"The stars of the night will lend thee their light, Like tapers clear without number."
The Foundation Point of the Chart
This article looks at the very base of the chart, the point that underpins all other factors.
The IC is an oft neglected though extremely important point in the horoscope. The term derives from the Latin Imum Coeli and is translated as "the bottom of the sky" or "lowest point in the heavens". It is the position in space where the meridian intersects the ecliptic in the north, and it falls exactly opposite the Medium Coeli which is usually known as the MC or Midheaven. In most house systems (with the notable exception of the equal house system) this MC/IC axis, forms the zenith and nadir points of the chart, that is the cusps of the tenth and fourth houses respectively.
The fourth house is the part of the chart that is concerned with home and family - not only the immediate family and surroundings in the present life, but also in a broader sense to your place in the overall scheme of things. It denotes the direction from which you are coming - heritage, home environment, cultural traditions and family influences. In the natural wheel, Cancer is on the cusp of this house, and so it is evident that issues concerning emotional wellbeing, comfort, sustenance and protection will be dominant themes here. The sign and house placement of its natural ruler, the Moon, should therefore be carefully examined. Nevertheless, the majority of charts are likely to have a different sign on this cusp.
The MC is where the midday Sun falls and as such is the most public and outwardly observable part of the horoscope. It signifies your public life and community participation, social standing and career as well as material ambitions, life direction, and aspirations. The IC being directly opposite is where the Sun falls at midnight. It is at the very base of the chart, and as such is the most subjective personal point indicating the basic inner disposition - what might be described as the psychological and emotional foundation of your being.
The IC is said to be the most personal and enigmatic part of the horoscope and the least conscious part. It relates to the private and sometimes concealed inner person, the instinctual ways of behaviour, modes of conduct and what makes individuals feel "at home" within themselves and with other people. It also describes the deepest motivations, family conditioning and inheritance, and the innermost feelings. The impulse here is a subtle one. It prompts underlying tendencies and inclinations - many of which may be totally involuntary even though they direct the actions.
"The IC is said to be the most personal and enigmatic part of the horoscope and the least conscious part."
It is at the IC that matters regarding personal security and emotional underpinning come together. The sign on the IC is indicative of your attitudes and approach to such matters. It also describes personal needs as regards family, domestic stability, nurturance and emotional safety.
A fire sign at the base of the chart suggests a soul who is basically impassioned, warm-hearted and self-motivated. There is often a deep need for self-determination and for freedom of thought, action and belief. Aries in particular needs independence and the power to initiate. It endows the individual with an adventurous spirit, innate courage and the power of assertiveness, though patience may have to be consciously developed. With Leo, the inherent high spirits can be wisely directed into creative self-expression and into forging loving links with other people. One of the special lessons here is to overcome any self-doubt. The spontaneous and enterprising energy of Sagittarius can give rise to natural optimism and intuitiveness. Souls here can have a deep inner impulse to discover their own truth. At the same time, a tendency towards exaggeration may have to be surmounted.
An earth sign at the base of the chart can occasion a true attunement to the material world. It is a practical and stabilising influence, which encourages a realistic and purposeful perspective. Taurus awards a strong value system and great determination. It also inclines the individual to be security conscious and thus they tend to be responsible with their personal resources. Flexibility is a quality they may have to deliberately cultivate. Virgo is efficient and diligent. There can be a deep urge to put things right and so people with this placement frequently strive for refined and genteel conditions. They may however need to rise above a somewhat over-critical attitude. Capricorn imparts reliability and circumspection. Its gifts include a strong sense of duty and an inner sense of order. The special challenge here is not to give in to a self-repressing or restrictive outlook.
An air sign at the base of the chart implies a soul who is inspired by thoughts and ideas. A rational and logical approach is usually adopted and often speculation is favoured over practice. Gemini is a self-expressive, spontaneous influence. Souls here are impelled to deepen their understanding of themselves and of the world around them. Steps may need to be taken to supplant any inner feelings of restlessness. Libra is particularly responsive to harmony, culture and graciousness. Individuals with this placement tend to be reflective and co-operative but they may also need to guard against too much vacillation. Aquarius can give rise to an idealist, someone who is ready to take an unconventional and individual stance. An objective and reasoned approach can be effected though they may need to ward off detached inflexibility.
