According to some scholars, the noted Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens used his own birth chart to explain astrological concepts of his writings. If such is the case, then the birth data of Vettius Valens reveals the following features (Mark Riley translation): “/165P/ Let us take an example so that we may make an intelligent beginning: sun, Mercury in Aquarius, moon in Scorpio, Saturn in Cancer, Jupiter in Libra, Venus in Capricorn, Mars, Ascendant in Virgo.“
Checking the emphemeris for the 1st century CE and using the sidereal zodiac with the Lahiri ayanamsa produces the following natal chart:
In an interesting YouTube video entitled “What makes an astrologer?” Laura Barat discusses a technique from Jaimini for assessing potential talent as an astrologer. She utilizes the following factors:
The signs occupied by the atmakaraka in the birth chart and in the navamsa (9th divisional chart). The atmakaraka is the birth planet with the highest number of degrees in any sign. In the chart of Vettius Valens, the atmakaraka is Venus at 29 Cap 01.
The pada in the birth chart. Pada literally means “foot” and refers to the sign that is as distant from the ruler of the Ascendant, as the ruler of the Ascendant is distant from the Ascendant. Symbolically, the pada of the Ascendant can signify the end result of what begins in the first house, and any planets in this pada can reveal a special talent of the native. In Valens chart, the Virgo Ascendant is ruled by Mercury in Aquarius (the 6th sign from Virgo), so the pada is the 6th sign from Mercury in Aquarius, which takes us to Cancer. [Exceptions: if the ruler of the Ascendant lies in the 1st or 7th houses, then the Pada of the Ascendant goes to the 10th sign from the Ascendant. Or if the ruler of the Ascendant lies in the 10th or 4th from the Ascendant, then the Poda goes to the 4th sign from the Ascendant. Similar exceptions apply to finding the “upa-pada” of the Midheaven.]
The “upa-pada” of the birth chart. According to Laura Barat, the upa-pada in this method is simply the pada of the 10th house or midheaven. (In some texts the word upapada refers to the pada of the 12th house and is not what is intended here.) In Valens chart the 10th sign from Virgo is Gemini, ruled by Mercury in Aquarius, which is the 9th sign away from Gemini. Counting 9 signs from Gemini in Aquarius takes us to Libra as the upapada. (Astrologers who use quadrant houses would find the upapada from the degree of the M.C., which in this chart lies in Taurus rather than Gemini, and thus the upapada based on the M.C. degree would be in Virgo rather than Libra.)
Next, to determine astrological talent you consider the signs of the atmakaraka in the birth chart and the navamsa (D9) and the signs of the pada and the upapada in the natal chart as a kind of 1st house position. Jupiter and Venus are the two gurus/advisors of Vedic astrology, and Ketu is connected with knowledge of astronomy, mathematics and calculations related to time. The ideal astrologer should have Venus, Jupiter and/or the South Node (Ketu), as well as a connection to the 8th house of occult knowledge, in these signs or involved with the 2nd, 3rd or 5th places from the signs mentioned in the previous sentence of this paragraph. From feminine signs you must count in reverse zodiacal order. (The reason for this last rule may be that masculine signs actively exert their influence forward in the signs that follow them in the zodiac, whereas feminine signs are receptive and receive influences from the signs that precede or come before them them in the zodiac.)
For Valens: the atmakaraka Venus lies in Capricorn in the birth chart and in Virgo in the navamsa. The pada lies in Cancer, and the upapada lies in Libra (or Virgo, depending on the type of houses utilized). The 8th house of occult knowledge is ruled by Aries/Mars.
Is there a connection between the 8th house (Mars/Aries) and the 2nd, 3rd or 5th places from Cancer, Virgo, Libra or Capricorn or in the signs themselves? Yes, Mars in Virgo, counting in reverse zodiacal order from feminine Capricorn, also lies in the 5th place from Capricorn, so that the 8th house ruled by Mars is closely tied to his atmakaraka Venus in Capricorn and to his upapada calculated on the basis of the M.C. degreee.
Are Venus, Jupiter and/or Ketu within or linked to these 1st place signs by 2nd, 3rd or 5th place spacings? Venus lies in Capricorn, and Jupiter lies in Libra. From Libra, counting in zodiacal order for a masculine sign, we find Ketu in the 5th place.
Thus, the method described by Laura Barat does indicate fairly strong astrological talent in the chart of Vettius Valens. I have only just learned this technique and have not tested it on a large number of charts to see whether it provides consistent results and would welcome the feedback of other astrologers who are familiar with this method.
For the sake of clarity, let me summarize my current understanding of this method. Vedic astrology is considered an 8th house activity having to do with hidden or occult knowledge which is passed from generation to generation. Thus, the 8th sign from the Ascendant and/or its ruler should be active in the charts of astrologers. Interestingly, in the Western system, astrology is linked to the 9th house of the Sun god and communication with the divine (divination). In Vettius Valen’s chart, the Taurus 9th house is ruled by Venus, which is his atmakaraka, and so from a Western point of view astrology also becomes part of his destiny.
The planets associated with astrology are the two Vedic guru or advisor planets, Venus and Jupiter, and the South Node of the Moon (Ketu) which signifies acumen in technical matters. To be a good astrologer you should be able to give good counsel (Venus/Jupiter) and be able to read a chart and do complex astronomical calculations accurately (Ketu).
The atmakaraka, the embodied visible planet with the highest number of degrees and minutes in any sign, is a symbol of one’s self, of who one is. A good astrologer will have the atmakaraka connected to one or more of the astrological indicators mentioned in the above paragraph. Such a connection can occur through the signs occupied by the atmakaraka in the birth chart or in the 9th divisional chart, and can also occur through the signs of the “feet” of the birth chart, namely, the pada of the Ascendant and the pada of the Midheaven (which might be the 10th sign from the Asc or the sign of the M.C. degree, depending on your choice of house system). If an astrological indicator falls in one of these signs or in the 2nd, 3rd or 5th places from one of these signs (places which are related to learning, knowledge and understanding), the astrological ability is present.