Industrial Symphony No. 1 is a very ethereal musical play created by David Lynch with music by Angelo Badalamenti and singing by Julee Cruise, which was performed in 1989, after Wild At Heart and foreshadowing, musically and thematically, the Twin Peaks series. I missed it on its release to VHS in 1990 but it’s also been released in the Lime Green Box Set and a lower quality version floats around on YouTube, as seen below.
The Moon through a Loud Speaker
The irrational is pervasive in Lynch’s work. Watching his films is akin to a swim through the sphere of Yesod on the kabbalistic tree of life. It is of little wonder to find the Moon as the loudest and most influential planet in his life: the sect light (Lynch was born at night), above the horizon, and in a feminine sign (i.e. in haym); strongly advancing to culmination on the MC (conjunct MC within 2 degrees); in the place of the Good Daimon or Spirit (the 11th house; pertaining to mental, spiritual, and social benefit); in the place of Love (i.e. place occupied by the Lot of Love, one of the 4 principal lots, and actually within 2.5 degrees of the lot); with her twelfth-part in the most important place, the 1st House; with some testimony in the Ascendant (participating triplicity and regard by sextile) and regarding and ruling the lord of the Ascendant (Mars in Cancer); also conjunct the twelfth-part of Fortune. Some of these indications make the Moon more prominent in a general way in the life as a whole, as if her volume has been turned up and she influences all affairs, while other indications pertain more to identity and personal influence.
Lunar themes of vivid depths of subjective experience, the emotive instinctuality and irrationality of the natural world, and the affection of the familiar and habitual (i.e. sentimentality) are also very apparent in his life and work. I am thinking particularly of his repeat use of familiar actors, the non-linearity of his work, the thematic grappling with the gap between the role we create for ourselves and the role we actually play, the complex and paradoxical subconscious evocations of rural life and the wilderness, and the influence of dreams, visions, coincidences, and spiritual experiences on our life events and states of mind.
The Moon is in Virgo, a mutable sign, thus the Moon tends to express through transitory combination and interaction, as if between players, rather than having her primary mode of action through powerful changes (cardinal) or stable developments (fixed). Virgo is an earth sign, evoking the land, tradition, and the body. Virgo’s ruler, Mercury, is the messenger, and is in the 3rd House, the Joy of the Moon, herself a traveler, while Mercury delivers and communicates, adding a lot of movement, interaction, communication, and consultation to the prominent relationship between the Moon and Mercury. Mercury is in phasis and is most directly influenced by Venus and the Sun, with which he is assembled in the third house, Capricorn; Venus pertaining to love and art; the Sun to influence and publicity. This is especially so with Venus, as she is most closely assembled with Mercury and rules his bound (as well as being a triplicity lord of Capricorn). The combination of Venus, Mercury, and the Sun in a place of connection and conveyance is evocative of many important professional aspects of Lynch’s life, from artistic direction of important projects to bold use of music. While the 3rd house is most directly benefic, being occupied by the sect benefic and dominated (right-side square) by Jupiter, Mercury’s applying opposition to both malefics, and rulership by the out of sect Saturn, in the House of God, lend an aura of foreboding ethereal terror over matters of Mercury, Venus, the Sun, and the 3rd House.
The Moon pertains to family and childhood, especially the mother, and the Virgoan Mercurial influence and prominence of the 3rd house fits with Lynch’s mother being an English tutor and his father and agricultural research scientist. The prominence of the 3rd House, the Moon, mutability, and Mercury, all evoking travel and movement also fits with his experience of moving a half dozen times with his family as a child, and embarking on some formative trips as a young adult. The land, tradition, the elderly, fear, and emotional or physical handicap are all very Saturnine themes evoked in his work, as in his chart, as supernaturally lurking in the shadows of, and contrasted with, human innocence.
Malefics in the Lunar House of God Tugging on Venus
When it comes to Lynch’s personality, the main indicators are the lord of the Ascendant (Mars), Mercury, and the Moon. Mars is in sect and in a good place in the chart, but conjunct the out of sect malefic, Saturn, while strongly influenced by both benefics (benefics are in the stakes of Mars), and ruled by the very benefic Moon while in the bound of the benefic Jupiter. The overall sense with Mars is of an ambitious nature and one which can be irritable and rebellious, but is heavily influenced by goodness (sect, good place, benefic influence), and yet touched by the dark, dreadful, or macabre (Saturn). All in all, there is incredible complexity to the character because of all the planetary influences on the lord of the Ascendant. Mars additionally occupies the 9th Place, the House of God, drawing Lynch to spiritual matters.
Spirituality itself is a complex and prominent matter in Lynch’s life. On the one hand, their would seem to be much animosity toward religion given the strong association between spirituality and evil, signified by the presence of both malefics in the 9th, the retreat of Jupiter in the 12th house of the Evil Daimon or Evil Spirit, and the identification with rebellious Mars and intellectual Mercury. However, there is an overwhelming prominence and personal investment in matters of spirituality, truth, belief, and dream in his life, symbolized by 5 of 7 planets occurring in the 9th and 3rd, including both Mars and Mercury, and with rulership of the 9th by the sect light, the Moon, despite their dark associations. While Mercury is strong in some ways, it lacks the overwhelming pervasiveness of the more subjective and irrational lunar influence over the life. Through twelfth-parts we also find the identification with the Moon and Venus, as their parts are in the Ascendant, and we find Jupiter, planet of faith and spirit, playing a more prominent role in career and administrative aspects of the life, being positioned in the 10th of actions and authority.
Fear-inducing (Saturn) and violent (Mars) spiritual entities (9th place) tended over by the irrational Moon, mistress of nature, night, and instinct, comes cropping up frequently in his work. It is little wonder that the influence of the malefics figure prominently in his work, as they oppose and rule his Venus, the goddess of beauty, who rules over works of art. Venus is in the 3rd House, the Joy of the Moon, in the nocturnal house of Saturn (Capricorn), in the bound of Mars, and with the Moon as the primary triplicity lord. Her twelfth-part is in the 1st House, that of the self, in the nocturnal house of Mars (Scorpio), in the bound of Jupiter. Venus is the primary planet pertaining to his aesthetic and it is fitting to find her dominated by subjective and spiritually-tinged maleficence (Mars and Saturn in the 9th, in the bound of Jupiter, ruled by the Moon) and irrationality (Venus in the Joy of the Moon, general pervasiveness of the Moon, Venus and Moon twelfth-parts co-present in the 1st of self and identity). The 3rd house journey/transportation themes also occur frequently in Lynch’s work. Wild At Heart, Lost Highway, and even The Straight Story are road movies, while main characters are often visiting outsiders.
In my opinion, a pivotal year in Lynch’s life was 1966, when he moved to Philadelphia to attend an art school which held more promise than the last one, got his future wife pregnant, created his first short film (Six Men Getting Sick), and became acquainted with the fear of crime-ridden urban living.
He would have been Age 20 at the time, thus the annual profection would have been to his 9th House, Cancer, occupied by the malefics, Mars and Saturn, with the Moon as lord of the year, all key influential planets in the life and especially in terms of relationship and artistic matters (Venus). Lunar years are typically quite varied and eventful, as the Moon is prominent and moves quickly. In this case, the Moon herself profected to the 7th of partnership, ruled by Venus. It was as if in this year Lynch stepped into the house of the Moon, finding Mars and Saturn there creating fear and violence, but with the Moon lording over things and guiding them, in terms of pregnancy, bonds, and the artistic promises of the 3rd house.
At the time of the solar return the Moon was in the 3rd house, conjunct natal Mercury, putting a spot-light on the work of that house. Mars and Venus of the return were both in the 4th of home and family, while Saturn was in the 5th of children just as Saturn’s natal twelfth-part is, signalling weight and apprehension in the house of children.
The importance of a year in terms of one’s professional objectives is primarily seen through zodiacal releasing of Spirit. In October of 1965 the 1st Level of Spirit’s releasing made its first transition from its starting period in Gemini to its new period in Cancer where it would stay until 1990. This started off with a 2nd Level period also in Cancer until October 1967. Therefore, both of the two main levels of Spirit’s releasing were to the 9th House, Cancer, ruled by the Moon, occupied by both malefics, and additionally activated at the Age 20 profection.
The activations by planetary year were also interesting. Age 20 is most prominently a Mercury year, while also a year in which Venus-Jupiter (8+12) relationships come into play, such as his Jupiter in sign and bound of Venus and dominating her, signifying artistic benefit and children (both planets confer children, and both are the main rulers of the House of Children, the 5th, Pisces).
There were many other pivotal years in his career but 1990 stands out as particularly important and prolific. He won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks was hitting TV audiences, he released the Industrial Symphony No. 1, and his early paintings were in exhibition. Interestingly, 1990 marked another profection to the 9th House, Cancer. The Moon, lord of the year, was transiting through the 1st house of the Self at the time of the solar return, which was also a Venus return, as Venus was at 27 degrees Capricorn in the return, almost exactly conjunct her natal position at 26 Capricorn, strongly realizing Venus’s artistic birth promises.
When we look at the releasing of Spirit for 1990, we find that it marked the next major transition of the Level 1 releasing, from Cancer (the period which started in 1965) to Leo, the 10th house, ruled by the Sun. Thus this next major transition in his professional life marked a new period, ruled by the Sun, which is with Venus in the 3rd, and emphasizing the 10th house of actions, honors, and authority. It was as if Lynch had received his throne (the 10th and the Sun both pertaining to rulership/kings).
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Like so many people around the world, I felt sad to hear that Donna Summer passed away on Thursday, May 17th after a battle with a lung cancer. Donna Summer was a musical icon and will be dearly missed.
I missed out on the heyday of disco in the mid-’70’s but I remember as a child in the early ’80’s dancing to songs by Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, and other fun pop, funk, and disco artists of the era. There was something magical about all the new electronic instrumentation that would come to characterize the weirdness of the eighties. While I tried to distance myself from pop music as a young adult, there has always been something childishly innocent about eighties pop stylings that as an adult I can now appreciate – making me feel like a kid again!
I’m probably in the minority of traditional astrologers in that I don’t believe there is a single method out there, such as a hyleg/alcochoden technique, that on its own allows one to make accurate predictions about the length of someone’s life. Rather, I ‘m someone who thinks that if you throw a lot of techniques together, then you may be able to see it coming, but it’s quite difficult. Looking at it in hindsight is always easier, and that’s largely what this series is about.
I’d like to look at some of the “signs” around the time of Donna Summers death and how they relate to death. By exploring the connection between deaths and natal predictive techniques, we sharpen our ability to recognize when the astrological language of death and appreciate the intricate beauty of even such a dark and sorrowful event as death.
It is hard to imagine a chart more oriented toward artistic performance. First, Venus is the significator of profession, as she is in a stake of the chart (the 4th) and strongly advancing, while having triplicity at the Ascendant and possibly bound, depending on how precisely accurate the birth time is, and Venus receives the next application of the Moon and is with the twelfth-part of the sect light (the Moon is the sect light as she was born at night). My approach to the technique for professional significator can be found here. Secondly, there is a whopping 5 planets, including the Sun and Moon, as well as the ruler of the 1st (in the bound of Venus), in Capricorn, the 5th House, which is the Joy of Venus and is performance-oriented. Finally, the ruler of the 5th is on the Ascendant, and thus is extremely prominent.
Mercury also crops up as important for the profession as Mercury rules the 1st and 10th signs and the bounds of the Asc and MC, and has its twelfth-part in the Ascendant. Venus and Mercury as co-significators of profession, with Venus more dominant, combines artistry/beauty (Venus) with vocalization (Mercury), being quite common for singers.
In death analysis, we are most interested in the more potentially difficult elements of the chart. In my opinion, one of such difficult configurations is the conjunction of the Ascendant (significant for the body and self) with the out of sect malefic, Saturn (significant for death, loss, struggle, isolation). Another is the close (but separating) conjunction of the Moon and Mars (lord of the 8th of death, Aries) in the bound of Mars within 3 degrees of each other, and under the domicile rulership of Saturn.
For an introduction to planetary years, please see the introductory post on them. Donna Summer was in her 64th year at the time of death and was 63 years old. Therefore we are particularly interested in combinations of planetary years that add to 63 or 64, which may involve multiples, as there are not two distinct planetary minor years that sum to more than 55.
There are only two combinations of three planets’ minor years that work without any multiples. They are Saturn-Mars-Sun (30+15+19=64) and Saturn-Venus-Moon (30+8+25=63).
Possibilities involving multiples with one and two planets are below:
One Planet: Venus (64)
Two Planets: Venus-Mercury (24+40=64), Mars-Sun (45+19=64), Jupiter-Mercury (24+40=64), Sun-Moon (38+25=63).
Of these, I regard some as less important because the planets in the relationship are not all configured together with each other by either rulership or aspects. For instance, Saturn-Venus-Moon is less significant to me because while Saturn aspects Venus and the Moon, Venus and the Moon are in aversion, and Venus is not ruled by Saturn. Similarly, Venus and Mercury are in aversion.
In conclusion, the four most important activations are Saturn-Mars-Sun (Mars and the Sun co-present and ruled by Saturn which overcomes them by trine), Mars-Sun (Mars and the Sun together), Sun-Moon (the Sun and Moon co-present), and Venus. Of these, I take Saturn-Mars-Sun to be the most important, as it involves no planetary multiples and it is reinforced by an activation of Mars-Sun involving multiples of Mars.
This Saturn-Mars-Sun activation is also the most significant one for the matter of death, as it includes both malefics (which each directly afflict significators of the body in the chart) and the Sun, which can be symbolic of vital power.
The importance of the Saturn-Mars-Sun activation is confirmed by transits on the morning of the death, in which we see the transiting Sun applying to natal Mars within a degree, and transiting Mars with natal Saturn and applying to natal Sun within a degree (transiting Sun also scrutinized, by opposition, natal twelfth-part Mars at 25 Scorpio).
The two highest level periods are particularly important in zodiacal releasing. I give four levels below:
Sagittarius (Jupiter) – occupied by Venus and the twelfth-part of the Moon, ruler is cazimi the Sun in 5th, Capricorn. This is about a 12 year period beginning in 2010.
Capricorn (Saturn) – occupied by 5 planets, including Sun and Mars, with ruler in 1st, Virgo. This is about a 2 year period beginning in February of 2011.
Scorpio (Mars) – occupied by the twelfth-parts of the Ascendant, Saturn, and Mars, with ruler in 5th, Capricorn. This is about a 5 week period beginning on May 9th, 2012.
Capricorn (Saturn) – see #2. This is about a 5 day period beginning on May 15th, 2012.
As mentioned, in interpreting the releasing of Fortune, Valens paid special attention particularly to the first two levels. One interpretive principle commonly used is that the Lot or its ruler in an angle of the chart (1st, 10th, 7th, or 4th place) shows strength, while if cadent from an angle (12th, 9th, 6th, or 3rd place) it will show weakness. This rule can get difficult to use in practice, as Valens also suggests at one point that we can use the angles of the Lot of Fortune. If using both the angles and the angles of Fortune, with the released Lot and its ruler, then there are simply too many points and too many strong places in the chart to derive much meaning from it.
Some people sidestep this dilemma by considering only the angles and cadents from Fortune, and not from the Ascendant. Using that approach, the Capricorn periods would be somewhat vulnerable as the Lot would be in the 6th from Fortune (a cadent place), as would be those periods ruled by a planet that is in Capricorn. The place of the Lot was thought to show the start of things and the ruler the development. So Level 1 in Sagittarius would start out not particularly strong or weak (as it is not an angle nor a cadent) but in the development of the period weaknesses could result (as the ruler is in the 6th from Fortune). Level 2 in Capricorn would start out weak, and would not develop strong towards strength or weakness (as ruler is not in an angle or cadent of fortune). Level 3 would start strong but end weak (Lot in angle, ruler in cadent). Level 4, like Level 2, would be weak and not strongly improve. Therefore, the overall stress of all 4 periods being placed on Capricorn, which is a cadent from Fortune, would seem to show some vulnerability when looking at this element of interpreting releasing.
Valens discusses other principles of interpreting releasing from Fortune which I feel are a bit easier to delineate. One thing is that he does is view the 1st two levels as if the ruler of Level 1 is transmitting or passing off to the ruler of Level 2, almost like the ruler of Level 1 is running into some type of thing signified by the 2nd level ruler. For instance, a benefic transmitting to a malefic, as in the case here with Jupiter transmitting to Saturn, shows overturn. Additionally, the transmission of the Sun or Moon to Saturn is particularly dangerous for health (Saturn to the Sun or Moon indicating the opposite, vigor). According to Robert Schmidt of Project Hindsight, the original meaning of a cazimi planet is that it takes over signification for the Sun. If this is correct, then we might treat the transmission of Jupiter to Saturn, as more akin to a transmission of the Sun to Saturn because of the cazimi status of Jupiter.
… the sun and moon when transmitting to Saturn are indicative of setbacks and anxieties, and they bring hostility […] as well as bodily disorders and dangers, shipwrecks, sudden collapses, and very many crises … (Valens, Anthologies, Book IV, Ch. 5, Riley trans., 2010, p. 73)
If we were to consider the other levels in this type of consideration then we have Saturn transmitting to Mars (Level 2 to 3) and Mars transmitting to Saturn (Level 3 to 4). Valens regarded transmission from a malefic to a malefic (Saturn to Mars and vice-versa) as particularly dangerous, much like a situation that goes from bad to worse.
Interestingly, in the zodiacal releasing method for health we find that the emphasis is placed again on Saturn, Mars, and the Sun (as Jupiter is cazimi the Sun) both in terms of the planets themselves and the repeat activations of the 5th house.
Next, I would like to look at distributors, as they are time lords which tend to rule over more than a one year period and can be very significant for health matters. The distributor is typically the bound lord of the directed (with zodiacal semi-arc non-latitudinal ptolemaic-key primary directions) Ascendant, though some later Persian astrologers used the sect light rather than the Ascendant (and in fact optional use of the sect light as an alternative to the Ascendant is common in many Hellenistic techniques as well). The distributor is a time lord, but typically a planet actually applying an aspect to the directed angle or sect light (within 3 degrees presumably, as that was the definitive range for applications and separations, as distinct from regards, in Hellenistic astrology) would take over the lordship or at the very least share it. The obsession with direct hits by primary direction, rather than use of it for time lords, was a later post-Hellenistic development. I touch on some of these issues in my introductory post on primary directions (and there’s another post on calculation).
From the table of distributors we can see that the distributor of the Ascendant was Venus and that of the Moon (sect light) was Mars at the time of death. And what of any aspectual co-rulers of the distributions?
One of the very useful features of the primary directions module in Morinus is that of pulling up the actual primary directed chart for a given day. For the day of Summer’s death that chart is below.
Reading a PD chart is a little counter-intuitive for those used to looking at secondary directions and transit charts, and I won’t be clarifying it much here, but it is helpful to take the PD chart as the base and the natal as the aspects to it – as the PD chart is telling you the degrees of the zodiac that are passing over the natal positions and the natal chart is telling you the degrees of the zodiac that the directed planets are sort of “glued to” as they travel by primary motion. In other words, it is as if the PD chart gives you the zodiacal positions of the significators and the natal gives you the zodiacal positions of the promissors.
The PD Ascendant (significator) is at 25 Libra, and it is applying a square to natal Mars (promissor) within 3°, and actually within 2° (or it could be conceived in the opposite way, that Mars has revolved under the Earth and is applying a square to the static natal Ascendant – the scenario is the same in both cases with the Ascendant as significator and Mars as promissor). The PD Moon is at 23 Pisces (or the 23 Pisces has directed over the natal Moon) with no applying aspect within 3°.
In conclusion, Mars is the distributor of the sect light. Mars also became the distributor, or at the very least the co-distributor, of the Ascendant starting about a year prior to death, becoming more significant than the bound lord distributor, Venus, due to applying aspect.
These time lords by primary direction are extremely important for matters of health and general circumstance, and here we see an emphasis placed upon Mars in the natal chart, which is the ruler of the 8th house of death, and is in the 5th afflicting the Moon, Sun, and Ascendant lord.
There is one very close aspectual primary direction within about a month of the death that is very symbolic of death. It is the direction of Saturn (promissor) to oppose the prenatal syzygy (significator).
At age 63 the Ascendant profects to the 4th house, which in Summer’s case is Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter, which is cazimi the Sun, in the 5th with Mars, and ruled by Saturn. Being the lord of the year, Jupiter is a particularly important planet to examine in the solar return.
As it turns out, Jupiter is in separating opposition to Saturn in the return (within 3°, i.e. scrutinizing, note: application/separation is a separate concept from regard in Hellenistic astrology – regard pertains to sign relationships, whereas application/separation pertain to degree relationships particularly within 3 degrees, termed “scrutinizing”, regardless of sign boundaries). Saturn is the out of sect malefic, and Jupiter can take over signification from the Sun, so this can be a dangerous configuration.
Additionally, return Saturn is at 28 Libra, in dominating scrutinizing square to the natal Mars-Moon conjunction at 27 and 29 Capricorn. Furthermore, return Mars is transiting through the natal 1st, pertaining to the self and health, and is applying to natal Mercury, its ruler, and this is affliction of the Ascendant lord by Mars is even more apparent in the return chart itself (above) in which return Mars is in dominating square to return Mercury in the same degree! This is particularly significant because return Mars and Mercury transit through angles of the natal chart and because return Mercury transits through the sign of the annual profection.
Natal Venus is in the sign of the profection. Natal Venus in the natal chart is dominated by Saturn. Return Mars also dominates natal Venus. Return Venus is placed in Aquarius, the 6th house, which is a weak house in aversion to the Ascendant which can be significant for sickness and is here ruled by Saturn.
The return Moon transits through the 8th of death, under rulership of Mars, echoing the Mars-Moon conjunction and its potential significance for bodily harm. The monthly profection of the Ascendant at the time of death was to Aries, the 8th house, ruled by Mars, and occupied by the Moon in the return.
In Summer’s case, the Moon profects to Aries (the 8th), which is empty, so it is a case of the Moon transmitting to Mars. Again, this places emphasis on themes of death (the 8th, malefic ruler) and affliction of the body (Mars-Moon conjunction, Moon ruled by Mars). The solar return transit of the Moon through the 8th is also a repetition of this theme.
Ruler of Days
Some Hellenistic astrologers used daily profections, which I don’t make much use of. I’ve also discussed the small periods of zodiacal releasing above. Additionally, I like the ruler of days technique discussed by Julius Firmicus Maternus. In this technique we start with the lord of the year, and assign days to the planets according to their planetary days in zodiacal order, thus dividing up rulership of the year to each of the 7 planets. The lord of the year is Jupiter for Donna Summer, so the planetary days are as follows:
Jupiter – 34
Mercury – 56 2/3
Mars – 42 1/2
Moon – 70 5/6
Saturn – 85
Venus – 22 2/3
Sun – 53 5/6
Using a date calculator, we find that Donna Summer died in about the 138th day following her solar return. The Moon took over days about 133 days after the return, so the Moon was ruler of days at the time of death.
Day of Death
Finally, let’s return to the transits at the day of death. We’ve already established that there is substantial importance placed on the malefics and the lights in the time lord techniques. Additionally, we established that Mars is of particular importance and that the Moon-Mars themes with the 8th crop up repeatedly when we narrow in on the year. Finally, we determined that the monthly profection is to the 8th, Aries, which was occupied by the Moon in the return, that the Moon became ruler of days less than a week before the death, and that zodiacal releasing minor periods place considerable emphasis on Mars and the 5th. Now let’s separate some of these out in the transits:
The Moon: Shockingly, the Moon was transiting through Aries, the 8th, that of death, at the time of death, echoing both the solar return and the Valens-style profection of the Moon, in the house of the monthly profection. The transiting Moon was likely making her next application to transiting Saturn, in opposition, at the time of death. The transiting Moon applied a scrutinizing square to natal Mercury, the Ascendant lord, at the time of death. Transiting Venus and Saturn were possibly in exact to the minute aspect, while receiving the application of the transiting Moon, at the time of death.
Mars: Mars was transiting at 9 Virgo through the 1st house. Mars had stationed direct at 3 Virgo, in adherence to Donna Summer’s Ascendant (4 Virgo), about a month prior. Transiting Mars was applying to the natal Sun-Jupiter conjunction within a degree at the time of death. The transiting Sun and Jupiter was applying to natal Mars within 3 degrees at the time of death, while both conjunct the natal twelfth-part of Venus and opposed to the natal twelfth-part of Mars within 3 degrees. The transiting Sun-Jupiter conjunction by degree itself echoing the natal Sun-Jupiter conjunction.
There are additional connections, but I think this suffices to show how the transits at the time of death were reflective of superficial activation of much more important repeat themes through time lord techniques of death and harm to health which pertain to the relationship between the malefics and the Sun, malefics and Ascendant, as well as the Moon-Mars conjunction and the 8th house.
Some readers may be interested in a brief passage by historian Francesca Rochberg on the pre-Hellenistic use of twelfth-parts by Babylonian astrologers which dated back to at least the 5th century BCE.
I was about halfway through a post on the death of Donna Summer when astrologer Ile Spasev brought Marvin Gaye’s 1984 death at the hand of his father to my attention. Once I started getting into Marvin Gaye’s chart and death, I found it too fascinating in terms of the importance of the planetary years, solar return, profection, and transits to not share it first, before finishing my Summer article. This day preceding both an ingress and an eclipse has been a strange one altogether for me. What’s going on!?
One of the most interesting things about Gaye’s death is that it occurred on the exact day of his solar return, as well as a day of the New Moon (conjunction of the Sun and Moon). While it occurred the day before his calendar birthday, in astrological terms, it didn’t occur on the eve of his 45th birthday, but rather on the day of his exact real natural “birthday” (solar return), and just a few hours after the exact point of return in his annual cycle.
Marvin Gaye’s Natal Chart
According to AstroDatabank, which has given the Gaye birth data an A rating for accuracy, Marvin was born on 4/2/1939 at 11:58am in Washington D.C. According to news releases he was pronounced dead on the afternoon of 4/1/1984 at 1:01pm in L.A., California. His death followed his intervention in arguments between his mother and father both the day before and again directly preceding the circumstances of his death in which his father shot him in the heat of anger.
In ancient astrology, Saturn, the Sun, and the 4th place (Valens adds the 9th place) are particularly relevant for the father. In Gaye’s chart, the Sun in the bound of Venus in the 10th is more pertinent to his fame and honors than his father, as the Sun also naturally signifies honors as does the 10th place, and the Sun adhering (applying conjunction within 3 degrees) to Mercury (vocal) and in the bound of Venus (arts) has particular relevance to his singing fame. The Sun additionally has no “dignity” in the 4th, in that it has little say over the 4th of father, family, origins, and property. Saturn on the other hand, is also in the 10th (a “stake” of the 4th) and also naturally signifies fathers, but additionally is the exaltation and first triplicity lord of the 4th place of fathers, therefore Saturn is considered to give the strongest testimony regarding matters concerning the father.
Saturn does a good job of describing the father and death as well. Saturn is in a cardinal or changeable/moveable sign, which are known for initiating major changes through abrupt action. Saturn is also in a sign and the bound of Mars, which is the planet with dominion over acts of violence. Saturn is additionally dominated by Mars (in a right hand whole sign square), which gives Mars substantial influence over Saturn, giving symbolism of the father becoming dominated by rage and violence. Saturn afflicts Mercury, the Sun, and the twelfth-part Ascendant, bringing in a sense of argumentation, publicity, and harm to Gaye’s self.
Importantly, Saturn is the planet with the greatest testimony over the place of death in the chart, the 8th place or house, Aquarius. This is because Saturn rules Aquarius, is the first triplicity lord there, regards the place, and is a natural significator of death – therefore, Saturn’s testimony with regards to death is very strong in his chart. The Sun also has some testimony over both the father (natural significator of the father in a stake of the 4th) and death (rules the 8th from fortune, Leo, and the twelfth-part of the Sun is in the 8th from fortune), and shows a repeat connection between the father and death.
Both Venus and the Moon give testimony regarding the mother, even though neither of them regard the 4th of origins. Venus does so because she rules the 4th and is a feminine natural significator of mothers, while the Moon does so because she is a natural significator of mothers and is in the 3rd, her joy, which Valens also asserted as the place of the mother.
The Moon and Jupiter provide some of the strongest testimony in terms of Gaye himself and his temperament, as they both regard the 1st and have a lot of lordship over the actual Ascendant.
Marvin’s death occurred exactly at the point of his 45th year. Very rarely do planetary years culminate at such an exact point. Fascinatingly, 45 is indeed the activation of Saturn-Mars relationships in the natal chart, as Saturn has 30 and Mars 15, yielding 45. This signifies a very major event as it activates three major Saturn-Mars configurations in his chart: the Mars-Saturn square with Mars dominating, Saturn in Aries (domicile of Mars), and Mars in Capricorn (domicile of Saturn).
Thus planetary years show strong activations linking the father with violence and death.
Furthermore, according to the technique of planetary days discussed by Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE), the ruler of the year gets the first set of days in the year. Therefore, Mars was the planet in charge of signifying both the plan for the year and the days at the time of death.
As the death happened just after the turning of the 45th year, the annual profection of the Ascendant moved to the 10th place, Aries, on that day for the year. Therefore, the profection was highlighting those planets in the 10th place, Saturn, Mercury, and the Sun, with Mars, the ruler of Aries, as the lord of the year. In other words, the profections show yet another activation of Saturn and Mars, specifically Saturn in Aries, ruled by and dominated by Mars.
Solar Return and Transits
I have been meaning to expand on my series on solar returns, which I started here. For now, it suffices to look at the non-precessed solar return here as a set of transits to the natal chart, depicted along the outside of the natal below. In addition, I have posted the natal chart with twelfth-parts again, as there are fascinating connections between the return, which is also the transit chart for the day of death, and natal twelfth-parts.
First, it is noteworthy that the return, and death, occurred on the day of a New Moon in Aries. This is a further activation of the sign Aries and its occupants, including Saturn, and its ruler Mars.
Second, as Mars is lord of the year and of days, the position of Mars in the return is of pivotal importance. In the return Mars is in Scorpio, one of his own domiciles, and is with Saturn and in Saturn’s bound again echoing the Mars-Saturn significations. Additionally, Mars is at 28 Scorpio, conjunct the twelfth-part of natal Saturn in the very same degree! The twelfth-part of transiting Mars was itself at 9 Libra, opposing Gaye’s Sun.
In addition to Mars transiting right over the natal twelfth-part Saturn at the time of death, the twelfth-part of transiting Venus was at 27-28 Scorpio, right with that transiting Mars and natal twelfth-part Saturn. I take this Venus transit to represent the connection with the mother, who Gaye was arguing on behalf of at the time of the incident. Transiting Venus at 22 Pisces with Gaye’s Jupiter, symbolic of himself, and opposed to his Moon, symbolic of both himself and his mother. Fascinatingly, this Venus transit was also right over the natal twelfth-part of Gaye’s Mars, which is at about 21-22 Pisces, showing them both coming into contact with the father’s rage and violence.
At the time Gaye was pronounced dead, the Moon was at 16 Aries adhering to Gaye’s Saturn.
First, we look at the distributors. Amazingly, both the Ascendant and the Sect Light (the Sun) were directing through the bounds of Mars, the out of sect malefic during the period in which the death took place.
However, the aspectual directions are not as striking to me for the most part, which may be indicative of slight inaccuracy in the birth time (directions involving the Ascendant and MC can be altered by many months for each one minute inaccuracy in birth time). One of the more interesting directions occurring within 6 months of his death is that of the star Algol (associated with death and violence) directing to Gaye’s MC.
While death is not a pleasant topic to analyze, it is one of the most definitive events in every individual’s existence, and therefore one of the most important events to look at from an astrological standpoint. In seeing that there is or are some higher intelligences at work in this universe such that they can express symbolism reflecting events such as an individual’s death is both beautiful and hard to get one’s head around, especially in relation to such an almost universally loathed facet of the way things work in story we take part in as human beings. Perhaps our analysis will bring us closer to accurately spot death or even averting death for a time. Perhaps Urania will simply whisper indications more quietly when we forsake her secrets. In any case, even in hindsight, looking back on the pertinence of the symbolism when using the ancient techniques is always thought-provoking and stirs up our religious and spiritual functions of seeking the truth with humility.
Many recent posts feature the use of twelfth-parts, and I’ll continue to use them in future posts. Those unfamiliar with the twelfth-parts should check out the information I’ve provided on them starting with the first post on them. In this post I briefly show you how to figure out twelfth-part positions in your head and with the free Traditional Morinus software program (click to go to download page – MorinusWin.zip at the very bottom of the page is the file you want), which has undergone a number of great updates recently, including the addition of twelfth-part calculation.
Calculating Twelfth-Parts Roughly in Your Head
Of course, you can calculate twelfth-parts with pen and paper. It’s simple enough and I discussed how it’s done in the first post on the twelfth-parts. Here I want to highlight some quick and dirty techniques for approximately knowing just where the twelfth-part of any position is even when software is not handy and without much thought or math. Below are my tips. For these tips the numbers that I give are where the twelfth-part sign starts, so always think in 2.5 degree segments, remember that 10 goes from 10°00′ to 12°30′ of that sign.
0 = Same Sign – This is the easiest one to remember. If the planet is in the first 2.5 degrees of any sign, from 0°00′ to 2°30′, then its twelfth-part is in the same sign.
10, 20 = Trine, Same Element/Triplicity – If the position is within the 2.5 degrees following the degree 10 or 20 in the sign then it is in the same element, in one of the signs trine to that one – 10 is the beginning of the first trine which follows it, while 20 is the beginning of the second trine, the one prior to it. For instance, if the Moon were at 10°30′ Scorpio, then the twelfth-part Moon is in Pisces, the water sign after Scorpio. If it had been at 22°00′ Scorpio, then the twelfth-part Moon would’ve been in Cancer, the water sign before Scorpio (or the second water sign after Scorpio, depending on how you want to look at it).
15 = Opposite Sign – So if a planet were at 15° (up to 17°30′) of some sign, its twelfth-part would be in the opposite sign. For instance, you see someone has Jupiter at 16°47′ Cancer, and so you know that the twelfth-part of Jupiter is in Capricorn.
5°, 25° = Sextile – You see Jupiter at 6°33′ in someone’s chart, but where is it’s twelfth-part? The segment beginning with 5° is the sign that is the sextile after the one occupied, while the segment beginning with 25° is the sign that is the sextile before the one occupied. 5 and 25 – easy enough to remember, especially since 25 is 5 squared, and the sextile is of the nature of Venus who makes a five-pointed pentagram figure in her course. Returning to our example, the twelfth-part of Jupiter must be in the following sextile, Sagittarius.
30′ = 6 degrees of a sign for twelfth-part – Let’s return to our example with Jupiter. Jupiter is at 6°33′, and we determined its twelfth-part is in Sagittarius. However, where in Sagittarius. We know that Sagittarius starts at 5° Libra and goes until 7°30′ Libra. Every half degree after 5° is another 6 degrees of Sagittarius, starting from 0°. Jupiter is about 1.5 degrees past 5°, which is 3 time half a degree. Each half a degree is 6 degrees, so 3 times 6 puts Jupiter at about 18 Sagittarius. Also noteworthy is that every 5′ of a degree equals 1 degree for twelfth-part positions.
In order to get you thinking in twelfth-parts and getting acquainted with these rules, let’s work on a few examples.
Where is the twelth-part of Kurt Cobain’s Venus, planet of love, artistry, and beauty? Venus is at about 26.5 degrees Pisces. 25 is the magic number here as it is in that 2.5 degree segment after 25. In the rules above I specify that 25 is the preceding sextile, so while Venus is in the 7th, Pisces, the twelfth-part is two signs back in the 5th, Capricorn. How many degrees after 25 is 26.5? 1.5 degrees. Each half degree is equivalent to 6 twelfth-part degrees, so the twelfth-part of Venus is 3*6=18 degrees into Capricorn. 18° Capricorn as the position means that Venus is in her own bound and in her Joy (the 5th place of children, creativity, entertainment, and performance is called the Joy of Venus).
Where is the twelfth-pat of Bill Gates’ Mercury, planet of commerce, scholarship, and technology? Mercury is a little more than 16.5 degrees into Libra at 16°36′ Libra. As Mercury is in the 2.5 degree segment after 15, it is 15 that is the magic number here. 15, being half of 30, also puts us halfway around the zodiac from Libra to the sign that is its opposite Aries. What degree of Aries is Mercury’s twelfth-part? Mercury is a little more than 1.5 degrees past 15, and 1.5 is equivalent to three 1/2 degree segment. Again, each 1/2 degree segment equates to 6 degrees, which puts us 18 degrees into Aries. There is an extra 6′ though, and every 5′ is another degree, so it must be at 19° Aries. Therefore, the twelfth-part of Bill Gates’ Mercury is in its own bound in Aries, with the sect light, the Moon, in the 10th house of authority, honors, and profession.
Where is the twelfth-part of Whitney Houston’s Venus? The magic number is 10, as it’s in the 2.5 degree segment after 10° Leo. As mentioned in the rules above, 10 puts is in the next sign of the same element, i.e. the next fire sign or first trine, which is Sagittarius, the 10th house. What degree in Sagittarius? Venus is at 11°12′ Leo, so it is two 1/2 degree segments plus 12′. Each half degree segment gives 6 degrees, bringing us to 12. Then every 5′ segment is a degree, and there are two of them in 12′. This brings us to 14° Sagittarius. Houston’s Venus twelfth-part is in its own bound in the 10th house of authority, honors, and profession.
Where is the twelfth-part of the Dalai Lama’s Jupiter? The Dalai Lama’s Jupiter is in the 2.5 degree segment after 12.5, so it doesn’t fit exactly with any of our rules. However, our rules can lead us right there. 12.5 is one segment after 10, and one before 15, so Jupiter is one sign after the first trine and one sign before the opposition. We can go either way. If thinking in terms of “10, plus one sign”, then we would find Pisces, which is the next water sign after Scorpio, and we would put Jupiter in the next sign, Aries. If thinking in terms of “15, minus one sign”, then we would find Taurus, the sign opposite Scorpio, and put Jupiter in the one before it, Aries. In any case the twelfth-part is in Aries. But what degree of Aries? Jupiter is at 13°28′ Scorpio, so it is nearly 1° past 12°30′ Scorpio. Each 30′ equates to 6°, so it is nearly 12° into Aries. 5′ is equivalent to a degree and it is only short by 2′, so it is less than 12°00′ Aries, but by less than a full degree. This puts the twelfth-part of Jupiter at 11° Aries. The twelfth-part of the Dalai Lama’s Jupiter is in the Venus bound in the 10th house of authority, honors, and profession.
Twelfth-Parts in Morinus
Relatively recently, the developers of the free, open-source, traditional astrology program, Traditional Morinus, added twelfth-part capability to the program. If you search on my blog for Morinus, you will find a couple articles on basic installation and chart entry in Morinus. The program has been updated a lot since my articles on chart entry, so it is actually a bit easier to do know than it was when I wrote the articles, since the program can now retrieve the coordinates of a location from an internet database rather than necessitating manual entry.
Once you have Traditional Morinus installed and ready to go, load one of your charts, or the chart that it comes with, that of Morinus (Jean-Baptiste Morin), the prolific 17th century French astrologer and mathematician. Then go to the Option menu, or hit SHIFT+A (that is, hold Shift and press A), while in the program with a chart up. Click the bullet in front of “Dodecatemoria” to turn on the twelfth-parts, which will appear marked along the outer edge of the wheel. I also recommend adding the terms (bounds) into the wheel, making the wheel black and white, and thickening up the lines for the angles, as shown below.
A couple other things you can do quickly to set your charts like mine include pressing SHIFT+F6 to switch to whole sign houses, and pressing SHIFT+W to have the Node position be the true position (although I think in my examples above I may have still had the Node at mean position, oh well). Finally, make sure you press SHIFT+U, so that your settings will be saved for the next time you start up the program.
Look at Morinus! Twelfth-part of Jupiter right on the Ascendant. Twelfth-part of Mercury in its own bound in his 10th.
Below are the charts that I discussed above, but this time with the twelfth-part placements included. Click a chart to enlarge.
Have fun and feel free to discuss in the comments!
One of the first topical series on the blog pertained to delineating faith. I first laid out some general guidelines that were based solely on basic principles, rather than special techniques. The basic ground rules were laid out in the first post of the series, and then I returned to those and reviewed them a bit in the fifth post of the series. However, in ancient astrology, strong delineation of a topic requires special techniques, which involve going beyond basic house ruler and natural significator indications, and examining a variety of key indicators. Using these indicators we may attempt to refine our understanding of delineating the subject, and work backwards toward a better understanding of general principles.
Some Notes: The Law, the Sun, and the 3rd
Before returning to some of the past featured charts in the light of special techniques, I would like to briefly comment on the delineation of faith and its relationship to other topical delineations. It should be noted that faith, while having a large social component in many societies, can also be a rather personal matter. The house that most pertains to faith is the 9th, though the other major significations of the 9th involve travel and law. Obviously, faith is the more personal of these three topics, and so among these, faith additionally calls for a deeper involvement with personality delineation and the 1st house (the self). Another 9th house concern is what exactly is meant by “law”. Today we think of law, religion, and science as extremely different fields of endeavor, and, in the case of religion and science, even antagonistic. However, they are all very much linked within the 9th house, which as the house of law, may pertain to civil law, spiritual law, and natural law alike.
Consider also that the 9th house is the Joy of the Sun and the place was called “God” by ancient astrologers. Firmicus Maternus also asserted that it was the Sun that produces religious customs among people (Book I, Ch. 2, #2 of the Mathesis). This solar sense of illumination and profundity is also apparent in terms of the Lot called Spirit, which, of the lots of the seven planets, is the Lot of the Sun. Spirit is derived from projecting the arc from the non-sect light (darkness) to the sect light (light) and was considered by some to be relevant in delineation of faith. However, ancient astrology came into its own during an age when religion, power, and intellectual achievement were all considered quite solar and were more intimately linked than in many societies today.
Additionally, the 3rd house, that most prominently associated with shorter travels, siblings/kin, friends/neighbors, and counsel/messages, which is the Joy of the Moon, called “Goddess”, was also strongly linked with faith. A few of the astrologers who linked the 3rd with faith were Vettius Valens (2nd Century CE), Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE), Rhetorius (7th Century CE), Sahl (9th Century CE), Abu Ma’shar (9th Century CE), Abu ‘Ali al-Khayyat (9th Century CE), Umar al-Tabari (9th Century CE), Abu Bakr (9th Century CE), and al-Qabisi (10th Century CE). Umar al-Tabari, abu Bakr, and Abu ‘Ali all explicitly direct the practitioner to look at both the 9th and the 3rd, and their rulers, when delineating faith (see Persian Nativities Volumes I and II trans. Ben Dykes). Linking the 3rd with faith and religion was not as frequent in the Hellenistic period as in the following Persian period though. While nearly every Persian-Arabic astrologer linked the 3rd to faith and religion, only a handful of Hellenistic astrologers did. For instance, Paulus Alexandrinus (4th Century CE) gave an exposition of the meanings of all the houses (Ch. 24 of Introductory Matters) but associated only the 9th, and not the 3rd, with philosophers, gods, mystics, divination, astrologers, dreams, sacred rites, and other such things. Paulus did note that the 3rd partakes in signifying travel and life abroad due to being opposite the 9th (which is the primary house of such things). I find that the 3rd pertains to faith, particularly as concerns counseling others, but if indications between the 9th and 3rd conflict, I would lean more heavily on the 9th.
Pertaining to the topic of the Sun and the 3rd, it is important to note that one of the most prominent skeptics in the world, James Randi, has the Sun in Leo in the 3rd house with Mercury and Venus. Firmicus Maternus gave separate aphorisms noting that the Sun in 3rd, Mercury in 3rd, Venus in 3rd, Sun and Mercury in 3rd, and so on, all give indications of religious life. Additionally, Mercury rules the Ascendant and is with the Sun, which should also make one religious. One the other hand, when leaning more heavily on the 9th, the relative prominences of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury, and how this all relates to the 1st and its ruler, we see “law” (the 9th) characterized by intellect (air) and doubt (Saturn), enthusiasm for expansive realms and ideas (Jupiter) weak (retreating and cadent) and embattled (12th with Mars), doubt and struggle as very loud themes in the life (Saturn strongly advancing), and a self-identification with intellect and rationalism (air rising, ruled by Mercury). Therefore, I advise that one leans more heavily on the 9th than the 3rd, and on Jupiter and Venus rather than the Sun to show a “propensity to believe”. Jupiter itself, like the 9th, is a natural significator of religion, law, and philosophy, so the influence and condition of Jupiter should not be ignored in delineating faith.
Interestingly, not all astrologers agreed that the Sun in 3rd should signify faith. According to Abu Bakr, “The Sun appearing in the 3rd house and in one of his own dignities, signifies [he will] totally lack faith” (On Nativities, Book II, Ch. 1.10, Dykes, 2010, p. 149). Abu Bakr also makes statements indicating that he doesn’t believe Jupiter in the 3rd to be indicative of true faith, as opposed to just the appearance of it. These assertions about the Sun and Jupiter in the 3rd are in direct contradiction to statements made by Maternus. This is a good time for me to repeat my admonition of “ancient astrologers didn’t all agree“. By contrast, Abu Bakr gave indications of religiousness and spiritual interests for such planets posited in the 9th. This may be an example of a view in which the 3rd is more indicative of superficial appearance of faith, being the house of counseling, communication, and gossip, while the 9th, its opposite, is more indicative of the heart of belief. I say this because Abu Bakr delineates Jupiter, as well as the Moon, as indicative of superficial appearance of faith, without much substance, when they are in the 3rd, even when they are in sect.
In my series, I have used Mercury primarily as a natural significator of rationalism. However, to many astrologers, including Ptolemy, Masha’allah, and Abu ‘Ali, Mercury was not only significant in terms of showing rationality, but also as one of the most important indicators of character, as it pertained to the intentional or rational mind. Just as we examined the nature of the 1st and its ruler for faith, Abu ‘Ali examined the planets ruling and regarding Mercury as having a particularly strong effect on the native’s faith (see Judgement of Nativities, Ch. 29 – I recommend the translation by Dykes in Persian Nativities Vol. I). Personally, I put more emphasis on the lord of the 1st than on Mercury in delineating character (and likewise in delineating inclination toward faith).
Lot of Faith and Lot of Spirit
Abu ‘Ali and Umar al-Tabari both made use of the Lot of Faith or Law, and its lord, in the delineation of faith. It is unclear exactly which lot they were speaking of. However, it is likely to have been the same lot mentioned later by Bonatti as the Lot of Religion, which is the arc from the Moon to Mercury by day, or Mercury to the Moon by night, projected from the Ascendant. Umar included the Lot of Faith and its lord in a complicated (and corny, in my opinion) victor technique to find one planet more relevant to faith, and then he assessed if that planet was in good condition or not to assess the condition of the native’s faith. Interestingly, Umar also advised that one look at the triplicity lords of the lot, and that the condition of these would show the variable condition of faith at different periods of the life (1st triplicity lord showing the first part of life, the 2nd showing the second part, and the 3rd triplicity ruler showing the last part). On the other hand, Abu ‘Ali looks at planets that are with the lot (i.e. in the same sign), which is a more standard approach to evaluating a lot than the strange victor techniques which became so popular in the middle ages.
The closest descriptions found in ancient astrology that could approximate our idea of consciousness tend to arise in discussions of the significance of the Sun and particularly of the Lot of the Sun, called Spirit. The Sun is frequently described with phrases such as “light of the mind”, and the like. Spirit, the Lot of the Sun (arc from the non-sect light to the sect light, projected from the Ascendant), is similarly related to the mind. In Hellenistic astrology it was used for many things, from professional achievement to mental health. Maternus, speaking of the house Spirit fell in the natal chart said, “This house is called the substance of the mind.” (Mathesis, Book IV, Ch. 5, #2, Holden trans., 2011, p. 216) Abu Bakr included Spirit in his delineation of faith in a somewhat idiosyncratic fashion. Abu Bakr considered Spirit to show the outward appearance of one’s faith and its ruler to show the actual extent of the inward faith, such that one could appear faithful and be faithful (both strong and good), appear faithless but actually be faithful (lot weak but ruler strong), be a hypocrite who acts religious but has no faith (lot strong but ruler weak), and other combinations pertaining to mixes of strength and beneficence associated with the lot and its lord.
The Lot of Fortune, which is the Lot of the Moon, is more seldom used in connection with faith, but as another point that can have relevance for character its occurrence in the 9th and such was noted by some astrologers as indicating religious inclinations.
With all that said, while re-exploring charts there are 5 additional indicators I’d like to evaluate:
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)
Mercury’s rulership and influential regards by planets is indicative of the nature of faith. (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)
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)
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)
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.
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.
In any case, if Spirit shows outward profession of faith, then we would expect a combination of very strongly restrictive doubt and skepticism (Saturn ruling and out of sect), a spirit of pursuit of truth and intellectualism (the 9th and air), and aggressiveness associated with secret plans of undoing (Mars ruling the bound in the 12th of hidden enemies with Jupiter). This is the case. In terms of the Mars and the 12th sense of launching secret offensives against others based on belief, Randi has been doing so since his early twenties, taking on jobs as fake astrologer, psychic, and so forth to spoof and attack supernatural beliefs even while getting his career as a magician together and before coming into public prominence.
Certainly, Spirit is not in such great condition that we would suppose outward profession of sanctity. We were already getting much of the Saturnine sense from the 9th and Jupiter, but Spirit may still be of value particularly as it occupies a specific bound, showing the 12th house Mars influence. Examining the ruler is very similar to examining Spirit itself in the chart, as Spirit and the 9th were so heavily informed by their ruler Saturn. I would judge that Saturn is in a little bit better shape than the 9th though, because directly Saturn is in a domicile of Jupiter, bound of Venus, trine the Sun and Moon, and overcome by the sect benefic Venus by trine. Perhaps from this we might judge that Randi’s bark is bigger than his bite, and that on a more personal level he does have a reverence from some greater unknowns. Hard to tell for sure though, because that faith would be characterized by Saturn, and Saturn knows fear and doubt best.
Mercury. It was Abu ‘Ali that advised we look at Mercury, paying particular attention to the planet or planets Mercury is most strongly connected to, such as planets with Mercury, ruling Mercury, or that Mercury applies to in aspect. Mercury is with the Sun in the Sun’s domicile while in phasis (i.e. making an appearance), so we expect a strong solar influence. Mercury is also in Jupiter’s bound and applying a square to Jupiter with Jupiter in the superior position, so we expect a strong Jupiterian influence. Both Jupiterian and Solar influences on Mercury are indicative of religious and faithful people to Abu ‘Ali, so I’m not overly impressed with this technique, as our more general techniques yielded a much more accurate analysis.
Lot of Faith. First, it should be noted that the Lot of Faith is right at the beginning of a sign and a birth time error of only about 2 minutes could put the lot in the preceding sign. This could make a huge difference, as with the current time the lot is in the 10th in the sign of Jupiter and bound of Venus, while if birth was about 2 minutes earlier it would be in the 9th in the sign of Saturn and bound of Saturn – very big difference! Assuming that the lot is at 0 Pisces, it is ruled by Jupiter, however Jupiter is out of sect, in a bad place (the 12th), and with a malefic, so it is not very indicative of faith. Also, Abu ‘Ali seemed to highlight planets with or aspecting the lot, and here Saturn dominates (i..e superior square) the lot, and Mars is in a scrutinizing (i.e. within 3 degrees) square to the lot, so we might consider this lot extremely afflicted by malefics, showing a destruction of faith.
Quadruplicity of 9th. The 9th sign is Aquarius, a fixed sign, so we might expect that Randi is not the type to question his own beliefs or radically change them much. This seems consistent with the fact that Randi has been involved in spoofing astrology, psychism, and all things supernatural since his early twenties. The ruler of the 9th is in Sagittarius, a mutable sign, which might show instability in belief and possibly a tendency toward syncretism (input from many sources combined into a new whole). In this case, I think the influence of mutability is on the idea of fallibility and establishing what is more true over time through interactive analysis and communication of results (mutability pertains to back-and-forth and social phenomena), such as in scientific approaches to establishing truth which are inherently unstable and assembling rather than tending to be fixed or dramatically changing on the whole.
Orientality of 9th Lord. Saturn is occidental the Sun in Randi’s chart, so we would expect more of a concealing of belief, keeping beliefs private. This certainly doesn’t seem to be the case, as Randi is a very prominent and vocal proponent of his skepticism. Perhaps this is overridden by the fact that Saturn is so strongly advancing right on the horizon in the chart. I associate general strength factors like advancing with the volume of a planet in the chart and would consider this a blaring loud Saturn. In any case the oriental/occidental distinction seems insufficient on its own to establish how ready one is to profess one’s beliefs.
Long-Winded Conclusion to Long-Winded Post
I’ve thrown quite a lot of material at the reader in this post, and it is organized in a somewhat chaotic fashion, for which I apologize. While our general method of reading faith in the astrological chart has proved very valuable, there is room to go deeper. As we go deeper we take on more factors and self-deception becomes easier though, so we must lay it on the table and be self-critical. These additional factors are more complicated than they seem at first encounter.
Saying that the 3rd participates in faith is easy, but judging the exact nature of its participation is difficult. I would suggest that the 3rd pertains more to general communication and association, such that the manner of communicating beliefs and ideas must come through the 3rd, while the actual nature of one’s beliefs and ideas is more tied with the 9th (note: besides being consistent with main house meanings this is also consistent with the traditional dichotomy in which the Sun signifies more abstract phenomena and the Moon signifies more concrete phenomena). Similarly, while the Sun pertains to illumination, truth, clarity, honors, and recognition, it is difficult to assess exactly how much the Sun indicates faith in a chart. Perhaps this will become clearer as we work through more charts. Usage of the Lots of Faith and Spirit may similarly provide deeper insights, or simply pose as distractions in such delineations. While Mercury is a significator of personality and intention, it doesn’t seem to be very indicative of inclination toward faith, though we’ll continue exploring the possibility. Use of quadruplicity of signs for degree of stability (fixed) vs. changeability (cardinal) vs. mixture/duality/instability (mutable) is common in the analysis of topics. We’ll continue to at least explore the quadruplicity of the 9th and its ruler as suggested by Abu ‘Ali.
All of this and primarily just to distinguish the very faithful from the very doubtful, and the very genuine from the very superficial? Apparently not. With all these factors there is room enough for a very nuanced view of one’s beliefs that goes well beyond whether they’ll defend any old dumb thing propounded by the propagation or will take up authority as knowing the ultimate reality of the universe as a giant illusion staged by physical reproduction machines. Faith is one small topic among many. Obviously, as astrologers, we have our work cut out for us. To those who need all the answers now, so that they can go out and compete with psychics, this may be disparaging. However, I think the techniques are extremely promising, and by remaining humble and working with them the 21st century may be the century in which the art of astrology reaches a depth of accuracy never before attained.
al-Tabari, U., & al-Hasib, A. B. (2010). Persian Nativities II: ’Umar al-Tabari and Abu Bakr. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.
Masha’allah, & al-Khayyat, A. ’Ali. (2009). Persian Nativities I: Masha’allah and Abu ’Ali. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.
In the last couple posts I’ve discussed the use of the twelfth-parts, also known as the dodecatemoria or to some, simply the duads/dwads. Please quickly read over the first post and the second post on twelfth parts before continuing. In this and a series of future posts, I’ll be revisiting analyses from prior posts and adding to them with information from the dodecatemoria positions.
The Curious Case of Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Turner
In many of the posts on dignity, I pointed out the folly in relying on sign-based dignity in evaluating the benefic or malefic associations of a planet. The first of such posts compared the chart of Jeffrey Dahmer (click here to read it), who had a whopping 4 planets in domicile, with only 2 peregrine and only 1 in fall, with that of Ted Turner, who has no planets in domicile or exaltation, 1 planet in fall, 3 planets in “detriment” (detriment was not an actual concept in itself in Hellenistic astrology, the way that fall, domicile, exaltation, and such were, so I don’t agree with its use), 2 planets peregrine, and only 1 planet with what an astrologer using the weighted dignity system (which was invented by a Perso-Arabic astrologer nearly a millenium into the tradition) would call “a positive dignity score”.
I found Dahmer and Turner to be the perfect minimal pair for explaining the trouble with dignity, not just in terms of beneficence and maleficence, but also for strength. I do use some sign-based significations like domicile, exaltation, fall, triplicity, and bound, for strength myself, but I tend to put less stress on those dignity-oriented significations than I place on advancing/retreating, being in a stake, stations, phasis, and relationship to the lights (including being in a domicile of a light). Obviously, Dahmer’s life was not filled with more joy, goodness, and positive productivity than that of Turner, as might be expected if dignity pertained to beneficence and maleficence. Similarly, while Manetho, Maternus, and other Hellenistic astrologers suggested that one’s stature and power depend to a great deal on the number of planets in domicile in one’s chart, it is clear that this also cannot be the case, as we would expect the lack of dignity in Turner’s chart to suggest he is very much held back, while we would suggest that Dahmer has immense social mobility. Therefore, while I believe that being in domicile, exaltation, triplicity, or bound is strengthening and reinforcing of a planet, it is obvious folly to depend too heavily on dignity for planetary strength and particularly for evaluating social status and mobility.
With the above said, it is interesting that the twelfth-parts tend to reveal much more strength and beneficence in Turner’s chart, including strength attributable to sign based dignity, while the twelfth-parts reveal additional weakness and maleficence in Dahmer’s chart.
The 3 planets in “detriment” in Turner’s natal chart shift to being in their own domiciles in the twelfth-parts, and Saturn in fall shifts to being in “detriment” (actually into being in triplicity and the sign of the sect light, as detriment is a spurious label in my opinion – being in triplicity and in a sign of a light, especially the sect light is quite strengthening). Additionally, the Sun, which was peregrine and retreating in the 12th, in a sign of Mars and the bound of Saturn, ends up in the 10th with the Moon, in a sign of Mercury and the bound of Jupiter. Both lights being in the 10th provides a very strong indication of attaining power and influence, and generally being socially mobile. Additionally, the twelfth-part of the sect benefic, Jupiter, falls into the 12th of the natal chart which is the place of the Sun and Fortune (as well as Venus), indicating fortunate circumstances very strongly. The other benefic, Venus, lands in the 11th, her domicile, the place of the Moon (and Mars). Thus both benefic twelfth-parts occupy the places of the lights; very fortunate!
We find the opposite type of thing happening with Dahmer’s chart when we look at the twelfth-parts. We go from 4 planets in domicile and 1 in fall to 3 twelfth-part planets in fall (and 1 in “detriment”), while no twelfth-parts are in domicile or exaltation. Additionally, the twelfth-part of Mars, in fall, occupies the powerful 10th place, square to its natal position, thus increasing its malice (see quote in last post referring to twelfth-parts that square or oppose their natal positions). Mars-Moon combinations, such as the one in the natal chart, have significations that relate to bodily violence, and the twelfth-part of Mars in the sign of the Moon, and square to the natal Moon and Mars further accentuates this signification, as does the occurrence of the twelfth-part of the Moon in Scorpio, a domicile of Mars, in the bound of Saturn (significator of death), and in the 2nd place (one of the dark places). The Moon is relevant for character, especially in terms of irrational impulses and instincts, as Ptolemy identified it with the irrational part of the soul (see Tetrabiblos, Book III, Ch. 13). While the Ascendant and Mercury, two of a handful of factors relevant for character delineation, are in the bounds of Jupiter in the natal chart, their twelfth-parts are in bounds of Saturn, and the twelfth-part of Mercury is additionally with the twelfth-part of Saturn in the 11th, pertaining to friends and networking. Additionally, the ruler of the Ascendant, the twelfth-part of the Ascendant, and the ruler of the twelfth-part of the Ascendant are also very important for character. We find the ruler of the Ascendant, Venus, to be in the 8th pertaining to death, fear, and harm, in the bound of Saturn, and we find the twelfth-part of the Ascendant in that same place and bound, ruled by Venus, thus piling three important character significators into the bound of Saturn, planet of death, in the 8th place, the place of death, ruled by and occupied by Venus, planet of sexuality.
Twelfth-parts give very important additional information about planets and points in the natal chart. While dignity is not the most important factor in planetary strength, we see that it can play a role in strength so long as we are diligent enough to examine both natal and twelfth-part positions. The ancients stressed how the twelfth-parts are responsible for major modulations in planetary signification within a sign that would be missed from looking at the natal chart alone. In this sense, perhaps dignity relating to twelfth-part positions is even more important than that related to natal positions, but more work would have to be done researching in this area to be sure. In any case, the twelfth-parts positions reinforce or contradict significations in the natal chart, helping us to sort the wheat from the chaff.
For, if you want to explain the entire substance of the astrological significations from the efficacy of the dodecatemories and from the terms in which they are found, you will not be mistaken; for the Babylonians attribute the supreme power of [astrological] decrees to the dodecatemories, but Ptolemy to the antiscions, [and] we to both. (Maternus, Book III, Ch. 9, #14, Holden trans., 2011, p. 170)
So, you thought you just had one astrological chart, but in Hellenistic astrology you have two. Then again, maybe three.
The second chart I allude to is the chart of the twelfth-part positions, which are typically marked along the natal chart, so as to keep the reference to natal chart houses. Twelfth-part positions were noted as a fundamental basic of astrological technique by nearly every Hellenistic astrologer, and their use was urged most strongly by Julius Firmicus Maternus. I explored what the twelfth-parts are and how they are calculated in my last post. The third chart that I alluded to is something that appears to be more idiosyncratic to Maternus, and is the use of antiscia positions as yet another chart body-double. I explored this use of antiscia by Maternus very briefly near the end of my post on sign symmetry.
In the quote above, Maternus attributes this use of antiscia chart positions as secret positions to Ptolemy, though this is a false attribution, and Maternus is the only Hellenistic source I know of that uses this third set of positions. On the other hand, the dodecatemoria or twelfth-parts are indeed Babylonian in origin, and their use was widespread among Hellenistic astrologers.
While in my last post I expressed that Paulus presented an idiosyncratic variety in which the position is degrees and minutes are multiplied by 13 rather 12, I was recently confronted by a footnote by James Holden (footnote #2, p. 18, 2009) in his translation of Rhetorius in which he noted that there is evidence in surviving cuneiform tablets that the two different methods of projecting twelfth-parts existed in Babylonian astrology, i.e. multiplying by either the more common 12 or the 13 as used by Paulus, then projecting from the beginning of the sign (Holden cites “Mesopotamian Astrology” by Koch-Westenholz). If it is in fact the case that the 13-fold variety does also have Babylonian origins, then still it seems that among the Hellenistic astrologers it was only Paulus that preferred them, as at least Manilius, Dorotheus, Ptolemy, Valens, Maternus, Hephaistio, Porphyry, and Rhetorius (as well as later astrologers) employed or expressed preference for the 12-fold variety.
The Importance of the Twelfth-Part Positions
I was originally very skeptical about the use of the twelfth-part positions as representing a very important and informative additional chart that complements and integrates with the natal chart. I’m sure many readers will feel the same way. Therefore, I want to stress that the twelfth-parts were mentioned as a basic of astrological technique by nearly every Hellenistic astrologer, and many of them, including Manilius, Maternus, and Rhetorius, felt it necessary to stress how important they are despite how easy it is to overlook them.
… the genitures differ in a single constellation, because the individual signs vary on account of the distribution of their divisions and modulate their respective powers in the dodecatemories. (Manilius, Book II, #710-712, Goold trans., 1977, p. 139)
And the method of dodecatemories is a necessity in nativities; and I also put down the astrological significations of these so that some might use them not just as in a secondary work. (Rhetorius, Ch. 18, Holden trans., 2009, p. 18)
Now I shall show briefly how you may inquire about the dodecatemories, for some think that they can find the entire substance of the nativity from them, and they intimate that whatever is concealed in the delineation can be discovered from the dodecatemories. (Maternus, Book II, Ch. 17, #1, Holden trans., 2011, p. 59)
Basics of Use
The twelfth-part positions are really used just like natal positions, giving additional information and revealing combinations and significations that might be missed from looking at the natal chart alone. The interpretation of cognition usage that I discussed in the last post is along these lines too, even though it is for horary or consultation charts. Masha’allah (in On Hidden Things) discussed multiple signficators for the querent’s thoughts or intentions, and one of them was the ruler of the Ascendant. Masha’allah expressed that the best significator is the twelfth-part of the Ascendant and its ruler. In other words, just as the Ascendant and its ruler give information about the character of the person or matter itself, the twelfth-part Ascendant and its ruler do too.
We get a sense of this all-purpose use in Paulus (even though he used the 13-fold ones) in Ch. 22 of his Introduction when he noted that the twelfth-parts of benefics occurring in important places (Sun, Moon, Mercury, 1st, 10th, 7th, 4th, Fortune, Spirit, Necessity, prenatal syzygy) signify very good things for the person, while the twelfth-parts of malefics occuring in such places indicates quite bad things. Benefics produce fortunate circumstances where they occur, and malefics produce difficulty, and it is such with the twelfth-parts of each as well.
Maternus laid out some instruction in use of twelfth-parts in Book II of the Mathesis. There he instructed us to look at numerous things with particular stress on the place, the ruler, and the bound ruler of the twelfth-part, as well as interactions between planets of different sects that he discussed elsewhere, such as the greater harmony that the waxing and full moon has with diurnal planets as opposed to nocturnal. All in all, it seems that Maternus wants us to look at twelfth-part positions as on an almost equal footing as natal positions, examining things like place, sign ruler, bound ruler, regards/aspects, and special configurational indications. This is further stressed in Book III, when each chapter on a planet ends with Maternus admonishing the reader to be sure to look at the twelfth-part of the planet too, apparently to look at the same factors discussed with reference to the natal planet, so as not to miss some important indication that is in the twelfth-parts but not the regular natal chart, as everything should be in one or the other. Maternus gave the same type of admonishment about checking the twelfth-part of the Lot of Fortune in Book IV, Ch. 4, after discussing how to delineate Fortune. Again, the clear lesson is to delineate the twelfth-part as you’d delineate the planet.
But what of the relationship of a twelfth-part to its same natal point, such as the twelfth-part of the Sun to the natal Sun? Rhetorius treated of this in Ch. 60 of his Compendium. A twelfth-part trine its natal position increases the beneficence or fortune signified by the planet, but one opposed to its natal position increases the maleficence or difficulty signified by the planet. Rhetorius also discussed how the twelfth-parts of malefics falling in places can make things more difficult and the twelfth-parts of benefics easier, similar to what Paulus mentioned above. He put particular stress on the twelfth-part of the Moon in relation to the nature and social standing of the person. In his delineations of twelfth-parts he particular stressed the influence of the ruler of the twelfth-part, but some delineations involve regards/aspects from natal planets and even the qualities of the signs, such as human and quadrapedal. That the twelfth-part delineations of Rhetorius encompassed all these things lends support to the idea that delineation of the twelfth-part is very much like delineation of a natal planet or point.
In the next several posts on twelfth-parts, I’ll be digging back to analyses from older posts on the blog and showing how twelfth-parts add valuable information. I will kick this off by taking a brief second look at the chart of Steve Jobs for the rest of this post. In one my first posts, in October 2011, I discussed the natal chart of Steve Jobs and some of the most important general planetary strength considerations, showing that his Mercury is much stronger than one might think from a cursory glance. Before reading on, I urge the reader to give that post a quick review by visiting it here. While stations and phasis may not be appropriate to twelfth-parts, the twelfth-parts can tell us additional information about the strength of Mercury.
In the original analysis I noted that Mercury is probably the strongest planet in the chart in terms of having a generally pervasive influence over the life in a broad way, as it is strongly stationing direct, making an appearance (in phasis), advancing, and ruling the 1st.
Looking at the twelfth-parts we find further indication of the significance of Mercury by the twelfth-part of the MC being conjunct Mercury. This and the fact that Mercury’s twelfth-part is advancing, in the 11th which is a strong and fortunate place, and in a sign of a light (Cancer, home of the Moon, which is the sect light of the chart), while actually with the twelfth-part of the sect light, are all additional indications of the strength of Mercury. The twelfth-part of Mercury is in the bound of Jupiter (as is the natal Mercury), and is very tightly conjoined to Jupiter, in the place of Jupiter’s Joy, and in the sign of Jupiter’s exaltation – these things all connect Mercury with fortunate and lofty Jupiterian themes, that are not as strongly expressed in the natal chart itself.
Mercury posited in the 11th house from the ASC will make talented persons, indispensable for all activities, and those to whom the conduct of great business affairs is entrusted; but then it denotes greater duties if it was conjoined to Jupiter by a favorable aspect. (Maternus, Book III,Ch. 3f, #23, Holden trans., 2011, p. 147)
The twelfth-part of Venus, the sect benefic, occupying Virgo, a house of Mercury, further emphasizes this fortunate quality of Mercury that could be easily missed from the natal chart alone. Also note that the twelfth-part of Jupiter falls right onto the Sun in the chart, the twelfth-part of the Sun is in the place of the Sun’s Joy with the twelfth-part Ascendant, and the twelfth-part Moon is strongly advancing toward the MC while with the lord of the Ascendant and Jupiter (as well as Saturn). Additionally, the twelfth-part of Fortune is conjunct the Moon, the sect light. As one can see, the twelfth-parts not only help us to get more information out of the chart about the prominence of Mercury, but also showcase fortunate circumstances connected to Mercury that would be easy to miss from the natal chart alone, and give many additional indications that the chart is of someone with a high stature and great social mobility.
I will be returning to more past analyses with twelfth-parts in future posts.
Manilius, M. (1977). Astronomica. (G. P. Goold, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library.
Maternus, J. F. (2011). Mathesis. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). American Federation of Astrologers.
Rhetorius of Egypt, & Teucer of Babylon. (2009). Rhetorius the Egyptian. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers.
Pray examine now a matter trivial in appearance, yet one of great moment, which does not permit description of itself save by a Greek word. I speak of the dodecatemories, of which the name proclaims the principle. The signs each consist of thirty degrees, and every total is further divided by twice six; the calculation therefore shows that in each division there are two and a half degrees. (Manilius, Book 2, 693-700, Goold trans., 1977, p. 137)
What are the Twelfth-Parts?
The twelfth-parts, also known as dodecatemory/dodekatemoria or duodena/duodecimae (or dwad, short for dwadashama, in Indian astrology), appear in the earliest strains of Hellenistic astrology. As the 1st Century CE astrologer, Manilius, explained in the quote above, the twelfth-parts are divisions of each astrological sign into 12 equal parts, each one assigned a zodiacal sign beginning with the greater sign itself. Some authors, including Manilius, give two ways to calculate these (both leading to the same result). One way is to think of the first 2.5° as belonging to the sign itself, the second to the next sign, and so on until you get to the last 2.5° which belongs to the sign that precedes the sign it’s in. For instance, if Mercury were found at 28° Scorpio, then it would be in the last 2.5° of the sign, and thus its twelfth-part would be Libra. For greater accuracy, the second method is used, in which we take the degrees and minutes of the position within the sign and multiply by 12, then add that many degrees to the beginning of the sign the planet is in. For instance, with Mercury at exactly 28°00′ Scorpio, we would take 28 and multiply it by 12, yielding 336, then we would add this to the beginning of the sign Scorpio, so 30 would bring us to Sagittarius, 60 to Capricorn, 90 to Aquarius, and so on until we get to Libra with 6 degrees left over; the twelfth-part of Mercury would therefore be 6°00′ Libra in this case.
The FREE, open-source, traditional astrology program, Morinus, is soon to have twelfth-part calculation built-in. Some of the developers of the program have been very kind to me and have given me the chance to check out this functionality. It is great to have a program that can lay out the twelfth-part positions quickly and visually, because as we’ll see, these positions are informative and early astrologers placed importance on them.
There are two other quick notes about calculation. First, Manilius asserted that the twelfth-parts are further divided into 5 segments of half a degree each, assigned to the five non-luminary planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury (see Manilius, Astronomica, Book 2, 738-748). However, Manilius didn’t specify the order that the planets are assigned to these subdivisions. Typically, the Chaldean order, either from slowest to swiftest (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury) or the reverse (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) is suggested. While the first one of these orders is certainly the most logical, supported by the use of such order in many other types of zodiacal division from decan to monomoiria, we can’t be sure, and I don’t use these subdivisions myself in practice.
Secondly, Paulus Alexandrinus (4th Century CE) gives an idiosyncratic variety of twelfth-parts, which seems most likely to be in error, as he multiplies the position by 13, rather than by 12. He gives a paragraph explaining his justification for multiplying by 13 rather than 12, but there isn’t much logical sense in the explanation, in my opinion, and it seems to suggest that he feels a need to justify why he is doing things against the norm in his work, giving recognition to the fact that multiplication by 12 is the typical (and logical) approach to the twelfth-parts. Paulus seemed to imply that multiplication by 13 was necessary to allow the 12th parts to come back to the sign that the planet is in, but this is hardly a noteworthy argument, as the first 2.5° of the sign already fall to that same sign in the standard system. In the commentary on Paulus by Olympiodorus the Younger (6th Century CE), he found it necessary to explain the more typical form of twelfth-part first to preface the discussion, then explain the idiosyncratic Paulean form. As far as I know, this idiosyncratic form of twelfth-part is both an innovation of Paulus (which he appeared rather proud of) and used by Paulus only, so I will not pursue it further here.
And we say: the ancient Egyptians used to call it the 12th part, since the number is found in the position of each star multiplied by 12. However Paulus, having come later and examined the matter closely, [said] that the multiplication by 12 is never returned to the same zoidion where the star is, where we seek the dodekatemorion — but often the dodekatemorion of the star happens to fall in the same zoidion where the star is. (Olympiodorus, Commentary on Paulus Alexandrinus, Ch. 21, Greenbaum trans., 2001, p. 102)
Who Used the Twelfth-Parts?
In addition to Manilius, the twelfth-parts discussed (i.e. the one in the method of Manilius, not of Paulus) were also used by almost every Hellenistic astrologer, including Dorotheus of Sidon (1st Century CE) in Book I, Ch. 8 and other sections of Carmen, Ptolemy (2nd Century CE) in Book I, Ch. 22 of the Tetrabiblos, Vettius Valens (2nd Century CE) in multiple sections of his Anthology, Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE) in Book II, Ch. 17, and many other sections of his Mathesis, Porphyry of Tyre (3rd Century CE) in Ch. 39 of his Introduction to the Tetrabiblos, Hephaistio of Thebes (5th Century CE) in Book I, Ch. 18 (definitely not explained like the method of Paulus but erroneously identified as such by Rob Hand in the footnotes of the Project Hindsight edition) and in Book III of his Apotelesmatics, and Rhetorius in Ch. 18 of his Compendium. The twelfth-parts were also a basic component of astrological technique as practiced by later Persian-Arabic astrologers of the early medieval period (and beyond), including Sahl, Masha’allah, Abu Ma’shar, al-Qabisi, and Abraham Ibn Ezra.
The twelfth-parts produce a secondary zodiacal position for each planet and point in the chart, as if each point is projected into an additional hidden zodiacal position. There are four main senses in which the twelfth-parts are used: 1. Twelfth-part of the Moon gives indications regarding the physical sex of the person, 2. Twelfth-part of the Sun gives indications about Ascendant when it is unknown, 3. Twelfth-part of the Ascendant reveals thoughts/intentions, and 3. Twelfth-part positions give additional information about planetary significations that are on par with the natal positions of the planet. I will briefly explore three of these four uses; for sex, finding the Ascendant, and interpretation of cognition. However, I want to make it clear to the reader, that I find the last use to be the most fruitful.
Sex of a Person from the Natal Chart
Both Dorotheus (Book I, Ch. 8 of Carmen) and Valens (Book IX, Ch. 8 of Anthology) use the sex of the sign of the twelfth-part of the Moon as having bearing on the sex of the native. For Dorotheus, the basic idea is that if the Moon’s twelfth-part is in a male sign (i.e. a Fire or Air sign) then the native is male, but if in a female sign (i.e. an Earth or Water sign) then the native is female. However, there are some exceptions that can override this indication of the sex of the sign of the twelfth-part of the Moon, including: 1. Sun, Moon, and Ascendant are in signs of the opposite sex, 2. the Light of the opposite sex (i.e. Sun is masculine and Moon is feminine) is in the Ascendant in a sign of its same sex, 3. planets of the opposite sex occupy the 1st and the 7th, 4. both Lights are in signs of the opposite sex and a planet of the opposite sex rules the Ascendant (example given is of both Lights in masculine signs and Jupiter ruling the Ascendant, this overriding a feminine twelfth-part of the Moon to indicate a male child). For Valens, the sex of the sign of the twelfth-part of the Moon and the sex of the sign occupied by that sign’s ruler give strong indications for sex of the child.
Putting this method to the test we find that it works poorly for predicting sex. For instance, Kurt Cobain has Sun, Moon, and Ascendant all in feminine signs, which would override the fact that the twelfth-part of the Moon in his chart is in Sagittarius, a masculine sign. Additionally, the ruler of the twelfth-part of the Moon is Jupiter, which is also in a feminine sign.
However, one might argue that perhaps Dorotheus was wrong, and the twelfth-part of the Moon should be given the primary consideration in this endeavor, without it being easily over-ridden by other factors. So, let’s turn to the chart of Traci Lords. Her Ascendant is in a masculine sign but Sun and Moon in feminine signs, while the twelfth-part of the Moon is in a masculine sign, and its ruler, Saturn, is also in a masculine sign.
In conclusion, we cannot rely upon the twelfth-part of the Moon methods as set forth by Dorotheus or Valens to guess the sex of a person by the birth chart. Perhaps Dorotheus and Valens have given us leads for the eventual development of a technique for guessing the sex of an individual from the chart that involves use of twelfth-parts (particularly those of body relevant points such as the Moon, Fortune, and the Ascendant), but so far we don’t have such a technique.
Twelfth-Parts for Finding the Ascendant
Another one of the more spurious uses of the twelfth-parts is to rectify the sign of an individual’s Ascendant when it is unknown. It is Valens that discussed this use of twelfth-part of the Sun in Book I, Ch. 4 and Book IX, Ch. 7 of his Anthology. It is but one method of rectification among many explored and elucidated by Valens. The method, and I may be getting parts of it wrong, appears to involve first knowing if the person was born by day or night and knowing the Sun’s position accurately enough to be able to find the sign of its twelfth-part. After finding the twelfth-part of the Sun’s position, the Ascendant for a day birth will either be the sign opposite that sign, or one trine to that sign, with preference given to the “left” trine (i.e. the one that is 120° after the sign of the twelfth-part of the Sun) – but if it is a night birth, then it will be one of the signs opposite to these, again with the same preference. For example, if someone was born with the twelfth-part of the Sun in Taurus, then for a day birth the most likely Ascendant would be Virgo, but could also be Scorpio or Capricorn, but if a night birth then the most likely Ascendant would be Pisces, but could also be Taurus or Cancer. I’m a day birth with the twelfth-part of the Sun in Taurus, and my Ascendant is none of the three relevant signs, nor any of the three signs for night births. A technique that narrows the Ascending sign to one-fourth of the signs of the chart, and still doesn’t give you an accurate indication is not a very valuable technique, so I won’t explore it further.
Interpretation of Cognition
One of the more fascinating niche uses of twelfth-parts is in the interpretation of cognition, particularly in consultation and horary charts. This use appears to originate with unknown Indian astrologers and Hephastio of Thebes, and really starts to take off with Masha’allah. The basic idea is that the twelfth-part of the Ascendant gives indications about the thoughts and intentions of a native or a querent, pertaining to the house of the chart, and the qualities and conditions of that place such as the quality of the sign, its domicile lord, and occupants of the sign.
Dr. Benjamin Dykes explored this use of twelfth-parts in considerable depth in his translation of, and commentary on, Hermann of Carinthia’s “The Search of the Heart“. I highly recommend this work of Dr. Dykes for those interested in delving into this use of twelfth-parts in greater depth, as he not only explores it in his introduction, translates a work which uses the technique, and provides commentary, but he also includes appendices with further discussion and translations, including the entire 144 significations of each twelfth-part of the Ascendant given by Hephastio in tabular form.
The primary use of this technique in Persian astrology was in anticipating a client’s area of concern from the consultation chart, as well as in horary charts. This usage appears to have started in Indian and/or Hellenistic use of consultation charts, which preceded, and likely lead to, the development of horary astrology.
Masha’allah in On Hidden Things (see Works of Sahl and Masha’allah translated by Dykes in 2008) suggested that among a number of methods he names, the best method for finding the significator of a querent’s intention in an horary reading is to look at the twelfth-part of the Ascendant. If a planet is in that place then you look to that place as signifying the person’s intention, whereas if the place is empty then you look to the place of its ruler. In an example that Masha’allah gave (the exact same example was also given by Hermann of Carinthia centuries later but attributed to the Indians), the Ascendant was the 12th degree of Aries, which has its twelfth-part in Leo, the 5th place from the Ascendant. Leo was empty in the horary chart and the Sun was in Libra, the 7th, so Masha’allah surmised that the question involved the 5th in the condition of or seeking the 7th, i.e. a child seeking a woman (or seeking the querent’s wife). Masha’allah said that if the Sun had been in the 6th then it would’ve suggested a question about a sick child, and so forth. As you can see the stress in this technique is primarily on the significations of the place/house, and that one can combine the significations of the place with its ruler, in the sense of the place being fulfilled by or meeting the condition of the ruler’s place. This is one of a few different techniques given by Masha’allah and later authors for interpreting the intentions of a querent.
Use in Natal Charts
Used with natal charts the technique puts an interesting twist on the idea of personal focus and fulfillment, or even “primary motivation”. The ruler of the Ascendant shows a particular pull towards a certain place in the natal chart and its accompanying themes and significations. Similarly, the twelfth-part of the Ascendant and its ruler may reveal a personal emphasis for the individual.
In the next post on twelfth-parts, I’ll explore their use in natal delineation in more depth, drawing heavily on Maternus, who found in twelfth-parts the secret to more accurate delineation. However, even just looking at the twelfth-part of the Ascendant in natal astrology, we can find some interesting things.
Hitler had the twelfth-part of the Ascendant with the greater malefic Saturn, in the bound of Mercury, in the networking and popularity-oriented 11th House (house of friends), in the sign of leadership, Leo, while its ruler, the Sun, was in the 8th, pertaining to death and harm. The twelfth-part of Hitler’s Sun is also in the 8th, and its ruler too is in the 8th. This gives interesting additional valuable information that we can add to our knowledge that his Ascendant lord (Venus) and the sect light of his chart (the Sun) are in the 8th of his natal chart. Using the Masha’allah-style of place combination, we might suggest that he has some intention to achieve a Saturnine standing in groups through death, fear, and destruction, though I think that Leo and the solar element both contribute meaning here, as does the bound of Mercury.
Looking at Jeffrey Dahmer’s chart we find the twelfth-part of the Ascendant in the 8th of death in the bound of Saturn, conjunct the lord of the Ascendant, which is also the ruler of the twelfth-part, in the exact same bound of Saturn in the 8th. Therefore, the personal intentions and focus on Saturnine-Venusian, death, fear, and destruction themes are very pronounced.
Start playing around with twelfth-parts in natal, horary, and electional charts (putting the twelfth-part of the Moon in strong and good places is best for elections and recommended by Sahl and others). Experiment, and if you have any revelations, feel free to share them in the comments.
Dorotheus of Sidon. (2005). Carmen Astrologicum. (D. Pingree, Trans.). Abingdon, MD: Astrology Center of America.
Manilius, M. (1977). Astronomica. (G. P. Goold, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library.
Paulus Alexandrinus & Olympiodorus. (2001). Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olypiodorus. (D. G. Greenbaum, Trans.). Reston, VA: Arhat.
Ancient Hellenistic and Persian Astrology in Practice