Two little-known aspects with interesting interpretative implications
Antiscia, singular antiscion (from the Gr. antiskios, ‘who casts a shadow’), are the specular points perpendicular to the line of the solstices (0° Cancer – 0° Capricorn). The planets in Capricorn have their mirror image in Sagittarius, the planets in Aquarius in Scorpio, the planets in Pisces in Libra, etc., as follows:
The first degree of a sign corresponds to the twenty-ninth of the mirror sign, the second to the twenty-eighth, etc. The calculation of antiscia is straightforward: subtract from 30 the longitude value of a planet to find the degree of the antiscion in the corresponding zodiac sign; for example, the antiscion of a planet at 16° 18′ of Virgo falls at 13 ° 42′ Aries.
Antiscia compare the length of day and night over the seasons. The mechanism underlying the variation of the hours of light and darkness during the year depends on the inclination of the Earth’s rotation axis to the orbital plane. Where the celestial equator and the ecliptic coincide, the days and nights have the same length (roughly 20 March and 23 September of each year at the equinoxes). During the solstices, the Sun reaches its maximum north or south declination to the celestial equator, marking the two periods of the year (roughly 21 June and 21 September) in which the difference between the hours of light and darkness is more significant.
The phenomenon is highlighted in the so-called Long and Short ascension signs. The signs from Capricorn to Gemini, which correspond to the period from the winter solstice to the summer solstice, arise more rapidly on the horizon: they are the signs of Short ascension. The signs from Cancer to Sagittarius arise more slowly: these are the signs of Long ascension. The antiscia line reflects the points where day and night are equivalent. As we will see, this link acquires an interpretative value both in natal and horary astrology.
The first author to refer to antiscia with their name was probably Firmicus Maternus . His Matheseos Libri VIII dedicates an entire chapter to the subject , specifying its genesis and structure. At an interpretative level, Firmicus goes so far as to affirm that without considering the antiscion, in some cases, it would not be possible to obtain forecasts, that is, based only on the positions and aspects of birth planets. His methodology involved examining the antiscion as a point that can form one of the major aspects (conjunction, sextile, square, trine, opposition) with the chart’s planets and considered the house where a planet sends its antiscion even if empty.
We find indications based on this classification of signs in Arab and Persian authors in the astrological literature. Alcabitius , regarding what he calls signs of command and signs of obedience, writes: “In a certain way, those [signs] which arise indirectly obey those which rise directly, [namely] [because] their days are equal to their days, giving themselves to them for prosperous actions: for example Gemini and Cancer, Taurus and Leo, Aries and Virgo, Pisces and Libra, Aquarius and Scorpio, Sagittarius and Capricorn” .
The modern use of antiscia still uses Firmicus’s guidelines. Antiscia are generally seen as an extension of the techniques used in judicial or interpretative astrology. For example, suppose the antiscion of Mars is in the 12th house. In this case, a transit or progression on the antiscion point will activate the dynamics inherent to the symbolism of the house and the planet (enemies, hospitalisations, disorders, etc.).
From a transpersonal point of view, however, the antiscion is almost a Jungian “shadow” place; as a mirror of a planetary dynamic, it would represent the antithesis or the instinctive unresolved aspect of the planet not yet inserted in the conscious personality. In this sense, the use of antiscia in a forecasting sense would not be very successful since it is only a “reflection” that we can employ to examine the integration potential of the individual.
The situation is confused by the “versatility” of the antiscion, by its possibility of connecting in a variety of planetary configurations in multiple references of meanings: the antiscion of Venus (in Taurus) in the sign of Leo in the fifth house whose ruler (Sun) is square the antiscion of Saturn in the ninth house. An example among the many that we can find in astrological literature. The possibility of entangling the interpretation of the theme is real, and antiscia do not yet enjoy the overall vision that characterises a straightforward and organic astrological exposition.
In Christian Astrology, William Lilly speaks extensively of antiscia, both from the explanatory point of view and in the numerous examples of horary interpretations. In the question regarding the location of an apparently missing ship, Lilly reassures the owner about the fate of the crew and the cargo, also relying on the antiscia in support of traditional indicators: “You shall also observe, that Jupiter has his Antiscion in the 9th of Leo, the very Cusp of the 2nd house, and Mars his Antiscion fals upon the very degree ascending: these were good testimonies of safety: Mars as being Lord of the 11th, and Dispositor of Part of Fortune; and Jupiter as Lord of the 10th, viz. of Trade and Commerce.” .
Contra-antiscia are the points opposing one another across the equinox line. The zodiac signs that send and receive contra-antiscia are:
However, it is interesting to observe how the contra-antiscion is nothing but the point that opposes the antiscion, as shown in the figure:
Here we see that the point opposite to the antiscion (A) of Mars in Aquarius, marked with the letter CA, is the contra-antiscion of Mars itself (the line perpendicular to the line of the equinoxes that joins the glyph of Mars and the point CA). The same goes for the Moon.
Ptolemy , in his Tetrabiblos, assigns the commanding and obeying signs to the “divisions of the zodiac which are disposed at an equal distance from the same equinoctial sign, whichever it may be, because they ascend in equal period of time and are on equal parallels. Of these the ones in the summer hemisphere are called ‘commanding’ and those in the winter hemisphere ‘obedient’, because the Sun makes the day longer than the night when he is in the summer hemisphere, and shorter in the winter” . Ptolemy does not mention antiscia here, but from what he says, it seems to refer to the distances from the equinoctial line, therefore to contra-antiscia. The fact is confirmed by the reading of the following paragraph relating to those which he defines signs of equal power: “The parts which are equally removed from the same tropical sign, whichever it may be, are of equal power, because when the Sun comes into either of them the days are equal to the days, the nights to the nights and the lengths of their own hours are the same. These also are said to ‘behold’ one another both for the reasons stated and because each of the pair rises from the same part of the horizon and sets in the same part” . “The days are equal to the days …” is an apparent reference to antiscia.
Again in Christian Astrology, William Lilly expressly quotes antiscia: “As there are Antiscions, which of the good Planets we think are equal to a Sextile or Trine; so are there Contrantiscions, which we find to be of the nature of a Square or Opposition: and to know where it is, then observe in what Sign and degree the Antiscion is, in the Sign and degree opposite to that place the Contrantiscion” . Lilly does not use the major aspects to and from antiscia as Firmicus does (apart from the opposition, which is a contra-antiscion); he only employs antiscia when they fall on the cusp of a house or directly on a planet. Furthermore, the considered orbit is relatively narrow (one degree at most).
Lilly interprets antiscia as the ‘projection’ of a planetary quality, beneficial in itself unless the planet is afflicted. Contra-antiscia, as an ‘inversion’ in the respective places of the day and night period, underline the contrasts and difficulties. In a transpersonal sense, we have already pointed out that the antiscion is the unconscious and potential counterpart of a manifest planetary dynamic. From this point of view, the contra-antiscion is more like a reversal of planetary functions. It lends itself to interpreting the role of the ‘adversary’, of the objective situation or event which, if not recognised or integrated, becomes the ‘enemy’ or the unfavourable fact as expressed in judicial astrology texts.