This is a continuation of the discussion of the previous post of 10 Jan 2012 on serial killer Henri Landru (12 April 1869 – 25 February 1922), whose chart raised some interesting questions about techniques in astrology. One of the most puzzling features is the grand trine involving Mars, Saturn, and the stellium of planets in the 12th house. Modern astrologers are taught that trines are “good,” so how could a grand trine produce a serial killer? (According to C.E.O. Carter and Marc Edmund Jones, the grand trine was considered an unfortunate or even evil influence by medieval astrologers, but I have been unable to find an original source to document this idea. Perhaps someone who practices medieval astrology can leave a reference.)
If we go back in the history of astrology, we discover that trines don’t necessarily always act like trines. According to the ancients, a lot depends on the zodiacal signs involved and whether they are signs of long or short ascension. In the northern hemisphere, signs that take a long time to rise over the horizon are the summer and autumn signs of “long ascension” from Cancer through Sagittarius. Signs that rise quickly are the winter and spring signs of “short ascension” from Capricorn through Gemini. The difference in rates of rising occurs because the signs are measured along the ecliptic (path of the Sun), whose plane lies at an angle of 23.5 degrees from the plane of the earth’s equator. In the southern hemisphere the signs or short and long ascension are opposite those in the northern hemisphere.
Ptolemy refers to aspects in signs of long and short ascension in the Tetrabiblos (p. 283, Loeb edition): “And sometimes, also, among the signs that ascend slowly the sextile aspect destroys, when it is afflicted, and again among the signs that ascend rapidly, the trine” [because it acts like a square].
Dorotheus of Sidon in the 1st century CE spoke of straight and crooked signs: straight because they rose fairly upright to the horizon (long ascension) and crooked because they rose obliquely (short ascension). Because they took longer to rise, the straight signs seemed to stretch out the distance between planets. Conversely, because they rose so quickly, the crooked signs seemed to compress the distance between planets. Thus, major aspects in signs of long ascension seemed to be “stretched” to the next larger aspect, and major aspects in signs of short ascension seemed to be compressed to the next smaller aspect. Horary astrologers sometimes appealed to this rule to get a “right answer” when the usual rules of horary did not give a correct result. Deborah Houlding has a nice discussion of this idea in her forum at Skycript Astrology. There is also a good overview of aspects in horary astrology at the mithras93 site.
What Dorotheus was getting at are now called aspects “in mundo,” meaning that they are measured in terms of how long planets take to rise rather than where they are on the zodiac circle. It would not be uncommon for a trine between two planets on the ecliptic (path of the Sun) to become a square when measured in terms of the difference in how long the two planets take to rise based on their sign positions (whether they are in signs of short or long ascension).
The difference between aspects measured in the zodiac and aspects measured in mundo is analogous to Morin’s distinction between the celestial and terrestrial state of planets. The celestial state refers to the planet’s conditioning by its location in the zodiac whereas the terrestrial state refers to the planet’s conditioning by its location with reference to the horizon at the moment and location where the horoscope is cast. Both states are important in determining how the planet will manifest in the life of the native.
One way to visualize this difference is to cast an analogue chart called a mundoscope, which shows the positions of the planets in terms of their rising time differences (diurnal arc) rather than their zodiacal locations in signs. The following diagram makes this clear:
The chart on the upper right shows the Placidus mundoscope, containing analogous positions of Landru’s natal planets measured in their diurnal arc, that is the rate at which rise over the horizon. The zodical positions in the mundoscope simply refer to relative distances rather than the actual chart positions at birth.
The important point is that the natal trine from Mars to Saturn in the birth chart, as measured in the zodiac, becomes a square when measured “in mundo,” as the ancient Greek astrologers had noted. I have tried this rule about aspects in signs of long or short ascension in horary charts with mixed results, but had never applied it to a natal chart until now. To be honest, I have never cast horary charts in the form of a Placidus Mundoscope, and maybe doing so would reveal that this rule is more reliable that I originally thought. In the natal mundoscope of the serial killer, Landru’s grand trine has disappeared. Instead, we find Mars sequiquadrate Jupiter and square Saturn, both stressful aspects.
The fact that serial killer Landru’s Mars trine Saturn in the zodiac becomes a nasty Mars/Saturn square “in mundo” (with reference to speed of ascension) certainly seems apt in this case. I would need to look at this rule in many more natal charts to decide whether it is reliable, but Landru’s chart gives us a lot to ponder.
Addendum: I recently came across a page by astrologer Andrew J. Bevan of Norway who has an excellent discussion of the traditional view of dexter and sinister aspects as well as signs of long and short ascension. It is well worth reading.
Also, Mark Cullen in his comment mentions the online article about in mundo aspects by Ken Browser.