Tag Archives: asteroids

Manilius, Neptune, and the Fishes

The Roman astrologers poet, Marcus Manilius wrote a poem in five books called the Astronomica, in Latin in the 1st century CE.  It is one of the oldest major astrological texts that has survived. It contains many techniques that are not found in other authors.

In the work, the signs of the zodiac are ruled by the classical planets in the typical fashion, but there is also an aside in which Manilius assigns additional Roman gods to signs, possibly for the purpose of religious practice or to teach them by analogy. Interestingly, in the passage we find what is likely to be the first association of Neptune to the sign Pisces.  Modern astrologers assert that Neptune is a ruler of Pisces, in addition to, or instead of, its traditional ruler, Jupiter.

Neptunian rulership of Pisces would break with the established scheme and rationale of planetary sign rulership, so I don’t advocate it in this sense. However, many modern astrologers struggle with understanding the relationship between signs and newly discovered modern planets (of which there are plenty these days if we include the “planets” of the Kuiper Belt recently downgraded to dwarf planets by some astronomers) and asteroids. I remember passages in a work by the 17th astrologer Morinus, in which he discussed another type of planetary strength called “analogical strength” which involves a planet being in a sign with similar significations. For instance, Saturn which signifies earthly resources being strong for such in the 4th house as it also signifies earthly resources.

The Neptune-Pisces association, and some of the other god-sign associations named by Manilius have a similar “analogical strength” to them, with Pallas associated with Aries, and Ceres associated with Virgo.  It would seem natural for asteroid Pallas, named for the goddess known for her military strategy (Pallas Athena), to be analogically strengthened in the sign Aries, a fire sign of Mars. Similarly, for the planet Ceres, named for the goddess of agriculture, to be analogically strengthened in the sign Virgo, an earth sign whose constellation is a virgin holding a plant (palm front or sheaves of wheat). Associations of Vesta to Capricorn, Diana to Sagittarius, Apollo (Phoebus) to Gemini, Vulcan to Libra (as Vulcan made the scales), and Juno to Aquarius, may also have some use. Less interesting are associations of Venus (Cytherean) to Taurus and Mars to Scorpio, which are the same as the natural rulerships. He also associates the god Mercury with Cancer and Jupiter with Leo, which are more puzzling associations, especially in the Mercury-Cancer instance.

The complete passage is recounted below (Manilius, Astronomica, 2.433-452, Goold trans., 1977, p. 117-119):

What step must one take next, when so much has been learnt? It is to mark well the tutelary deities appointed to the signs and the signs which Nature assigned to each god, when she gave to the great virtues the persons of the gods and under sacred names established various powers, in order that a living presence might lend majesty to abstract qualities. Pallas is protectress of the Ram, the Cytherean of the Bull, and Phoebus of the comely Twins; you, Mercury, rule the Crab and you, Jupiter, as well as the Mother of the Gods, the Lion; the Virgin with her sheaf belongs to Ceres, and the Balance to Vulcan who wrought it; bellicose Scorpion clings to mars; Diana cherishes the hunter, a man to be sure, but a horse in his other half, and Vesta the cramped stars of Capricorn; opposite Jupiter Juno has the sign of Aquarius, and Neptune acknowledges the Fishes as his own for all that they are in heaven. This scheme too will provide you with important means of determining the future when, seeking from every quarter proofs and methods of our art, your mind speeds among the planets and stars to that a divine power may arise in your spirit and mortal hearts no less than heaven may win belief.



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


Featured image attributed to 3268zauber, titled “Neptunbrunnen (1885) in Baden-Baden”

Astrology with Free Software | 1. Best Options

Free stuff for the astrologer!  In this post I discuss good free software resources.

You don’t need expensive astrology software to do great astrology.  In fact, astrology programs are often loaded with various interpretive modules and poor out-of-the-box settings that they often make it harder to think for yourself, turning the program into a very bad “astrologer”, rather than a tool to make things easier.  Some of this is inescapable when using any software program for astrology, free or not, and there are those rare individuals that draw their own charts.  However, I’ve drawn my own charts before, and I find the practice to be very time consuming, and not particularly helpful to the process of understanding the chart, contrary to the claims of some that advocate it.  Therefore, I think that charting should be done with software, but that it should be free software whenever possible, and it is even better if open-source, because then it can be more freely modified to fit the needs of particular astrological practices.


I particularly advocate the use of Morinus, a free open-source astrology program with a plethora of settings, the ability to do accurate primary directions, and a traditional version that cuts out some of the clutter.  It is written in Python, which is itself a very popular open-source programming language, so powerful and intuitive that it is the programming language used by NASA, CERN, Google, Yahoo!, and other big names.  Nearly always, the charts on my blog will be from Morinus.  There is a slight learning curve with initial chart entry, compared with other programs that have better built-in atlases, but I addressed installation and chart entry in a past post, which I urge the reader to check out.


Additionally, I advocate the use of Astro-Databank for researching celebrity chart data.  However, on Astro-Databank, be careful of using anything that doesn’t have a Rodden Rating of A or AA (at least B), and even then understand that the ratings are a bit subjective, so check the source notes.  For instance, James Randi’s birth data came from James Randi who was quoting his birth certificate but is given a C, because the people writing the entry just don’t want to believe him.  Another example, David Bowie’s mother and ex-wife give 9:00am as a birth time, and one other source gives 9:30am, yet the chart on Astro-Databank shows 9:15am, which is not given by any source, and still an A rating is given.  In another astrology program that I have which I purchased long ago, and which had the Astro-Databank already pre-installed in the software’s database, it gives 9:00am for Bowie, suggesting that someone later switched the time to 9:15am (a time with no source).  In my opinion, Bowie is most likely 9am, with an A rating because it’s from 2 reliable sources.  The 9am time would also put Venus conjunct Bowie’s MC, making good sense as a professional indicator.  So, I advocate the use of Astro-Databank, but I caution against uncritically taking the rating and chart data at face value without reviewing source notes.  In the next post in this series, I will show how to use Astr0-Databank as an aid for building up a chart database in Morinus.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab’s HORIZONS Interface

The HORIZONS web-interface is a generous offering by NASA.  This is a great resource for generating ephemerides.  It is of particular value to astrologers who use asteroids, but of less value to traditional astrologers.  The reason it is so great for asteroid astrologers is that pretty much every asteroid with an identifying number and/or name can be found, as well as it’s orbital dynamics, and the ability to generate ephemeride tables.  Astrologers are particularly interested in the current position and the position when making a station of a planet or celestial body makes, so be sure to change the “Table Settings” in order to be sure that #31 is checked, so that the table gives the Observational Ecliptic Longitude and Latitude of the planet.  The observational ecliptic longitude is the position in the zodiac, so a position of 270.5* is 270 degrees past 0 Aries, which is 270/30 signs into the zodiac, or has exactly traversed 9 signs already (1. Aries, 2. Taurus, 3. Gemini, 4. Cancer, 5. Leo, 6. Virgo, 7. Libra, 8. Scorpio, 9. Sagittarius), so it is at 0 degrees Capricorn, plus 1/2 a degree, or 0*30′ Capricorn.  I won’t be working with this interface much on this site, but it can be very fun, particularly for those that work with asteroid.

As an exercise, try to find where asteroid Linux is today (9* Capricorn), and try to find the degree of its last 1st (i.e. direct) station by changing the time settings to encompass a much larger past period and finding the day when longitude switches from descending to ascending (July 21, 2011 at 4* Sagittarius).  One day when I spent hours installing Linux operating systems on about a half dozen computers for friends and family, I got a real kick finding out that asteroid Linux was conjunct my MC within a degree the whole day.  Now go find out where asteroid 911 Agamemnon was on 9/11/2001.  And where was the Sun on that day?  Yes, there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your traditional astrology – but you’ll find the traditional astrology (at least the Hellenistic and Persian varieties) most useful – trust me on this!


In addition to offering some of the worst new age chart interpretation packages available, Astro.com also offers a very cool online chart calculator and drawer, and the ability to store a short database of chart on their website for easy retrieval from anywhere with internet access.  I’ll address this at greater length in a future post on calculating and storing charts with their online software. Another awesome resource on their site is the section with free ephemerides for 6,000 years.  Every astrologer should print (or even buy) an ephemeris, because it makes it easy to scan and track the planets, observing when stations, eclipses, important aspects, and other such stuff occurs.  Astro.com is also the host for the Astro-Databank, so their contribution to providing free astrological resources to astrologers is a great one, for which I’m very thankful, even though I make fun of the computer-generated readings they sell which help fund their site.


Those above are just my most highly recommended free charting resources.  There are many additional free resources out there for astrologers.  The comments area is a great place to help draw awareness to other free resources that are out there.  Thanks!