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Want to learn more about how to do astrology? You've come to the right place!

The MIDHEAVEN and NADIR Axis

Ashley Thiessen

MC IC.png

The Midheaven and Nadir points lie at opposite ends of your Natal Chart. The Midheaven is at the very top, where the Sun was at its highest peak during midday. Using this, we calculate the Nadir, or where the Sun was at its very lowest point during midnight. Like the Ascendant and Descendent Axis, the Midheaven and Nadir are opposites, with one side exposed and other other deeply hidden. But they are nevertheless connected to one another, uniting the top and bottom halves of your Birth Chart to create one whole personality. 

The Nadir (also called the "Imum Coeli", Latin for "Lowest Point"), or IC, is the Fourth House Cusp. As the dead of night, the IC is the deepest, darkest, quietest, most personal place in your chart, for it houses the Private Persona. This is how you think, how you feel, and how you act, when you are completely alone, with no one else watching. Wherever you can be alone with your thoughts, lost in the alleys of your mind, you find your IC - in your home, your office, the shower, your bed at night, scrawled across notebooks nobody else will read or in art books nobody is allowed to look into. Your family, your childhood friends, and those you share a home with, will see this side of you because they have known you long enough to earn your trust, and lived alongside you in these intimate, private spaces. There is a lot of vulnerability in letting people into your Fourth House, and not many people make it past your IC.

The Midheaven (also known as the "Medium Coeli", Latin for "Highest Point"), or MC, is the Tenth House cusp at the top of your Natal Chart. It is the exact opposite of your IC - the Public Persona. This is the brightest, most open, most well-lit part of your personality. When they see you at work, on stage, on screen, on the internet; when they hear your voice through your podcast, or read your voice in a book, or hear about you from other people; when they see you, or hear about you, but haven't met you face-to-face, that is when they see your MC. It is your reputation, what you want to be known for, and what you want to be seen as.

Both the MC and the IC have their roots in childhood, and our relationships to the authority figures we grew up under. From your mom, your dad, your grandparents, your teachers, priests, pastors, community leaders, and other influential adults, you learned the right and wrong ways to act. Through praise, shame, love, embarrassment, discipline, warmth, and encouragement, you were shown which traits were admired, which people laughed at, and what they didn't like. You, too, from interacting with your peers, helped to condition others into becoming more of what you respected and less of the rest. From your family, your school, your community, and your culture abroad, your MC/IC polarity developed. And from there, the rift grew deeper, and deeper, until you gave people one part of you and saved a second part only for yourself.

We often think of the MC as a fake, constructed persona, and as the IC as our real, authentic selves. This couldn't be further from the truth. This way of thinking hinges on the idea that we are fundamentally one type of person, forced act unlike ourselves in different situations. But the truth is, all of your choices and actions come together to create a portrait of who you really are, regardless of what made you act that way. The way you act when you are in front of people, trying to make your best impression - that is the real you. And the way you act when you are alone, with nobody to judge you - that is the real you too! 


THE MC/IC SIGN PLACEMENTS

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The world sees you as a very strong and independent person. You are ruthless when it comes to attaining your goals because you do not back down for anything. Your fury is as much a testament to your courage as it is to your drive to succeed. You may face criticism in your life at the hands of those who do not know you well, who label you by what they hear of your biting anger and potent sexuality. You may be judged as a sinner just based on what people see on the peripheries of your life. However, it is important for you to remember that people will also see your high-energy enthusiasm, your outstanding athletic abilities, and your lust for adventure. The same qualities that scare people with endow you with bravery and leadership, which are much needed qualities to have in public life.

Your Libra IC is a stark contrast to how you appear to be on the outside. When you are out interacting with the world you are confrontational, competitive, and very me-first in the way you push past people. But at home you seek to create a beautiful, harmonious environment that is primed with pleasantry. There is no rude, loud, boisterous, obnoxious behaviour here. Home is a place for cooperation and critical thinking.  Friends and family see you as an intelligent person who is utterly polite (unless, of course, there is an “intellectual discussion” happening somewhere and you need to jump in and balance it out), knowing how much equality and respect mean to you.

