Horary about an astrological coaching practice

Today I received the following question from a reader of this blog. Because she raises an important question, I decided to answer her inquiry in blog form.  Here is her question:

“Hi Anthony – I have a tattered copy of your Horary Astrology Plain & Simple and although I’ve used it hundreds of times, I do not consider myself a practice horary astrologer (I am more of a psychological astrologer having studied with Liz Greene in London years ago). Having just retired from 30 plus years practicing law, I’m about to launch my new astrological coaching practice and drew up a horary chart to see the future of this new endeavour. YIKES! 10 Scorpio rising with the Moon at 2 Scorpio about to square Mars (9 Aquarius) and then conjunct Venus (10 Scorpio) finishing up with a conjunction to Jupiter at 23 Scorpio. Via Combusta. I’ve read your piece on that again – and although I’d not consider myself distressed about this new endeavour, I’m probably obsessed with it (just a little). I’d love to say that after some hard work and set-backs this new practice will not only be fun (that conjunction with Venus) but also profitable (conjunction with Jupiter). BUT, I’m really nervous about that Moon being in the burning way – and wondered what you think. Chart set for 10 October 2018 at 9:43:09 BST (Oxford, UK) – tropical, placidus. THANKS for any words of wisdom.”

Here is the chart.  Following Lilly, I cast the chart in Regiomontantus.

It is a Mercury day during a Saturn hour.  Lilly writes: “See the Question be radicall, or fit to be judged; which is, when the Lord of the Ascendant and hour be of one nature or Triplicity.”

Ryhan Butler describes this consideration as follows: “Another ascendant based consideration is comparing the sign on the ascendant to the lord of the hour of the chart.  There should be some form of similarity between the ascendant and the hour lord, this can happen in three ways.  The first is that the lord of the hour rules the sign ascending, the second is that the lord of the hour is of the same nature as the sign ascending (Scorpio rises during a Venus hour is okay because they are both cold and wet), finally the sign ascending can be a member of the triplicity that planet rules (Capricorn rising during a Moon hour is okay because the Moon rules the Earth Triplicity by night).”

The Lord of the Ascendant is Mars, and the Lord of the hour is Saturn.  Mars is a hot/dry planet, whereas Saturn is cold and variously considered dry or wet, depending of the ancient source.  They are not of the same nature, nor are they of the same triplicity.  This discrepancy raises the possibility that the chart may not be a true horary moment. Perhaps the querent asked the question prematurely before fully reflecting on the matter.  Bonatti recommends investigating and pondering a question and seeking divine guidance through prayer for at least 24 hours prior to asking a horary question.

The 12th Part of the Ascendant often reveals what issues are on the querent’s mind. In this horary the 12th Part of the Scorpio Ascendant lies at 04 Pisces 04, which emphasizes the 4th and 5th houses, Neptune in Pisces, and domicile ruler Jupiter in Scorpio in the 1st house.  Jupiter in this chart rules the 2nd and 5th houses.  The querent does appear to be thinking about income (2nd house) and a creative endeavor (5th house), which involves self-promotion (Jupiter in 1st house) and centers around themes related to Jupiter, Neptune and Pisces (astrological counseling). The 4th house position of the 12th Part may indicate that she plans to work from home or perhaps to establish some new foundation as part of her retirement from her previous occupation.

There is a strong emphasis in this chart on the Via Combusta or Burnt Way, a region overlapping Libra and Scorpio, the signs of fall of the Sun and Moon respectively. The region from the 28th degree of Libra to the 6th degree of Scorpio lies in the terms of Mars, an excessively hot and dry planet which is inimical to the Moon. Often the Moon (emotions) in the Via Combusta indicates that the querent is undergoing emotional distress (Moon in Scorpio, its sign of fall).

Clearly, Lilly’s cautions about the Via Combusta are a source of distress for this querent.  According to Lilly, a via combust Moon is “not safe to judge.”  In other words, the chart may not reliably predict the outcome. Another possibility is that, with the Moon in Scorpio, the querent may be obsessively preoccupied with the matter and unable to see the forest for the trees.  In this chart, the Moon also lies in the 12th house, so the querent may be overlooking or not seeing some important factor which could promote the success of this endeavor.

Another important point about Moon in the Via Combusta is that it can sometimes describe the situation, in which case the chart is certainly radical and will provide a reliable answer to the question.  Perhaps a coaching practice aimed at those who are emotionally distressed would be described by Moon in the Via Combusta. Another possibility is that the Moon in the horary chart reflects some important aspect of her natal chart, which would render the horary radical. For example, she mentions that she is “a psychological astrologer having studied with Liz Greene” — so perhaps the 12th house Moon in Scorpio in the Via Combusta is simply descriptive of her background in astrological depth psychology.

The clients of the querent would be shown by the 7th house, ruled by Venus Rx in Scorpio (the detriment of Venus) in the 1st house, conjunct the Ascendant.  Venus has dignity by triplicity and term at the Ascendant, so clients may come but they are likely to be symbolized by Venus Rx in Scorpio, perhaps those who wish to explore psychological issues in depth.

The endeavor itself would be shown by the Leo 10th house, ruled by a peregrine Sun in Libra (its fall) in the 11th house.  In the Regiomontanus system, the sun is strongly influenced by the 12th.  Using only the seven visible planets, the Sun in this chart is void of course.  Again this suggests that the querent may need to rethink how she is setting up this new practice to make sure that it is a viable endeavor.

Mercury rules the 11th (income from the 10th house endeavor) and is about the oppose Uranus, suggesting that some new information will unexpectedly come to light about financial matters.  Financially, she should do well.  Jupiter rules the 2nd of income, is quite strong and applies to conjoin the Part of Fortune.

Much of what I wrote is speculation about the chart.  In analyzing horary charts it is best to have a conversation with the querent to flesh out the symbolism of the chart and see how it fits the circumstances of her life.

Please leave any comments about this chart in the section below.  The querent raises a valuable question about considerations before judgment, and any further insights would be welcome.



Posted in Astrology, horary | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tragic Limo Crash in Schoharie, New York

The local news this past weekend was dominated by a horrific traffic accident in Schoharie, NY, in which 20 people died.  Eighteen of the dead were passengers in a limo who had gathered to celebrate the upcoming 30th birthday of Amy Steenburg of Chazy Lake, NY.  According to news reports, the crash took place at 1:55 pm on Saturday October 6, 2018.  Here is a chart for the accident:

Prominent features of this accident chart include Saturn and Uranus on the angles, with Pluto and Mars rising in the 1st house.  Pluto has recently turned stationary direct at 18 Cap 45 on 30 September 2018 and is very close to its own south node, which lies at 18 Capricorn 51 Rx.   Saturn had turned stationary direct on 6 September 2018 at 2 Cap 32, and Uranus had turned stationary Rx on 7 August 2018 at 2 Taurus 33 (which is conjunct the IC of the accident chart).

The group in the limo was gathered to celebrate the upcoming 30th birthday of Amy Steenburg, who was born on 10 October 1988, time unknown.  She grew up in Chazy Lake, NY, so I cast a sunrise chart for that location.  Here is her natal sunrise chart:

Is there any indication that she could be involved in such a horrible accident in her natal chart?  In the sunrise chart there are three potentially malefic planets in the 3rd house of local travel in square aspect to Mars in the 6th house of bodily injury.  Mars, a planet of great energy and high speed, square Uranus is a classic marker of accident proneness.  Mars square Saturn often indicates a powerful force confronting an solid barrier.  Mars square Neptune can signify injuries due to inattention or an altered mental state.

Comparing the accident chart with the natal chart, we see that transiting Saturn at 3 Cap 16 square natal Mars at 1 Aries 55.  In addition, transiting Pluto at 18 Cap 45 squares natal Sun at 17 Libra 21 and natal Mercury at 19 Libra 07 Rx.  Both her natal Sun and natal Mercury are square transiting Pluto’s south node and the position of the recent Pluto station.

Now let’s look at her solar returns for 2017, which was active at the time of the accident, and 2018, which would go into effect on her birthday this year.

In the 2017-2018 sunrise solar return, we see Uranus opposing the Ascendant.  Because Uranus symbolizes sudden disruptive events and the Ascendant represents one’s vitality and life force, this configuration could presage an accident.  Pluto in the 3rd of local travel squares both Sun and Mercury in the 12th house.  Saturn on the cusp of the 3rd almost exactly squares Mars in the 11th of friends.  Mars conjoins Venus, ruler of the 8th, and both are squared by Saturn from the cusp of the 3rd.

Here is the sunrise solar return for her 2018 birthday:

The most striking feature of this solar return chart is that its angles and houses match almost exactly the chart for the accident.  Saturn is on the Ascendant.  Mercury is on the MC and opposed by Uranus on the IC.  Pluto in the 1st squares the Sun.  The Moon, which was in the 8th house in the accident chart, now occupies the 10th where Luna conjoins Venus (ruler of the natal 8th house) and both square Mars in the 1st.

All in all, the symbolism is quite striking.

Posted in Astrology | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Average Daily Motion of Planets in Horary

Horary astrologers often take note of how fast a significator in traveling per day to evaluate the outcome of horary charts.  There has been some confusion in the literature about exactly how to judge the daily speed of planets.  Do we judge speed differently if the planet is traveling direct or retrograde?  Do we use average geocentric values in which the Sun, Mercury and Venus have the same average daily motion despite the fact that from a geocentric point of view Mercury and Venus are in orbit around the Sun so that their daily motions appear to be more or less than than of the sun.

The excellent astrology program Janus, which just upgraded to version 5.1 offers the option to calculate the average planetary motion for a 1000-year period.  I selection this option and came up with the following table of planetary speeds for the period from 1500 to 2500 CE.  Here is the table:

Ave Daily Motion planets

Let’s look at Venus, for example.

During the 1000 yeas from 1500 to 2500 CE, the overall average daily motion of Venus (taking into account both direct and Rx motion) is + 00 59′ 09″, essentially identical to that of the Sun.

The most Venus will travel on any given day is + 01 15′ 36″ degrees.

The minimum value of the daily motion of Venus occurs when she travels Retrogade by an amount of – 00 37′ 59″ degrees.

The average daily motion of Venus when traveling direct is + 01 05′ 31″.

The average daily motion of Venus when traveling Rx is – 00 22′ 50″.

These figures should help the horary astrologer to judge how extremely or normally Venus is behaving in a particular chart.


Posted in Astrology, horary | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

More on the Moon’s Nodes in Horary

In the last post I reviewed an article by Pepa Sanchis in which she reviews some ideas of French astrologer Denis Labouré  regarding the Moon’s Nodes.  Recently I had a chance to test her comments in a personal horary which involved the South Node.  Sanchis noted that  the Lunar South Node in horary charts could signify loss, weakness, decrease, reduction, poor quality, darkness or dark places, blockage, restriction, sluggishness, lack of effort, depletion of energy, illness, subtraction, deception (both deceiving and being deceived), criticism, and even a bit of insanity.

On September 9, 2018 I asked the horary question about whether I would be able to go on a vacation trip to Italy in October, which my wife and I had been planning for some time. What prompted the question was the recent onset of a cardiac arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation) which is now being worked up.  I wasn’t sure that I would feel physically able to do the amount of walking on hilly terrain which the tour required, so on September 9th I asked a horary about whether I would be able to go, given my recent medical problem.  Here is the chart with Regiomontanus Houses.

Go to Italy

It is a Sun day during a Moon hour.

Scorpio rises, making Mars in Capricorn in the 3rd my significator.  Uranus Rx (sudden disruption) opposite the Ascendant (the body) probably symbolizes the recent unexpected onset of an arrhythmia.

The trip abroad is signified by the Moon, ruler of the Cancer 9th house. Unfortunately, the Moon is quite debilitated by being combust the Sun.  The next aspect the Moon (the trip) makes is a conjunction with the Sun, which is associated the heart through its rulership of Leo.  It appears that the Sun may prohibit the trip (Moon) from happening.

The Moon (trip) will eventually trine Mars (me) but at the time of the chart it was not within orb of the trine.  By the time the Moon conjoins Mars by transit, Mars will have passed into the next sign Aquarius and will be totally without dignity (peregrine).  Currently Mars, exalted in Capricorn, lies in the sign of detriment of the Moon.

The chart does not look promising as far as my being able to go on this trip is concerned.

My ruler (Mars) also rules the 6th house of illness and will soon change signs into Aquarius where it will be peregrine.  Planets changing sign is often highly significant in horary.  Shortly after entering Aquarius, Mars will conjoin the South Lunar Node, which Pepa Sanchis associates with illness, sluggishness, decrease of energy, loss and restriction — all of which I’m experiencing at the time.  Over the next few days I did feel more sluggish and lacking in energy because of the ongoing arrhythmia, and I realized that I would not be able to keep up with the planned activities of the tour (lots of walking through cities and historical sites) due to the restrictions created by the medical issue.  On September 12th we decided to cancel our reservation, which will entail some loss of the money we already paid toward the trip.  The South Node symbolism makes a lot of sense in this chart.


Posted in Astrology, horary | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

The Moon’s Nodes – Review of an Article by Pepa Sanchis

In this blog I’d like to briefly review an article about the moon’s nodes, written by Spanish astrologer Pepa Sanchis and published on 29 July 2018 on the site http://primaluce.es. My approach will be to summarize and paraphrase her ideas and to add some of my own. Sanchis begins by summarizing the modern view of the lunar nodes as indicators of our path in life, that is, the lessons we need to learn based on our karma from past lives — an untestable hypothesis which she says was first introduced into Western astrology by Dane Rudhyar but which is absent from the astrology of cultures in which the idea of karma plays a major role, such as India and Tibet.

Sanchis rejects this karmic formulation of Rudhyar and instead adopts the stance of French astrologer Denis Labouré who maintains that the moon’s nodes have nothing to do with karma. Labouré, whom I have not read, apparently bases his ideas about the lunar nodes in Vedic astrology and on the astronomical fact that the nodes of the moon are points on the sun’s path where eclipses take place and thus have a symbolic analogy with the manifestations of the blockage and restoration of light during eclipses in astrological chart.

North Lunar Node Keywords (Head of the Dragon)

Thus, rather than being interpreted in terms of past lives and karma, the lunar nodes have specific concrete significations which are testable in this lifetime in our horoscopes. Sanchis suggests that the North Node is the more comfortable of the pair and has connotations of exaggeration, excess, overestimation, grandness, brightness, illumination, speediness, excitement, good quality, forms of energy, augmentation and sometimes suggests matters being overblown or taken out of proportion, potentially indicating a lack of objectivity and realistic grounding. In horary charts, for example, the North Node can indicate a belief that we know more than we really do about the matter, but in reality we are lacking important information or it is being withheld from us. Lilly likened the North Node to expansive Jupiter and fun-loving Venus, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing; in this view, the North Lunar Node gives, and the South Lunar Node takes away. I often think of the North Node as the Head of the Dragon whose mouth is nibbling on “the good things in life.”

South Lunar Node Keywords (Tail of the Dragon)

The South Node is the more difficult of the two and has significations of loss, weakness, decrease, reduction, poor quality, darkness or dark places, blockage, restriction, sluggishness, lack of effort, depletion of energy, illness, subtraction, deception (both deceiving and being deceived), criticism, and even a bit of insanity. She also links the South Node to magic, places of worship, peculiar or enclosed locations, spirituality and spiritual development, diverse energies, a critical or detached nature, gaffes, faux pas, etc. The South Node, says Sanchis, can concretely indicate illness, infections, wounds, hernias, sickness, toxins, poisoning, decline, frailty, dementia, death and various forms of suffering. William Lilly likened the South Node to restrictive Saturn and aggressive Mars, the two traditional malefics of the zodiac. Lilly was aware of a tradition that the South Node could decrease the harm of a malefic, but in his practice he found that the South Node tended to double or triple the evil nature of malefic planets.  I often think of the South Node as the Tail of the Dragon under which lies its anus which is expelling bits of excrement which are an essential part of life that we often, to our spiritual disadvantage, prefer to avoid.

Sanchis gives several detailed case examples to illustrate her argument. These include:

  • In a horary chart a grand colorful house signified by Jupiter conjunct Venus in Leo is surrounded by a high wall which blocks much of the sunlight from illuminating the structure — the restrictive and darkening Moon’s South Node is also part of the Jupiter/Venus conjunction.
  • When Saturn by primary direction conjoins the South Node in a natal chart, the person signified by Saturn dies.
  • When the ruler of the 4th house (fathers) conjoins the South Node by primary direction, the client’s father develops dementia.
  • When the ruler of the 7th (partners) conjoins the South Node by secondary progression, the client’s spouse becomes seriously ill.
  • When the Moon (a natural signifier of one of the eyes) conjoined the South Node by primary direction, the client needed eye surgery by laser, but there was a complication which left the clients’ eyes bandaged, thus blocking (eclipsing) her vision and leaving her in darkness.

I recommend this article because it offers testable keywords for the lunar nodes, which will allow us to decide whether to use these ideas in our astrological practice.

To illustrate the ideas of Labouré and Sanchis about the lunar nodes, let’s look at a classic horary: Bonatti’s interpretation of a chart for the Besieging of the Luccans (Dykes translation, pages 515-516) in which the Count asks Bonatti whether he and his soldiers would be able to occupy a castle of the Luccans. Here is the chart.


Bonatti did not analyze the chart in the following way, but my point here is to illustrate the significance of the Moon’s Nodes in this chart by way of this alternate analysis.

It is notable that the South Node almost exactly conjoins Mars in detriment in Libra the 10th. Mars and the South Node are closely configured to the Ascendant by sextile but in signs of long ascension, which according to Lilly diminishes the positive nature of the sextile and gives it some properties of a square. This is a day chart, and Mars (the malefic of the nocturnal sect) is its most troublesome planet.

If we take the 10th to represent the Count’s success or victory in seizing the castle and Mars to signify his army (Mars is a natural signifier of soldiers), then we see his soldiers being blocked or diminished by the South Node in their efforts to seize the castle. Mars in Libra (its detriment) describes the soldiers as fun-loving goof-offs; they’d rather be gambling and visiting the local brothel than fighting a war.

The ruler of the 10th is Mercury, which conjoins the 12th cusp of undoing. Mars rules the unfortunate 12th (self-sabotage) and occupies the 10th of success. Thus, we might conclude that his army is so inept that the Count’s own soldiers are his worst enemy and he will never take the castle. To describe the soldiers Bonatti uses words like sluggishmess, baseness, tardiness, weakness, low quality, not applying themselves, and happy to be going home with having engaged in battle.

Bonatti writes (p. 516 of Dykes translation) of the Count’s soldiers (for reasons other than Mars conjunct the South Node) that “their low quality seemed to me to be so great, that the castle would more likely stand than be taken. In the end, they behaved so basely and so weakly, that in no way did they carry out any of those things which they had readied for …”

As least in this example from Bonatti, Pepa Sanchis’s formulation of the moon’s nodes has much merit and contributes to the accurate interpretation of the chart.


Posted in Astrology, horary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Masha’allah’s Chart for the Epoch of Christ

In his book on mundane astrology, the 8th-century Persian Jewish astrologer Masha’allah offers a chart for the beginning of the Christian Era.  His method is to study Aries Ingresses and the cycle of the Great Saturn/Jupiter conjunctions as they pass through the four triplicites (Fire, Air, Earth and Water signs).  In the previous post I looked at the chart proposed for the Great Deluge made famous in the story of Noah’s Ark.  These charts are based on the translation by Kennedy and Pingree (Harvard University Press, 1971) of Masha’allah’s text).

Masha’allah in Horoscope 5 of his book proposes that the Christian Era began in March of 13 BCE (his choice for the year of the birth of Christ), with the Saturn/Jupiter conjunctions occurring in Earth signs.  He offers the Aries ingress chart of 13 BCE as the beginning of this period and deduces from the chart that Christ will be born in December of that year.  Here are the values Masha’allah used (assuming that he cast the chart for Baghdad):

  • Ascendant: 18 Libra
  • Sun: 0 Aries 01
  • Moon: 22 Gemini 44
  • Mercury: 4 Aries 49
  • Venus: 14 Taurus
  • Mars: 21 Gemini 22
  • Jupiter: 2 Virgo 30 Rx
  • Saturn: 16 Capricorn 28

The following is a modern reproduction of this chart for the Aries Ingress of the year of the birth of Christ with Porphyry houses, which I believe is what Masha’allah meant when he spoke of “houses by division”.  I adjusted the ayanasma to match Masha’allah’s values as closely as possible.  Only Mercury is way off, with the original chart having a position of 4 Aries 49 for Mercury and the one calculated by modern computer at 3 Pisces 53.  Perhaps the substitution of Aries for Pisces was a typo on Masha’allah’s part because the degrees of Mercury in the signs are almost identical.


Below is a key portion of Masha’allah’s interpretation of this Aries Ingress (quoted from Kennedy & Pingree, pages 45-46); italics and parenthetical […] remarks are mine:

“… he found the lord of the year to be Saturn, because of its strength and its numerous aspects, and because all the planets, … except Mars and the moon, were conferring their counsel upon it [Saturn], it being in its own house [Capricorn], and the ascendant [Libra] its exaltation and triplicity, and the lord of the ascendant [Venus] confers its counsel upon it [Saturn] from its second house [that is, from Taurus, which is the other house of Venus, ruler of the Libra ascendant].”

“That indicates that he [Christ] will be born in 10 months of this year [that is, 10 months from the Aries Ingress, which is December of 13 BCE], and because the transfer [of years at the Aries Ingress] is nocturnal [Sun below the horizon, Moon as sect ruler] and the moon [sect lord] is with Mars in the 9th [of religious figures], it indicates violence [Mars] he will meet, and fear about him of being killed in a high place [? perhaps fear of death because Moon lies in the 8th of death and also rules the 8th by exaltation?] because the two [Moon and Mars] are conjunct in the highest of signs [actually Cancer is both the 10th sign and contains the MC, so that Cancer rather than Gemini is the highest of signs in this chart, unless he means that the Moon/Mars conjunction lies in the highest of all the signs which contain a planet in this chart or perhaps that the Moon rules Cancer, the highest place in the chart].”

The “highest of signs” remark is a bit puzzling. Masha’allah may be thinking in terms of the Whole Sign houses in which the planets in Gemini are visually clearly the highest in the chart.  It appears that Masha’allah is combining the topical meanings of both the Porphyry and Whole Sign houses to deduce that Christ will be killed in a high place, perhaps as follows:

  • Moon (sect ruler) will conjoin Mars in the 9th of religious figures.
  • Moon lies in the 9th Whole Sign but the 8th (of death) Porphyry houses.
  • Moon and Mars are in the highest place in the chart, most visually obvious in the Whole Sign chart.
  • Sect light Moon is the exalted ruler of the 8th of death and signifies being held on high or placed on a pedestal, in this case a cross.  (Eighth-ruler Venus would signify and ordinary death, whereas the Moon as exalted ruler quite literally symbolizes dying while being held up high.)
  • Jupiter, a natural signifier of religous leaders, lies in the fortunate 11th Porphyry house of the Good Daemon, bringing hope to humankind, but also lies in the extremely unfortunate 12th Whole Sign house of sacrifice, mourning and secret enemies.
  • The Sun, which rejoices in the 9th house of God, lies in the angular 7th Whole Sign house but in the unfortunate cadent 6th house in the Porphyry system.
  • Saturn, extremely significant as lord of the year, squares the Sun (a god symbol), and the Sun rejoices in the 9th where the sect light Moon conjoins Mars — a combination of symbols suggesting death in a high place.

jesus 2

Posted in Astrology | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Masha’allah’s Simultaneous Use of Whole Sign & Porphyry Houses

There has been much debate in recent years about the use of quadrant houses in Hellenistic times. The 8th-century Persian Jewish astrologer Masha’allah ibn Athari (740 – 815) was well versed in the writings of Dorotheus of Sidon, a 1st-century Hellenistic astrologer, and so we can look to his work to see how the Hellenistic tradition was understood and used by Persian astrologers in the 8th century. Fortunately, Masha’allah’s texts have been preserved and translated into English.


In 1971 Kennedy and Pingree published a scholarly translation of Masha’allah’s work on mundane astrology “On Conjunctions, Religions and People” in which the 8th-century astrologer presented a series of charts of Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions and Aries ingresses, with explanations of how they correlated with major world events.

What becomes clear in reading the text and reconstructing the charts in the book is that Masha’allah used both Whole Sign and Porphyry houses. Not being astrologers, Kennedy and Pingree made a mistake in stating the following: “There are two methods of reckoning the twelve places or δώδεκα τόπος. The simplest way (‘by counting’) merely counts each sign as a place; the other (‘by division’) uses equal arcs of 30 degrees along the ecliptic measured from the ascendant degree …” (The Astrological History of Masha’allah, Harvard University Press, 1971, p. 92). This statement is incorrect. If you study the charts in the text, it is clear that the method of assigning places by division is in realty the method ascribed to Porphyry in which the MC is the cusp of the 10th place and the intermediate cusps are found by dividing the angles between the horizon and meridian into equal thirds.

In other words, Masha’allah used two systems of house division simultaneously:

  1. By counting: the equivalent of Whole Sign houses in which the entire sign containing the Ascendant (horoskopos) is considered the 1st house, the next whole sign is the 2nd house, and so on around the wheel. The Midheaven (upper meridian) may appear in the 9th, 10th, or 11th house of this system.
  2. By division: (this is not the system of Equal Houses from the Ascendant, as Kennedy and Pringree mistakenly suggest).  Houses by division is the Porphyry method of assigning the degree rising (horoskopos) as the cusp of the 1st house and the degree of the Midheaven as the cusp of the 10th house. The number of degrees along the ecliptic between the Asc and the MC is divided by three to determine the size of the intermediate houses.

Here is an example. The first horoscope in the book is for the date February 11th at about the latitude of Baghdad. According the Masha’allah this chart has 19 Sagittarius rising, and has Mars Rx at 27 Libra and Jupiter Rx at 12 Libra, both planets lying in the 11th place by counting (Whole Signs) but in the 10th place by division (Porphyry). Because Libra is the 11th sign from Sagittarius, Mars and Jupiter are in the 11th place by counting as measured from Sagittarius, which is the 1st place.

If we were to use Equal Houses, as Kennedy and Pingree suggest, the the cusp of the 10th would fall at 19 Virgo (10 signs or 30-degree segments from 19 Sagittarius). Then the 10th place would go from 19 Virgo to 19 Libra, locating Jupiter in the 10th and Mars in the 11th. Clearly Kennedy and Pingree got it wrong for this and the other charts in the book. In fact, Masha’allah was using Porphyry houses in which the MC at 4 Libra begins the 10th place and the cusp of the 11th lies at 29 Libra, encompassing both Mars and Jupiter, as Masha’allah tells us in his text. This comparison of Equal and Porphyry house division for the date of February 11th illustrates this point.


Here is a list of the values Masha’allah used in the original of this chart (p. 41 of the Kennedy & Pingree text) for the “World-Year of the Shift [of the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction], being the conjunction indicating the Deluge [Noah’s ark deluge].  The original chart is allegedly cast for February of 3380 BCE when the great Jupiter/Saturn conjunction shifted from the Air triplicity into the Water triplicity in the water sign of Scorpio, with Saturn Rx in the disastrous 12th house, marking the onset of the epoch of the Great Deluge:

  • Horoskopos at 19 Sagittarius
  • IC at 7 Aries 47 (I got about 5 Aries, setting the chart for Baghdad)
  • Venus at 26 Pisces 16
  • Mercury at 3 Pisces 24
  • Sun at 0 Aries 01 (a vernal equinox chart)
  • Moon at 23 Taurus 13
  • North Node at 8 Cancer
  • Jupiter at 12 Libra 39 Rx
  • Mars at 27 Libra 17 Rx
  • Saturn at 1 Scorpio 56 Rx

Presumably, Masha’allah was using houses by counting (Whole Sign) to determine the topics which the houses and their planetary rulers and occupants signified, and the houses by division (Porphyry’s method of dividing semi-arcs into thirds) to judge the strength and business (or weakness and inactivity) of the planets. I need to study his discussion of the various charts to be sure. Interestingly, the 17th century French astrologer Morinus also used both Whole Sign and Regiomontanus houses to judge his charts; he regarded the Regiomontanus system as the true or “formal” method of house division and the Whole Sign house system by counting from the Ascendant as providing “accidental” houses — most likely an analogy to essential and accidental dignities.

A take-home lesson from Masha’allah for modern astrologers is that instead of wasting our time debating which is the single best system of houses, we should be learning how to use both Whole Sign and quadrant houses simultaneously, as did the great Persian astrologers of the Middle Ages.

Addendum (2 Sep 2018):  Astrologer Alan Annand made an interesting comment about this post on Facebook and gave permission for me to reproduce it here:

Among well-trained Jyotishi (Vedic astrologers), it is common practice to use both the whole sign house system for general analysis, and the Sripati house system (identical with Porphyry) for more specific analysis.
In applying the latter, attention also shifts from sign lords to sign and nakshatra lords, thus allowing another level of specificity different from western systems.”


All original material in this blog is copyright Anthony Louis 2018.

Posted in Astrology | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments