Category Archives: Mundane

Entering Ages of Air | Out of the Ground, Into the Sky

We are not in the Age of Aquarius

Are we really in the Age of Aquarius?  People in the new age community often say we are.  The particular system of ages behind these claims defines them according to either the zodiacal constellation or the sidereal zodiac sign through which the point of the vernal equinox passes (more on this below). In this sense the ages proceed backwards through the zodiac by way of precession,  at the approximate rate of a degree every 72 years, or a sign about every 2,160 years. However, by any calculation we’re only about 80-85% of the way through the Age of Pisces, with hundreds of years to go before we reach the Age of Aquarius. Still, there are many traditional astrological time lord techniques which show us moving into ages of air in other ways. These often overlooked methods of dividing time provide some fascinating insight into broad changes in society to the present day and beyond.


To figure out if we are in the Age of Aquarius, we must understand that there are three different zodiacs.  First, there are the twelve zodiacal constellations of stars which lie on the ecliptic (apparent path of the Sun). These vary in size (and age of origin) and lack clearly demarcated boundaries.  Secondly, there is the sidereal zodiac, which is a division of the ecliptic (apparent path of the Sun) into twelve equal 30 degree segments, called signs.  Each sign in the sidereal zodiac roughly overlays its corresponding constellation, and the zodiac is fixed in position to some star (such as Spica marking the start of Libra; disagreement regarding which star is the best reference has led to a variety of minor variations in terms of where to start the sidereal zodiac).  Thirdly, there is the tropical zodiac, which is another regular division of the ecliptic into twelve equal 30 degree signs, but is fixed to the Sun-Earth cycle, rather than the stars.  The tropical zodiac  has its origins with the  sidereal zodiac, as the two were quite closely aligned two thousand years ago during the rise of horoscopic astrology, but the tropical zodiac is fixed to the Sun-Earth or “seasonal”/”light” relationship, such that 0 Aries (the beginning of the zodiac) is the Northern Hemisphere’s vernal equinox. The vernal equinox is the point where the Sun (from the perspective of the Earth) crosses the Earth’s horizon northward (i.e. the northern hemispher of the Earth starts to become tilted more toward the Sun than the Southern; transitioning the north into spring).  The “equi” in equinox stands for equal measures of daylight and darkness (day and night are the same length of time on these days). The spring equinox is the point at which the daylight will start to overtake the darkness.

Precession and Current Location of the Vernal Equinox

Due to the Earth’s “wobble”, a phenomena called precession of the equinoxes, the vernal equinox (and thus the tropical zodiac) slowly shifts backwards relative to the constellations (and thus backwards relative to the sidereal zodiac as well).

The measurement of how far the tropical zodiac has moved backwards relative to the sidereal zodiac is called ayanamsa. It is used in India to quickly calculate a start point for the sidereal zodiac in Indian astrological work. According to the wikipedia article on ayanamsa and current tables of ayanamsas, it is typically assumed to be close to 24 degrees (usually just under 24 degrees). This would mean we are almost 24 degrees through the 30 degree Age of Pisces, with 6 degrees more to go before the vernal equinox enters Aquarius. That implies we are only about 80% of the way there! Currently, the vernal equinox is at about 6 degrees Pisces of the sidereal zodiac, giving over 400 years before the start of the Aquarius period.

Similarly, there is at least a few hundred years before the vernal equinox could be said to be within a reasonable boundary of the actual constellation Aquarius.  This site (click link) provides more information on its current position relative to the constellations.

Still, some modern astrologers believe that we must be transitioning into a new age because of the vast changes brought about technology and globalization in the current era. To them, these changes reflect Aquarius as an air sign, as air signs are more associated with mental phenomena and information. Also, the modern astrological rulership assigned to Aquarius is that of Uranus, which is a planet modern astrologers associate with electricity, originality/invention, and perturbation.

However, it was not the customary ancient astrological practice to define the major eras by way of the sign in which the vernal equinox fell.  Additionally, it seems a little far-fetched to attribute dramatics shifts in global circumstance to precession into Aquarius when that precession is actually yet to occur for many hundred years.  Finally, Aquarius was not ruled by Uranus in ancient astrology, but by the dark and malefic planet Saturn.  The sign Aquarius, and that of Capricorn, are ruled by Saturn, planet of darkness, and are opposite the signs of the Lights (the Sun and Moon).  Each of the 5 classical planets aside from the Lights, including Saturn, rules two signs, one day home and one night home.  Therefore, the system lost its logic and symmetry with the introduction of new rulerships of the signs as new planets were discovered. Uranus is not one of the 7 wandering stars, defined as “planets” within astrological science, as it does not appear like a star in the sky (it’s not visible as such to the naked eye).  Uranus as the Greek god of the sky, also known as Father Sky, also seemed to have little to do with electricity, revolution, and some of the other associations given to it by modern astrologers. Father Sky, Uranus, should probably be associated instead with astronomy, astrology, the sky, and the like.

Some Thoughts on the Origins of the New Age

I believe the Age of Aquarius concept should be rejected in so far as being an astrological explanation of current societal changes.  The concern with the Age of Aquarius and a “New Age” in general (an influx of “2012” BS being the latest incarnation), has its roots in 19th century, industrial-age, spiritualist movements, like Theosophy.  As the world was being radically transformed by industrialism many believed that some similar type of radical transformation of the human spirit was at hand. This transformation was like a hokey non-“religious” counterpart to the rapture, where either everyone, or just a spiritually select few, would be swept up into a natural spiritual evolution.

The naivete of this spiritual triumphalism mirrored the similarly naive scientific and industrial triumphalism of that age.  An overly simplistic, misleading, whiggish history was expounded, in which the past was seen as a linear progressive evolution to the enlightened present/future (for more on whig history see this link). This general worldview hangs on in many spiritual, scientific, and technological circles to this day, but is, hopefully, losing credence.  Overcoming such distortions is something of a prerequisite to communion with one’s ancestors, as it establishes a respectful openness to the humanity, individuality, and intelligence of those who presided over prior times. History is not one linear progression to greater evolved states, but involves a great deal of forward and backward movement, not to mention give and take where certain forms of knowledge progress and others atrophy. For instance, the first analog computer, the antikythera mechanism, believed to serve astrological purposes, dates to the 2nd or 3rd centuries BCE, but mechanisms of equal complexity were previously unknown to exist in Europe prior to the 14th century. There is an opportunity cost to all broad societal movements toward some set of shared goals.

A Couple Techniques for the Ages

There are a couple ancient mundane astrological techniques, discussed by Persian astrologers like Abu Ma’shar, which I highly regard for major global cultural shifts. The first of these is the dawr, which changes every 360 years. The second is the shift in triplicity of the Great Conjunctions, which varies in length but is about every 240 years.

The Dawr

The dawr has both fixed and relative variants.  The dawr consists of 360 year periods ruled by a planet and a sign.  The planetary rulers proceed in the so-called Chaldean order (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, then Saturn again, Jupiter, etc.).  The sign rulers proceed in the zodiacal order (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, etc.). The fixed dawr was believed to be rooted in the calculation of the date of a great flood, typically associated with the flood in the biblical Noah tale.

Here are some of the more contemporary periods of the fixed dawr:

  • Saturn-Aquarius: -860 to -500
  • Jupiter-Pisces: -500 to -140
  • Mars-Aries: -140 to 220
  • Sun-Taurus: 220 to 580
  • Venus-Gemini: 580 to 940
  • Mercury-Cancer: 940 to 1300
  • Moon-Leo: 1300 to 1660
  • Saturn-Virgo: 1660 to 2020
  • Jupiter-Libra: 2020 to 2380

Notice, for instance, that the period from 940 to 1300 coincided with the High Middle Ages in Europe.  The High Middle Ages were a period of particularly strong increase in trade, as well as important translation movements. These translation movements re-exposed Europe to Greek thought (and its Perso-Arabic developments), igniting immense scholarly and scientific activity.  This fits well with Mercury, lord of commerce, language, and analysis, as period ruler.  It was also a time of population booms and rising ethnocentric nationalism, which fit well with the fertile, familial, sign Cancer.

