Astrological Predictive Techniques | 4. Profections in the Style of Vettius Valens

For those unfamiliar with the basic technique of annual and monthly profections, please review the last three posts of the series which introduce annual profections, those of smaller periods, and some ways the profected Ascendant or “terminal sign”, and its ruler, are combined with other predictive techniques.

In this post the focus is on a more advanced use of profections that is explicated by Vettius Valens in Book IV, Chapter 11 (and some ensuing chapters, as well as in some places in later books), of Anthology.  The only full English translation of Valens’ Anthology is available for free download from its translator Mark Riley, on his website, in pdf format at this link (c.f about p. 77-82 for reference).

The type of profections that Valens used adds three main additional principles to using profections: 1.  Profections of the Sect Light (i.e. Sun of a day birth, Moon of a night birth) may be even more generally important than that of the Ascendant, especially if the Light is in a “stake” of the chart (1st, 10th, 7th, or 4th place) ; 2. A planet in a place is more important than a planet ruling a place; 3. Any point, place, or planet can profect.

Part One: Important to Profect the Sect Light

Valens makes it very clear in Book V (Ch. 7) that he finds the profection of the sect light to be the most significant, even more so than the Ascendant:

The aphetic points of the years are operative when starting from any star, but the following aphetic points are most effective: for day births the sun, for night births the moon, especially when they are at the angles. Next <in effectiveness> is the Ascendant.  (Riley, 2010, p. 108)

In fact, any planet or place can be profected, and we will discuss the significance of them below.  However, the sect light and Ascendant have special general significance for the key events of the person’s year as a whole, so we may regard the planets that they transmit to as very important time lords of the period.

Anonymous Natal Chart
Anonymous Natal Chart

How do you profect the Sect Light?  Once you’ve gotten the hang of profecting the Ascendant, it will be easy to profect the Sect Light or any other point, as they move forward the same number of signs as the Ascendant does.  For instance, if one were a 35 year old with Leo Rising, then the annual profection of the Ascendant would be to the 12th place, Cancer (i.e. one before the 1st place, as 35 is one year before 36, a multiple of 12 – multiples of 12 are 1st place years).  If the person was born during the day then the Sun would be sect light, and we would want to profect that also.  The Sun would also profect to the 12th place from its own position.  If the Sun were in Cancer, then the 12th place from the Sun would be one sign back, in Gemini.  Thus the annual profection of the Sect Light would be to Gemini, and that of the Ascendant to Cancer.  As the Sun is cadent in our example, it is unclear whether Valens would have considered the profection of the Sect Light or the Ascendant as the more important of the two profections of the year, but certainly both are very important.

Part Two: Planet in the Place is More Important than Planet Ruling the Place

In the previous posts on profections of the Ascendant it was noted that it is as if the Ascendant is the person and the person enters a new Place/House/Sign of the chart each year.  In that metaphor, the planet ruling the Place is a “lord” of the time period, as if handed over some responsibility concerning the place where the native is now dwelling or active, which should seem natural to anyone familiar with planetary rulership of other planets and places.  It was also noted that any planet or planets in the place of the profection are very important, perhaps even more directly so, as the Ascendant becomes “co-present” with them in that place, and this planet or these planets are like alternative or additional lords of the period. For Valens, the planet or planets occupying the place are preferred to the ruler, and they are the ones that the time gets handed over to, or which receive the transmission. Again, from Valens Book V (Ch. 7):

If one of the stars in transit has entered this place, then it will be transmitting the chronocratorship. If the sign where the count stops happens to be empty, then count from the position (at the nativity) of the ruler of the sign, and examine in the same way the place found, whether using the nativity or the transiting stars. Then forecast the results of all the places and stars. <In other words,> if the count goes from star to star, use the stars for forecasting; if from a star to an empty sign, use the rulers of the signs. (Riley, 2010, p. 108)

The previous excerpt actually hits on a number of topics simultaneously, including the priority for the occupants over the ruler, the fact that the solar return transiting occupants are also preferred to the ruler (more on that below), and also that Valens even suggested profecting the ruler and finding which planet it transmits to, taking that planet over the ruler itself.

Let’s return to our example of a 35-year-old, born in the day, with Leo Rising and Sun in Cancer, with all annual profections going to the 12th place from their natal positions.  The Sun profects to Gemini, which is empty, and thus Mercury receives the transmission of the Sect Light, becoming an important time lord of the year (and if we profect Mercury we also find that it profects to Gemini, again highlighting Mercury – but if we prefer solar return transits over rulers, then it is Mars, in Gemini at the solar return, that receives the transmission of the Sect Light – this use of transits is discussed further below).  However, the Ascendant, Leo, profects to Cancer, which is occupied by both the Sun and Mercury.  In this case it is the Sun and Mercury, located in the place, rather than the Moon, ruler of the place, that receive the transmission.  As one can see the profectional method of Valens actually has the effect of changing which planet or planets are considered the most important time lords of the year by profection.  In the basic technique of the typical annual profections, the Moon, ruler of the sign the Ascendant profects to, is Lord of the Year.  By contrast, in the Valens technique it is the Sun and Mercury which are the most significant time lords by profection, as they receive the most effective transmissions, those of the Sect Light and the Ascendant.

It is important to acknowledge that this method of profections does indeed yield different indications, was not a widespread technique in Hellenistic astrology, and was not widely embraced in the latter periods.  However, this does not mean it is ineffective.  Many modern traditionalists who have explored the method have been very satisfied with the results.  Admittedly, I put more stress on the profection of the Ascendant, but like Valens, and many other ancient astrologers, give a lot of emphasis to planets occupying the place of the profection.  Valens introduces many new dimensions to explore with profections, and we’ll just scratch the surface here.  I urge the reader to experiment and have some fun on their own journey to better prediction.

Part 3: Profect It All

Additionally, Valens does see significance and usefulness in profecting basically any planet or place in the natal chart.  The planet or place hands off to the sign and the planets in the sign (or, if empty, the ruler of the sign) of the place of the profection.  Valens discussed this at great length in Book IV, Chapter 11, for instance:

Let us start our exposition from this point: when investigating the current year of a nativity, we divide by 12. Count the remainder from a star which is able <to transmit> to a star which is able to receive. In this way we will discover to what sign the year transmits. What I have said is easy to comprehend but complicated to determine since all the stars, plus the Ascendant, the sun, and the moon, can transmit to and receive from each other. (Riley, 2010, p. 78)

The nature of the star transmitting provides the context, or the nature of what is affected, and the one receiving the transmission provides the form of the effect and responsibility for its completion.  The contexts or significations of the planets and places being profected is as follows (quoted material in bullet points below from Anthology of Vettius Valens, Book IV, Ch. 11, Riley trans., 2010, p. 79):

  • Ascendant – “length of life and bodily or mental activities”
  • Sun – “rank, preeminence, magnificence, the father, great personages, and whatever other matters are usually influenced by the sun’s nature”
  • Moon – “dangers to health, diseases, bleeding, or the mother”
  • MC (10th Place?) – “occupations, livelihood, and work”
  • Lot of Fortune – “good fortune and success in life”
  • Descendant – “mortality, change, or trouble”
  • IC (4th Place?) – “estates, possessions, secret matters, legacies”
  • Saturn – “bankruptcy, money or property, secret diseases, or family inheritance”
  • Jupiter – “rank, friendship, alliances, and possessions”
  • Mars – “military or public matters”
  • Venus – “women, love affairs, associations, or the category ‘female'”
  • Mercury – “associations, slave matters, servile matters, giving and receiving, or written matters”

Valens additionally noted that it is important to profect from the other lots of the planets (for instance, the Lot of Daimon/Spirit/Sun, the Lot of Love/Eros/Venus, and the Lot of Necessity/Mercury).  Therefore, it is clear that Valens regarded profections as a general method applicable to any chart point assigned a significance as a means of understanding its changing state and activations of its relationships within the chart.

Cumulative Effect and Priority

I have only scratched the surface as to the way that Valens used profections.  You will find many more tips in Chapter 11 of Book 4 and in various other later sections of the Anthology.

One additional interesting thing that Valens does is to consider if most of the planets receiving the transmissions for the year (from the planets, angles of the chart, and Lot of Fortune) are benefics or malefics, while if a near even mix of both then the year will be very changeable in terms of fortune.  Presumably, the more effective transmissions, those of the Sect Light and Ascendant, are more important in this regard.  In fact, at one point in Book IV, Chapter 11, Valens did make explicit that actually both lights and the Ascendant give the strongest indications:

To find the overall influence in any nativity, it will be necessary to count the years from the sun, the moon, and the Ascendant, and if the count ends at an empty place, then they <sun moon Ascendant> will be transmitting to the rulers of these <empty> signs. These three figures have great influence, whether the transmission is to benefics, to malefics, to the angles or operative places, or to places not at the angles. Next it will be necessary to investigate the transmissions of the other stars: if malefics control the year, but the three aphetas have a benefic effect, then the year will be vigorous and distinguished, after some doubt, anxiety, and annoyance. (Riley, 2010, p. 78)

Solar Returns and Transits

In many places Valens noted the effect of transits on places receiving the transmissions, including in a quote from Book V which is above, where he stressed the priority of star to star over star to ruler.  It seems that a transiting planet could even be considered to receive the transmission, especially if the place being transmitted to were empty, as Valens noted in Book IV, Ch. 11:

If no star transmits to another, and if the distribution is to empty places, then it is necessary to note the empty places: especially if any stars are there in transit, they will receive the distribution. (Riley, 2010, p. 78)

Presumably, for the annual profections, these transits would be the planetary positions at the solar return. In fact, I think Valens did make it clear that he was most interested in the transits of the solar return chart, again from Book IV, Ch. 11:

Whenever we find a transmission in one cycle, (whether from one or from many), we examine the horoscope recast for that year, particularly the transits of the stars, to see if they have a configuration similar to their configuration at the nativity with respect to the transmitters and receivers, and if they have the same phases with respect to the sun. If this is found to be true, we say that the results are certain. If the configurations are different and dissimilar, the results will not take place in toto: some things will happen overall, others partially.  (Riley, 2010, p. 79)

This may provide a helpful context for general transits as well though.  Let’s say, the Ascendant profects to Cancer as in our example above, which is occupied by the Sun and Mercury.  The transmission is to the Sun and Mercury.  However, Venus occupies the place with the Sun at the solar return.  Therefore, in this scenario, we treat Venus also as receiving the transmission from the Ascendant.  Similarly, the Sect Light profected to Gemini, empty in the chart, but occupied by Mars in the solar return.  Thus in the solar return we see an additional influence of Venus upon the significations of the Ascendant, in addition to the strong influences of the Sun and Mercury (and weaker influence of the Moon), and we see an additional influence of Mars upon the significations of the Sect Light, in addition to the weaker influence of Mercury. Additionally, throughout the year, when planets transit through Gemini or Cancer, they may also modify the indications.

