How long is a year in predictive astrology? Vettius Valens vs Nakshatra time.

When I was first learning about the technique of zodiacal releasing in the works of Vettius Valens, I was surprised to learn that Valens used a “year” of 360 days to time the unfolding of the various periods.  His system is apparently an idealized version of a year (one complete cycle of the sun around the earth) in which each “day” corresponds to one degree of a circle, and each month is exactly 30 days.

This is the relevant passage from Valens discussion of zodiacal releasing (Mark Riley’s translation, italics mine):

“Since the universal year has 365 1/4 days, while the year with respect to the distribution has 360, we subtract the 5 1/4 intercalary days, then we find the number of years. Only then will we make the distribution.”

“For example: a person in his 33rd year was born on Tybi 15; we are investigating Mesori 20 of his 33rd year. I multiply 30 years times the 5 <intercalary> days for a total of 150. Now I add 10 <intercalary days> for the two complete years <31, 32> plus one-fourth of 32 (=8) for a total of 168. Next I take the number of days from Tybi 15 to the day in question, Mesori 20 (=215), and I add this amount to 168 for a grand total of 383. From this sum I subtract 360, and the remainder is 23. So the nativity will be in its 33rd full year with respect to the distribution, plus 23 days. I consider this number of years and days when making the distribution of the chronocratorships.”

Let’s analyze Valens’ example, using 5.25 intercalary days per “year”:

A man is in his 33rd year of life.  He was born on Tybi 15, and we are investigating Messori 20 of his 33rd year.  There are 215 days from Tybi 15 to Mesori 20.

Valens multiplies 30 years times the 5.25 <intercalary> days for a total of 157.5 days.   (This accounts for the first 30 full years of life.)

Next he adds 10.5 <intercalary days> for the two complete years <31, 32> plus one-fourth of 32 (=8) for a total of 168.

  • First 30 years => 157.5 intercalary days.
  • Years 31 and 32 => 10.5 intercalary days.
  • The total up to age 33 is 157.5 + 10.5 = 168 days.
  • 215 days from Tybi 15 to Mesori 20 PLUT 168 days = 383 days total from the date of birth.
  • 383 days minus 360 = 1 “year” and 23 days, that is, 33 “years” and 23 days.

To use a modern example, suppose someone is born on 01 Jan 1967 and turns 33 on 01 Jan 2000.  The date 215 days after his 33rd birthday is 03 Aug 2000 in the tropical calendar.  However, 33 “years” plus 23 days takes us to 24 Jan 2000, which is when Valens would make the distribution.

Interestingly, Valens system of “zodiacal releasing” is extremely similar to the Vedic method of nakshatra maha dashas (time periods ruled by planets).   The nakshatra (moon mansions) dashas associate a certain sequence of planets to the moon’s mansions to determine which planet is the time-lord for a certain period of time.  Each of the nakshatra dashas has a different ordering of planets which is paired to the nakshatras.  You begin the counting with the nakshatra where the moon resides at birth and elect its associated planet as the time lord for the beginning of the dasha sequence.  Each planet is assigned a number of years which it rules over, and you follow the sequence to find when the next planet will be activated.  This is essentially the same method as Valens zodiacal releasing, except that the number of years allotted to each planet differs and in the Vedic system the releasing starts with the moon’s nakshatra’s associated planet rather than the Part of Spirit, which is Valens’ preferred starting point.

Another difference between Valens and Vedic practice is the length of the year. As mentioned above, Valens used a year of 360 days, yet modern Vedic astrologers seem to use the tropical or sidereal year, of 365.2422 or 365.2564 days respectively to time the periods allotted to the planets.

Interestingly, Vedic astrologer Vic DiCara has studied the ancient manuscripts in their original Sanskrit and has determined that the original “year” used in Vedic astrology was the so-called “nakshatra year” of about 359 days, based on one “day” being equal to one rotation of the earth against the fixed stars.  This quite close to Valens 360 days, which is referred to in the Sanskrit literature as a ‘Savana’ year and is based on a day being measured from one sunrise to the next.

DiCara writes: “Surya Siddhanta calculates these practical timespans based entirely upon the revolution of the nakshatras through the sky (nakshatra ahoratra), which corresponds exactly to the rotation of the Earth on its axis.  …  Nakshatra time is the primary way of measuring how time allows events to occur in a particular sequence. It is to be used for anything and everything except what is specifically apportioned to the other systems. What is predictive astrology? It is an artful science of foretelling the sequence of events, portending how events will happen. Therefore what measurement system of time should be used for predictive astrology? The system that is specifically meant for defining how time causes events to unfold in sequence. What system is that? It is Nakshatra time. Therefore to calculate the duration of planetary eras and cycles you must use Nakshatra time, which defines a year as 359.017 days.”

How does DiCara arrive at 359.017 days for the length of a nakshatra year?  Here is the math:

  • A Savana day lasts exactly 24 hours.
  • A nakshatra or sidereal day lasts 23.93446972 hours.
  • The ratio of sidereal to Savana days is 23.93446972 divided by 24 = 0.997269572.
  • Multiplying this ratio by the 360 degrees used by Valens for a perfect cycle gives 360 x 0.997269572 = 359.017 days.

In one of his videos, DiCara mentions that he has more precisely calculated this figure to be 359.0167 days in a nakshatra year, which was used in the ancient Vedic texts for predictive purposes in astrology.

In summary, it appears that Valens used an idealized “year” of 360 days for zodiacal releasing, based upon a complete cycle or circle having exactly 360 degrees and allowing each tropical day one degree of the circle.

The Vedic maha dasha system is similar, according to DiCara’s study of ancient texts, because each planet is also assigned a complete circle of 360 degrees as a “year,” but each degree of that circle corresponds to one sidereal day, which lasts 23.93446972 hours.  Thus, one cycle (360 degrees) corresponds to 360 x 23.93446972 hours = 8616.409099 hours, which is equivalent to 359.017 tropical days (measured sunrise to sunrise).


Posted in Astrology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Void of course Moon in a “lost and found” horary

Recently while reading about Vedic horary astrology, I came across a question analyzed by a Vedic astrologer and wondered if Lilly’s approach would provide a similar answer. The querent had gone to the post office to mail a package but when it came time for payment he discovered that his wallet was missing from his pants pocket.  Thinking that the wallet might have fallen out of his pants in his car, he checked and did not find the wallet.  He then went home and could not find the missing item in his house.

Being a Vedic astrologer, he cast a horary (prashna) chart with Campanus houses to locate the missing object. Following the symbolism in the chart, he was able to locate the wallet in an obscured location in his car. As he opened the driver’s door, the dark brown wallet was wedged between the metal frame and the dark base of the driver’s seat in a spot that was hard to see.

Here is the horary (“Where is my wallet?”) in the tropical zodiac with Campanus houses, as used in the original chart.


It is a Jupiter day during a Mars hour. Leo is on the Ascendant. The chart appears radical in the sense that a fiery planet rules the hour with a fiery sign on the 1st cusp.

With Leo rising, the Sun is the principal signifier of the querent. The Moon is a co-ruler of the querent and a general signifier of the question and the flow of events.

The missing item is signified by the 2nd cusp, ruled by Mercury, and also by the Moon, a general signifier of things that stray or wander. The 4th house rules hidden treasure and its ruler, Venus, can also signify the missing wallet and point to its location.

The Moon at 15 Virgo 51 is void of course because her next aspect will not perfect until she has reached 4 Libra 53 to complete the sextile with Saturn.  Lilly advised that “in judgments doe you carefully observe whether she [the Moon] be void of course yea or no, you shall seldom see business go handsomely forward when she is so.”

What does a void of course Moon mean in a horary cast to find a missing object? Lilly says that “you shall seldom see business go handsomely forward.”  Does he mean that you won’t find it, that it will be hard to find, or perhaps that the missing item will have a hard time becoming completely lost?

Many years ago in one of her workshops Joan McEvers presented several charts of missing objects. She noted that in her experience with such horaries (“Where is the missing object?”) a void of course Moon often appeared when the object was later found or returned. Joan was using the modern definition of void of course, that the moon perfects no aspects before leaving its sign.

If I recall correctly, Joan’s explanation was that the Moon is a symbol for things (or people) that stray or wander. When the Moon is void, it can’t accomplish much; thus, it can’t stray very far and will likely return or be found. Whatever the astrological reason, her experience was that a void of course moon in missing item horaries generally indicated their return.

Lilly used a different definition of void of course. For Lilly, to be void meant that the Moon was not in orb of applying to a major aspect with any planet at the time of the question. For some authors, being void of course meant that the Moon would not perfect any major aspect in the 24 hours following the question.

In this chart, the Moon is void of course in both the modern and in Lilly’s definition. If we take the Moon to signify the missing wallet, then its location in the second house of the querent’s movable goods means that the wallet is still in the querent’s possession and does not have the energy or ability (void of course) to go anywhere else. The wallet will stay with the querent’s belongings, and he should be able to find it.

The Moon’s last aspect was an opposition to the Sun (the querent). The Moon’s prior aspects show what has already transpired. Most recently the Moon (the stray wallet) has separated (opposition) from the querent (Sun).

Where was the querent (Sun) when this separation took place? The Sun was in the 8th house of other people’s goods. The querent was bringing a package to the post office to mail it to someone else. The Sun in the 8th house suggests that the wallet had been on or near a part of the body symbolized by the 8th house, which Lilly associates with the “privy-parts” (CA 54), bladder, anus, and organs of elimination. Most likely the wallet was in the querent’s pants pocket at the level of the genitals or buttocks. The chart suggests that the wallet fell out of his pocket while he was involved with other people’s movable goods, probably on his way to the post office. The Sun (querent) is separating from Neptune (inattention, distraction), suggesting that the wallet fell out of his pants pocket while he was somehow not paying attention.

The 2nd house ruler, Mercury, is a primary signifier of the missing object. Like the Moon, Mercury is also void of course because it will perfect no major aspect before leaving its sign and its orb is usually taken as 7 degrees. Hence, like the Moon, Mercury will not connect with any other planet and will not stray or wander further from its current location. The fact that Mercury lies in an angular house means that it is likely to be found and is located in a place that is frequented by the querent.

If the signifiers of the querent are the Sun and co-ruler Moon, and the signifiers of the missing wallet are Mercury, Venus and the Moon, then we need to look for applying major aspects between the querent’s rulers and the wallet’s rulers.

  • Does the Sun (querent) aspect the Moon (strayed walled) ? No, they are very recently separating from an opposition, probably indicating that the wallet recently fell from his pocket.
  • Does the Sun aspect Venus? No, they are separating from a semi-sextile but they are in mutual reception by exaltation, which is an argument that the wallet (Venus) will be found.
  • Does the Sun aspect Mercury? No, they are separating from a semi-sextile.
  • Does the Moon (querent’s co-ruler) aspect Mercury (the wallet)? They are applying to a quincunx (150 degrees, not a major aspect), which indicates that the querent can’t see the wallet because it is not visible or somehow concealed.
  • Does the Moon (querent’s co-ruler) aspect Venus (the wallet)? They are applying to a quincunx (150 degrees, not a major aspect), which indicates that the querent can’t see the wallet because it is not visible or somehow concealed.

Studying the aspects reveals that the wallet probably recently fell from his pocket into a space which is hard for him to see.

The Part of Fortune is also a possible signifier of the missing wallet. Its position in the angular 7th and right on the Angle is an argument that the wallet will be found in a location frequented by the querent. The dispositor of the Part of Fortune is Saturn. The very next aspect the Moon (querent’s co-ruler) will make, after leaving its void state and entering Libra, is a sextile to Saturn (the leather wallet). This could be interpreted as the querent being relatively inactive and unable to find the wallet (Moon void of course), followed by the wallet’s discovery (Moon sextile Saturn).

Where is the missing wallet?

  • Moon (strays) in Virgo in the 2nd suggests that it is in an enclosed space (Virgo) with other things that he owns (2nd house).
  • Mercury (2nd ruler) also rules the 3rd (local travel), so the wallet may be in a place connected with local transport.
  • Mercury (2nd ruler) in Aquarius in the 7th suggests the location may be related to electronics or modern technology (Aquarius) and will be near to the querent and relatively easy to find (angular house).
  • Venus (4th ruler) in Aries in the 9th (a travel house) suggests that the wallet will be in a place related to Aries (ruled by Mars) and travel (9th house). Aries is a movable fire sign, and all the movable (cardinal) signs imply movement from one place to another. Mars rules iron and combustion, which are features of modern automobiles. Thus, Venus (4th ruler, hidden treasure) in Aries in the 9th suggests a location in a car.

Putting it all together:

The wallet most likely fell out of his pocket as he was getting into his car to go to the post office. It fell to a location that was hard to see but remained in his possession because it did not leave his car. He will find the wallet because the Sun (querent) and Venus (4th ruler) are in mutual reception by exaltation. Another positive indicator is that the Sun (querent) and benefic Jupiter in the 1st house are in mutual reception by sign.





Posted in Astrology, horary | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Combining Zodiacal Releasing with Vedic Mahadashas

Recently I’ve been re-reading an old book by astrologer Richarch Houck (13 Apr 1947 – 01 Apr 2001).  My first exposure to Vedic astrology came with reading Houck’s classic The Astrology of Death back in the 90s.  I must confess that at the time, some two decades ago, the Vedic techniques did not make much sense to me.  Since then I’ve studied Hellenistic techniques, such as the use of time-lords, and Houck’s methods are now a lot clearer than they used to be.  Nonetheless, I regard myself as a complete novice with regard to Vedic astrology, so please forgive me if I say something really stupid in the following comments.

It occurred to me to do a comparison of Valens’ method of zodiacal releasing and the Vedic Vimshotarri Dasha time-lord technique in the same chart for a specific event.  Searching the internet, I came across the birth data of a woman, born 6 October 1954, who reportedly had a car accident which put her in the hospital and totaled her car “a few days before” September 23, 2013.  I assumed that “a few days before September 23rd” meant the period from September 17th (6 days before, less than one week) to September 21st (two days before), so I decided to study the dates Sep 17-21, 2013.

Here is her natal chart in the tropical zodiac with Placidus houses and the mean node:


Is there any indication of a serious car accident leading to hospitalization in this tropical chart?  Yes, quite clearly:

  • Jupiter rules the 3rd of local travel and the 12th of hospitalization.
  • Jupiter conjoins Uranus (accidents) at the cusp of the unfortunate 8th house.
  • The Jupiter/Uranus conjunction opposes the Moon (ruler of the 8th) and Mars (violent accidents).   Uranus opposite Moon is almost exact.

At the time of the accident, the native was 58 years old, so her annual profected Ascendant for the year of the event was Libra, which makes Venus the “Lady of the Year” according to Valens.  Venus lies in detriment in Scorpio and squares Pluto in the 8th, warning of a difficult and perhaps life-altering year (birthday in 2012 to birthday in 2013).  The activation of Libra stimulates the Sun and Neptune in Libra, and Neptune is closely square the Uranus/Jupiter conjunction in Cancer and square the Moon/Mars conjunction in Capricorn.  This stressful T-square will thus be activated during this profection year.

Because we are dealing with an accident, out of her control, I will look at zodiacal releasing from the Part of Fortune for the period of the event:


Unfortunately, I don’t have the exact date of the accident, but we know it occurred “a few days before 23 September,” which gives a range from about 17 Sept to 21 Sep, 2013.  Her zodiacal releasing for this range of dates activates:

  • L1 – Cancer & Moon:  This activates the T-square Moon/Mars – Neptune – Uranus/Jupiter.  Jupiter rules the 3rd of local travel and the 12th of hospitalization.  Cancer rules the unfortunate 8th house (crisis, loss, accidents).
  • L2 – Gemini & Mercury:  This activates the almost exact Mercury/Saturn conjunction in Scoprio in the 10th, with Saturn ruling the 2nd of income and Mercury ruling the 7th and 9th.
  • L3 – Capricorn & Saturn:  This activates Saturn and the Mercury/Saturn conjunction (see L2).
  • L4 – Cancer & Moon:  Same as L1.  The accident occurred when the natal T-square was activated at this level, reinforcing the activations at higher levels.

Now lets look at her non-lunar hard-aspect transits for this period:


Amazingly, she had the following transits during the week of her accident:

  • 17 Sep: her Saturn return at age 58!
  • 18 Sep: Transiting Lady of the Year VENUS conjunct natal Mercury and Saturn, activating the natal Mercury/Saturn conjunction in Scorpio.
  • 18 Sep:  Transiting Mercury (travel & transport) conjunct the natal MC.
  • 20 Sep:  Transiting Pluto turns stationary direct at 8 Cap 59 near the natal nodal axis and stimulating the natal Mercury/Saturn conjunction by sextile.
  • 22 Sep: Transiting Mercury square natal Mars.

Now let’s look at her sidereal chart and examine what dashas were in effect at the time of the accident.  Her is her natal sidereal chart with the Krishnamurtia anayamsa and Whole Sign houses, mean node.


In the sidereal chart the Ascendant is Scorpio, which makes the profected Ascendant Virgo and Mercury the Lord of the Year, thus highlighting the Mercury/Saturn conjunction in the 12th house — a fitting symbol for a possible transportation accident leading to hospitalization.


Here are the dashas, calculated using the Krishnamurti ayanamsa (which is very close to what Richard Houck used) with the program Jagannatha Hora:


In the dasha system we see the following:

L1 – Saturn, emphasizing the 12th house (hospitalization, misfortune), which Saturn occupies, as well as the 3rd (local travel) and 4th (vehicles in the Vedic system) houses which Saturn rules.

L2 – Mercury, again emphasizing the 12th house, which Mercury occupies, and the 8th (loss, accidents, crises) and 11th (social contacts) houses, which Mercury rules.

L3 – Saturn (see L1).  Viewing Saturn from the point of view of L2-lord Mercury, Saturn rules the 4th (vehicles) and 5th (? travel for pleasure ?) houses from Mercury.

L4 – Venus, which occupies the 1st house (the body, one’s vital functioning) and also the 7th (opposing the Ascendant and thus symbolizing assaults on the body) and the 12th house (hospitalization), which Venus rules.  (In Vedic astrology Venus is a general signifier of conveyances and vehicles, like cars.)

L5 – Since we are considering the period from Sep 17 to Sep 21, the possibilities on L5 (for the ayanmasa used here) are

  • Sun (Sep 17 – 19) – transiting Venus conjoined natal Mercury & Saturn at this time.
  • Moon (Sep 19 – 21) – transiting Pluto stationed direct at this time.
  • Mars (Sep 21 – 22)

Here is the chart for the moment Pluto turned stationary direct (20 Sep 2013 about 5:39 PM) superimposed on the natal chart in the tropical zodiac with Placidus houses.  Venus is moving about one degree per day, so the period from Sep 18 – 20 has transiting Venus activating the natal Mercury/Saturn conjunction in Scorpio on September 18th, and transiting Venus conjunct the transiting North Node (Raju) on September 19th.


Posted in Astrology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donald Trump: Leo or Virgo rising

There has been some debate in the astrological literature about whether Donald Trump has tropical Virgo or Leo rising.  His birth certificate gives a time of birth within a few seconds of the change of sign on the Ascendant from Leo to Virgo in the tropical zodiac.  It occurred to me that perhaps the sidereal zodiac could be informative, so I cast his Vedic chart using the excellent freeware program Jagannatha Hora.  Here is his Vedic Rasi natal chart with the Navamsa superimposed:


In his Vedic chart, Donald Trump clearly has the Ascendant (As) in Leo with Mars also in Leo in the 1st house.  Jupiter occupies Virgo in the 2nd in the natal Rasi chart but moves to Leo in the Navamsa chart.

These are Trump’s birth data in the sidereal zodiac:

Planet Sign House
Sun 29 Tau 49′ 26″    10
Moon 28 Sco 05′ 58″      4
Mercury 15 Gem 45′ 17″    11
Venus 02 Can 38′ 01″    12
Mars 03 Leo 40′ 18″      1
Jupiter 24 Vir 20′ 52″ R      2
Saturn 00 Can 42′ 40″    12
Uranus 24 Tau 47′ 19″    10
Neptune 12 Vir 44′ 15″ R      2
Pluto 16 Can 56′ 16″    12
Chiron 21 Vir 48′ 28″      2
Lilith 11 Sco 22′ 32″      4
True Node 27 Tau 41′ 58″ R    10
P. of Fortune 04 Aqu 59′ 09″      7
Vertex 29 Sag 34′ 10″      5
Ascendant 06 Leo 42′ 38″      1
Midheaven 01 Tau 04′ 01″    10

Here are some typical Vedic interpretations of Trump’s key placements, quoted verbatim from the site

Your Vedic Ascendant

LEO rising or Simha Lagna

People with Leo rising tend to be generous, proud, emotional, romantic, extroverted, vain, egotistical, courageous, sentimental, self-confident, showy, and want to shine and be successful in wherever they go and whatever they do. They like to “rule” and have homage paid to them for their “royal” nature. You like to take risks and can sometimes be foolhardy, but you definitely have a zest for living.

The worst thing someone can do to you is to hurt your pride or be unappreciative of you. You wear your heart on your sleeve in matters of love and you need a partner you can be proud of, and you want them to be proud of you. You are faithful to and protective of those you love. You can be quick-tempered, but you tend to not stay angry for long. You like to play the kingly role and have a sense of drama surrounding you.

You are a ham. You like being the center of attention and will do things just to get that attention. You can be stubborn in a sunny sort of way. Your roar is worse than your bite. If your pride is hurt or your dignity is trampled on, then watch out, because you can forgive, but you don’t forget. You enjoy sports and out-of-doors activity.

Your vitality and spirit are strong except if your heart is broken in love. Your need for love and affection is very great and you need to feel appreciated. If frustrated, you lose your desire for living. Spiritual lesson to learn: Humility. The Sun rules Leo so the Sun will be important in your chart.

Mars in Leo

You are proud and probably have a big ego. You want to excel, to stand out and be recognized for who and what you are. You like to be Number One. It is difficult for you to take orders or to stay in the background. You like to be noticed and will do things in a dramatic manner just to get attention and be seen. You hate being wrong and may insist that you are always right. You are forceful, strong, energetic, artistically creative, determined, and highly competitive. You play hard, you play to win, and you do not give up easily. In fact, you see life as a competitive sport, game or performance. You love admiration and applause, and you have a strong sense of personal honor and integrity.

You tend to be very self-confident, even arrogant. But you may become self-conscious, defensive, and rather belligerent if your self-confidence is shaken. You tend to be enthusiastic, rather impulsive, full of energy, and ambitious. You are very ardent in matters of love and will pursue your love interest with great fervor and passion, letting nothing get in the way of your desires. You don’t beat around the bush, but say exactly what you feel, often in an embarrassing direct way. On the negative side, there may be a love of taking risks or of gambling. You can be quarrelsome, argumentative and jealous. There may be heart trouble if physical activity is overdone when you are not in shape or if anger is allowed to vent destructively. Energy and passion both need to be disciplined. You need to be admired for your actions.

Mars in 1st house

You have an abundance of physical vitality. Sometimes there is so much energy that you become reckless, impulsive, and throw caution to the wind. You may experience cuts and burns on your head and face which may leave some sort of scar. You are assertive, independent, impatient, and want to do your own thing. You have strong organizing ability. You are usually self-confident. Guard against accidents due to rushing around in your impulsiveness. You may be subject to higher than normal fevers.

Jupiter in 2nd house

You have the ability to be financially successful. Money seems to come to you and you have probably never missed a meal in your life. You have confidence and optimism in your talents and abilities. Your visionary ideas and investments usually prosper due to your intuitive appraisal of situations. You enjoy material possessions and may be termed “lucky”. You inspire trust in others and may benefit from receiving financial assistance from others in order to develop your visionary and idealistic ideas. You must guard against self-indulgence and over-extravagance. Curb your desire for rich, sweet food and desserts.

Sun in 10th house

You may have a desire to attain success and power for the benefit of others or to seek success and power for yourself without thought of anyone else. You want to shine and be recognized for your accomplishments. You want to be really good at something. There is strong motivation towards succeeding in a career and/or personal achievements. You have the ability to inspire others through your example. You are ambitious and self-aggrandizement is possible. People in high places can help or hinder your career.

Neptune in 2nd house

You have a strong imagination and psychic sensitivity which can be used to tap your inner talents. You receive intuitive hunches and are apt to have vivid dreams. You have an appreciation of beautiful objects. You seldom worry about money, which may be just as well, since your finances can be complicated and sometimes confusing. This placement can tend to make you extremely generous or extremely dishonest. If dishonesty is present, you will experience losses through theft, fraud and deception. Do everything on the up-and-up and money matters will go smoother. Avoid risky speculations and investments. Be completely honest with respect to money matters.

Posted in Astrology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

More on symbolic directions

In the previous post I commented about so-called symbolic directions which were popularized by British astrologer Charles Carter in his 1929 book on the topic.  In this post I’d like to look at one of Carter’s case examples.

A man born in Wiltshire, UK (51N20, 01W55) on 25 June 1891 at 8:10 AM went on to become an engineer.  At the age of 32 he suffered an accident in the factor where he worked.  While he was examining a piece of machinery, the operator inadvertently put it in motion again, which resulted in the engineer’s arm being ripped off.  Sepsis set in and the engineer nearly died.  Although he eventually survived the accident, his career was ruined.

The accident occurred on 30 October 1923 when the engineer was 32.35 years old.  If we convert his age to an arc of Right Ascension (at a rate of 1 degree = one year), then the arc related to the accident is 32 degrees 21 minutes.

Here is the natal chart of the engineer with Placidus houses.  (I had to use a time of 8:09:02 AM to match the chart in Carter’s book.)

ARM offA quick glance at this chart reveals that the MC is approximately 32 degrees from Neptune on the ecliptic, so it is possible that the primary direction of Neptune to the MC would correspond to the time of the accident.  Symbolically this would make sense because Neptune can represent carelessness and inattention.  Gemini which houses Neptune is related to movement and the arms.  Pisces, with which Neptune has an affinity, is on the cusp of the 8th house.

Let’s calculate the primary direction, based on a birth time of 8:09:02 AM:

The RA of Neptune is  65d 59m 57s.

The RA of the MC is  33d 31m 20s.

The difference in RAs is 32d 28m 37s or 32.477 degrees, which is close to his age of 32.35 years at the time of the accident.

If we use the time of 8:10 AM, which Carter mentions, we do not get the chart as it appears in his book.  Instead the MC at 8:10 AM is 6 Taurus 05 with a RA of 33d 45m 51s.  In the case of an 8:10 AM birth, the difference in RA between the position of Neptune and that of the MC becomes 32.235 degrees of Right Ascension, which corresponds to an age of 32.235 years which is also quite close to the 32.35 years of age at the time of the accident.  (If we were rectifying this chart, we could argue that he was born about 8:09:30 AM.)

In any case, it appears that the primary direction of Neptune to the MC corresponds fairly closely to the date of the accident.  Symbolically it makes sense because Neptune conjoins Pluto and Venus in Gemini (a sign related to the arms).  Venus in turn rules the 3rd house, which is connected with the arms of the querent as well as movements, as in the moving machinery which ripped off his arm.  Saturn, which rules the 6th of bodily ailments, squares the Venus-Pluto-Neptune conjunction in Gemini, which got stimulated by primary direction at the time of the engineer’s misfortune.

Carter goes on to discuss the fact that the Moon at 14 Aq 47 is roughly 32 degrees from opposing Mars at 14 Cancer 12 on the ecliptic.  He decides to ignore the usual Placidian method of calculating primary directions which would have Moon oppose Mars by primary direction (Ptolemy’s measure of 1 degree = 1 year) on 3 May 1927 with latitude and on 26 February 1929 without latitude, both of which dates are quite distant from the day of the accident (30 October 1923).

Instead, Carter argues that a “symbolic direction” of the Moon to Mars using simply the arc of Right Ascension between the two is just as compelling.  Here are the data:

RA of Moon:  318d 47m 01s

RA of Mars:  105d 32m 49s.

RA of opposition of Mars:  285d 32m 49s.

The difference in RA between the Moon and the opposition of Mars is 33d 14m 12s, which corresponds to an age of 33.237 years, but the accident occurred when he was 32.35 years old.  Thus, Carter’s “symbolic direction” is almost a year off target.  Carter apparently misread his ephemeris and used the incorrect RA for the Moon.

He might have been better off using the solar arc direction of Mars to oppose the Moon, which became exact on 20 July 1923, about three months before the accident.  At least solar arc directions are based on an actual motion of the sun.

The value of this example, taken directly from Carter, is that the method of primary direction is highly accurate given an accurate birth time, but the use of half-baked “symbolic directions” that are without a foundation in any astronomical movement of the planets give inaccurate results.

Posted in Astrology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Symbolic Directions Gone Wild

Recently I’ve been reading through the Spanish-language literature on what Charles Carter called symbolic directions, which are known as “ataçires” in Spanish from an Arabic word al-tasyir meaning to move, shift or displace.  It is apparently the Arabic word used for what Ptolemy referred to as prorogation in the Tetrabiblos.

In any case, the idea is that the astrologer takes all the locations of planets and points on the ecliptic, regardless of the latitude of the planets above or below the ecliptic, and moves all of them at a uniform rate along the ecliptic, noting when they conjoin or aspect the ecliptic longitudes of the original points in the natal chart.  These “hits” are regarded as significant and interpreted according to their usual astrological symbolism.

A popular example of this method is the so-called solar arc direction.  All points and planets on the ecliptic wheel are advanced at the rate of motion of the secondary progressed sun, which is roughly 1 degree per year. Because each planet has its own rate of motion, there is no astronomical justification for advancing all planets at the uniform rate of the secondary progressed sun.  Thus, they are called “symbolic” directions and their interpretation depends of the symbolism of the uniform rate which is being utilized.

In the case of solar arc directions, the symbolism of the sun as the source of life and an indicator of prominence makes sense.  In many other cases, the symbolism appears to be based on little more than the whim of the author.  For example, in the Spanish-language literature the rate linked to the number 13 is supposedly associated with death because the death card in the tarot is numbered 13 and I suspect also that Judas, the 13th guest at the Last Supper, was the guy who betrayed Jesus Christ and brought about his execution.

Charles Carter in his book on symbolic directions gives equally ridiculous reasoning.  For example, Carter (on page 25) advocates directing a birth chart at a rate of 3/5 of a degree per year, which he calls the “Naronic” measure.  His reasoning is based on the teachings of theosophy in which the cycle called “Great Neros” was 608 years.  Thus, if you divide the 360 degrees of a horoscope wheel by the 608 years of the Great Neros, you get 360/608 = 0.5921 degrees per year, which is very close to 3/5 = 0.60 degrees per year and is also close to 4/7 = 0.57143 degrees per year, a rate advocated by astrologer W. Franklin in a now out-of-print book New Measures in Astrology.  Supposedly, by directing at this rate you can identify “periods of depression and expansion in any life” within 20 months of their occurrence if you use a 1-degree orb.  Thus, if there is an exact hit on January 1, 2020 you can confidently tell the client that at some point within the 20 months before or after January of 2020 he or she will experience a period of depression or expansion.  What nonsense!

The basic idea in determining a rate for one of these fantastical symbolic directions is to divide the 360 degrees of the horoscope wheel by some supposedly significant cycle that pops into the mind of the astrologer.

Hispanic astrology has taken this idea and run with it.  In a YouTube video a Colombian astrologer attempts to demonstrate how the rate based on a cycle of 45 years predicted his accident of 28 January 2014. A car hit him while he was riding his motorcycle. He suffered a broken right clavicle and several lacerations.  Why 45?  Because 45 x 8 = 360, so 45 is connected to the 8th harmonic of the chart and therefore linked to all the hard aspects, which can manifest as accidents and hard times in the life.

Thus, 360 degrees divided by 45 gives a rate of 8 degrees per year as the uniform rate of progression.  Here is the natal chart with the symbolically directed chart at 8 degrees per year to the date of the motorcycle accident and broken clavicle (28 Jan 2014).


There are almost NO HITS between the natal chart and the symbolically directed chart to the date of the accident.  The closest possible “hit” is the directed Ascendant at 1 Scorpio 28 semi-sextile natal Uranus at 1 Libra 40 in the 12th house.  Semi-sextiles can be quite nasty aspects in directed charts, so this aspect could represent an accident but the timing is not exact, nor is the symbolism of a motor vehicle accident or a broken bone present.  (The d-Asc semisextile n-Uranus became exact on 6 February 2014.)  I would have expected Mars and Saturn to be activated in this instance.  Nonetheless, d-Asc semisextile n-Uranus becoming exact on 6 Feb 2014 does warn of a possible accident or other sudden disruptive event within a few weeks either side of that date.

More telling that this directed chart is the Solar Return for the year of the occurrence of the accident.  Here is the natal chart with the solar return superimposed.

sr moto

This is the year that he turned 45 years old.  Judging from his annual profections, the Lady of the Year is the Moon, which rules his 10th and occupies his 3rd house.  Thus, we might expect significant events related to career and local transport (cars, motorcycles).  Natally, the Moon squares Uranus in the 12th and the moon’s nodes which lies across houses 6 and 12.  Thus, we might expect health problems, possibly related to a transportation accident (Moon in 3rd square Uranus in 12th).

In the solar return, Pluto is highly prominent.  The SR Ascendant lies exactly on natal Pluto near the cusp of the 12th.  Natal Pluto conjoins Mars and Jupiter (ruler of the 6th of bodily ailments).  The SR MC closely square natal Pluto as well.

The natal nodes in houses 6 and 12 lies in square to SR Pluto in the 3rd of transport.  In addition, SR Pluto almost exactly square SR Uranus in the natal 6th house.

SR Mars closely squares natal Venus, ruler of the natal Ascendant (body, vitality).

All in all, the Solar Return for 2013-2014 warns of a significant health crisis, possibly involving the 3rd house of local travel.

With the Moon as profected Lady of the Year, we should consider the secondary progressions of the Moon.  We find that on 27 January 2014 (one day before the accident), the secondary progressed Moon (at 21 Leo 32) perfects a semi-sexile to natal Mars (at 21 Virgo 32).

Tertiary Progression

Pluto is also highly emphasized in the tertiary progression (one day in the emphemeris = one lunar cycle in the life) for the date of the accident.  Within 24 hours of the motorcycle accident tertiary progressed Pluto crosses the IC.  An angular Pluto by progression often marks a dramatic life-altering event.  Here is the tertiary progressed chart for 29 January 2014.


It seems to me that standard and well-tested astrological techniques provide a better predictive model for what happened than the fanciful symbolic directions which are rooted in the whims of their inventors and the supposed numerological significance of certain numbers.





Posted in Astrology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Horary about an astrological coaching practice

Today I received the following question from a reader of this blog. Because she raises an important question, I decided to answer her inquiry in blog form.  Here is her question:

“Hi Anthony – I have a tattered copy of your Horary Astrology Plain & Simple and although I’ve used it hundreds of times, I do not consider myself a practice horary astrologer (I am more of a psychological astrologer having studied with Liz Greene in London years ago). Having just retired from 30 plus years practicing law, I’m about to launch my new astrological coaching practice and drew up a horary chart to see the future of this new endeavour. YIKES! 10 Scorpio rising with the Moon at 2 Scorpio about to square Mars (9 Aquarius) and then conjunct Venus (10 Scorpio) finishing up with a conjunction to Jupiter at 23 Scorpio. Via Combusta. I’ve read your piece on that again – and although I’d not consider myself distressed about this new endeavour, I’m probably obsessed with it (just a little). I’d love to say that after some hard work and set-backs this new practice will not only be fun (that conjunction with Venus) but also profitable (conjunction with Jupiter). BUT, I’m really nervous about that Moon being in the burning way – and wondered what you think. Chart set for 10 October 2018 at 9:43:09 BST (Oxford, UK) – tropical, placidus. THANKS for any words of wisdom.”

Here is the chart.  Following Lilly, I cast the chart in Regiomontantus.

It is a Mercury day during a Saturn hour.  Lilly writes: “See the Question be radicall, or fit to be judged; which is, when the Lord of the Ascendant and hour be of one nature or Triplicity.”

Ryhan Butler describes this consideration as follows: “Another ascendant based consideration is comparing the sign on the ascendant to the lord of the hour of the chart.  There should be some form of similarity between the ascendant and the hour lord, this can happen in three ways.  The first is that the lord of the hour rules the sign ascending, the second is that the lord of the hour is of the same nature as the sign ascending (Scorpio rises during a Venus hour is okay because they are both cold and wet), finally the sign ascending can be a member of the triplicity that planet rules (Capricorn rising during a Moon hour is okay because the Moon rules the Earth Triplicity by night).”

The Lord of the Ascendant is Mars, and the Lord of the hour is Saturn.  Mars is a hot/dry planet, whereas Saturn is cold and variously considered dry or wet, depending of the ancient source.  They are not of the same nature, nor are they of the same triplicity.  This discrepancy raises the possibility that the chart may not be a true horary moment. Perhaps the querent asked the question prematurely before fully reflecting on the matter.  Bonatti recommends investigating and pondering a question and seeking divine guidance through prayer for at least 24 hours prior to asking a horary question.

The 12th Part of the Ascendant often reveals what issues are on the querent’s mind. In this horary the 12th Part of the Scorpio Ascendant lies at 04 Pisces 04, which emphasizes the 4th and 5th houses, Neptune in Pisces, and domicile ruler Jupiter in Scorpio in the 1st house.  Jupiter in this chart rules the 2nd and 5th houses.  The querent does appear to be thinking about income (2nd house) and a creative endeavor (5th house), which involves self-promotion (Jupiter in 1st house) and centers around themes related to Jupiter, Neptune and Pisces (astrological counseling). The 4th house position of the 12th Part may indicate that she plans to work from home or perhaps to establish some new foundation as part of her retirement from her previous occupation.

There is a strong emphasis in this chart on the Via Combusta or Burnt Way, a region overlapping Libra and Scorpio, the signs of fall of the Sun and Moon respectively. The region from the 28th degree of Libra to the 6th degree of Scorpio lies in the terms of Mars, an excessively hot and dry planet which is inimical to the Moon. Often the Moon (emotions) in the Via Combusta indicates that the querent is undergoing emotional distress (Moon in Scorpio, its sign of fall).

Clearly, Lilly’s cautions about the Via Combusta are a source of distress for this querent.  According to Lilly, a via combust Moon is “not safe to judge.”  In other words, the chart may not reliably predict the outcome. Another possibility is that, with the Moon in Scorpio, the querent may be obsessively preoccupied with the matter and unable to see the forest for the trees.  In this chart, the Moon also lies in the 12th house, so the querent may be overlooking or not seeing some important factor which could promote the success of this endeavor.

Another important point about Moon in the Via Combusta is that it can sometimes describe the situation, in which case the chart is certainly radical and will provide a reliable answer to the question.  Perhaps a coaching practice aimed at those who are emotionally distressed would be described by Moon in the Via Combusta. Another possibility is that the Moon in the horary chart reflects some important aspect of her natal chart, which would render the horary radical. For example, she mentions that she is “a psychological astrologer having studied with Liz Greene” — so perhaps the 12th house Moon in Scorpio in the Via Combusta is simply descriptive of her background in astrological depth psychology.

The clients of the querent would be shown by the 7th house, ruled by Venus Rx in Scorpio (the detriment of Venus) in the 1st house, conjunct the Ascendant.  Venus has dignity by triplicity and term at the Ascendant, so clients may come but they are likely to be symbolized by Venus Rx in Scorpio, perhaps those who wish to explore psychological issues in depth.

The endeavor itself would be shown by the Leo 10th house, ruled by a peregrine Sun in Libra (its fall) in the 11th house.  In the Regiomontanus system, the sun is strongly influenced by the 12th.  Using only the seven visible planets, the Sun in this chart is void of course.  Again this suggests that the querent may need to rethink how she is setting up this new practice to make sure that it is a viable endeavor.

Mercury rules the 11th (income from the 10th house endeavor) and is about the oppose Uranus, suggesting that some new information will unexpectedly come to light about financial matters.  Financially, she should do well.  Jupiter rules the 2nd of income, is quite strong and applies to conjoin the Part of Fortune.

Much of what I wrote is speculation about the chart.  In analyzing horary charts it is best to have a conversation with the querent to flesh out the symbolism of the chart and see how it fits the circumstances of her life.

Please leave any comments about this chart in the section below.  The querent raises a valuable question about considerations before judgment, and any further insights would be welcome.



Posted in Astrology, horary | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments