When I lecture about time lords to groups of astrologers, I use the analogy that the natal chart is like our DNA and the time lords are among the factors that determine how and when our “astrological DNA” will manifest. This idea is implicit in the writings of Hellenistic astrologers like Vettius Valens and has found its way into modern biology as the field of epigenetics.
We all know from high school biology that our DNA in our genes contains the instructions about how our bodies will develop and function over our lifetimes. Epigenetics is the branch of genetics which studies the factors that, without changing or modifying the instructions stored in our genes, affects how and when that information will be manifested in the real world. This is exactly analogous to Valens’ account of how and when the astrological information stored in our natal chart will manifest in the real world during the course of our lifetime.
The following public domain diagram from NIH, though a bit technical, illustrates the concept.
The NIH caption explains: “Epigenetic mechanisms are affected by several factors and processes including development in utero and in childhood, environmental chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, aging, and diet. DNA methylation is what occurs when methyl groups, an epigenetic factor found in some dietary sources, can tag DNA and activate or repress genes. Histones are proteins around which DNA can wind for compaction and gene regulation. Histone modification occurs when the binding of epigenetic factors to histone “tails” alters the extent to which DNA is wrapped around histones and the availability of genes in the DNA to be activated. All of these factors and processes can have an effect on people’s health and influence their health possibly resulting in cancer, autoimmune disease, mental disorders, or diabetes among other illnesses.”
The basic idea is that certain foods that we eat can tag parts of our DNA (see the methyl groups in the diagram), thereby activating or repressing certain genes. The outcome will be that certain genes will, or will not, be expressed at certain times in our life, affecting how our bodies develop and the state of our health over time.
Just as astrologers believe that the expression of the birth chart is modified by environmental factors, so too do geneticists believe that “epigenetic” factors modify the manifestation of the information contained in our DNA. As you can see in the diagram, these factors include what the organism is exposed to in the utero and in childhood, environmental chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, ageing, diet, and so on.
To see how this works in a natal chart, let’s consider actor James Dean who died in a car accident on 30 September 1955. His zodiacal releasing from Daemon (Spirit), which lies at 25 Cancer 23 natally, looks like this:
Note that on the day he died, the time lord steering his life switched from the Moon (ruling Cancer) to the Sun (ruling Leo), thus activating the sign Leo, any planets in Leo, and the natal Sun in Aquarius in his birth chart (Placidus houses):
As you can see, when Leo and the Sun took over as time lords on the day of his death, the planet Mars Rx in Leo became activated. Mars rules his natal 8th of death and opposes Mercury, ruler of his 3rd of local travel — which could symbolize death in a car accident. Mars, which got activated on 30 Sep 1955 when the time lord switched to Leo/Sun, also squares the Moon in the 8th Whole Sign house of death, with the Moon ruling the 4th of endings.
The activation of the Sun, which is peregrine and in Aquarius (the sign of its detriment) and ruler of the unfortunate Placidus 6th house, is potentially problematic. Being peregrine, the Sun relies on its dispositor Saturn, which is strong in Capricorn in the 10th. Saturn, however, closely opposes Pluto (two planets associated with death), and Pluto lies in the 4th of final endings.
All in all, the “epigenetic” time lord pattern played itself out quite precisely on the date of the actor’s demise.