Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Four Phases of Crisis

By Bob Makransky

Some of them want to use you,

Some of them want to get used by you,

Some of them want to abuse you,

Some of them want to be abused.

– Annie Lennox and David Stewart, Sweet Dreams

The Four Phases of Crisis occur on the days following the moon’s syzygies and quarters, namely:

Phase 1:     0°     < Longitude moon – Longitude sun < 12° 51’

Phase 8:     90°   < Longitude moon – Longitude sun < 102° 51’

Phase 15:   180° < Longitude moon – Longitude sun < 192° 51’

Phase 22:   270° < Longitude moon – Longitude sun <  282° 51’

That is to say, only the separating conjunction, squares, and opposition of the lights are considered (and these with orbs of 12° 51’ = 360° / 28).  The applying syzygies and quarters (i.e. Phases 28, 7, 14, and 21) are a wholly different ball of wax and are analyzed according to different canons.  This approach is due to William Butler Yeats, whose complete System is described in his channeled masterpiece A Vision.  Only one very small piece of that System will be delineated here; for information on the complete System of 28 lunar phases see my book The Great Wheel.

In the words of commentator Neil Mann, “The System … posits a relatively conventional esoteric view of the soul’s progress, which involves being sent out from Godhead to gain experience through many lifetimes with the ultimate purpose of return to Godhead, as expounded by theosophic interpretations of Buddhism and the Cabbala.”

The cycle of lunar phases is viewed in terms of a progression from primary experience (union) at Phase 1 = new moon, to antithetical experience (separatedness) at Phase 15 = full moon, and back again – whether this means a separation from and reunion with Godhead achieved over many lifetimes; or a struggle during one lifetime to separate from parental fiat and realize one’s adult destiny, and thence to surrender to old age and death.  The lunation cycle – like the inner planets’ synodic cycles (i.e. cycles of phases = cycles of revolution around the sun as seen from the earth) – can be considered to measure the native’s degree of separation from the parent.  But where this separation in the cases of Mercury and Venus is severely circumscribed (18° in the case of Mercury and 46° in the case of Venus, symbolizing that no one escapes the effects of parental / societal conditioning), the moon’s synodic cycle encompasses the entire zodiacal circle – symbolizing the full separation of the individual into adulthood (or enlightenment).

The synodic cycles of the inferior planets Mercury and Venus also exhibit the primary / antithetical distinction.  As is the case with the moon’s cycle, conjunction with the sun is primary (socially conditioned or constrained) and elongation from the sun is antithetical (individualistic).  The Mercury cycle shows how natives know that they are right:  Mercury conjunction natives (primary) know that they are right because they are faithfully and unquestioningly upholding what their parents and society have inculcated into them; by contrast, Mercury elongation natives (antithetical) know that they are right precisely because they haven’t bought into what they were taught, but rather have figured out all the angles for themselves.  The Venus cycle shows what natives believe that they deserve:  Venus conjunction natives (primary) believe they are undeserving unless they can be or do more than is humanly possible (usually as the result of a parent having made the child feel unworthy no matter what they did or didn’t do); whereas Venus elongation natives (antithetical) believe they deserve whatever they can grab for themselves.

The lunar synodic cycle, by contrast, describes the social roles different natives play; how they fit themselves into their social group (primary) or emphasize their distinctiveness (antithetical).  For example, Phase 1 is at home everywhere; Phase 15 is out-of-place everywhere; and Phases 8 and 22 aren’t sure where they fit in (and never will be).  Natives’ lunar phases indicate the parts they play which make them feel the most comfortable: that is to say, their customary moods, which they put on when they wake up in the morning, and with which they greet life and other people throughout the day (and themselves when looking in a mirror).  Their lunar phases show what they bring to their social group: their true purpose (in the ideal case); the justification for their existence.

