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”.

4 comments on “The Lots of the Luminaries – Part 1

  1. Hi Steven, great intro. At the moment I am deep into trying to figure out the essence of these Lots. I’ve signed you up for the Facebookpage on zodiacal releasing, if you’re interested. Can I post here, or do I need to be a member?

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