Concerning General Happiness and the Trigons

© 2002 Curtis Manwaring

First, in order to look at the astrological indicators for happiness, we need to define what happiness is, or more precisely, what the Hellenistic astrologers considered happiness to be. There are of course many different possible reasons why any given person may be happy. It is also possible for two different people to be in very much the same circumstances; while one person is quite happy and content and the other person is miserable. To some extent it is a state of mind, but sometimes it seems as if the state of our minds are beyond our control. This chapter is not about overcoming these obstacles, but examining the natural state of the native's circumstances from the outset; for some are naturally happy and content, and some find it more difficult to be happy and battle personal demons.

Because we are looking at general happiness, we are not looking at the particular circumstances within the native's life, but rather, the life as a whole. The lights of the cosmos represent that whole and indeed Antiochus of Athens says that the Sun and Moon represent "one's all". But we are not just looking at whether the lights are agreeably situated or not. Hellenistic astrologers placed a great deal of emphasis upon the trigons of the Sun and Moon with regard to this matter. This is because happiness from the Hellenistic astrologer's point of view is a matter of whether the life as a whole is able to be "set in line" in a propitious way. [1] This makes intuitive sense because we tend to see the trine aspects in a birth chart as free flowing energies while squares and oppositions represent blockages and obstacles; with the result being that those things in life that are "set in line" are of less resistance and difficulty. Here, one of the important questions we are asking ourselves is if the native's life as a whole conforms with his/her expectations. Often, it is the difference between what the native expects and what happens that determines in the native's view whether his/her life works out well as a whole or not. However, it is important to make the distinction between how well things work out on the whole and whether the native is in fact happy; for there are cases where things work out brilliantly well, yet the native is still miserable and vice versa. Most people know that in order to be really happy, there needs to be some balance between the good and the bad. If nothing bad ever happens then it is impossible to feel joy; and also if everything is predominantly bad, then the same results. It is in overcoming our struggles that we obtain the greatest happiness.

If you remember in chapter 7, I presented a pair of dignities that dealt with conformity and the setting of a standard: the trigon and bound lord respectively. The trigon lords of the light of the time (the Sun by day and the Moon by night) show how much or how little difficulty you have in making your life work out the way you want it to. The bound lord of the light of the time then represents the expectations you have for your life as a whole. [2] If you have read Valens book 2, you will also note that the trigons are also used as an indicator for eminence. This is because for the most part, if your trigon lords are well placed, you have the potential to rise in life. The result is that you overcome obstacles and advance; which is generally a happy situation.

Kurt Cobain's Chart as it relates to Eminence and Happiness

(I recommend that you first read Exploring Eminence in Bill Gates Birth Chart before going any further.) First we look to the trigon lords of the light of the time. In this case, the Moon was found in the trigon of Mars, Venus and the Moon, because it was in Cancer at night. While the first trigon lord (Mars) was in a decline cosmologically, it was in a pivot with regard to fortune and in it's own house which made the beginning of life effective. The second trigon lord was Venus and she was in a cosmological pivot and she also had fortune for her lot and she was in the acquisition (11th sign from fortune) which is very positive for finances. Here Venus stands exalted before the courtroom of the cosmic soul asking for popularity, fame (7th house) and financial gain. The Moon, which is the planet that assists, witnesses both Venus and Mars by trine and is in the cosmological aquisition (11th house) in her own house.

The four lots further confirm eminence. The lot of Exaltation was in Cancer in the acquisition with it's lord present. The lot of Basis was in Sagittarius, in a pivot. It's lord, Jupiter was seen with Exaltation in Cancer. Spirit itself was in the 10th from fortune and it's lord (Saturn) had dealings with the lord of Fortune (Venus) in the acquisition. Because all of the witnesses in the cosmic courtroom agreed (all of the visible planets are in the water trigon), Kurt was propelled to great fame and his life worked out brilliantly well from the objective standpoint of being effective in the world.

Of course, most of the world knew that he wasn't very happy and he ended up comitting suicide. The question is why? As I said above, if things come too easily then the joy is diminished. Also, it is possible that what happened in his life and what was expected were two different things. What is striking in this chart is the lack of visible planets in difficult aspects such as square and opposition (Hellenistic astrologers did not know about Uranus and Pluto). This suggests that the energies involved are very free flowing without much resistance. I doubt however that his life was really as easy as it appears in this chart. Also, because of all of this water emphasis, there was nothing else to balance him in the other areas of life such as practicality (earth), and clear headedness (air) and determination and will (fire), which meant that emotion had total control in his life.

The most fascinating thing about this chart is what his expectations might have been. As was said above this is found by looking at the bound lord of the light of the time (in this case, the bound lord of the Moon). Mercury has the bound rulership of the Moon according to the egyptians. Mercury is in a depressed state (in fall) in Pisces, so that it was not easily recognized by the cosmic soul and therefore could not speak effectively for bringing his expectations in line with what actually happened in his life. Among Mercury's significations is also mental capacity and state of mind (along with the Moon). If it had not been for the fall of Mercury, then the trine aspects between Mercury and the other trigon lords might have been enough to assure happiness, although a few more difficult aspects and balance of other energies in the chart might have been even better.


In general, then, we should look for the following indicators in order to understand whether the native will be happy or not by nature:

  1. The 3 trigon lords of the light of the time should be well placed, especially in pivots with regard to the lot of fortune, or in the natal angles, in their own exaltations or their own houses. This enables the native to overcome obstacles and rise in life.
  2. The 4 lots, Exaltation, Fortune, Spirit and Basis, should be well placed, or their lords should hand over to eachother (be in eachother's places - for instance the lord of Basis in the same sign as the lot of exaltation), or to fortune or be in the 10th from fortune.
  3. The bound lord of the light of the time should be in good shape by being in one of it's dignities, not in fall, and be able to witness the other trigon lords for the most part. This enables the natives expectations to be in conformity with what happens in his/her life.


1. This is because Schmidt says that the Greek word for trigon is "stoichion" which means to set things in a line (or in order) or make something conform to some standard.
2. According to Robert Schmidt the Greek word for "bound" is "horion", which means "limit", or "standard". I extrapolated from this context that the bound lord of the light of the time is the standard or expectation for the whole of one's life.

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