Recently I was reading a book by Charles Carter (31 Jan 1887 — 4 Oct 1968) and wondered what his birth chart looked like. A quick internet search revealed that there are several charts, all within a few minutes and birth locations of each other, which all purport to be his natal figure. The variety of such charts prompted me to try to discover the “true” birth chart of this noted astrologer. The earliest reference I could find was a photocopy of the opening pages of the 1929 (first) publication of his book Symbolic Directions in Modern Astrology:
Some sites online use “Poole, UK” as Carter’s birthplace, but the site https://www.charlescarter.co.uk/note-on-chart/ claims that Carter definitely said his birth location was Parkstone, which is nearby: “Charles Carter gave his birth data quite distinctly as 31st January 1887, 10.55 pm, Parkstone, Dorsetshire, England, 50N43, 02W00.” In this quote it is not clear whether Carter meant GMT or LMT. In addition, he has rounded the coordinates of his birthplace to the nearest minute of arc. Curious about the more precise coordinates of Parkstone, I checked google maps:
The program Solar Fire gives the coordinates of Parkstone as Latitude 50° N 43′ 05″, Longitude 01° W 57′ 26″. Since I don’t know the exact street address of Carter’s birth in Parkstone, UK, I will use the Solar Fire coordinates in the rest of this post.
Using Solar fire, I was able to generate a birth chart very close to the one which Carter published for himself in 1929 by using a birth time of 10:59:32 PM GMT (which corresponds to 10:51:42 PM LMT). Carter apparently said he was born at 10:55 PM (whether he used GMT or LMT is not clear). However, since England began using GMT in 1884, three years before Carter’s birth, it is likely that his recorded birth time was 10:55 PM GMT and that other charts which he used were rectifications of the recorded birth time.
Interestingly, in the 2nd edition (1946) of Symbolic Directions in Modern Astrology, Carter’s birth chart has been modified to give an Ascendant of 17 Libra 15 with a Midheaven of 22 Cancer 27, which would correspond to a birth time of 11:01:29 PM UT.
The widely used site astro.com gives Carter’s birth data as: 31 January 1887 at 23:01 GMT (11:01 PM GMT) in Parkstone, England, 50n47, 2w20, apparently citing Carter himself. There is an additional comment that Fowler gives a birth time 10:55 PM, from Carter, who rectified his own chart to an MC of 21 Cancer 53, corresponding to a rectified birth time of 10:59:02 PM GMT.
On what basis might Carter have rectified his recorded birth time of 10:55 PM GMT to a time of 10:59:02 PM GMT? In his books on symbolic directions (1929) and the astrology of accidents (1932), as well as in his lectures, Carter was quite taken with the accident of his own daughter on 16 August 1926 when she fell through a skylight and landed 13 feet below onto stone steps, rendering her unconscious. Fortunately, she was not seriously injured, but finding his daughter unconscious in a heap of glass on stone steps must have been a traumatic event, etched into the memory of the astrologer. My hunch is that Carter used his daughter’s accident to rectify his chart for the 1929 publication of his book, which discussed the incident.
Using his daughter’s accident and primary directions without latitude, Placidus proportional semi-arc method, with the Naibod rate and the coordinates of Parkstone from Solar Fire, I rectified his chart to the following:
To rectify the chart, I assumed that Mars in the 5th of Carter’s natal chart could signify a dangerous period and possibly a serious accident or injury befalling his daughter. As calculated in Solar Fire, by primary direction at the Naibod rate, Mars arrives at the IC (meridian axis) on 16 August 1926, the day his daughter crashed through the skylight and fell onto stone steps below.
In addition, during the summer of 1926, by primary direction (Placidus proportional semi-arc method), Carter’s natal 8th-ruler Venus (which is on the cusp of the natal 5th house and conjunct Ketu) came to the opposition of his 5th house ruler Saturn, a natural signifier of falls and gravity-related accidents. Saturn, signifier of his daughter, is square Uranus in the 12th in Carter’s birth chart, suggesting the child’s proneness to accidents.
Venus, for her part, conjoins the cusp of the 5th, rejoices in the 5th, is a natural signifier of young women, and is con-significator and karaka of the 5th of children. Finally, in Carter’s natal chart Venus rules the 8th of death, so that when primary directed Venus opposed Saturn (ruler of the 5th of children), Carter was harshly confronted with the mortality of his daughter.
The fact that Carter slightly modified his birth chart in the 2nd edition of Symbolic Directions in Modern Astrology several years later may simply mean that he continued to rectify his chart with new events that occurred after the defining moment of the serious and potentially fatal accident of his daughter.
This morning (9 Sep 2021) I was experimenting with different ways of viewing our solar system. The following images show the geocentric perspective from Earth as well as that of an observer outside our solar system at the same moment in time (about 6 AM at my location in Connecticut).
In the above figure, one can see that as viewed from Earth, the Sun will soon rise in the east, followed by Mars, Mercury, the Earth’s Moon, and Venus, in that order. Here is an enlarged image of the heliocentric view, which is obviously not to scale:
To illustrate certain horary principles William Lilly presented a chart (CA 177) of a question by a tradesman who asked about several matters, including whether he would eventually be rich. Here is the chart recalculated by modern computer, but very close to the one used by Lilly:
Te determine whether the tradesman would become rich or not, Lilly considered the following factors (CA 181):
The 2nd house symbolizes the wealth of the native. With Scorpio on the cusp of the 2nd, Mars rules his potential to get rich. Mars also disposes the Part of Fortune, another symbol of material well-being. Mars is quite strong in the 1st house and conjunct both the Ascendant of the horary chart and the benevolent fixed start Spica.
Jupiter, a general signifier of wealth, is exalted in Cancer and is quite prominent and strong conjunct the MC of the horary chart. Jupiter is also connected to the Ascendant degree and to 2nd-ruler Mars by a square aspect, but in signs of long ascension which makes it act more like a trine aspect.
There is also a translation of light connecting the ruler of his wealth (Mars) with the ruler of the Ascendant (Venus). The Moon is separating from a very recent sextile to Mars (followed quickly by a conjunction to Mercury) and will soon conjoin Venus, “transferring thereby both the virtue and influence of Mercury and Mars to the proper significator of the Querent.” Lilly does not explain the role of Mercury in this configuration, even though the Moon conjoins Mercury AFTER perfecting a sextile to Mars and BEFORE conjoining Venus. On might wonder whether Mercury could be problematic as ruler of the unfortunate 12th house.
The Moon is also disposed by the Sun, which is quite strong and dignified in Leo in the angular 10th house, and thus the Moon shares in the good and powerful condition of its dispositor. This is quite fortunate for the question because the Moon “hath a general signification in every Question, so being no ways unfortunate she promised the Querent much good.” (CA 182)
Finally, Lilly studied the Part of Fortune, another general signifier of wealth: “I considered that the Part of Fortune was in a fixed sign and in Mars his own terms [that is, in the terms of Mars]; from all of which testimonies aforesaid, I judged that the Demandant would acquire an Estate and have a competent fortune in this world, but attain it with labor and care because it is signified by an Infortune [namely, Mars]; so to the day hereof he hath; but because Mars, lord of the 7th house (which is the house of Women and Wives), hath the most material signification of the thing demanded, viz., Wealth and Riches, I advised to marry, and acquainted him, that without Marriage he should nothing so well subsist.” (CA 182)
Here the Part of Fortune in a fixed sign suggests enduring wealth. In addition, the Part of Fortune is disposed by Mars and occupies the terms (and face) of Mars, making it more dignified and effective. Interestingly, in his discussion Lilly appears to have ignored the fact that Mars is peregrine and in detriment in Libra, and in his own scoring system Mars ranks as the worst planet in the chart with a score of -10 points as calculated in Solar Fire (see table below).
I’m not sure ow Solar Fire calculated the score for Mars. If I did it correctly, in Lilly’s point system (CA 115) Mars would score as follows:
Peregrine: -5 In Detriment: -5 Slow in motion: -2 Occidental: -2 TOTAL NEGATIVE POINTS: -14
In 1st house: +5 Direct in motion: +4 Free of Sun’s beams: +5 Conjunct Spica: +5 TOTAL POSITIVE POINTS: +19
Another positive factor may be that Mars occupies the triplicity and term of Jupiter (participating triplicity ruler of Air signs), which is exalted in Cancer and powerful on the MC. Jupiter squares Mars with a dominant sinister square with reception, which acts more like a sextile, for which Lilly would award +3 points, giving Mars a positive total of +22, a negative total of -14, and an overall combined score of +7.
In most types of astrology the Midheaven (MC, or Medium Coeli) is considered to be of extreme importance. Most quadrant house systems use the MC as the cusp of the 10th house. Some astrologers incorrectly refer to the MC as the ‘zenith’ or as the ‘highest point in the chart’. In fact, at the moment for which the chart is cast the MC is rarely the highest point above the horizon in the chart. A bit of reflection will help us to understand why this is so.
The two principal axes in the horoscope wheel are the horizon and the meridian. These circles divide the astrological chart into four quadrants, which are further subdivided into three astrological houses in the quadrant house system. The horizon is the imaginary circle surrounding the observer at which the earth’s surface and the sky appear to meet. The meridian is the imaginary circle of constant longitude passing through the observer’s location on the earth’s surface and the terrestrial North and South poles. Western horoscopic astrology is based on the overarching importance of the eastern horizon, the so-called ‘horoskopos’ or marker of the moment of birth. The MC or Midheaven is the point where the meridian circle of the observer’s location intersects the ecliptic circle (the path of the Sun in the geocentric model) above the observer’s horizon.
Distinct from the MC (Midheaven) is a point called the ‘Nonagesimal‘, which is in fact the highest point of the ecliptic above the horizon at the moment for which the chart is drawn.
The site lexico.com notes that the word ‘nonagesimal’ derives from the classical Latin nōnāgēsimus ninetieth (from nōnāgintā ninety (from novem nine + -gintā, suffix forming cardinal numerals from thirty to ninety, related to decem ten: see decem-) + -ēsimus, extended form (after vīcēsimus) of -simus, suffix used to form ordinal numerals) + -al, and defines ‘nonagesimal’ as:
“The point of the ecliptic which is highest above the horizon at any given time, being 90 degrees round the ecliptic from the point at which it intersects the horizon.”
In other words, the Nonagesimal is the point on the ecliptic above the horizon that is exactly 90 degrees from the Ascendant degree, that is, it is the midpoint above the horizon of the Ascendant and Descendant degrees of the chart. In the equal house system from the Ascendant, the Nonagesimal is the cusp of the 10th house. In Hellenistic astrology a planet on the Nonagesimal forms a dominant square with respect to the Ascendant and has a powerful effect on the vitality, motivations and life course of the native. Applying this Hellenistic principle to horary astrology, a planet on the Nonagesimal (the highest point above the horizon) would have a major and overarching impact on the Ascendant, which signifies the querent as well as the horary question itself.
Why is the elevation of a planet so important? My hunch is that the idea of the importance of elevation dates back to the Persian influence on Hellenistic astrology. When Alexander the Great conquered Persia in 334 BCE, he became enthralled with the idea that no one’s head should be held higher than that of the king. The following passage from the book Shanameh: The Persian Book of Kings illustrates this idea (italics mine):
“When Zal saw Kavus sitting in state on the throne, he bent his arms submissively across his chest and lowered his head. He said, ‘Lord of the world, whose head is lifted higher than those of all other noblemen and chieftains, no one has seen a king like you occupying the throne …”
Alexander brought back not only astrology but also parts of Persian culture (including the significance of elevation above others as an indication of status and power) when he founded the city of Alexandria, which became a center for the development of Hellenistic astrology.
Recently I was looking at a horary chart in which Mars was almost exactly conjunct the MC, thus making Mars a highly significant planet in interpreting the chart because of its prominence on the Midheaven. About 11 degrees to the west of Mars was Mercury, cadent in the 9th house. Cadent planets are supposedly less influential, but in this case Mercury was more elevated than Mars and would play a major role in the interpretation of the horary figure. Specifically, Mars had an altitude above the horizon of 30n34, and Mercury had an altitude above the horizon of 35n25′, almost 5 degrees higher than Mars. The following figure from Stellarium illustrates this fact.
The practical implication of the Nonagesimal as the highest point in the chart is that we should pay close attention to planets conjunct the Nonagesimal, much as with do with planets conjunct the Midheaven. For advocates of Ebertin’s midpoint system, the Nonagesimal is the Asc/Dsc midpoint above the horizon and, as such, is symbolically extremely significant, especially when conjoined by a natal, directed or transiting planet.
Addendum (15 July 2021): Comments from Facebook
I am grateful to the several gifted astrologers who responded to this post on Facebook and added comments which further clarify and amplify this topic. The most detailed of those comments are copied and pasted below:
Nāthan Theodore Naicker Thanks Anthony. It is an important point. Just adding some info for thought: I’ve noticed in many cases that any planet in the same degree as the AC (irrespective of sign) has a profound impact on the AC, as external factors impacting/influencing the AC and especially mental health. In that context, the AC degree in the tenth sign of the chart (nonagesimal) would be able to exert a dominating influence on the AC. As an aside, in traditional Vedic astrology, planets in the tenth can have the same influence – that is, an overriding influence on the AC, unless the AC is stronger. In that system, the tenth house is the strongest angular place (all other factors being equal). Of course for one to be sure in applying this, a verified birth time is needed, but one can practically apply it with a small orb.
Paul Kiernan This is really important stuff Anthony Louis. One thing I’ve seen a lot of is the notion that Equal Houses, being simple to calculate, lacks astronomical merit. I’ve been banging on about this for years to anyone who would listen but Equal Houses astronomically models something which no other house system does. I personally liken the difference in MC and nonagesimal as being one where the nonagesimal wins the race but MC reaches its personal best. Noteworthy here is that both of these ideas are discernible within the signification of the 10th. Equal House users have always managed to benefit from both important astronomical points by adding nuance to the MC falling in a different sign, but I feel Quadrant and Whole Sign users could do likewise by including the nonagesimal (technically WSH users would need to consider both points, neither of which are directly implicit in its construction except that the nonagesimal falls, somewhere, in the 10th).
Derek Norcott THE ASTRONOMY:In short: Upper nonagesimal and Lower nonagesimal are high and low points of the visible-invisible right (snapshot) ECLIPTIC sphere; RAMC and RAIC are high and low points of the ascending-descending (rotational) right EQUATORIAL sphere. When substituting ecliptic juncture with the meridian, the RAMC–RAIC representation becomes the MC and IC.
THE ASTROLOGY: When using the movement of the planets through the houses along the ecliptic, the right-hand side of the horoscope (IC to MC) becomes the ascending side and the left-hand side (MC to IC) the descending side. (This is despite the apparent movement of the celestial sphere moving clockwise, as the anti-clockwise movements of celestial bodies along the ecliptic visible sphere is what astrologers are most interested in with regards to transits and progressions, etc.)In polar regions, the MC can be below the horizon and the IC above the horizon, though still representing extremes of altitude of the ecliptic degrees during that daily movement.
INTERPRETATION:This means that the MC is NOT the most public visible place, but instead the highest potential for achievement: the future; likewise, the IC is NOT the most private invisible place, but instead the historical origin of the person: the past. These concepts are continuously in our minds as future intent and a harking back to our past. The most public is the Upper nonagesimal; the most private is the Lower nonagesimal; and is our need to be most visible to strangers and extravert, or most hidden away in our exclusive groups, on our own and introvert.I hope this elucidates the difference in the meaning of these points.——
Further info: Planets moving over the Descendant is where one moves into the public visible hemisphere and concerns oneself with other people and their needs. Whereas, planets moving over the Ascendant is where one moves into the private invisible hemisphere and concerns oneself with one’s own responsibilities and needs. This is speculative: Planets moving over the Equatorial Descendant is perhaps where one sees potential for future growth with others; whereas, planets moving over the Equatorial Ascendant is where one perhaps starts to reflect on past events and how one could have done things better. As for Anti-Vertex and Vertex: I can’t see what role these can play as they don’t participate in the movement of planets either along the ecliptic or the equatorial. It is said that the Vertex represents people coming into pone’s life and the Anti-Vertex, people going out of one’s life. However, this is more in tune with the logic of the Equatorial Descendant and Equatorial Ascendant, respectively.(BTW: Just as the MC and IC reflect the Equatorial’s RAMC-RAIC, but along the Ecliptic plane instead; so the Equatorial Ascendant and Equatorial Descendant reflect the Equatorial’s East Point and West Point, but along the Ecliptic plane instead. Using the Equal House system creates equal division of the Ecliptic (visiblity sphere); the Meridian/Axial House system creates an ecliptic representation of equal divisions along the Equatorial (rotational) sphere. Using both together has some logic behind it.
In March of 2021 several astrological sites posted articles about the supposed upcoming phenomenon of Venus being ‘cazimi’ on March 26th at 5 Aries 50 in the tropical zodiac. The word ‘cazimi’ apparently comes from an Arabic term meaning ‘in the heart of the Sun’. According the the definition of cazimi by Guido Bonatti, the conjunction of Venus with the Sun on 26 March 2021 was NOT an example of Venus being cazimi because Venus was 1 degree 21 minutes of latitude below the ecliptic and did not overlap the body of the Sun. I first became aware of the importance of paying attention to planetary latitude in classical astrology when I read Pingree’s translation of Dorotheus back in the late 1970s.
William Lilly defined ‘cazimi‘ as the center of a planet being less than 17 minutes of arc from the center of the Sun:
“A Planet is in the heart of the Sun, or in Cazimi, when he is not removed from him 17 minutes, or is within 17 minutes forward or backward …” (CA 113).