When you were growing up you had to share your parent’s attention with other people. You might have had other siblings that got more than you, or they might have had other obligations that took up their time. Not being one to act out or demand attention from them, you quietly waited your turn and respected the fact that they were trying to treat you as an equal with their other engagements. They loved you dearly, and you knew that, but you did sometimes feel like you were not as special as you wanted to be. You may have done other things to try and impress them, such as building up your intelligence, artistic talents, or by exceedingly good behaviour. But eventually you came out and began taking what you wanted by force rather than patiently waiting for somebody to be nice and give it to you. You developed your Aries MC to put yourself first in the world; to showcase the raw, animalistic drives inside of you and push them into your public persona.

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You put yourself out there as a simple, straightforward, consistent, down-to-earth type of person. Not one to complain or make much of a fuss, you portray yourself as easygoing and content with the basic luxuries of life. The peace of a clean, quiet home and the company of a few loved ones is more than enough. Your reputation revolves around your astonishing work ethic, especially when it comes to your job. People know how hard you are willing to work to get what you want: good food, comfortable sleep, uncomplicated love, and plenty money. Your clients and employers notice (putting in overtime, looking after details, bending over backwards to get things done) and will certainly understand how much you deserve to get paid in return.

But in the privacy of your home, perhaps in the company of family and close childhood friends, you will wear your Scorpio IC. Your public image is of a very simple, laid-back, stable hard worker. But your private image is of a deeply complex, emotional, secretive, and sexual person. In your home you battle for power with those you are living with because you want to be the one that controls everything. You can be quite the manipulator if you have to be; pouting, silent resentment, and even powerful bouts of aggression. But let’s not dwell on the negative and forget how passionately you care about the people you love as well - your family and your close friends mean the world to you, and are the only people you trust enough to see this vulnerable, emotional side of yourself.

It stems from the fact that you did not have the best childhood. Within the depths of your subconscious your memories of the past are littered with alcoholism, abuse, death, trauma, sex, various kinds of manipulation and betrayal, and unseen forces berating your family. These things were all going on before you were born, and your birth and childhood were when the intensity was at its height. By the time you reached adolescence your family was polarized and resentful towards one another. When you were young, you did not understand what was going on around you. But there were always themes of power and control, and you absorbed them from an early age. That is not to say that your home life was strictly one horrible event after another! You knew love and loyalty well, and you remain close to the few family members who have looked out for you. What you want is to find peace within yourself and to make sense of the chaos. And if you have to fake it until you make it, a Taurus MC works beautifully.

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With your MC in the sign of Gemini, your public image takes on the qualities of that sign: intelligent, sociable, optimistic, and highly communicative. You seem to flit from one topic to another without getting into any deeper discussions. You can carry a conversation with anybody about anything, and enjoy being around people when you are out in the public world. When people see you out in public they might remark on your smile, the cheerful way you greet others, and the sparkle in your eye when you speak. You seem to flirt a lot, and you love to gossip. And you certainly talk a lot, to everybody, about everything under the sun!

Meanwhile, your Nadir (IC) is at the bottom of your chart, in Sagittarius. When you are alone in the privacy of your home (or in the company of those people you are the most comfortable with) you ruminate in deep thought. You do not flit from one subject to another, but rather enjoy deep, complex discussions that explore the realms of ideas, beliefs, spirituality, and philosophy. You have books piled high in your home on all sorts of subjects. You think in an exaggerated kind of excitement, getting all worked up as you act out all your exciting dramas, what you've been studying, what you've been interested in learning about lately, all your individual tastes and remixes on the ideas of others - all scribbled in notepads and squirrelled away for the day when you can finally flesh out those projects you've been putting off.

In your childhood, when you were living at home with your family, you were thought of as a very bright child. Energetic, enthusiastic about learning, and always exploring the outside world, you met every new subject with curiosity and an open mind. You sought to learn and understand other people’s cultures and perspectives. Your teachers and classmates labelled you as the “smart kid”. Childhood was when your MC and IC were only beginning to separate; by adolescence, you learned to differentiate between how you wanted people to see you and what you wanted to keep hidden. What you wanted people to see was that you were intelligent, rational, and a logical thinker. What you wanted to hide was your creativity, comedic humour, big ideas, and even deeper, your desire to run away from home.

MC CANCER.jpg

When people do not know you very well, they will look at your MC in Cancer and see you as very guarded. To strangers you appear to always speak and move cautiously, as if you are hiding something. You even wear a protective “shell” made from silence and a stony face to keep people at bay. Your shell is used to protect your reputation from anybody looking to tarnish it, but also to protect your gentle feelings from being hurt. The truth is that you are very sensitive about what people think of you, especially when it comes to your work and career. You long to know people are impressed by you, and so you are careful about doing anything that could be embarrassing or worthy of harsh judgement.

Only those who know you very intimately will see your Capricorn IC. Where publicly you appear shy and quiet, privately you take on a strong leadership role (which is a nice way of saying you are controlling and domineering at all times, and you can't help it). You are unquestionably in charge of your household. You direct them to their chores, micromanage everything they do, and give all kinds of feedback when they are done. Whether you are a parent, a roommate, or a spouse, you will be intimately involved in everything going on in your house. Nothing starts or goes without the “OK” from you. In your mind the entire house is yours, and they are just allowed to be there.

In many ways your private persona reflects your home life growing up. Your family was very restrictive and controlling. They tried to make you into what they wanted you to be rather than accepting you for how you were. You may have been treated badly as a kid, so you have adopted “fight for respect” mentality. One parent was more or less uninvolved in your childhood (either physically gone or emotionally absent) while the other was a prominent figure in your life. In either case it is your father that shaped your IC, either in his absence or involvement, as he is who you have wanted to impress the most. From your parents, you absorbed strong messages about work ethic, moral values, and success, and you retained those lessons to make your parents proud. If you felt like one did not love you, or that there would be consequences if you did not follow through with what you were told to do, that only prompted you to work harder. And so you did your chores, went to school, honed your artistic skills, and did whatever else you had to do in order to make them happy.

MC LEO.jpg

To those who do not know you very well, you seem like somebody who wants to get a lot of love and attention. Your public persona is very big, very loud, and very bright, prompting some to compare you to a continuous performer in search of an audience. Whether you stride with regality or with a skip in your step, people know to look at you when you walk in the door. When people see you at distance, here about through friends, or meet you on the job, they are instantly attracted to your magnetic persona. And why wouldn't they? You're happy all of the time! 

But that is only who you appear to be on the surface level. That is the cute, attention-loving, pleasure-seeking mask you wear to the public. To those who know you intimately, like your family and close childhood friends, your Aquarius Nadir (IC) is much more visible. Where your Leo MC is open and fun-loving, here you are more of a loner. You do not want to waste energy pleasing people and catering to them. In fact, all you really want is to be left alone to your studies and your projects. You expect other people in your home to be independent. From the outside, your family life can look kind of unusual because you are open-minded enough to accept anybody for anything, and not much of a disciplinarian. If a family member turns out to be gay, or wants to have an usual job, or dress in a different way, you support them 100%. It is their business, after all, and it does not affect you.

This liberal beliefs stem from your home life growing up, where you felt like you were not treated like you were special or unique. The worst case scenario is that you were actually seen as plain, a burden, or not worthy of much praise or attention. As a kid you had little control over your life’s direction and had to follow your parents wherever they went. This could mean you were uprooted a lot, that you were forced into their religion or belief system, or that you just were not given a voice in the things that affected you. Nobody valued your input and just told you what to do. Your home life was probably tumultuous, with parents fighting with each other or other family members. In particular, your father’s absence of affection will have affected you the most, as you always wished he would show you how much he loved you. You dealt with the conflict by becoming emotionally detached and eventually rebelling against your family, leaving them to do your own thing.

