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.

Did Abū Ma’shār use whole sign houses or houses using a division?

20196756_321493324964826_121579938_nI was recently reading Chris Brennan’s “12 reasons why whole sign houses is the best system of house division.” It is a very interesting and helpful analysis and in typical Chris Brennan style well documented and thought out. I have been using whole sign houses since the 90’s and would not go back to any other. Like Chris explains, I also note where the Midheaven and Ascendant fall as the Midheaven is valuable but interpretations can be very different when using the whole sign or quadrant division. As an example I would like to refer to Abū Ma’shār.

In “Argument 3” Chris states, “By the time of Abū Ma’shār (c. 850 CE) and after there was a sudden shift to quadrant houses.” I am not sure here if Chris is stating that Abū Ma’shār was using a quadrant house division, but I would like argue, that at least where Abū Ma’shār was concerned, he used whole sign houses.   In Abū Ma’shār’s Book of Religions and Dynasties there are four charts presented.[1] In two of the charts, all the house cusp degrees are mentioned whereas the other 2 only mark the ascendant and Midheaven and are clearly whole sign house charts much as Māshā’āllāh  and his colleagues used. So just from the charts listed in the manuscript it is 50/50 and any of the charts could be the elaboration of later transcribers. The charts, as evidence by themselves, do not necessarily indicate or prove the use whole sign houses. However the written proof is probably the most reliable and for that we can look at one section from his text in chapter 8 of Part 2, the same chapter that we find one of his charts using cusp degrees of a quadrant based system of houses.

“[31] We say that, if Saturn and Mars are in conjunction in the ascendant, this indicates general harm common to the subjects as a whole. If this happens in the second or eighth place, it indicates the corruption of properties, the obscurity of the reputation of the rich, and the appearance of need, poverty, and weakness among the common people. If it happens in the third or ninth place, it indicates the appearance of blight in mosques and houses of worship, and hated occurrences, together with calamities concerning building and worship. If this happens in the fourth and tenth place, it indicates that ruin occurs to building in the cities. If this happens in the fifth or eleventh place, it indicates the death of babies, and a great number of soldiers and arms. If this happens in the sixth or twelfth place, it indicates a great number of gazelles and riding animals and the taking of them, and that sometimes harm occurs to these two kinds of animal. If this happens in the seventh place, it indicates the insurgence of enemies and of harmful people against most of the regions. If this happens in the Midheaven, it indicates the death of the greatest of the kings in the climes, especially the kings of the countries indicated by the sign in which they conjoin.”

The text is Charles Burnett’s translation direct from Arabic manuscripts. I have emphasized certain words because they illustrate an interesting distinction that needs a comment. He says a little earlier in this paragraph; «If this happens in the fourth and tenth place, it indicates that ruin occurs to building in the cities». At the end of the paragraph he says, «… if this happens in the Midheaven it indicates the death of the greatest of the kings…» In all of the preceding delineations he assiduously uses the term “place” which tells me he is using whole signs as houses (by counting) but when talking about the degree of the Midheaven it is clear he is referring to its division. In my humble opinion he is pointing out the fact that the 10th place and the Midheaven are not necessarily the one and same sign! You will find these same distinctions as well in Māshā’āllāh.

We can look at a couple of charts in Māshā’āllāh which are presented much the same way and in his delineations he makes a clear distinction between a “place” which he calls “by counting”[2] to the Midheaven which he calls “by division”[3].

Mashaallah chart 1a

Mashaallah chart 1

Modern rendition by Ben Dykes

The first chart is the Ingress at the Great Conjunction indicating the Great Flood. In the delineation he says,

“No planet except Jupiter can be found for the guardianship of this year because it is the Lord of the ascendant, and the lord of its triplicity is the sun alone and it confers its power upon it, and (it receives power) from Venus because she (Venus) is the lord of the domicile of the moon, and she is in her exaltation, and it (the Moon) is in the sixth place displaced from its position, and Saturn is in the twelfth, retrograde, and Jupiter and Mars in the eleventh, they will be by division  in the tenth,…”

You will notice that Jupiter and Mars are in the 11th whole sign, Libra. And Māshā’āllāh says clearly, “Jupiter and Mars in the eleventh…”  Yet he says as well that “…they will be by division in the tenth.” This was the practice of the time.

In another chart, the chart indicating the rise of Islam and the birth of the Prophet.

Mashaallah chart 2b

Mashaallah chart 2

Modern rendition of the chart by Ben Dykes

“Māshā’āllāh said that when he looked at this picture and the position of its planets, he found the strongest of them and the strongest in witnesses to be Saturn, because it entered the ascendant and it is the lord of its exaltation; and the Moon is lord of the light of the night, conferring its counsel upon it (Saturn) from the tenth by counting and (this is) the ninth by division, the place of prophecy, and Jupiter confers counsel upon it (the moon). Mars is found in Gemini, it being the ninth by counting in the highest (part) of the orb (mințaqa) ascending to its extreme. It accepts the counsel of the sun, Venus, and Mercury, (which is) retrograding. All that: plus the place of the first lot, it being Saturn in Scorpio, and its lord in the place of religion, indicate that there would be born in the second year of this conjunction a prophet in Tihama, the land of the Arabs, and that is because the place of the first lot is in Scorpio, and because of the connection of the moon with Venus. If the ascendant was a sign having two bodies and Saturn was in a sign having two bodies, I would have said that his birth would be in the second conjunction because of the reception of Venus and Mars in their places. The place of the moon in upper midheaven indicates that he will be secure from being killed, and because Venus escaped combustion (he means [its] emergence from the ray), this indicates that he will meet hardships and go into hiding for a while; then he will establish connections and be strengthened, and become well known, and the people of his doctrine will rule. Because the place of the moon is in upper midheaven and Mars is in the house of religion (these) indicate that he will seek religion and its being established by struggle. And because of the connection of the moon with Venus the people of his doctrine will have the nature and manners of Venus.”

Again the astrologer distinguishes between places arrived at by counting the signs, “by counting”, and the place arrived by division! “Moon is lord of the light of the night, conferring its counsel upon it (Saturn) from the tenth by counting and (this is) the ninth by division…” And more than once he re-iterates that the Moon in the ninth by division yet in the tenth by counting “…is in the upper midheaven…”

It is obvious in the charts drawn and explicated that Māshā’āllāh is using whole signs (by counting) with his floating Midheaven (by division)…. just as Abū Ma’shār does. There is no difference. It is not inference of whole sign houses when they use identical language! It is a common tradition! Looking at the tradition and the charts given and explained it is easy to understand there was no problem of house division because the signs determined the houses. It was such a tradition that no one even bothered to take the time to explain in their texts.

In a comment to this original post in my Notes on Facebook, Chris Brennan says, “Benjamin Dykes actually found a passage recently in the Arabic version of Abū Ma’shār’s book on solar returns where he talks about the difference between whole sign houses and quadrant houses quite explicitly. What is interesting is that it looks like this passage was not translated into the Greek and Latin versions of the work, and so it would not have been transmitted to the later Medieval and Renaissance astrologers. Ben and I were talking a bit about how this could have contributed to the loss of whole sign houses in the later tradition.”

It is clear that from the 9th & 10th centuries, the changes were happening with regards to house systems. Ibn Hibintā was a contemporary astrologer with Abū Ma’shār and reproduced Māshā’āllāh’s book on the Great Conjunctions and world history. Within that volume we find Ibn Hibintā’s chart of the true conjunction indicating the rise of the Buwayhids.  That chart as well is without house cusps only listing the ascendant and Midheaven.

As Chris mentions it is very hard to pinpoint where and when house cusps began being an issue. It would appear that especially the Persian line was clearly persuaded of the Hellenistic tradition of whole sign houses. However as astrology spread among the Arabs, it seems house division became more and more an issue.

I would tend to argue that from the 9th century and the change of caliphate in Islam, astrology came under very hard attack from Islam. In my own opinion the astrologers tried more and more to align astrology and its practice with “science”. Its existence as a conceptual language came under hard attack on its spiritual principles and therefore compromise and accommodation began. This accommodation has been continuing since and especially during the 15th century Europe to reconcile it with another religious law maker, Catholicism. I would say starting in the 10th century a war was made to make astrology as scientific as possible. The result, like today, is something that is no longer astrology but falls under psychology and archetypal psychology. It has been placed under the pseudo-science of psychology to maintain its credibility to sell to the masses. Of course that is my own opinion.

[1] 1 chart is found in Part 2, chapter 8 and the other 3 in Part 8 chapter 2

[2] In Arabic ´adad or ‘by number’

[3] In Arabic, qisma

The Classical Astrologer and Family Planning

Today, huge amounts of time and money are spent on genetic research, pre-natal medical counselling, and direct medical intervention such as fertility treatment to help couples who, for one reason or another, have difficulty in conception. While we may like to think of this as an enlightened modern pre-occupation, it is not by any stretch of the imagination. The desire to unlock the mysteries of procreation has occupied man for a long, long time!

In the past, the astrologer employed in the courts of the ruling class and nobility was the first and most important figure upon whom a ruler or noble would depend for counsel to ensure a primogeniture to whom the reins of power or authority would pass.

The traditional or classical astrologer had to be proficient in not only natal delineation, but he had to be skilled in the Arts of Questions[1] and Elections.[2] It was not enough that the astrologer could delineate the possibility of children from the subjects’ nativity, but the question of a successor was so paramount that his aid and direct participation was sought to find the best moment for the act of intercourse to result in the successful generation of a child; and in most cases the desire for a male child. The ancient classical and medieval astrologer, by all accounts, was expected to not only arrange things so that a child of the requisite sex was conceived but also, it was expected that the child would be born at the proper time. This was tantamount to nothing less than a type of astrological genetic counselling!

In his role as ‘family planner’, the astrologer would first delineate the natal charts of the couple, see if child birth was possible, and perhaps see anything that might hinder conception. A couple might also come to him with specific questions which were presented in the form of «interrogations» or horary questions. We can see several of the typical questions that were anticipated in the text of the 9th century Arabic astrologer, Sahl Ibn Bishr.[3]

«… if a man or a woman has asked whether or not he or she will have a child, look at the Ascendant; if there were benefics in it, or if the ruler of the Ascendant was in the Ascendant or in the tenth or in the eleventh or in the 5th, and Jupiter was in the best house from the Ascendant, a child will be born to him; and if the ruler of the Ascendant was in the Ascendant or in the 4th or in the 7th and Jupiter was in a good place from the Ascendant, a child will be born to him with some delay after [the time of] his own question. But if you have found a malefic in the Ascendant or if it aspects it by opposition or by square aspect, and the ruler of the Ascendant was in a bad place, and Jupiter was cadent or in the house of death or under the Sun beams, it signifies few children, and who will live only a short time if there are any…»

« …if the question was about some woman, whether or not she is pregnant and whether or not she will bear a child or whether it would be fortunate for her or not, look at the ruler of the Ascendant and the Moon, which are the significators of children. If you have found the ruler of the Ascendant and the Moon in the house of children, and if the ruler of the house of children is in the Ascendant free from the malefics, say that she is pregnant; and if the ruler of the Ascendant and the Moon have given, i.e. if they have committed, their own disposition to any planet in an angle, there will be a pregnancy, and all the more so if it was received; and if they were joined to a planet cadent from the Ascendant, it signifies loss, and the pregnancy is in vain; and even more so if the Ascendant was a mobile sign or if there was a malefic in an angle, or if the Moon was joined to a malefic, because all of these signify loss…»

« …if you have been asked whether she will bear a male or a female, look at the ruler of the Ascendant and the ruler of the house of children; if they were in masculine signs, there will be a male in her belly; and if they were in feminine signs, there will be a female in her belly; and if one of them was in a masculine sign and the other one was in a feminine sign, look at the Moon’s sign and at the planet to which the Moon is joined; if the Moon was in a masculine sign and was joined to a masculine planet, she will bear a male, but if the Moon was in a feminine sign or was joined to a feminine planet, she will bear a female. And know that Mercury, when it is oriental, i.e. when it is behind the Sun, will be feminine, if God wills!»[4]

He would then «elect» the most auspicious time for conception to occur.

«When you want to elect an hour for intercourse, i.e. when you want to have intercourse with your wife, so that you can beget a male child, let the Ascendant and its ruler and the Moon and the ruler of the house of children be in masculine signs or in a masculine quadrant of the circle in the hour of intercourse, and in that hour you should not put any planet but a masculine one in the Ascendant and in the sign [house] of children. And if you want it to be a female, let these significators be in feminine signs and in a feminine quadrant of the circle…»[5]

 

Next, the astrologer/physician would cast a chart at the time of conception to determine the length of the pregnancy and find out how long the woman would carry the developing child! The ancient astrologers/physicians believed that fertilization  occurred at the time of insemination. They did not know that conception was a process that involved the fertilization of an egg by the male sperm. They simply assumed that the woman’s womb was a protected environment where the man’s «seed» would develop into an infant! Their idea of conception was formed largely from watching plants. It was not until the microscope in the 18th century that physicians learned what true conception was and it was not until the 20th century that physicians learned that true conception might not occur until days after coitus, therefore, it is difficult to credit astrological dicta.

One of the older extant texts containing the astrological instructions for determining the term of a pregnancy and the time of conception can be found in the writings of the Greek astrologer Vettius Valens![6]

It is difficult in such a short synopsis to go into all the details of the method for calculating the term of the pregnancy. In general it is based on the conception that the degree of the sign in which the Moon is at the time of the infusion of sperm will be the degree of the ascendant in the nativity and that the degree that was ascending at the time of conception will be the same degree as the Moon in the sign it will be posited in the nativity!

Vettius Valens writes,

«The Moon at birth will indicate the hour of conception in respect to the zoion[7] in which it took place,[8] while the hōroskopos of conception will have as many degrees as the Moon has at birth.»

It is later quoted as the 51st aphorism in the Centiloquium.[9]

«Make the sign occupied by the Moon at the time of birth the ascending sign at the conception; and consider that in which she may be posited at the conception, or the opposite one, as the sign ascending at birth.»

The method postulates that there are three terms of the pregnancy;[10] a least, a middle, and a greatest. The difference between each term is fifteen days. Which term was chosen depended on the position of the Moon in the chart of the conception. The least term is 258 days which was when the Moon was in the degrees of the descending sign above the horizon. The middle term was 15 days more than that, or 273 days and was attributed when Moon was in the ascendant. The greatest term was 15 days more or 289 days, when the Moon was in the degrees of the descendant below the horizon.

Let us say for example, 10º Cancer is rising, then, 10º Capricorn is setting. The conception is that between the setting degree (the least term) moving in the order of the signs to the eastern horizon[11] (the middle term) there are 180º, which are the equivalent of 15 days. Therefore, 30º equalled 2½ days, which can be further divided. 2½ days is 60 hours so 1º was equal to 2 hours. Likewise, from the Ascending sign continuing to move below the horizon in the order of the signs towards the west, those 180 º also equalled 15 days.

So depending on where the Moon was posited, above or below the horizon, then a certain number of days and hours was added to either the least or middle term and that was the length of the pregnancy.

In our example then, if the Moon (for simplicities sake) was at 25º Taurus, then we could find the length of the pregnancy by counting the number of degrees between the descending degree of 10º Capricorn (280º longitude) and subtract that from the degrees of the Moon at 25º Taurus (55º of longitude). Since 55º is smaller than 280º, I add 360º to 55º, which is 415º. Now I can subtract; 415 – 280 = 135º. I can then divide that by 30º, which gives me 4 which a remainder of 15º. Each of those 30º divisions is equal to 2½ days, which gives me 10 days plus 15º, or 10 days and 30 hours,[12] or simply 11 days and 6 hours. This then would be added to the least term of 258 days giving 269 days and 6 hours as the term of the pregnancy.

Just as simply one could of course calculate the degrees between the Ascendant degree and the Moon and subtract the equivalent days from the middle term of 273 days.

I hope the reader realises this is a very simplistic overview of the technique. One finds much more complete instructions in Guido Bonatti’s text book, Liber Astronomiae Tractatus Decimus called, Trutine of Hermes on the Causation of the Length of Pregnancy. This of course, is not the only medieval text discussing the Length of Pregnancy. Dominicus Maria de Novarra[13] wrote an entire manuscript on the subject and found in the Biblioteca Paletina. There are several others from this period also.

What can I say as an astrologer? Does it work? I don’t know as I do not have enough experience in this particular ‘field’ to be able to judge one way or the other. That is the purpose of this short article, to expose this teaching in order to encourage further inquiry!

I do think it is fair enough to speculate in this regard and we should not just dismiss off hand such speculation. For while we may with no certainty say the method does or does not work, it was most certainly a major part of the medieval and classical astrologers ‘bread and butter’.

If such a method was effective and in fact widely practiced, then our predecessors were a long way ahead of us today in their medical ‘technology’ because such a method would be entirely without any deleterious side effects that are always present to some degree with our modern drug, hormone and surgery treatments! It would be an entirely natural solution!

[1] Horary astrology – casting a chart for the moment of an important question and determining the outcome from identification and particular circumstances of the significators of the querent and question

[2] Electional astrology – the art of determining the most auspicious moment to do something through examining the astrologicals at certain times

[3] The Arabian astrologer later known in the West as Zahel (or Zael), a Jew, who served as court astrologer to the governor of Khurasan in the period 820-822 A.D. and later to al-Hasan ibn Sahl (d. 850/851), the vizier of Baghdad during the reign of the caliph al-Mamūn (reigned 813-833). Among the 18 books that are attributed to him to have written, five were translated into Latin by 12th century translators in Spain.

[4] The Introduction to the Science of the Judgments of the Stars, translated from the 12th century Latin text by James H. Holden

[5] Ibid

[6] Vettius Valens was a young contemporary of Ptolemy. Valens tells us himself that he was conceived on the 13th of May 119 C.E. and born 9 months later on February 8, 120 C.E. His death is a little more uncertain but he is presumed to have died in the time period 173 – 175 C.E. in his 50’s. His major literary contribution, called the Anthology (Anthologiae) is probably the most massive and comprehensive picture of Hellenistic astrology that exists and not only includes detailed natal methodology but also 125 charts of apparently, Valens own «clients». The Anthology was a major reference work for Byzantine and Medieval Arabic astrologers.

[7] That is, sign

[8] That is to say, that the Moon in the nativity is the same as the hour, or ascendant degree, of the conception.

[9] This work, as the name implies, is a compilation of 100 astrological aphorisms. It was also known by the name Liber Fructus or Book of Fruit and often attributed to Ptolemy. However, this attribution has become very doubtful since a majority of the aphorisms deal with horary, which is a subject Ptolemy appears to disdain and ignore totally in Tetrabiblos. Modern scientific historians also cast much doubt on this attribution and suspect it was rather an ambitious Medieval Arabic writer’s work in the 9th century and assuming Ptolemy’s authorship in order to lend greater authority to his own writings!

[10] I.e. from conception to birth

[11] I.e. the ascending degree

[12] 1º = 2 hours

[13] Dominicus was the student of Marsilio Ficino, the great Florentine Platonist and advisor to the Medicis. He was also reputed to have been friend and associate to Copernicus.

The Mysteries in Hellenistic astrology

med_gallery_122987_7_18935             

The Mysteries in Hellenistic astrology

the original article and some 2014 review

Clelia Romano, DMA Copyright 2007-2014

This article was inspired by the lectures presented by Robert
Schmidt during the Vll Astrological Conclave in Cumberland, July 2007.

Robert Schmidt together with Robert Hand and Robert Zoller created the memorable
project Hindsight. In the beginning of 1990 they began the translation of
Greek and Latin astrological sources to English. The translation was an essential
tool in order that the current astrologers could recover and recall the great
Art and the nobility of the ancient astrology.

It’s impossible to discuss Hellenistic Astrology disregarding some important
philosophical concepts. The Greeks were really great philosophers, and they
had a quite complex insight on the cosmos and human existence.

 Sometimes it’s difficult to understand their way of thinking, but if
we are able to leave aside the analytic mind just like we did when we relinquished
the Cartesian point of view in order to become astrologers, believing that
we can find more in the occult than in the cold way of measuring things, we
will be able to envision the true meaning of the Greek thinking.

We will see some quite unusual and at times weird concepts: there are many
clues in Hellenistic astrology devised to force you into thinking. Hence,
be prepared for unsettling ideas.

Some of them, according to Robert Schmidt´s information, are related
to esoteric aspects that are being revealed through recently discovered ancient
Tablets containing new ways of dealing with the meaning of houses. One of
these Tablets ends with the following words:

“He, Trasyllus, describes how Trimegistus said”

                            The Mystery of the Houses

The houses are divided in angular houses, pos ascensional and and cadents from
the angle. The first ones are called “pivots” by the Greeks and
they work like hinges around which everything revolves.

The post ascentional houses have the function of supporting the house before
they are those through which you enter a cadent house. The cadent house, a house
between worlds, on the other hand has the function of destroying the previous
house, and is like a bridge to the next one.

From where the division of houses came from? The Greeks were the first to describe
the Hõroskopos, the exact point of the Ascendant and this happened in
the second century BC when Hypsicles of Alexandria discovered the mathematical
method for calculating it. At this time appeared the first chart with the respective
horoskopo.

Vettius Valens, in his Anthology written in the 2nd century AC, used whole signs
and also topic division based in Porphyry.

The Hõroskopo is the point from where we depart to describe the other
houses. For the Greeks, however, any point can be used as Hõroskopos.
The chart can depart from a LOT, for example, (the Fortune Lot , the Spirit
Lot, the Eros Lot, etc ) or even any other house can became a Hõroskopos,
a point of departure, the first house to analyze the others under a specific
subject. For example, if the issue is a financial problem, we can depart from
the Lot of Fortune or from the Second House, or use the system of derivative
houses.

The detailed description of this virtuosity in the Hellenist astrology is well
described in the introduction by Robert Hand to the Book ll of Vettius Valens
Anthology

In spite of the determination of the exact position of the Hõroskopos,
the Greeks always used whole signs instead of dynamic houses, even if we have
testimonies of the topic division as well.

What means to use the whole sign systm of houses? Let’s assume the Ascendant
to be at 22º of Cancer. The first house initiates in the beginning of Cancer
and goes as far as its last degree. A planet at 29º of Cancer would be
considered in the first house.

But we haven’t discussed any mysteries yet…so far we just described
some astrological Hellenist statements.

We know the terrestrial houses are 12 and that they have a meaning, according
to their aspects relative to the Ascendant.

The Eight topic houses system coexisted with the current 12 houses system at
that time.

The Greeks had two words for life:

“Zoo”: the physical existence and “Bios”, the life you
live, the livelihood.

And you live your life in Places that the Greeks named Topos or Houses as we
name them nowadays.

The “Hõroskopos ” is the first house and represents “Zoo”,
the physical life. This life is supported by the activity of the Second House.
The issue of the Second House is a Bios´s issue.

Now we will see the explanation of life in a different way.

According to the new material being translated, the life that we live is shared
by the 12th, the 10th and the 8th houses.

This is really a mystery and a weird one, because what kind of life you can
live in the 8th house, the place of death if your life is restricted to being
alive?

In the 10th house, the statement is perfectly understandable because in the
10th is where you live and act without restriction your adulthood.

And the 12th house, a cadent house, “apoclima”, between worlds?!
You are not alive yet, this is prior to our existence! How can we understand
such a weird statement?

I invite you to empty your mind and listen carefully:

The 12th house has a meaning of preparation: at the same time it’s the
apoclima, a decline, a turn backwards from the first, but it is the house where
you choose your Bios, where you’re not living your life, but choosing
the one that you will have to live.

Greek astrology was not reincarnationist but used a lot of Plato’s theory,
and Plato believed in reincarnation.

According to this theory, after the 12th we have the birth of the body, the
First House.

As soon as we live the three houses after the 12th and go directly to the end of
the Second House, which supports the First, we find the abyss of the Third House.
It is an initiation and we have to jump over it. At this moment we don’t
go to the Third, but to the 9th house: it’s the death of our childhood:
the 9th is the 8th of the Second.

The first return of Saturn occurs at this time and it represent the good-bye
to the first youth, in order to enter the adulthood. This event occurs at about
thirty years of age: we reach our maturity.

In the 9th, a cadent house, we prepare for our prime, we get subsidies, guides
and learning to achieve our acts in life. We reach the 10th house , the Praxis,
prepared to act in the public life, having children included, matter of the
10th for the Greeks.

The 11th house is the patronage, the friends and institutions that support our
public life and position.

Additional 30 years are spent in the 9th, 10th and 11th houses. It is the period
between the 30 and 60 years of age.

Once you lived the 11th house it is time for your second initiation: -you’ll
have to jump to the 6th House, the illnesses of the body, which will prepare
you for death, which will happen in the 7th House. Indeed, the setting place
makes opposition to the Ascendant.

The next thirty years of the native life will revolve around this new theme:
the destruction of life.

Back to our initial theme: what kind of activity can we have in the 8th house,
also called “lethargy” and when our body is supposed to be dead?

In this house we have to drink the water of forgetfulness, to forget the life
we lived and our Bios. This is the activity of the 8th: to forget.

So, the 12th House is a preparation for the Bios. We get a Zoo, a body, and
we begin to live our life going straight to the end of the Second House, where
our first thirty years of life are spent.

After this rite of passage that occurs -not by coincidence at the same time
we have the first Saturn´s return -there is a jump from youth to adulthood,
where we will live the next thirty years of our life, in the prime of our adulthood
and living the good houses, the 9th, 10th and 11th. Next, we have the second
Saturn’s return, another jump, this time to a worse place, the illness
of the 6th House which will prepare us for death.

Let’s suppose that someone lived more than 90 years. This person would
jump to the 8th of the 8th: i.e. from the 8th house to the Third (a between-worlds
house), cadent, preparing for the 4th, the Hades, and after this to the 5th,
the fame after death.

In the Hellenistic texts, action is Praxis, and Praxis is matter of the 10th
house, but also of the Third, because Praxis means practice but also means to
transverse spaces and to travel, matters of the Third: the travel to Hades.

From another side, siblings are matter of the Third, but the ruler of the Third,
Mercury, is the same ruler of the 12th in the Thema Mundi [iii], Mercury, means
that brothers and sisters are those who came for the same purposes and with
the same agenda. Our brothers are those who came from the same symbolical womb.

The Third House, between worlds in the Thema Mundi, is represented by the double
sign of Virgo [ii], disposed by Mercury, who is Psycho pomp.

What does the soul have to do in the Third house? It´s suppose to travel
to the underworld, to the Hades.

The 4th house is Nemesis’ house, the reward, the justice, the place where
the soul will be weighed. The Fourth House has its own Lot, the Lot of Nemesis
or Justice, based on the relationship between the Lot of Fortune and Saturn.

Nemesis becomes a contributing cause of fate coming from underground sources.

