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Traditional Astrology of Death | Kirk Kerkorian with a Multitude of Special Techniques

The recent death of Kirk Kerkorian has generated a lot of buzz in my stomping grounds of Southeast Michigan, as he was a major player in business in this area from his involvement with the auto industry.  He died on 6/15/15, just 9 days after his 98th birthday. I won’t be analyzing his life in this post, and instead will use his death at a very advanced age to compare and contrast a number of length of life techniques that were presented in the first 5 centuries of the common era by Hellenistic astrologers.

Kerkorian was reportedly born at Noon, which is somewhat suspicious (he likely was born within minutes before or after) on 6/6/1917 in Fresno, CA. His birth data is AA rated for accuracy. Most length of life techniques involve primary directions which are very strongly dependent on the exact time of birth, so a roughly accurate indication, such as within a year, is sufficient for our purposes, given that the birth time may be rounded from within a few minutes which could put the indication by primary directions off by even more than year in some cases.

Part I: Special Techniques

I am not going to fully explain and evaluate each length of life technique as that is an extremely labor intensive manner that I am currently taking on for a possible book. I’m going to look briefly at the indications according to a number of length of life techniques, and then discuss some general timing techniques that relate to the timing of death. Those interested in an overview of the length of life techniques of the Hellenistic era, can find such in a previous post on the topic.

The Hellenistic techniques for length of life are not foolproof.  They have their issues, so a thorough reading of this post and my other posts on the traditional astrology of death will not give you the power to predict the length of life for other people using these techniques (not that you’d necessarily want to after reading my results). Therefore, upon learning about these techniques, do everyone a favor and don’t predict death for people, because it will make you a liar and unethical. I analyze charts using the Hellenistic length of life techniques in service of their evaluation and the furthering of historical astrological knowledge only.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

The Manilius Technique (early 1st century CE)

The Roman astrologer Marcus Manilius, provided a very brief set of rules for assigning years to each zodiacal sign and each house for length of life, but never fully explained how to use them. He did say that the Moon’s placement in the houses indicated the years, but didn’t explain what to do with the years of the signs at all. This exposition starts at line 560 in Book III of Astronomica. Unfortunately, Manilius tells us that his section is just for conveying the years allotted to the signs and houses, and that the full exposition will follow later in the work, but he never does explain the technique. He begins his exposition about the years of the houses by noting that if the Moon is in the 1st house she grants 78 years. Therefore, my best guess is that house of the Moon indicates the years, and perhaps the years of the signs (which are all small amounts) are added to those indicated by the houses.

The Moon in Kerkorian’s chart was in Capricorn, which is the 5th house. Manilius asserted that Capricorn grants 14 2/3 years and the 5th house grants 63 years, so we may suppose that the indication by the technique is 77 2/3 years, which is an incorrect indication as he lived to age 98. Typically in Hellenistic techniques, the sect light or one of its rulers (particularly the bound lord) is the most important planet for longevity indications. The sect light (the Sun) is in Gemini (14 2/3 years), the 10th house (77 years), so indicates 91 2/3 years. Venus is the bound lord and only aspecting lord of the sect light, but she is in the same sign and house so she indicates the same. 91 2/3 years is closer but still incorrect. In conclusion, Manilius does not provide enough information for use of his technique, and the most logical guesses regarding its use don’t yield accurate indications.

The Dorothean Technique (1st century CE)

According to the technique explained by Dorotheus (1st century CE), the Sun in Kerkorian’s chart would be the important significator to use for length of life, as it is the sect light at the time of birth (Sun by day; Moon by night), it is in one of the 3 most advantageous places (it is in the 10th place/sign from the Ascendant or rising sign), and it is with its bound lord, Venus, in the same sign.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

Death is said to be indicated by the bound in front of the Sun that is ruled by or aspected by a malefic (exactly to a degree within the bound) without any aspect of a benefic (exactly to a degree within the same bound). Jupiter and Mars are in the same degree in Kerkorian’s chart, so Jupiter will take away the power of a lethal aspect from Mars in all cases. Saturn is at 27 Cancer while Jupiter is at 24 Taurus and Venus is at 26 Gemini, so the possibilities for Saturn to aspect a bound that is not accessible to aspect from Jupiter or Venus is also limited.

Very soon after birth, the Sun enters the bound of Mars in Gemini, which is malefic and has no benefic casting a ray into it. He obviously did not die shortly after birth. One may suggest that the already applying bodily conjunction between the Sun and Venus was responsible, or that the indication by bound ruler itself is a much weaker indication than an aspectual one from a malefic.

The next malefic bound was that of Saturn and that was occupied by Venus, so is protected, according to the Dorothean method. From there the Sun entered the Mars bound of Cancer, which is also not aspected by a benefic, though one may argue that the aspect of the Moon intervenes. The Jupiter bound of Cancer is aspected by Mars, but also Jupiter, so is protected.  However, note that the Saturn bound of Cancer is occupied by Saturn and has no benefic aspecting the degree. Therefore, by the Dorothean technique we should expect the death to occur when the Saturn bound of Cancer or exact position of Saturn directs over the Sun.

Dorotheus used the distance between the two in ascensional times. Using a table of ascensions for Gemini and Cancer at about 36-37 degrees north of latitude, we find that each zodiacal degree of Gemini will equate to about 0.974 degrees of ascensions (0.974 years of life) and each degree of Cancer will equate to about 1.171 degrees of ascensions (1.171 years of life). There are about 14 1/2 degrees of Gemini (14.5*0.974=14.123 years) and 28 degrees of Cancer (28*1.171=32.788 years) between the Sun and Saturn, which equates to almost 47 years by ascensions. By actual accurate traditional primary directions, the indication is almost 46 years. In any case, Kerkorian lived to age 98, so the indications by the Dorothean technique are wrong.

But, what bound does the Sun fall into after 98 years, by both ascensions and by directions through the bounds? By ascensions, we already noted that the remainder of Gemini gives us about 14.123 years, then all of Cancer gives us 35.136 years (46.259 cumulative), then all of Leo gives us 37.025 years (83.284 cumulative). So, 98 years is only another 14.716 years, or degrees of ascension, into Virgo. There is about 1.218 degrees of ascension for each zodiacal degree in Virgo, so there are (14.716/1.218=) just over 12 degrees in Virgo before the time of death. 12 Virgo is the bound of Venus. it is a bound ruled by a benefic. There is not malefic aspect of the bound but it is the bound where the square of the Sun (15 Virgo) directs to the Sun. Dorotheus does not name the square of the Sun as being a dangerous direction, but we will find that the square of the significator is significant as the indication for length of maximum life by Valens. Also, the square of Sun is considered as malefic by some later astrologers.

Perhaps more significant in relation to the Dorothean technique, is that by actual primary directions (rather than the pseudo directions which symbolically use ascensional times even for points for which ascensional times are not remotely accurate, such as the Sun on  the MC in this case), it is the bound of Mars of Virgo, that the Sun is in by directions through bounds, at the time of death.

Kerkorian the Sun directed to Bound of Mars
Kerkorian the Sun directed to Bound of Mars in October 2014

The bound is a malefic one and is aspected by both malefics, but is also aspected by both benefics, so is still problematic by the Dorothean technique, since the benefic aspects to the bound should remove the harm. Therefore, while the Dorothean technique points to directions to the significator by malefic bounds and malefic aspects to the bounds as particularly important, and they are (as illustrated also in some prior posts in this series), the assertion that such an indication MUST indicate death when lacking the intervening aspect of a benefic both over-predicts death (e.g. the direction of Saturn to the Sun) and under-predicts by failing to account for death (e.g. the directions at death, in which death is either indicated by the square of the Sun or by multiple malefic directions in a malefic bound but with benefics aspecting the same bound).

The Ptolemaic Technique (2nd century CE)

Ptolemy also would take the Sun as the significator (as it is sect light  and in the 10th place). Ptolemy advises use to look at actual primary directions involving the Sun, and not to use ascensional times. As the Sun is just past the MC (provided the birth time is not off by a couple minutes), he advises us to look at both direction of the Sun itself to the Descendant (i.e. converting the setting of the Sun into year), and the directions to the Sun of malefics (especially by body, square, or opposition according to Ptolemty). Ptolemy also appears to say that the direction from the square of the significator can indicate death.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

There is some confusion regarding his technique of directing the significator to the Descendant, as he made a comment about aspects of benefics adding to the years indicated by this and likewise of malefics subtracting years, and noted that this is by proportion of hourly times.  So, for instance, Hephaistio interpreted that the distance from significator to Descendant was to be measured in ascensions, which is a mis-interpretation as Ptolemy advised to use accurate primary directions and the use of ascensional times for points that are descending gives extremely inaccurate times.   Basically, for Kerkorian, we must first find the time when the Sun sets by directions, which indicates almost 108 years. From here, we must find the rise and set times of the benefics, malefics, and/or Mercury, when any such planets have an aspect that intervenes from the Sun’s journey to the Descendant, and then find the time it takes to go from rising to setting, divide that by 12 to convert it into an “hourly” time, and divide that by 4 to convert it into an hourly right ascensions figure, which is considered the “hourly time” of that planet. The amount added or subtracted then depends on the proportion of arc that the planet has traveled for its journey from rising to setting or vice-versa, multiple by its hourly time (i.e. if it is a benefic with an hourly time of 15 and it has 1/3 of its journey left to set1, then it adds 5 years). It is unclear whether each aspect from the planet adds or subtracts, of if we are just to add each relevant planet once.

Kerkorian rising and setting times

We would judge Mercury to malefic in the chart because it is most closely conjunct Mars.  In this case, the Sun will meet the aspects of Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Mercury twice, and the aspect of Saturn three times before it sets.  Given the time left until they set, each of these planets individually adds and subtracts the following on their own in this chart:

Jupiter +5.3 years

Venus +10 years

Mars -6.4 years

Mercury -6.2 years

Saturn -12.9 years

If we do the additions and subtractions only once per intervening planet, then the net added is negative 10.2 years, with a life expectancy of about 98.2 years.  This figure accords with this actual length of life of 98 years. If we must add and subtract for each separate aspect then the net added is negative 33.3 years, for a life expectancy of 74.7 years. While one approach to the technique of directing to the Descendant with additions and subtractions based on hourly times appears to give a correct indication, it is also somewhat counter-intuitive. Why should we being adding or subtracting each hourly time only once, rather than adding or subtracting for each relevant aspect?

The other part of Ptolemy’s technique, and in fact the more important strategy, is to look in front of the significator to see what will direct to it. The direction of a malefic (or the Sun if the significator is the Moon) to the significator will indicate death unless the potential killing degree (aspect of the malefic) is located in a benefic bound or is aspected by a Jupiter within 12 degrees or by Venus within 8 degrees. A planet cannot save or destroy if it is under the beams of the Sun (i.e. within 15 degrees of the Sun). Mars is conjunct Jupiter, so no aspect of Mars will ever meet the killing criteria. Venus is under the beams, so cannot save. Therefore, there are some aspects of Saturn that fall without the intervention of Jupiter, but not until 27 Libra, and that is within the Venus bound of Libra, so also does not qualify. Therefore, such a malefic aspect is not possible by directions. Ptolemy notes that the square to the place of the releaser (significator) also can indicate death. However, Ptolemy insisted on use of actual primary directions rather than directing with symbolic ascensional times, and the degree of the actual direction of the square of the Sun to the Sun is in late 2009, a full 6 years before death. The actual closest direction to the Sun at the time of death was the trine of Mercury, which applying at the time and doesn’t seem particularly nasty according to Ptolemy’s guidance as it is Mercury and a trine, while Jupiter aspects within 2 degrees.

In conclusion, the technique of using aspectual primary directions as given by Ptolemy is not a reliable indicator of length of life. His much more complex technique of directing to the Descendant and then adding/subtracting by a proportion of hourly times may hold some promise, as a certain interpretation of it provided a correct indication here, but the correct results also could be due to chance, so more research is needed.

The Main Valens Technique (2nd century CE)

Vettius Valens provided numerous techniques for length of life in Book III of his Anthology, and even more techniques scattered across most of the books of the Anthology, but here I will focus on what appears to be his preferred technique and the one that relates most strongly to that of other astrologers like Dorotheus and Ptolemy.  The technique is related to the Dorothean and Ptolemaic techniques but also assesses a maximum length of life based on ascesional times from the significator to a point zodiacally 90 degrees from it, or from an angle of the chart to the next angle, and a maximum based on planetary years of the bound lord of the significator. There is a free translation of the Anthology available at this link, though I recommend the Project Hindsight translation of Book III (available for $30 as a PDF if you email Ellen Black of Project Hindsight), as its footnotes are invaluable for serious study of the technique.

Valens would also take the Sun as the significator as it is the sect light, in the 10th, and with its bound lord. Therefore, according to Valens, the Sun predominates in the chart (it is the significator) and Venus is the relevant “ruler”.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

The first determination is according to the ascensional times from the Sun’s position to the square of its position in front of it (i.e. from 15 Gemini to 15 Virgo). As noted in the section on the Dorothean technique above, there are 98 ascensional times between the Sun’s position and about 12 (to about the middle of the degree), so adding another 3 zodiacal degrees given a conversion of about 1.2 ascensional times per degree, brings us to about 101.6 ascensional times, or 101.6 years as an indication of maximum length of life.

According to Valens, we then look at the greater years of the ruler, Venus. She assigns her total greater years (82 years; or 84 years as indicated in some places in Valens and Maternus) because she is well placed. Valens advises to prefer her indication as the maximum length of life, so we conclude that the maximum length of life is 82 or 84 years.

Now, we must check to see if a malefic aspect intervenes between the Sun and its square, without a benefic aspect within 7 degrees of the same. Saturn’s direction is protected by Jupiter, as is the  square of Mars in Leo, and there are no other significant malefic directions in that span. Therefore, we conclude that the length of life is 82 or 84 years according to the indication by the planetary years of Venus. This technique leads to bad results.

It is worth noting though that the indication by ascensional times from the Sun to its square is relatively good as a maximum length of life at 101.6 years. Valens notes that the degree of the significator and the 3 degrees on either side of that degree (a 7 degree span) are sensitized, and each degree in Virgo has an ascensional time of nearly 1.3, so the death did occur within the critical span of the square of the Sun.  Therefore, the technique of using ascensional times of the square may have some value. For instance, perhaps the indication of Venus should not be used because she is under the beams (though this is not specified by Valens), in which case we prefer the square of the significator and find it to be relatively accurate.

Valens also suggests the possibility of judging from the angle prior to the hyleg, to that following it. The ascensional times of the signs from the Descendant to the MC are very small, and would provide an indication under 61 years, which is way off the mark. If we use the MC to the Ascendant, then the span is slightly longer than that of the Sun to its square, so it would add a couple  more years to the sum, giving a length of life around 104 years, which is less accurate than the square of the Sun.  Another possible apheta (starting point) is the hylegical lot calculated from the nearest New Moon (before or after birth) to the Moon position, which puts the lot at 22 Pisces. This is near the Descendant, so we would again end up with a much shorter indication of death in his sixties. I won’t be exploring further the more obscure techniques that Valens also discusses in different chapters of Book III.

We may wonder about use of the Valens technique with actual primary directions rather than ascensional times. This would not effect the indications by years of Venus, and the fact that malefic directions are protected, but it would affect the indication by the square of the Sun. The square of the Sun directs to the Sun in later 2009, when the native is 92 years old, so this indication too is not accurate.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, Valens presents so many disparate techniques for length of life in the Anthology, scattered across most of the books of the work, that we cannot hope to evaluate (or even clearly understand) them all. I won’t be exploring his other longevity techniques here.

The Maternus Technique (4th century CE)

Maternus (Book II, Ch. 26 and Book IV, Ch. 6 of Mathesis) advises to take the ruler of the sign following that of the Moon as the chart ruler. Therefore, the chart ruler is Saturn.  Saturn is in the 11th house and in its own bound so would likely be considered to provide its greater years, which are 57 years. This technique provides an indication that is very far off the mark.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

Maternus does note that there was a diversity of opinion on finding the ruler of the nativity, and that some took a planet that is in one of the principal houses of the chart and in its own sign or bound, others took the bound lord of the sect light, and others took the ruler (or exaltation ruler?) of the Moon. Only Saturn is both in an advantageous place (the 11th) and in its own bound  or sign (in this case, it’s bound), and Saturn is also the sign ruler of the Moon, but as noted, Saturn indicates only 57 years. The bound lord of the Sun  is Venus, and she indicates at most 82 or 84 years. Mars is the exaltation ruler of the Moon’s signs and can only indicate at most 66 years (but is cadent and out of sect, so may indicate less here). Basically, no matter how you slice it, the Maternus-style technique involving planetary years does not yield the correct results.

The Technique of Paulus Alexandrinus (4th century CE)

The technique of Paulus Alexandrinus combines some features of the Dorothean technique with features of the Maternus technique, to give us a hybrid planetary years technique. This technique was combined with that of Ptolemy to form the basis of the typical Medieval technique to length of life.  While in Chapter 34 of Introductory Matters, Paulus advises us to look at primary directions (by ascensions) to Ascendant, Sun, and Moon involving certain malefic planets and points, in order to assess times of crisis, he does not explicitly use directions in the context of his length of life technique. His length of life technique, which he explains in Ch. 36, has more in common with the technique of Maternus than with those of Dorotheus, Ptolemy, and Valens.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart

As with Maternus, he finds a “ruler” that indicates the length of life by planetary years. His instructions for finding the ruler are similar to the instructions given by Dorotheus to find the ruler of the hyleg (i.e. he takes a ruler, not necessarily the bound ruler, typically of the sect light, and prefers it if its aspects the sect light and it is itself strongly placed).  Paulus would select Venus as such a ruler, as she is the only ruler of the Sun that sees the Sun.

Venus indicates 82 or 84 years, but planets in whole sign aspect to Venus may add or subtract years from this indication. However, there are no such planets, so 82 or 84 years are indicated (or less as Venus is under the beams), and an incorrect indication is given.

Summary Findings on Special Techniques

None of the major Hellenistic special techniques for length of life provide the correct indication when employed exactly as the authors advise.  However, there are elements of the techniques of Dorotheus  Ptolemy, and Valens that appear to have some promise.  Dorotheus clues us into the relevance of the directed bound lords and to primary directions that are within bounds. Ptolemy clues us into the importance of malefic directions and the possibility that directions to the Descendant (possibly modified by hourly times) could be significant. Valens clues us into the importance of the ascensional time length from the hyleg to its square as a possible maximum life span. The indications that are most off the mark seem to relate to use of planetary years, whether by Valens, Maternus, or Paulus Alexandrinus. Interestingly, planetary years came to provide the main indication of general length of life in the Medieval period.

Part II: Other Factors

I typically examine the astrology of death in terms of other factors that coincide with the death rather than in the context of a particular predictive technique, as no traditional predictive technique reliably and accurately predicts death most of the time, and as death is arguably one of the most important events in life, there are many indications of danger or hardship shown by predictive techniques.  Mars is arguably the most relevant planet for death in the chart as it is the out of sect malefic and rules the 8th house, as well as afflicts the lord of the Ascendant somewhat due to its conjunction with it.

Kirk Kerkorian's Natal Chart
Kirk Kerkorian’s Natal Chart


Kerkorian turned 98 shortly before his death. On his 98th birthday, June 6th, 2015, the annual profection shifted to Scorpio, ruled by Mars, so Mars is the lord of the year for the year of death. Mars is in Taurus in his natal chart, so the profection was also in opposition to Mars.

As death occurred in the first month after the birth day, the monthly profection was also still in Scorpio, with Mars as the lord of the month.

Solar Return

Kerkorian's Final Solar Return
Kerkorian’s Final Solar Return

Kerkorian’s final solar return is striking. Mars is conjunct the Sun within 3 degrees, and they are both with Mercury (lord of the natal 1st). The Sun is the main significator of life in the chart (it is the sect light and prominently placed) and here it is afflicted by the main indicator of death in the chart.  Additionally, Saturn is in Sagittarius, opposing the Mercury-Sun-Mars configuration. Both benefics are also in Leo, which is the 12th house of the natal chart, and said to be an ineffective place.

Distributor: Directing through the Bounds

As noted above in the context of the Dorothean technique, the sect light, the Sun, had directed into the bound of Mars in Virgo in late 2014.  Therefore, the bound lord of the directed sect light was Mars, and additionally Mars aspects that bound.


The transits at the time of death are also striking, as the transiting Sun is in partile conjunction with transiting Mars (i.e. they are conjunct in the same degree), and the transiting Moon is joining them in the same sign, Gemini, which is the natal sign of the Sun. Additionally, by this time Saturn had retrograded back into Scorpio, the sign of the annual profection.  Therefore, even with the transits, we see multiple repeat indications of the them of Mars afflicting the Sun to indicate the time of death.

Transits at Time of Kerkorian's Death (exact time of day unknown) - Inner Wheel is Natal - Outer Wheel is Transits
Transits at Time of Kerkorian’s Death (exact time of day unknown) – Inner Wheel is Natal – Outer Wheel is Transits


People sometimes ask me why most of my traditional analyses of death lack the use of special techniques for predicting longevity. Here I’ve presented an answer. None of the existing longevity techniques are perfect, and the more prominent Medieval techniques for longevity are particularly inaccurate.  Though there still are plenty of additional techniques provided by Valens that require evaluation. I do advocate the use of special techniques rather than individual factors for most in depth analysis, but when it comes to death I prefer a combination of predictive techniques, as they show interesting indications, even if it would be almost impossible to know with certainty that those indications were for death rather than some other difficult event. There are elements of early length of life techniques that I make use of and that I keep in mind to regularly test, but I know of no special technique of Hellenistic or Medieval astrology that reliably indicates the length of one’s life.



Image attribution for featured image of this article (bas relief of Lachesis):

By Jim Kuhn [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Twelfth-Parts | 2. The Secret Second Chart

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


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

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

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

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

The Importance of the Twelfth-Part Positions

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

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

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

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

Basics of Use

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

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

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

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

Steve Jobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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.

Astrological Predictive Techniques | Planetary Years | 1. Minor Years and the Division of Days

Many modern astrologers may not realize that each of the planets has certain numbers of years assigned to it.  Even in today’s traditional astrological circles the years of the planets are underutilized in predictive techniques, as most of the ways of using them disappeared in the middle ages.  However, in Hellenistic astrology, especially in the techniques of Vettius Valens (2nd Century CE) and Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE), planetary years are the basis of a large number of predictive techniques.  In this post I introduce the most commonly used figures for the planetary years, which are also known as the Minor Years of the planets.  I discuss how they can be used as indicators of when a certain configurations in the chart will “ripen”, and I also discuss their mathematical relationship to the length of the year and how they can be used to divide the year into rulership by different planets in the natal chart.

