Pushing management, power and nature in horary

A fellow astrologer recently asked me a question about a horary (Chart 51) in my 1998 text. The question was asked by my editor Tom about an advertisement he was writing. Tom wanted to know whether his superiors at the publishing house would approve the ad he had written and use it in their advertising campaign. He asked the question on 5 June 1990 at 10:52 AM CDT in St. Paul, MN. Part of his concern was that the publisher would need to pay astrological journals to publish the ad, and he wasn’t sure whether his boss would want to cover that expense. Here is the horary chart:

Tom asked, “Will the ad fly?

My colleague wondered whether in this chart the Moon, being in the via combusta and peregrine and in its fall in Scorpio, would be able to function to effect a positive outcome. Indeed, the Moon looks in bad shape.

In addition, the question was asked on a Mars day during a Moon hour, and there is no relationship between the hour ruler Moon and the Ascendant ruler Sun (except perhaps that the Moon lies in the decan of the Sun in Scorpio). Furthermore, the ruler of the 7th, Saturn, which signifies the astrologer, is Retrograde and essentially cadent. This last point may not be too relevant because Tom was acting both as the querent (House 1) and the astrology (House 7), and Saturn is dignified in its own domicile and is conjunct the Part of Fortune.

The Sun signifies Tom, the querent. He took Venus, ruler of the 3rd of documents and communications, to represent the ad he had written. Because Venus (the ad) was well-dignified, Tom felt that the success of his ad was likely.

Venus, ruler of the 3rd house, lies in its own sign, triplicity and term, is angular conjunct the MC, is fast in motion, and by Lilly’s 5-degree rule is considered a 10th house planet. These factors strongly suggested that his employer would approve the ad.

With regard to the publisher paying a magazine to publish the ad, Tom reasoned that Venus ruled the 10th (his employer), that Mercury ruled the 11th (his employer’s money), Saturn ruled the 7th (the magazine which he would contract with to run the ad), and Jupiter ruled the 8th (the money of the magazine). Because Mercury (his boss’s money) is mutually applying to trine Saturn (the astrological magazine) in just under 3 degrees, Tom reasoned that his boss would approve the ad within 3 days, which is what happened.

My colleague recently pointed out that the fallen Moon in Scorpio would oppose Mercury before Mercury could perfect the trine with Saturn. Wouldn’t the opposition to Mercury by the Moon constitute a prohibition, which would prevent the matter from perfecting?

Looking over the chart, I realized that the Moon is not in such bad shape as it might initially appear. Although the Moon is in a fallen state, it had dignity as a participating triplicity ruler of Scorpio, so it cannot be said to be truly peregrine. In addition, the Moon is angular and therefore powerful conjunct the I.C. Even if we were to regard the Moon as peregrine, its state is improved by the condition of its dispositor Mars, which is dignified in Aries and in its own face or decan, and also traveling faster than average. Mars is also fortified by a sextile from the 10th house Sun.

Furthermore, the Moon’s last aspect was a trine from Jupiter in Cancer, the sign of his exaltation, and the 11th (the house of Jupiter’s joy). The Moon receives Jupiter in her domicile Cancer, which is to say that Jupiter “pushes the Cancerian nature” of the Moon back to the Moon, Jupiter’s dispositor, which greatly enhances the condition of the Moon. In addition, Jupiter in the sign of his own exaltation “pushes his exalted dignity or power,” further enhancing the Moon’s condition and enabling the Moon to bring about the result desired by the querent. Fincally, since Jupiter represents the magazine’s money and Mercury signifies the publisher’s money, Jupiter “pushes the management” of concluding the deal between the publisher and the magazine onto the Moon, which transfers the light from Jupiter to Mercury. It is also helpful that Mercury occupies the sign of exaltation of the Moon, and Jupiter occupies the domicile of the Moon, which receives both of these significators.

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The surprising resignation of Pablo Iglesias Turrión

In breaking news from Spain on 4 May 2021, The Guardian reported the surprising news that Pablo Iglesias was leaving Spanish politics:

“One of the more remarkable and once-unthinkable trajectories in modern Spanish politics came to an end a little before midnight on Tuesday when the Podemos leader and former deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias announced he was leaving the political stage for good. Speaking after the conservative People’s party (PP) triumphed in the Madrid regional election in which he had stood as his party’s candidate, Iglesias said the time had come for him to “leave my post and leave politics”. But the former politics lecturer added that he remained “very proud” to have led “a project that changed the history of our country”.

I wondered what astrological factors might correlate with his decision to leave politics. With regard to at his natal chart, Pablo Iglesias Turrión was born on 17 October 1978 at 7:10 AM CET, a Jupiter hour, in Madrid, Spain. He has 19 Libra 14 rising with his natal Sun at 23 Libra 31 and his natal Moon at 6 Taurus 02. His prenatal Full Moon (SAN) occurred 24 hours earlier when the Sun was at 22 Libra 31, closely squared his natal MC at 22 Cancer 25.

Recalling that the recent slower transiting planet (Jupiter square Uranus, Saturn square Uranus, and Uranus turning stationary direct) strongly affected his natal chart, I did a comparison of these transits with his natal chart. Judging from these major transits to his natal chart, it is not surprising that he would experience sudden dramatic changes in his career and life course this year. Here is his natal chart with the January 14th Uranus direct station chart superimposed:

Inner wheel is the natal chart of Pablo Iglesias surrounded by the chart of the January 14th Uranus station. Transiting Jupiter squared transiting Uranus on 17 January 2021, and transiting Saturn squared transiting Uranus on 17 February 2021. These transiting hit his natal Moon (ruler of the 10th of career) and natal Jupiter in the 10th house. In addition, transiting Sun and Pluto were closely square his natal Sun and his natal SAN.

Born in 1978, Iglesias is now 42 years old, which makes his profected Ascendant Aries on the cusp of his 7th house, which is occupied by his natal Moon, ruler of the 10th of career. He was born during a Jupiter hour, so that his lord of the orb at age 42 is also Jupiter, which natally resides in the 10th, again highlighting the current period as one of major career developments.

On the day of the Uranus direct station, transiting Mars and Uranus conjoined his natal 10th-ruler Moon and squared Jupiter in the 10th. At the same time transiting Saturn-Jupiter-Moon-Mercury opposed natal Jupiter. In addition, the transiting Sun-Pluto conjunction squared his natal Sun and his natal SAN (prenatal syzygy).

The current solar return also indicates major career changes. SR Moon (ruler of natal 10th of career) conjoins the natal Asc and natal Pluto, suggesting dramatic and far-reaching changes in career. SR Pluto closely conjoins the natal IC, opposing the natal MC. SR Mars conjoins the natal Dsc, opposing the natal ASC/Pluto/Sun conjunction.

Inner wheel is the natal chart of Pablo Iglesias.
Outer wheel is his current solar return for the period Oct 2020 – Oct 2021.
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When do Planets finally grow up?

In the book Light on Life (1996), the authors, Hart de Fouw and Robert Svoboda, note that Hindu astrologers believe that each planet ripens or reaches “maturation” at a certain age, specifically:

the sun at year 22 (I believe these numbers are ordinal, so 22 refers to the 22nd year.)
the moon at year 24
Mars at year 28
Mercury at year 32
Jupiter at year 16
Venus at year 25
Saturn at year 36
Rahu & Ketu at year 48 (Some sources give the 42nd year, ‘the midlife crisis’, to Rahu and the 48th year to Ketu).

De Fouw and Svoboda also note that “those people who have, for example, Saturn strongly configured with the ascendant in their horoscopes will find that their lives ‘mature’ in some way at 36, the [maturation] age of Saturn. Often this ‘maturation’ occurs in one of the matters that Saturn represents in the horoscope.” (p.69)

Not surprisingly, a similar concept can be found in the Hellenistic literature, specifically in Chapter VII of Vettius Valens’ Anthology. Valens used the so-called “minor” or “small” years of the planets, a concept probably derived from Persian astrology. The “minor” years of a planet are based on recurring cycles in the synodic periods of a planet in its orbit around the Sun. Every so many years each planet conjoins the Sun at approximately the same degree of the zodiac, and the planet is thus considered to reach its maturation stage during that specific whole number of years (rounded to the nearest integer).

In this system of “minor” years of planets, the Sun is given 19 years to mature and to begin a new maturation cycle, based on its Metonic cycle because an eclipse occurs every 19 years (or 254 lunar months of 27.32 days) at the same degree of the zodiac. The planets are assigned maturation periods based on their synodic cycles with the Sun. A synodic cycle is the amount of time which elapses between two successive identical configurations (in this case, Sun-Planet conjunctions) as seen from Earth.

The Moon is believed to mature in 25 years because 25 Egyptian years (of 365 days each) is exactly equivalent to 309 lunation cycles of 29.53 days each.

It turns out that 63 Sun/Mercury synodic cycles is exactly equal to 20 Egyptian years, so Mercury is considered to mature every 20 years. It also happens the five Sun/Venus synodic cycles equals almost exactly 8 Egyptian years, so Venus matures every 8 years and then starts a new maturation cycle.

Seven Sun/Mars synodic cycles equals just under 15 Egyptian years, so Mars matures every 15 years (the actual figure is 14.9577 years).

Eleven Sun/Jupiter synodic cycles equals 12.02 Egyptian years, so Jupiter is assigned a maturation age of 12 years.

Finally, 29 Sun/Saturn synodic cycles equals 30.04 Egyptian years, which are rounded to 30 years as Saturn’s maturation cycle.

In summary, Valens uses the following maturation ages, aka ‘minor years’, of the planets in his predictive work:

Sun – 19 years (the Sun reaches ‘maturity’ in the 19th year of this cycle)
Moon – 25 years (the Moon reaches ‘maturity’ in the 25th year of this cycle)
Mercury – 20 years (Mercury reaches ‘maturity’ in the 20th year of this cycle)
Venus – 8 years (Venus reaches ‘maturity’ in the 8th year of this cycle)
Mars – 15 years (Mars reaches ‘maturity’ in the 15th year of this cycle)
Jupiter – 12 years (Jupiter reaches ‘maturity’ in the 12th year of this cycle)
Saturn – 30 years (Saturn reaches ‘maturity’ in the 30th year of this cycle — the Saturn return)

Valens believed that events related to each planet would occur in the life of the native when he or she reached the year corresponding the the maturation age of the planet. For example, Sun-like events should occur in the 19th year of life (18 y.o. -19 y.o.), lunar events in the 25th year of life (24 y.o. – 25 y.o.), Mercury-related events in the 20th year of life (19 y.o. – 20 y.o.), and so on.

He also believed that such events would occur at integer multiples of these maturation years, as well as at half, one-third, and two-thirds of these periods — perhaps reflecting his awareness of the importance of midpoints and of the division of quadrants of the horoscope into equal thirds. For example, the Ascendant is the midpoint between the Lot of Fortune and the Lot of Spirit (Daimon), and Porphyry houses are generated by dividing each quadrant into equal thirds.

Furthermore, Valens would add together the maturation years of two planets in configuration and also combine maturation years of planets with the ascensional times of the signs they occupied as well as the rulers of their signs. A potential problem with this approach is that by combining so many factors you can almost always come up with some combination of chart factors that “explains” what is happening in the life of the native.

Let’s look at an example from Valens, Chapter VII. This is my reconstruction of a chart described by Valens (not knowing the degree of the Asc, I cast the chart with 15 Scorpio rising). According to Ptolemy’s table of ‘Klimes’, the native was born roughly around latitude 24N:

Valens example: recontructed chart for a native condemned to exile in his 40th year


From the Mark Riley translation:

An example: sun, Jupiter, Mercury in Libra, moon in Taurus, Saturn in Cancer, Mars in Sagittarius; Venus, Ascendant in Scorpio, klima 2.

During his 40th year he was condemned to exile.

The 40th year was indicated by the superior aspect of Saturn to Libra: 32 degrees for Cancer plus 8 for Libra <=Venus> total 40.

Also the opposition of the moon to Venus : 25 for Taurus <=moon> plus 15 for Scorpio <=Mars> total 40. Consequently the results were activated through female persons and for the purpose of profit.

And again the “contact” of the moon with Mars : 25 for the moon plus 15 for Mars total 40.

(As the King says: “Let the moon be in any sign or at an angle, and let the star of Mars be just preceding or just following the moon in the contiguous sign; then the moon has ‘contact’ with it. And so, even if the star is not in the same sign as the moon, but is found in the adjoining sign, or in the sign in square or in opposition, then consider the contact to be solid. Sum up their periods or the rising times of the signs to forecast the chronocratorship.”)”

End of Mark Riley translation


Valens begins with Saturn in Cancer in a superior square to the 12th whole sign Libra, as an indication of exile. Rather than use the age of maturation of the planet Saturn (30 years), he uses the ascensional time of Cancer (32 degrees = years in his tables), and he then combines the ascensional time of the sign Cancer with the minor years of the planet Venus (8 years), the ruler of Libra, to come up with a total of 40, indicating the 40th year.

His second argument is Moon (25 years) in Taurus (25 years in his system) opposed to Venus (8 years) in Scorpio ruled by Mars (15 years). Here he combines the ascensional time of the sign Taurus, where the moon resides, with the minor years of the planet Mars: 25 + 15 = 40th year. Valens adds, “consequently the results were activated through female persons and for the purpose of profit” — he probably has in mind that the Moon in the 7th house (women) opposes Venus whose dispositor is Mars in Scorpio in the 2nd house of income and finances.

His third indication is Moon (25 years) in Taurus (25 years in his tables) in “contact” with Mars (15 years) in Sagittarius (34 years in modern tables). Adding 25 + 15 (the sum of the minor years of the two planets which are in ‘contact’ but not in aspect), he again gets the 40th year as the result. Valens does not regard Moon in Taurus as being in aspectual opposition to Mars in Sagittarius because there is not an opposition between the signs Taurus and Sagittarius (they are in aversion). Nonetheless, the Moon at 17 Taurus 25 is across the wheel, within an orb of 12 degrees of Mars at 0 Sagittarius.

Working through this example from Valens, I have to wonder whether he was “fishing” for chart factors that add up to 40 to explain the exile in the 40th year, and whether he would have been able to predict it in advance. In addition, given the difficulties with computational accuracy in observational astronomy 2000 years ago and the less rigorously defined zodiac (Valens may have used a constellational system), it is likely that ascensional times will be off by a few minutes from modern calculations. Thus, Valens’ system of combining maturation ages of planets with ascensional times is likely, in modern computer programs, to produce results which may be off by a year or more in timing events.

For example, below are the ascensional times of the tropical signs, calculated in Janus 5 software (not surprisingly modern values done by computer based on the tropical zodiac differ somewhat from the times used by Valens for Klime 2, possibly based on the constellation zodiac):

Ascensional times of tropical signs in Valens example chart about exile at age 40. Valens’s values differ but he may have used a different zodiac or different tables than our modern ones.


If you wish to compute ascensional times for your chart, try https://horoscopes.astro-seek.com/traditional-astrology

In addition, https://horoscopes.astro-seek.com/ascensional-rising-times-tables-astrology-calculator shows tables of ascensional times for a given latitude.

Bruce Scofield reviews planetary periods at https://alabe.com/text/PERIODS.html

Demetra George discusses minor years in the chart of Jackie Kennedy at https://demetra-george.com/blog/ancient-astrological-timing/

Patrick Watson has a good article on this topic at https://patrickwatsonastrology.com/introduction-to-timing-with-minor-periods-and-ascensional-times/

Seven Stars Astrology reviews prediction with Minor Years at https://sevenstarsastrology.com/astrological-predictive-techniques-planetary-years-1-mino-years-division-of-days/

Addendum (4 May 2021): A reader let me know that Patrick Watson did an entire webinar on this topic for Kepler College. Here is the link to Patrick’s detailed presentation: https://www.keplercollege.org/index.php/events/246-free-webinars/821-watson-planet-activation

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Struck by lightning on the way to the wedding

In the last post I presented the aphorisms of Nicholas Culpeper regarding horary astrology. In reading about Culpeper’s life, I came across an odd bit of history which seemed worth astrological investigation. Culpeper was born on 18 October 1616 (OS), or 28 October 1616 Gregorian calendar, shortly after Noon. Sibly’s book of horoscopes gives him an Ascendant of 2 Cap 26. Astro.com gives him an Ascendant of 7 Capricorn 12. Here is the chart based on the astro.com data:

Nicholas Culpeper natal chart

Nicholas turned 16 years old on 28 October 1632 (NS). According to the site geography.name, Nicholas experienced an eventful period at age 16 during the years 1632 -1633.

“In 1632, when he was 16 [October 1632], Culpeper entered Cambridge, but the courses on offer did not appeal to him, and he spent his time enjoying himself. He also took up the new habit of smoking. He and his childhood sweetheart, Judith Rivers, had planned to marry. Judith was a wealthy heiress whose family would never have permitted such a marriage, so the couple decided to elope, arranging to meet near Lewes, Sussex, where they could find a ship to take them to the Netherlands until the fuss died down. On the way to the rendezvous, Judith’s coach was struck by lightning and she was killed.”. [bold mine]

According to an article by Dylan Warren Davis: “It was a devastating event that became a radical turning point in Culpeper’s life. … The young Culpeper had irrevocably burnt his bridges as far as returning to Cambridge. … Culpeper became an apprentice to Francis Drake, an apothecary. … As part of his training he was led on excursions to identify and collect medicinal herbs by Thomas Johnson, who was an assistant of the Apothecary Society and editor of the newly enlarged Gerard’s Herbal of 1633.”

I was unable to pinpoint the date of death of Judith Rivers, but from Culpeper’s biographical sources it most likely occurred in 1633 within a year of Nicholas beginning his studies at Cambridge. From an astrological point of view, what factors in his birth chart could give natal “promise” of the sudden death by lightning of his bride to be?

Lightning is traditionally associated with Mars, and modern astrologers link it to Uranus, the planet of bolts from the blue and radical turns points in one’s life. Interestingly, Culpeper has both Mars an Uranus posited in his natal Placidus 7th house. By whole signs, Uranus occupies the 7th and Mars the 8th of death. The Sun rules the 8th house of death in both the Placidus and the whole sign system.

The sign Cancer rules the 7th, making the Moon significator of his wife. Aquarius on the cusp of the 2nd (the 8th from the 7th) makes Saturn the ruler of her death. Saturn is part of a tense T-square in which Saturn conjoins Pluto, opposes 8th ruler Sun, and squares Mars in Leo in the 8th. The Mercury/Venus conjunction in the Placidus 10th (4th of endings of the 7th) is also square Mars in Leo in the Pladicus 7th (whole sign 8th).

If the time of birth is more or less correct, there ought to be a primary direction linking the ruler of the 7th, or planets in the 7th, with the signficators of death in this chart. Below are the primary directions by Placidus semi-arc, with and without latitude, Naibod key for the period 1632-1633:

Placidus semi-arc primary directions, Naibod key, in effect during 1632 – 1633.
Note that the square of the Sun (8th ruler) comes to Uranus in the 7th (the spouse) during this period when his future wife is struck and killed by lightning.
Note also that the sextile of the MC (4th of the 7th in Placidus houses) comes to Mars, the out-of-sect malefic in the 7th in March of 1633.
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Culpeper’s 100 Aphorisms on Horary Astrology

The British astrologer and herbalist Nicholas Culpeper published a book of aphorisms in 1654 which he revised in 1648. His Opus astrologicum contains hundreds of aphorisms regarding horary, electional and predictive astrology, which Culpeper culled from the astrological literature. For the convenience of contemporary horary astrologers I have reproduced below Culpeper’s 100 aphorisms pertaining to horary astrology.

According to astro.com, Culpeper’s birth data is documented as follows:

Sy Scholfield quotes H.C.G. Matthew & Brian Howard Harrison’s book, “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: In Association with the British Academy” (Oxford UP, 2004), p. 602: “Culpeper, Nicholas … was born a little after noon on 18 October 1616, probably at Ockley, Surrey, where he was baptized in St Margaret’s Church on 24 October.”

Nicholas Culpeper natal chart from Sibly’s text (c. 1790).  
Data from astro.com: 28 Oct 1616 gregorian at 12:12 (= 12:12 PM )
Ockley, England, 51n09, 0w22
LMT m0w22 (is local mean time)

Culpeper’s 100 Aphorisms on Horary Astrology


Under Aries are born men of thick hair, white or yellowish, curling, long visage, crooked nose, hazle eyes, little ears, short legs, little feet; the first 15 degrees give a more gross body then the later.


Under Taurus are born men of a short and thick stature, big, broad men, high forehead, wide nose, great mouth, fat short neck, dark ruddy colour, short arms, thick hands, thick black hair, big buttocks, short legs, slowe to anger; but if once angered, hardly ever pleased again.


Gemini gives a delicate, strait, well-composed, and well-set body, good colour, bright clear eyes, good sight, and piercing; long arms, long hands and feet, large brest, brown hair, good wit, fluent tongue, and apt discourse; yet a man of no great fidelity.


Cancer gives but a little short stature; yet the later fifteen degrees give a more full body then the former: you know one Sprat may be something bigger then another: the upper parts of the body are more thick then the lower; disorder in the teeth, little eyes, blackish hair, a lowe whining voice.


Leo arising, gives great head and eyes, quick sight, a large, lusty, strong body; full of metal, courageous, stout-hearted; thick, broad shoulders, yellowish or flaxen hair; a big great voice, resolute spirit, aspiring brain, of a generous, free-hearted, and courteous disposition.


Virgo arising at a Nativity, gives a spare body, yet well composed; a mean stature, lovely brown complexion, great eyes, thick black hair, subtil wit, no great fidelity, aiming at self-ends.


Scorpio gives but short stature, yet a big-limbed, full, and well-set body, strong and active, willful, malicious, false, and deceitful; sad-brown hair, dark sallow complexion, a short neck; quick in motion of body, but of reserved thoughts.


‘Twere pity to have missed Libra, the comeliest of person, and uprightest in condition of all the Zodiack.

Libra gives a delicate, comely, strait body; a round, fair, and well-favoured face, hair for the most part flaxen or light-brown, but sometimes black: a cheerful well-spoken creature; red lips, cherry-cheeks; a tall slender body; courteous, impartial, just and upright in all their dealings.


Under Sagittarius are born strait, well-proportioned-bodies, strong and well-set; of a loving cheerful countenance, high colour, oval visages, good horse-men, and great shooters; stout hearts, brown hair; and quickly bald.


Capricorn gives a very slender weakly man, dry and mean, the face lean and thin; blackish hair, and is exceeding [thick] [missing word/s] pale; man as big about the middle as about the brests; long neck, a disproportioned body; witty, cholerick, and [missing word].


Under Aquarius are born men of a middle stature, well shaped, clear skin, fair visage, yet more lovely than beautiful or curious, yet a handsome composed body, a whitish-bright hair, and sometimes yellow.


And lastly, Pisces gives a short, ill-composed body, yet a good face of clean complexion and colour; thick shoulders, brown hair, fat and plump in all parts; an idle body, else no way hurtful.


In general descriptions of the Planets, consider, The Sun presents one of a brown or yellowish colour, and forehead, great hazle eyes, sharp and piercing, quick-sighted; of no great stature, yet fleshie, and full-boned: he hath a long beard, and is quickly bald, a generous creature, high-minded, aiming at no base or mean things.


The Moon declares one with a pale and whitely face, mixed with but a little redness, if any: of mean stature, proud, of an auburn hair, flowe of speech, fat and flegmatick; short arms, fleshly hands of a mutable condition, often removing from place to place; a wearish peevish creature, seldom contented; neither delighting much in action nor idleness.


Saturn signifies a man with a black swarthy colour, big and large eye-brows, black and little eyes, thin beard, and sometimes none at all; thick shoulders, and sometimes crooked; heavie impish looks, tall stature: he goes with his head stooping forward: lean face, thick lips: he delights to be alone, and is always musing: he hits one leg against the other as he goes: he can hide his anger, and his tongue will tell no tales of his heart: willful, envious, malicious, fearful, proud, and slovenly; covetous, aiming wholly at his own ends.


Jupiter represents a man tall of stature, of a brown muddy complexion, an oval visage, high forehead, fair gray eyes, light brown hair, a handsome well-set strait body, large belly, great thighs, great well-proportioned legs, long feet, a sober, well-spoken, well-conditioned man, desiring to benefit all men; not covetous, nor caring for the goods of this world.


Mars describes one of an high colour, slender, yet strong, and well-set; a round sun-burnt face: his hair yellow or [flaxen]; hazle eyes, quick, sharp and piercing; furious looks; proud, presumptuous, valiant, full of words, boasting and lying.


Under Venus are born people of a whitely-brown colour and complexion; black and quick eyes, little eye-brows, red lips, cherry cheeks with little dimples in them; the [lower] lip somewhat bigger then the upper; a neat, well-composed, and well-ordered body; strait, but of mean stature, affable, courteous, merry, wholly delighting in curiosities.


Lastly, Mercury gives a creature of a tall stature, black hair, long lean face, high forehead, long strait nose, lean lank body; long fingers, and lean; long feet; and he goes swinging one arm; a wisty subtil man, full of talk, and of no great fidelity, unless Mercury be in a fixed signe.


By comparing the Planet with the signe he is in, the description of the body is found out. Also, by considering the strength of the Planet, his aspect to the Sun or Moon, his being with fixed Stars, either of, or opposing his own nature, with his being above of under the earth. For Planets, when they are above the earth, give far taller stature then they do when they are under the earth.


In an Horary Question, when the Lord of the hour is the same Planet, or of the same Nature or Triplicity, or in the same Triplicity with the Lord of the Ascendant, the figure is radical, and fit to be judged of; else not.


Pass no judgement upon a Figure, when either the first or later degrees of a Signe ascend: for if few degrees ascend, the Question is not (as then) ready for judgement: but if the later ascend, the time is slipped, and the Querent hath been tampering with some other Artist about it.

[* Culpeper adds in the margin: “I suppose that the true reason of this is fear of mistaking the significators.”]


Saturn or Mars peregrine in the tenth house, or the Dragons tail there, the Artist gets no credit by that Question.


In all Questions, have a special eye to the Moon for she brings the strengths of the other Planets to us: It is better the Lord of the Ascendant be unfortunate then she.


In all Questions wherein the Fortunes are significators, hope well, but if the Infortunes be significators, fear the worst and so order your judgement accordingly.


When the Moon is void of course in a Question, there is no great hopes of effecting anything to purpose; yet if she be in Taurus, Cancer, Sagittarius, or Pisces, the fear is the less.


The Planet which the Moon last separated from, shews what hath been done already in the business: If from a Fortune, good, if from an Infortune, ill. See what house the Planet is in, and give your judgement accordingly.


The application of the Moon shews the  present state of the thing demanded: a good Planet in a good house, by a good aspect, gives strong hopes of the thing desired.


The application of the Moon to a Planet in his fall, or detriment, signifies trouble and delay in the business.


If a Planet retrograde, or in his first station, be Significator, he denotes much discord and contradiction in the business.


A Planet slowe in motion, if he be Significator, prolong mightily the thing sought after; especially, if he be in a signe contrary to his nature, or in the house of his enemy.


When the Infortunes signifie evil, they bring it to pass with much violence: but if they signifie good, they either bring it not to pass at all, or if they do, it comes with much care, delay, and vexation.


When the Infortunes signifie any evil, see whether Jupiter or Venus cast friendly beams thither: if they do, they mitigate the evil; and so much the more, if it be with reception.


When the Fortunes portend any good, if Saturn or Mars cast forward beams thither, without reception, it mightily hinders the good promised.


Confide not too much upon what a Fortune promiseth, unless he be either in essential dignities, or received by another Fortune: for else, he is like a man that would fain do thee good, but wants power.


Saturn and Mars peregrine, are malicious beyond measure: they are not so bad when they are in essential dignities; for then they are like noble enemies that have got their enemy in their hands, and scorn to hurt him.


If Saturn or Mars be in their houses or exaltations, and in angles, and promise any good, they bring it to pass.


In a Question, when Fortunes and Infortunes are equally weak and ill-seated, defer the judgement till the heavens are setter seated.


When a Planet promising any good in a Question, is either in combustion with, or opposition to the Sun, he never bringeth the good to pass.


Saturn and Mars in conjunction, if they promise good, it never comes to pass: but if they promise evil, it comes with more malice then was expected.


The Lord of the Ascendant, and the Moon peregrine, shew the Querent is out of all hopes of obtaining his desire.


View whether the Significator of the thing desired be in a fixed signe: if he be, it will continue: if in a fickle [cardinal] signe, it will quickly end: if in a common [mutable] signe, it will change out of one thing into another.


If the Lord of the Ascendent, or the Moon, be with the head or tail of the Dragon, it brings damage to the Question propounded. Look in what house they are, and from the signification of that house you may know whence the damage will come.


The first house signifieth the life, complexion, disposition, will, maners, and understanding of the Querent; the beginning of all enterprises.


The second House signifies riches, gain, traffique, gold, silver, and lots and gain by traffique; all moveable goods without life.


The third house signifies brethren, sisters, kindred, small voyages, short journeys, interpretation of dreams, &c.


The fourth house signifies the father, houses, land, immoveable goods, orchards, tillage, hidden treasures, minerals, all things under the earth, prisons, obscure places, the grave, and good report after death, and the end of all things taken in hand.


The fifth house signifies children, all younger kindred, joy, pleasure, gifts, bravery, delight, the riches of the father, all profit of the fourth house, playing, gaming, drinking, &c.


The sixth house signifies servants, sickness, all cattel not fit for labour, as dogs, sheep, &c. fowls, wilde beasts, hunters, goalers, prisons, false accusations, &c.


The seventh house signifies marriage, wives, law-suits, contention, quarrels, known enemies, all the men we deal with, common persons, &c.


The eighth house signifies death, sadness, riches never thought of, dowry, estate of them we deal with, and of known enemies, all the benefit of the seventh house.


The ninth house signifies Religion, pilgrimage, long journeys, dreams, faith, sacrifice, ceremonies, Clergie-men, Navigations, &c.


The tenth house signifies honour, dignities, preferment, calling, offices, trade, Magistrates, Kings, Princes, Governours, advancement, renown, profession, and the mother; Captains and Conductors in War; help, succour.


The eleventh House signifies friends, acquaintance, hope, the things we desire, companions, counsel of friends, all the benefit gotten by the tenth house; good angels, &c.


The twelfth house signifies private and secret enemies, evil spirits, prisons, captivity, bondage, slavery, torment, treason, villainy, horses, and all beasts fit for labour.


In all Questions, look whether the Ascendent or his Lord be in the degree of any Eclipse at hand: for then though the matter be in never so fair a way, it will receive prejudice when it is least expected, and hardly ever be concluded.


Seldome comes good end of a Question, when the Moon is impedited. Judge accordingly, if neither Fortunes give her good aspect; namely, danger of death in War, ill success in journeys, ill end of Marriage, and the like, according as the Question is.


If the Lord of the Ascendent be opposite to it, or in Square to it; also, if the Moon be opposite to her own house or exaltation, the Querent is careless, and cares not which end goes forward.


If the Significator of the thing demanded be impedited, consider what Planet impedites him: and from the house he is in, and Lord of, you may finde the cause and persons hindering the business.


The neerer the Significator is to an angle, the more good you may expect: less, if he be in a succeeding house: little or nothing, if he be in a cadent, unless the matter of the Question be such as belongs to that cadent house he is in.


In any matter promised by any aspect, consider diligently whether there be not any frustration: if there be, there will be hinderance by persons signified by the Planet frustrating.


In every Question, consider the Part of Fortune: if it be will dignified, the Querent get by thing or men signified by the house it is in: if ill dignified, let him expect loss from such. The like may be said of Jupiter and Venus.


Beware of men and things belonging to that house where the Dragons tail is: seldom times but the Querent receives loss, damage, slanders, or scandal, by men or things signified by that house.


Judge not rashly of the Conjunction of two Planets, before you have considered what signe they are in: for if it be a signe of their own nature, it increaseth their signification; if not, the contrary.


Also consider the nature of the signe, whether humane, violent, &c. fixed or moveable, &c. and order your judgement accordingly.


Of this, and all significators, whether they be with fixed Stars of or against their own natures: for the one mightily increaseth, the other retards their significations.


Figures of Horary Questions are either true or false, according to the intent of the Querent.


Beware of Questions when Mars is in the Ascendant, or when Scorpio ariseth: for it is a signe of falsity.


A Radical Figure resembles either the nativity, or the revolution of the nativity of the Querent.

[Note: Here Culpeper adds another way in which a horary chart can be considered radical, namely, when the horary chart resembles the nativity or the current solar return of the querent.]


In a Question truly Radical, there is a sympathy between the matter propounded, and the position of the heavens at the time of the proposition. This is the most absolute way to judge of the radicalness of a Figure.


Love and Hatred cause error in judgment: the one magnifies trifles, the other depresseth great matters. Ye see what impartial men Astrologers ought to be.


When benevolent Planets are Lords of the eighth or twelfth houses, and ill dignified, the Querent shall receive damage from reputed honest men.


A man had need have a special care of his judgement, when the seventh house of his Lord are impedited.


The seventh house and his Lord are Significators for the Artist; and therefore when they are afflicted, his judgement is subject to be clouded.


The matter of any Question is obscured, when the Planet signifying the thing is either under the earth, or under the sun-beams.


But if the Planet signifying the thing, be out of combustion, direct, and in the tenth house, the business lies as clear as the noon-day.


Do not judge rashly that the absent party is dead: it may be he is but drunk.


Do not rashly judge a man is wounded: it may be he was let blood.


Do not judge rashly that a man shall finde hid treasures: it may be he may but take something to pledge. The figures of these Questions are alike; and by these you may finde out many others of like nature.


In all Questions, see what dignity the Lord of the Ascendent had in the precedent Lunation; and order your judgement accordingly.


Also the Revolution of the Nativity, if it can be had, will profit much; viz. by considering the strength of the Lord of the Ascendent then.


If the Figures of the New and Full Moon precendent and subsequent to your Question be the same, and the Ascendent of your Question the same with them, defer your judgement till another time.


Significations for the Unkle are taken from the sixth house; for the Grand-father, from the seventh.


Note what Planet is Lord of the Figure, and according to this quality and place, you may judge of the thoughts of the Querent.


In all Questions, regard the next subsequent Lunation: for matters are subject to vary at every Lunation. By Lunation, I mean the Conjunction of the Luminaries.


The matter in question will soon be performed, when the Lord of the Lunation is Cardinal.


Determine nothing before thou know the intent of the Querent. For if he know not what to ask, how canst thou tell what to answer?


Judge not upon light motions of the Querent. A Question fit to be judged, ought to be premeditated by the Querent.


Mars spoils matters by too much hastiness: Saturn, by slowness.


A Planet within sixteen minutes of the Sun, is in Cazimi, and exceeding strong.


Observe whether the Ascendent, or his significator, be in the place of any Eclispse at hand: if it be, though the matter for the present be in never so fair a way, it will receive prejudice when least expected, and hardly ever be concluded.


Very seldom there coms any good of the Question, when the Moon is impedited.


When Significators are in houses of their own nature, they bring the matter to pass with much ease.


When the Lord of the eighth is infortunate in the eighth, the Querent hath debts he will never get in.


An Infortune in the seventh house, sheweth disagreement betwixt man and wife, except the Planet were significator at the birth.


An Infortune, infortunate beholding the significator, brings inevitable mischief to the Question, according to natural causes.


There is no so great affliction to the Moon, as her combustion.


The superior Planets Oriental, and the inferior Occidental, perform a business with most speed.


If the significator commit his strength to a Fortune that is angular, the matter is soon performed.


These Aphorisms, if rightly understood, discover the key of the mystery of resolving all manner of Questions.

This Treatise was revised, and [multifariously] amended,   1648.


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The Birth Chart of Agatha Christie, the “Duchess of Death”

Recently I read some comments an astrologer made about Agatha Christie’s birth chart, so I looked it up on astro.com. It turns out that the comments were based on an older, now discredited version of the birth chart, so I wondered whether the most recent version of Christie’s nativity would hold up to astrological scrutiny.

From astro.com

According to astro.com: “From Duchess of Death: The Unauthorized Biography of Agatha Christie by Richard Hack. Phoenix Books, 2009. ‘a midwife named Mrs. Shelton-Price who according to her bill, charged one crown and two shillings to deliver Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller at 2:14 pm on Monday afternoon, September 15.’ She was born in 1890.” We consider this as quoted birth record, Rodden Rating AA.” Here is the passage verbatim from the Kindle version of the Richard Hack biography of Agatha Christie:

From Richard Hack’s biography of Agatha Christie, documenting her birth at 2:14 PM on Monday 15 September 1890 at Ashfield, 15 Barton Road in Torquay, UK.

