Babylonian Planetary Periods & Mundane Astrology

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By John Timperman

 

PLANETARY PERIODS IN MUNDANE ASTROLOGY

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.

THE PROPER HELIACAL PERIODS

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:

GLOBAL HELIACAL PERIODS

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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

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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.

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al-ghazali

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.  https://youtu.be/cse4uDqj_w8

Isra and Mi’raj in the Zubdat-al Tawarikh

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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.

Aspects between planets – A comparative study of time and space

imagesCASRH5QVThis is part of an article published in 2011, reviewed in 2014

Coyright Clélia Romano, DMA

Aspects were seen quite differently by Hellenistic astrologers comparing to the Medieval Arabic point of view.

In Hellenistic astrology the aspects were usually considered from sign to sign, even if we have evidence of a distinction between exact aspects and aspects by sign, and even between applying and separating aspects. The orbs were not used and planets were considered in aspect to the other if they were apart in a  three degrees maximum.

The question of orbs for each planet is a Medieval astrology’s issue. There were controversial points of view on how distant in degrees one planet had to be from the other in order to be able to hurling its rays to it. We noticed that  planets with bigger visibility were supposed to have a bigger orb, as occurs in the case of the Sun and Moon. So orb was not only a question of visibility, but also took into consideration the size of the planet.

Both Hellenistic and Medieval astrology had in common the use of the so called Ptolemy´s aspects. As a matter of fact, this kind of aspects was not a Ptolemy´s invention, since they existed before him. These aspects are: the opposition, the trine, the sextile and the square. The reason why these aspects are considered instead of  any others was based upon the concept which was greatly emphasized by the Greeks, i.e. the relationship between planets have always to take into account if a sign is able to “see” the other. So the notion of giving testimony was underlying the idea of aspect. In other words the notion of aspect by whole sign was never abandoned.

Due to the invisibility, the so called “conjunction” was not considered an aspect, because two planets together are not able to look at each other in the same way that we are not able to look to ourselves, except through a mirror, and in this case we will be using a kind of opposition.

But if the conjunction is not an aspect, the opposite is true: any aspect is a conjunction. Let me explain: to planets in aspect are said in “con iuntio” a Latin word that can mean the carnal relationship. Therefore all aspects are conjunctions, some of them by body, others “by aspect”.

The idea of be together is very important and when the orb of a planet, which is an orb of light, reaches the orb of the other, something like a marriage occurs that can be harmonious or not.

Ptolemy gave a somewhat confusing explanation for the existence of these aspects in his Tetrabiblos, whose real name was Apothelesmatics (a word that means the reason of what is happening)

Ptolemy was a great scholar and he mastered many subjects. He had the opportunity to deal closely with the precious volumes in Alexandria library, which later burned down destroying a huge part not only of the ancient astrological writings but a huge amount of the  human knowledge´s history until that time.

Well, Ptolemy wrote, among other things, a book about music, specifically about harmony, and this book has not survived except fragmentarily. The interesting fact is that the missing part is precisely the part referring to the harmonics and just the point where they referred to astrology! Probably the hand of the Catholic Church had a big influence in this kind of disappearence. Perhaps the Church tried to avoid to see publicized the notion that the harmony of their sacred chants, like all the music, followed the same astrological principles:  the harmony underlying the visible and invisible world.

Now it is necessary to  explain a bit of musical theory, in order to demostrate the same harmony between aspects. I´ll be using the  phonetic scales because I´m used to deal with them.

The way they were created is interesting: the names of the musical notes came from who named them : it was the Italian Benedictine monk Guido d’ Arezzo . Even in the 11th century , he named the scale to inspire a hymn to St. John the Baptist , composed by another monk , Paolo Deacon , three centuries before. ( See the verses below. )
To understand the logic , just skip the first verse and then take the first syllable of each phrase to recognize the notes – ( Ut ) , Re , Mi , Fa , Sol , La , and S.
The note named “Si” he adapted by combining the first two first letters of Sancte and Iohannes . Five centuries later , bothered by the sound of the first syllable , the musician Giovanni Maria Bononcini increased a change . Excluded Ut and exchanged by “Do”, Dominus ( Lord ) . And with this heavenly blessing he sacramented the name of musical notes .

Queant Laxis Ut … fibris resonare … mira … gestorum famuli tuorum … solve polluti … labii reatum … Sancte Iohannes . ”

Since antiquity, the default was to use letter scales ( the Latinized system is the exception , incidentally began with the madness of the monk and spread primarily to the Latin countries ) In English-speaking countries , the notes are represented by letters : C , D , E, F , G , A and B (or H), as you know. This is one of the oldest names , which we also use in chords . But the ancient Greek alphabet, for instance, has also been used .

So to mount the Harmonic Field of a tonality ,the triads need to ride with intervals of 3rd between each note of the scale . The third equals two notes after the note you ‘re playing. If you play the note named “Do”, a jump from 3 will lead you to the note Mi , i.e. two notes after you were . Now that we got Mi , give another leap of 3 , and you arrive at the note Sol.
If you look you will see that we use the tonic , together with the third and fifth ascending note, with respect to the tonic . The only detail is that this construction of T > 3 > 5 , can only use notes composing the scale of tone where you are . But this is the basics.

It was import to explain because we can see that playing “Do” +”Mi” +Sol” we have the perfect chord for the ‘DO” scale.

It corresponds to the triplicities. The distance beteween a third and the other correspondes to the sextile.  If you introduces to the perfect chord  the 7th note departing from “Do” you get the opposition, a little disharmonious, bringing some king of tension,but it is still interesting.

But if you press together “Do+”Re”, then you will have a horrible sound, a big and nasty dissonance. That is because “Do+”Re” are very close, as Aries and Taurus, for example. They have nothing to do with the other in terms of elements or modes.

But pressing together “DO+ Mi+Sol” the first, the third and the 5th notes we have the perfect chord, the harmony that happens among the triplicities of water, earth, fire and air.

Hypothetically Ptolemy could have explained harmonies in relation to astrological aspects based in something like that, but we will never know for sure.

Let´s talk now about the orb adopted by traditional astrologers until the 17th century.

In modern astrology the idea of orb is quite different from the traditional point of view.

The orbs are presently related to aspects instead of planets: for example, the orb given by an square aspect and for the opposition are larger than the one of sextiles, considered less strong than the others two. It is true that the sextile aspect is the weaker, but orb has nothing to do with aspect but with planets and visibility.imagesCAYVM16P

If you had said to any astrologer before the 17th century that the orb of planets depend  on the aspect they will apply or receive  he would answer: “what are you talking about?” Orbs depend on the the planets and not the other way around!

That’s the main difference between the medieval idea about planetary orbs and the modern astrological construction.

The teachings introduced by Alan Leo after the nineteenth century, were responsible for different orbs to different aspects. Perhaps due to the fact that he began using the so-called minor aspects (semi-sextile, sesqui-square, quintile, etc.) basically knowing that such orbs works in an uncertain way, he may have suggested the use of narrow orbs when working with them.

Anyway this does not make sense, traditionally speaking.

The term orb refers to light and supposes a circle of light surrounding the body of a planet. The moment when a planet is touching or overlapping the orb of another one we can consider that we have an aspect. We can´t forget that within the circle of light is the body of the planet, and this is important when discussing the present issue.

Another word virtually synonymous of “light” is “ray” and it is told that a planet hurls its rays to another.

Why am I talking about orb? Well because time and space are related and a fact that is expected to happen depend on how many degrees a promissor is distant from a significator. According to Masha´allah, on his “On Reception”, translated from the Latin by Robert Hand at first and after by Benhamin Dykes, PHD the fact will happen in the exact time when degree by degree, one planet will touch the other.

In page 107 of his book CA , William Lilly says that each planet has its own arc or radius of combustion, i.e. the quantity of degrees it needs to be distant of the Sun to not be burned. The orb of light has to do with the apparent magnitude of the planet: the lower level is 8 degrees (Venus and Mars), the medium is 12 degrees (Moon) and the highest is 17 degrees (Sun).

So it is really possible that the idea  of orb came from a visibility criterion.

Therefore we can consider that since that planets beyond the orbit of Saturn are not visible, they have no orb.

On Hellenistic times, the fact that planets were in trine (trigon), tetragon (squares) or hexagon (sextiles) by sign, was already enough to show a relationship between them.

