The special case – the empty hemisphere in the horoscope
URSULA SAMMANN, February, 2022
“The components of the axis cross indicate which ‘basic direction gives the horoscope owner’ a sense of inner security and stability on which foundation he will build the unfolding of his personality and in which areas he expresses his vital force.” * (a) (Inset citation: Tierney, Bil (1))
An empty hemisphere in a horoscope is an extremely special case. I always find it a challenge to do justice to this subject. In this article I want to share with you the insight I have gained up to now into this rare and highly interesting constellation. Even though I kept it short, I hope to convey to you an idea of how complex the subject is.
The learning process was forced upon me. I regularly had to deal with horoscopes with empty hemispheres. To this day it is only the left half that I have not seen empty. A colleague of mine said that she had never had empty hemispheres. However, in my consultations and in my friends’ charts, I came across them all the time.
This afforded me valuable and precious insights into the psychological and karmic aspects of these horoscopes, as well as into the different coping strategies and the suffering that goes along with this potential. The intensity of these personalities, their successes and moments of fortune, as well as their trials and tribulations, touch me to this day.
I define a hemisphere as empty when it does not contain a planet or the north lunar node, or Chiron. This is also the case when one of these components is below one of the two axis poles in conjunction with it, and in the same sign (orb approx. 10 degrees). Since this outlier has not got very far, it cannot meaningfully counter the full half. This can be easily recognised from the aspect lines which, with the exception of the possible aspect to the IC, run exclusively into the populated hemisphere.
However, if a planet is located elsewhere in the otherwise empty hemisphere, it can no longer be considered to be empty. In Paula’s** horoscope the right-hand hemisphere is empty except for Saturn. This is located exactly in the centre of this hemisphere. Its aspects clearly show that there is a lively correspondence with the components on the opposite side. This indicates that this position is rather powerful and very meaningful.
Initially, I was quite surprised that an empty hemisphere was possible at all. Furthermore, I could not imagine how the life of a person with a full hemisphere on the opposite side would pan out. The question as to how the dynamics of the energies in this confined space would work out caused me many headaches at the start of my astrological endeavours. It took years before I had the sense of having grasped the complexity of the special energy in these horoscopes.
My first step was to take my focus away from the populated hemisphere. I started viewing the empty hemisphere as having equal value in the whole. This led me to realise that the exchange of energy within the sphere does not depend on whether the space is full or empty. Rather, it depends on the manner in which this takes place. The empty and full halves are a pair of opposites. (2) How is communication possible between such different parts of a personality when they are tied together inseparably like the two sides of a coin? What exactly do they have in common that underlies their traits characterised by such polarity?
“The energy of populated spaces is always more vibrant than that of unpopulated spaces. However, the more space is taken up by emptiness, the stronger its influence. It follows that a visual appreciation is only complete when the effect of empty or sparsely populated areas is integrated in the overall impression.A complex interpretation of the hemispheres therefore depends fundamentally on their interdependency. This makes not only a deeper understanding of the key themes possible but also that of the inner dynamics of the person.” * (b)
Both the horizontal and the vertical axes divide the sphere into hemispheres. The area to the right of the vertical axis is associated with communication with the “You” and the left-hand area with focus on the “I”. The half above the horizontal line corresponds to the extrovert, public aspects of a personality and the half below to its introvert, private aspects.
These four hemisphere themes correspond to the basic tendencies of our world of experience. The inner, microcosmic order of the horoscope is determined by their interaction. Further elements of this inner structure are the four segments of the axis cross and the four axis poles of the macrocosm. There fore a stable balance is inextricably linked with the number four. These are the four cardinal directions, the four seasons and the four elements that make up our world. In tarot, the Four of Discs represents the balance of forces.
A chair normally has four legs. Let’s now imagine a chair that only has two legs next to each other. “The effort of keeping a two-legged chair balanced prevents you relaxing when you sit on it. The side that holds the legs is the stabilising one. Occasionally it may be possible to switch to the other side, without falling over. This makes you develop movements that others are not used to.” * (c)
To keep the balance and maintain it requires considerable concentration and unusual positions. That causes inner stress, which needs to be faced and dealt with. In view of the fact that it is precisely this dichotomy that stabilises the personality, any attempt to break through this sensitive structure is doomed to fail.The key to the appropriate handling of the extremes of the full and empty halves is acceptance and loving compassion.
