Visual Astrology... Parans instead of Star Aspects
The ecliptic is the circle of the zodiac, and is shown in every chart as the outer zodiac ring, on to which the planets are placed. This works well as a method of representing the position of planets within the two dimensional limitation of a horoscope, because the Sun is always exactly on the ecliptic, and the planets are always close to the ecliptic.

The stars, however, are not close to the ecliptic; they cover the celestial sphere from pole to pole. Nonetheless, the technique of star- aspecting chooses to sacrifice the stars' true position in the sky by projecting all stars to the ecliptic.

For example, Arcturus, which is located in the figure on the line of the horizon (near the number "60"), would be projected along the lines of Right Ascension (blue lines) until it cut the ecliptic. This projected position would be close to the Sun in early degrees of Scorpio. Thus an astrologer who worked with star aspects would say that Arcturus is at 3° or 4° Scorpio, and therefore conjunct the Sun.

This is done to enable the star to be represented in the two-dimensional framework of a horoscope, in a similar manner to the planets. Unfortunately this technique sacrifices information about the true position of stars on the celestial sphere, and has consequently resulted in some misconceptions among astrologers.

With astrologers no longer looking to the sky itself they came to think that Arcturus (or any other star) was actually on the ecliptic. One major problem with this misconception is that, if every star is projected onto the ecliptic, stars that are deep in the southern hemisphere will be placed on the ecliptic seemingly conjunct stars from the northern hemisphere - which have also been projected down from their northern location. Such alignments have led astrologers to lose all understanding of the true nature of the stars, and thus, correlatively, to lose touch with the host of meanings offered by the way that stars move, and the myths they have, over millennia, accrued.

There is, however, an answer to this dilemma. We do not need to displace the stars to conform to the two dimensions of a horoscope, for there exists a far older way of linking stars to planets. This method acknowledges the true position of a star and is called parans.

To demonstrate, if you once again look at Arcturus, you will see that it is on the line of the horizon, rising. Further around, still on the line of the horizon, is another star, Vega. You will also notice that Venus is on the horizon, about to rise. So, for this date and for this place, Arcturus, Vega and Venus all rise together. This means that, within this older, more visually correct, system of stars, the mythology and meaning of Vega and Arcturus will be blended with the meaning of Venus.

It should be noted that Parans are very location specific. If we move the location of observation from London to some other city, then we will alter the tilt of the horizon line shown on the sphere. This means that Venus may only have this particular relationship to these two stars for this location.

Working with Parans is the process of looking for such alignments between stars and planets. Before the modern era, this was very difficult to do retrospectively, but now that the computer is part of the astrologer's toolkit, this elegant ancient method is available to any astrologer with a hard drive.

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