Rectifying charts is not an easy task. Recently I’ve been re-reading some old books by Robert DeLuce from the 1930s. In his text on rectifying natal charts, DeLuce gives a case example which I thought would be worth looking at. He wants to rectify the chart of a man who in June of 1897 (age 19 years 10 months of age) became almost died of typhoid pneumonia. The man was born on August 24, 1877, time unknown, in Payson, Utah. The illness was so severe that it took him 2 years to recover. Clearly such a life-threatening illness should show up astrologically, and this event could be used to help rectify his chart.
DeLuce’s principal method for rectification was to use primary directions, but he also employed secondary progressions, transits, lunations, eclipses, embolismic returns and fixed stars. He preferred Placidus houses because they work well with the method of primary directions using Placidus semi-arc.
To simplify the math, DeLuce worked with Placidean primary directions “under the pole of the significator” which are easier to calculate without a computer but which are only approximations, usually within a few months time, to true primary directions as described by Ptolemy. My own preference is to direct planets by proportional semi-arc, as described by Ptolemy and Placidus. In the following example I will be using DeLuce’s raw data but calculating via Placidean semi-arc rather than directing significators “under the pole.” As a result, I will be working with Sun opposing Saturn in the case example, whereas DeLuce studied the Sun opposing Mars.
Because we don’t know the time of birth of this native, let’s look at a Noon chart, which has the mean positions of the planets on his birthday, and try to locate possible primary directions which might symbolize a life-threatening illness around the age of 19.8 years.
When we have no idea what the angles might be in as chart, DeLuce liked to start with primary directions of the Sun, a universal symbol of the life force of the individual. Does the Sun make any aspects after birth that could indicate a serious illness? We see that about 15 days after birth the transiting Sun will oppose natal Mars, and about 17 days after birth the transiting Sun will oppose natal Saturn. Either of these aspects, as primary directions, could signify nearly lethal typhoid pneumonia, so if we could find a birth time at which there was a primary direction linking Sun with Mars or Sun with Saturn at age 19.8 years, that would give us a likely time of birth.
In terms of secondary progressions, we see that Mars and Saturn are very close to a perfect conjunction, so it would be useful to look in an ephemeris to see on which day after birth transiting Mars exactly conjoined natal Saturn, or vice versa, to date the year of a serious illness, as symbolized by the perfection of the aspect Mars conjunct Saturn. Here is the ephemeris for Noon, starting on August 24, 1877, at his birth location.
If the native were born around Noon on 24 August, 1877, Mars would have been at 16 Pisces 40′ Rx, and on 12 September 1877 transiting Saturn would have exactly conjoined natal Mars. Because September 12th is 19 days after August 24th (his birthday), the native would have been 19 years old. Thus, by secondary progression we see an indication of a serious illness at age 19 when secondary progressed Saturn perfects a conjunction with natal Mars.
The Noon natal Sun at 1 Virgo 40′ has a Right Ascension of 153d 41m. If the Sun were on or close to the MC, we would expect the opposition of Mars or Saturn to be within 19.8 degrees of it in R.A., or at about 173d 29m R.A.
The opposition of Mars at 16 Virgo 35′ has a Right Ascension of 167d 39m. The arc between the Sun and the opposition of Mars is 13d 58m R.A.
The opposition of Saturn at 18 Virgo 07′ has a Right Ascension of 169d 04m. The arc between the Sun and the opposition of Saturn is 15d 23m. Because this arc is closer to 19.8 degrees, which corresponds to the illness of the native, I suspect that Sun opposite Saturn by primary direction will time the event and that he was born earlier in the day than Noon, which would give a greater arc.
To test this hypothesis let’s suppose he was born near sunrise around 6 AM and look for primary directions between the Sun and Mars or Saturn. To keep matters simple, let’s use Ptolemy’s rate of 1 degree R.A. = 1 year of life and calculate the primary directions without latitude for a 6 AM chart, using Placidus semi-arc, for the period from 1896 – 1898, which encompasses the year 1897. Here is the list generated by Solar Fire:
We seen from this list that a primary direction of Mars opposite Sun occurs in May of 1896, and one of Saturn opposite Sun takes place in March of 1898. From this we deduce that the most likely primary direction in effect at the time of his serious illness in June of 1897 was Mars opposite Sun. To get the Saturn-Sun opposition to appear in 1897, the Sun would have to have an earlier R.A., suggesting that the native was probably born a couple of hours before 6 AM (the Sun moves roughly 1 degree of R.A. in a 24-hour period).
If we adjust the chart to 4 AM and recalculate the primary directions without latitude we get this list in Solar Fire:
Using Solar Fire we can tweak the birth time to get the Sun/Saturn opposition by primary direction without latitude to occur in mid-June. By adding 3 minutes to the 4 AM birth time, we get the Sun opposite Saturn primary direction to perfect on June 13, 1987, giving a rectified birth time of 4:03 AM. This is the same time which DeLuce arrived at in his text. Here is the rectified birth chart:
Symbolically the rectified chart makes a lot of sense. The Sun rules the Ascendant (the native’s health and vitality). Saturn rules the 6th of illness and occupies the 8th of death. In June of 1897 by primary direction (Placidus semi-arc, Ptolemy key), the opposition of Saturn conjoins the Sun and the native nears dies of typhoid pnuemonia. At age 19 his profected Ascendant is Pisces, which activates the natal 8th house and the natal Mars/Saturn conjunction. The lord of the orb at age 19 is Saturn which occupies the natal 8th house and opposes the Sun by primary direction.
Based on a rectified birth time of 4:03 AM, here are the primary directions without latitude for June of 1897 when he almost died: