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

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

The Minor Years of the Planets

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

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

Minor Years as Ripening Planets

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

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

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

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

Hitler's Natal Chart
Hitler’s Natal Chart

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

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

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

Planetary Days and Their Eerie Sum

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

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

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

Dividing the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

References

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

Traditional Astrology of Death | Whitney Houston Revisited with Directions

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

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

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

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

Whitney’s Chart

Whitney Houston Natal Chart (AA-Rodden-Rating)

Directing Through the Bounds

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

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

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

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

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

Algol to Ascendant

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

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

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

Saturn transiting over Directed Sun

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Astrological Predictive Techniques | Primary Directions | 1. Ascensions and Bounds

Few techniques are more hyped in traditional western astrological circles  than primary directions.  This is probably because they became a very popular predictive technique in Renaissance and late classical or early modern traditional astrology, during a time when the complexity of an astrologer’s mathematical abilities were more important than the veracity of her predictions.  I frequently encounter the beliefs today that with primary directions one will have the number one key to predicting the timing of a person’s death, that some specific type or combination of types of primary directions will time out the major events in a person’s life to the very day that they occur, and that, because of the last belief, birth times need to be rectified, even if recorded with a stopwatch at birth, such that the important events in life line up with certain primary directions to the very day.

While primary directions are a bit over-hyped, they were used by various Hellenistic and Persian astrologers, and can be an important addition to the astrologer’s predictive toolbox.  Directions through the terms and directions to angles, especially the Ascendant, are particularly powerful and useful, and are the earliest types used.  I feel that it is best to start from the beginning, with the way it seems that primary directions were used in early Hellenistic astrology, and progressing gradually from there.  I will not be getting into the incredible diversity in direction approaches that arises after the first millennium, but I’m of the rather cynical opinion that the reader will be better off for that. In fact, according to Martin Gansten (2009) who wrote the definitive text on Primary Directions, prior to the 15th century directions were always in the zodiac (in zodiaco as opposed to in mundo), without latitude, using semi-arc proportions, and without any relationship to particular systems of quadrant house division (p. 61).

What are Primary Directions?

As you’ve probably heard, the Earth spins, and it takes 24 hours for it to make one such spin.  The planets rise, culminate, and set with this spin.  But what if we were to freeze the positions of the planets in the sky relative to the Earth at birth, and then watch the planetary conjunctions and aspects that occur in the sky relative to this as the day goes on with the planets continuing to rise, culminate, and set?   If we did this we would see the primary directions, and the clock time that it would take for these conjunctions and aspects to occur would be the timing of these directions (for instance we may equate 4 minutes of elapsed time with 1 year of life).

The 24 hours of spin is given a constant measure called Right Ascension (RA), such that 30 degrees of RA passes over the Meridian of the location in exactly 2 hours of clock time; 360 degrees = 24 hours; 24 hours = 1,440 minutes; each of the 360 degrees corresponds to about 4 minutes of clock time (i.e. 1,440/360=4).  In other words, if a planet were to culminate 8 minutes after birth, then we’d convert this to degrees of RA as being a direction to the MC 2 degrees (of RA) after birth.

Annual Key: To convert these degrees of RA into a point in the life, we use the key 1 degree of RA = 1 year of life.  This key is sometimes called the Ptolemaic key, even though it was not Ptolemy that originally used it.  This is the annual key used for primary directions until about the Renaissance, and thus it’s the only one we’ll use.  Remember, 1 degree of RA = 1 year of life = 4 minutes of clock time. 

Smaller Units of Time: We now know that 1 degree of RA is symbolic of 1 year of life, but there are 365.25 days in a year, so how much RA is a day?  1 degree is equivalent to 60 minutes of a degree which is equivalent to 3,600 seconds of a degree.  By dividing 3,600 by 365.25 we get that a day is about 9.86 seconds of a degree of right ascension.  We really don’t need that sort of precision, as primary directions are not really the appropriate technique for timing to the day anyway.  We’re especially not concerned with precision at this point, and when we do want greater precision we can let a good software program do the calculation for us.  It was common practice in the ancient world to use approximate the year as 360 days, giving an even approximation of 10 seconds of a degree for one day (i.e. 3,600/360=10) and 5 minutes of a degree for one month (i.e. 10 seconds * 30 = 300 seconds = 5 minutes).

Estimating Primary Directions to Angles with Astro-Clocks

Because about 4 minutes of clock time is equal to a year of life in the system of primary directions, one can actually use an astro-clock to look at the time it takes from birth to when a planet conjoins or aspects an angle of the chart. Take the time, divide by 4, and you will get a rough approximation of the year (and quarter) when an event is likely to occur.  Out of all primary directions that are aspect-based (as opposed to the very important time lord discussed below), these directions to the angles are most pivotal, especially the direct hits, so it is handy to be able to approximate these with one’s astro-clock or by manually time adjusting a chart.

For instance, the divorce of Kurt Cobain’s parents when he was seven years old is often cited as a very influential event in his life.  Looking at his natal chart we see that Jupiter is the ruler of his 4th of family, and that Venus (a significator of the mother by day) is conjunct Saturn in his natal chart. This Venus-Saturn conjunction was a particularly significant combination in his musical career, his marriage to Courtney Love, and his suicide.

Kurt Cobain's Natal Chart
Kurt Cobain’s Natal Chart

Sure enough, about a half hour (about 30 / 4 = about 7.5) after Kurt’s birth Jupiter, ruler of the 4th, exactly aspects the Descendant, and Venus conjoins the Descendant.  The setting of Venus is more significant here because it is a direction to the horizon itself, rather than a direction of an aspect of a planet to the horizon (the Jupiter direction is from the trine of Jupiter to the horizon). While a traumatic parental separation may not strike one as a particularly Venus and Jupiter type of event, Jupiter, in Cancer and ruling the 4th shows the emphasis on parents, and Venus, being conjunct Saturn, shows the effect on his sense of relationships, and the loss and weight associated with that.

30 Minutes after Cobain's Birth
30 Minutes after Cobain’s Birth

At age 12 his mother granted full custody to his father.  Age 12 would correspond to about 48 minutes after birth (4*12=48), and sure enough Saturn sets in the chart about 48 minutes after birth, rounding out the impact of this very powerful Jupiter-Venus-Saturn configuration coming due by direction to the Descendant.

Cobain 48 minutes after birth

I invite the reader to take a few minutes to play around with this on one’s own chart and other working charts to get a rough idea of when directions to angles occur in the life, especially those that are complex configurations involving a series of hits over a few years.  Think in terms of natal significations that could be unlocked by the prominence that lining up with the axis (horizon and meridian) of your birth location can bring.

Early Primary Directions

According to Gansten (2009, p. 11) there is evidence of use of primary directions dating back to at least the 1st century CE, in the Carmen Astrologicum of Dorotheus and possibly also in a paraphrase of the early 1st century CE astrologer Balbillus.

There are three things that you should know about the earliest primary directions:

  1. There is an exclusive focus on the Ascendant (though Dorotheus in his length of life technique appears to advise to direct from various points, so Gansten may have overstated this point).
  2. The rising of the bounds of a sign give rise to a time lord of the period as bound lord which sets the tone.
  3. Directions of planets to Ascendant and planetary aspects to Ascendant mark more transitory events.

This second point about directing the Ascendant through the bounds is often overlooked in today’s traditional circles where primary directions tend to used more like some a suped-up set of transits than a system giving time lords.  However, this was a critical facet of this technique from the beginnings in the Hellenistic period right on through the Persian period, where the bound lord is given the technical term, jarbakhtar (distributor of time, much like the Greek chronocrator).  Of course, you can try to rough estimate these by astro-clocking as well, noting when the Ascendant passes into another bound.  The bounds used were the Egyptian bounds (the “Egyptian” bounds were the only set widespread and independently attested in multiple Hellenistic sources, in addition to appearing to be rooted farther back in Mesopotamian astrology).  You can find a table of Egyptian bounds online at Altair Astrology’s blog here, or download a free pdf of the bounds and more from Project Hindsight here.  This is arguably the most important use of primary directions, and appeared to have been given more stress than the aspectual ones, so the time has come to show we can obtain this important time lord quickly and easily with free software … but first, let’s talk ascensional times.

Estimating Ascendant Directions with Ascensional Times

The ecliptic is at an angle to the horizon, so signs rise somewhat diagonally, which is why they take more or less than 2 hours to rise, rather than a steady 2 hours per sign for all 12 rise in a 24 hour day.  The length of time it takes for a given sign to rise depends on the latitude of the location, and this length of time is measured in Right Ascension (RA).  You will recall that 1 degree of RA is basically 4 minutes of clock time.  Therefore, if a sign rose uniformly, then all 30 degrees of the sign would rise in 30 degrees of RA or 2 hours (30 degrees RA * 4 minutes clock time = 120 minutes clock time).  If the sign took longer to rise, called a sign of long ascension, and let’s say it rose in 3 hours, then we’d call this 3 hours its “ascensional time” for that latitude, but we’d want to convert it into RA.  2 hours of clock time is 30 degrees RA, so 3 hours of clock time would be 45 degrees RA, and the ascensional time for such a sign at that latitude would therefore be 45 degrees.

The ascensional times of the signs at the latitude of birth is an important thing to know in multiple Hellenistic predictive methods.  The ancient key of 1 year for each degree of RA was used in multiple ways in Hellenistic astrology.  For instance, an activation of the sign in the chart was thought to occur around the same number of years as the ascensional time of the sign.  In our 45 degree sign example, we might expect some special activation of that sign around the time that natives of that latitude turn age 45.

Additionally, the ascensional times were used to estimate primary directions pertaining to the Ascendant (and sometimes also for a sort of rough symbolic direction of other points, even though it is not astronomically correct to use it for directing other points).  Gansten (2009, p. 14) mentioned that at least Valens and Paulus Alexandrinus employed this short cut method.  The method is as follows: Take the ascensional time of the sign, divide it by 30, and use that as a conversion unit for converting zodiacal degrees into right ascension.

To better understand how this is done, the reader will have to first obtain a table of sign ascensional times for the latitudes.  One such table is available from Project Hindsight for free as the last pdf link on this page.  Please download that table at this time and refer to it for the discussion in the next few paragraphs.

Let’s return to Kurt Cobain.  He was born at about 47 North, for latitude, and his Ascendant is Virgo.  At the intersection of latitude 47 and the sign Virgo, you will find the ascensional time of 40°29′.  Dividing by 30 we get 1°21′ or 1.35°, which is our conversion factor.  In other words, while the Ascendant is in Virgo, we pretend that 1° of zodiacal longitude is equivalent to 1.35 years of life (about 1 year, 4 months, and 1 week).  Kurt’s Ascendant is at 20 Virgo in the bound of Jupiter but the bound switches to that of Mars in a degree, and thus at about age 1 year, 4 months.  Mars rules that time in the life until the Ascendant enters the bound of Saturn which starts at 28 Virgo, 8 degrees past the Ascendant, so 8*1.35=10.8 years, or about 10 years and 9 1/2 months old.  In other words, from about age 1 1/2 until almost age 11, Mars is the lord of the time, and should be more in focus and setting the tone.  This Saturn bound lasts for 2 degrees, or 2.7 years (1.35*2=2.7), until he is about 13 1/2.  After that point the Ascendant enters the first bound of Libra, which is another Saturn bound.  When entering a new sign we then have to find the conversion factor for the new sign as well.  However, in this case it is easy, because Virgo and Libra have the same ascensional times, and thus the same conversion factor. That Mars and Saturn as time lords set the tone during Kurt’s childhood for the other directions is significant, particularly in relation to our speculations about the meaning of the Jupiter and Venus directions above.

We can do the same thing for aspects to the Ascendant.  The Ascendant is at 20 Virgo and Saturn is at 28°44′ (about 28.75) Pisces.  When 28°44′ Virgo rises this direction of Saturn opposite the Ascendant (same direction we mentioned as occurring around age 12 above on astro-clocking) will be complete.  Therefore, we are interested in the age that corresponds to about 8.75 degrees of zodiacal longitude.  Multiplying by our Virgo conversion factor for this latitude of 1.35, we get 11.8 years of age, which is pretty close to the estimate we got by astro-clocking – emphasizing a focus on that Saturn at about 12 years of age.

Hopefully, you now have a good idea for how these sign conversion factors can be used to convert zodiacal distance within a certain sign into degrees.  This is simply another rough estimate method because of course the conversion factor is not in reality constant throughout a sign, but rather the speed of the signs rise changes continuously, so it is not precisely accurate to equate any arbitrary zodiacal degree of Virgo with the same particular unit of time.  Imagine that you don’t have a program that can calculate primary directions or even an astro-clock to estimate important hits and aspects to the Ascendant, then you can at least approximate important directions through bounds and to the Ascendant with nothing more than the ascensional times of the signs under consideration which you divide by 30 for a conversion factor.

Directing thru Bounds with Free Software

In a future post of this series, I’ll give more details about primary directions, their use, and their calculation with free software.  However, I want to leave the reader with at least the chance to create and print off tables for the Ascendant jarbakhtar periods of any chart.  This is done with the free open-source traditional astrology program Traditional Morinus.

I won’t get into the details of installing the program and entering basic chart data here because I’ve addressed it in this prior post, and further in this one.  If you are new to Morinus, please check out those posts, download, install, and get a chart in there, before continuing on.

OK, now that you have a birth chart up, you should have a screen that somewhat resembles the following:

Houston Natal

First, let’s set the Key.  Click Options, then Primary Keys.  Make sure Static is selected and select Ptolemy from the list, then click OK.

Second, let’s set the other Primary Directions options for some traditional Ascendant through the bounds type of directions.  Click Options, then Primary Directions.  Make sure your selections look as follows by deselecting pretty much everything and then selecting the options shown (remember that semiarc and zodiacal without latitude are pretty much the only approaches prior to about the 15th century) and hit OK:

PD Options

Now we are ready to calculate the tables.  This is done by going to Tables, then Primary Directions.  You might as well check 0-100.  Make sure only Direct is checked.  Converse here are actually not traditional converse primary directions at all, but a sort of reverse primary direction where we imagine that the signs are moving across the sky in reverse (i.e. moving opposite the primary motion), so they are a very weird modern experimental thing which we we’ll ignore, always choosing Direct.

When you hit OK, you should end up with a Table of primary directions of the Ascendant through bounds.  Also included are directions of the Descendant through bounds which you should just ignore as they were not a part of the technique (though I’m not sure how to disable them in the software).

For the example below, I pulled up the jarbakhtars for Whitney Houston from Age 25-50.

Houston PD Table

Remember again that the ones that say Dsc are irrelevant and should be ignored.  One thing that we notice is that for the period from April 18, 2009 until March 3, 2013, the Ascendant directs through the Saturn bound of Taurus (22 to 27 Taurus).  This tells us that Saturn is jarbakhtar for the period and sets the tone as a time lord, activating potentials related to her natal Saturn, which is located in her 12th House, opposite her natal Sun.  For some more on the importance of Saturn in the timing of her death, please see my recent post on that matter.

Conclusion

It’s my hope that I’ve given some insight and encouraged use of some new predictive techniques among readers with little to no background in primary directions or those that have found certain elements of primary directions to be confusing or overly intimidating in the past.  When I get around to the next post I’m hoping to diving a little deeper into the way directions were used by various astrologers predictively in the first millennium of the common era.

 

References

Gansten, M. (2009). Primary Directions: Astrology’s Old Master Technique. Bournemouth, England: The Wessex Astrologer Ltd.

Traditional Astrology of Death | Whitney Houston

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

Planetary Years: Sun & Saturn

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

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

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

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

Monthly Profection and Transiting Mars

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

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

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

Last Solar Return: 8th House Saturn Rising

 

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

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

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

Last Lunar Return: 8th House Saturn Rising

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

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

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

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

Death Transits: The Moon Arrives, Saturn in Focus

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

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

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

 

References

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