The Primacy of Primary Motion in Astrology

A reader of my book on horary astrology recently wrote to me, asking a question about dexter and sinister aspects in astrology. Lilly had written, “Observe the dexter aspect is more forcible than the Sinister” (CA 109). When I first read this statement back in the 1980s, it reminded me of the nuns punishing my classmates in grammar school for being left-handed. Being right-handed, I was spared the vengeance of the Sisters of Mercy. Apparently their belief was that the good angel sat on the right (dexter) shoulder whereas the devil (sinister) sat on the left one. And, after all, Jesus sat on the right side of God and not to the left of the deity. Even the English language carries this bias. “Dexterity” refers to skillfulness or adroitness, but “sinister” means ominous, disquieting or threatening.

Observe the dexter aspect is more forcible than the Sinister” (CA 109).

Yet the idea of dexter and sinister aspects in astrology does not have to do with religious beliefs but rather with an ancient philosophical notion, probably Pythagorean, based on observation of the apparent movement of the heavens.

Ancient astrologers observed that each day the Sun rises in the east, culminates at the Midheaven and then sets in the west. This obvious and easily witnessed movement of the Sun across the sky was called “primary motion.” At night as the stars appeared, they also rose in the east, culminated at the MC, and set in the west, again following the primary motion of the heavens around the observer on Earth. This daily and obvious movement of the Sun and stars across the sky was considered fundamental and primary, hence the name “primary motion.” All heavenly bodies followed this pattern.

Looking more closely over long periods of time, the ancients noticed that a tiny group of “stars” seemed to “wander” and these wanderers were called in English “planets” from the Greek word planētēs ‘wanderer, planet’, from planan ‘wander’. The odd thing about these wanderers is that even though they followed primary motion across the sky every day, they also appeared to have a “secondary motion” in the opposite direction, that is from west toward east, in contrast to their daily “primary motion” from east toward west. This secondary motion appeared to be unique to this small group of planets.

Our astrology developed in regions on Earth which lay north of the ecliptic circle so that astrologers had to look to the south to observe the movement of planets along the ecliptic. As a result, we tend to draw our horoscope charts as wheels with the Ascendant or eastern horizon on the left, the MC to the south, and the western horizon or Descendant on the right.

If we picture ourselves standing at the center of a horoscope wheel and looking at the MC, the natural primary motion of the sky flows from the Ascendant at our left in the east, in a rightward or clockwise direction up to the MC in the south, and continuing rightward or clockwise toward the western horizon in the west. Thus, the natural flow, or the primary motion, has sense of being “dexter” or toward the right-hand side of the observer. Aspects cast in this dexter or clockwise direction with respect to the observer at the center of the wheel are therefore considered more natural, fundamental, and in the normal flow of things. That’s just how the whole sky moves. Being in tune with nature, dexter aspects were considered, as Lilly said, more forcible.

The sinister aspects are simply aspects cast by a planet toward the left-hand side of the observer looking at the planet from the middle of the wheel. Movement toward the left is in the counterclockwise direction of “secondary motion,” which is unique to the small group planets. Secondary motion, and sinister aspects which are related to this concept, are an oddity and a bit unnatural because only seven visible celestial object (Sun, Moon, and five visible planets) exhibit secondary motion to the naked eye. They are like fish swimming again a powerful current. Being unnatural and attempting to move against the flow of the entire sky, sinister aspects were considered less forcible than dexter ones.

In other words, a planet casts its dexter aspects in the direction of the flow of the heavens around the earth, and its sinister aspects against the flow or in the opposite direction of the primary motion of the heavens around the earth, as viewed by an observer on earth.

The Sun casts its sinister square to the left, counterclockwise in the direction of secondary motion, to Jupiter and its dexter square clockwise, in the direction of primary motion to Mars. The sky rises in the east, culminates in the south, and sets in the west: the so-called “primary motion” of the heavens. The planets also have a “secondary motion” in an opposite direction with respect to the primary motion.
Original Image from
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Mars/Saturn Conjunctions in Cancer in Mundane Astrology

Recently I’ve been reading some modern and classic texts on mundane astrology. One of the more obscure facets of historical astrology is the role of the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer which repeats about every 30 years. One of the earliest mentions of the importance of this conjunction of the traditional malefic in the sign Cancer can be found in al-Kindi’s discussions of its role in examining the duration of Arab rule. Abu Ma’Shar later popularized al-Kindi’s ideas.

According to Ben Dykes in Astrology of the World II, al-Kindi noted that in the Aries Ingress or vernal equinox chart for the year 622 AD, when Muhammad fled to Medina, the sign Cancer was on the Ascendant, and Mars was conjunct Saturn in Cancer in the 1st house. At the same time Jupiter in this diurnal chart occupied Aquarius in the 8th house and was in aversion to the Ascendant, thus affording none of its benefic influence to soften the conjunction of malefics in the 1st, which configuration spelled trouble for the Persians who ruled at the time. The exalted Taurus Moon, which ruled the Ascendant and disposed the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer in this chart, was in sextile aspect to an exalted Venus in Pisces in the 9th, favored the Arabs (traditionally ruled by Venus) and the prophet, signified by the 9th house. Here is a modern approximation to al-Biruni’s chart for the Aries Ingress at the time of the Hijrah.

Aries Ingress, sidereal zodiac, 622 CE, Year of the Hijrah, cast for Mecca

Interestingly, although al-Biruni regarded the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer to be harmful, it could be ameliorated by a favorable aspect from benefic Jupiter, should one exist. The sign Cancer is significant for several reasons:

  • Cancer disposes the Mars/Saturn conjunction and is the Ascendant of the Aries Ingress in the year of the Hijrah, a key event in Islam.
  • Cancer is the sign of fall or depression of Mars.
  • Cancer is the sign of detriment or exile of Saturn.
  • Cancer is a movable or cardinal sign, ruled by the Moon.

In the 12th century the Jewish astrologer Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra had a somewhat different take on the Mars/Saturn conjunction. He wrote in The Beginning of Wisdom that, according the the ancients, when Mars and Saturn join together they exert a beneficial influence. The explanation for the “positive” combined influence of the two malefics is that each vitiates the action of the other, thereby preventing the other from doing harm. The net result is that their conjunction produces the “good” of causing no harm because each restrains the other’s malevolence from going into effect.

William Ramesey in his 17th century book on Mundane Astrology takes a totally negative view of the Mars/Saturn conjunction:

“… the conjunction of Saturn and Mars in the first degree or term of Cancer, is the forerunner of much evil, i.e. terrible wars, slaughters, depopulations and alterations of government, and destruction of kingdoms, fire and sword, famine and pestilence, etc. And if is oriental, its effects will soon operate; if occidental, not too soon. The conjunction of Saturn and Mars in any other sign and place is not so terrible.” (italics mine)

The most recent Mar/Saturn conjunction in Cancer the USA chart is set for Washington, DC, on May 25, 2004 at 1:39:29 AM EDT. It has 29 Aquarius 11 rising and the conjunction takes place at 11 Cancer 18 in the 5th house. The 30-year cycle, from 2004 through 2034, looks like this:

The bottommost points signity the Mars/Saturn conjunction which occurs roughly every 2 years, starting with the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer in 2004 and ending with the next Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer in 2034.

This year, 2020, we are experiencing the Mars/Saturn conjunction is Aquarius, eight signs from Cancer so it may have an 8th house significance relative to the start of the sequence, and the square of this year’s conjunction perfects on August 24, 2020 at 14:19:20 EDT.

The current Mars-square-Saturn chart has 5 Sagittarius 02 rising, with Mars at 26 Aries 19 in the 5th house and Saturn at 26 Capricorn 19 Rx in the 2nd house. Given that the 2020 Mars/Saturn conjunction occurs in Aquarius, which is 8 signs from Cancer, in 2020 it could signify, in the keywords of Ramesey, “much evil, i.e. terrible wars, slaughters, depopulations and alterations of government, and destruction of kingdoms, fire and sword, famine and pestilence, etc.” (bold mine)

The 2020 Mars/Saturn conjunction takes place in Aquarius in the 6th house of disease in Washington, DC. Since the sequence starts in Cancer, this year’s conjunction in Aquarius falls 8 signs from Cancer and may have an 8th house significance.

The eclipse chart, which precedes this Mars square Saturn chart and sheds light on the manifestations of this square, occurs on June 21, 2020, with the Sun and Moon in the first degree of Cancer, a cardinal sign which gives this eclipse broad mundane significance. The first degree of the cardinal signs is often called the “world point” because of its implications for mundane astrology.

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Capricorn the Sea-Goat, did sea-goats really exist?

Capricorn is commonly represented as a mythical sea-goat, but is it possible that at one time such a creature actually existed and, if so, what became of them?

Not long ago I stumbled upon a site which peaked my interest in this topic. There was an article at entitled “Extinct Goat was Cold-Blooded.” Since reptiles are cold-blooded, was it possible that a goat existed which was also part reptile? Let me quote verbatim from the article:

“An extinct goat that lived on a barren Mediterranean island survived for millions of years by reducing in size and by becoming cold-blooded, which has never before been discovered in mammals. The goat, Myotragus balearicus, lived on what is now Majorca, a Spanish island. The island had scarce resources, and there was no way for the goats to leave, and so scientists wondered how they had thrived for so long. A recently published research paper reveals the extinct goat survived by adjusting its growth rate and metabolism to suit the available food, becoming cold-blooded like reptiles. Paleontologists studying fossilized Myotragus bones compared them to bones of reptiles living in the same region at the same time, and found surprising similarities.” 

Extinct goat Myotragus balearicus. Image: Xavier Vázquez, via Wikipedia

Unfortunately, after 5 million years of existence these sea-goats became extinct after humans moved to the island about 3000 years ago. To quote again from the article: “Myotragus survived on the island as dwarf cold-blooded animals for millenia because they had no natural enemies, but they could not survive the predation of humans when they arrived on the island about 3,000 years ago. In total, the species inhabited the island for over five million years.”

Interestingly, in Hindu astrology, the equivalent of Capricorn is Makara, the Crocodile and it turns out that crocodiles have not always been cold-blooded. An article is explains that a certain group of warm-blooded crocodiles thrived in the Jurassic cold snap. To quote verbatim: “at least one type of prehistoric crocodile was warm-blooded. … his likely enabled the animals, which lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, to thrive during a spell of global cooling around 150 million years ago. … “This discovery helps us better understand these bizarre crocs. They rapidly changed from animals looking similar to modern long-snouted crocodiles, to ones with flippers, a tail fin and massive, forward-facing eyes.” (bold and italics mine)

Varuna riding on a makara
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Predicting with Symolic Directions using Uranus-arc

Recently I was reading about Boris Cristoff’s “Proluna” method of prediction in which, if I understand it correctly, he directs the natal chart symbolically at the rate of 7 years per astrological house. This idea is based on the fact that the planet Uranus spends about 7 years in each sign and completes a cycle around the zodiac is about 84 years, roughly a human lifespan.

This method is quite similar to predictive techniques proposed by Charles Jayne, the innovative American astrologer who experimented with Solar arc, Ascendant arc, Vertex arc and declination arc symbolic directions.

If we wanted to experiment with a Uranus arc direction, we could calculate the arc between natal Uranus and transiting Uranus for a given event and then project that arc from every point in the natal chart. This would give a “true Uranus arc” direction. An alternative would be to calculate a “mean Uranus arc” by calculating the arc between natal Uranus and the first Uranus return, roughly 84 years later. Because the Uranus return may include a retrograde period, there may be three Uranus returns (two direct and one retrograde), so there is an issue of how to measure that arc.

An alternative would be to take the average orbit of Uranus in Earth-years (slightly more than 84 years) and divide the 360-degree circle by that orbit period, we can estimate the mean Uranus-arc to be about 4 degrees 16 minutes per year. The “true” arc will be somewhat greater or smaller than this figure, but 4d 16m of arc seems to work reasonably well with this technique. We would then symbolically direct the natal chart at this rate and look for ‘hits’ to natal planets or chart points, the most significant of which would be the boundaries between signs and the cusps of houses.

Let me illustrate the utility of this technique with a case example. Recently there was a post in a Classical Astrology Facebook group which asked the members to guess what happened in the life of a woman on a certain date. The woman was born on 2 Aug 1974 in Wichita KS at 7:17 AM, and the event occurred on 6 Oct 2005. Readers were asked to use only classical methods to guess the outcome, but I also experimented with Uranus arc, since it had captured my interest recently. Here is the chart of the woman in question, calculated in Solar Fire with Placidus houses, tropical zodiac:

Using Solar Fire I then directed the natal chart symbolically for the period from 01 Aug through 01 Dec 2005 to capture the significant symbolic directions by mean Uranus-arc in effect during the date in question (06 Oct 2005). Because we are working with a “mean” or “average” rate of travel for Uranus, we can’t expect precise hits but rather a “ballpark” estimation within a few weeks of the actual date of the event. Rather, the dates will be approximations to the exact dates of events. Here are the results:

We can see in this list that the user-arc (Uranus-arc) directed Ascendant changed signs on 16 September in the 5th house of child-bearing, so there is a high likelihood that the event had to do with pregnancy or having a child. In this method the directed Ascendant changing signs or houses are highly significant configurations and usually correspond to major life events related to the house in which they occur. Capricorn is on the 6th cusp, probably signifying the medical nature of the event.

In addition, Uranus-directed Mars sextiled natal Jupiter in the 8th on 11 October. Jupiter rules the 5th of children and the 8th is often related to surgical interventions. Mars natally rules the 4th of home and family, so the sextile of the 4th ruler to the 5th ruler in early October could signify the addition of a child to the family.

Also in October we see that Jupiter, ruler of the 5th of children and childbearing, entered Leo in the 12th house, possibly symbolizing a hospitalization and confinement related to having a baby. Leo is the sign of the Ascendant, so that 5th-ruler Jupiter entering Leo (the native) could symbolize having a child.

In fact, the event of 6 October 2005 was the birth of a child.

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A Puzzling Horary about a Relationship

Recently I watched an enjoyable interview by Mychal A. Bryan with Ema Kurent on Integrative Approaches to Horary Astrology. Ema is the author of a recent textbook of Horary Astrology and during the interview she recounts her life in astrology, including a horary chart that appeared not to work out as expected. Her horary example stuck in my brain like a popular tune that you can’t get out of your head, so it occurred to me to put my thoughts about it in writing.

The horary chart had to do with a relationship. The querent had met a man whom she liked and asked whether they would get back together and, if so, when. Here is the chart with Regiomontanus Houses, which I calculated in Solar Fire from the data in the video interview.

Horary Example by Ema Kurent

It is a Venus day during a Venus hour, and Venus rules the rising sign in a horary about relationships, so the chart appears radical.

Ema reasoned that Venus rules the Ascendant and therefore signifies the querent. Mars rules the 7th and thus signifies the quesited man whom the querent is interested in. Venus and Mars are not currently in orb of any aspect, but they had been trine and are now separating. Fortunately, the Moon in Capricorn, the exaltation sign of Mars, is separating from Mars and applying to Venus, so that the translation of light by the Moon could bring them together again. The Moon will perfect a sextile to Venus in about 7 degrees, so the querent should have some kind of contact with the quesited in 7 units of time. Because the Moon is angular and in a cardinal sign, the time-unit is likely to be fairly short: hours, days or at most weeks. Like Ema, I had looked at this chart during the video and had come to the same conclusion.

Unfortunately, seven weeks passed and the querent did not hear from the quesited, so the horary chart appears to have been mistaken or our interpretation of it had been wrong. Finally, on April 14 (slightly more than two months after the question of February 12), the querent learned that the man had died on March 28 and he was buried on April 1st, which was 7 weeks after the question.

What went wrong? This is the question that has been bothering me for the past couple of days, so I went over the chart more carefully and observed the following:

First, I usually begin by looking for Lilly’s considerations before judgment, which I had failed to do while following along in the video. In this chart there is a very early Ascendant, which serves to caution the astrologer that the matter may be in its very early stages so that the chart may not be able to give a satisfactory answer to the question. In other words, it may be premature to ask the question because the situation has not yet developed fully enough to be able to know the outcome, or some important relevant information may not yet be available to the querent. Some astrologers refer to this consideration as meaning that it’s “too early to tell” or “too soon to be able to judge” from the chart.

Specifically Lilly writes: “When either 0 degrees, or the first or second degrees of a Sign ascend (especially in Signs of short ascensions, viz. Capricorn through Gemini), you may not adventure judgement, unless the Querent be very young, and his corporature, complexion and moles or scars of his body agree with the quality of the Sign ascending.” (CA 123)

On page 288 of CA, Lilly also writes: “Be not confident of the Judgment if either the 1st degrees or later of any Signe be ascending; if the later degrees arise, the matter of the Question is elapsed, and it’s probable the Querent hath been tampering with others, or despaires of any successe; however, the Heavens advise you not to meddle with it at that time” (bold mine). Lilly words imply that if the very early degrees rise, the matter to too early to judge, whereas if the late degrees rise, “the matter of the Questiion is elapsed.”

Yet another consideration before judgment is present, namely that the 7th ruler, which signifies the astrologer judging the question, aspects the malefic Saturn by opposition. The classic Arabic texts on horary give Mars an orb of 8 degrees and Saturn, an orb of 12 degrees. Mars at 6 Scorpio 19 is within orb of opposition to Saturn at 28 Aries 34 because the two planets are 7 degrees 45 minutes away from perfection of the opposition aspect. This consideration usually means that the astrologer may have difficulty accurately interpreting the chart.

In addition, Lilly states in his aphorims (CA 288) that “One Infortune joyned to another, if good be signified by their aspect, yet will it have no effect, or come to any thing: If they signifie evill, it’s probably that it may fall out with more malice then expected.” Here Mars and Saturn are in opposition in the horary chart, implying that matters “may fall out with more malice then expected.” In this chart, Mars (the quesited) is being impeded by an opposition of Saturn on the cusp of the 8th house, and Lilly states in Aphorism 33: “Consider diligently the Planet impediting the Signifier of the thing demanded, and what house he is either Lord of, or is posited in; from the nature or person of that house require the cause obstructing” so that obstruction to the quesited comes from the 8th house of death.

In this chart, this second consideration may not apply because the 7th cusp represents the quesited, in which case Lilly appeared to ignore this consideration: “You must also be wary, when in any question propounded you find the Cusp of the 7th house
afflicted, or the Lord of that house Retrograde, or impedited, and the matter at that time not concerning the seventh house, but belonging to any other house, it’s an argument the judgement of the Astrologer will give small content, or any thing please the Querent; for the seventh house generally hath signification of the Artist.” (CA 123, italics mine).