The Minor Years of the Planets

Let’s start by simply noting what the minor years of the planets are.  They are given in many different texts, with consistent values, and one such source is at the end of Book III of Valens’ Anthology.  Here I give the planet, the number of years.  The rationale for these numbers concerns times when the planets return to the same positions in the sky with the Sun, based on synodic cycles, except that the Sun’s number, 19, is based on the metonic cycle which is when the Sun and Moon meet at the same position every 19 years, and the Moon’s number, 25, is based on a relationship between the lunation cycle and the Egyptian calendar that repeats every 25 years.

  • Saturn – 30
  • Jupiter – 12
  • Mars – 15
  • Sun – 19
  • Venus – 8
  • Mercury – 20
  • Moon – 25

Minor Years as Ripening Planets

In various areas of The Anthology by Valens, especially in Book VII, Valens uses the years of the planets as signalling ripe times for their effects to manifest.  He actually combines minor years of planets in configurations with each other, combines minor years of planets with the minor years of their sign ruler, combines rising times of signs with planetary years, he mixes and sums planetary years, planetary months (i.e. 1/12 of the planetary years), and rising times of signs for various configurations, and gives instructions relating to using fractions of planetary years and rising times.

For our purposes let’s focus first on just using planetary years and their combinations.  The basic idea is that a planet’s effects are likely to manifest or ripen near to the number of years of the planet, as well as multiples of that, and combinations of the planet and its ruler.  Additionally, to time out the ripening of configurations we combine the years of the planets involved.

Example number 1 is the death of Whitney Houston.  In a prior post on the death of Whitney Houston, I noted that she died in her 49th year, and discussed how Sun-Saturn configurations ripen near age 49.   Whitney had a Sun-Saturn opposition across the 6th and 12th houses of her natal chart, which are considered the most difficult houses of the chart, and have relevance for health crises and other difficult events.  Given Saturn as natural signficator of death and the Sun as natural significator of life, the activation of this configuration at approximately 49 years, the sum of the years of the Sun (19) and Saturn (30) is very significant.

Example number 2 is Hitler’s rise to power.  In summer of 1934, Hitler became leader of Germany after the passing of President von Hindenburg.  This saw the realization of his scrutinizing (i.e. within 3 degrees) Mars-Saturn square from Taurus to Leo, from the 8th pertaining to death to the 11th pertaining to organizations, where Saturn in Leo advancing toward the MC promised leadership and Mars in the 8th pertained to death.  Hitler was 45 years old, the sum of the years of Saturn (30) and Mars (15).  Hitler was able to eliminate all that stood in his way and seize supreme unimpeded power over Germany’s direction by early 1938.  At the time, Hitler was in his 49th year, nearing his 49th birthday.  This is the realization of his role as a culminating Saturn in Leo, at the combination of the years of Saturn (30) and its ruler the Sun (19) the Sun also dominates Saturn from the 8th, so it also is the activation of the Sun-Saturn square.

Hitler's Natal Chart
Hitler’s Natal Chart

Example Three is the 1st edition of Alfred Witte’s Rules of Planetary-Pictures, the definitive pronouncement of the basic planetary combinations and rules of Uranian astrology. Alfred Witte turned 50 in 1928, the year of the first publication, which would have coincided with the ripening of Mercury-Saturn configurations (20+30) and those of the Moon itself (25+25).  Witte was born with Mercury in Aquarius (ruled by Saturn), and that Mercury was also conjunct the Moon, so both Mercury in Aquarius and Witte’s Moon ripen at the time of the publication.  Mercury in Aquarius is in the 5th house of Witte’s chart, that of creative output, children, and entertainment – Mercury there being significant of teachings and publications, and Saturn of structure and foundations.  An interesting tidbit about Witte’s Mercury at 27 Aquarius (and Moon at 28 Aquarius for that matter as they are conjunct within a degree and a half) is that it closely opposes the modern planet Uranus (father sky) at 26 Leo and the asteroid Urania (muse of astrology) at 25 Leo.

Alfred Witte's Natal Chart
Alfred Witte’s Natal Chart

I’d like to leave it to the reader to find some additional interesting examples, either from their own charts or those of celebrities.  Feel free to share interesting cases that you find in the comments section.

