Parents – Who and Where is Dad in a Chart?

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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Continuing with my articles on the roles of parents astrologically, this article will focus on the paternal influence in a wheel: dad. Previously I have written on the parents in general as reflected through the parental axis in Where Do You Find Mom and Dad in a Chart? The Parental Axis”. A few days ago, I posted the second in this series, specifically on the maternal influence in a chart, “Parents – Who and Where is Mom in a Chart?”.  In this article we will do the same presentation focusing on the paternal influence. These three articles together can be used as a mini-course in parental influence. As we progress in this article, I will also refer you to another article I recently posted because I believe it is an under- or sub-influence in almost all astrological readings.

Without repeating too much from the first two articles in this series, I must first set the base for this article. I began with the parental vertical axis, the 4th/10th houses, because generically that is where we find the parents in a wheel, the place to begin our study of parental influence.  By understanding the natural sequence of development following birth, we are easily able to determine why that axis represents the parents. An alternative title for that axis is the security axis. The lower house (4th) relates to personal security issues, those we encounter within our family setting. The upper house (10th) relates to the security we must establish or build for ourselves in the outer world, two views of a single concept (security). I then turned to examining the parent themself in a specific role, the maternal. The maternal role could be occupied by either a male or a female because the role is the maternal influence and not a particular sex. The people who play that role in the life of an individual may or may not be well suited to that role, but are at least available. Perhaps one parent gets to play both roles. Perhaps neither parent is able to fulfill that role.

I explored the subjective, internal, introspective, personal issues common to the 4th house parent as a naturally maternal role. Be aware that some modern or ancient astrologers may not agree with me. However, what I write about is my 36-year astrological experience with thousands of clients. This is my personal perspective. Now I will explore the more objective, external, participatory issues common to the 10th house parent, the parent who prepares us for our worldly security issues. Remember, in the previous paragraph I mentioned that the role could be played by a male or a female because the role is different from a simple sexual identification, which is too limiting a condition. My Dad got to play both roles after my mother fell ill and passed on. Don’t get stuck in male/female role playing, I am talking about parenting and parents in general astrologically.

If you follow the sequencing of the houses starting with the ascendant and flowing counter-clockwise around the wheel, you can see the natural development of any human as they encounter each stage of life. The “I/me” of the 1st house, the “mine” of the 2nd house, the “I communicate with my environment” of the 3rd house, which must be answered by the “someone listens” of the 4th house, the development through play and creativity of the 5th house, and the need to pay our way in our emerging world of the 6th house. These six houses are all subjective and internal (bottom of the chart) in nature. The first three are very personal (houses 1, 2, 3). At the 4th (vertical) axis we move to the “other people” part of the wheel and our activities involve others extensively. Houses 4, 5, and 6 initiate various activities with others of a subjective, introspective nature. At the 7th cusp we move outward into the world from the personal and subjective in the bottom of the wheel to the external and objective in the upper six houses of the wheel. Additionally, the 7th cusp represents the point farthest from our own “selves” represented by the ascendant, and we must increasingly objectify and externalize our participation as we wend our way through life.

Houses 7, 8 and 9 mirror houses 1, 2, and 3, but the perspective is that of our significant others, their values and their communication as well as our involvement in our community at large. After we have worked our way up our mountain of experience, we encounter the pinnacle of that personal mountain – the 10th cusp, the midheaven. While the 4th represents more the maternal, family, personal security issues and the parent who played that role (successfully or not), the 10th represents the external, objective world we are experiencing in the top half of the wheel. We must address our security issues from that perspective. That is the paternal parent (regardless of sex) who prepares us for eventual success, if that parent does so successfully. A parent who does not know how to succeed in business cannot teach their offspring that particular skill. They might teach the child how to cope, how to manage, to work hard, and a host of other wonderful qualities, but that does not necessarily qualify as “success” in our materialistic world. Here we could get into the argument of what defines success, which is too broad a topic for this article; but I hope I have explained enough that you get the idea.

Notice we have crossed the vertical axis from the “other people” side of the wheel back to the more personal side of the wheel. We take houses 10, 11, and 12 quite personally but still are more objective overall. Because we have done ten of the twelve houses, I will briefly mention the other two houses, the 11th and 12th. We are now in the top of the wheel, our external, objective experience, and we have climbed or failed to climb our personal mountain (10th). There are results for all that living and results always show up in the house directly after the house in question, the 2nd house of the issue. Therefore, the results of career, goals, success or lack of it, are in the 11th house. As we move towards the ends of our lives, possibly worn out by the process itself, living with our success or failure, we are gradually returning to the personal, subjective place we call the ascendant. We have come full circle in our experience and we are returning to I/me. This is rest, relaxation and retirement. It is also our blind spot (also known as the house of self-undoing), which I have already addressed in a previous article: “Unmasking the Mystery – The 12th House of the Horoscope”.

