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”.

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

Babylonian Planetary Periods & Mundane Astrology


By John Timperman



From the time of the Greek dominance of astrology, we commonly find references to planetary periods. In later times the Hellenistic astrologers and the Arabs used different systems of planetary periods such as “Zodiacal releasing ” and “Firdaria.” but these are systems that have nothing to do with the original model of Mesopotamia.

The authentic planetary periods are based on the heliacal phases of the different planets. The calculations of the astrologers of Babylon were based on the tropical solar year and are repetitions of a specific heliacal cycle in all its details.


A Babylonian Planetary period is the time period after which an exact period of a given heliacal cycle takes place.

Venus, for instance, has a short heliacal period of 8 years minus 2 days. This means that if Venus shows up today in the east in her morning the first phase , then after 8 years less 2 days she will show up again in Morning First, at the exact spot in the sky, same magnitude, same fixed stars background, etc

These heliacal periods of the planets can be of different duration. There are 4 kinds of periods; short, medium, long and giant. Different planets have different sets of them. Venus has only 2 periods; small of 8 years and a giant of 6400 years. Saturn has, according to the Babylonians, only a long period of 59 years and a giant one of 589 years.

GLOBAL HELIACAL PERIODSThis table shows us how we can calculate the periods of a planet and come to know when a planet is ” released ” and when its effect is then maximized.

The procedure is as follows:



This table shows us how we can calculate the periods of a planet and come to know when a planet is ” released ” and when its effect is then maximized.

the heliacal rise. We see in the above table that the period of Mars is 15-47-79 years which means for this person that 40 days after birth and after every 15-47-79 years the planet is again activated.

This procedure is simply based on the principles put into practice by the astrologer-priests of Mesopotamia:

If someone is born when a certain celestial SIGN was in the sky THEN the significance of this SIGN will come to fulfillment WHEN that same sign is seen AGAIN in the sky.We can apply this system in genethical astrology as I explained in another article, but it is by all means also of interest in Mundane astrology.

When we look at some important events in the US we come across the following data :

July 21 1861- first battle in the American civil war

December 6 1941 Pearl Harbor

September 11 2001 Twin towers terrorist attack

June 12 2016 Orlando massacre

Between the beginning of the Civil War and the Pearl Harbor attack there is exactly 79 years and 6 months which is very close to the long planetary period of Mars. Mars is a planet which is particularly strong in the chart of the US as the planet rises a couple of days after July 4th.

When we look up ( K. Schoch planet- tables, Berlin 1927) when Mars was heliacally rising before the beginning of the Civil War ( July 21st 1861) we come to September 22 1859 which is exactly one year and 10 months before the beginning of the war . This happened with the 9th degree of Virgo and it was also the day of the heliacal rise of Zosma, a martial star in the back of Leo.

When we advance 79 years ( Mars period) and want to know when Mars is rising at about the same degree we see in the tables that this happens at September 25th 1938. When we now move ahead one year and 10 months we arrive in July 1941 : some 4 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor ! It may be interesting to point here that if we go 79 years further we arriving at September 27 2017. So, this means that ,according to this system, in about one year and 10 months mars could be activated again.

When we proceed and also investigate the time between Pearl Harbor ( December 12 1941 ) and September 11 2001 there is exactly 59 year and 9 months. This is around the long cycle of Saturn which we have to examine.

In 1941 Saturn rose heliacally around June 11th at 22° Taurus and some 6 months later there was the attack at Pearl Harbor which incited the US to declare war with Japan and Germany.

It was at the end of January that the Americans stroke back for the first time and attacked the Marshall Islands from the USS enterprise.

The solar chart for 1942, the year that America entered the war at full scale is particularly interesting : Saturn is at 8° Gemini and makes an exact conjunction with the ascendant of the horoscope of the US. We must not forget that at 8° Gemini there is the fixed star Aldebaran whose character is very martial and very important since she is heliacally rising in the chart of the U S.

Solar horoscope US: July 4th, 1942

59 years later – 2001-( heliacal period of Saturn) Saturn is thus rising at the same place and ,in the solar chart we then see Saturn again at 8° Gemini. Two months later America faced the tragedy of 9/11.

Solar horoscope US : July 4th 2001

It is ,for that matter, also interesting to look at the period of time between the tragedy of 9/11 and the shootout in Orlando which happened in June 2016 and which was exactly 15 years.

We come back to the cycle of the short period of Mars. It was approximately  September 6th in 2000 that Mars rose at the 22nd degree of Leo. Exactly one year and a couple of days later there was the terrorist attack on the twin towers.

It was the 23rd of August 2015 that,15 years later Mars was again heliacally rising close to the 10th degree of Leo. About 10 months later, on June 12th 2016 , there was the terrible shootout in Orlando.

For closing, something totally different, but also pertinent to the subject of planetary periods. Consider the Wall street Crash of 1929 also known as Black Tuesday ( October 29) or the Stock Market Crash of 1929 began on October 24, 1929. It was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States.

79 years later in October 2008( the long period of Mars) the investment bank “Lehman Brothers ” filed for bankruptcy and lead the US and the rest of the world into an unseen financial and economic crisis.

When we look to where Mars rose before October 1929 we come to January 30th 1928 where Mars rises together with the 8th degree of Capricorn. This is 1 year and 9 months before “Black Tuesday”

79 years later, on February 14th 2007, Mars rises again, this time at the 21st degree of Capricorn. It is 1 year and 7 months later , in October 2008, that the US faces another huge financial crises.

So we can say that this system of planetary periods and their parameters, once the most important factors to be considered in astrological prognosis, still has merits, although sadly ,it has almost been completely forgotten by contemporary astrologers.

Al-Kindi – The Transmission of Greek Metaphysics to Islamic Theology


A blog post on someone of the stature of al-Kindi can scarcely do him justice; but it can serve as an introduction to this extraordinary man as well as the transmission and absorption of Greek texts into Islamic theology. It is also my hope that al-Kindi will regain his former prominence among the many other Islamic contributors to human knowledge and to astrology in particular. His cosmology is essentially simple and I believe answers to many of the on-going discussion on the nature of fate and free-will.

To understand how al-Kindi’s mind works, his study of  The religion, philosophy, literature, geography, chronology of India is a good place to start. He’s is infinitely curious and readily absorbs the philosophy and weighs the values of other very different nations. I have placed the complete work in two volumes in the file section. Familiarity with al-Kindi breeds content. He stands as an essential figure of the Islamic Golden Age. It was tolerance, acceptance and inclusiveness that created the Age – not a rigid xenophobia.  It came about by a respect of other cultures and a willingness to work with them.

Abu Yusuf Ya‘qub ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi (ca. 800–870 CE) was the first self-identified philosopher in the Islamic and specifically Arabic tradition. His work with a group of scholars and translators, in what became known as the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, gave to the Arab world the works of Aristotle, the Neo-Platonists, and Greek mathematicians and scientists.  He did not appear to demonstrate the rigid distinctions between Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy that became the bugbear of later European philosophers. This in itself was no mean feat, but Al Kindi seemed to instinctively know what was of a similar nature and what was not.. al-Kindi’s own thought was suffused with Neo-Platonism, though his main authority in philosophical matters was Aristotle.

The Semitic or Abrahamic religions are less replete with metaphysical codes, but have what is more properly called cosmological ones, when compared for example, with the seemingly endless metaphysical systems of Hinduism. This is also true when those same texts are compared to the Platonic tradition, including the sophisticated and exquisite vision written down by Plotinus. It applied as well to the philosophy of Aristotle. It was to the latter than Al-Kindi first became transfixed. The distinction between Metaphysics, Cosmology and Ontology can at times become blurred of intermingled. To invite them into Islamic thought is not for the careless or faint of heart .

Al-Kindi is often referred to as the Arab’s philosopher. As has happened to so many great minds throughout history, the investigation of the most cherished ideas had lead to suspicions of heterodoxy. The word ‘heterodoxy’ is a convenient catch-all phrase that can be leveled at those who disagree, have some doubts or simply see the nature of reality through a different lens.In this respect, the story of Al-Kindi has contemporary relevance, with particular regard to the understanding of the nature of astrology. The contemporary Traditional astrologer will feel pretty much at home in Al-Kindi’s cosmology.

The new lens of Greek Philosophy provided Al Kindi with a means by which the Theology and Cosmology of the Quran, resulted in a highly significant shift in Astrological thought. By the time of Al-Ghazali, Islamic Philosophy and with it the Golden Age of was eclipsed by a literalist pessimism that has persisted to this day. What was at one time a naturally accepted element of Islam became heavily suspect. It is important to note, however, that Al-Kindi fell short of the view that the universe must be infinite.  It could have lead to his alienation at best and a death sentence at worst, as it did in a later period for Giordano Bruno.

The deep fear of infinity has historically put restrictions on the subject. Perhaps the fear of infinity is no more than the fear that our prescribed limits might prove to be no more than mind-forged manacles, as W. Blake so keenly understood. Limits are an important element in Islam: in general more so than either of the other Abrahamic religions. In the Islamic afterlife, it is made clear that there are no limits. Lastly, I believe infinity is ‘reserved’ for God on this side of the grave.  Philosophers throughout history have always needed to be adept at avoiding stepping on theological toes.

There are no precise parallels to the non-Islamic world on this matter, but the pseudo-prophetic Savonarola lead to a very similar shift, and in fact to a rapid decline in the creativity, tolerance, syncretism and ebullient optimism of Renaissance Florence.