“From a spiritual point of view, we know that the soul expresses something with this conspicuous characteristic. We should always trust that it fully knows its plan. It is interesting here that the radiance of its full half has enormous intensity and power. Its special quality is also an expression of the soul. The experience that can be gained based on this constellation must be understood as an important developmental step.” *(d)
If we ask what the potential causes of an empty hemisphere are, there are a number of approaches. Firstly, it is noticeable that this constellation is normally associated with a family of origin that does not deal with the unresolved trauma but stubbornly ignores it. The events that were grievous and harrowing for the whole system are never recognised, perceived and appreciated as such. Most likely there were time-related and existential reasons for this. However, the coping strategy of ignoring such unresolved issues – whilst possibly necessary for survival or the only strategy available in difficult situations – has a fatal effect. It can be felt throughout the entire family system and causes disorientation as well as compulsive compensatory behaviour. The concomitant rigidity and inner hardening blocks the influence of healthy and positive vitality. Instead, such a family system radiates a certain vulnerability, rigidity and coldness. Because no life-affirming messages are transported, it collapses and dies out. No more children – especially no male progeny – are conceived. In consequence, childlessness is often the case with these horoscope owners. The main issue of family traumas and that of the empty half in the respective horoscope correspond. The consequence of the unconsciously transported messages of the ancestors is that this area is no longer visited, is not filled with life.
Another notable fact is that the time of conception of the respective person and also the day and year of birth usually had unwanted and unexpected effects on the family. Here we find the latecomer, the child that made parents marry earlier than intended, the unwanted child and others. Richard**, whose right-hand horoscope hemisphere is empty, was born in Berlin in 1945. His father did not return from the war and was considered missing. His mother was not pleased about the pregnancy, nor about the fact that she was a single parent. If the person is a planned child, there were borderline experiences in the history of the family of origin with respect to conception, pregnancy and birth, such as a stillborn or miscarried child. These souls, who have such special horoscopes, are predestined to experience special and difficult borderline situations.
Another aspect is that rebirth into a certain family system happens due to the resonance of the person’s personal karma with the system’s fundamental issues. The individual life task goes hand-in-hand with the system’s vibrations. This creates a connection with the energy of the respective family system. In the context of the karmic cause of this unusual constellation, I remember a statement from a client, who reiterated, like a mantra, during the reading of his horoscope: “I didn’t want to be here. To me, the whole thing seems like an enormous error.” Of course I believed him when he said that he did not want to be reborn. The only question is, who made the error and why. *(e)
“The empty hemisphere is like an undiscovered territory. The unknown terrain is frightening. No planetary energy is available to this person for making contact with any related issues. In consequence, there is not only a deficit regarding inner orientation, but also with respect to access to this area. The unconscious search for a stable balance leads her or him to compensate for the emptiness. Avoidance strategies and the lack of flexibility are a normal reaction. Dealing with the unfilled-out, empty area becomes unavoidable from midlife at the latest. The change in life energy has the effect of making deficits more problematic and strengths more obvious.” *(f)
In this constellation, special attention should be focused on the life phases and on what would be appropriate for the age of the person. This plays a special role, because there are phases in which a given one-sidedness is not obvious and others in which it moves to the foreground. For example, an empty upper half in childhood and puberty is not an obvious obstacle. However, when it becomes necessary to leave home and to present oneself to the public and its demands, the special avenues that one surely needs to follow become apparent. At the age at which the biological clock is ticking and people usually marry, the relationship and communication issues of the empty right half cause enormous pressure due to the inner limitations. I have witnessed several times how people, even though they wistfully peer over to this side, lack the necessary ability to act and are desperately short of self-confidence.
A critical time is that of mid-life. By then the coping strategies for living with the empty hemisphere have become established. It is a time when one needs to consider the direction of one’s onward journey.
Let’s consider Sharon**, now 79 years old, whose lower half of the horoscope is empty. Until her 40th year she did not experience any serious issues, but neither did her development follow common patterns. She was a hippy of the beat generation and lived in London when things there were somewhat turbulent. It was fashionable to dabble in astrology. She is familiar with her horoscope. She told me in jest: “I don’t need this lower half”. However, when it came to leading a life appropriate to her age, to calm down, she was not able to. She was unable to come down, to come to herself. Important maturation processes did not take place. Now she is not able to limit herself and avoids being on her own. She is left with compulsive modes of behaviour, is overactive and has a childish need for attention. When her physical strength gives out, her energy is concentrated in her head and causes serious migraines as well as sleepless nights. And even though she pursues a spiritual path, practices meditation, she is helplessly exposed to the concentrated energy of her populated upper half with its emphasis on air.
Interpreting the location of the respective rulersof the empty house and comprehending the themes of the empty house and segments is a possible approach to the empty half. The quality
of the respective border axis can also be illuminating.
Owing to the fact that I always look for a message from the soul, I always consider the position of Chiron when I am contemplating the full half. This provides us with information about the nature of the deep hurt of the soul. At the same time, Chiron contains a message about a possible healing process. He is the shaman of the horoscope. (3) In the case of Sharon, he is in the 10th house. In 1942, the year when she was born, emancipation was not on the agenda. Even though her mother had servants, she did not have the opportunity – for social reasons – to pursue a profession, even less to develop her talents. This can be clearly understood from the Moon-Pluto conjunction in the 10th house. It is therefore not surprising that Sharon received the message that women had no right to self-development. Pursuing the enquiry further, I would consider the aspects of Chiron, the ruler of the 10th house, and whether this was the case over several generations – see Saturn and Pluto.
The structure of these personalities only allows for peaks and troughs. A middle ground is not possible owing to the concentration of energy. Special talents play an outstanding and important role and give a very likeable and attractive flavour to their otherwise often quite obvious eccentricity. This is concomitant with the extremes of genius and madness. Coping with everyday matters in a consistent, down-to-earth way is often difficult. Generally, their perception of reality is limited and focused on their own interests. What they are able to do is to pull off their own thing.
This is where we encounter one of the typical characteristics of this constellation. As soon as some purpose is found that provides some stability to the difficult balance, the person exclusively focuses her life on this. There is no space left for other things. If – with the passage of time – changes to the way of dealing with this purpose become necessary, this is ignored for as long as possible.
Sharon’s horoscope is so top-heavy that it almost seems as if she wanted to escape the world. The blue triangle formed by Neptune, the Moon and the triad of Sun, Saturn and Uranus indicates the intensity of her spiritual quest. It is therefore not surprising that from the moment she met her Buddhist teacher, there was no longer anything else that mattered in her life. Even though back in the 70s this path was still considered unconventional, she was not interested in anything else from then on. When the Lama was at the centre where she lived close by, she took on way too many tasks. After his departure she was always completely drained. This went on for years – until she simply could not continue (in spite of her friends’ many patient attempts to persuade her to ease off). She just could not find the balance between self-responsibility and devotion.
With Richard it is similar. He is a talented pianist, organist and piano teacher. During the periods when he thought he would lose his mind, this kept him above water. Because he is a double Leo, and has the Sun with Pluto in conjuction in the 12th house. Had he not had his musical talent, he would have despaired. Now however, at the age of 76, his entire focus is still on work. Everything else is ignored.
These special and often charismatic people can, for a while, remain in the sphere of their horoscope that is empty with great resolve and energy. They behave like actors hidden behind a mask. The way they present themselves is powerful and dynamic. But they do not stay that way for long, because this is the most vulnerable part of their personality. The axis between the two halves is a border that cannot bear to be too greatly transgressed and for too long. They experience permanent oscillation between power and powerlessness, because strong ongoing stimuli or demands from the empty half have an overwhelming effect. This easily results in excess stimulation. Unsurprisingly, there is then a strong need for rest and retreat. Here, a protected refuge is absolutely essential.