From this biographical evidence, it appears that Agatha Christie was born at 2:14 PM GMT on 15 September 1890, a Moon day during a Saturn hour, the 9th hour of the day at 15 Barton Road whose coordinates are 50N28’31” and 003W32’31”. The chart for this birth time with Placidus houses looks like this:

Agatha Christie’s birth chart based on the documentation of the midwife who delivered her at the family home, 15 Barton Road, Ashville, Torquay, UK on a Monday during a Saturn hour.

Interestingly, her natal Moon in the 9th separates from a trine to Asc-ruler Jupiter in the 1st and applies to (transfers the light to) 9th-ruler Mercury in the 9th in the chart of this prolific and popular author. Jupiter rules the 1st house as well as the 3rd (communication, writing). Her natal Sun, which rules the Placidus 8th of death, exactly conjoins the 9th Placidus cusp (publishing) and closely squares Mars at the cusp of the 1st house. Her biography is aptly entitled Duchess of Death: The Unauthorized Biography of Agatha Christie by Richard Hack.

Interestingly the Sun at birth is at the very end of the 8th house (death, mystery) and almost exactly conjunct the 9th house cusp (books, publishing), indicating that the planetary hour ruler is Saturn in Virgo in the 8th house. If she were born just 14 seconds earlier, the Sun would have been just inside the 9th house and the planetary hour ruler would have been the Moon in Libra in the 9th house and conjunct Mercury, a natural ruler of writing. Thus, the planetary hour lord at birth could have been either Saturn or the Moon. This fact may help us to further rectify the chart.

A major event of Agatha’s childhood was the death of her father of pneumonia and chronic kidney diease in November of 1901, when she was 11 years old. She called this event the end of her childhood.

Age 11 would have been a 12th house profection year, consistent with a death in the family. Because Sagittarius rises, Scorpio rules the 12th whole sign, making Mars the lord of the year at age 11. Mars is the out-of-sect malefic, and it closely squares the natal Sun, a natural symbol of fathers. In addition, Venus occupies Scorpio and rules Libra, the 8th whole sign (death) from the 4th whole sign Pisces, representing the father in the Hellenistic system of whole sign topoi (places).

If Saturn were the planetary hour ruler of her birth, the lord of the orb at age 11 would have been Venus, ruler of the father’s death in the system of whole sign houses. In addition, Venus squares Jupiter, ruler of the 4th whole sign. If the Moon were the planetary hour ruler of her birth, the lord of the orb at age 11 would have been the Sun, ruler of the 9th whole sign and occupant of the 10th whole sign from the Ascendant. Because natally the Sun squares Mars, this could also indicate the death of the father, but in this instance I lean toward Saturn as lord of the hour at birth.

The year 1926 was one of the most difficult for Agatha Christie. Her mother died of heart disease at the age of 72 on 5 April 1926. A few months later, in August of 1926, her husband Archie asked her for a divorce, roughly a month before she turned 36 years old. Transiting Pluto in her 7th house in Cancer perfected a square to 7th-ruler natal Mercury on 19 August 1926, the same month that her husband expressed his desire to divorce her. Pluto turned Rx in mid-October and would again square natal Mercury in December of 1926 at the time of her notorious disappearance.

Regarding primary directions (Placidus semi-arc, Naibod key), the predominant influence in August of 1926 was the square of Venus (love, intimate relationships) coming to the Ascendant:

In August of 1926 Agatha’s husband announced his plan to divorce her as the primary directed square of Venus arrived at the Ascendant by primary direction.

Agatha’s famous 10-day disappearance after an argument with her husband occurred on 3 December 1926. Transiting Saturn in Sagittarius perfected a semi-square to her natal Mercury, ruler of the 7th, on 5 December 1926, and transiting Pluto in Cancer perfected a square to natal Mercury on 16 December 1926.

Interestingly, at age 11, when her father died, she was in a Scorpio profection year with Mars as lord of the year. At age 35, when her mother died and her husband announced his plan to divorce her, she was also in a Scorpio profection year with Mars at lord of the year.


Age Profected Ascendant (whole signs)Lord of the YearLord of the orb if natal hour ruler is Saturn (2:14 pm birth)Lord of the orb if natal hour ruler is Moon (born slightly before 2:14 pm)
Given that age 35 was an extremely difficult year for her, it seems like Saturn as lord of the orb with Mars as lord of the year is a more fitting correlation.

In 1950 Agatha Christie was publicly honored by being elected to fellowship in the Royal Society of Literature, which was founded in 1820 by King George IV to reward literary merit. On 8 February 1950 her natal Ascendant culminated at the meridian by Placidean semi-arc primary direction, Naibod key.

The primary direction of her natal Asc to the MC in February of 1950 (Naidbod key) correlates with her public honor of election to the Royal Society of Literature of King George IV.

Another convincing factor in favor of the 2:14 PM GMT birth time is that by primary direction (Placidcus semi-arc, without latitude, Naibod rate), the directed Ascendant comes to the position of Saturn (a natural ruler of death) in the natal 8th house of death in January of 1976. Agatha Christie died on 12 January 1976. She was 85 years old when she died. Her profected Ascendant was Capricorn, and her lord of the year was Saturn, which natally occupies the 8th house of death. Her demise coincides with the primary direction of the natal Ascendant to the position of natal Saturn in the 8th house.

Here are her Placidean primary directions timed with the Naibod key for the first 6 months of 1976:

Placidean primary directions, Naibod key. She died on 12 January 1976. The directed Ascendant perfected its conjunction with natal Saturn in the 8th house on 17 January 1976.

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An interesting rectification

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.

Noon chart for man whose birth time is unknown. He almost died in June of 1897 about 2 months before he turned 20 years old, and this event will be used to initially rectify the chart.

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:

Primary directions for 6 AM birth time, Placidus semi-arc, Ptolemy key.

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:

At 4 AM as the birth time, Sun opposite Saturn by primary direction perfects in May of 1897. His near-fatal illness took place in June of 1897, so 4 AM is close to his actual birth time by this method of rectification.

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:

Rectified birth chart based on near fatal illness in June of 1897.

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:

These are the Placidus semi-arc primary directions for the rectified chart using the Ptolemy key for timing. In June of 1897 Pluto square the Part of Fortune, and Saturn square the Sun, both perfected in June when he contracted a nearly lethal case typhoid pneumonia. It took him 2 years to recover, as one might expect from a Saturn primary direction.
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A blast from the past — Robert DeLuce and Primary Directions

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.

Orlando Bloom natal chart, time quoted from his mother

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:

DeLuce’s delineation of Mars coming to the horizon by primary direction includes accidents, blows, falls, broken limbs, etc.

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:

This chart, cast for 85 minutes after his birth time, shows the natal square of Mars (the point at 9 Aries 17) on the eastern horizon, indicating the potential for a serious accident at age 21.

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.

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When is a planet in a sign? The strange ideas of Abu Ma’shar.

Recently I’ve been reading Ben Dykes translation of Abu Ma’shar’s Great Introduction to the Science of the Judgements of the Stars (Cazimi Press, 2020). Many of Ma’shar’s ideas have caused me to re-evaluate my own understanding of some basic concepts. His discussion of out-of-sign aspects has me perplexed, and I wonder if in a certain sense Ma’shar doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Specifically I’m referring to the discussion of out-of-sign aspects on page 451 of Dykes’ translation. Ma’shar gives the example in which the Moon is at the very end of Aquarius and Saturn is at the very beginning of Cancer. In this case, the Moon and Saturn are not considered to be in aspect because Cancer and Aquarius are signs in aversion to one another, and aspects only occur between signs. He also notes that the orb of the body of the Moon will extend into Pisces because the Moon lies at the very end of Aquarius, and thus the ray of Saturn at the very beginning of Pisces will mix with the light of the orb of the Moon, producing a “mixture of their natures” which will be small, and the Moon “will not be reckoned as connecting with” Saturn “until it has changed over to the other sign.”

So far, so good. But Ma’shar states “if the light planet [the Moon in this example] was at the end of the sign [Aquarius in this case], empty of course, with the power of one-half of its body having already gone to the next sign from it, and the rays of some other slow planet [Saturn in this example] are at the beginning of that sign [Pisces in this case] … and they are not looking at each other, then the mixture of their natures will be small and the light one will not be reckoned as connecting with the slow one until it [the slow one] has changed over into the other sign.” [bold mine] To me this sounds like utter nonsense. The comment in bold makes me wonder if Ma’shar’s phrasing could have inspired the later concept of moieties of planets to define when planets were in aspect.

Ma’shar appears to be stating that in this case the Moon is to be considered as inhabiting Aquarius until its entire body has enter Pisces. Thus, even if Saturn’s ray were at 0 Pisces 01′ and the Moon’s body entirely encompassed the ray of Saturn in Pisces, the mere presence of a tiny speck of the Moon’s body in Aquarius would mean the two planets are not connected by aspect. Ma’shar appears to completely disregard the angular diameter of the planets.

Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angular_diameter

Planets are not one-dimensional specs in the sky, but the boundaries between signs can be considered one-dimensional lines. For example, the Sun has an angular diameter of about 32′ of arc. The Moon’s angular diameter varies from about 30′ to 34′ of arc depending on where the moon is in its orbit around the Earth. Saturn has an angular diameter of about 14″ to 20″ of arc.

In Ma’shar’s example, let’s assume that Saturn (that is, the center of Saturn’s body) lies at 00 Cancer 00′ 10″ so that its “trine ray” in Pisces lies at 00 Pisces 00′ 10″. Now if the Moon lies at 29 degrees Aquarius 59′ 59″, Ma’shar would consider to Moon to be in Aquarius even though 99.9% of its body lies in Aquarius, and the body of the Moon completely overlaps the trine ray of Saturn, and he would consider there be be only a “small mixture of their natures.” Only when the outmost edge of the body of the Moon passed into Pisces would Ma’shar consider a trine to exist.

This passage in Ma’shar is patently illogical and displays an ignorance of basic astronomy, which makes one wonder whether the text was somehow corrupted and did not express what Ma’shar orignally intended. Obviously the body of a planet can be in two signs at once, as the planet crosses over the one-dimensional border between signs. Anyone who has watched the sun rise or set is away of the span, measured in minutes on the clock, required for the sun’s entire disk to rise or set with respect to the horizon. The concept of cazimi was extant in Ma’shar’s time, that is, that a planet’s body in direct contact with the body of the sun (within 17′ of the center of the sun, assuming that the sun had an angular diameter of about 34′ of arc) was a special condition because the bodies of both the planet and the sun were overlapping.

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The use of “modern” planets in traditional astrology

Many contemporary astrologers got their start in traditional astrology through the writings and teaching of Robert Zoller. I first met Robert in the 1980s at a conference in NYC. He mentioned how he was spending time in the NY Public Library translating medieval astrology texts and, knowing of my interest in William Lilly and in traditional methods, he recommended that I read Bonatti and Morinus. Robert had written a text in 1981 about Bonatti’s methods, entitled Tools & Techniques of the Medieval Astrologers.

Robert Zoller

At the time some astrologers studying traditional methods were “purists” who refused even to look at the “modern” planets in traditional charts. Other astrologers were open to including Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in charts to see if they offered additional information. Zoller belonged to the latter group.

Given Zoller’s reputation as a pioneer in re-introducing traditional astrology to the modern world, it may surprise those unfamiliar with his work that he used Uranus, Neptune and Pluto with traditional methods. In his writing and teaching, Robert often illustrated concepts using the primary directions of “modern” planets in his own birth chart.

Robert Zoller birth chart

Explaining Bonatti’s method of calculating length of life, Zoller identifies the Moon as his hyleg (giver of life) and Venus as his Alcocoden (giver of years). By Bonatti’s medieval standards, Venus would offer him 82 years of life (the duration of her “major” years). Nonetheless, Zoller notes that an angular Uranus (a modern planet) closely opposes his natal Venus, which is his Alcocoden, and therefore a certain number of years must be subtracted from the “major years” of Venus to determine the likely lifespan.

Noting that Uranus is analogous to Saturn, as is Jupiter to Neptune and Pluto to Mars, Zoller comes up with the formula “Uranus = 10, Neptune = 4, and Pluto = 5” (Tools & Techniques, p. 58). Therefore, Zoller subtracts 10 years from the lifespan promised by Venus to account for the opposition of Uranus to Venus (the Alcocoden), and he states that his expected life span would thus be 72 years.

It is noteworthy that Robert Zoller was born on 25 January 1947 and he died on 24 January 2020 at the age of 72, just one day before his 73rd birthday. One has to wonder whether his belief that he would die at age 72 became a self-fulfilling prophecy or whether the medieval technique with the addition of the modern planets accurately predicted his length of life.

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