In the underworld´s house the soul will be weighed and evaluated until
it reaches the 5th house and again, jump to the 12th, where a new beginning
will be prepared.

In the 12th House, after the soul passes by the place of the Necessity it is
ready to live another life and another Bios. Hermes said that the Bios was supported
by the second house and for the Praxis, i.e. the 10th House, but besides this,
for the Third House that is a place of travel and dreams.

The Greeks had a very consistent way of seeing the houses.

We notice that they went clockwise and counterclockwise, and the use of derivative
houses was a rule. Besides this, each house could be used as the “horoskopus”
for the matter it represented.

So, if the Fourth House has to do with Hades, the place where the soul is weighed,
it has to do with both parents as well, and the First House is the 10th of the
Fourth: we are the result of our parent’s action. A house has many meanings,
as we can see, depending on its relation of the other houses.

In the Thema Mundi, our next topic, we will see that the Fourth House has to
do with Saturn and Nemesis, because the Fourth House is Libra in the Thema Mundi,
where Saturn exalts.

The 5th house is the posthumous fame, good or bad, and represents what will
happen to our body or ashes after death. At the same time, the 5th house has
to do with the legacy from the parents.

The meaning of the houses is mixed and it is important to consider everything
that was said, not discarding the news just because they are news. The ideas
are very consistent, and for sure they demanded a lot of dedication from the
ancients sages of Greece ,trying to figure out the human destiny facing the
large cycles and initiations of the life that ends with death, at least regarding
to our Zoo and present by Bios.

 

                                        The Thema Mundi

450px-Thema_Mundi_svg

Now we will take a first tour of the underlying philosophy in the Hellenistic
astrology. We went through a place where the meaning of the houses is virtual,
and each of them can represent the most varied kind of things, including the
journey of the soul to the earth and to the underworld.

To better explain the philosophical issue and the underlying Mystery of the
astrological houses, we will use the Thema Mundi, a hypothetical chart on the
birth of the world.

Such a chart is very ancient and is certainly used before the Christian Era.  Pingree says  in “Essays on Islamic Philosophy and Science”ed. G.F. Hourani that Gayomard, the first persian man had the Ascendent on 19th of Cancer. The myth of creation is not the same as the neoplatonic , but Cancer as the birth of the world seems to be common.  Keyumars, the first man, is named Gayomard in the sacred Zoroastrian text, the Avesta ( 6the century BC).

The Greeks had contact with astrology as it was practiced by Babylonians and Egyptians and they used the Thema Mundi to construct their own philosophical and astrological understanding,

As we can see the Thema has the rising sign in Cancer and the MC in Aries,
which seems coherent, since Cancer is the universal symbol of generation. The
choice was not random. In the origins of the Persian civilization, astronomers
realized that in the sky in Cancer´s place, instead of constellations
and stars there was a vast black hole, without stars. For some scholars, the
round and big shape of this hole resembled a large crab or a turtle, from which
the idea of the Crab would come. Also the word “to cut” in Arcadian
has some similarity to crab, and “cut” should mean the division
between two sides of the sky, coinciding with the summer solstice in Cancer
divind the year.

The MC in Aries is quite appropriate, also, as the MC is where we develop our
actions to be seen in the world. The 7th House, that has the signification of
Death for opposing to the Ascendant, shows the sign of Capricorn and the IC
, Hades or underworld, is represented by Libra.

The Greeks explained the exaltations of the planets through geometrical drawings.
The trigons and hexagons drawn by the houses regarding the Rising Sign of the
Thema Mundi were regions where planets had their exaltations. Likewise, the
houses considered good for the Zoo had benefic planets in exaltation.

So, the 9th, the 10th and the 11th Houses are considered good places because
they “look” so to the horoskopus.

In the Rising Sign of the Thema Mundi, Cancer, Jupiter, the most benefic planet
has exaltation. In the 9th in the Thema Mundi, where is the sign of Fishes,
which makes a trigon to the horoskopos happens the exaltation of Venus, the
second benefic.

The Fifth House, in the Thema Mundi, is Scorpio and it has no planet in exaltation
in this sign. Though it makes a trigon with the Horoskopo, Scorpio is the fall
of the Moon, ruler of the Rising Sign in the Thema Mundi. Nothing can have exaltation
in the fall of the “horoskopo”´s ruler, it was said.

The two planets that exalt in Pisces and Cancer have to do with the Zoo, the
maintenance of life.

The 10th house is also beneficial to the Ascendant because it is a place where
the Bios works in the world and completes itself: in the Thema Mundi, we have
the sign of Aries, where the Sun exalts linking the action with visibility and
fame.

If the Sun exalts in the 10th, the other luminary, the Moon, exalts in the 11th,
making a hexagon with the Ascendant. In the Thema Mundi we have the Sign of
Taurus, giving support to the 10th house and making a sextile with the ASC.

In order of importance, after the first “pivot”, i.e. after the First
House, we have the 10th house and after the Seventh, Finally we have the 4th
House.

The 7th house is an important house since it is in a “pivot”, but
it is not good for the native. As a matter of fact, it makes an opposition to
the native´s life, represented by the horoskos and because of this, Mars
has his exaltation there, in the sign of Capricorn of the Thema Mundi: it is
the house from where injury comes.

The 7th house, however, even being a not good house for life is not as bad as
the 4th House, the Hades, the worse of the “pivot” houses, so the
exaltation of the biggest malefic, Saturn, is in the 4th of the Thema Mundi,
Libra, where “Bios” and Zoo are still destroyed. Saturn and Libra
weigh the souls in the house of Nemesis, the distribution of the justice.

To Mercury is given the exaltation in Virgo, the Third House, since it’s
a house that makes a sextile with the ASC (using the hexagonal figure)

The third house is the least bad of the cadent houses, and is named the Goddes´s
house.

The 9th is the best of the cadent houses, named the House of God.

With these considerations we hope to have given a small idea of the astrological
Greek philosophy. There are more articles to come up on this subject.

                                            xxxxxxxx

                                                The Cadent Houses and
the Thema Mundi as Inexhaustible Source 
of Astrological Knowledge

                                                 Clélia Romano,DMA  copyright 2014

There are articles not worthing to review . Even their eventual failures must
remain , otherwise we can delete some that was written when our memory was fresh
with astrological immersion in some important phase of our life . This is the
case, just now.

However it is important add further clarification that occurs after meditation
on certain topics and our own astrological maturity .

One of the things I could not help to clarify is how much of egyptien philosophy
in embedded on all the abpve explanation: we can´t forg that the sp called
Greek astrology was praticed in Egypt even if transmitted in Greek language.

The egyptien were much more interested in the soul and its destiny after life
than in encarnation, as Nick Campion made clear in the workshop that he gave
in Rio de Janeiro in 2011.

Traditional astrologers as Chris Brennan and Benjamin Dykes have offered a good
hypothesis explaining the position of the planets in the Thema Mundi in the
very house where they have exaltation.

My goal here is only to cover certain gaps relating especially to the cadent
houses , which are difficult to understand especially why they are ruled by
certain planets .

The first houses in each quarter of the chart are called ” pivots ”
or points that act as key points of life .

The houses hereinafter called post- ascensional houses have the function of
giving support to the previous ones. The following are called the cadent houses
or between worlds , and their function is to serve as a bridge to the next house
, the next pivot.

In this sense we can say that the Twelve House is a house where we choose our
incarnate life , where we choose our ” bios” .

Notice that both the 12 House and the 3rd House are ruled by Mercury. For this
reason they have important similarities . At first, Mercury forms a bridge between
the missing and the existing bios, ” chooses ” next life that will
have to be lived and this is quite near in its meaning of a thinking planet.

Mercury is also a psychopomp planet, mediating between what is above and what
is below.

Thus , in the third house , it also makes his role , as it was rumored that
the third house was related to travel and dreams and also to the brethren, children
of the same womb , the symbolic womb represented by the Twelve House .

But we can´t wonder why the 6th House, a house of diseases , has Jupiter
as ruler , just as the 9th : apparently this is not consistent with the maleficient
sense of the house .

My idea is the following: the 6th House is the 9th house from the 10th, which
means praxis, everything that we do. In this case , Jupiter , wisdom , prepares
to face the 7th House, which is the 10th House from the 10th. It is not a coincidence
that the 6th House is ruled by the same lord of the 9th House in Thema Mundi.
This may well be related to the fact that Jupiter represents the wise actions
necessary to accomplish our partnership.

Moreover and more relevant, is the fact that the 7th House is a dangerous one,
being ruled in the Thema Mundi by the malefic Saturn and having the lesser malefic
in exaltation there. Saturn rules also the 8th House , which is a house giving
its support to the 7th, the enemy of life, in other words, representing death.
So what kills is the 7th House and the the 8th House is death already happened
.

It seems to me that in the sixth house we need to prepare ourselves spiritually
for death. First , we get sick , we learn that our life and health is a miracle
, we prepare well or not so well , developing acceptance or another way to look
wisely to what is or was the course of our life and its end, waiting for us
.

It needs wisdom to make a good use of the 6th house! This is my explanation
on why Jupiter has rulership of the 6th House on the Thema Mundi .

The End