More on symbolic directions


In the previous post I commented about so-called symbolic directions which were popularized by British astrologer Charles Carter in his 1929 book on the topic.  In this post I’d like to look at one of Carter’s case examples.

A man born in Wiltshire, UK (51N20, 01W55) on 25 June 1891 at 8:10 AM went on to become an engineer.  At the age of 32 he suffered an accident in the factor where he worked.  While he was examining a piece of machinery, the operator inadvertently put it in motion again, which resulted in the engineer’s arm being ripped off.  Sepsis set in and the engineer nearly died.  Although he eventually survived the accident, his career was ruined.

The accident occurred on 30 October 1923 when the engineer was 32.35 years old.  If we convert his age to an arc of Right Ascension (at a rate of 1 degree = one year), then the arc related to the accident is 32 degrees 21 minutes.

Here is the natal chart of the engineer with Placidus houses.  (I had to use a time of 8:09:02 AM to match the chart in Carter’s book.)

ARM offA quick glance at this chart reveals that the MC is approximately 32 degrees from Neptune on the ecliptic, so it is possible that the primary direction of Neptune to the MC would correspond to the time of the accident.  Symbolically this would make sense because Neptune can represent carelessness and inattention.  Gemini which houses Neptune is related to movement and the arms.  Pisces, with which Neptune has an affinity, is on the cusp of the 8th house.

Let’s calculate the primary direction, based on a birth time of 8:09:02 AM:

The RA of Neptune is  65d 59m 57s.

The RA of the MC is  33d 31m 20s.

The difference in RAs is 32d 28m 37s or 32.477 degrees, which is close to his age of 32.35 years at the time of the accident.

If we use the time of 8:10 AM, which Carter mentions, we do not get the chart as it appears in his book.  Instead the MC at 8:10 AM is 6 Taurus 05 with a RA of 33d 45m 51s.  In the case of an 8:10 AM birth, the difference in RA between the position of Neptune and that of the MC becomes 32.235 degrees of Right Ascension, which corresponds to an age of 32.235 years which is also quite close to the 32.35 years of age at the time of the accident.  (If we were rectifying this chart, we could argue that he was born about 8:09:30 AM.)

In any case, it appears that the primary direction of Neptune to the MC corresponds fairly closely to the date of the accident.  Symbolically it makes sense because Neptune conjoins Pluto and Venus in Gemini (a sign related to the arms).  Venus in turn rules the 3rd house, which is connected with the arms of the querent as well as movements, as in the moving machinery which ripped off his arm.  Saturn, which rules the 6th of bodily ailments, squares the Venus-Pluto-Neptune conjunction in Gemini, which got stimulated by primary direction at the time of the engineer’s misfortune.

Carter goes on to discuss the fact that the Moon at 14 Aq 47 is roughly 32 degrees from opposing Mars at 14 Cancer 12 on the ecliptic.  He decides to ignore the usual Placidian method of calculating primary directions which would have Moon oppose Mars by primary direction (Ptolemy’s measure of 1 degree = 1 year) on 3 May 1927 with latitude and on 26 February 1929 without latitude, both of which dates are quite distant from the day of the accident (30 October 1923).

Instead, Carter argues that a “symbolic direction” of the Moon to Mars using simply the arc of Right Ascension between the two is just as compelling.  Here are the data:

RA of Moon:  318d 47m 01s

RA of Mars:  105d 32m 49s.

RA of opposition of Mars:  285d 32m 49s.

The difference in RA between the Moon and the opposition of Mars is 33d 14m 12s, which corresponds to an age of 33.237 years, but the accident occurred when he was 32.35 years old.  Thus, Carter’s “symbolic direction” is almost a year off target.  Carter apparently misread his ephemeris and used the incorrect RA for the Moon.

He might have been better off using the solar arc direction of Mars to oppose the Moon, which became exact on 20 July 1923, about three months before the accident.  At least solar arc directions are based on an actual motion of the sun.

The value of this example, taken directly from Carter, is that the method of primary direction is highly accurate given an accurate birth time, but the use of half-baked “symbolic directions” that are without a foundation in any astronomical movement of the planets give inaccurate results.

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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