The Four Phases of Crisis are the extreme (Phases 1 and 15) and inflection (Phases 8 and 22) points of the cycle:  Phase 1 is extremely primary (personal, ingenuous); Phase 15 is extremely antithetical (impersonal, detached); Phase 8 revels in the first blush of the antithetical (stepping out and strutting about); and Phase 22 reveals the onset of the primary (trying desperately to find a niche somewhere).  This System pigeonholes people into where they belong in the social scheme, but natives of the Four Phases of Crisis don’t really belong anywhere; they don’t wear masks but rather stand there in all their nakedness – uninhibited in the primary Phases 1 and 8 and nonplussed in the antithetical Phases 15 and 22.  In one way or another they hold themselves above / outside of their social milieu:  Phase 1 is utterly unself-conscious and amused by it all; Phase 15 is utterly self-conscious and bemused by it all; Phase 8 is at pains to stand out and shine; and Phase 22 is at pains to cut and trim.  Their impassivity and independence from their fellows make them natural-born leaders, and in one way or another they tend to dominate any social group of which they are a part, even while holding themselves emotionally aloof.  In the delineations which follow, passages in italics indicate quotations from William Butler Yeats’ A Vision, 1937 edition.  The term in-phase means that the person is fulfilling his or her destiny; the term out-of-phase means that they are blowing it (which happens when a Phase 1 tries to act like a Phase 15 or a Phase 8 like a Phase 22, and vice versa).

Phase 1

born day after new moon


Complete plasticity.

You are spunky, audacious and exuberant; with little need for explanations, apologies, or excuses (tactless).  Where Phase 28 does nothing without first seriously deliberating all the possible consequences, Phase 1 leaps first and assumes there will be a pleasant place to land down there somewhere.  You are unabashedly yourself at all times:  Thought and inclination, act and object of desire, are indistinguishable … that is to say, there is complete passivity, complete plasticity.  Mind has become indifferent to good and evil, to truth and falsehood.  You are mischievous, light-hearted, and intent on perfecting your particular skills and talents.  You have a pioneering spirit and are always ready to fly with your hunches.  You have a genius for riding the moment – trusting in your own intuition and in the power of the universe to support you:  Mind and body take whatever shape, accept whatever image is imprinted on them, transact whatever purpose is imposed upon them, are indeed the instruments of supernatural manifestation, the final link between the living and more powerful beings.  There may be great joy; but it is the joy of a conscious plasticity.  You are cocky, jaunty and ready to tackle anything.  Your naïve optimism is wholly centered in the moment, and lends you a zesty spontaneity.  However you tend to eschew rebellion; but rather find all the freedom you need within a social context – the proverbial leader without followers. You radiate a tremendous self-confidence and belief in yourself.  You are mischievous, light-spirited, with a good sense of humor and a pioneering spirit.

Out of phase (imitating Phase 15) your unshakeable self-certainty and insistence on doing things your own way can be extremely brazen and pigheaded – steamrolling over other people’s sensibilities.  Your staunch independence of spirit can be overly eccentric, feisty, and pugnacious.  You are self-contained and strong-willed which at times makes it difficult for you to see anyone else’s point of view, so you can be unreasonably stubborn, unflinching, and unyielding.  In phase you possess a calm self-assurance, single-mindedness, and a genius for riding the moment which cannot be deflected or halted.

Phase 15

born day after full moon


Complete beauty

You are dreamy, eccentric, and otherworldly.  Idealistic, quixotic, and abstracted, you are tuned in to your own wavelength, and always follow your own star.  You stand apart from your social milieu, not so much because you are a nonconformist as because you are very intuitive and completely devoted to your own private vision.  You are calm, cool, remote, and dislike perturbation and effusiveness. You have no concern for what others think of you; thus you are free of the striving for acceptance and approval which motivates most people:  All that the being has experienced as thought is visible to its eyes as a whole, and in this way it perceives, not as they are to others, but according to its own perception, all orders of existence.  It’s not so much that you desire nothing as that you care about nothing (which can be a vexation to your intimates).  You are immune to second thoughts and the fears of failure or censure which inhibit most people; and you are willing to throw all caution to the winds in order to follow your own destiny.  You often feel isolated and anguished; alienated by the demands of the real world; with a childlike perplexity at the artificiality and arbitrariness of everyday society.  You tend to hold other people at arm’s length and let no one in.  You don’t form close friendships or need the emotional support of a family; you may be a dutiful spouse and parent, but this is more in response to your own sense of obligation than it is a heartfelt warmth or sympathy.  Phase 15 is said to represent complete beauty because the Antithetical of this phase perceives the world with the greatest detachment and wonder.  Phase 15 intuits its own answers directly from the Spirit rather than relying upon socially sanctioned channels of communication – thus it has the least sense of connection or security of connectedness of any phase (or, in phase, the greatest).  It sees beyond the periphery and is entirely alone in the universe.  In consequence, Phase 15 natives experience relative freedom from societal compulsion (and compunction) – you are not motivated by the carrot or stick; and you have a concomitant out of phase potential for obsessions, addictions, and – reproducing the Phase 1 exuberance – unbridled extremism generally.  Then Phase 15 lacks a firm sense of direction; gropes for guideposts in life; and grabs for dear life onto any flotsam at random. The other phases – especially the primary phases – are more constrained by their social training.  But Phase 15 acts out of an inner knowing; or, out of phase, inner despair.