Even Pico della Mirandola succumbed to the dogmatic position that what isn’t a particularly privileged form of Christianity, must be the work of the Devil. I’m certain that many great thinkers were frankly terrified at the speed in which the obscure monk, Savonarola, could turn Florence into a city full of mad people with proverbial pitchforks and literal torches.



The contempt and paranoia regarding the new learning was epitomized by the en mass burning of books and works o art, including works by Michelangelo. These were considered the vanities, in the biblical sense o the word and the burning of all these things was called the bonfire of the vanities, a term that survives to this day. This episode in Western history shall forever remain a reminder of how quickly great elements of civilizations can be destroyed by supernatural fears, that even otherwise rational people can fall prey.

In Islam, as in other Middle Eastern and Asian cultures there existed a very different sense of time. It was circular or spiral, but never linear. From the Greeks and developed to a fine science was the Prime Mover – one who is not acted upon – to the participation of the Prime Mover through secondary causes. This lends itself perfectly to Astrology. It means, among other things, that the Stars can easily become the agents of Providence, without diminishing the First Cause.

This was not to be the position of Al Ghazali. There was no room in his thinking for such niceties.  There was one cause and one cause only, no secondary powers could be entertained because they amounted to shirk – the attribution of partners to Allah.

Al-Kindi’s own treatises, many of them personal letters, were addressed to the family o the Caliph, who depended on his translations just as the Medic family would rely on Marsilo Ficino. Core texts included the Theology of Aristotle and Book of Causes along with Arabic versions of Plotinus and Proclus. This textual alchemy was fomented at the political and philosophical core of Islam.

Al-Kindi’s philosophical treatises also include On First Philosophy, in which he argues that the world is not eternal and that God is a simple One. This needs to be understood in the context of an Islamic thinker attempting reconciliation with Greek philosophy. The reality of Tawheed is the first principal in Muslim belief.  It is to believe that Allah alone is the ‘Rabb’ -Creator, Provider and Sustainer (note the identical attributes within Hinduism and elsewhere). He has no partner and needs no partner. To suggest that HE does is the greatest blasphemy in Islam.

Allah alone has the power to determine destiny, and He alone is truly Self-Sufficient (As-Samad) upon whom all the creation depends, as He says: “Allah created all things and He is the Wakeel (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian) of all things. “To Him belong the keys of the Heavens and the earth. He (Allah) enlarges and restricts provisions to whomever He Wills. Surely, He has Knowledge of everything. See Surah az-Zumar (39): 62. and Surah ash-Shoorah (42): 12. The guidance of the stars is a theme repeated many times in the Qu’ran, but often dismissed as something else.

The key difference from a modern point of view is not whether or not Aristotle was a monotheist.  For all intents and purposes he was . But it would be more accurate to call him a Deist, rather than a Theist. It may seem a fine point and it doesn’t seem to have deterred al Kindi, if in fact he truly appreciated the distinction. The Primum Mobile easily translates to Creator.

al-Kindi’s work in mathematics and other sciences was impressive and became known in both the later Arabic and Latin traditions for his positions on astrology, along with Averroes.

Arab scholar working diligently in the House of Wisdom. (Artist Unknown).

Arab scholar working diligently in the House of Wisdom. (Artist Unknown).

al-Kindi’s claims for astrology commit him to the idea that a wide range of specific events can be predicted on the basis of astral causation. His doctrine of providence goes further by “implying that all events in the lower world are caused by the stars, which are carrying out the benign “command” of God. This doctrine is set out in On the Prostration of the Outermost Sphere” ( Abu Rida 1950, 244–261, Rashed and Jolivet 1998, 177–99) and On the Proximate Agent Cause of Generation and Corruption (Abu Rida 1950, 214–237).

In al-Kindi’s system and, I would suggest, in the Qu’ran itselff, the heavens are possessed of souls who freely follow God’s command so as to move in such a way that the providentially intended sublunary things and events will come about.

This, according to al-Kindi, is what the Qu’ran refers to when it says that the stars “prostrate” themselves before God. In Proximate Agent Cause, meanwhile, al-Kindi gives a more detailed account of the means by which the heavens cause things in the lower world (here he invokes friction, not rays). The most obvious effect of the stars on our world is of course the seasons, because the sun (due to its size and proximity) is the heavenly body with the most powerful effect. If there were no such heavenly causation, according to al-Kindi, the elements would never have combined at all, and the lower realm would consist of four spheres of unmixed earth, water, air and fire.

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al-Kindi’s account of astral causation and providence is typical of his philosophical method. He combines and builds on ideas from Aristotle, later Greek philosophers, as well as so-called “scientific” figures such as Ptolemy. In his work “Prostration” he provides a rational explanation of central concepts in Islam. His explanation of the meaning o the stars prostrating themselves shows a keen interest in going beyond syncretism to a more enlightened reading of the Qu’ran. Al-Kindi appears to have been certain that once his more enlightened colleagues are exposed to his presentations of Greek wisdom, they will

agree that these non-Arabic and non-Muslim texts can be used —together with “Arabic” disciplines like grammar — in the service of a more profound understanding of Islam. These are heady claims and not ones ultimately shared by Al-Ghazali and his followers. Nevertheless, there existed what could be called an Al-Kindian tradition long ater his passing.  This current flourished in the tenth century, which is most obviously represented by the first and second generations of al-Kindi’s. followers.

Musicians_and_their_instruments Topkapi Palace Museum Library, H. 2164.

Musicians and instruments Topkapi Palace Museum Library H. 2164.

al Kindi ‘s advanced contributions to Musicology seem like a natural and intrinsic progression of his cosmology.Al-Kindi’s optimism on this score was not necessarily borne out in subsequent generations. But among thinkers influenced by al-Kindi, one can discern a continuing tendency to harmonize “foreign” philosophy with the “indigenous” developments of Muslim culture. This is one feature of what might be called the “Kindian tradition,” an intellectual current that runs up through the tenth century, which is most obviously represented by first and second generation students of al-Kindi’s.

In a world off ‘what ifs’ it is clear that the position of Al Kindi and like minded philosophers would have developed into a more universally tolerant Islam and one in which the reading of the stars was not confused with the worship of them. Today, we have weather forecasts that seem to be false more often than not, but I cannot imagine any sane person considering meteorology as shirk. Reading the sign of nature is something we do all the time, from the practice off horticulture to the study of the biological origins of life and indeed the universe itself.

Isra and Mi’raj in the Zubdat-al Tawarikh


Celestial map, signs of the Zodiac and lunar mansions in the Zubdat-al Tawarikh, dedicated to the Ottoman Sultan Murad III in 1583

First and foremost, I’m fascinated that a book on the natural world is prefaced with a painting of how that world is both sustained and came into being. The visual arts and astrology have long been inseparable.  The earliest star-lore was depicted visually in Sumer and far back into the Paleolithic period. The movements of the Heavens has always been of great importance and one picture really can be worth a thousand words when it comes to explaining Cosmologies.

Today, what we call history is not prefaced with a primary reference to the mystical creation. This makes these works most intriguing because they offer us a window into a mostly forgotten, but essential cosmologies. That is because we live in what we think is a linear, largely material reality. Other cultures, including the Turks, believed that time unfolded in spirals.

Most importantly, we no longer live with the concept of divine origin. Traditional Astrology is very much aware of this reality The image contains an enormous amount of information. Most fundamentally, we have circles within circles At the centre is the source. Next, the seven planets and luminaries are shown in their orbits following the Chaldean order. Beyond the orbit of Saturn have the realm of the Fixed Stars and it appears that the artist has chosen to place the zodiac beyond the black circle.

The theme and to some extent the style was probably inspired by an earlier work the Catalan Atlas by Cresques Abraham and his son Jehuda. It’s a fine work that predates Zubdat al Tawarikh by

Cosmographical diagram od Earth personified by an astronomer holding an astrolabe center of the Universe surrounded by concentric circles representing the four elements the seven planets the spheres and their personification - mid 14th C.

The Catalan Atlas. Cosmographical diagram od Earth personified by an astronomer holding an astrolabe at the center of the Universe surrounded by concentric circles representing the four elements the seven planets the spheres and their personification – mid 14th C.

two centuries. The Catalan Atlas is fairly accurate works of geography with astrological, cosmological plates such as the one below. There is a strikingly lovely page showing the signs and zodiacs as well  It will readily be seen that the Atlas lacks the lavish illustrations, the astrological detail and the strongly mystical representation of the natural world, including the heavens, working in harmony.

The seven planets and luminaries are shown in their orbits following the Chaldean order in a spiral. Beyond the orbit of Saturn, we have the realm of the Fixed Stars and it appears that the artist has chosen to place the zodiac beyond the black circle.

What makes this a particularly fine work, is that it includes the Decans in relation to Lunar Phases as well as the twenty-eight Lunar Mansions, with Angels guarding the Four Directions.

Miniature painting of a parade of two riding-gaz veterans from umelia in front of sultanmurat-iii-from-the-surname hmayun 16th century ce

Miniature painting of a parade of two riding-gaz veterans from umelia in front of sultanmurat-iii-from-the-surname hmayun 16th century ce

Miniature painting of a parade of two riding Gazi – Veterans from Rumelia – in front of Sultan Murat III from the Surname i hümayun 16th century CE

Although the style is very much Turkish and Islamic in style, it is entirely recognizable as what has become known as the Ptolemaic Universe, The relationship between this cosmology and the Night Journey of Muhammad will become clear.

Muhamad’s Night Journey is in Sura Al Nisra of the Quran and further embellished in the Hadiths It’s controversial these days. Many modern Muslims consider this to be a literal event that occurred at a particularly time and place.  – The Prophet rides on Buraq to Jerusalem where he ascends to meet the various Prophets from what is now known as the  Dome of the Rock.

Muhammad travels the seven heavens on Buraq

Muhammad travels the seven heavens on Buraq

The mystical version has is that the Prophet rose through levels of consciousness. In either case, there is an ascent of Seven spheres, an essential theme that has repeated over and over again. In Ayat 11 we have the following exhortation “And We have made the night and day two signs, and We erased the sign of the night and made the sign of the day visible that you may seek bounty from your Lord and may know the number of years and the account [of time]. And everything We have set out in detail.”

This and other passages in the Quran support astrology as a guide to the wise. The usual context is in ‘to show the way’ which clearly refers to the use of stars in navigation but also implies other uses, such as choosing the correct time for an event,, medical diagnosis military matters and affairs of State.  If this were not the case, Islam would have had no cause to compose the type of artwork that we see here, or produce some of the finest astrologers in the Middle Ages and beyond.

The exhortations against astrology are most specifically related to attempting to know such things as the time of the last day and the resurrection. This is the prerogative of the Creator. Common fortune telling won’t find any more support in the Quran as it does in the Bible. Indeed, many sects of Christianity regard astrology as forbidden. In much of my work I have tried to show the massive difference in intent, method and applications of divination compared to the disreputable and unwise world of fortune telling.

Portrait of Humayun, posthumously painted c. 1700 He was an avid astrologer.

Portrait of Humayun, posthumously painted c. 1700 He was an avid astrologer.

Imagine for a moment that you visit your physician and she tells you that you have a serious illness and may not have long to live. That physician has just made a prognostication based on medical knowledge. This could be construed as prediction and in fact it is. When a skilled astrologer reads a chart it for many of the same reason a medical professional might be consulted. Questions about physical, spiritual and mental health can and are addressed by competent astrologers.  Likewise, you might be concerned about making a choice between two or more things. The astrologer won’t make the choice for you, but they can offer very valuable information

Likewise, you might be concerned about making a choice between two or more things. The astrologer won’t make the choice for you, but they can offer very valuable information  There is time to seed and a time to reap. One of the greatest uses of astrology are, as far as I’m concerned, is in the medical field. Knowing your humour, the strengths and weakness you have are all sound applications of  the Celestial Science. If you read scripture carefully, you will not find thes4e applications of astrology to be forbidden.

Makhzan al-Asrār by Niẓāmīمخزن الاسرار Folio 3v The Prophet on Burāq

Makhzan al-Asrār by Niẓāmīمخزن الاسرار Folio 3v The Prophet on Burāq

Above, we what is essentially the sane theme found in the previous paintings, but with a a slight twist. This Persian Sufi painting describes the Night Journey of the Prophet. This work is far more complex than first meets the eye. The painting has deteriorated, but we can still see the planets, represented anthropomorphically. The Sun and Moon are represented as disks. occupying the first and fourth sphere, as per the Chaldea order. We can also see the constellations, but they are projected in such as a way that we have the illusion of looking through the spheres. Remember that this is illustrating Muhammad’s mystical Night Journey.

Returning to the Quranic position on astrology, let’s examine a few more quotations. There is a Sura in the Quran known as Buruj, an Arabic word meaning ‘Constellation’ or ‘Zodiac sign’. Surah Buruj is the 85th Surah in the Quran. The starting of the Surah is : “I swear by the sky where there are buruj…” (i.e Allah swears by th sky where are  zodiac signs.)

“I have created buruj  [Zodiac signs] in the sky and decorated them for viewers and I have also protected them from evils…” (Surah Hizr 16)

Prophet Muhammad-Miraj Isra

Prophet Muhammad-Miraj Isra

“How great he is, who has created buruj in the sky and placed the Sun and shining Moon over there…” (Surah Furkan 61 )

In Arabic Astrology, we find that the sign Leo is named ‘Asad Buruj’. ‘Asad’ means a lion thus the Arabic name of Leo, which is represented by a lion, is ‘Asad Buruj’. Similarly, Libra is named, ‘Meejan Buruj’. The Arabic word ‘Meejan’ means a balance.

The emphasis on the creation of constellations, given the context we have, does nothing to indicate that a study of the same is somehow haram.

Finally, we can take a brief survey of some of Islam’s most esteemed astrologer. Most are surprised to find that the poet Omar Khayyam of Khorasan was an accomplished astrologer(1019-1135)  He was so accurate in his predictions that he even understood about his own death. This isn’t exactly the same as knowing the time of his death but points to a deep understanding of the art.  Many will be familiar with Sahl Ibn Bishr, Al Kindi, Ibn Arabi, Al Biruni and others.

However, I think the crown should go to Ibn Sina (980-1037) He was brilliant Muslim scientist who developed Alchemy. He was also very much devoted to astronomy and astrology, but other than his prolific philosophical works his contributions to medicine are immeasurable. His massive pharmacopeia is still in use among medical astrologers and natural healers.

This may seem trivial to some, but we have a great deal at stake worldwide. Literalist Fundamentalism is not compatible with peace and has the effect of numbing the mind. The golden age of Islam did not flourish because of  a stricter adherence to Shariah, as is commonly thought by contemporary Muslims, but because it was a period of openness, serious study of Classical antiquity and a willingness to work with people of divergent faiths and ethnicities.

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.

Mundane Astrology and the Croatian Presidential Elections 2014/15 – Part I

It has been a while since I have written anything. There are many reasons for this but the main reason being I have had to concentrate on health issues. It is remarkable that when our physical being is “in tune” then often our “mental” or “soul” finds the appropriate partner to be more successful and complete. The opposite is also very observable and true, that when the body suffers then often qualities of the soul are diminished. There is a strong symbiotic relationship between the two, i.e. the qualities of the soul[1] and the body. Quite understandably every person is a unique composition where the balances or imbalances are going to have an outcome that may be fallaciously recognised as a general characterisation when it is rather quite specific and personal.

This article is about mundane prediction and delineation; before the fact rather than hindsight astrology we find so prevalent today. I have been told by certain popular and respected astrologers that the mundane techniques of our astrological forefathers, like Abu Ma’shār and Māshā´āllāh, are not relevant today because they delineated events concerning dynasties and kings and the political world is not the same today so those techniques cannot be used today.

This objection is wrong on many points. There are still families, dynasties and religions “ruling” this world. And regardless the political systems, the concepts laid down by these forefathers are still valid, even if their applications may have to vary. For example, when discussing the meanings of the Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions when they shift triplicities, we are told by Abu Ma’shār that they can indicate the rise of a new religion and prophet(s).

[21] In the presence of one of these times that we have defined, one looks at the horoscopes of those times, and the location of the celestial bodies’ in them, and all their natural and accidental conditions <which result> from their essence and from <their relation to> the Sun and the sphere, and one discovers (1) the nature of their indication from the planets which have predominance over the principal positions, and (2) the time of it according to what the indicators point out. Then one looks at the indications of these six principles.

[22] This is divided into three divisions. The first is proper to universal states, like the property of the indicators of great Beginnings indicating universal matters like floods, dynasties, religions, and the like at the time of the conjunction of the two superior <planets> in Aries and their conjunction when they shift from one triplicity to another.[2]

While Professor Dykes was working on his second book of World Astrology, I was in contact with him and we were discussing the “mean conjunctions” and how they were calculated.[3] In comparing our notes and calculations I was made acutely aware of one particular triplicity shift in history. In 1603 there was a shift of the mean conjunctions into the fire signs, starting at 00° Sagittarius 33’ 51”.

That is actually a pretty relevant shift when you consider the theory behind the importance of the shifts of triplicity indicating universal beginnings of important “religions”. This particular era found many brilliant minds building the arguments and philosophical underpinnings of Democracy and what has become, in the words of several historical writers, a word which has acquired “a universally sacred character” and given “the notion of democracy a moral and almost religious content”. In this era were the minds of Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Montesquieu (1689-1755), Voltaire (1694-1766), Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-88), David Hume (1711-76), and Adam Smith (1723-1790). And one, foremost among these “prophets”, was John Locke (1632-1704).

Abu Ma’shār gives in his instructions some interesting information:

“We say that if the conjunction occurs in the fiery triplicity, it indicates power for the eastern people, and that the strongest of their signs is Sagittarius…”

Of course that is very relevant at the shift, which was to Sagittarius, since the political power was in Britain and “eastern people”[4] were to be the colonists.

2.) “As for the time of the appearance of the indications, the fiery triplicity indicates three conjunctions after the return of the conjunction to the sign of the triplicity to which the conjunction shifts;”

But he also adds this qualifier,

“It is possible that the times of the indications are different: according to this scheme, the indications of the shift to the fiery triplicity occur after 9 conjunctions from the time of the shift…”

This is very interesting as the appearance of the indications of this “new religion” would appear in the 9th conjunction after the shift which was to 1782! Quite remarkably, only 7 years later the newly formed American Congress began its duties and the first president took up his position.[5]

These are things with no relevance for today? I hardly think so. Over the past several years I have been using these techniques with regards to particular world events; From the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 to the general elections in Britain in 2011. I have not published everything. Certain predictions in the course of discussions on astrology forums have been documented. I have to make perfectly clear here that at no time have I done this to “make a name” for myself. Our art is supposed to help others, not glorify oneself. This is why I have not published much of my work. This particular post is therefore probably only the second time I have, through a public media, made known this work.

