I came across this blog post about Zodiacal Releasing on the Argentinian site Cosmoazul and asked the author, Alex, for permission to translate and repost it here. Alex kindly consented so here is his 2012 article about Aphesis. Any mis-translations are purely my own. I have added subheadings, not in the original, to make different sections of the text easier to identify.
Zodiacal Releasing – Vettius Valens
By Alex at COSMOAZUL in Argentina
03 MAY 2012
Vettius Valens (8 Feb 120 – 175 CE) was a Hellenistic astrologer born during the 2nd century CE in Antioch, which is modern-day Antakya. Valens is the author of several texts written in Greek, called the Anthology, which consists of nine books composed between 150 CE and the time of his death. The most complete and extensive treatise on astrology that has survived from that time, the Anthology has been translated in a joint effort called Project Hindsight, which deals with Hellenistic astrology – the form of astrology that developed in Egypt and the area surrounding the Mediterranean after the conquest of Alexandria and the primary source of all Western astrology as we know it.
Valens was a contemporary of Ptolemy, who was an Egyptian by birth and Roman by adoption. Ptolemy was the author of several works, the best known of which is the Tetrabiblos; he was the first to reconceptualize astrology in terms of Natural Philosophy. The curious thing about Ptolemy is that despite writing about astrology, he was not a practicing astrologer. His work is considered as the completion of Aristotelian physics at a sublunary level. Ptolemy’s work cannot be considered representative of Hellenistic astrology since, apart from being a theoretical revisionist, he rejected much of the astrological tradition which he inherited. Phases of the Fixed Stars was another well-known work of Ptolemy in which he deals with the prediction of the climate by means of astrology.
Vettius Valens, for his part, is the one of the best representatives of the astrology of his time. In his work he cites a large number of astrologers who would never have been known but for him. Valens traveled extensively in the Middle East, pursuing the sources of astrological knowledge and thanks to his work and detailed writings, served as the basis for many Arabic Arab astrologers of the Middle Ages who translated part of his works into Persian.
In this presentation I would like to highlight one of the techniques described by Valens in his fourth book about the different systems of “chronocrators” or “time lords”, known as Zodiacal Aphesis or Zodiacal Releasing.
Chronocrators: Lords of Time Periods
The term “chronocrator” refers to any celestial body or point in the zodiac that is an indicator of time or a period of time. The word is known from the periodic conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn every 20 years, which is known as the Great Chronocrator. The technique of Zodiacal Releasing is described by Vettius Valens as one of the most precise and powerful and is attributed to a Hellenistic astrologer named Abraham. The time lords or Chronocrators are the Western equivalent of the Hindu Dasa system, in which the planets serve in turn as regents of a given period of time, usually including a series of sub-regents serving under the principal one for shorter periods of time.
Some of these methods are general, investigating life as a whole, whereas others are more specific and deal with particular topics.
Releasing or Aphesis
“Releasing” is a term that applies to general methods of Time Lords, where a significant point is set free from its position in the chart and moves through it in one way or another. In methods like the primary directions, the released signifier moves through successive degrees of the natal chart in a continuous arc, whereas in the Zodiacal Releasing technique the signifier moves from one sign to the next in discrete jumps.
The nature of the significator determines the type of information that is revealed by a given time-lord system. Zodiacal Releasing typically uses the “Arabic parts” or Lots as signifiers whose signs become points of departure. Valens typically uses either of the two main Lots of Hellenistic astrology, that of Fortune and that of Spirit, but in principle there is no reason why the sign containing any other Lot could not serve as a starting point for releasing.
The position about the transits in ancient times was that for an event to happen, a planet in the transit had to be a chronocrator for the period of time and the questions that were posed. In other words, a planet making or receiving the transit had to be a time lord in order to give testimony regarding the life of the native and to be able to be heard. In part, this approach can explain why certain transits do not produce events on some occasions, that is to say, why the planet is considered “mute” for not manifesting itself in any evident way.
The periods obtained under this method of zodiacal releasing can be subdivided up to 4 nested levels, representing years, months, days and hours. This allows you to determine very precisely on what day and at what time the particular time lord goes into effect and for how long.
The planetary periods used in Hellenistic astrology are a kind of recurring cycle involving a reference planet (usually the Sun) and the planet in question. On a given date, for example, the Sun will be in one degree and Mercury in another. The next time Mercury occupies the same degree and the Sun is also in its original location relative to Mercury, a Mercury cycle ends (20 years in this example).
All the planets have periods during which they give testimony regarding the life of the native and these periods are derived from the so-called “minor years” of the planets, also called cycles of recurrence. In this regard, it is necessary to take into account that the length of these years is not as we know it today but rather the Egyptian year of 360 days. Thus, the duration of the “minor years” of the planets is:
- Sun 19 years
- Moon 25 years
- Mercury 20 years
- Venus 8 years
- Mars 15 years
- Jupiter 12 years
- Saturn 30 years
Thus, the Moon takes 25 Egyptian years (of 360 days each) to return to the same degree it had in relation to the Sun, Venus take 8 years in “recurring” with the Sun, etc. At the time a chronocrator reaches the end of its period, the chronocratorship is said to “pass” to the next sign in zodiacal order.
Subperiods as one-twelfth of the higher-level period
Now, the primary or dominant period of the planets was considered the most important and gave the general overview of that time in the life of an individual, but in order to fully understand the different possible variations within that general time frame, the primary period was divided into subperiods equivalent to 1/12 (one twelfth) of the length of the general period. This value likely derives from considering the two luminaries as principals in the sky, the apparent lunar motion being 12 times that of the Sun. By the same reasoning, one can understand why the Lot of Fortune (Moon) and the Lot of Spirit (Sun) are taken as the primary starting points for this technique of Zodiacal Releasing.
For Vettius Valens, the Lot of Fortune was the key for analyzing and studying matters related to the body, physical happiness, health, financial stability, etc., while the Lot of Spirit was taken into consideration for the things that one does, for example, work, employment, career, etc.
The Lord of the first period is the ruler of the domicile of the sign where the Lot or specific point is located. Thus, if the Part of Fortune lies in the sign of Leo, then the first 19 years of the person’s life will be ruled by the Sun, after which “chronocratorship” would be passed on or delivered to Virgo, administered by Mercury for the next 20 years.
The subperiods follow the same principle as above but their duration is in months, preserving the ratio of 1/12. This means that if the Sun is the regent of the first 19 years, it will also be the sub-regent of the first 19 months, after which it passes to Mercury during the next 20 months due to its regency of Virgo, then Venus the next 8 months due to Libra, etc.
Thus, the periods known as the “minor years” of the planets are the values used in the Zodiacal Releasing to determine the duration of the epochs or general periods of life, with the exception of Saturn. In classical astrology Saturn rules both Aquarius and Capricorn, and if the Lot or point in question lies in (or passes to) Aquarius, its duration will be 30 years, but it will be reduced to 27 years if it lies in Capricorn.
Egyptian years of 360 days
For the major or general periods, these values are taken as years of exactly 360 days. In the subperiods, a month of 30 days is 1/12 of the year of 360 days. To reach the third subperiod level (days), the monthly value is divided by 12. In the case of Mercury, for example, its subperiod is 20 months and the sublevel period would be 1 / 12th of that, which calculates to 50 days. The last sub-level or Lord of Time of 4th level, would take the 50 days and calculate 1/12 of it, which gives a result of 4 1/6 days, that is, 4 days and 4 hours.
An explanatory table would appear as follows:
Four Levels of Time Periods
||First & Second Levels
||3 days 23 hours
||5 days 5 hours
||4 days 4 hours
||1 day 16 hours
||3 days 3 hours
||2 days 12hours
||6 days 6 hours
||5 days 15 hours
Loosing of the Bond (“La pérdida de la atadura”)
For the second level subperiods, which utilize the planetary periods as months, a complete cycle through the 12 signs of the zodiac takes 17 years 7 months (in 360-day years). Since the Sun, Moon, Mercury and Saturn have periods longer than that, the 6 signs that they govern will have more than 12 subdivisions. When dividing these 6 signs (Leo, Cancer, Gemini, Virgo, Capricorn and Aquarius), after twelve subperiods have been completed, instead of with the sign that served to initiate the subperiod, the releasing jumps to the opposite sign and continues from there. For example, when Cancer as a major period is subdivided, the first subperiod is Cancer and the twelfth subperiod is Gemini. The thirteenth subperiod instead of going back to Cancer is, instead, the opposite sign Capricorn. Aquarius is the fourteenth subperiod, Pisces the fifteenth and so on until the end of the 25 year cycle of Cancer under the Moon.
In Leo this occurs when the second level period changes from Cancer to Aquarius; in Virgo, when it changes from Leo to Pisces; in Capricorn, from Sagittarius to Cancer; in Aquarius, from Capricorn to Leo; and in Gemini, from Taurus to Sagittarius.
The time or moment that this jump happens is called the “Loosing of the bond”” and marks a significant point in the cycle.
With this technique one must keep in mind that the years to which each planet refers do not correspond to current dates. As was previously mentioned, this technique makes use of the 360-day Egyptian year. If one begins a period on 1/1/2012 in Cancer, instead of ending the period after 25 years as the Moon indicates, the Leo period would begin on 8/22/2036 instead of 1/1/2037. This occurs because Zodiacal Releasing uses a year of 360 days and not the solar year of 365.25 days. The months are exactly 1/12 of a year of 360 days or exactly 30 days, which corresponds to the duration of the signs as 30 degrees within a 360° wheel. If one does the calculation mentally, one can ignore the difference because it would take 70 years to accumulate an inequality of 1 year. One would maintain a one-month lag for every 5 years and 10 months.
To convert an ancient Egyptian year of 360 days to the current calendar year of 365 days is very simple. Just multiply the number of 360 days per year by 360 to get the result in days, then divide that result by 365.25 to get the number in normal years (365.22422 for a better approximation). A problem may arise when dealing with leap years and the uneven months of our calendar, but nothing that cannot be solved by a couple of calculations.
The Hellenistic Lots
In Hellenistic astrology the Lots (Arabic Parts) were a very important component of the original system. The most widely used were the Lot of Fortune and the Lot of Spirit. The most common Lots are found by taking the ecliptic arc between two planets and projecting an equal arc from the Ascendant. The Lot is the other end of this arc. For many Lots, the calculation differs for daytime or night births. Unlike the planets which each have several meanings, the Lots are very specific and specialized: Lot of death, marriage, father, disease, prosecution, trial, etc. A Lot represents the power of a planet in a specific sense. The system of Lots generated by taking one of the planets in relation to each of the remaining six classical planets represents the distribution of the multiple meanings of that planet in different places of the chart, in this way the planetary meanings can be studied separately.
The Lot of Fortune is found taking the ecliptic arc from the Sun forward in the direction of the signs to the Moon and projecting an equal arc from the degree of the Ascendant. For a nocturnal birth, the ecliptic arc of the Moon is taken forward to the Sun and projected from the Ascending degree. Of course, for these calculations it is necessary to have a natal hour as exact as possible to determine the right degree of the Ascendant. Another method is to invert the direction of projection that extends from the Ascendant in the opposite direction. Either way it gives the same result.
The Lot of Spirit is calculated by taking the ecliptic degree from the Moon forward in the order of the signs to the Sun, and then an equal arc is projected from the degree of the Ascendant. For a night chart, the arc is taken from the Sun to the Moon and projected from the Ascendant.
Thus, one can see that the algorithm for the Lot of Fortune in a diurnal chart is the same as that of the Spirit for a nocturnal nativity, and vice versa. It can also be seen that there is a direct relationship between one Lot and the other, and in fact their positions are symmetrical to each other with reference to the Ascendant-Descendant axis. This reveals to us that under a birth during the New Moon, the Lot of Spirit and Fortune are both on the degree of the Ascendant and they are on the Descendant for a birth during a full moon.
The Lot of Fortune singles out the meaning of the Moon’s fortune and represents the total allocation of good or bad things that befall us as physical organisms or biological entities, or that enter into our human lives independently of our actions. Thus, Zodiacal Releasing can be used with this Lot to investigate one’s health and injuries of the body as well as the result of the actions we take in response to what happens to us or that we suffer. The Lot of Fortune is also called the Lunar Ascendant and is used to establish an alternative system of whole sign houses different from the natal houses (unless Fortune is located in the Ascending sign, in which case they would be equal). For this, the first house is the sign where the Fortune is. Hellenistic practice studies the Lots or Arabic Parts in the system of houses of the Fortune.
On the other hand, the Lot of Spirit isolates the meaning of the Spirit of the Sun, and refers to the power of the Sun to rise or awaken us to action. Zodiacal Releasing from this Lot can be used to study one’s work or career and the outcome of actions carried out as a result of conscious choices or the exercise of one’s will in general.
The importance of the 10th sign from the Lot of Fortune
In this technique the most important consideration is the location of the sign representing the epoch or time period, and whether it is angular, succeedent or cadent from the Lot of Spirit or Fortune. This is particularly important for releasing from Spirit because it denotes the periods of success, distinguished appointments, recognition, fame or notoriety that happens when the Aphesis reaches the tenth sign from the Lot of Fortune. Another important consideration is the state of the domicile of the Time Lord in question. Valens used the word “chrematistikos” which in Schmidt’s translation means “busy” or “speaking”. Thus we find periods that are naturally busier or that say more things than others. Signs in particular may not have much to say unless a “malefic” is involved. Valens said that the malefics are more powerful than the benefices. Perhaps the lack of knowledge regarding the psychological causes behind this is the reason for such an assertion.
With this technique one can divide life into climes of each planet according to its nature.