As a psychiatrist who is interested in astrology, I find it informative to study events in the news related to psychiatric disorders. One such event occurred on 14 June 2020 when Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, committed suicide by hanging. According to various sites on the internet, the actor’s mother and sister may also have died by suicide.
Unfortunately, the incidence of suicide in bipolar disorder is rather high, being about 20% in untreated patients. This is partly due to the severity of the accompanying depression and also to the tendency of many patients with this disorder to avoid or stop their treatment. The treatment usually consists of medications to stabilize mood and regular psychotherapy to help the individual deal with various life stressors without resorting to suicide. In my experience medication alone is inadequate, and an ongoing relationship with a good psychotherapist is essential in the treatment of bipolar disorder.
A recent scientific paper by Dome, Zihmer and Gonda summarized the risk of suicide in bipolar disorder as follows:
“Bipolar disorders (BDs) are prevalent mental health illnesses that affect about 1–5% of the total population, have a chronic course and are associated with a markedly elevated premature mortality. One of the contributors for the decreased life expectancy in BD is suicide. Accordingly, the rate of suicide among BD patients is approximately 10–30 times higher than the corresponding rate in the general population. Extant research found that up to 20% of (mostly untreated) BD subjects end their life by suicide, and 20–60% of them attempt suicide at least one in their lifetime.”
Sushant Singh Rajput was born on 21 January 1986 at about 11:30 PM (23:30) in Patna, Bihar, India. (Some sources give Purnia rather than Patna, but they are geographically very close, so the charts for either location are very similar.) The time of birth, 11:30 PM, is taken from an interview given by the actor in which he states that he was born at 11:30 PM. Oddly, he says in the interview that he was born on a Saturday night, but in fact he was born on a Tuesday. He also says that his sun sign is Aquarius and that he was born on the cusp, indicating that he is referring to his birth chart in the tropical rather than sidereal zodiac. Here is the chart in the tropical zodiac based on the actor’s own recollection of his time of birth.
Libra rises in the tropical chart, and the natal Ascendant conjoins the fixed star Spica. Traditionally Spica is a star of the nature of Venus and Mars and is associated with success, wealth, a sweet disposition, and a fondness for the arts and sciences. The actor was fond of music, dance and the performing arts but also had a penchant for science, astronomy and especially astro-physics. Bernadette Brady in her book on fixed stars writes: “Spica represents a gift of brilliance, a hidden or obvious talent, skill, or ability that is out of the ordinary. The word “gifted” applies to strong Spica people, and whatever this star touches, it will illuminate in some way.”
His manic-depressive tendencies are probably reflected in Moon conjunct Chiron in Gemini in the Placidus 8th and opposite Saturn in Sagittarius in the Placidus 2nd/Whole Sign 3rd. Solar Fire interprets this Moon/Chiron conjunction as follows: “You have suffered from rejection by a parent-figure, probably your mother, when only a young child. As an adult you have become adept at looking after your loved ones, sometimes at the expense of yourself. You need to nurture yourself.” The Moon/Saturn opposition involves the parental axis with Saturn ruling the 4th cusp and the Moon, the 10th cusp. When the actor was 16 years old, his mother died unexpectedly. She called him the night before her death and asked his to come home to visit her but he was unable to. Although he was told she died of a cerebral hemorrhage, it is quite possible that she called to say goodbye because she was planning suicide the next day (on 12 Dec 2002).
Sushant Singh Rajput recounts his final conversation with his mother in December of 2002 as follows: “She would call me everyday and would try to pretend to be happy. I could sense all of it. On December 11, I got a call at 11.30 pm. I picked up and she was crying. I was like, ‘What is wrong, What happened?’ She said, ‘Nothing. Can you take out some time and come back?’ I told her, ‘No, abhi kaise hoga? I will come during Holi. Why do you want me to come now? I am okay’, etc. I asked her to stop crying. I was trying to be mature, but I could sense that I didn’t want to go back at that point of time. I knew she was missing me and wanted me around all the time, but I thought this was the right thing to do — to go home later. She just asked me to take care of myself. It felt odd. That was the last line my mom told me. Next day, she had a brain haemorrhage and she passed away. She was 40-something, fine before this suddenly happened.”
In this natal chart Chiron, the wounded healer, is exactly conjunct the fixed star Aldeberan. Vivian Robson writes: “Fixed star Aldebaran is of the nature of Mars (violent death, ultimate ruin by folly or pride.) It gives honor, intelligence, eloquence, steadfastness, integrity, popularity, courage, ferocity, a tendency to sedition, a responsible position, public honors, and gain of power and wealth through others, but its benefits seldom prove lasting and there is also the danger of violence and sickness.” Chiron, through its proximity to the Moon and opposition to Saturn, ties these significations of Aldebaran to both the native and to his mother.
In his birthplace Solar Return for 2020, Capricorn rises with Jupiter in Capricorn, the sign of its fall, closely conjunct the SR Ascendant. Natally Jupiter rules his 6th of illness and squares natal Mars. In addition, the true lunar nodes of the SR are stationary, which almost always indicates of year of major changes and unexpected disruptions in the life trajectory.
Sushant Singh Rajput himself committed suicide by hanging in his Mumbai apartment on 14 June 2020. If we look at this “distributions” (primary directions of natal planets to the horizon), we see the following pattern.
If we consider the transits in effect at the time of his death, we see that he was undergoing a conjunction of transiting Saturn to his natal Sun as well as his natal Ascendant ruler, Venus. Such Saturn transits often mark periods of depression, frustration, hardship and hopelessness. In addition, transiting Venus (his natal Asc ruler) was in the 8th house opposing natal Saturn at the time of his demise. A good astrologer could have warned him that he was passing through such an intensely depressive period and encouraged him to seek psychiatric treatment to get him through the worst of it without resorting to suicide.
Saturn transiting over Venus often heralds the loss or separation from an important female figure in one’s life. The actors’ death occurred just days after his former manager Disha Salian allegedly committed suicide by jumping from the 14th floor of a building in Mumbai on June 8, 2020. It is quite likely that the death of his former manager reminded him of the death of his mother and increased his sense of depression and hopelessness.