In hindsight, because Mars signifies the man inquired about (7th cusp), the fact that the last aspect which Mars perfected was an opposition to Saturn in Aries, the home of Mars, in the 8th of death appears to be highly significant.

In addition, in Lilly’s comment above, he also calls attention to afflictions to the cusp of the 7th house, and in this chart the 7th cusp is conjoined by the malefic fixed star Scheat, which Robson associates with “extreme misfortune, murder, suicide, and drowning.” What I had missed on my first pass through the chart was that the significator of the quesited, Mars, ruled the 8th and was separating from Saturn in Aries in the 8th and that the cusp of the 7th (the man inquired about) was conjunct the malefic fixed star Scheat, a star associated with extreme misfortune and death.

Looking deeper into the chart, we need to consider the dignities of the signifiers Mars and Venus, and of the Moon.

The Moon is separating from a sextile to Mars which had perfected when the Moon was in 6 degrees of Capricorn, in the exaltation and triplicity of Mars, but the Moon lies in the detriment (exile) of the Moon and the Fall of Jupiter, which rules the house where Venus is located.

Mars in 6 degrees of Scorpio lies in triplicity of Venus and the Moon, so that there is a connection by dignity among the three significators, but Mars lies in the detriment of Venus and the Fall (Depression) of the Moon, implying that the connection among them is associated with some type of hardship or disappointment.

Venus in 18 of Pisces lies in the triplicity of Mars and the Moon, and in the Fall of Mercury. Venus is also in a cadent house which diminishes her power.

Moon separates from Mars and carries the light of Mars to Venus, but Mars lies in the detriment (exile) of Venus and in the Fall (Depression) of the Moon, and Mars occupies the via combusta, where the Moon is quite unhappy, so the quality of the light being translated may not bring happiness to the querent. In other words, the light that the Moon carries from Mars to Venus (the querent) is tainted by its being light of Mars in the via combusta, of the Fall of the Moon and of the detriment of Venus. Thus, when Venus receives this light via its transfer from the dejected Moon, the goddess of love is not likely to be too happy because it carries with it significations of the via combusta and the Fall (dejection) of Venus.

Further factors that I had not noticed initially include the following:

1. Venus lies in the 6th, which is the 12th of the 7th of relationships. The 12th house of any house can signify its dissolution or ending.

2. 7th ruler Mars lies in the 2nd radical house, which is the derived 8th of death from the radical 7th.

3. The antiscion of Mars almost exactly conjoins the Sun and closely conjoins the lunar South Node (Ketu), which is stationary in this chart, an ominous indication regarding the significations of Mars. This Mars-antiscion/Sun/Ketu conjunction occurs in the 5th house of love and romance. Saturn, which rules this 5th house, conjoins the 8th of death. Lilly also writes in Aphorism 43: “Beware of men and things appertaining to that house wherein South Node is in; it seldome failes, but the Querent shall receive damage, scandall or slander from men and matter signified by the house he is in.” Here the South Node lies in the 5th house of romance where it conjoins the antiscion of Mars, the man inquired about.

4. Saturn is almuten of the 1st (the querent) and closely conjoins the 8th cusp of death, indicating that the querent may experience a situation related to death and dying.

Judging horaries is often not a simple task, and a detailed analysis and a weighing of all the factors is necessary to come to a proper interpretation of the chart.

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Return of Virtue in Horary

The multiple distinctions in the medieval and Renaissance literature about various types of reception in horary astrology continue to perplex me. For example, sometimes a faster planet tries to pass its “virtue” on to a slower planet, but the slow planet does not accept the emission from the faster planet and sends it back to where it came from. Such a return of virtue, according to Bonatti, can either be beneficial or harmful to the matter inquired about. To be honest, I rarely see horary astrologers utilizing this concept in their work.

Al-Biruni notes that when a Superior slower planet is either Retrograde or Combust the Sun, it is unable to accept or grasp the virtue being offered by an Inferior faster planet and thus returns it to its source. The outcome of such a return may be favorable if reception exists between the two planets or if the faster offering planet is angular or cadent, and matters may turn out okay. But if the faster planet, which is offering its virtue, is weak, and the slower planet, which is returning the virtue, is angular or succedent, matters are not likely to go very well. If both planets are weak, the situation is rather hopeless.

Ryhan Butler gives the follow explanation: “This action of returning puts pressure on the applying planet. Suddenly realizing it has more responsibility than it initially thought, this faster planet must now manifest the thing as best as it can in its own condition. If this planet is itself well placed this should be fine, but it can be troublesome if the planet is in a difficult position.”

Bonatti gives a couple of examples with distinct outcomes to illustrate a slower heavier planet returning the virtue of a faster lighter one. Unfortunately, I was unable to reconstruct his examples in the ephemeris, so the following charts are close approximations.

Return of Virtue with a Positive Outcome

In the above chart the querent asks a horary question when his ruler Mars is angular and exalted in Capricorn in the 10th house. The ruler of the quesited, Jupiter, in angular in Aries (the domicile of Mars) in the 1st house.

The problem is that Jupiter is Combust the Sun and thus unable to hang on to the virtue being offered via the applying square from Mars. Jupiter has no choice but to send the virtue back to Mars. Because Mars in exalted and angular, he is able to make good use of the virtue which Jupiter returned to him and, with all this juicy virtue, Mars can bring the matter to perfection, even without the aid of Jupiter.

Return of Virtue with a Negative Outcome

In this second chart, the querent asked the same horary question but at a time when the Asc-ruler was cadent in the 9th house and the quesited ruler Jupiter was cadent and weak in the 12th house.

In this case Mars tries to send his virtue to Jupiter who, being Combust the Sun and cadent in the 12th house, has no choice but to send it back to Mars. “Sorry Mars, your virtue looks just fine but I don’t have the strength to hold on to it now so I’m returning it to you.”

Mars sees his virtue coming back to him from Jupiter, but Mars, being weak in the cadent 9th, just doesn’t have the strength to grab hold of that virtue, so it goes to waste in a kind of cosmic coitus interruptus, and the outcome of the horary question is unsatisfactory.

To make matters a bit more complex, Avelar and Ribeiro in their book On the Heavenly Spheres give an example of a heavier planet sending its virtue to a lighter one. On page 148 they give the example: “Venus retrograde at 8 Aries in the 6th house trines Mars at 10 Leo in the 10th house. Mars receives Venus and sends [to] her his virtue or nature. But because Venus is retrograde and cadent, she returns what he sends.” Unlike al-Biruni and Bonatti, who have the heavier planet returning virtue to the lighter one, in this case the lighter planet Venus is returning virtue to the heavier one (Mars). In addition, Venus and Mars are separating from a trine rather than applying whereas al-Biruni and Bonatti have the faster planet applying to aspect the slower one.

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Lilly on Removing from One Place to Another

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In a recent discussion in a horary astrology group, the question arose about how William Lilly utilized the 4th house in relocation horaries. This prompted me to reread Lilly to try to figure out exactly what he meant. In the sections below I will quote Lilly’s text in italics and leave my own comments in regular font. Lilly discusses the issue on pages 212 – 214 of Christian Astrology. He writes:

CHAP. XXXV (William Lilly, CA 212-214)

If Good to remove from one house or place to another, or to stay or abide in any place or not?

See to the Lords of the Ascendant, the 4th house and 7th house, for if the Lord of the 4th be in the 7th, and be a good Planet, and the Lord of the 1st and 7th be good Planets, or strong in that part of Heaven where they are, or in the whole Figure, if they be Direct, and of swift motion, and in good aspect with good Planets, it is good then to abide still and not remove from the place where the Querent is; but if the Lord of the 7th be with a good Planet, and the Lord of the 4th with an evil one, it is then not good to stay, for if he does, he shall receive much damage there: 

Summarizing Lilly thus far:

  1. Consider the planets that rule the Ascendant, 4th house and 7th house. Apparently Lilly views the Asc-ruler as signifying the querent and her current location, the 4th as the home base or residence of the querent (including the town she lives in), and the 7th as the intended destination or place to which the querent would relocate.
  2. In horary charts in which the lord of the 4th (querent’s home base, actual dwelling or town) happens to fall in the 7th house (where the querent would relocate), then presumably her removal takes her back home to where she started. If these key rulers (of 1st, 4th, 7th) are all in good condition, then it makes sense to remain and not to relocate.
  3. If the lord of the 7th (the removal) is in good condition but the lord of the 4th (the current home base) is in bad condition (with an evil planet), then it is better to remove because remaining exposes the querent to the afflicted 4th ruler’s condition.

That which I have observed in this manner of Judgment was this; That if the Lord of the Ascendant did lately separate from the Square or Opposition of the Lord of the 6th, 8th or 12th, and the Moon also did concur in judgment, viz. if she separate from any evil aspect of the Infortunes, they being Lords of either the 7th or 4th &c. and not Friends or Significators in the person of the Querent;

or if I found an Infortune in the Ascendant, Peregrine or Retrograde, or if a Peregrine or unfortunate Planet was in the 4th, or if the Lord of the 2nd was weak or ill posited, I advised the Querent to remove his habitation, and gave him reason why he should; for if I found the Lord of the 6th house in the Ascendant, or afflicting the Lord of the Ascendant, I judged he had his health very bad there, was sickly, or tormented with ill servants, by whose means he did not thrive in his Vocation.

In the above paragraph Lilly outlines some of his findings in answering horary questions with this technique:

  • If the ruler of the Ascendant (the querent) has recently separated from a square or opposition to the rulers of the unfortunate 6th, 8th or 12th houses AND if the Moon has recently separated from an “evil aspect” to a malefic, which is lord of the 4th or 7th, etc., it is better to remove.
  • If a malefic, peregrine or Rx, appears in the 1st house or in the 4th house, or if the lord of the 2nd is weak and badly placed in the chart, it is better to remove.
  • If the 6th lord is in the 1st house or afflicts the lord of the 1st, there have been health problems or difficulties with servants or job matters (6th house issues).

If the Lord of the 12th afflicted the Lord of the Ascendant or the Moon, I said he had backbiting, evil or slanderous Neighbours, or people that lived not very far from him did scandalize him:

  • If the lord of the 12th (secret enemies) afflicted the lord of the 1st, or the Moon, then malicious neighbors have been a problem.

If the Lord of the 2nd was unfortunate, or in Square or Opposition to the Lord of the Ascendant, or if Part of Fortune was in the 12th, 8th or 6th, I judged he went back in the world, and his Estate consumed.

  • If the lord of the 2nd (income, possessions) is afflicted, or in square or opposition to the lord of the 1st; or if the Part of Fortune lies in the unfortunate 12th, 8th or 6th houses, the querent has suffered material or financial losses.

If his Significator, viz. if the Lord of the Ascendant was afflicted by the Lord of the 10th, I acquainted him, his Reputation was lost, his Trade decayed, or had no Trading;

  • If the lord of the 1st house is afflicted by the lord of the 10th (career, public standing), there has been a problem with 10th house issues such as public reputation.

and if the Lord of the 4th was unfortunate, or the 4th house itself, I judged the house was unlucky, and few that had lived therein did thrive, or that the Repairs of the house had much weakened him, or the house stood not conveniently for his Trade].

  • if the lord of the 4th or the hours itself are unfortunate, then there have been problems with the dwelling itself.

If the Lord of the 7th afflicted the Lord of the Ascendant or 2nd, his overthwart Neighbours had all the Trade, were better furnished with Commodities, &c.

  • if the lord of the 7th afflicts the lord of the 1st, the neighbors next door or across the way were a lot better off.

Now in giving direction which way to steer his course, in hopes of better Trading, I observed what Planet in the Scheme was most fortunate and strongest, and had the most friendly aspect to either the Lord of the Ascendant or Lord of the 2nd, look what quarter of Heaven the Sign that Planet was in did signify, to that part did I ever advise the Querent to remove; and I remember not, that any ever repented their following my advice; many have afterwards returned to me thanks and rewards.

  • to advise where the querent should relocate, consider the sign placement of the most fortunate and strongest planet in the chart, which also favorably aspects the 1st-ruler or 2nd-ruler.

    And whereas I mention these words (perhaps the house was unlucky) some may cavil at the words, and say, God’s blessing is alike in all places, and it’s superstitious to judge, a house that is not a living thing, can be made unsuccessful or unfortunate, &c.: Let them enjoy their opinion still; there’s not a man in this world less superstitious than myself, yet what I have found by experience, I freely communicate, and do remain of this opinion;

That in what house any execrable facts are committed, the ministering of Angels of God feeling the villainy done in that house, and the dishonor done to God therein, do accurse that place or house; which continues so long, as there is not a full expiation made by some godly person, for the sins committed in that house; or until the time limited by the angry Angel be expired, the house shall remain a most unfortunate house for any to live in: And this which I write, and is inflicted upon houses which are insensible, I assuredly know is preformed to the full upon the great and smaller Families of this world, &c. How in a natural way to discharge these curses, Sunt Sigilla & Lamina quae nec Scripta Sunt,& ego novi.

But some for resolution of this Question, say, if the Moon separate at time of the Question from Jupiter or Venus, then stay; if she separate from an Infortune, remove; or a Fortune in the Ascendant bids you stay; an Infortune remove: This heedfully considered with the preceding Judgment, will instruct any indifferent Astrologer to resolve the preceding Question concerning removing from one place to another.

  • Lilly adds that, according to some authors (but he may or may not be in agreement with them, and he sounds skeptical in the way he words his comment), if the Moon separates from Jupiter or Venus, it is better to remain; but if the Moon separates from a malefic (Mars or Saturn) it is preferable to remove. Here Lilly appears to be viewing the Moon as the future movements of the querent, so that if the Moon is moving away from benefics, the querent will be leaving something good behind. On the contrary, if the Moon is moving away from malefics, the querent would be removing herself from something bad.
  • Also, if there is a benefic planet (Jupiter or Venus) in the 1st house, it is better to remain with the good; but if there is a malefic (Mar or Saturn) in the 1st, it is preferable to remove yourself from the bad.

Case Example: My thanks to Kevin Lopez for permission to use his example chart. The querent asked on Sunday June 7, 2020 at 16:40 in Dallas, Tx.

“Should I stay where I am or should I move (possibly long distance)?”

Kevin adds: “Other pertinent facts: the leasing company wants to increase rent. This person is living off of government assistance during the Covid-19 lockdown. The hour lord is Venus on a (Sun) day and we have Libra rising. This chart is radical.” Here is the chart, which I cast with Alcabitius houses as in the classic Arabic texts.

The hour lord is Venus, which rules the Ascendant (querent) and also the 8th cusp. In the chart Venus falls in Gemini in the quadrant 8th and Whole Sign 9th houses. The 8th has to do with the money of others and the 9th with long-distance travel, both of which are issues related to the question.

Venus (querent, Asc-ruler) is combust the Sun, probably signifying her current distress about the matter.

The 12th part of the Ascendant lies in 4 Leo in the 10th quadrant house but 11th Whole Sign house, so issues related to career , friends and benefactors are likely to be on her mind. The Sun, which rules Leo lies in Gemini in the 8th quadrant/9th Whole Sign house, reinforcing the significations of the hour lord Venus regarding money she may owe and distant places.

The Sun, which rules the 12th part of the Ascendant and thus has significations of the querent, is just separating from a close square with Mars in the horary, which may also have to do with removing herself from an influence symbolized by Mars. Interestingly, Venus, which rules the Ascendant and thus the querent, is also separating from a square with Mars, which Lilly would consider one of the sources of the problem

Regarding the 4th house signification, Lillys gives specific configurations of the 4th lord which support staying or leaving the current place of residence. It is important to note that Lilly does not give carte blanche to use the 4th lord any way we might like.

  • The 1st lord Venus shows where she is at the time of the question. Venus at 11 Gemini in this chart is without any essential dignity and is thus considered peregrine and will depend on its dispositor Mercury, which has dignity only by Face or decan.
  • The 4th lord Saturn signifies her current dwelling. Saturn at 1 Aquarius has dignity by domicile and triplicity.
  • The 7th lord Mars represents where she would remove to, her destination. Mars at 17 Pisces in this chart is a triplicity lord of Water signs and thus has dignity by triplicity. The fact that the 7th ruler is more dignified than the 1st ruler favors relocation.

    Lilly’s 2nd point above does not apply because the 4th lord is not in the 7th house.

His 3rd point has to do with the lords of the 7th and the 4th. Saturn rules the 4th and has dignity by domicile and triplicity. At the same time, Saturn is Retrograde which Lilly considered to be a significant debility. Thus, remaining in her 4th house residence has mixed indications. The dignity of Saturn is positive but its retrograde status indicates significant hindrances at the same time, so if she decides to stay it may work out okay in the long run but it will be difficult and frustrating at the same time.

Mars rules the 7th cusp (relocation) and occupies 17 Pisces in the 5th house, which is called the house of Good Fortune. Mars will square the Sun, ruler of the 11th in the 8th quadrant house. Mars will go on to sextile the Part of Fortune in the 7th and will eventually sextile Jupiter, the benefic of the diurnal sect. These positive aspects seem to favor relocating, though it will not be without some difficulty because Jupiter is debilitated in Capricorn (its fall) and Venus, which disposes Fortuna, is combust the Sun and retrograde.

Regarding whether she should move or stay, I think it is important to consider the Part of Fortune, which lies in 22 Taurus in the 7th house. Asc-ruler Venus is where the querent is, Dsc-ruler Mars signifies the possible relocation. Venus Rx in the 8th combust the Sun is not in great shape. In addition 1st-ruler Venus is averse to both Jupiter and Fortuna, so is not benefically supported. On the other hand, Mars is sextile both Jupiter and the Part of Fortune, suggesting that a move would likely be beneficial.

Regarding Lilly’s final paragraph in which he discusses what some authors say about the Moon’s motion, the Moon in this chart is not separating from either Jupiter or Venus, so she is not leaving a benefic influence behind if she relocates. The Moon is approaching Mars (a malefic) but Mars rules the 7th cusp (relocation). The Moon is also approaching benefic Jupiter by mutual application, which implies that relocation is more favorable than remaining where she is. The fact that after reaching Jupiter the moon will quickly move on the conjoin Saturn suggests that relocation will not solve all her problems, that is, the grass will only be somewhat greener on the other side.

In addition, Moon and Venus are averse. Moon will next sexille Mars (relocation) from the exaltation of Mars and there is a mutual reception by triplicity (moon is a triplcity lord of Pisces, and Mars is a triplcity lord of Capricorn), which I think also favors the relocation.

It also seems noteworthy that Jupiter and Saturn are within orb of conjunction very close to the cusp of the 4th house in this chart. In mundane astrology, Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions, which occur about every 20 years, mark dramatic changes in society. If we apply the mundane significance of this conjunction to this horary chart, it may mean that she is undergoing a significant changes in her domestic situation which are linked to the political and cultural upheaval going on around her.

This is a complex chart with many pros and cons. To me it looks like the balance of factors favor relocation, but it won’t be a piece of cake (to mix grass and cake metaphors). I have just gone quickly through this chart, so there may be some errors in what I wrote or in my understanding of Lilly. Please leave any comments, further observations and corrections in the section below.

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House Divisions in Astrology

Astrologer Aswin Balaji invited me to discuss house divisions in astrology. Here is a link to the video of our discussion: House Divisions in Astrology

The material is a bit technical but useful for astrologers to know. I tried to be as clear as possible. If you watch the video and notice things I said that are confusing or not quite right, please leave a comment below so that I can clarify or correct the material.

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Will Coronavirus Kill Astrology?

Back in May a friend called to ask what I thought of an article in the NY Times which claimed that astrology was about to die out because astrologers had not predicted the pandemic. I hadn’t read the piece, so I checked my subscription to the Times and read a rather silly and uninformed article by Haley Phelan, who quite obviously knows nothing about astrology. Apparently Ms. Phelan is a follower of NY astrologer Susan Miller who had not warned people of the corona virus threat. Because one astrologer failed to make a prediction, Ms. Phelan assumed that no one had and concluded that astrology was about to meet its demise.

Recently I heard a podcast in which Chris Brennan mentioned this article and commented that back in 2011 the noted mundane astrologer André Barbault, now deceased, had predicted that there would be a pandemic in 2020. Here is the verbatim text from Barbault’s 8 June 2011 publication, written in French, and followed by a tranlsation into English:

“Pour revenir aux pandémies et en remontant le siècle écoulé, les quatre crises de 1918, 1954, 1968 et 1982 sautent aux yeux, les deux considérables ayant été la première, la fameuse « grippe espagnole » qui a fait, dit-on, 25 millions de morts, et la dernière où s’est installé le Sida, lequel est encore plus dévastateur et continue d’être meurtrier. Depuis, il y eut aussi une faible poussée grippale en 2009, tout contre le dernier indice cyclique le plus bas (2010). Il se pourrait bien que nous soyons sérieusement menacés d’une nouvelle pandémie au cap de 2020-2021, à la pointe la plus basse de l’indice cyclique de tout ce XXIe siècle, avec le quintette des lentes rassemblées sur une centaine de degrés, une conjonction Jupiter-Saturne-Pluton pouvant plus particulièrement, et même spécifiquement, se prêter au « tissu » de ce déséquilibre. Il n’en demeure pas moins que cette configuration puisse aussi transférer son noyau de dissonances au terrain des catastrophes géophysiques, sans épargner en dernier lieu la scène des affaires internationales, Nature et Société étant indistinctement touchées.” — André Barbault, 8 June 2011.

English Translation (bold mine):

“Returning to pandemics and looking back over the past century, the four crises of 1918, 1954, 1968 and 1982 stand out, the first of which was the famous “Spanish flu“, which is said to have killed 25 million people, and the last, where AIDS took hold, which is even more devastating and continues to be deadly. Since then, there was also a small flu outbreak in 2009, just against the last lowest cyclical index (2010). We may well be at serious risk of another pandemic in the course of 2020-2021, at the lowest cyclical index point of the entire 21st century, with the quintet of slow planets (“lentes” in French) gathered over a hundred degrees, one Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto conjunction, which can more particularly, and even specifically, lend themselves to the “fabric” of this imbalance. The fact remains that unless this configuration can also transfer its core of dissonances to the terrain of geophysical disasters, without ultimately sparing the scene of international affairs, Nature and Society being affected indiscriminately.” [Written in 2011 and translated here with]

Barbault studies the pattern of peaks and troughs of his cyclical index and associates the lowest dips on the graph with geophysical and societal disasters. The current covid-19 pandemic correlates with the “lowest cyclical index point of the entire 21st century” (à la pointe la plus basse de l’indice cyclique de tout ce XXIe siècle).

Note: Paul Kiernan has done a preliminary translation into English of the entire article just cited. The English translation can be found at this link: Apercu sur les pandamies by André Barbault. The original article in French can be found here: original article of 8 June 2011 on pandemics. Below I have reproduced Paul Kiernan’s translation of the same paragraph translated by computer above:

“The cyclical indices of the 19th and 20th centuries presented here are divided summarily into four categories of societal disruption: epidemics at the squares, wars at the circles, economic crises at the crosses, and revolutions at the stars. To return to pandemics and to the previous century, the four crises of 1918, 1954, 1968 and 1982 stand out, the two most significant being the first, the famous “Spanish Flu” which caused, it’s said, 25 million dead, and the last, in which AIDs took root, which is the most devastating and continues to be murderous. Since then, there has been a weak influenza outbreak in 2009, all against the last lowest cyclical index (2010). There may well be serious danger of a new pandemic at the turn of 2020-2021, at the lowest point in the cyclic index of the whole 21st century, with the five slowest planets assembled within a hundred degrees, a conjunction of Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto could more particularly, and more specifically, lend itself to the “fabric” of this imbalance. The fact remains that this configuration could also transfer its core of dissonance to the field of geophysical disaster, without ultimately sparing international business, Nature and Society being indiscriminately affected.”

Clearly Haley Phelan of the NY Times didn’t do her homework or she would have known that back in 2011 a highly respected expert in mundane astrology had predicted a pandemic during the period 2020-2021. The NY Times could do better than to publish such poorly researched and misleading articles.

How did Barbault make such a prediction? He used what he called the Cyclical Index, which is a measure of the relative proximity of five outer, slow-moving planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Any two planets can be paired and studied in terms of their cycle with respect to each other. The cycle is said to start at their conjunction and then to wax until their opposition (the “evolutive” period), and finally to wane (the “involutive” period) until the next conjunction, which completes the cycle and starts a new one. When these five outermost planets cluster together and go through a period of being within orb of conjoining one another, human history undergoes major upheavals which may include pandemics, natural disasters, and significant political and societal restructuring.

Because some readers may not be familiar with Barbault’s work, I recommend reading his classic article Planetary Cycles and their Interferences, published in “Cahiers Astrologiques juillet-août 1946“, in which he describes his methodology. The original is in French, but at this link there is a translation of the original into English by Beatrice Boucher. It is a fascinating read and worth the effort.

Let me conclude by showing a graph of Barbault’s Planetary Cycle Index with some key years highlighted, as described in the paragraph from June 8, 2011 above. This graph was prepared using Regulus Pro Platinum by Juan Saba of Cathar software.

For comparison I have included below the Planetary Cycle Index for the 14th century which hosted the Bubonic Plague or Black Death in Europe. According to wikipedia: “The Black Death, also known as the Pestilence and the Great Mortality, was the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history, resulting in the deaths of up to 75–200 million people in Eurasia and North Africa, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351.” Note the similarity of the overall patterns in the two graphs and the fact that the deepest trough in the graph occurs at the start of 1347.

Addendum (5 June 2020):

Juan Saba called to my attention that astrologer Boris Cristoff in 2015 also predicted a pandemic in 2020. Here is a link to the video interview in which he makes his prediction, starting at about 3:50 minutes into the recording (which was posted in April of 2016): Boris Cristoff entrevista completa. Having studied prior pandemics astrologically, including the AIDS epidemic of the early 1980s, he goes on to comment about a future pandemic in 2020.

Here is my transcription of what he said along with a translation:

“… en este siglo ahora pronto en 2020 … con el 2020 volverá otra pandemia quizás peor”

Translation: “in this century, very soon, in 2020 … with the year 2020 another pandemic will return, perhaps worse [than AIDS] …”

Astrologer Boris Cristoff died in 2017 at age 91. He was the author of a book about the astrology of the early 1980s:

Useful references:

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My two cents on the recent protests and riots in the USA

May 25th of 2020 was an eventful day for race relations in the United States. In NYC a white woman in Central Park threatened to call the police on a black man, who was bird-watching, because she was unhappy that he asked her to leash her dog. She knew instinctively that the responding police might agree with her that bird-watching while black is a heinous crime in America. On the same day, responding to a complaint that a man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis had passed a fake $20 bill, police arrived at the scene and forced the man to the ground, after which one officer compressed the black man’s neck with his knee until the man fell unconscious at about 8:01 PM according to the NY Time reconstruction of the incident. The officer then continued the pressure for a couple more minutes, and Mr. Floyd man was later pronounced dead. Following the May 25th incidents of overt racism in Central Park and the murder of a black man in Minnesota because of a counterfeit $20 bill, the country understandably has experienced daily protests, some of which have turned into violent riots.

I wondered how these incidents would be reflected in the July 4th USA chart with Gemini rising. Gemini is the sign of the Twins, and it is interesting that the murder of Mr. Floyd, which took place in the so-called Twin cities, became a matter of such national prominence.

It is theoretically questionable whether a country can be said to have a birth chart. I prefer the symbolic chart with about 7 Gemini 23 rising. Gemini is the sign which 19th century astrologers assigned to the USA. In the symbolic Gemini rising chart for the Declaration of Independence, Uranus (rebellion) and Mars (war) are rising in the 1st house. Here is the Gemini rising chart with the moment that the police compressed the neck of George Floyd enough so that he became unconscious.

This is a busy diagram. Note transiting Mars in Pisces near the top of the chart forming a close square to natal Uranus in Gemini the 1st house. Note also transiting Neptune in Pisces forming a close square to natal Mars in Gemini the 1st house. Thus, the two natal planets, Mars & Uranus, which are symbolic of the American demand from freedom from oppressive Britain, are being stimulated by transiting squares. In addition, the transiting Sun, which will enter into an eclipse in the near future, is applying to conjoin the natal ASC and natal Uranus. Also, transiting Jupiter is stimulating natal Pluto in Capricorn, the 8th whole sign which has to do with crises and death.

Not shown in the above diagram is that the MC of the moment that Mr. Floyd was rendered unconscious by the policeman’s knee lies opposite the secondary progress USA Sun, which lies at 14 Pisces 59, and in square to the upcoming Lunar Eclipse of June 5th which takes place in 15 degrees of Gemini/Sagittarius. Here is the USA chart with the June 5th Eclipse superimposed.

Note how transiting Mars in Pisces of the eclipse ch
art lies in square to the eclipse itself. The Asc of the eclipse chart conjoins the USA natal Saturn, ruler of the natal 8th house. Eclipse Uranus in Taurus in the USA 12th is closely semi-sextile natal Uranus.

Not shown in the above chart are the positions of the MC of the George Floyd going unconscious chart at 14 Virgo 51, in square to the eclipse, and the USA progressed Sun at 14 Pisces 59, also in square to the eclipse. The next diagram shows the USA chart inside, surrounded by the eclipse chart in the middle and the secondary progressed chart (solar arc in RA) on the outside.

Note the progressed Sun at 14 Pisces 59 at the top of the chart, conjunct Mars in 15 Pisces in the eclipse chart, and square the eclipse Sun/Moon opposition in 15 Gemini/Sagittarius from the 1st to the 7th houses of the USA Gemini rising chart.

Given the prominence of Mars in the above charts, I looked up what Abu Ma’Shar wrote about Mars in this book Flowers regarding mundane astrology. He writes (italics mine):

“Mars signifies agents of wars and the authors of battles, and those rising up against the king; also sudden death with a multitude of infirmities, severe fevers and the cutting of roads [aka highway robbery], sheddings of blood, and attacks of fires, and the wasting of the river.” (Dykes translation, 2014, p319)

Abu Ma’Shar could easily be describing the events of the past week in the USA.

Back in March I wrote that I expected a resurgence of the pandemic in mid-June 2020 as transiting Pluto approached its exact opposition to the natal Mercury of the USA chart. At the time I believed it would be a result of opening the country after a prolonged period of lockdown. Given the events of the past week, it is more likely that the new spike in covid-19 cases around mid-June of 2020 will be the result of large groups of people protesting in the streets with little social distancing.

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