Recently, in this age of corona virus, I was chatting online with a colleague who does a lot of sports astrology. One of his favorite techniques is to analyze the “age harmonic” charts of two teams to predict the outcome. He apparently has a good success rate. His comment got me curious because it’s a technique that I had not previously used in predictive work, so I decided to dig a little deeper into the literature.
To be honest, I had experimented with harmonic charts over the years and found them to be theoretically fascinating but not especially useful in my day-to-day workings with predictive astrology. This may have been due to my inexperience with the technique or my not having studied with an astrologer conversant with the method. I recall back in the 1980s and 1990s reading works by Karl Ersnt Krafft (1930s), John Addey (1970s), David Hamblin (1980s), and Charles Harvey (1990s) on the topic, but the method never became a staple in my own practice, which was geared more toward predictive work than psychological astrology. More recently I’ve been trying to learn some Hindu astrology which makes ample use of harmonic and other “divisional” charts to focus in on various potentials of the birth chart.
The idea of harmonic charts grows out of our ancient astrological tradition, much of which is derived from Pythagorean numerology and musical theory. The Pythagorean school studied stringed musical instrument and discovered that the intervals between harmonious musical notes could always be expressed in whole number ratios. For example, the notes in a “perfect fifth” have the ratio of 3 to 2. In addition, a string of a musical instrument which is exactly half the length of another will produce a pitch that is exactly an octave higher when plucked. Similarly, a 2nd harmonic chart will traverse the entire zodiac in 180 degrees rather than the 360 degrees required to circumnavigate the standard horoscope wheel.
An author who popularized “age harmonic” charts is Dymock Brose who wrote a popular article in Solar Fire Deluxe Tips & Techniques. In fact, the option to calculate many types of harmonic charts is a feature of the Solar Fire program. Brose writes that he first learned about age harmonics from artist-astrologer Ross Harvey of NSW, Australia, in 1983. I do not know whether Ross Harvey developed the idea or learned it from someone else. Charles Carter’s book on Symbolic Directions in 1929 documented that astrologers in the early part of the 20th century had been experimenting with almost any number conceivable to symbolically direct charts in the hope of finding a magic formula to make predictions. In my opinion, most of these were silly attempts that turned out to be nonsense.
As I understand the application of harmonic theory to astrology, the birth chart is the first harmonic. We enter the world as a first harmonic. The natal chart vibrates at the basic frequency against which all other charts are measured. By analogy with music theory, the 2nd harmonic chart “vibrates” at twice the frequency of the birth chart (the 1st harmonic). Everything in the 2nd harmonic chart moves twice as fast around the zodiac as it would in the natal chart, that is, everything in the second harmonic chart plays the same tune but at one octave higher.
Unfortunately, the article by Dymock Brose appears to have a logical fallacy because he treats the birth chart as if the infant does not begin its first harmonic until age one. Instead the infant, according to Brose’s argument, comes into the world as harmonic zero, which symbolically would probably correspond to an unmanifested idea in the mind of God. Perhaps the moment before the Big Bang could be considered harmonic zero because of the absence of all vibration, but the conception of the birth chart as “harmonic 0” defies logic and common sense. Infants are not born as amorphous blobs and tabula rasas.
The proponents of Brose’s theory try to get around this illogical position with arguments such as the following from Alice Portman’s site:
“From the moment of our first breath in this world our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies are continually assimilating information, which leads to continuous growth and development of our psyche. … “Each year of life emphasises and unfolds one of the harmonics and their multiples:
“The period between 0-1 opens and develops harmonic fractions.”
“The period between 1-2 opens and develops the 1st harmonic, the conjunction.”
In other words, by claiming that birth chart represents harmonic zero, the astrologer must invent an illogical concept of “harmonic fractions.” What in the world is a “harmonic fraction”? The utter nonsense of this concept becomes apparent if we try to apply it in real life.
Consider a baby born with a congenital heart defect requiring surgery within 24 hours to save the baby’s life. The age harmonic chart, according to Brose, would be calculated as follows: one day is 1/365.2422 of a tropical year, so the harmonic chart would be calculated by multiplying the zodiac longitude of each point in the birth chart by 1/365.2422 or 0.00273. Such an “age harmonic” chart would compress the entire birth chart into less than one degree of the zodiac. The closer to the birth time, the more compressed the birth chart becomes in Brose’s “age harmonic” calculations because his theory considers the birth time to be the equivalent of a “Big Bang” event which is at harmonic zero.
Even Juan Estadella in his thoughtful book on Predictive Astrology (3rd edition, pp 257-258) falls into this trap. Fortunately, Solar Fire offers the option of “Harmonic Age + 1” which adds one year to the age of the individual before calculating the harmonic age chart. The rationale for doing so is that age 0 corresponds to the 1st harmonic chart (the birth chart), age 1 to the 2nd harmonic chart, age 2 to the 3rd harmonic chart, and so on. Brose and his followers appear to have confused cardinal with ordinal numbering: age 0 begins the 1st year of life, age 1 begins the 2nd years of life, etc. The numbers 0, 1, 2, etc., are cardinal numbers. The numbers 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc., are ordinal numbers.
In his article Brose gives the example of a woman born in 1947 who undergoes major abdominal surgery in 2006. He implies that the “age harmonic” chart is superior to other methods of predicting this event because it is more precise and individualized. Nonetheless, the primary directions and solar and lunar returns for this event show it quite clearly. In addition, because Brose is using the birth of this individual as a big bang event, as if birth were harmonic zero, his calculations are a full year off.
The importance of regarding the birth chart as the 1st harmonic rather than a “big bang zero harmonic” becomes especially evident in sports astrology in which the first game of the season is often taken as the team’s “birth chart” from which age harmonic charts are generated. If the first game were considered harmonic zero, as in Bryce’s system, then a game two weeks later (14 days divided by 365.2422 day in a year) would produce an age harmonic chart in which every point in the birth chart was multiplied by 0.038, resulting a a harmonic chart with all planets and points in the first 14 degrees of Aries. How would an astrologer make sense of such a chart? For this reason, sports astrologers would choose the “Harmonic Age + 1” option in Solar Fire to generate their Age Harmonic charts for sports teams each season. Interestingly, some sports astrologers also use “converse” or pre-natal Age Harmonic charts of teams to assist in predicting the outcome of matches.
In doing an online search, I found a Google Groups entry by astrologer Gail Klein who appears to understand correctly that the birth chart is the first harmonic. To quote her helpful post verbatim:
“To calculate your age harmonic chart:
Take your current age and add 1 to it. This number represents your current age harmonic. So, if you’re 52 years old now, 53 is your current age harmonic.
Convert all your planets, and your Ascendant and MC, into zodiacal longitude.
For instance, 12 Aquarius 48 becomes 312d 48m.
Multiply each converted position by 53 (or whatever your age harmonic is) using a “scientific calculator”, reducing* the result until your number is less than 360. Convert this number back into sign position.
For instance, for an original placement at 12 Aquarius 48, do: 312 48 x 53 (or whatever the age harmonic actually is) = 16578 24
Reduce 16578 24 to a number less than 360 = 18 24 = 18 Aries 24 is the 53rd harmonic position of that natal 12 Aquarius 48 position.
(*Reduce by subtracting 360 until you get a number less than 360.)
When you get your age harmonic Ascendant, simply draw equal houses and the put your new positions in. Try one for the birthday before your last one and see whether the chart describes conditions of that year. It’s fun!“