a natal chart.

The late Charles Jayne of New York (9 October 1911, 10.53 pm, Jenkintown, PA, - antiVertex conjunct Mars in Gemini) also deduced that the Vertex was a very important point in a natal chart. He and his students researched this further and came to the conclusion that the Vertex axis seemed to describe fateful or karmic encounters with others, which completely changed the lives of those concerned. He felt that the western point, the Vertex, was the stronger side of the axis.

I first discovered the Vertex around 1976-77. To explore how it worked I adjusted the calculations to the Southern Hemisphere and then studied its effect on my clients when it was activated by transits, Solar Arcs and Progressions. This has given me a whole Saturn return period of “hands on” research with thousands of people.

My conclusions are:

· The Vertex axis is not an especially strong point in a natal chart unless it has a planet or Node conjunct it or in close to exact aspect with it.

· If it has a planet or Node conjunct, it often becomes an over-riding force that makes the Vertex and that planet stronger than anything else in the chart, including a planet conjunct the Ascendant or MC.

· If it has a planet in close aspect it enhances that planet’s nature, its sign and house to a considerable degree, making that planet a very strong focus in the chart.

· A planet conjunct or in a close to exact aspect to the Vertex tends to give a specific and often intense destiny – something the person is required to do or experience for greater soul development, or must do in order to find meaning in life – or both!

· Therefore Vertex stimulation can have an almost compulsive effect that overrides all other considerations.

The Vertex axis can have such a strong effect because it is the third and most powerful axis in the life development process.

The Ascendant axis describes the physical body and brain and the environment in which a child is reared. A child does not see herself or himself as an individual, but as a part of a family and the environment.

As this child grows into an adult, s/he develops a sense of self as an individual, and eventually moves into the world to “make a mark”. This process is described by the MC axis, and in our cultures this process is mainly experienced through a career or avocation.

The Vertex axis stimulates Cosmic Awareness, an understanding that an individual is an integral part of the Universe, not just an isolated, separate entity. This is an enormously important and deeply freeing realization, but it can often require intense experiences (pleasant and/or unpleasant) to awaken someone to this understanding. This doesn’t mean that people without planets on angles in connection to the Vertex don’t have cosmic awareness, but it does mean that there is not such a strong stimulus to develop this awareness in this lifetime.

The Vertex axis can be likened to a doorway that gives access to other realities. It is usually highly emphasized, with a planet conjunct (orb 8°), in the charts of people who have this ability. The doorway is of the nature of the sign and house where the Vertex resides and powerfully emphasizes that sign, making it at least as important as that of the Ascendant and MC.

Astrologers often have Uranus and/or Neptune in close contact with the Vertex. Our own host, Noel Tyl, has Vertex in Scorpio quindecile Uranus in the 11th house. It seems he was destined to re-discover this very important aspect (the quindecile) and present it to the astrological community.

Following the Vertex as guide to other realities opens the door to subtle aspect measurements (harmonics). Septile (7th harmonic) patterns give the ability to understand other realities, the Vertex gives the ability to access other realities and so the combination of a septile pattern and a planet conjunct the Vertex is common in the natal charts of inspirational people, psychics and magicians. Uri Geller (20 December 1946, 2.00 am, Tel Aviv, Palestine) has Vertex conjunct North Node-Uranus in Gemini in a septile pattern with Moon-Venus-Jupiter-Saturn – surely a clear indication of his exceptional nature and gifts and the extraordinary experiences in his life.

Intensely creative people often have a planet conjunct the Vertex axis together with a quintile (5th harmonic) aspect or pattern.

Some exceptional people have a novile (9th harmonic) aspect or pattern connected to the Vertex. As the novile series of aspects are connected to initiation, this combination gives an intense initiation during this lifetime. It also gives the ability to act as an initiator for others.


When the Vertex and the planet(s) it conjoins move to exact aspect by Solar Arc, key periods are clearly marked in childhood. There is usually a year made crucial through a major event, if there is also a transit or eclipse trigger, or through internal discovery of an unusual facet to your nature. From then on, all transits, Solar Arcs and Progressions to this point are highly sensitive, though not all will bring events in the outer world. The year that Solar Arc or Progressions bring together the Vertex and its ruler is also a powerful period.

Transits, Solar Arcs and Progressions involving the Vertex rarely have a huge effect on those who do not have planets stimulating the natal Vertex angle. It can just mean meeting those who in some way have an unusual influence on you, and often only for the duration of the transit or direction.

However, for those with a natal Vertex highlighted there is usually one powerful period of destiny in the life that is designed to awaken the person to a wider reality. During this period the Vertex can bring very big events indeed. Christopher Reeve (25 September 1952, 3.12 am New York NY) had natal Vertex conjunct Chiron in Capricorn in wide novile to his Descendant. The natal bi-novile between the Vertex and Saturn (its ruler) described the likelihood of a deep initiation this lifetime. When Vertex-Chiron moved by Solar Arc to his Descendant, and Saturn moved to novile his Vertex, he had an accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Christopher Reeve then became a powerful force for stem-cell research that has the potential to radically improve our ability to repair severe injuries.

There is usually only one powerful period of destiny in the life, but many Vertex activations. The other times the Vertex is triggered usually indicates meeting people, animals or even computers who have a profound or unusual long lasting effect.

Next Update, June 30, 2005


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