Lilly’s use of almutens in the Houses of Master B

In the previous post, the question of using the almuten of the Ascendant as a significator was important to judging the chart accurately.  Lilly used the same technique in his famous horary about whether he would be able to purchase the houses of Master B.  Here is Lilly’s chart, recalculated using a modern computer:

Master B houses

Lilly is signified by the Libra Ascendant, ruled by Venus. Lilly’s signifier in the 7th shows his interest in Master B’s properties and also indicates that Master B has the upper hand in the deal.

To quote Lilly directly:

Lilly text

Note that Lilly takes the Sun, almuten of the 7th cusp, rather than Mars (which rules the Aries 7th cusp) to be the seller.  He does this because the Sun occupies the 7th house of the seller and is also the exalted ruler of the Aries 7th.  Being exalted, the Sun describes well the seller who is high in his demands and, he implies, a rather imperious person.

The 7th ruler Mars is not a good choice for the seller because Mars in Virgo is peregrine (without essential dignity) and, speaking Hellenistically, is in aversion to the 7th house.  A planet in aversion to the house whose cusp it rules cannot effectively manage the affairs of that house.  The Sun in contrast rules the 7th cusp by exaltation and is also triplicity ruler of the Fire signs.  In addition, the Sun occupies the 7th house, and thus is in a much better position to govern 7th house matters (that is, being the seller of the property).

This chart bears a striking resemblance to the horary in the previous post about whether the astrologer’s husband would be able to sell his car.  Following Lilly’s method in both charts leads to a correct interpretation.

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An example of transfer of light in horary

Recently I came across an interesting example of the use of transfer of light in horary. The querent, the astrologer who asked the question, kindly gave me permission to reproduce her chart here.

The astrologer is a woman who asked whether he husband would sell his car, of which he was the sole owner.  I decided to use Lilly’s method with Regiomontanus Houses and only the visible planets.  Here is the chart:

It is a Saturn day during a Saturn hour, and Saturn rules the Ascendant and occupies the 1st house.  The chart appears radical.

There are some considerations before judgment:

  • The Moon is at the very end of a sign in the terms of malefic Mars.  (This is not so bad because the Moon applies to conjoin Mars, who receives her in his term and exaltation.)
  • Saturn is Rx in the 1st house.  (This is not so bad because Saturn is a principal signifier in the question, so its placement in the 1st is significant for the outcome.  However, since the 1st is also the astologer/querent, it could mean she will have some difficulty interpreting the chart.)
  • The Moon is besieged between two malefics, Saturn and Mars.  (I’m not sure what this means.  Perhaps it is a again a warning that the querent/astrologer may find this chart hard to interpret.)

The querent’s husband is shown by the Cancer 7th house, ruled by the Moon.  The car is the husband’s movable possession, ruled by the Leo 8th house (2nd of the 7th).  Thus, the Sun rules the husband’s car.

Moon (the husband) in the 1st house suggests that the buyer has more control over the deal than the seller.  With the buyer able to call the shots, the husband is likely to get less money than he wants for the car.  The price the car will sell for is shown by the Scoprio 10th, ruled by Mars, peregrine in Aquarius in the 1st (the seller’s domain).

The potential buyer is shown by the Capricorn 1st house, ruled by Saturn. In addition, Mars is the exalted ruler of Saturn and has dignity as the common triplicity ruler in Earth signs.  With Mars also posited in the 1st house, Mars could represent the buyer, especially if the buyer is better described by Mars than by Saturn.  (Lilly uses a similar argument in his horary about the Houses of Mr. B.)

There is no applying aspect between Saturn or Mars (potential buyers) and the Sun (the car).  However, Mercury has just trined Mars (a potential buyer) and will soon conjoin the Sun (the car), indicating through its transfer of light that the car will sell, perhaps through the intermediacy of a third person.

Furthermore, the ruler of the Part of Fortune can signify our material goods.  With Fortuna in Taurus, Venus in Cancer in the 7th is a possible symbol for the husband’s car.  The Moon’s last aspect was an opposition to Venus (the car) and her next aspect is a conjunctioin to Mars (the buyer), again uniting the car with a potential buyer through the intermediacy of a translation of light.

Without taking into account the transfer of light in this chart, it would have been easy to read it as giving a negative outcome for the husband.


The husband did sell his car through intermediacy of a mechanic who brought him and the buyer together.  The husband got a little less than his asking price.  According to the querent, the mechanic was well described by Saturn and the buyer, by Mars.

What about the considerations before judgment?  The querent, who is also the astrologer, felt frustrated by the chart because it was difficult to interpret.   Perhaps the considerations had more to do with the astrologer’s experience interpreting the chart than with the actual outcome.  In the end, her husband did sell the car for a price a little less than he wanted to get.






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Have horary astrologers misunderstood triplicity rulers?

Most horary astrologers have learned William Lilly’s system of triplicity rulers, derived from Ptolemy, in which each sign is ruled by one triplicity ruler by day and another one by night. In his table of dignities (CA, 104), Lilly gives the following list:

Element of Sign          Day Triplicity Ruler        Night Triplicity Ruler

Fire                                   Sun                                       Jupiter

Air                                     Saturn                                 Mercury

Water                               Mars                                     Mars

Earth                                Venus                                    Moon

In tabulating points of essential dignity, Lilly allows 3 points for the essential dignity of triplicity.  On page 102 of Christian Astrology Lilly states explicitly that the Sun in Aries at night is to be allotted no points for the dignity of triplicity (normally given 3 points) because Jupiter is the night ruler of fire signs rather than the Sun.  I believe that Lilly misunderstood the essential dignity of triplicity and thus has led horary astrologers astray.

Prior to Ptolemy’s over-simplification of triplicities, the Hellenistic astrologers, especially as seen in Dorotheus, used a much richer version of triplicity rulers. This earlier system used three different planets as the three triplicity “lords” of each group of three signs belonging to the same element. Diurnal planets ruled the fire and air (masculine) triplicities. Nocturnal planets ruled the water and earth (feminine) triplicities. Mercury could swing either way, depending on its relationship to the sun. The three triplicity lords were all of the same sect and worked in concert to govern all three signs of the same element related to that sect, somewhat like the Cosa Nostra having sovereignty over a particular set of territories.

Perhaps a more dignified analogy would be the triumverate of ancient Rome, which, according to the dictionary,  was “a group of three men holding power, in particular ( the First Triumvirate ) the unofficial coalition of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus in 60 BC and ( the Second Triumvirate ) a coalition formed by Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian in 43 BC.” In modern English the word triumverate has come to mean ” a group of three people who are in control of an activity or organization.” Basically, the triplicity rulers in astrology are a triumverate of planets who collectively rule a group of three signs and whose essential dignity as triplicity rulers consists of being recognized as members of the governing triumverate which administers all three signs of a particular element belonging to the same sect. As part of its essential dignity, each triplicity lord remains a member of the ruling triumverate regardless of whether the sun is above or below the horizon. The Sun maintains a triplicity ruler relationship to the element fire, regardless of what time it is on the clock.

The table of Dorothean dignities looks like this:

Element of Sign          Day Triplicity Ruler       Night Ruler     Common Ruler

Fire                                   Sun                                       Jupiter                 Saturn

Air                                     Saturn                                 Mercury               Jupiter

Water                               Venus                                   Mars                      Moon

Earth                                Venus                                    Moon                    Mars

Signs belonging to the same element are in trine to one another. Trines are aspects of harmony, cooperating, and good fortune. In the Thema Mundi, the trine aspect is of the nature of beneficent Jupiter. Thus, the three triplicity lords worked cooperatively together to govern the three signs of each element. As lords of the same element, the three triplicity lords had a significant amount of essential dignity — not as much essential dignity as being the domicile ruler or the exalted ruler of a sign but essential dignity nothetheless.

I have trouble remembering the Dorothean list of triplicity rulers, so I came up with the following auditory mnemonic for recalling the members of the triplicity triumverate which jointly governs each element:

  • FIRE:         Su – Ju – Sa    (pronounced “Soo Joo Sah”)
  • AIR:           Sa – Me – Ju   (pronounced “Sah Meh Joo”)
  • WATER:    Ve – Ma – Moo   (pronounced “Veh Mah Moo”)
  • EARTH:     Ve – Moo – Ma   (pronounced “Veh Moo Mah”)

Note that the Oxford Living Dictionary defines essential as “fundamental or central to the nature of something or someone.”

If a quality is essential, it belongs to the very essence of something. An essential quality does not disappear when the sun goes down and reappear when the sun rises. For example, the nocturnal planet Mars does not stop having the essential dignity of being domicile ruler of Aries when the sun is above the horizon.  The Sun in Aries does not cease having dignity by exaltation when the Sun goes below the horizon. Why then should Jupiter in Aries cease to have dignity by exaltation when the sun goes down?

The dignity of triplicity in fire signs is an essential quality of Jupiter and is thus a part of Jupiter’s essence that cannot be negated by the accidental placement of the sun above or below the horizon. Avelar and Ribeiro recognize this fact in their book On the Heavenly Spheres (p. 72) when they write: “a planet posited in a sign in which it possesses triplicity is in a state of dignity, independent of whether the chart is diurnal or nocturnal.”

If we consider the so-called common, mixed or participating triplicity rulers, we see, for example, that Saturn always participates in ruling all three fire signs. Saturn always has dignity by triplicity in fire signs, both by day and by night. Dignity of triplicity in fire signs is part of the essential nature of Saturn, that is, it is part and parcel of who Saturn is and what he does. No accidental feature in a chart can take away Saturn’s essential nature.

Why, then, did the ancients divide triplicity rulers into day, night and participating varieties?  The answer seems to be that each element, or more precisely, each group of three signs belonging to the same element, were always ruled by three distinct planets which jointly had dominion over that triplicity of signs.  There had to be a way to distinguish the three rulers or to place them in some sort of logical order for delineation purposes.

The solution seemed to be to put the joint rulers of each triplicity of signs in order according to sect.  During the day, the day ruler took 1st place, the night ruler took 2nd place, and the common ruler took 3rd place.  At night the night ruler took 1st place, the day ruler took 2nd place, and the participating ruler took 3rd place; but all three planetary lords continued to rule the triplicity, regardless of whether it was day or night. The use of sect was simply an ordering system which allowed refined interpretations to take place. For example, the 1st triplicity ruler might be assigned to the first part of life, the 2nd ruler to mid-life, and the 3rd ruler to late life; and so on.

A political analogy may be of help in clarifying my point about triplicity.  Imagine that there exists a realm called the United Kingdom of Tri-islandia, which consists of three islands along the Equator, each about 8000 miles apart. The three islands decided to unite into one kingdom which is governed by a Prime Minister (the domicile ruler). In addition, they have installed a Queen whose job it is to attend to matters of pomp and circumstance (the exalted ruler). The Queen does not cease being Queen when she goes to sleep.

Each of the three islands has its own governor (triplicity ruler) whose job it is to cooperate with the other two triplicity rulers under the direction of the Prime Minister to make sure that matters run smoothly on each of the three islands and throughout the entire kingdom.  Because of the geographical location of the three islands, the sun never sets on the United Kingdom of Tri-islandia. When it is daytime on one island, it will be nighttime on another. YET the governor of each island remains governor regardless of whether it is day or night. The dignity of being governor of an island (triplicity ruler) does not vary with the time of day.

HALB vs Triplicity Rulership

It seems clear and logical that an essential dignity is a core feature of a planet that cannot be removed by accidental factors in a chart. Where did Lilly go wrong? One possibility is that Lilly confused the essential dignity of triplicity rulership by day or by night with the sect-related concept of the accidental fortitude of halb (from the Arabic for “portion”) which he read about in Bonatti. The idea of halb has to do with planets occupying the proper portion of the sky according to their sect:

  • a diurnal planet (Sun, Jupiter, Saturn, or Mercury as a morning star) rejoices and becomes more powerful when it lies above the earth in a day chart or below the horizon in a night chart;
  • similarly, a nocturnal planet (Moon, Venus, Mars, or Mercury as an evening star) rejoices and becomes more powerful when it lies below the earth in a day chart or above the horizon in a night chart.

The importance of recognizing that all three triplicity lords rule all three signs of an element all the time was driven home to me in a chart presented by Lee Lehman in her  2017 book Learning Classical Horary Astrology.  On page 66 (Example 4-2) she presents a diurnal horary chart about whether an anticipated home repair will be routine and inexpensive or major and quite costly. Mercury in Aquarius signifies the home, and Mars in Pisces signifies the querent’s finances.

In the table above we see that Mercury in Aquarius (an air sign) has dignity of triplicity by night but not by day.  Most horary astrologers would say that Mercury lacks dignity by triplicity in this chart. The only dignity Mercury does have, then, is by face, a very minor dignity.

The same holds true for Mars in Pisces (a water sign). Most horary astrologers who use the Dorothean dignities would say that Mars does not have dignity by triplicity in this chart.  (Lilly, however, would give Mars dignity by triplicity because he believed that Mars always functioned as a triplicity ruler of water.)

Lehman argues that Mercury (the house) is quite essentially dignified because, even though it is a day chart, Mercury as night ruler of the triplicity of air has significant dignity by triplicity. In addition, Mercury has dignity by face, and according to ancient authors the combination of two minor dignities (triplicity plus face) is as significant as one of the major dignities (domicile or exaltation). The impressive essential dignity of Mercury (the house) suggests that the repair will be minor, and the essential dignity by triplicity of Mars (the querent’s money) despite the fact that it is a day chart means that the expense will not be great.

In summary, I think that most horary astrologers, myself included have been working with the essential dignity of triplicity ruler incorrectly and have instead been treating triplicity rulership as if it were an accidental fortitude or debility. Popular astrology programs like Solar Fire and Janus also make this mistake in their tabulation of essential dignities.  It seems that Lee Lehman got it right, and her interpretation of triplicity rulership as an essential dignity that is an unalterable quality of a planet led to a correct interpretation of her horary example.  The take-home lesson is that all three planetary triplicity lords have the essential dignity of triplicity rulership all the time, regardless of whether the sun is above or below the horizon.


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Bonatti: Should I change from one official duty to another?

In Chapter 6 of Treatise 6 of Bonatti (Ben Dykes translation), Bonatti discusses his technique for deciding which of two options is better for the querent. In this post I will apply Bonatti’s method (pp. 553-554) to a sample horary. This is the chart of a querent who wants to know whether it would be better for him to maintain his current office in a particular location or to close that office and move his business elsewhere.

The querent is signified by Mars, ruler of Ascendant Scorpio. According to Bonatti, Mars also rules the querent’s current position (1st house) and thus Venus, ruler of Taurus, rules the option of closing his current office and working in a different locale.

Mars (his current location) has dignity by exaltation and term, whereas Venus is peregrine. Venus is also conjunct the cusp of the unfortunate 8th house. Based on these factors, Bonatti would tell the querent that it is better to stay working in his current office.

To further refine his delineation, Bonatti would look at the condition of the Moon (the flow of events and co-ruler of the querent) and of the Part of Fortune (the querent’s material well-being). Applying aspects refer to the future, whereas separating aspects refer to the past.

The Moon in this chart is:

  • peregrine in the cadent 6th house
  • not aspecting Jupiter
  • applying to sextile Venus from Aries, the detriment of Venus
  • applying to square Mars with reception
  • separating from a square to Saturn Rx without reception

Pars Fortuna in this chart:

  • Venus and Jupiter do not aspect the Part of Fortune
  • Saturn Rx is applying to PF
  • Mars is not aspecting PF

According to Bonatti, the best case scenario for staying put is when:

  • the condition of L1 is good
  • the Moon is separating from benefics
  • the benefics are aspecting the Part of Fortune
  • In this chart only the first condition is applicable: it is preferable to stay but it does not portend ideal circumstances in his current location.

According to Bonatti, the worst case scenario for changing or moving is when:

  • the condition of L7 is bad
  • the Moon is joined to malefics
  • malefics aspect the Part of Fortune
  • In this chart all three conditions are applicable (L7 in bad condition, Moon square Mars and Saturn, Saturn applies to Part of Fortune); thus, closing his office and moving to a new location is a bad idea.

In summary, with L1 is much better condition than L7, staying in his current office is the better option. Closing his current office is definitely a bad idea, but staying in his current office with not be without its problems.

Addendum (20 May 2018): Bonatti appears to have taken his approach from Sahl’s On Questions, Sect. 9.4 (see Dykes translation, page 139). Sahl discusses the horary question, “Is it better for me to remain where I am (continue doing what I’m doing)  or to relocate to a new place (and do something new or different)?” To answer this type of question, Sahl considers the Moon and the lords of the 1st and 7th houses (L1 and L7). According to Sahl (my paraphrase and elaboration):

  • If the Moon is separated from a malefic, it is better to move on (presumably to leave the bad past behind). In horary question the Moon is a general signifier of change and the flow of events, and a co-ruler of the querent.
  • If the Moon is separated from a benefic, it is not advisable to leave because the querent will be leaving the good behind.
  • If L1 is in good condition in the chart, the current situation is good because the 1st house signifies where you are now.
  • If L7 is in better condition than L1, then it is better to move to the new location (signified by the 7th house) because the ruler of the 7th is in better shape than the ruler of the 1st (where you are now).


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Sun beams, moon beams, eye beams and the theory of astrological aspects

In the 5th century BCE, the philosopher Empedocles believed that when the goddess Aphrodite fashioned the human eye from the four basic elements (earth, air, fire and water), she lit a fire in the eye which emitted eye beams that made vision possible. This fanciful quasi-religious hypothesis became known as the emission or extromission theory of vision. The idea is that, thanks to Aphrodite, the human eye emits beams or visual rays from its internal fire. These beams or rays emerge from the eye and travel in straight lines until they hit an object, making visual perception possible. Somehow vision occurs because eye beams from your inner fire touch external objects and render them visible.

Empedocles realized that there was a logical flaw in his argument. If vision is made possible by beams emanating from the human eye, then why do we see better during the day than at night? To solve this dilemma, Empedocles postulated that there must be some interaction between eye beams and sun beams, which made day-vision a lot better.

Around 300 BCE, the mathematician Euclid (remember high school geometry?) realized that Empedocles’ theory was nonsense. Euclid noted that light traveled in a straight line, and he wrote an entire mathematical treatise on optics and the laws of reflection. Euclid pointed out that if you look up at in the sky at night, you can immediately see the extremely distant stars. How is this possible if the eye beams have to travel to the edge of the universe to make the stars visible to you instantaneously?

Another advance in optical theory was made by Hero of Alexandria (c. CE 10-70) during the heyday of Hellenistic astrology in the same city.  Hero of Alexandria noted that the hypothetical eye beams (visual rays) traveled at great speed from the eye’s inner fire to objects in the environment where they were reflected by smooth surfaces but could become trapped in the uneven roughness or porousness of unpolished surfaces.


In this diagram, if the figure were a planet, the point B would be its “center of vision” and the range from points A to C would be its orb. Anything outside that orb would be invisible to the planet.

Unfortunately, the influential 2nd-century physician Galen subscribed to the emission theory of vision, which caused future generations of doctors to accept this idea.  Hellenistic astrologers also seemed to have swallowed this theory hook, line and sinker, despite its logical inconsistencies.

In their text on traditional astrology (On the Heavenly Spheres), Avelar and Rebeiro discuss the ancient theory of optics as the basis for astrological aspects. They note (p.106) that in the case of the major aspects, “the planet radiates its light, which touches another planet, allowing them to see each other and form the aspect.”

Just as the human eye has an internal fire (thanks to Aphrodite), each planet has its own internal fire which emanates planetary beams of light. To influence one another, planets must be able to “see” each other. For planet A to be able to influence planet B and vice versa, the planetary rays emitted by A must reach B, and the planetary rays from B must reach A. In some cases planet A can see planet B, but not vice versa; this has to do with the theory of orbs, which are essentially each planet’s visual field.

The human eye has a horizontal visual field of about 210 degrees. Unlike the human eye, planets have much narrower visual fields (orbs), and the value varies with each planet. For example, the giant Sun has a visual field of about 30 degrees (15 degrees either side of its direct line of sight or center of vision) whereas little Mercury has a visual field of only 14 degrees (7 degrees either side of its direct line of sight). For example, if Mercury puts a point at 10 degree of Virgo at its center of vision, then Mercury can only see another planet that lies between 3 and 17 degrees of Virgo (10 plus or minus 7 degrees). Any other planet in Virgo outside that range will be invisible to Mercury and thus incapable of being influenced by Mercury. Out of sight, out of mind.

Another weird feature of planetary vision is that planets are only able to look in certain directions. They see well when they look directly ahead (180 degree aspect) or look 60, 90 or 120 degrees (sextile, square, trine) from their direct line of vision. However, if a planet looks either 30 or 150 degrees away from its direct line of vision, it encounters a blind spot (inconjunct) and can’t see anything.


RETURN TO SENDER (thanks to Scott Silverman for the idea of comparing aspectual “returning” to a “return to sender” stamp on a letter at the post office)

An interesting corollary of this early optical theory of astrological aspects is the Arabic notion of returning, mentioned by Sahl Ibn Bishr in his Introduction to the Science of the Judgment of the Stars.  Writing about horary astrology, Sahl (James Holden translation) states:

The explanation of return is when a planet or the Moon is joined to another planet that is retrograde or under the Sun’s beams, and it returns to it whatever it receives from it, and it destroys the matter.”

The idea is that if planet A applies to planet B, but B is Rx or under the sunbeams, then B is unable to accept and thus returns to A whatever B would have received from A. Now, according to aspect theory, A can only influence B if A can see B. Should B happen to be under the sun’s beams it is rendered invisible to A, and so A can’t give anything to B because A can’t see B. In this case whatever A wants to give to B returns automatically to A simply because it can’t be passed on. The fact that planets within 15 degrees of the Sun are invisible to the human eye has to do with the astronomical phenomenon of heliacal rising and setting, which refers to a period of the planet’s invisibility due to its proximity to the sun. Out of sight, out of mind.

We can think of this phenomenon in terms of the childhood game of “tag.” According to Britannica, tag (aka, touch or tig) is “a children’s game in which, in its simplest form, the player who is ‘it’ chases the other players, trying to touch one of them, thereby making that person ‘it’.” No doubt the ancient Arabic astrologers who wrote about “returning” loved to play the game of tag in their schoolyards when they were children.

Planets aspecting each other are playing a celestial game of tag. Planet A applies to planet B, attempting to tag B and pass “it” from A to B.  In the older astrological literature, passing “it” is called committing disposition or pushing maintenance, that is, planet A says to planet B, “you’re ‘it’“.  If for some reason planet B cannot receive the “it” or is able to evade the “it” (by being invisibly combust or backwardly retrograde, for example), then the “it” automatically reverts back to A who remains “it” because A is unable to successfully tag another planet.

The case of planet B being retrograde and evading “it” may not be as clear. It could be that a retrograde planet is debilitated and too weak to be able to accept what A offers, so that A’s “it” remains with or returns to A. Or perhaps because B is traveling backward toward A (an unnatural movement, like a car traveling in the wrong direction on a superhighway, resulting in the destruction of the matter, as Sahl might say), when A’s rays reach B they strike the reflective surface of B with such force that they are reflected back to A rather than being absorbed by B. I’m not sure how the Arab astrologers applied the discredited optical theory of extomission to explain this matter.

In any case, the ancient emission theory of light informs the astrological theory of aspects, regardless of how silly the original theory sounds.


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Sibly: Will the young sailor enjoy his father’s estate?

Recently I participated in a thoughtful and interesting presentation on ancient horary techniques by Nina Gryphon, sponsored by Kepler College. One of the horaries which Nina discussed was a classic chart interpreted by Ebinezor Sibly in his 1817 text A New and Complete Illustration of the Celestial Science of Astrology (Vol. 1: pp.337-339).

Sibly writes:

A young gentleman in the navy, who had been rather wild, and was in consequence under the displeasure of his parents, having been threatened to be disinherited, came the instant he heard this unfavourable news, and enquired of me whether he should, or should not, enjoy his father’s estate. To resolve his doubts, I projected the figure following” (for the question, “Shall the Querent enjoy his father’s estate?”):


The behavior of the wild young gentleman so displeased his parents that they threatened to disown him, so he immediately consulted with Sibly to find out from the stars whether his parents would make good on their threat.

Aquarius rises, making Saturn the significator of the querent (the  wild young gentleman in the navy). Saturn is traditionally associated with maritime professions. By Lilly’s reckoning, Saturn in Sagittarius is peregrine, that is, without any essential dignity, which befits a young man would exhibits wild or reckless behavior. A peregrine planet acts like a disinhibited college student on spring break. If we take into account Saturn as the participating ruler of the fire signs, then Saturn has moderate dignity as a mixed triplicity ruler of Sagittarius.

Sibly continues:

The ascendant and his lord represent the querent; and, as Aquarius occupies the cusp thereof, Saturn is his significator. The father is represented by the fourth house, and Mercury, the lord thereof, is his significator. The second house and his lord signifies the querent’s substance; and the fifth house and its lord signifies the substance of his father. Here we find Mercury in conjunction with Jupiter in the eighth house, which is the father’s fourth*, and implies a substantial fortune, particularly as the Sun is posited in the same house, with mutual reception between the two significators of substance; whereby it is evident that the son will inherit the father’s estate and fortune.”

In summary, according to Sibly:

  • Saturn, ruling the Ascendant, signifies the Querent, the young gentleman.
  • Mars, ruling the 2nd, signifies the querent’s money.
  • Mercury, ruling the Gemini 4th, signifies the father.
  • Mercury, ruling the Gemini 5th (2nd of the 4th), signifies the father’s money.
  • *Sibly incorrectly states that the 8th is the father’s 4th, whereas it is actually the 5th from the 4th (the father’s children).  Lilly says that the 8th is the general house of “the estate of men deceased.”  Because the 8th is the 5th of offspring from the 4th (the father), perhaps Sibly was thinking that Mercury (father’s money, 2nd of 4th) residing in the 8th shows that the father’s money is passed on to his children.
  • Sibly believes that Mercury (father’s money) conjunct Jupiter (abundance) in the 8th (estate of men deceased) means that there is a substantial fortune.  He takes the majestic Sun in the 8th to support this interpretation.
  • Finally, Sibly notes the mutual reception between the son’s money (Mars in Virgo) and the father’s money (Mercury in Scorpio) as indicating an exchange of wealth between the two.

Sibly goes on to say:

The conjunction of Jupiter with Mercury, the father’s significator, is also a strong argument of paternal regard on the side of the father; and therefore I informed him that there appeared to me to be no doubt but he would succeed to the estate of his ancestors, provided he acted at all consistently with the duty and obedience of a son, and would use proper endeavours to regain his father’s good-will and forgiveness, and aim to be more prudent and careful in spending his income; for the position of Jupiter declares him to be regardless of money among his companions and acquaintances, and extravagantly generous and good-natured. The conjunction of Mars with Venus likewise shows his desire after women, and denotes that they will be a continual source of misfortune and expense to him, and will help off pretty fast with his money; but the position of the fortunate node of the Moon in his second house sufficiently indicates that he will have a competent provision during life.”

To summarize Sibly’s argument:

  • Mercury (the father, ruler of the 4th) conjunct Jupiter (generosity, benevolence) suggests strong paternal regard toward his son. Although Sibly does not mention it, Jupiter rules the 11th house of the querents hopes and wishes to receive an inheritance and the father’s significator Mercury in rapidly applying to conjoin Jupiter. No doubt the son became a spendthrift after years of being spoiled by his parents, especially by his mother whom Jupiter also signifies in this chart.
  • The position of Jupiter in Scorpio in the 8th (peregrine and under the sunbeams) shows the son to be a spendthrift with little regard for how he uses money.
  • Mars co-present with Venus in her fall in Virgo in the 7th house is an indication of the son’s wild behavior with “fallen” women who tend to squander his money and serve as a source of difficulty for him.
  • The Moon’s North Node in the 2nd shows that he will have enough financial resources during his lifetime.

Sibly does not mention that the Moon’s last perfected aspect was a sextile to Veuns (ruler of the 8th of “the estate of men deceased”) and that the Moon’s next aspect to perfect will be a sextile to Mars (ruler of the 2nd of the son’s finances). This transfer of light from the 8th ruler Venus to the 2nd ruler Mars is an argument in favor of the son receiving the inheritance. In addition, Mars at 25 Virgo 46 is the participating triplicity ruler of earth signs and is in his own terms. Thus, Mars (ruler of the 2nd of money) is essentially well dignified as a triplicity ruler and term ruler in this region of Virgo, a fact which bodes well for the querent’s finances. Although the Moon is in the cadent 6th house, she is strong in Cancer which she rules.

Nor does Sibly mention that the Sun in Libra lies in the exaltation and triplicity of Saturn, and that Saturn in fiery Sagittarius lies in the triplicity of the Sun. In the chart, the Sun rules the 7th house, which is the 4th (landed property) of the 4th (father), or the father’s title to the family real estate (“the estate of his ancestors“), and so there is a favorable connection between the son (signified by Saturn) and the father’s lands (Leo 7th house).

An interesting aside is that the querent’s rule Saturn (the wild son in the navy) closely conjoins the martial fixed star Antares, the Heart of the Scorpion. Robson says of this conjunction: “Materialistic, dishonest through circumstances created by environment, religious hypocrisy, many disappointments, loss through quarrels and legal affairs, trouble through enemies, many failures, hampered by relatives, unfavorable for domestic matters, much sickness to and sorrow from children.”

The Ascendant of this chart exactly conjoins the fixed star Mirzam in the left paw of the Dog. Mirzam announces the coming of Sirius, and symbolically signifies an interest in announcing, relaying information or “barking” to warn others to what is about to happen. Perhaps the prominence of Mirzam in this chart refers to the fact that the profligate son ran immediately to the astrologer to announce that his father was considering cutting him out of the will. Sibly responding by telling the young man that if he wanted to hang on to the inheritance, it was time to get serious (no pun intended).

Presumably the profligate son did get his father’s inheritance, or else Sibly would not have included this example from 1780 in his text, published in 1817.

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Reflections on “pushing nature” in horary astrology

Ben Dykes has introduced the term “pushing” in his translations of aspectual relationships between planets in older Arabic and medieval texts.  The idea is simply that when planet A applies to planet B, it is as if planet A is “pushing” something, perhaps a request for assistance or action, onto planet B with the expectation that planet B will help planet A to realize its desires.  Planet A becomes the “pushy” planet, and planet B is the one being pushed by the approach of A.  As planet A zaps planet B with its rays, planet A “pushes” (transmits, sends, forwards, delivers, zaps, hands over) some information to B.

In other words, planet A has an agenda that it would like to accomplish in the chart. In applying to B, planet A advises B about its agenda (A -> B); then planet B must decide what to do with A’s information. Ben Dykes uses the word “pushing” to mean this process of planet A beaming information about its agenda to planet B by applying to a major aspect with planet B.

There are several options open to planet B once it receives A’s pushy advice.  For example, planet B can decide to assist planet A in accomplishing its goal, or it can reject A’s urgings and not act on A’s behalf, or planet B might be too weak or impaired (perhaps cadent, Rx or combust the sun) to lift even a finger in A’s behalf. The route taken by planet B depends largely on the essential and accidental dignities and debilities of both planets A and B.

If you have friends or relatives whom you regard as pushy people, you will easily understand the concept of pushing. People with pushy personalities tend to be overbearing, demanding, self-assertive, domineering and ambitious. Pushy people want you to do what they want, and they freely tell you so. Apparently in astrology the act of one planet applying to another by a major aspect renders the applying planet pushy. The applying planet, A, is exerting some kind of pressure on the applied-to planet, B, to do its bidding.

death star

The Death Star (a malefic) applies to and “pushes” its powerful beam onto planet B.

Apparently there are three main types of pushing, as planet A applies to planet B:

  • Pushing management or counsel, aka committing disposition, (A -> B), which simply means that planet A, by applying to planet B, is letting B know what A would like to accomplish. “Counsel” means advice, guidance, direction, information; we say, for example, that a lawyer counsels a client about how to behave in a legal matter.  It’s like A sending a text to B to inform or advise B about what A is up to, perhaps suggesting what B can do to help A if B should want to cooperate.
  • Pushing virtue, power or dignity (dignified A -> B), which means that A occupies one of its own dignities and that A can “push” its own virtue onto B.  A planet in one of its own dignities is empowered to express its own nature or virtue in pure form. This might be like the malefic school bully telling the smallest kid in the playground to do something, or the virtuous principal stepping in to send the bully to detention. In the image above, the Death Star (a malefic) has a lot of power to act malefically and pushes its destructive force onto planet B, which yields to its will.
  • Pushing nature (A in dignity of B -> B), which means that A lies in one of the dignities of B and also applies to planet B. (This is the classic definition of reception.) In this case, planet A may be quite weak, perhaps even peregrine, yet B heeds the weakling A’s request because A is an honored guest in one of B’s essential dignities. As a gracious host, B feels obliged to help puny little A achieve its desires. It is as if, by residing in one of B’s dignities, A coats itself in the nature of B and is able to persuade B to help get A’s job done.

Some modern interpreters of “pushing nature” feel that planet A is pushing its own nature onto B, as A applies to B. Logically, however, it appears that any power which A possesses to be able to push somethigg to B comes from its location in a dignity of B. In other words, A borrows the power to push from B and then uses that power to push (or reflect) B’s own nature back to B. By occupying a dignity of B, planet A is able to push the nature of B back onto planet B and thereby enlist B’s assistance. This is especially true if A is without essential dignity because then A must act through its ‘lord’, planet B, and use the power of B to accomplish its goals.

Pushing nature is somewhat like the grandchild of the CEO of a company seeking a job in one of the company’s branches. Even though the grandchild may have mediocre qualifications, he or she is able to push the nature of the CEO grandfather onto the interviewer and secure the job.

Another way to view “pushing” might be the following. As planet A zaps planet B with its rays, A pushes something onto B. Think of planet A having a laser gun which shoots a beam of light from A to B. That beam of light can simply carry information about what A wants to accomplish (pushing management). If A is in one of its own dignities, its laser beam is very powerful (pushing power or dignity) and will cause a response from B when he gets zapped. Finally, if A lies in the dignity of B, then A’s light gets filtered through and colored by B’s dignity, thus pushing some of the nature of B back onto B (pushing nature) or perhaps causing B to welcome A by acting as if B had adopted for the time being some of the nature of A. When planet A lies in one of the dignities of planet B, then what A beams toward B (as it applies to a major aspect with B) is of the nature of planet A at its core, embedded in the nature of planet B because A is floating in a dignity of B.

Hypothetical Example: Will I get the job?

Let’s assume that on 6 Feb 2011 the querent asked a horary question, “Will I get the job I recently applied for?” and the following chart represented the question:

Get job

The querent is signifed by Saturn, ruler of the Capricorn Ascendant. Saturn is Rx in Virgo in the 8th house and is peregrine.

The job is signified by Mars, ruler of the Scorpio 10th. Mars lies in its exaltation (Capricorn) and is strong in the 1st house conjunct the Ascendant. The emplacement of the ruler of the 10th in the 1st is a favorable indicator.

Mars (the job) and Saturn (the querent) are mutually applying to a trine; but Mars is combust the sun and Saturn is Rx in the 8th, so the trine may not be of much help in the matter.

Mars is empowered in Capricorn, the sign of its exaltation, to to express its Mars-like virtue in a rather unadulterated form. Thus, Mars is pushing its own virtue and dignity to Saturn.

Mars is in Capricorn, the domicile of Saturn, which colors the nature of Mars and gives it a Saturnian hue.  Capricorn modifies Mars in this chart.  Mars thus pushes the nature of Saturn back to Saturn because Mars is imbued with Capricornian tones through his placement in Capricorn.  Mars basking in a Capricornian glow makes the red planet feel very familiar to Saturn, who therefore wants to help him.

Mars exalted in Capricorn and applying to a major aspect with Saturn is sometimes said to be “pushing to natures” because Mars in his exaltation is able to push his own nature (virtue) and Mars in Capricorn is coated with Saturnian expressiveness, so Mars here is able to push the nature of Saturn (which rules Capricorn) as well.

Saturn Rx is applying to Mars, but Saturn is peregrine in 24 Virgo, so Saturn has no dignity or power to push. On the other hand, Saturn at 24 Virgo lies in the terms (bounds) of Mars, so that Saturn has a bit of Mars coloring and can push a bit of the nature of Mars back to Mars, which treats this Saturn as someone with whom he has some familiarity.

An analogy to M&M candies might make this idea clearer.  In the above chart, think of Mars as the core or center of the M&M candy and Capricorn/Saturn as its outer shell.  As Mars applies to Saturn, the ringed planet sees the Capricorn shell and feels like the Capricorn-coated Mars is a member of its family who is to be treated well. In other words, when Mars in Capricorn (ruled by Saturn) applies to Saturn, the ray of light that proceeds from Mars to Saturn is of the nature of Mars at its core but is surrounded by a coating of the nature of Saturn, which persuades Saturn to welcome the information it is receiving.


See also my older post:


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