A water sign at the base of the chart intimates a person who is very much in tune with the emotional realm. The world of feelings - especially those that evoke a sense of security and safety - is a very important part of these people. When Cancer is here, a feeling of belonging is extremely important to the soul. They are responsive and protective and seek to give and to receive nurturance. A special lesson here is to espouse a balanced state of mind. Scorpio at this point suggests an intense and passionate individual, someone to whom tenacity and endurance are inherent qualities. They are often very intuitive and receptive to their surroundings but they may also need to develop openness. Pisces so placed can be something of a nebulous influence, giving rise to a wanderer, a mystic or a true romantic. Compassion, empathy and a highly developed imagination are usually marked, suggesting for many, over-sensitivity may have to be overcome.
"Being one of the angles of the chart, the IC is an extremely powerful point - in fact it can be viewed as the foundation point of the chart."
The house position of the ruler of the IC elicits a lot of information regarding the potential for building upon what has been learnt in the past. The following gives some general guidelines as to the domiciliary position but the nature of the planet itself has to be taken into account before a full interpretation can be discerned. If the ruler is well aspected, it indicates that the intrinsic patterning can be developed with relative ease, whilst a planet with many conflicting aspects will pose many challenges along the way.
When the ruler of the IC is in an angular house, what is absorbed in the early years will profoundly affect the individual's engagement with the physical plane. In the first house, it relates to the overall pattern of the life, how you present yourself to and interact with the outer world. In the fourth house, the parents and personal environment are the focus - both the actual home and family and what makes you feel secure, comforted and at ease. The seventh house is concerned with marriage and other important partnerships - how you form close one-to-one links and whether you will view this process as challenging or encouraging. The tenth house deals with achievement and what you conceive of as success in the outer world and therefore relates to issues such as vocation, status and reputation.
When the ruler of the IC is in a succeedent house, what is absorbed in the early years will profoundly affect the individual's feelings and their reactions to life's experiences. In the second house, it is concerned with matters pertaining to self-esteem, your value system and attitude to financial matters and to the inner resources at your disposal. In the fifth house it accentuates your approach to creative self-expression - via recreational activities and through your relationships with children and romantic partners. In the eighth house, it suggests the individual feels a need to change and restructure family customs and values. An eleventh house placement puts emphasis on whether or not you feel nurtured and secure within friendships and group associations.
When the ruler of the IC is in a cadent house, what is absorbed in the early years will profoundly affect the individual's thought patterns and inherent outlook on life. The third house highlights your reasoning powers and the way you communicate ideas, views and needs to others. In the sixth house, how you are able to utilise your skills and knowledge to help others and to further your own inner progress and growth are areas likely to be given a great deal of consideration. How you choose to expand your horizons and to grow in consciousness, beliefs and wisdom are areas of concentration in the ninth house. Located in the twelfth house, peace and solitude are often prerequisites. There may be a need for seclusion or a predisposition to mysticism or self-sacrifice.
It is important to carefully study any planet(s) closely conjunct the IC, as they subtly shape home and family matters and instinctive emotional responses, again in accord with the nature of the planet involved. To individuals with the Sun here, the home environment will be of prime importance and with the Moon emotional comfort will be sought through their family. Mercury can suggest an interest in lineage or heredity whilst Venus implies a need for beauty and harmony. Mars at the base of the chart indicates an inherent desire for activity, and this needs to be wisely channelled so as to forestall discord or frustration. Jupiter here is a very expansive influence whilst Saturn can lead to a natural sense of duty and responsibility. The outer planets so placed can have a very powerful impact, Uranus bringing a spirit of unconventionality, Neptune one of idealism and Pluto one of intensity.
This article was first published in the Astrological Journal 'Altair' in February 2007.
Being one of the angles of the chart, the IC is an extremely powerful point - in fact it can be viewed as the foundation point of the chart. As such it is particularly sensitive to progressions and transits, the careful study of which will throw light on fundamental inner issues - past, current and potential.