Use Astrology to Identify Blocks

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Get a Handle on What Makes Life Hard

In Heart of the Dark Woods, we use my specialized Empyrean Key method to identify the primary block in your chart. Then we go on to note the helper who can offer aid in this regard, and the story of how to resolve the block. These concepts are found in the astrological chart. You might be wondering, how do you find a person’s block in their natal chart? It’s much more involved than simply locating the malefics, Mars and Saturn! If you’re knowledgeable about astrology, the following breakdown will be useful to understand how to use astrology to identify blocks.

Why Identify Blocks?

Photo by Vincent Ledvina on Unsplash

Isn’t it too negative to concentrate your energy on identifying blocks? Isn’t a spiritually full life an easy one? Not necessarily! Our blocks usually hide our most worthwhile goals. Consider the idea of resistance in the book, The War of Art, which I reviewed here five years ago. Engage your blocks and you can find your energy, motivation, and foundational strength. Work through the block for a feeling of victory and fulfillment.

What Does the Client Say?

First things first. The following techniques let you use astrology to identify blocks in a chart without any input from the client. However, sometimes the starting point is a little easier. Sometimes the client comes in complaining of a certain long-term problem. Short-term problems generally relate to difficult transits or progressions. But life-long problems are most likely found in the natal chart itself. So if the client complains of ongoing relationship problems, or never being able to advance in their career, or similar long-term or recurring problems, their own insight into their life gives you a leg up in identifying the problem.

Mars and Saturn Placement

It’s common knowledge that astrology’s bad boys are the two malefics, Mars and Saturn. Lending difficulty to a chart might be a specialty for them. But don’t forget to also take a glance at the placement of the nodal axis, particularly the south node. And sometimes we see karmic difficulties show up with the placement of Pluto. Although I’ll note the planet or point that poses the most challenge, sometimes nothing jumps out. In that case, my preference is to stick to the basics. Mars challenges, butts heads with, strikes quickly, and cuts away. Saturn says no, holds back, slows down, and insists you’re not ready yet. It’s interesting to note that the Mars energy blasts without warning, is intense, and then resolves just as quickly. Saturn believes revenge is a dish best served cold, plotting a long, slow demise for you.


When using astrology to identify blocks, I take sect into consideration. If the Sun is above the horizon (the horizontal Asc/Dsc line), the chart is a day chart. Likewise, when the Sun is below the horizon we have a night chart. The concept of sect assigns the Sun as the primary luminary and identifier for those born during the day. Likewise, the Moon is the light that guides those born after dark. According to the laws of sect, Mars is more obnoxious to day people, whereas Saturn haunts night types. We call this being contrary to sect. When applying sect to find blocks in the chart, I consider which of the malefics is contrary to sect. I also look at how the luminaries interact with the malefics. If the malefic contrary to sect aspects the sect light, particularly with a challenging aspect, we probably have found the most significant block!

Besides having planets that are contrary to sect, we also have planets that express beneficence according to sect. Day people get the greatest boost from Jupiter while night people look to the lovely Venus for sweetness in their life.

However, if we are working with a client who has already identified the topic of their block, we can take that into consideration. For instance, if the client identifies ongoing failures in finding love, we might note if either Mars in a day chart or Saturn in a night chart aspect Venus, the goddess of love.

Lastly, although sect is a highly useful consideration, either or both malefics can make life difficult for a person. I know plenty of day people with Saturn problems!

Hard Aspects

Of the major aspects, the square, the opposition, and sometimes the conjunction are considered hard aspects. Check the chart for these more difficult relationships between planets. Does any planet have a hard aspect to the luminary of sect, or for that matter, either luminary? The blocking planet may not be one of the malefics. Instead, it may be any planet that inhibits the functioning of the luminary. You might also look to anything that makes life difficult for the chart ruler, best planet by sect, or the planet of the topic.

House Placement

While the planets exemplify the different parts of us, the houses represent areas of life. As before, if the client has clued you in to the area of life, you can look directly to that part of the chart, such as seventh house for relationships or tenth house for career. If one of the challenging planets affects that house – for instance, is in, rules, aspects of the ruler of, or aspects a planet in that house – we have a winner!

If you don’t already know the topic, we can deduce a lot by noting the house placement of the difficult planet. Don’t forget to consider the houses it rules as well as the houses of the planets it aspects.

Other Considerations As Relevant

Just as in any chart delineation, as you start building a picture of the chart, a variety of important details will start to step forward. It’s impossible to list them all. So after identifying the most important players in the drama, let all the details of character development, backstory, and enemies and alliances help you tell the story.


Although some people might jump straight to intuition in their chart delineation, I find it more useful to have a system to guide me in hitting the high points, then let intuition step in to close the deal. Recently I was visiting a colleague in her home, and we took a look at her chart. I was torn between two types of blocks, one deriving from Saturn and the other from Mars. I was silent for a couple of minutes trying to add up a guesstimate of which had a stronger placement in the chart. Then I glanced over at her. She had suddenly started painting her light pink nails bright red! I laughed and said, let’s work with Mars!

More Than One

There’s certainly no rule that says there’s only one example of a block in the chart. Some people have practically no difficult energy in their chart, while others have multiple examples of the obstructions outlined above. Sometimes it’s elegant to integrate a variety of these blocks into a single comprehensive block. On the other hand, it might be simpler to identify each block as a separate entity, working with them one by one.

Are You Ready to Use Astrology to Identify Your Blocks?

I hope this gives you some insight into what’s holding you back in life! If you’re ready to face this challenge head on so you can resolve and release it, please check out my intensive workshop, Heart of the Dark Woods. If you are having trouble identifying your block, and can’t make the workshop, feel free to schedule an astrology appointment with me and note in the form that you’d like to know what your block is. I’ll be happy to help you not only identify it but also give you some spiritual tools to mitigate it.

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Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit

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