Depth analysis of the Natal Chart: Inferior Functions (Pt 2)
In the last article (Inferior Functions – Pt. 1) we looked at the Singleton planet, using examples of Moon Singletons for one type of Inferior Function.
Let’s now look at the second type of Inferior Function.
The Absent Function
The Absent Function happens when there are no planets in an element, modality or orientation. When there are no planets in an element, there is a hidden grand trine; and when there are no planets in a modality, there is a hidden grand square. Both grand trines and grand squares, obvious or “hidden,” are closed systems.
The person lives in his own self-created world and is inaccessible to others along the lines of the element or modality that is involved. He tends unconsciously to block out relationships in the area of the major configurations.
For example, a grand trine in fire, either present of hidden, can bring great luck and taken-for-granted skill in areas of creativity and visionary intuition. As a closed system, other people cannot hook into the person’s dramatic and passionate world. It is a place within his psyche where he is complete within himself and does not need relationships. In this area, at least, he is self-fulfilled. The difference between the grand trine and the hidden grand trine is this: the first expresses with a natural easiness and grace, with nonchalance, while the absent grand trine comes up with urgency, intensity and passion. For example, Beethoven had no water; his music is intense and soul wrenching in its passion; Liszt had a grand trine in water and his music flows with ease, feeling and romance.
The grand square, when present in aspects between planets in the four signs of the same modality, tends to manifest as great energy and stability. People who found organizations or movements, like Mao Tsetung and J. Donald Walters (Kriyananda), have grand squares. Their downfall may come through their inability to receive or accept input from others that seems to contradict or criticize their ideas or ideologies. A hidden grand square, for example, Mick Jagger’s hidden cardinal square, often is overcompensated. Although Jagger has no planets in cardinal signs, he nonetheless seems to be a perpetual motion machine.
The absent function manifests psychologically most often in two ways. It is a source of great creativity, and it tends to be so in terms of overcompensation. A person with a missing element or modality is likely to be an overachiever in terms of the element or modality. He may be rather obsessed, driven to do something creative with it. The other response is to let the absent function become the source of the shadow, that repressed part of the self that is a source of great annoyance when it is encountered in other people.
For example, a man with no water signs occupied may find himself inordinately offended or upset by emotional, sentimental weeping people, especially women or ethnic minorities whose culture permits much more emotional expressiveness than his mainstream standards allow. Bill Clinton has no water sign planets, yet he has a Singleton Moon in Taurus. Many Americans like him because he has “soul” and “rhythm”- two water element qualities. They feel he identifies with them with great sensitivity and compassion. Pain enduring and pain inflicting are also associated with the water element. We as a nation have had a year of pain and passion as a result of the Clinton soap opera.
The absent function tends to be all on or completely shut down. There is an extremist quality about it. Among the famous people with no fire are the flamboyant actors, Rudolph Valentino and John Berrymore. Writers and intellectuals like William F. Buckley and Oliver Wendel Holms often have no air in their charts. No water shows up in the charts of poets and composers. Water/emotion tends to be repressed in Western culture and the lack of it may show up as a tendency toward cruelty due to lack of awareness of another’s feelings, and combined with denial and projection, one may blame one’s own pain on others, then inflict it on them. Hitler had no Water. A lack of earth can produce a millionaire like J. Paul Getty, as well as substance abusers like Judy Garland and Dylan Thomas. Missing earth also gives a tendency towards abstraction. The charts of great modern astrologers, Marc Edmund Jones, Dane Rudhyar and Robert Hand are waterless.
When the absent function appears on the Ascendant or the Midheaven, the persona, personal or public tends to overcompensate; it is all façade. Often it is a case of false advertising: what you see is not what you get when you take the package home and unwrap it! Marilyn Monroe, with her Taurus Midheaven, is a good example. The public image she projected was the sex goddess. Inside she was air and water, all ideas, thoughts and emotions, with no way of “grounding” herself. In my own practice, I have noticed people with a missing function represented by the Ascendant sign to be very frustrated and uneasy. They may identify totally with the Ascendant personality and feel hollow inside, or feel that they have to put out a lot of energy to keep up the false front and, therefore, can never completely express who they really are.
When dealing with a chart that has missing functions, it is important to look at the progressed planets and the outer planet transits. For example, a person with no air may have a progressed Sun in an air sign, at the same time outer planets may be transiting another air sign. That would be a time for the person to really use his or her hidden talents and experiment with communication, writing, speaking, relationships and group involvements.
It is important also to look at the person’s relationships, especially family relationships that we do not consciously choose. For example, a woman with no fire was born into a family with a double Sagittarius (Sun and Moon) father, a double Leo (Sun and Moon) sister and a mother with an Aries Moon as part of a grand fire trine! She had to learn very early to overcompensate along dramatic, creative lines just to survive in that volatile household. Bill Clinton, with no water, has a water sign daughter (Pisces) and wife (Scorpio Sun and Pisces Moon). That is a case, perhaps, of “let Jane do it,” of projecting his own unexpressed emotional qualities on female family members.
We see again, as we did with Singleton planets, that missing functions correlate with uniqueness, talent, color and drama in the personalities and lives of the charts’ owners.
About the author:
Eleanor Buckwalter has studied, practiced and taught astrology in Los Altos, CA for more than twenty-five years, including three years with the late Richard Idemon, a psychological astrologer. Her primary astrological focus of interest is parent-child relationships and family dynamics.