It is observed in our practice that although the relationship between those planets is less intense, the aspect by sign has still significance. This is why the Greek authors have given a negative perspective if for example the ruler of a house/sign does not aspect his own domicile. However, aspects by degree are more effective.

Let´s see it closely: what means to aspect? ” What means to aspect? “In Latin the  word used to mean an aspect was aspicere or “to look”. Before the Physics explain the vision phenomena, the Greek philosophers thought that vision was related to the light, generally brought  by the Sun. But in the act of seeing the eye itself  hurl its rays against the light of the object, which in turn send its light back and this process linking eye and object allows vision. 

An object with no light  is not able to see or be seen, since the fire rays departing from the eye in order  to recover  back the rays of the object  needs light. Seeing is an impossibility in this case

This theory has a philosophical importance, since it shows that only the affinity of light, like a communion ,can share visibility. So Gemini can´t see  any place or planet in Taurus, a fixed and earthy sign but in turn  it is able to see Aries, because they have  in common the hot element. In the same way Aries, fire/movable can´t see the light of Taurus, an earthy/ fixed sign, but can see Cancer since they share the cardinality. No matter how you will look at it: you cannot turn signs with no common  elementary properties into friend or enemies: they do not see each other. ” [1]  

This happens also in our society and in our life: a child immediately sees another child in a multitude, a man finds his pair, a teenager another like him… and if nobody see you it is because there is nobody like you in that place.

( to be continued)


[1] From “Astrologia Tradicional Na Prática” by Clélia Romano, Author´s Edition, São Paulo, Brazil, 2013

Aversion or the “Inconjunct”: Dignities, Strengths, and Weaknesses – a closer look

One has to practice the classical concepts to understand their significance in real terms. Aversion is not a “corruption” of the planet. It is rather a weakness. We must examine the distinctions; what is the difference between “weakness” and “misfortune and corruption”? One thing I have noticed in my studies and practice is that the ancients made clear distinctions between the quantity of the signification produced and its quality. These terms would seem somewhat self-evident; however, it is common to find these terms erroneously mixed. In the simplest terms, quality tells us what kind and quantity tells us how much. Abu Ma’shār for example in his Introduction to Astrology makes this distinction between quality and quantity.

The fourth chapter, on the good fortune of the planets, their power, their weakness and their misfortune . . .

Here the astrologer is outlining two distinct categories of evaluation. One is the fortunes and misfortunes. This is his qualitative judgement of what kind. The other is of the power and weakness of the planets, which is a quantitative judgment of how much.

Let me try to explain this in another way. Electricity has a remarkably accurate analogy to astrology. The principles of electricity involve different factors that produce an effect. Voltage (V) is like the essential dignity of a planet. It describes the quality. There are several type quality batteries. You have 24V, 12V, 9V, etc. where the voltage describes the quality. Then you have current or amperes (A) that directly influence the output or effect. This is analogous of a planets phase to the Sun, or if it is in the chart sect or not etc. The effect of that battery [or planet] is its ability to use its full potential, i.e. seen as the light from a light bulb that is attached [effect or Watts]. A 12V battery with a current of 65 amperes (a typical car battery) will produce 780 Watts (voltage x amperes = watts). That is its effect. Likewise a planet in its domicile (the 12V battery), oriental of the Sun (if a superior planet), and in sect (the optimal 65A current) produces an optimal effect (Watts) that we determine from the essential nature and determination of the planet.

The normal car is the “domain” of that battery, designed specifically for that environment and its demands. If I take that same 12V, 65A battery and place it into a different environment like a diesel truck, it may produce enough to perform once but the strain placed by the higher demands of the environment will immediately corrupt and ruin the battery. A diesel truck may require a 24V 85A (2040 W) battery for example. This is similar to a planet posited in a sign where it is peregrine, or in a sign that happens to be its detriment or fall.

If we place on that 12V battery resistance in the form of lights or a heater, that resistance (or impediment) is measured in ohms (Ώ). The introduction of a new factor changes the total effect. If the light produces a resistance of 3 ohms then the total effect is now calculated Voltage/Ohms x Amperes = Watts (effect). In our example then the voltage, 12V, is divided by the resistance, 3 ohms, and multiplied by the amperes = 12V/3Ώ x 65A = 4 x 65 = 260 W. You can see the significant reduction compared to the original potential of 780 watts. This is how various factors impede a planet, i.e. joined to a malefic. This is resistance.

None of these extra factors changes the essential dignity of the battery. It is always a 12V battery. Changing either the current or resistance, however, will change the effect. If the current [amperes] is reduced or increased, the effect will be either stronger or weaker not its dignity. If we increase the resistance [ohms], it also reduces the effect because its quality is directly affected. Neither current nor resistance is the same as voltage! These are three individual and distinct variables!

Now as long as that battery is full (like a car battery is charged by the regulator and generator of a car), then its effect is constant, meaning that it can produce 100% of its effect at all times (like an angular planet). If that battery should have an under specified alternator or generator with perhaps dirty brushes it does not keep the batter properly charged, its effect is less constant and somewhat weaker (like a succedent planet). If the alternator/generator is defective and producing far below the specific requirement then the battery eventually will empty itself of charge and it may not even start the car consistently or barely cause the motor to turn over (like falling cadent). This measurement has nothing to do with essential dignity because the battery is still a 12V battery, but rather it is a measure of how much of the quality (12V) is available to be transmitted and how constant. Just as a battery that is flat can be “jumped”, so can the planets. If I series connect another fully charged 12V battery to the flat battery then that flat battery will produce consistently enough to be useful. This is much like what happens if you have a cadent planet that is aspected by its ruler or a benefic from a trine aspect in an angle!

What I am trying to illustrate is that many things that are often called essential dignities, are not in themselves essential dignity. Current (amperes) and resistance (ohms) is not the same thing as the quality of the source (voltage or its essential dignity). It is all three of them together that determine an outcome or effect (Watts) and the effect is not the same as dignity! The judgement of the planets is a science and cannot effectively be boiled down to a simple table because these factors are each the function of a variable. While Voltage (quality) and Amperes (quantity) both affect the outcome (Watts), the relationship of quantity has a very special role.

If you consider the equation for the outcome, we find that the misfortunes and corruptions directly affect the quality and not simply by ‘subtraction’ – it divides. It does not affect the means or quantity! These are some very real variables that have a specific result.

Now all of this is a very simplified analogy since there are many variables that determine both quality and quantity. In the case of aversion, it affects the rulers’ ability to produce an effect for the particular domicile it falls in aversion to! It is not a ‘joy’ in the sense the ancients used but it is a condition that has a direct effect on the domicile and the resultant house it rules!

Now a practical demonstration of this consideration is found in the

chart of ex-tennis star Jimmy Connors.

Jimmy Connors September 2, 1952 10:30 AM CDT East Saint Louis, Illinois, USA 38° N 37' 28" – 90° W 09' 03" 27° Libra 28’ rises

Jimmy Connors
September 2, 1952
10:30 AM CDT
East Saint Louis, Illinois, USA
38° N 37′ 28″ – 90° W 09′ 03″
27° Libra 28’ rises

The Sun in the 11th is a strong position for the Sun in this diurnal chart! It does indicate reputation and success. However, that reputation and success is marred by separation, controversy and exile (this is what Paulus tells us a planet in aversion to its domicile signifies). Moreover, Lilly following the ancients tells us that a planet falling cadent of its domicile, so that it does not behold it, is indicative that the planet is “ill-disposed” to signify those matters.

Based on that signification, I would have to say that while this native receives reputation and success in his profession, there is some aspect of that which brings him into controversy and even exile by his peers and professional associates. The Sun, ruler of the 10th, is in the 11th in aversion to Mercury ruler of the 11th in the 10th! At some point in this natives’ profession he is perhaps in exile to his professional peers because of controversy.

What I found when I read a couple online biographies was this:

Connors was denied a shot at the Grand Slam because he was banned from the French Open that year after signing to play in World Team Tennis. Because the Association of Tennis Pros (which Connors refused to join) and the French officials opposed WTT, the entries of WTT players were refused.

These significations are not some intangible potential, but actually signify real people, things and events! It is also interesting to see that this ban and exile came during his Mercury Firdar when Saturn (exalted ruler of the 12th and 1st) was the participating distributer!

So to say that just because a planet falls in aversion to one domicile but not the other is not an impediment is quite untrue! As I said before the consequences concern the house to which it is in aversion and if that house is normally a profitable house to the native, it can often have some dire consequences to the outcome!

Steven Birchfield A.M.A.