Recently a fellow astrologer, who had rectified her chart using several life events and various predictive techniques, asked whether primary directions would clearly indicate the passing of her father, which occurred in November of 1995 when she was 34 years old. The loss of a parent is a major life event, which should show up in the directions of the natal chart. Such directions are more pronounced when a parent dies early in life because parental loss in childhood has a major impact on the individual. As we and our parents age, the demise of a parent becomes a more expectable event, and the primary directions around the time of the event may be less dramatic in an individual’s chart and may reflect more the person’s reaction to the death of a parent than the actual event. She has kindly given me permission to discuss her chart, but I will keep her identity anonymous.
The first and most important step in analyzing primary directions is to study the natal chart. Directions can only predict what the birth chart promises. Here is the person’s natal chart, and we need to pay special attention to the factors that signify the father and death in her birth chart.
In this natal chart Sagittarius rises, making Jupiter the ruler of her Ascendant. Jupiter also rules Pisces on the 4th house cusp, and so Jupiter is also a signifier of her father. (In the Hellenistic tradition, the 4th house refers to the parents, and especially to the father.) In a day chart the Sun is often taken as a natural ruler of fathers. In our analysis of her primary directions in 1995 we will be particularly interested in any aspects or conjunctions involving Jupiter, the 4th cusp (meridian axis), or the Sun.
Significators of death include the ruler of the 8th house, which is the Moon in this chart. In addition, Saturn is traditionally a natural ruler of death, and many modern astrologers include Pluto, lord of the underworld, as a signifier of death. To be complete, I should mention that Richard Houck in his classic text The Astrology of Death borrowed concepts from Jyotisha and included the rulers of the 2nd and 7th houses, Saturn and Mercury in this chart, as signifiers or marakas of death.
Because Jupiter rules her father, we must study Jupiter’s aspects in her birth chart. Jupiter in Capricorn in Rx and conjoins Saturn Rx, also in Capricorn, and also conjoins the Moon in 0 Aquarius. Jupiter is squared by a Mercury/Mars conjunction from Libra. Mars and Mercury lie at the end of the 10th Placidus house and conjoin the 11th Placidus cusp, which (using derived houses) is the 8th house cusp from the 4th house of the father. Thus, if Mars and Mercury become activated by primary direction, their square to the Saturn/Jupiter conjunction becomes active and could indicate the passing of the father.
For those who use the Lord of the Orb (ruler of the planetary hour of birth and its annual ‘profections’), this nativity occurred on a Mercury day during a Venus hour (the 7th hour of that day, just after the Sun culminated on the MC). Thus, Venus is the Lady of the Orb at birth. Abu Ma’shar distributed the lords of the hour in Chaldean order around the chart, beginning with the Lord of the Orb in the 1st house. This system would make Saturn a co-ruler of the father in the birth chart, as follows: Venus (1st house) – Mercury (2nd) – Moon (3rd) – Saturn (4th house – father).
According to Ben Dykes translation, Ma’shar continued the sequence of Lords of the Orb around the wheel throughout life. Thus, at age 34 the native would be in a 12-year period which began with Saturn the Lord of the Orb of the 1st house, placing the Sun in the 4th house as Lord of the Orb during this particular period of her life. These are fine points used by Abu Ma’shar in his delineations of solar returns, and few astrologers have paid attention to the lord of the orb in the history of the art. For our purposes here, we should keep in mind that, according to this Lord of the Orb technique, the condition and aspects of Saturn and the Sun can give further information about what happens to the father in the year 1995.
At age 34 this native enters an 11th whole sign profection. In other words, Libra becomes the profected Ascendant in this chart, and Venus becomes Lady of the Year. Because Libra is the 8th sign from Pisces on the 4th of the father, Libra and Venus become signifiers for the potential death of the father. When Libra becomes the profected Ascendant sign, the square aspect of Mercury/Mars in Libra to Saturn/Jupiter in Capricorn gets activated, indicating a difficult period for her father (Jupiter) at this time. By the Lord of the Orb technique, Saturn co-rules the father in the birth chart. As we shall see below, at age 34 Mercury is her “divisor” and the Sun, via its square to the directed Ascendant, is the “participant” as well as a signifier of the father (as lord of the orb of the 4th house) when she is 34 years old.
In studying primary directions, I like to advance the birth time of the natal chart by the amount of time that corresponds to the age of the native at the time of an event. This person was born in late September and her father died in early November. She was about 34.12 years old at the time. Using the Naibod key to advance the chart, we must move the birth time forward 3.932 minutes of clock time for each year of life: 34.12 years of age X 3.932 minute on the clock = 134.16 minutes.
Here is her birth chart advanced by 134.16 minutes on the clock from her birth time:
Age 34 was a major year in her life because she underwent a change in her ascendant sign by primary direction. She was born with her natal Asc in Sagittarius and at age 34 by primary motion the sign Capricorn rose to the horizon and became her directed Ascendant. It is as if after 34 years of living as a person with Sagittarius rising she were reborn with Capricorn rising and Saturn ruling her natal Ascendant. In addition, Saturn as her “new” or directed Asc-ruler activates Jupiter (her father’s ruler) because of their conjunction in Capricorn.
Furthermore, as Capricorn rises to become her directed Ascendant at age 34, the first term of Capricorn is ruled by Mercury, which also becomes activated. Traditionally the ruler of the term that rises to the eastern horizon becomes a “time-lord” known as the “divisor” (or some say the “distributor”). Active Mercury stimulates Mars, which Mercury conjoins, and jointly the Mars/Mercury conjunction activates the natal square to Saturn/Jupiter, indicating a difficult period of the native’s father.
The visible planet that most recently aspected the directed Asc is called the “participant”, and in this chart it is the Sun whose square to 27 Sag also becomes a factor in interpretation. Since the Sun is a natural ruler of fathers, the Sun’s square to the directed Asc, which is active because the Sun is “participant”, also indicates that a difficult period for the father is at hand.
Now let’s calculate the primary directions (without latitude) around November of 1995, using the Naibod key. Here they are in the method of Placidus:
Here the directions for the same period calculated with the “circle of position” method of Regiomontanus:
Morin tells us that primary directions alone do not manifest as events since they are symbolic indicators. There must be some kind of “real” astrological trigger to “reduce” the primary direction to action in the world. For example, a similar or activating transit, solar or lunar return, eclipse, etc., could act as a triggering astrological factor that allows the primary direction to manifest in real time. Morin noted that lunar returns often indicated the month in which a major event would take place. Here is this person’s lunar return of 30 October 1995, shortly before her father passed.