Book Review: Planetary Powers, The Morin Method, by Patti Tobin Brittain

I also posted the following review at

Planetary Powers by Patti Tobin Brittain, Published May 5, 2011

This book by Patti Tobin Brittain is a reissue of the author’s 1980 text on Morin’s method. It appears to consist of her notes from a class she took on Morin (1583 – 1656), which was taught by the late Gerhard Houwing who had devoted himself to a study of Morin’s Astrologia Gallica. The chapters are mainly lists of Morin’s rules with nicely done graphics to illustrate planetary placements. The text is extremely pithy, and everything is packed into 110 pages – the entire length of the book. Overall, this is a useful volume for students of Morin, with some caveats.

What is lacking are the classroom discussions and explanations by the teacher. A newcomer to Morin may find this book hard to follow, since it consists of reading many terse rules and seeing very sketchy examples of how they are applied. There is no discussion of Morin’s overall philosophy of astrology, that is, his ideas about why the planets and signs seem to have influence on earth.

I was puzzled by the author’s classification of certain zodiacal signs as benefic or malefic.  Having read lots of Morin, I can’t recall him ever making such a distinction.  Perhaps I am wrong, but the author gives no reference to support her claim.  She states that malefic signs are the ones ruled by the malefic planets Mars and Saturn.  Also malefic are Virgo and Pisces because they are associated with 6th and 12th house issues.  I just can’t find anything in Morin’s work that supports such a claim, so I wish the author would state her source for attributing this idea to Morin.  It appears to me to be based in the modern confusion of signs with houses, which is a legacy of Alan Leo’s misunderstanding of traditional astrology.

In addition, some of the examples are confusing. For example, on page 50, example 10, there is a chart with Saturn ruling the 6th and 7th houses but posited in the 9th. The interpretation is “travel caused an illness” but the rule being illustrated is that the house a planet rules represents the cause and the house the planet occupies represents the effect. By this rule, Saturn ruling the 6th but lying in the 9th should be interpreted as “an illness causes travel.”

On page 71 there is an example of one of the author’s clients who allegedly has Jupiter in Aquarius in the 7th, Saturn in Libra, Mercury in Taurus in the 9th, and Venus in Gemini in the 11th. This distribution looked odd to me so I looked in the ephemeris to see what else was going on in the horoscope.  It turns out that this combination of planets never occurred in the 20th century, and so the sample chart must contain one or more typos, but which and how many of the four planets don’t belong in this client’s chart? The horoscope presented is not that of the client being described, and one is at a loss to know what conclusions to draw about Morin’s method from an inaccurate chart.

On page 94 it says that an oriental planet rises “after the Sun” but I think the definition is that an oriental planet rises before the Sun.  This may be a typo.

The final section of the book offers the student 18 charts of notable persons for study. Only the charts are presented with no discussion of how Morin’s methods apply. It would have been very useful had the author discussed those charts to illustrate the points she was trying to make.

Another important point is that unlike Morin, the author uses the modern planets and the Placidus (1603 – 1668) system of house division. Morin had carefully studied house systems and concluded that the Regiomontanus system was the most reliable in his method. My own experience has been that changing from Regiomontanus to Placidus frequently changes intermediate house cusps and thus the determinations of the planets, which are key to Morin’s method.  Although I do use other house systems, whenever I am applying Morin’s methods I always cast the chart with Regiomontanus houses.  Otherwise, the results will not be reliably derived from Morin’s principles.   I would advise students first learning Morin’s method to stick to Regiomontanus houses and initially to use the traditional rulers rather than the modern planets till they get their feet wet in the waters of Morinus.

With the above caveats in mind, this is a good book to have on hand and will prove quite useful to those who wish to study Morin.

About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
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