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

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

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

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

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

O. J. Simpson

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

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

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

Technique Applied

Pertinence:

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

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

General Strength:

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Traditional Astrology of Death | Donna Summer

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

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

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

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

Donna Summer

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

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

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

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

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

Planetary Years

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

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

Possibilities involving multiples with one and two planets are below:

One Planet: Venus (64)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zodiacal Releasing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Distributors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturn-Syzygy

Profections and Solar Return

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valens-Style Profections

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

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

Ruler of Days

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

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

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

Day of Death

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

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

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

Excerpt on Pre-Hellenistic Use of Twelfth-Parts

Some readers may be interested in a brief passage by historian Francesca Rochberg on the pre-Hellenistic use of twelfth-parts by Babylonian astrologers which dated back to at least the 5th century BCE.

In the passage she notes that the Babylonians were using the twelfth-parts of the zodiac in the context of their omen lore, hundreds of years prior to the advent of Hellenistic astrology. They came to be considered an important division of the signs by numerous notable Hellenistic astrologers as well (click for an introduction to the use of twelfth-parts).

You can read the entire section on twelfth-parts in Google Books by following the link below:

Francesca Rochberg on Babylonian Use of the Twelfth-Parts

Those unfamiliar with Rochberg may be interested in U.C. Berkeley’s introductory interview with her which can be read here:

Interview with Francesca Rochberg

Traditional Astrology of Death | Marvin Gaye

I was about halfway through a post on the death of Donna Summer when astrologer Ile Spasev brought Marvin Gaye’s 1984 death at the hand of his father to my attention.  Once I started getting into Marvin Gaye’s chart and death, I found it too fascinating in terms of the importance of the planetary years, solar return, profection, and transits to not share it first, before finishing my Summer article.  This day preceding both an ingress and an eclipse has been a strange one altogether for me.  What’s going on!?

One of the most interesting things about Gaye’s death is that it occurred on the exact day of his solar return, as well as a day of the New Moon (conjunction of the Sun and Moon).  While it occurred the day before his calendar birthday, in astrological terms, it didn’t occur on the eve of his 45th birthday, but rather on the day of his exact real natural “birthday” (solar return), and just a few hours after the exact point of return in his annual cycle.

Marvin Gaye’s Natal Chart

According to AstroDatabank, which has given the Gaye birth data an A rating for accuracy, Marvin was born on 4/2/1939 at 11:58am in Washington D.C.  According to news releases he was pronounced dead on the afternoon of 4/1/1984 at 1:01pm in L.A., California.  His death followed his intervention in arguments between his mother and father both the day before and again directly preceding the circumstances of his death in which his father shot him in the heat of anger.

His birth chart is shown below with the twelfth-part positions depicted along the outer wheel.

Marvin Gaye Natal Chart w/twelfth-parts
Marvin Gaye Natal Chart w/twelfth-parts

In ancient astrology, Saturn, the Sun, and the 4th place (Valens adds the 9th place) are particularly relevant for the father.  In Gaye’s chart, the Sun in the bound of Venus in the 10th is more pertinent to his fame and honors than his father, as the Sun also naturally signifies honors as does the 10th place, and the Sun adhering (applying conjunction within 3 degrees) to Mercury (vocal) and in the bound of Venus (arts) has particular relevance to his singing fame.  The Sun additionally has no “dignity” in the 4th, in that it has little say over the 4th of father, family, origins, and property.  Saturn on the other hand, is also in the 10th (a “stake” of the 4th) and also naturally signifies fathers, but additionally is the exaltation and first triplicity lord of the 4th place of fathers, therefore Saturn is considered to give the strongest testimony regarding matters concerning the father.

Saturn does a good job of describing the father and death as well.  Saturn is in a cardinal or changeable/moveable sign, which are known for initiating major changes through abrupt action.  Saturn is also in a sign and the bound of Mars, which is the planet with dominion over acts of violence.  Saturn is additionally dominated by Mars (in a right hand whole sign square), which gives Mars substantial influence over Saturn, giving symbolism of the father becoming dominated by rage and violence.  Saturn afflicts Mercury, the Sun, and the twelfth-part Ascendant, bringing in a sense of argumentation, publicity, and harm to Gaye’s self.

Importantly, Saturn is the planet with the greatest testimony over the place of death in the chart, the 8th place or house, Aquarius.  This is because Saturn rules Aquarius, is the first triplicity lord there, regards the place, and is a natural significator of death – therefore, Saturn’s testimony with regards to death is very strong in his chart.  The Sun also has some testimony over both the father (natural significator of the father in a stake of the 4th) and death (rules the 8th from fortune, Leo, and the twelfth-part of the Sun is in the 8th from fortune), and shows a repeat connection between the father and death.

Both Venus and the Moon give testimony regarding the mother, even though neither of them regard the 4th of origins.  Venus does so because she rules the 4th and is a feminine natural significator of mothers, while the Moon does so because she is a natural significator of mothers and is in the 3rd, her joy, which Valens also asserted as the place of the mother.

The Moon and Jupiter provide some of the strongest testimony in terms of Gaye himself and his temperament, as they both regard the 1st and have a lot of lordship over the actual Ascendant.

Planetary Years

I discussed the use of planetary years for prediction in a past post, which you can read here for reference.

Marvin’s death occurred exactly at the point of his 45th year.  Very rarely do planetary years culminate at such an exact point.  Fascinatingly, 45 is indeed the activation of Saturn-Mars relationships in the natal chart, as Saturn has 30 and Mars 15, yielding 45.  This signifies a very major event as it activates three major Saturn-Mars configurations in his chart: the Mars-Saturn square with Mars dominating, Saturn in Aries (domicile of Mars), and Mars in Capricorn (domicile of Saturn).

Thus planetary years show strong activations linking the father with violence and death.

Furthermore, according to the technique of planetary days discussed by Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE), the ruler of the year gets the first set of days in the year.  Therefore, Mars was the planet in charge of signifying both the plan for the year and the days at the time of death.

Profections

Those unfamiliar with profections, which involve the movement of positions in the chart into a new house at set intervals, typically annually, can learn about profections in my series of posts on the topic.

As the death happened just after the turning of the 45th year, the annual profection of the Ascendant moved to the 10th place, Aries, on that day for the year.  Therefore, the profection was highlighting those planets in the 10th place, Saturn, Mercury, and the Sun, with Mars, the ruler of Aries, as the lord of the year.  In other words, the profections show yet another activation of Saturn and Mars, specifically Saturn in Aries, ruled by and dominated by Mars.

Solar Return and Transits

I have been meaning to expand on my series on solar returns, which I started here.  For now, it suffices to look at the non-precessed solar return here as a set of transits to the natal chart, depicted along the outside of the natal below. In addition, I have posted the natal chart with twelfth-parts again, as there are fascinating connections between the return, which is also the transit chart for the day of death, and natal twelfth-parts.

Gaye's Final Solar Return which is on the day he died
Outer positions are from Gaye’s Final Solar Return which is on the day he died
Marvin Gaye Natal Chart w/twelfth-parts
Marvin Gaye Natal Chart w/twelfth-parts

First, it is noteworthy that the return, and death, occurred on the day of a New Moon in Aries.  This is a further activation of the sign Aries and its occupants, including Saturn, and its ruler Mars.

Second, as Mars is lord of the year and of days, the position of Mars in the return is of pivotal importance.  In the return Mars is in Scorpio, one of his own domiciles, and is with Saturn and in Saturn’s bound again echoing the Mars-Saturn significations.  Additionally, Mars is at 28 Scorpio, conjunct the twelfth-part of natal Saturn in the very same degree! The twelfth-part of transiting Mars was itself at 9 Libra, opposing Gaye’s Sun.

In addition to Mars transiting right over the natal twelfth-part Saturn at the time of death, the twelfth-part of transiting Venus was at 27-28 Scorpio, right with that transiting Mars and natal twelfth-part Saturn.  I take this Venus transit to represent the connection with the mother, who Gaye was arguing on behalf of at the time of the incident.  Transiting Venus at 22 Pisces with Gaye’s Jupiter, symbolic of himself, and opposed to his Moon, symbolic of both himself and his mother.  Fascinatingly, this Venus transit was also right over the natal twelfth-part of Gaye’s Mars, which is at about 21-22 Pisces, showing them both coming into contact with the father’s rage and violence.

At the time Gaye was pronounced dead, the Moon was at 16 Aries adhering to Gaye’s Saturn.

Primary Directions – Distributors

It is also worth noting important primary directions around the time of death, as I did for the death of Whitney Houston.

Marvin Gaye's Distributors of the Ascendant and Sect Light
Marvin Gaye’s Distributors of the Ascendant and Sect Light

First, we look at the distributors.  Amazingly, both the Ascendant and the Sect Light (the Sun) were directing through the bounds of Mars, the out of sect malefic during the period in which the death took place.

However, the aspectual directions are not as striking to me for the most part, which may be indicative of slight inaccuracy in the birth time (directions involving the Ascendant and MC can be altered by many months for each one minute inaccuracy in birth time).  One of the more interesting directions occurring within 6 months of his death is that of the star Algol (associated with death and violence) directing to Gaye’s MC.

Algol Directed to Gaye's Natal MC
Algol Directed to Gaye’s Natal MC

Conclusion

While death is not a pleasant topic to analyze, it is one of the most definitive events in every individual’s existence, and therefore one of the most important events to look at from an astrological standpoint.  In seeing that there is or are some higher intelligences at work in this universe such that they can express symbolism reflecting events such as an individual’s death is both beautiful and hard to get one’s head around, especially in relation to such an almost universally loathed facet of the way things work in story we take part in as human beings.  Perhaps our analysis will bring us closer to accurately spot death or even averting death for a time.  Perhaps Urania will simply whisper indications more quietly when we forsake her secrets.  In any case, even in hindsight, looking back on the pertinence of the symbolism when using the ancient techniques is always thought-provoking and stirs up our religious and spiritual functions of seeking the truth with humility.

Astrology of Profession or Calling | 5. Skyscript Occupation Mystery Charts

There was a mystery chart challenge posted in Skyscript’s astrology forum by Tom Callanan a couple months ago.  Tom posted three charts without names or birth data and asked readers to see if they could figure out which was a musician.  Later, before revealing the answer, he also noted that one of the charts is of a Roman Catholic Cardinal and another is of an American football player too.

At that time, in early March, through private correspondences, my friend, Kate Petty, and I both accurately matched all three charts to the proper occupations.  She also did so publicly and I think I may have done so on her Facebook wall additionally.  However, the purpose of this post is not to brag about being able to often match charts with occupations, but to delight in the fact that the ancient techniques for delineating occupation which I’ve discussed in this series were the ones that we used, i.e. our methods were objective and replicable, not intuitive.

I discussed the technique in the post Astrology of Profession or Calling | 1. Technique.  The basis of the technique is found in comments made by Ptolemy, Paulus Alexandrinus, Rhetorius, and other Hellenistic astrologers who commented on their work.  There is some variation within the technique and it is by no means the final word in delineating actions and occupation.  Every astrologer adapts the technique to their needs.  This technique provides the best foundation you’ll get for delineating profession, as you identify those planets that are most significant in terms of skills and themes developed within the context of one’s calling.  There are many other more specific indications that can then be used in the hopes of narrowing down profession a little more accurately.

In a chart challenge situation, the technique will never be 100% accurate, as it’s not the final word on occupation, my adaptation is not perfect, and profession is also delineated with special combinations, but still it shines in such differentiation tasks. Therefore, I’d like to go through and show how the technique itself performs on these three charts to lead to objectively obvious decisions which happen to be correct. Before reading on, please familiarize yourself with the chart challenge thread and my explanation of the technique.

Technique Recap

Below I reiterate what I stated about the technique in the first post, but perhaps the simplest explanation would go something like this: planets strongly “pertaining” to the 10th, MC, and Lights give strong significations regarding the culminations of personal striving and one’s calling, while those strongly “pertaining” to the 1st and the Ascendant give strong significations regarding the personality, innateness, and self-identification, and planets which are generally strong tend to show broad pervasive influences upon the life circumstances.

When it comes to “pertaining”, I’m speaking primarily of being in a place, ruling a place (i.e. having a type of dignity there), scrutinizing the point (i.e. aspecting it within 3 degrees), strongly advancing toward the angle (i.e. advancing within about 15 degrees), being in a “stake” of the place (1st, 10th, 7th, or 4th from it), and otherwise regarding the place or point.

These things are all types of “testimony” that a planet “pertains” to the place or point being investigated in a way that offers important signification.  Most of these form the basis for later almuten or “winner” techniques, which are sophomoric mechanized ways of evaluating the degree of testimony a planet has in such matters.  It is a better idea to use your experience as a guide and combine various factors that make a planet pertinent over a matter with what you know of the natural signification of the planet and its general strength. One of the problems with “winner” techniques is that there is a tendency to consider one planet as always the most significant, when there may be many significant planets which become relatively more prominent than each other at different times in the life through timing techniques.  In other words, we want to know the range and the relative pertinence of each planet, as well as which planets stand out and by how much.

Pertinence to actions:

  1. MC: Strongly advancing to MC.
  2. Places: Order of importance – 10th (place of actions), 1st, 7th, or 4th, (i.e. the “stakes” of the 10th), 2nd or 6th (i.e. triplicity of the 10th), 11th, 5th, 8th.
  3. Ruler­ship:Dignity in 10th or Ascendant (or to a lesser extent at the MC).  (Planets scrutinizing the Ascendant or MC, i.e. aspecting them within 3 degrees, should also be considered)
  4. Pha­sis and the Lights: In phasis, or a bound ruler of a Light (esp. of sect light).

General strength:

  1. Advancing/Retreating: Advancing planets are stronger than retreating ones, in the sense of being “louder” in the life, and this is a continuous variable.
  2. Lights: The Lights (Sun and Moon) naturally signify prominence and power, so a strong relationship between one of them and a planet make the planet more generally strong.
  3. Stations: Stationing direct within 7 days of birth makes a planet generally stronger or more prominent while stationing retrograde make it generally weaker.

As noted in the original post, I start with pertinence, and then use general strength pick out the more dominant planet or planets among the most pertinent ones.

Analysis of Charts

I will deal with the charts in a rather collective way.  I want to note the first impressions of the chart that anyone should get when using this method for such a purpose.  Rather than posting them here immediately, I want the reader first to view them on the thread here as one did in the chart challenge.

The first thing you want to look at is to see if planets are strongly advancing toward the MC, i.e. to the left of the MC degree within 15 degrees.  None of the charts have this.  Next, you want to look to see if any of them have planets in the 10th place, which is the 10th sign from the Ascendant, which in the first chart is Aries, the second is Taurus, and the third is Leo – all empty except for Moon in Leo in Chart 3.  Next look at planets in the other “stakes” of the chart, which are the 1st, 7th, and 4th, in about that order of priority.  Chart 1 has Venus (in Capricorn 7th).  Chart 2 has Mars (in Scorpio 4th). Chart 3 has the Sun (in Scorpio 1st) and Saturn (in Taurus 7th). We have planets with pertinence to action by place already, so we won’t keep looking at less pertinent places, except maybe for Chart 3 as we’d like to know which is most pertinent by place among Mercury, Venus, and Mars.  However, all three are in the 12th of that chart, so the relative pertinence of each will have to be assessed without consideration of place.

So far our best candidates and their indications by chart number are as follows:

  1. Venus – the arts – the musician
  2. Mars – physical or dominance-oriented – the football player
  3. Moon, Sun, Saturn – all leadership-oriented planets – the Cardinal

Let’s look at rulership for confirmation. For Chart 1, we find that Venus also has rulership by triplicity and bound of the Ascendant and by exaltation and triplicity of the MC, while Venus also most closely scrutinizes the MC (sextile of about 2°), so there is strong support for Venus.  For Chart 2, we find that Mars has triplicity in the 10th and rules the MC, while no planets scrutinize the MC or Asc, so there is a little bit of confirmation for Mars here.  For Chart 3, we find that the Sun is domicile and first triplicity lord of the 10th, and that the Sun and Saturn both closely scrutinize the MC, while the Moon has triplicity at the MC, so all three are confirmed as significant, but especially the Sun. So far, we stick with the conclusion that the planets identified in the list above are most pertinent to actions and occupation.

Brubeck's Natal Chart
Brubeck’s Natal Chart

Looking at Chart 1 we also find that Venus is the bound lord of the sect light, the Moon, as well as the bound lord of the Sun, with no planets in phasis.  Furthermore, Venus is strongly advancing.  Venus is the obvious choice, and we conclude that the first chart is of the musician, as Venus pertains to art and aesthetics (and sexuality/sensuality, etc.).  Saturn is also relevant because Saturn scrutinizes the MC is strongly advancing, and dominates Venus.

Butkus' Natal Chart
Butkus’ Natal Chart

Looking at Chart 2 we find that Mars does not rules the bound of either Light, but does rule the Moon, the sect light, by exaltation and triplicity.  There are no planets in phasis.  Mars is the most advancing planet in the chart, and there are no stations, etc. Mars is also domicile and first triplicity ruler of its place.  The obvious choice here is Mars, clearly indicating Chart 2 to be the football player.

Cardinal Krol's Natal Chart
Cardinal Krol’s Natal Chart

Looking at Chart 3 we find that Mercury rules the bound of the sect light and Mars that of the Moon, and only Mercury is in phasis.  Mercury also receives the next aspect of the Moon.  So out of Mercury, Venus, and Mars, we expect Mercury to be the most pertinent to occupation, tending more toward a thinking occupation.  Altogether we see strong relevance for leadership and administration also because of the importance of the Lights and Saturn in signifying for profession.  Without really strong signification for a cardinal specifically, we still rule this chart to be the best match for the Cardinal. Please note: I was not able to find Cardinal John Krol in the AstroDatabank so I cannot confirm the accuracy of the birth time used in the chart challenge.

These are indeed the correct matches, as was revealed in the thread on this page.  So while this isn’t as much of a flashy technique as many of them used in that thread, it is systematic, objective, and finds its origins in the earliest strains of traditional horoscopic astrology.