Tag Archives: antiscia

Twelfth-Parts | 2. The Secret Second Chart

For, if you want to explain the entire substance of the astrological significations from the efficacy of the dodecatemories and from the terms in which they are found, you will not be mistaken; for the Babylonians attribute the supreme power of [astrological] decrees to the dodecatemories, but Ptolemy to the antiscions, [and] we to both.  (Maternus, Book III, Ch. 9, #14, Holden trans., 2011, p. 170)


So, you thought you just had one astrological chart, but in Hellenistic astrology you have two.  Then again, maybe three.

The second chart I allude to is the chart of the twelfth-part positions, which are typically marked along the natal chart, so as to keep the reference to natal chart houses.  Twelfth-part positions were noted as a fundamental basic of astrological technique by nearly every Hellenistic astrologer, and their use was urged most strongly by Julius Firmicus Maternus.  I explored what the twelfth-parts are and how they are calculated in my last post.  The third chart that I alluded to is something that appears to be more idiosyncratic to Maternus, and is the use of antiscia positions as yet another chart body-double.  I explored this use of antiscia by Maternus very briefly near the end of my post on sign symmetry.

In the quote above, Maternus attributes this use of antiscia chart positions as secret positions to Ptolemy, though this is a false attribution, and Maternus is the only Hellenistic source I know of that uses this third set of positions.  On the other hand, the dodecatemoria or twelfth-parts are indeed Babylonian in origin, and their use was widespread among Hellenistic astrologers.

While in my last post I expressed that Paulus presented an idiosyncratic variety in which the position is degrees and minutes are multiplied by 13 rather 12, I was recently confronted by a footnote by James Holden (footnote #2, p. 18, 2009) in his translation of Rhetorius in which he noted that there is evidence in surviving cuneiform tablets that the two different methods of projecting twelfth-parts existed in Babylonian astrology, i.e. multiplying by either the more common 12 or the 13 as used by Paulus, then projecting from the beginning of the sign (Holden cites “Mesopotamian Astrology” by Koch-Westenholz).  If it is in fact the case that the 13-fold variety does also have Babylonian origins, then still it seems that among the Hellenistic astrologers it was only Paulus that preferred them, as at least Manilius, Dorotheus, Ptolemy, Valens, Maternus, Hephaistio, Porphyry, and Rhetorius (as well as later astrologers) employed or expressed preference for the 12-fold variety.

The Importance of the Twelfth-Part Positions

I was originally very skeptical about the use of the twelfth-part positions as representing a very important and informative additional chart that complements and integrates with the natal chart.  I’m sure many readers will feel the same way.  Therefore, I want to stress that the twelfth-parts were mentioned as a basic of astrological technique by nearly every Hellenistic astrologer, and many of them, including Manilius, Maternus, and Rhetorius, felt it necessary to stress how important they are despite how easy it is to overlook them.

… the genitures differ in a single constellation, because the individual signs vary on account of the distribution of their divisions and modulate their respective powers in the dodecatemories.  (Manilius, Book II, #710-712, Goold trans., 1977, p. 139)

And the method of dodecatemories is a necessity in nativities; and I also put down the astrological significations of these so that some might use them not just as in a secondary work.  (Rhetorius, Ch. 18, Holden trans., 2009, p. 18)

Now I shall show briefly how you may inquire about the dodecatemories, for some think that they can find the entire substance of the nativity from them, and they intimate that whatever is concealed in the delineation can be discovered from the dodecatemories.  (Maternus, Book II, Ch. 17, #1, Holden trans., 2011, p. 59)

Basics of Use

The twelfth-part positions are really used just like natal positions, giving additional information and revealing combinations and significations that might be missed from looking at the natal chart alone.  The interpretation of cognition usage that I discussed in the last post is along these lines too, even though it is for horary or consultation charts.  Masha’allah (in On Hidden Things) discussed multiple signficators for the querent’s thoughts or intentions, and one of them was the ruler of the Ascendant.  Masha’allah expressed that the best significator is the twelfth-part of the Ascendant and its ruler.  In other words, just as the Ascendant and its ruler give information about the character of the person or matter itself, the twelfth-part Ascendant and its ruler do too.

We get a sense of this all-purpose use in Paulus (even though he used the 13-fold ones) in Ch. 22 of his Introduction when he noted that the twelfth-parts of benefics occurring in important places (Sun, Moon, Mercury, 1st, 10th, 7th, 4th, Fortune, Spirit, Necessity, prenatal syzygy) signify very good things for the person, while the twelfth-parts of malefics occuring in such places indicates quite bad things. Benefics produce fortunate circumstances where they occur, and malefics produce difficulty, and it is such with the twelfth-parts of each as well.

Maternus laid out some instruction in use of twelfth-parts in Book II of the Mathesis.  There he instructed us to look at numerous things with particular stress on the place, the ruler, and the bound ruler of the twelfth-part, as well as interactions between planets of different sects that he discussed elsewhere, such as the greater harmony that the waxing and full moon has with diurnal planets as opposed to nocturnal.  All in all, it seems that Maternus wants us to look at twelfth-part positions as on an almost equal footing as natal positions, examining things like place, sign ruler, bound ruler, regards/aspects, and special configurational indications. This is further stressed in Book III, when each chapter on a planet ends with Maternus admonishing the reader to be sure to look at the twelfth-part of the planet too, apparently to look at the same factors discussed with reference to the natal planet, so as not to miss some important indication that is in the twelfth-parts but not the regular natal chart, as everything should be in one or the other.  Maternus gave the same type of admonishment about checking the twelfth-part of the Lot of Fortune in Book IV, Ch. 4, after discussing how to delineate Fortune.  Again, the clear lesson is to delineate the twelfth-part as you’d delineate the planet.

But what of the relationship of a twelfth-part to its same natal point, such as the twelfth-part of the Sun to the natal Sun?  Rhetorius treated of this in Ch. 60 of his Compendium.  A twelfth-part trine its natal position increases the beneficence or fortune signified by the planet, but one opposed to its natal position increases the maleficence or difficulty signified by the planet. Rhetorius also discussed how the twelfth-parts of malefics falling in places can make things more difficult and the twelfth-parts of benefics easier, similar to what Paulus mentioned above.  He put particular stress on the twelfth-part of the Moon in relation to the nature and social standing of the person.  In his delineations of twelfth-parts he particular stressed the influence of the ruler of the twelfth-part, but some delineations involve regards/aspects from natal planets and even the qualities of the signs, such as human and quadrapedal.  That the twelfth-part delineations of Rhetorius encompassed all these things lends support to the idea that delineation of the twelfth-part is very much like delineation of a natal planet or point.

Steve Jobs

In the next several posts on twelfth-parts, I’ll be digging back to analyses from older posts on the blog and showing how twelfth-parts add valuable information.  I will kick this off by taking a brief second look at the chart of Steve Jobs for the rest of this post.  In one my first posts, in October 2011, I discussed the natal chart of Steve Jobs and some of the most important general planetary strength considerations, showing that his Mercury is much stronger than one might think from a cursory glance.  Before reading on, I urge the reader to give that post a quick review by visiting it here.  While stations and phasis may not be appropriate to twelfth-parts, the twelfth-parts can tell us additional information about the strength of Mercury.

Steve Jobs' Natal Chart with Twelfth-Parts on Outer Wheel
Steve Jobs’ Natal Chart with Twelfth-Parts on Outer Wheel

In the original analysis I noted that Mercury is probably the strongest planet in the chart in terms of having a generally pervasive influence over the life in a broad way, as it is strongly stationing direct, making an appearance (in phasis), advancing, and ruling the 1st.

Looking at the twelfth-parts we find further indication of the significance of Mercury by the twelfth-part of the MC being conjunct Mercury.  This and the fact that Mercury’s twelfth-part is advancing, in the 11th which is a strong and fortunate place, and in a sign of a light (Cancer, home of the Moon, which is the sect light of the chart), while actually with the twelfth-part of the sect light, are all additional indications of the strength of Mercury.  The twelfth-part of Mercury is in the bound of Jupiter (as is the natal Mercury), and is very tightly conjoined to Jupiter, in the place of Jupiter’s Joy, and in the sign of Jupiter’s exaltation – these things all connect Mercury with fortunate and lofty Jupiterian themes, that are not as strongly expressed in the natal chart itself.

Mercury posited in the 11th house from the ASC will make talented persons, indispensable for all activities, and those to whom the conduct of great business affairs is entrusted; but then it denotes greater duties if it was conjoined to Jupiter by a favorable aspect.  (Maternus, Book III,Ch. 3f, #23, Holden trans., 2011, p. 147)

The twelfth-part of Venus, the sect benefic, occupying Virgo, a house of Mercury, further emphasizes this fortunate quality of Mercury that could be easily missed from the natal chart alone.  Also note that the twelfth-part of Jupiter falls right onto the Sun in the chart, the twelfth-part of the Sun is in the place of the Sun’s Joy with the twelfth-part Ascendant, and the twelfth-part Moon is strongly advancing toward the MC while with the lord of the Ascendant and Jupiter (as well as Saturn).  Additionally, the twelfth-part of Fortune is conjunct the Moon, the sect light.  As one can see, the twelfth-parts not only help us to get more information out of the chart about the prominence of Mercury, but also showcase fortunate circumstances connected to Mercury that would be easy to miss from the natal chart alone, and give many additional indications that the chart is of someone with a high stature and great social mobility.

I will be returning to more past analyses with twelfth-parts in future posts.



Manilius, M. (1977). Astronomica. (G. P. Goold, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library.
Maternus, J. F. (2011). Mathesis. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). American Federation of Astrologers.
Rhetorius of Egypt, & Teucer of Babylon. (2009). Rhetorius the Egyptian. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers.

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.


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.


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