Astrology of Profession or Calling | 1. Technique


Introduction: Actions

Special techniques for the delineation of one’s calling appear early in the Hellenistic tradition.  The Greek word used is “praxis”, which is often translated as actions, though I’ve also seen it translated what one does (e.g. Greenbaum’s translation of Paulus), and the reckoning of the descriptions for varieties of praxis in Greek texts are what we’d call a profession or a calling.


My own strategy for the delineation of the basic nature of one’s profession or calling is best broken down into multiple steps.  I largely follow the special technique developed by Ptolemy, Paulus Alexandrinus, and Rhetorius in my approach to the matter, with a particular emphasis on Paulus and Rhetorius, who actually used the Houses/Places of the chart.  I am far more concerned with accurate use in practice than historical reproductions, so you will find some minor deviations from Paulus and Rhetorius in my technique, much as you see minor differences in the technique as used by Ptolemy, Paulus, Rhetorius, and later Persian authors (let alone later European medieval authors, such as Bonatti, who deviate even further).  As mentioned, I think Paulus and Rhetorius were the best of the Hellenistic astrologers when it came to this technique.

Lords of Actions

For now, I’ll just deal with the most basic aspect of delineating profession, which pertains to identifying the planet or planets that most pertain to the nature of one’s calling. I urge astrologers not to think in terms of there being one and only one true and pure, very specified, calling for each individual human being.  Rather, planets signifying actions will give indications as to where people develop themselves in trying to achieve something or be more.  The 10th place of the chart is the one that pertains most to this reckoning, being the place that dominates the 1st place (i.e. it is in a right-side square to the place representative of the person themselves, like an authoritative influence).  The 1st place will also be very relevant because it pertains to the physical self and affects self-identification.  In addition, the Lights (Sun and Moon), the planets most representative of power, are quite important.

My first step is to identify planets with relevance to actions, second step is to find the strongest planets in the chart, while the third step is to delineate the nature of the profession or calling based on the strongest indications from Mars, Venus, and Mercury from the other two steps.  This is just to assess the basic nature of the profession or calling, according to what I recently saw astrologer Tom Callanan refer to as “brawn” (Mars), “aesthetics” (Venus), or “brains” (Mercury).  These labels for the three main categories are about as succinctly descriptive as you can get.  However, even these descriptions are not without some problems, particularly as concerns Mars.  Mars shows up strongly in the charts of politicians and other leaders.

Actually, all 7 planets are relevant to this matter, and in the exposition of Rhetorius (Holden, 2009, p. 134-145) he does look at all of them and give indications for all of them, but also stresses the importance of Mars, Venus, and Mercury.  It is helpful to think of the reckoning more in terms of skill-development than in terms of finding the category of profession or calling.  For instance, Mercury will show a developmental stress along intellectual lines, whether it is in academic, business, or mystical study, there will be intense mental development.  Venus will show development along aesthetic lines as well as that pertaining to women, attraction, and sexuality, so there is likely to be some sort of artistic discipline, such as playing an instrument or creating art.

Mars does not just show more physical activities, pertaining to things like athleticism, building trades, mechanical work, or dangerous work, but also tends to show development of competitive skills, such as those involved in leadership.  There are other techniques pertaining to eminence or “social-mobility”, so the significations will often depend on that, as very few of the typical Mars professions apply to those of high social standing, which are more likely to channel that development of brawn into political maneuvering and competitive strategy (for instance, nearly all popes have Mars connected with profession). Along this vein, Rhetorius does make a statement connecting the signs of Mars with “weapons or fire or iron or iron-working or public affairs” (Holden, 2009, p. 135).  Similarly, in the commentary on Paulus by Olympiadorus, he associated Mars as professional indicator with the typical building and metal-working type of trades when less authoritative, while with positions of command, especially military ones, like generals and professional soldiers, when more authoritative (Greenbaum, 2001, p. 124). When very malefic, however, Mars can show those who engage in criminal acts for a living.

Jupiter will tend to show development of a quest for truth.  Law may be indicated, but if Jupiter is more prominent then in my experiences there is more development along religious and spiritual lines.  For instance, there may be great study of religious texts and practices, and spiritual matters like divination or astrology.  In either case, there is a sense of a commitment towards the ideal which is being worked upon.

Saturn is associated with land, farmers, sailors, the soil, natural resources, the dead, misery and poverty, as well as discipline, control, and management.  I am not just adding management in there from my own experience, but Rhetorius also associates Saturn in connection with the 10th and actions (when stronger and more benefic) with public service and management (c.f. Greenbaum, 2001).

In my opinion, both the Sun and Moon in relation to profession show prominence, due to the association of the Lights with power.  The Sun is associated with things being more public or publicized, while the Moon is associated with things being more idiosyncratic/original/self-taught, humane, subjective, and/or group-oriented (counseling is something I often see strongly connected to the Moon).

Steps to Reckoning Actions

First, identify the planets with some pertinence to “actions”:

  1. MC: A planet strongly advancing towards the MC (see Advancing/Retreating below) will likely give stronger indications even than a planet in one of the above places, and even if it is not in one of the above places.  This is because the MC itself is the point of culmination, and as such is the point of loftiness.
  2. Places: The planet should be in one of the following places (which include all but the 12th, 9th, or 3rd), in the following order of relative importance:  10th (place of actions), 1st, 7th, or 4th, (i.e. the “stakes” of the 10th), 2nd or 6th (i.e. the trigon/triplicity of the 10th), 11th, 5th, 8th (i.e. succedent places).
  3. Rulership:A planet will be more relevant to the profession if it has some dignity at the 10th place or the Ascendant, but especially the 10th.  If the planet does not have any dignity at either place, consider it much less important.   The domicile ruler of either, and/or a planet with some minor rulership in both places (especially if the term ruler of the Ascendant) is preferred.
  4. Phasis and the Lights: This is reiterated below with strength, but there is a special relevance to actions when a planet is in phasis (particularly, if moving out from the beams rather than in towards them), as well as if the planet is the ruler of the bound of the sect light (and to a lesser extent the other light).  Orientality/occidentality considerations, particularly relative to the Sun, also often show up in the literature, although I don’t stress them here, as I haven’t yet found them to be consistently strong indicators in this matter.

Secondly, identify the planets that are strongest in a general way in the chart, as they push their natural significations onto the life in a strong way:

  1. Advancing/Retreating: Look at the Ascendant, Descendant, MC, and IC. If a planet is more than 1/3 of the distance from one to the next it is “advancing” and strengthened, while if not it is “retreating” and weakened.  The closer the planet gets in its approach to the angle (Asc, MC, Dsc, or IC), the stronger it is in a general way, as if the volume is being turned up on the planet.  By contrast, when a planet passes the angle it is as if the volume quickly turns down on the planet.  A planet that is approaching the angle within about 15 degrees is particularly strong, and should be considered “strongly advancing”.  If a planet is conjunct an angle within about 5 degrees (even if separating, I use about 10 degrees for considering a Light to be conjunct an angle) then that is also extremely strong.  Remember that the planets move clockwise in this regard, rising in the east and setting in the west (i.e. this movement is contrary to the movement through the zodiac, so for instance a planet ten degrees clockwise of the MC would be retreating and weakened, while one ten degrees counter-clockwise of the MC would be strongly advancing).  These points represent where a planet lines up with your specific location, as in your local horizon and meridian.  It is a great metaphor because it really is as if the planet advances towards your world then retreats away from it.
  2. Relationships to Lights: The following relationships to the Sun or Moon will make the planet more relevant to profession: the planet the Moon is separating from or applying to, a planet in phasis, and to a much lesser extent a planet regarded by a Light (more so by trine or sextile, and/or if from the sect light, and/or if closer to exact).   There are other relationships to the lights that are sometimes looked at but I think these are most important.  It is rare, but if a planet is cazimi the Sun it may be extremely strengthened.  By contrast, a planet within 8 degrees of the Sun at birth, which is not in phasis, is likely to be quite weakened.
  3. Stationing: Look 7 days before the birth and 7 days after to check for planetary stations.  This is very important.  A planet stationing direct within about 7 days of the birth will be extremely strengthened.  The closer the station is to the time of birth, the more powerful.  By contrast, a planet that is stationing retrograde is quite weakened, particularly if the station occurs closer to the birth.

Finally, of Mars, Venus, and Mercury combine their relative pertinence to profession from the first step with their relative overall strength or prominence from the second step, and you will find that one planet tends to draw development towards itself more than the others, while the others may or may not also show skill diversity in skill development or other desired callings if they are very pertinent to actions (such as in the actual 10th) or very strong with some pertinence to actions (such as a very strong ruler of the 10th or 1st).  As noted above, the other planets influence profession as well.  In any case, stress should be placed on Mars, Venus, and Mercury – significators of actions because they are swift moving and active.


While this type of special technique shows up very often in Hellenistic and Persian astrology, there were also a large number of special, career-specific indicators.  Maternus, Rhetorius, and many other authors give indications specific to many professions, that are aside from this method.  I find this technique more reliable then most of the more specific indicators given, but still this technique is just a start.

In a sense, what this special technique is attempting to do is to connect together significations of general planetary strength, with significations of strength in relation to actions and achievement (10th/Lights), as well as the self (1st). If you understand the importance of these three matters and how to look at them, then you get the heart of the technique and need not stick to it in a mechanical fashion.  I lay things out in such a fashion to set the rules which I’ll have to stick to with consistency, as I analyze charts in future posts of the series and compare the accuracy of the method with other popular methods often advocated by both traditional and modern astrologers.



Alexandrinus, P., & Olympiodorus. (2001). Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olypiodorus. (D. G. Greenbaum, Trans.). Reston, VA: Arhat.
Rhetorius of Egypt, & Teucer of Babylon. (2009). Rhetorius the Egyptian. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers.


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

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