Out of phase, complete beauty can become complete self-indulgence and self-obsession:  you retreat into yourself and become secretive, uncommunicative, impervious and imperious – a demanding tyrant, never satisfied, quite capable of turning stone cold and cutting other people off emotionally, with a concomitant terror of solitude, its forced, painful and slow acceptance, and a life haunted by terrible dreams.   In phase you possess an unshakeable faith in your own inner voice and are a model of originality and fearlessness.

Phase 8

born day after first quarter


War between individuality and race.  A struggle, where the soul must lose all form received from the objectively accepted conscience of the world

Phases 8 and 22 are disconnected from their social milieu; but they feel it more acutely than do the oblivious Phase 1’s (who don’t worry about it) or Phase 15’s (who don’t care).  Where Phase 15 natives proudly wear their sojourner badge, Phase 8 and 22 natives desperately try to hide their maladjusted status from everyone around them (and from themselves).  It’s not that phases 8 and 22 have any more emotional and spiritual problems than anyone else; it’s just that in these two phases these issues result in acute contradictions which cannot be evaded or run from, but must be faced directly in one fashion or another; hence their lives tend to be continual exercises in crisis management.  They sense something amiss, something out-of-kilter somewhere; and the world agrees.  In the transition from Primary to Antithetical (or the reverse in Phase 22), Phase 8 is struggling to break free of the herd; where Phase 22 is struggling to fit in somehow.  The basic problem the natives of Phases 8 and 22 face lies in knowing where to put their boundaries – to cease looking to others to define who they are.

Phase 8 is unconcerned and nonchalant, and finds emotional entanglements (commitments) bothersome.  You are dignified, self-possessed, and self-contained.  You have a highly original point of view, and you are also very creative (you may possess considerable artistic ability; but in any case you have a unique vision and novel ideas).  You have something of a blasé, insouciant, noblesse oblige – you don’t permit anyone to enter your space or to get to you.  You maintain your unruffled façade of equanimity by living in your own idealized fantasy world – your own secret corner of the universe – from which everyone else is excluded:  The man is inseparable from his fate, he cannot see himself apart, nor can he distinguish between emotion and intellect.  Although you are outgoing and sociable – even chatty – you nonetheless hold yourself above the common throng and can be vague and perfunctory in relationships (self-satisfied).  Phase 8 natives possess a gift for self-promotion and have a strong need to feel one-up, on top of things (on top of other people).  You have a commanding presence – a control born of the intense feelings you hold back inside yourself – which in turn exerts a controlling influence upon the world around you.  You rather expect to be served or deferred to (autocratic).  You resist commitment and compromise, but expect this of others to accommodate you (exploitative).  Intimates may find you insensitive; or complain that you withdraw completely into yourself leaving a smug Cheshire Cat smile behind.  The crises in your life arise due to the not-infrequent intrusion of disruptive reality into your careful arrangements.  You don’t want to be bothered with “issues” and complexities – you want to see everything in black-and-white, good-vs.-evil terms.  The crises of Phase 8 arise when you try to deal instinctively with matters which require greater sensitivity and delicacy: your struggle is to open yourself to feelings – your own and other people’s – rather than operate thoughtlessly on automatic pilot.

Out of phase you cling to a dying primary by shamelessly projecting your inner turmoil on other people.  Unlike Phase 22 which struggles to adapt itself to social norms as best it can (and thereby loses its sense of center), you bend the rules of the game your way to justify the most overweening and callous narcissism.  You trifle with issues of the greatest gravity, concocting patches-on-patches expedients and making threadbare excuses for yourself: Here for the most part are those obscure wastrels who seem powerless to free themselves from some sensual temptation – drink, women, drugs – and who cannot in a life of continual crisis create any lasting thing.  In phase you permit the antithetical to take the baton from the primary:  you shine when you expect much of yourself and little of others; when He chooses himself and not his Fate.  At your best your positive self-assurance and can-do faith in yourself give you the ability to stay loose and open, and to capitalize upon whatever opportunities present themselves:  When his fingers close upon a straw, that is courage, and his versatility is that any wave may float a straw.  The self-doubts and fears which haunt out of phase 8 natives become a spur to action:  He must be aware of nothing but the conflict, his despair is necessary, he is of all men the most tempted – ‘Eloi, Eloi, why hast thou forsaken me?’