Much more could be said about this natal chart and the related life events, but this post is already getting too long, so I’ll stop here.
PS: Astrologer Athen Chimenti has a “true sidereal” chart calculator at his site. Here is what this actor’s chart looks like in the “true sidereal” zodiac which uses the actual sizes and locations of the constellations in the sky. It’s interesting to compare this chart with the tropical one as well as with the standard sidereal chart calculated with Lahiri or any of the of the multitude of sidereal ayanamsas.
In the last post I looked at the profections of both charts. In this post let’s consider the solar and lunar returns of both candidates for 2020 and the election. SR refers to the solar return. LR refers to the lunar return.
Assuming that Trump has Leo rising (a few seconds later he would have Virgo rising), he is 74 years old at the time of the election so that he is in his 3rd house/Libra profection year, with the profected Asc ruled by Venus.
Venus rules his natal 10th cusp and SR Venus occupies his natal 10th house, which makes sense since he is running for re-election to the presidency. In the SR chart Venus in Gemini is Retrograde and peregrine (without essential dignity), suggesting that winning the election will not be without difficulty.
The SR Ascendant in Cancer is ruled by the Moon, which conjoins Mars and Neptune in Pisces and also conjoins the cusp of the natal Placidus 8th house. In addition, the SR Moon lies at the bendings of the lunar nodes. This close square to the nodes indicates major changes during the SR year. Furthermore, the true lunar nodes of the SR are stationary, which almost invariably indicates major shifts and unexpected alterations in the person’s life, often involving health and career. With the SR nodal axis spanning the 6th and 12th SR houses, there is a suggestion of a significant health crisis during the 2020-2021 SR year.
Joe Biden will be 77 years old at the time of the election, making this a 6th house/Taurus profection year, with Venus ruling the profected Ascendant. Venus rules Biden’s natal 11th and 6th houses and occupies his natal 12th.
In the SR chart Venus is peregrine (without essential dignity) but is fortified by a conjunction with SR Jupiter and occupies the angular 4th SR house. Biden’s Venus appears a bit more favorable than Trump’s in their respect SR charts.
Like Trump, Biden also has his true lunar nodes stationary in the SR chart. This is typically a highly disruptive influence indicating major shifts in the life trajectory, including a possible health crisis. Biden’s SR nodal axis falls across his 5th/11th house axis, whereas Trump’s SR nodes fall across his 6th/12th house axis which is more indicative of a health crisis for the current president. In either case, the presence of stationary lunar nodes in the SR is an indication of a highly volatile year for both individuals, marked by much unpredictability.
Now let’s look at the lunar returns of both men at the time of the November election.
Above are the lunar returns in effect for each candidate on the day of the election.
Trump has his LR Moon conjunct the LR Asc, and the LR Moon is peregrine. In addition, the LR true nodes are Stationary and fall across the horizon, suggesting a major disruptive life change during this period. LR Venus, ruler of LR 10th, lies at the bendings of the nodes in the LR chart.
Biden’s LR Moon has essential dignity and his LR true nodes are in normal Rx motion.
Overall Biden’s lunar return looks more favorable than Trump’s during this period.
In summary, it doesn’t look like smooth sailing for either candidate. Judging from the solar and lunar returns, I think Biden has somewhat of an edge over Trump. At the same time, both men have indications of major disruptions and unexpected changes in their charts, so election time should be full of surprises. Trump’s return is especially concerning because of the 6th/12th house nodal axis and the possibility of a significant health crisis before his next birthday in 2021.
Until now I’ve avoiding speculating about the outcome of the 2020 U.S. elections but have been following various predictions online. Not surprisingly, astrologers are split on who will win the presidential election in November. Some say that the current incumbent is unbeatable, while others maintain that Biden will defeat Trump in a landslide victory. The polls currently favor Biden, but they also favored Hillary Clinton around this time four years ago and she lost in the electoral college, which is all that matters in our U.S. democracy.
Biden (b. 1942) will be 78 years old on 20 November of 2020 (which is after the election), and Trump (b. 1946) will be 74. In astrological terms Biden will be experiencing a 6th whole-sign-house profection year until Nov 20th when he will enter his 7th whole-sign-house profection year. Trump will be in a 3rd whole-sign-house profection year.
In Biden’s tropical chart, Taurus is his profected Asc sign until Nov 20, 2020. Venus rules the natal 6th house Taurus and natally lies in his 12th house where it is combust the Sun. This placement of the profected Asc lord in the 12th is not especially favorable to winning an election. On the other hand, Venus also rules the natal 11th and is in a close trine to Jupiter, exalted in Cancer but in the unfavorable 8th house. The activation of Taurus as profected Asc sign stimulates the natal Moon exalted in Taurus, but the Moon also rules the unfortunate 8th and occupies the 6th, so it’s a mixed bag.
Gemini becomes the profected Ascendant sign on Nov 20th and Mercury, the profected Asc-ruler. Biden’s natal Mercury rules his natal 10th house of career and lies in Scoprio in the natal 12th house where it is sandwiched between Mars (the out-of-sect malefic) and the Sun. The condition of Biden’s profected ASC ruler in the natal 12th could indicate some type of loss, decrease in status or wealth, or health problem during his Nov 2020- Nov 2021 year. In addition, Gemini (the profected ASC sign) contains natal Uranus and natal Saturn Rx, which could be harbingers of unexpected loss.
In Trump’s tropical chart (if he has a Leo Asc), Libra becomes the profected Ascendant, and Venus the profected Asc-ruler. Trump’s natal Venus lies in Cancer in the 12th house and is afflicted by a conjunction with Saturn in Cancer, the sign of Saturn’s exile. On the other hand, Saturn is the “in-sect” malefic and also “rejoices” in the 12th house. The condition of Trump’s profected ASC lord Venus in the natal 12th could indicate a loss, a decrease in status or wealth, or a health problem during his 2020-2021 solar return year. The activation of Libra as profected Ascendant stimulates Jupiter, which rules his natal 8th house, another indicator of possible loss.
If Trump were born a matter of seconds after his recorded birth time, he would have Virgo rising. In the Virgo rising chart, at age 74 Scorpio becomes the profected Asc and Mars the profected ASC ruler. Mars, the “out-of-sect” malectic” in this chart, also rules the 8th house and occupies the 12th. Such a configuration (with the Mars, 8th and 12th house emphasis) would likely indicate that he would lose the 2020 election.
Continuing with the theme of profections, let’s look at the technique of profecting (symbolically directing) the entire chart at a rate of 30 degrees per year of life. Below are the natal charts of both candidates inside, with the profected wheels for Nov 3, 2020 (the date of the U.S. elections) outside.
In the above chart we see Biden’s profected Asc on 3 Nov 2020 conjunct natal Uranus at the cusp of the natal 7th house. At the same time his profected Uranus applies to conjoin his natal Ascendant at the cusp of the 1st house. Of concern is the fact that his profected Sun closely conjoins the malefic fixed star Caput Algol, the Head of the Medusa, which was associated in the past with beheadings, serious illness, and other misfortunes. Sun conjoins Algol in the natal 6th and turned 12th, which could indicate some type of serious illness or accident requiring hospital confinement.
In the above chart we see that Trump’s profected Uranus closely conjoins his natal Ascendant and the fixed star Regulus on the day of the election. Uranus is a planet of the unexpected and is associated with rebellion and the overthrow of governments. Trump’s natal Uranus in the 10th is also highlighted by a close opposition from profected Neptune in the 4th. With Uranus so prominent in both candidates’ charts on November 3rd, it seems that this will be an election full of surprises that we cannot even anticipate. In Trump’s favor is the fact that profected Mars (lord of the profected Asc in this technique) closely trines natal Mercury, lord and occupant of the natal 11th of his hopes and wishes. Against Trump winning is the unpredictable nature of profected Uranus conjoining his natal Ascendant and the fixed star Regulus on the day of the election.
I can see why astrologers are so divided on whether or not Trump will win a second term. Based on the above analysis, it looks like Trump has a reasonable chance of winning. What most concerns me about Biden is his profected Sun conjunct Caput Algol on the day of the election. As I try other astrological techniques, I will attempt to update this post. It’s a work in progress.
In his 1909 text on Horary Astrology Alan Leo reproduces a classic horary chart by James Wilson, taken from Wilson’s Dictionary of Astrology. In January of 1819 a good friend of Wilson took ill with fever and shortness of breath. Initially it appeared to be a typical winter respiratory illness, which his friend had always recovered from in the past, but this time the doctors became quite concerned that the illness might be more serious than initially thought and that his friend’s life might be in danger. Concerned about the doctor’s medical opinion, of which he was initially skeptical, Wilson cast a horary chart with the question, “Will my friend, Mr. J, live or die?”
The data for the chart are: January 10, 1819, 11:33:36 PM LMT, London, UK. Wilson used Placidus houses as was the custom in the UK at the time due to the popularity of the writings of Placidus among English-speaking astrologers since the end of the 17th century. Here is the chart.
The question is asked on a Sun day during a Moon hour. Libra rises, making Venus the ruler of the Querent, James Wilson. Leo on the cusp of the 11th indicates that the Sun is the signifier of Mr. Wilson’s friend, Mr. J.
The Ascendant at 9 Libra 11′ has its 12th part at 20 Capricorn 12′ in the 4th house and conjunct the Sun. The 4th house is the 6th from the 11th, that is, the house of illness of the friend. The Sun is the signifier of the friend, so that the 12th part of the Asc conjunct the Sun in the 4th indicates that the illness of his friend is on Mr. Wilson’s mind. The Sun is conjunct Jupiter, ruler of the radical 6th, which is the 8th of death the 11th house friend, and Mr. Wilson is concerned that his friend might die of the illness.
The Sun, which rules his friend, is without essential dignity in the friend’s derived 6th house of illness. The Sun applies to Jupiter, ruler of the friend’s 8th of death and also peregrine and in Fall in Cancer, which is an indication of approaching death. The Sun and Jupiter are only 3d 42m of arc apart, indicating that the death may not be far off. In the ephemeris, the Sun will conjoin Jupiter on Friday January 15, 1819 at about 5 PM LMT, indicating that he may die on the Friday following this horary question.
Saturn rules the radical 4th, which is the friend’s 6th of illness, and conjoins the radical 6th cusp, which is the friend’s 8th of death. The illness is likely to prove fatal.
The Moon is dignified in Cancer and strong in the radical 10th; however, the Moon rules the friend’s derived 12th of confinement and misfortune. In addition, the Moon’s last aspect was a trine to Saturn, ruler of the radical 4th of the grave and the turned 6th of illness of the friend, and the Moon’s next aspect is an opposition to the Sun, signifier of the friend. As mentioned previously, Saturn is also conjunct the radical 6th, which is the 8th of death of the friend, so that the Moon is transferring the light of Saturn to the Sun. The Moon and the Sun are 5d 30m apart on the ecliptic (disregarding the latitude of the Moon), suggesting that death might occur about 5 1/2 days after the horary question, which is slightly longer than but consistent with the transiting Sun/Jupiter conjunction on Friday January 15, 1819.
To interpret the application of the Moon to oppose the Sun, Wilson also made use of the concept of the Moon as hyleg (life-giving planet) and the Sun in the 4th of endings and the grave as the anareta (killing planet) in this nocturnal chart.
Outcome: Wilson noted that his friend died on Friday morning at 5 AM, which was about 4 and 1/4 days after the question and 12 hours before the Sun/Jupiter conjunction became exact on Friday January 15th. The doctor had diagnosed “dropsy” which is most likely shown by the Moon in watery Cancer and by Saturn in watery Pisces at the cusp of the radical 6th / turned 8th house. [Dropsy: “An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water. In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.”]
Here is the transiting aspect sequence in the days following the question:
Adjusting for the Moon’s latitude:
To time the death of his friend, Wilson considered primarily the applying opposition of the Moon to the Sun, which are about 5d 51m of arc from perfecting the opposition by modern calculation. Wilson found the difference to be 5d 16m of arc in his ephemeris. Wilson noted, however, that the Moon “was near 5 degrees north latitude for which, according to the common rule, there should be subtracted at the rate of a degree for a day, though I know not for what reason, for it makes for but a small difference in the right ascension. For my own part I never allow above a degree for latitude, however great it may be, nor do I allow even that if it does not amount to 2/3 of a degree.” In other words, Wilson adjusts the timing given by the applying aspect to up to a maximum of one degree depending on the latitude of the Moon. Wilson therefore subtracted one degree from the 5d 16m he had calculated until the opposition between Moon and Sun and thereby arrived at an approximate time of death of 4 days and a 1/4 day from the time of the question, which would have been Friday morning January 15th, very close to the actual time of his friend’s demise.