One big obstacle is the fact that they have long phases in which they are absolutely unreachable and unteachable. Their perception of themselves as well as of the feelings of other people with respect to closeness and personal needs is blocked. They are not aware of their self-centredness and limitations owing to their permanent ignorance towards themselves and others, which is an unconcious coping strategy. Even though they try very hard not to hurt anybody and to avoid conflict at all cost, they are actually constantly involved in such conflict owing to their inner structure. There are some rare moments in which they open up unexpectedly and communicate. However, these moments pass as quickly as they arrive.
What the polar opposite hemispheres have in common is the human character and its complexity. These special horoscopes combine the extremes of full and empty halves – indicating that the life path of the owners is problematic and often a difficult balancing act.
I remember an example of such a difficult act performed by street artists in Crete: they were able to stack four or five chairs on top of each other in breathtaking speed and then do a handstand balancing on the backrest at the very top. But I digress, or not?
It is therefore not surprising that underlying issues in these personalities can be narcissism, autism, latent schizophrenia and deep depression, through to self-hatred. “Dealing with issues of the unoccupied half and managing them is always beset with problems, because there is no dynamic relationship with nor a realistic attitude towards them.” *(g)
Accepting reality means, in particular, being realistic with respect to what is possible. In this respect, no help can be expected from the value system of normality. Instead, the objective should be to support these people in everything that helps them maintain their delicate balance. Ideally, this would be attentive support and special methods of help, taking into account their special condition and individual potential. Training their self-perception and enhancing their body awareness can significantly help them to be more aware of themselves and to treat themselves more affectionately. In this scenario, phases of self-hatred are not a rarity. For these sensitive souls, shamanic practices, such as spirit animal journeys and work with spiritual issues open up spaces in which they can let go of their permanent stress.
In my Shamanic work I have noticed that these people are surprisingly open to other worlds and well-structured rituals.
“I am always fascinated by the way in which these extremes are balanced; I am curious to find out how such strong polarities are expressed in the lives of these people. I am also amazed at how many variations there are in terms of individual solutions and stories. And I am intrigued by the dynamics that make these personalities so strong and at the same time vulnerable.” *(h)
Partnerships and close bonds are definitely possible and offer the opportunity to have new experiences, to grow internally. They can have a very supportive effect. However, the subject of starting a family is difficult. I had one client with an empty upper half. She lacked any kind of vision for a vocation or profession. Her motivation to have children was the hope that this would solve her problem. It seems that, subconsciously, she did not want to leave her familiar lower half. Clearly, the motivation for having children was not really based on maternal feelings.
It seems to me that people with these unusual horoscopes want to bring closure to something. In particular, this is the case when the family of origin bears the burden of heavy guilt. This may be due to violence, including amongst siblings, criminal activities and, in Germany, active membership of the SS.
In Buddhism it is thought that a person’s karma and rebirth are adversely affected when other people were harmed or made to suffer. Examples of such actions are disowning ones children, financial fraud, serious deception etc.
Richard has managed not to cause suffering to anybody during the time of his maturation. I consider this a good sign. Nowadays, he is a loner who has come to terms with his situation. The same applies to Sharon. She was fully focused on her own persona. However, as an attractive woman she had no problem finding a partner and is now happily married, albeit childless. She has found a spiritual home in Buddhism, from which she derives spiritual nourishment.
“Concerning the message of the soul, I would be interested to see the horoscope of Sharon in her next life. Of course, this is not likely to be different unless she has learned her lesson. But of course, it is not that likely that I will have a chance to see that horoscope.” * (i)
Shaman, Buddhist – Consultant, tarot and astrology expert, author
(1) Tierney, Bil: The Dynamics of Aspect Analysis, CRCS Publications, 2015
(2) Dethlefsen, Thorwald: Krankheit als Weg, Goldmann, 1991
(3) Reinhart, Melanie: Chiron and the Healing Journey, Starwalker Press, 2010
* Quotes from my book Seelenlandschaft Horoskop (bod Verlag, 2018) (a) p. 46, (b) p. 47, (c) p. 61, (d + e) p. 60, (f) p. 59, (g + h) p. 60, (i) p. 61
** The detailed interpretation of the horoscopes of Sharon, Richard and Paula can be found in my book, with a detailed interpretation in Chapter 5.
Translated by Hartwin Busch, Dec. 2022