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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.


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


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 Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 13. Beyond Basics – Randi Revisited


One of the first topical series on the blog pertained to delineating faith.  I first laid out some general guidelines that were based solely on basic principles, rather than special techniques.  The basic ground rules were laid out in the first post of the series, and then I returned to those and reviewed them a bit in the fifth post of the series.  However, in ancient astrology, strong delineation of a topic requires special techniques, which involve going beyond basic house ruler and natural significator indications, and examining a variety of key indicators.  Using these indicators we may attempt to refine our understanding of delineating the subject, and work backwards toward a better understanding of general principles.

Some Notes: The Law, the Sun, and the 3rd

Before returning to some of the past featured charts in the light of special techniques, I would like to briefly comment on the delineation of faith and its relationship to other topical delineations.  It should be noted that faith, while having a large social component in many societies, can also be a rather personal matter.  The house that most pertains to faith is the 9th, though the other major significations of the 9th involve travel and law.  Obviously, faith is the more personal of these three topics, and so among these, faith additionally calls for a deeper involvement with personality delineation and the 1st house (the self).  Another 9th house concern is what exactly is meant by “law”.  Today we think of law, religion, and science as extremely different fields of endeavor, and, in the case of religion and science, even antagonistic.  However, they are all very much linked within the 9th house, which as the house of law, may pertain to civil law, spiritual law, and natural law alike.

Consider also that the 9th house is the Joy of the Sun and the place was called “God” by ancient astrologers.  Firmicus Maternus also asserted that it was the Sun that produces religious customs among people (Book I, Ch. 2, #2 of the Mathesis).  This solar sense of illumination and profundity is also apparent in terms of the Lot called Spirit, which, of the lots of the seven planets, is the Lot of the Sun.  Spirit is derived from projecting the arc from the non-sect light (darkness) to the sect light (light) and was considered by some to be relevant in delineation of faith.  However, ancient astrology came into its own during an age when religion, power, and intellectual achievement were all considered quite solar and were more intimately linked than in many societies today.

Additionally, the 3rd house, that most prominently associated with shorter travels, siblings/kin, friends/neighbors, and counsel/messages, which is the Joy of the Moon, called “Goddess”, was also strongly linked with faith.  A few of the astrologers who linked the 3rd with faith were Vettius Valens (2nd Century CE), Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE), Rhetorius (7th Century CE), Sahl (9th Century CE), Abu Ma’shar (9th Century CE), Abu ‘Ali al-Khayyat (9th Century CE), Umar al-Tabari (9th Century CE), Abu Bakr (9th Century CE), and al-Qabisi (10th Century CE).  Umar al-Tabari, abu Bakr, and Abu ‘Ali all explicitly direct the practitioner to look at both the 9th and the 3rd, and their rulers, when delineating faith (see Persian Nativities Volumes I and II trans. Ben Dykes).  Linking the 3rd with faith and religion was not as frequent in the Hellenistic period as in the following Persian period though.  While nearly every Persian-Arabic astrologer linked the 3rd to faith and religion, only a handful of Hellenistic astrologers did.  For instance, Paulus Alexandrinus (4th Century CE) gave an exposition of the meanings of all the houses (Ch. 24 of Introductory Matters) but associated only the 9th, and not the 3rd, with philosophers, gods, mystics, divination, astrologers, dreams, sacred rites, and other such things.  Paulus did note that the 3rd partakes in signifying travel and life abroad due to being opposite the 9th (which is the primary house of such things).  I find that the 3rd pertains to faith, particularly as concerns counseling others, but if indications between the 9th and 3rd conflict, I would lean more heavily on the 9th.

Pertaining to the topic of the Sun and the 3rd, it is important to note that one of the most prominent skeptics in the world, James Randi, has the Sun in Leo in the 3rd house with Mercury and Venus.  Firmicus Maternus gave separate aphorisms noting that the Sun in 3rd, Mercury in 3rd, Venus in 3rd, Sun and Mercury in 3rd, and so on, all give indications of religious life. Additionally, Mercury rules the Ascendant and is with the Sun, which should also make one religious.  One the other hand, when leaning more heavily on the 9th, the relative prominences of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury, and how this all relates to the 1st and its ruler, we see “law” (the 9th) characterized by intellect (air) and doubt (Saturn), enthusiasm for expansive realms and ideas (Jupiter) weak (retreating and cadent) and embattled (12th with Mars), doubt and struggle as very loud themes in the life (Saturn strongly advancing), and a self-identification with intellect and rationalism (air rising, ruled by Mercury).  Therefore, I advise that one leans more heavily on the 9th than the 3rd, and on Jupiter and Venus rather than the Sun to show a “propensity to believe”.  Jupiter itself, like the 9th, is a natural significator of religion, law, and philosophy, so the influence and condition of Jupiter should not be ignored in delineating faith.

Interestingly, not all astrologers agreed that the Sun in 3rd should signify faith.  According to Abu Bakr, “The Sun appearing in the 3rd house and in one of his own dignities, signifies [he will] totally lack faith” (On Nativities, Book II, Ch. 1.10, Dykes, 2010, p. 149).  Abu Bakr also makes statements indicating that he doesn’t believe Jupiter in the 3rd to be indicative of true faith, as opposed to just the appearance of it.  These assertions about the Sun and Jupiter in the 3rd are in direct contradiction to statements made by Maternus.  This is a good time for me to repeat my admonition of “ancient astrologers didn’t all agree“.  By contrast, Abu Bakr gave indications of religiousness and spiritual interests for such planets posited in the 9th.  This may be an example of a view in which the 3rd is more indicative of superficial appearance of faith, being the house of counseling, communication, and gossip, while the 9th, its opposite, is more indicative of the heart of belief.  I say this because Abu Bakr delineates Jupiter, as well as the Moon, as indicative of superficial appearance of faith, without much substance, when they are in the 3rd, even when they are in sect.


In my series, I have used Mercury primarily as a natural significator of rationalism.  However, to many astrologers, including Ptolemy, Masha’allah, and Abu ‘Ali, Mercury was not only significant in terms of showing rationality, but also as one of the most important indicators of character, as it pertained to the intentional or rational mind.  Just as we examined the nature of the 1st and its ruler for faith, Abu ‘Ali examined the planets ruling and regarding Mercury as having a particularly strong effect on the native’s faith (see Judgement of Nativities, Ch. 29 – I recommend the translation by Dykes in Persian Nativities Vol. I). Personally, I put more emphasis on the lord of the 1st than on Mercury in delineating character (and likewise in delineating inclination toward faith).

Lot of Faith and Lot of Spirit

Abu ‘Ali and Umar al-Tabari both made use of the Lot of Faith or Law, and its lord, in the delineation of faith.  It is unclear exactly which lot they were speaking of.  However, it is likely to have been the same lot mentioned later by Bonatti as the Lot of Religion, which is the arc from the Moon to Mercury by day, or Mercury to the Moon by night, projected from the Ascendant.  Umar included the Lot of Faith and its lord in a complicated (and corny, in my opinion) victor technique to find one planet more relevant to faith, and then he assessed if that planet was in good condition or not to assess the condition of the native’s faith.  Interestingly, Umar also advised that one look at the triplicity lords of the lot, and that the condition of these would show the variable condition of faith at different periods of the life (1st triplicity lord showing the first part of life, the 2nd showing the second part, and the 3rd triplicity ruler showing the last part).  On the other hand, Abu ‘Ali looks at planets that are with the lot (i.e. in the same sign), which is a more standard approach to evaluating a lot than the strange victor techniques which became so popular in the middle ages.

The closest descriptions found in ancient astrology that could approximate our idea of consciousness tend to arise in discussions of the significance of the Sun and particularly of the Lot of the Sun, called Spirit.  The Sun is frequently described with phrases such as “light of the mind”, and the like.  Spirit, the Lot of the Sun (arc from the non-sect light to the sect light, projected from the Ascendant), is similarly related to the mind.  In Hellenistic astrology it was used for many things, from professional achievement to mental health.  Maternus, speaking of the house Spirit fell in the natal chart said, “This house is called the substance of the mind.” (Mathesis, Book IV, Ch. 5, #2, Holden trans., 2011, p. 216)  Abu Bakr included Spirit in his delineation of faith in a somewhat idiosyncratic fashion.  Abu Bakr considered Spirit to show the outward appearance of one’s faith and its ruler to show the actual extent of the inward faith, such that one could appear faithful and be faithful (both strong and good), appear faithless but actually be faithful (lot weak but ruler strong), be a hypocrite who acts religious but has no faith (lot strong but ruler weak), and other combinations pertaining to mixes of strength and beneficence associated with the lot and its lord.

The Lot of Fortune, which is the Lot of the Moon, is more seldom used in connection with faith, but as another point that can have relevance for character its occurrence in the 9th and such was noted by some astrologers as indicating religious inclinations.

Added Indicators

With all that said, while re-exploring charts there are 5 additional indicators I’d like to evaluate:

  1. Spirit shows appearance of upright religious conduct while its ruler shows the actual personal sanctity when out of sight – a sort of word vs. deed distinction.  (Abu Bakr, Book II, Ch. 1.10)
  2. Mercury’s rulership and influential regards by planets is indicative of the nature of faith. (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)
  3. The Lot of Faith and its lord participate in the delineation of faith on similar footing with the 9th and its lord, in that benefics in the places or with the lords and the lords in good condition (particular stress on the nature of the planet with or ruling the lot) are indicative of faith and wisdom, while the opposite shows the opposite.  (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)
  4. The quadruplicity of the 9th sign indicates the fixity of the beliefs, in that mutable sings show instability in faith, fixed signs show steadiness, and cardinal signs show doubt and frequent change of faith. The quadruplicity of the ruler adds to this to a lesser degree.  (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)
  5. Lord of the 9th oriental (i.e. preceding) the Sun shows more open profession of belief, while lord of the 9th occidential (i.e. following) the Sun shows concealing of belief.  (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)

Example 1: James Randi

I first examined Randi’s chart in this context in the initial post of the faith series.  There I noted the identification with Mercury which both rules and regards the Ascendant, the blaring general strength of Saturn in the chart which is conjunct the Descendant (i.e. was setting at birth) and has the most authority over the 9th (Saturn is domicile lord of the 9th, second triplicity lord, and regards the 9th from the right side), and the afflicted state of Jupiter retreating in the 12th with Mars.

James Randi's Natal Chart
James Randi’s Natal Chart

Looking at twelfth-parts, a topic I’ve explored in the last few posts (see here and here and here), we find the twelfth-part of the Ascendant in the 5th, Libra, the kingdom (i.e. exaltation) of Saturn, in Saturn’s bound, with its ruler, Venus, in the 3rd, Leo.  Randi came to prominence as an entertainer, a stage magician.  The 5th house pertains to performance and stage, while both Venus and Leo reinforce these notions of performance.  We can gather some of this from the 3rd, of communications, being occupied by very prominent Sun, Venus, and Mercury in Leo, indicating the important role of communication in the life (signs of the Lights, Leo and Cancer, are strengthening to planets in them, as their rulers, the Lights, are naturally prominent – here, the Ascendant ruler, the Sun, and Venus all occupy the 3rd, so it is very prominent).  The twelfth-part of Jupiter also falls onto Venus further signalling fortune through entertainment.

The twelfth-parts of the Sun and Moon fall in the 8th, Capricorn, one of the domiciles of Saturn, further stressing the influence of Saturn upon the life.  In fact, it’s hard to imagine Randi outside of his current image of black-clad, spooky-looking, doubtful, foreboding old man.  That the twelfth-part of Saturn fall into the place occupied by Jupiter, signals further affliction of Jupiter, further curbing the enthusiasm for stepping beyond the known. In fact, Randi, with his extremely strong Saturn, very afflicted Jupiter, and strong identification with Mercury, is a bit of an extreme case when it comes to resistance to out of bounds experiences.

Why people are so drawn to the irrational is something that has always puzzled me.  I want to be, if I can, as sure of the world, the real world, around me, as is possible.  Now you can only attain that to a certain degree, but I want the greatest degree of control.  I don’t … I’ve never involved myself in narcotics of any kind.  I don’t smoke.  I don’t drink.  Because that can easily just fuzz the edges of my rationality, fuzz the edges of my reasoning powers, and I want to be as aware as I possibly can.  That means giving up a lot of fantasies that may be comforting in some ways but I’m willing to give that up to live in an actually real world – as close as I can get to it. – James Randi (click link for source)

As mentioned previously, Randi’s chart gives us a clear indication that heavy doses of solar energy in the 3rd are not sufficient to make one religious, and perhaps even indicate total lack of faith as suggested by Abu Bakr.

Spirit. Spirit in Randi’s chart is in the 9th, ruled by Saturn, the out of sect malefic, in the bound of Mars.  It gets a lot of attention, being squared by Mars and Jupiter in the 12th, and opposed by the Sun, Mercury, and Venus in the 3rd.  Abu Bakr suggested either that the lord of Spirit in the 9th, or the lord of Spirit being the lord of the 9th, is indicative of good faith (if the lord is received which it is not).  In this case the lord of Spirit is the lord of the 9th, so we might suppose that faith is suggested if that is what Abu Bakr meant.  It is too premature to evaluate, and that the ruler is Saturn, the out of sect malefic, and is not received, makes it difficult to judge if this type of use of the Lot of Spirit is worthwhile anyway.


James Randi's Natal Chart with Lots of Faith and Spirit
James Randi’s Natal Chart with Lots of Faith and Spirit

In any case, if Spirit shows outward profession of faith, then we would expect a combination of very strongly restrictive doubt and skepticism (Saturn ruling and out of sect), a spirit of pursuit of truth and intellectualism (the 9th and air), and aggressiveness associated with secret plans of undoing (Mars ruling the bound in the 12th of hidden enemies with Jupiter).  This is the case.  In terms of the Mars and the 12th sense of launching secret offensives against others based on belief, Randi has been doing so since his early twenties, taking on jobs as fake astrologer, psychic, and so forth to spoof and attack supernatural beliefs even while getting his career as a magician together and before coming into public prominence.

Certainly, Spirit is not in such great condition that we would suppose outward profession of sanctity.  We were already getting much of the Saturnine sense from the 9th and Jupiter, but Spirit may still be of value particularly as it occupies a specific bound, showing the 12th house Mars influence.  Examining the ruler is very similar to examining Spirit itself in the chart, as Spirit and the 9th were so heavily informed by their ruler Saturn.  I would judge that Saturn is in a little bit better shape than the 9th though, because directly Saturn is in a domicile of Jupiter, bound of Venus, trine the Sun and Moon, and overcome by the sect benefic Venus by trine.  Perhaps from this we might judge that Randi’s bark is bigger than his bite, and that on a more personal level he does have a reverence from some greater unknowns.  Hard to tell for sure though, because that faith would be characterized by Saturn, and Saturn knows fear and doubt best.

Mercury. It was Abu ‘Ali that advised we look at Mercury, paying particular attention to the planet or planets Mercury is most strongly connected to, such as planets with Mercury, ruling Mercury, or that Mercury applies to in aspect.  Mercury is with the Sun in the Sun’s domicile while in phasis (i.e. making an appearance), so we expect a strong solar influence.  Mercury is also in Jupiter’s bound and applying a square to Jupiter with Jupiter in the superior position, so we expect a strong Jupiterian influence.  Both Jupiterian and Solar influences on Mercury are indicative of religious and faithful people to Abu ‘Ali, so I’m not overly impressed with this technique, as our more general techniques yielded a much more accurate analysis.

Lot of Faith. First, it should be noted that the Lot of Faith is right at the beginning of a sign and a birth time error of only about 2 minutes could put the lot in the preceding sign.  This could make a huge difference, as with the current time the lot is in the 10th in the sign of Jupiter and bound of Venus, while if birth was about 2 minutes earlier it would be in the 9th in the sign of Saturn and bound of Saturn – very big difference!  Assuming that the lot is at 0 Pisces, it is ruled by Jupiter, however Jupiter is out of sect, in a bad place (the 12th), and with a malefic, so it is not very indicative of faith.  Also, Abu ‘Ali seemed to highlight planets with or aspecting the lot, and here Saturn dominates (i..e superior square) the lot, and Mars is in a scrutinizing (i.e. within 3 degrees) square to the lot, so we might consider this lot extremely afflicted by malefics, showing a destruction of faith.

Quadruplicity of 9th.  The 9th sign is Aquarius, a fixed sign, so we might expect that Randi is not the type to question his own beliefs or radically change them much.  This seems consistent with the fact that Randi has been involved in spoofing astrology, psychism, and all things supernatural since his early twenties.  The ruler of the 9th is in Sagittarius, a mutable sign, which might show instability in belief and possibly a tendency toward syncretism (input from many sources combined into a new whole).  In this case, I think the influence of mutability is on the idea of fallibility and establishing what is more true over time through interactive analysis and communication of results (mutability pertains to back-and-forth and social phenomena), such as in scientific approaches to establishing truth which are inherently unstable and assembling rather than tending to be fixed or dramatically changing on the whole.

Orientality of 9th Lord. Saturn is occidental the Sun in Randi’s chart, so we would expect more of a concealing of belief, keeping beliefs private.  This certainly doesn’t seem to be the case, as Randi is a very prominent and vocal proponent of his skepticism.  Perhaps this is overridden by the fact that Saturn is so strongly advancing right on the horizon in the chart.  I associate general strength factors like advancing with the volume of a planet in the chart and would consider this a blaring loud Saturn.  In any case the oriental/occidental distinction seems insufficient on its own to establish how ready one is to profess one’s beliefs.

Long-Winded Conclusion to Long-Winded Post

I’ve thrown quite a lot of material at the reader in this post, and it is organized in a somewhat chaotic fashion, for which I apologize.  While our general method of reading faith in the astrological chart has proved very valuable, there is room to go deeper.  As we go deeper we take on more factors and self-deception becomes easier though, so we must lay it on the table and be self-critical.  These additional factors are more complicated than they seem at first encounter.

Saying that the 3rd participates in faith is easy, but judging the exact nature of its participation is difficult.  I would suggest that the 3rd pertains more to general communication and association, such that the manner of communicating beliefs and ideas must come through the 3rd, while the actual nature of one’s beliefs and ideas is more tied with the 9th (note: besides being consistent with main house meanings this is also consistent with the traditional dichotomy in which the Sun signifies more abstract phenomena and the Moon signifies more concrete phenomena).  Similarly, while the Sun pertains to illumination, truth, clarity, honors, and recognition, it is difficult to assess exactly how much the Sun indicates faith in a chart.  Perhaps this will become clearer as we work through more charts.  Usage of the Lots of Faith and Spirit may similarly provide deeper insights, or simply pose as distractions in such delineations.  While Mercury is a significator of personality and intention, it doesn’t seem to be very indicative of inclination toward faith, though we’ll continue exploring the possibility.  Use of quadruplicity of signs for degree of stability (fixed) vs. changeability (cardinal) vs. mixture/duality/instability (mutable) is common in the analysis of topics.  We’ll continue to at least explore the quadruplicity of the 9th and its ruler as suggested by Abu ‘Ali.

All of this and primarily just to distinguish the very faithful from the very doubtful, and the very genuine from the very superficial?  Apparently not.  With all these factors there is room enough for a very nuanced view of one’s beliefs that goes well beyond whether they’ll defend any old dumb thing propounded by the propagation or will take up authority as knowing the ultimate reality of the universe as a giant illusion staged by physical reproduction machines.  Faith is one small topic among many.  Obviously, as astrologers, we have our work cut out for us. To those who need all the answers now, so that they can go out and compete with psychics, this may be disparaging.  However, I think the techniques are extremely promising, and by remaining humble and working with them the 21st century may be the century in which the art of astrology reaches a depth of accuracy never before attained.


al-Tabari, U., & al-Hasib, A. B. (2010). Persian Nativities II:  ’Umar al-Tabari and Abu Bakr. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.
Masha’allah, & al-Khayyat, A.  ’Ali. (2009). Persian Nativities I: Masha’allah and Abu  ’Ali. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.

Twelfth-Parts | 1. Introducing the Dodecatemory of the Signs

Pray examine now a matter trivial in appearance, yet one of great moment, which does not permit description of itself save by a Greek word.  I speak of the dodecatemories, of which the name proclaims the principle.  The signs each consist of thirty degrees, and every total is further divided by twice six; the calculation therefore shows that in each division there are two and a half degrees.    (Manilius, Book 2, 693-700, Goold trans., 1977, p. 137)

What are the Twelfth-Parts?

The twelfth-parts, also known as dodecatemory/dodekatemoria or duodena/duodecimae (or dwad, short for dwadashama, in Indian astrology), appear in the earliest strains of Hellenistic astrology.  As the 1st Century CE astrologer, Manilius, explained in the quote above, the twelfth-parts are divisions of each astrological sign into 12 equal parts, each one assigned a zodiacal sign beginning with the greater sign itself.  Some authors, including Manilius, give two ways to calculate these (both leading to the same result).  One way is to think of the first 2.5° as belonging to the sign itself, the second to the next sign, and so on until you get to the last 2.5° which belongs to the sign that precedes the sign it’s in.  For instance, if Mercury were found at 28° Scorpio, then it would be in the last 2.5° of the sign, and thus its twelfth-part would be Libra.  For greater accuracy, the second method is used, in which we take the degrees and minutes of the position within the sign and multiply by 12, then add that many degrees to the beginning of the sign the planet is in.  For instance, with Mercury at exactly 28°00′ Scorpio, we would take 28 and multiply it by 12, yielding 336, then we would add this to the beginning of the sign Scorpio, so 30 would bring us to Sagittarius, 60 to Capricorn, 90 to Aquarius, and so on until we get to Libra with 6 degrees left over; the twelfth-part of Mercury would therefore be 6°00′ Libra in this case.

The FREE, open-source, traditional astrology program, Morinus, is soon to have twelfth-part calculation built-in.  Some of the developers of the program have been very kind to me and have given me the chance to check out this functionality.  It is great to have a program that can lay out the twelfth-part positions quickly and visually, because as we’ll see, these positions are informative and early astrologers placed importance on them.

There are two other quick notes about calculation.  First, Manilius asserted that the twelfth-parts are further divided into 5 segments of half a degree each, assigned to the five non-luminary planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury (see Manilius, Astronomica, Book 2, 738-748).  However, Manilius didn’t specify the order that the planets are assigned to these subdivisions.  Typically, the Chaldean order, either from slowest to swiftest (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury) or the reverse (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) is suggested.  While the first one of these orders is certainly the most logical, supported by the use of such order in many other types of zodiacal division from decan to monomoiria, we can’t be sure, and I don’t use these subdivisions myself in practice.

Secondly, Paulus Alexandrinus (4th Century CE) gives an idiosyncratic variety of twelfth-parts, which seems most likely to be in error, as he multiplies the position by 13, rather than by 12.  He gives a paragraph explaining his justification for multiplying by 13 rather than 12, but there isn’t much logical sense in the explanation, in my opinion, and it seems to suggest that he feels a need to justify why he is doing things against the norm in his work, giving recognition to the fact that multiplication by 12 is the typical (and logical) approach to the twelfth-parts.  Paulus seemed to imply that multiplication by 13 was necessary to allow the 12th parts to come back to the sign that the planet is in, but this is hardly a noteworthy argument, as the first 2.5° of the sign already fall to that same sign in the standard system. In the commentary on Paulus by Olympiodorus the Younger (6th Century CE), he found it necessary to explain the more typical form of twelfth-part first to preface the discussion, then explain the idiosyncratic Paulean form. As far as I know, this idiosyncratic form of twelfth-part is both an innovation of Paulus (which he appeared rather proud of) and used by Paulus only, so I will not pursue it further here.

And we say: the ancient Egyptians used to call it the 12th part, since the number is found in the position of each star multiplied by 12.  However Paulus, having come later and examined the matter closely, [said] that the multiplication by 12 is never returned to the same zoidion where the star is, where we seek the dodekatemorion — but often the dodekatemorion of the star happens to fall in the same zoidion where the star is.   (Olympiodorus, Commentary on Paulus Alexandrinus, Ch. 21, Greenbaum trans., 2001, p. 102)

Who Used the Twelfth-Parts?

In addition to Manilius, the twelfth-parts discussed (i.e. the one in the method of Manilius, not of Paulus) were also used by almost every Hellenistic astrologer, including Dorotheus of Sidon (1st Century CE) in Book I, Ch. 8 and other sections of Carmen, Ptolemy (2nd Century CE) in Book I, Ch. 22 of the Tetrabiblos, Vettius Valens (2nd Century CE) in multiple sections of his Anthology, Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE) in Book II, Ch. 17, and many other sections of his Mathesis, Porphyry of Tyre (3rd Century CE) in Ch. 39 of his Introduction to the Tetrabiblos, Hephaistio of Thebes (5th Century CE) in Book I, Ch. 18 (definitely not explained like the method of Paulus but erroneously identified as such by Rob Hand in the footnotes of the Project Hindsight edition) and in Book III of his Apotelesmatics,  and Rhetorius in Ch. 18 of his Compendium.  The twelfth-parts were also a basic component of astrological technique as practiced by later Persian-Arabic astrologers of the early medieval period (and beyond), including Sahl, Masha’allah, Abu Ma’shar, al-Qabisi, and Abraham Ibn Ezra.

However, the use of the twelfth-parts predates Hellenistic astrology.  The twelfth-parts. like the twelve-sign zodiac itself, have their origins with the Babylonians, who used them in omen lore at least as far back as the 5th century BCE.

How were Twelfth-Parts Used?

The twelfth-parts produce a secondary zodiacal position for each planet and point in the chart, as if each point is projected into an additional hidden zodiacal position.  There are four main senses in which the twelfth-parts are used: 1. Twelfth-part of the Moon gives indications regarding the physical sex of the person, 2. Twelfth-part of the Sun gives indications about Ascendant when it is unknown, 3. Twelfth-part of the Ascendant reveals thoughts/intentions, and 3. Twelfth-part positions give additional information about planetary significations that are on par with the natal positions of the planet. I will briefly explore three of these four uses; for sex, finding the Ascendant, and interpretation of cognition.  However, I want to make it clear to the reader, that I find the last use to be the most fruitful.

Sex of a Person from the Natal Chart

Both Dorotheus (Book I, Ch. 8 of Carmen) and Valens (Book IX, Ch. 8 of Anthology) use the sex of the sign of the twelfth-part of the Moon as having bearing on the sex of the native.  For Dorotheus, the basic idea is that if the Moon’s twelfth-part is in a male sign (i.e. a Fire or Air sign) then the native is male, but if in a female sign (i.e. an Earth or Water sign) then the native is female.  However, there are some exceptions that can override this indication of the sex of the sign of the twelfth-part of the Moon, including: 1. Sun, Moon, and Ascendant are in signs of the opposite sex, 2. the Light of the opposite sex (i.e. Sun is masculine and Moon is feminine) is in the Ascendant in a sign of its same sex, 3. planets of the opposite sex occupy the 1st and the 7th, 4. both Lights are in signs of the opposite sex and a planet of the opposite sex rules the Ascendant (example given is of both Lights in masculine signs and Jupiter ruling the Ascendant, this overriding a feminine twelfth-part of the Moon to indicate a male child).  For Valens, the sex of the sign of the twelfth-part of the Moon and the sex of the sign occupied by that sign’s ruler give strong indications for sex of the child.

Putting this method to the test we find that it works poorly for predicting sex.  For instance, Kurt Cobain has Sun, Moon, and Ascendant all in feminine signs, which would override the fact that the twelfth-part of the Moon in his chart is in Sagittarius, a masculine sign.  Additionally, the ruler of the twelfth-part of the Moon is Jupiter, which is also in a feminine sign.

Cobain's Natal Chart
Cobain’s Natal Chart

However, one might argue that perhaps Dorotheus was wrong, and the twelfth-part of the Moon should be given the primary consideration in this endeavor, without it being easily over-ridden by other factors.  So, let’s turn to the chart of Traci Lords.  Her Ascendant is in a masculine sign but Sun and Moon in feminine signs, while the twelfth-part of the Moon is in a masculine sign, and its ruler, Saturn, is also in a masculine sign.

Traci Lords' Natal Chart
Traci Lords’ Natal Chart

In conclusion, we cannot rely upon the twelfth-part of the Moon methods as set forth by Dorotheus or Valens to guess the sex of a person by the birth chart.  Perhaps Dorotheus and Valens have given us leads for the eventual development of a technique for guessing the sex of an individual from the chart that involves use of twelfth-parts (particularly those of body relevant points such as the Moon, Fortune, and the Ascendant), but so far we don’t have such a technique.

Twelfth-Parts for Finding the Ascendant

Another one of the more spurious uses of the twelfth-parts is to rectify the sign of an individual’s Ascendant when it is unknown.  It is Valens that discussed this use of twelfth-part of the Sun in Book I, Ch. 4 and Book IX, Ch. 7 of his Anthology.  It is but one method of rectification among many explored and elucidated by Valens.  The method, and I may be getting parts of it wrong, appears to involve first knowing if the person was born by day or night and knowing the Sun’s position accurately enough to be able to find the sign of its twelfth-part. After finding the twelfth-part of the Sun’s position, the Ascendant for a day birth will either be the sign opposite that sign, or one trine to that sign, with preference given to the “left” trine (i.e. the one that is 120° after the sign of the twelfth-part of the Sun) – but if it is a night birth, then it will be one of the signs opposite to these, again with the same preference.  For example, if someone was born with the twelfth-part of the Sun in Taurus, then for a day birth the most likely Ascendant would be Virgo, but could also be Scorpio or Capricorn, but if a night birth then the most likely Ascendant would be Pisces, but could also be Taurus or Cancer.  I’m a day birth with the twelfth-part of the Sun in Taurus, and my Ascendant is none of the three relevant signs, nor any of the three signs for night births.  A technique that narrows the Ascending sign to one-fourth of the signs of the chart, and still doesn’t give you an accurate indication is not a very valuable technique, so I won’t explore it further.

Interpretation of Cognition

One of the more fascinating niche uses of twelfth-parts is in the interpretation of cognition, particularly in consultation and horary charts.  This use appears to originate with unknown Indian astrologers and Hephastio of Thebes, and really starts to take off with Masha’allah.  The basic idea is that the twelfth-part of the Ascendant gives indications about the thoughts and intentions of a native or a querent, pertaining to the house of the chart, and the qualities and conditions of that place such as the quality of the sign, its domicile lord, and occupants of the sign.

Dr. Benjamin Dykes explored this use of twelfth-parts in considerable depth in his translation of, and commentary on, Hermann of Carinthia’s “The Search of the Heart“.  I highly recommend this work of Dr. Dykes for those interested in delving into this use of twelfth-parts in greater depth, as he not only explores it in his introduction, translates a work which uses the technique, and provides commentary, but he also includes appendices with further discussion and translations, including the entire 144 significations of each twelfth-part of the Ascendant given by Hephastio in tabular form.

The primary use of this technique in Persian astrology was in anticipating a client’s area of concern from the consultation chart, as well as in horary charts.  This usage appears to have started in Indian and/or Hellenistic use of consultation charts, which preceded, and likely lead to, the development of horary astrology.

Masha’allah in On Hidden Things (see Works of Sahl and Masha’allah translated by Dykes in 2008) suggested that among a number of methods he names, the best method for finding the significator of a querent’s intention in an horary reading is to look at the twelfth-part of the Ascendant.  If a planet is in that place then you look to that place as signifying the person’s intention, whereas if the place is empty then you look to the place of its ruler.  In an example that Masha’allah gave (the exact same example was also given by Hermann of Carinthia centuries later but attributed to the Indians), the Ascendant was the 12th degree of Aries, which has its twelfth-part in Leo, the 5th place from the Ascendant.  Leo was empty in the horary chart and the Sun was in Libra, the 7th, so Masha’allah surmised that the question involved the 5th in the condition of or seeking the 7th, i.e. a child seeking a woman (or seeking the querent’s wife).  Masha’allah said that if the Sun had been in the 6th then it would’ve suggested a question about a sick child, and so forth.  As you can see the stress in this technique is primarily on the significations of the place/house, and that one can combine the significations of the place with its ruler, in the sense of the place being fulfilled by or meeting the condition of the ruler’s place. This is one of a few different techniques given by Masha’allah and later authors for interpreting the intentions of a querent.

Use in Natal Charts

Used with natal charts the technique puts an interesting twist on the idea of personal focus and fulfillment, or even “primary motivation”.  The ruler of the Ascendant shows a particular pull towards a certain place in the natal chart and its accompanying themes and significations.  Similarly, the twelfth-part of the Ascendant and its ruler may reveal a personal emphasis for the individual.

In the next post on twelfth-parts, I’ll explore their use in natal delineation in more depth, drawing heavily on Maternus, who found in twelfth-parts the secret to more accurate delineation.  However, even just looking at the twelfth-part of the Ascendant in natal astrology, we can find some interesting things.

Hitler had the twelfth-part of the Ascendant with the greater malefic Saturn, in the bound of Mercury, in the networking and popularity-oriented 11th House (house of friends), in the sign of leadership, Leo, while its ruler, the Sun, was in the 8th, pertaining to death and harm.  The twelfth-part of Hitler’s Sun is also in the 8th, and its ruler too is in the 8th.  This gives interesting additional valuable information that we can add to our knowledge that his Ascendant lord (Venus) and the sect light of his chart (the Sun) are in the 8th of his natal chart. Using the Masha’allah-style of place combination, we might suggest that he has some intention to achieve a Saturnine standing in groups through death, fear, and destruction, though I think that Leo and the solar element both contribute meaning here, as does the bound of Mercury.

Hitler's Natal Chart
Hitler’s Natal Chart

Looking at Jeffrey Dahmer’s chart we find the twelfth-part of the Ascendant in the 8th of death in the bound of Saturn, conjunct the lord of the Ascendant, which is also the ruler of the twelfth-part, in the exact same bound of Saturn in the 8th.  Therefore, the personal intentions and focus on Saturnine-Venusian, death, fear, and destruction themes are very pronounced.

Dahmer's Natal Chart
Dahmer’s Natal Chart

Start playing around with twelfth-parts in natal, horary, and electional charts (putting the twelfth-part of the Moon in strong and good places is best for elections and recommended by Sahl and others).  Experiment, and if you have any revelations, feel free to share them in the comments.



Dorotheus of Sidon. (2005). Carmen Astrologicum. (D. Pingree, Trans.). Abingdon, MD: Astrology Center of America.
Manilius, M. (1977). Astronomica. (G. P. Goold, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library.
Paulus Alexandrinus & Olympiodorus. (2001). Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olypiodorus. (D. G. Greenbaum, Trans.). Reston, VA: Arhat.

Traditional Astrology of Death | Whitney Houston Revisited with Directions

This will be a rather focused revisit of the astrology of Whitney Houston’s death, simply to showcase a couple of the important facets of the primary directions at the time of death.

I discussed the important basic major astrological factors relating to her death previously – please click here and refer to that post for a more detailed discussion than provided here.  To simplify and summarize, a number of predictive techniques highlighted the importance of Saturn generally, her natal Saturn-Sun opposition,  and Saturn’s transit through the 8th House of her chart (the one that pertains most strongly to death).  At the time of death we find the transiting Sun conjunct her natal Saturn and the transiting Moon in her 8th with natal 8th House Mars and applying to that transiting 8th House Saturn.  Altogether, 8th House and Sun-Saturn themes abound in the predictive indications.

Some commentary on that article prompted me to explore primary directions next within my series on ancient predictive techniques, so as to establish what counts as pre-Renaissance traditional type of primary direction, basic manner of use in ancient astrology, and how one can calculate such with free software.  The first post on primary directions concerned the primacy of the Ascendant in early directions and the time lord technique of directing the Ascendant through the bounds, which later came to be known as the distribution with the bound lord being called the distributor, or jarbakhtar from Persian terminology.  In the second post, I explained how to calculate directions through the bounds and traditional pre-15th century style directions with the excellent free and open-source software program, Morinus.  Since that time an update of the Traditional Morinus version of the software has been released which improves the display when directing through bounds.  You can download the software here.  In the post on software calculation of primary directions I also provided some links to past blog posts in which I’ve briefly touched upon the basic installation and use of Morinus.

In this post, I won’t be discussing all the ancient theories and techniques regarding death prognostication.  I will hit on them a bit in future posts, particularly those in this series and the primary directions series, but here the main thing to note is that many of the techniques involved direction of a malefic planet, star, lot, or point (for instance, the Descendant is symbolic of death so a direction of the Sun to the Descendant could signify death) to a planet, lot, or point that signifies health and the body, particularly one of the Lights or the Ascendant.  Even though conjunctions, squares, and oppositions are more important, for the most part the type of aspect is not as important, since primary directions take so long to occur, and often a planet will only aspect another planet or point a few different times and ways throughout the whole life.

Whitney’s Chart

Whitney Houston Natal Chart (AA-Rodden-Rating)

Directing Through the Bounds

I advise that one should always look at the direction of the Ascendant through the bounds, taking the bound lord as an important time lord, known as the distributor or jarbakhtar.  This is done in Morinus as discussed in the past post on primary directions, producing the following table.

Jarbakhater - Ascendant
Whitney Houston – Distributors of the Ascendant for 100 Years After Birth

As we can see from the table above, Saturn is the main time lord of the period (day of death was Feb. 11, 2012), and we find that this technique, as with many of the others, also highlights the influence of Saturn.

While the distributor of the Ascendant is typically most important, and is the one used by Abu Ma’shar, some authors, including Masha’allah, use the technique for other life-signifying points, particularly one of the Lights or Lot of Fortune.  While I consider the distributors of the Ascendant to be much more important, I’ve included below a table of the distributors of the Lights and Lot of Fortune for Whitney from Age 25 to 50. It is interesting that the Sun and Lot of Fortune, like the Ascendant, have malefic distributors, in this case Mars.

Houston Distributors of Lights and Fortune Age 25-50
Houston Distributors of Lights and Fortune Age 25-50

Algol to Ascendant

One of the most striking primary directions at the time of death is that of the fixed star Algol, which is largely considered to be one of the most malefic fixed stars, if not the most malefic.  Algol is in the constellation of Perseus, which images the hero Perseus grasping the head of the Gorgon, Medusa.  Algol is the eye of Medusa in the constellation.  The star has separately been associated with demons, evil, death, decapitation, horror, tragedy, and such in many different cultures.  For those unfamiliar, you can get a quick briefing on Algol on Wikipedia and a better one on Constellation of Words.

A table showing all the directions of fixed stars to the Ascendant from Age 25 to 50 is below.  The table says the direction was exact on February 15th, which in primary directions is still “exact” even on February 10th, because even seconds of inaccuracy in recording the birth time equates to days of difference in timing by primary directions.

Directions of Fixed Stars to Whitney Houston's Ascendant
Directions of Fixed Stars to Whitney Houston’s Ascendant (direction of Algol to Ascendant in February 2012)

Saturn transiting over Directed Sun

One of the more interesting directions at the time of death concerns the direction of the Sun through the zodiac (or direction of the zodiac over the Sun).  As seen above, the Sun was in the Mars bound of Libra by direction.  This bound is 2 degrees in length starting at 28 Libra and ending by 0 Scorpio.  Interestingly, that is in Whitney Houston’s 8th House, and is the very bound that Saturn has been transiting in.  In fact, if we pull up a chart of zodiacally directed positions at the time of death, we find the directed Sun at about 29°14′ Libra.

PDs in Chart for Death of Houston
PDs in Chart for Death of Houston

Comparing this with Saturn’s transit position at death, we find Saturn transiting at 29°29′ Libra at the time of death, moving retrograde toward that earlier position, only a quarter of a degree from it, within the same degree and bound, in the 8th and bound of Mars, with the natal Mars.

Whitney Houston - Transits at Time of Death
Whitney Houston – Transits at Time of Death

In my opinion, this was one of the more striking repeat Sun-Saturn significations, in addition to Saturn as distributor, the over-arching Sun-Saturn planetary years manifestation, and the transit of the Sun over natal Saturn.


If you’re new to primary directions, I hope this has whet your appetite for the technique and given you a glimpse into its great value.  Please check out the other posts on directions to start working with them yourself, as they are really not hard to work with when there is great free software available for the calculations.  Until next time, give someone you love a big hug , let them know how much you care, and continue having fun exploring traditional predictive astrology.

Astrology of Porn Stars | 3. Ilona Staller

In this, the third post of the series, I’m going to keep things a bit briefer, looking at a chart that possesses a large number of the factors seen in the other two posts and one that is something of a more exaggerated case.  I recommend that the reader check out the first two posts of the series in order to get a feel for the important factors and configurations before continuing.  The first post, which you can read by clicking here, introduced some of the basics and discussed Traci Lords.  The second post, which you can read by clicking here, pertained to ex-prostitute and all-around sex guru Annie Sprinkle.  While it can be hard to obtain accurate times for porn star birth data, the previous two posts did deal with AA-rated birth data, as will this one.  I’ll be discussing Ilona Staller, who in addition to being in porn has, like Sprinkle, positioned herself as an icon of lustful sexuality.

Ilona Staller

Ilona Staller

Ilona Staller is a Hungarian-born porn star who came to fame in Italian porno.  She also was able to get elected to Italian parliament where she is famous for doing things like delivering speeches with a breast out and offering to have sex with Saddam Hussein for peace in the Middle East.  She has also had a brief musical career of explicit pop songs about sexual matters.  More biographical information about her is available from her Wikipedia entry. She was born on November 26, 1951 at 5am in Budapest, Hungary, and this birth information is Rodden-rated AA for accuracy.

Ilona Staller’s birth chart is pictured.  As far as I can recall, hers is the only chart I’ve examined with all 7 planets in dark or “bad” places of the chart.  Not pictured in the chart are her Lot of the Sun (Spirit) at 0 Libra, Lot of Women’s Marriage at 14 Scorpio, and Lot of Venus (Eros) at 22 Libra.

Here are some of the indications that she has which have been discussed in previous posts (with a couple new ones at the end):

  • Identification with Venus shown by Venus connecting with many personal points.  Here the Ascendant is in the bound of Venus and Venus is a triplicity lord of the Ascendant, while the sect light (the Moon) is in the bound and sign of Venus with 3 other planets and the Lots of Spirit and Eros in that same domicile of Venus (Libra), as well as Venus ruling the Descendant/7th and the Node being in the bound and exaltation of Venus.  Additionally, Venus is co-present with the sect light and Ascendant lord, and regards every planet in the chart.  We get the sense that Venus is important in understanding this person’s character.
  • Venus is in a dark or “bad” place, one that doesn’t regard the Ascendant.  Venus in the 12th or 6th has been particularly associated with lustful longing by Masha’allah, particularly when under the regard of both Mars and Jupiter, as she is here.
  • Venus is with Mars, and generally afflicted.  Venus-Mars connections were said to increase sexual passions, and a connection with Mercury, which is also present, can possibly connect notoriety to these passions.  Eros is also conjunct Mars very closely in a sign of Venus and in a bad place.
  • Lustful signs prominent, particularly among personal points.  Venus, the sect light (Moon), Ascendant lord (Mars), Descendant, Saturn, Jupiter, the Node, Spirit, and Eros are all in lustful signs.
  • Venus in a place of her own rulership (i.e. a place of her “dignity”).  Here Venus is in her own domicile.  As discussed in the last couple posts, sex workers tend to have Venus in a place of her own rulership, which perhaps makes her pertain even more to the prototypical Venusian concerns of sexual procreation.
  • Venus involved in the Moon’s motion.  Here the Moon is separating from Venus and applying to Mercury.  Any lunar separation or application involving Venus can bring in sexual themes, but especially when the Moon is waxing or very full of light (Moon is waning and slight here).  Maternus did associate this Moon of little light moving from Venus to Mercury with indecencies and “those who maintain the management and provision of exotic pleasures and delights” (Book 4, Ch. 2, #2, Holden trans., 2011, p. 197).  It’s unclear to me whether he intended these exotic pleasures and delights to have a sexual connotation or not.  It is clear that the lunar separation provides yet another personal link to Venus, however.
  • Finally, there is an honorable mention worth looking at in the chart, concerning the fixed star Alphecca, the principal star of the constellation Coronae Borealis.  It is at about 11 Scorpio.  Maternus identified this constellation rising as particularly pertaining to Venusian matters, including lustful sexuality, adulteries, etc. (Book 8, Ch. 11, #1, Holden trans., 2011, p. 487).  With her Ascendant at 9 Scorpio, we would expect Alphecca to be very close to the horizon, emphasizing the rising of this constellation at her birth.


Again, we are seeing patterns emerge in the charts of porn stars and the sexually notorious.  Having looked at only 3 charts, it is far too early to tell what works best and which indications are more suggestive vs. which are more boldly indicative, and/or if a confluence of factors is necessary for strong indication.  We are starting to see the wisdom and experience behind some of the weird proclamations regarding licentious lust found in ancient astrological works.  When gathering together such statements we find ourselves with the most effective starting points for developing our own approaches to delineating very particular natal topics.



Maternus, J. F. (2011). Mathesis. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). American Federation of Astrologers.

Astrology of Porn Stars | 2. Annie Sprinkle

Annie Sprinkle

In the second post of this series, I’d like to look at the chart of Annie Sprinkle, who has been involved in the lustful side of sexuality in more ways than one can count, from being a prostitute (for two decades), stripper, porn star, porn producer, etc.  She has really done it all and has positioned herself center stage as an icon of licentiousness, a “sacred prostitute”. You can read more about her biographical details in her Wikipedia entry.

As in the look at Traci Lords, I will be pulling out some factors in the chart that pertain to signification of licentiousness.  As the series progresses we’ll see certain trends and confluences of factors appear repeatedly as a common theme.  The reader is urged to first read the last post on this topic before proceeding, as I discuss some of the basics and give some warnings appropriate to this type of work.

Annie Sprinkle was born Ellen Steinberg on July 23rd, 1954 at 11:34am in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Her birth information is Rodden-rated AA for accuracy and her natal chart is pictured here.

Annie Sprinkle Natal Chart

Not pictured in the chart are her Lot of the Sun (Spirit) at 28 degrees Sagittarius, Lot of Woman’s Marriage at 28 Scorpio, and Lot of Venus (Eros) at 20 Gemini.

Lustful Signs

The lustful signs are moderately represented, but some important points pertaining to self and relationships are in them.  The Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Descendant, and Node are in lustful signs.  The Moon seems particularly relevant in this sense as she is dispositor of many of the planets in the chart and is in a dark place while regarding most of the planets in the chart from the right side and opposition, including a superior trine to Venus and domination of the Sun.

Venus and Special Indications

Again, as in the chart of Traci Lords, we are dealing with a Libra rising chart, with Venus as Lord of the Ascendant and in a dark or “bad” place (i.e. one that doesn’t regard the Ascendant – 6th, 12th, 8th, and 2nd) while out of sect.  This identification with Venus and placement of Venus into a vulnerable place subject to corruption is noted by Masha’allah (On Nativities, Ch. 5, Dykes trans., 2008, p. 400) in relation to licentiousness (note: like most simple delineation statements, the following illustrates the principle with extremes rather than being a cookbook delineation, i.e. the principle is that Venus as lord of the Ascendant inclines to identification with Venusian things and that planets in bad places incline to the darker side of things while those in good places incline toward the more pleasant side of things):

If Venus were the Lady of the Ascendant, and in a good place, it designates him to be handsome and humble.  And if she were in a bad place, it designates he is hot [in desire] (and if were a woman, it designates her to be a prostitute).

Another passage by Masha’allah, but from the Book of Aristotle, and previously mentioned in the Traci Lords post, also holds in this chart, with Venus in the 12th, regarded by Mars and Jupiter:

Indeed for the appetite of longing and sexual impurity, consider the following.  For, Venus in a place of longing-namely the sixth or twelfth-under the regard of Jupiter and Mars, or if she would be lingering with the Lord of the Lot in the Midheaven, it defames the female spouse because of prostitution, hides an abortion, presents [her] for sale […]                (Masha’allah, Book of Aristotle, Dykes trans., 2009, Book III, Chapter 7, Section 8, p. 146)

Also, as in the chart of Traci Lords, we find that Annie Sprinkle’s Venus is in the bound of Venus.  While we may be tempted to draw some conclusions based on the position of Venus in her sign of fall, Virgo, as pertaining to ill-dignified Venusian behavior following the later medieval idea of “negative dignity” when a planet is in fall, this would lead us down the wrong path, as Venus is not only in her own bound here, but in her own bound and domicile in the chart of Traci Lords and in her exaltation in the chart of Jenna Jameson.  It may instead be the case that some deeper connection of Venus to prototypically Venusian matters of sexuality, as opposed to other manifestations of love and beauty, is important, and shown through Venus being in her own domicile, exaltation,  bound, or triplicity (but triplicity is more effective if first triplicity ruler, which Venus is here of Virgo by day).

In my own opinion, a form of rulership in its own place makes a planet more independent in action and less tied to other planets or encumbered by dependencies with them.  In that sense, a form of rulership in its own place can make a planet a little bit stronger, less restrained or forced to cooperate, but should never be interpreted as having effects that are in some sense more “dignified”, in the sense of admired, socially accepted, commended, honorable, or even as conferring greater success.  I’ve addressed this at length in prior posts on the issue, most succinctly in The Curious Case of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Turner, contrasting Dahmer’s 4 very positively “dignified” (in domicile) planets with Turner’s 4 planets in detriment and fall with none in domicile or exaltation, to illustrate the absurdity of identifying a planet in a form of rulership with the degree to which a planet signifies dignified matters in the life.

There is a substantial connection between Venus and Mercury in the chart, which are in a partile sextile and have most of the important planets of the chart under their rulership.  For instance, the Ascendant and the Moon are in domiciles of Venus but bounds of Mercury, while Venus is in the domicile of Mercury but her own bound, Mercury is in the bound of Venus, the Lot of Venus (Eros – at 20GEM) is in the domicile of Mercury and bound of Venus, MC in the bound of Venus, five planets in water or earth signs where Venus is the first triplicity lord.  Mars is the only planet in a “stake” of the position of Venus (i.e. in the 1st, 4th, 7th, or 10th sign from Venus – in this case square to Venus), and given the strong interchange between Mercury, Venus, and personal signification, we get a sense both for the passionate sexuality of Mars-Venus and the strangeness, “talk”, and notoriety that Mercury can bring to the mix.  The chart doesn’t fulfill the following statement by Ptolemy but the strength of the ties Venus has to Mars and Mercury reflect it:

Therefore Venus, with Mars, produces merely amorous dispositions, but if Mercury is present, notoriety also…      (Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, Book 4, Ch. 5, Robbins trans., 1940, p. 401)

Similarly, Rhetorius claimed, “Venus and Mercury and Mars aspecting each other will make lechers” (Compendium, Ch. 66, Holden trans., 2009, p. 121).  But this indication is so commonly occurring in natal charts as to be worthless predictively, beyond indicating the way that combinations of Venus, Mercury, and Mars can be indicative of mind/talk, passion, and sexuality getting mixed up in possibly scandalous ways.  With Venus in the 12th and all the back and forth between Mercury and Venus, we particularly get the sense of sex strongly on the mind and on the tongue.  Mercury in the 10th, strongly advancing on the MC, and strong due to stationing direct days prior to birth and being in phasis, along with being fortunate through being with Jupiter, all give strong indications of great career success through her words and mental personage.  She has indeed lectured on a wide variety of topics and claims to have a Ph.D. in human sexuality (I wasn’t able to confirm the validity of this claim).  In the following video she discusses her sexual history a bit and one gets a good sense of her style of sexual advocacy and openness.

Mercury in the bound of Venus is typically a good and pleasant thing, but it does associate Mercury with sexuality, and given that Venus is out of sect and in the 12th, the identification with Venus, and some of the other Mercury-Venus connections, we might expect that some of the more difficult indications of Mercury in the terms of Venus to come forth, as discussed by Julius Firmicus Maternus:

They will certainly be lustful in sexual intercourse, and those who corrupt the marriages of others with a depraved mental desire.  They will be full of moral faults, and those who are always battered with constant scandal because of these faults.    (Maternus, Mathesis, Book 5, Ch. 5, #6, Holden trans., 2011, p. 297)

With Venus moving more than twice as fast as Mercury at the time of birth, we may wonder whether the Moon is already invested in application to Venus in the chart, rather than Mercury at the time of birth.  Venus and Mercury are in partile sextile, and the Moon applies to both, to Venus with the stronger trine, but first to Mercury with the weaker sextile, so while technically the Moon is separating from Saturn and making her next application to Mercury, the application to Venus may be important as well.  I note this because Maternus noted the following among his indications for a waning Moon separating from Saturn and applying to Venus:

But if she was of little light, it denotes the depraved enticements of love affairs, or it makes [them] to be involved in impure and indecent passions, or it denotes disgraceful actions in continual succession.  (Maternus, Mathesis, Book 4, Ch. 3a, #7, Holden trans., 2011, p. 188)

This indication, like many above, bring out how many indications can be repeated when Venus has more malefic associations in the chart (such as Venus out of sect, in a dark place, and regarded by malefics and Mercury – in this case all three) and many important and personal factors connect with her by rulership, regard, and application, such as the Ascendant, Moon, strongest planet in the chart (Mercury in this case), and Descendant.

This chart and the chart of Traci Lords show a trend that we’ll continue to see, in which Venus in her own term, sign, exaltation, and/or triplicity is more likely to give indications directly pertaining to sexuality than a Venus that lacks such rulership in her own place.  I think there is a sense behind this in which Venus prototypically refers to the procreative nature, with her additional indications pertaining to beauty, art, and so forth being extensions of this.  Rulership in her own place could be said to increase her independence for better or worse, and strengthen her significations related to sex in the person’s life.



Bishr, S. ibn, & Masha’allah. (2008). Works of Sahl & Masha’allah. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.

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

Maternus, J. F. (2011). Mathesis. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). American Federation of Astrologers.

Ptolemy, C. (1940). Ptolemy: Tetrabiblos. (F. E. Robbins, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library. Retrieved from http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Ptolemy/Tetrabiblos/home.html

Rhetorius of Egypt, & Teucer of Babylon. (2009). Rhetorius the Egyptian. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers.

Synastry in Ancient Astrology | Bare Basics with Kurt Cobain & Courtney Love

Synastry is the art of comparing the astrological birth charts of two or more people for insight into their relationship with a particular eye toward complimentary strengths, personality compatibility, and possible source and themes of conflict or contention.  Most people today are probably familiar with the idea of whether two people’s Sun signs are compatible as popularized within the media of our superficial, entertainment-oriented, western cultures.  However, many people are probably not aware that synastry has been used in horoscopic astrology since its inception in the Hellenistic era, especially for matters of marriage and friendship.

Here I’d like to briefly touch on a few of the bare basics of synastry as found in Dorotheus’s Carmen (1st Century CE), Ptolemy‘s Tetrabiblos (2nd Century CE), and Masha’allah‘s The Book of Aristotle (8th Century CE).  An English translation of the Tetrabiblos can be found online here.  The interested reader will want to refer to Book IV, Ch. 5, “On Marriage”.  The first and only English translation of Masha’allah’s The Book of Aristotle, a mammoth indispensable work covering all aspects of natal delineation, was made by Dr. Ben Dykes in 2009, published with Abu’Ali‘s On the Judgments of Nativities as the first volume of the “Persian Nativities” series which you can purchase here.  I’ll be referring to Book 3, Ch. 7, Section 11, “On the concord and esteem of each”. Carmen of Dorotheus can be picked up here.

In order to illustrate the basics I’ll refer lightly, without much in the way of deep analysis, to the charts of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.  The charts of both Kurt and Courtney have been Rodden-rated AA for accuracy.  Kurt’s chart information is available here and a brief bio of him can be found hereCourtney’s chart information is available here and a brief bio of her can be found here.

Sun, Moon, Venus in Natal Chart

Both Ptolemy and Masha’allah place a premium on the relationships between the Sun, Moon, and Venus, both in the natal chart and between charts.  For Ptolemy, the Sun in a woman’s chart is particularly significant for describing a husband and facets of her marriage, and the Moon in a man’s chart for describing the wife and facets of his marriage, so harmony between the Sun and Moon was very important for marriage.  Ptolemy does not neatly separate out natal and synastry factors, but rather seems to refer often to both and sometimes to one or the other without much clarification:

Marriages for the most part are lasting when in both the genitures the luminaries happen to be in harmonious aspect, that is, in trine or in sextile with one another, and particularly when this comes about by exchange; and even more when the husband’s moon is in such aspect with the wife’s sun. Divorces on slight pretexts and complete alienations occur when the aforesaid positions of the luminaries are in disjunct signs, or in opposition or in quartile.      (Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, Book IV, Ch. 5, Robbins trans., 1940, p. 184-185)

The idea that I’ve taken away from this discussion by Ptolemy is that harmony between the Sun and Moon in a natal chart is symbolic of harmony between the primary powerful creative partnership.  Perhaps co-presence, trines, and sextiles are symbolic of a natural harmony between two partners, sexes, or gender roles, a sense that the partners should get together in deepening bonds, while squares and oppositions draw out a symbolism of inherent tension and conflict between the same, and aversion between the lights symbolizing a detachment between them.

My sense is that this consideration of harmony between the luminaries is more important in synastry than the natal chart, but Ptolemy does imply that it is a sign of the strength of union in a more general individual sense through the natal chart as well.  It should be noted that this is one minor factor among many factors that pertain to the general strength of one’s marriage bonds and the lure of relationships that can be found in a natal chart.

Courtney Love's Natal Chart (Ctrl click to enlarge)
Courtney Love’s Natal Chart (Ctrl click to enlarge)

Looking at this consideration in the charts of Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain we’d conclude, with Courtney’s Sun and Moon co-present in Cancer, and Kurt’s Sun-Moon trine across Pisces and Cancer, that there is a symbolism of partners sticking together and deepening bonds, a harmony and glue between the sexes, gender roles, or partners.  For Kurt, particularly, with his Sun-Moon trine, this appears to have been symbolic of his desire for a lasting long-term traditional relationship, and his immense upset and disappointment in his parents for failing to uphold such a relationship in his own life.

Kurt Cobains'
Kurt Cobain’s Natal Chart (Ctrl click to enlarge)

Masha’allah, following Dorotheus, also stressed the relationship between the Moon and Venus in the natal chart, noting that “the traversal of Venus and the Moon in the same sign denotes the insoluable concord of the conjugal agreement” (Masha’allah, The Book of Aristotle, Book III, Ch. 7.11, Dykes trans., 2009, p. 149).  He goes on to discuss Moon-Venus connections in synastry, following Dorotheus who noted in Book II, Ch. 5 of Carmen, “Similarly [does it happen] if you find that wherever is the Venus of one of the two [marriage partners], there is the Moon of the other, especially if the Moon of one of the two is in trine with the Moon of the other” (Pingree trans., 2005, p. 206).  Therefore, regards between the Moon and Venus are important, and especially their co-presence in the same sign.  The strength of the Moon-Venus relationship is perhaps symbolic of personal and emotional investment in love (and in many authors, such as Firmicus Maternus, it can show heightened investment in sexual activity, especially when the Moon has just separated from or is just applying to Venus).

Where Sun and Moon may show partnership in a more idealistic, general, abstract form (i.e. along the lines of husband and wife), this is perhaps showing the craving for maintaining intimacy with others.   In some authors strong Moon-Venus connections (together with other factors) also come up in relation to incest, such as with a mother, again playing off of the theme of personal life, nurture, familiarity, and even emotional fulfillment (Moon) being linked with love, beauty, and sexuality (Venus).  It is certainly common knowledge that relationship bonds can be shaken by a lack of sexual intimacy and affectionate personal space, so perhaps Masha’allah’s stress on Moon-Venus connections for strength of bond pertains to this sense.

In terms of the Moon and Venus, they are in aversion (disregard each other) in Courtney Love’s chart and in trine (powerful harmony) in Kurt Cobain’s chart.  This could symbolize that it is more natural for Kurt that intimate familiarity go hand-in-hand with sexuality and affection, while for Courtney they may be more disconnected facets of life. Again, like Sun-Moon in a natal chart, Moon-Venus is one of several factors pertaining to strength of bond, durability of marriage, and such that are mentioned in connection with delineating marriage in one person’s natal chart, and the indications given by these couple factors alone should be examined in light of such other factors.

The regards of benefics and malefics (as well as house placement and other factors) are important when examining any factor and are discussed in the literature.  For instance, that Saturn, the out of sect malefic in Kurt’s chart, is with the Sun and Venus (strongly conjunct Venus), may be indicative of weight, isolation, and melancholy in relationships, as well as the sorrow of the “husband” in the relationship, as opposed to the idealized “wife” shown through Moon with Jupiter.  Courtney’s own Mars with Venus may be indicative of things getting heated surrounding love and sexuality, possibly in many ways, including contentions or “battles” over such matters.