Planetary Days and Their Eerie Sum

One of the most fascinating things about the minor years is that if you take the sum of each’s double, half, and third, they all add up 365.5, almost exactly the number of days in a year.  These sums of double, half, and third may be referred to as the days of each planet.  They are given in Book II, Chapter 29 of the Mathesis by Firmicus Maternus (“The Division of the Year”) with a couple minor errors, and a more precise list is given by Vettius Valens at the beginning of Book IV of his Anthology.  The list of the planetary days is given below:

  • Saturn – 85 = 60+15+10
  • Jupiter – 34 = 24+6+4
  • Mars – 42 1/2 = 30+7 1/2+5
  • Sun – 53 5/6 = 38+9 1/2+6 1/3
  • Venus – 22 2/3 = 16+4+2 2/3
  • Mercury – 56 2/3 = 40+10+6 2/3
  • Moon – 70 5/6 = 50+12 1/2+8 1/3

Sum of all the planetary years = (85 + 34 + 42 1/2) + (53 5/6 + 70 5/6) + (22 2/3 + 56 2/3) = 161 1/2 + (124 2/3 + 79 1/3) = 161 1/2 + 204 = 365 1/2 days. Spooky, isn’t it?

Dividing the Year

These planetary days are used in a few different time lord techniques in Hellenistic astrology.  Probably the simplest and most intuitive use is given by Firmicus Maternus in Chapter 29 of Book II of the Mathesis, and divides the native’s year following one’s birthday.  As Firmicus explained it, it seems that we start with the ruler of the annual profection (explanation of profections can be found here), also called the lord of the year, and proceed from one planet to the next based on their order in the natal chart from that planet.

I will only use one example of this technique, as it can be time consuming to lay out.  However, once you’ve laid out the days the planetary rulership switches over the course of year it is done and can be referred to throughout the year, giving a nice understanding of the timing for the manifestation of different planets and their indications for that year.

My one example is that of Bernie Madoff.  He was arrested at age 70, on December 11, 2008.  Mars, the out of sect malefic in his chart is in Gemini, ruled by Mercury, planet of commerce, in the 11th which pertains to groups and networking.  This Mars is particularly relevant to his capture, as he was arrested in an 11th house, Gemini, annual profection, which came to that Mars, and was ruled by his Mercury.  Interestingly, the year 70 is also a year of the ripening of Mercury-Mars relationships (20+20+15+15), activating his Mars in Gemini, as well as his Mercury in Aries, and their sextile relationship.  Additionally, on the morning of his arrest, December 11, 2008, the transiting Moon was in early Gemini, conjoining his natal Mars.

Bernie Madoff's Natal Chart
Bernie Madoff’s Natal Chart

The breakdown of the days of the year is also interesting.  It starts on or around his birthday April 29th.  His arrest is December 11th.  To calculate the number of days between them we can use a duration calculator (click to go to calculation site).  Using the calculator we find about 226 days between Madoff’s birthday and his arrest.  We begin the year with Mercury, and then proceed in the order of the planets in the natal chart as follows:

Mercury 56.666+ Moon 70.666+ Sun 53.8333+ Venus 22.666 = 203.83, so approximately 204 days after his birthday, the rulership went from Venus to Mars.  The period of Mars is 42.5 days, so it went from about 204 to about 246 days after his birthday.  Therefore, at the time of Madoff’s arrest it was Mars that was the active planet pertaining to those days.

I leave you with a quote from Firmicus Maternus on the interpretation of the day activations from Mathesis, Book II, Ch. 29, #2 (Holden trans., 2011):

“when illnesses, when debilities, when gains, when losses happen, when joys, when sorrows. For when the benefic stars receive the days, we are freed from all evil; when malefics, the sudden blows of misfortune strike us.”

Have fun experimenting with the basic use of the minor years of the planets and the planetary days!  Feel free to share experiences in the comments.



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