Later in his text Lilly gives a value of 16 minutes of arc: “when a planet is within 16 minutes of the Sun, he is said to be in cazimi…” (CA 300). This definition is a little less accurate.
This definition is based on Sun having an angular diameter of about half a degree, or more precisely, between 31′27″ and 32′32″. Thus, half the diameter of the Sun as seen from Earth ranges from 15’44” to 16’16”, so that the center of a planet lying within this range of distance from the Sun will generally overlap with the body of the Sun when there is up to 16’16” of arc between them, which is less than 17′ of arc.
The precise measurement of cazimi will depend on the day of the year and the angular diameter of the planet involved. From an observational viewpoint on Earth, cazimi and extend up to 16’16” from the center of the Sun, which accounts for Lilly sometimes writing “within 17 minutes” and at other time writing “within 16 minutes” of arc. If we take into account atmospheric refraction, the body of the Sun can appear to have an angular diameter of 34′ of arc, so that cazimi would extend up to 17′ from the center of the Sun, which is consistent with Lilly’s definition on page 113 of Christian Astrology.
Unfortunately, Lilly did not clarify that being cazimi applies to distance from the Sun in both ecliptic longitude and latitude, making the ‘cazimi’ status of a planet an extremely rare occurrence. Most commonly a planet which conjoins the Sun in longitude does not overlap the body of the Sun in latitude, and thus is not cazimi (in the heart of the Sun).
According to William Lilly, a cazimi planet, which lies in the heart of the Sun, thereby becomes strongly fortified and beneficial as a result of its increase in fortune (CA 300). Followers of Lilly who are not aware that Bonatti’s definition applies to both ecliptic longitude and latitude are often surprised that supposedly ‘cazimi’ planets in horary charts do not confer much benefit to the querent and instead can act more like planets combust the Sun. Over the years in several horary chart in which significators appeared cazimi I was disappointed that the beneficial implications of a cazimi planet did not manifest in the outcome of the chart, until I realized that I had been ignoring the latitude of the significator and only considering its close conjunction with the Sun in ecliptic longitude.
As already mentioned, the 13th century astrologer Guido Bonatti, whom Lilly loves to cite, makes the definition quite clear: “And when the planet is with the Sun in one degree, so that there are 16’ or less between them, both by latitude and longitude (which rarely happens), it is said to be united, and then it is made strong, because it is said to be in the Sun’s forge, that is, in his heart.” (Ben Dykes translation of Liber Astronomiae, 2007, p.211)
Bonatti’s definition basically means that to be cazimi, the center of the planet must lie within the body of the Sun. We moderns tend to underestimate the remarkable observational skills of our astrological forebears. If the ancients had our modern telescopes, they might well have illustrated their definitions of cazimi with a diagram like the following from NASA:
The accompanying text from the NASA site goes as follows:
“A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, becoming visible against (and hence obscuring a small portion of) the solar disk. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun.
Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena. They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. This month’s transit is the bookend of the 2004-2012 pair. The first occurred on June 8, 2004. This second one will occur on June 5, 2012.
After 2012, the next transits of Venus will be in December 2117 and December 2125.”
Putting Bonatti’s text into modern language, we can say that a ‘cazimi’ Venus is a transit of Venus across the Sun. As the NASA site clarifies, such transits of Venus across the body of the Sun (inferiror conjunctions as seen from Earth) are extremely rare. “They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pair of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years.” There was a cazimi Venus in 2004, paired with one in 2012, with another pair which will occur in December of 2117 and 2125. There was not a transit of Venus across the Sun in March of 2021 despite what some astrological sites may have claimed. You can’t believe everything you read in print. Thus, if you’ve been reading very tight conjunctions of planets with the Sun as the planets being cazimi, without taking into account latitude, you’ve been misinterpreting horary charts and giving misleading information to your clients.
Venus transiting the Sun, in NASA’s sense, refers to the inferior conjunction of Venus with the Sun, during which the body of Venus becomes visible to observers on Earth in an awe-inspiring way. (As an aside, Bruce Scofield in his book How to Practice Mayan Astrology, notes that newsworthy events, which correlate with the inferior conjunction of Venus, are “often characterized by impulsive human errors that lead to a levelling or crash of some sort.” This sounds a lot more like Venus being combust than her being cazimi, which is a rare occurrence, according to Bonatti’s definition.) Does the idea of ‘cazimi’ also apply to Venus at its superior conjunction with the Sun if the body of Venus is completely hidden by the body of the Sun and, in a sense, is super-combust and most impossible to see from Earth? It would make sense to consider both the inferior and superior conjunctions of the body of Venus with the body of the Sun to meet the definition of ‘cazimi’, even if we can’t see the superior conjunction with our telescopes.
If we take Bonatti’s definition seriously, then we may also need to rethink the definition of combustion. As you can see in the NASA image, once Venus lies outside the disk of the Sun is it completely obscured by the Sun’s rays and is combust, even if it exactly conjoins the Sun in ecliptic longitude. Thus, planets very near the Sun are combust unless they happen to overlap the body of the Sun in both longitude and latitude. If such is the case, the Venus/Sun conjunction of 26 March 2021 occurred with Venus combust the Sun because the center of Venus was 1 degree 21 minutes distant from the center of the Sun in latitude at the time of the exact conjunction in longitude.
The implication of Bonatti’s definition is the planets are considered ‘combust’ if their bodies do not overlap that of the Sun and they are also sufficiently close to Sun to be rendered invisible to an observer on Earth. The number of degrees of distance from the Sun to become visible will vary with the intrinsic brightness of the planet involved, ranging from about 8 degrees for Venus and Mars to about 19 degrees for Mercury, which can only be at most about 28 degrees from the Sun and is therefore visible to the naked eye only at certain limited times during the year.
The following diagram comes from an article posted at the harvard.edu site. It lists the inferior conjunctions of Venus from 1961 to 2023, together with the latitude of Venus during each inferior conjunction. It is readily apparent that the only two such conjunctions in which the body of Venus transits the body of the Sun occur in 2004 and 2012. On all the other dates Venus is combust the Sun in latitude during its inferior conjunction with the Sun. Note that on several of the dates, Venus is a full 8 degrees or more away from the center of the Sun in latitude and may not even meet the definition of being combust the Sun.
It looks like Patrizia Nava has had the same experience with horary charts. Significators that appear cazimi are often disappointing in their outcomes for the querent. The issue is probably that we are not taking latitude into account and thus labeling planets as cazimi when they are really combust.
Addendum (7 July 2021): Further notes from the literature, Bonatti’s understanding of Abu Ma’shar.
Rhetorius and Sahl define ‘cazimi’ or ‘in the heart of the Sun’ as a planet being in the same degree, presumably along the ecliptic, as the Sun. Essentially this is a ‘partile’ conjunction (partile meaning in the same individual degree of the 30 distinct degrees within a sign) of the planet with the Sun. This definition may have to do with the Hellenistic view of each individual degree (the monomoiria) of the zodiac being the smallest region of dignity of one of the seven visible planets.
Abu Ma’shar, in discussing the synodic cycles of the planets relative to the Sun, appears to refer to the distance of planets along the ecliptic, so that ‘cazimi’ means no more that 16′ of arc from the Sun along the ecliptic, except for the planet Venus which has extreme latitudes. Once planets move more than 16′ from the Sun along the ecliptic, they are considered ‘burned’ or combust. For the inferior planets, combustion lasts until they are 7 degrees away from the Sun on the ecliptic. HOWEVER, Abu Ma’shar notes that for VENUS, even when she is cazimi and within 1 minute of arc from the Sun on the ecliptic, the following holds true:
“sometimes she will be seen in the east or west while she is still with the sun in 1′, and indeed it is like that when she is at the utmost of her latitude … so when Venus is in this condition of great latitude and visibility she is NOT CALLED ‘burned’ but rather she is called ‘appearing’ until her latitude is below 7 degrees and and she nears the Sun a little bit by latitude; then perhaps she will not be seen, and is called ‘burned’ at that time.” (Dykes, Great Introduction of Abu Ma’Shar, 2020, p.418, emphasis mine)
Is there is a logical inconsistency in Abu Ma’shar’s thinking in the above quote? When Venus is more than 7 degrees of ecliptic longitude or latitude from the Sun, she is not called ‘burned’, but when she is visible at 8 degrees or more of latitude from the body of the Sun and is obviously not in contact with the body of the Sun, she is still called ‘cazimi’. How can a planet be in the heart of the Sun when that planet resides 8 degrees away from the Sun’s body?
On the other hand, we could understand Abu Ma’shar to be indicating that ‘cazimi’ must take into account latitude, as Bonatti understood him to mean. Ma’shar starts by stating that when Venus lies within 1′ of arc from the Sun on the ecliptic but is more than 7 degrees away in latitude, Venus may be visible and thus not combust. When Venus, which is within 1 minute of arc of the Sun on the ecliptic, comes within 7 degrees of the Sun in latitude, then Venus is combust (implying that Venus in not in the heart of the Sun). Only when Venus is within 16′ of arc of the Sun in both ecliptic longitude and ecliptic latitude, can Venus then be considered to be in the heart of the Sun. The later view is how Bonatti understood Ma’shar’s text.
In summary, when Venus is near the Sun and conjoins the Sun within 1 minute of arc on the ecliptic, she can be in one of three conditions, according to Abu Ma’shar:
1) more than 8 degrees of latitude from the Sun (while exactly conjunct the Sun on the ecliptic), Venus is visible and not combust, but is ‘appearing’.
2) less than 7 degrees of latitude from the Sun but more than 16′ of latitude from the Sun (while exactly conjunct the Sun on the ecliptic), Venus is not visible and therefore combust.
3) less than 16′ of latitude from the Sun (while exactly conjunct the Sun on the ecliptic), Venus again becomes visible and can be seen in this ‘cazimi’ state as a dark round dot crossing the brilliant body of the Sun, as in the NASA image above.
ADDENDUM (15 July 2021): Al-Biruni on Cazimi
If I understand al-Biruni correctly, he regards a planet as cazimi (samim) when the projection of the planet’s body onto the ecliptic lies within 16′ of arc from the center of the Sun, regardless of the planet’s latitude (except for Venus).
Like Abu Ma’shar, al-Biruni makes an exception in the case of Venus because of her possible extreme latitude with respect to the ecliptic. To quote from the 1934 translation of al-Biruni by R. Ramsay Wright in discussing the inferior planets in their synodic cycles with the Sun:
“It is necessary to distinguish between Venus and Mercury as regards orientality and occidentality, as has been done between Mars on the one hand and Saturn and Jupiter on the other (astronomers are agreed that no such distinction is necessary between these two planets) for Venus has a very high latitude, and sometimes conjunction [with the Sun] occurs when it has attained its highest north latitude, it then remains visible, so that the expression combust and under the rays cease to be applicable, although the planet is in those positions; similarly at tasmim when the north latitude exceed 7 degrees, it must not be described as samim [cazimi] nor muhtariqah [combust] but simply as accompanying the sun, muqurinah.“
Al-Biruni focuses on the northern latitude of Venus because he is an astrologer in the northern hemisphere. South of the equator, Venus with extreme southern latitude would become visible before sunrise when exactly conjunct the Sun on the ecliptic and ” must not be described as samim [cazimi] nor muhtariqah [combust] but simply as accompanying the sun, muqurinah.”
Recently I was reading in post by Michel Ibarra on the FB Traditional Astrology Forum about the charts of twin sisters, one of whom was murdered. The birth times are Rodden rating AA and taken from their birth certificates, so they are probably reasonably accurate.
On 18 September 1966 at about 5:15 AM Valerie Jean Percy was found beaten and stabbed to death in her bed in her family’s Kenilworth mansion. Her father was running for the U.S. Senate at the time of her murder. According to their birth certificates Valerie was born on 10 December 1944 at 5:25 PM PWT in Oakland, CA, just 2 minutes before her twin sister Sharon was born. The two women have very similar birth charts, a significant difference being that Valerie’s Asc lies at 13 Gemini 39 whereas Valerie, born 2 minutes later, has her Asc in a different degree, namely, 14 Gemini 10. Valerie was murdered at 21.77 years of age. Sharon is still alive and has led a productive public life. Are there factors in their birth charts, or are there predictive techniques, that might explain the difference in their life courses?
I began by looking at the primary zodiacal directions (Placidus semi-arc, Naibod rate) for both women at age 21. For this purpose I used the natal chart which is at the midpoint of the two births, which were only 2 minutes apart.
The primary directions in effect during 1966 (the year of the murder) were:
Pz MC square natal Moon 7 Feb 1966 Age 21.161
Pz Mercury conjunct natal Sun 21 Apr 1966 Age 21.362
Pz Asc square natal MC 10 Aug 1966 Age 21.664
MURDER 18 Sep 1966 Age 21.77
Pz Saturn oppose natal Sun 1 Oct 1966 Age 21.807
Pz Chiron square natal Mars 6 Oct 1966 Age 21.820
Pz Chiron square natal Uranus 31 Dec 1966 Age 22.055
Because the Sun is hyleg in this chart and also ruler of the 4th house of endings, the primary direction of Saturn opposing the natal Sun in late September – early October of 1966 indicates the risk of death at this time and correlates closely with the murder of one of the twins on 18 September 1966. In other words, Saturn rules the 8th house of death and it applies by primary direction to oppose the natal Sun, which rules the natal 4th, described by Sue Ward as signifying “the end of all things, often termed ‘the end of the matter’, and also the grave.”
Having noticed that the twins had their Ascendants in different degrees, I wondered whether a symbolic direction involving the Ascendant could distinguish why one twin experienced the zodiacal direction of Saturn to the natal Sun (hyleg) in September of 1966 and the other did not. My experience with charts that have such close birth times has been that Ascendant Arc symbolic directions often distinguish the two charts predictively.
As the Matrix Software site explains, the Ascendant arc method of directing a natal chart is calculated as follows:
“The distance from the natal ascendant to the progressed ascendant (derived from a solar-arc directed MC) is measured. This arc is then applied to all planets in the natal chart in order to arrive at their directed positions, and all house cusps are either directed by the same arc or derived from the directed midheaven.”
If we compare the Ascendant-arc directions of the twins, we find the following:
In comparing the Asc-arc directions for the twins, directed Mercury sesqui-square the natal Ascendant appears to be the distinguishing feature. Mercury rules the natal Ascendant and lies just inside the Placidus 8th cusp. In addition, Mercury conjoins the fixed star Facies, which is associated with violent death. Thus Valerie appears to be at greater risk of a violent death in September of 1966.
Another feature of the Placidus zodiacal directions is that in September of 1966 Sharon’s directed Sun is almost exactly trine (by primary direction) the 11th Placidus cusp of the house of the Good Daimon where Jupiter, the greater benefic, rejoices. In Valerie’s chart this directed Sun trine the 11th Placidus cusp would not perfect until 6 months after her death. Traditionally the 11th house of the Good Daimon (guardian angel) is one of assistance, comfort, safe harbor and relief.
Addendum (5 July 2021): Planetary Hour Sub-periods
As I was comparing Valerie’s chart to that of her sister Sharon (born 2 minutes later), I noticed another feature, besides their ascendants being in distinct degrees of Gemini, that distinguishes the two charts. Both women were born on a Sunday during the 12th hour of the day, which was a Saturn hour. At age 21, the natal lord of the orb is also the lord of the orb of the year, giving Saturn special prominence in the birth charts of both women at this time. By primary direction Saturn advances to oppose the natal Sun at the time of the murder.
In my study of the lord of the orb technique, I have been experimenting with dividing planetary hours, much like the system of fardaria. My method is to divide the duration of a planetary hour by 7 and assign each of the 7 parts to one of the visible planets in Chaldean order (slowest to fastest), starting with the lord of the hour.
Calculating from the natal chart of 10 December 1966 in Oakland, CA, the amount of daylight was 9:29:11 hours (tip of the Sun first appearing on the eastern horizon until the tip and body of the Sun descend below the western horizon), so that each of the daytime planetary hours had a duration of 46.43 minutes. Dividing 47.43 minutes by 7, we find that each of the seven planets during a daytime planetary hour is allotted 6.776 minutes. Sunset occurred at 17:46:34 in this natal chart. Hence, the 12th planetary hour, which belongs to Saturn in this case, can be divided into 7 equal segments as follows:
Sun (Valerie born at 17:25 during Sun subperiod)
Venus (Sharon born at 17:27 during Venus subperiod)
Beginning of Jupiter hour at sunset
If we divide the Saturn hour into 7 parts and assign each part to a visible planet in Chaldean order, Valerie was born during the Sun subperiod of the Saturn hour, and Sharon was born during the Venus subperiod of the Saturn hour. The Sun (Valerie’s subperiod ruler) is hyleg and received the primary direction of the opposition of Saturn at the time of the murder. Venus (Sharon’s subperiod ruler) was not prominent by profection or primary direction at the time of her sister’s death.
In Spain there is a proverb which goes: “En martes, ni te cases ni te embarques.” (On Tuesdays, neither get married nor embark on a journey.) According to wikipedia: “In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck. The Greeks also consider Tuesday (and especially the 13th) an unlucky day.”
Most likely the origin of this superstition about Tuesdays being unlucky has to do with Hellenistic astrology. The Babylonians had assigned each of the visible wandering stars (‘planets’) to a day of the week. Sun got Sun-day; Moon, Monday; Mars, Tuesday; Mercury, Wednesday; Jupiter, Thursday; Venus, Friday; and Saturn, Saturday. The English names for the days preserved the planetary rulers but alluded to the names of Norse gods instead of Greek or Roman gods.
The texts of Hellenistic Greece and the Persian-Arabic astrologers made their way into Europe through Spain, where they were translated into Latin. Images such as the following of the planets ruling each day and hour of the week were familiar to the educated classes of Europe during the Renaissance:
The week begins with the Sun ruling the first hour of daylight on Sunday. In the above diagram you can see that Mars rules the first hour of daylight on Tuesday, the 3rd day of the week. At nightfall (sunset) on Tuesday, Saturn takes over as the first ruler of Tuesday night. The first planet to rule the day, or the night, hours has a special influence over the periods of daylight and nighttime, respectively.
In ancient astrology Mars and Saturn were the two principal malefic planets, causing harm and being inimical to life. Mars was especially dangerous during the daylight hours because the heat of the Sun enhanced the natural fiery nature of Mars, making him more impulsive, aggressive and violent. Saturn was especially harmful during nighttime hours because the coldness of the night enhanced Saturn’s natural tendency to limit, constrict, and chill the life out of living creatives. Perhaps Robert Frost had Mars and Saturn in mind when he wrote his poem “Fire and Ice” which debates whether the world will end in fire or in ice.
The astrological teachings about planetary days and hours and the nature of malefic planets being enhanced by the “sect” (diurnal or nocturnal nature) of the chart apparently got codified in the the Spanish proverb: “En martes, ni te cases ni te embarques.”
Recently I’ve been experimenting with Placidus’ method of progressing a birth chart via ’embolismic lunations’ (returns of the Sun and Moon to the same phase angle they held in the birth chart).
In reading Martin Gansten’s recent book Annual Predictive Techniques, a particular chart (on page 72) peaked my interest because the native described his year from age 36 to 37 as ‘hellish’. It occurred to me that if Placidus’ method held water, such a year from hell should show up in the embolismic return.
Gansten uses the sidereal zodiac and Alcabitius houses. Placidus uses the tropical zodiac with Placidus houses, so I cast the chart using the parameters of Placidus. The native was born on 18 Dec 1973 at 10:05 EET, 60n27, 22e17.
We can see the potential for marital difficulties in the natal chart. Saturn Rx in Cancer (the sign of its detriment) occupies the 7th of marriage and conjoins its cusp. Ketu (the lunar south node) lies within the orb of Saturn and the two will conjoin by transit within a few weeks of the birth. The Moon rules the 7th cusp and occupies the unfortunate 8th house (loss, crisis, death) where Luna conjoins and is besieged by the outer planets Pluto and Uranus. Moon/Pluto can signify intense emotionality. Moon/Uranus can signify emotion disruptions and potential breakup of the marriage.
We want to know which embolismic return was in effect at age 36, using the formula one embolismic cycle is equivalent to one year of life. The mean synodic cycle of the Moon with respect to the Sun is about 29.532 days. Dividing the length of the tropical year by the lunar cyclce:
365.2422 / 29.532 = 12.37 cycles per year, which is equivalent to 12 embolismic lunations plus 11.2 days
In other words, every tropical year consists of 12 embolismic lunations plus 11.2 days.
At age 36 he will have completed 36 embolismic lunations, which should occur three years after his birth date minus 33 days (subtracting 11.2 days for each year). He was born on 18 Dec 1973 with the Sun and Moon 70deg 22min apart, so three years later would be 18 Dec 1976, and 33 days prior would be around 16 Nov 1976. It turns out that the Sun and Moon were 70deg 22min apart on 16 Nov 1976 at 14:11:10 EET (-2:00). Here is the chart for the embolismic return which corresponds to his year of life beginning at age 36:
The embolismic chart is ruled by Saturn, which occupies the 6th house (12th of the 7th) and conjoins the 7th cusp. The Moon, which rules the natal 7th, occupies the embolismic 7th and squares Neptune. Jupiter, which rules the natal 12th, is opposed by Mars, the out-of-sect malefic and a planet of separation.
Superimposing the return chart on the natal chart, we get the following.
In the superimposed charts, return Venus closely conjoins the natal Ascendant and closely opposes natal Saturn Rx in the 7th, indicating significant problems in intimate relationships. Venus also rules the natal 4th cusp of home and domestic life.
Return Moon, which rules the natal 7th of marriage, lies in the natal 8th and squares return Neptune as well as natal Mercury, ruler of the natal 8th (crisis, loss, death). Mercury also rules the natal 6th, which is the derived 12th of the 7th, indicating the dissolution of the marriage.
Return Sun, which rules Leo in the natal 7th and occupies the unfortunate natal 12th, is on the natal MC, indicating the prominence of marital issues at age 36. Return Sun/Mars/Mercury conjoin in Scorpio and form a quincunx to natal Mars in Aries. In addition, this cluster of return planets in Scorpio opposes return Jupiter in the natal 4th (his domestic life), with Jupiter ruling the natal 12th of misfortune.
It does appear that the embolismic return provides an additional predictive method which can be used with other standard techniques as part of an annual forecast.
Addendum: Online calculator of soli-lunar returns.
The previous post discussed the idea of Placidus about using ’embolismic lunations’ (Sun-Moon phase angle returns) to progress the natal chart. Placidus mapped each such lunation onto a year of life. To test the method, I have been experimenting with some natal charts with known or carefully rectified birth times. One such chart is that of Alan Leo whose rectified chart can be found on page xvi of his book The Progressed Horoscope (Destiny Books, 1983 edition). Here is Leo’s chart according the Alan Leo himself:
Alan Leo died on 30 August 1917 at the age of 57, just 23 days after his birthday that year. Based on his rectified chart, here is the embolismic return of 17 March 1865, which corresponds to his 57th year of life:
Natally Mars rules the 4th house (end of life) and in the embolismic return Mars rules the Ascendant and disposes the Moon in Scorpio. Return Mars conjoins Uranus at the cusp of the return 8th house of death.
Jupiter, which rules the 8th of death in the natal chart, opposes the return Mars/Uranus/8th cusp conjunction and also semi-sextiles the return Moon/Asc conjunction, which itself is quincunx the return 8th cusp/Mars/Uranus conjunction.
In the return chart Venus rules the 6th of illness and conjoins Pluto at the cusp of the 6th. All in all, the embolismic return suggests significant health problems with the risk of death during the 1917-1918 year.
Addendum: Online calculator of soli-lunar returns.
Recently I was reading Cooper’s 1814 translation of Placidus’ Primum Mobile and going over the charts in the section Thirty Remarkable Nativities in which Placidus discusses the chart of King Charles V of Germany (23 Feb 1500 – 21 Sep 1558). Even though the king was born in Ghent, Belgium, presumably at 3:39 AM local time according to Placidus, he casts the chart for The Hague in Holland. Placidus shows how his method of primary directing planets reveals the date of death of the king. In the discussion of the king’s demise, Placidus also makes use of the method of “embolismic lunations” as a predictive technique, which he explains as follows:
“Because the Julian solar calendar is 365 days long, and 12 lunar months of 29½ days total 354 days, the age of the Moon on any given calendar date increases by 11 days each year. When the accumulation tops 30 days, the maximum length of a calculated lunar month, an additional 13th lunar month is deemed to be inserted within the calendar year. This additional intercalated lunation is called an “embolism” and a year with 13 lunations is ’embolismic’.”
Astrologically speaking, an ’embolismic lunation’ is simply a return of the Moon to the same phase-angle or relative position it held with respect to the Sun at the moment of birth. On average, the Sun and the Moon return to their natal phase angle every 29.530589 days. In other words, the mean period of the Sun-Moon phase angle return is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes. However, owing to the eccentricity of the Moon’s orbit around Earth and slightly to the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the Sun, the period from one Sun-Moon phase-angle return to the next can vary by up to seven hours. It is possible to calculate dates of Sun-Moon phase angle returns in an Excel spreadsheet by repeatedly adding 29.530589 days to the birth date and then adjusting the chart for match the exact phase angle at birth. Fortunately, some astrological software offers phase-angle returns as an option.
According to DeVore’s Encyclopedia of Astrology, Placidus “applied the term Embolismic Lunation to a Figure cast for the moment of the Moon’s return to the same relation to the Sun that it occupied at birth. It was made the basis for judgment concerning the affairs and conditions of the ensuing year of life.” (italics mine)
If I understand the technique correctly, you first identify the embolismic return for the start of a given year of life (the annual solar return date). The embolismic lunar return so identified then maps onto that entire single year of life, and it can be progressed at a rate of one tropical year (365.24219 days) equals one synodic lunar cycle (29.530589 days), which calculates to be 12.368267 days of life during the solar return year for each day of the synodic lunar month. In other words 1 day of the embolismic return cycle equals12.3682668 days of life during the solar return year, which (doing the division) is equivalent to a progression rate of 0.080852073.
To summarize my understanding of the technique, each synodic lunar period of 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes 2.8 seconds is regarded as equivalent to a tropical year of life. Doing the division of a year by a synodic month, we find that there are 12.368 ’embolismic lunations’ during each tropical year. The first embolismic lunation after birth corresponds to age 1 and the second year of life; the second return, to age 2 and the third year of life; and so on. The embolismic returns can be read in very much the same way as we read solar return charts, both as stand-alone charts and also in comparison with the natal chart. Themes highlighted in this way are likely to play out during the year of life corresponding to the embolismic return. Basically, emobilsmic returns are a form of progressing the natal chart by synodic lunar months measured by repeating natal Sun-Moon phase angles.
Let’s look an an example. The child actress Heather O’Rouke (1975 – 1988) died at age 12 of sepsis and cardiac arrest. She has a Rodden rated AA chart and was born 27 Dec 1975 at 00:28 AM in San Diego, CA. She died on February 1, 1988 at the age of 12.0988 years (36 days after her 12th birthday). As mentioned in the above paragraph, 36 days of life (dividing by 12.36826) corresponds to 2.9 days of an embolismic return.
Using Alphee Lavoie’s software, I calculated her embolismic return at the time of her demise to have occurred on 15 Dec 1976 at 8:22:42 PM (tz 8) at her birthplace.
The phase return lunation cycle corresponding to the period 27 Dec 1987 to 27 Dec 1988 is the phase angle return of 15 Dec 1976, which lasts until 14 Jan 1977. Because she died 36 days after her 1987 birthday, we calculate 36 days divided by 12.368, giving 2.9 days after 15 Dec 1976, which brings us to the span 17 Dec – 18 Dec, 1976 as the ‘progressed’ embolismic lunation period for the date of her death. The resulting ‘progressed’ embolismic chart looks like this:
The above embolismic chart covers the 12.37-day period from 25 to 37 days following her solar return of 1987 when she turned 12 years old. It cautions that she is in a difficult period, especially because the Moon (to whom the return belongs) almost exactly squares a debilitated Saturn on the Ascendant of the return.
Return Saturn Rx in Leo (a sign of its detriment) rules the return 6th of health problems and conjoins the return Ascendant. It is a night chart, so Saturn is the out-of-sect malefic in the embolismic return chart. Her natal Ascendant ruler Venus applies to oppose Saturn and has just completed a square with Uranus, which is angular conjunct the IC. Uranus here could indicate unexpected disruptions in home and family.
Next let’s superimpose the embalismic chart on her natal chart.
Superimposing the charts, we see that lunation Jupiter, which rules the natal 6th and the embalismic 8th, occupies the natal 8th and closely conjoins the natal lunar south node, suggesting significant and potentially life-threatening health problems. The return Moon in Scorpio applies to oppose return Jupiter in the natal 8th house.
A value of the embalismic lunation is its ability to highlight the major emphasis for a given month of the solar return year.
There is a lot of detail in this post. If you notice any errors in my calculations, please let me know so I can correct them.
In summary, there are 12 soli-lunar returns in each year with a remainder of about 11 days. Placidus had the idea of equating the soli-lunar returns after birth with years of life. This is a type of progression which is similar in conception to the modern idea of true tertiary progressions.
Addendum: Online calculator of soli-lunar returns.