In her book on horary astrology (p. 173), Barbara Watters popularized Charles Emerson’s “death point” which is calculated by the formula: Mars + Saturn – MC. Watters noted that in her experience it was more reliable than the traditional Lot of Death.
Recently I was reviewing some charts of Lilly and decided to check whether Emerson’s 20th century discovery would apply to a 17th century chart. In England’s Prophetical Merline Lilly discusses the decumbiture chart of John Pym, Esquire, a member of the House of Parliament who had fallen quite ill. Someone sneaked a container of Pym’s urine and brought it to Lilly to cast a decumbiture chart to determine whether Pym would live or die. Lilly received the urine on 30 November 1643 (OS) at the moment that 15 Cancer was on the eastern horizon.
Here is the chart with the modern calendar (10 December 1643 NS) calculated by computer.
In decumbiture charts the Ascendant signifies the sick person. With Cancer rising, the Moon signifies John Pym.
The Moon on the cusp of the 6th house shows that he is ill, and the Moon’s approach to the Sun in the 6th indicates that the sick person is approaching death, a traditional meaning of the applying combustion of the first house ruler to the Sun in the 6th. According to Johannes Ganivetus in Amicus Medicorum the Ascendant-ruler or the Moon combust the Sun can signify the death of the patient. In addition, the Sun rules the 2nd house, which in Hellenistic astrology has significations of death similar to those of the 8th house.
In his original text Lilly had miscalculated the position of the Moon as 11 Sagittarius. In fact, the Moon was at 12 Sag 31 at the time of the chart. Using 11 Sagittarius of the Moon, Lilly estimated that it would take about 7 degrees for the conjunction to the Sun to perfect. He then checked the ephemeris and noted that on December 8th the transiting Moon would conjoin 8th ruler Saturn, and so he predicted death on December 18 (NS), which was in fact the case.
Now for Emerson’s Point of Death. In this chart Mars + Saturn – MC = 18 Sagittarius 56, where it conjoins the Sun (a general signifier of vitality). The Moon at 12 Sag 31 will arrive at the Death Point in 6 degrees 25 minutes. If we allow each degree to be equivalent to a day, the sick person should die in about 6 and a half days, which would be December 17th. Given that both the Sun and the Death Point are ruled (disposed) by Jupiter which is stationary (not moving), one could deduce that death will be somewhat delayed and may not occur until December 18th, which was the case.