In horary, can a planet in a house signify the quesited?

There is disagreement in the literature about whether a planet in the house of the quesited can signify the quesisted if it is not also the ruler of the sign on the cusp. John Frawley, for instance, on page 34 of his horary textbook states that a house has only one ruler, which is the planet that rules the sign on the cusp. On page 35 Frawley, however, does discuss alternatives to house rulers and gives the example of Mercury ruling both the Virgo Asc and the Gemini MC (as in the chart example below). Frawley then takes the ruler of the next sign in zodiacal order after the sign on the MC (in this example, the Moon which rules Cancer) to signify the job.

Abu Ma’Shar in his 9th century text used planets in houses to signify the matter of the house, even if they were not the ruler of the sign on the house cusp.

Some astrologers use the almuten (planet with the most dignity at the cusp) to signify the matters of the house. For example, in Lilly’s horary about purchasing the houses of Mr. B, he used the 7th-house Aries Sun (almuten of the Aries 7th cusp) instead of  Mars (ruler of the cusp of the 7th) to signify the seller. Lilly felt that the Sun better described Mr. B than did Mars.


The 7th house from Lilly’s Houses of Mr. B horary (CA, p219). He used the Sun in the 7th rather than Mars to signify Mr. B. The Sun is almuten of the 7th cusp.

A basic principle of horary astrology is that the horary chart must first and foremost describe the situation. Here Lilly regarded the Sun as more descriptive of the seller than Mars. In addition, the Sun had more dignity at the cusp of the 7th than did Mars, so that the Sun via its greater dignity laid claim to the rulership of the 7th house. An implication of this idea is that a planet within a house cannot signify the matters of that house unless the planet has some dignity there. In other words, a planet must “own” at least part of the sign on the cusp to be able to claim any type of rulership of matters signified by the house.  It is also likely that a planet’s ability to signify the matters of a house depends on how much dignity the planet has within the sign on the cusp of that house.

An example of this latter principle can be seen in the following horary in which the querent asks whether she will get the job she has applied for. (The chart data is withheld at the request of the querent.)

get job2

I often find these charts, with the Ascendant-ruler (querent) and the signifier of the quesited being the same planet, difficult to interpret.

Because the same planet rules the querent and the quesited, my first approach would be to let the Moon co-rule the querent and the common ruler of the querent and the quesited signify only the quesited to see if any aspect is forming. Here Moon and Mercury are in aversion, so there is no contact, suggesting a negative outcome. In addition, the Moon is in the 12th house and is peregrine, which is not a promising condition. Also, Mercury is without dignity in 5 degrees of Cancer and is disposed by the 12th house Moon, again suggesting loss.


Egyptian dignities for the career horary chart above. Note that Moon, Sun and Mercury are all peregrine (devoid of essential dignity) in this chart.  Ivy Jacobson (p. 29) describes peregrine significators as having a “roving, aimless and somewhat pointless vibration in the matter” … “wandering afar or off base”… “not dependable unless saved by mutual reception.”  She also advises on p. 51: “when both querent and quesited are ruled by the same planet, take the Moon for the querent; the quesited is thus at a disadvantage, and insecure.”

Because Mercury rules both the Asc and the MC, John Frawley (p.35) would take Cancer/Moon (the sign after Gemini on the MC) to rule the job. There is not aspect between Mercury and the Moon, so she will not get the job if we use Frawley’s method of assigning rulers to the quesited.

The Sun occupies the 10th, the house of the quesited job. One could consider the Moon sextile the Sun in the 10th as a potential positive indicator, but the Sun is peregrine, that is, undependable and wandering aimlessly in the house of career. The Sun has no dignity in Gemini; it does not rule any part of Gemini and cannot act as a ruler of the quesited. In addition, the Sun rules the 12th house, which is a house of loss and sorrow. The Sun’s presence in the 10th of career means that it will brings its 12th house significations into the area of the querent’s career interests in this question.

I would next look at the almutens of the houses, but Mercury is almuten of both the 1st and 10th, so it does not distinguish between them.

At this point I might consider the Nakshatra of the common significator (Mercury in this case), which lies in Ardra, a group of stars symbolized by a teardrop of sorrow because of some type of loss, disappointment or destruction.

I would next look at the triplicity rulers of the Asc (querent) and the quesited (MC in this case). These are Venus and Saturn respectively. Venus (querent) is parting from a trine to Saturn, suggesting that the querent and the job are separating, not coming together.

If I still don’t have an answer at this point, I recast the chart in the sidereal zodiac, which would give a Leo Ascendant and Taurus on the MC. Venus is approaching the Sun, but they are not in orb of a conjunction, and the Sun will change signs (sidereally) before Venus can reach the Sun, so in the sidereal zodiac there is no coming together of the querent and the job.

At the time of the question the common ruler of the querent and the quesited job, Mercury, is applying to a conjunction with Mars his fall. In addition, the next aspect that Mercury will perfect in real time is the opposition to malefic Saturn, also suggesting a negative outcome, which was the case because the querent never heard back from the job she had applied for.

If we use classical orbs as described by Porphyry, we see that Mercury is already forming the conjunction with Mars and the opposition with Saturn at the time of the question. Pophyry’s Introduction to the Tetrabiblos, (CCAG, 5, part 4; p.228) states:

“The rays of the Sun come to 30 degrees: 15 in front and 15 behind. The Moon has 24 degrees: 12 in front and 12 behind. Saturn and Jupiter 18: 9 in front and 9 behind. Mars 16: 8 in front and 8 behind, Venus and Mercury 14: 7 in front and 7 behind.”

In other words:

  • The diameter of the orb of the Sun is 30 degrees (the width of a zodiac sign) and the radius of its orb is 15 degrees.
  • The diameter of the orb of the Moon is 24 degrees and the radius of its orb is 12 degrees (~ 360 degrees in a circle divided by the length of a synodic month).
  • The diameter of the orbs of the Saturn and Jupiter is 18 degrees and the radius of their orb is 9 degrees.
  • The diameter of the orb of Mars is 16 degrees and the radius of their orb is 8 degrees.
  • The diameter of the orbs of the Venus and Mercury is 14 degrees and the radius of their orb is 7 degrees.

Interestingly Sahl deals with the issue of the same planet ruling the Ascendant and the house cusp of the quesited by studying the condition of the common signifier (see Dykes translation of Sahl, p. 73):

According to Sahl:
If the same planet rules both the querent and the quesited, check whether that planet is “received,” that is, whether the planet is joined [by aspect or conjunction] to its dispositor or to the exaltation lord of the cusp of the house it occupies. If so, and if the planet is free from affliction [vel situ erit liber a malis], then the matter will perfect; otherwise, not.

In this case Mercury rules both the querent and the quesited. The dispositor of Mercury is the Moon, and the exaltation lord is Jupiter. Mercury is not joined to the Moon; they are in aversion.

Mercury is joined to Jupiter within 14 deg 44 min of arc by an opposition aspect, and Jupiter receives Mercury in his exaltation (Cancer). Unfortunately, Mercury is afflicted by both malefics, that is, by its conjunction to Mars (within 9 deg 23 min) and by its opposition to Saturn (within 14 deg 15 min), and Sahl would judge that the matter will not perfect.

Addendum, 7 Sept 2019:  A reader sent me this note, which I am appending below:

This issue comes up in the DeLuce Horary Astrology Book. Page 32 under the heading, ‘Ruler of Ascendant and Question Being the Same Planet‘ & I quote: “If the ruler of the question and the ruler of the Ascendant be the same planet, then the matter lies in the decision of the enquirer, and he will have the power to accomplish the thing desired, or to initiate it or to refrain from initiating it.”

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Recent video interviews about astrology

Recently I’ve done a couple of interviews about astrology, one with Belgian astrologer Levi Cosijn on finding lost objects with horary and the other with Indian astrologer Aswin Balaji on primary directions and the Morinus astrology freeware program.  Below are links to the YouTube videos of these talks.  Click on the image to go to the video.

In this video we discuss a horary chart about missing earbuds posted by astrologer Lyuben Meshikov (with his permission).


In this video we discuss the primary directions for actor River Phoenix, focusing on the beginning of his acting career at age 10, his fame as an actor at age 16, and his death at age 23.

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The Birth Chart of Arthur M. Young

Recently I began reading Nested Time, the autobiography of Arthur M. Young. According to wikipedia, “Arthur Middleton Young was an American inventor, helicopter pioneer, cosmologist, philosopher, astrologer and author. Young was the designer of Bell Helicopter’s first helicopter, the Model 30, and inventor of the stabilizer bar used on many of Bell’s early helicopter designs.” It is a fascinating story of a bright and creative person who developed an abiding interest in astrology.

On page 6 of his book Mr. Young, a gifted and careful scientist, gives his birth data as 10:23:38 GMT on 3 November 1905 at 48N42, 2E20. He tells us that this is a rectified time and that the nurse who attended his birth in Paris had written 10:15 as the birth time. He later learned that in 1905 Paris was on Greenwich STANDARD Time (not GMT), so that there was about a 9 minute difference between GMT and GST, which closely matches his rectification based on astrological principles.

In addition, even though the nurse from Paris wrote the time in a letter to his mother, the coordinates he gives for his birth are not in Paris proper but are a bit south of Paris and match the coordinates of Morangis, France.  Because Mr. Young repeats these coordinates in all the appearances of his natal chart in the book, we can assume that he was born at latitude 48N42 a bit south of Paris, whose latitude is 48N52. Thus, the chart posted in AstroDataBank is a tiny bit off since is it cast for Paris proper rather than for Morangis, France. Below is my best reproduction of the chart which Arthur Young used for himself throughout the book (which I cast with Placidus houses and the true node).


One of the events Mr. Young cites as verification of this chart is the death of his brother Sandy on 24 August 1927.

If we look at the primary directions for this period (Placidus semi-arc, Ptolemy’s key, with latitude), we find:


Note that almost on the exact date of his brother’s demise primary directed Saturn conjoined his natal Moon — a remarkable coincidence. From the point of view of Whole Sign Places, the Moon rules the 8th Whole Sign of death and occupies the 3rd Whole Sign of siblings. Saturn, a natural signifier of loss and death, both occupies and rules the 3rd Whole Sign from the Ascendant.

Furthermore, primary directed Saturn crossing over the Moon often heralds a period of emotional depression.  Young describes his response to the sickness and loss of his brother as follows (p.36): “With Sandy’s terrible illness, life turned bitter. I lost all interest in friends, studies, everything.”

Regarding the primary directed Sun crossing the MC in January of 1926 corresponds to the period when Young was planning a trip to Europe, which he carried out in the summer of 1926. The Sun rules Leo, which is the 9th Whole Sign from the Ascendant.  Leo also occupies the 8th Placidus house, and toward the end of the period of effectiveness of this primary direction his brother fell ill.


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Musings on ayanamsas

Ayanamsa (also ayanabhāga) is a Sanskrit term which refers to the longitudinal difference between the tropical and sidereal zodiacs. Many ayanamsas exist so that Vedic astrologers may give different readings, depending of their ayanamsa of choice.

The beginning of the tropical zodiac is precisely defined as the intersection of the sun’s path with the celestial equator at the vernal equinox. The beginning of the sidereal zodiac has no mathematically precise definition so that practitioners are free to choose from a variety of starting points, which are within a range of about 6 degrees of each other.

According to wikipedia:
“Ayanamsa is mostly assumed to be close to 24° today, according to N.C. Lahiri, 23.85° as of 2000. This value would correspond to a coincidence of the sidereal with the tropical zodiac in or near the year 285 AD, roughly compatible with the assumption that the tradition of the tropical zodiac as current in Western astrology was fixed by Ptolemy in the 2nd century.”

Unfortunately, there is not universal agreement that the two zodiacs coincided in the year 285 CE. Some astrologers believe that they did not coincide until much earlier or later. The range of ayanamsas can be as much as 6 degrees apart, as can be seen in the list of some common ayanamsas for the year 2000 CE:

  • Raman: 22d 24m 25s
  • Lahiri: 23d 51m 11s
  • Fagan-Bradley: 24d 44m 12s
  • Larry Ely: 28d 00m 13s

Because Lahiri is probably the most popular ayanamsa, I decided to look at the sky in Alexandria, Egypt at sunset on the vernal equinox in the year 285 CE. Using the program Stellarium, I generated the following image.

This sky map of Alexandria Egypt at the vernal equinox of 285 CE shows how the zodiac constellations appear at sunset. The meridian goes through the very beginning of Cancer.

In the above figure for the year 285 CE we are looking South toward the Equator (blue line) from Alexandria, Egypt at sunset on the day of the Vernal Equinox. The Sun is just setting at 0 Aries in the West where the ecliptic (orange line) meets the horizon (curved green line). Because it is the Equi-nox (equal lengths of day and night), the Equator (blue line) crosses through this point as well.

The vertical green line in the center is the meridian, which is passing through 0 Cancer — the Summer Solstice point that marks the beginning of the sign Cancer.  Notice that the sign Cancer begins just after the fixed star Pollux of Gemini passes over the mid-heaven. In addition, the fixed star Spica of the constellation Virgo is just rising on the eastern horizon.

Because the constellations of the zodiac are not equal 30-degree signs, we can observe a wide discrepancy in the size of the constellations. Starting at sunset in the West, we see that one of the Fish of the constellation Pisces falls within the domain of the sign Aries. (This fish at the beginning of the constellation Aries may have a connection to the fish of the nakshatra Revati at the end of sidereal Pisces.)


The rear end of Aries overlaps with part of the Bull. There is a clear demarcation between the Bull and the Twins, and between the Twins and Cancer, and between Cancer and the Lion. The tail of the Lion hits the Virgin in the face, and the Virgin’s thighs and legs extend well into the constellation Libra, the Scales.

In fact, astronomers give the following dimensions to these constellations of the zodiac:

  • Pisces: 37 degrees
  • Aries: 24.5 degrees
  • Taurus: 37 degrees
  • Gemini: 28 degrees
  • Cancer: 20 degrees
  • Leo: 36 degrees
  • Virgo: 44 degrees
  • Libra: 23 degrees
  • Scorpio: 6.5 degrees (plus 18.5 degrees for Ophiucus)
  • Sagittarius: 33.5 degrees
  • Capricorn: 28 degrees
  • Aquarius: 24 degrees

Because the constellations have such variable sizes, one can see, for example, why astrologers needed to include one of the constellation Pisces’ fishes into the beginning of the sign Aries.

In addition, the zodiacal distance from the star Pollux at the very end of Gemini to the star Alterf (the first star in Leo’s jaw) measures only 24d 39m of arc, so that the 30-degree sign Cancer includes part of the head of the constellation Lion.

Furthermore, the zodiacal distance from Al Hecka at the tip of the Bull’s horn to Pollux in the shoulder of the Twins measures only 28d 26m of arc, so that the tip of the Bull’s horn belongs to the sign Gemini.

The above figure is consistent with the Lahiri ayanamsa (and those which are close in value to it). It is impressive that the fixed star Spica is rising just as Pollux has finished culminating, giving way to the first degree of the sign Cancer crossing the mid-heaven. One can also see the symmetry of Cancer and Gemini across the solsticial axis, which is the basis for antiscions. It seems reasonable that any ayanmasa of value would have to keep Pollux at the end of Gemini on the opposite side of the meridian from Cancer at sunset on the day of the vernal equinox.


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Kepler College Webinar on Antiscions


Several people asked if they could still view the webinar of August 10th even though they had not registered in advance.  I checked with Kepler College and got the following response:

Here is a link to the recording of the antiscion webinar at Kepler College.

Once you register at the above link, you will be able to immediately view the recording.

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The Pope’s Near-death Experience

In a recent online seminar offered by Nestor Echarte of Argentina we discussed the chart of Roman Catholic Pope Francis (aka Jorge Mario Bergoglio).  I was intrigued when the teacher mentioned that as a young man the Pope had to have part of his lung removed to save his life, which was being threatened by a severe lung infection.

Checking several biographical sources, I learned that in August 1957, during the year following his entrance into the Buenos Aires Seminary, Pope Francis came down with a life-threatening fever accompanied by choking and pleurisy. Despite antibiotic treatment he continued to worsen and was taken to the hospital, barely able to breathe. He was diagnosed with pneumonia due to cysts on the right lung, and the doctors decided to operate to remove the cysts and the upper part of his right lung.

His condition continued to worsen until an experienced nurse took the initiative to substantially increase his antibiotic dose, which led to an improvement in his condition. He spent a month recuperating in the hospital and was in a great deal of pain during the recovery. Apparently this near-death experience had a profound impact on his decision to continue with the priesthood and in November of 1957 he took the first step toward becoming a Jesuit priest. As Mark Shriver in his book Pilgrimage writes:

This episode raises several questions in the mind of an astrologer:

  • Is lung surgery indicated in his natal chart?
  • Is so, what predictive techniques indicate lung surgery, hospitalization and a near-death experience in August of 1957?
  • Are there indications in the birth chart that his health crisis contributed to his decision to continue with the priesthood as his vocation?

According to his birth certificate, Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 17 December 1936 at 9 pm.  Here is a copy of his birth certificate:

Partida_de_Nacimiento_J.M.Bergoglio x

The official birth certificate of Pope Francis (Jorge Marioi Bergoglio) indicates that he was born at 9 PM on 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires.

And below is his natal chart in the tropical zodiac with Placidus houses.

Pope chart x

Natal chart of Pope Francis cast in the tropical zodiac with Placidus houses. Rated AA, from Birth Certificate.

At 9 pm the MC has just moved into Taurus, so that if he were born just slightly earlier the MC would have been in Aries. In this chart, Venus rules the MC and conjoins the Ascendant-ruler Moon in Aquarius in the 7th house. Venus is the benefic of the nocturnal sect in a night chart, which seems fitting in the chart of a man who would become Pope. Jupiter, which rules the Placidus 9th of the church, closely trines Uranus in the 10th of profession, which also seems fitting for this progressive Pope.

Health issues are connected to the 1st house (the body), the 6th (bodily ailments), the 8th (mortality and near-death experiences) and the 12th (involuntary confinement, hospitalization, debilitating illness). Inflammations and fevers are related to Mars, and the lungs symbolically have to do with Mercury, Gemini and the 3rd house. One would expect these factors to be prominent in predictive techniques during the August 1957 period.

Zodiacal Releasing

Let’s begin with zodiacal releasing from the Part of Fortune, which has to do with health issues and material well-being.

In his zodiacal releasing from the Part of Fortune in 1957, Pope Francis was in

  • Gemini on Level 1:  Gemini is related to the lung and is on the cusp of the 12th house of debilitating illness and hospitalization. Mercury, which rules Gemini, closely opposes the Ascendant degree.
  • Aquarius on Level 2:  Aquarius is on the cusp of the 8th house of death, near-death experiences and surgery. Saturn, which rules Aquarius, lies in the 8th house.
  • Leo on Level 3 (3 Aug – 21 Sep, 1957):  Leo is on the cusp of the 2nd house and its ruler, the Sun, lies in the 6th house of illness which it conjoins the Moon’s nodal axis (the position of a recent eclipse) and opposes Chiron (the wounded healer and teacher) in the 12th. In Vedic astrology the ruler of the second Whole Sign from the Ascendant is considered a maraka (“death-causing”) planet, which can challenge the vitality of the individual. According to Vic DiCara, “the 2nd and 7th houses are supposed to be ‘maraka’ houses – houses that detract from health and bring death.” In addition, the Leo 2nd house in this chart is the 12th turned house from the natal 3rd house of the lungs. This Leo sub-period on Level 3 coincides with his pneumonia, hospitalization, lung surgery and month-long recuperation in the hospital.

The symbolism of zodiacal releasing from Fortune certainly fits the events of 1957.


Next, let’s look at the primary directed chart. Below, I advanced the birth chart by about 4 minutes for every year of life to arrive at a “primary directed” chart for August of 1957 in which I allowed the planets to move forward at their normal rate rather than keep their natal positions.

pope prim dir

The “primary directed” natal chart with the natal angles advanced to August of 1957, at which time the directed Ascendant lies in the 2nd degree of Leo, which is in the bound or term of Jupiter.  The most recent past aspect to the region of the directed Ascendant was the square from natal Mars in Libra in the natal 3rd house (the lungs). Thus, the distributor or divisor for this period (Aug 1957) is Jupiter (ruler and occupant of the natal 6th Placidus house) and his participating or partner planet is Mars (a symbol of infectious disease and surgery) in the 3rd. If we allow the modern outer planets to be partners in this technique, the bound-ruler Jupiter has Pluto has his partner during this August 1957 period.

As you can see, in August of 1957 the primary directed Ascendant lies in the Jupiter bound of Leo. Natally Jupiter rules and occupies the 6th house of illness.

The most recent past aspect by one of the seven traditional visible planets to the Ascendant degree is the square from Mars in Libra, which will remain active until the directed Ascendant reaches 7 Leo 40 and the opposition from Venus becomes active. Mars rules surgeons and surgery and in the natal chart occupies the 3rd house of the lungs.

If we include the outer planets in this technique, then the most recent planet to aspect the directed Ascendant was Pluto which (without latitude) lies in the Saturn bound of Cancer that was active from April 1952 through November 1955 (see table below). Pluto in mythology was lord of the underworld and is a modern symbol of crises, profound life-altering transformations, death, rebirth and near-death experiences.

If we analyze Pluto with its latitude, the body of the planet came to the Ascendant by primary direction in March of 1957 and was active at the time of the Pope’s illness in August of 1957:


The above data is summarized in the following table of distributions (divisor/distributor and participating or partner planet) calculated in Janus software.


If we were to include the outer planets in this technique, the conjunction of the body of Pluto with the Ascendant would be inserted into the above table in the Jupiter bound of Leo for the date 29 March 1957 and thus would be the partner to Jupiter in August of 1957.


If we consider the firdaria of the Pope, we will find that Jupiter (ruler and occupant of the 6th of illness) is also activated in August of 1957.

It is interesting that the Jupiter/Jupiter firdar begins on his 20th birthday in 1956 and the Jupiter/Mars sub-period of the Jupiter firdar extends from Sep 1957 when he is recovering from surgery through May of 1960 when he has entered and committed himself to the Jesuit Order.  Mars rules Aries in the 9th house of church matters in his natal chart.  If he were born shortly before 9 pm, Mars would also rule the 10th house of career.

Primary Directions

Finally, let’s consider his primary directions at age 20 when he nearly died. The following list is from Janus software and shows the Placidus semi-arc primaries with the Naibod key, without latitude.

In this list we seen that the square of Mercury (lungs, 3rd & 12th ruler) comes to Saturn (8th ruler) in July of 1957 very close to the time of his near-death experience and lung surgery in August of the same year. In addition, we saw in the discussion of distributions that the the body of the planet Pluto (with latitude) came to the Ascendant at the end of March 1957 and was active at the time of the Pope’s near-death experience in August of 1957.

Secondary Progression

The only secondary progression active during August of 1957 was the progressed Moon at 19 Scorpio 30 semi-sextile natal Mars, which perfected on 27 July 1957 and was in effect from the beginning of July until the end of August. Despite older texts which claim that the semi-sextile (30 degrees) is mildly favorable (like a mini-sextile), it is in fact much more like a stressful quincunx (150 degrees) and often indicates problems with health.  In this case the progressed Moon (1st ruler, the body and its vitality) semi-sextile Mars (fevers, inflammation, surgery) correlated with Pope Francis contracting pneumonia and needing surgical intervention. The position of Mars in the 3rd house (the lungs) indicated the area of the body which would undergo the surgery.

Tertiary Progression

A tertiary progression equates a day with a lunar month. Calculating the Pope’s tertiary progressions for the beginning of August 1957, we find the tertiary progressed Moon at 16 Pisces 14, almost exactly conjunct natal Saturn in the natal 8th house. In addition, the tertiary progressed Ascendant lies in Aries, and its ruler Mars lies in the natal 6th house of illness, conjunct the Lunar North Node.


The inner chart is the birth chart of Pope Francis. The outer chart is his tertiary directed chart for 01 August 1957. At the beginning of August the tertiary progressed Moon is conjunct natal Saturn in the 8th house. The tertiary directed Ascendant lies in Aries and its ruler Mars lies in the 6th natal house of illness close to the Moon’s North Node and the position of the pre-natal eclipse.

A Possible Rectification

Given the symbolism of Pluto as a planet of death, rebirth and radical transformation, if we adjusted the birth time slightly from 9 pm to 20:58:39 (8:58:39 pm), then the body of Pluto would arrive by primary direction (using the Naibod key) at the Ascendant at the very beginning of August 1957.  This rectified chart would have an MC of 29 ARIES 43 and an Ascendant of 9 CANCER 41, as can be seen in the following diagram:

POPE rectified

Possible rectification of the birth chart of Pope Francis to a birth time of 8:58:39 pm. This chart has Pluto with latitude coming to the Ascendant at the Naibod rate at the beginning of August 1957 when he fell ill of pneumonia, requiring hospitalization and surgery for a near-death experience which radically changed his life.  Obviously one event cannot be used to rectify a chart, and this birth time would need to be tested again many other significant happenings in his life.

If we secondarily, progressed this rectified 8:58:39 pm chart to August of 1957, we would find progressed Mercury exactly on the progressed Descendant, highlighting Gemini 12th house issues (such as hospitalization and lung disease) at this time in his life.

Annual Profections

In August 1957 Pope Francis was 20 years old. Because his natal Ascendant lies in Cancer, his profected Ascendant at age 20 lies in Pisces (where natal Saturn resides), making Jupiter “lord of the year.”  Jupiter, as we have seen, rules and occupies the 6th house of illness, so one would expect health issues to be a prominent theme this year.

His natal “lord of the hour” is Saturn which, progressing through the Chaldean order of planets, will make the Moon “lord of the orb” at age 20. The Moon rules his natal Ascendant (the body and its vitality) and lies in Aquarius at the end of the 7th house but in the 8th Whole Sign with respect to the Ascendant, so again issues of health and vitality come to the fore.

Using Lilly’s more modern method of profecting the chart, we find that in August of 1957 the profected Ascendant degree at a rate of 30 degrees per year changes sign from Pisces to Aries.  In addition, profected Mars comes to the natal Ascendant around mid-August during the period of his surgery and hospitalization. Below is the natal chart profected to August 24, 1957 when profected Mars crossed the natal Ascendant.

Mars to asc

Inside is the Pope’s natal chart. Outside is the chart profected to 24 Aug 1957. Note that the profected Ascendant had changed signs from Pisces to Aries around mid-August at the time of his surgery, and a couple weeks later profected Mars crossed the natal Ascendant of the 9 pm birth chart.

Solar Return

Below is the solar return in effect at his birthplace for the year of his near-death experience. Note that the Sun conjoins the cusp of the 8th house of death in the solar return chart. The Moon, which rules his natal Ascendant (the body), closely opposes the solar return Sun on the cusp of the 8th house.

SR Pope


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Reflections on Secondary Progressions

Secondary progressions are one of the most commonly used predictive techniques in modern astrology.  They are often attributed to the 17th century monk Placidus de Titus but their origin dates back at least as far as Vettius Valens in the 1st century CE.

The idea behind secondary progressions is quite simple: each year of life is regarded as symbolically equivalent to each successive 24-hour period after birth. In other words, each tropical year of life is equated to one solar day after birth: the 365.2419 days after birth correspond symbolically to the 24 hours of solar time after birth.  Secondaries are sometimes called “a day for a year” progressions.

day for year

This is a screenshot of a web page that will calculate your secondary progressions for free:

Vettius Valens was clearly referencing “a day for a year” when he wrote (italics & bold mine):

“… add a number of days to the birth date equivalent to the age (in years) of the native Then, having first determined the date, whether in the following month or in the birth month itself, cast a horoscope for that day.  <See> which star, if any, is in the Ascendant or is coming into conjunction with another star, and whether it is moving from an angle to a point following or preceding an angle, or from a point <following or> preceding an angle to an angle, or whether it was rising at the date of the delivery but is now setting or coming to some unrelated phase, or to something better.  You may consider these to be the periodic forecasts.”  — Vettius Valens, Anthologies, Book IX, Ch. 3, Mark Riley trans., 2010, p. 154.

Interestingly, Placidus, who is often credited with having invented secondary progressions, may have had something else in mind.

In an essay on “Placidean teachings in early 19th century Britain” Martin Gansten notes that Placidus suggested equating each lunar month (i.e., synodic month of 29.531 days) after birth with one year of life:

“Placidus wrote of his new prognostic techniques: ‘We call these motions the secondary directions, to distinguish them from the primary and principal; and we are of opinion, that Ptolemy, speaking of annual places, is to be understood of the places of those motions, and when of the menstrual, hints at the places of the progression’ (Cooper, Primum Mobile, p. 25). Today, secondary directions – equating the motions of the celestial bodies on each day following birth with the corresponding year of life – are generally known to astrologers as secondary progressions or simply progressions, while the ‘progressions’ of Placidus – equating each synodic month with one year of life – seem largely to have fallen into oblivion. There is no mention of either technique in Ptolemy, who, in the place referred to by Placidus (Tetrabiblos IV.10), was in fact writing about yearly and monthly profections. The reference to Kepler occurs in connection with Placidus’ argument for a connection between astrology and musical harmonies, also mentioned by Ptolemy; see Cooper, Primum Mobile, p. 79.”  — Martin Gansten in Placidean teachings in early 19th century Britain.

If Gansten’s interpretation of this passage in Cooper’s translation is correct, then Placidus may have misunderstood Ptolemy who was writing about monthly profections rather than directions (aka, progressions). It is possible, however, that Gansten understood the word “menstrual (monthly) in the above passage to mean monthly profections when, instead, “menstrual” was referring to critical days indicated by the hard aspects of the moon (every 7th day): “for the Moon, almost every seventh day, is placed in the critical place with respect to her place in the nativity.”

Here is the relevant passage from John Cooper‘s 1814 translation of the Third Book of Primum Mobile by Placidus, which is quoted by Gansten (bold and italics mine):


“65. Authors are divided, as to measure in direction; for some take the whole degree of the equator, for all and every one of the years; others, the Sun’s motion of the natal day: some, the Sun’s mean motion; whilst many more vary in their computations. But we, to the first year after the natal, take that part of the equator in which the Sun ascends in a direct sphere, by the motion of the first day following the nativity; to the second year, that which ascends by the second day’s motion; to the third, that which he ascends the third day after the nativity; and thus of the other subsequent ones: for we would have the directional motion successive, and always formed towards the succeeding places, and the Sun’s motion each day to be referred to, as the cause and rule to every year, as to their effects, in the same order and number.”

“66. But because the primary and principal motion of direction is derived from the motion of the Sun on the days following that of the nativity, as has been said, it consequently happens, that by some secondary means, the aspects that are made to the luminaries and angles on those days, jointly assist the significators of the primary directions; for this reason, we say, that the days whereon these aspects happen are very powerful in those years, which answer to those days, and on which they depend. From those motions, in preference to the rest, appears the true, real, and hitherto unknown, foundation of the critical or climactrical years; for the Moon, almost every seventh day, is placed in the critical place with respect to her place in the nativity; and (which is very important) experience wonderfully proves the truth of it; as may be seen in the examples extracted from Argol and Maginus. We call these motions the secondary directions, to distinguish them from the primary and principal; and we are of opinion, that Ptolemy, speaking of annual places, is to be understood of the places of those motions, and when of the menstrual, hints at the places of the progression.”

— John Cooper’s 1814 translation of the Third Book of Primum Mobile by Placidus.


Unfortunately, I don’t have access to the case examples from Argol and Maginus, mentioned in Cooper’s translation, to know whether Placidus was referring to equating one synodic month to one year of life, as Gansten suggests, or to equating each day after birth to one year of life — which is the method as understood by the 18th and 19th century British astrologers who promoted the teachings of Placidus.

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