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Traditional Astrology of Death | Kirk Kerkorian with a Multitude of Special Techniques

The recent death of Kirk Kerkorian has generated a lot of buzz in my stomping grounds of Southeast Michigan, as he was a major player in business in this area from his involvement with the auto industry.  He died on 6/15/15, just 9 days after his 98th birthday. I won’t be analyzing his life in this post, and instead will use his death at a very advanced age to compare and contrast a number of length of life techniques that were presented in the first 5 centuries of the common era by Hellenistic astrologers.

Kerkorian was reportedly born at Noon, which is somewhat suspicious (he likely was born within minutes before or after) on 6/6/1917 in Fresno, CA. His birth data is AA rated for accuracy. Most length of life techniques involve primary directions which are very strongly dependent on the exact time of birth, so a roughly accurate indication, such as within a year, is sufficient for our purposes, given that the birth time may be rounded from within a few minutes which could put the indication by primary directions off by even more than year in some cases.

Part I: Special Techniques

I am not going to fully explain and evaluate each length of life technique as that is an extremely labor intensive manner that I am currently taking on for a possible book. I’m going to look briefly at the indications according to a number of length of life techniques, and then discuss some general timing techniques that relate to the timing of death. Those interested in an overview of the length of life techniques of the Hellenistic era, can find such in a previous post on the topic.

The Hellenistic techniques for length of life are not foolproof.  They have their issues, so a thorough reading of this post and my other posts on the traditional astrology of death will not give you the power to predict the length of life for other people using these techniques (not that you’d necessarily want to after reading my results). Therefore, upon learning about these techniques, do everyone a favor and don’t predict death for people, because it will make you a liar and unethical. I analyze charts using the Hellenistic length of life techniques in service of their evaluation and the furthering of historical astrological knowledge only.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

The Manilius Technique (early 1st century CE)

The Roman astrologer Marcus Manilius, provided a very brief set of rules for assigning years to each zodiacal sign and each house for length of life, but never fully explained how to use them. He did say that the Moon’s placement in the houses indicated the years, but didn’t explain what to do with the years of the signs at all. This exposition starts at line 560 in Book III of Astronomica. Unfortunately, Manilius tells us that his section is just for conveying the years allotted to the signs and houses, and that the full exposition will follow later in the work, but he never does explain the technique. He begins his exposition about the years of the houses by noting that if the Moon is in the 1st house she grants 78 years. Therefore, my best guess is that house of the Moon indicates the years, and perhaps the years of the signs (which are all small amounts) are added to those indicated by the houses.

The Moon in Kerkorian’s chart was in Capricorn, which is the 5th house. Manilius asserted that Capricorn grants 14 2/3 years and the 5th house grants 63 years, so we may suppose that the indication by the technique is 77 2/3 years, which is an incorrect indication as he lived to age 98. Typically in Hellenistic techniques, the sect light or one of its rulers (particularly the bound lord) is the most important planet for longevity indications. The sect light (the Sun) is in Gemini (14 2/3 years), the 10th house (77 years), so indicates 91 2/3 years. Venus is the bound lord and only aspecting lord of the sect light, but she is in the same sign and house so she indicates the same. 91 2/3 years is closer but still incorrect. In conclusion, Manilius does not provide enough information for use of his technique, and the most logical guesses regarding its use don’t yield accurate indications.

The Dorothean Technique (1st century CE)

According to the technique explained by Dorotheus (1st century CE), the Sun in Kerkorian’s chart would be the important significator to use for length of life, as it is the sect light at the time of birth (Sun by day; Moon by night), it is in one of the 3 most advantageous places (it is in the 10th place/sign from the Ascendant or rising sign), and it is with its bound lord, Venus, in the same sign.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

Death is said to be indicated by the bound in front of the Sun that is ruled by or aspected by a malefic (exactly to a degree within the bound) without any aspect of a benefic (exactly to a degree within the same bound). Jupiter and Mars are in the same degree in Kerkorian’s chart, so Jupiter will take away the power of a lethal aspect from Mars in all cases. Saturn is at 27 Cancer while Jupiter is at 24 Taurus and Venus is at 26 Gemini, so the possibilities for Saturn to aspect a bound that is not accessible to aspect from Jupiter or Venus is also limited.

Very soon after birth, the Sun enters the bound of Mars in Gemini, which is malefic and has no benefic casting a ray into it. He obviously did not die shortly after birth. One may suggest that the already applying bodily conjunction between the Sun and Venus was responsible, or that the indication by bound ruler itself is a much weaker indication than an aspectual one from a malefic.

The next malefic bound was that of Saturn and that was occupied by Venus, so is protected, according to the Dorothean method. From there the Sun entered the Mars bound of Cancer, which is also not aspected by a benefic, though one may argue that the aspect of the Moon intervenes. The Jupiter bound of Cancer is aspected by Mars, but also Jupiter, so is protected.  However, note that the Saturn bound of Cancer is occupied by Saturn and has no benefic aspecting the degree. Therefore, by the Dorothean technique we should expect the death to occur when the Saturn bound of Cancer or exact position of Saturn directs over the Sun.

Dorotheus used the distance between the two in ascensional times. Using a table of ascensions for Gemini and Cancer at about 36-37 degrees north of latitude, we find that each zodiacal degree of Gemini will equate to about 0.974 degrees of ascensions (0.974 years of life) and each degree of Cancer will equate to about 1.171 degrees of ascensions (1.171 years of life). There are about 14 1/2 degrees of Gemini (14.5*0.974=14.123 years) and 28 degrees of Cancer (28*1.171=32.788 years) between the Sun and Saturn, which equates to almost 47 years by ascensions. By actual accurate traditional primary directions, the indication is almost 46 years. In any case, Kerkorian lived to age 98, so the indications by the Dorothean technique are wrong.

But, what bound does the Sun fall into after 98 years, by both ascensions and by directions through the bounds? By ascensions, we already noted that the remainder of Gemini gives us about 14.123 years, then all of Cancer gives us 35.136 years (46.259 cumulative), then all of Leo gives us 37.025 years (83.284 cumulative). So, 98 years is only another 14.716 years, or degrees of ascension, into Virgo. There is about 1.218 degrees of ascension for each zodiacal degree in Virgo, so there are (14.716/1.218=) just over 12 degrees in Virgo before the time of death. 12 Virgo is the bound of Venus. it is a bound ruled by a benefic. There is not malefic aspect of the bound but it is the bound where the square of the Sun (15 Virgo) directs to the Sun. Dorotheus does not name the square of the Sun as being a dangerous direction, but we will find that the square of the significator is significant as the indication for length of maximum life by Valens. Also, the square of Sun is considered as malefic by some later astrologers.

Perhaps more significant in relation to the Dorothean technique, is that by actual primary directions (rather than the pseudo directions which symbolically use ascensional times even for points for which ascensional times are not remotely accurate, such as the Sun on  the MC in this case), it is the bound of Mars of Virgo, that the Sun is in by directions through bounds, at the time of death.

Kerkorian the Sun directed to Bound of Mars
Kerkorian the Sun directed to Bound of Mars in October 2014

The bound is a malefic one and is aspected by both malefics, but is also aspected by both benefics, so is still problematic by the Dorothean technique, since the benefic aspects to the bound should remove the harm. Therefore, while the Dorothean technique points to directions to the significator by malefic bounds and malefic aspects to the bounds as particularly important, and they are (as illustrated also in some prior posts in this series), the assertion that such an indication MUST indicate death when lacking the intervening aspect of a benefic both over-predicts death (e.g. the direction of Saturn to the Sun) and under-predicts by failing to account for death (e.g. the directions at death, in which death is either indicated by the square of the Sun or by multiple malefic directions in a malefic bound but with benefics aspecting the same bound).

The Ptolemaic Technique (2nd century CE)

Ptolemy also would take the Sun as the significator (as it is sect light  and in the 10th place). Ptolemy advises use to look at actual primary directions involving the Sun, and not to use ascensional times. As the Sun is just past the MC (provided the birth time is not off by a couple minutes), he advises us to look at both direction of the Sun itself to the Descendant (i.e. converting the setting of the Sun into year), and the directions to the Sun of malefics (especially by body, square, or opposition according to Ptolemty). Ptolemy also appears to say that the direction from the square of the significator can indicate death.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

There is some confusion regarding his technique of directing the significator to the Descendant, as he made a comment about aspects of benefics adding to the years indicated by this and likewise of malefics subtracting years, and noted that this is by proportion of hourly times.  So, for instance, Hephaistio interpreted that the distance from significator to Descendant was to be measured in ascensions, which is a mis-interpretation as Ptolemy advised to use accurate primary directions and the use of ascensional times for points that are descending gives extremely inaccurate times.   Basically, for Kerkorian, we must first find the time when the Sun sets by directions, which indicates almost 108 years. From here, we must find the rise and set times of the benefics, malefics, and/or Mercury, when any such planets have an aspect that intervenes from the Sun’s journey to the Descendant, and then find the time it takes to go from rising to setting, divide that by 12 to convert it into an “hourly” time, and divide that by 4 to convert it into an hourly right ascensions figure, which is considered the “hourly time” of that planet. The amount added or subtracted then depends on the proportion of arc that the planet has traveled for its journey from rising to setting or vice-versa, multiple by its hourly time (i.e. if it is a benefic with an hourly time of 15 and it has 1/3 of its journey left to set1, then it adds 5 years). It is unclear whether each aspect from the planet adds or subtracts, of if we are just to add each relevant planet once.

Kerkorian rising and setting times

We would judge Mercury to malefic in the chart because it is most closely conjunct Mars.  In this case, the Sun will meet the aspects of Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Mercury twice, and the aspect of Saturn three times before it sets.  Given the time left until they set, each of these planets individually adds and subtracts the following on their own in this chart:

Jupiter +5.3 years

Venus +10 years

Mars -6.4 years

Mercury -6.2 years

Saturn -12.9 years

If we do the additions and subtractions only once per intervening planet, then the net added is negative 10.2 years, with a life expectancy of about 98.2 years.  This figure accords with this actual length of life of 98 years. If we must add and subtract for each separate aspect then the net added is negative 33.3 years, for a life expectancy of 74.7 years. While one approach to the technique of directing to the Descendant with additions and subtractions based on hourly times appears to give a correct indication, it is also somewhat counter-intuitive. Why should we being adding or subtracting each hourly time only once, rather than adding or subtracting for each relevant aspect?

The other part of Ptolemy’s technique, and in fact the more important strategy, is to look in front of the significator to see what will direct to it. The direction of a malefic (or the Sun if the significator is the Moon) to the significator will indicate death unless the potential killing degree (aspect of the malefic) is located in a benefic bound or is aspected by a Jupiter within 12 degrees or by Venus within 8 degrees. A planet cannot save or destroy if it is under the beams of the Sun (i.e. within 15 degrees of the Sun). Mars is conjunct Jupiter, so no aspect of Mars will ever meet the killing criteria. Venus is under the beams, so cannot save. Therefore, there are some aspects of Saturn that fall without the intervention of Jupiter, but not until 27 Libra, and that is within the Venus bound of Libra, so also does not qualify. Therefore, such a malefic aspect is not possible by directions. Ptolemy notes that the square to the place of the releaser (significator) also can indicate death. However, Ptolemy insisted on use of actual primary directions rather than directing with symbolic ascensional times, and the degree of the actual direction of the square of the Sun to the Sun is in late 2009, a full 6 years before death. The actual closest direction to the Sun at the time of death was the trine of Mercury, which applying at the time and doesn’t seem particularly nasty according to Ptolemy’s guidance as it is Mercury and a trine, while Jupiter aspects within 2 degrees.

In conclusion, the technique of using aspectual primary directions as given by Ptolemy is not a reliable indicator of length of life. His much more complex technique of directing to the Descendant and then adding/subtracting by a proportion of hourly times may hold some promise, as a certain interpretation of it provided a correct indication here, but the correct results also could be due to chance, so more research is needed.

The Main Valens Technique (2nd century CE)

Vettius Valens provided numerous techniques for length of life in Book III of his Anthology, and even more techniques scattered across most of the books of the Anthology, but here I will focus on what appears to be his preferred technique and the one that relates most strongly to that of other astrologers like Dorotheus and Ptolemy.  The technique is related to the Dorothean and Ptolemaic techniques but also assesses a maximum length of life based on ascesional times from the significator to a point zodiacally 90 degrees from it, or from an angle of the chart to the next angle, and a maximum based on planetary years of the bound lord of the significator. There is a free translation of the Anthology available at this link, though I recommend the Project Hindsight translation of Book III (available for $30 as a PDF if you email Ellen Black of Project Hindsight), as its footnotes are invaluable for serious study of the technique.

Valens would also take the Sun as the significator as it is the sect light, in the 10th, and with its bound lord. Therefore, according to Valens, the Sun predominates in the chart (it is the significator) and Venus is the relevant “ruler”.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

The first determination is according to the ascensional times from the Sun’s position to the square of its position in front of it (i.e. from 15 Gemini to 15 Virgo). As noted in the section on the Dorothean technique above, there are 98 ascensional times between the Sun’s position and about 12 (to about the middle of the degree), so adding another 3 zodiacal degrees given a conversion of about 1.2 ascensional times per degree, brings us to about 101.6 ascensional times, or 101.6 years as an indication of maximum length of life.

According to Valens, we then look at the greater years of the ruler, Venus. She assigns her total greater years (82 years; or 84 years as indicated in some places in Valens and Maternus) because she is well placed. Valens advises to prefer her indication as the maximum length of life, so we conclude that the maximum length of life is 82 or 84 years.

Now, we must check to see if a malefic aspect intervenes between the Sun and its square, without a benefic aspect within 7 degrees of the same. Saturn’s direction is protected by Jupiter, as is the  square of Mars in Leo, and there are no other significant malefic directions in that span. Therefore, we conclude that the length of life is 82 or 84 years according to the indication by the planetary years of Venus. This technique leads to bad results.

It is worth noting though that the indication by ascensional times from the Sun to its square is relatively good as a maximum length of life at 101.6 years. Valens notes that the degree of the significator and the 3 degrees on either side of that degree (a 7 degree span) are sensitized, and each degree in Virgo has an ascensional time of nearly 1.3, so the death did occur within the critical span of the square of the Sun.  Therefore, the technique of using ascensional times of the square may have some value. For instance, perhaps the indication of Venus should not be used because she is under the beams (though this is not specified by Valens), in which case we prefer the square of the significator and find it to be relatively accurate.

Valens also suggests the possibility of judging from the angle prior to the hyleg, to that following it. The ascensional times of the signs from the Descendant to the MC are very small, and would provide an indication under 61 years, which is way off the mark. If we use the MC to the Ascendant, then the span is slightly longer than that of the Sun to its square, so it would add a couple  more years to the sum, giving a length of life around 104 years, which is less accurate than the square of the Sun.  Another possible apheta (starting point) is the hylegical lot calculated from the nearest New Moon (before or after birth) to the Moon position, which puts the lot at 22 Pisces. This is near the Descendant, so we would again end up with a much shorter indication of death in his sixties. I won’t be exploring further the more obscure techniques that Valens also discusses in different chapters of Book III.

We may wonder about use of the Valens technique with actual primary directions rather than ascensional times. This would not effect the indications by years of Venus, and the fact that malefic directions are protected, but it would affect the indication by the square of the Sun. The square of the Sun directs to the Sun in later 2009, when the native is 92 years old, so this indication too is not accurate.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, Valens presents so many disparate techniques for length of life in the Anthology, scattered across most of the books of the work, that we cannot hope to evaluate (or even clearly understand) them all. I won’t be exploring his other longevity techniques here.

The Maternus Technique (4th century CE)

Maternus (Book II, Ch. 26 and Book IV, Ch. 6 of Mathesis) advises to take the ruler of the sign following that of the Moon as the chart ruler. Therefore, the chart ruler is Saturn.  Saturn is in the 11th house and in its own bound so would likely be considered to provide its greater years, which are 57 years. This technique provides an indication that is very far off the mark.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

Maternus does note that there was a diversity of opinion on finding the ruler of the nativity, and that some took a planet that is in one of the principal houses of the chart and in its own sign or bound, others took the bound lord of the sect light, and others took the ruler (or exaltation ruler?) of the Moon. Only Saturn is both in an advantageous place (the 11th) and in its own bound  or sign (in this case, it’s bound), and Saturn is also the sign ruler of the Moon, but as noted, Saturn indicates only 57 years. The bound lord of the Sun  is Venus, and she indicates at most 82 or 84 years. Mars is the exaltation ruler of the Moon’s signs and can only indicate at most 66 years (but is cadent and out of sect, so may indicate less here). Basically, no matter how you slice it, the Maternus-style technique involving planetary years does not yield the correct results.

The Technique of Paulus Alexandrinus (4th century CE)

The technique of Paulus Alexandrinus combines some features of the Dorothean technique with features of the Maternus technique, to give us a hybrid planetary years technique. This technique was combined with that of Ptolemy to form the basis of the typical Medieval technique to length of life.  While in Chapter 34 of Introductory Matters, Paulus advises us to look at primary directions (by ascensions) to Ascendant, Sun, and Moon involving certain malefic planets and points, in order to assess times of crisis, he does not explicitly use directions in the context of his length of life technique. His length of life technique, which he explains in Ch. 36, has more in common with the technique of Maternus than with those of Dorotheus, Ptolemy, and Valens.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

As with Maternus, he finds a “ruler” that indicates the length of life by planetary years. His instructions for finding the ruler are similar to the instructions given by Dorotheus to find the ruler of the hyleg (i.e. he takes a ruler, not necessarily the bound ruler, typically of the sect light, and prefers it if its aspects the sect light and it is itself strongly placed).  Paulus would select Venus as such a ruler, as she is the only ruler of the Sun that sees the Sun.

Venus indicates 82 or 84 years, but planets in whole sign aspect to Venus may add or subtract years from this indication. However, there are no such planets, so 82 or 84 years are indicated (or less as Venus is under the beams), and an incorrect indication is given.

Summary Findings on Special Techniques

None of the major Hellenistic special techniques for length of life provide the correct indication when employed exactly as the authors advise.  However, there are elements of the techniques of Dorotheus  Ptolemy, and Valens that appear to have some promise.  Dorotheus clues us into the relevance of the directed bound lords and to primary directions that are within bounds. Ptolemy clues us into the importance of malefic directions and the possibility that directions to the Descendant (possibly modified by hourly times) could be significant. Valens clues us into the importance of the ascensional time length from the hyleg to its square as a possible maximum life span. The indications that are most off the mark seem to relate to use of planetary years, whether by Valens, Maternus, or Paulus Alexandrinus. Interestingly, planetary years came to provide the main indication of general length of life in the Medieval period.

Part II: Other Factors

I typically examine the astrology of death in terms of other factors that coincide with the death rather than in the context of a particular predictive technique, as no traditional predictive technique reliably and accurately predicts death most of the time, and as death is arguably one of the most important events in life, there are many indications of danger or hardship shown by predictive techniques.  Mars is arguably the most relevant planet for death in the chart as it is the out of sect malefic and rules the 8th house, as well as afflicts the lord of the Ascendant somewhat due to its conjunction with it.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

Profections

Kerkorian turned 98 shortly before his death. On his 98th birthday, June 6th, 2015, the annual profection shifted to Scorpio, ruled by Mars, so Mars is the lord of the year for the year of death. Mars is in Taurus in his natal chart, so the profection was also in opposition to Mars.

As death occurred in the first month after the birth day, the monthly profection was also still in Scorpio, with Mars as the lord of the month.

Solar Return

Kerkorian's Final Solar Return
Kerkorian’s Final Solar Return

Kerkorian’s final solar return is striking. Mars is conjunct the Sun within 3 degrees, and they are both with Mercury (lord of the natal 1st). The Sun is the main significator of life in the chart (it is the sect light and prominently placed) and here it is afflicted by the main indicator of death in the chart.  Additionally, Saturn is in Sagittarius, opposing the Mercury-Sun-Mars configuration. Both benefics are also in Leo, which is the 12th house of the natal chart, and said to be an ineffective place.

Distributor: Directing through the Bounds

As noted above in the context of the Dorothean technique, the sect light, the Sun, had directed into the bound of Mars in Virgo in late 2014.  Therefore, the bound lord of the directed sect light was Mars, and additionally Mars aspects that bound.

Transits

The transits at the time of death are also striking, as the transiting Sun is in partile conjunction with transiting Mars (i.e. they are conjunct in the same degree), and the transiting Moon is joining them in the same sign, Gemini, which is the natal sign of the Sun. Additionally, by this time Saturn had retrograded back into Scorpio, the sign of the annual profection.  Therefore, even with the transits, we see multiple repeat indications of the them of Mars afflicting the Sun to indicate the time of death.

Transits at Time of Kerkorian's Death (exact time of day unknown) - Inner Wheel is Natal - Outer Wheel is Transits
Transits at Time of Kerkorian’s Death (exact time of day unknown) – Inner Wheel is Natal – Outer Wheel is Transits

Conclusion

People sometimes ask me why most of my traditional analyses of death lack the use of special techniques for predicting longevity. Here I’ve presented an answer. None of the existing longevity techniques are perfect, and the more prominent Medieval techniques for longevity are particularly inaccurate.  Though there still are plenty of additional techniques provided by Valens that require evaluation. I do advocate the use of special techniques rather than individual factors for most in depth analysis, but when it comes to death I prefer a combination of predictive techniques, as they show interesting indications, even if it would be almost impossible to know with certainty that those indications were for death rather than some other difficult event. There are elements of early length of life techniques that I make use of and that I keep in mind to regularly test, but I know of no special technique of Hellenistic or Medieval astrology that reliably indicates the length of one’s life.

 

 

Image attribution for featured image of this article (bas relief of Lachesis):

By Jim Kuhn [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Quickies | Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey was born on June 21, 1985 at 2:46 am in New York City, with Venus rising in Taurus, the Moon in Leo, and the Sun in Gemini (chart is A rated for accuracy). In this quick look at her chart relative to traditional career indications and personality I will not be providing a biography or deep analysis of her life. You can find a bio on Wikipedia.

Lana Del Rey’s natal chart is picture below with the twelfth-part positions around the outside of the wheel.

 

Lana Del Rey - Natal Chart with Twelfth-Parts
Lana Del Rey – Natal Chart with Twelfth-Parts

Career

One of the more striking features of her chart, Venus is conjunct the Ascendant in Taurus within a degree.  You may recall from a past article series on the career significators (see here for the method from the first post in that series) that Mercury, Venus, and Mars are the most significant planets for career.  In this case, only Venus is in one of the places noted in that technique, while Mercury and Mars are both in the 3rd place, Cancer, the house of the Moon.  Venus is the most prominent planet in the chart, being in the 1st house and strongly advancing.  Venus also is the domicile and triplicity ruler of the 1st house, so there is a strong identification with matters that she symbolizes (the arts, aesthetics). Therefore, Venus is very strikingly the most significant planet for career matters, signifying an artistic pursuit.

Mercury is in phasis (i.e. Mercury departed from the beams of the Sun within 7 days of her birth), so Mercury is also very prominent. Additionally, Mercury rules the bound of the Ascendant (the Asc is at 13TAU which I realize is a bit unclear from the chart), Mercury is a triplicity ruler of the 10th house, Mercury is in its own bound, and Mercury is in the house of the sect light (the Moon). Mecury is also the domicile ruler of the Sun. All of this indicates that Mercury is prominent, and there is a strong identification with Mercury as well.

Mercury is in a tight aspect (under 3 degrees) with Venus, so these two planets have a strong relationship with each other in the chart and in relation to career. Mercury-Venus combinations with Venus dominant can signify musical careers (Venus is more prominent and is behind Mercury in the aspect so is more dominant in the relationship).

The Promise of Jupiter

Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon are all in stakes of the chart, so can also be significant in relation to the career. Jupiter is particularly significant as it is in the 10th place, which is the one most pertinent to career-matters and it closely dominate Venus with its tight right-hand square, and rules Venus by bound.

In relation to Venus and the career, Jupiter promises a fortunate event to be timed to when it culminates at the MC by primary directions (click here for a summary of how to use primary directions).

Jupiter culminated at the MC by primary directions in 2007.

lana del ray - primary direction of jupiter

It was in 2007 that Lana Del Rey signed her first record contract.

Persona

The ruler of the 1st and Mercury are typically the most important planets to examine in relation to the personality. Someone who is famous may use a “stage persona” that is more linked with planets pertaining to the career and the lights (the Sun and Moon signifying things put more prominently on display). In Lana Del Rey’s case, Venus and Mercury are the most important career indicator planets, and the most significant planets in relation to personality, so there is a lot of overlap between herself and her stage persona. While she has described her persona as a sort of “gangster Nancy Sinatra”, which certainly implies plenty of theatrics, she has also discussed how autobiographical her music has been.

There is a notable dark side to most of her music, especially in the lyrics. Her Mercury is with Mars in the 3rd house, Cancer. Mercury with Mars puts that “gangster” edge of violence and crassness to her lyrics, set amidst the lunar Cancerian backdrop of subjectivity and old school dreamy sentimentality.  Additionally, her Venus is opposite Saturn, signifying the strong association of her image with coldness, control, darkness, sorrow, and even depravity.  Saturn is in the 7th, the place of partnership and marriage, so we see that weight expressed in terms of the burden of relationships, through both Saturn’s place (the 7th) and Saturn’s opposition to Venus.

Feel free to explore her chart further in the comments section.

Cover image attribution: By Jaguar MENA (Jaguar F-TYPE) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Traditional Astrology of Death | A History of Length of Life Special Techniques

Now I will explain to you the length of life and the number of years as I attempt [to compute it], because sometimes you will want to consider it in a horoscopic diagram as I will show you. […] I wanted to know the places of the haylaj among which he was born because they are five places, and none of the planets was in them except in the ascendent in which the Sun was; and it is the best of the places.

But I calculated for this nativity from the degrees of the ascendent[…]

(Dorotheus, Book III, Ch. 1, Pingree trans., 2005, p. 237-238)

Note on Updates 6/28/15: Dear Reader, the history of this blog post would itself be an interesting matter for astrological analysis. This article was first published on the morning of 5/19/15, within 24 hours of Mercury stationing retrograde. Over a period of about 40 days, the post underwent 38 revisions (inclusive of this one). Many of the revisions were minor, but around 6/9/15, 6/21/15, and at this time, there were some major revisions. First, by obtaining the 2nd book of Hephaistio’s Apotelesmatics, at the recommendation of Chris Brennan, I realized that the entire first chapter of Book III of the Carmen of Dorotheus was almost certainly an addition, so I edited my treatment of that section to reflect that. Secondly, I felt that the omission of the planetary years approaches of Firmicus Maternus and Paulus Alexandrinus made it seem like there was more of a chasm between the medieval approaches and any Hellenistic approaches than there were, as the Medieval approaches are actually strongly based in the late Hellenistic approach of Paulus, so material was added to reflect this.

Today’s edit, which is hopefully the last one, is much more major and is a result of my own hubris for which I offer sincere apology. My readings of the first few chapters of the Reilly translation of Book III of Valens had led me to believe that Valens used the “ruler” (alcocoden) much like the apheta (hyleg), by judging ascensional times of its square. There are  references in the book of Mercury giving a portion of its complete years of 76, and of Venus giving her complete years of 84. I supposed (incorrectly) that these referred to ascensional time indications as: 1. Valens did not explicate the years of the planets at any point prior to these passages; 2. the complete years of Venus are (typically given as) 82 years, not 84 years; 3. Valens subtracts a portion of the 76 years of Mercury based on separation distance of Mercury from an angle, which seemed like subtraction of a portion of arc of ascensions based on portion already traveled. With a thorough reading of the Robert Schmidt translation of the same passages, with their extensive footnotes by Schmidt and Hand, I do now believe that the technique involved the complete (i.e. greater) years of the “ruler” (alcocoden). The technique still differs from the approaches of Maternus and Paulus which formed the backdrop of the Medieval technique, in that Valens only allows the bound lord to be “ruler”, does allow for no “ruler” where you just don’t use planetary years at all, only uses the complete years (at least in the context of this technique; he does do some more ad hoc stuff with minor years added to single sign ascensional times in the last chapter of the book), and does subtractions from complete years based on amount of zodiacal separation from an angle rather than by aspecting planets.

Given these revelations and the drastic evolution of the article, I thought it necessary to rename the article to reflect its nature as a historical overview. I do believe that the criticism of the Medieval approach is still relevant, as the Medieval approach tends to be a modification of a late Hellenistic approach and with it we lose both the great diversity in approach that existed in the Medieval era, and some of the greater insights of those approaches.

Introduction

As I’ve been restoring some articles dealing with death and timing techniques, I think I should say a little about the old hyleg/alcocoden technique for longevity.  This is a technique that was controversially popularized by Rob Zoller a couple decades ago.  Zoller sold a couple publications on it that included heavily obfuscated translations of Bonatti’s writings on it. Notably, even promoters of this technique have a hard time finding a few good celebrity examples in which it predicts death, or even simply a very major health crisis. I remember that in Zoller’s own writings, he quickly came to the conclusion that it didn’t predict death but may predict critical periods, as it predicted a very short life for him and he did indeed have a health crisis as a child. Though when it came to examples, he was forced to make spurious alterations to the technique in order to force it to work, such as suggesting that one person may have died at the time he did because of it being midpoint or half the indicated time span.

There are intimations of the technique in early Hellenistic astrology in  Dorotheus (Book III, Ch. 2; note that Ch. 1 is likely a later addition; also see Hephaistio’s Apotelesmatics, Book II, Ch. 26 for a summary of Dorotheus which is free of the medieval corruptions), Valens (Book III), and Ptolemy (Book III, Ch. 10; Note: there’s a hyleg but nothing truly analogous to an alcocoden in Ptolemy’s technique).  It changed its flavor quite sharply in the Middle Ages with the introduction of numerical weighted dignity and particular reliance on a modified version of the approach of Paulus Alexandrinus.  My problem with this technique is threefold:

1. The medieval form of the technique (often as given by Bonatti; though the exposition in Masha’allah’s “On Nativities” is clearer) is typically presented as the authoritative version, despite it being a modification of a version probably created over 400 years after the origination of the technique and quite at odds with the original sources. It is additionally reinterpreted for modern audiences in ways inconsistent with its original use both in the Hellenistic period and the Middle Ages.

2. The alcocoden’s indications by planetary years do not consistently indicate the minimum life span of a given individual, so the Medieval technique is a misleading distraction. Valens is apparently the first astrologer to have used the planetary years of the alcocoden as a possible indication, but he himself used it as one possible indicator of maximum lifespan (provided a malefic direction to the hyleg did not cut the life much shorter), with rules as to when it should be used (and when the alcocoden simply doesn’t exist in the chart). He also took only the bound lord of the hyleg as possible alcocoden, only used the greater years of the planet (or some portion thereof; at least in the context of this particular technique), and instructed as to when the life can be judged to be much shorter than that indicated by the planetary years. The Medieval technique lacks all of these features of the early technique.

3. Traditional primary directions to the hyleg do not consistently indicate the time of death, so the Medieval form of the technique with a stress on aspectual primary direction is also a misleading distraction in this sense, or at least perpetuates a myth about the necessity of an aspectual primary direction to the hyleg. Valens himself explicitly noted that many die without such an aspectual direction and that such can happen when the alcocoden is very well-placed or there is no alcocoden and there are no planets that aspect by directions without the intervention of a benefic.

1. A History of Alteration

a. Hellenistic

The technique differs significantly from author to author in the Hellenistic period. Valens alone presents more than 3 different distinct approaches to the subject, and comments on the diversity of opinion.  One of the earliest surviving accounts is in Dorotheus (1st century CE), but that particular book of Carmen Astrologicum is the most corrupt book of the five, with one of the two chapters likely to be an addition. Our best indications of the original Dorothean text come to us from Hephaistio’s summary in Book II, Ch. 26 of Apotelesmatics, and indicate that Ch. 2 of Book III of Carmen is most likely the original Dorothean technique.  Another, possibly earlier instance of the use of length of life technique from the early 1st century CE is found in fragments attributed to the Roman court astrologer Balbilus, but the account is incomplete so I won’t consider it further here (for more on the fragment of Balbilus concerning length of life, see the article by Martin Gansten by clicking this link).  Both Ptolemy and Valens also gave their versions of the technique in the 2nd century CE. All three Hellenistic authors vary in significant ways from each other, but all stress some type of timing through primary directions, a key planet as indicator (apheta, hyleg, or haylaj), and little or no use of another planet that rules the apheta (kadhkhudah or alcocoden). The two major early approaches of Dorotheus and Ptolemy, lack any use of planetary years, while the approach of Valens appears to use planetary years as one component, but in a very different manner than their later use by Firmicus Maternus, Paulus Alexandrinus, and the Medieval astrologers.

Manilius wrote the oldest complete surviving astrological text, the Astronomica (early 1st century CE). In Book III, he discusses some means of assessing length of life by assigning years to signs (his values relate roughly to the ascensional times of the signs with Virgo and Libra assigned values roughly twice that of Pisces and Aries), though he didn’t provide directions on how to use them. He also assigned length of life based on the whole sign house that the Moon is in at birth, from the most advantageous places assigning very long lives and the so-called bad or dark places assigning very short ones (e.g. 78 years in 1st house and 77 years in the 10th house; 12 years in the 6th house, 23 years in the 12th house, and 33 years in the 8th house). Perhaps the value of the sign the Moon is placed in is to be added to the value of the house, as the years assigned to the individual signs are much less (about 10-20 years), but Manilius didn’t explain the use of the signs values. Manilius does not use the primary directions approach, so his approach is at a variance from the typical Hellenistic approach.

Maternus (early 4th century CE) also does not use a a hyleg with directions and instead bases his indications on the planetary years of the planet that rules the sign following that of the Moon, which he takes to be the ruler of the life in general, and a primary indicator for character. The technique of Maternus has much more in common with the technique of Manilius than those of Dorotheus, Ptolemy, and Valens. I discuss him further below, as his technique appears to have been synthesized with the primary directions technique by Paulus Alexandrinus (and possibly his contemporaries) to form the  basis of the Medieval approach.

Dorotheus

Dorotheus appears to differ a bit in terms of manner of discovery of the hyleg and alcocoden between the two different chapters of Book III, which is certainly due to later insertions. This particular book of Dorotheus has significant evidence of corruption. Our translation is an English one, of a medieval Arabic translation, of an early medieval Pahlavi translation, of a 1st century Hellenistic text. Both example charts in Book III were dated to later centuries (4th century for the chart in Ch. 1; 3rd century for that in Ch. 2).

Chapter 1 of Book III of Dorotheus appears to be almost wholly a medieval insertion. In that chapter, the hyleg is referred to as the governor and the alcocoden is referred to as the indicator of length of life, with an example chart given (chart dated to 4th century CE by Pingree) in which the Sun is hyleg but the directions are taken from the Ascendant (see opening quote of this article). Chapter 2 is subject to minor corruptions, but most of the passage on finding the hyleg and alcocoden is original, as it also appears in the summary by the Hellenistic astrologer Hephaistio who was working from the Greek.  Interestingly, in this chapter, the hyleg is the indicator of length of life, and the alcocoden is the governor. The alcocoden does not appear to serve any purpose other than helping to indicate the hyleg, as a potential hyleg must have a governor/alcocoden to be selected.

Dorotheus looks to the hyleg as being the most significant planet in terms of signifying health and life in general. In his timing technique, the planets that become time lords show significant events and developments in the general course of life.

Dorotheus does not use the alcocoden at all to indicate the length of life.  In fact, the length is indicated from primary directions to the Ascendant (which is hyleg), but this time he puts particular stress on the lord of the directions through the bounds (i.e. jarbakhtar) in delineating ups and downs in health, and indicates the time of death when Saturn’s aspect directs to the Ascendant (see block quote below).  Mars is the alcocoden, but Mars does not indicate the length of life, and the interest in Mars has more to do with it as a threat, simply due to the fact that it’s a malefic planet. Dorotheus suggests that death happens when the either the bound lord of the directed Ascendant is malefic, or a malefic makes an exact aspect to a degree inside the bound of the directed Ascendant, while no benefic makes an exact aspect to a degree inside that bound (note: he directs by ascensional times rather than true primary directions- click here for an article on directing by ascensions and the use of the bounds).

There was nothing obvious from which the haylaj might be found except the ascendent. The lord of the term of the ascendent, Mars, was above the earth and near the East and the four parts which have been mentioned and [in] the place of good fortune aspecting the ascendent and casting [its] rays to that term in which the ascendent is, from above is[…]

[…] Because Saturn is in the twelfth degree, it indicates the last day of his life, and he will live after the twelfth degree forty-eight nights because Saturn is in the beginning of the degree (at 12;8º].

(Dorotheus, Book III, Ch. 2, Pingree trans., 2005, p. 243-244)

While in the example from Chapter II of Book III, the death is shown by an aspectual direction, Dorotheus makes it clear that it can also come about by the ruler of the bound being malefic if no benefic casts a ray into that same bound. For example, in my analysis of Whitney Houston’s death with primary directions, the Ascendant is hyleg according to the rules given by Dorotheus for its selection. She died while the directed Ascendant was in the Saturn bound of Taurus, which spans from 22 Taurus to 27 Taurus. There are no planets at all in her chart from 22-27 of any sign that aspects Taurus, so no planet casts its ray into the bound. This means that Saturn took over the prorogation (i.e. was the time lord), without the influence of the ray of any benefic, an indication of serious threat to health. Interestingly, these threats related to Saturn are shown also in the natal chart and reflected in a number of other timing techniques around the time of her death. Her death was by accidental drug overdose rather than natural causes.

So, to clarify, Dorotheus did not take the alcocoden to signify the length of life, and he looked at directions to the hyleg, both in terms of bounds and aspectually, as indicating the time of death. Therefore, in the Dorothean technique the hyleg describes the health and life, the alcocoden (which is the bound lord or some other ruler of the hyleg which regards it) helps indicate the hyleg, and timing is done by directions to the hyleg, both by bounds and aspectually.

Valens

Valens presents his own methods for finding the hyleg (“the control” or “apheta”) and the alcocoden (“the houseruler” or simply “ruler”) which are largely consistent with the methods of Dorotheus, though Valens puts particular stress on the bound lord as being the only lord eligible under this method, and that there simply is no alcocoden if the bound lord doesn’t qualify. The Valens material on length of life is the most complex out of all of the Hellenistic treatments, and he actually presents multiple techniques in Book III of his Anthology (as well as many more techniques in various books of the Anthology, many involving various combinations of ascensional times with minor years of plaents). I will be touching on a couple of the techniques only briefly here, as they relate to the hyleg/alcocoden type of approach. I advise careful study of Book III of The Anthology (as well as the other books) for more information. The best translation of Book III is available for purchase from Project Hindsight in ebook form for $30 (email ellen@projecthindsight.com and tell her Anthony from Seven Stars sent you). There is also a complete English translation of the entire Anthology which is available free online at this link.

As with Dorotheus, Valens appears to take the hyleg as the main indicator for length of life, with ascensional times to its square (or from one angle to the next) indicating maximum lifespan, and malefic directions to it that lack influence from a benefic, indicating a life cut short before its time.

He does uniquely use the greater years of the alcocoden as a possible stand-in for the hyleg, which is to be preferred as the indication of maximum length of life to the indication by the asensional times of the square of the hyleg, provided that there is an alcocoden and that its greater years indicate a shorter life than that indicated by the hyleg technique. However, Valens only uses the greater years of the alcocoden in this context, and only subtracts from them if the alcocoden is badly placed (such as in the 12th), then subtracting a portion of years from the greater based on the amount of separation of the planet from an angle.

Valens advocated taking the distance in terms of ascensional times from the hyleg to the point square to it (i.e. add 90 degrees to its zodiacal position and then convert that to ascensional times). However, if the hyleg is an angle, then he advises instead taking the distance from the angle to the next angle, and converting that to years by using ascensional times.  That number of years is considered the maximum length of life according to Valens and the native will live that long, provided that there is no alcocoden indicating fewer years, and that no malefic direction cuts things shorter.

Valens noted that certain aspects (those from Saturn, Mars, the Sun, and the Moon coming to a phase) to a point in the vital sector or to the hyleg (within 3 degrees on either side of the degree containing the hyleg itself such that a 7 degree areas is looked at, as explicitly specified by Valens) can cut the life short compared with the lesser of the indications by hyleg’s square and by the alcocoden’s complete years (or the portion of such).  He also notes the importance of the terms of malefics, which may imply use of distributors/jarbakhtars as in Dorotheus, but he never puts such into practice in his examples.  The technique is very complex, so see Book III of the Anthology for more details.

Medieval astrologers, like Umar al-Tabari, used quadrant house position (angular, succedent, or cadent by quadrant houses) to determine if an alcocoden gave its greater, middle, or lesser planetary years, in their planetary years-based  approaches to the alcocoden. This is often thought to originate with Valens’ Book III, Ch. 3, in which he advises to set up porphyry-style houses (i.e. tri-sect each angle zodiacally) and consider the first 1/3 after the angle to be the operative degrees, the next 1/3 to be middling, and the last to be inoperative. This chapter is in the context of his hyleg/alcocoden discussion, but does not reference planetary years at all. Instead, he introduces this manner of division just after referring to operative degrees in the previous paragraph, as way of clarifying what he was referring to. The passage is below and is not in relation to planetary years at all but is in relation to finding a suitably strong planet that can be hyleg (“control” or “controller”) and alcocoden (“houseruler”).

It is necessary to consider the control to be certain if the sun or the moon is in aspect with the ruler of the terms, and if it is at an angle or in operative degrees. If it is found to be turned away, the nativity judged to lack a houseruler.

(Valens, Book III, Ch. 1, Riley trans., 2010, p. 58-59)

Again, Valens, who is the single astrologer who used planetary years more than any other in predictive techniques, did not appear to use planetary years of the alcocoden to indicate minimum life span, but rather to indicate one possible “maximum lifespan” which only comes into play under specific circumstances and always involves the greater years of the bound lord of the hyleg.

 Valens provides some explicit examples of this. In the below passages “aphetic place” refers to the hyleg, and the technique involves allotting the entire ascensional time, unless a malefic intervenes without some sort of amelioration by a benefic, in which case you deduct the portion of the arc following the malefic’s aspect degree (i.e. the length of life is the arc in right ascension from hyleg to malefic aspect). In the example below, he suggests deducting a portion of the greater years of the alcocoden based on its separation from an angle if it is badly placed (see the Project Hindsight translation of this book for more details on how that is done).

If the sun or moon are in the aphetic place, then it will be necessary to figure the total rising times (in the klima of the nativity) from the position of the apheta to the point square with it. Having found the total time, you can forecast that the native will live as many years. This forecast will be accurate if the houseruler is in its own terms or is configured appropriately, has contact or is in aspect with the apheta, and if no anaereta applies its rays and deducts from the number of years. If the houseruler is not in aspect with the controller, but is otherwise found to be favorably configured (i.e. in the Ascendant, at MC while rising), it will allot the full span of years. If it is <not at> one of the other angles, it will deduct a portion of the arc proportional to its relationship <with the rest of the horoscope>, but will allot the remainder <as the length of life>.

(Valens, Book III, Ch. 1, Riley trans., 2010, p. 59)

The technique of using the square of the hyleg, or going from one angle to the next, becomes clearer in the many examples that Valens provides.  As noted, he goes from one angle to the next if the hyleg is an angle.

An example: let a nativity in the second klima have Gemini 8º as the Ascendant, Aquarius 22º as MC. Even though the vital sector starts at the Ascendant, its ending point is by no means at the point square with it, Virgo 8º, but at IC, Leo 22º. I can forecast this total of years, unless some anaereta casts its rays. If an anaereta is in Gemini 20º, or in any degree of Cancer, or projects its rays to such a point, the native will live as many years as the number of degrees <=rising times> from the aphetic point to the anaeretic point.

(Valens, Book III, Ch. 1, Riley trans., 2010, p. 60)

Additionally, Valens presents many more methods for finding critical threats to life, including a method in which a “vital sector” is found based on a type of lot involving the distance from the New Moon closest to birth (either before or after) to the Moon’s position at birth, projected from the Ascendant (see Book III, Ch. 7).  The Medeival “pars hyleg” (prenatal syzygy to natal Moon, projected from Ascendant) appears to be a corruption of this lot, as for this lot Valens instructs that the lot is constructed from the nearest New Moon rather than from the prenatal syzygy (i.e. postnatal New Moon if the birth is after the Full Moon).  Confusingly, Valens advises to take it from birth Moon to postnatal New Moon if birth is preventional, but then to project it in the opposite direction from the Ascendant toward the MC, which is exactly the same as a lot taken from the postnatal New Moon to the Moon, projected in the usual manner. This lot is used as an exact stand-in for the hyleg, in which we look to the square from it as a maximum life span (by ascensional times), compare that with the indication from its bound lord if its properly situated, and then compare that with possible malefic directions (by ascensional times) in which the malefic is strong enough to kill and there is not intervention from a benefic aspect. Again, we take the shorter indication of length of life among the three. What is common among most of the longevity techniques of Valens is that there is some sort of “vital sector” of the chart which indicates lifespan by ascensional times, either by the length of the vital sector itself or by the length from its beginning to a particularly difficult malefic aspect.

Valens also provides a technique involving the lunar nodes, and a much later technique at the end of Book III, in which ascensional times of individual signs are added to minor years of individual planets to create sums that indicate lifespan (without clear directions as to how this technique is to be used; though it is also explored in Book II and possibly in some later books). The great diversity of techniques in Valens is in stark contrast to the homogenization of the length of life approach in the Medieval period and provides many interesting avenues for further research. While Valens does appear to make use of the greater planetary years of the bound lord of the hyleg, at least in some circumstances, he does so in a way that is not consistent with the later Medieval approach, in terms of selection of the alcocoden, the number of years to assign, and what these years indicate.

Ptolemy

Finally, Ptolemy also writes on the length of life in Chapter 10 of Book III of the Tetrabiblos (click here for a link to a translation online). However, he really has only 2 parts, a hyleg and killing point, with no alcocoden in his technique. His instructions for finding the hyleg were considered by almost all astrologers commenting on the technique in the Middle Ages, as it notably differed in some ways with the instructions given by Dorotheus. Aside from a lack of alcocoden, some components of Ptolemy’s approach to the hyleg that differ strongly from others is that he appears to have used an idiosyncratic equal house division to identify operative places and he appears to only want to accept the Sun or Moon as hyleg if they are in the 1st, 11th, 10th, 9th, or 7th place of that division. This differs from Dorotheus, as Dorotheus seems to have only taken the hyleg if in the 1st, 10th, or 11th whole sign house (he only names those in Ch. 2 and in the summary by Hephaistio, and he definitely did not permit possible hylegs if they were in the 9th whole sign house).  If they are not in those places then he advises to take the planet with the most forms of testimony (domicile, exaltation, triplicity, bound, or whole sign aspect) over 3 key spots in the chart, as long as that planet has at least 3 total testimonies among the places and is in a position of greater authority than the lights. Only if this also fails does he consider using the Ascendant if the birth was by day. If the birth was by night, he takes the Ascendant if the birth was after a New Moon, but the Lot of Fortune if birth was after a Full Moon.

From there, Ptolemy determines length of life by means of primary directions involving the hyleg. He appears to direct planets and points to the hyleg as is usual in primary directions, but also suggests directing the hyleg itself if the planet or point of the hyleg already passed the MC in the daily rotation, because then you want to see when it directs to the Descendant. The Descendant is symbolic of death, being the point where planets disappear (i.e. western horizon).  In any case, Ptolemy recommends the usual technique of looking for a malefic direction to the hyleg, and insists upon more accurate calculation of the direction, rather than reliance on ascensional times. Most of Ptolemy’s discussion of length of life actually involves his attempts to explain how to accurately use primary directions and why ascensional times don’t work well for points other than the Ascendant. What is conspicuously absent from Ptolemy’s technique for determining  the length of life is an alcocoden and any use of planetary years. In Book IV of the Tetrabiblos, Ptolemy advises to look at directions to the Ascendant for matters concerning the body.

Conclusion Regarding the 3 Main Approaches

What is common among the three early Hellenistic authors using hyleg and alcocoden significators is that there is very little use of indication of length of life by planetary years of the alcocoden, and that the indication of time of death is not necessarily by an aspectual primary direction to the hyleg (though many Hellenistic authors do indicate as such if benefics don’t intervene). These are important points, as these become the cornerstones of the later Medieval technique (i.e. that the alcocoden indicates length of life by planetary years and that the timing of death is by aspectual primary direction to the hyleg).  In the early Hellenistic era, when it comes to timing it is by primary directions, but may be those to the square of the hyleg (or a hylegical lot), from one angle to another,  or to the Ascendant, and may also be shown by the bound lord of the directed hyleg (i.e. the distributor or jarbakhtar). Also, ascensional times are typically preferred to actual primary directions. When it comes to use of planetary years, it is only the bound lord of the hyleg, in certain circumstances, that can indicate a maximum lifespan related to its greater years, and the actual lifespan may be much shorter than that indicated by the bound lord (due to a malefic direction to hyleg).

Late Hellenistic: from Maternus and the Years of the Chart Ruler to the Synthesis of Paulus Alexandrinus

As far as I’m aware, the earliest appearance of an exceptional Hellenistic technique for length of life relying heavily on different levels of planetary years (greater, middle, and lesser) is found in Book II, Ch. 26 of the Mathesis of Firmicus Maternus. This technique is only found in this 4th century Roman text and does not involve the typical hyleg/alcocoden type of features in its approach, nor does it involve primary directions. However, the technique was awkwardly combined with the techniques of Dorotheus and Ptolemy by Paulus Alexandrinus to form the foundation of the Medieval approach to the length of life technique.

The technique of Maternus is more closely aligned to that of Manilius in which some planet indicates some number of years based on its placement, but in the approach of Manilus the number of years are given by the sign and/or house of the planet (apparently the Moon for the house signification; see Manilius, Book III, #560-617), while in the Maternus technique the ruler of the nativity signifies the length of life based on its own planetary years and the strength of its position. The ruler of the nativity is the giver of life and signifies the number of years. Maternus provides instructions for finding the ruler of the nativity in Book IV, Ch. 6, and in his instructions he does appear to relate some methods that are discussed in Dorotheus and Valens in relation to the alcocoden (the likely reason why this method came to be used with the alcocoden in the Middle Ages), such as noting that some use the bound lord of the sect light as the ruler of the nativity.

Maternus advises that the best technique for finding the ruler of the nativity (and thus the giver of years) is to use the ruler of the sign following the Moon’s sign.  However, the Sun and Moon cannot be the ruler of the nativity, so you must take Virgo (Mercury) if the Moon is in Gemini or Cancer at birth (i.e. you skip the signs of the Sun and Moon because they can’t be the ruler of the nativity).  For example, if the Moon were in Scorpio at birth, then the ruler of the nativity would be Jupiter, as it rules Sagittarius, which is the next sign the Moon will occupy after birth. Another example is that if the Moon were in Cancer at birth, then the ruler of the nativity would be Mercury, as it rules Virgo, which is the next eligible sign that the Moon transits after birth (a sign ruled by the Sun or Moon is not eligible). The ruler of the nativity is both the single most important planet for describing the person and also is indicative of the years someone will live. For instance, a well-placed Jupiter as ruler of life will signify a lifespan of 79 years, and will make for a magnanimous character; a well-placed Mercury as ruler of life will signify a lifespan of 108 years and a learned character.

The approaches of most other Hellenistic astrologers relied upon various methods of timing through primary directions rather than upon significations by planetary years. When the approach of Maternus was taken up and combined with the other approaches to the hyleg by Paulus Alexandrinus, the preferred approach to finding the giver of life that is suggested by Maternus was dropped and instead the special ruler of the hyleg (typically the bound lord) was used instead. As with the seemingly simplistic technique of Manilius, one may question the value of the simple technique used by Maternus of putting such important significations as the length of life and main character traits into one planet that rules the sign after the sign in which the Moon is placed.

Roman astrologer Paulus Alexandrinus, in Book II, Ch. 36, of his Introductory Matters (late 4th century CE), presents his approach which combines features of the hyleg/alcocoden technique with the planetary years technique of Maternus. It is not as much of a synthesis as found in the Medieval Persian texts because while Paulus does deal with primary directions, it is in another chapter on times of crises (Ch. 34) and he advises there to look at directions to the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant, rather than specifically to a hylegical significator. In Chapter 36, he is instead interested in the chart ruler, as was Maternus, but his method of finding the chart ruler is something of a variation on the Dorothean approach to finding the governor or alcocoden rather than the preferred approach of Maternus.

When Paulus finds the planet with the “rulership”, he assesses the length of life by planetary years in a similar manner as Maternus. There are some key differences in the approach of Paulus to that of  Maternus in how years are assigned (I refer to the “rulership” planet as the governor here):

1. Paulus allows the Sun and Moon to be governor (i.e. to assign years as length of life).

2. Paulus insists that any of the 5 planets (i.e. excluding the light) that regard the governor add their minor years, including malefics as long as they are well placed and in a place they rule, though the malefics (Saturn or Mars) subtract their years instead if they are not in such place. Benefics cannot subtract years, but fail to add any years if they are in hard aspect to the governor (i.e. whole sign square or opposition) and are retrograde, under the beams of the Sun, or cadent (in the whole sign 12th, 6th, 9th, or 3rd).

Therefore, in Paulus we find the synthesis of the method for finding a governor or alcocoden that is based in the approach of Dorotheus, with an assigning of planetary years to the governor that appears to be a variation on the approach of Firmicus Maternus, with the Lights now also permitted to be governor and with the 5 planets possibly adding or subtracting years from the significations of the governor. Paulus doesn’t seem to put as much stock into judging the length of life by primary directions, but does advise looking at primary directions to the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant by malefics (and the lights) for assessing points of crisis, though calculated using ascensional times (as was done by Dorotheus and Valens).  The Medieval techniques can be seen as extensions of the technique of Paulus which seek to further synthesize the two approaches (such as by looking at the planetary years of the alcocoden, then also trying to direct the alcocoden) and fine-tune the rules for when planets assign their greater, middle, or lesser years and how other planets add or subtract years.

b. Medieval

Masha’allah (8th century CE) in his work, The Book of Aristotle, makes some minor changes to the technique, but there does not appear to be a stress on planetary years in his treatment in The Book of Aristotle. Masha’allah is relatively consistent with approaches in the Hellenistic tradition when it comes to choosing the hyleg and alcocoden, stressing that the alcocoden should be the bound lord of the hyleg.  However, he does stress that a planet be preferred that has more than one type of dignity (notably he states that 2 minor forms of dignity would trump having domicile only) at the position of the hyleg. There are also some differences when it comes to indicating length of life. He names four methods for calculating length of life and 3 of them involve aspectual primary directions, while the fourth is a more obscure technique involving the lot of fortune.  The stress on primary directions is consistent with the Hellenistic tradition, but the stress on them being aspectual and to the hyleg or alcocoden, presages a leaning toward Ptolemy in the technique in which an exact primary direction to the hyleg came to be believed necessary as an indication of death, rather than the Dorothean approach of a malefic ruling the bound or exactly aspecting the bound with no benefic casting a ray into the same bound. To be fair, Masha’allah does acknowledge later in the section that the threat can be shown by the jarbakhtar (directions through the bounds).