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When people look at you from afar, they see the outward Virgo qualities we are all familiar with. They see an analytical mind and bookish intelligence. They see a rational thinker who poses as an authority on what is right and what is not. They see a down-to-earth, practical, sensual person, with strong work ethic and their shit together. You are a dutiful, hard working, seemingly perfect person, in every way  - albeit someone who is cold, detached, and unfriendly at times too. 

Your family will see a very different side of you in your Pisces IC, one that is emotional, messy, lazy, gullible, but also sensitive, compassionate, empathetic, and completely selfless. When you are alone you indulge in creativity, spirituality, and the desire to escape into a fantasy realm. Whether through books, movies, television, music, drugs, alcohol, religion, or art, you enjoy zoning out and getting lost inside the catacombs of your own mind. The Piscean qualities of your Nadir began in childhood and stay like that forever. And your childhood was more than a little confusing.

When you were growing up there was a lot going on between your parents that you didn’t understand. You were born on the verge of some kind of upheaval. Something happened that caused the family break apart before you were born and now they were dealing with the aftermath. Your parents were fighting when you were born and probably separated when you were very young. You might have moved a lot when you were little, or an important family member may have died. Alcoholism, addiction, illicit affairs, trauma, and emotional turmoil made your home life very unstable. Whatever it was driving you family into a million pieces, you had a hard time making sense of it as a child. Your parents tried their best to shelter you from what was going on. They played everything off and tried to be your friend through the hard times.

MC LIBRA.jpg

Beautiful, intelligent, charming, sexy - with a Libra Midheaven, your reputation is built on the finer aspects of your personality. People know you by your good looks, first and foremost. They see you as elegant, yet strong; rational and logical, yet artistic and sensitive. In public, you don the mask of a diplomatic leader, leading at eye level with the rest of the group. But you aren't afraid to raise your voice and speak out against injustice, or in protests against the rude, the unfair, the inhumane, or the corrupt. People underestimate you constantly. And their surprise only widens the further they get to know you. 

With an Aries Nadir, you dominate the people living in your house through dramatic displays of anger, loud demands, and sharp, biting humour. Where publicly you portray yourself as quietly respectful, at home you stand your ground and lash out when you do not get what you want. You can yell and laugh and swear all you like. You can be fiery, creative, boisterous. You release and let go of your anger without thinking twice. You seldom have to think before you speak, or watch your tone with what you say. In your private life, you can be you in all your uncensored glory - thanks, in part, to the family environment you were raised in.

You learned early on how to be independent. Growing up, you saw a lot of conflict in your family, some of it serious and some of it not. You saw problems with alcoholism, drug addiction, and anger. There was a general, overall tone of aggression that over time became dry and meaningless to you. You knew the difference between somebody blowing off steam and a serious, unbridled battle. You could listen to people fighting and swearing at one another and not even bat an eye. You adopted values surrounding bravery, courage, and heroic action. And you learned how to be alone – how to look after yourself, love yourself, and do things by yourself.

MC SCORPIO.jpg

Embodying both the best and worst parts of human nature, and having them be a part of your public image, can be difficult at times. Especially with the kinds of attention it attracts. When people see you as passionate, sexual, mysterious, dark, and interesting, you draw in crowds of lovers who become obsessed with you. But when people see you as aggressive, manipulative, arrogant, emotionally intense, and abusive, you also attract a lot of hate into your life. Everywhere in between there are hoards of unstable, highly emotional people who see you as a teacher, rival, or saviour. And you can be all of those things, and more.

Your Taurus Nadir (IC) on the other hand, is how you are in the privacy of your home, opposite the public realm of outside life. Where you publicly display yourself as very complex, they see you as utterly simple. Here you show your earthy sensuality, your love of all things comfy and soft. You want your home in the country to be beautiful, filled with all of your sentimental possessions and collections. It is important that the furnishings in your home are high-end and natural; real wooden floors, fresh flowers in the garden, old trees out back, and antique furniture. You want down-home cooking and homemade dessert. Your family will see your consistency, stability, and how stubborn you are. And you do not like anything in your personal space to be changed, moved around, or touched too much!

