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.

Nativity Charts and Free Will

QVcoronation

With the “discovery” of the outer Planets and the movement into Modern Astrology, many traditional associations of the seven Traditional Planets were re-assigned to the Outer Planets.  For example, the genius of Mercury was attributed to Uranus and the idealism and spirituality of Jupiter was assigned to Neptune.  In Modern Astrology, the Outer Planets were assigned transcendent qualities, and astrologers started to believe that these planets were the “higher octave” of the Traditional Planets.  After some time, asteroids and other bodies were “discovered” and given meaning, and astrology got to the point where anything could mean anything.  Astrologers began to teach and believe that one could not truly predict anything because people had “Free Will.”

Many of us began our studies of Classical Astrology against this backdrop.  We discovered that Classical Astrology gave us tools that vastly improved the accuracy of readings and gave us rules to be able to give predictions with reasonable confidence.  Many of us still struggled with the problem of Free Will and what that meant in our ability to give accurate predictions.

I think that the difficulty lies in a Western misunderstanding of Free Will as the ability to do whatever one wants.  This is not the traditional concept of Free Will.  For the traditional concept, it is instructive to look at the symbolism of the cross, which is found in the glyph of all of the non-luminary planets.  The cross is the symbol of materiality, but contained within this symbol are the elements of Free Will.  The cross consists of a vertical line intersected by a horizontal line.  The horizontal line represents substance, or outward movement; the vertical line represents upward and downward movement.  Humans stand at the axis.

Classical Astrology is filled with rules and axioms.  When practicing horary and electional astrology, these rules and axioms are necessary, and to achieve accurate and helpful results for our clients, we do need to be rather strict about application of these rules and axioms in horary and electional work.  When it comes to Nativity readings, though, a strict reading of rules and axioms can create some difficulty.  As a reaction against the vagueness and ambiguity of Modern Astrology and some of the silliness of the New Age movement, I think that Classical Astrologers have tended to shy away from spiritual language and have focused heavily on the material.  Of course, accurate material predictions are quite helpful to our clients, and Classical Astrology has much to offer in terms of assisting us in giving good, practical advice.

On the other hand, I think that there is a rich spirituality in Classical Astrology as well, and we do not need to limit ourselves to strictly material matters.  Just as Modern Astrology stripped away material associations from the Traditional Planets and assigned them to the Outers, Modern Astrology also stripped away the spiritual and transcendent meanings of the Traditional Planets.  One example of this is Neptune.  Somehow, Modern Astrology assigned spiritual and transcendent language to Neptune.  The positive spiritual qualities that Modern Astrology assigned to Neptune are fully subsumed in the Traditional Planets.  Our Solar Hearts unite us with the Divine and with each other, sacrificial Love is shown in both the Lunar and Venusian principles.  Venus is also associated with the spiritual Way of Love.  Mercury is associated with Wisdom/Sophia and with the spiritual Way of Light.  Jupiter is associated with the spiritual Way of Good Works.   There is no need for us to cede the realm of spirituality to Modern Astrology, and Classical Astrology has a lot to offer to those seeking a spiritual path.

For me, the paradigm of the Symbol of the Cross has been extremely helpful in applying the rules and axioms of Classical Astrology to Nativity work.  The paradigm of the cross tells me that there are three main expressions of all astrological configurations in a chart.  The most common expression is the horizontal axis.  This is the material, outward expression, or what will happen naturally.  The horizontal axis represents matters such as vocation, money, social status, hobbies, education, et cetera.  Many of the rules and axioms in Classical Astrology will work well in predicting the horizontal axis.  Yet, humans are Axial Beings, and they can also express their charts upwardly and downwardly along the vertical axis.  Often, it is when a native’s choices on the horizontal axis are most limited that their choices along the vertical axis become most profound.

Queen_Victoria_(c_1839)As an example, a native may be on her deathbed and confined to a hospital.  Her choices on the horizontal axis are severely limited, and she is going to die very shortly.  Despite this, she still has profound choices on the vertical axis.  For instance, suppose she has a relative that she has been estranged from.  On her deathbed, she has many options.  One of the options would be to do nothing, to let herself die with the ruptured relationship as is.  Another option would be an upward choice.  She could write a letter to the estranged relative seeking and extending forgiveness.  Yet another option would be a downward choice.  She could write a vindictive Will to do lasting harm to this relative.  The choice the native makes under these circumstances has profound spiritual impact for herself, the relative, and perhaps the rest of her family.  While an astrologer may be able to predict the native’s likely actions, the choice always remains with the native.

