"The stars of the night will lend thee their light, Like tapers clear without number."
This article focuses on interceptions - signs that are completely contained within a house,
and the planets that fall within them.
There are various systems in use to divide the chart into houses - or areas of life experience. The time and location of an individual birth ascertains the cusps, that is the beginning of each house, and the signs upon them. The twelve signs will always be present in every chart, of course, but certain signs may not occupy a house cusp. When a sign is fully enclosed within a house without actually residing on a cusp - that is the whole of the sign is contained within a house - these are known as intercepted signs. Intercepted signs always occur in pairs so for example if Aries is intercepted in the second house then it follows that its opposite sign of Libra will be intercepted in the eighth house.
When a chart has a pair of intercepted signs there will always be a pair of intercepted houses too. This means a whole house is enclosed within a sign. In other words, the same sign falls on the cusps of two consecutive houses - again on opposite houses of the chart. So for example if Taurus is on the cusp of the third and fourth houses then Scorpio will fall on the cusps of the ninth and tenth houses.
Any planets that fall within an intercepted sign are known as intercepted planets. So in the above example any planets that reside in Aries (2nd house) or in Libra (8th house) would be considered intercepted planets.
The dictionary definition of intercept includes the following descriptions: to block the progress of and force a change of direction; to obstruct and prevent from continuing to a destination; to cut off (light etc from); to interrupt or stop in transit or progress. These are helpful themes to keep in mind when interpreting interceptions in the horoscope. Key words often used here are limitations and delays, difficulties, frustration, inhibition, a feeling of being trapped, reticence, prevention and so on - none of which are easy energies to deal with. It is true that interceptions do impose a certain amount of stress but it is useful to remember that when these energies are utilised to their highest potential, they offer tremendous opportunities for growth and the promise of boundless individuality and distinctiveness.
With this in mind, interceptions can best be viewed as challenges. One of the first things to consider is that the basic symmetry of the horoscope is out of kilter. Sometimes there can be more than one set of interceptions too - and this tends to present even more challenges to the individual. Since the natural sequence of the signs on the house cusps are disrupted there can be an underlying - albeit unconscious - feeling of confusion, uneasiness or even perplexity.
"When a sign is fully enclosed within a house without actually residing on a cusp - that is the whole of the sign is contained within a house - these are known as intercepted signs."
On a practical level, it is not always straightforward for intercepted signs to fully manifest their characteristics because they are not on a house cusp. The qualities of the sign are likely to have difficulty in being fully expressed - they may be held in check or suppressed or rest in a latent state. Moreover, the early life may not have provided the necessary support or facilities to develop the abilities suggested by that sign. The challenge is to look within rather than seeking outside assistance in developing these talents and capabilities.
The qualities of intercepted planets cannot be easily manifested either. When intercepted a planet effectively has two cusps to consider - the sign on the house cusp as well as the intercepted sign itself. This brings additional complications to the interpretation as in effect there are two influences tempering the full expression of the energies involved. Again the implication is that encouragement from the outside environment might not be readily offered or there may be a lack of co-operation in the surroundings or some delays in fully developing the apposite gifts. This can create a feeling of frustration or powerlessness. A redirection of the latent energy of the planet is needed and so the challenge is to intentionally develop the potential here with personal intent and effort. Through so doing, such gifts can ultimately be both strong and unique in their expression.
The traditional meanings are applied to the signs, houses and planets in a chart with interceptions. However when delineating such a horoscope, it is important to interpret interceptions in pairs. The trick is to look at both the intercepted signs and intercepted houses together - and take especial note of the rulers of the houses involved. The sign on the cusp of a house relates to your basic orientation towards that particular area of life experience and the planet ruling that sign is the key to unlock this potential. Note the sign, house and aspects of this planet and this will provide many clues as how to best work with the overall forces concerned. Sometimes the ruling planet itself is placed within an intercepted sign. This presents further challenges - but not insurmountable ones! Careful thought and quiet reflection on the deeper meaning of all the relevant influences will bring clarification.
"Any planets that fall within an intercepted sign are known as intercepted planets."
The next step is to look carefully at any intercepted planets, again noting the sign, house placement and aspects of its dispositor. It is also important to note that the planet itself is a dispositor, the ruling planet of one or two houses in the chart and perhaps too of another planet, and this rather implies certain challenges will have to be met in these particular areas so as to fully enjoy fulfillment and contentment. Again this may not necessarily be an easy process and a lot of thought may have to be given to the complexities involved. Transits over the ruling and intercepted planets will bring the themes they represent sharply into focus.
A birth chart with interceptions certainly offers specific encumbrances, tests and lessons. On the other hand they present many benefits too, not least of which being the opportunity to learn and to grow. One of the ways the horoscope specifically provides for this can be through the intercepted houses. The qualities of the sign occupying the two successive houses are likely to be strong and highly developed and so can be drawn upon and utilised to their highest potential. Moreover, the intercepted house is an area of experience where the natural talents and capabilities can be expressed with confidence.
The message of interceptions is that exceptional gifts and inimitable creative skills can be developed through directed personal effort and determination. At first there may be a need to consciously change certain attitudes and choices but the ultimate promise here is the capacity to become more than is expected of you or of what you were taught in your early environment. In other words, interceptions offer the potential to succeed against the odds in order to be all that you possibly can be.
The above gives a very brief introduction into the technique of interceptions. The following is an example that may help to clarify some of the points discussed. There are no birth details to verify and hence there are no charts to study. However, the film BILLY ELLIOT illustrates the system perfectly and so is worth consideration.
Billy Elliot lives with his older brother and their widowed father, both miners, in northern England during the miner's strike in the 1980's. Billy's Dad, a real 'man's man', has enrolled Billy in boxing classes. Billy however decides to leave boxing behind and secretly joins a Ballet class. He is a natural and in fact he is so talented that his teacher encourages him to audition for the Royal Ballet School in London. Needless to say his family are not supportive and Billy has to battle their hostile reaction and their opposition in order to succeed - which after years of hard work and training he does. His dedication and determination to do so ultimately win his father's admiration and respect.
This article was first published in the Astrological Journal 'Altair' in February 2011.
Looking again at some of the key words often used when describing interceptions, we can see they are entirely appropriate to this story. Billy's natural environment did not support his wish to express himself through dance. In fact it actively prevented him from exploring this part of his personality as the world of Ballet was totally beyond the experience of his family and peers. This was a hindrance in developing his innate talents but it did not stop him. In fact it was his dissatisfaction with the future his surroundings were mapping out for him that propelled him to overcome his inhibitions and to draw on his own inner strength and courage to join the Ballet class. His commitment and hard work in perfecting his skills paid off and he became a prominent and celebrated dancer. In fact he learned to express his inherent gifts in a unique and exceptional manner and by so doing he far exceeded the expectations his background would normally allow.