A minor remark in Masha’allah’s Book of Aristotle regarding those with an afflicted hyleg and how the Sun would only grant 19 years, months, or days to such people, and similar with the rest of the planets, suggests the introduction of planetary years into the Medieval technique. Though Masha’allah in the other passages continues to stress the primary directions and does not explicitly advise the use of planetary years of the alcocoden or any planet as signifying a minimum or maximum length of life.

The Medieval technique that we know today, in which the alcocoden is used to determine the length of life based on planetary years becomes prominent in Persian astrology with Masha’allah’s On Nativities (in Works of Sahl & Masha’allah, translated by Ben Dykes), as well as in Umar al-Tabari’s work on nativities (see his treatment in Ben Dykes’ compilation, Persian Nativities II). In On Nativities, Masha’allah specifically advises that the alcocoden (or “kadukhudhah”) signifies the length of life and that it is taken by planetary years, and you judge whether to give the greater, middle, or lesser years of the planet according to  the condition of the alcocoden.  It appears to be around this point in time that the planetary years approach of Firmicus Maternus and Paulus Alexandrinus gets shuttled into the Medieval technique and comes to be one of its key features. Additionally, in this text Masha’allah advises that benefics and malefics in aspect to the alcocoden add or subtract years or months from its significations in accordance with the lesser planetary years of the aspecting planet and the condition of the aspecting planet. Therefore, we see the use of the addition/subtraction technique of Paulus, but already with variation from the way that he used it. When it comes to timing, Masha’allah takes the direction to the alcocoden of a malefic that impedes the alcocoden to be the indicator of timing of death.  The use of the alcocoden instead of the hyleg as the directed point indicating death is at a variance from the typical Hellenistic approach.

As this is only a blog article, I won’t go more in depth into the Medieval permutations of the technique, as it is clear that it was around the 8th century CE, with Masha’allah and Umar al-Tabari, that the key features of the technique were established involving planetary years of an alcocoden added to and subtracted from  by aspecting planets (variations on the method of Paulus) combined with an emphasis on an aspectual primary direction to the hyleg or alcocoden as the indication of death (variations on the method of Ptolemy). Later authors writing in Arabic echoed the stress on planetary years of the alcocoden, and this remained the mainstay of the technique in the later Middle Ages, such as in Bonatti’s Book of Astronomy.

c. Modern

As this technique has been taken up by modern astrologers, the later permutation involving a length of life shown by planetary years and a death shown by an aspectual primary direction to the hyleg has become the popular presentation.  There is precedent in Hellenistic astrology for the latter stress on primary direction to the hyleg (or at least some significant point), but the strong reliance on planetary years of the alcocoden is much more suspect.  This permutation has its roots in the late Hellenistic period but does not appear to be consistent with the approaches in the early Hellenistic period.

Additionally, certain key changes have been made in terms of the philosophical underpinning.  In ancient astrology, the type of death indicated could be of a multitude of types, as internal and external factors were both indicated in the natal chart, such that the cause of death could be as varied as death by disease, death in a fire, death by execution, death by accident, etc. In modern forms, this technique is often taken to be one concerned with internal “health”. In modern times, it is often presented as one in which the alcocoden by planetary years signifies the allotted length of life before the onset of serious health crises.  The original technique was couched in terms of danger and critical periods, with the possibility that afflictions may not lead to death if a benefic intervenes.  They did not refer specifically and exclusively to internal health concerns, so such a reading may be inaccurate, failing to take into account other types of dangers. While modern medical advances may help to avert or remediate some internal natural health difficulties, there are also numerous additional ways that one can die by accident in the modern world; types of accidents that didn’t exist in the ancient world. In his chapter on crises, Paulus Alexandrinus even goes out of his way to specify that the crises indicated by malefic primary directions to the lights or Ascendant might not always involve disease but could be as varied as a lawsuit, a shipwreck, or being stuck in a foreign country. There is no reason to think that indications from a length of life technique need involve disease and not one of the many other possible causes of death.
This technique is not traditionally one concerned only with physical internal health, but with threats to life and limb of all varieties, with separate techniques existing for trying to ascertain the nature of such threats.

Additionally, at least for Valens, the indications of longevity pertained to “maximum lifespan” rather than to minimum.  For him, all sorts of threats could end the life before this time, rather than the timing technique guaranteeing a certain number of years. It is inconsistent with the original approach to interpret the length of life indication as providing a guaranteed time frame in which one is free of serious health crises. I am reminded of Orson Welles whose life was plagued by serious health crises, particularly related to spinal problems, from a young age, yet lived to age 70 (about the time for the Moon to direct to the Descendant).  Similarly, if such an early death were indicated for Robert Zoller, and this was a minimum after which he would be plagued with significant health difficulties pushing toward death, then it seems doubtful that he would have gone on to have as long a life as he has.

2. Alcocoden’s Planetary Years Don’t Reliably Indicate Lifespan

When I first learned the technique as given by Bonatti, I applied it to dozens of charts, only to find out that his Medieval form of the technique didn’t work. The truth is that the planetary years of the alcocoden with the additions and subtractions by aspecting planets, does not indicate either a minimum or maximum lifespan in a reliable fashion. There are those that live much shorter lives than indicated by the alcocoden in planetary years, and those that live much longer lives.  Nor do the planetary years of the alcocoden necessarily indicate a period of threat to health. There is simply no reliable correlation there. Given the complexity of computing the alcocoden and its planetary modifications, and the poor results that it yields, it is simply a poor technique to use when assessing threats to a person’s well being, and it distracts from more important techniques, such as the use of the directions to the Ascendant and/or the hyleg and/or the lights (by your preferred approach), both by bounds and aspectually, and both to their squares (or the next angle) as well as to malefics.

There are many different permutations of the technique of using the alcocoden with planetary years. For instance, the technique of Valens witll give a totally different indication from that of Firmicus Maternus, and both from that of Paulus Alexandrinus, and all three from that of Guido Bonatti.  The Medieval versions of the technique are particularly confusing and convoluted as the rules for assigning which set of years to the alcocoden and for adding or subtracting years of the planets are both somewhat vague and differ from author to author (they are actually clearer and more concise in the version given by Paulus).  Due to the numerous variables, many astrologers simply manipulate the technique to assign years slightly differently depending on what chart they are using to match the facts in hindsight. I’ll have to advise that the reader provide me with their preferred source for the Medieval technique and I will provide them with some notable examples of its inefficacy when used consistently over a few example charts. For more on this, one may see the comments section of the post on the death of Whitney Houston, where there was a discussion of the technique relative to her chart.

Perhaps if we are to consider the planetary years technique then we should use it in one of the ways suggested by Valens, Maternus, or Paulus, rather than those of later Medieval astrologers providing variations on the Paulus technique 300-400 years after it.

3. Exact Primary Directions to the Hyleg Don’t Reliably Occur at Death

As the Middle Ages progressed into the Renaissance, the belief that some exact primary direction to the hyleg would always signify death became more entrenched. In Hellenistic astrology, we find a great stress placed on directions involving the Ascendant, and on the Ascendant’s direction through the bounds. In Ptolemy (Book IV, Ch. 10) and Dorotheus it is often the primary directions pertaining to the Ascendant (including directions through the bounds) that are most significant for timing bodily injury. It is my experience that primary directions are significant for the timing of death, but that they can be indicated even by the activation of a significant malefic in the chart as distributor of the Ascendant, or other hyleg, by primary directions. There is simply not always an important aspectual primary direction from one of the designated anaeretic planets within a degree at the time of death, and the belief that there must be can distract from accurately reading threat in timing techniques. I believe I’ve already provided some examples of this in some of the prior posts in this series, which you are welcome to review. If the hyleg is typically the sect light, and directions of the Ascendant are often significant to health, then we may even question the value of finding the hyleg, since we may cover more ground simply by paying attention to the directions, and directions through the bounds, of the Ascendant and sect light (as I did in my previous posts on the traditional astrology of death).

Overall, more research on the Hellenistic hyleg techniques are needed. There may be use of the hyleg yet, such as in the Dorothean approach, in which the voyage of the hyleg through bounds provides us with one of the most significant time lords of the period (the bound lord) and the planets that aspect the same bound participate with that time lord in sequence, or in one of the approaches of Valens in which the ascensional times of the square of the hyleg and the planetary years of the bound lord of the hyleg may provide a maximum life span when no malefic directions are particularly threatening. In this sense, a properly applied technique may help us to highlight the most significant factors and separate the wheat from the chaff.

Conclusion

The hyleg/alcocoden technique re-emerged in our contemporary world as a controversial selling point for the study of medieval astrology. Occasionally, it rears its head again in that guise, despite the availability of clearer translations of source texts and abundant natal data with which to test such techniques. I advise the reader to experiment with and compare the various longevity techniques proposed by Dorotheus, Valens, Ptolemy, Masha’allah, Bonatti, and others, but beware of the puffery of Medieval astrologers.  There may be some great utility to the hyleg and alcocoden as significators that are being overlooked, but I suspect that some permutation of the style of their usage by Dorotheus and Valens has more potential than any later synthesis found in authors of the Middle Ages which relies heavily on planetary years. It is also worth mentioning that there are a variety of disparate approaches in the Anthology of Vettius Valens that have yet to be tested, most of which approach the length of life calculation in ways quite different from these techniques.

References

al-Tabari, U., & al-Hasib, A. B. (2010). Persian Nativities II:  ’Umar al-Tabari and Abu Bakr. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.

Bishr, S. ibn, & Masha’allah. (2008). Works of Sahl & Masha’allah. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.

Dorotheus of Sidon. (2005). Carmen Astrologicum. (D. Pingree, Trans.). Abingdon, MD: Astrology Center of America.

Manilius, M. (1977). Astronomica. (G. P. Goold, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library.

Masha’allah, & al-Khayyat, A. ’Ali. (2009). Persian Nativities I: Masha’allah and Abu ’Ali. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press

Maternus, J. F. (2011). Mathesis. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). American Federation of Astrologers.

Paulus Alexandrinus & Olympiodorus. (2001). Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olypiodorus. (D. G. Greenbaum, Trans.). Reston, VA: Arhat.

Ptolemy, C. (1940). Ptolemy: Tetrabiblos. (F. E. Robbins, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library. Retrieved from http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Ptolemy/Tetrabiblos/home.html

Valens, V. (2010). Anthologies. (M. Riley, Trans.) (Online PDF.). World Wide Web: Mark Riley. Retrieved from http://www.csus.edu/indiv/r/rileymt/Vettius%20Valens%20entire.pdf

Traditional Astrology of Death | Elizabeth Taylor

Death is certainly one of the most significant events that will occur in someone’s life.  As someone naturally inclined to great skepticism, I’ve been particularly interested in whether astrological indications are provided at the time of death.  Even before I became interested in traditional astrology, I would spend a lot of time looking at charts of the times of celebrity deaths, looking at transits for some cogent sign of mortal end.  I was primarily focused on techniques from Uranian astrology and Cosmobilogy at that time. Getting into traditional astrology, I deeply researched the techniques given by Robert Zoller in his DMA course, which largely revolved around the techniques of Bonatti (13th century CE), elaborating upon those of Ptolemy (2nd century CE), for predicting length of life.  In my research I went from doubt, to enthusiasm, to renewed doubt about such techniques.

As I researched backward from Bonatti to his sources, the Perso-Arabic astrology that peaked in activity near the end of the first millennium of the common era, I started to get a sense of a greater diversity of opinion existing in the ancient world, as opposed to the increasing homogenization of such techniques in the late Middle Ages.  Finally, reaching back into the earliest surviving strata of horoscopic astrology, Hellenistic astrology, it became clear that there is still a diverse wealth of material on death in need of exploration, testing, syncretization, and refinement through the art.

In this series, I have, so far, worked in broad and general strokes, by and large ignoring some of the more particular special techniques for predicting longevity.  I will continue such a trend with this post on Elizabeth Taylor (a treatment requested by a reader), which will largely follow the same methods of analysis as the posts on Whitney Houston and Donna Summer, though with a couple new angles.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor was born on February 27th, 1932 at 2:30am in London, England (birth data rated AA for accuracy).  Her chart is pictured below with twelfth-part positions and then again with a few choice lots.

Liz Taylor's Natal Chart with Twelfth-Parts
Liz Taylor’s Natal Chart with Twelfth-Parts
Liz Taylor's Natal Chart with Important Lots
Liz Taylor’s Natal Chart with Important Lots

For those who have followed my series on the professional significator, you will notice that Venus (in the sign Aries and the bound of Mercury, in her Joy, the 5th place of performance and entertainment) is the clear choice for significator as Venus is strongly advancing conjunct an angle (adhering to the IC), is in a succedent house, rules the bound of the Ascendant and closely aspects the Ascendant, rules the sign of the MC, and has triplicity in the 10th (as well as being the ruler of the twelfth-parts of the Ascendant, Sun, Moon, Fortune, Mercury, and Venus).  That Venus is scrutinized by Jupiter adds an additional sense of opportunity and fame to her significations. Venus, goddess of love and beauty, pertains to a profession relating to aesthetics, the arts, and/or entertainment.  You can find some summary biographical info on this noteworthy actress via the Wikipedia entry on her.

As we look at her death, it will be important to first identify some of the more difficult areas of the chart, particularly as they relate to health and the body.  The Ascendant and the Lights, particularly the sect light, are important in terms of health.  Also, Valens noted some important points in Book II, Ch. 41 of his anthology that become relevant for the matter of type of death, including the prenatal syzygy (i.e. the position of the new or full moon preceding the birth), the 7th place and the houses on either side of it, particularly the 8th place, the 8th place from Fortune, and Fortune itself.  The 4th place is also noted as significant with regards to death by Valens and many other authors.

Some of the more difficult configurations include the sect light, the Moon, being in the 12th place, Scorpio, in her fall, squared by Saturn in Aquarius, and ruled by Mars, with a square to Mars as her next application.  This is especially so as the 12th is also the Place of Affliction (or Injury) in the chart, and is the 8th from Fortune, while the Moon additionally rules the 8th House, Cancer, and the Moon’s twelfth-part is in the 6th house of illnesses.  Also, the Sun is with Mars in Pisces, the 4th house.  The prenatal syzygy of the chart is at 2 Virgo, opposed by Mars within a degree.  Additionally, Jupiter rules the Ascendant and in Leo is in opposition to Saturn in Aquarius in the chart. These are the most prominent configurations pertaining to death and bodily harm in the chart.

Planetary Years

Liz Taylor died at age 79, in her 80th year, so we are particularly interested in activations of planets by planetary years which pertain to 79 or 80.

Looking at 79, some activated planetary combinations include Saturn-Sun (30+30+19), Mars-Sun (15+15+15+15+19), Saturn-Mars-Sun (30+15+15+19), Mercury-Sun (20+20+20+19), and Jupiter-Sun (12+12+12+12+12+19).  The Sun and Saturn don’t aspect each other, nor rule each other, so that activation is less signification.  The Mars-Sun activation is particularly significant for our purposes because these two planets are together in the chart and both have particularly relevance for health and death.

Looking at 80, some activated planetary combinations include Mercury (20+20+20+20), Mars-Moon (15+15+25+25), Saturn-Moon (30+25+25),Saturn-Mercury, Mars-Mercury, and so forth.  The lunar activations due bring out the relationships that seem most important.

However, overall we get the sense that planetary years are not as telling in this case due to the fact that there are so many possible combinations activated in these years.  We find the most important configurations related to death activated, but with such a large set of possibilities it becomes difficult to separate out what’s important.

Zodiacal Releasing

Releasing from Fortune was noted by Valens as significant for matters of health.

The four levels of zodiacal releasing from Fortune at the time of death (1:30am on March 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, CA) are:

1. Leo

2. Aries

3. Cancer

4. Cancer

As mentioned in the post on Donna Summer, the emphasis in this regard is on the first two levels, with the lord of the sign of level 1 transmitting to the lord of the sign of level 2.  In this case, what we have is the Sun transmitting to Mars.  This is interesting from the standpoint of a luminary, showing power and vitality, passing off to a malefic, showing harm, but also from the standpoint of activating the Sun-Mars conjunction in the chart.  We then see Mars transmit to the Moon (Aries to Cancer) and the Moon transmit to itself (Cancer to Cancer).  That Cancer is highlighted in the shorter periods around the death is significant, as Cancer is the Place of Death (8th house) in the chart, and Cancer’s ruler is the Moon, which is in the 8th from Fortune.

The Moon-Mars relationship also shows up strongly at the time of death, with the transiting Moon in Scorpio (lunar return) and in partile aspect with transiting Mars.

In conclusion, the zodiacal releasing of the second level, which was from about December 2010 to February 2012 had highlighted a sense of vitality and heart (the Sun rules the heart) undergoing turmoil or violence (Mars), and activating the natal Sun-Mars conjunction.  Moving to the third level, Cancer, which started on March 21st, 2011 (the fourth level thus kicked off with Cancer as well from then until March 25th), we also find an activation of the Moon-Mars relationship, as Mars transmits to the Moon and activates two houses with particular relevance for death (the 8th, Cancer, and the 8th from Fortune, Scorpio).

Distributors

Distributors are important time lords that one finds by directing certain important points through the bounds.  The dis­trib­u­tor is typ­i­cally the bound lord of the directed Ascen­dant (using zodi­a­cal semi-arc non-latitudinal ptolemaic-key pri­mary direc­tions). However,  some Per­sian astrologers used the sect light rather than the Ascen­dant. This parallels the use of the sect light as an alter­na­tive to the Ascen­dant in many Hel­lenis­tic tech­niques, such as for profectional lord of the year. The dis­trib­u­tor is a time lord, but it can give up its rulership or at least share it with, planets actu­ally apply­ing an aspect to the directed point (Ascendant or sect light). Presumably this aspect would have to be within 3 degrees, as that was the defin­i­tive range for appli­ca­tions and sep­a­ra­tions, as dis­tinct from regards, in Hel­lenis­tic astrol­ogy.  In later traditional astrology there was something of an obses­sion with direct hits by pri­mary direc­tion, rather than use of it for time lords, but these time lords or distributors were a key element of traditional primary directions. I touch on some of these issues in my intro­duc­tory post on pri­mary direc­tions (and there’s another post on software cal­cu­la­tion).

Distributors of the Ascendant and Sect Light
Distributors of the Ascendant and Sect Light

At the time of death we find that the bound lord of the directed Ascendant was Jupiter (though the Ascendant had just switched signs into Aries, ruled by Mars) and that of the directed Moon (sect light) was Mars.  You may recall that for Donna Summer also, at the time of death the distributor of the sect light, the Moon, was Mars.  Now let’s look to see if there are any aspectual co-rulers of the distribution.  At the time of death 5 Aries directed over the Ascendant, so there was no aspectual co-distributor for the directed Ascendant.  However, 28 Capricorn passed over the Moon, so Saturn at 1 Aquarius, was applying within 3 degrees and was a co-distributor of the Moon.

In conclusion, the sect light had Mars as distributor and Saturn as co-distributor.  The Ascendant did direct into a new sign, one ruled by Mars, but it had Jupiter as the distributor.  In addition to the obvious importance of activations of the relationship of the Moon to Mars and Saturn, it is the case that Jupiter, lord of the Ascendant, actually does enter prominently into significations at the time of death also, as we’ll see.

Profections and Planetary Months and Days

The annual profection is very interesting for Liz Taylor’s last return.  She turned 79 less than a month prior to her death.  At age 72 the annual profection would have gone back to the 1st house, so at age 79 it would’ve been the 8th house (i.e. 72=1st, 73=2nd, 74=3rd, 75=4th, 76=5th, 77=6th, 78=7th, 79=8th).  The 8th house, which is also known as the Place of Death, is the sign Cancer in her chart, which is the house of the Moon.  You’ll recall that the Moon, herself, is located in Scorpio, in the 12th House, which is that of the Bad Spirit, and in her case is also the Place of Affliction and Injury and the 8th Place from Fortune (another place of death). Therefore, the Moon is the lord of the year, making her a particularly important planet to look at in regards to the most significant events of the year.

The two most common methods of assigning days also highlight the Moon.  In monthly profections, the first month after the solar return (i.e. “birthday”) goes to the sign of the annual profection, which is in this case Cancer, so the Moon would be the lord of the month also.  Also, in planetary days, one starts with the lord of the year, giving each of the 7 planets, in the order in which they appear in the chart (via zodiacal order).  The Moon gets 70 5/6 planetary days, so the Moon would be the ruler of days still at the time of Taylor’s death.  You will also recall above from the discussion of zodiacal releasing that the Moon became the most important time lord pertaining to physical health matters for the month and group of days in which Taylor died.  Clearly, in terms of profections, day lords, and releasing for health, the spotlight is on the Moon at the time of Taylor’s death.  

Valens-Style Profections

I dis­cussed Valens-Style pro­fec­tions in a past post you can read here.  As men­tioned there, in addi­tion to pro­fec­tion of the Ascen­dant, the pro­fec­tion of the Moon was par­tic­u­larly impor­tant for mat­ters of the body.

In Taylor’s case, the Moon pro­fects to Gemini, the 7th House, which is empty, so it is a case of the Moon trans­mit­ting to Mercury.  The 7th itself carries some significance for matters of death (place of setting), while Mercury is in the 4th, which also carries such significations (place of anti-culmination, endings, and the earth).  Mercury is cazimi the Sun and is with Mars.

While overall, the emphasis has been on the Moon, we see that Mercury may also have some special significance in terms of matters of the body.

It should be noted that because the Moon is in the 8th from Fortune, Fortune itself transmits to the Moon in her last year.

Solar Return

Liz Taylor’s final solar return is shown below (non-precessed, 2011 solar return).

Liz Taylor's 2011 Solar Return (non-precessed)
Liz Taylor’s 2011 Solar Return (non-precessed)

We had determined that the main planet to watch is the Moon, and that Mercury may be of some lesser importance.  Also, by distribution, we may want to take a look at the malefics and Jupiter.

The Moon in the return is in Sagittarius, which is the 1st house of the natal chart, pertaining to the body and self.  The Moon in the 1st is particularly significant of the body, as the Moon herself tends to signify the body, so such signification is reinforced.  For instance, in the electional astrology of Dorotheus he recommends that the Moon be strong, such as in the 1st or in the 10th, but advises not to put her in the 1st if she is afflicted by malefic as she could signify bodily harm.  The Moon is in the house of Jupiter, but is in the bound of Saturn.  The Moon most closely aspects Saturn and her connections are from a separation with Saturn to an application with Mars, so she moves from malefic to malefic which is a particularly difficult transmission.

Mercury and Mars are also strongly in their planetary returns for the 2011 solar return.  Each one is only about a degree from its natal position, while simply being in the same sign as its natal sign would be considered a planetary return.  Jupiter which is the lord of the natal Ascendant and the lord of the solar return Moon, is opposing Saturn, echoing the natal Jupiter-Saturn opposition.

Liz Taylor's 2011 Solar Return (non-precessed) as transit along outer wheel of natal chart
Liz Taylor’s 2011 Solar Return (non-precessed) as transit along outer wheel of natal chart

Looking at the solar return as a set of transits, there are the 2 planetary returns in Pisces (the 4th house) that stand out, but also the conjunction of solar return Saturn to the natal midheaven and its opposition to natal Venus.  We’ll see all of these factors really pop out at the time of death.

Transits at Time of Death

The time of death is given in a news report as 1:28am on March 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  The chart of the time of death is below.

Transits at Time of Death - Liz Taylor
Transits at Time of Death – Liz Taylor

We are fortunate to have the exact time of death, as there are many striking features about this specific time.  For one, it is 22 Sagittarius rising.  This is not only Taylor’s rising sign rising but 22 Sagittarius is also the very degree held by the Moon at the solar return.  Meanwhile, the Moon was in Scorpio, the sign it holds natally, so this is a lunar return, and the Moon is aspecting her ruler Mars to the degree.  Therefore, the natal Moon-Mars relationship is popping at the time of death also.  In fact, the death even occurs on a Mars day and at a Moon hour.  In astrology the new day starts at sunrise, so it is still astrologically Tuesday, rather than Wednesday, and Tuesday is the day of Mars, as well as being the very same day of her exact lunar return. Transiting Mars is at 22 Pisces, square to the solar return Moon and the death Ascendant to the degree.  On a side note it is also interesting that the Lot of Boldness (noted as “COLD” on the chart), which pertains to actions without feeling or empathy, had its daily transit over her natal Moon (15 Scorpio) at the time of death.

There is a transiting Jupiter-Saturn opposition that is applying very strongly (within 2 degrees) which is also in focus at the time of death.  Saturn is culminating at 14 Libra (the natal MC degree) opposed to Jupiter anti-culminating at 13 Aries.  While transiting Jupiter is very strongly opposed by transiting Saturn, it is also the case that the transiting Sun and Mercury are in opposition to this Saturn which is the most prominent planet at the time of death and is itself the planet that signifies death.

As a set of transits, the lunar return and the alignment of the transiting Jupiter-Saturn opposition with the natal IC-MC are the most striking features of the time of death.

Biopic Shorts | Karl Marx

I recently read a couple books on Karl Marx and found that his chart very vividly reflected his life.  In my own personal opinion Marx was a great economist who is too often overlooked and helped to inspire many important positive changes in labor conditions and the regulation of business.  Drawing on Hegelian dialectics, while critiquing its spiritual aspects, his “dialectical materialism” helped to expose inherent contradictions in competitive enterprise that could lead to its necessary dissolution or transcendence, such as competition itself fostering economies of scale and mechanisms of cohersion that result in anti-competitive monopolies.

While the importance of his analyses is often overlooked, being buried under propagandistic hype and his being scape-goated for the abuse of his ideas by those in power (with a focus on Stalin without a similar critique of the mass genocide in the U.S. and other such atrocities committed to help pave the way for liberal enterprise), he also seemed to be a bit unsure of his own theoretical and pragmatic stances, very frequently reversing positions, often pardoxically, but then perhaps in a way that may be expected of someone whose philosophy was so strongly based in dialectics.  He was adamant about philosophy being used to transform the world rather than just to think about, but in that there is something propagandistic, as if the need to transform to what one feels is just or right is a priori and then the philosophy can work to justify that.  For all his urgings for transformation, he was known to advocate revolution and then do an about-face and oppose revolutionary action, and was an ardent critic of revolutionaries and “Marxists” in his own day.  He exhibited a rebellious zeal against capitalist powers but was from a wealthy bourgeois background, recklessly spent his ample allowance given to him from his friend Engels (from Engel’s family industry) even speculating in stocks for a time with his wife retaining her baroness title and them both keeping on a housekeeper, and while advocating ardently for the working class he refused to stoop down to labor work himself and seems to have been a somewhat irresponsible, with 4 of his 7 children dying in childhood in part from very poor living conditions despite his receiving more than a typical clerk’s salary in regular money from Engels, and with him possibly fathering a child with his housekeeper, and constantly avoiding paying his bills/rent. All in all, I found him to be a good-humored somewhat selfish, impulsive, and irresponsible person, though one with a strong sense of social justice and a keen mind for abstract economic analysis.  His most mature work, taken up late in life, is the three volume Capital, which is also known to be terse and somewhat prone to ambiguity.

I’d like to take a look at his chart, with an eye toward teaching the basics of chart interpretation in the ancient, original (as in first horoscopic astrology), manner of Hellenistic astrology, which differs greatly from that of modern astrology.

A Little Background in Chart Reading

The horoscope, or astrological chart, is named for the horoskopos, the point where the Sun rises on the horizon (i.e. intersection of local horizon and ecliptic plane), which is the most important point of the chart as it localizes the arrangement of the heavens to a specific time and place (with a change of about 1 degree of the 360 degrees of ecliptic space about every 4 minutes of regular clock time, i.e. 360 degrees in 24 hours).  This rising point is sometimes conceptualized as like the helm of a ship.  I often conceptualize it as being the point where sky, which is distant, evocative, abstract ratio-oriented (rational), seemingly infinite, and full of lights, being akin to the soul or mind-stuff of our reality, is seen to reveal itself, to stream out or peer out from the Earth, which is close, finite, solid, and manifest, being akin to the body of our reality.  While in modern astrology the Sun particularly, and to a lesser extent the Moon and other planets, are seen to be representative of the self, it is this point that represents the self in ancient astrology, and with much clearer analogical reasoning.  Likewise, in ancient astrology the Sun represents power, vibrancy, rule, egoism, and stuff of that sort, rather than “the ego” of an individual, allowing for the possibility that someone is more or less solar in temprement and life situation, and for the Sun to take on greater or lesser significance in relation to the individual depending on its relationship with those things that signify the self in the chart.  This allows for a much greater ability to capture life’s complexities in the chart and move further away from the over-generalization and stereotyping so commonplace in the popular astrology of today.

The chart as a whole is oriented to the horoskopos or Ascendant, representative of the self, with the rest of the circle signifying its circumstances.  The Ascendant lies in a specific degree of a specific sign of the tropical zodiac, and each sign is the “house” of a planet in the sense that some planet is in a sense evoked in connection with matters of the house and has some responsibility for them.  In addition, the signs are divided into “room-like” divisions called bounds which are also under the dominion of specific planets, and there are additional rulerships related to specific signs and houses, and the planets themselves have certain affinities for specific matters directly, called their natural rulerships.  Finally, there are certain derivative points which are used to gather further indications of various matters.  In this way, there is in any natal chart a number of planets and other factors that are relevant to any specific matter, and each has its own relations to other topics and tendencies toward pleasant/unpleasant and prominent/backgrounded effects.  Reading a natal chart helps to clarify the most prominent indications and gives you a very rich and complex jumble of possibilities, while timing techniques help to focus things by showing which planets are more active at a given time in relation to different things and to modify their indications in important ways.

To learn more about the basics of Hellenistic astrology, check out my (unfinished) series on basics and consider taking the Hellenistic astrology course offered by Chris Brennan which is affordable and is a great springboard into direct readings of translated texts from the first thousand years of horoscopic astrology (roughly the first millennium CE).  The rest of this post will illustrate some chart reading with Marx’s chart.

The Natal Chart of Karl Marx

The Ascendant is the point most symbolic of the individual in the chart and it shifts by an entire zodiacal degree about every 4 minutes of regular clock time, so horoscopic astrology is missing the most important symbolic ingredient when the birth time is unknown or inaccurate.  Thankfully, the birth time of Karl Marx is from his official birth record, so we have good reason to believe that it is very accurate (given a Rodden Rating of AA for accuracy on AstroDatabank).  He was born at night with 23 Aquarius rising.  Aquarius is the day house of Saturn, and is a fixed air sign, fixed signs being known for tenacity/focus/steadfastness, and air signs associated with the humanities and movement, and having Mercury, planet of movement, rationality, and commerce, as its primary triplicity ruler by night.  The Ascendant is in the bound of Mars, planet of aggression and inflammation.  The twelfth-part of the Ascendant (not shown) is at 6 Scorpio, the night house of Mars, a fixed water sign, with water signs being ruled by Mars at night (principle triplicity ruler), and in the bound of Mars, while in the 10th house of the chart, which is that of heights, achievement, authority, and rule.

Natal Chart of Karl Marx (CTRL+Click to enlarge)

The rulers of the Ascendant and 1st House inform us of the particular importance of Saturn, Mercury, and Mars in relation to studying Marx, but rulers of the 1st House are not the only factors of relevance to the self in ancient astrology.  Planets in the 1st, and those aspecting or “regarding” the 1st, particularly in more influential ways are very relevant, as is Mercury because of its special significations of rationality, and prominent planets for being influential, including the Sun and Moon which are naturally prominent.  There are also certain lots (derived points) which many astrologers (e.g. Vettius Valens) considered very important for particular matters of personality and character, but here I will try to stick just to the seven planets.  One important distinction often made is that the 1st house has more relevance to the body/temperament, as does the Moon, while the ruler of the 1st house has more relevance to the mind/direction, as does Mercury (and the Sun).

With an air sign rising, Saturn and Mercury will be important by default, but they are made even more important here by the fact that Saturn rules the house itself and Mercury is the primary triplicity ruler while also in his own house and bound (Mercury is in Gemini in its Mercury bound, in an air sign by night, so there is a sense of great reinforcement to Mercury which makes it more prominent).  There are no planets in the 1st house, and while the Sun, Moon, Venus, and Mercury all regard the 1st house, they do so from an inferior position so I don’t consider their influence to be particularly pronounced.  The Sun and Moon, while prominent, are in the house of family and origins (the 4th), being particularly relevant in relation to the parents, and are in the bound of Mercury further signifying Mercury’s importance in the life.  Mercury is also in phasis (crossing under the beams of the Sun within 7 days of birth, another mark of planetary prominence).  Mars provides noteworthy indications for the self but these are more covert.  Therefore, an astrological analysis of Karl Marx’s life and character should focus upon Saturn and Mercury in the chart, rather than on his Sun and Moon in Taurus as might be done in a modern analysis.  This makes good sense as Saturn is the planet of doubt, loss, fear, constriction, critique, poverty, and imprisonment, while Mercury is the planet of commerce, movement, theory, writing, and all forms of rational analysis.  Also, as was noted in my series on the charts of atheists, an identification with air, Saturn, and Mercury is rather characteristic of a rational worldview tending towards physicalism and materialism with a particular doubtful disdain for spiritual and mystical elements (Marx was irreligious and critical by sympathetic to religion, seeing it as serving a function for the oppressed but also as deluded).  We see many of the typical marks of an atheist chart, with Jupiter even being in the 12th house, in fall, stationing retrograde, and opposed by the malefic Mars (with Mars in “domination” over the 9th).

Saturn, besides being a key point of identification for Marx, is also one of the “loudest” planets in the chart, as it is the planet most advancing, being about 20 degrees from rising.  In this sense, Saturn has a sort of general prominence and persistence in the life, shedding something like a dark cloud over it with Saturn’s natural significations of doubt, negativity, death, loss, poverty, and stern cold authoritativeness.  Saturn is a complex planet in the chart.  Most noteworthy, Saturn is in the 2nd house of the chart which is that of money matters, directing Marx persistently into this sphere of life.  The 2nd house is directly impacted by its occupant Saturn, some indications of which can be poverty, loss of capital, obstructed capital, money worries, and criticism or challenges to wealth and possessions.  Here it is Marx who identifies in some ways with being the Saturn in the house of money, and coincidentally feeling a need to consistently challenge and critique those with the means of production was one of the most persistent and certain things he identified with in his life, even before his philosophical thought and analysis was well-developed.  The 2nd house itself is buried deep in paradox, akin to his own monetary paradoxes in his life, being from a wealthy background, choosing to live in poverty, while at the same time constantly begging for money from his friend, receiving money in generous amounts, and eschewing his responsibilities with money.

The 2nd house is Pisces, a water sign, which can connect it with emotional and familial ties, while a mutable sign which tends to signify fluctuations between two poles and possibly multiple sources of income (for much of Marx’s life he was receiving income from writing articles and from Engels, the bulk from Engels).  That both Saturn and Mercury are in mutable, or double-bodied, signs, would also signify a certain back-and-forth quality to his manner of thinking which would make him prone to reversals/flip-flops, and would likely be related to the great appeal that dialectical theories held for him.  The 2nd house, while mainly and most directly impacted by Saturn, is then ruled by Jupiter (and Saturn is in the bound of Jupiter), with Jupiter overcoming and actually connected with Saturn (aspecting within 3 degrees), while Jupiter is in a bad place (that of the “bad spirit” pertaining to negative social and mental afflictions, such as poverty and imprisonment) and is itself ruled by Saturn, creating a bit of a bounce back between Saturn and Jupiter, the planet of constriction, poverty, and doubt (Saturn), with that of expansion, wealth, and belief (Jupiter), with Saturn holding this upper-hand in this strong association and being the planet Marx identifies with more strongly.  In any case, Jupiter’s role there does add some indication of aid and luck connected with money matters (and Jupiter rules the 11th of friends, in addition to the 2nd of money, connecting the two), but overall there is the sense of such wealth going sour. Saturn is additionally out of sect, which tends to increase Saturn’s tendency toward malice, such that we are to expect Saturn to have much more vitriol in the darkness of its many significations, including those in relation to money, such that the doubt is deeper, the negative associations more intense, the difficult events connected with Saturn more painful (though again, Saturn is very mixed, so we see a difference depending on the timing of activations, with Jupiter’s activations providing more beneficent connections with Saturn abating the general difficulty signified). Finally, the twelfth-part of Saturn (not pictured), is in the 8th house of death, together with the twelfth-part of the Moon, a significator of physicality and mothering, emphasizing Saturn’s association with actual deaths, which no doubt had a big impact on Marx.

Mercury in Marx’s chart is in the 5th house which is that associated with pleasures, performance, and children.  I have personally found that a strong association of Mercury with the 5th connects with someone and the person in the chart shows someone who is involved with writing/oration/analysis as a pleasurable pursuit or “art”/”sport”.  Mercury in the sign, bound, and triplicity of Mercury, in an air sign, with Marx having an identification with Mercury, also shows an identification cleverness, intellectuality, and a bit of the trickster or even con man (enjoyment in deceiving people by mental means), as Mercury’s quick and elusive nature is very much ramped up, such that you would expect a Mercury that will do anything to avoid being to narrowly defined or pinpointed (though Mercury in Gemini was not considered good for the intellect in ancient astrology, as it is a wandering mind and prone to unpredictability and anger – while he was a middling student, unpredictable, provocative, frequently in trouble, flip-flopping, and prone to misinterpretation, there were also some additional significations in the chart for depth of thought).  The identification with Mercury shows an overall preoccupation with the world of thought, ideas, and communications.  In addition to the connections with wordy or commerce-oriented art, the 5th house is showing something of the close connection with his children too, and that such is likely to be playful and to inspire intellectualism in them.  Mercury is a duplicitous planet, and is here in a duplicitous sign, which can signify many children, and may also pertain to the possible fathering of a child with his housekeeper (two women).  Although the relationship indications in his chart show steadfast focus on one partner, with Venus, the 7th, the Moon, and all their rulers in fixed signs.  While Mercury is rather neutral (here, in sect and in a good place so tending to associate with more pleasant occurrences in the life), the 5th house is also dominated by the out of sect Saturn, which is one of the important connections between children and death that is in the chart.

Mars is very important too, and when identified with shows a certain domineering competitiveness and desire to get rowdy and stir up trouble.  Marx was an avid drinker and smoker from his teenage years and was very frequently in trouble with the law, to a notorious degree.  Additionally, the twelfth-part of his Mars is in the 2nd house, possibly showing a desire to irk those with money and to damage others’ property, all things he was known to do.  Mars is in sect in the chart, so some of its inflammatory tendencies are tempered and can be channeled productively, but its location in the 6th house of illness and maintenance (and labor?), ruled by the Moon (who pertains to physicality among other things) can indicate bothersome difficulties with accidents and disease, particularly of an inflammatory nature.  Its position in the 6th and his identification with it may also have had something to do with his identification with workers, as the 6th is traditionally a house of servants, and workers are the servants of the industrial infrastructure.  Its location in the bound of Jupiter and dominating the 9th house connect it in an incendiary way with spiritual belief, one of many indications of his ardent atheism.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at the natal chart of Karl Marx and I hope it leads you into further fruitful explorations of ancient astrology.  – ant

Current Events | Newtown School Shooting | Malefics and the 3rd House

Note: It is my belief, given my years of studying astrology and meeting astrologers, that no one could have predicted that a horrible school shooting would occur at Sandy Hook in Connecticut on the morning of December 14th.  Whether we may ever have that capacity from the reading of astrological signs is something beyond my power to know.  Personally, I still feel that the astrological arts are too immature for even the performance of ‘psychic’-style readings as so often observed.  However, there is much to be gained by research and data collection, especially in terms of examining the ever-flowing pen of history against those charts highlighted by the original mundane (i.e. pertaining to worldly events) astrologers as providing signs for events in a location over a period of time.  That is all that I endeavor to briefly cast light on here.

As a father of two young children, I was deeply shocked and saddened by the recent school shooting in Connecticut.  I offer my sincere condolences to the loved ones of the victims.  I do not intend this examination of the astrology of the events as a means of implying that things were “in God’s plan” or anything of that sort.  My faith in both astrology and God are too frail for me to speak confidently about any purposeful underpinnings of such tragedy.  I only stand continually perplexed by recurrence of thematically relevant signs in the sky. I mean the term signs within the astrological interpretative guidelines of horoscopic astrology’s original practitioners.

Analysis of the Charts

In ancient mundane astrology, the most important charts were those of the moments of the equinoxes, solstices, and lunations (new and full moons; eclipses).  In fact, Abu Ma’shar gave 6 hierarchical levels of mundane chart types (which I’ve discussed previously) and all of those charts types consists of moments of equinoxes/solstices and lunations, of varying significance.

For specific events affecting a community, we will typically be interested in the chart of the New Moon from that location which projects signs for the significant facets of the month.  For very influential events, particularly those involving transformation of the political, cultural, or physical landscape, we look beyond the month to the quarter, the year, and higher level charts reflecting bigger periods.

21-23 Sagittarius

It is unusual for the US to have two major public shootings in one year.  That itself is cause enough to examine the chart of the year, which is the Vernal Equinox of 2012.  While it is not a traditional indication, it is intriguing to me that the Sun was conjunct asteroid Atropos (that one of the three fates which brings death) at the equinox this year (Atropos was at 00ARI39 when the Sun hit 00ARI00, the equinoctial point).  In my analysis of the shooting in Aurora, IL, I primarily examined the shooter’s chart.  A shocking and fascinating parallel exists between the chart of James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, and the timing of the Sandy Hook shooting (which was by a different shooter, Adam Lanza).  James Holmes (the shooter in the Aurora shooting) was born on December 13th with his Sun at 21 Sagittarius, conjunct Saturn at 23 Sagittarius.  The New Moon (conjunction of the Sun and Moon) that occurred the day before the Connecticut shooting in the Sandy Hook area, occurred on December 13th, Holmes’ birthday, at 21 Sagittarius, with the Sun having reached 23 Sagittarius by the morning of the shootings.  Click to enlarge image below.

New Moon 12-13-12 Sandy Hook
New Moon 12-13-12
Sandy Hook

These degrees have some sort of obvious tragic importance for the year. In fact, a friend of mine was born on December 14th, and filed for divorce on his birthday this year amidst very dramatic circumstances, less than a year after his celebrated wedding.  What is it about these degrees for this year?  There is much mundane astrological literature still yet to be translated into English and published, so perhaps future study will provide more elucidation.  For now, my best guess is that the degree area is marked out as particularly linked to afflictions of Saturn for the entire Air epoch in the Jupiter-Saturn cycle, as the 1980 Vernal Equinox from DC, which projects signs relevant to major events in the US from 1980 to 2159.  Saturn, planet of loss and afflictions, was at 23 Virgo in the chart of the Vernal Equinox of 1980 from DC and was in the 7th House which can be a house of enmity, as well as in the bound of Mars, planet of violence.  Sagittarius is dominated (i.e. in inferior square to) that Saturn and 23 Sagittarius is particularly afflicted by it as the dominated degree.  Still, there are many gaps to fill.

Vernal Equinox 1980
Vernal Equinox 1980 (from Washington DC)

The Shocking New Moon and Event Charts

Turning again to the New Moon which occurred about a day and a half before the Sandy Hook shooting, we see some very striking symoblism. Saturn was out of sect, conjunct the Ascendant within a degree, and in the nocturnal house of Mars, while Mars was in the 3rd House, the main house of schools and primary education, and in the nocturnal house of Saturn, while 4 planets were in dark places disconnected from the Ascendant (Sun, Moon, and Mercury in the 2nd; Jupiter in the 8th).

New Moon 12-13-12 Sandy Hook
New Moon 12-13-12
Sandy Hook

News reports indicate that the police were called from the school at about 9:30am on the morning of December 14th.  Therefore, the violence started some time slightly earlier than this.  I use the time of 9:15am in the chart of the shootings below, but the shooting of the man’s mother occurred earlier in their house and the school shootings likely spanned past 9:30am, so this is only an approximation.  Of importance is the fact that the majority of the killing, if not all of it, occurred while a Moon-Mars conjunction in Capricorn was rising.  The Moon is symbolic of the body and congregation, while Mars is symbolic of violence, so this configuration can potentially signify bodily harm and waves of violence.  It is an effective configuration when the Moon and Mars are in the same sign, but even more so when the Moon is applying within 13 degrees according to Hellenistic sources.  Here the Moon is applying within 11 degrees, and is actually in a condition of being besieged, as she has separated from the malefic Saturn and applies to the malefic Mars.  This is symbolic of particularly destructive occurrences, as the Moon rules the general flow of events, with her applications and separations here indicating a movements from bad to worse (sect malefic to non-sect malefic). For a better understanding of what maleficence means, please check out my early post on the malefics.

Newton Shooting 2012
Newton Shooting 2012

Conclusion

I’ve presented a few more examples of the sky saying something that we should seek to understand more deeply.  Unfortunately, I have little more to offer at this time and can only hope that a great deal of fruitful research into mundane astrology will occur in the coming decades as we learn more about the techniques of the original practitioners of this art.

One thing that stands out in this examination is the strong relevance of Mars in Capricorn.  Mars was also in Capricorn during the 9/11 attacks.  This is worth noting because many traditionalists insist on a separation between “zodiacal” state and “accidental” or “terrestrial” state, along lines explored by Morin of the 17th century, in which the planet is basically qualified as pleasant/unpleasant and so forth by zodiacal dignity (among other things) and then directed to pertain to certain sets of affairs more than others and is quantified in strength by terrestrial placement (i.e. house placement).  In addition to this doctrine, many believe that a zodiacal state of a planet in exaltation represents an indication of immense power for good (i.e. in the case of a malefic, its transformation into an accidental benefic).  On many occasions I have explored reasons why one should abandon the belief that dignity makes for more or less beneficence.  For instance, the fact that Dahmer’s character indicators and chart in general is burgeoning with planetary dignity while Ted Turner’s are quite ill-dignified.  Additionally, contrary to the doctrine of this division of labor between zodiacal and accidental state, it is the case that accidental indications of sect and place were far more relevant for the assessment of beneficence/maleficence in Hellenistic astrology.  We see further support here for my positions on these matters and the dismissal of medieval dignity pointing, the dignity=beneficence theory, and the Morinus separation doctrine.  Both this shooting and 911 occurred with Mars in Capricorn (the exaltation of Mars), and the Aurora killer, James Holmes, had Mars in Scorpio (a domicile of Mars), while Dahmer has Mars in Aries (a domicile of Mars).  Such events and characters have been in no way representative of a dignified martian expression, but do show a greater prominence of Mars (i.e. augmented quantity), as well as a more malefic expression, possibly linked to the rulership of Mars by a malefic (itself, or in the case of exaltation, Saturn).  Zodiacal state and accidental state interact and mix in so far as indications of quantity, quality, and topic with the accidental indications typically providing the more cogent and specific modifications of the natural indications of the planet itself.

On a more personal note, there seem to be a lot of events in my life leading me to explore these matters of brutality more closely.  Perhaps this is on account of a return of my own Mars in Capricorn.  The masterful film, “We Need to Talk About Kevin”, by director Lynne Ramsay immediately became one of my favorites when I saw it this year.  More recently I discovered the graphic novel, “My Friend Dahmer”, by Derf Backderf which was brilliantly done and brought clarity to Dahmer’s troubled origins.  I highly recommend those works.

Biopic Shorts | David Lynch

Industrial Symphony No. 1 is a very ethereal musical play created by David Lynch with music by Angelo Badalamenti and singing by Julee Cruise, which was performed in 1989, after Wild At Heart and foreshadowing, musically and thematically, the Twin Peaks series. I missed it on its release to VHS in 1990 but it’s also been released in the Lime Green Box Set and a lower quality version floats around on YouTube, as seen below.

 

The Moon through a Loud Speaker

The irrational is pervasive in Lynch’s work.  Watching his films is akin to a swim through the sphere of Yesod on the kabbalistic tree of life.  It is of little wonder to find the Moon as the loudest and most influential planet in his life: the sect light (Lynch was born at night), above the horizon, and in a feminine sign (i.e. in haym); strongly advancing to culmination on the MC (conjunct MC within 2 degrees); in the place of the Good Daimon or Spirit (the 11th house; pertaining to mental, spiritual, and social benefit); in the place of Love (i.e. place occupied by the Lot of Love, one of the 4 principal lots, and actually within 2.5 degrees of the lot); with her twelfth-part in the most important place, the 1st House; with some testimony in the Ascendant (participating triplicity and regard by sextile) and regarding and ruling the lord of the Ascendant (Mars in Cancer); also conjunct the twelfth-part of Fortune. Some of these indications make the Moon more prominent in a general way in the life as a whole, as if her volume has been turned up and she influences all affairs, while other indications pertain more to identity and personal influence.

Lunar themes of vivid depths of subjective experience, the emotive instinctuality and irrationality of the natural world, and the affection of the familiar and habitual (i.e. sentimentality) are also very apparent in his life and work.  I am thinking particularly of his repeat use of familiar actors, the non-linearity of his work, the thematic grappling with the gap between the role we create for ourselves and the role we actually play, the complex and paradoxical subconscious evocations of rural life and the wilderness, and the influence of dreams, visions, coincidences, and spiritual experiences on our life events and states of mind.

His birth data is rated AA for accuracy and his chart is shown below with twelfth-parts and then with lots.

David Lynch Natal Chart with Twelfth-Parts
David Lynch Natal Chart with 4 Principal Lots

The Moon is in Virgo, a mutable sign, thus the Moon tends to express through transitory combination and interaction, as if between players, rather than having her primary mode of action through powerful changes (cardinal) or stable developments (fixed).  Virgo is an earth sign, evoking the land, tradition, and the body.  Virgo’s ruler, Mercury, is the messenger, and is in the 3rd House, the Joy of the Moon, herself a traveler, while Mercury delivers and communicates, adding a lot of movement, interaction, communication, and consultation to the prominent relationship between the Moon and Mercury.  Mercury is in phasis and is most directly influenced by Venus and the Sun, with which he is assembled in the third house, Capricorn; Venus pertaining to love and art; the Sun to influence and publicity.  This is especially so with Venus, as she is most closely assembled with Mercury and rules his bound (as well as being a triplicity lord of Capricorn).  The combination of Venus, Mercury, and the Sun in a place of connection and conveyance is evocative of many important professional aspects of Lynch’s life, from artistic direction of important projects to bold use of music. While the 3rd house is most directly benefic, being occupied by the sect benefic and dominated (right-side square) by Jupiter, Mercury’s applying opposition to both malefics, and rulership by the out of sect Saturn, in the House of God, lend an aura of foreboding ethereal terror over matters of Mercury, Venus, the Sun, and the 3rd House.

The Moon pertains to family and childhood, especially the mother, and the Virgoan Mercurial influence and prominence of the 3rd house fits with Lynch’s mother being an English tutor and his father and agricultural research scientist.  The prominence of the 3rd House, the Moon, mutability, and Mercury, all evoking travel and movement also fits with his experience of moving a half dozen times with his family as a child, and embarking on some formative trips as a young adult.  The land, tradition, the elderly, fear, and emotional or physical handicap are all very Saturnine themes evoked in his work, as in his chart, as supernaturally lurking in the shadows of, and contrasted with, human innocence.

Malefics in the Lunar House of God Tugging on Venus

When it comes to Lynch’s personality, the main indicators are the lord of the Ascendant (Mars), Mercury, and the Moon.  Mars is in sect and in a good place in the chart, but conjunct the out of sect malefic, Saturn, while strongly influenced by both benefics (benefics are in the stakes of Mars), and ruled by the very benefic Moon while in the bound of the benefic Jupiter.  The overall sense with Mars is of an ambitious nature and one which can be irritable and rebellious, but is heavily influenced by goodness (sect, good place, benefic influence), and yet touched by the dark, dreadful, or macabre (Saturn).  All in all, there is incredible complexity to the character because of all the planetary influences on the lord of the Ascendant.  Mars additionally occupies the 9th Place, the House of God, drawing Lynch to spiritual matters.

Spirituality itself is a complex and prominent matter in Lynch’s life.  On the one hand, their would seem to be much animosity toward religion given the strong association between spirituality and evil, signified by the presence of both malefics in the 9th, the retreat of Jupiter in the 12th house of the Evil Daimon or Evil Spirit, and the identification with rebellious Mars and intellectual Mercury.  However, there is an overwhelming prominence and personal investment in matters of spirituality, truth, belief, and dream in his life, symbolized by 5 of 7 planets occurring in the 9th and 3rd, including both Mars and Mercury, and with rulership of the 9th by the sect light, the Moon, despite their dark associations.  While Mercury is strong in some ways, it lacks the overwhelming pervasiveness of the more subjective and irrational lunar influence over the life.  Through twelfth-parts we also find the identification with the Moon and Venus, as their parts are in the Ascendant, and we find Jupiter, planet of faith and spirit, playing a more prominent role in career and administrative aspects of the life, being positioned in the 10th of actions and authority.

Fear-inducing (Saturn) and violent (Mars) spiritual entities (9th place) tended over by the irrational Moon, mistress of nature, night, and instinct, comes cropping up frequently in his work.  It is little wonder that the influence of the malefics figure prominently in his work, as they oppose and rule his Venus, the goddess of beauty, who rules over works of art.  Venus is in the 3rd House, the Joy of the Moon, in the nocturnal house of Saturn (Capricorn), in the bound of Mars, and with the Moon as the primary triplicity lord.  Her twelfth-part is in the 1st House, that of the self, in the nocturnal house of Mars (Scorpio), in the bound of Jupiter.  Venus is the primary planet pertaining to his aesthetic and it is fitting to find her dominated by subjective and spiritually-tinged maleficence (Mars and Saturn in the 9th, in the bound of Jupiter, ruled by the Moon) and irrationality (Venus in the Joy of the Moon, general pervasiveness of the Moon, Venus and Moon twelfth-parts co-present in the 1st of self and identity).  The 3rd house journey/transportation themes also occur frequently in Lynch’s work.  Wild At Heart, Lost Highway, and even The Straight Story are road movies, while main characters are often visiting outsiders.

Years

In my opinion, a pivotal year in Lynch’s life was 1966, when he moved to Philadelphia to attend an art school which held more promise than the last one, got his future wife pregnant, created his first short film (Six Men Getting Sick), and became acquainted with the fear of crime-ridden urban living.

He would have been Age 20 at the time, thus the annual profection would have been to his 9th House, Cancer, occupied by the malefics, Mars and Saturn, with the Moon as lord of the year, all key influential planets in the life and especially in terms of relationship and artistic matters (Venus).  Lunar years are typically quite varied and eventful, as the Moon is prominent and moves quickly.  In this case, the Moon herself profected to the 7th of partnership, ruled by Venus.  It was as if in this year Lynch stepped into the house of the Moon, finding Mars and Saturn there creating fear and violence, but with the Moon lording over things and guiding them, in terms of pregnancy, bonds, and the artistic promises of the 3rd house.

At the time of the solar return the Moon was in the 3rd house, conjunct natal Mercury, putting a spot-light on the work of that house.  Mars and Venus of the return were both in the 4th of home and family, while Saturn was in the 5th of children just as Saturn’s natal twelfth-part is, signalling weight and apprehension in the house of children.

Lynch’s Jan. 20, 1966 Solar Return Transits

The importance of a year in terms of one’s professional objectives is primarily seen through zodiacal releasing of Spirit.  In October of 1965 the 1st Level of Spirit’s releasing made its first transition from its starting period in Gemini to its new period in Cancer where it would stay until 1990.  This started off with a 2nd Level period also in Cancer until October 1967.  Therefore, both of the two main levels of Spirit’s releasing were to the 9th House, Cancer, ruled by the Moon, occupied by both malefics, and additionally activated at the Age 20 profection.

The activations by planetary year were also interesting.  Age 20 is most prominently a Mercury year, while also a year in which Venus-Jupiter (8+12) relationships come into play, such as his Jupiter in sign and bound of Venus and dominating her, signifying artistic benefit and children (both planets confer children, and both are the main rulers of the House of Children, the 5th, Pisces).

There were many other pivotal years in his career but 1990 stands out as particularly important and prolific.  He won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks was hitting TV audiences, he released the Industrial Symphony No. 1, and his early paintings were in exhibition.  Interestingly, 1990 marked another profection to the 9th House, Cancer.  The Moon, lord of the year, was transiting through the 1st house of the Self at the time of the solar return, which was also a Venus return, as Venus was at 27 degrees Capricorn in the return, almost exactly conjunct her natal position at 26 Capricorn, strongly realizing Venus’s artistic birth promises.

David Lynch’s 1990 Solar Return Transits

When we look at the releasing of Spirit for 1990, we find that it marked the next major transition of the Level 1 releasing, from Cancer (the period which started in 1965) to Leo, the 10th house, ruled by the Sun.  Thus this next major transition in his professional life marked a new period, ruled by the Sun, which is with Venus in the 3rd, and emphasizing the 10th house of actions, honors, and authority.  It was as if Lynch had received his throne (the 10th and the Sun both pertaining to rulership/kings).

 

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Character | James Holmes | Advancement and Dignity Revisited

The events of July 20th, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado were deeply disturbing. They were so disturbing that some modern astrologers simply refused to look into the killer’s chart much, believing that something so heinous must be beyond astrology.  I’ve always been very interested in the astrology of the worst experiences in life, not so that I can blame them on the stars as some might believe, but because I view astrology not as causal but as a language, as a system of signs from the gods or some higher intelligence.  Therefore, when something particularly bad happens, I wonder if there was any such indication given by the gods or some higher intelligence through a celestial language of signs.

It is not easy for me to come to grips with the fact that this world creates people like Adolf Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, and James Holmes, who commit horrible atrocities.  However, the world does create such people and they are indeed part of our reality, one that ranges from the most sublime expansive spiritual experiences to senseless random unfair cruelty like this tragedy in Colorado.  I do astrology because it’s what I do, but I remain agnostic about my beliefs with regards to a great many things, so events like this repulse me, make me cry, and lead me to pray for the victims and their families and for protection for myself and my loved ones against such idiotic displays of cruelty.

About a week ago, the birth certificate of the Colorado movie theater shooter, James Holmes, was unearthed and his birth time uncovered.  In ancient astrology a valid birth time is essential to character analysis as it sets the rising degree which determines which topics are assigned to which signs, in what is called the houses of the chart.  Now that we have a birth time for James Holmes, I would like to make a couple brief notes about the chart which reiterate some of the important points I’ve raised in past posts about critical factors for character analysis, issues with the use of essential dignity in the community, and the use of advancement in assessing planetary prominence.  This will not be an in depth look at the events and will largely be devoid of timing techniques.  I may delve into such topics at some future point.

Character

James Eagan Holmes was born on December 13th, 1987 at 9:04pm in La Jolla, California (source).  His basic chart is shown below.

James Holmes Natal Chart
James Holmes Natal Chart

Some of the most important factors in character analysis include the Ascendant and 1st house, its lord, the Moon and her separations and applications, the Sun, Mercury, and general planetary strength and weakness.

Holmes has Leo rising, with the Ascendant in the bound of Mercury, so we expect some “self-identification” with the Sun and Mercury, with their placements in the chart being fairly important to the character, even more so than typical.  The Sun would make someone attention-getting, competitive, leading, powerful, achieving, and dominant, but this more so if the Sun is regarding the Ascendant also, strong, and is somewhat prototypical (in a place of its dignity).  Mercury would make someone clever, flexible, complicated, analytically skilled, and possibly a bit mischievous, and again more so if also regarding the Ascendant, strong, and somewhat prototypical.  Both the Sun and Mercury regard the Ascendant and are advancing (see the last post for more on advancement), so we do expect something of the solar and mercurial to be quite evident in the nature of the character.  In his chart these planets are together in the 5th house, that of Good Fortune, which pertains to physical enjoyments and achievements, such as entertainment.  They are ruled by Jupiter which is in the 9th house, which among other things pertains to higher education, and is particularly scholarly here in the bound of Mercury (also stationing direct, bringing very good benefits through higher ed to the native).

However, we find that the solar personality is modified quite substantially in the chart by the fact that the Sun is adhering (i.e. applying conjunction within 3 degrees) to the out of sect malefic, Saturn, in Saturn’s bound.  Saturn pertains to darkness, death, the macabre, and cruelty, especially when out of sect, so there is a sense of this solar being staying in the room of a malicious Saturn and powerfully joining up with Saturn over time.  Mercury is also in assembly with this Sun-Saturn (applying conjunction within 15 degrees in the same sign) while under the beams of the Sun, signifying hidden plans or communications.  So overall, from the lord of the Ascendant and its bound lord, which are also two of the chart factors that have some general bearing on the look at the mind and spirit in the chart, we get the sense that James Holmes is a solar-mercurial figure with a somewhat choleric personality belying some darkness, depression, dark malicious thoughts and so forth. Additionally, the twelfth-part of the Ascendant, which can show a hidden emphasis in the mind of the native, is in the 8th place of death and harm (as are the twelfth-parts of Fortune and Spirit, and the regular position of the Lot of Necessity).

Holmes Natal with Twelfth-Parts
Holmes Natal with Twelfth-Parts

Another very important factor for personality is the Moon, which Ptolemy (2nd century CE) regarded as particularly important for understanding the more instinctive or body-linked part of the mind (i.e. the subconscious), as opposed to the rational mind (which he associated with Mercury).  The separations and applications of the Moon were thought to be extremely significant by many ancient astrologers, and are, for instance, delineated by Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th century CE) with descriptions that have bearing on character.

The Moon in this chart is at 29 Virgo, in the sign of Mercury and the bound of Saturn.  So far we are seeing a reiteration of the importance of both Mercury and Saturn in understanding the character, revealing again a sense of intellect or scholarship, as well as possible darkness, obstruction, or cruelty.  The Moon is also conjunct the South Node of the Moon very closely, which is the eclipse point, and often associated with Saturn, suggesting again a sense of darkness.  Turning to the Lots we find that the Moon is also conjunct, in the same degree, the Lot of Affliction, which is the lot which pertains to the worst sorts of evils, afflictions, and problems (more on the Lot of Affliction here).  Also, the Lot of the Moon, called Fortune, which pertains to physical and circumstantial happenings, is very closely conjunct Mars, the planet of violence and aggression.

Holmes Natal with 5 Lots
Holmes Natal with 5 Lots

The Separations and applications of the Moon are also interesting in the chart.  The Moon separates from a square with Saturn, but applies to nothing, being void (i.e. the Moon completes no application within the next 13 degrees of travel, or about a day, thus is not “connecting” with any planets, “connection” being the terminology for a degree-based aspect).  So it is as if we have a Moon fresh off connecting with a rather cruel Saturn from a rather tense square aspect and then just going off aimless, suggesting a personal impulse from cruelty toward randomness, with Saturn (bound lord and last planet connected with) setting the tone.

Advancement

In the last two posts, which were part of my beginner series, I looked at the importance of advancement in assessing planetary prominence.  James Holmes will be particularly well known for his brutally violent criminal actions.  In his chart we find Mars as strong as can be, actually conjunct an angle, the IC at the bottom of the chart.  While I haven’t gotten into the “stakes” of the chart yet, it is also important to mention that Mars is in a “stake”, the 4th house, which also makes it more prominent.  The next most advancing planets are the assembly of Mercury, the Sun, and Saturn.  However, note that the only two planets that are retreating in the chart are both benefics, Jupiter and Venus, which are additionally cadent (i.e. the 12th, 6th, 9th, and 3rd are also weaker houses).  Thus, while the events in the life see the volume turned way up on Mars, they see the volume turned down on the benefics.  Competitiveness, aggression, and violence get “featured” in the life.

Dignity Revisited

It’s probably a good time to revisit the issue of essential dignity and its misuse and general overuse in the astrological community.  As with my polemic on this issue in which I discussed Jeffrey Dahmer’s many highly “dignified” planets, including Dahmer’s very dignified Mars in Aries, the chart of Holmes also warns against using dignity in any sense in which it makes a planet act more benefically or more “dignified” in its expression.  Mars is in Scorpio, both in domicile and with first triplicity (a solid +8 in late traditional dignity pointing systems), yet the display of violence that this person brought into being was anything but dignified.  What we see instead is a Mars that is quite prototypically Mars, as in violent, and in the bound of Mercury adds a sense of cleverness, irony, and weirdness.  A Mars more Mars-y, but definitely not a “better” Mars in a beneficence or honor sense.

Even in terms of strength, we must be careful not to attach a lot of importance to sign-based dignity.  It is worth noting for instance that Michael Phelps has Mars in Cancer, the sign of its fall.  Mars being a planet of brawn, competitiveness, and atheticism, we’d be mistaken to say that these things are weak with Michael Phelps because Mars is in fall.  On the other hand, from an associative point of view, Mars in Cancer fits Phelps well, as it links those things with water, both by being in a water sign and the sign of the Moon, which rules over bodies of water and swift travel.

Conclusion

It’s my hope that this short look at the chart of the mass murderer, James Holmes, will assist astrologers in more quickly picking out those chart factors that matter for character delineation and will encourage critical thought with respect to the status quo manner by which traditional astrologers today tend to evaluate planets by sign-based dignity.

Astrology of Profession or Calling | 6. O.J. Simpson

For readers new to the blog or this series, in this series of posts I test and refine an ancient Hellenistic astrological approach to delineating a person’s profession, occupation, or as I like to think of it, development of goal-oriented skills, from configurations in their birth chart.

Very similar techniques were discussed by Ptolemy (2nd Century CE), Paul of Alexandria (4th Century CE), Olympiadorus (6th Century CE), and Rhetorius (7th Century CE).  Therefore, these astrologers appear to have actually presented their own personal preferences for the application of the same basic technique, one that assigns particular importance to the indications given by Mars, Venus, or Mercury, or even some combination of them, as professional significators, planets in the “stakes” of the chart (the 10th, 1st, 7th, 4th houses), rulership of the 10th, and certain relationships with the Lights (i.e. Sun and Moon).

In past posts, I have outlined my own particular approach to applying this technique and have applied it to many charts, such as those of techies, musicians, and most recently a defunct chart challenge concerning the charts of a musician, athlete, and priest.  Please refer to the two posts linked in the last sentence for quick summaries of how the technique is applied in practice.  Not all ancient astrologers of the Hellenistic and Persian period used this technique, as many preferred basic delineation and/or special combinations of factors for delineating profession (Rhetorius seemed to use all three), but as a specific technique for finding the planets most relevant to the goal-oriented skills development, this technique is unrivaled in its efficacy.

So far, most of the posts have focused upon artists (Venus) and intellectuals (Mercury) with little attention paid to athletes and laborers (Mars).  I’ve also mentioned in the past how Mars can be a little trickier than the others, because in a chart of high social standing Mars may indicate a more aggressive managerial role or competitive political role rather than athletics or labor.  So far, we’ve only seen one example of Mars as significator, and that was very briefly when looking at the chart of football star Dick Butkus in the previous post.  Here I’d like to look at another person who went on to become a star athlete, in order to show the efficacy of the technique in correctly singling out Mars as significator.

O. J. Simpson

O. J. Simpson is now a convicted felon who will be serving decades in prison, best known for the controversial legal trial over the death of his ex-wife Nicole Brown, which was preceded by a lengthy flight from police, ended with his acquittal, and was followed by his trying to publish a book detailing how he supposedly would’ve killed her if he had done it.  Years later we see his arrest on multiple additional felonies.  You can read a brief bio on Wikipedia, and you can see his chart data, rated AA for accuracy, on AstroDatabank.  His chart (with twelfth-parts) is pictured below.

Simpson's Natal Chart (outer wheel positions are those of the twelfth-parts)
Simpson’s Natal Chart (outer wheel positions are those of the twelfth-parts)

While this series is not about delineating character, it is instructive to note the positions of the planets most relevant for character, including the ruler of the 1st, the sect light, Mercury, planets in the 1st, and the Moon.  We find the sect light as ruler of the Ascendant and it is in a dark/bad place, the 12th of betrayal and enmity, while its ruler, the other light, the Moon, is also in a dark place, the 8th of death.  The twelfth-parts of both lights are in the 6th, a dark place, in Capricorn, ruled by the malefic, Saturn.  Mercury is out of sect and in a dark place, the 12th, while under the beams (concealment).  The Ascendant and the Moon are both in the bounds of Mars.  Saturn is in the 1st, as is the twelfth-part of Mars, the out of sect malefic.  Overall, it is very clear that the malefics and dark places predominate over matters of character, thus it wouldn’t be unusual to expect much in the way of hidden motives, malicious intent, and personal undoing.  Additionally, with the sect benefic, Jupiter, as the generally strongest planet in the chart, actually right on the IC (conjunct within 3 degrees), a great deal of good fortune, luck, and a larger than life atmosphere permeate the life as pervasive themes as well.

Technique Applied

Pertinence:

First, while no planet is strongly advancing toward the MC within 15 degrees, the advancement of Mars to the MC is quite strong, at less than 18 degrees.  Saturn and Jupiter are in stakes of the chart (the 1st and 4th respectively), but out of Mars, Venus, and Mercury, only Mars is in an appropriate place, the 11th, Gemini.  Also of relevance is that the twelfth-part of Mars is in the 1st, and Mars overcomes in a sextile application (within 3 degrees) the planet Saturn which occupies the 1st.  Mars is the only planet of the three action planets in the chart with some form of rulership at both the Ascendant and the MC, having bound at the Ascendant and participating triplicity at the MC and 10th.  Jupiter also has some rulership in both places.  The Sun and Venus, which rule the 1st and 10th respectively are both in the 12th, which is generally the most inappropriate place for a professional significator.  Venus is in phasis in the chart, very strongly in fact, as she is almost exactly 15 degrees from the Sun.

Mars is judged to be the most significant planet for profession, but Venus is deemed to have some importance on account of ruling the 10th and being in phasis.  The Moon very closely aspects Mercury also, so there is a sense in which the Sun, Venus, and Mercury together signify entertainment work of a Venus-Mercury nature generally (vocal, acting), such as the later announcing and acting work.  Overall Mars is by far the most significant planet, being advancing toward the MC, in an appropriate place (with twelfth-part in a pivotal place), with some rulership of the Ascendant and MC. Jupiter is of very great importance to the profession, as it is in a stake, with rulership at the 1st and 10th, but it is not one the three action planets, so we view it more as a modifier.

General Strength:

Jupiter is by far the planet with the greatest general strength in the chart.  Jupiter is not just strongly advancing but actually conjunct the angle of the IC.  Jupiter also regards both lights by trine, being overcome by scrutinizing (i..e within 3 degrees) applying trine by the sect light.  Jupiter stations direct about 6 days after birth.  Jupiter’s ruler is the next strongest planet in the chart.

I consider Mars the next strongest planet in the chart in a general way, and the strongest of the three action planets.  This is primarily on account of Mars advancing quite strongly to the MC, and being dominated by the Moon, while most of the other planets in the chart are retreating or not advancing very strongly.  Venus is of near equal strength with Mars or stronger but in different ways, as Venus is in phasis, and is advancing, while she is co-present with one light and regards the other.

Conclusion

Mars is the planet in O.J. Simpson’s chart with the greatest relevance for profession, and is also a planet with a broad generally pervasive influence over the life (i.e. you would expect significations of Mars to show up in many guises in many different areas of the life, quite often).  In the most simplistic terms, Mars would show a career path pertaining to brawn, as opposed to the brains of Mercury or aesthetics/pleasures of Venus.  It is interesting that Mars is in the bound of Jupiter and with the twelfth-part of Jupiter, as Jupiter can particularly have significance for athletics.

We noted that Venus and Jupiter are of secondary importance.  Jupiter modifies Mars in some ways.  Looking at Venus and Jupiter together is also interesting, as Ptolemy identified the Venus-Jupiter combination of significators as signifying champions and athletes (Venus as entertainment, Jupiter as winning and glory).

