IT has often been a source of bewilderment to the student that, with such small variations in the heavens, the variations should be so large on earth. Everybody has just as many signs and planets as everybody else; yet one man is a nobody and another is more than half divine. No study of aspects as such can explain the fact. They “work,” more or less, when they are far from being exact; and, on the theory of probabilities, it would seem as if at least a third of the human race should be of noble calibre. As a fact, hardly one man in ten thousand leaves even a transient mark upon his generation. How is this? The problem has always baffled astrologers and encouraged their critics. In fact, few astrologers have fairly faced it.


What is the difference between an amoeba and an elephant? The cells of which an elephant is composed are one and all not very dissimilar from the amoeba. The difference is that one is varied and organized, a harmonious republic; the other remains single.

What is the difference, to go higher in the scale of evolution, between a monkey and a man? The answer is similar. It is not so much the size and weight of the brain that differ; some men with small brains have been the intellectual superiors of men with large brains. But if we take the brain of an ape and that of a man from their envelopes, a radical difference becomes immediately patent. The convolutions in the ape are few and simple; in the man they are many and complex.

There lies the great secret; the men who mould the destinies of humanity are the most evolved and therefore the most highly complex types. They are not men who have small interests here, and small functions there; they have built up every factor in their being {vii} into a single composite pattern. Often the manifestations of the complex will be widely divergent, on the surface, but this is only another symptom of the complexity. All this is explained by Astrology.


A glance at the horoscopes of the greatest men of whom we have record shows that, generally speaking, the planets form exact or very close aspects, and also – this is the important point – that all, or very nearly all, the planets are interwoven. Sometimes we find two or three complexes in a nativity, perhaps even four; and these have no close relation with one another. Such horoscopes are those of commonplace people. It is as if they had several strands in their nature which had not been properly interwoven. As a result, there are times when one is at work in its own feeble way; then it is forgotten, and another comes into operation. The lack of continuity is fatal to the performance of any constructive work. If such a person should acquire fame, it is the result of some action suddenly conceived and executed, or because of an apparent accident. A few examples of great horoscopes will make these points certain.

Shakespeare, to begin with, has all nine planets in a single complex. Five of them are in aspect within three degrees, and only one is more than ten degrees from the very farthest.

Dante may be said to have two complexes, one of five planets, all within six degrees; another of four, all within nine degrees; and one complex is only nine degrees from the other.

Michael Angelo has six planets within six degrees, with a seventh only four degrees, and an eighth only three degrees away.

Petrarch has six planets within six and a half degrees, and the other three within ten degrees.

Sir Richard Burton has five planets within five degrees and the other four within seven degrees.

Bismarck has seven planets within ten degrees, the other two within four degrees.

Edison has six within eleven degrees; the others within eight degrees.

Shelley has five within eight degrees; three within two and a half {viii} degrees, and the other only six degrees from a conjunction with one of the larger complex.

Zola has all nine within eleven degrees; Copernicus, eight within the same limit.

Goethe has two distinct complexes, one of six planets, within thirteen degrees, the other of three within seven degrees.

Napoleon has six within ten degrees, three within three and a half degrees, and the one is but eight degrees from the other.

Newton has three within one and a half degrees, three within five and a half degrees, and three within seven degrees.

Balzac has four within nine degrees, five within ten degrees, and the two complexes are related within seven degrees.

Wagner has five within five degrees, three within six degrees, and the last only five degrees away.

Baudelaire has two complexes within ten degrees, one of five planets and the other of four.

Pasteur has six planets within six and a half degrees, two within three degrees, and the Moon, which stands aloof, is by far the least important of the host of heaven.

Swinburne has six planets within five degrees, the rest within one and a quarter degrees.

If we had chosen to include minor aspects, such as forty-five degrees and one hundred and thirty-five degrees, or the quincunx and sesquiquadrate an even stronger case could have been made out; but it is undesirable to introduce too much subtlety into an argument of this sort; we prefer to base it only upon obvious and patent facts.


In the investigation of any nativity, it is quite useless to content oneself, as is too frequently done, with the consideration of planets in pairs. These will give details of the native, it is true; but it is the complex which decides on what scale these details are to be interpreted. Zola had Saturn trine to Mercury, which made him great in construction. But had not this aspect been merely part of a mighty complex, it would have made him a good merchant, a clever lawyer, or something comparatively common. {ix}

Shelley's conjunction of Mars and Jupiter is very differently effective from that aspect in the horoscope of the late J. P. Morgan. Why? Because they form parts of complexes of quite opposite natures. The mere fact that one is in Leo and the other in Libra would not account for the difference. And here it is that we must emphasize the necessity of looking not only for the complex, but for the key to it.

Two men might have identical aspects and yet be utterly different just because in one case the Lord of the Ascendant was Mars and in the other Venus. It is not always easy to divine the secret pivot on which a complex swings. The Lord of the Ascendant is usually the cardinal point, but if there be several planets or even one very strong planet rising, he may be overwhelmed by them or it and his place in heaven, as it were, usurped. And it is of the utmost importance that this fundamental planet be detected with accuracy; for it makes all the difference in the world whether we regard the other planets as modifying Saturn or Jupiter. If the native be a Saturnian at heart, the trine of Jupiter will flavor his selfish plans; if a Jupiterian, the trine of Saturn will restrict and balance his enthusiasms. The conjunction of the Sun and Venus which made Shelley so glorious an incarnation of Light and Beauty would hardly have acted in that way had Scorpio, not Sagittarius, been his ascendant. It is the Lord, Jupiter, culminating in conjunction with Mars and Neptune, that determines the disposition, and the superiority of the Sun in Leo to Venus that made effective the manifestation of that disposition in the heart through art; had those planets been influenced by Pisces, for example, it would have shown itself in some soft shadowy way.

Enough has been said for a preliminary account of this matter; in the course of these pages we shall pile Pelion upon Ossa, and Ossa upon Olympus, in demonstration of this secret of the Astrological Complex. {x}

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