Astrological Sign Classifications | 3. Sign Symmetry | Commanding, Obeying, Hearing, Antiscia, etc.

Perhaps antiscia are like reflections and contra-antiscia like echoes.  In any case they illuminate an early and fascinating connection between symmetry and sympathy in ancient astrological doctrine.

In this post I’d like to address some unique symmetry-based sign relationships in ancient astrology.  Today, these relationships are best known through the concepts of antiscia and contra-antiscia.  Antiscia are degrees symmetrical about the solstitial points, i.e. equidistant from 0 Cancer and 0 Capricorn, for instance 10 Sagittarius and 20 Capricorn, or 13 Scorpio and 17 Aquarius.  This type of degree-based concept of antiscia dates back at least to Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th century CE), who used it extensively (c.f. Book II, Ch. 30 of Mathesis).  I’m not aware of other degree-based usage of antiscia, or any usage of contra-antiscia in the Hellenistic period, but in the Persian period, al-Qabisi appears to have considered degrees of either antiscia or contra-antiscia as degrees of similar power in his Introduction to the Science of Astrology (10th century CE), and sign relationships related to antiscia and contra-antiscia are found in early Hellenistic astrology, including Ptolemy (1st century CE).  Today, contra-antiscia is used to denote degrees symmetrical about the equinoctial points, i.e. equidistant from 0 Aries and 0 Libra, for instance 10 Pisces and 20 Aries, or 18 Cancer and 12 Sagittarius (both are 72 degrees from 0 Libra).  The origins of antiscia and contra-antiscia reveal a consideration for symmetry about axes, possibly dating back to pre-Hellenistic sources, and this consideration of “power in symmetry” was drawn on heavily in the modern Uranian astrological school of thought.

While many astrologers today are aware of antiscia and contra-antiscia, they are often unfamiliar with the whole sign relationships that preceded and formed the foundation for those concepts.  Mention of these sign relationships is prevalent in Hellenistic and Persian material, and they have uses which we will discuss.

Regard, Affinity, and Synastry

In ancient Hellenistic and Persian horoscopic astrology, certain relationships between signs could show affinities and relationships between the occupants of the signs.  The best known type of relationship is referred to as “regard”, using a visual metaphor of planets being configured with each other in such a way that they “see” each other.   Regard occurs by what we would call “whole sign aspects”, which are signs situated such that one sign starts 60 degrees (sextile), 90 degrees (square), 120 degrees (trine), or 180 degrees (opposition) away from another.  Additionally, planets in the same sign (i.e in the same house, the same place), are said to be co-present in that house, as if cohabitating in the same abode – even if they are in opposite ends of the sign, they tend to strongly influence each other’s significations (note: according to Serapio the planets in earlier degrees in the same sign yield more influence (“superiority”) over those in later degrees).

Certain regards are more harmonious and others less so, while planets that don’t regard each other are said to be in “aversion”.  Regard therefore helps to define which planets interact with which, which are more influential upon which others (based on which are on the right side or rising first, called superior), and the nature of the relationship (squares being forceful like Mars, oppositions obstructing like Saturn, co-presence being powerful like the Lights, trines being generous and friendly like Jupiter, and sextiles being cooperative and sympathetic like Venus).

These relationships help one to understand a planet’s effects and nature, but also to understand interaction between planets across people’s charts, in what is called synastry.  For instance, for Ptolemy and Masha’allah it was important that the Sun and Moon in the charts of marriage partners regard each other harmoniously, and that a malefic in one person’s chart not be co-present with the Lights or Venus in another’s chart, in order for there to be harmony and firmness in the relationship.

I’ll address regards and other configurations to a greater extent in a later post.  The interested reader looking to acquire a thorough understanding of the basics of the original aspect and configuration doctrines of horoscopic astrology can gain a thorough understanding of such topics in Chris Brennan’s Hellenistic course or by checking out just the module on the Aspect Doctrine, which is part of the larger course but also available separately (personally, I recommend that anyone interested in Hellenistic astrology take the full course).

Affinity Beyond Regard

There are other sign relationships in Hellenistic astrology that also show affinity.  These are of two basic types, 1. Domiciles of the same planet, 2. Signs symmetrical about the equinoctial and solstitial points (called the “cardinal points” in modern terminology).  In terms of signs symmetrical about the cardinal points, they are of two types, with different senses.  There is a lot of confusion about these different sign relationships because often the same terminology is used for different relationships.  For instance, signs ruled by the same planet are sometimes called those “agreeing in the journey” and also sometimes called those “agreeing in the belt”, while those symmetrical about the equinoctial axis are sometimes also called “agreeing in the journey” and also sometimes called “commanding and obeying”.

I’ll prefer “agreeing in the belt” (of the zodiac) or “like-engirding” as the proper terms for signs with the same domicile ruler, which we might conceptualize as having an affinity with each other because the same planet manages the affairs of both, with both working together through that planet.  For instance, Aries and Scorpio don’t regard each other but Mars has responsibility for both places and thus planets in both places become affiliated through the working of Mars.

In the rest of this post I address the sign relationships based upon symmetry about the cardinal points, attempting to clarify the terminology, the origins, and a sense of practical application.

Cardinal Axis or Cardinal Signs

One of the more confusing things about the symmetrical sign relationships in early Hellenistic literature is that there can be 4 different, rather than 2 different relationships, which are discussed.

For instance, Paulus Alexandrinus (4th Century CE) noted that it is the like-engirding signs and those that are of equal ascension which can be sympathetic with each other even when in aversion (c.f. Paulus Alexandrinus, Introductory Matters, Ch. 12).  I already discussed the like-engirding signs above.  The signs of equal ascension are those that are symmetrical about the equinoxes (i.e. signs that are contra-antiscia: Aries-Pisces, Taurus-Aquarius, Gemini-Capricorn, Cancer-Sagittarius, Leo-Scorpio, Virgo-Libra).  It is this relationship about the equinoxes which Paulus suggests is the important one for sympathy between signs, which makes sense given that such signs take equal periods of time to rise (this is contrary to the notion in more modern traditional circles that contra-antiscia is somehow difficult like an opposition in contrast to antiscia which is claimed to be conjunction-like – like Paulus I find contra-antiscia signs to show a type of affinity both in a chart and in synastry).  Many other authors also discuss signs of equal ascension or “equipollent” (i.e. these are contra-antiscia), and some talk of those of equal power (e.g. Rhetorius, Ch.17) as sympathetic also or as highly significant (c.f. Maternus on antiscia in Book II, Ch. 30).

Paulus, Porphyry, Rhetorius, and others also discusses signs that are equidistant from the entire cardinal signs, Cancer and Capricorn, such as Leo-Gemini and Aries-Libra, and signs equidistant from the entire signs, Aries and Libra, such as Taurus-Pisces and Cancer-Capricorn.  These additional relationships are sometimes labeled with the terminology “signs that command and obey”, “signs that hear each other”, “signs that see each other”, and other such attributions, which are sometimes mixed up.

The relationships about the entire cardinal signs appear to be based on the same symmetry about the cardinal axes, but based in an earlier age when the sidereal zodiac was used.  For instance, in his footnote on Porphyry, Ch.31, James Holden remarked that the pairs of obeying signs (those equidistant from the signs Cancer and Capricorn, with those of decreasing light obeying those of increasing light, i.e. Pisces obeying Taurus, Aquarius obeying Gemini, etc.) “are based on the scheme of the early Alexandrian astrologers, which in effect puts the equinoxes and solstices at 15 degrees of the cardinal signs” (Holden, 2009, p. 25, Footnote 2).  His notes regarding the signs equidistant from Aries-Libra also echo this sentiment that these relationships were originally based upon symmetry across the equinoctial and solstitial points, at a time when those points fell near the middle of the sidereal cardinal signs.