Phase 22

born day after last quarter


Balance between ambition and contemplation

Phases 8 and 22, are relatively detached and self-contained.  But these are phases of turmoil: Phase 8 and 22 natives feel themselves to be misfits, out of step somehow, inextricably entangled in an incomprehensible world.  In their desperate efforts to avoid involvement they become embroiled in the very conflicts they seek to avoid.  Where Phase 8 natives tend to feel superior to other people and ignore their opinions, Phase 22 natives tend to submerge themselves in others, craving an approval and recognition which – even when forthcoming – leaves them with a feeling of emptiness and nonfulfillment.  Where Phase 8 erects stout boundaries to protect the self, Phase 22 relinquishes boundaries in an attempt to erase the self:  Phase 8 and Phase 22 are phases of struggle and tragedy, the first a struggle to find personality, the second to lose it.  You are natural, unpretentious, and unobtrusive; and you have a gentle and approachable personal manner.  In conversation you are straightforward and unassuming – glib without being pushy or presumptuous – with a dignity born of calm and patient resignation. You are nonplussed by disharmony and therefore are at pains not to make waves, but to keep everything on an even keel.  You always try to put on a happy face, to maintain that things are just fine and dandy (neurotic).  Although you are gregarious and gracious with people, nonetheless you are basically a private person.  Your detachment makes it easy for you to play by the rules and to live up to the expectations of others (even at your own expense).  And, if your horoscope is not otherwise terribly afflicted, you readily receive acknowledgement, preferment, and advancement in return – a pat on the back for a job well done.  But somehow this is not you.  There is something plaintive about you:  good-natured, but overshadowed by an ineffable sadness or preoccupation – perhaps a tragedy in early life – which lends you an air of straining to keep up your spirits in the face of enforced renunciation:  It is a phase as tragic as its opposite, and more terrible, for [where Phase 8 destroys and persecutes] … his system will become an instrument of destruction and of persecution in the hands of others.  The crises of Phase 22 result when – with the dying of the antithetical and onset of the primary – you refuse command of your own destiny and instead bend yourself out of whack to please other people until something snaps; then you suddenly become, like Phase 8, strangely hard, cold and invulnerable, that this mirror is not brittle but of unbreakable steel.  Phase 22 spends too much time thinking (in terms of what is acceptable) – seeking an intellectual grasp on matters which are not intellectually graspable but must be intuited instead – a desire for the death of the intellect.

Out of phase and defensively projecting the blasé indifference of Phase 8, you are in thrall to everyone around you, passively looking to others for some sort of clue as to who you are and what you should be doing.  You keep a stiff upper lip and endure, and permit others to project their turmoil onto you.  Where Phase 8 victimizes, Phase 22 plays victim: The mind that has shown a predominantly emotional character, called that of the Victim, through the antithetical phases, now shows a predominantly intellectual character, called that of the Sage; … whereas the mind that has been predominantly that of the Sage puts on Victimage.  When in phase you find true self-respect in your self-effacement and willing sacrifice.  Your spirit of service to others lends you a nobility of character which shines through and illuminates all your actions: Intellect knows itself as its own object of desire; and the Will knows itself to be the world; there is neither change nor desire of change. For the moment the desire for a form has ceased and an absolute realism becomes possible. … A man of Phase 22 will commonly not only systematize, to the exhaustion of his will, but discover this exhaustion of will in all that he studies. …[In phase] The man himself is never weak, never vague or fluctuating in his thought, for if he brings all to silence, it is a silence that results from tension, and till the moment of balance, nothing interests him that is not wrought up to the greatest effort of which it is capable.


William Butler Yeats, A Vision, Macmillan 1937

Bob Makransky, The Great Wheel, Dear Brutus Press 2017

Thanks to Bob Makransky for allowing the republiction of his wondeful work.

To subscribe to Bob Makransky's eZine, send an e-mail to:

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply