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

Introduction

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.

Mercury

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.

References

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.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Astrological Predictive Techniques | 1. Profections Intro

Profections are one of the oldest, most important, and easiest predictive techniques to learn.

Activating the Natal Chart and Transits

Prediction starts with a proper understanding of the birth chart.  Most people today are familiar with transits, which are the relationships between the celestial configuration (i.e. the “transiting” planets) of a given time, such as today, relative to the configuration at birth.  Transits are by far the most common predictive technique used today.  However, in traditional astrology, they were viewed as rather superficial and insignificant in themselves, unless they involved planets that in some way were activated during that period. Activated planets were those which were Time Lords.  These were not the type of Time Lords that fly around the universe in a telephone booth, but rather the type that have a greater bearing or influence over a certain period of time, potent for releasing natal significations.

There are many types of Time Lord systems.  In fact, there are many Time Lord systems that are found in the gigantic Anthology by Vettius Valens of the 2nd Century CE, that are not found elsewhere.  Valens was a traveling astrologer who seemed to have picked up techniques from a great many different groups of astrologers in his time, and the bulk of his huge Anthology is devoted to natal predictive techniques of all sorts, which astrologers are still exploring, testing, and coming to understand.

While most Time Lord systems that will be discussed on this blog were introduced during the Hellenistic period (and most are reported from Valens), there are also some Time Lord systems that were introduced by the Persians, such as the Firdaria system.  In any Time Lord system, the emphasis is on activation of the natal chart.  Some astrologers may take a cookbook approach to Time Lords, such as on the Firdaria site that I linked to in a previous sentence, but the real value of these Time Lords is that they “turn on” or “potentiate” certain significations of the planets in the specific birth chart.  Similarly, there are Time Lord techniques that activate signs, places, and particular aspects in the chart.  Transits and other predictive techniques, such as solar and lunar revolutions (i.e. returns), become more focused and clear with the prior use of Time Lord techniques.

Introducing Profections

While there are other important Time Lord techniques, I find profections to be one of the most valuable and the easiest to use, so I’ll explain profections in the next few posts on predictive methods.  Then we will get into other Time Lords and predictive techniques, to eventually consider how techniques can be prioritized and integrated into one’s own particular predictive system. In this first post we’ll look at who used profections and the basic idea behind the technique.

Hellenistic and Persian Astrologers on Profections

There are few Time Lord systems, or even predictive techniques, more ubiquitous and universal in Hellenistic and Persian astrology than profections.  A sampling of some of the Hellenistic and Persian astrologers that definitely used this technique (which is nearly all of them) included Marcus Manilius (1st Century CE), Dorotheus of Sidon (1st Century CE), Vettius Valens (2nd Century CE), Claudius Ptolemy (2nd Century CE), Paulus Alexandrinus (4th Century CE), Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE), Hephastio of Thebes (5th Century CE), Masha’allah ibn Athari (8th Century CE), ‘Umar al-Tabari (8th Century CE), Sahl ibn Bishr (9th Century CE), Abu ‘Ali al-Khayyat (9th Century CE), Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi (9th Century CE), and al-Qabisi (10th Century CE).  As you can see, this was one of the truly vital predictive methods of ancient astrology, discussed even more frequently than transits.

Paulus gave one of the clearer expositions of the basic technique (Ch. 31, from Greenbaum trans., 2001, p. 65, bracketed passages added by me for clarification):

As many years as the nativity should spin out, we pass these through from the hour-marking zōidion [sign], giving the first year of engendered time to the Hōroskopos [ascending sign] and the second to the post-ascension of the Hōroskopos [2nd place], and so on for the rest in the following zōidia [signs], until the 12th number should be completed.

Basic Technique: Annual Profections of the Ascendant

The quote above from Paulus illustrates the most basic, and in my opinion, most important, form of profections, which is the profection of the Ascendant from one sign to the next for each year of life.  Paulus goes on to give examples, of how the profection each year comes to the next sign or place of the chart, and the ruler of that place becomes the “lord of the year”.  The technique is easy and requires no fancy computer software, as there are no specific degrees involved, but rather just discrete hops from one place in the chart to the next at intervals of time.  In fact, the technique is called a “circumambulation”, meaning a “walking around” the chart.

To illustrate, if someone was born with Pisces rising, then Pisces is the 1st Place or House, and Jupiter is the Lord of the Year for their first year of life, age 0.  On the solar return at age 1 (typically the birthday, but the exact moment the Sun returns to its natal position), then the Ascendant profects to the 2nd Place, Aries, and Mars becomes Lord of the Year.  It continues like this, from one place to the next on the solar return/birthday, until the start of their 13th year, which is the 12th birthday, at which point we return back to Place 1, Pisces, with Jupiter as the Lord of the Year again.

Another example.  Let’s say someone has Leo rising.  Then ages 0, 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, and so forth are 1st Place/Leo years with the Sun as Lord, while ages 1, 13, 25, 37, 49, 61, 73, 85, 97, and so forth are 2nd Place/Virgo years with Mercury as Lord.  Where will the Ascendant profect when they are 18 years old?  18 years old is their 19th year, so take the remainder of 19/12, which is 7, and this is the Place of that year, the 7th Place, Aquarius, with Saturn as Lord.  What about at age 44?  44 is the 45th year, so take 45/12 which leaves a remainder of 9, so it is a 9th Place/Aries/Mars year.  If 0 is the remainder, then you’re dealing with the 12th place (sorry, if I’m making this more confusing).

Another way to find profections is to simply use the age itself and count forward or backwards from a multiple of 12, as all multiples of 12 will be the 1st Place.  So if you are looking at age 25, then you know this is one year past 24, so it will be the 2nd Place.  If it is age 35, then this is one year back from 36, so it will be the 12th place.

Take a number of charts and simply try finding the place of the current profected Ascendant for all of them.  After a short time you should be able to do this very easily in your head knowing nothing more than the person’s rising sign and age.

Usage of Annual Profection of the Ascendant

The annual profection of the Ascendant is interesting from a symbolic viewpoint.  First, the sky is sometimes generally conceptualized as the soul or mind, while the earth is conceptualized as the body, and as the Ascendant is the point where the sky with the Sun and planets within it appears to stream up from the earth at the eastern horizon, the Ascendant is like a soul peering out through a body.  The Ascendant, and the rising sign in general, are representative of the self, or the locus of the actual physical discrete person in the horoscope.  As the Ascendant profects to the next house of the chart, it is as if the person pays a visit to a new house each year and the goings on there thus become awakened in the life.  While the Lord of the Year is given a lot of attention, in some ways the planets in the sign itself are even more important, being directly encountered during this visit, while the lord of the chart particularly presides over and takes responsibility for the affairs.

Paulus on the Lord of the Year (Ch. 31, from Greenbaum trans., 2001, p. 65):

[…] falls to Virgo.  Hermes is the lord of the year.  We examine the [star] of Hermes, how it lies in the nativity, and which of the stars make a baleful aspect to it, and which look ahead at the zōidion where the year has chanced to be, and which were configured with it in the nativity.

There are profections for months also, and days, as well as other types of profections of planets, all following this same principal of moving something into a new house at each new time interval.  We will address other uses and varieties of profections in future posts. However, the annual profection of the Ascendant has a particularly special significance.  Not only does it establish a sort of main “lord of the year”, and highlight a sign and place, but it is also incorporated strongly into other predictive techniques.  For instance, in Abu Ma’shar’s particular predictive system he pays special attention to the sign of the profected Ascendant and its lord in the solar return chart.  Additionally, I find it particularly helpful to pay attention to the transits from and to the lord of the year, and through the sign of the profected Ascendant.

Examples of Use with Transits

To simplify, I’m going to give an example of using profections to highlight important transits, as this will be the easiest way for the beginner to start working with profections. However, I caution against trying to predict on the basis of an annual profection and transits alone.  There are many other factors, and in time we will explore them and learn how they fit together.

It is very difficult to find examples to just use transits emphasized by just the annual profection but I know of one particularly striking one which I’ll share.  We’ll explore this example and others in more depth with other predictive techniques as we delve deeper in later posts of this series.

James Randi Publicly Announces Cancer Diagnosis

[Note: this section corrected 6/27/12 using input from reader, Erna]

I’ve addressed Randi’s chart before in terms of belief, so I won’t do much analysis here.  Suffice it to say, I admire the guy, I think the chart info that he has provided for himself is honest and accurate, and his chart has a lot to say. In this case we’ll be looking at the malefics in Randi’s chart, Mars and Saturn.  Mars is a malefic, and Mars is here the ruler of the 6th of disease, and is in the 12th of loss, oppression, hidden enemies, and such.  Both the 6th and 12th are largely regarded as the worst of the bad places in ancient astrology, so malefics in these places have the capacity to signify quite difficult matters when activated. Saturn is the out of sect malefic in Randi’s chart, and as such tends to signify in a way that is both difficult and seems disloyal to Randi’s self and purpose.  Randi was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in mid-2009 and it looks to have been successfully treated, but it was certainly difficult period.

James Randi's Natal Chart (twelfth-part positions along the outside)
James Randi’s Natal Chart (twelfth-part positions along the outside)

James Randi was born in August of 1928, so when he was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in June of 2009, as well as when he announced that cancer treatment was underway on or about July 9, 2009, at the Amazing Meeting that year, he was 80 years old.  Age 84 would be a 1st place year, so age 80 would be back 4 places at the 9th place, Aquarius, with Saturn as Lord of the Year.  Generally, Saturn would be regarded as the more difficult of the malefics because Randi was born at night and Saturn is loyal to those born during the day.  Saturn’s ability to signify difficulty is also shown in its position in the sometimes antagonistic 7th house and the location of Saturn’s twelfth-part in the 12th house which is a dark place called bad spirit as it was particularly associated with problems (especially mental/social ones shown by the word “spirit”).

Note: Using Valens-style profections, in which the planets are also profected, Saturn profects 9 places to the 3rd house, where the Sun and Mercury are located.  Saturn to the Sun is particularly symbolic of health issues, as is Saturn to the ruler of the Ascendant (Mercury).

Randi's 2008 Solar Return (non-precessed)
Randi’s 2008 Solar Return (non-precessed)

Looking at the (non-precessed) solar return for that year which was in August of 2008, we find that the Ascendant was 17 Virgo, with both Saturn and Mars (with Venus) in the rising sign (which is the 4th house of the natal; see above).  At the time of Randi’s cancer announcement transiting Saturn was also at 17 Virgo afflicting the solar return Ascendant (see Saturn in outer wheel of chart below).

As mentioned, Mars is a malefic, in a bad place, and Mars also dominates Mercury, ruler of the Ascendant.  In June and the first half of July, 2009, Mars was transiting through Taurus, Randi’s 12th place, where Mars is also located natally.  The twelfth-part of Saturn, lord of the year, is also located there.

Fascinatingly, James Randi publicly announced the cancer during his exact Mars return.  The Mars return occurs about every 2 years due to the apparent speed of Mars through the zodiac (which is about half a degree per day), so this is not an event that happens every day or often.  Not only did the return of Mars coincide with the announcement but Mars was most likely in the exact same degree of the zodiac that Mars held at birth when the announcement took place, a degree it would occupy that year for only those first couple days of the July 2009 Amazing Meeting.  The last time Mars returned to that degree (i.e. his last Mars return) had been in August 2007, and the next Mars return was not until June of 2011.

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

I’ve provided the transit chart (relative to natal) so that you can confirm the positions of the planets, and particularly of Mars on the day of the Amazing Meeting during which Randi publicly announces the cancer.  I’ve also provided the chart with transits around the edge, and with the Mars return highlighted for better visual understanding.

To recap: It was a Saturn year for Randi, and Saturn is a planet that is able to signify the most difficult circumstances in Randi’s life, as well as one which has its twelfth-part position with Mars, the other planet that signifies difficulties, both in the 12th house which can show health difficulties, and with Mars ruling the 12th even more particularly showing health difficulties.  The combined influence of Saturn and Mars was highlighted in the solar return, which featured both planets in the rising sign, symbolic of the self.  At the time of the events, Saturn transited in the very degree of the solar return Ascendant, while Mars returned to its natal position in a difficult house.  While this example brings in other techniques besides basic annual profections (returns, twelfth-part positions, Valens-style profections, transits), it illustrates how annual profections help to form the backdrop to other predictive techniques and structure their meaning.

Conclusion

Using annual profections of the Ascendant simply to recognize periods when natal significations will be more active is a good exercise.  However, we don’t experience the same fate at age 12, as at age 24, and at 36, etc.  Paying particular attention to transits of and to the lord of the year, and through the place, in addition to the natal significations, particularly those that renew a natal signification, can sharpen up your use of transits.

I would like to add that profections are thought of as a handing off of responsibility.  A new planet is taking some responsibility for your well-being, when you, signified by the Ascendant enter into the planet’s house.  The Lord of the Year, has some responsibility for carrying out some of the big yearly plans for you.  As we look at the Lord of the Month in the next post, you’ll see similar themes, where a certain plan has increased responsibility for the big monthly plans that pertain to you.

If you’re new to profections, then I hope this post has been informative and that you have fun with this great, simple, and effective technique that was a staple of the ancient astrologer’s repertoire.

References

Alexandrinus, P., & Olympiodorus. (2001). Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olypiodorus. (D. G. Greenbaum, Trans.). Reston, VA: Arhat.

