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Traditional Astrology of Death | Whitney Houston Revisited with Directions

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

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

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

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

Whitney’s Chart

Whitney Houston Natal Chart (AA-Rodden-Rating)

Directing Through the Bounds

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

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

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

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

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

Algol to Ascendant

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

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

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

Saturn transiting over Directed Sun

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

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

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

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

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


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

Astrological Predictive Techniques | Primary Directions | 2. Software Calculation

In the first post of this series, I discussed a little bit about the history and use of primary directions.  One point that I made was on the primacy of the Ascendant.  This primacy of the Ascendant persisted in the Persian period.  In fact, the entire Book III (Distributions) of Abu Ma’shar’s On the Revolutions of the Years of Nativities is devoted to primary directions involving the Ascendant, from the jarbakhtar technique, to looking at planets (and Lots and even Twelfth Parts) conjoining or aspecting the Ascendant by primary motion as partners with the jarbakhtar, and then even an exposition of how to direct the Ascendant through the Indian Ninth Parts and their subdivision into thirds (Abu Ma’shar claimed that this was how the Indians directed the Ascendant, and so he recommended it as an alternative approach to be used).  Other directions are used in Hellenistic and Persian predictive literature, but directions to the Ascendant, and particularly those of the bounds, have an immense primacy in early directions literature that tended to be lost in the resurgence of directions in the Renaissance.

In that first post, I discussed how to roughly estimate directions involving the Ascendant with the use of ascensional times, how to play with astro-clocking, and finally how to calculate directions through bounds with the free astrological program, Morinus. This is going to be a very short post in which I’m going to show how other primary directions can be found with the Morinus software, and what a couple of the settings mean.  All that we will be doing is adjusting settings in Options->Primary Directions within the program.  The Primary Key and the use of only Direct in the Tables->Primary Directions settings, should remain as discussed in the last post, for the reasons noted in the last post.

Basic Settings

Basic settings for looking at aspectual directions will be very much the same as those discussed in the last post.  We’ll just add in the traditional aspects, the points we want to see directed and directed to, and consider a few settings.  Below is how I would look at directions to the Ascendant.

Primary Directions

The Ascendant would be the significator, as a point that we want to stand still relative to the location and have everything else (the promissors) rotate through by primary motion.  So I check the Ascendant as significator, and all the planets and other points I might want to direct to it.  I then check all the classical planets that I want to direct, and in this case also the Lot of Fortune and the Node.  Semiarc and Zodiacal without latitude are standard means of directing until about the 15th century.  In zodiacal options, the first option should definitely be checked, but the second is more controversial. Traditionally the second option would not be used as you would direct aspects of promissors to the significator but would not direct to aspects of the significator.  Some may opt to include those though as it still involves regular primary motion but the difference between the two pertains to a notion of what aspects what, and from what direction (Ptolemy called these direct and converse, but they are different from the modern direct and converse notions that more frequently show up, such as in the tables settings in which converse is actually everything moving backwards – for more on this see the last section of Chapter 1 of Martin Gansten’s 2009 book, Primary Directions: Astrology’s Old Master Technique). Basically, if you check the second option then besides looking at when a planet or its aspects direct to the Ascendant, you will also be looking at when a planet directs to a degree that aspects the natal Ascendant degree.

For the third option in the bottom right, I can see good arguments for or against treating the Asc and MC as promissors, but I do not think they were treated that way traditionally.  In any case, if you check this, then what you are doing is also treating the zodiacal point of the Asc and MC as being able to rotate with the primary motion and enter into aspects with other planets and points that way.  The argument against it might be that these are very different from directions to an actual angle, as here we are looking at directions that the degrees on the angles make to other things as they are carried from east to west in the primary motion.  If you do use them, then you should recognize that the direction of the Ascendant degree to a planet is not likely to be as significant as the direction of a planet to the Ascendant (eastern horizon).

The second thing that I’ve highlighted is accounting for the secondary motion of the Moon.  When we use the astro-clocking method we are accounting for secondary motion.  Secondary motion is very slight in the few hours following birth for all planets but the Moon.  There is a sense that the spirit of the technique is to look at connections made by the planets, especially to angles, after birth, in a more natural manner, with the hours after birth as symbolic of the lifetime (every 4 minutes as a year).  It doesn’t appear that secondary motion was accounted for in the traditional technique, especially when ascensional times were used, but an argument can easily be made for accounting for the secondary motion of the Moon so that directions more accurately reflect the reality in the relevant times after birth.  If you do use this option, then you’ll have to figure out what the three different iterations mean, because I’m not sure (could pertain to accounting for some combinations of secondary motion, parallax, and refraction that affect lunar positioning).  There is more on this topic of secondary motion in Chapter 7 of Martin Gansten’s aforementioned work, Primary Directions: Astrology’s Old Master Technique.