1300 to 1660 coincided with the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery/Exploration.   The Moon rules bodies of water and all voyages, making her a very appropriate ruler for this period of immense transfer of human culture by water.  There were also major humanist movements at this time, shifting focus somewhat away from the recovery and development of natural science, towards the  recovery and development of literature and the arts. This is consistent with the personal and subjective significations of the Moon. The renaissance was also marked by clarity, coupled with a haughty royalty, self-awareness, and self-importance, all consistent with the significations of Leo.

1660 to 2020, the age we are currently presiding in, saw the birth of industrialism. It has involved a literal ravishing and transforming of the natural world.  It has also involved limitation-based but very materially productive transformations of science and philosophy through the ascendancy of physicalism, materialism, and a more restrictive scientific method. This is the age of Saturn, planet of land, earthly resources, raw materials, tangibility, restriction/rejection, doubt, solitariness, and administration.  It is also the age of Virgo, Mercury’s earth-sign home, pertaining very strongly to material science and commerce.

Within the next decade we will begin a new 360 year age which will run from 2020 to 2380.  This age will be ruled over by Jupiter, a planet which signifies friendship, tolerance, fellowship, charity, generosity, openness, spiritual expansiveness, and opportunity.  The sign of the age is Libra, an air sign, pertaining to ideas, information, and culture.  Libra is ruled by Venus, planet of the arts/aesthetics, love, marriage,  and beauty.  Libra, the sign of the balance or scales, focuses on themes of social relationships, aesthetic science, and fairness/justice.  While Virgo is a mutable sign, signifying complexion and mixture, Libra is a cardinal sign, signifying a bolder and more direct change of direction. It will be interesting to see how this shift pans out, going from a physicalist bottom-line materialist intellect to a more information-based or mentalist view of the fundamental strata of reality coupled with a stress on generosity, spirituality, and expansion.

For more on the Dawr, see commentary regarding it in Burnett’s translation of Abu Ma’shar’s seminal text on mundane astrology.  It is rare and overpriced at the moment, but may be available at some college libraries in your area.

Triplicity of the Great Conjunctions

As mentioned in my post on Abu Ma’shar’s “Six Elements for Deducing Advanced Knowledge”, the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, which occurs every 20 years was the cornerstone of predictive techniques in ancient Persian astrology.

This conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occurs in the signs of the zodiac in a triangular pattern moving backwards.  For instance, a conjunction in Aquarius will normally be followed by a conjunction in Libra, and then a conjunction in Gemini, then one in Aquarius, etc.  However, the conjunctions are not spaced exactly 120 degrees apart, so they shift triplicity (element) over time.  This shift would occur every 240 years if regular, but varies in reality.  After the shift occurs there is often one or two conjunctions at the start of the series that revert back to the previous triplicity/element (see Richard Nolle’s 3000-year table of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions).

Here are a few elemental periods from shifts of the triplicity:

  • 1603/04 to 1802: Fire
  • 1802 to 1980/81: Earth
  • 1980/81 to 2159: Air
  • 2159 to 2338: Water

The Fire period occurred during the Age of Enlightenment, a period of heated philosophical activity, elite socially-dominant intellectual circles, and of great political importance. This is consistent with the energetic, truth-seeking, and leading/elite qualities of fire.

The Earth period, which recently ended, provided strong reinforcement for the significations of the dawr of that time (Saturn and Virgo) concerning natural resources and skepticism (Saturn) as well as physicalism (Virgo being an Earth sign, physicalism being the belief that physicality is the most fundamental nature of reality, with everything that exists doing so by virtue of physicality).

Since 1981, and the start of the Air triplicity, we’ve seen quite a cultural shift, one with a strong emphasis on abstract information.  The personal computer came to ascendancy in the 1980’s, as well as new increasingly information-based (digital) rather than physical-based media.  Some of the most profound changes have occurred in terms of communications technology and the proliferation of information and social culture.  Pieces of technology continue to lose mass, go wireless, and depend upon transmission of waves through the air. All of these things are very consistent with a shift to Air, with its significations of abstraction, communication, and social relationships.


