Why Free Software?
I try to rely on free and open source software options as much as possible in my work. Good free software has a very beneficial and democratizing effect on the practice of astrology. I try to use free software for everything I do on the blog because it allows my readers, of just about any income level, to replicate the charts and information that I use for themselves. Furthermore, there is a wealth of free birth data online, particularly on Astrodatabank, so access to free software which allows for easy calculation of relevant charts and tables also gives readers the ability to test out techniques for themselves, against a wider range of data than I can possibly present in any article.
What is Morinus?
As readers of the blog will know, my favorite free software program is Morinus. I have used the Traditional Morinus for the examples in almost all blog posts, and I’ve discussed using it in previous posts in this series. Morinus is not just a free traditional astrology program, but it is a great program, as it will allow you to do many things that even some of the most costly programs won’t do (for instance have a wheel in which the terms of the signs, the 7 Hellenistic lots of Paulus Alexandrinus, and the twelfth-parts of the planet are all immediately visible; with quick access to primary directions and zodiacal releasing information). Additionally, Morinus is open source, so it is truly “the community’s software”, in that members of the community with coding experience are free to check out the source code and adapt it to meet their needs, developing their own “versions” of the program which expand upon it. In this sense, the developers (thanks Robert!) have given the astrological community a truly valuable gift and we’d be fools to pass it up for commercial products with less community potential. Check out this post for more information on Morinus and free software in general, and this post on how to calculate primary directions with Morinus.
Over a year ago, in early 2014, a new version of Morinus emerged without much fanfare, which is specifically tailored to Hellenistic astrology. It is called “Valens“, after the 2nd century Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens, as it was inspired by Chris Brennan’s course on Hellenistic astrology, in which some of Valens’ timing techniques, especially Zodiacal Releasing, figure prominently. In addition to the inclusion of Zodiacal Releasing, this version of Morinus also features the ability to easily insert the prenatal syzygy and the 7 hermetic lots (one lot for each planet as discussed by Paulus Alexandrinus and sourced from an early text attributed to Hermes).
I’m a little late to the game, but after trying out the software, I firmly believe it is the best yet for Hellenistic techniques, and will serve readers well as they read the posts on this blog.
You can download the software here (for Windows scroll to the bottom of the page and download the Valensexe.zip). Follow the installation instructions that you find on that page, as there is one additional step after you unzip the zip file (you will need to install the “Valens” font, located in the “Res” folder, by double-clicking it, or the chart will have letters in place of symbols).
A Few Optimizations
If you want your charts to look like the ones on this blog, here are a few tips. First, right click on the chart and choose “B&W” to make your chart black and white. I prefer the clean look of a black and white chart, though this is a personal preference that does not impact practice. Secondly, you’ll want to set the Moon’s node to the “true node”, which you can do by holding the SHIFT key and pressing ‘W’. Thirdly, get rid of any quadrant divisions if there are any by holding SHIFT and pressing F1. Finally, let’s go into the appearance options (Appearance from the Options menu or hold SHIFT and press ‘A’). For typical use, I would set my appearance options as shown in the table below, as I do like to see the two main Hellenistic lots (Fortune/Moon and Spirit/Sun – click for more information on the Hellenistic lots) as well as the prenatal syzygy, and the twelfth-parts (click for more information about the twelfth-parts), but I don’t use the hermetic lots of the planets all that much and I find a round chart easier to read, and generally more intuitive, than a square one. Oh yeah, also hold SHIFT and press U, so that your options will be saved automatically (I think the chart may still revert back to color when you reopen though).
You should end up with a chart that resembles the one below:
For more information on how to use Valens, please see the documentation on the site for the software and check out other articles on this site which explore specific techniques, such as lots and primary directions, as linked to above.
I hope you’ll start turning to the Valens program as the first one that you use to pull up charts. Please spread the word!