Conclusion

Vettius Valens has given us a broad range of new uses for profections.  Just as we might be curious about the transit of a planet, Valens allows us to check in on any planet and check out its annual profection, particularly with an eye on how that puts it into contact with occupants, both natal and transiting, of the place it profects to.  Of course, we may quickly find ourselves dealing with a soup of indications to sort out, but this is not to say they couldn’t conceivably be sorted out.  If his techniques are used with monthly profections as well, then you will certainly be overwhelmed, but it seems that they are discussed solely in terms of annual profections.  Not only with profections, but with predictive techniques in general, Valens has provided a wealth of areas to be explored for many years to come.  I plan on returning to Valens-style profections with some delineation examples in a future post.

References

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

Mercury in Gemini, Mercury in Virgo | Not Strong for the Intellect

The main idea here is that Mercury in its own signs is a counter-indication of intellectual strength, rather than the exact opposite as might be assumed by an over-reliance on the concept of dignity for general strength of natural signification. 

If you believe that Mercury, planet of intellect, must bode well for the intellect in its own domiciles, Gemini and Virgo, then you are mistaken.

For those who don’t know, I use “dignity” for rulership, pertinence, and various qualitative considerations in my own astrological work, but I abhor the typical over-reliance on dignity in traditional circles for matters of strength and goodness of a planet, especially when it comes to the latter.  I have made it a point to speak out against such usage of dignity whenever possible, to completely avoid use of dignity in that manner in my own work on the blog, and to frequently engage in polemics about the idiocy of heavy reliance on dignity in such a way.  For instance, I’ve discussed the dignity problem in “The Curious Case of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Turner” (and its sequel) and “Dignity: The Biggest Problem with Late Traditional Astrology“.  Here I look at one particularly cogent error of the dignity approach, the belief that Mercury, natural significator of the rationalizing mind, bodes well for the intellect in the signs where it is most dignified, its domiciles Virgo and Gemini.

Mercury in Virgo or Gemini Can Be An Indication of a Small Intellect

Both Masha’allah (On Nativities, c.f. Dykes trans., 2008, Section 5) and Abu’ali al-Khayyat (The Judgment of Nativities, c.f. Dykes trans., 2009, Ch. 5) discussed the signification of Mercury in terms of manner of thinking and speaking through different sorts of signs, with a particular emphasis on quadruplicity (whether in a Cardinal/Moveable/Changeable sign, a Fixed sign, or a Common/Mutable sign).  Their comments take place in their discussion of delineating character, mind, and will in the chart, using the lord of the Ascendant, and Mercury, with Mercury indicating the manner of speaking (and also of intellect, to at least Abu’ali).

They seem to agree that Mercury in a Cardinal sign indicates an enthusiasm, fast grasp of things, and even skill in speech, while in a Fixed sign a deeper more serious search for truth and good advice is indicated, both in contrast to Mercury in a Common sign, which includes Virgo and Gemini as well as Sagittarius and Pisces, and is indicative of a small intellect which is quick to anger and slow to understand.  Additionally, Abu Bakr, in a passage pertaining to indications of quickness to rage, noted Mercury in one of his own domiciles as an indication of instability.  These passages are summarized below.

Mercury through the Quadruplicities

  1. Cardinal/Moveable/Changeable Signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn): On Mercury in a cardinal sign, Masha’allah said, “…strong and in a moveable sign, it indicates he has a good way of speaking, and an honored one, and one fearing God” (Dykes, 2008, Section 5, p. 398).  On Mercury in a cardinal sign, Abu’ali said, “…it signifies the intellect’s loftiness, easy grasp [of things], and [its] beauty, and love of the sciences, and religion” (Dykes, 2009, Ch. 5, p. 236).
  2. Fixed/Solid Signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius): On Mercury in a fixed sign, Masha’allah said, “…it indicates he is going to be honored, and by means of truth and goodness and counsel in his life, and his advice will be most truthful in every way, and will free hindered advice from hindrances” (Dykes, 2008, Section 5, p. 398).  On Mercury in a fixed sign, Abu’ali said, “…it signifies prudence, constancy, mercy [or pity], and the fulfillment of things undertaken” (Dykes, 2009, Ch. 5, p. 236).
  3. Mutable/Common Signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces): On Mercury in a mutable sign, Masha’allah said, “…it indicates he has little wisdom, and is liable to anger, and as a rule he does not believe the advice of another” (Dykes, 2008, Section 5, p. 398). On Mercury in a mutable sign, Abu’ali said, “…it signifies a small intellect with great speediness, and quickness to anger, and a scarce and small stability or perseverance in something undertaken, or advice, or business” (Dykes, 2009, Ch. 5, p. 236).  Additionally, Abu Bakr noted, “If Mercury were in his own domicile, the native will be fearful and unsound” (Dykes, 2010, On Nativities, Book II, Ch. 1.2, p. 143).

Conclusions

The delineation of intellectual strength is not something to be taken lightly.  Intellect cannot be delineated based on the quadruplicity of Mercury’s sign placement alone.  What is significant is that Mercury in a mutable sign, especially Mercury in its own domicile, is one indication of a weaker, more superficial and unstable, intellect.  It is in contrast to both immediate competency or directness (cardinal) and probing steadiness (fixed).  Mercury, as a significator of intellect and speech, moves from place to place and constantly connects things, much like the syntactic force of natural language, training complex ideas together.  Similarly, mutable signs are associated with back-and-forth between two things or parties, and are all domiciles of Mercury and Jupiter.  It would seem that a mutable sign accentuates the instability of Mercury, rather than directing it and stabilizing it.  When he’s just working for himself, so to speak, Mercury is even more unstable.  This seems to be particularly so in Gemini, which is additionally an Air sign, accentuating the flitting quality of Mercury.

In my own experience, I find the sign quadruplicity of Mercury to be one of the weaker indications of intellectual strength.  However, in that matter, it seems many more noteworthy intellectuals had Mercury in a sign of Jupiter, Sagittarius or Pisces,  where it is said to be in detriment or fall, than in Virgo or (particularly) Gemini.  For instance, Copernicus, Schopenhauer, and Noam Chomsky, all have Mercury in a sign of Jupiter.  Rulership by Jupiter at least links Mercury with wisdom, philosophy and/or religion, and the search for greater truth. Rulership by Jupiter also links Mercury with gain and fortune. Noam Chomsky and Christopher Hirata (child prodigy with a very high IQ who started work with NASA when 16), both have Mercury in Sagittarius, combust the Sun in Sagittarius, not regarded by its ruler Jupiter, but conjunct an angle and in a stake, with strong identification with Mercury as it is either in the first or ruling the first house in both charts.  Copernicus too has Mercury with the Sun in a stake in a Jupiter-ruled sign (Pisces), with Mercury ruling the first house (Virgo), though he has Jupiter regarding Mercury. In these cases, we see that the link of Mercury with Jupiter by rulership, the prominence of Mercury by advancement, and the identification with Mercury shown through some important rulership of the Ascendant and/or position in the stakes, may be more important indicators of someone known for their intellectual prowess than factors like dignity, quadruplicity, combustion (though the converse of Mercury with the Sun showing additional public importance attached to a planet may be the case), and reception.

On a personal note, I’ve always been quite blown away by my own daughter’s very early and articulate usage of language.  She has Mercury in Pisces and combust, within 3 degrees of the Sun, though strongly advancing and in the 5th. 4 of her 7 planets are in Air signs, including a Gemini Moon.  The ruler of Mercury, Jupiter, is cadent and retreating in the 12th, so does not aspect Mercury. She was fluid and articulate in her speech from when she first began to speak, and has always been ahead of the curve both linguistically and mathematically.  At every parent-teacher conference, the teacher has been most impressed with the depth of her story-telling and social abilities, noting that for a 6-year-old, she tells her stories with an unusual amount of detail and is not afraid to attempt to write larger words [update: I find this still to be the case now that she’s 10].

I may address the delineation of intellect at greater depth in another post.  The main idea here is that Mercury in its own signs is a counter-indication of intellectual strength, rather than the exact opposite as might be assumed by an over-reliance on the concept of dignity for general strength of natural signification. 

 

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

Character | 1. The Curious Case of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Turner Revisited

In an early polemic on the overuse of dignity in traditional astrology, called “The Curious Case of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Turner“, I discussed how dignity is definitely not a good indicator of a planet’s tendency towards more positive or negative elements of its significations, taking a quick look at the charts of Jeffrey Dahmer (4 planets in domicile) and Ted Turner (4 planets in fall or detriment) as cogent reminders of how inaccurate the use of dignity for beneficence can be. However, now that we know how little dignity tells us about the “goodness” of planets, and particularly about the goodness and the level of success or social mobility of a person, the question remains as to how one should judge such things.  As one might suspect, these are difficult issues, pertaining to delineation of character, morality, and eminence.  Of those, character is the easiest to delineate, and traditional astrological methods will tell you far more in this regard than modern psych-astrology approaches.  Eminence is a much messier can of worms, and in application of eminence techniques, I often find more relevance in terms of social mobility, than in terms of a pre-ordained hierarchical “rank of fame”, as some traditionalists describe it. Eminence will be explored at some later time.

Let’s look briefly at Dahmer’s and Turner’s charts in terms of character/morality.  Due to constraints of space and time, both analyses must be considerably abbreviated.

Character Basics

Abu’ali on the Lord of the Ascen­dant and Mer­cury: “these sig­nify the mat­ters of the soul, and the morals of the native, just as the Moon and the Ascen­dant sig­nify the body” (The Judg­ment of Nativ­i­ties, Dykes trans., 2009, p. 236). Abu Bakr on the other hand has us look at dom­i­nant plan­ets in the chart, par­tic­u­larly in the 1st or 10th, which I feel is in a similar spirit as “vic­tor of the chart” approaches. Ptolemy looks at Mer­cury for the ratio­nal mind and the Moon for the irra­tional, mir­rored in the modern-day notion of a con­scious and uncon­scious mind.  I should note that overall, in character analysis, I tend not to lean heavily on delineation of the Moon just in herself, or even Mercury as such.  I find the Ascendant Lord(s) and the dominant planet(s) to be the most important starting points of the delineation.

Rather than using all strength/weakness and beneficence/maleficence con­di­tions at my dis­posal in the lit­er­a­ture, I’m going to restrict myself, almost exclu­sively, to those which I find of the most impor­tance for this brief look, which I sum­ma­rized in this post in the sec­tions in which I dis­cuss such things.

Per­son­ally, I rec­og­nize at least 3 dis­tinct types of strength, 1. Vol­ume, which per­tains to the extent a planet pours out its nat­ural sig­ni­fi­ca­tions far beyond its acci­den­tal sig­ni­fi­ca­tions (advancing/retreating, sta­tions, pha­sis, apogee), 2. Stability/Prototypicality which in many ways is less impor­tant than #1 (var­i­ous con­di­tions of con­gruity, includ­ing being in a place of “dig­nity”), 3. Per­ti­nence, which is the rel­e­vance of a planet to a par­tic­u­lar mat­ter, such as a planet in the 1st or one of its stakes, par­tic­u­larly the 10th, being per­ti­nent to char­ac­ter­iz­ing the per­son (nat­u­rally sig­ni­fy­ing some­thing; being in a place, rul­ing a place, or regard­ing a place par­tic­u­larly by oppo­si­tion or right-side square or right-side trine). To me these are very dif­fer­ent from beneficence/maleficence which per­tains more to nat­ural sig­ni­fi­ca­tion, sect, place, and plan­e­tary influence.

Jeffrey Dahmer: Malefics through the Moon and Venus

Note: this particular discussion of Dahmer’s character, and the previous two paragraphs on basic character, are primarily a copy and paste job from remarks I made as to how I’d analyze Dahmer’s character in the comments section of the original post.

I recommend watching this fascinatingly candid interview with Dahmer in which he discusses the impetus of his actions.

Ruler of 1st (Com­monly used because of acci­den­tal sig­nif­i­cance, includ­ing by Masha’allah in On Nativ­i­ties, and Abu’ali in The Judg­ment of Nativ­i­ties, among many):

Dahmer's Natal Chart (outer wheel positions are twelfth-parts)
Dahmer’s Natal Chart (outer wheel positions are twelfth-parts)

Venus, a natural benefic, pertaining to beauty, sensuality, and pleasure is made malefic by being out of sect, in the 8th place, regarded on the right-side most closely by Sat­urn (by trine) in the 4th. Sat­urn is the dom­i­nant plan­e­tary influ­ence over Venus, as she is over­come by Sat­urn and in Saturn’s bound (bound ruler of the Ascen­dant Lord is very impor­tant to Masha’allah, in show­ing the native’s involve­ment in some­thing), while Sat­urn, planet of death and the macabre, is in the 4th which has sig­ni­fi­ca­tions related to the dead and buried things, and rein­forces the sig­ni­fi­ca­tions of death and harm of the 8th. That Venus does not regard the Ascen­dant is sig­nif­i­cant, putting the native in con­nec­tion with hid­den or dark ele­ments of life (not nec­es­sar­ily in itself mak­ing the native immoral, as it is com­mon for instance for those involved in social reform and the prison sys­tems, etc. to have the ruler of the 1st in the 6th or 12th, and for those involved in lend­ing and insur­ance to have it in the 8th, depending on the types of sig­ni­fi­ca­tions rein­forced). It also prompts us to look more closely at the influ­ence of other rulers, espe­cially Sat­urn which is the exal­ta­tion and first trip­lic­ity ruler. Sat­urn is in the 4th, and retreat­ing (make it more per­sonal, less pub­lic, but very sig­nif­i­cant by being in a stake), and in the bound of Venus, adding to the sig­nif­i­cant rela­tion­ship between Sat­urn and Venus, the 4th and 8th, in char­ac­ter­iz­ing the native’s per­son­al­ity, i.e. pleasure-seeking, asso­ci­ated with death and dirge, the macabre. Venus made bad, as an impor­tant per­son­al­ity sig­ni­fi­ca­tor, tends to per­tain to shame­less excess. Super­fi­cially, we would think that he’d seem gen­tle, possibly effem­i­nate, some­what depres­sive, and quite shy.

In Dahmer’s case, the Venus in the 8th significations tended toward abuse of alcohol (Venus signifying drinks, made malefic signifying intoxication and harm), compulsive indulgence, and difficult sexuality. He was considered a catch within the gay community and was able to charm and manipulate men into positions where he could harm them. His ultimate motivation for all of his murders was sexual attraction and a desire for sexual possession. The associations of this Venus with death and masculinity are very strong. Venus is not only in the 8th place of death, but is in a very close relationship with Saturn, lord of death and dead things. Venus becomes developmentally activated from the age of 14 to 22, roughly the ages of sexual development. During Dahmer’s adolescence he went from the Mercurial highly curious boy of Mercury in the 9th, to the withdrawn, secretive, Saturnine Venus in the 8th, harboring very vivid sexual fantasies of necrophilia.

Mer­cury (also used by many, includ­ing Masha’allah, Abu’ali, and Ptolemy, among oth­ers):

Mer­cury is not nec­es­sar­ily strong for intel­lect in Virgo or Gem­ini. Mer­cury in a com­mon (i.e. muta­ble) sign, such as Virgo or Gem­ini, was said to sig­nify a small but quick intel­lect, liable to anger, an unstable mind, and with lit­tle per­se­ver­ance, as opposed to the extremely hon­or­able intel­lect of Mer­cury in a fixed sign, and the con­fi­dence, quick grasp, enthu­si­asm, and good-speaking abil­ity of Mer­cury in a move­able (i.e. car­di­nal) sign. This is a rather weak indication though, as there have been a number of great geniuses with Mercury in mutable signs (especially Sagittarius and Pisces due to the positive association with Jupiter signifying gain through intellect).

Dahmer’s Mer­cury is out of sect, and while in a some­what good place, it is apply­ing to Mars, and scru­ti­nized by Mars in a very close appli­ca­tion in which Mars over­come Mer­cury, so there is a vast range with Mer­cury in terms of benefic thru malefic sig­ni­fi­ca­tions. Mer­cury is somewhat weak­ened though, par­tic­u­larly for intel­lec­tual activ­i­ties from the mutability, but also from cadency, and possibly the combustion.

Dahmer was said to be a relatively good student as a youth, though didn’t pursue higher education, and was not an intellectual. Overall, his intellectual abilities were capable enough to allow him to commit murder and cover his tracks over many years, though were particularly maligned. His focus was on deceit, from drugging men at clubs to take advantage of them, to secretly raping, murdering, and even eating men. In a sense, the chart reveals Mercury to be most active as an accomplice of Mars, as it applies to Mars which overcomes it.

The Moon and the Dom­i­nant Planet:

The Moon hap­pens to also be the dom­i­nant planet in the chart, as she is so strongly advanc­ing, adher­ing to the Descen­dant in the same degree. Mars, Sat­urn, and to a much lesser extent, Jupiter, are also quite dom­i­nant by being in the stakes, but the Moon is in a stake and gen­er­ally strong, con­junct the angle. The Moon is the planet sig­ni­fy­ing the irra­tional mind, or subconscious, as well it today.  She has an extremely strong influ­ence in the life, as if broadcasting from a loudspeaker all over the life, and this makes Dahmer particularly attuned to her very subjective, vivid, irrational influences. The Moon is co-p­re­sent with Mars so her sig­ni­fi­ca­tions are mixed with Mars, and accord­ing to Ser­a­pio, the planet in early zodi­a­cal degree not only over­comes by regard, but also when two plan­ets are in the same sign, it also can be dom­i­nant in the rela­tion­ship.  Mars also rules the Moon, which can make it dif­fi­cult to sep­a­rate out these two mar­t­ian influ­ences upon the nature of the Moon’s sig­ni­fi­ca­tions, but in any case, the Moon is strongly influ­enced by Mars. The Moon is in the bound of Mer­cury, but the dom­i­na­tion by Sat­urn in the 4th, which is scru­ti­niz­ing (within 3*) is a much stronger influ­ence. Over­all, through cop­res­ence with, ruler­ship by, dom­i­na­tion, and scru­ti­niza­tion by the malefics, as well as being out of sect (also the 7th is not a very benefic influ­ence), the irra­tional impulses are pulled along malefic, par­tic­u­larly vio­lent and macabre dimensions.

The Moon is in the 7th which pertains to encounters with others, and particularly with partnerships and significant others.  Mars rules and occupies the place, while Saturn dominates the place.  Both Mars and Saturn are in “stakes” and thus very strongly important to the person themselves, but both are retreating, and thus are private, quickly retreating behind the scenes, avoiding any loud broadcasting of their significations, in contrast to the Moon which is blaring a general lunar energy across the life, and particularly predisposed to channeling the significations of Mars and Saturn.

Interestingly, some focal issues in Dahmer’s early life revolved around his mother’s anxiety and combativeness, and the stress that created in his home. His first murder happened just after high school at a time when his mother unexpectedly left him in the house alone for an extended period of time. The Mars-Moon has some symbolism regarding mental illness, particularly anxiety, and very vividly the mother’s anxiety (Mars shows an overload of energy). Mars-Moon also symbolizes Dahmer’s unconscious need (Moon) for violence (Mars) against partners (7th house).

Conclusion: Dahmer is strongly influenced by the Moon, and pulled by Venus, into irrational vivid experiences and sensual indulgence.  The nature of the irrational mind and sense of beauty are colored predominantly by the malefics, with themes of violence and the dead particularly prominent.  The personality is overall phlegmatic’melancholic, somewhat feminine, with a vividly personal and subjective feel characteristic of the Moon. 

Ted Turner: Aggressively Ambitious and Gregarious Mercury

Ruler of the 1st:

Turner's Natal Chart (outer positions are twelfth-parts)
Turner’s Natal Chart (outer positions are twelfth-parts)

Jupiter is the ruler of the 1st, and is the sect benefic, in the 3rd of siblings, communications, journalism, current events, and transportation.  Jupiter naturally signifies a cheerful disposition, charisma, faith/positivity, and a desire to seek greater truth.  Jupiter is benefic, being naturally benefic, in sect, and dominated by Venus.   Jupiter is influenced by many planets, being very closely dominated by the Sun, closely dominated by Venus, closely overcome by the Moon by trine, overcome by Mercury by sextile, and overcome by Mars by trine.  Jupiter is also in the bound of Mars and the domicile and triplicity of Saturn, therefore, there is quite a bit going on with Jupiter, and most dominantly it is influenced by the Sun, then Mars, then Venus, in my opinion, bringing out a much more choleric or ambitious Jupiter with aesthetic dimensions.  Jupiter is not particularly strong in its own position (cadent, retreating), but is relevant to eminence through its close regard by the Lights, and its weakness is counter-acted by the strong advance of Mars and Saturn, its rulers, in the chart.  Overall, we expect a cheerful, gregarious, likeable personality, that is a bit heated and very geared toward power plays. He values style and sensuality, and is likely to have particular connection to matters of communications and/or journalism (the 3rd) in some way.

Mercury and the Dominant Planet:

Mercury is the dominant planet in the chart, both generally, and in terms of the person, as Mercury is strongly advancing towards the Ascendant in the 1st.  Mercury is in its bound and in the sign of Jupiter, reinforcing Mercury’s natural significations relating to news and communications.  Mercury is also the natural significator of business and commerce.  Mercury is out of sect, and very closely overcome by Mars, so Mercury can pertain to malefic significations, despite position in the very good 1st place.  However, the range with Mercury is great.  Negative significations with this Mercury in the 1st, very relevant to character, are tied to Mars in the 11th of friends and popularity, and so can pertain to a propensity for aggressive speech, words reflecting bad on one’s character or creating problems in friendships, and even a desires to deceive.  It’s most well-known manifestation in Turner’s life has been a propensity to put his foot in his mouth and to publicly make controversial statements, reflecting both a Jupiterian casual humor and a bit of Mercury’s more mischievous side. Mars makes the mind very keen, intense, and aggressive, and makes it difficult to turn off or control the mental and verbal chatter.

The Moon:

The Moon is out of sect, in the bound of Mars, co-present with Mars, and opposed by Saturn, therefore the Moon can signify very difficult matters.  The Moon is in the 11th, which is one of the most benefic places of the chart, and the Moon is naturally benefic so there is a range, but overall the Moon is somewhat torn between an overt hot ambition, particularly for popularity, achievement, and sensual pleasure, shown by the advancing Mars in the 11th and in the sign of Venus, and the weight of obstruction from Saturn with obligation, restrictions, and responsibilities.  The Moon, Mars, and Saturn are in some of the most benefic places in the chart though, the 11th and 5th, but we expect difficulties in mental extremes between surge and weight on a subconscious level, with a very open reactive choleric temperament of great restlessness.  Most problematic from the influence of the malefics may be matters of friends, children, romance, and personal leisure.

Conclusion: Mercury plays a huge role in characterizing Ted Turner as someone constantly involved in media, analysis, and business.  The role of Jupiter is also very strong, but both are also characterized across particularly choleric dimensions.  We expect someone who is fast-thinking and busy, curious, mischievous, and aggressively ambitious, particularly when it comes to opinions, commerce, and technology.  We expect and over-arching benefic sense to the personality of wanting to do good, help out, and expose truth, due to the important identification with JupiterThe combination of Jupiter and Mercury makes for a very gregarious and humorous personality overall, a mix of the sanguine and the choleric. Tendency to domineering speech through Mars overcoming Mercury and the sheer prominence of Mercury, but as it’s in a mutable sign ruled by a cadent retreating planet, there may be a tendency for more chatter than substance. 

 

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.

References

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.

Astrological Predictive Techniques | 3. More Basic Profection Examples

For those unfamiliar with the basic technique of annual and monthly profections of the natal Ascendant, please review the first two posts of this series which introduce annual profections and those of smaller periods.  It should have become clear in the last post that the use of monthly profections is perhaps not as uncontroversial as it is usually presented.  Nevertheless, it is an easy and informative addition to one’s predictive arsenal, so I recommend its use.  The main idea behind profections is activation of natal potentials, however, it’s true potential is realized is found in its use in concert with other predictive techniques such as solar returns, direction, transits, and other time lord techniques.

Technique Brief

Any point in the natal chart can be profected, but the profection of the Ascendant is particularly important, and there is a logic to that.  No other point in the chart is as succinctly symbolic of the person, the self, their experience, in the natal chart as the Ascendant.  One may think of the sky as the soul, and the Earth as the body, and the Ascendant is that point where the planets rise, manifesting themselves out from the Earth, where the soul peers out through a body and experience is made manifest.  The Ascendant entering houses, is like the person entering houses.  Planets in the places will be directly encountered, planets ruling the places will oversee matters, and planets regarding the place may exert some influence.  Here we’ll look at some examples with solar returns and transits. The natal chart will show the default condition and the range of potentials possible in this, while the solar return may be thought of as spreading out the overall plan of action for the year, and the transits showing the transient movement of guests around the chart (without telling much about what they’re up to in itself).

I should note that I strongly advocate the use of precessed solar returns, as the solar return Ascendant and its ruler also are important for natal activation (in addition to the particular strengths/weaknesses and determinations of the planets in the return chart relative to those in the natal chart), particularly in the predictive system of Abu Ma’shar, and I find the precessed return to be of many magnitudes more informative than the non-precessed return.  For now, I’ll just go ahead and use the precessed returns in this post (I use the birth location for returns), while I’ll compare the precessed and non-precessed in a much more critical way when I get to the posts on use of returns.

Examples Brief

I’m just going to give 2 quick examples with annual and monthly profections in concert with solar returns and transits, all on properly sourced charts, simply to illustrate a simplified use of profections with other techniques.  This series on predictive techniques will pave the way for more understandable use of predictive techniques in analysis in the future, as uninformed readers will be able to get briefed on the background of the techniques used.  The examples are: 1. James Randi receiving a diagnosis of cancer; 2. David Carradine’s death by accidental autoerotic asphyxiation.

James Randi’s Cancer

I’ve looked at his chart in terms of belief in the past, and in the first post of the series, I also looked at the particular event of him announcing a diagnosis of cancer to fans in early July of 2009, based on a June 2009 diagnosis (currently, Randi’s cancer is believed to have been successfully treated).  Let’s re-examine this last event, with a particular emphasis on the month lord at the time he received the diagnosis, June 2009.

Cancer Announcement transits (outer wheel) to natal chart (inner wheel)
Cancer Announcement transits (outer wheel) to natal chart (inner wheel)

As mentioned in the first post, at the time of the announcement, he was in an 11th House, Aries year, with Mars as lord of the year.  It is also important to mention that his Moon occupies the natal 11th, and as the sect light and in a good place, it is an important planet for health considerations.  The Moon is also one of the natural significators of the body. As noted in the last post, Dorotheus put a lot of stress on the planets in the place of the profection.  Valens uses an occupying planet like that as an alternative ruler, as does Abu Ma’shar though in slightly different manner. Therefore, the annual profection puts the spotlight on Mars as Lord of the Year, but also on the Moon.

While the Moon is in the term and sign of Mars and is overcome by Saturn, the Moon is still overall typically more of a significator of pleasant happenings in Randi’s life, being the sect light in the very good 11th place, pertaining particularly to powerful friendships and group alliances.  Still, that the Moon has a ruler in bad weak condition, which is called counter-action, allows for some degree of reversals, and the Moon’s location in the term of Mars, and being overcome by Saturn, as a natural significator of the body, provides for her ability to signify bodily problems.  However, Mars, as noted previously, can signify the most difficult matters in the life, as a malefic in a bad place, ruling and opposed to the place of health.  I had mentioned the exact Mars return that took place around the time of Randi’s announcement (7/9/09) and the transits from around the time of the announcement event are marked along the edge of the natal as pictured.

I do not have an exact date for the diagnosis event, but it has been reported that it was in June of 2009 and not long before the announcement.  In terms of personal experience the diagnosis month is more interesting than the announcement at a celebratory event, as one is getting the news that one is sick and could die.  As the birthday is Aug. 7th, and it’s an Aries year, June would be two months back, and we can conveniently count two signs back, to the 9th, Aquarius, with Saturn as Lord of the Month, the profection for about June 7th to about July 7th.  Aquarius is empty, so our 3 major planets to look at are Mars (Lord of the Year), the Moon (focal planet of the profection), and Saturn (Lord of the Month).  I’ve already noted that these three planets are all related together in terms of hardship concerning the body, in the rulership of the Moon by Mars and the overcoming of the Moon by Saturn.

Randy's 2008 Solar Return (precessed)
Randy’s 2008 Solar Return (precessed)

The solar return chart shows the major game plan of the year, and the most important things for us to check out there are where the srAscendant falls in the natal chart (including also its ruler and any planets it highlights), where the Lord of the Year and the profectional Asc fall in the return, important aspects between planets, and generally which planets are strong or weak, with a particular emphasis on whether the benefics or malefics are more strongly placed in a general way.

The srAsc is in the natal 6th, one of the worst of the bad places of the chart, pertaining to disease and accidents.  Mars is the ruler, echoing the annual profection, and putting a spotlight on the opposition of Mars to the 6th.  The Moon is on the srAsc, again in a sign and term of Mars, and again overcome by Saturn (actually by both malefics).  As an aside, with the lord of the year and the srAsc ruler in the 11th, this must have otherwise been a very important year for friends, organizations, and group events overall.  The profected Asc is in the 6th of the return so there is again a reinforcement of the indication of important health events occurring.  srSaturn is closely dominating natal Saturn, and srMars is also dominating natal Saturn (both from the sr4th which can pertain to hidden/buried matters), which is significant in that Saturn is the strongest planet in Randi’s chart, being located right on his Descendant. Finally, in the return the Lights are extremely strong, the malefics are quite strong, and the benefics are weak (Jupiter retreating in the cadent 3rd and in fall) and/or made malefic (Venus in the 11th assembled with both malefics and in fall).   Therefore, we see plenty of repeat indications concerning hardship, particularly with health.  Pivotal events come to the fore with important transits of Mars and Saturn, and even the Moon, from the Mars return on the day of the announcement, to the preceding health crisis during the Saturn profectional months with tSaturn meanwhile dominating nSaturn within 3 degrees.  Even such a simplified predictive system using only the natal, annual and monthly profections, solar returns, and transits can provide a lot of information about major events and big themes.

David Carradine’s Death

A brief bio of Carradine can be found on Wikipedia here, and his AA-rated chart data can be found on AstroDatabank here.  He is reported to have died the evening of June 3, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand by accidental asphyxiation.  Carradine was born with the malefic Mars, out of sect and in the 8th, the place of death, assembled with the Moon, a natural significator of the body, and in a scrutinizing (i.e. within 3*) sextile with the Sun, in which Mars is overcoming the Sun (the Sun is an important life-force signifier, particularly in day charts).  Additionally, Carradine was born with Saturn rising, in the 1st place, adhering (i.e. conjunct within 3*) to the Ascendant, and in a partile (i.e. same zodiacal degree/part) square with the Sun.  Therefore, in matters of death we particularly expect to see Mars playing a role, as well as to some extent Saturn and Venus (Venus rules the 8th along with Mars and the Moon, appropriate to the sexual nature of the death, as well as the constrictive and violent nature, as Venus is in Capricorn, Saturn’s earthy nocturnal abode, and in a bound of Mars).

Carradine's natal chart with transits at time of death on outer wheel
Carradine’s natal chart with transits at time of death on outer wheel

His death took place at age 72.  As 72 is a multiple of 12, this puts him in a 1st place, Pisces, year, profecting the Ascendant to natal Saturn, with Jupiter as lord of the year.  Jupiter in the natal is a little bit weakened by being in fall, but overall is quite benefic and strong, as it is in its joy, the strong good 11th place, and is in sect and in phasis, assembled with Venus.  Jupiter is ruled by Saturn and dominated by Mars, so while overall we expect an excellent and popular year from Jupiter with much fortune, Jupiter is subject to the malefics in certain ways, and does not necessarily prohibit danger.  Here we see the value of the indications of the planet occupying the place, Saturn, as well as the danger of reading too much into just the Lord of the Year and its natal standing.  In the month of death it was 6th place, Leo, Sun profectional month.  The 6th pertains most strongly to illness and accidents.  This particular year and month set highlight the Sun-Saturn square in the natal chart.  Both planets are extremely strong and generally carry positive significations in the natal chart, both in sect, in good places, and in signs of Jupiter.  For those who claim that profections of the Ascendant, used solely with the natal, are effective in themselves for prediction, take note, as the indications of profections alone here are quite positive.  In fairness though, it was indeed a very positive year for Carradine prior to the asphyxiation accident, apparently having about a dozen films of his in post-production at the time of his death.

David Carradine's Last Solar Return (precessed)
David Carradine’s Last Solar Return (precessed)

Looking at the solar return, we see some very different indications.  Perhaps most importantly, srMars is in a partile conjunction (actually within about 2′ of a degree!) with the natal Sun (nSun), and both malefics are strongly advancing while the benefics are the weakest planets in the chart.  The solar return Ascendant is in Carradine’s 7th place, Virgo, ruled by Mercury, and the 7th (like the 4th, but to a lesser extent than the 8th) carries associations with death, as it is the place of setting.  Significantly, srSaturn is in the 1st of the return, strongly advancing towards the srAsc, echoing that configuration in Carradine’s chart, and srSaturn opposes his natal Saturn, and squares his natal Sun.  The solar return therefore strongly speaks of activation and major intensification of the affliction of Carradine’s Sun by Mars and Saturn.

The day of death was Carradine’s lunar return in the 8th place with Mars.  On that day, the Lord of the Year, Jupiter was transiting in the 12th, in a very weak spot of the natal chart.  Transiting Mars was in partile trine to natal Jupiter, striking Jupiter with its rays.  Transiting Saturn was at 15 Virgo, adhering to Carradine’s Descendant (13VIR) and opposing natal Saturn while in a dominating square to natal Sun, both within less than 3 degrees of exact (i.e. both scrutinizing).  Transiting Sun was at 12 Gemini, strongly applying squares to natal and transiting Saturn and opposing the natal Sun.

Conclusion

These are just two examples, but we can already see how worthwhile it can be to add basic profections and precessed solar returns to prediction, as transits themselves are rather superficial without them, and just about completely meaningless without any context from a natal chart.  I have found myself experiencing some of my best days, all around, during transits that generally would appear to be very difficult, and even may appear very difficult from the standpoint of my natal, such as having the out of sect malefic located in a bad place in my natal chart transit through my 8th and make a dominating square to my natal Sun, during a pleasant time of high productivity and energy.  My Saturn return also was a great experience.  However, the year that solar return Asc fell in my 12th on my out of sect malefic with that out of sect malefic on the Descendant of the return and in partile opposition to its natal position, was genuinely the worst year of my life thus far, even though the transits in themselves at the time of the worst events didn’t appear ominous.

We see the capacity for someone to have a great year apart from one really horrible event.  Someone may have a natal chart that indicates extraordinary luck, popularity, longevity, social mobility, health, and so forth, but still bad things do happen to everyone, so it is important to understand the range of potential in a natal chart.  A benefic planet, simply by being out of sect, or in a bad place, or ruled by a malefic, etc. can have some negative potential linked to it.  Very rarely does any planet in one’s chart have only the capacity to signify good.  This is the great difficulty in natal astrology, and particularly in natal prediction: the capacity for events is largely subject to the potentials in the natal chart, and the potentials in the natal chart are in a sense infinite.  By deeply working on the natal chart, understanding things like general strength, general beneficence, and these things particularly in relation to topics, as well as the range or variance, and the specifics that bring out configurations that bring out points within that range, we will be better able to understand the specific indications signified in the predictive techniques.

We are still dealing with an extremely stripped-down predictive system.  There will be at least one more post on profections in this series, but it is important to keep in mind that there are many techniques other than profections that played a key role in the predictive systems of people like Abu Ma’shar.  There are also many many predictive methods that have been virtually unexplored, particularly those found in Valens.  Numerous predictive methods are found in antiquity and many astrologers combine them into their own predictive systems, because no single predictive technique is in itself adequate to signify all of the most important events in one’s life.  Just as there are special techniques for natal matters, in which multiple factors are examined, not simply the ruler or rulers of a house, prediction is best when one uses those predictive techniques that have proven most effective, and uses them in concert, with a keen eye to repeat signification, and a good prior knowledge of the natal chart.

Astrological Predictive Techniques | 2. Monthly Profections

This is why such extremes of experience are found in the passage of time, and good is linked to bad, sorrow attends success, and in its inconstancy fortune maintains no steady course: to such an extent is it varied and changing, nowhere remaining the same; and by its commutation of everything in the lives of us all it has forfeited our trust.  (Manilius, Astronomica, 3.524-530, Goold trans., 1977, p. 206-207)

In the first post of this series, we looked at one of the simplest, most ubiquitous, and effective of ancient predictive techniques, profections.  In this post we’ll look at how astrologers applied this concept of profections to smaller time periods as well, namely months, but also days, and even groups of hours. Therefore, if you are unfamiliar with profections, please read the first post of the series to get acquainted before reading on.

Brief Annual Profections Recap

When a native is born, the lord of the year is the lord of the house [ascendant] in which the native was born.  Thus count from the ascendant a year for each sign until you reach the year which you desire; the lord of that house is the lord of the year.  Look at the lord of this sign, whether it is a benefic or a malefic, and in the base-nativity how its position was and in which foundation it was.  From the base-nativity is known what is concerning him [the native] at the beginning of the year, and the beginning of the year is always when the Sun enters the beginning of the minute in which it was on the day of the native’s nativity. (Dorotheus, Carmen Astrologicum, Book IV-1.1-5, Pingree trans., p. 90)

Dorotheus goes on to discuss not only that the ruling planet (i.e. lord of the year) is important, but also important are the planets in the sign the Ascendant profects to, and the regards (i.e. aspects) of the planets to that sign (especially regard by opposition).

The annual profections will be dealt with in greater depth in many future posts on predictive techniques, but Dorotheus has captured the main idea of the basic method pretty well above.

Monthly Profections

As we enter into a discussion of monthly profections it should be noted that there is greater diversity of opinion among astrologers when it comes to these, as well as with finer divisions into day periods.  Uncontroversially, the monthly profection involves moving (i.e. profecting) the Ascendant one sign per month, starting from the sign of the annual profection, which takes the first month.  For instance, if one were 23 years old, born with Aries rising, then the annual profection would be to Pisces (24 would be first place, so 23 would be one back in the 12th place, Pisces), and the first month after the solar return would be a Pisces month, with Jupiter as Lord of the Month, while the next month would be an Aries month, with Mars as Lord of the Month, and so forth.  This is the basic idea of monthly profections, and to keep it simple you can even just use the day of the month of your birthday as a marker if you’d like.  For instance, if born on the 2nd of August, then you could have the 2nd of August to 2nd of September as the first month, 2nd of September to 2nd of October as second month, and so forth.  This is the method I tend to use, as it gives a fairly accurate and easy mental figure of the month ruler and terminal sign (i.e. the sign of the profection), and it was the method that was recommended to me by Robert Zoller in his Diploma Course in Medieval Astrology (2003, Lesson 18, p. 17-18), early on in my studies of profections.  But what do various astrologers of the Hellenistic and Persian periods have to say about monthly profections?

Opinions of Astrologers on Monthly Profections

To every sign there comes an hour just once a day, a day twice in the month, a month once in the year, and a year once in twelve annual courses of the Sun.  (Manilius, Astronomica, 3.548-551, Goold trans., 1977, p. 207)

This passage is found in Manilius’s (1st Century CE) discussion of an alternative method for profecting through the signs, other than his preferred method which he presents first.  In another post dealing with additional profectional variants, I will address the system preferred by Manilius, but for our current purposes, we are focused on the more typical profection of the Ascendant.  Aside from the references to smaller units of profections, including two days of a month to a planet (possibly the 2.5 day periods from dividing a month by 12, which are used by some later astrologers for daily profections) and a system of planetary hours, Manilius does make clear that the Ascendant profects to each sign once per year when it comes to monthly profections.  This is significant, because there is at least one notable exception in the literature to this rule, occurring about 1,000 years later, of the noted Persian polymath Al Biruni (11th Century CE):

When the signs and degrees of the yearly terms have been learnt, each year is divided into (thirteen) months of 28 days 1 hour 51 minutes and a sign to each given, so that the last month ends at the same degree as the radical ascendant has the same sign as the first, while the first month of the next year has the same sign as the year; similarly a sign is given to each of thirteen periods of 2 days 3 hours 50 minutes, the end of the last of these periods coinciding with the end of the monthly term. (Al Biruni, The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology, 522, Wright, 1934, p. 95).

This 13-fold division of Al Biruni is atypical for profections, and I don’t personally recommend it.  However, it may have been an attempt to rationalize and refine some remarks by Ptolemy (2nd Century CE) referring to 28 day monthly profectional periods and 2 1/3 day daily profectional periods:

We shall discover the general chronocrators, then, in the manner described, and the annual chronocrators by setting out from each of the prorogatory places, in the order of the signs, the number of years from birth, one year to each sign,and taking the ruler of the last sign. We shall do the same thing for the months, setting out, again, the number of months from the month of birth, starting from the places that govern the year, twenty-eight days to a sign; and similarly for the days, we shall set out the number of the days from the day of birth, starting with the places which govern the months, two and a third days to a sign. (Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, Book 4, Ch. 10, Robbins trans., 1940, p. 453).

It’s not clear whether this was simply an error on Ptolemy’s part, using an approximation of the orbital period of the Moon (almost 28 days, time it takes to travel 360* in the zodiac) as a month, rather than either the approximate synodic period of the Moon (almost 30 days, time between New Moons) or 1/12 of a year (just over 30 days), which seem to be more commonly chosen.

We will look at other Hellenistic astrologers to explore how they divided the time.  However, we will ignore Dorotheus (1st Century CE) in this matter, as he presented totally different methods for finding month and day lords, that don’t seem to be profectional.  Valens (2nd Century CE) added much to the use of profections in his exposition in which he advocated profecting all the different planets and points (with particularly stress on the profection of the Ascendant and Lights as being of more importance) to each other, in a system of transmitting and receiving, which I will specifically address in another post as a variant on the basic idea of profections.  However, despite the large and complicated exposition of annual profections that Valens provided (c.f. Book 4, Ch. 11-13), he seemed to have used different methods, including those used by Dorotheus (among numerous others), in finding month and day lords.  As far as I can tell, Valens did not discuss monthly profections in his Anthology, as odd as that would seem in a huge text simply chock full of dozens of different time lord and other predictive methods, most of which not found elsewhere (though it is possible that I’ve overlooked some mention of monthly profections in this massive text).  Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE) is among those astrologers, including Dorotheus and Valens, that advocated annual profections, but used a different technique for periods less than a year (c.f. Mathesis, Book II, Ch. 27 vs. Ch. 28).

Paulus Alexandrinus (4th Century CE) did discuss monthly profections (c.f. Introductory Matters, II.31), but was not specific about how long the month should be, though he did specify that each daily profection should last one day, rather than 1/12 of a month.  This would yield about 2.5 cycles of 1 day profectional periods in a month, rather than the oft-found one cycle of 2.5 day periods.  I am not myself an advocate of using daily profectional lords at all, but I can see the logic in using either the 2.5 day or the 1 day periods, so if one is so inclined to use daily profections at all, then one should tinker to find one’s preferred choice.

Conclusions

My conclusions about monthly profections in the Hellenistic period is that they existed, but many, if not most, of the Hellenistic astrologers didn’t use them or at least didn’t write about them, as opposed to the very prominent literature on annual profections.  When monthly, and even daily, profections are employed, it is difficult to tell whether they are based on a prototypical conception of the time period (such as 28 or 30 days for a monthly, and 1 day for a daily) or if they should be treated as 1/12 of the greater period (such as just over 30 days for a monthly, and 2.5 days for a daily), with somewhat conflicting indications given in the early texts that do discuss them.

In Persian predictive methods there is a great stress upon the annual profection of the Ascendant and its indicated Lord of the Year, but little concern with monthly profections.  For instance, Masha’allah discussed the Lord of the Year from the annual profection first in his discussion of annual methods in Book IV of the Book of Aristotle, and even delineated each planet as Lord of the Year (c.f. Book IV.1-7), but still did not employ profections for figuring month and day rulers.  ‘Umar al-Tabari similarly placed a great deal of stress on annual profections (which, he employs in 30* per year, rather than by sign, as will be addressed in a future post) but gave no discussion of monthly profections in Book II of his Three Books on Nativities.  The annual profection of the Ascendant (which, like al-Tabari, he employed by 30 degrees rather than by whole sign) is particularly important within Abu Ma’shar’s annual predictive method outlined in his On the Revolutions of the Years of Nativities, receiving a lot of attention and delineation material, particularly in Book II.  However, monthly profections get only a very small mention, they are mentioned in Book IV in which he discussed rulers of shorter periods, and though by degrees, he specifically uses a 30 day monthly profectional period, a 2.5 day daily profectional period, and even a 5 hour hourly profectional period, and thus it is clear that he sees division by 12 as the key to deriving smaller profectional periods. However, it should be noted that these profections of periods under a year are one of the last things discussed in his discussion of rulers of periods less than a year, and he doesn’t refer to any corresponding Lord of the Month, Day, or Hour (instead, apparently using them aspectually), so it’s unclear whether he actually used profections of smaller periods in natal prediction, or was simply conveying the idea behind them and the possibility for their use.

In a given annual profection, profect the four chief indicators through the months at a rate of 30° per month. […]  For all of these, direct them through the next 30° (representing one month) at a rate of one day per degree, noting the planetary bodies and rays encountered. (Abu Ma’shar, On the Revolutions of the Years of Nativities, Book IX, Ch. 8, Dykes trans., 2010, p. 205-206).

Putting aside the legitimate concern of whether monthly profections should be leaned on heavily in predictive work at all, which truly should hinge on their effectiveness, in the next post I hope to present a couple examples pertaining to use of basic annual and monthly whole sign profections of the Ascendant with transits.  Personally, I do feel that adding monthly profections to one’s predictive toolbox is worthwhile, and that their frequent neglect in ancient predictive material is in part owing to a general emphasis on larger time frames and bigger events.  Transits are also often neglected in ancient astrology for the same reason, though I feel that they too should not be neglected in the practice of the art in this fast-paced modern era of easy computation.

 

References

Biruni, A. (2006). Book of Instructions in the Elements of the Art of Astrology. (R. R. Wright, Trans.). Bel Air, MD: Astrology Classics.
Ma’shar, A. (2010). Persian Nativities III: Abu Ma’shar on Solar Revolutions. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.
Manilius, M. (1977). Astronomica. (G. P. Goold, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library.
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
Sidon, D. of. (2005). Carmen Astrologicum. (D. Pingree, Trans.). Abingdon, MD: Astrology Center of America.

Ancient Astrologers Didn’t All Agree | Paradigms and Chart Lords

It is my hope that the great heterogeneity among ancient astrologers be apparent as a strong theme of this blog.  Ancient astrologers sometimes differed greatly in their preferred techniques and the way they employed them.  This is especially so in the Hellenistic period, where we see greater diversity rather than less diversity than in the medieval period. I believe that this is a very important point to make, as there is a widespread misconception that the Hellenestic system is simple, concise, narrow, focally concerned with a person’s objective success/failure, and informed by a single predeterministic philosophy.

This misconception is fed by both sides, those that would like to believe that Hellenistic astrology was that way, and those that dismiss Hellenistic astrology because they believe it was that way.  I will explore this in greater depth in this and additional follow-up posts to my “Ancient Astrologers Didn’t All Agree” polemic, because it really needs to be addressed repeatedly and at length to overcome the hype frequently disseminated, both by marketers and detractors.

Example

The most succinct quick example of this misconception of a single homogenous Hellenistic “system”, “paradigm”, “key technique”, and original “authority”, is from a Skyscript forum.  I stumbled upon the discussion, which you can view here, where the Hellenistic lord of the chart is discussed.  This conversation is so illustrative of the problem on so many levels.  I am not drawing attention to this conversation to put down the contributors on either side.  It is a rather informal forum, and people are simply sharing knowledge and opinions.  The forum post is probably the best online explanation of this particular chart lord technique (of Robert Schmidt) that you’re going to get on the web.  I don’t want my criticism of these attitudes as being driven by misconception to imply that I think that people informally sharing their personal views, preferred techniques, and opinions about things are doing something wrong or in merit of critical evaluation and judgment.  Rather, I think that the particular attitudes and debates there expressed are symptomatic of widespread views and attitudes about Hellenistic astrology, both for and against an exploration of the material of the period.  The forum thread simply serves as a very convenient and publicly accessible illustration of multiple facets of the issue in one place.

THE lord of the chart technique

First, someone presents THE method of finding various predominators used by Hellenistic astrologers, when in fact they are presenting a method discussed by Porphyry, which it’s not even clear he used, and which is among many varying techniques for finding lords of the chart.  The Greek word for ruler of the chart is transliterated as “oikodespotes”.  There are various techniques for finding the lord of the chart, which is typically associated with either best characterizing the personality and life of the native or dealing with matters of longevity (or a little of both, c.f. Julius Firmicus Maternus).  In Book III, Chapter XIX, Maternus noted a diversity of opinion in his day (4th Century CE), as did Porphry (3rd Century CE), and presented four distinct methods for finding the ruler of the chart (oikodespotes), while explicitly specifying a preference for the fourth method.  Many ancient astrologers didn’t put stock in the ruler of the chart issue, particularly for the native, as it can tend to be overly reductionist, assigning too much signification to one planet.  Others present and endorse varying viewpoints on the matter.  There is no such thing as THE Hellenistic method for finding the chart ruler, widely endorsed by many, let alone most Hellenistic astrologers.  This is obscured by the language in the post which is indicative of widespread adoption by Hellenistic astrologers, who, we’re given the impression, had a systematized collection of chart rulers working in concert.

THE One, Simple, Clearly Explicated Method

Second, it is presented as if it is a clean and orderly method, when in the actual discussion Porphyry clearly was referring to differing viewpoints and in his conclusion he even noted, “For there is much dispute about this, and almost all of it is very difficult [to understand]” (Holden, 2009, p. 25).

The initial fearful reactionary response in the thread of someone talking of astrology becoming smaller and more formulaic, etc. nicely illustrates the ready uncritical adoption of this viewpoint of ancient astrology and how this misrepresentation can become the focal point for evaluation of Hellenistic astrology as a whole.  If it’s so ideologically and technically narrow, fundamentalist, and authoritarian in scope, then it easily becomes a plaything for one’s ideological cause, rather than being explored and valued for what it is; a rich, varied, and valuable collection of astrological science, full of techniques and principles yearning for rediscovery, application, and evaluation, on astrological grounds. Additionally, it should be noted that astrologers of the tradition, even in the Hellenistic period, present a spectrum of philosophical beliefs about astrology and how it works.

THE Authority to Appeal to

Third, from what I’ve gather, this version of the technique is not so much Porphyry as Robert Schmidt.  This is significant as Schmidt seems to have believed that this particular passage from Porphyry was drawn from Antiochus of Athens, as many of the passages in Porphyry have.  However, Porphyry drew on many astrologers, not just Antiochus, and given the very different style and language implying differing views, I’m less than convinced that the material is from Antiochus (and in fact, in Schmidt’s original 1993 reconstruction of Antiochus the passage is not included).  If it were from Antiochus, that would also be interesting, as it would suggest that there was also widespread disagreement and confusion about the technique where Antiochus practiced around what is likely the 2nd Century CE.

This implicit appeal to Schmidt, and from Schmidt to Antiochus, is interesting from the standpoint of attributing so much importance to a “technique” which is sourced from Porphyry, not particularly well-known for his astrological work, who was compiling differing views, and associating Antiochus as the representative of THE ONE Hellenistic system, allowing for language indicative of widespread adoption by most astrologers of the Hellenistic period to be used.

THE Paradigm of “Hellenistic Astrologers”

Fourth, the technique is placed within a nautical paradigm, which is presented as if it is THE metaphor or paradigm of Hellenistic astrology.  There is no such paradigm with look-outs and all other such manner of detail in Porphyry, but rather a couple subtle nautical metaphors, without any explication or advocacy of a paradigm as such.  Of course metaphor is an important part of language.  However, a metaphor used a little bit, in one passage, is very different from THE metaphor or paradigm by which the astrologer fully conceptualizes the technique, let alone the paradigm of Hellenistic astrology as a whole.  Hellenistic astrologers are people, and metaphor is a vital element of human language, so there is much use of various metaphors throughout ancient astrological texts.  I seem to even recall a metaphor concerning horses or horse races in Valens.  Metaphors are useful in conceptualizing something abstract in more concrete terms, but they can also have their limits, as one distinct thing is conceptualized in relation to a different distinct thing, and they are not the same.  It is important not to confuse one modern-day astrologer’s favorite metaphors for describing things from a systematic metaphorical paradigm used by most Hellenistic astrologers or serving as an inspirational platform (so-called “grande paradigm underlying Hellenistic astrology“) for the elaboration of the ideas of the earliest Hellenistic astrologers.  In my opinion, the evidence for anything amounting to a single metaphorical paradigm for Hellenistic astrology is spurious.

Take-Away

Besides pointing out that ancient astrologers didn’t all agree, and that there is widespread misconception regarding the scope and diversity of Hellenistic astrology, there are other reasons why I feel such a discussion is needed more than ever at this time.  Diving into the ancient literature, it becomes clear that astrologers will have their work cut out for them in subsequent decades, sifting through, adopting, prioritizing, and evaluating often-conflicting techniques and methods.  Still in the traditional community there is a tendency to cite an authority, give one or two chart examples, and go on one’s way.  This will not suffice, now that the full diversity of astrology, so rich in the Hellenistic period, has come to light.  Astrologers will have to pick and choose techniques, fit them into their own art, and actually develop their own art of astrology based on ancient fundamentals and resources, rather than simply being familiar with sections of the large body of science and cherry-picking from it.  The literature is rich and varied enough, that we can honestly find whatever we are looking for in the chart if we look hard enough and have a large enough set of sources to cherry-pick from.  That is not effective astrology, that is effective bullshitting.  Never before have astrologers had such access to accurate charts, calculators,  researching tools, and astrological texts.  This is a very important time for astrology, and an exciting time to explore the beautiful, rich, ancient traditions, not in search of a quick and easy fix on fate, but to provide the principles and inspiration for an art of astrology that surpasses anything ever before seen in terms of accuracy and descriptive depth.

 

References

Porphyry, & Serapio. (2009). Porphyry the Philosopher. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers.

Astrology with Free Software | 2. Morinus Updated with Location Lookup

I mentioned Morinus in my initial post on free software options, as it is the best free astrology program available for traditional astrologers.  In fact, for those doing primary directions, it’s important, even among competing programs that cost a lot of money.

Today, I was notified of an extremely important update to the program made by one of its developers, Endre Csaba Simon of Finland.  The program now allows lookup of location using the online geolocation database.  This is a very important advance in terms of making the program easier to use, as one previously had to manually discover and enter the coordinates, time zone, altitude, and other features of a location. The new version can be downloaded from the official site for the program – Morinus: Free Open-Source Advanced Professional Astrological Software.

After entering in the location, you hit “Search”, and if there is just one matching selection, it will automatically plug the correct data into the proper fields on this page.  If there is more than one place then you will get a screen like the following with a list of locations.

This is a great advancement for this program.  It’s important to remember that the program is not only free but also open source.  The nature of open source software is such that the more people use and enjoy the software, the faster and more focused the development becomes to meet the needs of the user community, and the more people will work on the development of the software.  Free and open source software means community property, and this is a program that the astrological community should wholeheartedly endorse, support, and take pride in.

Astrological Predictive Techniques | 1. Profections Intro

Profections are one of the oldest, most important, and easiest predictive techniques to learn.

Activating the Natal Chart and Transits

Prediction starts with a proper understanding of the birth chart.  Most people today are familiar with transits, which are the relationships between the celestial configuration (i.e. the “transiting” planets) of a given time, such as today, relative to the configuration at birth.  Transits are by far the most common predictive technique used today.  However, in traditional astrology, they were viewed as rather superficial and insignificant in themselves, unless they involved planets that in some way were activated during that period. Activated planets were those which were Time Lords.  These were not the type of Time Lords that fly around the universe in a telephone booth, but rather the type that have a greater bearing or influence over a certain period of time, potent for releasing natal significations.

There are many types of Time Lord systems.  In fact, there are many Time Lord systems that are found in the gigantic Anthology by Vettius Valens of the 2nd Century CE, that are not found elsewhere.  Valens was a traveling astrologer who seemed to have picked up techniques from a great many different groups of astrologers in his time, and the bulk of his huge Anthology is devoted to natal predictive techniques of all sorts, which astrologers are still exploring, testing, and coming to understand.

While most Time Lord systems that will be discussed on this blog were introduced during the Hellenistic period (and most are reported from Valens), there are also some Time Lord systems that were introduced by the Persians, such as the Firdaria system.  In any Time Lord system, the emphasis is on activation of the natal chart.  Some astrologers may take a cookbook approach to Time Lords, such as on the Firdaria site that I linked to in a previous sentence, but the real value of these Time Lords is that they “turn on” or “potentiate” certain significations of the planets in the specific birth chart.  Similarly, there are Time Lord techniques that activate signs, places, and particular aspects in the chart.  Transits and other predictive techniques, such as solar and lunar revolutions (i.e. returns), become more focused and clear with the prior use of Time Lord techniques.

Introducing Profections

While there are other important Time Lord techniques, I find profections to be one of the most valuable and the easiest to use, so I’ll explain profections in the next few posts on predictive methods.  Then we will get into other Time Lords and predictive techniques, to eventually consider how techniques can be prioritized and integrated into one’s own particular predictive system. In this first post we’ll look at who used profections and the basic idea behind the technique.

Hellenistic and Persian Astrologers on Profections

There are few Time Lord systems, or even predictive techniques, more ubiquitous and universal in Hellenistic and Persian astrology than profections.  A sampling of some of the Hellenistic and Persian astrologers that definitely used this technique (which is nearly all of them) included Marcus Manilius (1st Century CE), Dorotheus of Sidon (1st Century CE), Vettius Valens (2nd Century CE), Claudius Ptolemy (2nd Century CE), Paulus Alexandrinus (4th Century CE), Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE), Hephastio of Thebes (5th Century CE), Masha’allah ibn Athari (8th Century CE), ‘Umar al-Tabari (8th Century CE), Sahl ibn Bishr (9th Century CE), Abu ‘Ali al-Khayyat (9th Century CE), Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi (9th Century CE), and al-Qabisi (10th Century CE).  As you can see, this was one of the truly vital predictive methods of ancient astrology, discussed even more frequently than transits.

Paulus gave one of the clearer expositions of the basic technique (Ch. 31, from Greenbaum trans., 2001, p. 65, bracketed passages added by me for clarification):

As many years as the nativity should spin out, we pass these through from the hour-marking zōidion [sign], giving the first year of engendered time to the Hōroskopos [ascending sign] and the second to the post-ascension of the Hōroskopos [2nd place], and so on for the rest in the following zōidia [signs], until the 12th number should be completed.

Basic Technique: Annual Profections of the Ascendant

The quote above from Paulus illustrates the most basic, and in my opinion, most important, form of profections, which is the profection of the Ascendant from one sign to the next for each year of life.  Paulus goes on to give examples, of how the profection each year comes to the next sign or place of the chart, and the ruler of that place becomes the “lord of the year”.  The technique is easy and requires no fancy computer software, as there are no specific degrees involved, but rather just discrete hops from one place in the chart to the next at intervals of time.  In fact, the technique is called a “circumambulation”, meaning a “walking around” the chart.

To illustrate, if someone was born with Pisces rising, then Pisces is the 1st Place or House, and Jupiter is the Lord of the Year for their first year of life, age 0.  On the solar return at age 1 (typically the birthday, but the exact moment the Sun returns to its natal position), then the Ascendant profects to the 2nd Place, Aries, and Mars becomes Lord of the Year.  It continues like this, from one place to the next on the solar return/birthday, until the start of their 13th year, which is the 12th birthday, at which point we return back to Place 1, Pisces, with Jupiter as the Lord of the Year again.

Another example.  Let’s say someone has Leo rising.  Then ages 0, 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, and so forth are 1st Place/Leo years with the Sun as Lord, while ages 1, 13, 25, 37, 49, 61, 73, 85, 97, and so forth are 2nd Place/Virgo years with Mercury as Lord.  Where will the Ascendant profect when they are 18 years old?  18 years old is their 19th year, so take the remainder of 19/12, which is 7, and this is the Place of that year, the 7th Place, Aquarius, with Saturn as Lord.  What about at age 44?  44 is the 45th year, so take 45/12 which leaves a remainder of 9, so it is a 9th Place/Aries/Mars year.  If 0 is the remainder, then you’re dealing with the 12th place (sorry, if I’m making this more confusing).

Another way to find profections is to simply use the age itself and count forward or backwards from a multiple of 12, as all multiples of 12 will be the 1st Place.  So if you are looking at age 25, then you know this is one year past 24, so it will be the 2nd Place.  If it is age 35, then this is one year back from 36, so it will be the 12th place.

Take a number of charts and simply try finding the place of the current profected Ascendant for all of them.  After a short time you should be able to do this very easily in your head knowing nothing more than the person’s rising sign and age.

Usage of Annual Profection of the Ascendant

The annual profection of the Ascendant is interesting from a symbolic viewpoint.  First, the sky is sometimes generally conceptualized as the soul or mind, while the earth is conceptualized as the body, and as the Ascendant is the point where the sky with the Sun and planets within it appears to stream up from the earth at the eastern horizon, the Ascendant is like a soul peering out through a body.  The Ascendant, and the rising sign in general, are representative of the self, or the locus of the actual physical discrete person in the horoscope.  As the Ascendant profects to the next house of the chart, it is as if the person pays a visit to a new house each year and the goings on there thus become awakened in the life.  While the Lord of the Year is given a lot of attention, in some ways the planets in the sign itself are even more important, being directly encountered during this visit, while the lord of the chart particularly presides over and takes responsibility for the affairs.

Paulus on the Lord of the Year (Ch. 31, from Greenbaum trans., 2001, p. 65):

[…] falls to Virgo.  Hermes is the lord of the year.  We examine the [star] of Hermes, how it lies in the nativity, and which of the stars make a baleful aspect to it, and which look ahead at the zōidion where the year has chanced to be, and which were configured with it in the nativity.

There are profections for months also, and days, as well as other types of profections of planets, all following this same principal of moving something into a new house at each new time interval.  We will address other uses and varieties of profections in future posts. However, the annual profection of the Ascendant has a particularly special significance.  Not only does it establish a sort of main “lord of the year”, and highlight a sign and place, but it is also incorporated strongly into other predictive techniques.  For instance, in Abu Ma’shar’s particular predictive system he pays special attention to the sign of the profected Ascendant and its lord in the solar return chart.  Additionally, I find it particularly helpful to pay attention to the transits from and to the lord of the year, and through the sign of the profected Ascendant.

Examples of Use with Transits

To simplify, I’m going to give an example of using profections to highlight important transits, as this will be the easiest way for the beginner to start working with profections. However, I caution against trying to predict on the basis of an annual profection and transits alone.  There are many other factors, and in time we will explore them and learn how they fit together.

It is very difficult to find examples to just use transits emphasized by just the annual profection but I know of one particularly striking one which I’ll share.  We’ll explore this example and others in more depth with other predictive techniques as we delve deeper in later posts of this series.

James Randi Publicly Announces Cancer Diagnosis

[Note: this section corrected 6/27/12 using input from reader, Erna]

I’ve addressed Randi’s chart before in terms of belief, so I won’t do much analysis here.  Suffice it to say, I admire the guy, I think the chart info that he has provided for himself is honest and accurate, and his chart has a lot to say. In this case we’ll be looking at the malefics in Randi’s chart, Mars and Saturn.  Mars is a malefic, and Mars is here the ruler of the 6th of disease, and is in the 12th of loss, oppression, hidden enemies, and such.  Both the 6th and 12th are largely regarded as the worst of the bad places in ancient astrology, so malefics in these places have the capacity to signify quite difficult matters when activated. Saturn is the out of sect malefic in Randi’s chart, and as such tends to signify in a way that is both difficult and seems disloyal to Randi’s self and purpose.  Randi was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in mid-2009 and it looks to have been successfully treated, but it was certainly difficult period.

James Randi's Natal Chart (twelfth-part positions along the outside)
James Randi’s Natal Chart (twelfth-part positions along the outside)

James Randi was born in August of 1928, so when he was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in June of 2009, as well as when he announced that cancer treatment was underway on or about July 9, 2009, at the Amazing Meeting that year, he was 80 years old.  Age 84 would be a 1st place year, so age 80 would be back 4 places at the 9th place, Aquarius, with Saturn as Lord of the Year.  Generally, Saturn would be regarded as the more difficult of the malefics because Randi was born at night and Saturn is loyal to those born during the day.  Saturn’s ability to signify difficulty is also shown in its position in the sometimes antagonistic 7th house and the location of Saturn’s twelfth-part in the 12th house which is a dark place called bad spirit as it was particularly associated with problems (especially mental/social ones shown by the word “spirit”).

Note: Using Valens-style profections, in which the planets are also profected, Saturn profects 9 places to the 3rd house, where the Sun and Mercury are located.  Saturn to the Sun is particularly symbolic of health issues, as is Saturn to the ruler of the Ascendant (Mercury).

Randi's 2008 Solar Return (non-precessed)
Randi’s 2008 Solar Return (non-precessed)

Looking at the (non-precessed) solar return for that year which was in August of 2008, we find that the Ascendant was 17 Virgo, with both Saturn and Mars (with Venus) in the rising sign (which is the 4th house of the natal; see above).  At the time of Randi’s cancer announcement transiting Saturn was also at 17 Virgo afflicting the solar return Ascendant (see Saturn in outer wheel of chart below).

As mentioned, Mars is a malefic, in a bad place, and Mars also dominates Mercury, ruler of the Ascendant.  In June and the first half of July, 2009, Mars was transiting through Taurus, Randi’s 12th place, where Mars is also located natally.  The twelfth-part of Saturn, lord of the year, is also located there.

Fascinatingly, James Randi publicly announced the cancer during his exact Mars return.  The Mars return occurs about every 2 years due to the apparent speed of Mars through the zodiac (which is about half a degree per day), so this is not an event that happens every day or often.  Not only did the return of Mars coincide with the announcement but Mars was most likely in the exact same degree of the zodiac that Mars held at birth when the announcement took place, a degree it would occupy that year for only those first couple days of the July 2009 Amazing Meeting.  The last time Mars returned to that degree (i.e. his last Mars return) had been in August 2007, and the next Mars return was not until June of 2011.

Cancer Announcement transits (outer wheel) to natal chart (inner wheel)
Cancer Announcement transits (outer wheel) to natal chart (inner wheel)

I’ve provided the transit chart (relative to natal) so that you can confirm the positions of the planets, and particularly of Mars on the day of the Amazing Meeting during which Randi publicly announces the cancer.  I’ve also provided the chart with transits around the edge, and with the Mars return highlighted for better visual understanding.

To recap: It was a Saturn year for Randi, and Saturn is a planet that is able to signify the most difficult circumstances in Randi’s life, as well as one which has its twelfth-part position with Mars, the other planet that signifies difficulties, both in the 12th house which can show health difficulties, and with Mars ruling the 12th even more particularly showing health difficulties.  The combined influence of Saturn and Mars was highlighted in the solar return, which featured both planets in the rising sign, symbolic of the self.  At the time of the events, Saturn transited in the very degree of the solar return Ascendant, while Mars returned to its natal position in a difficult house.  While this example brings in other techniques besides basic annual profections (returns, twelfth-part positions, Valens-style profections, transits), it illustrates how annual profections help to form the backdrop to other predictive techniques and structure their meaning.

Conclusion

Using annual profections of the Ascendant simply to recognize periods when natal significations will be more active is a good exercise.  However, we don’t experience the same fate at age 12, as at age 24, and at 36, etc.  Paying particular attention to transits of and to the lord of the year, and through the place, in addition to the natal significations, particularly those that renew a natal signification, can sharpen up your use of transits.

I would like to add that profections are thought of as a handing off of responsibility.  A new planet is taking some responsibility for your well-being, when you, signified by the Ascendant enter into the planet’s house.  The Lord of the Year, has some responsibility for carrying out some of the big yearly plans for you.  As we look at the Lord of the Month in the next post, you’ll see similar themes, where a certain plan has increased responsibility for the big monthly plans that pertain to you.

If you’re new to profections, then I hope this post has been informative and that you have fun with this great, simple, and effective technique that was a staple of the ancient astrologer’s repertoire.

References

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

James Randi. (2011, November 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:29, December 3, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=James_Randi&oldid=462839271

Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 10. Abu Ma’shar

The ingredients and recipes for this type of analysis can be found in the first post of the series, which you can view here, and were reviewed with additional comments a couple posts back, which you can view here.

Abu Ma’shar

Abu Ma’shar was one of the most influential of the later Persian Medieval astrologers.  He differed from most Persian astrologers in his use of quadrant houses (rather than the whole sign houses used in the Hellenistic period and by most earlier Persian astrologers – and by me), he profected in 30 degree increments rather than by sign, as well as a few other innovative approaches that were of particularly strong influence upon later European Medieval and Renaissance astrology.  In my opinion, his greatest contributions were in introductory material, mundane astrology, and in his particular natal predictive tool set (though I don’t always agree with the particular way he used the tools).

I was reading the introduction to Ben Dykes’ recent translation of Abu Ma’shar’s “On the Revolutions of the Years of Nativities”, which is Abu Ma’shar’s work on natal predictive methods, including solar returns, and I noticed that Dykes’ gives Ma’shar’s birth time and natal chart as established by noted historian of science, David Pingree.  The source appears to be from chart examples Ma’shar has given, and there is some conflict between the positions implied by the day and time and those given by Ma’shar, by a few degrees, sometimes one way, sometimes another.  In any case, Dykes gives the day and time as 8/10/797 at about 10pm, near Balkh, Afghanistan (Dykes, 2010, p. 1).  The Ascendant of the reconstructed chart example is at 2 degrees Taurus, so I’ve set my chart at 9:55pm to match the example.  All planets are in the same positions, in the same signs, in the chart example as in my chart, give or take about 5 degrees, except Saturn which Ma’shar’s example puts in late Aquarius, while the day and time puts it at 0Pisces.

Given that there is some conflicting information about his chart from the reconstruction, why use this chart at all?  The problems with the chart are probably owing to slight table inaccuracies and calculation errors committed in Ma’shar’s time.  The chart should therefore be regarded as near B-rating accuracy, in my own opinion.  Ma’shar is interesting from a belief standpoint, as he was initially a skeptic.  Ma’shar was an astrological skeptic until his late 40’s, when al-Kindi brought him around to astrology (Dykes, 2010, p. 1).  He went on to become a very notable astrologer and defender of the science of astrology.

Abu Ma'shar's Natal Chart
Abu Ma’shar’s Natal Chart

Ma’shar’s Chart Analyzed in Brief

  • Jupiter:
  • Very Strong – Jupiter is strongly advancing, within about 5 degrees of the MC, and so is very strong, even though it is in a cadent place.
  • Very Benefic – Jupiter is naturally benefic and is in a good place, the 9th.  While out of sect, Jupiter is not regarded by the malefics, and is actually dominated by the benefic Venus.  Therfore, Jupiter is very benefic in the chart overall.
  • Jupiter is one of the strongest planets in the chart.  We expect expansive experiences, including spiritual ones, to play a major role in this person’s life.  Jupiter is in the sign and bound of Saturn, so we may expect such experiences to also be accompanied by doubt, and that the native will seek to make them more concrete or explicit for reassurance.  Jupiter is dominated by Venus, so there is likely to be a strong sensual or artistic orientation to the joys of Jupiter.   
  • 9th Place:  
  • Strong  – The 9th, Capricorn, is occupied by a very strong Jupiter, and is ruled by Saturn, planet of doubt, fear, loss, and dread.  Saturn is pretty strong, as it’s advancing in the 11th, overcoming the Ascendant (with a scrutinizing sextile).  Venus, the ruler of the Ascendant, also dominates the 9th.  Overall, it’s a prominent place.
  • Mixed, somewhat benefic – Saturn rules the 9th, and is quite malefic, as Saturn is out of sect.  However, a planet in the place pertains more directly to characterizing it than the ruler.  The position of Jupiter in the actual 9th and Venus dominating it, is enough to associate the place more typically with pleasant circumstances in the life.
  • Matters of belief-systems and searching for some greater truth are fairly prominent in his life.  His beliefs tend to be heavily informed by doubt/skepticism (Saturn rules the place), spirituality/religion/faith and deeper expansive truth (Jupiter), and also sensual pleasure (Venus domination).
  •  Saturn:
  • Strong – Saturn is advancing and is not subject to any major weakening conditions.
  • Somewhat Malefic – Saturn is naturally a mafefic, and here is out of sect.  Saturn is in a good place and is overcome by Jupiter by sextile, yet still, we would expect Saturn to regularly signify difficult matters and circumstance in the life.
  • Saturn, as the significator of doubt, fear, obstruction, loss, and so forth, does have a pretty strong effect over the life in a general and pervasive way, and particularly over matters of belief (the 9th).
  • Mercury:  
  • Very strong – Mercury is advancing, in phasis, and is in a “pivot” of the chart (i.e. the 4th), while assembled with the Sun and regarded by the Moon, so Mercury is very strong.
  • Mixed, somewhat benefic – Mercury is in sect and is in a good place, but is assembled with Mars, so there is quite a lot variation over time with whether Mercury’s significations are positive or negative, but overall they’ll tend to be positive.
  • There doesn’t appear to be a strong identification with Mercury, as Mercury has no dignity at the Ascendant.

Ma’shar was not a religious leader, nor was he an atheist.  He also seems to identify quite strongly with the Moon and Venus (we know little of his personality and life before astrology). However, what is unique about him is his doubt in astrology in particular, and then his very strong faith in it.  In his life in general, we see that faith plays a major role, but that doubt is also quite strong, and both play a role in the belief system.

This interplay between faith and doubt, with a desire to give concrete evidence for God or the gods, is not uncharacteristic of the charts of serious astrologers employing rigorous methods.  For instance, Robert Zoller has Jupiter in the 9th, dominated by Saturn (though Saturn is a bit weak, and Jupiter rules the Ascendant, so there is much less doubt and much more faith there), and Chris Brennan has Saturn as ruler of the 1st and in the 10th, while Jupiter is somewhat weakened, yet the 9th is made prominent through a Venus (which is ruled by Jupiter).  Myself, I also have Saturn ruling the 1st, Mercury as bound lord of the 1st, a very prominent Mercury (in the 10th, in phasis, conjunct the MC within a degree), but Saturn in the 9th, conjoined to Jupiter in the 9th within 2 degrees, and with Jupiter scrutinizing my Ascendant by trine.

In future posts in this series, I am planning on expanding out from the basic analysis, to explore more thorough characterization of belief drawing upon Hellenistic and Persian astrological literature.

Blessings!

Anthony

 

References

Ma’shar, A. (2010). Persian Nativities III: Abu Ma’shar on Solar Revolutions. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.