Going Further

From here, if you want to look at directions to additional signficators, just check their boxes.  As mentioned in the last post, in order to pull up the table of directions just click Tables->Primary Directions, choose only Direct, select the age span, and hit OK.

I would caution against starting with too many significators. Ultimately, you want to stick with a very limited number of significators, such as the Asc, MC, and the lights (Sun and Moon). Directing through the bounds is most important for the Ascendant and the sect light.

Eventually, I hope to show some ways that primary directions were used in practice by Hellenistic and Persian astrologers.

Astrology with Free Software | 2. Morinus Updated with Location Lookup

I mentioned Morinus in my initial post on free software options, as it is the best free astrology program available for traditional astrologers.  In fact, for those doing primary directions, it’s important, even among competing programs that cost a lot of money.

Today, I was notified of an extremely important update to the program made by one of its developers, Endre Csaba Simon of Finland.  The program now allows lookup of location using the online geolocation database.  This is a very important advance in terms of making the program easier to use, as one previously had to manually discover and enter the coordinates, time zone, altitude, and other features of a location. The new version can be downloaded from the official site for the program – Morinus: Free Open-Source Advanced Professional Astrological Software.

After entering in the location, you hit “Search”, and if there is just one matching selection, it will automatically plug the correct data into the proper fields on this page.  If there is more than one place then you will get a screen like the following with a list of locations.

This is a great advancement for this program.  It’s important to remember that the program is not only free but also open source.  The nature of open source software is such that the more people use and enjoy the software, the faster and more focused the development becomes to meet the needs of the user community, and the more people will work on the development of the software.  Free and open source software means community property, and this is a program that the astrological community should wholeheartedly endorse, support, and take pride in.

Astrology with Free Software | 1. Best Options

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

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


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


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

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab’s HORIZONS Interface

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

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


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


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

Great Free Traditional Astrology Software Program | Morinus – New Version Released

Would you believe that you can do all of your traditional astrology charting and calculations with a free software program?

When I discovered Morinus a few years ago it was quite a revelation.  This program does it all, and its creator also made it available as a special Traditional version that eliminates some of the options one working with ancient astrology won’t need while adding a few extras they’ll like.

The program’s most recent update was on Oct. 2, 2011, and is version 3.5.

If you are absolutely new to astrology and just need to be able to pull up and print charts in a basic way, then I recommend using the free online chart calculation at Astro.com (Astrodienst) instead.  I’ll cover basic use of the Astrodienst charting in another post.

Installation of Traditional Morinus on a Windows machine is easy:
  1. Download your copy by following this link.  The download link (MorinusWin.zip) is at the bottom of that page.  Right click it, choose Save As, and save it somewhere you can find it.
  2. After downloading, then open the zip folder and click “Extract all files”, choose a place you’ll remember and click “extract”.  That is where the program now resides on your computer.  It is installed.
  3. Open that folder, find the file morinus.exe and right-click it, choosing “Create shortcut“.  Then cut and paste or drag and drop the shortcut onto your desktop.

Drawing up your first chart in Traditional Morinus may be a bit different from what you’re used to:

  1. With the program open, click Horoscope then New, or simply hold CTRL and press N, notated CTRL+N.
  2. You will need the following information: Name, Date your charting (for instance birth date), Time (do this in 24 hour time, i.e. 1pm is 13 hours 0 minutes), Place of Birth, and two very tricky things, coordinates and time zone of your location, if you weren’t born in one of the major cities on their small list.  I recommend putting those last two in while adding your location to the list, by clicking on the “Place” button.
  3. With the “Places” dialog box up, you first enter the longitude and latitude of the location.  You can go to this website, zoom out of the special Google map, zoom in on your location, and then click the relative location, and it will give you the longitude and latitude which you can enter here.  To enter the timezone, use this timezone map to find how many hours west (-) or east (+) of Greenwich time (GMT) your place is designated, for selecting the + or – and then putting the number where it says Hour under that.  Also, put the name of the location, and the altitude if known (not significant for most work), then click Add and your location is added to the Places database.  Once the location is there, then in the future just click Place and select it.
  4. Finally, before you do a chart, make sure you know if the location had daylight saving in effect at that time of year.  You may need to do some investigation to find this out, and this link is a good place to start.  If it was in effect then make sure you check the “Daylight saving” box.
  5. Once your chart is up, be sure to type CTRL+S to save the chart for later access.

Have fun!  I’ll explore some of the uses of Morinus in future posts in the Software category (click here for an article on doing primary directions with Morinus).

When dealing with the more ancient varieties of traditional astrology, there is not as much need for software beyond chart calculation. This program will come in handy for primary directions though.
When dealing with the more ancient varieties of traditional astrology, there is not as much need for software beyond chart calculation. This program will come in handy for primary directions though.