Introducing the Principal Lots
There are four lots which were considered by Vettius Valens to mark out effective houses in the chart.
The operative and effective signs are the Ascendant, MC, <the XI Place of the> Good Daimon, <the V Place of> Good Fortune, the Lot of Fortune, Daimon, Love, Necessity. Signs of moderate activity are <the IX Place of> the God, <the III Place of> the Goddess, and the other two angles. The rest of the signs are mediocre or bad. (Vettius Valens, Anthologies, Book IV, Ch. 11, Riley trans., 2010, p. 79)
These four lots were also the only ones which he mentions using in the context of his Valens-style profections.
It is also necessary to count from the Lot of Fortune, from Daimon, from Love, and from Necessity, for it is from these points that the critical illnesses, benefactions, and dangers are apprehended. (Vettius Valens, Anthologies, Book IV, Ch. 11, Riley trans., 2010, p. 78)
In this article, I’ll be exploring these four principal lots along with more basic questions, such as what lots are and how they’re used.
What Are Lots?
The Hellenistic lots are, much like the places, an ancient technique of attributing special topical significance to signs/houses of the astrological chart. Today, they are often called Arabic Parts because there were misunderstandings in late traditional astrology in which it was assumed that all of the lots, aside from Fortune, did not exist in the Hellenistic period but were invented by the Arabs.
Houses are based upon the “accident” of the Ascendant, numbering the signs beginning with the Ascending sign and attributing special topics to each ordinal place. The lots also tend to rely upon the Ascendant as an anchor (i.e. birth time is critical), with a locus of topical significance, called the “lot”, being the distance from one important planet or point to another as projected from another point, typically the Ascendant. The lots are not used instead of the houses but rather in addition to them, tying a place to additional topical significations.
Finding the Lot of Fortune
To illustrate, the most famous lot, the Lot of the Moon, also called Fortune, has special significance for chance circumstances that relate to the body and things of a physical or substantial nature in general. To find the place with this significance in someone’s chart you take the distance from the sect light to the non-sect light and project it from the Ascendant, noting the degree and place where it lands.
I show this below with Fortune in the 14th Dalai Lama’s chart. Fortune is typically pictured as a circle with an X inside it, a treasure map reference, though Fortune’s connection with wealth is somewhat over-stated in astrology today, due to the central meaning evoked by its name (I’ll address Fortune’s meaning at more length below). We find the distance from the sect light to the non-sect light, and then project the same distance, in the same direction, from the Ascendant, placing our marker of the lot at that point. In this case, Fortune falls in Taurus, the 11th place, at 10° Taurus, ruled by Venus and in the bound of Mercury.
Four Principal Lots?
There are four lots that are particularly crucial for signifying generally important topics in the life. They mark out 4 places in the chart that Vettius Valens, the prolific second century astrologer, considered “active” or “effective”.
In Chapter 16 of Book II of The Anthology, Valens gives 9 special topical names to certain places of the chart. These places are largely identified by houses, but 4 lots are used as well, showing that Valens assigned a particularly special significance to these 4 lots in the chart. Of many lots used by Valens, only these 4 lots seem to be used by Valens to identify places on a par with the primary 12 houses in terms of importance.
In Book IV of The Anthology, Valens discussed profections. In that discussion there are only 4 lots which he profects around the chart (see introductory quote). In fact, Valens sets aside an entire chapter of Book IV, Chapter 25, “The Distributions of the Four Lots”, to provide more details about the significance of the annual profections of these four lots.
These lots present the poles of two significant topical polarities in life. First, there is a polarity between that which befalls us on a physical level, from body to accidents to children, and that which befalls us on a more abstract level, from mind to social relations to spirituality. Secondly, there is that inimitable polarity so dear to Heraclitus, of Love and Strife; harmonious constructive alliance pushing things together versus dissonant destructive divisiveness pulling things apart.
These four lots are derived from the locations of the Lights, the most powerful planets (the Sun and Moon) of the chart. The most important lots, Fortune and Spirit, are projections of the distance between the Lights, while the other two, Love and Necessity, are projections of the distance between Fortune and Spirit. This is something of a testimony to the power and general importance attributed to the Lights in Hellenistic astrology.
Formulas and Rationale
Chris Brennan (2010), in his paper, “The Theoretical Rationale Underlying the Seven Hermetic Lots“, has, with great clarity, discussed the evidence of a rationale underlying the way the lots are constructed. Fourth century astrologer Paulus Alexandrinus named seven lots which corresponded to planets, known as the “Seven Hermetic Lots of the Planets”, which included Fortune and Spirit for the Lights (Note: The Lot of Venus is called “Love” by Paulus and that of Mercury is called “Necessity” but Paulus refers to different lots with different formulae than the Lots of Love and Necessity discussed by Valens which are explored here.) Brennan (2010), focused on these planetary lots but the patterns he explored are relevant to understanding the rationale behind many lots used in Hellenistic astrology, not just the planetary lots.
Let’s briefly discuss the construction of the Seven Hermetic Lots, referencing Brennan’s paper (please take a look at that paper before proceeding). All seven of the Lots of the Planets include the planet of the correspondence in the calculation. However, the planet’s placement in the formula depends upon sect and benefic/malefic status. For instance, the Lot of the Sun is the lot commonly called Spirit or Daimon. It is calculated from the non-sect Light to the sect Light, i.e. from the less active and influential Light to the more active and influential Light (with this distance then projected from the Ascendant). This is the opposite of the Lot of the Moon, commonly known as Fortune, which is calculated from the sect Light to the non-sect Light, i.e. from the more active to the less active Light.
The lots of the other 5 planets also display an interesting rationale. Brennan (2010) explained that the lots of the benefic planets involve the distance between the corresponding planet and the Lot of the Sun, while those of the malefic planets (and Mercury) involve the distance between the corresponding planet and the Lot of the Moon. If the birth sect is the same as that of the lot of the Light involved in the formula, then the formula goes from the lot to the planet, but if of the opposite sect then it is from the planet to the lot. For instance, the Lot of Venus by day would be the distance from the Lot of the Sun (Spirit) to Venus, projected from the Ascendant, while the Lot of Saturn, which involves the nocturnal Lot of the Moon (Fortune) because Saturn is a malefic, would by day be the distance from Saturn to the Lot of the Moon (projected from the Ascendant), and by night be the distance from Fortune to Saturn (projected from the Ascendant).
If I am interpreting his conclusions rightly, Brennan (2010) came to think of this in terms of the “from” planet emitting that which the “to” planet receives, and thus for the sect of the chart to make the lot of the sect Light more active and that of the other Light more passive in interpretation, i.e. by night, Spirit might show more passive intellectual and social chance circumstances, but Fortune more active chance physical circumstances. In contrast, by day, Spirit would show more active intellectual and social chance circumstances and Fortune more passive physical circumstances.
For me, there are three important takeaway lessons from Brennan’s paper and the lot formulae. First, the Sun is more associated with the benefics and the ideal, or the “light of clarity”, while Moon is more associated with the malefics and passive circumstance. This is shown by the Lot of the Sun being that which reaches toward the dominant Light (sect) while that of the Moon toward the more inactive Light (non-sect), and the use of the Lot of the Sun with benefic lot formulae and that of the Moon with malefic lot formulae. Secondly, from the interpretations given for the lots, that of the Sun refers to more abstract mental and social phenomena while that of the Moon to more physical phenomena. Thirdly, there is a sense in which the lots themselves are sort of like transmissions, from the significations of the starting point toward the significations of the ending point (prior to the projection from the Ascendant), such that the planet one moves toward has a greater sense of finality or importance.
Significance of Fortune and Spirit
This principle of abstraction vs. tangibility is reflected in the common names for the lots of the Lights, Fortune and Spirit. The Ancient Greek term for Fortune, “tuche”, referred to more passive chance happenstance, while that for Spirit, “daemon”, referred to things brought about by spiritual machination.
These same terms pertain to the four houses of the natal chart which are the joys of the 2 benefic and 2 malefic planets. The diurnal planets have their joys above the horizon, those of the nocturnal planets below the horizon (and Mercury at the horizon, i.e. the 1st house). The Joy of the diurnal benefic, Jupiter, is the 11th House, also called “Good Spirit”, while the Joy of the diurnal malefic, Saturn, is the 12th House, also called “Bad Spirit”. Good Spirit (the 11th or Joy of Jupiter), pertains to friendship and other generally beneficial social and mental phenomena. Bad Spirit (the 12th or Joy of Saturn), pertains to betrayal, enmity, and other generally challenging social and mental phenomena. Opposite those two houses are those of their nocturnal counterparts, the 5th which is the Joy of Venus, also called Good Fortune, and the 6th which is the Joy of Mars, also called Bad Fortune. These “nocturnal” Joys are more associated with passive physical phenomena, pleasant and productive in the case of the 5th (Good Fortune) signifying children and pleasure, while challenging in the case of the 6th (Bad Fortune) signifying illness, accidents, and slavery.
Now let’s look at what Valens says about the significance of the Lots of Spirit and Fortune, considering how they compare with the Spirit and Fortune house meanings.
For the reason mentioned above, the Lot of Fortune and Daimon have great influence on undertakings and their outcomes. The former gives information about matters concerning the body and concerning the work of hands. Daimon and its ruler give information about spiritual and intellectual matters and about the activities of giving and receiving. It will be necessary to examine the places and the signs in which their houserulers are located and to correlate their natures, in order to learn the type of activity and fortune and the quality of activity <to be expected>. (Valens, Anthologies, Book II, Ch. 20, Riley trans., 2010, p. 35)
Interestingly, the 11th from Fortune, being the Good Spirit relative to physical happenstance, is called by Valens, “… the Place of Accomplishment, the bestower of property and goods, especially if benefics are in this place or in aspect” (Valens, Anthologies, Book II, Ch. 21, Riley trans., 2010, p. 35). Thus it becomes possible to derive an interpretation in which good social activity relative to physical happenstance means circumstances in life in which tangible gifts are conferred to the native, allowing us to analyze themes that may coincide with some prominent occasions of such circumstances in the life.
There is a specific predictive technique employed by Valens which today is commonly referred to as Zodiacal Releasing, in which the Lots of Spirit and Fortune are the primary points which are moved around the chart in what is called a circumambulation to establish time lords related specifically to physical circumstances or accomplishments (releasing from Fortune) and mental or social circumstances or accomplishments (releasing from Spirit). Let’s look at what Valens had to say about the significance of releasing from Fortune versus that from Spirit.
So, if we are investigating the chronocratorships with respect to bodily existence, such as critical points of illnesses, hemorrhages, falls, injuries, diseases, and whatever effects the body with respect to strength, enjoyment, pleasure, beauty, or love affairs, then we must begin the vital sector with the Lot of Fortune. (Valens, Book IV, Ch. 4, Riley trans., 2010, p. 71-72)
If on the other hand we are investigating employment or rank, then we will begin the chronocratorships with Daimon as the apheta. (Valens, Book IV, Ch. 4, Riley trans., 2010, p. 72)
Similarly, Valens in his delineations of various Spirit configurations of Zodiacal Releasing associates the times when Spirit comes under malefic influence with mental instability and professional overturn, even identifying the significance of the element of the sign occupied by the released Spirit’s ruler in the natal chart; fire showing nervous breakdown and acting against one’s will, air showing distraction and worry, etc.
When looking at profections of Spirit and Fortune in Book IV, Valens considers that one’s work may become more physically involved if more planets become associated with Fortune than Spirit, while more mentally involved when more planets incline toward Spirit.
Thus we have grasped the key polarity of the first pair of principal lots, that of the active, ideal, social rank, and mind associated with Spirit, the Sun, the diurnal sect, and the houses above the horizon versus that of the passive, mundane, tangibility, and body associated with Fortune, the Moon, the nocturnal sect, and the houses below the horizon.
Let’s look at Spirit and Fortune in the chart of the current Dalai Lama to work with our understanding of their significations in delineation. We want to pay particular attention to the ruler, planets in the place, and planets in the stakes of the place (the 10th, 7th, and 4th places from the place – those that oppose or square the place).
For the Dalai Lama we find Fortune in the 11th, the place of the Good Spirit, in Taurus, ruled by the sect benefic Venus. The place is empty though it has Jupiter and Venus in its stakes (Jupiter actually scrutinizing the lot), so there is overall indications of general good health and enjoyable physical circumstances. Additionally, Fortune is closely aspected (i.e. within 3 degrees) by both Lights, Jupiter, and Saturn, connecting it particularly with loftiness, power, and administration. Where Fortune has difficult potential is in the close overcoming sextile from Saturn, the out of sect malefic, in the 9th of travel and religion.
Spirit is in the 3rd House, Goddess, the Joy of the Moon, in Virgo ruled by Mercury, and in the bound of Mercury, while with the Moon in the place and dominated by Mercury (Mercury is in the stake that is in a superior square) and opposed by Saturn. The overall indications for intellectual, professional, and social circumstances are that there is a great deal of communication (Mercury, 3rd), analysis (Mercury), congregation (Moon), and frequent travel (Moon, Mercury, 3rd). The fact that the sect Light is with Spirit and in its Joy suggests particular importance and power associated with the professional and intellectual affairs. Saturn again showing a potential challenge in this area through its opposition.
Remember in the Valens quote above that in Zodiacal Releasing Fortune is used primarily for physical pleasures and ailments while Spirit is used primarily for social/professional peaks and valleys. For the Dalai Lama we are particularly interested in profections to and from Spirit and releasing from Spirit, as we know less about health crises and pleasures in his life. For instance, the Dalai Lama was recognized at Age 2, which is significant as the year in which the Ascendant (self) profected to the 3rd place, occupied by both Spirit and the sect light (the Moon), showing a very pivotal time for personal prominence. Additionally, at that time, Spirit and the Moon (i.e. 3rd house) profected to Jupiter in the house of Good Fortune (the 5th), while Fortune profected to the Sun in the 1st House of the self and identity. Therefore, many profections signalling prominence and loftiness of station occur at age 2 when the 14th Dalai Lama was recognized as the incarnation of the previous Dalai Lama.
Love and Necessity Formulae
Now let’s look at the other two principal lots, Love and Necessity. There has actually been some confusion as to how to calculate these two lots. Some translations of Valens leave out a marginal note in the original Greek in which Valens (2nd century CE) provided instruction in calculating the lots. Furthermore, the 4th century Roman astrologer Julius Firmicus Maternus gave the opposite formulae for the lots as Valens. However, I have been assured by Chris Brennan that the Valens calculations are in the original Greek, and thus are the older source. Additionally, the Valens calculations are consistent with the rationale discussed above, while the Maternus ones are not.
Valens gave the formula for Love as from Fortune to Spirit by day (reversed by night), projected from the Ascendant, while Necessity was from Spirit to Fortune by day (reversed by night), projected from the Ascendant (one can find the Valens instructions at the bottom of p. 90 of the 2010 Riley translation which was made available for free on Mark Riley’s faculty web site). Movement from the non-sect lot to the sect lot is found in the Valens formula just given for Love, and is consistent with the rationale discussed above for a lot which shows more ideal circumstances to involve movement from passive to active, from dark to light. Maternus gives the opposite formula (see Mathesis, Book VI, Ch. 45, “House of Desires”), that from the Spirit to Fortune by day for Love, which is inconsistent with the rationale discussed above. It is similar with Necessity, where in Valens (the earlier source) a rationale is evident, as we move from the sect lot to the non-sect lot, from the more active to the less active, from the light to the dark. Again, Maternus gives the opposite formula and one without sound rationale (see Mathesis, Book VI, Ch. 46, “House of Necessity”).
Therefore, to find the Lot of Love in a chart it helps to think of Spirit as the Lot of the Sun and Fortune as the Lot of the Moon. Find the distance from the non-sect lot (Fortune by day, Spirit by night) to the sect lot (Spirit by day, Fortune by night), and project this from the Ascendant in the same direction you measured the distance. To find the Lot of Necessity in the chart, merely take the same distance and project it in the opposite direction from the Ascendant, which is the same as taking the distance from the sect lot to the non-sect lot and projecting it from the Ascendant.
Love = from non-sect lot to sect lot (projected from Asc)
Necessity = from sect lot to non-sect lot (projected from Asc)
What did Valens say about the meaning of these lots?
Most succinctly Valens, in Book II, Ch. 16, attributed “desire” to the place of Love, and “enemies” to the place of Necessity. Looking at his delineations of their use in time lord techniques we can expand upon these central notions a bit.
Love describes the nature and circumstances which accompany desire and getting together, such that malefics will connect it with scandal or unsavory things and benefics with powerful alliances.
Necessity describes the nature and circumstances which accompany dispute and competition, such that malefics will bring failures and attacks while benefics will bring victory and put power on one’s side.
There is such a nice symmetry or polarity to these concepts, in which one pertains to the attempt to conjoin and the other to the attempt to oppose.
Lots in Morinus Software
Software programs tend to use algebraic formulae for lots, which can be a bit confusing. The key to reading such formulae is to work backwards. For instance the formula “Asc + Sun – Moon” means take the distance from the Moon to the Sun and project it from the Ascendant (i.e. the day formula for Spirit).
Below is a cheat sheet for entering the formula of the principal lots into the free open-source program, Morinus. As long as you put Fortune as Lot 1 and Spirit as Lot 2, the formulae for Love and Necessity (shown as 16 and 17 in the screenshot) should work no matter where they fall on the list.
Four Principal Lots in Action
We briefly looked at Fortune and Spirit in the Dalai Lama’s chart. One thing that is interesting is that the 9th House of God (religion, spirituality, wisdom, higher education) is the place of Love in the Dalai Lama’s chart, and is ruled by Jupiter.
While some information can be gleaned about general baseline trends and themes from delineation of the lots in the natal chart, their true strength is in predictive work, such as profections, releasing, and even transits to the places of the lots.
One particularly striking example came to me from a friend of mine who had a very eventful day in which he both started a relationship and was arrested at a protest, on the day of the last solar eclipse this year! Born in December 1984, he was 27 when the events transpired, so the annual profection of the Ascendant was to his 4th place, Gemini, making Mercury the Lord of the Year, and Gemini the activated sign. Gemini happens to be the location of both the twelfth-part of his Venus (at about 14GEM) and his Lot of Love (at 25GEM). The Lot of Love itself had profected to the 7th of partnership, Virgo, also ruled by Mercury.
On the afternoon of May 20th, 2012, there was a solar eclipse at 0 Gemini, the sign of the annual profection, Love, and the twelfth-part of Venus. Our friend started a relationship with someone at one point in the day, and later in the day was arrested at a protest. Besides the solar eclipse itself bringing forth the significations of Gemini in his chart, there were also some interesting transits. For instance, transiting Venus was in Gemini at the time and conjunct, within 3 degrees, his Lot of Love, right on his IC. Additionally, Mercury the Lord of the Year, while adhering to transiting Jupiter was also opposing the native’s 9th house Saturn and squaring the native’s 12th house out-of-sect Mars, all within 3 degrees, significant for the arrest.
When trying to think of a life in which there were both major noteworthy events of a relationship and an ensuing noteworthy battle with enemies, the Clinton-Lewinsky scandals came to my mind. Let’s see if Love and Necessity in the natal chart and in predictive techniques reflect those events.
Bill Clinton was born with the Lot of Love in the 7th of partnership, which we might say could intensify the themes. Unfortunately, Love is ruled by the out-of-sect malefic, Mars, and is opposed by the amorous Mars-Venus conjunction in Clinton’s 1st house. Necessity is in Clinton’s 6th house, Pisces, and is ruled by the sect benefic, Jupiter, which is prominent in Clinton’s first house, signifying generally fortunate outcomes and assistance in competitions or disputes.
In late 1995, when Clinton was 49 years old, he started having sexual relations with an intern, Monica Lewinsky. The Lot of Love had profected into the 8th house, Taurus, ruled by Venus and occupied by the Moon, both out of sect – Venus showing the sexuality, and the Moon and the 8th showing the personal and private nature of the activity.
The relationship continued into early 1997. After Clinton’s birthday in 1997, things started taking a turn for the worse as Linda Tripp began secretly recording phone calls and then the whole thing broke to the media in January of 1998, when Clinton was 52 years old. The profection of the Ascendant was to the 5th House, Aquarius, ruled by Saturn. The profection of Love was to the 11th House, Leo, ruled by and occupied by the Sun, as well as occupied by Saturn and Mercury. Therefore, there was a particular emphasis on Saturn, which as a baseline is not a bad indications in Clinton’s chart because it is in sect and in the place of Good Spirit, but it does indicate that Saturn is the focal planet for the year (i.e. lord of the year). At the solar return we find Saturn, Lord of the Year, in the place of Love and closely conjunct the Lot of Love, while opposing Clinton’s 1st house Jupiter. In January 1998 when the story broke and Clinton made his infamous public denial of sexual relations, transiting Saturn was in adherence (applying conjunction within 3 degrees) to Clinton’s natal Lot of Love.
It was in Winter of 1998, when Clinton was 53, that a major battle began, as the House voted to issue articles of impeachment over his perjury and obstruction of justice. At Age 53 the Ascendant profected to the 6th house, Pisces, with Jupiter as Lord of the Year. The 6th place is also the place of Necessity in Clinton’s chart, so the Ascendant had profected to Necessity, signifying some prominent engagement with enemies/adversaries. Necessity profected to the 11th, Leo, ruled by and occupied by the Sun, but also occupied by Saturn and Mercury. The solar return was rather promising as far as vying with enemies would go, because Jupiter in the return was in the place of Necessity, Pisces, its domicile, and, at 26 Pisces moving retrograde, actually adhering to the Lot of Necessity at 24 Pisces. Additionally, Necessity’s profection to the 11th was bolstered by the benefic Venus transiting through the place. So while the profection of the Ascendant to Necessity brought a divisive struggle to the forefront, the indications were of victory over enemies. That is exactly what happened when the Senate voted to acquit Clinton of of the impeachment charges issued by the House.
In this example we see how the lots of Love and Necessity can provide deeper indications of how matters particular to the two most important types of human relationships, attractive and adversarial, develop and gain prominence over time. Much further work is needed to explore the usage of these very important lots in things like evaluating political contests, and in other areas of astrology like mundane, electional, and especially horary, as a great deal of horary questions concern attractive or adversarial human relationships.
Lot of Basis
There is one final matter concerning the lots of Love and Necessity which it is appropriate to address here. The Lot of Basis is discussed by Valens in connection with personal power and leadership skills, generally referred to as the “basis” of the nativity. Basis is examined with Fortune and Spirit, and another lot, the Lot of Exaltation, such that these lots and their rulers occupying each other’s places would be particularly beneficial indications for personal effectiveness, social mobility, and leadership.
The Lot of Basis is always either the Lot of Love or the Lot of Necessity. Whichever one of these is under the horizon is Basis. Strong relationships between Basis, Spirit, Fortune, the Lot of Exaltation (which I won’t explore here), the Place of Accomplishment (11th from Fortune as mentioned above), the rulers of these lots/places, the Lights (especially the sect light), and/or the angles (especially the 1st and its ruler) of the chart provide positive indications for “basis”. It is similar when the ruler(s) of these are benefic and well-placed. Fewer relationships between these and more involvement of malefics supposedly indicates a self with an unsteady “basis” for asserting its identity and influence in the world. These are a lot of place and points to work with at once, but it does seem possible to pick apart the particular influence provided by each, while Basis supports in a general fashion. Given that Love and Necessity pertain to human relationships and the houses under the horizon pertain more to physical substance, it may be that the one of these lots under the horizon is showing the relationship activity, whether attractive or adversarial, which has the greater impact on personal substance and soundness, such as laying down firm roots.
If the lots are brand new to you or you had only previously heard of Fortune and had not explored it very deeply, I hope you’ve become inspired to start using at least the four principal lots in your astrological explorations and prognostications with a utility for establishing topics that is comparable to the use of houses. Many readers who are already familiar with Fortune and Spirit may not be familiar with Love and Necessity or the great importance placed on these lots by Valens.