This is the last planned post exploring the use of profections. Like the previous one, which dealt with degree-based Persian-style profections, this one is presented more for the sake of completeness in discussing the appearance of profectional techniques in Hellenistic and Persian astrology, than intended as endorsement in practice. I have an additional motivation for discussing the great variety of methods and opinions pertaining to profections in ancient astrology as well. I long to convey to the reader the greater degree of diversity and richness that is found in astrology of the ancient period, in order to quell false notions that earlier astrology is more cut-and-dry, conforming in technique and attitude, narrow in scope, and fatalistic in philosophy. The first one thousand years of the horoscopic tradition represent the richest body of astrological technique and opinion we have, which can provide a lifetime of new insights and challenges, deepening our tool-set, and enriching our practice. I discuss this a little further in the series of posts, “Ancient Astrologers Didn’t All Agree“.
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. I use basic annual annual and monthly profections very heavily in my own chart work and find them indispensable.
In Book 3 of his Astronomica, Manilius (1st Century CE) described two different methods of profection. First (about lines 510-529), he presented a method of profection I have not seen elsewhere, which is the topic of this post. Next (about lines 537-559), he presented a different method attributed to “some who approve of an alternative scheme” (p. 207), which is the familiar use of profecting the Ascendant one whole sign for various discrete periods of time, particularly one year (Goold, 1977). It is interesting that the method first discussed by Manilius which he seemed to favor is the more idiosyncratic one that we don’t see in other sources.
Profect the Sun Annually, Moon Monthly, and Ascendant for Days and Hours
In the method of Manilius for the annual profection we move the Sun (one sign per year), while for the monthly profection we move the Moon (one sign per month). The Ascendant is profected for groups of days and hours, with some confusion as to the time period used. In fact, there are many ambiguities in the discussion and questions that naturally arise with it. Let’s let Manilius explain the basic method and then we’ll discuss some of the difficulties with employing it.
Now I shall assign their special periods of life in classes to the signs; for the signs are also allotted to their own particular years and months and days and hours of days; and during these periods they each exercise special influence. The first year of life will belong to that sign in which at birth the Sun has shone, since the Sun takes a year’s duration to traverse the firmament; the next and subsequent years are consecutively bestowed upon the signs in their order. The Moon shall denote the months, since in a month it completes its course. The Horoscope [Ascendant] brings under its regency the first days and the first hours, and hands the others to the following signs. Thus did nature wish year and months and days and even hours to be duly counted out through the signs, that every period of time might be distributed over every sign of the zodiac and vary its movements through the sequence of signs, according as it made a change to each one as it came round in the circle. (Manilius, Astronomica, 3.510-521, Goold trans., 1977, p. 205)
In this scheme the sign of the year is that into which the Sun profects at a rate of one sign per year from its birth position. For instance, a 31 year old who was born with a Sagittarius Sun, would find oneself in a Cancer year. This is because he would come back to a Sagittarius year at age 36 (and any other multiple of 12), so the 31st birthday, 5 signs before the Sagittarius 36th, would put us at Cancer – (let’s see, Scorpio at 35, Libra at 34, Virgo at 33, Leo at 32, Cancer at 31). So apparently, under this method the annual profection of the Sun marks the sign of the year, and is the main profection at that level. This varies from the predominant view that the annual profection of the Ascendant is most important, as well as that of Valens where the annual profection of the Sect Light and Ascendant are important (often times that of the Sect Light even more so to Valens).
Here’s where things start to really get sticky. Manilius appears to be advising us to take monthly profections from the Moon. This seems to imply that monthly profections are disjointed from annual profections, rather than dividing them up into twelve months, because a profection from the natal Moon has a different starting point, and it is unclear what sort of months are intended. For instance, if one were born December 1, 1980 with a Libra Moon (hypothetical), then we might be tempted to count calendar months to the present day, which is not a difficult task, since the Moon would profect back to the natal sign every December of every year. This being January, the Moon would profect to Scorpio (one sign after Libra, as January is one month after December). However, it is unclear whether calendar months are intended or some other more astronomical lunar month, such as the synodic month of about 29.5 days or the sidereal month of about 27.5 days. If one of these other months are used, over time you will get other indications for the sign of the month.
Daily and Hourly Profections
The daily and hourly profections are the most difficult to understand. It appears that Manilius is separating out two different rates, a daily rate and an hourly rate. The problem is that the system seems to depend on using different points for different rates in a symbolic fashion, but here the Ascendant is used for two very different rates.
The way that Manilius presented the more common profectional technique later in his book suggested that he used planetary hours for hourly rates, in which there are 12 planetary hours in a day based on division of the length of day (sunrise and sunset) and that of night (sunset to sunrise). That discussion also seemed to imply that the daily rate was one sign per day.
My best hypothesis as to how to find the daily profectional sign is to count the number of days since your birth to the present time (it may help to use a date duration calculator online), then divide the number of days by 12 and take the remainder (find the remainder by taking the portion after the decimal and multiplying it by 12) as the number of signs past your Ascendant. For instance, if your Ascendant is Aquarius and the remainder is 3, then the sign of the day is Taurus (i.e. count Pisces, Aries, Taurus).
My best hypothesis for the hour is that every day at your birth time is the start of the hour that pertains to your Ascendant. For instance, if one were born at 3pm with an Aquarius Ascendant, then every day at 3pm would start the Aquarius hour. To do a rough estimate, the sign of the hour would change about every 2 clock hours. So around 5pm would star the Pisces hour of the day. Since it would cycle through 12 in a day, these hours would be in the same order starting from the birth time each day.
Annual and monthly profections of the Ascendant have won me over as to their value time and time again. Many of the other types of profections, including this one by Manilius seem like they could be fun to play around with, and I hope with time they might prove themselves useful. They haven’t yet impressed me, but I definitely advocate experimenting with them and urge you to keep me informed about what you find. Happy journeys.