A colleague recently asked my opinion of Robert DeLuce’s 1935 book on prediction in astrology. I responded that I couldn’t recall the book and could therefore not offer an opinion. A few days later I realized that I actually had on my bookshelf a copy (the 1978 reissue entitled Complete Method of Prediction), which I must have read in the late 1970s or early 1980s and forgotten about. Upon re-reading the book now that several decades have passed, I realized what an excellent explanation of primary directions DeLuce had given.
Robert DeLuce (1877 – 1964) was an excellent astrologer who had a background in mathematics as well as civil, electrical and chemical engineering. His explanations of astrological concepts are crisp, clear and to the point. The main focus of his book on prediction are the primary directions (which he explains as “equatorial arcs of direction”) but he also deals with secondary directions (day for a year), mundane aspects, fixed stars, transits, lunations, eclipses and embolismic lunations (the return of the Moon to its natal phase with the Sun). The book is a real gem in the astrological literature.
Like all good astrologers, DeLuce begins with a careful study of the birth chart which contains the “possibilities of future development of the individual.” He next turns to the primary directions, explaining that
“the equatorial arc system which comes next in order of proximity to the time of birth, and probably represents what is the most natural development of the individual from his egg or seed, represented by the natal horoscope. It has the advantage of definiteness and simplicity for outlining the major developments or changes of the life, though it is lacking in detail to judge of the more common or routine events of life.” (p.12)
He notes earlier (p.10) that “this system is based on the diurnal motion of the heavens, and the approximate time taken for a degree of the celestial equator to pass the meridian is taken to represent a year of life.” (bold mine)
At the risk of oversimplifying a bit, every day (every 24 hours) the Earth makes a complete turn on its axis. This axial rotation of the Earth makes the sky, which we see from our vantage point on the surface of the Earth, appear to rise in the east, culminate about six hours later at the MC, set in the west, anti-culminate at the IC and then complete its circuit at the eastern horizon. The direction of motion of the sky in our standard horoscope wheel is clockwise, that is, the direction of primary motion.
Time is measured by how many degrees on the Equator pass over the Midheaven as the sky appears to rotate clockwise around the wheel. The is the basis of our time zones on Earth. Every15 equatorial degrees corresponds to one hour (60 minutes). Thus every 4 minutes corresponds to one degree on the Equator, which astrologers regard as symbolically equivalent to one year of life. An important feature of this system is its equatorial nature. We are not especially interested in the zodiacal longitude of planets or points in the birth chart; instead we want to study their positions with reference to the Equator as well as the the horizon, the meridian and the intermediate Pladicean cusps which mark the passage of two planetary hours of time.
Let’s look at an example to illustrate the concept. Actor Orlando Bloom reports that he had a serious accident at age 21. He apparently fell three storeys and broke his back. The doctors were worried he would never walk again, but fortunately he had a successful surgeries and was able to walk out of the hospital after a period of recovery. The internet site just referenced notes:
“in between two rooftops three storeys up. Bloom was climbing up a rooftop terrace with friends when the drainpipe he was scaling gave away, causing him to fall from a great height. … After he broke several vertebrae in his back and ended up paralysed for four days, doctors feared Bloom might never walk again. After multiple surgeries, the road to recovery was long and perilous, but Bloom dug deep to find the strength to walk again, and amazingly, he was riding horseback in Lord of the Rings a mere 18 months after his big fall.” Such an accident should show up in his primary directions. Let’s look at his chart.
The chart is cast with Placidean houses which lend themselves easily to the Placidean semi-arc method of primary directions originally espoused by Ptolemy. Orlando Bloom was born on a Jupiter day during a Mars hours (the 2nd hour of the day as we can see from the Sun’s placement in the upper half of the Placidus 12th house).
A likely candidate for a primary direction at the time of the accident (age 21) is the square of Mars in Aries in the Placidus 1st house (the body) coming by primary (clockwise) motion to the horizon. Mars is the out-of-sect malefic and it occupies the 12th whole sign from the ascendant, so Mars could easily symbolize an injury requiring hospitalization and surgery. The sinister square of Mars in Aries lies in the terms of Venus, which rules the natal Placidus 8th house. In the method of distributions, when the square of Mars in Aries arrives at the horizon by primary motion, 8th-ruler Venus will be the divisor and Mars will be its participant. At age 21, Scorpio is the profected Ascendant, making Mars lord of the year and activating his natal Uranus in Scorpio square Asc-ruler Saturn in Leo in the 6th — indicating the natal potential for a serious accident. The lord of the orb at age 21 is Jupiter in Taurus, which closely squares the Ascendant as well as Asc-ruler Saturn in Leo. Fortunately, Mars occupies Capricorn, the sign of its exaltation.
On page 22 of his book on rectification with primary directions, Deluce delineates Mars coming to the horizon as follows:
Now for some rough approximations:
Each year of life corresponds to 4 minutes of time (or one equatorial degree passing over the MC). Thus, 21 years of life would correspond to a period of 4 minutes x 21 = 84 minutes (and 22 years would correspond to 22 x 4 minutes = 88 minutes). Hence, we want to know whether the passage of about 84 minute would carry the point at 9 Aries 17 longitude on the ecliptic up to the horizon by primary motion.
Because Orlando Bloom was born at 9:15 AM, we want to know whether adding 84 minutes to his birth time would direct the square of Mars (9 Aries 17) to the horizon. It turns out that 85 minutes after he was born the point at 9 Aries 17 came to the eastern horizon by primary motion. Each minute corresponds to about 3 months (a quarter of a year). Since 84 minutes takes us to age 21, 85 minutes would take us to age 21 plus 3 months. Unfortunately, I don’t know the month of the accident, which occurred at age 21. Here is the chart for 85 minutes after his birth time:
The Right Ascension (equatorial position) of the MC at birth was 252d 34m, and the Right Ascension when the square of Mars reached the horizon was 273d 55m. The difference between them is 21d 21m of arc, which corresponds to age 21.35 years of age. Primary direction have a range of influence of several months before and after they become exact.
I hope this somewhat simplified example makes the concept of primary directions clearer to those who are unfamiliar with this powerful technique. Let me conclude with a diagram from DeLuce in which he illustrates the basic idea of primary directions without going into any mathematical detail.