Spirit and Fortune: What’s the Difference? – Part 3

Most sources tell how these Lots are calculated. Some explain further, how, for example, the Lot of Fortune was a potential candidate to be the hyleg in length of life calculations. There are a few sources where we can actually learn about how these two important Lots were delineated.[1]

Vettius Valens[2] is one of the few that takes great pains to describe these Lots. He quotes from an earlier text when discussing the Lot of Fortune,

For him who wishes to ascertain the matter of happiness more exactly, I will return to the Lot of Fortune, which is the most necessary and sovereign place, as the king[3] mysteriously explained beginning in the 12th book saying,

“. . . for those who are born in the day, it will next be necessary to count distinctly from the Sun to the Moon and back from the Hōroskopos to prescribe an equality, and for the resulting place to see whatever star it meets with [conjoins], and what or which are in relation to it [i.e. aspects it] – – the squares or triangles, all in all, as it was placed among the stars. For from this consciousness of places you can make a clear judgement beforehand of the circumstances of those who are brought forth.”

Petosiris also explained the matter similarly in the Boundaries’, though others have treated it differently, which we will also set out in the appropriate place along with other guidance for clarifying the argument concerning happiness. But for now we must discuss the method in question.[4]

For in the 13th book, after the prooemium and the disposition of the zōidia, the king attacks the Lot of Fortune from the Sun, the Moon, and the Hōroskopos, which he mostly works with and makes mention of throughout the whole book, and which he judges to be a supreme place. Concerning the Lot of Fortune, he has indeed presented the inversion and reversal as a riddle.[5]

It would appear from Valens comment, “which he mostly works with”, that this earlier sage worked primarily from the Lot of Fortune indicating something of its former importance. Very inaccurately, many today call these the Arabic Parts. They are not Arabic and in fact, pretty much all of the lots the Arabic Era astrologers used were from a much earlier period.[6] But especially the Lot of Fortune is very old in origin.

There are other sources such as Paulus Alexandrinus who wrote:

And fortune signifies everything that concerns the body, and what one does through the course of life. It becomes indicative of possessions, reputation and privilege.

Spirit happens to be lord of soul, temper, sense and every capability, and there are times when it cooperates in the reckoning about what one does.[7]

When we come to the Arabic Era, Abu Ma’shār writes extensively on the Lots in the 8th treatise of his “Greater Introduction”,

This lot [Fortune] is called the lot of well-being [happiness], and it signifies those same things that are signified by the luminaries. But the peculiar qualities that it signifies are those things that concerns the soul (nafs): its fortune and its vigour and what concerns the life and the body and wealth and the poverty, gold and silver, those things which are easy and those difficult, praise and reputation, on recognition and the authority which one is born to, the support, the reign, the power, the elevation and all things which are desirable. It signifies moreover that which is present and that which is absent; that which is manifest and that which is hidden . . . This lot is first above the other lots in the same way that the Sun prevails in splendour on all stars and it is the highest and noblest of the lots.

Bonatti, later in the 14th century, paraphrases Abu Ma’shār’s earlier work and writes in his “Liber Astronomiae”,

The extraction of the pars fortunae is extracted from the luminaries, which, as the ancients said, are of equal strength for good . . . And this part is preferred above all the other parts in the same way as the luminaries are preferred above all the other stars. Similarly, the Sun is more splendid than all the other stars and called the diurnal luminary because day occurs by his rising and is removed and made night by his setting. The Sun signifies the natural life and the other things, which have been discussed in the chapter on his signification, and the Moon is the luminary of the night and the benefic significatrix of bodies and of all things, just as was said elsewhere in her chapter . . .. This part signifies the life, the body, and also its souls, its strength, fortune, substance and profit, that is: wealth and poverty, gold and silver, heaviness or lightness of things bought in the marketplace, praise and good reputation, and honours and recognition, good and evil, present and future, hidden and manifest, and it has signification over everything.[8]

In order to clearly distinguish the differences and similarities between Fortune and Spirit, I would like to start by examining two quotes from Vettius Valens’ “Anthology”.

Whence the Lot of Fortune and the Spirit will have much power over the imposing and turning back of actions. For, the one [Fortune] shows matters concerning the body and handicrafts, the Spirit and its ruler, matters concerning the soul and the intellect, and actions through discourse and through giving and receiving. It will be necessary, then, to consider in what kind of zōidia [sign] the places [topical houses] and their rulers are, and to combine the natures of these zōidia for the determination of action and fortune, and for the kind of action.[9]

Actions,[10] then, are always taken especially from [the lot of] Spirit and its ruler. For there are some who have bodily actions such as working with their hands and bodily afflictions as a result of bearing burdens or exercise, and others [who have actions] from speech and knowledge and actualisations of the soul. Wherever more stars should incline,[11] whether to the lot [of Fortune] or to [the lot of] Spirit, [from] thence will be indicated the matter of action. It is necessary, then, to compare the actions and the general support, whether the nativity is notable or mediocre, or else happy or poor, or in dispute or irregular, so that the effects in the distributions should also become clear ahead of time.[12]

In the first citation, Valens tells us that both Fortune and Spirit are essential to, or have much power over, a person’s actions or “what they do” [the greater praxis]. He tells us that there are two essential distinctions:

1.) Fortune and its ruler signify matters concerning the body, bodily actions and “handicrafts” and the “qualities of the soul”. He further elucidates what he means in the second citation by emphasizing, “…such as working with their hands and bodily afflictions as a result of bearing burdens or exercise”. There is the direct connection between a person’s physical well-being and skills producing actions that are either fortunate or unfortunate.

2.) Spirit and its ruler signify matters concerning intellect and ‘actualisations’ of the soul (will). In the second citation, he further explains that Spirit produces actions originating in the intellect, speech, knowledge, and what he calls “actualisations of the soul”, what we call ‘the will’.

In order to clearly understand what is meant, since both the significance of Fortune and Spirit directly imposes or hinders actions, then, we perhaps need to examine a little closer what ideas the Greek word for action, praxis, is conveying. Praxis is an awkward word. Grabbing hold of it is difficult because it sounds so much like ‘practice’ and ‘practical’. All these words are of course related. In its most general sense, it did mean the actual experience of doing particular activities, which is the sense of the word used in the English translation.

It would appear that Valens, like the Stoics, Aristotle and Epicurus, accepted the principle laid down by Plato that all action is goal-directed, having a purpose or serving a purpose, and is undertaken in order to get something worth having for the agent or to avoid something it would be better not to have.

In its greater sense, praxis meant the process of doing things or of putting into effect and it included almost any activity which stood open to a free man of that time and it excluded from this wide frame only the manual labour connected with the work of the slave and to a certain degree, of course, also the theoretical activities of thinking, reflecting, and “gazing” or theoria.

Seen more precisely though, a further distinction between actions[13] was made by Aristotle in his Nicomacean Ethics, which has enormous bearing on our topic. In it, he makes a distinction which he calls praxis and poiesis. Poiesis represented a productive making, which means the artistic production and manufacture of goods and/or works, and the efficient management of concrete tasks. It was characterized by a type of technical (techno) knowledge, skill or ability (a.k.a. qualities of the soul). Praxis, on the other hand, referred to responsible, self-determined, ideal-guided action (doing), as is manifested for example in political or religious life. In this kind of action, praxis has qualities not necessarily found in poiesis.

Poietic actions always aim at a result, a product—the manufactured object—and its meaning and value are determined only to the doer by the outcome.

 Praxis actions, on the other hand, always carry their meaning and value in the act. They fulfill their purpose only when “something good and just” is done, something that is greater than the merit to the individual acting. The greater purpose is independent of whether or not the action actually also succeeds in reaching what was wanted through the doing.

For example, building a bridge represents poietic action whose value is determined only by its result: the built bridge over which one can cross a ravine. On the other hand, a gift donated to the needy out of compassionate, brotherly love is good, even if for some reason it never reaches those for whom it was intended.

Let’s try and put these distinctions in terms that are more current. The recording studio technicians’ actions are to make a recording that is in itself both worthy to sell and is a reflection of his personal aptitude and technical skills. This is poietic action. On the other hand is the musician who is creating the music, the actualisations of the qualities of his soul, intellect and communicative processes. The music carries its worth in its making and it is directed for the “good” and “pleasure” of others! This is praxis action.

In these distinctions, we also find the essential differences between the significations of the Lot of Fortune (poiesis) and the Lot of Spirit (praxis) and the actions (the greater praxis) imposed or hindered by them.

Valens appears to simply reiterate Aristotle’s distinctions in the second citation when he says, “Actions, then, are always taken especially from [the lot of] Spirit and its ruler”. This is as Aristotle distinguishes in Nicomacean Ethics;

Choice is the starting point of action: it is the source of motion but not the end for the sake of which we act [praxis] . . . The starting point of choice, however, is desire and reasoning directed toward some end. That is why there cannot be choice either without intelligence and thought or without some moral characteristic [hexis]; for good and bad action in human conduct is not possible without thought and character. Now thought alone moves nothing; only thought which is directed to some end and concerned with action can do so.[14]

In both types of action, choice is the starting point. But the inherent difference is that praxis includes such motivational distinctions as character, human conduct, social awareness and that the end of the action is for some good greater than the individual. With poiesis, choice and the motivation for choice do not require any particular conviction, moral or otherwise – only necessity and desire. Praxis on the other hand requires these other convictions to set it in motion. Following Aristotle, Valens saw this type action as the most important action!

The Greek philosophy proposed an interaction/transformation of “matter” to “form”.[15] The Sun was attributed to “sameness” [nous] and the Moon was “otherness”.  The Sun was archetypically seen as the perfect thought of Divine Intelligence while the moon was seen as the form that thought took which was something “other” than pure thought.  Quite simply, the Sun represented “spirit” and the Moon “physical manifestation”.  The cyclic change of seasons was considered one of the best examples of this.

The extraction of these Lots is from these individual parts, i.e. the Sun, the Moon and the Ascendant. The Sun was the author of life, the natural vitality or natural life, actualisations of the soul, eminence, reputation and honours. The Moon was more than just physical life, it was the soul incarnated in a physical body; the author of generation and corruption of all bodies (material form), and the Ascendant is the native’s physical body and qualities of the soul. When we consider then either the Lot of Fortune or Spirit, we are considering the native’s life and its well-being, his actions and how the qualities of the soul ultimately translated into such things as a native’s wealth and reputation and what one is endowed with in order to obtain those things.

The Part of Fortune is the Lot of the Moon and closely associated with the Moon and the physical manifestations. It was regarded as just what made a person not only happy but successful or unsuccessful, eminent or unknown, and was an indication of physical illnesses.

The Part of Spirit was associated to the Sun and therefore more interested in the “why” we do things, the action of doing, the moral convictions (or lack of them), will, character and the intellectual state as well as the related illnesses.

The Lot of Fortune then, originating in the Divine Will and executed through relational proportions of the planets, is a passive process setting parameters wherein the “source of motion” [choice] is influenced in regards to the physical and material actions of the native and what they can and cannot produce. It either “imposes or turns back” the realm of purely material actions. It will give significations for health, wealth, profession, eminence, reputation and all material things that profit the native physically and materially.

In like manner, the Lot of Spirit sets parameters influencing actions. These actions are vitally different carrying their significations and values in the act and fulfil their purpose only when something is done that is greater than the merit to the individual acting. Like the Lot of Fortune, Spirit will also give significations relevant to health, wealth, profession etc. –But with this difference; it will be useful in determining motivation distinctions such as character, human conduct, and social awareness telling us something of the actualisations[16] of the qualities of the natives’ soul, intellect and discourse!

Which is more Important – Fortune or Spirit?

It is clear that Valens considered the Lot of Spirit important for indicating actions that were “worthy of merit” by virtue of the action itself. These noble and ideal actions could bring reputation, honor and wealth to the native.

In practice, however, both the Lot of Fortune and Spirit were important, each giving a particular signification.

And I will set down this [division], which is a potent one … from the Lot of Fortune and Spirit, which signify the Sun and the Moon. For the Moon, being cosmically fate and body and breath (since it is near the earth and sends its effluence to us) produces something of like kind as it is the lady of our body. The Sun, being cosmically mind and spirit through its own activity and pleasant nature, since it arouses the souls of men in undertakings, is established as a cause of action and motion.[17]

The Lot of Fortune, which is the lot of the Moon and derived from the Moon, signifies material well-being because of actions (poiesis) influencing material fortune. It signified in what ways a man’s material destiny was apportioned. That is to say, it is to a great extent about what happens to someone because of their “passions”, in the original sense of the word. But the Lot of Spirit, being relative to the Sun, signifies ones actions (praxis) and what one does based on some motivation originating in ones will and ‘moral’ character, which is the polar counterpart to passions. Valens then explains in which way these two should be differentiated,

When, then, we seek times for bodily matters, such as crises or weaknesses or bloodshed, falls, injuries, sufferings and whatever appertains to the body, for strength, enjoyment, pleasure, beauty, and loveliness, then it is necessary to project zodiacally from the Lot of Fortune… If we are inquiring about action or reputation, then we will make the beginning of the releasing zodiacally from the Lot of Spirit…[18]

This consideration of the Lot of Fortune as pertaining to the ‘physical’ or material manifestations surrounding an individual is why it was used as a potential ‘hyleg’ in length of life calculations. It is also, why it was considered to have the same “power” as the Ascendant! We further see the distinctions between the Lots of Fortune and Spirit in Valens general delineations of the Profections of these Lots.

The Lot of Fortune giving or taking over in prospering places, with benefics present or testifying, indicates good fortune and advancement, actions and reputation and setting matters aright and the fulfillment of expectations, and benefits arising from deaths. But when it is declining [being profected to a cadent sign] or witnessed by malefics, it makes actions and reputation less and transitory, or it makes whatever the natives might accomplish be with impediments and dangers and judgments and insults.[19]

In this delineation, we can see the clear emphasis on the purely material actions that benefit the native in the form of wealth, reputation, health and general good fortune. There is nothing idealistic or noble in these actions since their benefice or malfeasance is to the native in doing them.

Spirit giving or taking over in prospering places, with benefics present, produces resolutions [decisions and will] pertaining to what is on one’s mind, discerning and easily effected reckonings, helpful counsels of friends, alliances with superiors, gifts and reputation; and it produces those who are successful in regard to attacks, and those who are puffed up in intellect, having very many beliefs. But, when it falls amiss or is witnessed by malefics, it introduces suspense and mental tortures, insensibilities and contrary purposes; it produces those who consider their own errors to be successes and those who bring charges against others, and those who miss the mark in most things. Whence such persons loose heart at times and contrive something dangerous for themselves by themselves and they are regarded as mad and come into a state of mental distraction.[20]

We see different actions at work in this delineation, that is those actions that have worth because the actions are worthy in themselves e.g. taking decisions and counselling a friend. There are vital differences between Fortune and Spirit, and while both produce actions in the greater sense of the word action, i.e. the actual experience of doing particular activities, each signifies its own particular and specific type of action.

In the post Hellenic and Arabic Era, we can also read this differentiation. Abu Ma’shār called the Lot of Fortune the most important Lot and in his opinion,

This lot is first above the other lots in the same way that the Sun prevails in splendor on all stars and it is the highest and noblest of the lots.[21]

His opinion, reflecting the ancients’ opinion also, was obviously that the material well-being, reputation and honours of a native were the most important. Material good, reputation, and honours are no doubt the criteria for how the world in general judges “well-being” and “happiness”.  As it applies to any particular human, it is the most relevant and as I pointed out in the previous chapter, it is essential to understanding the essence of how Divine Will apportions and binds together the circumstances of a man’s life making it unique.

Bonatti in paraphrasing Abu Ma’shār’s treatise on the Lots writes,

After the Part of Fortune, which exceeds the other parts in strength and fortune, the part of things to come or pars futurorum, which is called the pars solis,[22] ought to be spoken of.

This, immediately after the Part of Fortune exceeds and is more worthy than all the other parts, although some astrologers seem to care little about it, but it does not seem consistent to me since it is reputed by the wise to be extremely useful for this work…

The pars futurorum signifies the soul and the body after the pars fortunae and the quality [esse] of these, and faith, prophecy, religion and the culture of God and secrets, cogitation, intentions, hidden things and everything which is absent, and courtesy and liberality, praise, good reputation, heat and cold… and so these two parts [Fortune and Spirit] work above all others both for good and for evil. And their significations are similar to the significations of the luminaries.[23]

It is very important that we take time to consider carefully what Bonatti (and ultimately Abu Ma’shār) is saying in this quotation. First off, he recognizes the importance of this Lot saying that “This, [the Lot of Spirit] immediately after the Part of Fortune exceeds and is more worthy than all the other parts”. It is so important he considered it inconsistent of some astrologers to not consider its signification and worth. The difference in opinion as to which of these two lots is most important is not really an issue in my opinion. Both Valens and the later medieval astrologers recognized that both were extremely important. Their differences in preference as to which was most significant lies predominantly in the delineation of their operations and Aristotle’s philosophy in his Nicomacean Ethics that says that true actions are those that are praxis and not just poiesis. Outside of Valens’ single statement saying that, “Actions, then, are always taken especially from [the lot of] Spirit and its ruler”, there is nothing to indicate that he recognized any preferential differences other than both lots’ inherent essential differences.

Secondly, and this is very important, Bonatti states, “The pars futurorum signifies the soul and the body after the pars fortunae and the quality [esse] of these.” This is something that most modern astrologers do not realize, that the Lot of Spirit signified, like the Lot of Fortune, the well-being of the soul and body. To demonstrate just how consistent this was with the practice of Vettius Valens, consider this quote from Valens,

Often, then, when the Lot of Fortune or its lord falls amiss, the Lot of Spirit divides both bodily matters and those that pertain to action. Similarly also, Fortune will divide both [bodily matters and actions] when the Lot of Spirit or its lord falls amiss.[24]

If the Lot of Fortune or its lord “fell amiss” in the nativity, then the Lot of Spirit would give signification for the same things that Fortune would have if it had not fallen amiss. What Valens is giving us in this quote is a qualifier that justifies the Lot of Spirits importance! To understand this qualifier, we must understand what he meant by “falls amiss”.

To fall amiss was a general term used to describe certain accidental conditions of the planetary ruler(s) of a sign, house or Lot. A planet that fell in a “foreign” sign where it had no essential dignity, i.e. peregrine, was said to have fallen amiss. A planet falling in an evil house, e.g. the 6th, 12th or 8th was said to have fallen amiss. In this particular case, as we’ll see a little later, when Valens says the ruler falls amiss, he is also referring to a planetary ruler that falls inconjunct (what he also calls aversion) or cadent the sign the Lot falls in, or its own domicile. This was a standard Hellenistic concept that if a planet that could not see[25] its domicile then it could not properly administrate the affairs of the house signified by the sign.

Thirdly, it is also important to see that Bonatti, in his quote, recognizes the primary difference between the Lot of Spirit and the Lot of Fortune, i.e. “faith, prophecy, religion and the culture of God and secrets, cogitation,[26] intentions, hidden things and everything which is absent, and courtesy and liberality, praise, good reputation, heat and cold”. This list contains the actions and source (motivation) of Aristotle’s praxis actions, namely, “there cannot be choice … without some moral characteristic [hexis]; for good and bad action in human conduct is not possible without thought and character. Now thought alone moves nothing; only thought which is directed to some end and concerned with action can do so.” This thought and moral character (or lack of it) is found in religion and secular religion, faith, and moral philosophy, ones intentions, courtesy and liberality and character! These are all qualities that describe moral intent and motivation, things indicated by the Lot of Spirit rather than fortune!

The reason the Lot of Fortune was sought first and foremost is because its signification was above all concerned with the physical and material well-being and happiness of the native! If the Part of Fortune was in good condition, the relationship between the native and their physical world was supportive and enabled them to live well. If the Part of Fortune was in poor condition, the native had a harder time living in relationship with the world that supports them. The same can also be said about the relationships of the Part of Fortune and health. The ancients, being pragmatic realists, knew happiness was not just a “state of mind”. The reason both are important is because if one or the other should be inoperative for some reason, e.g. the Lot or its lord(s) falling amiss, then the other would be sought for both indications.

[1] See Appendix 1 – “Quotes and Commentary from the Historical Record”

[2] Born 125 C.E. died ca 175 C.E. A contemporary of Ptolemy he wrote a massive compendium consisting of 12 treatises on Greek Astrology. It is probably the largest Greek astrological text still extant from this period. He offers over 135 astrological charts and delineations that he says he himself made.

[3] This “king” is believed to be Nechepso, the Egyptian pharaoh who presumably wrote an important astrological textbook along with Petosiris between 200 – 400 B.C.E

[4] Section 3 of Book 2 – – “The Anthology” – – by Vettius Valens, translated by Robert Schmidt and published by The Golden Hind Press 1994 (Project Hindsight)

[5] Section 11 of Book 3 – – “The Anthology” – – by Vettius Valens, translated by Robert Schmidt and published by The Golden Hind Press 1994 (Project Hindsight)

[6] There are some lots that are very special exceptions. Those were primarily dealing with mundane astrology, the rise and fall of religions and dynasties and their prophets and kings. Those appear to be of either a Persian or a Babylonian origin and extracted specifically for mundane considerations. Al Bīrūnī considered that some astrologers took extracting Lots too extreme.

[7] Chapter 23 – “Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus” – translated by Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum, M.A. – published by ARHAT

[8] Mathematici de Astronomia Tractus X universum quod judiciariam rationem nativitatum or simply Bonatti on the Arabic Parts as translated by Robert Zoller © 2000 New Library Limited.

[9] Book II, section 20 – The Anthology – by Vettius Valens, translated by Robert Schmidt – Golden Hind Press © 1994

[10] Praxis – ‘what one does’

[11] Prosneuō – This is a criterion for determining whether the Lot of Fortune or the Lot of Spirit should be used for ‘activities’. The astronomical term ‘incline’ means to approach, in other words to apply to [aspectually or by conjunction].

[12] Book IV, section 7 – The Anthology – by Vettius Valens, translated by Robert Schmidt – Golden Hind Press © 1996

[13] What I will refer to as the greater praxis

[14] EN 1139a31-36

[15] What we call individuation today! Excerpt from Robert Hand in his article, “On Matter and Form in Astrology” – 2006

[16] ac•tu•al•ize -ized¿, -izingvt.

1          to make actual or real; realize in action

2          to make realistic

ac¿tu•al•i•za¿tionn.

Webster’s New World Dictionary ©1995 Zane Publishing, Inc.   ©1994, 1991, 1988 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

[17] Book IV, section 4 – The Anthology – by Vettius Valens, translated by Robert Schmidt – Golden Hind Press © 1996

[18] Ibid

[19] Ibid – section 25

[20] Ibid

[21] Book VIII – “The Great Introduction” – by Abu Ma’shār

[22] These are two of the Latinised words used to call the Lot of Spirit.

[23] This is from the 2nd part of Bonatti’s treatment of the Revolutions of the Year of the World in his astrological compendium Liber Astronomiae. The Latin title is Mathematici de Astronomia Tractus X universum quod judiciariam rationem nativitatum or simply Bonatti on the Arabic Parts as translated by Robert Zoller © 2000 New Library Limited. This particular treatise is a paraphrase by Bonatti of Abu Ma’shār’s Book VIII in his “The Great Introduction”.

[24] Book IV, section 4 – The Anthology – by Vettius Valens, translated by Robert Schmidt – Golden Hind Press © 1996

[25] This is within the Greek conception of aspects where the planets did not have aspects but had them because the signs had them!

[26] I.e. serious or deep thoughts and meditations

Mercury:The Hypocritical Planet?

 

Gemini – Horoscope from ‘The book of birth of Iskandar Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

This article is little more than a footnote that concerns an intriguing passage I had the good fortune to read while perusing a publication of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1997) : Following the Stars: Images of the Zodiac in Islamic Art by Stefano Carboni.  The book is out of print, but you can find a digital version @ Google books.

Mercury is known as many, many things, from the Trickster to the Psychopomp, the Magician & the Physician. His very nature is protean and either gender may be applied, depending on the relative position of the Sun. He is also known as Quicksilver and the Patron of Scribes. Mercury is by nature duplicitous.  The glyph for Mercury suggests he is a messenger of the Sun and Moon But the term ‘hypocritical’ has further implications, specifically professing a virtue that not only one does not possess while impugning a lack of the same virtue in others. The term ‘two-faced’ applies and that may be one of Mercury’s greatest possessions.

The word munafiqun (‘hypocrites’, Arabic: منافقون‎, singular munāfiq) was a group decried in the Quran as those who professed to be Muslims but were secretly holding antipathy to the Islamic cause and sought to defeat the Muslim community.  For example, sura ‘Al-Munafiqun’, Quran 4:61, Quran 9:67, Quran 8:49, Quran 4:140, Quran 9:64, Quran 4:145.  Hypocrisy itself is called nifāq (Arabic: نفاق‎).

The Islamic context exceeds the negative connotations of the English word hypocrite. The Munafiq is considered worse than an unbeliever, with the tribal connotations of a traitor.

Ancient Persian gold cup featuring two faces gazing in opposite directions, with entwined serpents. 4th century B.C.E.

When he is represented as one of the seven planets and luminaries, the traditional iconography is maintained. However,  when the same planet is read in actual astrology, “he “hypocritical” association is operative.  Carboni explains that Mercury was considered a munafiq because it “did not have positive or negative influences (in conjunction with a lucky planet, he brought good fortune, and with an unlucky one,  ill fortune.) His neutral and ultimately weak nature was reflected in his image as conveyed by the representatives of the two Zodiac signs he presides over, Gemini and Virgo… that Mercury not only did not maintain his attributes of the pen and scroll but also was superseded by the more powerful image of the Head and Tail of the Dragon.” (p.13)

.This particular twist would seem to be in accordance with the Sassanian schema I discussed in the previous article.  The horoscope of the World is based on Exaltations, rather than the Domicile basis of the Greek Thema Mundi. It is probably the case that the Sassanian model sought one that placed the Sun not only in Dirunal charts but one that places the Sun in his Exaltation in Aries the Tenth House The Exaltation of the Head of the Dragon is Gemini.

Bichitr, A Scribe, ca. 1625.

 We know the Persian influence on Arabian astrology was enormous and we also have the Persian Al Biruni’s view, albeit indirectly expressed.  In this regard, we can look to the talismanic assignments given by Biruni who places a Serpent in the right hand of Mercury. Carboni touches on this briefly in the same article.

>This ought to show that although a great deal of imagery and meaning is shared from one culture to another, that in some cases the meaning can seem virtually alien. This should always be borne in mind when taking concepts from foreign cultures, even when they seem to have a great deal in common. On the other hand, the cognitive jolt one might experience from such interactions can force one to see connections that would otherwise have been missed.

.”

Discernment & the Art of Divination

 

SONY DSC

Saint John and the Poisoned Cup by Alonzo Cano Spain.

There is a legend that St. John was one given a poisoned cup of wine. He discerned the presence of the poison, blessed the cup and the poisonwas drawn out of the wine in the form of a snake. John then drank the cup unharmed. Discernment and the skill to act on it is key to all wisdom and of very great importance in divination.

At the Carter Memorial Lecture, given at the Astrological Association Conference and the Astrological Lodge of London, September 2009, John Frawley made the following comments.

“The idea that seeks perfection in the past – there was once perfection and we’ve fallen away since – is no more than the mirror image of the idea that there will be perfection in the future, if only we can piece together enough new stuff: discover enough new planets, for example. The story of the Tower of Babel should persuade us against this idea of a man-made perfection in the future. But when we see those who seek for authority in the past beating each other on the head with their weighty volumes, we see that reaching into the past brings us just as certainly to Babel.”

The address is concluded with the words “Truth is not back there somewhere, nor over there somewhere, but only, always, and ever, up there.” He evokes the painting of St. John the Baptist by Leonardo de Vinci, with his right hand held up to heaven as emblematic of the traditional astrologer.

Undoubtedly this “beating each other on the head” is one of the greatest and most recent curses in astrological circles and there is really no reason why we should assume that the older something is, the better it must be. Antiquities do of course have a great deal of value in and of themselves. They show us where we come from and where we might be going. But antiquity is not the guarantor of truth. We don’t believe that the newest ideas are inherently better, either.

The truth of the matter is that the longer we practise and study astrology and study the greatest sources, the better our chances are of using astrology as a divinatory method. One has to be careful about the sources we employ. The truth is that we would be very fortunate indeed to find a mere 20% of astrological theory to be of any useful purpose at all.

To put things in the simplest possible terms, modern astrologers subscribe to the theory that more is always better. Every new asteroid discovered might be just the thing to fill the void. If a handful of asteroids helps us, then surely scores of them will finally paint the full picture and we will finally realize why we are the way we are, And how can there be any question that three Liliths are better than one?

The great divorce between Traditional and Modern was perhaps most greatly felt in the addition of Uranus. Neptune and Pluto. It was more of a loss than an extension because it meant that the meaning of the traditional planets would be trivialized and mostly lost altogether. Indeed, for many contemporary astrologers, the outer planets are seen as the most significant and the significance of these was taken directly from the original seven sacred planets and luminaries.

Those who subscribe to Traditional or Classical Astrology face a rather different kind of dilemma: One soon finds out that Traditional Astrologers throughout history didn’t agree with each other. Of course, many of the differences are slight. But when we study horoscopic astrology from the Hellenistic period to the Seventeenth Century, we find that in some cases the differences are irreconcilable. They may negate one another altogether.

The process is an art. To be an excellent astrologer. one needs to read and understand to the best of one’s abilities the essence of what out forbearers wanted to pass on. We find that there are certain elements of the art that remain more of less constant – such as the association of Planets to Signs and the projection of mostly agreed upon specific archetypal constellations – although not necessarily universally understood. William Lilly very much admired Guidi Bonatti, but he didn’t follow him in every respect.

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An image from the mysterious Voynich ms contains several recognizable elements and some that have yet to be deciphered.

Further, sometimes famous astrologers break their own rules. Rather than accept these facts, there are some, like the one’s Frawley mentions, who find the oldest and most arcane sources to beat their fellow astrologers over the head with. This is a form of snobbery that does little or nothing to further our art.

More puzzling are those traditional astrologers who have returned to using the outer planets in specialized forms of astrology, such as horary and the astrology of horse racing. Ironically these are mostly the followers of John Frawley, whose The Real Astrology seemed for a time to define Traditional Astrology as understood in the school of William Lilly.

The composer Gustav Mahler, is alleged to have said that “Tradition is not to preserve the ashes but to pass on the flame”

The fact is that neither uniformity or an insatiable appetite for the exotic for its own sake has ever been the cause of greatness, at any time in the history of the world. The one is born of fear and a lack of imagination and the second a sign of undisciplined self-indulgence.

This shouldn’t be the cause of undue anxiety or doubt in the process. We would neither expect nor desire that all painters throughout history used the same techniques or resorted to the same subject matter. No art worth seriously considered stands still. However, all great art is mindful of its place among the wider body of art.

To take tradition to a place of inspiration, we need to look closely at the idea of divination.

The Oxford English Dictionary defined divination as “The practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means.” The core term is “divine” or “divining.”

The concept of the unknown is something scientists can easily embrace, but the term “supernatural” is associated with a lack of rationality and superstition and is therefore highly problematic to them. It infers a higher level of consciousness when applied to the idea of divination.

Albert Einstein’s familiar quote that “”No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” is germane to this discussion. The question becomes: how may we reveal something hitherto unknown to us by discerning its divine essence.

My favourite Gospel is that of John the Divine. It provides a succinct, and the immeasurably deep way in which the divine is manifest or “takes flesh” John was probably a Hellenized Jew, which means he would be have been intimate with the works of Plato and the concept of the creative word or Logos. It is regarded by many as the most mystical Gospel. Some have said it is itself Neo-Platonic in expression.

The already introduced painting at the head of this article depicts John the Divine luring a serpent from a chalice. This is in part an allusion to an event at the Marriage at Cana The serpent rising out of the chalice is a symbol of poison in this case and the blessing draws it out making the wine or water pure. The Logos is understood as a heightened sense of Wisdom. It is the essence and origin of the light. Like all mystical writers. as well as more prosaic ones. John uses metaphors to convey his ideas with great efficacy.

” 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

Marin V. Vincent does an admirable job of explaining the meaning of ‘Logos’ in the Prologue of John’s Gospel: “Λόγος is from the root λεγ, appearing in λεγω, the primitive meaning of which is to lay: then, to pick out, gather, pick up: hence to gather or put words together, and so, to speak. Hence λόγος is, first of all, a collecting or collection both of things in the mind, and of words by which they are expressed. It, therefore, signifies both the outward form by which the inward thought is expressed and the inward thought itself, the Latin oratio and ratio: compare the Italian ragionare, “to think” and “to speak.” The Meaning of ‘Logos’ in the Prologue of John’s Gospel Marvin R. Vincent, vol. 2 (New York1887), p. 25

The metaphor is developed by reference to Moses .In John 3:13-15 we find ” 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The earlier Italian painting by Piero di Cosimo (Piero_di_Lorenzo) in 1500 is more stylized and the artist has portrayed John as a Renaissance Magus. The majority of his opus is decidedly Neo-Platonic The developed metaphor of the blessing of the serpent suggests a transformation by Divine blessing that brings forth wisdom out of venom.

Pieri di Cosimo he had a reputation for being highly eccentric and is perhaps best known for his “Portrait de Femme dit de Simonetta Vespucci” which features a benign looking serpent entwined in the necklace. of a young lady, apparently a great beauty of Florence who also inspired Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.” Here the artist appears to be taking the theme and altering the significance.  This is more like the Renaissance Neoplatonic doctrine of beauty drawing the soul to the divine, in which case the serpent is rendered harmless. I don’t find this as effective an allegory, but it does strive to expand the relevance.

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Piero di Cosimo Portrait de femme dit de Simonetta Vespucci

If we apply this metaphor to divination, we already know that everything and every person comes to us from a divine source and the chart we use is like a mirror of the soul. It has the stamp of its origin, the Image of God. Interpretation comes as a heightened sense of consciousness or divine intuition. The master astrologers of the past usually prayed before reading a chart. There are many ways to do this and each must find their own way of opening the gate.

When we have drawn up a Nativity for example, we have the seed, or the particular vintage if you will, that can be read because it is Form.. in the Platonic sense – or the Logos in the more specific and mystical Hellenistic sense.

Once we know what we have to do, choosing a system that will best serve us is made much easier’ All the elements of our astrological palette may be selected, just as one chooses the right brush, the wisdom of our ancestors and our own experience come together. There is no place for rote learning and certainly not for snobbery. Ours is a divine art.

I leave the Apostle James with the final words.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James. 1.17

The Lots of the Luminaries – Part 2

Some Thoughts on Spirit and Fortune: What’s the Difference?

Most sources tell how these Lots are calculated. Some explain further, how, for example, the Lot of Fortune was a potential candidate to be the hyleg in length of life calculations. There are a few sources where we can actually learn about how these two important Lots were delineated.

Vettius Valens[2] is one of the few that takes great pains to describe these Lots. He quotes from an earlier text when discussing the Lot of Fortune,

For him who wishes to ascertain the matter of happiness more exactly, I will return to the Lot of Fortune, which is the most necessary and sovereign place, as the king[3] mysteriously explained beginning in the 12th book saying,

“. . . for those who are born in the day, it will next be necessary to count distinctly from the Sun to the Moon and back from the Hōroskopos to prescribe an equality, and for the resulting place to see whatever star it meets with [conjoins], and what or which are in relation to it [i.e. aspects it] – – the squares or triangles, all in all, as it was placed among the stars. For from this consciousness of places you can make a clear judgement beforehand of the circumstances of those who are brought forth.”

Petosiris also explained the matter similarly in the Boundaries’, though others have treated it differently, which we will also set out in the appropriate place along with other guidance for clarifying the argument concerning happiness. But for now we must discuss the method in question.[4]

For in the 13th book, after the prooemium and the disposition of the zōidia, the king attacks the Lot of Fortune from the Sun, the Moon, and the Hōroskopos, which he mostly works with and makes mention of throughout the whole book, and which he judges to be a supreme place. Concerning the Lot of Fortune, he has indeed presented the inversion and reversal as a riddle.[5]

It would appear from Valens comment, “which he mostly works with”, that this earlier sage worked primarily from the Lot of Fortune indicating something of its former importance. Very inaccurately, many today call these the Arabic Parts. They are not Arabic and in fact, pretty much all of the lots the Arabic Era astrologers used were from a much earlier period.[6] But especially the Lot of Fortune is very old in origin.

There are other sources such as Paulus Alexandrinus who wrote:

And fortune signifies everything that concerns the body, and what one does through the course of life. It becomes indicative of possessions, reputation and privilege.

Spirit happens to be lord of soul, temper, sense and every capability, and there are times when it cooperates in the reckoning about what one does.[7]

When we come to the Arabic Era, Abu Ma’shār writes extensively on the Lots in the 8th treatise of his “Greater Introduction”,

This lot [Fortune] is called the lot of well-being [happiness], and it signifies those same things that are signified by the luminaries. But the peculiar qualities that it signifies are those things that concerns the soul (nafs): its fortune and its vigour and what concerns the life and the body and wealth and the poverty, gold and silver, those things which are easy and those difficult, praise and reputation, on recognition and the authority which one is born to, the support, the reign, the power, the elevation and all things which are desirable. It signifies moreover that which is present and that which is absent; that which is manifest and that which is hidden . . . This lot is first above the other lots in the same way that the Sun prevails in splendor on all stars and it is the highest and noblest of the lots.

Bonatti, later in the 14th century, paraphrases Abu Ma’shār’s earlier work and writes in his “Liber Astronomiae”,

The extraction of the pars fortunae is extracted from the luminaries, which, as the ancients said, are of equal strength for good . . . And this part is preferred above all the other parts in the same way as the luminaries are preferred above all the other stars. Similarly, the Sun is more splendid than all the other stars and called the diurnal luminary because day occurs by his rising and is removed and made night by his setting. The Sun signifies the natural life and the other things, which have been discussed in the chapter on his signification, and the Moon is the luminary of the night and the benefic significatrix of bodies and of all things, just as was said elsewhere in her chapter . . .. This part signifies the life, the body, and also its souls, its strength, fortune, substance and profit, that is: wealth and poverty, gold and silver, heaviness or lightness of things bought in the marketplace, praise and good reputation, and honours and recognition, good and evil, present and future, hidden and manifest, and it has signification over everything.[8]

In order to clearly distinguish the differences and similarities between Fortune and Spirit, I would like to start by examining two quotes from Vettius Valens’ “Anthology”.

Whence the Lot of Fortune and the Spirit will have much power over the imposing and turning back of actions. For, the one [Fortune] shows matters concerning the body and handicrafts, the Spirit and its ruler, matters concerning the soul and the intellect, and actions through discourse and through giving and receiving. It will be necessary, then, to consider in what kind of zōidia [sign] the places [topical houses] and their rulers are, and to combine the natures of these zōidia for the determination of action and fortune, and for the kind of action.[9]

Actions,[10] then, are always taken especially from [the lot of] Spirit and its ruler. For there are some who have bodily actions such as working with their hands and bodily afflictions as a result of bearing burdens or exercise, and others [who have actions] from speech and knowledge and actualisations of the soul. Wherever more stars should incline,[11] whether to the lot [of Fortune] or to [the lot of] Spirit, [from] thence will be indicated the matter of action. It is necessary, then, to compare the actions and the general support, whether the nativity is notable or mediocre, or else happy or poor, or in dispute or irregular, so that the effects in the distributions should also become clear ahead of time.[12]

In the first citation, Valens tells us that both Fortune and Spirit are essential to, or have much power over, a person’s actions or “what they do” [the greater praxis]. He tells us that there are two essential distinctions:

  1. Fortune and its ruler signify matters concerning the body, bodily actions and “handicrafts” and the “qualities of the soul”. He further elucidates what he means in the second citation by emphasizing, “…such as working with their hands and bodily afflictions as a result of bearing burdens or exercise”. There is the direct connection between a person’s physical well-being and skills producing actions that are either fortunate or unfortunate.
  2. Spirit and its ruler signify matters concerning intellect and ‘actualisations’ of the soul (will). In the second citation, he further explains that Spirit produces actions originating in the intellect, speech, knowledge, and what he calls “actualisations of the soul”, what we call ‘the will’.