As you can see, there are definitely some broad global transitions taking place which are taking us out of the ground and into the sky.  The shift of the triplicity from Earth to Air in 1981 has already set off a number of cultural and philosophical changes away from a material standard and toward an information standard.  We are likely to see these changes intensify following the shift of the dawr in 2020 and possibly to see a focus on global welfare, as well as a shift in the meaning of “meaning”, toward societal goals of spiritual fulfillment and generosity, but somewhat away from societal goals of material acquisition and rational certainty.

Transit of Venus 2012 | A Ray of Hope for Gay Marriage in the U.S.A.

Earlier this month, on the 5th of June, there was a Transit of Venus over the Sun.  This once in a lifetime event involved being able to observe a comparatively tiny Venus pass in front of the body of the Sun.  Millions viewed this rare event personally, using equipment, or online through NASA’s webcast.

Many people have asked me what I believe the Transit of Venus signifies.  I mainly do ancient astrology, so the question is often, “what do ancient texts say about transits of Venus, or any planet, over the surface of the Sun?”.  Well, the truth is that I’m not aware of the texts saying much about the phenomena.  It is a type of “mundane” phenomena though, as in something that seems to have significance for general worldly events, such as political, spiritual/philosophical, and cultural changes.  It basically seems to be a suped up version of something called “Cazimi” or “in the heart of the Sun”, which is when a planet is within a degree from the Sun (later authors made it within 16′ of the Sun).

I do actually have some very strong opinions myself about what the Venus Transit means, and they tend to differ considerably from what I typically see ascribed to the transit in the astrological community.  While my interpretation of the transit as a phenomena is not lifted directly from any ancient source, my interpretation of it is completely based in ancient principles and doctrines of interpretation.

I believe that the Venus Transit of 2012 pertains very strongly to the issue of gay marriage, especially in the U.S., and that it bodes well for major progress in that area in the near future.

I base my interpretation of the Venus Transit on 4 main factors:

1. Venus – her natural significations

2. Cazimi – what it means to be empowered with the Sun

3. Venus-Mercury – the combination of these planets in partnership

4. 7th House for U.S. – for this year

Let’s discuss each one of these.


First, it should not be forgotten that the Transit of Venus is chiefly about Venus.  Her main significations pertain to sexuality, love, union, marriage, pleasure, art, aesthetics, music, femininity, liquids, perfumes, and fatty fruits.  Yet, it is not uncommon to see predictions that pertain to weird new age spiritual things, financial cycles, wars, etc. based on her transit, as if matters of art, music, pleasure, sex, marriage, and all that other enjoyable stuff is just too marginal for us to find significant.  I think this is quite misguided.  There is significant importance to changes in the way we perceive and create beauty, make love, trends in music and fashion and art, sensual openness, partnership customs, and so forth.  These are integral parts of human culture.

Therefore, when you think of the Venus transit, think of Venus, the goddess, and Aphrodite, and that something important is brewing in the world of pleasure, beauty, and partnership.


There is a distinction between a planet being strong when within a degree of the Sun as opposed to being weakened when under the Sun’s beams which first appears in Paulus Alexandrinus (4th century CE, in Ch. 14).  The distinction is actually lost in the Schmidt translation of Paulus but is correctly maintained in the Greenbaum translation.

The distinction was later described as akin to being in the heart of the Sun by Rhetorius (~7th century CE, in Ch. 1) who also further clarified that the planet was more powerful in its significations when in such a position.

Medieval Persian and Arabic astrologers drawing on Rhetorius and/or Paulus continued to use the concept.  In the Jewish Perisan astrologer Sahl’s “Fifty Judgments” (9th century CE) the concept still involved a degree and was one of strength versus the weakness of being under the beams (note: Sahl thought it good if a malefic were under the beams, because it would be weaker in its malefic significations – see Judgments 29 and 39). However, later in the Perso-Arabic medieval period the concept of cazimi changed from being within a degree of the Sun to being within 16′ of the Sun, which is about one solar radii in arc length as observed from earth.  al-Qabisi (10th century CE) even goes so far as to say it should be within 16′ by both longitude and latitude, which amounts to a planet either transiting in front of the Sun (as Venus recently did, and as must be the case by this definition when Mercury or Venus are cazimi) or behind it (as in the case of Mars, Jupiter, or Saturn).  Therefore, an actual Transit of Venus is Venus cazimi in the strictest, later sense, as used by al-Qabisi.  We might consider it a more powerful version of the foundational Hellenistic notion involving being within a degree of the Sun.