Once again we find this technique to be a breath of fresh air in comparison to most other vocational technique of western astrology, leading us down the right path to look at the proper planets, and even telling us something of the possible nuances and variety of skills.  Not only is Mars singled out for O.J. but we get a sense of the importance that Venus (entertainment) could play, how that seems connected with the brawn of Mars, and how they all relate to this larger than life Jupiterian influence upon everything

Traditional Astrology of Death | Donna Summer

Like so many people around the world, I felt sad to hear that Donna Summer passed away on Thursday, May 17th after a battle with a lung cancer.  Donna Summer was a musical icon and will be dearly missed.

I missed out on the heyday of disco in the mid-’70’s but I remember as a child in the early ’80’s dancing to songs by Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, and other fun pop, funk, and disco artists of the era.  There was something magical about all the new electronic instrumentation that would come to characterize the weirdness of the eighties.  While I tried to distance myself from pop music as a young adult, there has always been something childishly innocent about eighties pop stylings that as an adult I can now appreciate – making me feel like a kid again!

I’m probably in the minority of traditional astrologers in that I don’t believe there is a single method out there, such as a hyleg/alcochoden technique, that on its own allows one to make accurate predictions about the length of someone’s life.  Rather, I ‘m someone who thinks that if you throw a lot of techniques together, then you may be able to see it coming, but it’s quite difficult.  Looking at it in hindsight is always easier, and that’s largely what this series is about.

I’d like to look at some of the “signs” around the time of Donna Summers death and how they relate to death.  By exploring the connection between deaths and natal predictive techniques, we sharpen our ability to recognize when the astrological language of death and appreciate the intricate beauty of even such a dark and sorrowful event as death.

Donna Summer

Donna Summer was born on New Years Eve, 1948 (12/31/48) at 9pm in Boston, MA (source: AstroDatabank).  For the reader unfamiliar with her life and work, a good source for a quick brief is the Wikipedia article on her.  Her chart with twelfth-parts is shown below.

Donna Summer's Natal Chart with Twelfth-Parts
Donna Summer’s Natal Chart with Twelfth-Parts

It is hard to imagine a chart more oriented toward artistic performance. First, Venus is the significator of profession, as she is in a stake of the chart (the 4th) and strongly advancing, while having triplicity at the Ascendant and possibly bound, depending on how precisely accurate the birth time is, and Venus receives the next application of the Moon and is with the twelfth-part of the sect light (the Moon is the sect light as she was born at night).  My approach to the technique for professional significator can be found here.  Secondly, there is a whopping 5 planets, including the Sun and Moon, as well as the ruler of the 1st (in the bound of Venus), in Capricorn, the 5th House, which is the Joy of Venus and is performance-oriented. Finally, the ruler of the 5th is on the Ascendant, and thus is extremely prominent.

Mercury also crops up as important for the profession as Mercury rules the 1st and 10th signs and the bounds of the Asc and MC, and has its twelfth-part in the Ascendant.  Venus and Mercury as co-significators of profession, with Venus more dominant, combines artistry/beauty (Venus) with vocalization (Mercury), being quite common for singers.

In death analysis, we are most interested in the more potentially difficult elements of the chart.  In my opinion, one of such difficult configurations is the conjunction of the Ascendant (significant for the body and self) with the out of sect malefic, Saturn (significant for death, loss, struggle, isolation).  Another is the close (but separating) conjunction of the Moon and Mars (lord of the 8th of death, Aries) in the bound of Mars within 3 degrees of each other, and under the domicile rulership of Saturn.

Planetary Years

For an introduction to planetary years, please see the introductory post on them.  Donna Summer was in her 64th year at the time of death and was 63 years old.  Therefore we are particularly interested in combinations of planetary years that add to 63 or 64, which may involve multiples, as there are not two distinct planetary minor years that sum to more than 55.

There are only two combinations of three planets’ minor years that work without any multiples.  They are Saturn-Mars-Sun (30+15+19=64) and Saturn-Venus-Moon (30+8+25=63).

Possibilities involving multiples with one and two planets are below:

One Planet: Venus (64)

Two Planets: Venus-Mercury (24+40=64), Mars-Sun (45+19=64), Jupiter-Mercury (24+40=64), Sun-Moon (38+25=63).

Of these, I regard some as less important because the planets in the relationship are not all configured together with each other by either rulership or aspects.  For instance, Saturn-Venus-Moon is less significant to me because while Saturn aspects Venus and the Moon, Venus and the Moon are in aversion, and Venus is not ruled by Saturn.  Similarly, Venus and Mercury are in aversion.

In conclusion, the four most important activations are Saturn-Mars-Sun (Mars and the Sun co-present and ruled by Saturn which overcomes them by trine), Mars-Sun (Mars and the Sun together), Sun-Moon (the Sun and Moon co-present), and Venus.  Of these, I take Saturn-Mars-Sun to be the most important, as it involves no planetary multiples and it is reinforced by an activation of Mars-Sun involving multiples of Mars.

This Saturn-Mars-Sun activation is also the most significant one for the matter of death, as it includes both malefics (which each directly afflict significators of the body in the chart) and the Sun, which can be symbolic of vital power.

The importance of the Saturn-Mars-Sun activation is confirmed by transits on the morning of the death, in which we see the transiting Sun applying to natal Mars within a degree, and transiting Mars with natal Saturn and applying to natal Sun within a degree (transiting Sun also scrutinized, by opposition, natal twelfth-part Mars at 25 Scorpio).

Transits to Natal - Morning of 5/17/12 in Naples, FL
Transits to Natal – Morning of 5/17/12 in Naples, FL

Zodiacal Releasing

One important time lord technique in the Hellenistic period for matters of bodily health involves the use of the Lot of the Moon, also known as Fortune (glyph looks like an X in a circle).  It was discussed by Valens in Book IV of his Anthology (only complete English translation the entire work is available here), and involves allotting the ruler Fortune the first time period which is of the length of its minor years, then transitioning to the next sign in succession activating that sign and its ruler for the number of planetary years of the ruler, and so forth.  There are also minor periods that are 1/12 the length, and some additional nuances.  I will feature a post on the technique at some future point, but for now, the interested reader can get a thorough education on the technique through Chris Brennan’s Hellenistic course, or simply his module on Zodiacal Releasing, and software to calculate these time lords down to the fourth level, designed by Curtis Manwaring, is available for free.

The two highest level periods are particularly important in zodiacal releasing.  I give four levels below:

  1. Sagittarius (Jupiter) – occupied by Venus and the twelfth-part of the Moon, ruler is cazimi the Sun in 5th, Capricorn.  This is about a 12 year period beginning in 2010.
  2. Capricorn (Saturn) – occupied by 5 planets, including Sun and Mars, with ruler in 1st, Virgo.  This is about a 2 year period beginning in February of 2011.
  3. Scorpio (Mars) – occupied by the twelfth-parts of the Ascendant, Saturn, and Mars, with ruler in 5th, Capricorn.  This is about a 5 week period beginning on May 9th, 2012.
  4. Capricorn (Saturn) – see #2.  This is about a 5 day period beginning on May 15th, 2012.

As mentioned, in interpreting the releasing of Fortune, Valens paid special attention particularly to the first two levels.  One interpretive principle commonly used is that the Lot or its ruler in an angle of the chart (1st, 10th, 7th, or 4th place) shows strength, while if cadent from an angle (12th, 9th, 6th, or 3rd place) it will show weakness.  This rule can get difficult to use in practice, as Valens also suggests at one point that we can use the angles of the Lot of Fortune.  If using both the angles and the angles of Fortune, with the released Lot and its ruler, then there are simply too many points and too many strong places in the chart to derive much meaning from it.

Some people sidestep this dilemma by considering only the angles and cadents from Fortune, and not from the Ascendant.  Using that approach, the Capricorn periods would be somewhat vulnerable as the Lot would be in the 6th from Fortune (a cadent place), as would be those periods ruled by a planet that is in Capricorn.  The place of the Lot was thought to show the start of things and the ruler the development.  So Level 1 in Sagittarius would start out not particularly strong or weak (as it is not an angle nor a cadent) but in the development of the period weaknesses could result (as the ruler is in the 6th from Fortune).  Level 2 in Capricorn would start out weak, and would not develop strong towards strength or weakness (as ruler is not in an angle or cadent of fortune).  Level 3 would start strong but end weak (Lot in angle, ruler in cadent).  Level 4, like Level 2, would be weak and not strongly improve.  Therefore, the overall stress of all 4 periods being placed on Capricorn, which is a cadent from Fortune, would seem to show some vulnerability when looking at this element of interpreting releasing.

Valens discusses other principles of interpreting releasing from Fortune which I feel are a bit easier to delineate.  One thing is that he does is view the 1st two levels as if the ruler of Level 1 is transmitting or passing off to the ruler of Level 2, almost like the ruler of Level 1 is running into some type of thing signified by the 2nd level ruler.  For instance, a benefic transmitting to a malefic, as in the case here with Jupiter transmitting to Saturn, shows overturn.  Additionally, the transmission of the Sun or Moon to Saturn is particularly dangerous for health (Saturn to the Sun or Moon indicating the opposite, vigor).  According to Robert Schmidt of Project Hindsight, the original meaning of a cazimi planet is that it takes over signification for the Sun.  If this is correct, then we might treat the transmission of Jupiter to Saturn, as more akin to a transmission of the Sun to Saturn because of the cazimi status of Jupiter.

… the sun and moon when transmitting to Saturn are indicative of setbacks and anxieties, and they bring hostility […] as well as bodily disorders and dangers, shipwrecks, sudden collapses, and very many crises …         (Valens, Anthologies, Book IV, Ch. 5, Riley trans., 2010, p. 73)

If we were to consider the other levels in this type of consideration then we have Saturn transmitting to Mars (Level 2 to 3) and Mars transmitting to Saturn (Level 3 to 4).  Valens regarded transmission from a malefic to a malefic (Saturn to Mars and vice-versa) as particularly dangerous, much like a situation that goes from bad to worse.

Interestingly, in the zodiacal releasing method for health we find that the emphasis is placed again on Saturn, Mars, and the Sun (as Jupiter is cazimi the Sun) both in terms of the planets themselves and the repeat activations of the 5th house.

Distributors

Next, I would like to look at distributors, as they are time lords which tend to rule over more than a one year period and can be very significant for health matters.  The distributor is typically the bound lord of the directed (with zodiacal semi-arc non-latitudinal ptolemaic-key primary directions) Ascendant, though some later Persian astrologers used the sect light rather than the Ascendant (and in fact optional use of the sect light as an alternative to the Ascendant is common in many Hellenistic techniques as well).  The distributor is a time lord, but typically a planet actually applying an aspect to the directed angle or sect light (within 3 degrees presumably, as that was the definitive range for applications and separations, as distinct from regards, in Hellenistic astrology) would take over the lordship or at the very least share it.  The obsession with direct hits by primary direction, rather than use of it for time lords, was a later post-Hellenistic development.  I touch on some of these issues in my introductory post on primary directions (and there’s another post on calculation).

Distributors of Ascendant and Sect Light for Donna Summer
Distributors of Ascendant and Sect Light for Donna Summer

From the table of distributors we can see that the distributor of the Ascendant was Venus and that of the Moon (sect light) was Mars at the time of death.  And what of any aspectual co-rulers of the distributions?

One of the very useful features of the primary directions module in Morinus is that of pulling up the actual primary directed chart for a given day.  For the day of Summer’s death that chart is below.

Chart of Summer's PD Positions on 5/17/12
Chart of Summer’s PD Positions on 5/17/12

Reading a PD chart is a little counter-intuitive for those used to looking at secondary directions and transit charts, and I won’t be clarifying it much here, but it is helpful to take the PD chart as the base and the natal as the aspects to it – as the PD chart is telling you the degrees of the zodiac that are passing over the natal positions and the natal chart is telling you the degrees of the zodiac that the directed planets are sort of “glued to” as they travel by primary motion. In other words, it is as if the PD chart gives you the zodiacal positions of the significators and the natal gives you the zodiacal positions of the promissors.

The PD Ascendant (significator) is at 25 Libra, and it is applying a square to natal Mars (promissor) within 3°, and actually within 2° (or it could be conceived in the opposite way, that Mars has revolved under the Earth and is applying a square to the static natal Ascendant – the scenario is the same in both cases with the Ascendant as significator and Mars as promissor).  The PD Moon is at 23 Pisces (or the 23 Pisces has directed over the natal Moon) with no applying aspect within 3°.

In conclusion, Mars is the distributor of the sect light.  Mars also became the distributor, or at the very least the co-distributor, of the Ascendant starting about a year prior to death, becoming more significant than the bound lord distributor, Venus, due to applying aspect. 

These time lords by primary direction are extremely important for matters of health and general circumstance, and here we see an emphasis placed upon Mars in the natal chart, which is the ruler of the 8th house of death, and is in the 5th afflicting the Moon, Sun, and Ascendant lord.

There is one very close aspectual primary direction within about a month of the death that is very symbolic of death.  It is the direction of Saturn (promissor) to oppose the prenatal syzygy (significator).

Saturn-Syzygy

Profections and Solar Return

If unfamiliar with profections, please see the introductory post on profections.

At age 63 the Ascendant profects to the 4th house, which in Summer’s case is Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter, which is cazimi the Sun, in the 5th with Mars, and ruled by Saturn.  Being the lord of the year, Jupiter is a particularly important planet to examine in the solar return.

As it turns out, Jupiter is in separating opposition to Saturn in the return (within 3°, i.e. scrutinizing, note: application/separation is a separate concept from regard in Hellenistic astrology – regard pertains to sign relationships, whereas application/separation pertain to degree relationships particularly within 3 degrees, termed “scrutinizing”, regardless of sign boundaries).  Saturn is the out of sect malefic, and Jupiter can take over signification from the Sun, so this can be a dangerous configuration.

Donna Summer's Pre-Death Solar Return
Donna Summer’s Pre-Death Solar Return

Additionally, return Saturn is at 28 Libra, in dominating scrutinizing square to the natal Mars-Moon conjunction at 27 and 29 Capricorn.  Furthermore, return Mars is transiting through the natal 1st, pertaining to the self and health, and is applying to natal Mercury, its ruler, and this is affliction of the Ascendant lord by Mars is even more apparent in the return chart itself (above) in which return Mars is in dominating square to return Mercury in the same degree! This is particularly significant because return Mars and Mercury transit through angles of the natal chart and because return Mercury transits through the sign of the annual profection.

Donna Summer's Pre-Death Solar Return
Donna Summer’s Pre-Death Solar Return on Outside of Natal Chart

Natal Venus is in the sign of the profection.  Natal Venus in the natal chart is dominated by Saturn.  Return Mars also dominates natal Venus.  Return Venus is placed in Aquarius, the 6th house, which is a weak house in aversion to the Ascendant which can be significant for sickness and is here ruled by Saturn.

The return Moon transits through the 8th of death, under rulership of Mars, echoing the Mars-Moon conjunction and its potential significance for bodily harm. The monthly profection of the Ascendant at the time of death was to Aries, the 8th house, ruled by Mars, and occupied by the Moon in the return.

Valens-Style Profections

I discussed Valens-Style profections in a past post you can read here.  As mentioned there, in addition to profection of the Ascendant, the profection of the Moon was particularly important for matters of the body.

In Summer’s case, the Moon profects to Aries (the 8th), which is empty, so it is a case of the Moon transmitting to Mars.  Again, this places emphasis on themes of death (the 8th, malefic ruler) and affliction of the body (Mars-Moon conjunction, Moon ruled by Mars).  The solar return transit of the Moon through the 8th is also a repetition of this theme.

Ruler of Days

Some Hellenistic astrologers used daily profections, which I don’t make much use of.  I’ve also discussed the small periods of zodiacal releasing above.  Additionally, I like the ruler of days technique discussed by Julius Firmicus Maternus.  In this technique we start with the lord of the year, and assign days to the planets according to their planetary days in zodiacal order, thus dividing up rulership of the year to each of the 7 planets.  The lord of the year is Jupiter for Donna Summer, so the planetary days are as follows:

  • Jupiter – 34
  • Mercury – 56 2/3
  • Mars – 42 1/2
  • Moon – 70 5/6
  • Saturn – 85
  • Venus – 22 2/3
  • Sun – 53 5/6

Using a date calculator, we find that Donna Summer died in about the 138th day following her solar return.  The Moon took over days about 133 days after the return, so the Moon was ruler of days at the time of death.

Day of Death

Finally, let’s return to the transits at the day of death.  We’ve already established that there is substantial importance placed on the malefics and the lights in the time lord techniques. Additionally, we established that Mars is of particular importance and that the Moon-Mars themes with the 8th crop up repeatedly when we narrow in on the year.  Finally, we determined that the monthly profection is to the 8th, Aries, which was occupied by the Moon in the return, that the Moon became ruler of days less than a week before the death, and that zodiacal releasing minor periods place considerable emphasis on Mars and the 5th. Now let’s separate some of these out in the transits:

  • The Moon: Shockingly, the Moon was transiting through Aries, the 8th, that of death, at the time of death, echoing both the solar return and the Valens-style profection of the Moon, in the house of the monthly profection.  The transiting Moon was likely making her next application to transiting Saturn, in opposition, at the time of death.  The transiting Moon applied a scrutinizing square to natal Mercury, the Ascendant lord, at the time of death.  Transiting Venus and Saturn were possibly in exact to the minute aspect, while receiving the application of the transiting Moon, at the time of death.
  • Mars: Mars was transiting at 9 Virgo through the 1st house.  Mars had stationed direct at 3 Virgo, in adherence to Donna Summer’s Ascendant (4 Virgo), about a month prior.  Transiting Mars was applying to the natal Sun-Jupiter conjunction within a degree at the time of death.  The transiting Sun and Jupiter was applying to natal Mars within 3 degrees at the time of death, while both conjunct the natal twelfth-part of Venus and opposed to the natal twelfth-part of Mars within 3 degrees. The transiting Sun-Jupiter conjunction by degree itself echoing the natal Sun-Jupiter conjunction.
Transits to Natal – Morning of 5/17/12 in Naples, FL

There are additional connections, but I think this suffices to show how the transits at the time of death were reflective of superficial activation of much more important repeat themes through time lord techniques of death and harm to health which pertain to the relationship between the malefics and the Sun, malefics and Ascendant, as well as the Moon-Mars conjunction and the 8th house.