Back to the generic 10th parental house. In the maternal article, I tied together the 4th house, Cancer and the Moon. Here we will look at the natural combination of the 10th house, Capricorn and Saturn. You probably were thinking about mom as the Moon and dad as the Sun, and you would be partially right. I will address that in just a moment. Remember, parenting is a complex issue and cannot be represented by a single placement; it must be a complex. The 10th house represents our personal climb, goal, attitude, and reputation. The pinnacle of that effort is called the midheaven, the highest point to which a planet can rise before it starts to fall back towards the horizon. The analogy is that it represents the height to which we can climb in this lifetime. In the sequence of signs, we see Capricorn as the responsible, productive, achieving, business sign that fits so well into the 10th house. It is natural to look at the ruler of both Capricorn and the 10th house as the planet that represents that role and that would be Saturn. Despite Saturn’s reputation, not all dads are disciplinarians. My own dad was affectionate, responsible and strict all at once. There are other influences we must take into account in addition to this generic beginning.

Generic dad as the paternal role is the one who is supposed to prepare you to accomplish and hopefully succeed. How does it become personalized? We must look to the actual sign on the midheaven, the ruler of that sign and where it is located and aspected, any planets occupying the 10th house possibly in other sign(s), and the relationship between occupation and rulership. That should provide you with a better and more personal picture of a specific person who fills the paternal parent role (regardless of sex) for a specific wheel. If you have any doubt about the Moon and Saturn representing generic parents, look to their orbits. The Moon takes about 29 days from conjunction to conjunction. Saturn takes 29 years from conjunction to conjunction. There is a resonant pattern between the two and it is fascinating to study these two bodies simultaneously.

I mentioned that my Dad became both mom and dad upon the passing of my mother. The ruler of my 10th is in my 4th connecting the parental roles. Would that work in every chart? I have not done the research, so I cannot make it an astrological rule, but it could be an indicator. My mother was a visionary (my Pisces midheaven) and she wanted me to take Broadway by storm. My 10th house parent was a woman. My 4th house parent was a practical, down to earth, farmer type of man (Virgo on the 4th) who had to perform both roles unexpectedly (ruler of the 10th in the 4th). Do not let yourself get stuck in sexual roles, think: parental roles.

What about the Sun as dad? In the astrological assignment of rulerships, the Sun and Moon are treated as celestial parents. The New Moon conjunction signifying the wedding, the union itself between celestial mom and dad, the cosmic moment. We must look at the individual roles of the Sun and the Moon for a moment. In the article on the maternal influence, I illustrated that role. Moms contain an incredible number of tiny eggs with which to produce life. However, sustainable life cannot be produced without fertilization by the male energy. The Sun is the giver of life for our local system. That is the fertilization principle that makes the lunar egg viable as an entity. The Sun as a male energy easily equates to the role of dad.  However, the Sun does its thing and moves on, returning periodically to the lunar conjunction to do its thing again. Besides this once-a-month meeting, the Sun has a very large job to do in running the solar system.  Just watch the Jimmy Dean sausage solar system commercials on television and you will get the picture.

The Sun in a chart does represent the self identify of any individual – male, female or transgender. You can also look to the Sun in anyone’s chart to identify a piece of the paternal role and issues. In a woman’s chart the Sun is the most important male at any part of her life just as the Moon is the most important female in a man’s chart at any part of his life. This position can change over time. For a woman, the Sun is dad until she gets married (husband) or gets a job (boss) or is responsible for an offspring (child). My father is no longer living nor is my ex-husband. The Sun still has a place in my life (besides my ego and self-identity) because I have sons. The dominant male role is signified by the Sun but the occupant of that role can change as experience develops.

I also have a Moon and the maternal role could be occupied by my own mother, a step-mother, an adopted mother figure, a female child (daughters), or in a man’s experience, his spouse, What if you have none of the above? You get to do a little more work and figure out who inhabits those roles. I have a brother. I have a sister-in-law. I have friends.  I’m not bragging (although I should be), but I am merely illustrating that a role may be played by many people over a lifetime and that the people who inhabit such roles can change over time. Do read that other article I mentioned: “Astrological Choices – Identification, Paradox, Contradiction, the Flip Side of the Coin”. You will see another layer of meaning that can aid in your understanding of astrology.

I sincerely hope that through this series of three articles I have helped you to explore and understand the parental role astrologically. What I have presented is my personal perspective and just the bare bones to such understanding. You will encounter other opinions and interpretations of the parents, the roles and the assignment of influence astrologically. Most of that will be theory and should be accepted as such. There is much research to be done, but we must work with what is available at the moment. As we grow and develop psychologically and astrologically, we will reach new conclusions and applications. It takes a team to develop good material. This is my contribution. What’s yours?

First published on All Things Healing website April, 2011, republished with slight editing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.