Sun, Moon, Venus, and the Angles in Synastry

While there are many ways to delineate aspects of marriage and love from the natal chart, I’ve mentioned the ones above because they are used by Ptolemy and Masha’allah as springboards into looking at those same connections across charts.  In other words, intense and harmonious connections between the Lights (especially the man’s Moon and woman’s Sun) and between Moon and Venus across charts is indicative of strong basic ties between partners (while squares, oppositions, and aversions are indicative of problems).  Additionally, the “stakes” (1st, 10th, 7th, and 4th places, also known as “angles” or “pivots”) of the charts become very important, as having the same angles, or having the above mentioned planets in each other’s angles also increases the bond, as indicated in the following quotes from Dorotheus, and from Masha’allah (who is drawing on Dorotheus):

The man is suitable for the woman and the woman for the man if the ascendent[s] of these two are the same cardine.  If the two luminaries or one of the two is in the ascendent or midheaven, then also it is suitable.         (Dorotheus, Carmen Astrologicum, Book II, Ch. 5, Pingree trans., 2005, p. 205)

Which if each Sun, under the birthdays of both, would be lingering in the same sign and in a pivot, it promises [the same].           (Masha’allah, The Book of Aristotle, Book III, Ch. 7.11, Dykes trans., 2009, p. 149)

Additionally, all three authors, Dorotheus, Ptolemy, and Masha’allah stress the role of malefic planets (i.e. Saturn and Mars) in splitting up the relationship, particularly when a malefic in one person’s chart is with (i.e. co-present) one of the Lights in the partner’s chart. The timing would seem to coincide with an activation of the malefic that is making the connection.  By contrast, benefics co-present with the Lights or regarding them harmoniously increase the stability of marriage or can reunite partners when other problems such as hard connections between the Lights are indicated.

Let’s look at the synastry of Kurt and Courtney to illustrate.  I have a chart pictured which has Courtney’s chart on the inside with Kurt’s planetary and angular positions marked on the outside.  Some of the more positive configurations for their relationships are marked out with blue, while the more problematic configurations are marked out with red.

Kurt-Courtney Synastry
Kurt-Courtney Synastry – Kurt’s natal placements are on the outside of Courtney’s natal chart.

Angles: Kurt has Virgo rising and Courtney has Libra rising, and since these are adjacent signs which are in aversion this is not a strong connection between their Ascendants.  However, it should be noted that the signs Libra and Virgo are contra-antiscia to each other which lends an affinity between the two signs (see my post on antiscia and contra-antiscia for more on this).

Lights: The Lights (Sun and Moon) reveal a very powerful connection between the two of them, particularly in that his Moon is conjunct her Sun, in Cancer, which is the midheaven of her chart (one of the “stakes”).  Additionally, both have their Suns trine each other, and his Moon-Jupiter with her Sun-Moon is an extremely powerful positive connection.

However, there is a very difficult configuration in the chart also, shown by her Saturn in Pisces, which is the place of both his Sun and his Venus.  In fact, her Saturn is in close conjunction with his Sun and this Saturn draws out his own Saturn-Venus conjunction in the same place in his natal chart. This Saturn is definitely the most difficult factor in their synastry.

Venus: Venus in one chart is square to Venus in the other.  The squares between Venus are not necessarily indicative of problems, and may in fact show more passion and a stronger love connection than if they were in aversion.  Additionally, Courtney’s Venus is in Kurt’s midheaven (a “stake” of his chart), so it has an intense attractive impact on him.  However, both have Venus conjunct a malefic, Saturn in Kurt’s case and Mars in Courtney’s, so Venus in each chart is also afflicted by the malefic conjunct each other’s Venus, and Mars joins Venus on Kurt’s midheaven, fostering conflicts.

Kurt’s Death:  Shortly after Kurt’s last solar return in February of 1994 his behavior began to spiral out of control, often involving relationship matters with Love.  In February of 1994 Saturn had just entered Pisces, being at 2 Pisces at the time of Kurt’s last solar, two degrees from Courtney’s own Saturn, within a degree of both Kurt’s Sun and solar return Mercury (ruler of Kurt’s Ascendant), as well as with solar return Venus, reinforcing the natal configuration of Sun, Saturn, Venus, and Mercury in Pisces.  The most potent symbolism of Sun-Saturn, as touched on in the post on the death of Ilya Zhitomirskiy (who also committed suicide shortly after a solar return with a tight Sun-Saturn conjunction) and the recent post on Whitney Houston, is loss of the vital heat and spirit, i.e. death.

Cobain Last Solar Return
Kurt’s 1994 Solar Return (precessed) – Saturn is conjuct return Sun within 1 degree.
Kurt's Natal Chart with Solar Return Positions on Outside Showing Return Transits to the Natal Chart
Kurt’s Natal Chart with Solar Return Positions on Outside Showing Return Transits to the Natal Chart – Sun-Saturn-Mercury conjunction on the natal Sun at solar return.

I am not implying that Courtney directly had anything to do with Kurt’s death, but it is interesting that conflicts in their relationship intensified at the end, as soon as Saturn came into Pisces activating that synastry, and that his self-inflicted death, which ended their relationship, be so clearly symbolized in the chart.  Kurt’s death occurred on April 5, 1994 with Saturn at 7 Pisces, as Courtney Love was going through her Saturn return.  Transiting Mars had also entered Pisces and was conjunct transiting Mercury, just a couple degrees from Kurt’s Venus, at the time of the suicide.

Cobain's Natal Chart - Transits on the day of death around outer wheel - both malefics and Mercury in the 7th at the time of death.
Cobain’s Natal Chart – Transits on the day of death around outer wheel – both malefics and Mercury in the 7th (where most of his natal planets are located) at the time of death.


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

Ptolemy, C. (1940). Ptolemy: Tetrabiblos. (F. E. Robbins, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library. Retrieved from http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Ptolemy/Tetrabiblos/home.html

Dorotheus of Sidon. (2005). Carmen Astrologicum. (D. Pingree, Trans.). Abingdon, MD: Astrology Center of America.


Featured image for this article is courtesy of Kate Petty.

Traditional Astrology of Death | Whitney Houston

The singer Whitney Houston recently passed.  Glancing briefly at some of the predictive factors leading up to her death I’ve found that there was a strong emphasis on Saturn, both natal and transiting, as Saturn transited through her 8th, occupied natally by Mars.  There was also a highlighting of transiting Mars in her 7th by monthly profection.  I give a very brief look at her natal chart, last solar return, last lunar return, and transits of the day of death below.

Planetary Years: Sun & Saturn

Whitney Houston's Natal Chart
Whitney Houston’s Natal Chart

A popular technique among Hellenistic and Persian astrologers for timing involved the use of the planetary years and their combinations (and sometimes also divisions) for signifying times when natal planets and combinations particularly become expressed.

Whitney was 48 1/2 at the time of death, and one of the more interesting combinations due at about that age is the combination of the Sun (19) and Saturn (30), at age 49.  It is interesting given Whitney’s Sun-Saturn opposition across the health and loss oriented 6th and 12th houses. Sun-Saturn is particularly significant of death, as Saturn, the natural significator of death and general lack and coldness is opposing the Sun, natural significator of vital powers and the heart.

Whitney Houston’s natal chart is pictured, and is Rodden-rated AA for accuracy.  Information about her death tends to be updated regularly in her Wikipedia entry.

Monthly Profection and Transiting Mars

As she had turned 48 at her last solar return, and 48 is a multiple of 12, Whitney was in a 1st Place, Pisces, annual profection, and all points in the chart profect back to their natal positions.  Jupiter is the lord of the year and is a planet with a particularly broad range of signification in the natal chart from benefic to malefic, as Jupiter is naturally of a very benefic nature, particularly in connection with money, and is here in the house of money, as well as self and career (Jupiter rules 1st and 10th), but Jupiter is also in a dark place (2nd), out of sect (it’s a night birth), overcome by Saturn which is in the 12th and out of sect, and opposed by Mars in the 8th (which also opposes the Moon, significator of the body).

The monthly profection of the Ascendant for the month of death (Feb. 9th to March 9th) is her 7th Place, Virgo, ruled by and occupied by natal Mercury (side note:  her natal Mercury is also conjunct her natal modern planetoid Pluto within a degree).  The reader interested in a primer on annual and monthly profections of the Ascendant can find one in a previous blog post.  The 7th place, the place of the setting Sun, was one of a few places associated with death in ancient astrology (though less so than the 8th).  Of the 7th, Manilius (1st Century CE) said, “…wonder not if it is called the portal of sombre Pluto and keeps control over the end of life and death’s firm-bolted door. Here dies even the very light of day, which the ground beneath steals away from the world and locks up captive in the dungeon of night” (Manilius, Astronomica, Book 2, 951-954, Goold trans., p. 157-159).

Interestingly, she (symbolized by the profecting Ascendant) was entering the House (7th) occupied by transiting Mars (20 Virgo – see death transits below) at the time, and Mars is her natal occupant of her 8th House of death.  The monthly profection is congruent with the significations that the month beginning Feb. 9th may bring her into contact with danger that associates readily with death.

Last Solar Return: 8th House Saturn Rising


Whitney Houston 2011 Solar Return (non-precessed)
Whitney Houston 2011 Solar Return (non-precessed)

While I find considerable significance in both precessed and non-precessed solar returns in my own practice, and lean more heavily on the significations of precessed returns for in depth reading, it is Whitney’s final non-precessed solar return that is most striking, with Saturn, natural significator of death, conjunct the Ascendant, significator of self, within less than 3 degrees in her natal 8th House (house of death), Libra (and dominated by Mars in Cancer). Note: I do not relocate solar returns – I find that non-relocated return charts give the strongest significations.

Also note that Jupiter, lord of the year, is placed in the solar return 8th house.

Last Lunar Return: 8th House Saturn Rising

Whitney’s final lunar return took place on January 28th, 2012, and is pictured.

Houston's Final Lunar Return
Houston’s Final Lunar Return (non-precessed)

Her final lunar return echoed the solar return with Saturn in Libra rising once again, strongly advancing toward the return Ascendant within 6 degrees.

In this case, Saturn was additionally in the bound of Mars, natal occupant of the 8th of death.  Saturn also opposes the Moon, significator of the body, and opposes Jupiter (lord of the year) out of sign but within 3 degrees and thus considered “scrutinizing” within the Hellenistic aspect doctrine, with Jupiter again in the 8th of the return.

Death Transits: The Moon Arrives, Saturn in Focus

On the day of her death in Beverly Hills in the early afternoon of Feb. 11, 2012, the Moon was transiting through Libra, Whitney Houston’s 8th House pertaining to death, occupied by natal malefic Mars, and transiting malefic Saturn.

Transits to Houston's Natal at Time of Death
Transits to Houston’s Natal at Time of Death

In addition to the transiting Moon’s co-presence with natal Mars and transiting Saturn, natal Saturn is also in focus by the Sun’s transit through Aquarius and recent conjunction with natal Saturn, still fresh within 3 degrees of orb at the time of Whitney’s death.



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

Astrology of Porn Stars | 1. Traci Lords

There is no specific “porn star” astrological signature, but certain sets of factors show up repeatedly when it comes to adult film stars.  This thread may be offensive to some, but many others wonder if ancient astrology has anything to say when it comes to those who become socially prominent through notorious sexual behavior quite contrary to social norms, such as porn stars and prostitutes.

First off, I should mention that there is a lack of good birth data for porn stars.  Typically we have nothing other than a date and a location.  There are only a handful of porn stars for which we have accurate birth times.  Therefore, in this series I’ll probably oscillate between stars with good birth data, where we can dive into the charts more thoroughly, and those without a time, where we’ll stick to a more superficial analysis.

Another note: Don’t take the indications that I find in some porn star charts and start delineating your friends and loved ones as fornicators with wanton lust based on stray indications.  Really.  Don’t.  Accurate prediction can be done but it’s very difficult.  Venus with Mars in the same sign, for instance, is a common occurrence, and wouldn’t be enough to judge someone’s sexuality on.  Think of astrology as a language, with any set of factors potentially indicating a large variety of experiences, many of which all at once as potentials in someone’s life, some more than others due to repeat factors, and some that really don’t even pertain very strongly to the natives themselves, but may describe other people or circumstances in their lives.

I draw really heavily on Persian astrology in this analysis, except that I stick with the basic astrological principles and techniques established in the Hellenistic period whenever they’ve been changed, and I have my own preferences for what works best from practice.  The reader interested in Persian techniques concerning sexuality is urged to check out the Persian Nativities series translated by Ben Dykes.  It is a series which translates 5 huge and pivotal Persian works on natal astrology, dealing with delineation and prediction on all life topics, into a 3 volume set.  Additionally, a reader desiring a firm foundation in basic ancient astrology is directed to check out the Hellenistic astrology course run by Chris Brennan , as well as Introductions to Traditional Astrology (a set of translations on basic astrology by Ben Dykes).

Basic Factors

When delineating sexuality, points of personal importance, such as the Ascendant and its lords, are pivotal, while the single most important factor is Venus. Often, I’ll just focus on Venus, but I summarize some important factors below :

  • Venus: Classical planet with the strongest natural significations pertaining to love, beauty, marriage, and sexuality.
  • Eros (Lot of Venus): This is the classic Hellenistic lot for Venus, which is found by taking the arc from Spirit (Lot of the Sun) to Venus by day (Venus to Spirit by night) and projecting that from the Ascendant.
  • 7th Place: The 7th House, i.e. the 7th sign counted inclusively from the Ascendant, is the one that pertains to marriages, unions, and partnerships.  It also has some pertinence to sexuality.
  • (Possibly) Lot of Marriage: There are a few different lots of marriage in ancient astrological works, but the Persians seem to have preferred Saturn to Venus from Asc for men (by day, reversed by night) and Venus to Saturn from Asc for women (by day, reversed by night).  These lots were used in marriage delineation, and occasionally in delineation of sexuality.
  • (Possibly) 5th Place: The 5th House doesn’t seem to be used much in my sources, but many ancient astrologers did associate the 5th with love, romance, sexuality, and all things Venus – it was associated more with children than partnership though.

Traci Lords

Traci Lords has certainly faced many challenges related to sexuality in her life.  She was raped at 10, molested in her teens by a drug-dealer boyfriend of her mother’s. Her molester also got her into porn when she was just a teenager, with her illegally appearing in dozens of movies at 16 years of age.  She was eventually busted, but did a little more pornography when of age. Later she claimed that she was in porn solely for drugs (though this is disputed by some insiders).  She achieved stardom through her porn notoriety, but was able to transition in later years to acting for television and B movies.  You can read some biographical info about her at Wikipedia. Besides acting, she has been involved in the arts in other ways as well, including work in music.

I remember her as Wanda, in John Water’s 1990 film, Cry Baby (starring Johnny Depp).

Her chart is below, based on AA-rated birth data of May 7, 1968 at 5:19pm in Steubenville, OH.

Traci Lords Natal Chart (12th parts along outer edge)
Traci Lords Natal Chart (12th parts along outer edge)



One of the first things we should note in the chart is that Venus rules the Ascending Sign, the 1st Place, Libra, and that Venus is in Taurus, another sign of Venus, and the bound of Venus, while the sect light, the Sun, is also in Taurus with Venus (and Moon, Descendant, Fortune, and Spirit are also in bounds of Venus).   We get the sense that there is a strong personal identification with Venus, and her natural significations of art, beauty, aesthetics, and sexuality.

For reference, the positions of the relative lots are Lot of Venus (Eros) at about 1 Virgo and the Lot of Marriage at 25 Virgo, both with the Moon in the 12th and ruled by Mercury, which is conjunct Mars within 3 degrees – though I will not analyze the lots in detail in this post.

Venus: she’s out of sect, in a dark place (8th) and a place that is particularly relevant in terms of fear and violation in power situations, while also with the out of sect malefic Mars.  From this we gather that this Venus can signify pretty far along malefic dimension, i.e. that the significations of Venus will often pertain to difficulties, challenges, adversity, and circumstances arising where there seems to be something of a disregard for the person’s well-being and peace of mind. Because Venus rules the Ascendant, she will also tend to direct the person, be representative of the person’s self-identification in some ways.

Lustful Signs: In a previous post I discussed the lustful signs.  They are abundantly represented in her chart.  Five of the seven planets and the Ascendant and Descendant are in lustful signs, and this includes Venus, the ruler of the Ascendant (again, Venus), ruler of Fortune and exalted ruler of the Ascendant (Saturn), and ruler of the Descendant (Mars).

Special Indications: There are many special indications or groups of indications in the chart that are discussed by various ancient authors in connection to controversy, adversity, and notoriety related to sexuality that are present in the chart.  The following are found in the chart of Traci Lords.

If Venus is in one of the signs of desire, which abound in lust (they are Aries, Capricorn, Pisces, and Taurus), and Venus is under the [Sun’s] rays with Saturn or Mars, then this indicates [something] like what I told you of the act of scandals […]             (Dorotheus, Pingree trans., 2005, Book II, Ch. 7, p. 206)

Masha’allah appears to associate the 12th and 6th places with being places of longing when Venus occupies one, and one may wonder if the 8th should also be included in this matter.  Interestingly, it is the regard of both Jupiter and Mars while Venus is in such a place that is mentioned:

Indeed for the appetite of longing and sexual impurity, consider the following.  For, Venus in a place of longing-namely the sixth or twelfth-under the regard of Jupiter and Mars, or if she would be lingering with the Lord of the Lot in the Midheaven, it defames the female spouse because of prostitution, hides an abortion, presents [her] for sale […]                (Masha’allah, Book of Aristotle, Dykes trans., 2009, Book III, Chapter 7, Section 8, p. 146)

Masha’allah also associated connections between Venus and Mars with increased sexual longing, as did Abu’Ali (among many others):

Moreover, Venus with Mars or in his bound, or under his regard from the opposition, advances sexual impurity and longing; indeed under a male birth it will be thus.             (Masha’allah, Book of Aristotle, Dykes trans., 2009, Book III, Chapter 7, Section 8, p. 146)

Venus, if she were joined to Mars or in his bad aspect, signifies the foulness of wantonness.         (Abu’Ali, On the Judgments of Nativities, Dykes trans., 2009, Ch. 26, p. 285)

Additionally, Masha’allah and Abu’Ali (among others) associated sexual indicators being oriental (i.e. rising before the Sun) as pertaining to more initiating and less restrained facets of Venus (the second passage appears to pertain to in a man’s chart in relation to delineating his love life in marriage):

Their orientality increases it greatly, on the contrary [their] occidentality restrains; but the regard of the Sun reveals sexual impurity.      (Masha’allah, Book of Aristotle, Dykes trans., 2009, Book III, Chapter 7, Section 8, p. 146)

And if Venus were oriental, it signifies the boldness of the woman over the man, with a multitude of love and joy.      (Abu’Ali, On the Judgments of Nativities, Dykes trans., 2009, Ch. 26, p. 286)

There are some additional passages in Masha’allah’s Book of Aristotle, and in other Hellenistic and Persian works, which I won’t be getting into.


As one can see the delineation of sexuality in ancient astrology involves a rich vocabulary, with the potential for very complex delineation, and that the primary stress was upon Venus, the natural significator of sexuality, rather than upon the accidental significations of a particular House of the chart.  The existing literature on sexuality addresses many facets of sexuality from compatibility to homosexuality, and from various types of sexual scandal to fidelity in marriage.  The rich set of factors in the traditional astrology, going beyond just “signs” to include, for example, Houses, planetary regards, side of the Sun (oriental/occidental), and Lots, has the capacity to bring much deeper levels of delineation, with existing literature serving as starting points for practical usage, rather than be-all-end-all dogmatic proclamations.

It is my hope that the reader will start looking at the chart from a different perspective, in ways ancient Hellenistic and Persian astrologers would view things, where natural significations, whole sign places, whole sign regards, orientality, sect, aversion to the Ascendant, and such things take on a great deal of meaning and reveal nuances of expression, leading us away from an overly Modern planet-in-sign approach or a stagnant late Traditionalist dignity-pointing approach to reading the chart.    Have fun!


Masha’allah, & al-Khayyat, A.  ’Ali. (2009). Persian Nativities I: Masha’allah and Abu  ’Ali. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.
Sidon, D. of. (2005). Carmen Astrologicum. (D. Pingree, Trans.). Abingdon, MD: Astrology Center of America.

Astrological Predictive Techniques | 3. More Basic Profection Examples

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

Technique Brief

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

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

Examples Brief

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

James Randi’s Cancer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Carradine’s Death

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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