For those unfamiliar with the basic technique of annual and monthly profections, please review the first 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 we’ll be looking at Persian innovation with profections, in which the Ascendant is not profected by whole sign, but rather is profected by degree, such that the Ascendant profects 30 degrees in one year. As far as I know, this style of profection started in the 8th century CE with certain Persian astrologers such as Umar al-Tabari. Abu Ma’shar (active in the 9th century CE) was one of the Persian astrologers who most famously used this type of profection in both natal and mundane work. This style of profection was also followed by the 10th century CE astrology al-Qabisi (Alchabitius), and later medieval and Renaissance European astrologers. However, Masha’allah, of the 8th century CE, used the Hellenistic style profections in which profections are discrete, by whole-sign, rather than continuous, by degree.
To recap the Hellenistic method, if one’s Ascendant was in Aquarius when one was born, then it’d profect to Pisces at Age 1 (second year of life), Aries at Age 2 (third year of life), and so forth. The profections would be in discrete steps, such that the whole second year would be a Pisces annual profection, and there wouldn’t be any sense in considering a “degree” of the profection. In order to capture smaller time frames we could also profect by month, starting with the sign of the year, in discrete steps, such that the month following the birthday would be a Pisces monthly profection, while the following month would be an Aries monthly profection, and so forth. We could even do the same for days, because in each case we are dealing with discrete movements, highlighting specific Signs of the chart, which in whole-sign houses are the different houses of the chart.
In the Persian period there began to be some experimentation with quadrant division of houses, and with this came some new perspectives on how to view the chart, including a greater concern with degree-based aspects and configurations, quantified weighting of essential dignities, and a movement away from sign-based configurations and techniques. So, we start to see the notion that the Ascendant profects 30 degrees in a year, or a house in the “equal-house” system, rather than a discrete sign.
This view of profections changes some things. For one, the profection is continuous, and the profected point will profect into a new sign in less than a year, because it would move at about 2.5 degrees per month. For instance, if one were born with an Ascendant of 25 Aquarius, then the Ascendant would profect to Pisces two months after birth, rather than one year after. Interestingly, in most Persian predictive systems, such as that of Abu Ma’shar, the Lord of the Year is still determined by the ruler of the profected Ascendant at the time of the solar return (also called the solar revolution), so in our example, despite the entrance into Pisces of the profected Ascendant, the Lord of the Year (called the “salkhuday”) for that entire year would remain Saturn (ruler of Aquarius). Therefore, it seems that those who started using this profection weren’t that interested in the early changeover of rulers that would occur by its use – you get the same planets highlighted for the time period as you do when you use whole-sign profections.
Of course, the additional feature of this style of profections that likely inspired its use is the ability to profect any planet or point in a natal chart or return chart by degree in order to time events to the perfection of aspects. For example, let’s say that someone has the Sun at 10 degrees Aries and Mars at 15 degrees Aries, and we want to know when some of the more difficult manifestations of this Sun and Mars conjunction might manifest. We might look to see when Mars profects to conjoin, square, or oppose the Sun by degree. As the Sun is 5 degrees behind the Sun, and the monthly rate of profection is about 5 degrees, we expect the profected conjunction a month prior to the twelfth, twenty-fourth, thirty-sixth (and so forth) birthdays. The opposition will take place a month short of the sixth birthday (and every twelve years thereafter), while the square will take place a month short of the third and ninth birthdays (and every twelve years thereafter). These exact degree based aspects can be difficult to figure out in one’s head, so I recommend using software. The free astrological program Morinus can bring up a chart of profected positions (done by degree), as can many other astrological software packages.
Monthly and Daily Profections
Even though these profections by degree are continuous, it is still also possible to do profections by month and day (and even hour), though they use much faster motion. Abu Ma’shar discussed these minor profections in Book IX, Chapter 7, Section 8 of “On the Revolutions of the Years of Nativities”. For the monthly profections any given point profects through an entire sign (30 degrees) in a single month. In other words, each point moves to each other point at the rate of about 1 degree per day. For the daily profections a point moves at the rate of 30 degrees in 2.5 days, or about a degree every 2 hours. Abu Ma’shar also mentions hourly profections, at the rate of 30 degrees every 5 hours, or about a degree very 10 minutes. One of the technical problems with these types of profections by day and hour is that it makes a huge difference what time of day is used to kick off the profectional movement. It is assumed that the birth time would be used.
I present this type of profection by degree for the sake of completeness in the discussion of various types of profections and their use in ancient astrology. However, I must personally admit that I have not found much use in this particular style of profection. It would seem that it’s main use is in showing timing through exact aspects, but rarely have I seen significant events time out according to exact profectional aspects in my study of event timing. While these are the type of profection your software is likely to perform, that seem more sophisticated, and that dominated later traditional astrology, I have found these profections to be far inferior to the original Hellenistic style of profecting discretely by whole sign. I have not given any real-world examples of great timing by this technique because I haven’t yet been impressed by any. My study of these degree-based profections has been primarily with natal astrology, so perhaps they work better in mundane timing. If you have had experiences with using degree-based profections for timing, whether good or bad experiences, I would love to hear them. I am particularly interested in big events in people’s lives that corresponded to very close profectional aspects to the natal chart. Please discuss in the comments.