According to modern calculations, the Moon was at 4N53 latitude and had a RA of 106d 18m. The Sun always has a latitude of 0 degrees and was at a RA of 291d 37m, the difference in RA being 5 deg 19 min in a modern ephemeris. Because the Moon has north latitude, Wilson shortened the time originally suggested by the application of the Moon to the sun. In her book on horary, Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson writes: “When the significator is in North latitude the time is shortened, but in South latitude it is prolonged” (page 70, Simplified Horary Astrology).
Like Wilson, I do not know the origin of this principle about time speeding up when the Moon is of north latitude and slowing down when the moon is of South latitude. It may have to do with the symbolism of the activity of spring and summer occurring in the northern hemisphere (where Western horary astrology was invented) when the Sun lies north of the equator, with the slowing down signified by fall and winter occurring when the Sun lies south of the equator.
The following table shows the latitude of the Moon and the other points and planets in this chart.
This table also reveals that the Moon is “out-of-bounds” which means that its declination is greater than the maximum declination of the Sun, that is, greater than 23 degrees and 27 minutes of declination, either North or South.
The following passage from the 1832 text on horary astrology by R. Stella also discusses the use of latitude in timing horary charts.
The Moon’s Nodes and Bendings
Although neither Wilson nor Leo mention the Moon’s nodes in this chart, it is noteworthy that the lunar nodes across the 1st/7th Libra/Aries axis have their bendings across the 10th/4th Cancer/Capricorn axis. The South Lunar Node, which is associated with loss, falls in the first house of the querent, suggesting that the querent, Mr. Wilson, may be dealing with a loss.
The south bending of the lunar nodes falls in Capricorn in the 4th of endings and the grave. The Moon itself falls in Cancer with the north bending of the lunar nodes in the radical 10th, which happens to be the 12th of confinement of his friend.
Where is the Moon in relation to its own nodes?
In addition, Vettius Valens, in his commentary about the lunar nodes and their bendings (points in square to the nodes) in electional charts, notes the following. When the Moon occupies the same sign as one of its nodes or occupies a sign of one of the bendings of its nodes, then the situation surrounding the matter under consideration is unstable and the matter will run its course in a manner that is unsatisfactory, deficient or painful to the querent. In this chart the Moon in Cancer lies in a sign square to the lunar nodes, and the outcome was painful to the querent and not what he hoped for.
On Tuesday August 4, 2020, a hurricane passed through my home state of Connecticut, cutting power to a huge number of residents, including me. Fortunately on Saturday (8/8/2020) power was restored With several days of no internet, phone, TV, etc., I spent time reading over some texts I hadn’t looked at in a while, including Alan Leo’s 1909 book on Horary Astrology. Even though I had mentioned this chart previously in old post, I thought it was worth another look.
Alan Leo is not often cited for his work in horary astrology. According to wikipedia, “Alan Leo, born William Frederick Allan, (Westminster, 7 August 1860 – Bude, 30 August 1917), was a prominent British astrologer, author, publisher, astrological data collector and theosophist. He is often referred to as ‘the father of modern astrology’.”
With his predilection for natal astrology, Alan Leo warned of the dangers of excessive reliance on horary for two reasons: (1) “it weakens the true judgement and if practiced to excess gradually deprives those who lean on it of all independence and self-reliance,” and (2) “unless pursued in conjunction with Natal Astrology, it is apt to lead to erroneous judgments.” Interestingly, in his 1909 text on horary Alan Leo cites classic authors including “Alcabitius, Aedila, Morbecca, and various Arabian astrologers” and also “Zael, Haly, Abenragel, Gerald and others.”
Alan Leo’s astrology business, with an office in London, generated income by answering horary questions which were sent by mail. For example, on page 43 of his 1909 text Alan Leo describes a horary question he received form one of his clients, a prominent businessman whose natal chart he had interpreted. His client wanted to put a new food preparation on the market and asked whether such an enterprise would be successfully received by the public with lots of sales or whether it would lose money. The question arrived in the mail, and Leo read and understood it at about 8:10:38 AM in London on 26 October 1989. Here is the chart with Regiomontanus houses as Lilly would have done it (Leo had cast it in Placidus).
Alan Leo read and understood the question on a Mercury day during a Moon hour.
The 12th part of the Ascendant lies in Taurus, ruled by Venus. There are no other planets in Taurus, so we look to the location and condition of Venus in the chart. Venus occupies Sagittarius, the sign on the 2nd cusp of income, and conjoins Saturn. The question has to do with possible gain or loss of income, which is what was on the querent’s mind according to this technique. In Jyotish, the 2nd house symbolizes what we put in our mouths, and this question has to do with a new food product.
Because Scorpio rises, the querent (the businessman) is ruled by Mars. Alan Leo points out that the querent was somewhat secretive and very set in his ways, as befits Scorpio rising. Mars in the water sign Cancer has dignity by triplicity but is also quite debilitated in the sign of his fall, which is one argument against his initiating a successful venture. Mars is also cadent in the 9th house both from a quadrant house perspective and from a whole sign house perspective.
A business venture is symbolized by the 10th house with Virgo on the cusp. Thus, Mercury rules the proposed new enterprise. Unfortunately, Mercury is totally without essential dignity (peregrine), lies in the 12th house of loss and disappointment, and is combust the Sun. The proposed business venture is not likely to succeed. In addition, Mercury and Mars are not connected by an applying aspect.
