First of all, let me state that the following comments include insights of over 40 years of study, work, and research in astrology, interspersed with study of Hindu, Buddhist, Hermetic, Qabalistic, and western metaphysical literature.
Interest in the Vertex by astrologers was widespread in the 1970s, and various interpretations were ascribed to it; unfortunately most of them were rather abstract and not easy to connect with consensus reality and therefore not readily verifiable. The work "karma" was tossed around rather loosely, and during those years I was unable find anything substantial associated with the Vertex other than that there did indeed seem to be important conjunctions with it in synastry of major life relationships. That in and of itself did not, however, say much about the functional nature of the Vertex.
The American astrologer, mathematician, and radio engineer L Edward Johndro (1882-1951) and the American astrologer and educator Charles A Jayne (1911-1985) both did research on the Vertex, which was included in a more comprehensive electrodynamic field theory which Johndro advanced in support of the scientific validity of astrology. According to the Larousse Encyclopedia of Astrology, edited by Charles Jayne, "to find the Vertex, first determine the colatitude, i.e. subtract the terrestrial latitude from 90°. Then consider the Imum Coeli as the Midheaven and look up the Ascendant in a table of houses under this new "Midheaven" for the colatitude." Several astrological software programs available today offer the Vertex as an optional chart point for study and research. It should also be mentioned that New York Astrologer Al Morrison, publisher and editor of the CAO Times, also took an interest in and encouraged research on the Vertex.
In the mid-1980s, California Uranian Astrologer Iaen Sullivan, who worked routinely with the Vertex, implied that the Vertex indicates "output" or "outcome". (Not dissimilar to the interpretation as "responses or release" proposed in Emma Donath's "Asteroids in Midpoints".) I thought of various things that could mean. Output is what comes out… often the result of a process or of efforts. He pointed out that Vertex should be a critical factor in horary charts, where it would indicate the outcome of the processes described in the chart. This correlates with how Johndro described the Vertex and its 180° polarity, the Antivertex, as "electrostatic release points of the Earth".
What did I discover in studying the Vertex in horary and natal charts?
Does this invalidate the talk about the Vertex being related to concepts of "fate" and "destiny" and "karma"? Certainly not. What we do in our lives, how we carry out or work and what we produce brings about our fate and destiny and creates new karma, and may be in some very important ways connected to our old karma. So the once-prevalent definitions are not wrong; they have however now been integrated and grounded in daily reality. What one might say in a philosophical sense is that the Vertex is an indicator of the paths we are likely to choose in terms of action that will very strongly affect our fate, destiny, and karma. And it is pertinent that significant connections show up in synastry of important relationships, since if we do consider metaphysical and spiritual factors, the close relationships we cultivate often are very tied in with our own personal karmic issues.
I welcome feedback from people who also put this idea to application at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to thank Uranian Astrologer Iaen V.K. Sullivan, M.S.W., as the original source of some of the more pragmatic components of these ideas, and Astrologer Lori Clark for her valuable insights confirming and further elucidating these points.
Dean, G. (ed.) 1976. Recent Advances in Natal Astrology: A Critical Review: Bromley, England: The Astrological Association.