One of the first topical series on the site pertained to the delineation of faith. I initially laid out some general guidelines based solely on basic principles, rather than special techniques. The basic ground rules were laid out in the first article of the series. I returned to those and reviewed them a bit in the fifth article of the series. However, in ancient astrology, strong delineation of a topic requires special techniques.
Special techniques go beyond basic house ruler and natural significator indications, to examine a variety of key indicators. We might consider my initial approach of using Jupiter, the 9th, Saturn, Mercury, with a stress on the Ascendant for the self as being its own initial special technique. However, that approach was somewhat crude, so we should continually be looking at ways to refine and add to that set of tools.
The 9th House
I would like to briefly comment on the delineation of faith and its relationship to other topical delineations. It should be noted that faith, while having a large social component in many societies, can also be a rather personal matter. The house that most pertains to faith is the 9th, though the other major significations of the 9th involve travel and law. Obviously, faith is the more personal of these three topics. Therefore, faith calls for a deeper involvement with personality delineation and the 1st house (the self).
Additionally, we need to consider what exactly is meant by “law”. Today we think of law, religion, and science as very different fields. In the case of religion and science, they may even seem antagonistic. However, they are all concerned with types of law: civil law, spiritual law, and natural law alike. Religion is concerned with the laws and principles that pertain to spiritual harmony in much the same way as civil law is concerned with social harmony. Similarly, science is concerned with the laws and principles that pertain to the natural world. Therefore, the 9th is concerned with the deeper truths that lie behind appearances and enable some form of progress.
Consider also that the 9th house is the Joy of the Sun and the place was called “God” by ancient astrologers. Firmicus Maternus also asserted that it was the Sun that produces religious customs among people (Book I, Ch. 2, #2 of the Mathesis). This solar sense of illumination and profundity is also apparent in terms of the Lot called Spirit. It is also known as the Lot of the Sun. Spirit is derived from projecting the arc from the non-sect light (darkness) to the sect light (light). It was considered by some to be relevant in delineation of faith. However, ancient astrology came into its own during an age when religion, power, and intellectualism were all considered quite solar. They were also more intimately linked than in many societies today.
The 3rd House and Faith
The 3rd house was also linked with faith. It is most prominently associated with shorter travels, siblings/kin, friends/neighbors, and counsel/messages. The 3rd house is the Joy of the Moon, and called “Goddess”. Some of the astrologers who linked the 3rd with faith were Vettius Valens (2nd century CE), Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th century CE), Rhetorius (7th century CE), Sahl (9th century CE), Abu Ma’shar (9th century CE), Abu ‘Ali al-Khayyat (9th century CE), Umar al-Tabari (9th century CE), Abu Bakr (9th century CE), and al-Qabisi (10th century CE). Umar al-Tabari, Abu Bakr, and Abu ‘Ali all explicitly directed the practitioner to look at both the 9th and the 3rd, and their rulers, when delineating faith (see Persian Nativities Volumes I and II trans. Ben Dykes).
The 9th House vs. the the 3rd House
Linking the 3rd with faith and religion was not as frequent in the Hellenistic period as in the following Persian period though. While nearly every Persian-Arabic astrologer linked the 3rd to faith and religion, only a handful of Hellenistic astrologers did. For instance, Paulus Alexandrinus (4th century CE) gave an exposition of the meanings of all the houses (Ch. 24 of Introductory Matters). However, he associated only the 9th, and not the 3rd, with philosophers, gods, mystics, divination, astrologers, dreams, and sacred rites. Paulus noted that the 3rd does partake in signifying travel and life abroad due to being opposite the 9th.
I find that the 3rd can pertain to faith and mysticism, particularly when it involves counseling others. However, if indications between the 9th and 3rd conflict, I would lean more heavily on the 9th. Please read on for clarification as to why this is so.
The Thema Mundi and a Mercurial 3rd
Note that in the Thema Mundi, Cancer is the 1st house. That would make Pisces the 9th house and Virgo the 3rd house. A 9th house belonging to Jupiter and exalting Venus is consistent with the laws for harmony and progress themes of the 9th. A 3rd house belonging to and exalting Mercury is consistent with attributions sometimes given to the 3rd concerning communication, news, media, and counseling (as well as siblings which are often connected with Mercury). I note this because I have a friend who is a radio personality who has both benefics in the 3rd. Additionally, some media empire types (Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner) have strong 3rd house emphasis. This is significant as media, news, and communication technologies aren’t traditional 3rd house associations.
Deep Mysteries and Surface Mysteries
We must consider the possibility that the 9th is more concerned with the “deep structural mystery” of reality, where the 3rd is more concerned with “surface mystery” and appearances. I myself have noted that those with a strong 3rd house orientation may enjoy counseling, divination, and the appearance of mystery (such as magic with James Randi noted below). This does not necessarily entail a desire to take a long journey to discover deep universal truths. This is reflected in the significations of the 3rd as concerning shorter trips and the 9th with farther international ones. It is also reflected in the joys, where the 3rd is the Joy of the Moon, who herself is a superficial light (reflecting the Sun) and pertains to shorter journeys. The Sun, whose power reveals and uncovers, has its Joy in the 9th.
The Sun or Jupiter in the 3rd and Lack of Faith
Interestingly, not all astrologers agreed that the Sun in 3rd should signify faith. According to Abu Bakr,
“The Sun appearing in the 3rd house and in one of his own dignities, signifies [he will] totally lack faith” (On Nativities, Book II, Ch. 1.10, Dykes, 2010, p. 149)
Abu Bakr also makes statements indicating that he doesn’t believe Jupiter in the 3rd to be indicative of true faith, as opposed to just appearance. These assertions about the Sun and Jupiter in the 3rd are in direct contradiction to statements made by Maternus. This is a good time for me to repeat my admonition of “ancient astrologers didn’t all agree“. By contrast, Bakr did note religion and spirituality when those planets are in the 9th. This may be an example of a view in which the 3rd is more indicative of superficial appearance of faith. It is the house of counseling, communication, gossip, and tricks. The 9th, its opposite, is more indicative of the heart of belief. Similarly, Abu Bakr delineated Jupiter or the Moon in the 3rd as indicative of superficial appearance of faith, without much substance, even when they are in sect.
James Randi’s Prominent 3rd House
Pertaining to the topic of the Sun and the 3rd, note that James Randi has the Sun in the 3rd. He is one of the most prominent skeptics in the world, Randi has the Sun in Leo in the 3rd house with Mercury and Venus. Firmicus Maternus gave separate aphorisms noting that the Sun in 3rd, Mercury in 3rd, Venus in 3rd, Sun and Mercury in 3rd, and so on, all give indications of religious life. Additionally, Randi’s Mercury rules the Ascendant and is with the Sun, which should also make him religious by Maternus. Therefore, we must regard the strong association of the 3rd with religion given by Maternus with suspicion.
On the other hand, look at Randi’s faith more in terms of the 9th house. We see “law” (the 9th) characterized by intellect (air) and doubt (Saturn). Looking at Jupiter for enthusiasm for expansive realms and ideas (Jupiter) we find it weak (retreating and cadent) and embattled (12th with Mars). Additionally, we find doubt and struggle as very loud themes in the life (Saturn strongly advancing). Significantly, there is a self-identification with intellect and rationalism (air rising, ruled by Mercury).
Conclusions Regarding the 3rd
For all the reasons discussed, I advise that one leans more heavily on the 9th than the 3rd, and on the benefics rather than the Sun, for the “propensity to believe”. Jupiter itself, like the 9th, is a natural significator of religion, law, and philosophy. The influence and condition of Jupiter should not be ignored in delineating faith.
In my series, I have used Mercury primarily as a natural significator of rationalism. However, to many astrologers, including Ptolemy, Masha’allah, and Abu ‘Ali, Mercury was also important for character. It pertains to the intentional or rational mind, and the nature of intention is important for character. Just as we examined the nature of the 1st and its ruler for faith, Abu ‘Ali examined the planets ruling and regarding Mercury as having a particularly strong effect on the native’s faith (see Judgement of Nativities, Ch. 29). Personally, I put more emphasis on the lord of the 1st than on Mercury in delineating character and inclination toward faith.
Lot of Faith
Abu ‘Ali and Umar al-Tabari both made use of the Lot of Faith or Law, and its lord, in the delineation of faith. Which lot is this? It could be Spirit or the same lot mentioned later by Bonatti as the Lot of Religion. This lot is the arc from the Moon to Mercury by day, or Mercury to the Moon by night, projected from the Ascendant. Umar included the Lot of Faith and its lord in a complicated (and corny, in my opinion) victor technique for a faith victor. He then he assessed the victor’s condition as the condition of the native’s faith. Interestingly, Umar advised to consider the triplicity lords of the lot. The condition of these would show changes to faith at different periods of the life (1st triplicity lord showing the first part of life, etc.). Abu ‘Ali looked at planets that are with the lot (i.e. in the same sign), as particularly influential upon faith.
Lot of Spirit
Our ideas of consciousness tend to be approximated in discussions of the significance of the Sun and its lot, called Spirit. The Sun is frequently described as the “light of the mind”. Spirit is the arc from the non-sect light to the sect light, projected from the Ascendant. In Hellenistic astrology it was used for many things, from professional achievement to mental health. Maternus, speaking of the house of Spirit in the natal chart said, “This house is called the substance of the mind.” (Mathesis, Book IV, Ch. 5, #2, Holden trans., 2011, p. 216) Abu Bakr considered Spirit to show appearance of faith while its ruler showed actual personal faith. In this way, one could appear faithful and be faithful (both strong and good), appear faithless but be faithful (lot weak but ruler strong), and so forth based on the strength and beneficence of the lot and its lord.