The following prediction and delineation concerning the outcome of the Presidential elections in Croatia was published on the East European Traditional Astrology forum “Astrološki dijalozi”, December 29th 2014 and January 2nd 2015 respectively.

On 29.12.2014 I stated the following:

“Been looking at some charts and contemplating the election in Croatia…. I really know nothing of the politics involved so my opinion is a purely astrological one…. I will be glad to explain how I came to it when I get things written up. My first impressions are that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will win this vote. The charts I have been considering are the Aries Ingress, Libra Ingress, Mars/Saturn conjunction and lunation prior to the election as well as the sunrise chart of the Election Day.”

I guess you can call this Part 1 of my judgment concerning the elections in Croatia. I am not trying to be longwinded but I thought it important to explain my judgment[6] and what it is based on. As I understand there have been some who make predictions that are not explained and from what I understand of the conversations their judgments and predictions are quite speculative and perhaps not based in much astrology. I am not here to judge anyone else but to just render my judgment as best I can using the Astrology that I practice. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong and won’t be the first time I have not totally understood what I was seeing.

I will start my judgment with two charts; 1) the chart of the revolution of the year in which the ruler accedes, and 2) the chart of the ascension of the ruler. You will no doubt notice that for the first chart I have chosen to cast the chart of the Ingress for 2010. I have my reasons but the main one is simply because his acceding to power occurs only 1 month before the Ingress and falls just after the pre-ingress lunation (new Moon). Therefore I have deemed the 2010 Ingress more relevant to the length of the rulers rule rather than the Ingress for 2009. This is my judgment call. I could name other astrologers from the past, like Mashā´āllāh, who understood the need to do likewise, so I am in good company on this call.

Figure 1 Croatia_Aries Ingress 2010

Figure 1
Croatia_Aries Ingress 2010

Now Abū Ma’shār would have us use this chart in this way:[7]

“…one looks at the revolution of the world-year in which the ruler accedes, and then one looks at Saturn.”

One might well ask, why Saturn? Why not the Sun? The answer is a very important philosophical cornerstone that is based in something very old and probably coming from the Persians.

“…. Related to the superior planet furthest from the world of generation and corruption, i.e. to Saturn, is the indication for matters of Beginnings…”

Saturn indicated all “lofty” beginnings; a rulership, a kingdom or dynasty, a new religion, etc. You will find this doctrine also in Māshā´āllāh, Saul, Umar and others. In these sources you will find that Saturn signified the current and lawful king.[8]

So what does Abu want us to do with Saturn? In the chart of the Revolution of the Year we find Saturn in the Ascendant. We are to see what domicile it is and who the lord of his domicile is. In this case Saturn is in Libra and Venus is the Lady of the domicile. Both are in cardines so he would have us see how many ascensional degrees there are between Venus and Saturn. In effect directing Venus to Saturn and we are to count 1 year for every 30°. I have already done the calculations and there are 160 ascensional degrees between them and dividing this by 30 we find that it is 5 years.

Now the other chart in this process of discovering the length of a rulers rule is to look at the actual chart of the rulers acceding to power. In this case the ruler assumed his rulership on the 18th of February 2010 and I have included this chart as well.

Figure 2 Croatia_Josipovic accedes 2010

Figure 2
Croatia_Josipovic accedes 2010

Now Abu would have us do something a little different in this chart, but no less very profound and significant.

“As for <discovering> the measurement of their periods from their accession, it is found from the distance between Mars and its lord…”

Why Mars? Again this is based in a philosophical cornerstone of these ancients which is stated as follows,

“Related to the third of these planets in order, i.e. to Mars, is the indication for wars, strifes, and the like, being, as it were, the decline to the final ends of things, because the ends of things indicate destruction of their orderly arrangements after their perfection, and corruption of their regularity.”

Mars signified the end of things. So we were to do with Mars just as we did with Saturn, i.e. look at the domicile it is in and who its lord is. In the ascensional chart we find Mars in Leo and the Sun conjunct the cardine of the MC in Aquarius. And in the same way we judged from Saturn and its beginning so judge we here of its end with Mars and count the ascensional degrees between Mars and the Sun and give 30° to every year. There are 153 ascensional degrees between the Sun and Mars which once again is 5 years.

The last testimony he suggests is to direct the Midheaven, as we would do in a nativity, to a malefic that would cut off the years of his rule. We are to judge one month for every degree. The Midheaven will come to the square of Mars in 59°. Once again we end up with 5 years because 59 divided by 12 is just shy of the 5 years (5×12=60).

When reading up on Croatia’s government and election process I was surprised to find that the term of President is 5 years! So I was rather convinced that he[9] will only serve one term.

This second part in my notes is about the Croatian election based on the Revolution of the World-year 2014.

Figure 3 Croatia_Aries ingress 2014

Figure 3
Croatia_Aries ingress 2014

I notice in the revolution of the year (see Figure 3) that the Ascendant and Midheaven are close to changing signs and the signs are common (mutable). We have 28° Virgo 51’ marking the ascendant and 28° Gemini 37’ marking the Midheaven. The Sun is also setting, handing over his dominion to the Moon. I also note that the Midheaven[10] moves into the Moons domicile[11]. Themes are important to note. In this case I am noting the theme of endings and change. The Lord of the year is Mercury because of his testimony in the ascendant and his testimony as the other luminary’s[12] term lord and he is in a strong place being the 7th by counting.[13]

Since Mercury is also the significator of the king[14] then the state of the king is because of the state of the people.[15] This is something important to understand for the year and further readings of charts, i.e. how the fate of the king is bound to the fate of the people.

We should note the zodiacal state of Mercury. Mercury is the only planet that has one sign as both its detriment and fall. The sign of Pisces as Mercury’s detriment represents a threat to the people’s (and therefore the king’s) being and operative ability. It signifies very clearly the peoples (especially the common people) inability to gain through livelihood, their poorness and their being brought low. Its descension (fall) indicates their sorrow, prison, and distress; it is the place of their worthlessness relative to their own interests; they hate their situation, and are restricted. This state of being is particularly intense in this year because Mercury is oriental, direct and free of the Sun. By division Mercury is cadent and being carried away from the angle, however it is very interesting that Mercury has a strong helper from among the cabinet of the ruler (11th house/sign). Mercury is applying[16] to Jupiter in its exaltation and by division in the strength of the Midheaven and the 11th by counting. Because Jupiter will receive Mercury from a strong place, it will lift Mercury from its detriment and depression.

Jupiter I would deem is a very powerful “noble” in some position of the current government. Jupiter being occidental in a feminine sign leads me to believe this is a powerful woman.

The state of the “commoners” is also underlined by the Moons conjunction with a retrograde Saturn in the sign of her descension, Scorpio!

Another indication of the people’s bad situation can be seen by Mars in its detriment in the 2nd and destroying the fruits of the people’s livelihoods while the coffers of government are overflowing.[17] This is all setting the stage for the events of the rest of the year.

[1] Ptolemy attributed the rational mind to Mercury and irrational mind to the Moon.

[2] Part I, Chapter 1 of The Book of Religions and Dynasties (On the Great Conjunctions), Ed. and Trans. Keiji Yamamoto, Charles Burnett, Volume 1: The Arabic Original (Leiden: Brill, 2000)

[3] This is an entirely other subject which I cannot go into here. But Professor Dykes goes into very good detail in his World Astrology II. To understand these principles I highly recommend this book. It is well worth the investment if you are interested in mundane astrology.

[4] On the eastern seaboard of what would become the United States, the four distinct British regions were: New England, the Middle Colonies, the Chesapeake Bay Colonies (Upper South) and the Lower South.

[5] The First United States Congress, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, first officially convened on March 4, 1789.

[6] My “judgement” was that I predicted, contrary to popular opinion, that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović would be elected the country’s first woman president.

[7] Chapter 5 in Part II of Kitāb al-milal wa-d-duwal – The Book of Religions and Dynasties

[8] Also I strongly recommend reading Ben Dykes introduction in his newest translation contribution, Astrology of the World II.

[9] I mean Josipovic, the current Croatian President.

[10] The Midheaven is the place of the sun’s strength and power which is also a masculine sign, Gemini.

[11] Cancer is a feminine sign and house of the “feminine” luminary.

[12] I.e. the Moon

[13] Please note I am using whole sign houses. The term, “by counting” was used by the Medieval astrologers to indicate they were using whole signs and “by division”, indicating mundane divisions of the quadrants.

[14] I chose the ruler of the 10th over the Sun because Mercury is in a better “place”, the 7th and 10th from the 10th, rather than the Sun falling in the 8th place.

[15]And if you knew this in a revolution of years (that the Lord of the Year was the same as the significator of the King), know even the significator of the king from the Lord of the Year, and know his condition from the condition of the rustics.” Cf. Mashā’āllāh’s, “Revolutions of the years of the World” Chapter 19

[16] It is applying to but not yet joined to Jupiter, so technically Mercury is not yet pushing his authority to Jupiter. However I note that it will.

[17] This judgement is based on the 11th being the treasury of the government with Jupiter there and testified to by the Sun which is in its exaltation Aries and in the 8th of taxation and debt which opposes the peoples resources, the 2nd.