One of the basic tenets of Hellenistic astrology is the idea of sect. Ancient astrologers believed that the astrological behavior of a visible planet varies with whether the native is born during the daytime or at night, that is, when the sun is either above or below the horizon.
The idea is that the sun rules the daylight hours and that the larger visible planets Saturn and Jupiter perform better in a day (diurnal) chart than in a night chart. In a similar way, the Moon rules the night and the smaller visible planets Mars and Venus do better when the native is born at night with the sun below the horizon. In this scheme little Mercury is neutral and his sect depends on when he rises before the sun (and is thus diurnal) or after the sun (and is thus nocturnal). In other words, Mercury’s sect depends of who gets up first in the morning, Mercury or the sun?
In his blog Chris Brennan cites a 4th century example from Firmicus Maternus:
“Saturn in the eighth house, if by day, allots an increase in income over a period of time. If he is in the house or terms of Mars, he indicates for some an inheritance from the death of strangers. But if he is in this house by night the inheritance will be lost.”
By the same reasoning, Saturn in a day chart, if posited in the 2nd house of income, should indicate an increase in wealth due to diligent work over the long term. Conversely, in a night chart, Saturn in the 2nd would indicate a loss of income and perhaps some financial impoverishment, since Saturn is more malefic in a night chart when he is out of sect.
Let’s look at a chart of a man born at night with Saturn Rx in detriment in the 2nd house of income. According to Hellenistic theory, Saturn should be a real troublemaker in this chart:
Here Saturn lies in the 2nd Whole Sign house and Placidus house, and Saturn also rules the 8th house which has a lot to do with income. Saturn is Leo is in detriment since he lies opposite Aquarius, the sign of his domicile. According to the theory of sect and astrological dignities, Saturn is in pretty bad shape and should deny wealth to this native. In Saturn’s favor are the fact that it lies on the same side of the horizon as the sun and it occupies a “masculine” sign (Leo) — these were considered mildly favorable factors in Hellenistic astrology.
The problem is that this chart belongs to an extremely wealthy film maker, Stephen Spielberg. According to the Hellenistic notion of sect, he should be a rather impoverished individual. It seems that the idea of sect has led us astray in analyzing this chart. The Spanish astrologer Luis Javier Roman Sanchez noted that Spielberg has the fixed star Sirius conjunct his ASC within 2.5 degrees, so perhaps this benefic star could account for his wealth.
I must admit that I am not at all expert in Hellenistic technics, so perhaps someone well versed in Hellenistic astrology can explain why the concept of sect is so misleading in interpreting this chart.