In order to clearly understand what is meant, since both the significance of Fortune and Spirit directly imposes or hinders actions, then, we perhaps need to examine a little closer what ideas the Greek word for action, praxis, is conveying. Praxis is an awkward word. Grabbing hold of it is difficult because it sounds so much like ‘practice’ and ‘practical’. All these words are of course related. In its most general sense, it did mean the actual experience of doing particular activities, which is the sense of the word used in the English translation.

Valens, like the Stoics, Aristotle and Epicurus, accepted the principle laid down by Plato that all action is goal-directed, having a purpose or serving a purpose, and is undertaken in order to get something worth having for the agent or to avoid something it would be better not to have.

In its greater sense, praxis meant the process of doing things or of putting into effect and it included almost any activity which stood open to a free man of that time and it excluded from this wide frame only the manual labour connected with the work of the slave and to a certain degree, of course, also the theoretical activities of thinking, reflecting, and “gazing” or theoria.

Seen more precisely though, a further distinction between actions[13] was made by Aristotle in his Nicomacean Ethics, which has enormous bearing on our topic. In it, he makes a distinction which he calls praxis and poiesis. Poiesis represented a productive making, which means the artistic production and manufacture of goods and/or works, and the efficient management of concrete tasks. It was characterized by a type of technical (techno) knowledge, skill or ability (a.k.a. qualities of the soul). Praxis, on the other hand, referred to responsible, self-determined, ideal-guided action (doing), as is manifested for example in political or religious life. In this kind of action, praxis has qualities not necessarily found in poiesis.

Poietic actions always aim at a result, a product—the manufactured object—and its meaning and value are determined only to the doer by the outcome.

 Praxis actions, on the other hand, always carry their meaning and value in the act. They fulfill their purpose only when “something good and just” is done, something that is greater than the merit to the individual acting. The greater purpose is independent of whether or not the action actually also succeeds in reaching what was wanted through the doing.

For example, building a bridge represents poietic action whose value is determined only by its result: the built bridge over which one can cross a ravine. On the other hand, a gift donated to the needy out of compassionate, brotherly love is good, even if for some reason it never reaches those for whom it was intended.

Let’s try and put these distinctions in terms that are more current. The recording studio technicians’ actions are to make a recording that is in itself both worthy to sell and is a reflection of his personal aptitude and technical skills. This is poietic action. On the other hand is the musician who is creating the music, the actualisations of the qualities of his soul, intellect and communicative processes. The music carries its worth in its making and it is directed for the “good” and “pleasure” of others! This is praxis action.

In these distinctions, we also find the essential differences between the significations of the Lot of Fortune (poiesis) and the Lot of Spirit (praxis) and the actions (the greater praxis) imposed or hindered by them.

Valens appears to simply reiterate Aristotle’s distinctions in the second citation when he says, “Actions, then, are always taken especially from [the lot of] Spirit and its ruler”. This is as Aristotle distinguishes in Nicomacean Ethics;

Choice is the starting point of action: it is the source of motion but not the end for the sake of which we act [praxis] . . . The starting point of choice, however, is desire and reasoning directed toward some end. That is why there cannot be choice either without intelligence and thought or without some moral characteristic [hexis]; for good and bad action in human conduct is not possible without thought and character. Now thought alone moves nothing; only thought which is directed to some end and concerned with action can do so.[14]

In both types of action, choice is the starting point. But the inherent difference is that praxis includes such motivational distinctions as character, human conduct, social awareness and that the end of the action is for some good greater than the individual. With poiesis, choice and the motivation for choice do not require any particular conviction, moral or otherwise – only necessity and desire. Praxis on the other hand requires these other convictions to set it in motion. Following Aristotle, Valens saw this type action as the most important action!

The Greek philosophy proposed an interaction/transformation of “matter” to “form”.[15] The Sun was attributed to “sameness” [nous] and the Moon was “otherness”.  The Sun was archetypically seen as the perfect thought of Divine Intelligence while the moon was seen as the form that thought took which was something “other” than pure thought.  Quite simply, the Sun represented “spirit” and the Moon “physical manifestation”.  The cyclic change of seasons was considered one of the best examples of this.

The extraction of these Lots is from these individual parts, i.e. the Sun, the Moon and the Ascendant. The Sun was the author of life, the natural vitality or natural life, actualisations of the soul, eminence, reputation and honours. The Moon was more than just physical life, it was the soul incarnated in a physical body; the author of generation and corruption of all bodies (material form), and the Ascendant is the native’s physical body and qualities of the soul. When we consider then either the Lot of Fortune or Spirit, we are considering the native’s life and its well-being, his actions and how the qualities of the soul ultimately translated into such things as a native’s wealth and reputation and what one is endowed with in order to obtain those things.

The Part of Fortune is the Lot of the Moon and closely associated with the Moon and the physical manifestations. It was regarded as just what made a person not only happy but successful or unsuccessful, eminent or unknown, and was an indication of physical illnesses.

The Part of Spirit was associated to the Sun and therefore more interested in the “why” we do things, the action of doing, the moral convictions (or lack of them), will, character and the intellectual state as well as the related illnesses.

The Lot of Fortune then, originating in the Divine Will and executed through relational proportions of the planets, is a passive process setting parameters wherein the “source of motion” [choice] is influenced in regards to the physical and material actions of the native and what they can and cannot produce. It either “imposes or turns back” the realm of purely material actions. It will give significations for health, wealth, profession, eminence, reputation and all material things that profit the native physically and materially.

In like manner, the Lot of Spirit sets parameters influencing actions. These actions are vitally different carrying their significations and values in the act and fulfill their purpose only when something is done that is greater than the merit to the individual acting. Like the Lot of Fortune, Spirit will also give significations relevant to health, wealth, profession etc. –But with this difference; it will be useful in determining motivation distinctions such as character, human conduct, and social awareness telling us something of the actualisations[16] of the qualities of the natives’ soul, intellect and discourse!

 

[2] Born 125 C.E. died ca 175 C.E. A contemporary of Ptolemy he wrote a massive compendium consisting of 12 treatises on Greek Astrology. It is probably the largest Greek astrological text still extant from this period. He offers over 135 astrological charts and delineations that he says he himself made.

[3] This “king” is believed to be Nechepso, the Egyptian pharaoh who presumably wrote an important astrological textbook along with Petosiris between 200 – 400 B.C.E

[4] Section 3 of Book 2 – – “The Anthology” – – by Vettius Valens, translated by Robert Schmidt and published by The Golden Hind Press 1994 (Project Hindsight)

[5] Section 11 of Book 3 – – “The Anthology” – – by Vettius Valens, translated by Robert Schmidt and published by The Golden Hind Press 1994 (Project Hindsight)

[6] There are some lots that are very special exceptions. Those were primarily dealing with mundane astrology, the rise and fall of religions and dynasties and their prophets and kings. Those appear to be of either a Persian or a Babylonian origin and extracted specifically for mundane considerations. Al Bīrūnī considered that some astrologers took extracting Lots too extreme.

[7] Chapter 23 – “Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus” – translated by Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum, M.A. – published by ARHAT

[8] Mathematici de Astronomia Tractus X universum quod judiciariam rationem nativitatum or simply Bonatti on the Arabic Parts as translated by Robert Zoller © 2000 New Library Limited.

[9] Book II, section 20 – The Anthology – by Vettius Valens, translated by Robert Schmidt – Golden Hind Press © 1994

[10] Praxis – ‘what one does’

[11] This is a criterion for determining whether the Lot of Fortune or the Lot of Spirit should be used for ‘activities’. The astronomical term ‘incline’ means to approach, in other words to apply to [aspectually or by conjunction].

[12] Book IV, section 7 – The Anthology – by Vettius Valens, translated by Robert Schmidt – Golden Hind Press © 1996

[13] What I will refer to as the greater praxis

[14] EN 1139a31-36

[15] What we call individuation today!

[16] ac•tu•al•ize -ized¿, -izingvt.

1          to make actual or real; realize in action

2          to make realistic

ac¿tu•al•i•za¿tionn.

Webster’s New World Dictionary ©1995 Zane Publishing, Inc.   ©1994, 1991, 1988 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Lots of the Luminaries – Part 1

The Astrological Signification of the Lots

Now you are probably wondering, “What does astrological influence have to do with this study of the Hermetic Lots?” The answer is simply, everything!

Understanding the signification, application and delineation of these Lots begins with understanding them in the context in which they were conceived. Otherwise, they become totally useless and irrelevant and why reformist astrologers virtually abandoned their use altogether with the exception of one, the Part of Fortune, and that one with doubts!

The problems we’re faced with are difficult. As with the planets, the ancients never directly address the issues of just what the purely essential natures of the Lots are. With the planets, we have practical lists of their significations (as in Al Bīrūnī, Ibn Ezra, and William Lilly) or just a purely materialist physical description of their elemental natures such as in Ptolemy.

We are faced with much the same problem with the Lots. We are told of their existence, how to extract them, when and where to extract them, and for what purpose they are extracted. Only superficially, in practical demonstration, are we given any indication of where they get their essential natures, what those natures are and how and why they have a signification for a native through the natal constellation. This is why it is important to understand the nature of astrological influences and the philosophy attached to their conception.

We must look to the context of the philosophy in which the Hermetic Lots were conceived. This was the philosophy of the Platonists, and Hermeticists. As I briefly explained, this philosophy asserts that influence is NOT exclusively natural physical laws but rather that the natural physical laws are evidence of the power and influence originating on the level of the Divine Intelligence and Will, in the supercelestials (the Empyrean), and is given its form in the material world conforming to the active Will of the Creator.

The conceptual influence of the Lots is not the result of natural materialistic laws. The power of the Lots originates on the level of Divine Intelligence and Will. In this case, however, their substance receives its form as mathematical proportions of the differing active essential natures of the planets involved in their extraction.

To get to the heart of this matter I would like to look to the fourth century Byzantine astrologer, Firmicus Maternus.

 [12] Now that we have carefully explained the course of the Moon, let us turn to the discussion we promised in this work, namely, the explanation of Fortune. We cannot explain the essence of Fate unless that place is investigated carefully. We must consider the Part of Fortune with as much care as all the other points in the chart; I shall point out easily how it is discovered. When you find it, observe the combinations and aspects of all the planets and then you will be able to understand the uses of the Part of Fortune.[1]

With these words, Firmicus introduces the reader to the importance of the Lot of Fortune. There are a couple of essentials in his opening words. First, he tells the reader that you cannot explain the essence of Fate unless the Lot of Fortune is examined carefully. What is the essence of Fate? At the beginning of Project Hindsight’s’ efforts at recovering the astrological record of the Hellenistic Era, Robert Schmidt wrote an article that dealt with this concept of the essence of fate in Greek philosophy. It is worth quoting here.

 Fate, what the Greeks called Moira, is perhaps best understood in this context as a cosmic principle of binding apportionment, at work both in the heavens and on Earth. It does not make a man a man, or a planet a planet, or in any way constitute the essences of things; thus, it is not a metaphysical principle in the sense that it concerns being as being. Instead, it takes as its province what is generally regarded as contingent or accidental — matters that were excluded from serious philosophical consideration by the Athenian philosophers themselves as being ultimately unintelligible. It is Moira that makes a man such and such: dark-haired rather than light-haired, wealthy rather than poor, healthy rather than ill, and so on. Moira is a principle of apportionment in that it counts out, divides, or distributes. From all the possible events that can befall human beings, Moira selects and distributes to each individual his or her “due portion.” It is also Moira that measures out the span of the individual human life and arranges that the appropriate events happen in “due time.” At the same time, Moira is a principle of recombination and synthesis. It binds together the various allotments in the different areas of the individual’s life into a whole. From this point of view, a human life is a “package deal.” Ultimately, the triumphs in one’s life only make sense when we consider the tragedies, the peaks when we consider the valleys. The various events in a given human life can be truly bound into a whole only if they are binding on a given individual — that is, if Moira attaches to him or her, a destiny. Thus, from this point of view, the ultimate meaning of an individual human life is inextricably bound up with the fate concept.

 Relative to human beings, the planets are the instruments of Moira… However, the stars and planets are themselves no less subject to Moira than human beings. For instance, it is Moira that divides the ecliptic circle into twelve signs and apportions to each its own unique astrological role in the cosmic soul, which constitutes its own destiny. Without the operation of Moira, the zodiac is simply a continuous band of space without any obvious beginning or end, lacking any astrological meaning. But it is also Moira that recombines the signs of the zodiac into a system, so that they may be related to each other according to the triplicities, quadruplicities, etc.[2]

The Greek word for ‘lot’ is klēros (plural klēroi). This word means ‘lot’ in the sense of an allotment or apportionment. It is essentially synonymous with moira which also means ‘lot’ and ‘fate’. If we want to understand the essence of fate, or “binding apportionment”, the essence of Divine Will that apportions the accidents and circumstances that make an individual’s life unique, then we must understand the significance of the Lots in the nativity. As Robert Schmidt explains, “It binds together the various allotments in the different areas of the individual’s life into a whole.”

With this thought in mind, let us consider one of the oldest extant Astrological texts we have,

 Thy mind well purg’d from vainer cares compose, for now my Muse is eager to disclose, the nicest secrets; which observ’d, impart Fates laws, and prove the surest guides to Art…

 …Our studies, poverty, wealth, joy and grief, with all the other accidents of life she parcels out; to proper stars confines the Lots [apportionments], in equal number to the signs. These graced with proper names and place contain the various fortunes incident to man…

 … when the birth’s first minute hath decreed the first Lot’s station, then the rest succeed in following signs; each fortune takes its seat in proper order, till the round’s complete…

 … These Lots which thus decreed to signs contain the various fortunes incident to man; As planets join with a malignant ray, or <like> kind; or as the rolling skies convey to different Hinges,[3] so the Fortune spreads, and well or ill the whole design succeeds…

 … Fortune’s the first: This name our art bestows and what it signifies the title shows. Where house is found for all that may conduce to house, either for ornament or use. What train of servants, what extent of field shall aid the birth or give him room to build: When large foundations may to houses, roof’d if friendly planets aid…[4]

With verse, Marcus Manilius introduces the reader to the Lot of Fortune, the chart it produces and the fortunes that are bound together as the result of its significance, “the Fortune spreads, and well or ill the whole design succeeds.”  The Lot of Fortune, the sign it was allotted, and the planet that ruled it was what bound all of the subsequent fortunes (Fortuna houses) to the native and the nativity.

 And since my venturous Muse hath bound in rhyme, the various labors of the round of time,…Which to the twelve Lots conveniently assign’d determine all the Fortune of mankind… But lest you should imperfect schemes complete, now justly suit each labor to its seat; first find the place by Fortune’s Lot possessed, (Fortune the first, and leader of the rest) that done, to following signs in order join the Lots, and give each labor to its sign:[5]

It appears to me that these lots, Fortune and Spirit, work in ways that guide and direct the apportionment of circumstances concerning actions; sometimes seemingly appointing what the nativity seems incapable of producing.

The binding of an individual’s destiny[6] is through the Lots and they signify the actions imposed or hindered of each person and the execution is performed through the planets in the signs and houses! In other words, without the essential signification of these lots, an individual life has no cohesive meaning; it is just a random and inconsequential series of events. And the two Lots most strongly signifying this “binding apportionment” are the Lots of Fortune and Spirit! This is why, secondly, Firmicus tells the reader, “We must consider the Part of Fortune with as much care as all the other points in the chart.” The words that are important are, “with as much care”!

