Astrological Predictive Techniques | 4. Profections in the Style of Vettius Valens

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For those unfamiliar with the basic technique of annual and monthly profections, please review the last three posts of the series which introduce annual profections, those of smaller periods, and some ways the profected Ascendant or “terminal sign”, and its ruler, are combined with other predictive techniques.

In this post the focus is on a more advanced use of profections that is explicated by Vettius Valens in Book IV, Chapter 11 (and some ensuing chapters, as well as in some places in later books), of Anthology.  The only full English translation of Valens’ Anthology is available for free download from its translator Mark Riley, on his website, in pdf format at this link (c.f about p. 77-82 for reference).

The type of profections that Valens used adds three main additional principles to using profections: 1.  Profections of the Sect Light (i.e. Sun of a day birth, Moon of a night birth) may be even more generally important than that of the Ascendant, especially if the Light is in a “stake” of the chart (1st, 10th, 7th, or 4th place) ; 2. A planet in a place is more important than a planet ruling a place; 3. Any point, place, or planet can profect.

Part One: Important to Profect the Sect Light

Valens makes it very clear in Book V (Ch. 7) that he finds the profection of the sect light to be the most significant, even more so than the Ascendant:

The aphetic points of the years are operative when starting from any star, but the following aphetic points are most effective: for day births the sun, for night births the moon, especially when they are at the angles. Next <in effectiveness> is the Ascendant.  (Riley, 2010, p. 108)

In fact, any planet or place can be profected, and we will discuss the significance of them below.  However, the sect light and Ascendant have special general significance for the key events of the person’s year as a whole, so we may regard the planets that they transmit to as very important time lords of the period.

Anonymous Natal Chart
Anonymous Natal Chart

How do you profect the Sect Light?  Once you’ve gotten the hang of profecting the Ascendant, it will be easy to profect the Sect Light or any other point, as they move forward the same number of signs as the Ascendant does.  For instance, if one were a 35 year old with Leo Rising, then the annual profection of the Ascendant would be to the 12th place, Cancer (i.e. one before the 1st place, as 35 is one year before 36, a multiple of 12 – multiples of 12 are 1st place years).  If the person was born during the day then the Sun would be sect light, and we would want to profect that also.  The Sun would also profect to the 12th place from its own position.  If the Sun were in Cancer, then the 12th place from the Sun would be one sign back, in Gemini.  Thus the annual profection of the Sect Light would be to Gemini, and that of the Ascendant to Cancer.  As the Sun is cadent in our example, it is unclear whether Valens would have considered the profection of the Sect Light or the Ascendant as the more important of the two profections of the year, but certainly both are very important.

Part Two: Planet in the Place is More Important than Planet Ruling the Place

In the previous posts on profections of the Ascendant it was noted that it is as if the Ascendant is the person and the person enters a new Place/House/Sign of the chart each year.  In that metaphor, the planet ruling the Place is a “lord” of the time period, as if handed over some responsibility concerning the place where the native is now dwelling or active, which should seem natural to anyone familiar with planetary rulership of other planets and places.  It was also noted that any planet or planets in the place of the profection are very important, perhaps even more directly so, as the Ascendant becomes “co-present” with them in that place, and this planet or these planets are like alternative or additional lords of the period. For Valens, the planet or planets occupying the place are preferred to the ruler, and they are the ones that the time gets handed over to, or which receive the transmission. Again, from Valens Book V (Ch. 7):

If one of the stars in transit has entered this place, then it will be transmitting the chronocratorship. If the sign where the count stops happens to be empty, then count from the position (at the nativity) of the ruler of the sign, and examine in the same way the place found, whether using the nativity or the transiting stars. Then forecast the results of all the places and stars. <In other words,> if the count goes from star to star, use the stars for forecasting; if from a star to an empty sign, use the rulers of the signs. (Riley, 2010, p. 108)

The previous excerpt actually hits on a number of topics simultaneously, including the priority for the occupants over the ruler, the fact that the solar return transiting occupants are also preferred to the ruler (more on that below), and also that Valens even suggested profecting the ruler and finding which planet it transmits to, taking that planet over the ruler itself.

Let’s return to our example of a 35-year-old, born in the day, with Leo Rising and Sun in Cancer, with all annual profections going to the 12th place from their natal positions.  The Sun profects to Gemini, which is empty, and thus Mercury receives the transmission of the Sect Light, becoming an important time lord of the year (and if we profect Mercury we also find that it profects to Gemini, again highlighting Mercury – but if we prefer solar return transits over rulers, then it is Mars, in Gemini at the solar return, that receives the transmission of the Sect Light – this use of transits is discussed further below).  However, the Ascendant, Leo, profects to Cancer, which is occupied by both the Sun and Mercury.  In this case it is the Sun and Mercury, located in the place, rather than the Moon, ruler of the place, that receive the transmission.  As one can see the profectional method of Valens actually has the effect of changing which planet or planets are considered the most important time lords of the year by profection.  In the basic technique of the typical annual profections, the Moon, ruler of the sign the Ascendant profects to, is Lord of the Year.  By contrast, in the Valens technique it is the Sun and Mercury which are the most significant time lords by profection, as they receive the most effective transmissions, those of the Sect Light and the Ascendant.

It is important to acknowledge that this method of profections does indeed yield different indications, was not a widespread technique in Hellenistic astrology, and was not widely embraced in the latter periods.  However, this does not mean it is ineffective.  Many modern traditionalists who have explored the method have been very satisfied with the results.  Admittedly, I put more stress on the profection of the Ascendant, but like Valens, and many other ancient astrologers, give a lot of emphasis to planets occupying the place of the profection.  Valens introduces many new dimensions to explore with profections, and we’ll just scratch the surface here.  I urge the reader to experiment and have some fun on their own journey to better prediction.

Part 3: Profect It All

Additionally, Valens does see significance and usefulness in profecting basically any planet or place in the natal chart.  The planet or place hands off to the sign and the planets in the sign (or, if empty, the ruler of the sign) of the place of the profection.  Valens discussed this at great length in Book IV, Chapter 11, for instance:

Let us start our exposition from this point: when investigating the current year of a nativity, we divide by 12. Count the remainder from a star which is able <to transmit> to a star which is able to receive. In this way we will discover to what sign the year transmits. What I have said is easy to comprehend but complicated to determine since all the stars, plus the Ascendant, the sun, and the moon, can transmit to and receive from each other. (Riley, 2010, p. 78)

The nature of the star transmitting provides the context, or the nature of what is affected, and the one receiving the transmission provides the form of the effect and responsibility for its completion.  The contexts or significations of the planets and places being profected is as follows (quoted material in bullet points below from Anthology of Vettius Valens, Book IV, Ch. 11, Riley trans., 2010, p. 79):

  • Ascendant – “length of life and bodily or mental activities”
  • Sun – “rank, preeminence, magnificence, the father, great personages, and whatever other matters are usually influenced by the sun’s nature”
  • Moon – “dangers to health, diseases, bleeding, or the mother”
  • MC (10th Place?) – “occupations, livelihood, and work”
  • Lot of Fortune – “good fortune and success in life”
  • Descendant – “mortality, change, or trouble”
  • IC (4th Place?) – “estates, possessions, secret matters, legacies”
  • Saturn – “bankruptcy, money or property, secret diseases, or family inheritance”
  • Jupiter – “rank, friendship, alliances, and possessions”
  • Mars – “military or public matters”
  • Venus – “women, love affairs, associations, or the category ‘female'”
  • Mercury – “associations, slave matters, servile matters, giving and receiving, or written matters”

Valens additionally noted that it is important to profect from the other lots of the planets (for instance, the Lot of Daimon/Spirit/Sun, the Lot of Love/Eros/Venus, and the Lot of Necessity/Mercury).  Therefore, it is clear that Valens regarded profections as a general method applicable to any chart point assigned a significance as a means of understanding its changing state and activations of its relationships within the chart.

Cumulative Effect and Priority

I have only scratched the surface as to the way that Valens used profections.  You will find many more tips in Chapter 11 of Book 4 and in various other later sections of the Anthology.

One additional interesting thing that Valens does is to consider if most of the planets receiving the transmissions for the year (from the planets, angles of the chart, and Lot of Fortune) are benefics or malefics, while if a near even mix of both then the year will be very changeable in terms of fortune.  Presumably, the more effective transmissions, those of the Sect Light and Ascendant, are more important in this regard.  In fact, at one point in Book IV, Chapter 11, Valens did make explicit that actually both lights and the Ascendant give the strongest indications:

To find the overall influence in any nativity, it will be necessary to count the years from the sun, the moon, and the Ascendant, and if the count ends at an empty place, then they <sun moon Ascendant> will be transmitting to the rulers of these <empty> signs. These three figures have great influence, whether the transmission is to benefics, to malefics, to the angles or operative places, or to places not at the angles. Next it will be necessary to investigate the transmissions of the other stars: if malefics control the year, but the three aphetas have a benefic effect, then the year will be vigorous and distinguished, after some doubt, anxiety, and annoyance. (Riley, 2010, p. 78)

Solar Returns and Transits

In many places Valens noted the effect of transits on places receiving the transmissions, including in a quote from Book V which is above, where he stressed the priority of star to star over star to ruler.  It seems that a transiting planet could even be considered to receive the transmission, especially if the place being transmitted to were empty, as Valens noted in Book IV, Ch. 11:

If no star transmits to another, and if the distribution is to empty places, then it is necessary to note the empty places: especially if any stars are there in transit, they will receive the distribution. (Riley, 2010, p. 78)

Presumably, for the annual profections, these transits would be the planetary positions at the solar return. In fact, I think Valens did make it clear that he was most interested in the transits of the solar return chart, again from Book IV, Ch. 11:

Whenever we find a transmission in one cycle, (whether from one or from many), we examine the horoscope recast for that year, particularly the transits of the stars, to see if they have a configuration similar to their configuration at the nativity with respect to the transmitters and receivers, and if they have the same phases with respect to the sun. If this is found to be true, we say that the results are certain. If the configurations are different and dissimilar, the results will not take place in toto: some things will happen overall, others partially.  (Riley, 2010, p. 79)

This may provide a helpful context for general transits as well though.  Let’s say, the Ascendant profects to Cancer as in our example above, which is occupied by the Sun and Mercury.  The transmission is to the Sun and Mercury.  However, Venus occupies the place with the Sun at the solar return.  Therefore, in this scenario, we treat Venus also as receiving the transmission from the Ascendant.  Similarly, the Sect Light profected to Gemini, empty in the chart, but occupied by Mars in the solar return.  Thus in the solar return we see an additional influence of Venus upon the significations of the Ascendant, in addition to the strong influences of the Sun and Mercury (and weaker influence of the Moon), and we see an additional influence of Mars upon the significations of the Sect Light, in addition to the weaker influence of Mercury. Additionally, throughout the year, when planets transit through Gemini or Cancer, they may also modify the indications.

Conclusion

Vettius Valens has given us a broad range of new uses for profections.  Just as we might be curious about the transit of a planet, Valens allows us to check in on any planet and check out its annual profection, particularly with an eye on how that puts it into contact with occupants, both natal and transiting, of the place it profects to.  Of course, we may quickly find ourselves dealing with a soup of indications to sort out, but this is not to say they couldn’t conceivably be sorted out.  If his techniques are used with monthly profections as well, then you will certainly be overwhelmed, but it seems that they are discussed solely in terms of annual profections.  Not only with profections, but with predictive techniques in general, Valens has provided a wealth of areas to be explored for many years to come.  I plan on returning to Valens-style profections with some delineation examples in a future post.

References

Valens, V. (2010). Anthologies. (M. Riley, Trans.) (Online PDF.). World Wide Web: Mark Riley. Retrieved from http://www.csus.edu/indiv/r/rileymt/Vettius%20Valens%20entire.pdf
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Anthony

Blogger interested in all things astrological, especially Hellenistic, medieval, Uranian, and asteroid astrology.

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