Primary directions as a time-lord system

In his book on Primary Directions Morinus makes clear that an event predicted by a primary direction rarely takes place on the date that the direction becomes exact.  Instead it may well occur within the several months before or after date of perfection of the direction.  This makes sense because primary directions are based on primary motion which has a symbolic rate of one degree crossing the MC per year.  Thus, just the body of the Sun (which measures about half a degree of arc in the sky) would take about 6 months to pass over the MC by primary direction.  If we allow the Sun an “orb of influence” of half a degree either side of its body, then the influence of a primary direction of the Sun would span a period of 18 months.  The following image from wikipedia shows the apparent sizes of the planets as viewed from Earth:

wiki arc size

Morinus viewed primary directions as indicators of the promise of the birth chart that  might manifest during a given time period, such as the solar return year, but he also felt that the direction would not manifest unless it repeated themes from the natal chart or other astrological configurations triggered the events symbolized by the primary directions.  In fact, after primary directions, the annual solar return was the most important predictive tool in Morin’s system.  In my own experience, solar returns have proved to be an effective and reliable predictive technique.  To illustrate, I would like to discuss an example from Martin Gansten’s excellent book on primary directions.

On pages 112-113 of his book Gansten discusses the chart of a man who “was killed in a vehicle accident” at the age of 33 years and 9 months.  The Sun in the natal chart lies at 26 Leo (sidereal zodiac), which corresponds to a birth date of September 12th.  Nine months after September 12 corresponds to the period from about June 12th to July 12th.  Judging from the planetary positions in the birth chart, the year of birth must have been 1966, so that the death must have occurred between mid-June and mid-July of 2000.

Because I use the tropical rather than the sidereal zodiac, I recast the chart in the tropical zodiac with Placidus houses (my preferred system for natal astrology).  The birth data has been withheld as it was in the original text.

dies in accident


In the tropical zodiac, Capricorn rises, and Saturn rules the Ascendant (the native, his health and vitality).  Saturn in Pisces in the 2nd Placidus but 3rd (local travel) whole sign house is without essential dignity in this chart and is also involved in a close sesquicuadrate with a peregrine Mars in Leo in the 7th Placidus but the 8th (death) whole sign house, so that there is a “natal promise” of a potential violent death while traveling.

Since we are studying this man’s death, we need to look at the 8th house.  Leo rules the Placidus 8th and Virgo in contained therein, making the Sun and Mercury signfiers of his death.  Leo is also the 8th sign from the ascendant, again emphasizing the peregrine Sun in Virgo as a signifier of death.  Furthermore, the Sun is part of a tight stellium involving Mercury-Uranus-Sun-Pluto all in the 8th house of death.  Mercury is a general symbol of travel.  Uranus suggests sudden unexpected disruptions and breaks in routine.  Pluto is associated with intense and powerful forces.  This stellium is another indicator of a “natal promise” of a potential serious accident while traveling.

The planet Mars is often involved in accidents.  In this chart Mars rules the 3rd house (travel), and its contra-antiscion conjoins the South Lunar Node — a stressful combination, which Lilly regarded as similar in effect to a square or opposition.


We next want to know whether in the months before or after June of 2000 (the demise of the native) there were any primary directions that activated these natal promises.  Using Janus software I calculated the Placidus semi-arc primary directions for 2000 with and without latitude, using the Morin’s preferred key of Naibod  (the key of Ptolemy would give dates several months earlier).


The year 2000 looks fairly stressful from the point of view of primary directions.  Factors that stand out to me are the following:

  • In March the directed MC comes to Uranus (a symbol of accidents) in the 9th house (long-distance travel), activating the natal accident-prone stellium in the 9th.
  • In May (a month before the native’s demise) the square of Mars comes to natal Saturn in the whole-sign 3rd house (travel), activating the natal Mars sesquiquadrate aspect, which indicated the potential for a serious accident.  This primary direction is highly significant because Saturn rules the Ascendant, which symbolizes the body and life force of the native.
  • In early July (right around the time of the native’s death) the directed MC conjoins the 9th house Sun, activating the natal accident-prone stellium and the 8th house which the Sun rules.
  • Between March 4 of 2000 and January 27 of 2001 the primary directed MC will be activating the tight conjunction of Uranus-Sun-Pluto in the 8th house of death.  This combination of planets is often associated with accidents, sudden events, danger to life, and physical violence (See Ebertin, The Combination of Stellar Influences).


Related to primary directions is the classic method of distributions in which the part of the sign (bound or term) that has risen to the ascendant plays an important role in the events of a period.  Here is a list of distributions for this natal chart around the year 2000:


As you can see, in May of 2000 the Jupiter term of Aquarius has risen by primary motion to occupy the ascendant (horizon).  At the same time the opposition of Mars from Leo was also active, so that Jupiter (bound ruler) and Mars (participating ruler) was highly influential during the year 2000.  As we shall see (belos), Jupiter ruled the ascendant of the solar return for this period, and Mars was opposing solar return Uranus in the term of Jupiter in Aquarius at the time of the native’s death.  The Egyptian bound of Jupiter extends from 13 to 19 degrees of Aquarius.


A classic method is to consider the annually profected ascending sign and its ruler, advancing the ascendant by one sign for each year of life.  In the tropical zodiac the native has Capricorn rising, so that at age 33 he will have Libra as his profected ascendant  (33 = two cycles of 12 signs + 9, so counting 9 signs after Capricorn we arrive at Libra).  Thus, Venus (ruler of the natal Placidus 9th of travel and occupant of the Placidus 8th of death and whole-sign 9th of travel) become the Lady of the Year, making travel and death major themes to consider when interpreting the Solar Return.  Morinus discounted profections as an unscientific superstition, but in practice they are very useful as a predictive technique when used in conjunction with solar returns.


Now lets look at the solar return for this period.  Here is the Solar Return for 1999-2000 with the natal chart outside the wheel.

SR inside

The solar return is the base chart.  In the Solar Return the natal 12th house sign Sagittarius is now on the ascendant.  Solar Return Jupiter, which is highly angular in the return chart where it conjoins both the natal and return IC, rules the Placidus 12th house cusp (misfortune, hardships, undoing) in both charts.  Thus, 12th house issues will loom large during the 1999-2000 solar return year.  In the return chart Jupiter also rules the 3rd house of local travel.  In addition, natal Saturn conjoins the SR 3rd house cusp and opposes the stellium of planets in the 8th house.

As you can see, there is a huge emphasis on the 8th house, with seven of the ten natal planets (seven visible plus three “modern” planets) all in the solar return 8th.  Natal Mars closely conjoins the cusp of the 8th and opposes solar return Uranus across the wheel where Uranus at 13 Aquarius 30 lies at the beginning of the bound of Jupiter on the horizon of the primary directed chart.   Transiting Uranus crossing the primary directed ascendant, and Mars opposing Uranus are classic indicators of accidents.








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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3 Responses to Primary directions as a time-lord system

  1. Mihail Lermontov says:

    Please explain how does one obtain the table with the “distributions in which the part of the sign (bound or term) that has risen to the ascendant” in Janus.

    • In Janus v5.1 from the main screen select the “Predictive” Menu. About half-way down the list you will see “Distributions”.
      You can then select “deg for a year” and a timing of One Degree and as a point to distribute the ascendant.
      In the Settings menu I set the calculation to include the planetary latitude.

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