A Chart from the FBI Most Wanted List

Recently I came across a reference to an old case from the FBI Most Wanted List and was curious to look at the natal chart. I recall reading about this case when I was a teenager because it had to do with a clever bank robber named Frank Sprenz who was technologically quite savvy and also a master of disguise. His modus operandi was to rob a bank and then flee to a nearby airport where he would steal an airplane to escape capture.

Sprenz’s criminal history began early and continued throughout his life. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Sprenz died in in August 2016 at Grafton Correctional Institution at the age of 86. Here is a summary of Sprenz’s early criminal activity by Pauli Poisua from the site Modern Rogue:

Sometimes, he landed planes in front of bars like it was nothing, went in for a drink, then left when someone pointed out that this was awesome and they should call a newspaper. Because it was at that, and only that point when it briefly occurred to him that a highly wanted criminal probably shouldn’t be pulling off Hollywood stunts like that. This incident marked Sprenz’s two months on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.”

Sprenz made his name in 1958, when he performed a daring prison escape with four other inmates: They made a cell key from a piece of metal, threw hot coffee on a guard, and legged it. The others were caught (and in one case, killed) within a week, while Sprenz was able to evade capture for over a year. During this time, he used a bunch of aliases and disguises, stole 29 cars and even 3 airplanes. He’d be seen in Pennsylvania, then nab a plane, fly it to Vermont, and freaking deliberately crash it to elude authorities. He used one of those planes to perform a bank heist in Ohio, just casually landing it in front of the bank, robbing the place for $26,000, and then flying the hell away.”

His dramatic prison escape occurred on 16 April 1958 and was followed by a highly publicized crime spree. In response, the FBI placed him on their Ten Most Wanted List on 10 September 1958. He was finally captured on 15 April 1959, almost a year to the day from his notorious jail break.

Surprisingly, given the notoriety of this criminal, there is nothing posted about him on astro.com (AstroDataBank). The FBI identifies his birth date at 13 February 1930 in Akron, Ohio, most likely taken from court documents and public records. I did a google search for Sprenz’s birth data and found one reference in the astrological literature to a 1977 article by Karen Ober Savalan in The Astrological Journal XIX.4.176. In 1978 this same author published a book on midpoints which featured the chart of Frank Sprenz as its primary example. Unfortunately, in that book his birthdate is given as 14 February 1930 rather than 13 February 1930 (the official FBI record). Because Karen Savalan does not document the source of Sprenz’s birth data, we do not know which is the correct birth date. In addition, she gives a birth time of 7 in the morning, but she does not indicate the source of the data or whether she rectified the chart on the basis of Sprenz’s life events and the theories of the cosmobiologists.

After reviewing the data which I could find online, my best guess is that Frank Lawrence Spence was born on 13 February 1930 in Akron, Ohio, as in the official FBI reports, and that the 7 a.m. time is either from a birth record to which Savalan had access or is her rectification to make the chart work according to the teachings of Witte and Ebertin. Assuming that the 7 a.m. time is reasonably accurate (but it may not be), and that the FBI version of the birth date is more accurate than the date in Savalan’s book on midpoints, I tweaked the birth time using midpoinds, solar and lunar returns, progressions, directions and transits, and came up with a possible birth time of 7:02:15 AM EST in Akron, Ohio, on 13 February 1930. Here is the resulting possible birth chart for the Flying Bank Robber.

Possible birth chart for Frank Sprenz, based on FBI data.

A Cow was his Undoing:

An interesting feature of this chart is that Mars (ruler of the 9th of air travel and occupant of the 12th of imprisonment, undoing and large animals like cows) is “at the bendings,” being in partile square to the Moon’s Nodes (the intervention of fate) which conjoin the 3rd/9th cusps of local and long-distance travel, including travel by air. Sprenz was finally caught when a cow in Mexico interfered with his take-off as he was planning to fly to Cuba. Taurus on the cusp of the 3rd is the sign of cows and bulls.

Here is an account of the incident from the FBI News site:

When the news media further increased Sprenz’s notoriety by dubbing him the ‘Flying Bank Robber,’ he decided to flee the country. Using a small plane he purchased with stolen money, he eventually flew to Raymondville, Texas, near the border of Mexico. Fearing he had been recognized, he quickly flew on to Mexico.

Sprenz was right—he had been spotted. Authorities contacted the FBI. The Bureau’s international office, or legal attaché, in Mexico City was put on alert.

Sprenz had refueled and was taking off for Cuba when fate intervened: A cow stepped in front of his plane, causing him to swerve and hit a tree. His plane was damaged beyond repair. An FBI legal attaché agent assisted Mexican authorities in tracking down Sprenz, and he was arrested and later returned to the U.S. He was found guilty of various crimes and sentenced to 25 years in jail. He was paroled in 1970 but later returned to his life of crime, and, ultimately, died in prison.

If anyone reading this has accurate and verifiable information about the actual birth data, please leave a comment. This is an interesting chart, which belongs in the astrological literature.

Addendum 12 June 2022:

I am extremely grateful to Karen Christino who did further research into the birth data and left the following comment:

“930 Census has him 2 months old in April of 1930 — if this is the right family. Name is spelled “Sprence” (lines 27-30), but phonetic misspellings are common in Census records. He also seems to be in the Ohio Birth Index on 2/14/30, Certificate #193005796 if you want to check it out (no additional info).

He appears to have also played fast and loose with his birth info. For 1953 marriage he’s born 2/13/32, 1972 marriage born 2/14/35, Social Security application gives 2/13/30 and Social Security Death Index 2/14/30 (odd that the last two should disagree).”

If we take the Ohio Birth Index as the most accurate, then his birthdate is 14 February 1930. The source of the 7 AM time is still uncertain, and it may be a rectification. In any case, here is his 7 AM natal chart for Valentine’s Day of 1930.

14 Feb 1930 Birth Chart based on Ohio Birth Registry. Time unverified. 7 AM is the time used by Karen Ober Savalan in her book on midpoints.
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A Forgotten Method of Forecasting with New Moons

Perhaps it’s serendipity, but recently I was reviewing the literature on forecasting with lunations for a class I’m teaching on solar returns when Alphee Lavoie posted on Facebook an AstroCartoGraphy chart of the New Moon of 30 April 2022 in Washington, DC, being “progessed” diurnally to 24 May 2022, the date of the school shootings in Uvalde, Texas. The Mars/Dsc line of this May 24th diurnal chart cast for Washington, DC, goes directly through Uvalde. Alphee calls this the “Diurnal New Moon” chart, and he has been testing its astro-mapping in mundane astrology for a number of years.

What fascinated me about Alphee’s post was that the previous day I was re-reading an old book in my astrological library: Leigh Hope Milburn’s The Progressed Horoscope Simplified, written in 1928. In her discussion of forecasting with the New Moon, she writes:

A chart made up on the day of the New Moon as though it were the native’s own birthday (time, place, etc. of the real birth) and read in conjunction with the radical chart will often throw considerable light on the conditions for the month ahead. Also, a chart made up for the exact moment of the New Moon for the particular locality in which one is interested will reveal, in quite some detail, the conditions for that locality for the next 28 days.”

Alphee’s method is very similar to the first technique described by Leigh Hope Milburn in the above paragraph. The difference is that in applying the idea to mundane astrology, Alphee uses the actual time of the New Moon in Washington, DC, rather than the “birth time” of the nation. Milburn used the method with charts of individuals and utilized the native’s birth time to create the diurnal chart rather than the actual hour and minute of the New Moon. This is essentially the second technique described by Milburn.

Like Alphee, Milburn used the charts of localities of the New Moon, cast for the exact moment of the lunartion, to judge conditions at those localities during the month ahead. Alphee appears to have extended this technique by using astro-mapping along with a diurnal chart for the New Moon (Milburn’s second technique). The use of lunations in astrological forecasting is well-established in the classical literature. Alphee’s application of diurnal charts of lunations to mundane astrology via astro-mapping is a valuable contribution, worth investigating.

Here are the charts:

New Moon in Washington, DC, on left and the “diurnal” chart of the New Moon on the right. The same time and place is used in both charts, only the dates are different. Leigh Hope Milburn compared the diurnal chart of the New Moon in a particular region to the actual New Moon chart at that location to delineate “the conditions for that locality for the next 28 days.” Alphee Lavoie extended this technique by astro-mapping the diurnal chart of the most recent New Moon onto the region under consideration.

Alphee’s decision to use astro-mapping with this diurnal technique was brilliant and highly informative. To make clear how it works, I will list the steps to be followed when using this mapping technique with New Moons:

  1. Calculate the chart of the most recent New Moon for the capital city of the nation or a central location of the region being studied.
  2. For the date of interest in the month following the New Moon, calculate the chart for that day, using the time and place of the New Moon but the date being investigated. In this example, the New Moon occurred on 20 April 2022 in Washington, DC. at 4:28:05 PM EDT, and we want to see how it will play out in the United States as a nation. Using the same place and time, we would calculate the “diurnal” chart for 24 May 2022 in Washington, D.C., which was the date of the massacre.
  3. Create an AstroCartoGraphy map of the region being studied, using the diurnal chart.

As Alphee noted in his Facebook post, the resulting astro-map (the one here is calculated in mundo) is shown below. The Mars/Dsc line passes directly through Uvalde, which lies to the left of San Antonio. In the original New Moon chart, Mars rules the 3rd house of early education and the 8th house of human mortality.

In mundo astro-map of the diurnal New Moon chart. The Mars/Dsc line passes directly through Uvalde.

I’ve known Alphee for many years, and he is always coming up with and experimenting with innovative ideas. His use of local space maps in horary astrology to find lost objects is a technique which I now often use. I’m eager to experiment with his astro-mapping of diurnal New Moon charts to see what they reveal about mundane events.

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Did William Lilly misunderstand contrantiscions?

William Lilly writes on pages 91-92 of Christian Astrology (1647):

“and as there are Antiscions, which of the good planets we think are equal to a Sextile, or Trine; so are there Contrantiscions, which we find to be of the nature of a Square or Opposition: and to know where it is, you do no more than observe in what sign and degree the Antiscion is, in the sign and degree opposite to that place [is] the Contrantiscion…” (bold is mine).

Note that Lilly specifies that the antiscions “of the good planets” are regarded as equal to a sextile or trine connection between the planets. He does not comment on the antiscions of “bad planets” or on the contrantiscions of either good or bad planets, except to say that contrantiscions are “of the nature of a square or opposition.” This view of contrantiscions appears in most modern texts about the topic of antisicia and contra-antiscia.

In reading through Ben Dykes 2020 translation of Abu Ma’shar’s 9th century Great Introduction to the Science of the Judgment of the Stars, however, I came upon a different view of contrantiscions, which took me by surprise because Lilly’s explanation of contantisicons as being like squares and oppositions had been so ingrained in my brain.

Ma’shar is writing about how the signs of the zodiac can behold one another, which is a matter of importance because the planetary ruler of a sign cannot effectively manage its own domain if it has no way to communicate with it. Such a state of inability to communicate visually is referred to as “aversion.”

All astrologers know that signs connected by major, or so-called Ptolomeic, aspects can behold one another. Thus, a planet in a sign can see what is going on in any other sign which is connected to it by major aspect (sextile, square, trine, opposition). Technically, the conjunction is not an aspect but refers to the actual bodily presence of a planet within a sign.

Ma’shar asks what happens when planets occupy signs which are NOT connected by any major aspect, that is, by direct vision. Are there other connections between the signs which will allow a planet in one such sign to know what is happening in the other? The answer is “yes” because signs can be connected by antiscions, contrantiscions, or by being ruled by the same planet.

Antiscions are basically reflections across the solstitial axis, so instead of direct vision, a planet in one sign can see the reflection of the other sign, so to speak. For example, in the following diagram Aries and Virgo are “inconjunct” or “quincunx” and cannot directly see each other via a major aspect. However, each can “see” the image of the other via its reflection across the solstitial axis. Such signs are said to “agree in power” because their days share the same amount of sunlight (the source of power in our solar system). This is considered a harmonious connection.

Image from my book Horary Astrology Plain and Simple

Contrantiscions are signs which reflect across the equinoctial axis and agree in the amount of time it takes each sign in the pair to ascend across the eastern horizon. Such signs are sometimes considered to communicate by being able to “hear” each other. Nonetheless, it is a form of communication and is regarded as a way in which the signs can “harmonize” with one another.

There is no mention of the contrantiscion acting like a square or opposition. Quite the contrary, Abu Ma’shar gives the example of signs in actual square aspect, which would normally mean conflict and hostility, in fact being in harmony and affection because both signs agreed in ascensions and had a contrantiscion relationship (as do the pairs Taurus/Aquarius, and Leo/Scorpio). In other words, the contrantiscion connection converts signs in square aspect to signs that, nonetheless, harmonize and feel affection for one another because they have a special contrantiscion relationship which permits each one to hear what the other is saying.

While it is true that the antiscion and contrantiscion degrees of a given planet lie opposite each other in the zodiac circle, it does not mean that the contrantiscion is equivalent to an opposition aspect. This notion must have entered the literature some time after the 9th century when Abu Ma’shar wrote his treatise, explaining that the contrantiscion is a connection of “harmony and affection” between signs. Perhaps Lilly’s version is based on a translator’s misunderstanding of the original Arabic text.

Abu Ma’shar’s explanation is similar to that of earlier Hellenistic astrologers. For example, Rhetorius of Egypt around the 7th century wrote: “Signs that are disjunct but having sympathy for each other are all the equal-rising signs [contra-antiscions], and those having equal power [antiscions], and those of like zone [same planetary ruler]. For example, equal-rising are Aries and Pisces, Gemini and Capricorn, Cancer and Sagittarius, Virgo and Libra; of equal power are Gemini and Cancer, Virgo and Aries, Libra and Pisces, Sagittarius and Capricorn; of like zone are Taurus with Libra, Aries with Scorpio. And most of the other disjunct signs they established wholly ineffective as regards sympathy.” (James Holden translation, 2009, pp. 16-17)

Like Abu Ma’shar, Rhetorius regards the antiscion, contrantiscion and same planetary ruler relationships between signs as one of “sympathy” (Rhetorius) or harmony and affection (Ma’shar), and there is no mention of contrantisions being of the nature of oppositions or squares.

Image from my book Horary Astrology Plain and Simple.
Horizontal lines connect antiscions (sign of equal power).
Vertical lines connect contrantiscions (signs of equal ascension).
Abu Ma’shar regards such connections as one of affection and harmony between the signs involved, even though the two signs cannot see each other by major aspect.

Addendum: I’m grateful to Luis Ribeiro for pointing out that Ma’shar used the term “natural opposition” when discussing antiscions and contrantiscions.  Inspired by Luis, I checked Dyke’s translation (2020), and he notes that by “natural opposition” and “natural sextile” Ma’Shar means that the two signs are in aversion (can’t see each other) but are able to harmonize because they are also in antiscion or contrantiscion relationship (see footnote 199 on page 362 of Dykes translation). So it may be that European translators in later centuries did not understand what Ma’shar meant by “natural opposition”, etc.

All written material and images on this page are copyright Anthony Louis 2022.

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On the distribution of propitious and impropitious times

As mentioned in the two previous posts, recently I came across the word “hebdómada” in a Spanish-language blog about predictive astrology. Not knowing what it meant, I googled the word and found the following definition:

Definition of hebdomad
1 : a group of seven.
2 : a period of seven days : week.

And regarding its etymology:
1540s, “the number seven;” c. 1600, “a week;” from Latin hebdomad-, stem of hebdomas “seven, the seventh day; a week,” from Greek hebdomas “the number seven; a period of seven (days),” from hepta “seven” (from PIE *septm; see seven) + -mos, suffix used to form ordinal numbers, cognate with Latin -mus.

Over the centuries, astrologers have proposed various ways to distribute the days of the year among the seven traditional planets.

Google also led me to a reference by astrologer Fernando Ruiz Guarin, who explained that the technique of hebdomads (hebdómadas) was a method of distributing the solar return year among the traditional seven visible planets to identify periods when each planet would be active as a time-lord for a set of days during the year. It was also possible to divide the larger hebdomads into seven sub-hebdomads to further pinpoint likely dates of manifestation of the significations of each planet, for good or evil. Each planet was assigned a certain number of days during the year, and the sequence apparently began with the ruler of the solar return ascendant and presumably proceeded in the well-known Chaldean order from the slowest planet (Saturn) to the fastest (the Moon).

Curious about the origin of this technique, I contacted Fernando who told me that the method comes from a 16th century book about solar revolutions by Italian astrologer Junctinus of Florence. Never having read that book, I searched for it online and was able to download a digital copy of the original text, written in Latin. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a translation of this text into English, so I browsed the Latin text until I found the chapter entitled “De nativitatum. Annorum per dies distributio” and did my best to translate it into English. (I studied Latin some 60 years ago as a high school student and have only occasionally used it since.) Not having read other parts of Junctinus’ book, I did not have a feel for the context of the material or a sense of the author’s style of writing and use of vocabulary in Latin. Nonetheless, I persisted and came up with the following understanding, based on my rusty Latin:

Junctinus begins the chapter by stating that the days of a year can be divided among the seven individual planets, from which will arise all the good and bad things that will happen during the year, depending on the condition and nature of the planet in charge of that certain period of days. Next, Junctinus wrote a sentence whose meaning initially puzzled me: “Hospitator ergo siue dominus signi ad quod devoluta fuerit progressio ab horoscopo primos sibi vendicat dies.” I understood this to mean that the host planet (hospitator, the planet that hosts the period of days in question), that is, the lord of the sign (dominus signi), to which (ad quod) the progression from the Ascendant (progressio ab horoscopo) had rolled down (devoluta fuerit, or handed over), claimed for itself the first days. I wasn’t sure if Junctinus was referring to the Asc of the solar return or to the Asc of the annually profected chart, as being the host of the first of the seven periods of days of the year.

Junctinus’ s use of the word “devoluta” from a verb meaning “to roll down,” like a ball that rolls down a hill, or to “hand over,” as in handing over the baton in a relay race, suggested that he had profections in mind, as the way in which a star (stella) hosts a period of days of the year as the governance of the year “rolls down” or “is handed over” from the Ascendant of one year to the next. The English word “devolution” dervies from the Latin “devolutus” and means the legal or official transfer of property from one owner to another, so it does seem that Junctinus is describing profection and attributing his understanding to the text by Maternus.

Junctinus continues, “poft ipsum caeteri prout sunt singuli in natalis themate constitute, inquit Firmicus cap.19.1ib.2..”, that is, “and after him [after the host, or hopitator], the other planets, as they are individually placed in the natal chart (in natalis themate), states Firmicus in ch.19. lib.2.” 

In other words, Junctinus is attributing this 16th century method to the 4th century author Firmicus Maternus, so the answer to whether “hospitator” was referring the the solar return ascendant or the profected ascendant could be found in Maternus. What was clear was that, according to Junctinus, the distribution of the days of the year among the seven planets was done in the order in which they appeared in the birth chart (which is the same order they would follow in the profected chart), and not in classic Chaldean order.

My next step was to read the relevant 4th century chapter in Firmicus Maternus, which Junctinus was referencing in his 16th century text. Fortunately, this time I had a copy of Maternus in Latin and looked up the chapter which Junctinus was quoting from. It is reproduced here, under the titles “De distributione temporum” (on the distribution of time) and “De anni divisione” (on the division of the year):

I then proceeded to translate Maternus’ text into English, paying particular attention to whether he was discussing the profected chart or the solar return chart. Here is my translation, probably not very polished because it was my first time through the Latin text. This passage occurs in the part of Book II in which Maternus is discussing how to determine the potential lifespan of the native and he is referencing the birth chart for this technique. My own comments about Maternus’ text appear in brackets [ ]:

XXVII ON THE DISTRIBUTION OF TIME [during the lifespan of the native]

We shall briefly demonstrate the distribution of time. The Sun gets 19 months; the Moon, 25 months; Saturn, 30 months; Jupiter, 12 months; Mars, 15 months; Venus, 8 months; and Mercury, 20 months. [These are the standard “minor years” of the planets, as found in Vettius Valens and other classic texts.]

We will show what this distribution of time means in the books about forecasting by the stars, also what a star [planet] ordains when it takes over the time from another; for everything that befalls us, good or evil, we obtain by reason of the times. Even the end of life will be found in this way and also the nature of the entire nativity, and everything that the order of the planets decrees. [Here Maternus clearly appears to be discussing time lords and profections, in which one planet takes over a period of time from another planet.]

Moreover, we find the year with the easiest of reasoning; for it [the year] always takes its beginning from the horoscope [rising sign], and the first year will be the one in which the ascendant is located, the second [year] in the second sign, the third [year] in the third [sign], and so on for the others in order. Some do the same in a diurnal chart, [starting ]from the Sun, and at night [starting] from the Moon; and this makes sense. [Again, Maternus is clearly discussing profections, not solar returns. This text appears in the section about determining the length of life, and Maternus is explaining how do determine which planet rules the particular year of life in question. Thus, he says that the ‘horoscope’, meaning the ascending sign, is paired with the first year of life, the sign that follows the ascendant begins the 2nd year of life, the 3rd sign begins the 3rd year of life, and so on for the life of the native. After explaining how to find the Lord of the Year by the method of annual profections, he immediately moves on to discuss how to divide the year among the seven planets. He clearly has in mind the annually profected chart when he starts to discuss the “division of the year.”]


 The days of the entire year are also divided among the individual planets; and the extent by which they are divided, and from whence they begin, I shall take care to show … when illness, debility, profit or loss,  joy, or sorrow may occur. For when benefic planets host the days, we are freed from all evil; when malefic [planets host the days], then we are struck by sudden misfortune.

Therefore, in whichever sign the beginning of the year is located, the ruler of that sign receives the first days [of the year], and after him come the others, as they are individually situated. [Two paragraphs previously, Maternus had told us that the beginning of the year is related to the annual profection; now he is saying that the lord or the profected ascendant is the time-lord for the first division of the year into seven parts.]

And so, I shall also indicate the number of days allotted to each planet: the Sun, 53 days; the Moon, 71; Saturn, 85; Jupiter, 30; Mars, 42; Venus, 23; Mercury, 57. [There is clearly an error in these figures given because their total adds up to only 361 days, but there are 365 days in a civil year. Checking Valens, we find that the error lies in the number of days assigned to Jupiter, which should be 34 and not 30. This mistake in Maternus is probably the result of a copyist error between the 2nd (Valens) and 4th (Maternus) centuries. By the time these figures got to Junctinus in the 16th century (some twelve centuries later), two more copyist errors had occurred (at a rate of about one copyist error every 500 years, like mutations to the DNA of traditional astrology). The correct figures for the number of days of a 365-day year allotted to each planet are given by Valens in detail with their theoretical justification and are as follows (rounded to whole numbers in various ancient texts): the Sun, 53 days; the Moon, 71; Saturn, 85; Jupiter, 34; Mars, 42; Venus, 23; Mercury, 57. The total of these seven periods adds up to the 365 days of the civil year. Astrologers, who have been using the values given by Junctinus, have been working in error with the method. Junctinus erroneously gives 30 days to Jupiter, which he copied from Maternus, 33 days to Venus (instead of 23), and 36 days to Mars (instead of 42). At the end of this blog I have posted a list of the most accurate values, based on the theoretical reasoning of Valens.] Back to my translation of Maternus:

In this span of days, we can find everything that happens to us, after carefully having examined the nature of the sign and the place [house, topos]; for [if a planet is] well situated, the allotted time, months or days, is favorable, and it denotes all good things. But if a malefic planet hosts the time, months or days, and [that planet] is badly situated, it denotes misfortune, according to the quality of its location [in the chart].

Thus, by studying everything with prudent inquiry, one can explain most accurately the entire substance of the geniture.

END of my translation of Maternus.

Returning to Junctinus, he states that he disagrees with Maternus about the manner of dividing the year among the seven planets. Instead, Junctinus says that he would start the sequence with the Lord of the Year (domino anni, the ruler of the profected ascendant) but he would distribute the remaining six periods of days among the remaining six planets in the order in which the planets appear in the chart of the annual revolution (in annuae conversionis schemate, literally “in the figure of the annual rotation”). His disagreement with Maternus appears to be about how to order the planets that follow the Lord of the Year in distributing the days of the year among the seven planets.

In other words, Junctinus would divide the year into seven parts, each part hosted by a planet which has an allotted number of days based on its minor years. The first of the seven parts of the would be hosted by the Lord of the Year. The next planet to host a period of days would be the planet that comes after the Lord of the year in zodiacal order in the Solar Return, and not in the profected chart, as Maternus suggested (and not in Chaldean order, as Abu Ma’shar did). And so on with the remaining planets, which would host periods of days according to their sequence in zodiacal order in the solar return, after the Lord of the Year.

The following slide shows what appear to be copyist errors in the number of days assigned to each planet as Valens’ original text traveled from the 2nd to the 4th to the 16th century. Valens’ method was to project the minor years of the planets proportionately onto the 365 days of the civil year. This would involve multiplying the minor years of each planet by 2.83, or alternatively by doing the addition in Valens’ formula, that is, adding twice the value of the minor years, plus half the value of the minor years, plus one-third the value of the minor years, to obtain a total number of days allotted to the planet in a one-year period:

It turns out that Abu Ma’shar had his own method of distributing the days of the solar year among the seven planets. He simply divided the year into seven equal parts of 52.18 days, and he assigned the first set of 52.18 days to the ruler of the solar return ascendant. The remaining planets were then assigned their sets of 52.18 days in Chaldean order from Saturn to the Moon, slowest to fastest (i.e., to the planet “below it in the circle”.) Abu Ma’shar further subdivided the seven divisions of the year, also in Chaldean order starting with the planet that ruled the sub-period, and each sub-period was one-seventh of 52.18 days in duration. This system is most properly called the hebdomad system because it treats the entire years as if it were a great week consisting of seven great weekdays, each 52.18 days long. (In addition, the duration of each of the 7 periods of the year is 52.18 days, which is close to 49 days, the product of 7 x 7.)

In summary, the astrological literature contains several variations of a method of distributing the year among the seven visible planets, which then act as time-lords of those seven periods. The variables include:

1) the length of the year: solar year, civil year, sidereal year, etc.
2) whether to use the minor years of the planets to proportionately assign a number of days to each planet, as Valens proposed, or to use a uniform division independent of the minor years.
3) whether to divide the year into equal segments of 52.18 days each, as Abu Ma’shar proposed.
4) whether to begin the sequence of planets form the Lord of the Year (profected ascendant) as Maternus does, or from the ruler of the solar return ascendant as Abu Ma’shar and Junctinus do.
5) whether to continue to use values for the number of days distributed to each planet based on the copyist errors found in Maternus and Junctincus, or to use the original correct values, as explained by Vettius Valens.

The following table summaries my current understand of the several of the ways the year has been distributed among the seven planets in the astrological literature. Valens apparently applied this technique to the birth chart.

Author Ruler of first set of days of the yearSequence of PlanetsManner of Division of the Year
Valens (original values with theoretical justification in minor years) Profected Asc Lord of the YearOrder of planets in the birth chart?Proportionate to minor years of the planets
Maternus (copyist error in value for Jupiter) Profected Asc Lord of the YearAs in birth chartProportionate to minor years of the planets
Abu Ma’shar Solar Return Asc LordChaldean orderSeven equal segments of 52.18 days
Junctinus (copyist errors in values for Jupiter, Mars, Venus) Profected Asc Lord of the YearAs in the Solar ReturnProportionate to minor years of the planets
Volguine (he repeated the errors in Junctinus) Solar Return Asc LordChaldean orderProportionate to minor years of the planets
Suggested Alternative (Valens’ original values) Profected Asc Lord of the YearAs in the Solar ReturnProportionate to minor years of the planets

My own bias is the following: to distribute the year according to the number of days calculated according to the theoretical ideas of Valens, based on the minor years of the planets, because these minor years have played such an important role in predictive astrology for more than two millennia; to calculate the number of days by multiplying the minor years of each planet by 365.2422 and dividing by 129 (the total number of minor years of the 7 planets); in other words, the number of minor years times 2.8312 will give the number of days assigned to that planet in a solar year, from one solar return to the next; to begin the sequence from the Lord of the Year, which has traditionally been the starting point for assessing the revolutions of the years of nativities; but to then follow the sequence of planets after the Lord of the Year, according to how they appear in the solar revolution, because the solar return is specific and individualized to the year in question. I would then sub-divide these seven-day periods in a similar manner, with the first planet being the ruler of the larger period, and the order of planets being the same as the order in the solar return.

I know of no computer program which follows the procedure just described, so I have been using an Excel spreadsheet to calculate the seven divisions of the year and their seven sub-divisions, beginning with the Lord of the Year, and following the sequence of planets after the Lord of the Year as they appear in the solar return. (See my previous post for a case example.)

The following table shows the proportionate values of the number of days allotted to each planet, based on the planet’s minor years. Valens used an arithmetic formula to derives the values in his text. For a given planet, he added twice its minor years to half its minor years and to a third of its minor years to approximate the proportion 365.24 / 129 = 2.8312. The year being divided is the solar year which extends from one solar return to the next.

Now that we have computers and Excel spreadsheets, if I were programming this technique of distributing days of the solar return year over the seven visible planets, according to their minor years, I would use the central column of figures, which totals to 365.242 days in the year. The values in Valens’ Anthology add up to 365.5 days in a year, so he is about 6 hours off, which in practice hardly matters with this technique.

An open question: Even though Vettitus Valens appears to have originated this method of distributing the year among the seven planets, I’m not sure how he used it in practice. Did he apply it annually only to profected chart, or also to the solar return? Looking at how Curtis Manwaring programmed Valens’ annual divisions, it appears that he began with the Lord of the Year, then listed the sequence of non-luminary planets after the Lord of the Year as they appear in the birth chart, and then ended the sequence with the Moon and finally the Sun.


Let me end with a nerdy and irrelevant aside:  The Celestial Hebdomad, the archons who make up the ruling council of Mount Celestia, appears in Dungeons & Dragons. Abu Ma’shar was talking about a “celestial hebdomad” of a different kind.

Addendum: a Case Example

A colleague who was trying to understand this technique asked me to provide a case example. I somewhat arbitrarily chose Frida Kahlo, with the idea that her accident at age 18 should should up if this technique has any validity. Frida was born in July of 1907 and had a severe bus accident on 17 September 1925. Let’s start with her natal chart.


Frida was born with Leo rising, making the Sun ruler of her natal Ascendant. The order of planets around the zodiac wheel, starting the the Asc-ruler Sun in her natal chart, is Sun, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Saturn, Moon, and finally Venus. The same order of planets would be present in any of her profected charts. At age 18, she was in an Aquarius annual profection year, so Saturn was her Lord of the Year at the time of her accident was Saturn, and the order of planets, starting from the Profected Asc ruler, would have been Saturn, Moon, Venus, Sun, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars.

Frida’s solar return in 1925 took place on July 5. With Saturn as the Lord of the Year, her first seven-part division of the year would have belonged to Saturn, who is allotted 85 days, which means that the Saturn seven-part division of the year ran for 85 days from July 5 until September 28, 1925. Her accident took place on September 17, some 11 days prior to the end of the Saturn period.

To find which planet ruled the sub-period in which September 17 falls, we need to apportion the 85 days of Saturn into seven segments, proportional to the Minor Years of the planets involved. The total number of minor years adds up to 129, so we calculate what percent of 129 each planet is due, and take that percentage of 85 days, the period of Saturn, to determine the length of the subperiod belonging to each planet AS THEY APPEAR IN HER SOLAR RETURN AT AGE 18:

Saturn – minor years 30: 30/129 = 23.259% of the total => Saturn rules the first 19.8 days

Moon – minor years 25: 25/129 = 19.379% of the total => Moon rules the next  16.4 days

Jupiter – minor years 12: 12/129 =  9.302% of the total => Jupiter rules the next  7.9 days

Sun – minor years 19: 19/129 = 14.778% of the total => Sun rules the next 12.6 days

Mercury – minor years 20: 20/129 = 15.503% of the total => Mercury rules the next 13.2 days

Venus – minor years 8:  129 =  6.202% of the total => Venus rules the next 5.3 days

Mars – minor years 15:  15/129 = 11.628% of the total  => Mars rules the final 9.9 Days

If I did the math correctly, the end of the Saturn period on 28 September minus the 9.9 days assigned to the sub-period of the Saturn period back to 18 September 1925, the day after the accident, so the ruler of the sub-period on the day she was injured must have been Venus. Thus, Frida’s accident which affected the rest of her life occurred during a time when Saturn was Time-lord of the Year, Saturn was lord of the first 85 days of her solar return year, and Venus was the sub-lord of the Saturn portion of days.

In her natal chart, Venus is afflicted by a conjunction with Pluto and a square from her 6th-ruler Saturn in the 8th house, so that, according to this method of the “distribution of propitious and impropitious times,” this stressful configuration was activated by the time-lords on 17 September 1925. Here is her solar return:

Solar return at age 18

We began the division of the year at the Lord of the Year, which was Saturn, but then followed the sequence of planets in the solar return to apportion the remaining seven parts of the year, and followed the same sequence in sub-dividing the seven parts of the year.

The solar return repeats the natal Saturn square Venus aspect. Return Saturn rules the 3rd house of travel. Return Venus occupies the 8th and rules the 6th. Venus in the return 8th is also afflicted by a conjunction with Mars. In the return, the Moon rules the 8th and applies to oppose the Sun, which rules her natal Ascendant and is tightly conjoined with return Pluto. The return Moon is also conjunct return Jupiter, ruler of the return chart.

Valens method, as calculated in the program Delphic Oracle by Curtis Manwaring, gives Frida’s 1925 annual division, based on her birth chart and profections, as:

Frida Kahlo: annual division of the year 1925, according to the method of Vettius Valens, as calculated in the program Delphic Oracle. Note that he starts with the Lord of the Year (Saturn, Aquarius as profected Ascendant at age 18) and then follows the sequence of the non-luminary planets in the birth chart (or profected chart) and ends with sequence with the Moon and finally the Sun. In this scheme her accident occurred during a Saturn major period (Saturn as Lord of the Year) and a Venus sub-period. Valens apparently did not use the further sub-divisions of the Venus sub-period. I don’t understand the number of days allotted to each planet in this division of the year, which appears to be divided into six portions, with no days allotted to the Sun: Saturn, 57 days; Venus, 82 days; Jupiter, 79 days; Mercury, 76 days; Mars, 66 days; Moon, 5 days; Sun, 0 days.
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Volguine and the 7 Planetary Periods of Junctinus

This is a follow-up to my previous post about the errors in Junctinus’ table of planetary periods, which he used in analyzing solar returns. In Chapter 14 of The Technique of Solar Returns, Volguine discusses Junctinus’s method in which the astrological year is divided into seven planetary periods of unequal duration. Volguine notes that Junctinus attributes the duration of these planetary periods to the Roman astrologer Firmicus Maternus in the 4th century, and he admits that he does not know why the planets are assigned these particular numbers of days.

As I showed in the last post, the table of planetary periods used by Junctinus derives from the work of 2nd century Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens. Unfortunately, there are three errors in the number of days allotted to each planet in Junctinus’ text when compared with the original source, which is Vettius Valens, who assigned the number of days on the basis of the minor years of the seven visible planets.

In addition, Volguine differs from Junctinus in that Volguine insists on using the Chaldean order of planets from slowest to fastest, and he begins his sequence from the ruler of the solar return ascendant instead of the profected Lord of the Year. Volguine gives an example of a man whose mother died on 22 May 1936 when the native was 27 years old. His solar return in 1936 had Gemini rising, so Volguine begins counting from Mercury, ruler of the return ascendant, rather than f rom Saturn, which was Lord of the Year when this man, who was born with Libra rising, was 27 years old. Using his own method, Volguine concludes that the mother died during a Saturn planetary period, and he notes that Saturn rules the 8th of the return chart and occupied the 10th of the mother.

Now let’s see how Junctinus would have analyzed the solar return of Volguine’s client, but with the correct duration of the seven planetary periods as derived by Vettius Valens:

365.24 days in a tropical year divided by 129 (the total duration of the minor years of all seven visible planets) = 2.83 annual days per each minor year. Thus,

Saturn: 30 x 2.83 = 84.9, rounded to 85 days per year.
Jupiter: 12 x 2.83 = 33.96, rounded to 34 days.
Mars: 15 x 2.83 = 42.45, rounded to 42 days.
Sun: 19 x 2.83 = 53.77, rounded to 54. (Valens rounded this down to 53 days.)
Venus: 8 x 2.83 = 22.64, rounded to 23 days.
Mercury: 20 x 2.83 = 56.6, rounded to 57 days.
Moon: 25 x 2.83 = 70.75, rounded to 71 days.

Natal chart of Volguine’s client whose mother died when he was 27 years old.
1936 Solar Return of the man whose mother died on 22 May 1936 when he was 27 years old.

Volguine’s client was born on 14 January 1909 and turned 27 years old on 14 January 1936. His profected ascendant at age 27 was Capricorn, ruled by Saturn, which became Lord of the Year in 1936. In the solar return (RS) chart, Saturn rules the 8th of death and occupies the 10th of the mother. In addition, RS Saturn lies close to return Mars in the 10th and is within orb of square aspect to the Venus/Jupiter conjunction in the return 6th near the cusp of the 7th. Natally, Venus rules the unfortunate 8th and 12th houses of the birth chart, and Jupiter rules the natal 5th, which is the 8th of death from the 10th of the mother. Natal Jupiter also rules the natal 3rd, which is the 6th of illness of the mother in the birth chart. The Sun in the solar return occupies the SR 8th of death and opposes return Pluto on the cusp of the 3rd, which is the 6th of illness of the 10th of the mother. It is not hard to see the ominous symbolism regarding the well-being of the mother during this year.

Junctinus recommends beginning with the Lord of the Year and arranging the planets in the zodiacl order in which they fall in the return chart. In this case, the order would be: Saturn (Lord of the Year), followed by the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Sun, Mercury and Mars.

The SR year began on 14 Jan 1936, and Saturn is allotted 85 days, which last until 8 April 1936, when the Moon becomes the time-lord for the next period.

The Moon is allotted 71 days, so the lunar period extends from 8 April until 18 June 1936, and encompasses the date of the mother’s demise. In the natal chart the Moon occupies the 12th house, so the native might experience some type of grief or misfortune during this period. In the solar return, the Moon occupies the 5th house, which is the 8th of death from the 10th of the mother. In addition, the SR Moon’s next aspect will be a stressful quincunx to Mars in the 10th of the mother.

Astrologer Fernando Ruiz Guarin uses a variation of this method, but he further subdivides the 71-day period of the Moon into subperiods (as in a dasha system) to pinpoint which of the seven planets acts as a sub-ruler to the date of the mother’s death. The idea is to partition the 71 days allotted to the Moon proportionately, based on the number of days per year allotted to each planet. Sub-dividing the Moon’s 71-day period in Excel, I came up with the following:

8 April 1936Moon period begins
21 April 1936Venus sub-period begins
26 April 1936Jupiter sub-period begins
2 May 1936Sun sub-period begins
13 May 1936Mercury sub-period begins
22 May 1936Death of mother
24 May 1936Mars sub-period begins
1 June 1936Saturn sub-period begins
18 June 1936End of 71-day Moon period and Saturn sub-period

Hence, by Junctinus’ method combined with the sub-period method described by Ruiz Guarin, the mother passed in the solar return year of 1936, whose Lord of the Year was Saturn, and during the period of the Moon and sub-period of Mercury. If this were a dasha system, we might represent it as Saturn/Moon/Mercury, where Saturn is the maha-dasha, and the Moon and Mercury are, respectively the sub- and sub-sub periods of this Saturn maha-dasha. In the SR chart, Mercury rules the 5th house, which is the derived 8th of death of the 10th of the mother. The same SR 5th house is occupied by the Moon, which is the major period ruler.

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An Error in Junctinus’ methodology on Solar Returns?

Junctinus was an Italian astrologer, medical doctor, theologian, mathematician and the author of the influential 16th century astrological text Speculum Astrologiae (1583) which contained the data and charts of the figures of his day, including his own birth chart. Lacking a modern computer, Junctinus calculated his charts by hand and made some errors in calculation in various charts. Nonetheless, he was highly regarded as an astrologer and was employed as a teacher of Catherine de Medici.

AstroDatabank gives the following as his birth details:

NameJunctinus Gender: M
BirthnameGiuntini, Franciscus
born on8 March 1522 Jul.Cal. (18 Mar 1522 greg.) at 01:20 (= 01:20 AM )
PlaceFlorence, Italy43n46, 11e15
TimezoneLMT m11e15 (is local mean time)
Franciscus Giuntini (1522 – 1590?) also wrote a text in Latin about Solar Revolutions in the year M.D. LXX (1570)

Francisci Ivnctini florentini S. T. Doctoris also published the following book in the year 1570 on Annual Revolutions and Solar Returns:

Tractatus iudicandi reuolutiones natiuitatum : omnia, quae pertractantur in hoc libro non solum astrologis, sed etiam vniuersis bonarum artium studiosis vtilia, [et] iucunda, atque aliter explicata, quam hactenus fuerint ab aliis tradita : vit sapiens dominabitur astris.

(A treatise for judging the revolutions of births: all things which are handled in this book not only for astrologers, but also for all students of good arts, useful, [and] pleasant, and explained in a different way, than they have hitherto been rendered by others. The wise man will rule over the stars.)

I recently obtained a copy of Junctinus’ 16th century Latin text and began reading some key passages. I was particularly interested in his method of distributing the influence of the annual revolution over the days of the solar return year, which he took almost verbatim from the writings of the 4th century Roman astrologer Julius Firmicus Maternus. For his part, Firmicus Maternus derived the method from the 2nd century Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens, who appears to be the original source of the technique. Unfortunately, along the way various errors crept into the transcriptions of the original text of Vettius Valens, and these ended up in the solar revolutions book by Junctinus in the 16th century. Specifically, I am referring to the following chapter from pages 146 and 147 of Junctinus’ Latin text:

Junctinus’ table of the number of days assigned to each planet in the solar revolutions contains several errors, as explained in the remainder of this blog. Junctinus appears to be unaware of the fact that the values assigned to the planets are based on the ancient theory of the minor (small, least) years of the planets, described in the texts of Hellenistic astrologers.

Here is my loose translation of the above Latin text:


Distribution of the year by days.

The days of the entire year are also divided among the individual planets, from which arise ailments, weaknesses, gains, losses, pains, and joys: for when benevolent stars [planets] receive the day, we are freed from all evil. But when [the planet is] malevolent, sudden misfortunes befall us. The host, therefore, or the master of the sign to which it was handed over by the forward movement from the horoscope, claims for himself the first days: and after him, the other planets, as they are individually placed in the figure of the birthday [natal chart], says Firmicus in ch.19. lib.2.

But, in my opinion, we must take the distribution of the year from the lord of the year [domino anni, that is, the ruler of the profected ascendant of the year], after which we divide the year among the other planets, as they are individually placed in the chart of the annual rotation, according to the sequence of signs. In this space of days, we can find all the things that are coming to us: having thoroughly examined beforehand the location and quality of the signs, for if the star [planet], which will govern those days of our birth, is well placed and benevolent, it determines all good things. The number of days which each planet is allotted is as follows:

Days: Saturn – 85, Jupiter – 30, Mars – 36, Sun – 53, Venus – 33, Mercury – 57, Moon – 71.

Junctinus makes clear that he is deriving his method of dividing the solar return year into seven periods, each ruled by a particular planet in the order in which they appear in the solar return chart. He disagrees with Firmicus about which planet initiates the sequence. Firmiucus begins dividing the solar return year into periods of days, beginning with the ruler of the solar return Ascendant. Junctinus disagrees and states that, in his opinion, it is preferable to begin the sequence with the Lord of the Year, that is, the ruler of the annual profected Ascendant. The other planets are then arranged in the sequence in which they appear in the solar revolution, beginning with the Lord of the Year. Each planet is allotted a certain number of days, as indicated in the list provided by Junctinus, the total of which adds up to 365, the number of whole days in a year. [After re-reading the Latin text and pondering the words of Junctinus, I have changed my mind about the above paragraph and modified my understanding of his approach — see Addendum #3 at the end of this post. — 11 April 2022]

Junctinus appears to have been unaware that Firmicus derived the number of days assigned to each planet from the work of Vettius Valens in the 2nd century. Valens writes (Mark Riley translation):

Vettius Valens, Anthologies, Book IV 71 /158K;150P/

The Anthologies of Vettius Valens of Antioch: Book IV

1. The Distributions of Periods.
We believe that we have set forth an appropriate, in fact, magisterial, explanation of the previous . We will now reveal a topic investigated by many and hidden from view, namely the distribution of propitious and impropitious times. We must preface our discussion with the distributions which have been proven by our own experience. The primary period is one-fourth of the minimum period, as follows:

Star…………………………Period ……………………. One-fourth Period ……………………….. Days/Year

Saturn……………………..30 ………………………….. 7 1/2 ………………………………………….. 85 Jupiter……………………..12 ………………………….. 3 ……………………………………………… 34
Mars ……………………….15 ………………………….. 3 years 9 months………………………… 42 1/2
Venus …………………….. 8 …………………………… 2………………………………………………… 22 2/3 Mercury…………………..20 ………………………….. 5………………………………………………… 56 2/3
Sun …………………………19 ………………………….. 4 years 9 months………………………… 53 5/6 Moon………………………25 ………………………….. 6 years 3 months………………………… 70 5/6

Altogether, the “fourths” total 32 years 3 months.

Let’s compare Valens’ original text with the 16th century rendering by Junctinus, and the errors will become apparent.

2nd century
Valens rounded (up or down)Firmicus Maternus
4th century
16th century
Jupiter34343030error in Maternus & Junctinus
Mars42 1/2424236error in Junctinus
Sun53 5/6535353
Venus22 2/3232333error in Junctinus
Mercury56 2/3575757
Moon70 5/6717171
TOTAL days per year365.5 days365 days361 days ??365 days

The values given by Valens agree with his method of calculation and can be assumed to be a correct rendering of the original method. The errors introduced by Firmicus (Jupiter as 30 instead of 34) and Junctinus (errors in Jupiter, Mars and Venus) are most likely due to copyist errors in transcribing original texts.

My suggestion to practicing astrologers, who use this method of distributing the solar return over the seven visible planets in the course of the revolution year, is to return to the assignment of days as originally proposed and mathematically calculated by Vettius Valens. Here is how Valens calculated the number of days for each planet based on the classical ‘small periods’ of the planets, which were rooted in the recurrence cycles of the planets, that is, cycles at the end of which the planets conjoin the Sun in approximately the same degree of the zodiac. Again from Mark Riley’s translation:

To Find the Days of Each Star.

The days of each star are found in this way: double the star’s period, then take one-half, then one-third of the period. After adding all these figures together, we will find the days. The period of Saturn is 30 days; I double this for a total of 60. One-half of 30 is 15; I add this to 60 for a total of 75. One-third of 30 is 10; I add this to the 75 for a grand total of 85. Saturn will have this number of days. Likewise for the rest of the stars.

My guess is that Valens came up with his formula as follows. He knew that the sum total of the minor years of the visible planets was 129, and he wanted to project 129 onto the length of the year, which he knew was slightly more than 365 days: 129 –> 365. He must have toyed with some arithmetic and realized that 2 x 129 = 258, 1/2 of 129 = 64.5, and 1/3 of 129 = 43, so if you add together 258 + 64.5 + 43, you get 365.5 days, which is very close to the known length of the tropical year.

To illustrate the error regarding Jupiter in the texts of Maternus and Junctinus, we use Valens formula and double Jupiter’s base period (its classical ‘small period‘ — see the table from Arhat Media below), then add one-half of the base period and then one-third of the base period. Jupiter’s base period is given as 12, which is doubled to 24 (2 x 12). Half of the period is 6 (12 divided by 2) and a third of the period is 4 (12 divided by 3). Thus, we must add 24 + 6 + 4 and arrive at 34 as the number of days of the year assigned to Jupiter in Valens’ formula. Hence the value of 30 given by Firmicus and Junctinus are obviously in error and probably represent typographical or copyist errors in transcription.

The following table of the classical small (minor, lesser), mean and great periods of the planets is quoted from Arhat Media:


The small periods are derived from recurrence cycles, cycles at the end of which the planets conjoin the Sun in approximately the same degree of the zodiac. 

Bruce Scofield explains the small or minor years of the planets as follows:

Every eight Sun years turns out to be the same as five Venus years. Every 19 Sun years the Moon and Sun meet at the same place. This is called the Metonic Cycle. Every 12 years Jupiter passes through the entire ecliptic and returns to the same place. Saturn does this in about 30 years. These astronomical facts were not lost on ancient calendar and ephemeris makers. In fact, in ancient Western astrology each of the planets has a set of specific years, a list that appears in many ancient texts. Here’s the list:

The Least or Minor Years of the Planets: 

Sun – 19 (Metonic Cycle)
Moon – 25 (309 lunation cycles in 25 Egyptian years of 365 days)
Mercury – 20 (63 synodic cycles in 20 Egyptian years)
Venus – 8 (5 synodic cycles of Venus equals 8 solar years)
Mars – 15 (7 synodic cycles in 15 Egyptian)
Jupiter – 12 (11 synodic cycles in 12 Egyptian years)
Saturn – 30 (29 synodic cycles in 30 Egyptian years


If we add up the minor (small, least) years of the seven visible planets, we get the sum total of 129 years. Valens sought to project this sum onto the total number of days in a year (365.24 in a tropical year). Valens chose the arithmetic method of adding together twice the period, half the period and a third of the period. A simpler method would have been to multiply each minor period by the ratio of 365 days in a year to 129 total days in the minor periods of the seven planets:

365.24 days in a year divided by 129 total minor days = 2.83 annual days per each minor year day. Doing the math:

Saturn: 30 x 2.83 = 84.9, rounded to 85.
Jupiter: 12 x 2.83 = 33.96, rounded to 34.
Mars: 15 x 2.83 = 42.45, rounded to 42.
Sun: 19 x 2.83 = 53.77, rounded to 54. (Valens rounded this down to 53.)
Venus: 8 x 2.83 = 22.64, rounded to 23.
Mercury: 20 x 2.83 = 56.6, rounded to 57.
Moon: 25 x 2.83 = 70.75, rounded to 71.

Today with the availability of home computers, it would be simple to use the precise values, accurate to two decimal points, rather than the rounded values to calculate favorable and adverse periods during a solar return year, if one were so inclined.

The choice of whether to begin the distribution with the ruler of the Solar Return ascendant, as Firmicus recommends, or with the Profected Lord of the Year, as Junctinus advises, is worth further experimentation to evaluate which technique gives better results in practice.

Addendum: In researching this matter a bit more, I found that Alexandre Volguine in Chapter 14 of his classic text on the technique of solar returns, first published in France in 1937, discusses the seven planetary periods and quotes Junctinus’ table, repeating the errors in the periods of Jupiter, Mars and Venus. He correctly attributes the source of this method of dividing the year to Firmicus Maternus but adds that he is unaware of how the planetary periods listed by Junctinus were derived.

Volguine writes, in the 3rd edition of his book, that he learned about and tested Junctinus’ method during a period of 10 years, and found that there is a “good deal of truth” in it, provided that you start from the planet ruling the solar return ascendant (not the Lord of the Year, as Junctinus recommends) and continue in the Chaldean order of slowest to fastest planet (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon), which is contrary to what both Firmicus Maternus and Junctinus recommend. Perhaps if Volguine were working with the correct planetary periods as calculated by Valens, he would have found the technique to be even more reliable.

Addendum #2 (10 April 2022):

Reading over Junctinus and Maternus, I suspect that Junctinus either misunderstood or re-interpreted Firmicus Matenrus’s comments about the division of the year among the seven visible planets when he applied it to solar revolutions.

Quoting from Holden’s translation of Maternus, Chapter 28 on the Division of Times, “the year … takes its beginning from the Asc, and the first year will be the sign in which the Asc is placed, the second in the second sign, the third in the third sign, and thus the others in order.”

Clearly Maternus is talking about annual profections and not about solar revolutions in this section. Most likely Valens also had the annually profected chart in mind. Maternus then goes on to discuss “the division of the year” in Chapter 29, which is the text which Junctinus translates and incorporates into his own book on solar returns.

According to Holden, Maternus writes: “in whatever sign the beginning of the year is, the ruler of that sign receives the first days, and after him the others, according as they are severally placed.” Maternus appears to be continuing his discussion of annual profections.

Junctinus may have assumed that Maternus was referring to the solar return ascendant, but in the previous section Maternus clearly related the beginning of the year to the profected annual ascendant, so it appears that Junctinus either misunderstood Maternus or else he may have been creatively applying the method of Maternus, regarding profections, to solar returns charts, which was the topic of his own book.

If I am understanding these ancient texts correctly, then Junctinus used the ideas of Valens and Maternus regarding annually profected charts to distribute the solar revolution year into periods of days,ruled by the 7 visible planets as chronocrators or time-lords, beginning with the Lord of the Year (ruler of the profected ascendant) and then in the sequence of the planets as they appear in the solar return, that is, “according as they are severally placed.”

Junctinus appears to have been discussing solar return charts because his book is about annual revolutions, and he wrote regarding the 7 planets, “prout sunt singuli in annuae conversionis schemate collocati secundum signorum consecuentia” — “as they are individually placed in the annual rotation chart, according to the sequence of signs.”

Addendum #3 (11 April 2022):

After further reflection on Junctinus’ Latin text about the distribution of the days of the year among the 7 visible planets, I believe that I may not have correctly expressed his method above, and I apologize for any confusion I may have caused. Junctinus makes the following points:

  1. According to Firmicus Maternus, the Lord of the Year (the planet that rules the profected ascendant) governs the first period of days in the division of the year.
  2. The remaining six planets then receive rulership of the remaining six periods of days, as they are individually placed in the figure of the birthday [natal chart].
  3. Junctinus is of a different opinion, namely, that we begin the distribution of the days of the year from the Lord of the Year BUT we divide the remainder of the year among the other six planets, as they are individually placed in the chart of the annual rotation, according to the sequence of signs. (I initially thought he was objecting to the planet from which to begin the distribution. On further reflection, I believe he was objecting to using the positions of the planets in the birth chart as opposed to the “annual rotation” chart.
  4. Hence, if I understand Junctinus correctly, he begins the distribution of the days of the year from the Lord of the profected Ascendant, but he distributes the remainder of the days of the year to the remaining planets in the zodiacal order in which they appear in the solar return, after the position of the Lord of the Year.

All original material in this blog is copyright Anthony Louis 2022.

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Will Smith’s Meltdown at the Oscars

On Sunday evening , 27 March 2022, in Los Angeles actor Will Smith shocked the world when he hit Chris Rock in the face during the Academy Awards. Mr. Smith was apparently miffed by one of the comedian’s jokes which poked fun at Smith’s wife’s bald hair style:  “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.” Smith became enraged that his wife had been singled out in this way and later, during his acceptance speech, he explained that the Devil had come for him at his highest moment, that love makes you do crazy things, and that God was calling on him to love and protect people, and in the process you’ve got to be able to take abuse and disrespect and pretend that that’s okay. Apparently, Chris Rock was unaware that Jada had a medical condition which was causing her hair loss.

Although Mr. Smith refused to apologize immediately to Chris Rock, he eventually issued an apology to the comedian and stated publicly that “violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable.” Watching Smith acceptance speech from Sunday evening, it becomes apparent that he was in the midst of some type of emotional turmoil, probably with long-standing roots in his past. Subsequent to the incident, several commentators have pointed out a description of Smith’s childhood trauma at age 9, which he describes in his autobiography. For example, Dr. Melissa Hankins argues that Smith’s assault on Chris Rock was a response to his childhood trauma, which Smith himself describes as follows:

And I was probably 9, and I watched my father beat up my mother. And I was too scared to do anything. And just on my young mind, it became imprinted.

It’s like, what kind of kid stands there and lets somebody hit their mother and they don’t do anything, you know? And that became really the core trauma of my childhood that my personality and my persona became to form around, to be the opposite of that, you know? I was never going to be scared again.”

“What was really difficult for me is my father’s my hero,” he said. “My father’s the greatest person I’ve ever known, and that dichotomy breaks a young mind, you know? It’s like, how do you love somebody who did that?

“That really just became the central core of the wound that I was overcoming throughout my childhood, and then ultimately throughout my life.”

One could argue fairly convincingly that Smith’s meltdown at the Academy Awards was triggered by his equating Chris Rock’s joke about his wife’s haircut to the violent physical abuse which his father inflicted on his mother, as he stood helplessly by, powerless to protect the woman he loved.

Does this trauma show up in his natal chart? Here is his chart based on the data from astro.com (Rodden rating A).

NameSmith, Will Gender: M
BirthnameWillard Christopher Smith, Jr.
born on25 September 1968 at 21:47 (= 9:47 PM )
PlacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, 39n57, 75w10
TimezoneEDT h4w (is daylight saving time)

For issues of traumatic wounds that won’t heal, one can look to both Chiron and Pluto. In Smith’s chart, Chiron at 0 Aries 59′ Rx opposes his natal Sun (at 3 Libra 03′) and is quincunx his natal Mars (at 2 Virgo 41′) in the 4th house of his parents and early family life. If we take the Sun, ruler of the 4th, to represent his father, we see that the Sun is conjunct Uranus across the Virgo/Libra sign boundary, suggesting erratic and unpredictable behavior on his father’s part. Natal Mars is closely semi-sextile the Sun, which I find repeatedly to be a stressful aspect as the two planets are “in aversion” and unintegrated.

Smith also has a stressful yod (finger of God, or finger of fate) configuration. Pluto (at 23 Virgo 03′) is sextile to his Moon/Neptune conjunction (midpoint at 22 Scorpio 48′), with all three of these planets in quincunx to Saturn (at 23 Aries 34′ Rx) on the 12th Placidus house cusp (at 23 Aries 24′). This yod ties the Moon (his emotional life) and Pluto closely to 12th house issues. This symbolism is certainly consistent with his childhood trauma at age 9. Yod’s are powerful configurations in natal charts and often indicate that the native feels fated to pursue a special (God-given) mission or purpose in life. In Smith’s case, by his own admission, one of his life’s purposes became to protect the women he loves from abusive men. With so much stressful involvement of the Pluto, Neptune and Saturn with the Moon in his birth chart, he might benefit from psychoanalysis or intensive psychotherapy to resolve these childhood issues regarding his abusive father so that they don’t continue to interfere with his adult life.

We can now ask whether these natal chart factors became activated at the time of his assault on Chris Rock. Because the Moon is so intimately involved in his emotional state and the yod in his natal chart, I compared his natal chart with the Lunar Return for the period of the Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

Inside: Lunar Return for Los Angeles, in effect during the Awards.
Outside: the natal chart of Will Smith

Will Smith’s lunar return (inner wheel) during the time of the Academy Awards occurred on 21 March 2022, about a week before the event. Libra rises in the lunar return, making Venus the ruler of the return Ascendant in Los Angeles. Transiting Venus is besieged between malefics Mars and Saturn in the lunar return chart in the 4th house of home and family. Transiting Pluto (symbolically linked to abuse) is closely conjunct the 4th cusp of the lunar return chart. Transiting Venus is conjunct his natal MC, highlighting themes of love, marriage and affection. His natal Saturn (outer wheel) closely conjoins the lunar return 7th cusp (marriage) and opposes the return Ascendant. The lunar return Sun (at 0 Aries 30′) closely conjoins his natal Chiron. On 27 March 2022, when he slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, transiting Mercury (speech, communication) was exactly conjunct the position of the Sun in his lunar return for this period. The lunar nodal axis (related to fateful events because eclipses occur near this axis) of the lunar return passes directly through Smith’s natal Moon/Neptune conjunction, which is part of his natal yod, involving natal Pluto and natal Saturn. The New Moon of 31 March 2022 in Los Angeles occurred at 11 Aries 30′, almost exactly conjunct Chiron of the lunar return.

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Reflections on the Coronation of the Raven King

This post was prompted by Aswin Subramanyan’s blog about Matthias Corvinus, aka Matthias I, King of Hungary and Croatia from 1458 to 1490. “Corvinus” comes from the Latin word for raven, the bird which was emblazoned on his coat of arms.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Matthias I, byname Matthias Corvinus, Hungarian Mátyás Corvin, original name Mátyás Hunyadi, (born Feb. 24, 1443, Kolozsvár, Transylvania [now Cluj, Romania]—died April 6, 1490, Vienna), king of Hungary (1458–90), who attempted to reconstruct the Hungarian state after decades of feudal anarchy, chiefly by means of financial, military, judiciary, and administrative reforms.”

In his research, Aswin learned that astrology played a major role in the life of King Matthias, who had an astrologer elect an optimal day and time for his coronation as King. In his blog, Aswin discusses the electional chart for the coronation in detail. The creator of this chart may have been the Polish astrologer Marcin Bylica z Olkusza (born in Olkusz, Poland on October 22, 1435 at about 10 AM LMT, 50N17, 19E34). Bylica arrived in Hungary in the mid-1460s with the famous German astrologer Johannes Regiomontanus (1436 – 1476). Bylica did not move to Hungary until after the date of the coronation, so it is possible that some other astrologer prepared the 1464 electional chart, or that Bylica prepared it from his home in Poland. After moving to Hungary in the mid-1460s, he remained there until his death around the year 1493.

Because Aswin has reproduced a copy of the original electional chart on his blog, I will not repeat it here. Below is a modern version of the same chart, calculated in the program Solar Fire. There are slight discrepancies between the original chart and the modern chart because the original was done by hand, using Tables of the 15th century. Most notably, the original electional chart has the Sun at 18 degrees of Aries whereas the computer-generated chart has the Sun at 17 Aries 35′. This is significant because the Sun is at its most exalted in the Western tradition in the 19th degree of Aries, which runs from 18 Aries 00′ to 18 Aries 59′.

Modern approximation of the coronation electional chart of Matthias Corvinus, calculated with Solar Fire software.

I wondered how this electional chart compared with the birth chart of the King, so I contacted Aswin to see if he had a copy of Matthias’s natal chart. After doing some research, Aswin wrote back with the following birth chart:

Natal chart of King Matthias Corvinus

According to Aswin, the above birth chart of King Matthias was used by the poet, Latinist and diplomat Janus Pannonius (29 August 1434 – 27 March 1472), whose work was preserved in the Jagiellonian Library of the Jagiellonian University (Poland). Below is the same chart calculated with Solar Fire. The slight difference in planetary positions is due to the fact that one chart was done by modern computer and the other was done by hand, using Tables available in the 15th century.

Natal Chart of Matthias Corvinus, based on the records of Janus Pannonius at the Library of the Jagiellonian University, Poland.

What stands out immediately is that the king’s astrologer chose a time for the coronation when transiting Moon was exactly conjunct the Matthias’s natal Ascendant and exactly sextile his natal Midheaven. In mundane astrology, the Moon symbolizes the people, and a king does best when he is in harmony with the general populace.

The Moon in the electional chart is separating from the conjoined planets Venus-Jupiter-Saturn (with Saturn ruling the electional MC) and is applying to Mercury, ruler of the electional Ascendant. Venus lies in the domicile of Jupiter, and Jupiter lies in the exaltation of Venus, so they are in mutual reception and both benefics dispose the 10th-ruler Saturn.

I already commented on the fact the the Sun of the electional chart lies almost exactly in the degree of its exaltation, the 19th degree of Aries. In that degree the electional Sun is closely sextile the king’s natal Mercury (at 21 Aquarius 35) and is sextle the electional Ascendant at 24 Gemini 37.

We know from his work that Bylica used Helenistic annual profections. The king was crowned at the age of 21, so that with Capricorn rising at birth, his annual profected Ascendant in 1463 would have been in Libra, making Venus the Lady of the Year of his Coronation. Not surprisingly, Bylica (if he is the author of this electional chart) placed transiting Venus in Pisces (the sign of her exaltation) in the 10th house (kingship) very close to the powerful Midheaven degree. At the same time the coronation MC (at 24 Aquarius 36) closely conjoins his natal Mercury (at 21 Aquarius 35) and trines the electional Ascendant (at 24 Aquarius 37). The electional MC is also closely sextile his natal Venus (at 26 Aries 14), and Venus is the Lady of the Year.

This is a clever electional chart, which carefully takes the birth chart into account. It is worth further study and likely contains many other astrological subtleties.

Addendum: I contacted Darin Hayton of Haverford College, who has expertise in these matters, and he responded to my inquiries as follows:

Thank you for reaching out and the kind words about my article. Unfortunately, I have not identified the chart Bylica might have used for any coronation or other significant events in Corvinus’s reign. I will note that Bylica was not yet at the Hungarian court when Corvinus was elected/crowned king. We can’t place him at the court until ca. 1468.

That said, there are a number of charts (many in Bylica’s hand) in a couple manuscripts in Krakow. I have not yet worked through them all, so I can’t give you a full catalog of contents.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the coronation chart that Bylica drew up (found in this post: https://dhayton.haverford.edu/blog/2011/12/30/the-politics-of-astrology-in-renaissance-hungary/) was certainly a post-hoc chart (much like the chart he and Regiomontanus drew up for the University of Pozsony, which you can read a bit about here: https://dhayton.haverford.edu/wp-content/uploads/publications/Boudet-Hayton.pdf).

There is also a good article by Marton Veszpremy about astrology and Matthias Corvinus at academia.edu.

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The Birth Chart of Emanuel Swedenborg

Emanuel Swedenborg (January 29, 1688 O.S. – March 29, 1772 O.S.) was a Swedish scientist, inventor, philosopher, theologian and Christian mystic, who at the age of 57 began to experience dreams and visions and allegedly communicate with the spirit world. According to a wikipedia article:

In April 1745, Swedenborg was dining in a private room at a tavern in London. By the end of the meal, a darkness fell upon his eyes, and the room shifted character.
Suddenly he saw a person sitting at a corner of the room, telling Swedenborg: ‘Do not eat too much!’. Swedenborg, scared, hurried home. Later that night, the same man appeared in his dreams. The man told Swedenborg that He was the Lord, that He had appointed Swedenborg to reveal the spiritual meaning of the Bible, and that He would guide Swedenborg in what to write. The same night, the spiritual world was opened to Swedenborg

It seems a bit odd that God’s first words to Swedenborg were, “Do not eat too much!”, but the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Curious about Swedenborg’s chart, I checked astro.com and various historical sources, and learned that his date of birth in the Gregorian calendar was 8 February 1688, but there was not certainty about the time of birth. The British astrologer Ebenizer Sibly (1751-1799), who published the chart of the USA Declaration of Independence, also included the chart of Swedenborg in his text.

Sibly gives Swedenborg an Ascendant degree of 16 Capricorn in the topical zodiac for the Julian date 29 January 1688 at latitude 59 degrees 29 minutes North. There is a typo of the year in his published chart which lists the year as 1686, even though the planetary positions are those of 1688. As he does with the USA Independence chart, Sibly lists the time in London rather than the time at the location of the event. He has Swedenborg’s birth time as 5:30 in London, which would correspond to 6:43 AM LMT in Stockholm with an Ascendant of 13 Capricorn. As with the USA chart, Sibly’s tables appear to be a few degrees off.

To produce Sibly’s chart for Swedenborg, we would need to adjust the birth time to about 6:52:33 AM in Stockholm, which would correspond to 5:39:41 AM in London. Unfortunately, Sibly does not tell us where he obtained the birth time for Swedenborg. Here is Sibly’s version of the chart:

Sibly’s version of the birth chart of Emanuel Swedenborg based on a birth time of about 5:30 AM in London, which corresponds to a birth time of about 6:43 AM in Stockholm.
(There is a typo in the original figure in the year of birth, which was 1688, not 1686. In addition, the time of birth does not generate the correct Ascendant for Sweden unless we assume that Sibly noted the time in London and converted it to the time in Sweden when he calculated the chart. An alternative explanation is that the time noted is also an error by the typesetter, and that Sibly originally wrote 6:30 AM as the time of birth.)

Assuming that Sibly had a reliable source for Swedenborg birth time, we can assume the Ascendant fell roughly between 13 and 16 degrees of Capricorn and that he was born between about 6:43 and 6:53 AM LMT in Stockholm, Sweden. Given that Swedenborg became a prominent spiritual leader and mystic, let me suggest the following chart with 10th-, 11th- and 12th-ruler Jupiter exactly conjunct the Ascendant as a start for a possible rectification, which is consistent with Sibly’s presentation.

Possible natal chart of Emanuel Swedenborg based on Sibly’s text and Swedenborg’s accomplishments.
(Sibly’s original chart has the Ascendant at 16 Capricorn, rather than 15 Cap 14′ as in this slightly modified chart.)

There is a strong symbolism of psychic mediumship and communication with the spirit world in this chart. Jupiter rules the 10th, 11th and 12th Placidus houses and conjoins the Asc. The Moon in the 3rd of communication is exactly trine the Jupiter/Asc conjunction. The Moon is also conjunct Uranus and Chiron.

Asc-ruler Saturn is Rx and exalted in Libra in the 8th house of hidden knowledge and occult experiences. Mars rules the 9th of religion and opposes Ascendant-ruler Saturn in the 8th. Venus rules the 3rd of communication and occupies the beginning of the spiritual 12th house. Venus is also closely sextile to Neptune in otherworldly Pisces in the 1st house. Pisces is associated with both mysticism and Christianity.

Pluto, god of the underworld, opposes Jupiter across the horizontal axis. The Sun in Aquarius in the 1st is almost exactly trine the Part of Fortune in the 8th of death and matters related to the dead.

It appears that this chart describes Swedenborg quite well. If Sibly’s data for the birth time is correct, this chart for about 6:50 AM LMT in Stockholm is probably quite close to Swedenborg’s actual birth chart.

Here are the transits and secondary progression for April of 1745 when God first appeared to Swedenborg while he was enjoying dinner in a restaurant (5th house symbolism) and told him to stop eating so much:

God first appeared to Swedenborg in a restaurant in April of 1745.
This month featured a solar eclipse at 12 Aries 27, and a lunar eclipse at 26 Libra 24 which triggered his natal Saturn/Mars opposition.
Transiting Jupiter entered his natal 9th Placidus house of religious experience on 2 April 1745.
In addition, in April the secondary progressed Moon at 19 Aquarius in his natal 5th house trined his natal Sun and Part of Fortune.

Addendum 25 March 2022:

After reviewing several charts in Sibly’s text, I noticed a number of typos in the figures, probably errors introduced by the typesetter who set Sibly’s drawings into print. In Swedenborg’s chart, the correct year of birth is 1688 but the figure of the birth chart lists it as 1686, clearly a typo. This raises the possibility that the time of birth also contains a typo. The chart I generated above is based on the assumption that Sibly noted the time in London of Swedenborg’s birth, which would have been about an hour earlier than the time in Sweden.

An alternative explanation is that Sibly originally noted the time of birth as 6:30 AM in Sweden, but the not-too-careful typesetter rendered is as 5:30 AM, another typo like the one regarding the year of birth. I don’t know what type of time measure was being used in Sweden when Swedenborg was born. LMT hadn’t been invented yet. Sibly, in his discussion of the chart, appears convinced that Swedenborg’s Asc lies in the middle of Capricorn. By modern calculations, if he were born at 6:30 AM LMT in Stockholm, his Asc would have been about 13 Capricorn, and if he were born at 6:30 AM LAT, it would have been about 18 Capricorn.

Assuming that the 5:30 AM in Sibly’s figure is a typo for a birth time of 6:30 AM in Sweden, then the birth chart for Swedenborg in Local Apparent Time (because LMT did not yet exist in 1688), would look like this and give an Asc of 13 Capricorn 30′:

Swedenborg’s birth chart for 6:30 AM local apparent time (LAT) in Stockholm, assuming that the 5:30 AM in Sibly’s figure is a typo, as is the erroneous year of birth. This figure was calculated in Solar Fire, and the modern calculations differ slightly from the Tables and Ephemeris positions available to Sibly in the 18th century.

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Noel Tyl, Geocentric Latitude and the Celestial Sphere

On March 19th, I watched a discussion of the Vedic birth chart of Noel Tyl, presented by Kepler College in honor of Astrology Day. The sidereal Ascendant given was 07 Gemini 04′ (Lahiri ayanamsa), which at quick glance would mean that Tyl was born with his Ascendant degree at the very end of Gemini or the very beginning in the tropical zodiac. Looking up his birth data on astro.com, I found the following:

Noel Tyl’s birth data from astro.com

Sure enough, Tyl’s natal Ascendant for the birth time, which he recalled from memory, fell at 00 Cancer 04′, so that if he were born roughly 15 seconds earlier (around 3:56:45 pm), he would have had a Gemini Ascendant. Having chatted with Noel at several conferences and attended his lectures and workshops, I could see how a Gemini Ascendant could easily fit his personality and behavior style. In the Vedic chart, there is no question that Tyl’s Ascendant lies in Gemini. However, I believe that Noel used Cancer as his Ascendant in his own work with his chart.

There is yet another twist to the story. Noel, like many astrologers, calculated his Ascendant on the basis of the geodetic or geographical latitude of his birthplace. My own preference is to use the geocentric (planetocentric) latitude, because it is measured in the same coordinate system which we use to locate the stars and planets in the heavens in the geocentric model of astrology. My math teachers always taught that we should not mix coordinate systems, often admonishing “don’t mix apples with oranges.”

A notable example of the problems caused by mixing measurement systems is the loss of NASA’s Mars orbiter, as reported by CNN in September of 1999: “NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because a Lockheed Martin engineering team used English units of measurement while the agency’s team used the more conventional metric system for a key spacecraft operation, according to a review finding released Thursday.”

What, you may ask, is the difference between geodetic and geocentric latitude, and why does it matter? The Earth is not a perfect sphere. Instead, our planet is spheroidal and bulges a bit around its middle as it spins on its axis. On the other hand, astrological measurements are based on a model of the Celestial Sphere, which is a perfect sphere whose center is the center of the Earth. The following diagram from https://proj.org/operations/conversions/geoc.html should make this clear:

Geocentric (planetocentric) versus geodetic (geographical) latitude

You can see in the above diagram that geocentric (planetocentric) latitude projects the place of birth onto the Celestial Sphere from its center at the center of the Earth. The geodetic (geographical) latitude, in contrast, ignores the center of the Earth and instead projects the birthplace onto the Celestial Sphere on the basis of a perpendicular to the tangent to the birthplace on the Earth’s spheroidal surface. Thus, the use of the geodetic latitude in chart calculations mixes two distinct coordinate systems — tantamount to confusing apples with oranges and expecting to get a valid result. We measure the positions of the stars, planets, asteroids and the zodiac itself on the idealized Celestial Sphere with reference to the center of the Earth, but we abandon the Earth’s center when we calculate our personal Ascendants. Does this make sense, or does it introduce errors into our astrological reasoning?

For example, if we calculate Noel Tyl’s Ascendant using the geocentric latitude of his birthplace (the same system by which we measure the planets, stars and zodiac signs), we find that his Ascendant at 3:57 pm falls at 29 Gemini 54′ rather than 00 Cancer 04′. In other words, in the geocentric model of the universe, which is fundamental to Western astrology, Noel Tyl has a Gemini Ascendant for the birth time of 3:57 PM, and his chart with Placidus houses looks like this:

Noel Tyl’s birth chart calculated with geocentric latitude

We can test the Gemini Ascendant with a well-timed event from Tyl’s life. For example, he died on 31 December 2019 at 11:11 AM in Arizona, as a result of Lewy Body Dementia.” He had turned 82 years old the previous December (2018) and was about to complete his solar return at age 83 several hours after the moment of his demise. Thus, we must consider his annual profections at age 82, as they were still active at the time of his death.

At age 82 his profected Ascendant in the Gemini-rising chart was Aries on the 11th Placidus house cusp, making Mars the Lord of the Year. Mars is the out-of-sect malefic, and thus likely to be of harm to the native. Natally Mars in Libra squares Asc-ruler Mercury in the Placidus (and Whole Sign) 8th house of death. Natal Mars is also part of a T-square in which Pluto opposes Asc-ruler Mercury. Mars also rules the Placidus and Whole Sign 6th of illness. In the Vedic system he was in the Saturn/Saturn Vimshottari dasa when he passed. The symbolism certainly fits with the risk of death at age 82 when Mars is activated by profection as Lord of the Year.

If the consider the birthplace solar return which was active at the time of his demise, we see the following:

Noel Tyl’s Solar Return at age 82, active during the year of his demise

In the solar return at his birth place, his natal Asc-ruler Mercury occupies the 8th house of death and conjoins its cusp. The Sun in this return also occupies the 8th house and closely conjoins Saturn, which rules the natal 8th of death. Again, the symbolism generated by the Gemini-rising chart is quite apt for a year in which the native might pass on to the afterlife.

I would argue that Tyl’s Gemini Ascendant produces symbolism far more descriptive of the year of his demise than does the symbolism generated by the Cancer Ascendant. In this case, at least, the geocentric latitude of the birthplace generates a more reliable chart from the point of view of astrological prediction.

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