If Holden was correct in this observation then this would imply that the symmetry has always been based on the equinoctial and solstitial points and was never meant to be based on the tropical cardinal signs themselves.  In other words, that these two additional relationships are actually earlier Alexandrian remnants of the later equipollent and equal power signs of the Hellenistic period, with both being in essence the exact same relationships.  For this matter, I dismiss the pairings of signs across entire cardinal signs, as irrelevant and any continued use of those particular sign relationships with the tropical zodiac as being in error, as it makes the signs themselves the basis of the relationship, missing that the true basis was the symmetry about the cardinal points.

The two symmetrical sign relationships that we are left with are those signs which are symmetrical about the solstitial points, which we might call antiscia signs, and those symmetrical about the equinoctial points which we might call contra-antiscia signs.  Additionally, and uncontroversially, the contra-antiscia signs are those of equal ascensional times, or equipollent, while the antiscia signs may be called those of “equal power”, because these are signs marking points in the year with equal relative proportions of daylight and darkness (e.g. when the Sun is at 15 degrees Sagittarius at some locale, the length of the day is the same as when the Sun is at 15 degrees Capricorn at that locale).

Here is a chart that samples some of the labels used by Hellenistic authors for these sign relationships.  I separate out references to the earlier sign-based axis from those based on the actual cardinal point, but as noted above, both actually appear to have been based on the cardinal points, so the first two columns go together as a group, as do the last two.

Hearing and Contra-Antiscia

Looking at the above table, one gets the clear sense that hearing and commanding/obeying are the same thing, and pertain to what we might call the contra-antiscia or equal rising time signs.  This echoes the language of Valens about listening and that of Manilius about how one signs hears the other.  As this was originally conceptualized as pertaining to the equinoctial points, I think that astrologers should equate this with signs of equal ascension, also known as the contra-antiscia.  Just as regard pertains to planets seeing each other across signs, with the one on the right-side (superior) being more influential, we may consider the contra-antiscia as pertaining to planets hearing each other sympathetically with the planet in the “summer sign” (Aries thru Virgo, at least in the northern hemisphere) being the more influential one in the relationship.

It is important to note that by the Persian early medieval period, the concepts of hearing and command/obey were being separated, with command/obey becoming associated with the antiscia signs instead (for instance, see the introductory texts by Abu Ma’shar and al-Qabisi, and even earlier with Masha’allah in the Book of Aristotle equating obeying signs with those decreasing in days (i.e. from Cancer to Sagittarius)).  These labels appear to have been in error, given the more consistent overlap between the concepts of command/obey and hearing in the earlier Hellenistic material.

The sign pairs are as follows with the first sign in the pair often said to “hear” or “obey” the other: Pisces-Aries, Aquarius-Taurus, Capricorn-Gemini, Sagittarius-Cancer, Scorpio-Leo, Libra-Virgo.

In terms of the interpretation of the contra-antiscia signs, there area a few different perspectives.

Paulus noted that the when signs are in aversion, then there are two ways that they can achieve sympathy, either by being ruled by the same planet (i.e. the like-engirding signs) or being in signs of equal ascension (i.e. contra-antiscia).  This sympathy is important because without it planets in aversion tend to signify disconnect from each other such as in banishments, separations, and other such hostile conditions.  This sympathy can presumably indicate otherwise.  Rhetorius noted that squares between signs in this relationship (Scorpio and Leo or Aquarius and Taurus) have sympathy with each other.  Both Paulus and Rhetorius also noted that the commanding and obeying signs hear one another and are suitable for signifying matters of hearing news, rumors, or announcements from each other.  While Masha’allah appears to have gotten the commanding/obeying signs wrong, the fact that he is drawing from an older source and uses commanding/obeying relationships between planets (especially the Moon) as important to friendship is suggestive, together with the sense of sympathy even when there is aversion, suggests that hearing sign configurations play a beneficial role in relationship synastry.

Equal Power and Antiscia

The table above provides a picture in which the antiscia signs may be conceptualized as “seeing” signs.  This is rather confusing given the visual metaphors behind regard.  However, there is certainly a visual metaphor being used again here.  In the metaphor there is again a sense of a more active or dominant influence as well.  In this case the more dominant influence actually seems to come from the signs that are increasing in light (Capricorn thru Gemini).  Paulus noted that those signs see the ones decreasing in light (Cancer thru Sagittarius) which perceive the ones decreasing in light (Capricorn thru Gemini), for instance that Taurus see Virgo while Virgo perceives or is aware of Taurus.  Therefore, I suggest that we may conceptualize this relationship as one of awareness of each other, or mutual interest, with stronger or more active influence coming from the signs increasing in light (Capricorn thru Gemini).

While Paulus did not mention these signs as ones that can alleviate aversion, he did mention that they create sympathy, harmony, and friendship, between partners, family members, and in many other type of association.  This is suggestive of a use of these also in synastry as contributing harmony to the relationship. As with the contra-antiscia signs (and like-engirding ones), Rhetorius noted that squares between signs in this relationship (Leo and Taurus or Scorpio and Aquarius) are sympathetic.

The signs that see each other, agree in power, or are antiscia each other are as follows, with the seeing sign first and perceiving one second: Capricorn-Sagittarius, Aquarius-Scorpio, Pisces-Libra, Aries-Virgo, Taurus-Leo, Gemini-Cancer.

This sense of equal power between antiscia is taken to the extreme in Book II, Ch. 30 of the Mathesis of Julius Firmicus Maternus (click here for a downloadable full English translation of the work in pdf).  Maternus maintained that each planet and point in the chart sent an antiscion into the degree symmetrical across the solstitial axis.  For instance, Gemini and Cancer are antiscia, and the specific antiscion of 5 Cancer is 25 Gemini.  Maternus seems to treat this antiscion as nearly a secondary body double of the planet, delineating it by sign, house, and the regards it makes to other planets as well as to the antiscia of other planets.  In this sense, he viewed the antiscion of a planet or point as being another degree in which that planet or point has power, reinforcing the notion of “equal power” across antiscia.

As an aside, in many passages throughout his work, Maternus also admonishes us to find the placement of the planet in a sign by 12th part or dodekatomoria (i.e. first 2 1/2 degrees of the sign encompass thirty degrees of that same sign, while the next 2 1/2 degrees encompass the thirty degrees of the following sign, etc. – such that a planet at 8°02′ Libra would be in Capricorn by dodekatamoria (up to 2 1/2 for Libra, up to 5 for Scorpio, up to 7 1/2 for Sagittarius, and thus in Capricorn) and to find the degree we would multiply the overage, in this case 32′ by 12 = 6°24′ Capricorn.  Thus, in a sense Maternus advocates the use of two main shadow charts in addition to the natal chart and compared/related to the natal chart, looking at the Antiscia and Twelfth-Part charts for deeper insight.

Conclusion

It is therefore easy to see how the hearing signs and these seeing signs got mixed up in later traditional astrology.  Both involve an additional sense of sympathetic sign relations, both seem to make difficult regards or averse configurations somewhat more harmonious.  However, the hearing signs also uniquely relate to these reporting significations while the seeing signs connect uniquely to a sense of equal power which was extended out to the use of antiscia “body-doubles” in the work of Julius Firmicus Maternus. Perhaps antiscia are like reflections and contra-antiscia like echoes.  In any case they illuminate an early and fascinating connection between symmetry and sympathy in ancient astrological doctrine.

While the use of degree-based antiscia appears to have originated with Maternus, I am curious as to the origins of degree-based use of contra-antiscia.  If you the reader are aware of this origin, please share it in the comments section.

References

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

The Bounds | Tables and Origins

The bounds are a system of dividing each zodiacal sign into 5 unequal regions called bounds or terms, each typically ruled by one of the five “non-Light” planets, i.e. the five planets beside the Sun and Moon.

The only system of the bounds to be independently attested in more than one ancient source and to be employed in early archaeologically recovered horoscopes is the system which Ptolemy called “Egyptian”, a label that has stuck through the ages.

The Egyptian bounds are also the system that I use in my own practice. The bound ruler of a planet or point, such as the Ascendant, has an influence over the nature of that planet or point, and the bound serves as a link between the two.  The bounds become particularly important in some types of longevity and predictive techniques in Hellenistic and Persian astrology.

You can find a great set of charts of the various systems of bounds on the Altair Astrology site.  When I’m online and want to look up the Egyptian bounds that’s where I go, because it’s clean and clear.

A recent paper discussing the possible Babylonian origin of the so-called “Egyptian” bounds has recently been published based on the discovery of two (of three) cuneiform tablets in which the bounds of the signs were recorded.  These tablets may date back to the 4th or 5th Century BCE.  The paper provides some great technical and historic background on the bounds and their variation in ancient literature.

 

Astrological Predictive Techniques | 6. Manilius-Style Profections

This is the last planned post exploring the use of profections.  Like the previous one, which dealt with degree-based Persian-style profections, this one is presented more for the sake of completeness in discussing the appearance of profectional techniques in Hellenistic and Persian astrology, than intended as endorsement in practice.  I have an additional motivation for discussing the great variety of methods and opinions pertaining to profections in ancient astrology as well.  I long to convey to the reader the greater degree of diversity and richness that is found in astrology of the ancient period, in order to quell false notions that earlier astrology is more cut-and-dry, conforming in technique and attitude, narrow in scope, and fatalistic in philosophy.  The first one thousand years of the horoscopic tradition represent the richest body of astrological technique and opinion we have, which can provide a lifetime of new insights and challenges, deepening our tool-set, and enriching our practice.  I discuss this a little further in the series of posts, “Ancient Astrologers Didn’t All Agree“.

For those unfamiliar with the basic technique of annual and monthly profections, please review the first 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.  I use basic annual annual and monthly profections very heavily in my own chart work and find them indispensable.

Introduction

In Book 3 of his Astronomica, Manilius (1st Century CE) described two different methods of profection.  First (about lines 510-529), he presented a method of profection I have not seen elsewhere, which is the topic of this post.  Next (about lines 537-559), he presented a different method attributed to “some who approve of an alternative scheme” (p. 207), which is the familiar use of profecting the Ascendant one whole sign for various discrete periods of time, particularly one year (Goold, 1977).  It is interesting that the method first discussed by Manilius which he seemed to favor is the more idiosyncratic one that we don’t see in other sources.

Profect the Sun Annually, Moon Monthly, and Ascendant for Days and Hours

In the method of Manilius for the annual profection we move the Sun (one sign per year), while for the monthly profection we move the Moon (one sign per month).  The Ascendant is profected for groups of days and hours, with some confusion as to the time period used.  In fact, there are many ambiguities in the discussion and questions that naturally arise with it.  Let’s let Manilius explain the basic method and then we’ll discuss some of the difficulties with employing it.

Now I shall assign their special periods of life in classes to the signs; for the signs are also allotted to their own particular years and months and days and hours of days; and during these periods they each exercise special influence.  The first year of life will belong to that sign in which at birth the Sun has shone, since the Sun takes a year’s duration to traverse the firmament; the next and subsequent years are consecutively bestowed upon the signs in their order.  The Moon shall denote the months, since in a month it completes its course.  The Horoscope [Ascendant] brings under its regency the first days and the first hours, and hands the others to the following signs.  Thus did nature wish year and months and days and even hours to be duly counted out through the signs, that every period of time might be distributed over every sign of the zodiac and vary its movements through the sequence of signs, according as it made a change to each one as it came round in the circle.  (Manilius, Astronomica, 3.510-521, Goold trans., 1977, p. 205)

Annual Profection

In this scheme the sign of the year is that into which the Sun profects at a rate of one sign per year from its birth position.  For instance, a 31 year old who was born with a Sagittarius Sun,  would find oneself in a Cancer year.  This is because  he would come back to a Sagittarius year at age 36 (and any other multiple of 12), so the 31st birthday, 5 signs before the Sagittarius 36th, would put us at Cancer – (let’s see, Scorpio at 35, Libra at 34, Virgo at 33, Leo at 32, Cancer at 31).  So apparently, under this method the annual profection of the Sun marks the sign of the year, and is the main profection at that level.  This varies from the predominant view that the annual profection of the Ascendant is most important, as well as that of Valens where the annual profection of the Sect Light and Ascendant are important (often times that of the Sect Light even more so to Valens).

Monthly Profection

Here’s where things start to really get sticky.  Manilius appears to be advising us to take monthly profections from the Moon. This seems to imply that monthly profections are disjointed from annual profections, rather than dividing them up into twelve months, because a profection from the natal Moon has a different starting point, and it is unclear what sort of months are intended.  For instance, if one were born December  1, 1980 with a Libra Moon (hypothetical), then we might be tempted to count calendar months to the present day, which is not a difficult task, since the Moon would profect back to the natal sign every December of every year.  This being January, the Moon would profect to Scorpio (one sign after Libra, as January is one month after December). However, it is unclear whether calendar months are intended or some other more astronomical lunar month, such as the synodic month of about 29.5 days or the sidereal month of about 27.5 days.  If one of these other months are used, over time you will get other indications for the sign of the month.

Daily and Hourly Profections

The daily and hourly profections are the most difficult to understand.  It appears that Manilius is separating out two different rates, a daily rate and an hourly rate.  The problem is that the system seems to depend on using different points for different rates in a symbolic fashion, but here the Ascendant is used for two very different rates.

The way that Manilius presented the more common profectional technique later in his book suggested that he used planetary hours for hourly rates, in which there are 12 planetary hours in a day based on division of the length of day (sunrise and sunset) and that of night (sunset to sunrise).  That discussion also seemed to imply that the daily rate was one sign per day.

My best hypothesis as to how to find the daily profectional sign is to count the number of days since your birth to the present time (it may help to use a date duration calculator online), then divide the number of days by 12 and take the remainder (find the remainder by taking the portion after the decimal and multiplying it by 12) as the number of signs past your Ascendant.  For instance, if your Ascendant is Aquarius and the remainder is 3, then the sign of the day is Taurus (i.e. count Pisces, Aries, Taurus).

My best hypothesis for the hour is that every day at your birth time is the start of the hour that pertains to your Ascendant.  For instance, if one were born at 3pm with an Aquarius Ascendant, then every day at 3pm would start the Aquarius hour.  To do a rough estimate, the sign of the hour would change about every 2 clock hours.  So around 5pm would star the Pisces hour of the day.  Since it would cycle through 12 in a day, these hours would be in the same order starting from the birth time each day.

Conclusion

Annual and monthly profections of the Ascendant have won me over as to their value time and time again.  Many of the other types of profections, including this one by Manilius seem like they could be fun to play around with, and I hope with time they might prove themselves useful.  They haven’t yet impressed me, but I definitely advocate experimenting with them and urge you to keep me informed about what you find. Happy journeys.

 

References

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

Astrological Predictive Techniques | 5. A Persian Degree-Based Style of Profections

For those unfamiliar with the basic technique of annual and monthly profections, please review the first 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.

Introduction

In this post we’ll be looking at Persian innovation with profections, in which the Ascendant is not profected by whole sign, but rather is profected by degree, such that the Ascendant profects 30 degrees in one year.  As far as I know, this style of profection started in the 8th century CE with certain Persian astrologers such as Umar al-Tabari.  Abu Ma’shar (active in the 9th century CE) was one of the Persian astrologers who most famously used this type of profection in both natal and mundane work.  This style of profection was also followed by the 10th century CE astrology al-Qabisi (Alchabitius), and later medieval and Renaissance European astrologers.  However, Masha’allah, of the 8th century CE, used the Hellenistic style profections in which profections are discrete, by whole-sign, rather than continuous, by degree.

To recap the Hellenistic method, if one’s Ascendant was in Aquarius when one was born, then it’d profect to Pisces at Age 1 (second year of life), Aries at Age 2 (third year of life), and so forth.  The profections would be in discrete steps, such that the whole second year would be a Pisces annual profection, and there wouldn’t be any sense in considering a “degree” of the profection.  In order to capture smaller time frames we could also profect by month, starting with the sign of the year, in discrete steps, such that the month following the birthday would be a Pisces monthly profection, while the following month would be an Aries monthly profection, and so forth.  We could even do the same for days, because in each case we are dealing with discrete movements, highlighting specific Signs of the chart, which in whole-sign houses are the different houses of the chart.

In the Persian period there began to be some experimentation with quadrant division of houses, and with this came some new perspectives on how to view the chart, including a greater concern with degree-based aspects and configurations, quantified weighting of essential dignities, and a movement away from sign-based configurations and techniques.  So, we start to see the notion that the Ascendant profects 30 degrees in a year, or a house in the “equal-house” system, rather than a discrete sign.

Early Entrance

This view of profections changes some things.  For one, the profection is continuous, and the profected point will profect into a new sign in less than a year, because it would move at about 2.5 degrees per month.  For instance, if one were born with an Ascendant of 25 Aquarius, then the Ascendant would profect to Pisces two months after birth, rather than one year after.  Interestingly, in most Persian predictive systems, such as that of Abu Ma’shar, the Lord of the Year is still determined by the ruler of the profected Ascendant at the time of the solar return (also called the solar revolution), so in our example, despite the entrance into Pisces of the profected Ascendant, the Lord of the Year (called the “salkhuday”) for that entire year would remain Saturn (ruler of Aquarius). Therefore, it seems that those who started using this profection weren’t that interested in the early changeover of rulers that would occur by its use – you get the same planets highlighted for the time period as you do when you use whole-sign profections.

Profectional Aspects

Of course, the additional feature of this style of profections that likely inspired its use is the ability to profect any planet or point in a natal chart or return chart by degree in order to time events to the perfection of aspects.  For example, let’s say that someone has the Sun at 10 degrees Aries and Mars at 15 degrees Aries, and we want to know when some of the more difficult manifestations of this Sun and Mars conjunction might manifest.  We might look to see when Mars profects to conjoin, square, or oppose the Sun by degree.  As the Sun is 5 degrees behind the Sun, and the monthly rate of profection is about 5 degrees, we expect the profected conjunction a month prior to the twelfth, twenty-fourth, thirty-sixth (and so forth) birthdays.  The opposition will take place a month short of the sixth birthday (and every twelve years thereafter), while the square will take place a month short of the third and ninth birthdays (and every twelve years thereafter).   These exact degree based aspects can be difficult to figure out in one’s head, so I recommend using software.  The free astrological program Morinus can bring up a chart of profected positions (done by degree), as can many other astrological software packages.

Monthly and Daily Profections

Even though these profections by degree are continuous, it is still also possible to do profections by month and day (and even hour), though they use much faster motion.  Abu Ma’shar discussed these minor profections in Book IX, Chapter 7, Section 8 of “On the Revolutions of the Years of Nativities”.  For the monthly profections any given point profects through an entire sign (30 degrees) in a single month.  In other words, each point moves to each other point at the rate of about 1 degree per day.  For the daily profections a point moves at the rate of 30 degrees in 2.5 days, or about a degree every 2 hours.  Abu Ma’shar also mentions hourly profections, at the rate of 30 degrees every 5 hours, or about a degree very 10 minutes.  One of the technical problems with these types of profections by day and hour is that it makes a huge difference what time of day is used to kick off the profectional movement.  It is assumed that the birth time would be used.

Opinion

I present this type of profection by degree for the sake of completeness in the discussion of various types of profections and their use in ancient astrology.  However, I must personally admit that I have not found much use in this particular style of profection.  It would seem that it’s main use is in showing timing through exact aspects, but rarely have I seen significant events time out according to exact profectional aspects in my study of event timing.  While these are the type of profection your software is likely to perform, that seem more sophisticated, and that dominated later traditional astrology, I have found these profections to be far inferior to the original Hellenistic style of profecting discretely by whole sign.  I have not given any real-world examples of great timing by this technique because I haven’t yet been impressed by any.  My study of these degree-based profections has been primarily with natal astrology, so perhaps they work better in mundane timing.  If you have had experiences with using degree-based profections for timing, whether good or bad experiences, I would love to hear them.  I am particularly interested in big events in people’s lives that corresponded to very close profectional aspects to the natal chart.  Please discuss in the comments.