James Randi. (2011, November 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:29, December 3, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=James_Randi&oldid=462839271

Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 1. Introduction and James Randi

Disclaimer

I’m not starting a series of posts on skeptics and atheists to in any way belittle them or marginalize them.  This is simply an important and interesting area of traditional astrological inquiry.  I’m not an atheist myself, but I may be a skeptic, as I’m certainly a critical thinker with a high regard for rationalism, empiricism, and falsifiability.  I have great relationships with many atheists, and, while I’m not an atheist, I think theirs is a perfectly acceptable point of view. Does astrology entail theism?  I’m not completely sure.  There may be means of explaining astrology non-theistically.

James Randi

I have some measure of respect for James Randi, as I don’t like con artists, especially new age ones, and he works to expose such people.

Randi was also kind enough to give astrologers his birth time (though many have met it with skepticism, giving it a C Rodden Rating on that basis alone, even though other first-hand reports from birth certificates would get an A rating).  I’ll take his birth information at face value.

James Randi's Natal Chart
James Randi’s Natal Chart (Outer Edge Position are Twelfth-Parts)

The Rules of the Game: Ingredients

In this post I just want to highlight a few features of the chart very quickly that would pertain to skepticism and dislike or or bad experience with religion.  I’ll delve into traditional special techniques for such things in more depth in subsequent posts, but here I just want to look at a few major factors.

The factors I’ll look at are:

  1. Jupiter, natural significator of religion.
  2. 9th Place, house of God and religion.
  3. Mercury, natural significator of rationality and critical thought.
  4. Saturn, natural significator of doubt, fear, challenge, and rot.

These will be analyzed in terms of strength/weakness and benefic/malefic tendencies.

For strength/weakness I will consider the following as major considerations showing strength of a planet:

  1. Strongly Advancing (approaching the angles of the chart, i.e the Asc, MC, Dsc, or IC of the chart, within 15*) and to a lesser extent Advancing (more than 1/3 zodiacal travel from one angle to the next).
  2. Stationing Direct (the planet turns from retrograde motion to direct within 7 days of the birth).
  3. Being In Phasis (the planet moves into or out from the beams of the Sun, standardized to 15* from the center of the Sun, within 7 days of birth).
  4. Being in a Stake of the Chart (the planet is in the 1st, 10th, 7th, or 4th place, i.e. the Ascendant or the signs 4, 7, or 10 signs from the Ascendant counted inclusively, e.g. a chart with Scorpio rising has Scorpio, Leo, Taurus, and Aquarius as “stakes”).

I will consider the following as major considerations showing weakness of a planet:

  1. Retreating (planet has passed an angle by more than 5* but is not yet 1/3 of the way to the next angle).
  2. Stationing Retrograde (the planet turns from direct motion to retrograde within 7 days of the birth).
  3. Combust (planet is within about 8* of the Sun at birth and is not in phasis).
  4. Being in a Cadent Place (the planet is in the 6th, 12th, 3rd, or 9th place counted inclusively from the 1st place/rising sign).

For quality I will consider the following major considerations show beneficence:

  1. Planet is of a benefic nature naturally (Jupiter, Venus, and to a lesser extent the Moon and Sun).
  2. Planet is In Sect (if the Sun is above the horizon, i.e. a diurnal chart, then the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn are in sect; if the chart is nocturnal, then the Moon, Venus, and Mars are in sect; Mercury is of the diurnal sect when rising before the Sun, or nocturnal if rising after the Sun).
  3. Planet is in a Good Place (in order from best to not as good, 1st, 11th, 5th, 10th, 9th, 7th, 4th).
  4. Planet is with Jupiter or Venus (in the same sign) or regarded by Jupiter or Venus from the right side (i.e. a benefic is in a sign sextile, square, or trine from behind the sign containing the planet under consideration).

I will consider the following major considerations to show maleficence:

  1. Planet is of a malefic nature naturally (Saturn and Mars).
  2. Planet is Out of Sect (i.e. if diurnal, then Moon, Venus, Mars out of sect; if nocturnal, then Sun, Jupiter, Saturn out of sect; Mercury as determined by rule above).
  3. Planet is in a Bad Place (in order from worst, 6th, 12th, 8th).
  4. Planet is with Mars or Saturn (in the same sign) or regarded by Mars or Saturn from the right side, or by opposition, or within 3* (i.e. scrutinizing).

Additionally, the 1st place and its ruler pertain more to the person themselves.  Planets in the 1st or ruling the first will be more representative of the person in the chart.  Likewise, planets in the 9th or ruling the 9th will tend to say a bit about the role of religion in the person’s life.

The Rules of the Game: Recipes

Our initial, very rough technique for determining dislike of religion and a strong skeptical rationality, follow from basic principles of ancient astrology, and are as follows:

  1. Jupiter and the 9th are significant for religious matters, so if they are weak then religion/theism is likely to be weakened in the person’s life and if they are made malefic then religion/theism is likely to be seen as “bad” in the person’s life.  For Jupiter, this is as illustrated above, but for the 9th, this means a planet made malefic in the 9th or to a lesser extent a malefic that regards the place by square or opposition), as well as the condition of the ruler of the 9th.
  2. Mercury and Saturn signify rationality and doubt/fear respectively, so the stronger they are, the more pervasive their effect in the life.  The more malefic they are, the more they are geared to destruction, attack, and controversy, and the more malefic they make the things they attach to in the person’s life.

Randi’s Chart Analyzed in Brief

James Randi's Natal Chart

  • Jupiter:
  • Extremely weak – Jupiter has none of the major strength considerations, and in fact is extremely weak, by retreating and cadent (in the 12th place, Taurus).
  • Made malefic – While Jupiter is naturally benefic, that is its only signification of beneficence, and it is in fact made malefic by being out of sect, in a bad place, and assembled with the malefic, Mars.
  • Our initial expectation from Jupiter is that expansive spirituality and positivism is weak in his life and that it is also associated with bad things, particularly aggression and victimization (Mars), as well as loss, betrayal, and deception (12th place).
  • 9th Place:  
  • Fairly strong and Saturnine – The 9th, Aquarius, is not occupied by any planets but its ruler, Saturn, is Strongly Advancing in a stake of the chart, which makes the place more prominent in this person’s life.  The 9th signifies religion but also the seeking of higher wisdom in general. When strong a person tends to be a truth seeker. When Saturnine they tend away from spirituality due to a strong dose of doubt and fear associated with spirituality and religion, and their doubt or various obstructions may hold them back from achievement in higher ed.  In any case, this shows more prominence for matters of belief in this person’s life than Jupiter did, and it is showing particularly that a strong doubt and obstruction of belief is prominent and pervasive in this person’s life.
  • Somewhat malefic – Saturn rules the 9th place and Saturn is malefic as will be discussed in the Saturn analysis.  Additionally, Mars is square to the 9th place from the 12th.  In terms of religion and belief, this signifies a hatred, challenging tendencies, contrariness, and overly critical attitudes.  In other words, the tendency in the life is towards destruction of 9th place matters and towards their association with bad or difficult things.
  • Saturn:
  • Very strong – Saturn is Strongly Advancing, and in fact is within 3* of the Descendant, i.e. setting right when the person was born.  Saturn is in the 7th place which is a “stake” of the Ascendant.
  • Somewhat malefic – Overall, Saturn is malefic.  This is because it is naturally malefic, and in the chart it is also out of sect.  Saturn is not extremely malefic though, because it is in a good place and Venus trines it from the right side.  Therefore, Saturn is somewhat mixed in terms of malefic/benefic tendencies, bring both fortunate and difficult circumstances in the life, at different times and in relation to different matters.  Saturn is also trined by Mercury, the ruler of the 1st place of the self, on the right-hand side, so in any sense, Saturn integrates harmoniously into this person’s sense of self and personality.
  • We expect doubt and/or fear to be a powerful and pervasive influence in this person’s life, integrated with the conception of self, and mixed in terms of pleasant and unpleasant associations.
  • Mercury:  
  • Rather neutral – Mercury is not very strong, nor very weak in the chart.  Mercury is in phasis, but also retreating and cadent.  We say Mercury is more weak than strong, except that it also rules the 1st place of the self, so if not pervasive in the person’s life, then at least it is pervasive in terms of their sense of self, personality, and skill set (also, there are many more minor strength considerations, such as being with the Sun, ruled by the Sun, trine the Moon, and with a very strong ruler).
  •  Somewhat malefic– Mercury is a rather neutral planet, but is here out of sect, assembled with Venus, and square by both Jupiter and Mars from the right side.  It’s complex, with a broad range of expressions.  Given that it is a strong reflector of the person’s own moral range, we see quite a broad range from good to bad intentions and everything in between, always with a showy trickster type of expression due to Mercury’s nature and the strong public emphasis of the Sun.
  • In short, he’s Mercurial, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad, but he is not a genius when it comes to intellectual and verbal matters.  In other words, Randi is a skeptic (Saturn), not a scientist or intellectual (Mercury) for profession, though he was a magician (dash of Mercury, Venus, and Sun; trickster, art, and publicity; in the house of communications, the 3rd).

That’s all the time I have for today.  I hope to explore this chart and those of other prominent skeptics and atheists in the future.