[1] Book IV, chapter XVI – “Matheseos Libri VIII”  – By Firmicus Maternus – translated by Jean Rhys Bram and published by Astrology Classics

[2] “The Facets of Fate: The Rationale Underlying the Hellenistic System of Houses”by Robert Schmidt

[3] I.e., to different angles or pivots

[4] Book III, Chapters 1-3 – Astronomica – by Marcus Manilius (c. 10 – 20 AD)  and translated by Thomas Creech 1697 AD

[5] Ibid

[6] Destiny in this sense is the total of the circumstances and events that are unique to each individual. The topics of “Destiny” are common to all men, that of the 12 houses, but they are unique in experience to each individual; what the medieval authors called “accidents”.

War in Heaven

Hieronymus_Bosch_073War in Heaven
Hyeronymus Bosch

 

The recent thoughts of Pablo Ianiszewski F.  in ISCA has motivated me to write, after a long period of silence while busy writing my last book.

I have raised a few points which, if they are not true,  certainly they are worth to be discussed.

In my ancient studies of astrology I tended to see the planets as the primary causation of the facts . Malefic planets caused harm, the benefics, benefits.

But after years, I have approached a non-causal, a more synchronic view of the events. The understanding of this synchronicity, if it can be sought in the celestial configuration, will not occur because the planets cause harm or blessings on earth.

I would like to point out that I agree with my colleague Pablo Ianiszewsky. An excess of  heat or cold is not conducive to the development of life. This is not under discussion.

Probably the fact that some planets are more distant from the Sun, the creator of life, led the astrologers to divide them in their basic characteristics. The more distant from the Sun  the  more malefics would the planets turn out.  Jupiter is an exception, probably because it has an affinity with Sagittarius which  makes a trigon with the Sun, the diurnal luminar, and with Pisces which makes a sextile with the Moon, the nocturnal light. The mix of aspects with luminaries, added to the distance of the Sun, must have influenced the ancients in their classifications in hot, cold, wet and dry.

This ground raises many questions that I do not want to discuss here, but one thing perhaps may be quite interesting to have in mind i.e. that  such classification depends on the human view of the elements, and it changes culturally, as we can see in the Eastern philosophy in which the element wood or metal also have room.

What I really would like to bring about in these few lines is that the intrinsic planetary essence goes far beyond the earth and that we know nothing about the planets, which are beings, each of them having their own inscrutable cosmic purpose and having to seek it far beyond the pettiness of our little world.

My view is that, we, as human inhabitants of this part of the universe, the earth, embedded in one of the hundreds of galaxies, depending essentially of the Sun, the principle of all life, tend to classify the visible planets according to the effect they cause to us.

I remember that Alchabitius saw Saturn esoterically as the first planet to which all the others follow. He says that Saturn is the first to operate on conception after the shedding of semen in the womb, contracting and unifying the matter with which the being is formed. Also in the Poimandres, it is said that the soul descends through the celestial spheres. Rudolf Steiner followed more or less this tone, when he explained that the soul comes from the universe and creates the skeleton through Saturn, until arriving at Venus that beautifies the flesh and finally reaches the Moon, rounding of the forms, shortly before the birth.

Much is supposed, but nothing is known for certain about planets and their intrinsic nature.

I have more and more the impression that the planets are not concerned with events on earth, but with their own interplanetary relationships.

I have raised the hypothesis that the chaotic or harmonic events that we experience have to do with the way the planets treat each other.

Evil derives from the evil way that one planet deals with  the other in a specific structure and this is reflected in efects  on earth, in a specular way, as it happens in the entire universe.

For example, if Mars attacks Jupiter, without mutual reception and especially being in a higher position, that is, considering as the majority of astrologers, that the planet in higher position is the one in the right, events will happen according to the nature of both, but the massacre will be especially bloody for everything that represents justice.

If things go the other way, and Jupiter is in a position above Mars, the result would be the victory over criminals, smashed by justice.

By this I mean that a square, just to name a kind of aspect, has a different meaning if one planet has a superior position in relation to the other. This explains the fact that there are squares that come to good and others that come to evil.

Even the trigons, an aspect of friendship, in a case where a malefic is one making the aspect, can have a paltry result if the malefic is in a superior position.

It is as if one o the planets falls from the high smashing the one beneath him.

I will quote one fresh example, a fact that happened today in my country, when our president, visibly suspected of criminality, was released by the court to follow his mandate, instead of suffering an impeachment.

Let me explain: Jupiter in Libra occupied the the 7th house, Libra, when the Sun entered in Cancer. Saturn, the ruler of the MC,  was cadent and retrograde,  occupying the 9th house.

Jupiter was then in a superior position, so we could imagine that ethics should prevail and this is a possiblle way to understand retrogradation: Saturn was walking towards Jupiter. This movement between planets in strong reception is always surprising, because turns out the lower planet pretty active  in his movement towards the other. Faced with the deep relationship between the two, one planet in the sign of the other, Jupiter ruling Sagittarius and Saturn ruling Libra for exaltation, I predicted in the  beginning of the third quarter of the year that the president would obtain support.

In fact, Saturn, ruler of Midheaven, constrained the law( Jupiter), which weighed against him, and favored Jupiter with  facilities, in the generous Sagittarius way, with which Jupiter has so much affinity.

Had the position of the planets been changed by signs the result would be different.

Brazilien people got a bit disapointed, that is fact. But the result  essentially is neither bad nor good from an universal point of view.

In this way, duality, in my humble opinion, is only one facet of ONE and same thing: that “thing” that human mind does not reach and that in its smallness calls good or evil.

Clélia Romano, DMA ( writed at August the 3rd of 2017)

 

 

 

A brief commentary on planetary essences

by Pablo Ianiszewski F.

Why do we talk about benefic and malefic planets? Does it not predispose us to conceive existence from a negative point of view? Ancient astrologers had no qualms about recognizing a duality of light and darkness, of life and death, of creative and destructive forces throughout creation. From Zoroaster to Heraclitus, from Viasa to Hermes, the recognition of cosmic dualism is fundamental in all reflections on nature, both in the East and the West. Ignoring this reality does nothing to suppress the polarity that organizes the structure of the universe.

As I have noted elsewhere, traditional astrology has strong philosophical roots. The primal qualities of nature, articulated by Aristotle, are of special relevance to understanding why certain celestial bodies are beneficial and others are not. All beings can be reduced to four essential essences, which account for their intrinsic nature, namely the qualities of hotness, coldness, wetness, and dryness. From the combination of hot and dry comes the fire; from cold and wet, the water rises; from hot and wet comes the air; and from cold with dry the earth rises. It is these four elements that give substance to everything that exists, including the essential nature of the planets. In this context, Saturn is cold and dry; Jupiter is hot and wet; Mars is hot and dry; the Sun is hot and dry; Venus is cold and wet; Mercury is cold and dry; the Moon is cold and wet.

Anyone with a basic knowledge of agriculture, or who has observed for some time the conditions of nature, will know that hot and wet (jungle) is very favorable for life. The cold and wet (coast) is also propitious, but not so much. The hot and dry (desert) often hinders the development of life, while the cold and dry (tundra) is terribly hostile to everything alive. Here is why there are some planets designated as benefic and others malefic. Jupiter is benefic because it is moderately hot and wet. Venus is the lesser benefic because it is moderately cold and wet. Saturn is the great malefic because it is extremely cold and dry. Mars is the lesser malefic because it is extremely hot and dry. The Sun is relatively benefic because it is moderately hot and dry, but can act as malefic when its heat is greatly increased. The Moon is relatively benefic because it is moderately cold and wet, but becomes evil when it is in the waning phase. Finally Mercury changes according to the accidents and conditions with which it is related, being variable in coldness and dryness. It is so in astrology, benefic is the pro-life and evil the opposite of it.

If more than three thousand years of meticulous observation of nature by philosophers, astrologers and alchemists is not convincing enough, then make your own observations to corroborate or rule out the existence of a natural reality beyond the subjective needs of the human ego. Of course, we accept the existence of those who do not want to deal with reality, preferring what makes them feel more secure. We do not want to snatch them from that position. These words are addressed to those who wish to get out of the psychological maze and look beyond the defensive strategies we use to deal with our anxiety before the world. Nature exists and can teach us much, but for this we must lose our fear and accept existence with its lights and shadows. Life is duality. Denying dualism is one of the roots of neurosis; to transcend it is the goal of the spiritual path.