As a child, you had a very nice house. Even on little money, you were always well fed and secure. You come from a family that is utterly simple; happy with good food and deep conversation. They gave you a taste for the finer things in life by caring so much about the look and quality of the things in their home. Your mother and father probably had collections they liked to show off, as well as precious things that were never to be touched. Although they invited their children and guests to make themselves at home, they had a certain way about it that indicated that the person should never get too comfortable, because this was their house. They were actually quite controlling in a lot of ways, both over their house and their family. Nothing could be done, or touched, or moved, or planned without them having a hand in what was going on. And you grew up in that environment, absorbing everything and then reiterating that behaviour once you got a home of your own.

MC SAGITTARIUS.jpg

The outside world sees you as a very open, friendly person. People are magnetically drawn to you from afar by your straightforward way of speaking and blunt sense of humour. Caught off-guard by your candour, people can’t help but laugh and relate to you on a very basic level. Some people get offended by how outspoken you are. But while you have a reputation for speaking your thoughts candidly, but never with the intention to hurt somebody's feelings. You abandon traditional “social graces” and express yourself honestly, without mincing words to save face. Not everybody can handle that, but that is not your problem. You do not pay too much attention to what you have left behind. You bounce quickly from one idea to the next, always moving forward. With a big smile and boundless enthusiasm, you chase after philosophies down branching trails of knowledge and understanding.

Of course, this is only how people see you from a distance. Your family and close childhood friends (the people who have known you very well all your life) will see you through your Gemini Nadir (IC). When you find yourself alone with your thoughts, you spend a lot of time enjoying your own inner dialogue. And when you are with those few people you are close to, you enjoy a lot of stimulating conversations. Most importantly, you want to get into the facts of life and learn how the world works and how to do things. In the privacy of your own little world you seek out mental activities to busy yourself with. Out in the public world they will see you as somebody who thinks very deeply, but may not have a firm grasp of reality. But your family will know how rational, logical, sociable, and intelligent you actually are.

When you were growing up, your home life was changing constantly. Your family was growing and shrinking, moving around, breaking apart and then putting new pieces together. Altogether, your family looks like a mosaic of different colours, all stuck together at odd but fitted edges. During your childhood, at a time when most children are putting down their roots and understanding who they are, you never became attached to any one way of living. Nothing was stable or permanent enough for you to get comfortable for very long. Your home and family do not give you a grounded sense of stability, where permanent happy memories and familiar tokens live for years after. You cannot go back to where you grew up and feel an intimate connection with the land. You were not necessarily unhappy growing up, just conditioned to be flexible. You lived on shifting tides and are used to a home full of movement in every direction. And that is where you continue to live – in the home of your Gemini IC, flitting from one thing to the next, never satisfied in one place for long.

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You create a reputation for being determined, hard working, goal-oriented, and very good at what you do. You have a very professional public image that exudes confidence and experience, even if you have none. To say you care about your own public image is an understatement. After all, when it comes to your career you place achievement high above everything else. But there is more to your values than just money and material gains. And there is more to you than just the cold, ambitious person the rest of the world sees.

When you are alone in the privacy of your own home, that is when you become your Cancer Nadir (IC). Here you are emotional, sensitive, and very attached to your belongings and loved ones. You take on an almost maternal role in your house, cooking and cleaning and taking care of chores. Often, you will retreat into your bedroom (or office, or workshop) and spend a lot of time working on things by yourself. To the outside world you are full of confidence and bravado, but on the inside you are deeply introvert, very shy, and much more emotional than they think.

When you were growing up your mother was the central figure of your family home, either because she was a single mother or your father was away from home a lot. She set the example of how to responsibly run a household and showed you what it meant to live independently. She was the pivotal example of a wife and mother: highly emotional, maternal, hot dinners every night, family photos everywhere and holiday decorations for every occasion. She loved you very much, and you were very special to her. As a child, you were given more than enough praise and attention. And thanks to her, you grew into a person who knows they were loved by their family. Women with this placement imitate their mom and become steady wives and mothers, while men grow to expect their spouse to be like their mom and take care of the home and children. Either way, you will run your home the same way you grew up in it: full of food, family, and the comforts of home.

MC AQUARIUS.jpg

You have a reputation for being emotionally detached, highly social, and very smart. There is a kind “dry intensity” that radiates off of you – you seem to be quietly aloof, cold, and intimidating to everybody around you. People feel like you listen for a while and then sharply correct them, and so the weak-willed instinctively avoid you. Others who are able to carry a conversation will notice that you actually talk a lot and are very sociable; your conversations are factual, logical, and completely rational. You might be passionate about what you are speaking about but you never divert from the straight path of reason. And you aren’t judgmental - in fact, you are very open-minded. Still, you give people the feeling that you do not really care about them, or that you do not want to be where you are.

Your Leo IC, however, is the complete opposite of your public persona. Here you show a larger-than-life personality: loud, emotional, energetic, childish, and self-oriented. You give love in big displays, doting and fawning over your children and your pets. Like an eternal child you play, create, love, and express yourself fully within the private walls of your home. And also like a child, your family life revolves around you. One minute you might throw a tantrum, and the next you are laughing as you cuddle and tickle your spouse and your kids. You expect to give affection and loyalty easily, and to receive it automatically. After all, when you were growing up that was all that you knew.

When you were a kid you were raised to believe that you were very special. You might have been the oldest or the youngest, the only boy or the only girl, the first grandchild, or you might have had some kind of talent that everybody loved. (Or, in some cases, you were the “good” kid, where your siblings were “bad”.) Whatever the story, you were the favourite. Everybody in your family (especially your mother) fawned over all the things you did, praising you for every accomplishment and exaggerating all your best qualities. You got everything you wanted: toys, games, love, undivided attention. Everybody showed an enormous interest in you, your happiness, and your success. In some ways their affection was not shown so much through cuddling and nurturing you, but in encouraging you to do things. Both of your parents assured you that no matter what you did or where you went or what happened to you, they loved you!

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With your MC in the dreamy sign of Pisces, people see you as a creative, kind, spiritual, almost ethereal person. They notice the far-away look, the quiet contentment that hangs around you like a mist. In some ways they will view you as a person delegated by their emotions. You give the impression of being needy and yet endlessly giving, somehow on the verge of depression yet keeping your spirits up. People think that you are sensitive, which you certainly are, and that you accept people at face value. Your apparent compassion and empathy will draw in both saints and sinners, all looking for that endless love you seem to share. To a spiritual person, you have connection to a higher power that shows you where your work is. To others, you are blessed with extraordinary imagination and intuition.

Your Pisces MC may give the impression that you are messy, lazy, and unorganized. But one look into the Virgo Nadir (IC) of your private life will reveal that all to be untrue in your private, personal life. You are an utterly domestic person, properly concerned with the comfort of everyday routine. And that means cooking, cleaning, and doing all your chores regularly. You are the complete opposite of chaotic when it comes to your home, making sure to have a detailed inventory of everything going on. While you might have a reputation for being sensitive and unrealistic, your close friends and family members know you to be a realistic, intellectual, quiet, and well put-together.

There was probably some kind of negativity surrounding you when you were growing up, like fighting, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, or a poor home life. Whether or not you were aware of what your family members were going though, you looked for an escape. And it came to you in the form of books, activities, and playing by yourself. Armed with a sharp mind and the intellectual maturity of somebody much older, you became the “smart kid” in your family. When your family was falling apart, you were peacefully tucked away in another land far, far away. By your adolescence you were fully aware of what was going on in your home. With a well-established hate for stupidity and plenty of emotionally repression, you came into adulthood with your guard up in your home.