Using this paradigm, I internally translate rules and axioms when I apply them to Nativities.  For example, when reading William Lilly’s description of the planets, I mentally translate “when well placed” to “upwardly expressed” and “when ill placed” to “downwardly expressed.”  I then use dignities and debilities to get a sense of how easy or difficult it will be for the native to express her chart in an upward manner and for the temptations to express her chart in a downward manner.  I also use the rules and axioms to predict the outward and natural tendencies.

An interesting example of this is the chart of Queen Victoria.  She reigned during a pivotal period in the history of England.  Interestingly enough, she had many periods of solitude, including a period of almost ten years after the death of her husband.  During that time, her enemies gained power.  There was a three year period in which she neglected her official responsibilities and became a terror to her children.

Queen Victoria

Even a cursory reading of Queen Victoria’s chart would enable an astrologer to predict a tendency towards isolation, particularly under stress.  Three out of seven planets are deeply situated in her twelfth house, including Mercury, the ruler of her Ascendant, and the depositor of her Sun and Moon.  Using Egyptian terms, Mercury is dignified by term and face, so she is not peregrine; however, she is in the fixed sign of Taurus, so once she isolated herself, it would be difficult for her to come out of such a state.   Often when someone has a difficult planetary placement, I will look to the dispositor of the planet to see if the native can find help there.  Mercury’s dispositor is Venus, also in the 12th House, in detriment, with dignity only by face.  Venus is in worse shape than Mercury, so there is not much help there.  Venus is in turn deposited by Mars, who also in the 12th House, and Mars rules the 12th House.  Mars does have dignity, though, as the ruler of Aries.

If one traces the chain of disposition in this chart, the only planets that can not trace disposition to Mars are Jupiter and Saturn, who are in mutual reception.  They are also the only planets not in or near the 12th House.  By the rule of 5, Queen Victoria’s Sun and Moon are in her first house; however, they are physically located in her 12th.  Saturn rules her 10th House, her duty and her official responsibilities and Jupiter rules her 7th, her husband.  In this chart, Jupiter is the planet that is most favorably placed, being in the 10th House and dignified by triplicity and term.  It is quite predictable that Queen Victoria would respond to her husband’s death with self-imposed isolation, as her marriage was a place of relief from her heavy 12th House.

This chart provides a good illustration of the application of Free Will because Queen Victoria did take a downward path for a time after her husband’s death.  Once she started down this path, one would predict that it would be difficult to impossible for her to change course.  Yet, somehow she did change course.  She slowly resumed her duties and returned to public life.  It took a long time, but eventually, she did.

If I were the royal astrologer trying to help Queen Victoria, the planet I see that could provide assistance to the queen would be Mars.  While I would judge Jupiter as more favorable in her chart, being in the 10th House rather than the 12th, Jupiter really does not have the ability to impact Mercury the way that Mars does.  Jupiter is loosely square Mercury, but he is not connected through disposition to Mercury or the other 12th House planets.  Mars is in a better position to be directly helpful.

In this chart, Mars in Aries is situated in and ruling the 12th House.  The 12th House is tricky, being the House of Troubles.  Is there any way we can use the 12th House in a positive way to give Queen Victoria helpful advice?  Looking to the symbol of the cross, at that point in her life, Queen Victory was spiraling downward.  Even though an upward direction is the highest path, when one is on a downward spiral, one must first be brought to the horizontal, outward axis.  An upward 12th House path would most likely be a spiritual retreat.  In Queen Victoria’s case, this would add to the isolation, and she would likely fall further down the path of despair.

Queen Victoria on HorsebackSo, we are looking at a way to express the 12th House on a physical level in a helpful manner.  This is not an easy problem to solve.  The 12th House is the house least suited to positive outward expression, so it requires a bit of creativity on the part of the astrologer giving advice.  A creative astrologer might look to the traditional associations for the 12th House and remember that horses are associated with the 12th House.  In thinking about this, she might remember that horseback riding and caring for a horse involve physical exertion and exercise, which also make good use of Mars in Aries.

Interestingly enough, horseback riding is exactly what Queen Victoria’s physician did suggest.  Queen Victoria hired a groom, Mr. John Brown, to assist her in following this advice, and she did slowly work her way out of the downward spiral she had been in.  Mr. Brown seemed to have a bit of a Martial manner about him, so it is likely that this was quite helpful to Queen Victoria as well.

As you can see, the paradigm of Free Will and the cross does not change anything in terms of mechanics of delineation; however, this paradigm does give structure to draw upon when working with our clients in giving them helpful and practical advice.