Profits from the business would be shown by the 2nd from the 10th, which is the Libra 11th house ruled by Venus, which has essential dignity only by term/bound. Venus is conjunct Saturn, which lacks essential dignity and is therefore peregrine, thus signifying loss of income. Venus also rules the 7th cusp of the general public, implying that the consumer base is not likely to take well to the new food product. Looking ahead in the emphemeris, we would see that Venus will turn Stationary Retrograde on November 11th, just a couple of weeks after the date of the horary question
Jupiter rules the Sagittarius 2nd house of personal income. Jupiter has minimal essential dignity (only by face) and is under the Sun’s beams. Jupiter is Libra occupies the sign of detriment of Mars (the querent) and is unlikely to benefit the querent very much.
Alan Leo, who also used modern planets and minor aspects to analyze this chart, advised his client: “You will be very determined in your efforts to place your food preparation upon the market, but the company will not be floated and I judge you will lose a considerable sum over the venture. The figure shows waste of money, and I cannot advise you wasting much money to prove the truth of this judgment.”
Nonetheless, the querent ignored Leo’s advice and made a determined effort to launch the product, which resulted in failure and the loss of a considerable amount of money.
Leo apparently learned after the fact that the querent was inclined to heed his advice but the son of the querent, ruled by the fallen Mars (Aries on the 5th cusp), disdained astrology and insisted on going ahead with the project which ultimately produced significant losses.
Interestingly, the next aspect to be made by the peregrine Moon is a trine to the fallen Mars, signifying both the querent and his son. In addition, the Moon at 23 Pisces 55′ lies in a “pitted” degree, about which Lilly states “that if either the Moon or the degree ascending or lord of the Ascendant be in any of them, it shows the man at a stand in the question he asks, not knowing which way to turn himself and that he had need of help to bring him into a better condition; for as a man cast into a ditch doth not easily get out without help, so no more can this querent in the case he is without assistance.” (CA., p.118) It is as if the Querent has fallen into a pit and needs assistance if he wants to get out of the hole he is in.
A reader of my book on horary astrology recently wrote to me, asking a question about dexter and sinister aspects in astrology. Lilly had written, “Observe the dexter aspect is more forcible than the Sinister” (CA 109). When I first read this statement back in the 1980s, it reminded me of the nuns punishing my classmates in grammar school for being left-handed. Being right-handed myself, I was spared the vengeance of the Sisters of Mercy. Apparently their belief was that the good angel sat on the right (dexter) shoulder whereas the devil (sinister) sat on the left one. And, after all, Jesus sat on the right side of God and not to the left of the deity. Even the English language carries this bias. “Dexterity” refers to skillfulness or adroitness, but “sinister” means ominous, disquieting or threatening.
Yet the idea of dexter and sinister aspects in astrology does not have to do with religious beliefs but rather with an ancient philosophical notion, probably Pythagorean, based on observation of the apparent movement of the heavens.
Ancient astrologers observed that each day the Sun rises in the east, culminates at the Midheaven and then sets in the west. This obvious and easily witnessed movement of the Sun across the sky was called “primary motion.” At night as the stars appeared, they also rose in the east, culminated at the MC, and set in the west, again following the primary motion of the heavens around the observer on Earth. This daily and obvious movement of the Sun and stars across the sky was considered fundamental and primary, hence the name “primary motion.” All heavenly bodies and the signs of the zodiac followed this pattern.
Looking more closely over long periods of time, the ancients noticed that a tiny group of “stars” seemed to “wander” and these wanderers were called in English “planets” from the Greek word planētēs ‘wanderer, planet’, from planan ‘wander’. The odd thing about these wanderers is that even though they followed primary motion across the sky every day, they also appeared to have a “secondary motion” in the opposite direction, that is from west toward east, in contrast to their daily “primary motion” from east toward west. This secondary motion appeared to be unique and fundamental to this small group of celestial objects, called planets or wanderers.
Our astrology developed in regions on Earth which lay north of the ecliptic circle so that astrologers had to look to the south to observe the movement of planets along the ecliptic. As a result, we tend to draw our horoscope charts as wheels with the Ascendant or eastern horizon on the left, the MC to the south, and the western horizon or Descendant on the right.
If we picture ourselves standing at the center of a horoscope wheel and looking at the MC, the natural primary motion of the sky flows from the Ascendant at our left in the east, in a rightward or clockwise direction up to the MC in the south, and continuing rightward or clockwise toward the western horizon in the west. Thus, the natural flow, or the primary motion, has sense of being “dexter” or toward the right-hand side of the observer. Aspects cast in this dexter or clockwise direction with respect to the observer at the center of the wheel are therefore considered more natural, fundamental, and in the normal flow of things. That’s just how the whole sky moves. Being in tune with nature and “going with the flow,” dexter aspects were considered, as Lilly said, more forcible.
It is important to remember that aspects were originally described in terms of the signs of the zodiac rather than the planets. Thus, the idea of dexter and sinister aspect must be viewed as a property of whole sign aspects that was later applied to planetary aspects.
The sinister aspects are simply aspects cast by a planet toward the left-hand side of the observer looking at the planet from the middle of the wheel. Movement toward the left is in the counterclockwise direction of “secondary motion,” which is unique to the small group planets. Secondary motion, and sinister aspects which are related to this concept, are an oddity and a bit unnatural because only seven visible celestial object (Sun, Moon, and five visible planets) exhibit secondary motion to the naked eye. They are like fish swimming again a powerful current. Being unnatural and attempting to move against the flow of the entire sky, sinister aspects were considered less forcible than dexter ones.
In other words, a planet casts its dexter aspects in the direction of the flow of the heavens around the earth, and its sinister aspects against the flow or in the opposite direction of the primary motion of the heavens around the earth, as viewed by an observer on earth.
A dexter aspect has not only the force of the planet behind it but also the force of the movement of the entire heavens around the Earth, so it is considered to be more powerful than the sinister aspect. Aspects are metaphors for seeing or casting one’s gaze (planetary rays), so it is not surprising that Hellenistic authors sometimes refer to these dexter aspects as the “hurling of rays” [“hurl” means “to throw with great force”] backward in the zodiac in the direction of primary motion with the tremendous combined force of both their originating planet and the entire sky, whereas the weaker sinister aspects, which must travel against the natural daily flow of the heavens, are simply looking forward in the direction of secondary motion to the planets ahead of them in the zodiac. The Hellenistic concept of “hurling,” or casting with great force, may be the origin of William Lilly’s statement: “Observe the dexter aspect is more forcible than the Sinister” (CA 109).
Because dexter aspects are cast in the direction of the diurnal flow of the heavens as viewed by an observer on Earth, they were considered to be more natural, direct, uncomplicated, powerful and effective. Sinister aspects, on the other hand, were cast against the flow of the heavens and were thus considered less natural, less direct and less effective. A motorboat can travel more effectively and efficiently downstream, with the current of a river, than upstream and against the water’s flow.
In her article about aspects on skyscript, Deborah Houlding summarizes the distinction between dexter and sinister as follows:
“A dexter aspect is therefore more direct. Because the line of sight is carried by diurnal motion it has a stronger influence than a sinister one and is more likely to produce an uncomplicated, expressive effect. A sinister aspect, because it is issued against the natural movement of heaven and has to ‘look backwards’, is weaker, distorted, inverted or somewhat debilitated.”
The concept of dexter and sinister aspects is not to be confused with the notion of the dominating, prevailing or overpowering planet of a square aspect, which is found in the works of Dorotheus, Valens, Porphyry and other Hellenistic authors. Comparing the strength of planets to the strength of aspects is like comparing apples and oranges. For example, one contemporary author makes the confusing statement that “right-sided [dexter] aspects were considered more powerful because they rise and culminate before the planets that they aspect on their left,” in other words, this statement is saying that a dexter aspect is more powerful than the planet which the dexter aspect itself aspects. This makes no sense because aspects are not planets, and the dexter aspect of a planet does not act like a another planet that sends its own rays back to the planet which it came from.
Suppose that planets A and B are 90 degrees apart, forming a square aspect. Then, if B is 90 degrees to the right of A, as viewed by an observer on Earth (or from the center of a horoscope wheel), the B dominates or overpowers A. The reasoning for this dominance appears to be that in such a case, the planet B bears a 10th house or culminating, and therefore much more regal, powerful or prevailing, position with respect to A. One might view this in terms of a derived chart in which planet A becomes the turned Ascendant, which places planet B ten houses (whole signs) away in the 10th house, which symbolizes rulers and monarchs, so that B dominates or overpowers A.
In Porphyry’s view, “overcoming,” “prevailing” or “dominating” appears to be related to a planet’s secondary motion, in contrast to the dexter/sinister aspect distinction which is related to the primary motion of the signs of the zodiac.
Porphyry writes about which planet predominates or prevails in trine, square and sextile aspects:
“Every star [planet] prevails when it is posited in a dexter trine or square or sextile to one on its left, for that one goes toward it [in secondary motion]. For example, one that is in Capricorn prevails over one in trine aspect in Taurus […] They say that prevailing is more powerful when [the planets] are in trine or square. For the prevailing star is thus stronger […]” (Porphyry, Holden trans., 2009, Ch. 21, p. 17)
For example, in the horoscope wheel above, Mars in Capricorn is in a whole sign trine to the Moon in Taurus. Mars lies to the right of the Moon and by secondary motion Mars is moving toward the Moon’s position in the chart because Mars is traveling direct rather than retrograde. The Moon is casting its dexter trine into Capricorn, and Mars is casting its sinister trine into Taurus. By Porphyry’s definition, Mars will prevail over the Moon.
Porphyry also writes: “Each star [planet] sends forth seven rays, three upwards and three downwards, and one towards the diameter, of which the upward ones are on the right side, but the downward ones are on the left side.” Here Porphyry is imagining that the planet under discussion is lying on the eastern horizon and sending its dexter sextile, square and trine upwards toward the MC, sending its sinister sextile, square and trine downward toward the IC, and sending its opposition aspect directly across the chart to the Descendant. The dexter aspects are sent in the direction of primary motion, which is the natural daily flow of the heavens, and are therefore more in tune with nature and more powerful. The planets which receive the dexter aspects from the planet on the eastern horizon are in a superior position with respect to the sending planet and is therefore in a dominant or prevailing position in the aspect configuration.
We can contrast Porphyry’s ideas about one planet prevailing over another with the statement by Manilius in his Astronomica about how the signs look at each other:
“Capricorn views Libra, whilst the Ram sees Capricorn ahead and is in turn beheld at an equal distance by the Crab, and the Crab is perceived by Libra’s leftward stars as it follows up: for preceding signs are reckoned as right signs.” (Astronomica, 2.290-295; Loeb edition, p.105).
Here Manilius is saying that the sign Capricorn looks to its right at the sign Libra, which precedes it in the zodiac. Similarly, Aries naturally looks to its right (in the direction of primary motion) toward Capricorn, which appears on the eastern horizon before it. And Libra looks to its right toward Cancer, which rises before Libra does in the east. Because of primary motion, the natural direction of gaze of a sign is toward the right, that is, toward the signs which have risen before it in the course of the day. The ancients called the Ascendant the “Helm” which steered the ship, and the natural direction of gaze from the helm is in the direction of primary motion (clockwise, to the right in the typical Western horoscope wheel) because that is where the ship is headed.
The Hellenistic astrologers appeared to pay more attention to which planet prevailed in an aspectual relationship, as determined by which planet was to the right of the other in the configuration of that aspect. Lilly appears to have focused more on the idea of a dexter aspect being more forcible than a sinister one, perhaps because he was unfamiliar with the Hellenistic notion of one planet prevailing over or dominating another by being to its right-hand side in an aspect.
Dorotheus gives the following example in Carmen Astrologicum, Bk. II.15.14, p.215:
Suppose that Mars and Jupiter are in square asepct. Then, if Jupiter prevails over Mars by lying to the right of Mars, then the native will be noble, steadfast and compassionate; here Mars casts its forcible dexter square to Jupiter. Perhaps the reasoning is that Jupiter is able to absorb the powerful force of Mars and direct it toward nobility.
But if Mars dominates Jupiter by lying to the right side of Jupiter in the aspect, then the natvie will be feeble-mined, tiresome, fatigued and slanderous; in this case, Jupiter casts its forcible dexter aspect to Mars. Perhaps in this case Mars absorbs the powerful expansiveness of Jupiter, and being a malefic planet, utilizes Jupiter’s energy toward nefarious ends.
Rhetorius discusses the chart of the poet Pamprepius who was also a deceitful, self-serving and traitorous politician. Here is my approximation of the version of the chart used by Rhetorius, recast in the tropical zodiac.
In his commentary Rhetorius discusses Mars in the whole sign 12th Place squaring a peregrine Mercury in the whole sign 9th. Firmicus Maternus describes this aspect as follows: “If Mercury is elevated and, possessing the right side, aspects by square Mars posited in a lower place, that configuration will make evil, malign and malicious persons, always armed by a very bad and pestiferous greediness of mind, exercising all the actions of deceit …”
Note that Mars “hurls” its harmful rays by a powerful dexter square to peregrine Mercury, which is “more elevated” than Mars and thus prevails in this configuration. Thus, the harsh significations of Mars, the out-of-sect malefic occupying the troublesome 12th Place, are hurled to Mercury, damaging this planet of the mind and manifesting as “greediness of mind, exercising all the actions of deceit” etc. In other words, by means of its forcible dexter aspect, Mars imbues Mercury with a strong dose of its Mars-like maleficence, which Mercury, as the prevailing planet, puts to use in devious and deceitful mental and Mercurial ways.
Another Example: Jeffrey Dahmer
As another example let’s consider the chart of Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer who ate his victims. He has Moon and Mars in Aries in the 7th Place squaring by whole sign Jupiter and Saturn in Capricorn in the 4th Place. One would expect the fallen Jupiter and the Saturn in its domicile to characterize his domestic life and early home environment. Saturn also rules the 5th Place of romance.
Moon and Mars cast their forcible dexter squares from Aries into Capricorn. Jupiter and Saturn “overcome” Moon and Mars by whole sign aspect. The implication would be that the domestic life, romances, and the 3rd and 6th Places ruled by Jupiter would be strongly influenced by the significations of Moon and Mars in Aries in the 7th, which would be expressed through the dominant planets Jupiter and Saturn, which incorporate Moon & Mars in Aries in the 7th into their expression and manifestation in the world.
For example, Mars as out-of-sect malefic is angular in the 7th and in domicile, so its dexter aspect will be quite strong and malefic. Saturn, dignified in Capricorn, incorporates the powerful malefic Mars influence and manifests it in his domestic and romantic life. He easily attracts lovers into his home where he kills and eats them. Perhaps we could view Moon in Aries in the 7th as signifying aggressive eating in one-to-one relationships which gets incorporated into the expression of Jupiter and Saturn in the 4th, which dominate the Moon.
If we were to turn Dahmer’s chart so that Moon & Mars were in the 1st Place, then Jupiter and Saturn would be in the 10th Place of praxis or action in the world.
If you have seen the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, an analogy might be that the dominating or overcoming planet is like the alien Pod which absorbs all the traits of the human whose body it snatches. The Pod is like the overcoming planet, and the human who is being absorbed is like the dexter aspect sending its significations (human traits) to the overcoming planet (the alien Pod).
Recently I’ve been reading some modern and classic texts on mundane astrology. One of the more obscure facets of historical astrology is the role of the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer which repeats about every 30 years. One of the earliest mentions of the importance of this conjunction of the traditional malefic in the sign Cancer can be found in al-Kindi’s discussions of its role in examining the duration of Arab rule. Abu Ma’Shar later popularized al-Kindi’s ideas.
According to Ben Dykes in Astrology of the World II, al-Kindi noted that in the Aries Ingress or vernal equinox chart for the year 622 AD, when Muhammad fled to Medina, the sign Cancer was on the Ascendant, and Mars was conjunct Saturn in Cancer in the 1st house. At the same time Jupiter in this diurnal chart occupied Aquarius in the 8th house and was in aversion to the Ascendant, thus affording none of its benefic influence to soften the conjunction of malefics in the 1st, which configuration spelled trouble for the Persians who ruled at the time. The exalted Taurus Moon, which ruled the Ascendant and disposed the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer in this chart, was in sextile aspect to an exalted Venus in Pisces in the 9th, favored the Arabs (traditionally ruled by Venus) and the prophet, signified by the 9th house. Here is a modern approximation to al-Biruni’s chart for the Aries Ingress at the time of the Hijrah.
Interestingly, although al-Biruni regarded the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer to be harmful, it could be ameliorated by a favorable aspect from benefic Jupiter, should one exist. The sign Cancer is significant for several reasons:
Cancer disposes the Mars/Saturn conjunction and is the Ascendant of the Aries Ingress in the year of the Hijrah, a key event in Islam.
Cancer is the sign of fall or depression of Mars.
Cancer is the sign of detriment or exile of Saturn.
Cancer is a movable or cardinal sign, ruled by the Moon.
In the 12th century the Jewish astrologer Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra had a somewhat different take on the Mars/Saturn conjunction. He wrote in The Beginning of Wisdom that, according the the ancients, when Mars and Saturn join together they exert a beneficial influence. The explanation for the “positive” combined influence of the two malefics is that each vitiates the action of the other, thereby preventing the other from doing harm. The net result is that their conjunction produces the “good” of causing no harm because each restrains the other’s malevolence from going into effect.
William Ramesey in his 17th century book on Mundane Astrology takes a totally negative view of the Mars/Saturn conjunction:
“… the conjunction of Saturn and Mars in the first degree or term of Cancer, is the forerunner of much evil, i.e. terrible wars, slaughters, depopulations and alterations of government, and destruction of kingdoms, fire and sword, famine and pestilence, etc. And if is oriental, its effects will soon operate; if occidental, not too soon. The conjunction of Saturn and Mars in any other sign and place is not so terrible.” (italics mine)
The most recent Mar/Saturn conjunction in Cancer the USA chart is set for Washington, DC, on May 25, 2004 at 1:39:29 AM EDT. It has 29 Aquarius 11 rising and the conjunction takes place at 11 Cancer 18 in the 5th house. The 30-year cycle, from 2004 through 2034, looks like this:
This year, 2020, we are experiencing the Mars/Saturn conjunction is Aquarius, eight signs from Cancer so it may have an 8th house significance relative to the start of the sequence, and the square of this year’s conjunction perfects on August 24, 2020 at 14:19:20 EDT.
The current Mars-square-Saturn chart has 5 Sagittarius 02 rising, with Mars at 26 Aries 19 in the 5th house and Saturn at 26 Capricorn 19 Rx in the 2nd house. Given that the 2020 Mars/Saturn conjunction occurs in Aquarius, which is 8 signs from Cancer, in 2020 it could signify, in the keywords of Ramesey, “much evil, i.e. terrible wars, slaughters, depopulations and alterations of government, and destruction of kingdoms, fire and sword, famine and pestilence, etc.” (bold mine)
The eclipse chart, which precedes this Mars square Saturn chart and sheds light on the manifestations of this square, occurs on June 21, 2020, with the Sun and Moon in the first degree of Cancer, a cardinal sign which gives this eclipse broad mundane significance. The first degree of the cardinal signs is often called the “world point” because of its implications for mundane astrology.
Capricorn is commonly represented as a mythical sea-goat, but is it possible that at one time such a creature actually existed and, if so, what became of them?
Not long ago I stumbled upon a site which peaked my interest in this topic. There was an article at phys.org entitled “Extinct Goat was Cold-Blooded.” Since reptiles are cold-blooded, was it possible that a goat existed which was also part reptile? Let me quote verbatim from the article:
“An extinct goat that lived on a barren Mediterranean island survived for millions of years by reducing in size and by becoming cold-blooded, which has never before been discovered in mammals. The goat, Myotragus balearicus, lived on what is now Majorca, a Spanish island. The island had scarce resources, and there was no way for the goats to leave, and so scientists wondered how they had thrived for so long. A recently published research paper reveals the extinct goat survived by adjusting its growth rate and metabolism to suit the available food, becoming cold-blooded like reptiles. Paleontologists studying fossilized Myotragus bones compared them to bones of reptiles living in the same region at the same time, and found surprising similarities.”
Unfortunately, after 5 million years of existence these sea-goats became extinct after humans moved to the island about 3000 years ago. To quote again from the article: “Myotragus survived on the island as dwarf cold-blooded animals for millenia because they had no natural enemies, but they could not survive the predation of humans when they arrived on the island about 3,000 years ago. In total, the species inhabited the island for over five million years.”
Interestingly, in Hindu astrology, the equivalent of Capricorn is Makara, the Crocodile and it turns out that crocodiles have not always been cold-blooded. An article is phys.org explains that a certain group of warm-blooded crocodiles thrived in the Jurassic cold snap. To quote verbatim: “at least one type of prehistoric crocodile was warm-blooded. … his likely enabled the animals, which lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, to thrive during a spell of global cooling around 150 million years ago. … “This discovery helps us better understand these bizarre crocs. They rapidly changed from animals looking similar to modern long-snouted crocodiles, to ones with flippers, a tail fin and massive, forward-facing eyes.” (bold and italics mine)
Recently I was reading about Boris Cristoff’s “Proluna” method of prediction in which, if I understand it correctly, he directs the natal chart symbolically at the rate of 7 years per astrological house. This idea is based on the fact that the planet Uranus spends about 7 years in each sign and completes a cycle around the zodiac is about 84 years, roughly a human lifespan.
This method is quite similar to predictive techniques proposed by Charles Jayne, the innovative American astrologer who experimented with Solar arc, Ascendant arc, Vertex arc and declination arc symbolic directions.
If we wanted to experiment with a Uranus arc direction, we could calculate the arc between natal Uranus and transiting Uranus for a given event and then project that arc from every point in the natal chart. This would give a “true Uranus arc” direction. An alternative would be to calculate a “mean Uranus arc” by calculating the arc between natal Uranus and the first Uranus return, roughly 84 years later. Because the Uranus return may include a retrograde period, there may be three Uranus returns (two direct and one retrograde), so there is an issue of how to measure that arc.
An alternative would be to take the average orbit of Uranus in Earth-years (slightly more than 84 years) and divide the 360-degree circle by that orbit period, we can estimate the mean Uranus-arc to be about 4 degrees 16 minutes per year. The “true” arc will be somewhat greater or smaller than this figure, but 4d 16m of arc seems to work reasonably well with this technique. We would then symbolically direct the natal chart at this rate and look for ‘hits’ to natal planets or chart points, the most significant of which would be the boundaries between signs and the cusps of houses.
Let me illustrate the utility of this technique with a case example. Recently there was a post in a Classical Astrology Facebook group which asked the members to guess what happened in the life of a woman on a certain date. The woman was born on 2 Aug 1974 in Wichita KS at 7:17 AM, and the event occurred on 6 Oct 2005. Readers were asked to use only classical methods to guess the outcome, but I also experimented with Uranus arc, since it had captured my interest recently. Here is the chart of the woman in question, calculated in Solar Fire with Placidus houses, tropical zodiac:
Using Solar Fire I then directed the natal chart symbolically for the period from 01 Aug through 01 Dec 2005 to capture the significant symbolic directions by mean Uranus-arc in effect during the date in question (06 Oct 2005). Because we are working with a “mean” or “average” rate of travel for Uranus, we can’t expect precise hits but rather a “ballpark” estimation within a few weeks of the actual date of the event. Rather, the dates will be approximations to the exact dates of events. Here are the results:
We can see in this list that the user-arc (Uranus-arc) directed Ascendant changed signs on 16 September in the 5th house of child-bearing, so there is a high likelihood that the event had to do with pregnancy or having a child. In this method the directed Ascendant changing signs or houses are highly significant configurations and usually correspond to major life events related to the house in which they occur. Capricorn is on the 6th cusp, probably signifying the medical nature of the event.
In addition, Uranus-directed Mars sextiled natal Jupiter in the 8th on 11 October. Jupiter rules the 5th of children and the 8th is often related to surgical interventions. Mars natally rules the 4th of home and family, so the sextile of the 4th ruler to the 5th ruler in early October could signify the addition of a child to the family.
Also in October we see that Jupiter, ruler of the 5th of children and childbearing, entered Leo in the 12th house, possibly symbolizing a hospitalization and confinement related to having a baby. Leo is the sign of the Ascendant, so that 5th-ruler Jupiter entering Leo (the native) could symbolize having a child.
In fact, the event of 6 October 2005 was the birth of a child.