The Lot of Fortune, which is the Lot of the Moon, is more seldom used in connection with faith. However, it is another point that can have relevance for character. Therefore, its occurrence in the 9th was noted by some astrologers as indicating religious inclinations.
With all that said, while re-exploring charts there are 5 additional indicators I’d like to evaluate:
- Spirit shows appearance of upright religious conduct while its ruler shows the actual personal sanctity in private – a sort of word vs. deed distinction. (Abu Bakr, Book II, Ch. 1.10)
- Mercury’s rulership and influential regards by planets is indicative of the nature of faith. (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)
- The Lot of Faith and its lord participate in the delineation of faith on similar footing with the 9th and its lord, in that benefics in the places or with the lords and the lords in good condition (particular stress on the nature of the planet with or ruling the lot) are indicative of faith and wisdom, while the opposite shows the opposite. (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)
- The quadruplicity of the 9th sign indicates the fixity of the beliefs. Mutable signs show instability or flexibility in faith, fixed signs show steadiness, and cardinal signs show doubt and frequent change of faith. The quadruplicity of the ruler adds to this to a lesser degree. (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)
- Lord of the 9th oriental (i.e. preceding) the Sun shows more open profession of belief. The lord of the 9th occidental (i.e. following) the Sun shows concealing of belief. (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)
Additionally, we should look at twelfth-part positions and antiscia as I’ve noted in other articles on the site. These are zodiacal relationships which are essential for understanding the full extent of a planet’s associations in the chart.
Example: James Randi
I first examined Randi’s chart in this context in the initial article of this series. There I noted the identification with Mercury which both rules and regards the Ascendant. We also saw the blaring general strength of Saturn in the chart which is conjunct the Descendant (i.e. was setting at birth) and has the most authority over the 9th (Saturn is domicile lord of the 9th, second triplicity lord, and regards the 9th from the right side). Additionally, there is the afflicted state of Jupiter retreating in the 12th with Mars.
3rd House Emphasis
We find the twelfth-part of the Ascendant in the 5th, Libra, the kingdom (i.e. exaltation) of Saturn, in Saturn’s bound. Randi came to prominence as an entertainer, a stage magician. The 5th house pertains to performance and stage, while its ruler Venus and her house Leo reinforce these notions of performance. We can gather some of this from the 3rd, of communications, being occupied by the very prominent Sun, Venus, and Mercury in Leo. This indicates the important role of communication in the life because the signs of the Lights, Leo and Cancer, are strengthening to planets in them (the Lights are naturally prominent). The Ascendant ruler, the Sun, and Venus all occupy the 3rd which is Leo, so it is a very prominent house.
Jupiter and Saturn
The twelfth-part of Jupiter also falls onto Venus further signalling fortune through entertainment. Note that the twelfth-part of Jupiter in the 3rd does not bring faith here. Like Venus in the 3rd, it associates 3rd house themes with benefit. The twelfth-parts of the Sun and Moon fall in the 8th, Capricorn, one of the domiciles of Saturn, further stressing the influence of Saturn upon the life. The twelfth-part of Saturn is in the 12th, the place occupied by Jupiter, further afflicting Jupiter. This reinforces the curbed enthusiasm for stepping beyond the known. In fact, Randi, with his extremely strong Saturn, very afflicted Jupiter, and strong identification with Mercury, is a bit of an extreme case when it comes to resistance to out of bounds experiences.
Randi on the Irrational
Why people are so drawn to the irrational is something that has always puzzled me. I want to be, if I can, as sure of the world, the real world, around me, as is possible. Now you can only attain that to a certain degree, but I want the greatest degree of control. I don’t … I’ve never involved myself in narcotics of any kind. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. Because that can easily just fuzz the edges of my rationality, fuzz the edges of my reasoning powers, and I want to be as aware as I possibly can. That means giving up a lot of fantasies that may be comforting in some ways but I’m willing to give that up to live in an actually real world – as close as I can get to it. – James Randi (source)
As mentioned previously, Randi’s chart gives us a clear indication that heavy doses of solar energy in the 3rd are not sufficient to make one religious. Even the twelfth-part of Jupiter does not do so. The Sun in the 3rd may even be an indication of a total lack of faith as suggested by Abu Bakr.
The Lot of Spirit in Randi’s chart is in the 9th, ruled by Saturn, the out of sect malefic, in the bound of Mars. It is squared by Mars and Jupiter from the 12th, and opposed by the Sun, Mercury, and Venus from the 3rd. Abu Bakr suggested either that the lord of Spirit in the 9th, or the lord of Spirit being the lord of the 9th (Saturn in this case), is indicative of good faith if the lord is received. It is not received though (Saturn does not aspect Jupiter). It is too premature to evaluate. However, the ruler is Saturn, the out of sect malefic, and is not received so this type of use of the Lot of Spirit could be worthwhile.
Let’s consider the possibility that Spirit shows outward profession of faith. In such case, we would expect a combination of very strongly restrictive doubt and skepticism (Saturn ruling and out of sect). We would also expect a spirited pursuit of truth and intellectualism (the 9th and air). Additionally, there is aggressiveness associated with secret plans of undoing (Mars ruling the bound of Spirit in the 12th of hidden enemies). This is certainly the case. Randi has been launching secret offensives against faith since his early twenties. He has taken on jobs as fake astrologer, psychic, and so forth to spoof and attack supernatural beliefs. He did this while getting his career as a magician together and before coming into public prominence.
Certainly, Spirit is not in such great condition that we would suppose outward profession of sanctity. We were already getting much of the Saturnine sense from the 9th. Spirit may still be of value particularly as it occupies a specific bound, showing the 12th house Mars influence. Additionally, Spirit shows Randi’s own preoccupation with the 9th house themes of law and faith. Randi is more known as a tester of mystics (Saturn 9th themes) than even for his being a magician.
It was Abu ‘Ali that advised we look at Mercury. We are to pay particular attention to the planet or planets Mercury is most strongly connected to. For this we look to planets with Mercury, ruling Mercury, or that Mercury applies to in aspect. Mercury is with the Sun, in the Sun’s domicile, and in phasis (i.e. making an appearance). Therefore, we expect a strong solar influence. Mercury is also in Jupiter’s bound and applying a square to Jupiter with Jupiter in the superior position, so we expect a strong Jupiterian influence. Both Jupiterian and Solar influences on Mercury are indicative of religious and faithful people to Abu ‘Ali. I’m not overly impressed with this technique, as the more general technique yielded a much more accurate analysis.
Lot of Faith
First, it should be noted that the Lot of Faith is right at the beginning of a sign and a birth time error of only about 2 minutes could put the lot in the preceding sign. This could make a huge difference. Per the current time the lot is in the 10th in the sign of Jupiter and bound of Venus. If birth was about 2 minutes earlier, it would be in the 9th in the sign of Saturn and bound of Saturn. This is a very big difference! Assuming that the lot is at 0 Pisces, it is ruled by Jupiter, however Jupiter is out of sect, in a bad place (the 12th), and with a malefic, so it is not very indicative of faith.
Abu ‘Ali seemed to highlight planets with or aspecting the lot. Saturn dominates (i..e superior square) the lot, and Mars is in a scrutinizing (i.e. within 3 degrees) square to the lot, so we might consider this lot extremely afflicted by malefics, showing a destruction of faith.
Quadruplicity of the 9th
The 9th sign is Aquarius, a fixed sign, so we might expect that Randi is not the type to question his own beliefs or radically change them much. This seems consistent with the fact that Randi has been involved in spoofing astrology, psychism, and all things supernatural since his early twenties. The ruler of the 9th is in Sagittarius, a mutable sign, which might show instability in belief and possibly a tendency toward syncretism (input from many sources combined into a new whole). I don’t see the mutability of the ruler as much in his life in regards to belief. However, the mutability could pertain to scientific approaches to establishing truth which are inherently unstable (changing as new evidence is presented).
Orientality of the 9th Lord
Saturn is occidental the Sun in Randi’s chart. This represents concealing of belief, keeping beliefs private. This certainly doesn’t seem to be the case, as Randi is a very prominent and vocal proponent of his skepticism. Perhaps this is overridden by the fact that Saturn is so strongly advancing right on the horizon in the chart. I associate general strength factors like advancing with the volume of a planet in the chart and would consider this a blaring loud Saturn. In any case the oriental/occidental distinction seems insufficient on its own to establish how ready one is to profess one’s beliefs.
I’ve thrown quite a lot of material at the reader in this post. While our general method of reading faith in the astrological chart has proved very valuable, there is room to go deeper. As we go deeper we take on more factors. Unfortunately, with more factors self-deception becomes easier. We must remain critical and thoroughly evaluate these additional factors, which are more complicated than they seemed.
All of this and primarily just to distinguish the very faithful from the very doubtful, and the very genuine from the very superficial? Apparently not. With all these factors there is room enough for a very nuanced view of one’s beliefs. Faith is one small topic among many. Obviously, as astrologers, we have our work cut out for us. To those who need all the answers now, so that they can go out and compete with psychics, this may be disparaging. However, I think the techniques are extremely promising, By remaining humble and working to hone our special techniques, the 21st century may be the century in which the art of astrology reaches a depth of accuracy never before attained.