Early definitions refer to Venus being more powerful or strong, and to being in the heart of the Sun.  The Sun is the primary symbol of power, leadership, honors, and political office in ancient astrology, so this notion of greater power only when truly in the Sun’s “inner circle” becomes very naturally extended by the very famous Jewish scholar, astrologer, and traveling mystic, Abraham Ibn Ezra, in the 12th century who likened a planet in cazimi to one sitting on the throne with the king (Book of Wisdom, Ch. 8, #98).  While I don’t usually go beyond 1000CE, Ibn Ezra here gives a great descriptive analogy for cazimi which is consistent with both the prior notions of power and the natural significations of the Sun.

This is how I view the Venus transit too, as Venus assuming a role in leadership.  She has special consul with the major players, the game changers, and it is her time to wield some political power, bringing about things she’d like to see.


I do a lot of research into the ancient astrology of sexual orientation.  It surprised me when I got into the Hellenistic and Persian material just how much material there was that pertained to sexual orientation.  It’s always puzzled me how weird some people get when discussing such literature too, as if it’s taboo to have a symbolic language that might be able to describe various expressions of sexuality.  The extent of such literature has actually put me in awe at the height of astrological achievement in the Hellenistic era, not least because these are good significations, which when used properly are quite informative in ways other systems of astrology had never been with this topic.

There are many indicators of homosexuality (and of various sorts of homosexuality and various sexual appetites) in the literature. However, it is not recommended that one try to delineate sexuality based on a few stray indications.  Some of the indications can mean many things, not just homosexuality.

This brings us to Venus-Mercury combinations.  Venus-Mercury combinations show up in many indicators of homosexuality in ancient astrology.  Interestingly, Venus-Mercury also pertains a great deal to theater, eloquent speech, and musical composition.  Remember that Mercury signifies commerce, language, and generally complex things with lots of “exchange”.  Hermes, the original astrological Mercury, was a god associated with hermaphrodites, and other such combinations of gender roles through his children.  Mercury basically complicates through admixture and exchange.  Venus with Mercury, brings in sexuality, partnership, and the arts, and thus is a natural and comfortable signifier for hermaphrodites, homosexuals, bisexuals, transvestite, transgender, and so forth.  These are but some of the more sexually-oriented significations.

It is interesting how they can bundle at times when Mercury-Venus is prominent and there are other similar indications with regards to sexuality, such that we may have more gay and transgender people attracted to the theater, musical composition, aesthetic science, and so forth.  They do not always bundle though.  I have Venus and Mercury co-present in the same sign and I’m heterosexual, though very attracted to the science of music and composition, as well as to poetry.

In any case, here are some indications about sexuality involving Venus-Mercury in a few texts:

Dorotheus (1st century CE, Carmen Astrologicum, Book II, Ch. 7 – repeated in Rhetorius and others):

  • Venus in a house of Mercury (i.e. Gemini or Virgo) while Mercury is in a bad place (i.e. the 12th, 6th, 8th, or 2nd) is an indication of homosexuality.
  • Lot of marriage (not Venus but Venus-like) with Mercury (Rhetorius has in a house of Mercury), with Mercury in a masculine (i.e. air or fire) sign in an angle (i.e. in the 1st, 10th, 7th, or 4th house), indicates homosexuality.

Abu’Ali (9th century CE, On the Judgements of Nativities):

  • Venus and Mercury in each other’s domiciles, or Venus and Mercury together in a domicile of Saturn, indicates homosexuality.

Abu Bakr (9th century CE, On Nativities):

  • Mercury and Venus together in the 7th house is an indication of homosexuality.

Umar al-Tabari (9th century CE, Three Books on Nativities):

  • Mercury as the almuten (planet with the most rulership) over many of the marriage points, including Venus, Moon, 7th, and lot of marriage, is an indication of homosexuality.

As you can see one of the indications of Venus-Mercury combinations on a sexual level is homosexuality, and possibly LGBT-ness in a general sense.  The Venus Transit involved Venus in Gemini, a house of Mercury, and with Mercury in that house.  Therefore, the cultural and political power wielded by Venus can pertain to poetry, music, artistic theory, but also to more complected forms of sexuality and partnership.  The joining of Venus to the Sun was in the bound of Venus as well, which is sort of like her own room in Gemini, thus it echoes back to more prototypical or core Venusian significations, especially of sexuality and partnership.

House of Marriage, For a Little While

Many people contend that the chart of the U.S. has Sagittarius rising.  If that were so, then Gemini would be the 7th house of the U.S. chart, and would have special relevance for marriage and partnership customs as they develop within the legal entity of that state.  However, the U.S. chart is something of a matter of debate.  Additionally, less stress was placed on the charts of the birth of political entities in the ancient world, then on temporary charts for those locations that pertained to varying measures of time.

The important mundane charts for periods of time that were discussed by Abu Ma’shar and al-Qabisi were of two main types, those of equinoxes/solstices and those of lunations/eclipses.  Most of the important charts are those of a Vernal Equinox preceding a great conjunction of Jupiter-Saturn.  These great conjunctions occur every 20 years, but certain ones are particularly important, such as the first such conjunction in a new triplicity (i.e. element) which carries significations that apply to major changes over about 240 years, and the first such conjunction in Aries which carries significations that apply to major changes over about 960 years.  You can read more about the hierarchy of these charts in my post on this matter.

What is particularly significant to us is that the chart signifying the major U.S. changes for 2012 has Sagittarius rising, and the exact Venus Transit to the center of the Sun from Washington, D.C. has Sagittarius rising.  This means that the Venus Transit has a particular relevance for state matters of marriage and partnership this year and that this significance was reinforced at the actual transit.

Transit of Venus from DC
Transit of Venus from DC
Vernal Equinox 2012 from DC
Vernal Equinox 2012 from DC

Given the occurrence of the Venus Transit in the 7th house of the year for the U.S., we are given a clear indication that such events in Gemini take on a particular relevance for marriage in the U.S.  Not only the Venus Transit but also the solar eclipse of May 20th, 2012 occurred in the sign of marriage for this year in the U.S.A.


Venus, planet of love, sexuality, partnership, and beauty, has attained some special power this year to affect the political scene.  She is particularly inclined to complected varieties, especially LGBT sexuality, and the place of her transit this year is the place where she has access to the marriage and partnership customs of the country.

On a side note, the Venus Transit took place conjunct the star Rigel, which is a star in the foot of the hunter Orion.  It is thought to have significance related to marching.  Time to get that pride march together!

Persian Mundane Astrology | The Six Elements for Deducing Advanced Knowledge

There’s a lunar eclipse today, so I’d like to discuss the general primary importance of charts of solar and lunar phenomena in ancient mundane astrology.  Honestly, despite my great interest in mundane astrology, I haven’t studied it thoroughly, so I avoid mundane prognostication. I’m sure that if you search for “lunar eclipse December 10 2011 astrology”, you’ll be inundated with mundane astrological predictions. I’m also pretty sure that most of the predictions will be vague and obvious, such that there will be prolongation of some sort of already ongoing long-term crisis, you know, the type of crisis that always takes years to resolve anyway.  :-)

For those who don’t know, mundane astrology is the study of astrological significations as they relate to the general world, including political, religious, cultural, and meteorological events. In many regards, there is simply a lack of high quality and clear mundane texts in English, from the period prior to the European High Middle Ages, which is the period I’m most interested in.  Comparatively, Hellenistic and Persian texts treat extensively of natal astrology, and in the Persian period there is also an outpouring of pivotal horary and electional material.  Perhaps, the most comprehensive, and certainly the most influential, treatment of mundane astrology from the period that interests me (pre-1100 CE), came from Abu Ma’shar in the 9th Century CE, and is known as The Book of Religions and Dynasties, among many other names.  An English translation by Keiji Yamamoto and Charles Burnett was released in 2000.  The translation can be a bit confusing, and at a price over $500 on Amazon, it can also be prohibitively expensive.  College students should know that Texas A&M University has a copy available for inter-library loan.  This text should serve as something of a bible for traditionalists into mundane astrology, particularly for those who are fans of Abu Ma’shar. I’ve heard that Benjamin Dykes, who produces probably the best and most understandable, translations of ancient astrological texts available, has also planned on translating the text at some point.

Six Elements for Deducing Advanced Knowledge

One of the first issues that comes up with mundane astrological work is deciding which charts matter most and how the variety of chart indicators fit together.

In Book I, Chapter 1, of The Book of Religions and Dynasties, Abu Ma’shar sets out the 6 levels of important mundane charts, which are hierarchically arranged in terms of the length of time for which they give significations. One of the more fascinating aspects of that exposition, is that all of the charts are of lunar syzygies (New and Full Moons) and solar sign ingresses, especially the latter.  The importance assigned to the ingresses and syzygies pertains to when they occur.  Here is the list of the six elements for deducing advanced knowledge (from Book I, Ch. 1, 12-21).  You may find it helpful to use the handy tables of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions and Mars-Saturn conjunctions supplied on Richard Nolle’s website.

  1. Aries Ingress preceding great conjunction (i.e. Jupiter-Saturn conjunction) in Aries (presumably, IMHO, the 1st conjunction in Aries of the series among the series in the fire triplicity).  Occurs about every 960 years (presumably, IMHO, until the next 1st conjunction in Aries of the fire triplicity series, which would take place every 960 years ideally, but can actually be a much shorter or longer period).  Aries Ingress of 1702.
  2. Aries Ingress preceding great conjunction in a new triplicity (presumably, IMHO, the 1st conjunction in a new triplicity marking the beginning of the series in that triplicity, even if there are one or two last bastion conjunctions after it in the series of the prior triplicity).  Occurs about every 240 years (again, it seems it could be applicable for quite a bit longer or shorter a period, depending on the particular length of time of the series).  Aries Ingress of 1980.
  3. Aries Ingress preceding conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Cancer.  Occurs about every 30 years.  Aries Ingress of 2004?
  4. Aries Ingress preceding a great conjunction.  Occurs about every 20 years.  Aries Ingress of 2000.
  5. Three types of charts that occur about every 3 months (though the Aries Ingress is most significant for the year as a whole): A. Solar ingress into a cardinal sign (i.e. charts of the equinoxes and solstices – especially the Spring Equinox); B. New Moon that precedes “A” (i.e. the New Moon preceding a equinox or solstice)(;  C. Full Moon that precedes “A” (i.e. the Full Moon that precedes the equinox or solstice).
  6. Three types of charts that occur monthly: A. Solar ingress into a new sign; B. New Moon; C. Full Moon. Typically B (new moon) was preferred when the lunation directly preceding the ingress was a New Moon, while C (Full Moon) was preferred when the lunation directly preceding the ingress was a Full Moon.

This is the hierarchy of mundane charts presented by Ma’shar in Book 1.  Many indications and predictive techniques, such as profections of the chart Ascendant, are derived from these charts for the relevant locations.  There is much more to Ma’shar’s own mundane predictive system than just these charts, but this exposition gives a general sense of the fundamental role solar ingresses and lunar syzygies, including eclipses, played in traditional mundane astrology. Basically, all the mundane charts looked at were of one of these classes (i.e. either the moment of a sign ingress or the moment of a lunation).

Note: I give the ingress chart date using the true conjunction in the tropical zodiac for each of the first four categories, but many Persian astrologers (including Abu Ma’shar) used mean conjunctions and the sidereal zodiac instead. Mean conjunctions assume an idealized steady progression through the signs  with a clean transition to each new triplicity, rather than the actual progression in which the length may vary.  I feel strongly (and so did some medieval astrologers and most later astrologers) that the actual Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in the tropical zodiac should be the point of reference.


Abu Ma’shar. (2000). Abu Ma’Sar on Historical Astrology: The Book of Religions and Dynasties on Great Conjunctions (Islamic Philosophy, Theology, and Science). (K. Yamamoto & C. Burnett, Trans.). Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers.