With this having been established, it is necessary to prove by experience <the effectiveness of> still another place which I will demonstrate most abundantly: this is the Crisis-Producing Place, the place causative of terrors, dangers, and chains. Consequently this place is strong; (Vettius Valens, Anthologies, Book V, Ch. 1, Riley trans., 2010, p. 95)
From Four to Five
In my last article on the lots, I looked at the four principal lots of Vettius Valens. The four principal lots pertain to two polarities. There is the more static polarity of the physical (Fortune) vs. mental/social (Spirit). There is also the more dynamic polarity of friendly interpersonal matters (Love) vs. adversarial ones (Necessity).
The rationale of the lots involves metaphorically moving from the signification of the origin point to that of the destination point. For instance, Spirit to Fortune signifies mind moving to rigidity and distinction (spirit to matter), indicating the lot of Necessity and its adversarial significations.
While those 4 lots are the most important, there is another exceptional lot which we should add to our inventory, the Lot of Affliction. Together with the four principal lots, these five lots represent what I feel are the five most indispensable lots in ancient astrological literature. In other words, if you use only 5 lots, use these!
Lot of Affliction
The fifth lot is the most sinister one you can construct from two classical planets. Many ancient sources mention it, though often with different names. It is referred to as the Lot of Injury or Chronic Illness by Dorotheus of the 1st century CE (Carmen Astrologicum, Book IV, Ch. 1, #75). Valens (2nd century CE) called it the place producing crises and accusations (Anthology, Book V, Ch. 1). Maternus of the 4th century CE referred to it as the house of affliction and illness (Mathesis, Book VI, Ch. 32, #40).
Affliction Formula: Sect Malefic to Non-Sect Malefic
Think back to the rationale discussed earlier for the lots. When constructing this lot, we use the same rationale. In this case we have a metaphor for things going from bad to worse. The formula is from the sect malefic to the out-of-sect malefic (projected from the Ascendant). Therefore, for one born during the day, the lot is the distance from Saturn (the more benign malefic by day as it is of the diurnal sect) to Mars (the more aggravating malefic by day because it is nocturnal), then projected from the Ascendant. It is reversed for night charts (those with the Sun below the horizon), such that you take the distance from Mars to Saturn and then project that from the Ascendant.
Valens describes the interpretation of the lot at great length in the beginning of Book V of the Anthology. He connects it chiefly with imprisonment, servitude, and other crises. The crisis can be social, such as incarceration, or physical, such as a debilitating illness. Mental afflictions, such as anxieties and a bad conscience, and social afflictions, like betrayal, are also possible under this lot. When eased by the influence of benefics, it may still show burdensome obligations. In any sense, this lot signifies the most undesirable states of affairs. I will refer to this lot as the Lot of Affliction.
Usage in Predicting Crises
Valens provided some guidelines for analyzing Affliction. If it is ruled by, occupied by, or strongly aspected by a malefic, then that shows vulnerability to afflictions signified by the influential planet and/or sign. On the other hand, benefic influences serve as alleviation or escape.
Sextiles between Lights and Malefics
Additionally, Valens combines this with another type analysis that signals general vulnerability to crises. When the Sun and/or Moon are in a whole sign sextile to Mars and/or Saturn it signifies a general vulnerability to crisis. This is intensified if the sextile is within 70 degrees and/or between the hearing signs. Presumably, more sextile configurations between the Lights and the malefics show more potential for crisis.
Prediction of when the crisis will occur is made by using various chronocrator (time-lord) techniques, especially Valens-style profections. Valens discussed the techniques in Book IV of his Anthology. Danger is shown when a Light (i.e. the Sun or Moon) transmits to a malefic (i.e. Mars or Saturn), or a malefic to a Light. For instance, crisis may be indicated when the sign occupied by the Sun in the chart profects to a sign of Mars or Saturn.
Transmission typically occurs either when a planet profects to the place occupied by another planet, or an empty place ruled by another planet; but in this analysis of Affliction, Valens emphasized the ruler. Benefics in the place or in strong aspect indicate alleviation or escape. The worst crises occur when a greater chronocratorship (discussed below) and an annual one (profection) of this sort (Light-to-malefic or malefic-to-Light) occur at the same time.
In profections, the transmission is from the natal house ruler to the ruler of the destination house. In other chronocrator (time-lord) techniques of Valens the transmitter is the time lord of the larger period while the transmission is to the time lord of the smaller period. For instance, if a planet ruling the year is the Sun, while the one ruling the month is Mars, then it is a transmission of the Sun to Mars.
Effect of Basis
Valens takes into account “basis” or personal power/eminence indications in the chart. Those with greater basis or social status will tend toward more social forms of crisis, rather than physical ones. It is similar when benefics have a strong influence over Affliction.
Natal Lot of Affliction Examples
Dahmer: A Marriage of Love and Affliction; Venus and Saturn
I’ve explored Dahmer’s chart previously. Dahmer’s tight conjunction of the lots of Affliction and Love is interesting, particularly as Affliction is ruled by Saturn and is with Saturn. Dahmer also identified strongly with both Venus and Saturn (both have dignity at the Ascendant). Both lots are very closely square to Dahmer’s Mars (especially the Lot of Affliction which Mars aspects within 2 degrees), bringing in violent significations.
Killing Begins: Mars Square Affliction
Dahmer started relationships with his victims before he would torture, kill, mutilate, and eat them. His first killing was impulsive – from a desire to sleep with a hitchhiker he had picked up. That killing occurred at age 18, during an annual profection of his Ascendant to his Moon-Mars conjunction in the 7th, ruled by Mars.
The Killings Become Serial: Profection to Love-Affliction
He did not kill again until 9 years later, at age 27. That killing kicked off sporadic serial killings that year. It saw the annual profection of his Ascendant to the 4th, the place of Affliction (and the Lot of Love), ruled by (and occupied by) Saturn, and squared by Mars and the Moon. The fact that the serial killing started in the year of the annual profection to the place of both the lot of affliction, and the lot of love, with both lots strongly linked with each other, is very illustrative, as he has admitted in interviews that renewed intense desires that were awoken in him at this time inspired the killings.
David Carradine: 8th House Libra Affliction
David Carradine’s Lot of Affliction was in the 8th house, in Libra, ruled by Venus, adhering to Carradine’s Mars and with his Moon also. As I’ve noted in articles about the previous chart (Dahmer) Mars-Moon conjunctions can carry significance related to bodily harm. Affliction therefore enters into the equation of Carradine’s death signified by Moon-Mars (bodily harm) ruled by Venus (sexuality) in the house of death (8th house).
In this prediction example, I’m going employ a few predictive techniques discussed by Valens that I have not previously introduced on the blog. Here I will keep my explanation of the techniques rather short so I can focus on the relevance of Affliction. These techniques will be explained in more detail in some future articles.
The chart of an Anonymous friend is provided below for examination (CTRL+Click to enlarge in a new tab).
Notice that the chart has the Sun above the horizon, so Saturn is in sect and Mars is out of sect. The distance from Saturn to Mars is about 91.5 degrees in the zodiacal order. Adding that to the Ascendant of just under 4 degrees Aquarius brings us to 5 degrees Taurus.
Affliction is not in very bad condition in this natal chart. It is ruled by Venus and in the bound of Venus. There are no malefics located in the place, opposing it, or squaring it. Saturn doesn’t even regard the place, and Mars does not scrutinize the lot, though Mars is in a superior trine to the lot which is just over 4 degrees from perfect (within 3 would be scrutinizing). So for the most part we don’t read a major affliction into the lot, but if we were going to describe a particularly vulnerable area it would probably pertain to Taurus, Venus, and the 4th house. We might expect that matters pertaining to the home, family, and significant women could take on special significance.
The other sign of vulnerability is very apparent. The Moon is in a scrutinizing sextile with Mars, while the Sun is also in a pretty close sextile to Saturn. Hearing signs are not involved but these are pretty close sextiles and involve both Lights. This situation is somewhat alleviated by the fact that the Moon is in close conjunction with the benefic Venus and Saturn is in close conjunction with the benefic Jupiter. Therefore, the benefics have a very strong alleviating indications related to the promises of affliction.
Profection to Affliction
At age 27, a string of unfortunate events happened to the native. His spouse intentionally looted all of the family bank accounts and credit cards as an aggressive act. Subsequently, he got divorced, putting an end to a 10 year relationship. At the time of the split he moved out of his house with his 2 children, and moved in with his parents – he hadn’t lived with his parents since he was 19. The same year (2008) he also slowly went out of business due to a lack of work caused by the global financial crisis. Due to the lack of income, before the end of the year he lost his home. Additionally, he returned to college before the period’s end.
You will notice that many of these themes relate very directly to the place of Affliction and its associations with Venus and her places. There was aggression from women (Venus ruled by 12th house Mars), marital problems (Venus), family issues (4th house), real estate and moving (4th house), issues with income (Venus is exalted ruler of the 2nd), an a return to higher education (Venus rules the 9th).
Timing: Major Period by the Quarters Technique
Now, let’s look at the predictive techniques. One predictive technique that Valens discussed right at the beginning of Book IV, and then returned to at the end of Book IV, utilizes the 1/4 values of the minor years of the planets, so I have personally called it Valens Quarters or just the Quarters.
Finding the First Period
There is a major and a minor period. The major period begins with the first planet after (in zodiacal order) the point of the prenatal syzygy (New or Full Moon most nearly preceding the birth) in the chart in zodiacal order. For instance, in our example chart the Moon is waning so it was a Full Moon that preceded the birth. That Full Moon, or prenatal syzygy, was located at 0 Gemini. The first planet that one encounters moving from 0 Gemini up through the zodiac in order is Jupiter at 6 Libra, and if we continue then it would be Saturn, and then the Moon, and so forth. Therefore, Jupiter gets the first major period, ruling for a quarter of its minor years (12), which is 3 years.
Calculating to the Period Under Consideration
After Jupiter, Saturn rules for 7.5 years (i.e. until age 10.5). Next, in this chart is the Moon which rules for 6.25 years (i.e. until age 16.75). Venus is after the Moon and she get 2 years (i.e. until age 18.75). Mercury then rules for 5 years (i.e. until age 23.75) After Mercury, the Sun rules for 4.75 years (i.e. until age 28.5).
The events under consideration occurred while the native was 27 years old, in the middle of the native’s 28th year, so the Sun ruled the major period.
Timing: Minor Period by the Quarters Technique
To find the minor period in the Quarters technique we start with the ruler of the major period and we take the days of the planets (I’ve addressed them previously here), multiplying them by the length of the period in years to determine the number of days for each plane. The rulership again passes in zodiacal order around the chart. At the end of Book IV, Valens provides convenient tables with the amount of days each planet gets under each period. See pages 92-94 of the Riley translation, available free online.
Finding the Minor Period Ruler
The Sun minor period started when the native was age 23.75 and ended when the native was 28.5, with the event occurring when the native was 27.5. It will be easier to work backwards, one year from the end of the major period, knowing that Mercury would be the last planet in sequence by zodiacal order. During a solar major period Mercury gets just over 269 days, this is less than a year and the major event took place over the last couple days in May thru June 1st, so we need to go a whole year back. Prior to Mercury is Venus for almost 108 days. That period will be inclusive of the days in question. Therefore, the minor period at the time of the event was that of Venus.
In this case, the period of crisis does not coincide with a Light transmitting to a malefic (nor vice-versa). Here we have the Sun transmitting to Venus. While relevant to a time in which relationship themes are focal (Sun rules the 7th, Venus natural signifies romantic relations), we have no reason to suspect a crisis from this indication.
Zodiacal Releasing also involves a transmitter and a receiver, the ruler of the sign of the Level 1 releasing transmits to the ruler of the sign of the Level 2 releasing (you can also do this for Level 2 lord transmitting to Level 3 lord, and Level 3 lord transmitting to Level 4 lord). Interestingly, in his discussion of these transmissions Valens identifies those of Lights transmitting to malefics as particularly bad, but those of malefics transmitting to Lights as good (this contradicts some interpretive guidelines he provides in Book V).
Finding the Level 1 Period: Aquarius-Saturn
Looking at releasing from Fortune, for Level 1 we start with Fortune’s natal sign, Capricorn, which gets 27 years. Typically, we allot the minor years of the sign’s ruler. However, Capricorn is an exception at 27 (note: these are Egyptian 360 day years). We would expect that Level 1 moved into Aquarius shortly before this happened, which is the case. Therefore, at age 27, a new level 1 period started for the first time since birth. It is the Aquarius-Saturn period.
Finding the Level 2 Period: Aquarius-Saturn
The first Level 2 period in Aquarius would last for 30 months (note: these are 1/12 the Egyptian 360 day year, i.e. they are 30 day months). As all of the events happened in the first 12 months of the period (between ages 27 and 28), the first Level 2 period was still active. Therefore, both Level 1 and Level 2 were Aquarius for the releasing of Fortune, signifying a transmission from Saturn to Saturn.
Finding Level 3 and Level 4 Periods: Leo-Sun and Aquarius-Saturn
Taking things down to Level 3 and Level 4 for the actual set of a few days in which the financial attacks by the spouse were discovered, the spouse requested a divorce, and the native moved back with family, gives us Leo for L3 and Aquarius for L4. Therefore, a more complete picture of those days is Saturn transmitting to Saturn (L1 to L2), which transmitted to the Sun (L3), which transmitted to Saturn (L4).
Therefore, since the transmissions involve malefics and lights (Saturn and the Sun), we may be looking at an indication of a crisis. Note that Saturn and the Sun are also in a sextile and that the Sun rules the 7th house of marriage.
Releasing from Spirit
Let’s also release from Spirit. For Level 1, we start with Spirit’s natal sign, Pisces, ruled by Jupiter which gets 12 years. The next sign, Aries, and its ruler, Mars, get 15 years. Therefore, at about age 27 Level 1 Spirit moved to Taurus, ruled by Venus. The 8 year period would end at age 35. This is interesting given that Taurus is the place of Affliction and Spirit refers to professional and social changes, which in this case were beset with crises. Still, Level 1 is neither a Light nor a malefic.
Level 2 changed to Gemini, ruled by Mercury, just before things went downhill fast. Therefore the transmission is from Venus to Mercury. For the tumultuous days, L3 for Spirit was Cancer, ruled by the Moon, and L4 was Aquarius, ruled by Saturn. So the transmission was Venus (L1) to Mercury (L2), to the Moon (L3), to Saturn (L4). This intensifies the sense of a Light to a malefic, not for the greater periods but for that short set of about 3 days.
Finally, we want to examine the annual profections, paying special attention to those of the Lights and the malefics. First, it is best to look at the profection of the Ascendant. It is used to establish the Lord of the Year and the activated sign. At age 27 everything profects to the 4th house from itself, so the annual profection of the Ascendant was interestingly to Taurus, the 4th place, the place of Affliction, ruled by Venus.
Another interesting profection is of Affliction itself. As noted in the article on the 4 principal lots, Valens would draw indications from profecting those lots around the chart. If we profect Affliction we find that it profects to the 7th house of marriage, ruled by the Sun. Perhaps this is an indication that the 7th house is the focal crisis-prone area that year.
As we noted earlier, when looking at profections for this technique we lok at transmission by rulership, with an emphasis on Lights and malefics. The Sun profects to Pisces, so it transmits to Jupiter. Mars profects to Aries, so it transmits to itself. Saturn transmits to Capricorn, so it also transmits to itself. The Moon, however, profects to Aquarius, so it transmits to Saturn. Therefore, the crisis did occur during a time when a Light made an annual transmission to a malefic by rulership.
Let’s recap the predictive technique findings:
- Quarters: Sun transmits to Venus
- Annual profections: Ascendant transmits to Affliction (and Venus) [also Affliction transmits to the Sun-7th]
- Annual profections: Moon and Venus transmit to Saturn.
- Months Fortune releasing: Saturn transmits to the Sun.
- Days Fortune releasing: The Sun transmits to Saturn.
- Days Spirit releasing: The Moon transmits to Saturn.
- Additionally the Moon was transiting in Taurus, the place of Affliction, during the most pivotal two and a half days of the crisis period.
The picture that is painted is activation of Venus, Sun-Saturn, and the 7th house in relation to crises. These themes are made all the more significant by the fact that Saturn directed to the square of the Sun in September of that year. September is the month that the divorce was finalized. See the articles on primary directions for more information on how to figure out primary directions.
Saturn Directs to the SunWhile this is just a single example, we can see that Affliction merits further exploration. The many special techniques which Valens provided for evaluating and timing periods of substantial crisis and hardship also merit exploration.
Affliction brings the topic of misfortune to a place in the natal chart where you might not have expected it. It’s a very important addition to an astrologer’s arsenal of lots which should not be overlooked. Valens has provided interesting and unique insights into how one may use the lot of affliction. He also provided many predictive techniques for discovering periods of great hardship or general malevolence. I hope you’ll take up the ongoing work of researching these lots and techniques.
Engraving by Baccio Baldini after Sandro Botticelli (1481 original) for the printed version of Dante’s “Inferno.” Image is in the public domain.