What is the “Thema” in Thema Mundi?

The popularization of Hellenistic astrology over the past few decades has introduced the term “Thema Mundi” into modern astrological discourse. Most authors on the topic explain that “thema” means “theme” and is a synonym for “sky map” or “horoscope chart” in the literature. For example, the wikipedia entry provides a diagram of the Thema Mundi and states (italics mine):

“The Thema Mundi (‘World Theme’, with ‘theme’ being a word that also means chart) was a mythical horoscope used in Hellenistic astrology that shows the supposed positions of the seven visible planets (including the Sun and Moon) at the beginning of the universe. It purports to exemplify the logic behind the sign rulerships, exaltations, and meanings of the aspects, among other things. The purely symbolic nature of the chart is readily perceived from the impossible positions of Venus and Mercury in it.”

Image of Thema Mundi from wikipedia

The word “thema” comes into English from the Latin thema, which in turn comes from the ancient Greek théma (θέμα). Over the centuries thema has been used to mean or refer to:

1) a subject, theme, main topic, issue, thesis, subject of discourse.
2) a musical theme or melodic subject of a musical composition. 
3) an administrative military division of the Byzantine Empire (330 CE = 1453 CE).
4) in Stoic philosophy, the principles used to derive a set of statements about a topic from other or prior arguments, in other words, the principles that underlie the reasoning used to justify that one’s view of a matter is correct.

Wikipedia states that the Thema Mundi “purports to exemplify the logic behind the sign rulerships, exaltations, and meanings of the aspects, among other things.” In this sense, the “Thema” of Thema Mundi means the basic principles or assumptions that underlie Hellenistic astrology and from which other statements about this species of astrology can be logically derived. In fact, the Thema Mundi is a hypothetical sky map of the beginning of the world which serves as a visual representation of the fundamental underlying assumptions (presuppositions) of Hellenistic astrology from which the multitude of its other principles, philosophical beliefs, definitions, etc., can be derived.

One can see how well the analogy to a Byzantine administrative military division fits the concept of a Thema Mundi. Both serve to organize and establish first principles for their subject matter so that, in the case of the military for example, the army can function as a cohesive interconnected unit to accomplish its mission.

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Primary Directions: Placidus vs Regiomontanus

Primary directions are one of the oldest and most venerated predictive techniques in astrology. Their origin dates back to Hellenistic times during which direction of the natal Ascendant through the terms (bounds) of the signs utilizing the ascensional times of the signs was a basic technique. Ptolemy described a method of primary directing in the Tetrabiblos III.10 in his explanation of how to estimate the length of life. According to Ptolemy, there were three possible scenarios, each of which utilized a distinct timing technique:

1) if the Asc (on the eastern horizon) signified the life of the native and a killing planet or its aspect were rising toward the Asc, the arc on the Equator measured in oblique ascension would indicate the length of life, with one equatorial degree being equivalent to one year of life.

2) if the MC (on the meridian axis) signified the life of the native and a killing planet or its aspect were rising toward the Asc, the arc on the Equator measured in right ascension would indicate the length of life, with one equatorial degree being equivalent to one year of life.

3) if a point or planet intermediate between the horizon or meridian signifies the life of the native (for example, the Sun, Moon or Part of Fortune which were possible “hylegs”), then the arc on the Equator between the hyleg and the killing planet would need to be measure by the method of proportional semi-arcs, utilizing temporal hours. Here is what Ptolemy wrote about this third scenario (from Robbins translation, text capitalized and italicized by me for emphasis):

“For a place is similar and the same if it has the same position in the same direction with reference both to the horizon and to the meridian.
This is MOST NEARLY TRUE of those which lie upon one of those semicircles which are described through the sections of the meridian and the horizon, each of which at the same position makes NEARLY the same temporal hour.”

Ptolemy apparently realized that the mathematic procedure for calculating directions via proportional semi-arcs was quite complex, so he offered an alternative using “semicircles described through the sections of the meridian and horizon, which mark nearly the same temporal hour.” Regiomontanus in the 15th century developed a mathematical technique grounded in spherical trigonometry, which he learned from a  twelfth-century text by the Andalusian scholar Jabir ibn Aflah and to which he contributed further advancements. A translation of Regiomontanus’ book on triangles is available in English.

Regiomontanus apparently was unable to operationalize in a mathematical procedure Ptolemy’s method of proportional semi-arcs, so he opted instead for Ptolemy’s suggested close approximation to the method, utilizing “circles of position” (the second sentence in the quote from Ptolemy above). These circles of position were great circles, whose center was the center of the Earth, and which passed through the body of a planet creating a kind of artificial horizon circle (or plane in 3-dimensional space) which every point or planet of a birth chart would have to intersect at some moment during the 24-hour rotation of the Earth after the moment of birth. Using spherical geometry Regiomontanus was able to calculate and closely approximate the timings of the perfection of primary directions to intermediate points in the horoscope.

William Lilly understood that the Regiomontanus “circle of position” method was a close approximation to the method originally proposed by Ptolemy in the 2nd century, but he also realized that there was no method available to calculate proportional semi-arc directions accurately, so at the time the Regiomontanus method (and the Tables he published) was the best option available. Lilly wrote in Book 3 of Christian Astrology (bold mine):

“…before Regiomontanus did frame Tables, Antiquity was much perplexed in directing a Significator which was not upon the cusps of the House by reason they had no exact method for finding out the true circle of position of any planet, when elongated from the cusps of a house; they did then direct either by Tables of Houses fitted for the latitude where the native was born, or by the Diurnal and Nocturnal Horary Times, a laborious, difficult and obscure way, yet the only method Ptolemy left…”

Lilly says here that the only method Ptolemy left was that of proportional semi-arc (using diurnal and nocturnal horary times, that is, planetary hours) but doing what Ptolemy did was too laborious, difficult and obscure mathematically, so the use of Regiomontanus method and Tables was the reasonable, though less accurate, alternative.

Lily also noted in Book Three that the primary directions calculated by the Regiomontanus circles of position for planets and points intermediate between the horizon and meridian could not be used reliably in chart rectification. Lilly states explicitly that only primary directions to the Angles are reliable when doing chart rectification. Directions to other hylegiacal points, such as the Sun, Moon or Part of Fortune, will not help you to rectify a chart (bold mine): “… verily a Nativity cannot well be rectified but by Accidents belonging to one or both those Angles [MC or Asc]. The Sun in every Nativity is a principal Significator, so is the Moon and the Part of Fortune, yet a significant rectification from these cannot be had.”

It should not be surprising that a method, like that of Regiomontanus, which is only an approximation to Ptolemy’s actual and recommended method of proportional semi-arc for intermediate points, is not reliable for rectifying a chart. Ptolemy also changed the prevailing definition of the Part of Fortune used by practicing astrologers of his epoch, so that directions to the Part of Fortune, as defined by Ptolemy, were really directions to the Part of Daimon in night charts, which would make the use of his version of the Part of Fortune inconsistent with the standard of astrological practice in Ptolemy’s time. Ptolemy was a natural scientist and not a practicing astrologer. Lilly followed Ptolemy is re-defining the Part of Fortune from the point of view of natural science and discarding the original definition in which its pairing with the Part of Daimon was symbolically and philosophically significant. Because Lilly was using Ptolemy’s altered definition of the Part of Fortune, it is not surprising that he found it unreliable for rectification.

Fortunately, Placidus in the mid-17th century found a way to mathematically operationalize Ptolemy’s original method of directing intermediate points between the Angles of a horoscope, utilizing “horary times.” Although Ptolemy did not specifically link his method of primary directing to the domification of a chart, later astrologers appear to have made this connection. Deb Houlding notes that the Placidus House system was described long before Placidus was born (italics mine): “The Placidus system is named after the Italian Benedictine monk, Placidus de Titis (1603-1668), who popularized its use during the 17th century. Again, it is accepted that Placidus did not invent the method; tables were already available for it in 1604, a year after Placidus’s birth, and it earlier appeared on an astrolabe in 1305. The 12th century Hebrew astrologer Abraham Ibn Ezra acknowledged it as the system employed by Ptolemy, and Placidus appears to support this view within his work where he respectfully notes ‘I desire no guides but Ptolemy and reason’.”

The work of Placidus was brilliant and inspired the British astrologers to cease using the method of Regiomontanus and instead adopt the method of Placidus, based on proportional semi-arc, as Ptolemy had originally proposed. To better understand the conceptual framework of Placidus, I recommend watching Luis Ribeiro’s Astrology Podcast #313 with Chris Brennan in which he reviews the mathematics of house division. Here is a quote from the translation of Placidus into English in which he states the the circle of position method is inconsistent with Ptolemy’s teachings:

It is important to realize that the method of primary directing is distinct from the method of house division, although, as Lilly pointed out, traditionally astrologers “did then direct either by Tables of Houses fitted for the latitude where the native was born.” The fact is that you can do Placidian or Regiomontanus directions with a chart using any house system.

From the 15th century, when Regiomontanus first published his method of circles of position and his Tables, until late in the 17th century when the work of Placidus became known, the main method of primary direction was that of Regiomontanus. It was used by renowned astrologers such as Lilly in England and by Morin de Villefrache in France. As mentioned, Lilly realized that the only method proposed by Ptolemy was that of proportional semi-arc for intermediate points in a chart, but he valued the ease and convenience of using the Regiomontanus Tables despite the decrease in the accuracy of the timing of events. He did notice, however, that he was unable to use Regiomontanus circles of position to reliably rectify a chart when directing to the Sun, Moon or Part of Fortune when they were not on an Angle or house cusp.

Often directions to intermediate points in either system (Placidus or Regiomontanus) are quite close, within a few months, but not uncommonly they can indicate timings years apart, which would explain the inadequacy of the Regiomontanus primary directions for intermediate points when used for chart rectification. Primary directions to the Angles are done the same way by both Placidus and Regiomontanus, following the method originally laid down by Ptolemy, so they are more reliable for rectification.

Some modern astrologers have promulgated the belief that primary directions are an extremely precise timing technique. Traditionally, primary directions grew out of a time-lord technique (directing the Asc through the bounds) and were used in a similar manner to identify years in which certain events might occur. Both Lilly and Morin allowed primary directions a period of influence of about 2 years or longer. Morin states that the false claim that primary directions provide precise timing of events was a common tactic used by critics to discredit astrology. He cites Sixtus ab Hemminga who claimed astrology is without validity because primary directions do not provide precise dates for the occurrence of the events which they signify. Morin makes a clear comparison of primary directions to time lords when he writes in Book 22, Chapter 6 (my translation and italics): “when the direction of a promissor to a significator becomes exact, its effect can be delayed by a year or two until a conformable [solar] revolution occurs; and even if the effect were to occur at the very moment of perfection, the force of the direction can remain in effect until a different promissor arrives at the significator [by primary motion].”

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Birth Time Rectification — A Book Review

Recently I’ve watched a number of videos on birth time rectification by Vedic astrologers. I was particularly interested in the work of V.P. Goel whose books on Yogini Dasha and Divisional Charts are especially instructive. Unfortunately, Mr. Goel does not appear to have written a text on rectification. Wanting to learn more, I read a recent text by Paul Manley entitled Birth Time Rectification in which he explains his experimentation with the rectification methods of K.N. Rao, who used divisional charts to “correct” the birth time of his clients.

Mr. Manley writes clearly in an engaging manner and explains his method step by step, making it appear deceptively easy. The basic premise is that well-timed events in one’s life should show up in the symbolism of the natal chart (D-1) and the relevant divisional charts which are symbolic of the nature of the event. Manley uses the sidereal zodiac with the Lahiri (Chitrapaksha) ayanamsa and the Vimshottari dasha system to time events. By verifying the event in a series of divisional charts, he sequentially narrows the potential birth time by adjusting the possible Ascendant signs of each divisional chart.

Manley mentions D-3 and D-60, but he focuses primarily on D-1 (birth chart), D-4 (relocating), D-7 (childbirth), D-9 (marriage), D-10 (career) and D-24 (higher education). He makes a set of assumptions about the symbolism of events, about which some astrologer may disagree. For example, he uses the 5th house for education, but some Vedic astrologers assign it to the 4th house.

Manley then studies the natal chart and the birth chart to see how the dashas in effect at the time of an event play out in the various charts. He states his basic principle on page 86: “Just to have a connection of the dasha lord with the relevant house, house lord, or karaka in the relevant divisional chart can be enough to justify the event happening.” He notes that a dasha lord in the Ascendant of the divisional chart is highly significant and also reminds us that the planetary significations in the natal chart are always effective, regardless of what the planet symbolizes in the divisional chart. Finally, he makes use of bhavat bhavam (“from house to house”) in his delineations; for example, the 5th house from the 5th house, which is the 9th, will also have 5th house connotations related to childbirth or higher education, which are both 5th house issues.

Having described his method, Manley provides a large number of examples of chart rectification, which can serve as models to learn from. One of the most instructive is taken from his tape recording of K.N. Rao rectifying the birth chart of the Paul Manley’s father back in 1993. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

To test the method, I checked my own chart for the “event” of starting my university education in late August of 1963. The Vimshottari dasha (Lahiri ayanamsa) in effect was Mercury-Rahu-Sun. According the Manley, the karakas (signifiers) of education are Mercury and Jupiter, its divisional chart is D-24, and the relevant houses are the 5th and its bhavat bhavam, the 9th. I had rectified by chart using primary directions and came up with a time of 9:04 AM EWT. My birth certificate gives a time of 9:09 AM, and my father’s journal states 9:05 AM. Here is the D-24 chart (sidereal, Lahiri) based on my chart rectified by primary directions:

D-24 “education” divisional chart based on a 9:04 AM EWT rectification.

If my rectified time is correct, the Ascendant of the D-24 chart lies in Libra. If I were born a little bit earlier, say around 9:03 AM, the D-24 Ascendant would have been in Virgo; and if I were born after 9:09 AM, the D-24 Ascendant would have been in Scorpio.

Given the principles outline by Mr. Manley, the Libra D-24 Ascendant makes the most sense. The mahadasha lord Mercury is a karaka of education and it rules the 9th house (bhavat bhavam of the 5th) in the D-24 chart. The other universal karaka of education is Jupiter, which occupies the 5th house of the D-24 chart. Saturn, which rules the 5th house of D-24, lies in the 9th house and aspect the mahadasha lord Mercury.

The dasha sequence is Mercury – Rahu – Sun. Rahu as the sub-lord of this period lies in the 10th house of D-24 and is disposed by the Moon, which conjoins the 1st-ruler Venus and aspects the Sun in the 1st. Venus is the ruler of the 9th house of higher education in my birth chart and retains its natal 9th house signification is all divisional charts.

The sub-sublord is the Sun, which occupies the Ascendant of the D-24 chart and thus signifies a significant educational event, the beginning of my college education.

Given the superior fitness of the symbolism with a D-24 Libra Ascendant (versus Virgo or Scorpio), I feel confident that my rectification is reasonably accurate, and that I could not have been born before 9:03 AM or after 9:09 AM.

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The Tithi Pravesh and its Monthly and Daily Iterations

A common method of astrological forecasting the the annual solar return, which is cast for the moment that the Sun returns each year to its precise position in the birth chart. Notable astrologers like William Lilly and Morin de Villefranche used the solar return as a cornerstone in their systems of forecasting. Morin also make extensive use of the lunar return to further subdivide the year in order to see when events implicit in the annual solar revolution would manifest in the coming 12 months. The medieval Arabic and Persian astrologers also made extensive use of solar revolutions, lunar revolutions, and even divisions into days of the month related to these returns.

Vettius Valens had a different notion of annual returns. He felt that the return of the Sun each year was insufficient for forecasting for the year ahead because it omitted the influence of the the Sun’s partner, the Moon. As a result, Valens used a hybrid chart for the annual return which consisted of the positions of the planets when the Sun returned to its natal position each year but these positions were placed in a chart whose Ascendant and houses were determined by the moment the Moon returned to its natal degree during the zodiacal month when the Sun was in its birth sign.

Hindu astrologers, who may have been aware of Valens method, developed a technique called the “Tithi Pravesh,” which is the chart of the annual return of the natal Sun-Moon phase angle each year. Vedic astrologer Narasimha Rao, creator of Jagannatha Hora software, utilizes the annual, monthly and daily Pravesha charts in forecasting. Mr. Rao has a YouTube video in which he explains the value of the daily Pravesha chart as a useful and powerful technique.

Modern Western astrologers refer to the Tithi Pravesh as the annual soli-lunar phase angle return. The program Solar Fire has an option to calculate “lunar phase” charts, which will generate the annual and monthly phase-angle returns but not the daily Pravesha charts. Fortunately, Mr. Rao’s freeware program Jagannatha Hora will generate daily Pravesha charts for those who wish to experiment with this technique.

My own experience with Pravesha charts is that they are a valuable predictive tool. They seem to work better with charts cast in the tropical rather than the sidereal zodiac. Let’s look at an example chart to illustrate their use.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963 at about 12:30 PM CST. This event ought to show up symbolically in his various Pravesha charts. Let’s begin with his natal chart.

JFK natal chart

This is JFK’s natal chart (data from astro.com, Rodden rating A). Venus rules the natal Ascendant and the natal 8th house Placidus cusp. The 8th house contains a stellium of five planets, three of which in Taurus receive a square from Uranus in Aquarius. The natal Mars square Uranus, with Mars conjunct the 8th cusp, warns of the possibility of a sudden unexpected violent death. Mars rules the 7th of open enemies and conjoins Mercury, ruler of the 12th of hidden enemies.

For those who use annual profections, at age 43 Kennedy was in his Taurus profection year since Taurus is 8 places from the natal Cancer Ascendant. (The Descendant profection years occur at ages 6, 18, 30, 42, 54, 66, 78, 90, 102.) Thus, at age 43, the 8th lord Venus was his profected Lady of the Year.

Next let’s look at JFK’s Tithi Pravesh (annual soli-lunar phase angle return) in 1963, the year of his assassination:

Annual Tithi Pravesh chart 1963

In this annual Tithi Pravesh chart, the Sun lies in its birth sign Gemini, and the angle between the Sun and the Moon is the same as it was in the birth chart. Jupiter, which rules the annual Ascendant, lies in Aries and conjoins the 4th cusp of endings. The Moon rules the 8th cusp and squares the annual Ascendant from the 9th of long-distance travel. Mars rules the 12th and occupies the 8th. The true lunar nodes are stationary, which often signals a highly significant and critical year, and the nodes lies across the 2nd and 8th axis, highlighting the risk of death. The annual 8th cusp and Lunar North Node conjoin the natal Midheaven!

The next chart shows the daily Pravesh chart for 22 November 1963 at the birthplace. I used the data for the daily Pravesha chart from Mr. Rao’s program to generate this chart in Solar Fire. This chart is similar in concept to the Wynn Key Cycle return chart developed in the 1920s.

Daily Pravesh chart at birthplace in effect at the time of the assassination.

This daily Pravesh chart (cast for Nov 21st at 8:28:48 PM EST in Brookline) was in effect at the time of the assassination in Dallas. Cancer rises at the birthplace, making the Moon the Ascendant ruler. In the annual chart the Moon rules the 8th house. Daily Saturn conjoins the 8th cusp.

If we relocate the daily Pravesh chart from Brookline to Dallas, Pluto very closely conjoins the 4th cusp of final endings.

Daily Pravesh chart in effect at the time of the assassination relocated to DALLAS.

At Dallas the daily Pravesh chart has Pluto conjunct the 4th cusp, and the Asc-ruler Moon in the 8th house. Saturn rules the 8th of death and conjoins the 9th cusp of long-distance travel.

Addendum: my thanks to elliedaly8b977061b7 for pointing out that I had included charts dated 1960 in the initial version of this post. Now all the charts are correctly dated for 1963, the year of JFK’s assassination. If you notice any errors, please leave a comment in the section below.

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Storks, Symmetry and the Concept of Argala in Jaimini Astrology

The Jaimini Sutras, aka Upadesa Sutras, is an ancient Sanskrit text of Hindu astrology, attributed to the sage Jaimini. According to astrologer Gary Gomes, whose lectures I have been fortunate to attend periodically over the years, “I believe that Jaimini astrology is one of the truly great Vedic astrology traditions, capable of giving great depth of information for astrologers. In essence, Jaimini produces clusters of information which can give extraordinarily accurate traditions, through a different organization of basic astrological information.”

Early in the first chapter of his text, Rishi Jaimini explains how the zodiac signs (aka Rasi) are able to look at each other. There are the so-called “Rasi aspects.” The cardinal (movable) signs can see all the fixed signs, except the one adjacent. The fixed signs can see all the cardinal signs, except the one adjacent. The mutable (dual) signs can see all the other mutable signs. Planets within a sign that looks at (aspects) another sign are able to influence the sign being viewed and any planets therein.

Immediately after explaining the Rasi (sign to sign) aspects, Jaimini discusses the topic of argala, which pertains to whole-sign “houses” or places (what the Greeks called topoi and Jyotish calls bhavas) and the planets within them. In this system, one whole-sign “place” can either support or hinder another whole-sign place, depending on their relative distances from each other along the zodiac circle and a certain type of symmetry. The Rasi aspects deal with signs of the zodiac as signs; the argalas deal the the signs of the zodiac as places, “houses” or bhavas, which are created by the axial rotation of the Earth.

Before discussing the astrological meaning of argala, it will be useful to consider its various meanings in Sanskrit. A common dictionary definition, and one often quoted by astrologers trying to explain what Jaimini meant, is that an argala is a wooden bolt or pin used to latch a door or to fasten the lid of a vessel. In this sense, it is a kind of bar, check, external bolt, obstacle, restriction or impediment which keeps the door, or the lid, shut and prevents free movement.

Digging a little deeper into the etymology of the word argala, we find that it comes into English from the Latin argala, from Bengali হাড়গিলা (haṛgila), also transcribed hurghila. In this sense, argala refers to a bird, namely, the greater adjutant, (Leptoptilos argala, aka Leptoptilos dubius), a stork native to Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. In places where snakes were a threat to the human population, the Greater Adjutant stork helped and supported the community by keeping the lid on the population of dangerous reptiles.

1855 illustration of a Greater Adjutant stork (Leptoptilos argala) hunting a snake from Wikipedia. Is the argala bird the model for the planetary argala of Jaimini astrology?

How did the argala stork get its name, “the greater adjutant”? This stork was called “greater” because of its huge size, its average length being about 4 1/2 feet. Why “adjutant,” which is the name of a military officer who acts as an administrative assistant to a senior officer? Because of the bird’s resemblance to a human figure in stiff dress (like the uniform of an adjutant military officer) pacing slowly on a parade-ground. By analogy, a planet in an adjutant or “argala” position or place in the chart acts like an assistant, helper or supporter to a senior officer. Unfortunately, different Jaimini scholars offer differing understandings of what the sage meant by argala. For example, B.S. Rao, in the 1955 edition of his translation of the Sutras, states the following:

In the first line (Su. 5), Jaimini’s Sanskrit literally reads: 4th (dara), 2nd (bhagya), 11th (sula), places (sth), argala, nidhyatuh (ought to be be considered). In the previous section, Jaimini has just discussed the aspects of the zodiac signs. Here he is saying that from any of the zodiac signs considered as bhavas, the places (or the planets) which are in the 4th, 2nd or 11th from it [presumably in zodiacal order] ought be be considered argalas, which could be understood as a kind of bolt or fastener, or by analogy with the Leptoptilos argala stork, as a kind of adjutant bird, assistant or helper. Jaimini scholars agree that this type of argala, from the 4th, 2nd or 11th places relative to a zodiac sign, is a helpful influence to any planets in that sign. It is important to note that Jaimini specifies the order of places as 4th, 2nd and 11th.

In the next sutra, B.S. Rao explains that a predominance of malefic planets in the 3rd place gives rise to a kind of reverse argala, sometimes referred to as a “vipareeta” argala, which does not have a corresponding obstructer (as explained in the next paragraph). The translator believes that this type of argala is an “evil” influence. Other scholars regard argalas as supportive and beneficial, and thus the “vipareeta” argala, formed by malefics in the 3rd places, is beneficial to the native. It may be that the idea of the 3rd house populated by malefics is beneficial stems from the idea of “upachaya” houses which promote growth over time. Thus, malefics in upachaya houses may initially look difficult, but with time those “malefic” planets promote growth, utilizing the power and energy of the malefics to overcome obstacles and pursue the native’s ambitions.

Finally, certain places and obstruct the beneficial argalas of the 4th, 2nd and 11th place. Note again Jaimini’s order when he writes that planets in the 10th, 12th and 3rd places can obstruct or impede the argalas. Most scholars understand this to refer to a certain symmetry: planets in the 10th obstruct the argala of those in the 4th, planets in the 12th obstruct those in the 2nd, and planets in the 3rd obstruct those in the 11th. The following diagram illustrates this symmetry and raises a question about planets in the 5th and the 9th.

Symmetry of planets forming argala to the sign and planet P at the top of the zodiac wheel, and planets obstructing those argalas. To maintain the symmetry, does the 5th sign from P obstruct the argala from the 9th sign, or vice versa?
The pattern is:
12 obstructs argala 2.
3 obstructs argala 11.
10 obstructs argala 4.
If Jaimini intends to maintain this pattern, the next entry would be:
5 obstructs argala 9.

In the 1955 translation of B.S. Rao, Su. 9 states “Pragvastrikone” — pragvas meaning “similarly” and trikone meaning “at the trikonas” which are places 5 and 9 in trine with respect to the first sign containing “P” in the above diagram. This statement has led to confusion about which trine position is argala and which is its obstructor. If we follow the pattern already established by the sequence “4th, 2nd and 11th” as argalas, then the 9th place is the next in the sequence. In other words, the argalas and their obstructers are mirror images across an axis formed by the 1st and 7th places. Many Jaimini astrologers, however, use the 5th place trine as argala and the 9th place trine as its obstructer, which seems to violate the pattern of argalas which Jaimini established (4th – 2nd – 11th -> 9th) in the earlier sutra. The more logical inference from Jamini’s text and its use of symmetry is that the 9th place is argola and the 5th, its obstructer:
4th – 2nd – 11th – 9th are the argolas.
10th – 12th – 3rd – 5th are the symmetrically placed obstructers.

The pattern of argalas and their obstructers apparently ends at the trines. Places 6 and 8 in Western astrology are considered “inconjunct” or “in aversion” to the 1st place, and place 7 lies in opposition to place 1. Jaimini does not mention places 6, 7 and 8 in his discussion of argalas.

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The Primum Mobile in Astrology

Recently I had a conversation with an astrological colleague about Ptolemy’s geocentric model of the universe, which consists of a series of nested spheres whose motion depends upon the movement of an outermost sphere called the “primum mobile” or prime mover. Because this Ptolemaic geocentric model rests at the heart of Western astrology, I thought it would be worth investigating it a bit further in this blog.

Over the centuries following Ptolemy, his 2nd century CE theory of concentric celestial spheres was modified by subsequent authors on the basis of new scientific observations and differing philosophical and theological views. The medieval version of the Ptolemaic system defines the primum mobile as an outer sphere which moves around the earth every 24 hours, carrying the inner spheres with it. What initially sets this outermost sphere in motion is the will of a patriarchal God and his love for his creation, although He may send one of his angels from the Empyrean to look after it. A version of Ptolemy’s system was popularized by Dante in his Divine Comedy, in which he made the primum mobile the 9th of the ten heavens comprising his Paradiso.

A popular Renaissance model of Ptolemy’s scheme can be found in the 1539 diagram of Petri Apiani from his Cosmographia, reproduced here from Wikipedia.

The Nested Celestial Spheres of the Geocentric Universe

In Apiani’s version of Ptolemy’s scheme, the center of the Earth is at the center of the universe. Around the Earth, there appear the spheres of the seven visible planets in order of their relative speeds and distances from the Earth. Beyond the orb of Saturn, the furthest planet visible to the naked eye, lies the 8th sphere of the fixed stars and constellations.

Just outside the 8th sphere of fixed stars and their constellations lies a starless 9th sphere labelled “Nonu coelum cristallinum” or the 9th crystalline sky, presumably added to make the model consistent with the Old Testament account of creation in the Bible (Genesis 1:7) which posits the presence of “waters” above the firmament of fixed stars. The 8th orb of fixed stars and constellations and the 9th crystalline sphere each begin at 0 degrees Aries, suggesting that the zodiac depicted in the 9th sphere is the sidereal zodiac whose signs are named after the corresponding constellation in the 8th sphere.

The zodiac of the 10th and outermost sphere appears to be the tropical zodiac, offset from the sidereal zodiac of the 9th sphere by the factor of the precession of the equinoxes. Thus, God apparently established the tropical zodiac, with its twelve equally sized signs, as part of the 10th sphere when he created the primum mobile at the Big Bang. This idea of the 12 zodiacal signs being essential building blocks of the universe from the very beginning is consistent with Bonatti’s statement that “the signs are not corrupted but the elements are corrupted” by the motion of the stars, which causes the elements to combine in various proportions and thereby generate the multitude of entities in existence.

This card from the 1465 Mantenga tarot depicts the angel in charge of the outermost sphere, that is, the orb of the primum mobile or first moved mover of the system of nested celestial spheres.
Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primum_Mobile

Outside of the crystalline 9th sphere lies the 10th sphere, which is called “Decimum coelum primu mobile” or the 10th heaven, first mover. The metaphor here is that God is a watchmaker who has created an exquisite clock, which we know as our universe. This clock is powered by a spring, the primum mobile, which God has wound up with the force of his will. In his 2016 doctoral dissertation in Philosophy about the Primum Mobile, John G. Brungardt translates “primum mobile” as the “first moved mover,” meaning that God set the outermost sphere into motion to keep the entire universe running like clockwork. Brungardt also cites a cogent quote about the value of studying the symbolic significance of ancient theories, such as that of Ptolemy, even though they are currently at variance with the world view of modern science:

“From the fact that the experimental sciences go farther in the direction of concretion one cannot conclude that they can be substituted for the philosophy of nature of the ancients. To identify the philosophy of nature with the experimental sciences which are only its dialectical extension is to destroy it in its root, to deny the most certain part of our knowledge of nature, as well as its most noble natural subject. For that reason, the identification of the two misses in the most complete manner the point of the ancients and of wisdom.”
— Charles De Koninck, cited from “Are the Experimental Sciences Distinct from the Philosophy of Nature?

Finally, Apiani’s diagram shows the Empyrean lying outside the ten celestial spheres. The Empyrean is the dwelling place of God (“Habitaculum Dei”) and the chosen ones who have made their way to heaven. The word ’empyrean’ comes via medieval Latin from Greek empurios, from en- ‘in’ + pur ‘fire’ and is the location of the pure Fire element, which is associated with the light and brightness of the divine spirit. The Empyrean lies outside the scheme of nested celestial spheres, just as the clockmaker resides outside the clock which he has constructed and set in motion.

God as Watchmaker, sitting in his Empyrean, builds an elaborate clock (our universe) and sets it in motion by adding a Prime Mover (primum mobile) to keep it going.
Image from https://tyrannyoftradition.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/watchmaker.jpg
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Temporal “Aspects” in Ancient Astrology

Recently I watched a Webinar by Kenneth Bowser on “in mundo aspects” which he had given at the 2022 ISAR conference. In it, he revisits a theme which he wrote about in The Mountain Astrologer in 1996 in which he stated:

“Several terms in contemporary use are huddled under the umbrella of aspects in mundo: mundane conjunctions, squares and oppositions, parans, paranatellontai, mundane aspects and aspects in the mundane sphere. They all refer to that category of aspects which takes the Earth’s equator as the point of reference, hence the Latin word mundo from mundus, that is, ‘the world.’ Accordingly, instead of celestial longitude, which is the argument for aspects in zodiaco, aspects in mundo are generally reckoned in right ascension expressed in time, or less often in degrees of arc without a zodiacal sign attached. Mundane aspects have fallen out of general use because they are regarded as too much of a bother to calculate from scratch, and right ascension has been omitted from most astrological ephemerides for decades.”

The major part of the webinar dealt with several chart examples of prominent individuals whose planets were situated at birth in such a way that at some moment within hours of their nativity those planets would enter into a parantellonta configuration by simultaneously conjoining the meridian and horizon axes, which constitute the Angles of the chart. According to Kenneth, the influence of the potential paran configuration is significant even if the planets are not near the Angles at the moment of birth. He writes in his 1996 article:

“… the power of the aspect at the birthplace is not diminished because the planets become simultaneously angular later. That the relationship has formed between bodies such that they would be on angles for the birth time and place is what makes the aspect. Moreover, the effect is imprinted on the psyche as with zodiacal aspects; and even though the effect can be diminished by moving to a locale that weakens the aspect, this writer’s experience suggests that mundane aspects effective at the birth parallel are never rendered null and void in terms of the character traits they symbolize, but their circumstance potential is compromised if the native moves away from the places where the planets are strongest.”

Curious about the origin of this idea of hidden or potential parans in the natal chart that would have a powerful influence even though the parantellonta (“co-rising” or “co-angular”) configuration was not in effect at the moment of birth, I searched through several ancient sources which mention parans (Rhetorius, Porphyry, Antiochus, etc.) to no avail. It may be that such a traditional source exists and I have simply been unable to find it. Robert Hand, in an essay on parans, seems to imply that the use of potential parans being significant is a modern observation. If any reader of this blog knows of the original source of the use of potential parans in a birth chart, that is, parans which will be in effect as some future time after birth when the planets involved conjoin the Angles, please leave a comment below.

What I did find, however, is another type of non-obvious configuration which links planets, is in effect at the moment of birth and presumably can powerfully color the nativity. Antiochus of Athens refers to such configurations as the “temporal differentia, which Antigonus and Phnaes the Egyptian and certain others have recorded, and they named an isosceles triangle of the ascensions of the zoidia” (from page 17 of Robert Schmidt’s translation of the Thesaurus of Antiochus). These are “temporal” or time-based configurations measured in the amount of time it takes for the zodiacal signs to rise to the horizon. In this system, 24 hours = 360 degrees, 8 hours = 120 degrees (a temporal trine), 6 hours = 90 degrees (a temporal square), and so on.

Antigonus gives an example which is repeated by Rhetorius and by Porphyry in their writings. I will summarize the technique from Holden’s translation of Porphyry. Let the Sun be in the 1st degree of Aries, and another planet be in the early degrees of Leo, in a chart cast for Alexandria. Which degree of Leo will be in temporal trine to 0 Aries? I will use the rising times generated by modern computer rather than the estimates given by Antiochus in his Thesaurus (Schmidt trans., Project Hindsight, 1993, p.18). The illustration here shows a chart cast for the Sun in the 1st degree of Aries with 0 Aries rising in Alexandria in the year 2022:

Aries rising with Sun in 1st degree of Aries in Alexandria, Egypt in 2022
(Chart cast with Timeaus Pro software)

The rising times of the zodiac signs appear in the center of the wheel. We wish to know the sum of the rising times of the signs from 0 Aries to 0 Leo:

Aries 20.85 + Taurus 24.13 + Gemini 29.80 + Cancer 34.56 = 109.34 degrees, which is less than the 120 degrees in a temporal trine by 10.66 degrees.

The rising time of Leo is 35.69, so to calculate which degree in Leo corresponds to a temporal trine form 0 Aries we multiply the 30 degrees in the sign Leo by the ratio 10.66/35.69, which equals 8.96 degrees of Leo. Thus, if a planet falls at about 9 degrees of Leo, it will be in temporal trine to the Sun in the 1st degree of Aries.

Strictly speaking, the ratio of 10.66 to 35.69 is an arithmetic proportion which assumes that the entire sign rises at a uniform rate. Such is not the case, and the result obtained is a close approximation to the zodiacal degree within the sign but is not a precise measure. For example, in this case if we calculate the chart in Solar Fire, 0 Aries rises in Alexandria at 06:05:45 AM. The temporal square to this zodiacal degree occurs 8 hours later, that is, at 14:05:45, or 2:05:45 PM. Recasting the chart for this later time, we find 9 Leo 12′ on the Ascendant. Thus 9 Leo 12′ is in temporal trine to 0 Aries 00′ on March 21, 2022 in Alexandria, Egypt.

Following the same method, you can find the temporal sextile and temporal square aspects.

In the Schmidt translation of Antiochus, the example given has the Sun in the 1st degree of Aries, Jupiter in the 2nd degree of Leo and Mars in the 5th degree of Leo. Using the rising times available to him, Antiochus calculates the temporal trine of 0 Aries to be at 11 Leo, and concludes that the Sun in 0 Aries is in temporal trine to Jupiter. Hence, there must have been a typo or mistranslation of the original text, which must say that Jupiter lies in the 12th degree (not the 2nd degree) of Leo. The translator, Robert Schmidt, and the editor, Robert Hand, apparently did not entertain the possibility of a typo in the original text. Antiochus concludes that Jupiter (at 11 Leo, which is the 12th degree of Leo) is “regarded both zodiacally and temporally by the Sun” (that is, Jupiter forms a whole-sign and a temporal trine aspect to the Sun in 0 Aries) but Mars at 4 Leo (the 5th degree of Leo) “is regarded zodiacally alone” (that is, Mars forms only a whole-sign trine aspect with the Sun in Aries).

Antiochus of Athens, in the 1st or 2nd century CE, appeared to distinguish several types of astrological aspects or configurations:
Whole-sign aspects in which planets within signs shared in the zodiacal aspects between those signs.
Partile degree-to-degree zodiacal aspects (measured along the ecliptic).
Platic (“broad”) degree-based zodiacal aspects with an orb of 3 degrees for planets and 12 degrees for the Moon.
Temporal, time-based aspects measured according to the rising times of the signs encompassed between the two planets in aspect. He likely also distinguished between partile and platic temporal aspects. In his example, Jupiter in the 12th degree of Leo is in temporal trine to the Sun in the 1st degree of Aries, but Mars in the 5th degree of Leo (which is 7 degrees from the 12th degree of Leo and thus not within orb of a platic aspect) is only in whole-sign aspect with the Sun.
Parantellonta, or co-risings of planets or fixed stars.
– Antiscia and contra-antiscia: reflection in the soltitial or equinoxial axes.

Another Example:

Kurt Cobain Natal Chart
(Chart cast with Timeaus Pro software)

Let’s do a similar exercise with Kurt Cobain’s chart. He appears to have a favorable trine between Jupiter in late Cancer and a Venus/Saturn conjunction in late Pisces. We need to calculate the rising times of the signs between Saturn and Jupiter.

Saturn has 1.27 degrees remaining in Pisces which has a rising time of 15.35, hence 1.27 / 30 x 15.35 = 0.65 degrees to which we must add the rising times of Aries, Taurus and Gemini (15.35 + 19.31 + 27.65 = 62.31), giving a total of 62.96 degrees until the beginning of Cancer. [Note that along the ecliptic the distance from the beginning of Aries to the end of Gemini is 90 degrees, which is an ecliptic or zodiacal square but measured in rising times, this same arc measures 62.31 degrees which is a temporal sextile.)

Jupiter lies at 25.7 degrees of Cancer, which has a rising time of 36.71, thus 25.7/30 x 36.71 = 31.45 degrees, which we must add to 62.96 degrees for a grand total of 94.4 degrees measured temporally between Saturn and Jupiter, which is close to a temporal square aspect. Both Claudius Ptolemy and William Lilly commented that sometimes a trine aspect involving signs of short ascension displays the stressful properties of a square.

Modern astrologers rarely consider temporal aspects, but they are part of our tradition and can add subtle nuances which are not apparent from aspects formed along the ecliptic.

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The time of the Queen’s passing

As I write this, we still do not have official word of the exact moment of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September 2022. According to an article in the Washington Post, “At 6:41 p.m. London time, more than six hours after the murmurs started, the Twitter account of the royal family made the announcement: ‘The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.’ “

Hours earlier there was several unofficial reports that the Queen had died. Perhaps reporters got the information from various sources but could not get official confirmation. For example, at 3:07 PM BST. the BBC anchor Yalda Hakim tweeted “BREAKING: Queen Elizabeth has died aged 96, Buckingham Palace has announced.” Hakim deleted the tweet 12 minutes later, stating that it was incorrect. Nonetheless, the 3:07 PM time is consistent with the later official announcement that the Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.

Curious whether there were astrological indications that might time her passing, I looked at the Queen’s natal chart, her tertiary progression (a method I learned from Richard Houck many years ago), and her Wynn Key Cycle chart cast for Balmoral at 3 PM (mid-afternoon) as an approximate time of death.

Queen Elizabeth II natal chart

In her birth chart, Mercury rules the 8th house cusp and must therefore be active at her time of death. Saturn rules the Ascendant (her body and vital forces) and is the most angular and prominent planet in the natal chart.

True tertiary progression (MC at Naibod rate in RA) to 8 Sep 2022 at 3 PM BST

In the tertiary progressed chart, the natal 8th ruler Mercury lies at 20 Libra 18′, and I reasoned that this degree must be significant in the Wynn Key Cycle chart at the time of her demise.

The Queen’s Wynn Key Cycle Chart for 3 pm BST at Balmoral

As expected, the IC of the Key Cycle chart lies at 20 Virgo 17′ 33″ in almost exact semi-sextile to the tertiary progressed Mercury at 20 Libra 18′ in the 4th house of final endings of the Key Cycle chart. In addition, the Moon rules the Ascendant of the Key Cycle chart and occupies the 8th of death, where it conjoins Saturn.

The Moon, Saturn and the Part of Fortune in the 8th house of the Key Cycle chart are closely quincunx the 4th cusp of final endings. I hypothesized that the Queen’s passing likely occurred when the Moon, or the Moon/Saturn midpoint, or the Part of Fortune exactly quincunxed the Key Cycle IC.

The transiting Moon quincunx 20 Virgo 17′ 33″ at about 1:50 PM BST, indicating a possible time of death. Other possible times would be indicated by the exact quincunx of the Moon/Saturn midpoint to the IC, and by the quincunx of the Part of Fortune (which combines the influences of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant and its dispositor Saturn, ruler of the 8th) to the IC. I gave more weight to the Moon/Saturn midpoint and to the Part of Fortune than to the transiting Moon acting alone.

The Moon/Saturn midpoint quincunxing the IC is quite significant because of Saturn’s importance in the natal chart and the fact that Saturn was time lord of the Queen’s final years in Ptolemy’s scheme of the Seven Ages of Man. The Moon/Saturn midpoint quincunxed the Key Chart IC at about 2:08 PM BST, another possible time of death.

The Part of Fortune of the Key Cycle Chart quincunxed the IC at about 3:11 PM BST, just four minutes after Yalda Hakim’s “incorrect” tweet about the Queen’s passing. Given the close correlation between Hakim’s 3:07 PM tweet, which was later withdrawn, and the 3:11 PM quincunx of the Part of Fortune to the Key Cycle chart IC, I suspected that the Queen had passed before 3 PM BST, most likely between 2:08 PM (Moon/Saturn midpoint quincunx IC) and 3:11 PM (Part of Fortune quincunx IC). The midpoint between these two time is 2:39 PM BST, and I suspected the Queen may have died close to this time.

Interestingly, astrologer Victor Oliver in a Facebook post on 11 September 2022 commented: “Lady Colin Campbell, who is well connected and reported the death hours before the announcement at 6:30 pm, says she was ‘reliably informed’ that she died at 14:37 at Balmoral. The PM was informed at 4:30 pm.” If Lady Colin Campbell is correct, then the time of death she reported (2:37 PM BST) is quite consistent with the one indicated by the tertiary progression and the Wynn Key Cycle chart. I assume that at some point the Royal Family will report the actual time of the Queen’s passing.

CBS News also reported that “Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss was told at 4:30 p.m. local time (11:30 a.m. Eastern) on Thursday that Queen Elizabeth II had died.” If we calculate the Wynn Key chart for 4:30 PM BST, the IC changes to 20 Virgo 18′ in partile semi-sextile to tertiary progressed Mercury, which rules the natal 8th of death. In other words, at the moment the Prime Minister was informed that Elizabeth II had died, the MC (signifying leaders and prime ministers) was in partile quincunx to the Queen’s tertiary progressed Mercury in the 4th house of endings of the Key Cycle chart.

Addendum (5 Oct 2022):

On September 29th the New York Times reported that the official time of the Queen’s passing on the death certificate was at 3:10 PM BST at Balmoral Castle. The cause of death was “old age.” Here is a direct quote from the Times:

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II died of “old age,” according to her death certificate, which was released on Thursday by the registrar general of Scotland. The certificate, which lists her occupation as Her Majesty the Queen, also notes that the queen died at 3:10 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Balmoral Castle.

Thus, it appears that the Wynn Key Cycle Return, which suggested two likely times for the Queen’s demise was quite accurate. As described in this blog, the two most likely times suggested by this technique were:

2:08 PM (Moon/Saturn midpoint quincunx IC) and 3:11 PM (Part of Fortune quincunx IC).

Of these two times, the Key Cycle Part of Fortune quincunx the 4th cusp of final endings was the more accurate of the two. Traditionally, the Part of Fortune is linked to physical well-being, and its position in this chart in the 8th house of death, between the Asc-ruler Moon and the 8th ruler Saturn, connected Fortuna symbolically to her passing.

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The Birth Chart of Abraham Lincoln

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is one of the most notable figures in American history. Unfortunately for astrologers, we do not know his exact birth time, although from historical sources we may be able to narrow it to within a couple of hours before sunrise on Sunday 12 February 1809. Let’s look at the evidence.

The site astro.com gives Lincoln’s birth data at 12 February 1809 near Hodgenville, Kentucky (37n34, 85w44) around 6:54 AM LMT (Rodden Rating B, from biographical sources). This estimated time of birth is based on the fact that sunrise occurred around 6:58 AM LMT on that day, and biographical sources mention that Lincoln was born before sunup. A careful reading of the biographical material, however, suggests that the 6:54 AM LMT birth time may be significantly off from the actual time of birth.

The two most important sources are:

1) Carl Sandburg’s biography, “Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years,” which on page 22 cites the “granny woman” midwife Peggy Walters as saying, “The baby was born just about sunup, on Sunday morning” (italics mine). Unfortunately, Sandburg does not footnote his source so that we do not know whether he is simply paraphrasing or directly quoting his source.

2) Citing an interview with Peggy Walters, the Abraham Lincoln Research Website states: “Lincoln was born about dawn on Sunday, February 12, 1809, in Hardin County (now LaRue County) near Hodgenville, Kentucky” (italics mine), but later on the same page the website has Peggy using the word “sunup.”.

Here we have two versions of the same quote, attributed to midwife Peggy Walters, in which she says that Lincoln was born either “just about sunup” (Sandberg’s version and perhaps paraphrase of the quote) or “about dawn” (from the summary on the Abraham Lincoln Research Site, which also attributes “about sunup” to Peggy Walters) on 12 February 1809. We can safely assume that Peggy Walters was not speaking with astronomical precision, and we are left wondering what she meant by “about sunup” (Sandberg’s version) or “about dawn” — and whether she had in mind actual astronomical sunrise or instead the first appearance of morning light (dawn). From the quote at the Lincoln Research Website, it does appear that Peggy used the word “sunup,” but even that site understood her to mean “dawn” rather than astronomical sunrise.

Sandberg reported Peggy Walters as saying “sunup,” which is generally taken to mean sunrise, although when, used loosely, “sunup” can also refer to dawn or daybreak, that is, the time in the morning when daylight first appears. The sky becomes quite bright before the sun actually rises.

The Abraham Lincoln Research Site understands Peggy Walters to mean “dawn,” which refers to the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise. If we take this interpretation to be the correct one, then it was dark when Lincoln’s mother went into labor, and shortly after the birth, the darkness of night was replaced with the first light of day (dawn). Thus, to estimate Lincoln’s time of birth, we would need to determine at what moment dawn occurred on 12 February 1809 in or near Hodgenville, Kentucky.

Using the calculator at the site https://www.sunrisesunset.com/, I generated the following times for sunrise and the various forms of twilight on 12 February at Lincoln’s birthplace.

Times are Eastern Standard (EST).
Sunrise occurred at 7:37 AM EST.
Astronomical Dawn at 6:09 AM EST.
Nautical Dawn at 6:39 AM EST.
Civil Dawn at 7:10 AM EST.

Of the three types of dawn (astronomical, nautical, civil) the first appearance of light, which Peggy Walters was likely referring to in her quote, belongs to nautical dawn when there is enough sunlight present (prior to sunrise) to enable sailors to clearly distinguish the sky from land and water. If Lincoln was born just before the first light of day was brightening the night sky, then he would have been born about an hour before sunrise.

In other words, sunrise occurred at 7:37 AM EST, and nautical dawn (the first light of day in which sky and land or water could clearly be distinguished from one another) began at 6:39 AM EST — some 58 minutes earlier.

Using Solar Fire, I calculated sunrise in Hodgenville, Kentucky on 12 February 1809 to have occurred at about 6:58 AM LMT, which means that nautical dawn occurred at about 6:00 AM LMT (58 minutes earlier). If Peggy looked out the window and saw the first light of day just after Lincoln was born, then his birthtime would have been about 6:00 AM LMT. The chart cast for this time has 4 Aquarius on the Ascendant and 24 Scorpio on the MC.

Nautical Dawn near Lincoln’s birthplace 12 Feb 1809.
This chart is a much better fit for Abraham Lincoln’s birth than the one at astro.com.

This chart for nautical dawn near Lincoln’s birthplace may be a better fit for the description Peggy Walters gave in her interview about his birth. Astrologically, it also fits quite well with Lincoln’s life history. Mars rules the MC and conjoins the 9th Placidus cusp — he was a brilliant lawyer and orator. Mars rules his 3rd house and trines his natal Sun. Saturn is the exalted ruler of the 9th house, occupies the 10th of career, and closely sextiles the Ascendant.

Quickly checking his primary directions, Saturn in the 10th is about 9 degrees from the MC. Lincoln’s mother died on 5 October 1818 when he was 9 years old. Measuring more precisely, the Right Ascension of the MC is 232:06 and that of the ecliptic position of Saturn is 241:30, a difference of 9 degrees 24 minutes of Right Ascension, which by primary direction would indicate the death of his mother at about age 9 1/2.

My impression, based on the midwife’s own words (“born about dawn”) and astrological symbolism, is that a chart cast for nautical dawn on Lincoln’s birth date is significantly closer to his actual time of birth than one cast for a moment or two before astronomical sunrise.

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Rising Signs and Body Type

Recently I was reading an old book from 1911 by Alfred John Pearce, his Textbook of Astrology. In Book I of the anthology, Pearce gives descriptions of individuals based on which sign is rising in their birth chart. I have reproduced them here because they are often amusing and also interesting to test in the charts of people you know. He cautions that the rising sign alone is not definitive. One must also take into account any planets that conjoin or closely aspect the Ascendant degree.

Here is the quote from Pearce:

“Modern authors have described the special influences exerted by the respective signs of the zodiac. The following may be accepted as a fair description of them:

ARIES produces a spare and strong body, of stature rather above the average; face long; eyebrows bushy; neck long; shoulders thick and powerful; complexion sallow or swarthy; hair black or sandy; disposition irritable. The first half of the sign gives a stronger constitution, and a greater muscular development, than the latter half.

TAURUS gives a middle stature; a thick, well-set body; a broad forehead; full face and prominent eyes; neck and lips thick; nose and mouth wide; complexion swarthy; dark or black hair, often curly; dis-position melancholy; slow to anger, but, when provoked, furious.

GEMINI usually produces a tall and straight body; complexion dark sanguine; hair blackish; eyes hazel, sight quick; a smart, active appearance; disposition fickle, understanding good.

CANCER — Moderate stature, upper part of body somewhat large; small round face, with pale, delicate complexion; brown hair; small gray eyes; effeminate in constitution and disposition, subject to chest affections.

LEO — A large, fair stature, broad shoulders; prominent and large eyes; hair generally light, and often yellowish; oval, ruddy countenance; of a high, resolute, haughty, and ambitious temper.

VIRGO — Middle stature, rather slender, but very neat and compact; dark sanguine complexion; dark hair; small, shrill voice (but if Mercury ascend in this sign, the native will be a great orator), witty, ingenious and studious, but of a fickle disposition.

LIBRA — Tall and elegantly formed, rather slender; hair brown, smooth, and glossy, yet sometimes jet-black; face having generally great beauty; fine clear sanguine complexion; blue sparkling eyes; good tempered, amiable, and high principled.

SCORPIO — Strong, corpulent, robust body; of middle stature; dark complexion; dark brown curling and bushy hair; neck thick; mind and disposition active, yet reserved and thoughtful.

SAGITTARIUS — A well-formed person; inclined to tallness; sanguine complexion, oval face and handsome; high forehead; chest-nut or bright-brown hair, growing off the temples, bald early in life; long Grecian nose; fine, clear eyes; jovial, active, and intrepid disposition, very fond of horses and hunting.

CAPRICORN — Slender make, in some cases ill-formed or crooked; a long, thin face, generally plain; thin beard; chin long and protruding; black, lanky hair; narrow chest; disposition subtle, collected, calm, witty, and yet melancholy.

AQUARIUS— Middle stature, stout, well-set, robust, and strong; long and fleshy face; good, clear, delicate, and sanguine complexion; sandy or darkish flaxen hair; hazel eyes; of prepossessing appearance, and good disposition.

PISCES — Stature short, body fleshy, crooked, or stooping, round shouldered; brown hair, large, round, pale face, (but if the Sun he rising, a good complexion); in disposition indolent and dull, prone to drinking, more or less.

The foregoing descriptions rarely answer exactly. For the ascending sign (although it has chief influence over the form of the body), will, if a planet be within 5° of the Eastern horizon, or in close aspect with it, have its influence considerably modified thereby.

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