Delineation of 10th House: Ptolemy’s Rank of Fame, Slavery Indications

Posted: October 25th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Astrology | No Comments »

In the last post we talked about fama, fame, the reputation that you can expect to receive during your life. The focus was on whether or not there will be fame. Through the strength of the planets you can tell roughly how famous the person will be, but Ptolemy has an interesting grading system that should also be taken into consideration. It’s called the Rank of Fame, and it also introduces a very old technique.

I used the word rank for good reason. Ptolemy’s rank of fame outlines a social hierarchy of persons from the meanest levels to the highest. There are six ranks in total, but he also states that there are innumerable gradations between the levels. You very rarely get the exact combinations he looks for.

The six ranks are as follows (as translated by Zoller):

1. God-men
2. Chieftans/Presidents
3. Governors
4. Civil Leaders
5. Undistinguished
6. Base

But before we can go into the details of each level, I have to introduce the concept of the doryphory (shield-bearers).


Every famous person has a bevy of close followers. They could be bodyguards. They could be agents. They could be groupies, or whatever. These people assist in generating the person’s fame. Similarly, the Sun and the Moon, the King and the Queen of the chart, also work better when they have their attendants working with them.

The way that I was taught to look for doryphory is to look to see which planets are aspecting the Sun and the Moon. Those that aspect are members of the doryphory. Ideally, we would want the oriental planets (Saturn/Jupiter/Mars) aspecting the Sun and the oriental planets (Venus/Mercury) aspecting the Moon. If they aspect the wrong one they are still participating, but at a lower grade. You can also do an almuten calculation of the doryphory participants to get a clue about what the native will be famous for.

The Ranks in detail

You will rarely ever encounter a God-man. The indications are very precise. You need to see:

* Both luminaries in masculine (active) signs and at least one in an angle.
* A doryphory of all five planets, ideally with the orientals aspecting the Sun and the occidentals aspecting the Moon
* Ideally have the doryphory planets also angular (in the MC even moreso) and above the horizon.

The most important part is to have the luminaries in an active sign, at least one in an angle, and a doryphory of all five planets.  The more ideal you can make it, the more godly the person will be. These are your Alexander the Great types, or your Messiahs.

The Chieftan/President level is described as:

* Sun in a masculine (active) sign, Moon in a feminine (reactive) sign
* Only one of them angular
* Still have a doryphory of all five planets as described above (including the ideals)

People in this level will have sovereignty and power over life and death.

The Governor level is described as:

* Assume the Luminaries are as in Chieftan/President
* The doryphory planets are not angular nor aspect the angles
* Not all five planets have to be there (though that is ideal)

The native will still enjoy eminence, but at limited dignity. Think a general, a state governor, a head priest, but will not be invested with sovereignty.

The Undistinguished level is described as:

* Neither luminary angular
* The doryphory are not angular nor aspect the angles

As it says on the tin, this is someone who doesn’t attain to rank.

The Base level is described as:

* Neither luminary angular nor in a masculine sign
* No benefics are part of the doryphory

Complete obscurity and adversity. The opposite of the God-man.

Again, I want to emphasize that there are innumerable shades between these levels, and that this is just a tool for determining social class. Most people are going to fall into the lower three ranks. It is also important to know that this is somewhat of a spiritual ranking. People at higher levels have a greater capacity to lead, but they may not gain access to the halls of power. When they do though, the outcome is very positive. Likewise, very low-level people can get their hands on the levers of power and muck everything up.

There is also cases where people aspire to get to a higher level, but are held back by forces beyond their control, and that is where we start to talk about slavery indications. Slavery may seem like a harsh word, but it is still around and I don’t just mean human trafficking. The person trapped in minimum-wage jobs unable to advance because it would threaten their home or families is just as much a slave. I know in my experience I’ve met many people who seem to have vast potential but cannot capitalize on it. Sometimes it is due to personal hangups, but other people seem to get steamrolled by life every time they get a little ahead.

Thus, we should look at those as well just to confirm that there is nothing holding the native back. My teacher draws from Firmicus Maternus to get the following six major indications of slave status:

1. Cadent luminaries, especially in 12th or 6th
2. Luminaries and benefics low in the figure
3. Malefics angular or succedent
4. Benefics cadent
5. Dispositors of luminaries cadent, in fall, in debility, or peregrine
6. Luminaries afflicted by the malefics.

If there are MORE THAN TWO of these that are complete, the native will struggle hard through their life. Partially complete ones do have a negative effect though. If they also have a high rank of fame, then they will aspire to a higher level of living but may or may not be able to accomplish it depending on other factors.

Let’s look again at David’s chart


Do we have the indications of slavery? The Sun is cadent in the 9th, but the Moon is angular. Both of them are elevated, so that indication is ignored. Both malefics have power, so that is one strong sign of slavery. The dispositor of the Moon isn’t debilitated by sign or cadent, but he is heavily afflicted by Mars and Venus. The dispositor of the Sun however is afflicted by fall. We also have Jupiter acting as a accidental malefic to both Moon and Sun. We have enough indications here to show that the native will not be able to escape their circumstances.

What about the rank of fame? We have the Sun in a feminine sign and the Moon in a masculine sign, so at least one of the luminaries is masculine, albeit not the ideal one. Moon is also angular. Jupiter attends both the Sun and Moon. Venus attends the Moon, which is good, but there are no others so it’s a small doryphory. Jupiter is angular. Both of the doryphory members are in bad shape.

I would put this into class 5, the Undistinguished. While there are indications for both ranks 4 and 6 here, I think they balance each other out. Therefore, the social class in which David operates are going to be the unknown lower classes of society, though not necessarily the criminal classes at the very bottom. He will also remain in this class for his life due to all the slavery indications.

Delineation of Tenth House: Will there be Fame?

Posted: October 16th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Astrology | No Comments »

We just finished up with the important parts of the 1st house. I was going to launch right into the second but after working on that post a bit I think I need to pivot to another topic that isn’t very popular in today’s society, at least in America where I’m writing this from. That topic is how to delineate the social status of a native in a chart.

We don’t like to talk about status much in America, the land where “all men are created equal”, the land of Horatio Alger and “Land of Opportunity.” But it’s everywhere. If we look around us without the rose-colored glasses of American myth, we can see lots of inequality everywhere. Some people are very high and others are very low.

The social position you’re born into influences much of what happens in your life, including your financial status. If you have a great financial delineation, but your fame is poor, you’re going to get less overall than the guy with a high fame. Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t change your fame (in either direction), but you need the fame before you can get the fortune.

Think of it this way. Many workers low on the totem pole may think they can do a better job running a company than their managers or upper managers. They may be completely right. But if they want to get into those positions that make more money then the signifiers of fame, of status, have to be there. Degrees, a certain social demeanor, the right connections, and other parts of the uniform of a higher status pave the way, and all of them things that may not be possible to achieve without enough money.

As I said in the beginning of this series, I see the natal chart as the hand you’re dealt with, the incoming kamma you’re bringing into this life. What you do with it is up to you, but there are always limits to what can be achieved. And, if the traditional astrologers are to be believed, you can find indications of these in the chart.

In fact, traditional astrologers have a bit of an obsession with social ranking. Through the medieval and renaissance eras anyway, finding your place on the hierarchy was extremely important, and there was little social mobility unless you took it by military conquest or married well. Only the very rare would be able to raise themselves up by their own efforts due to all the barriers in place.

Lily’s Opinion

Let’s start with what Lily has to say about finding status. From Christian Astrology Book 3 we get the following:

“First, Honour, Preferment, Dignity and Estimation is principly required from the Luminaries, wherein the Sun is most considerable; and from the Planets which within the mediety of their Orbes doe behold the Lights, especially the Sun.

Secondly, from the Lord of the Mid-heaven.

Thirdly, from the Planet or Planets constituted in the mid-heaven.

Fourthly, fixed regall Starres of the 1st or 2nd magnitude, posited neer the cusps of the 10th or 1st house.”

So we’re looking at the Sun, the Moon, the Lord of the 10th, any planets in the 10th, and any fixed stars of 1st or 2nd magnitude near the MC or ASC. I concur with this assessment for basic fame delineation.

Essential Dignity Analysis

If these significators have rulership, exaltation, or are in mutual reception of these essential dignities, the native gains “Honours, Offices of publick trust, great Commands, exceeding favour, and good esteem amongst great Persons.” In short, they have fama, fame, a good report. Note well again that Lily is describing the optimum result.

If they are only in triplicity, term, or face, they produce mediocrity or indifference. In short, the great average mass of humanity that doesn’t gain major fame or major infamy.

If they are in peregrine, detriment, or fall though, without mutual reception, then the dignity will be very small or non-existent.

Accidental Dignity Analysis

Nothing really suprising. If the signifcators are in angles, they give “ample Preferment.” If succedent,”moderate Esteem, or little Honour or Dignity.” However, if they are in the 8th or cadent houses, “very little Honour or Reputation, but doe rather argue a meane and obscure condition of life, or person of no quality… that the Native shall attaine no Estimation in this world.”

Fixed Stars

Lily would have us look to see if the following six stars are within five degrees forward or backward near any of the significators, and especially the ASC or MC:

Oculus Taurus (Aldebaran): 9 Gemini
Spica Virgo (Spica): 24 Virgo
Hercules (Pollux): 23 Cancer
Lusida Lancis (Zuben Elgenubi): 15 Scorpio
Cor Leonis (Regulus): 29 Leo
Cor Scorpii (Antares): 9 Saggitarius

The numbers in Lily’s book are now incorrect due to the precession of the equinoxes. The position of the fixed stars all move at 50.2 arc-seconds a year. This is a tiny amount, but it builds up over time. The above are rough approximates. Considering Lily gives five degrees on either side it should be good enough.

Planets in the 10th

As usual. Fortunate planets promise great preferment and dignity. Malevolent ones deny. Meane (all the rest) show moderation. What we would love to see is the Lord of the 1st in the 10th, or the Lord of 10th in the 1st. This brings honor and reputation, or at least good estimation if born of low-status parents.

Fame and an important point from Lily

Remember that all fama, fame, is is a good opinion about you. Certain positions of society have honor because they are what they are. No matter what our opinion of a president is, Americans still by and large respect the office that it represents. But when a person of low status does act in a noble manner deserving of fame, people take note of that.

I’ll let the man speak for himself, but clean up and simplify the English a bit.

“We have many Aphorisms which Antiquity gave us concerning judgments about the 10th house, and I shall deliver a few. However, do not delude yourself by delivering a positive judgment on a single Aphorism. For a beggar’s child may have a Nativity equal with a Kings, but then they are not both the Sons of Kings.

When this happens, the King will gain extraordinary honor because of the influence. The beggar, having the same signification, will fall to some course of live not so sordid as begging. A Kingly beggar might have unusually bountiful alms from good people. A Kingly beggar may perform some honorable exploit. A Kingly beggar has more than ordinary respect amongst his fellow-beggars for some neat piece of serves he has performed for the group.

So that herein the one has honor according to his capacity (the king), and the other such same as with a comparison (beggar). And in truth I hold the state of the poor and vulgar Clown far above that of any King or Prince, being almost of the learned Buchanan’s opinion, that few Kings go to Heaven.”

So when we are talking about fame and dignity, we have to keep in mind where the native started. There is only so much capacity each human has for advancement based on their external circumstances. Therefore, unless you’re delineating for a known blue-blood, it is best to say they have the capacity to attain certain levels of fame and status.

Special Rules of The Luminaries

* Sun and Moon in exaltation and free from Mars and Saturn argues the native obtaining a Kingdom, if he is capable thereof.

* Take the Sun in a diurnal chart or the Moon in a nocturnal one. If it is in the 10th in exaltation and the lord of the 10th is in the 10th or the 1st, the king will prefer this child, if the native is a child of the king. If he is not the child of a king, he shall have authority in kind, according to his birth, like unto a king.

* Take the Sun or Moon as above. If it is with the degree of the mid-heaven and surrounded by benevolent aspects of other planets, the native will have great command. But if aspects are absent, or there are no other planets near the cusp of the 10th, the native will find great favor with superiors but will not have administrative authority of the affairs of the kingdom, but may obtain administration of public affairs.

* If the Luminary is in an angle that has no other planets, the native will live in a manner as their father or ancestors did.

* If the luminaries are cadent, as well as the planets, the native will be wretched, live among vulgar persons, and live in small towns.

* Those who have neither of the Luminaries in an angle or a masculine sign, or don’t have benevolent planets with them, will be abject people of no quality.

* If the planet(s) that rule the places of the Sun, the Moon, and the Ascendant are oriental and well-fortified, the native shall raise himself to a high condition.

Lily also gives some complicated aphorisms for charts that you know belong to a king. I think we can ignore those.

More solar aphorisms

The following also promise fame and status, but not as great as the better combinations above.

* Sun, Jupiter, and Moon all Trine, ideally partile

* Sun in the 10th in Saggitarius, Jupiter in Leo or Aries with Venus or a regal Fixed Star and very well fortified.

* Sun in Cancer, Moon in Scorpio, Jupiter in Scorpio or Pisces also gives perferment, though not as good as above.

* Sun in a fire sign near the 10th in aspect with the Moon gives dignity.

* Jupiter, Venus, Moon conjunction, best in the 10th or 1st house.

* North Node and Jupiter, or NN and Moon, in a fire sign, Pisces, or Cancer, conjoined within 1 degree and on the cusp of the 10th, great Dignity.

* (A strange one.) Someone born just at noon on the Vernal Equinox shall prove a great person

More Lunar Aphorisms

* Moon in a nocturnal geniture in the Asc, in a sign she has dignity in, and opposing the Sun imports great increase of honor and preferment, and exaltation of them over their bretheren.

* Moon in 1st in opposition to Sun in the 7th, in square to Jupiter in the 4th, gives Wealth and Authoirty by Magistrates and Embassies.

* Moon in the Asc, Sun in partile conjuction with Venus, gives preference in Churches.

* Moon in Taurus in the 1st, Sun in Leo, gives great honors.

* If the Moon is with Cor Leonis, Jupiter in the 10th trine to Mars and Strong, and the Sun in the North Node, it prefers the man though he be the son of a clown.

* Moon with Jupiter in Cancer, in the 1st house or 10th, gives good fortune with people in high places. The native will be trusted.

* Moon with many aspects or joined with one of the big fixed stars proves eminent men.

* If you have an unfortunate nativity for honor, but you have the Moon conjoined with a fixed star, you’ll will suddenly come into great power unexpectedly and cast down as suddenly.

Midheaven Aphorisms

* Jupiter in the 10th in a diurnal geniture brings employment in public affairs. If Saturn or Mars afflicts, it will be lost after it is gained.

* Sun in the 10th in Aries, Sagittarius, or Pisces, makes rulers.

* Lord of the 10th applying to Lord of the 1st, both oriental and in their exaltations, brings forth a great person.

* Mars in the 10th in a nocturnal, in a masculine sign, his own or a house of Jupuiter, makes dangerous persons, often deceived. Yet they attain to power and create terrifying men.

* Saturn in the 10th never lets honor last long, but casts him down when it is least expected.

Ascendant Aphorisms

* Mars as lord of the first, if he is on the MC, the native will have power, but will be cruel and use it frequently.

* If the lord of the Asc is trined or sextiled by the Sun, or shall be oriental and near the sun, or else joined to the planet that is the Lord of the Midheaven, the native will be beloved by powerful people.

* If the lord of the Asc apply to a planet in exaltation, and is also in an angle, the native by his own virtue (ability) exalt himself. If it is in a succedent house, less so.

* Lord of the 1st in the 1st shall arise to esteem or honor by their own virtue.

Lily also adds some additional fixed star aphorisms, but this should be enough to work with right now.

Our Example



So far we are not looking at the kind of fame, but whether or not there will be fame period. First, we identify our significators. The Sun is in Taurus in the 9th. The Moon is in Gemini in the 10th. Mercury is the ruler of the 10th and is very close to the MC. Neither the ASC or the MC are near any of the fixed stars we looked at earlier, and there are no additional planets in the 10th.

We know from previous study that all of David’s planets are at least peregrine except for Mercury. Here may be a saving grace in his chart. Jupiter does aspect both luminaries, and Mars does aspect Mercury as well. Technically there is a very weak reception of Mars from Mercury because Mercury is in the face of Mars. But since we’re only looking at whether or not there will be fame, we will look into the specifics of these later.

What we have here is a mixed indication. Both luminaries are peregrine. One is cadent and the other angular. This would mean little fame. What saves David’s fame is Mercury. He is both the ruler of the 1st and the 10th in the 10th, which gives preferment no matter what. However, Mercury is a mean planet and also takes on the quality of whoever is near. That Mars opposition and the sextile from a fallen Venus shades this chart over into infamy as we’ll see later, but on the whole there will be some fame. Given Mercury’s rulership of the 1st and 10th, the native will be known for being themselves.

None of Lily’s aphorisms apply to this chart.

In short, the native will be known, at least in small way, by their own recognizance and actions stemming from Mars and Venus. Also by nature of Mercury’s involvement there will be an intelligence aspect, though given the afflictions on Mercury that knowledge for intelligence may be less wholesome than at first blush.



Delineating the 1st House: Wit and Understanding

Posted: October 9th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

The next thing we’ll be looking at is wit and capacity. This isn’t a measure of raw intelligence, but more about the ability to use the capacities we have. We’ve probably all met smart people who can’t seem to get their acts together, and vice versa.

The delineation of this comes down to the positions of Mercury and the Moon, especially Mercury. Mercury is the significator of our rational minds. The Moon is the significator of our sensible minds. The first thing Lily has us look for is how these two planets are related and which may be more powerful.

The idea situation is to have both planets be in good condition and in mutual reception by a good aspect. An “excellent and strong” wit arises because of this. If they are in bad condition, or have a square or opposition to each other, or have no aspect at all, then the native has a “doltish” capacity or wit. And if the significations are mixed, you get varying amounts of wit.

Don’t panic if you don’t have an aspect between the Moon and Mercury! Quite often these books will give a list of the best case and worst case scenarios. So we would only worry if the Moon and Mercury had terrible conditions and didn’t aspect.

This may seem terribly vague, but it’s part of the art to learn how to judge these things. Fortunately, Lily goes on to add more indications. First, how can you know whether someone is more rational or more emotional? See the strengths of the planets. Is one stronger? That’s one indication. Also look at the signs they’re in, thus:

Which Side is Stronger?

Is Mercury in Cancer, Leo, or Virgo? These are signs that are said to be “long ascension”, that is the star pattern they’re based on takes a long time to rise above the horizon, and also “commanding.”

Is the Moon in Capricorn, Aquarius, or Pisces? These are signs that are both “short ascension” and “obeying.”

If this is so, then the rational mind will be much stronger than the emotional, and vice versa if they were switched. Of course, this has to be weighed as well like all other astrological judgments.

The Quality of the Wit

Lily next gives a long list of wit descriptions. When you see something that’s a cookbook like this, it’s a sign for the student to grasp the principles behind why these entries are so and then use them in other combinations. So let’s do a little of that.

First, if Mercury and Moon are conjunct in a sign, it declares an ingenious person, and the same with a sextile or a trine. The sextile is actually stronger than the trine in this case.

So it seems that the closer the rational and emotional minds can work together, the better we’re able to use our wits to act in the world.

However, if there is a square of these, and both are in angles, it shows stubborn and turbulent wits. Also, if either are in detriment, it argues “seditious wits, blockish, hair-brained councils, destructive, and impudent.”

So a square would show conflicts between our passionate side and our rational side. And if both are in angles, this would show a lot of turbulence because both planets would have their full strength. For the detriments, think about how Mercury and the Moon’s detriment signs would affect the qualities of these two planets. How would they contribute to those qualities? What if only one were so?

Another extreme case: Mercury in Taurus, he being retrograde or combust. Or in Capricorn in the 12th, with partile aspects to unfortunate planets (Saturn and Mars), make simple and rude wits even if the Moon aspects them, because these signs are very terrestrial.

So here we have Mercury in greatly weakened state in an earthy sign. Obviously Virgo, the other earth sign, would be great for Mercury since he has rulership and exaltation there. We have a nice list of the four major afflictions (retrograde, combust, aspect from an evil planet, cadency). We could boil this down to say “Mercury afflicted in Taurus or Capricorn makes someone simple and rude.”

Here’s another case: Mercury in Aquarius, no afflictions, in a good house, swift, oriental, and with the North Node, gives a wit capable of learning anything; and usually men so indued, find out admirable inventions.

So here’s significations of an inventive mind. Mercury in Aquarius makes sense because Saturn rules secret and unknown things. Mercury will want to find out secrets. The long list of qualifications are the “slot machine” of good stuff, and so you’d adjust  your judgement depending on how many you had. Lily goes on to say that generally good wits are produced when “most of the Planets” are in airy signs. I would say look he’s just referring to Moon and Mercury.

An obvious one. “Mercury in either of his own houses shows a sharp understanding.”This makes sense.

Another one “Mercury received of the Moon by house or Exaltation” gives a wonderful Fancy (imagination.) We talked briefly about mutual reception above, but reception can go one way too. So if Mercury is in Cancer or Taurus and the Moon makes a good aspect to him, then it shows a good imagination. I would imagine in the opposite case that it would show good intuition (Moon in Virgo or Gemini, with a good aspect by Mercury.)

Here’s another principle. “Mercury in Aries with reception by Mars, gives a piercing wit.” Here we have Mercury in a house of Mars and receiving reception, generally a good thing. The wit would have a piercing quality to it, maybe like Dawkins or something. The same sorts of things would apply to the other planets.

One for the Moon. If she is with the nodes, it shows an active spirits, prompt to any science, and is best so when she is increasing in light and not far from full. I get the last part, but why “shows active spirits, prompt to Science” eludes me for the reasoning. I’d have to find a chart with this and figure it out.

More Rules for Mercury, Good Stuff Version

Lily goes on to give more general rules, some of them obscure, but good for seeing how different qualities would manifest. I’ve cleaned up the language in some of these.

“If he is below the horizon and in no aspect with a planet, it frames the mind for arts. If he is above the horizon, it frames the mind for oratory.” Planets below the horizon are harder to see, and most arts are done privately in the home. A planet above the horizon wants to get noticed.

“If he’s swift, he renders men inconstant but quick of apprehension. They often change their opinions but will give good reason for doing so. If he is slow or retrograde, it argues for stuttering or people without their own ideas (no conceptions).” Speed of the planet affects the speed of the mind.

“If he is combust, or under the sun’s beams, he incites the wit to meddle with impertinent matters, or mere niceties.” The matters involved would depend on the Sun’s sign and house. In general, these two conditions cause the planet to become ineffective. Think of Mercury as being blinded by the Sun’s light. It can’t focus enough to delve beyond the superficial.

“If he is oriental, he freely expresses opinion, but if occidental he dissembles, but see Mercury’s ruler to see if this expression is for good or ill.” Oriental planets tend to show areas where we are free to act. They don’t have to follow behind the king.

“If unafflicted by Mars, of good quality, in an air sign (esp. Aquarius), and with one of the nodes, it makes him acute and witty, and able to speak many languages.” A bit of a repeat from another one above, but here again we have the principle of Mercury in an air sign makes him smart in accordance with the sign’s nature.

(There is another indication at this point in the text, but there are too many lacunae)

“If Mercury is on the Ascendant in an airy sign, and swift, it prenotes a good memory and understanding, but the person will be mutable.” Again, more principles. Mercury likes airy signs for wit, and swiftness will speed it up but cause more change in the mind.

Mercury with Saturn makes the wit wary and the man constant and preserving.
Mercury with Jupiter makes the wit more honest, learned, and upright.
Mercury with Mars more confident and presumptuous.
Mercury with Sun ambitious, arrogant, and proud.
Mercury with Venus more eloquent and lovesome (a fun word).
Mercury with the Moon more unstable.
Saturn helps the memory, Jupiter introduces honesty and humanity, etc.

This is assuming the planets are in good condition/aspect/etc! But this is a great little rubric for seeing how the other planets affect one planet.

More Rules for Mercury, Bad Stuff Version

“Mercury Peregrine, Cadent, Combust, Slow, Afflicted by the Infortunes (esp. Mars), causes a corrupt wit and a doltish understanding. The more Mercury is afflicted, the greater the misfortune to the wit and fantasy.” A classic list of bad conditions, and a clear note that the more you have, the worse it gets.

“Mercury separated from the moon and no aspect declares a weak capacity.” We ran into this above. The emotional and rational sides don’t work together properly.

“Mercury under the sun’s beams, and also retrograde, causes slow actions and dull wit.” Here we see how a compounding of afflictions causes more problems. USB alone caused superficial wits and actions, but add retrograde and it dulls it further.

“Mercury in watery signs without an aspect from the fortunes shows an Idiot, and if those signs Saturn afflicts him, the native will have a speech impediment.” This has to do with the elemental qualities of Mercury. Mercury in general is hot and dry. We read how in earthy signs (cold and dry), Mercury caused simple and rude wits. In cold and wet signs, he doesn’t operate well at all, especially Pisces his detriment. Mercury cannot express himself well at all in these conditions. The addition of Saturn would cause so much affliction that the native’s speech becomes affected. Lily states later that Phlegmatic (water) signs are “enemies to study”, and likewise we could say that people who are overly Phlegmatic won’t do well in school due to slowness.

“Mercury square or opposite Mars declares an untoward Wit, evil and malicious.” In the list of mixtures above we said that Mars causes confidences and presumputousness, but if the aspect is bad then it could cause an evil mind, and all the more so if they were afflicted (see above).

Finally he gives a bit of something about temperament. People with singular temperaments don’t study well. Too much melancholy declares “very asses”. Sanguine people don’t retain what they learned. Too much choleric shows someone who hates to study. But a combination of qualities does show good study habits. A sanguine-melancholic man makes the best student. A choleric-melancholic man creates excellent inventions.

An Example

Is it time for an example yet? I think so. Here’s David’s chart again.


Mercury is very strong in Gemini, and elevated, but has an opposition from Mars. The Moon is in the same sign, peregrine. They are not close enough for a conjunction. Both are in an air sign. There is no reception.

Mercury is in his own sign, so there is a sharp understanding. He is at his highest point, so he will be completely unafraid to express his mind through speech, but there will be dissembling too (occidental).

Mercury receives aspects from Mars and Venus, but both are afflicted, especially Venus. The opposition shows an untoward wit. How? Sagittarius is ruling Mars and Jupiter is very afflicted in Virgo in the first. Even an afflicted Jupiter will help tone down Mars a bit. Also, Mercury receives Mars (albeit with a very very weak face reception.) Thus, I can’t say it’s truly evil or malicious, but definitely quite rude.

This is a self-righetous wit, very egotistical. But the worst is probably Venus even with a sextile. His wit and expression will frequently lean toward the lewd and obscene. Indeed, he is one of the most openly obscene men I’ve known. Nevertheless, it would be far worse if this were a square or an opposition.


Delineating the First House: The Significator of Manners

Posted: October 2nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Astrology | No Comments »

If you thought the preceding was difficult, hold on to your butts.

The next thing to look for in the 1st house is the significator of manners. This is the planet or planets that most forcefully imprint themselves onto the native’s personality. For you sun sign astrology lovers, this is the equivalent in traditional astrology according to Lily.

In one sense, it is much like the standard delineation of the 1st house, and if you have followed the general principles there you’ll have a pretty good sense of how the native is going to act during their lifetime. However, not everyone keeps the same personality, the same “manners”, over the course of their lives. People sometimes change, and quite dramatically. The lord of manners can shift over time.

But first, we have to bring up a pet peeve of mine.

Signs vs. Houses, or why I Hate Sloppy Terms

The technique that Lily uses is derived from Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos. The problem with using this text is that the definitions of signs and houses changed dramatically in the long period between Ptolemy and Lily, or even Ptolemy and Bonatti.

In Ptolemy’s time, the houses and the signs were pretty much the same thing. If you had Virgo rising, then all of Virgo was your first house. This is whole-sign astrology. A whole bevy of techniques developed based on this system. Then some smart Greek figured out how to calculate the exact point, the horoscopus, that was rising at the time of birth, giving us ascendant degrees.

From that, people developed different quadrant house systems that divided up the sky into different sized houses. New techniques were developed based on these new houses. The houses and the signs became split. But everyone still loved Ptolemy’s work and used his terms, and this lead to sloppy writing. The words sign and house can be used with great imprecision. This leads many astrologers to tear their hair out trying to figure out which do they mean.

With Ptolemy it’s easy. He’s a whole-sign guy. But if a later astrologer uses his techinques and doesn’t make it clear that they’re using a whole-sign method with a quadrant house method, then things go weird fast. This Lord of Manners technique is one that is derived from Ptolemy’s methods, but Lily has an odd way of expanding on it. As he says in Christian Astrology:

“First, if any planet do occupy the Sign ascending, or which is intercepted, he shall be principal Significator of Manners.”

Sign ascending is very clear. It is the sign that the ascendant degree is in. But the only way that a sign can be intercepted is if it is swallowed up inside of a quadrant house. So, does Lily mean:

* The actual sign, and hang it all of 27 degrees of it are shoved into the 12th?

* Just the first house, and any sign that may be in there?

* Both of the above?

* Just the rising sign, but only the bit of it that is in the first?

Here is my opinion. I think whole-sign techniques should be used with whole-sign houses. I’d ditch the interception thing entirely. However, I would weigh planets near the ascendant point at a heavier weight than ones further away. My chart has a good example of this. My rising sign is Virgo 27 degrees. Saturn is at 25 degrees Virgo, just peeking over the horizon. Jupiter is at 14 degrees Virgo, into the 12th. Mars and Moon are in Libra in the first.

I would count Jupiter as a planet to consider, but not as strong as I would Saturn because he is so close. While I would count Mars and Moon in the general delineation of the 1st house, for the purposes of the Lord of Manners technique I would ignore them. The further away the planets are from the Asc degree, the weaker the influence. Those out of sign would be right out.

Finding the Lord of Manners

First, look in the entire sign of the first house (even the bits in the 12th) Are there any planets in it?

Yes, one planet: That’s the Lord of Manners, along with the almuten of the degree that planet is in. Congratulations, unless it is the Moon or the Sun. Unless these are very powerful then they will not be the Lords of Manners. See if there is another candidate. This applies to all the entries below. So does the almuten thing.

Yes, lots of planets!: Congrats, they’re all going to take a turn at being a part of your personality! The most powerful and closest to the ascendant degree shall be the most durable. The others not so much. Put an emphasis on planets within 3 degrees of the Asc degree.

No, my poor ascendant is empty!: Look to the Moon or Mercury. See which planets have a conjunction to one of them. Find the most powerful by dignity. Go with that one.

But that planet conjuncts both of them!/I have equally powerful planets on both!: See the entry “Yes, lots of planets!” above. There will be discrepancy in manners, but those signified by the most powerful planet shall remain the longest.

Boo, I suck! My Ascendant is empty and there are no cojunctions to the Moon or Mercury!: Find the Lord of the Ascendant and his dispositor (the ruler of the sign that planet is in). If the two planets have an aspect, then the Lord of the Ascendant is the Lord of Manners.

I still suck! They don’t aspect!: Find the planet(s) that have a partile aspect (1-3 degrees) to the Moon or Mercury. Take the most powerful as the lord. If there many that are close, again, see “Yes, lots of planets!” entry above.

Still no love, what now?: Fine, then it is whomever has the most essential dignities in the places of Mercury and the Moon.

Let’s take David’s chart again:


Here we have Jupiter in the 1st, no other planets (South Node isn’t a Planet.) Therefore,  Jupiter is the Lord of Manners in this chart, with Mercury as a sub-ruler. Thankfully, this is a simple example.

What about my chart example above? Jupiter and Saturn are in the 1st house. Jupiter in Virgo is debilitated. Saturn is peregrine, but is extremely close to the Asc. I would say that Saturn would be the primary Lord of Manners, with Jupiter participating and a veneer of Mercury over the whole thing (as dispositor).

Basics of Interpretation

How will the Lord of Manners function in a general sense? That depends:

My planet is benevolent, or in aspect with a benevolent planet, and strong: Laudable and complete manners according to the nature.

My planet is malevolent, or in aspect with a malevolent planet, and weak: Evil and corrupt manners according to the nature.

My planet is benevolent, or in aspect with a benevolent planet, but weak: Externally, good and wholesome manners, but inwardly they are obscure, muddy or very simple.

My planet is malevolent, and is strong: Good, pretty conditions, but ever mixed with poison, or with the remains of some crabbed condition or another.

My planet is Mercury: Ahh, ever-changeable Mercury. Look to see who he is conjoined with. The benevolence or malevolence of that planet will turn him toward that, or whichever one is the most fortified or dignified. If he is conjoined to the North Node, then he is Jupiterian (I would also add Venusian). If he is conjoined to the South Node, the he is both Saturnian and Martian. If there are no conjunctions, he assumes the nature of whichever planet is his almuten.

What about if the Moon is aspecting?: The Moon’s general purpose for manners is to reveal them. Some people display a strong personality early in life, or never seem to develop one. If the Moon aspects and is increasing in light, the manners will manifest earlier. If the Moon is waning or combust or under the sun’s beams, then the manners are delayed. However, you should also add in the Moon’s dispositor into your analysis if there is a lunar aspect to the Lord of Manners. Lily also notes that if the planet is maximum latitude (not longitude!) either north or south, she “declares a variety of manners”, but he goes into no further detail.

And what about the Sun’s aspect?: The Sun adds gravity, grace, pleasantness, or decency if good. But if weak, the opposite of these. Again, add the Sun’s dispositor into your analysis if this aspect applies!

Going back to the example, we see that Jupiter is very debilitated. He is retrograde and in detriment. He is conjunct the South Node, a malevolent point. He also receives a tight trine from the Sun and a square from the Moon. The Sun is very weak, and ruled by Venus. The Moon is also weak, but less so, and is ruled by Mercury.

We also have to add in Jupiter’s almuten of Mercury, which is dignified and strong by rulership and placement, but is receiving an opposition from Mars.

But What Do the Planets Mean?!

Remember that the planets give a broad spectrum of results that are filtered by the signs. You must remember when you read the following lists that they will be altered and shaded by the sign that the planet is in. Think about how a cardinal/fixed/mutable planet would act. How would the elements color that planet’s powers? You will also want to think about the houses they are involved with as well as well as the planets aspecting them. This is a very tricky art!

Nevertheless, we do need a place to start, and so here is Lily’s list of planetary manners (with some updated language):

Saturn in good condition: Grave persons, with a certain austerity, advised, thinks about profound matters, taciturn, solitary, laborous, patient, preserves his wealth, sparing and thrifty, studious for their own profit, zealous, mistrustful.

Saturn in poor condition: Men of abject spirits, ill-favored, having a low conceit of themselves (puts themselves down), repiners, negligent, timerous (fearful), lovers of solitude, suspicious, backbiting, slanderous, superstitious, deceitful, malignant, unsophisticated.

Jupiter in good condition: Honest, religious, just, liberal (free to act), magnanimous, acts like an eminent person (a govenours), performing high matters, sober, grave with a kind of moderation, prudent, living virtuously and orderly.

Jupiter in poor condition: Lovers of themselves, open-hearted innocent, manners much like in the Good condition, but obscure and imperfect, a scornful, disdainful mind, proud, superstitious, fearful, dissembling, possessing a vain candor, negligent, prodigal.

Mars in good condition: Generous men, valiant, full of courage, ireful, fierce and violent, skilled with their hands, open and possessing temerity in their speech, not fearing bodily danger, apt for government (I would assume military too), boasters, revengeful, impatient of servitude, or of receiving injures or affronts.

Mars in poor condition: Cruel men, quarrelsome and tyrranical, rash and head-strong, bloody minded, unshameful, braggers, impious, unjust, shedders of blood, impudent in provoking but fearful when it comes to action, thieves, authors of dissentions, tumults, sedition, etc.

Venus in good condition: Pleasant, cheerful, and fair conditioned people, like to look good in appearance, good, bountiful, merciful, prone to delights, prefer to be clean, takes pleasure in sports and pastimes, subtle, elegant, poetic.

Venus in poor condition: Fearful persons, given to women (I would assume the preferred sex, not just women), men of no spirits, sluggards, “great Wooers of Ladies or women”, lustful, not respecting their credit or esteem, zealous in “women’s matters”, infamous, etc.

Mercury in good condition: Men of admirable sharp fancies, extremely studious and capable of learning. Guileful or wily, wise, divining well, gives good advice, acts in all things with agility and dexterity. Poets, geometricians, mathematicians, astrologers, eloquent, learning any art, of good carriage or deportment.

Mercury in poor condition: Unconstant people, malicious, turbulent, envious, perfidious, liars, especially if Mercury is with the South node, or in square or opposition to Moon and Mars, and in Air signs, deceitful, inventive of destructive plots and machinations, infamous, meddling with everyone and in every manner, asses, dolts, pratling dotars, stammering coxcombs, good for nothings, etc.

When interpreting, the main significator of manners will be the primary color. The rest provide details. Lily provides some good examples thus:

“If Saturn be Significator of Manners and Jupiter be joyned with him by body or aspect, Jupiter then qualifies the nature of Saturn, and therefore you must not judge the Manners Saturnine, but to participate much of Jupiter; and the native shall be a very prudent, wise man, quiet, a man of great council and judgement, learned, etc. This is understood when Jupiter is pretty strong.”

“If with Saturn the gentle Planet Venus is commixed, and he well fortified, he demonstrates a man little given to women, not ambitious, or delighting in pleasurable things or persons, delighted to be in the company of aged men, austere, envious, stiff in his own opinion, desirous to know the mysteries of nature, wary, suspicious in women’s matters. If he be evilly posited with Venus, it notes an obscene companion, meddling or coveting to do so with many women, Kinswoman or other, one of no deliberation, a mere profane person.”

Lily also tosses out that the worst manners are when the infortunes are joined with one another, or with Mercury in the 7th, 8th, and 9th houses. He also says to refer to Potanus, de rebus Coelestibus, lib 6. for more information about how the planets mix together. I don’t know of an English translation, but we may go back to Bonatti to get more insight about the Lord of Manners in the next post (after I re-read that section).

The Example Explained

So let’s look at Jupiter’s nature. We know he is weak so we can start with Jupiter’s list there:

Lovers of themselves, open-hearted innocent, manners much like in the Good condition, but obscure and imperfect, a scornful, disdainful mind, proud, superstitious, fearful, dissembling, possessing a vain candor, negligent, prodigal.

Mercury is coloring this debilitated Jupiter by dispositor and he is in good condition. It would be even better if he were aspecting Jupiter but that is not the case. The mental side of this is emphasized. We can say that he has a scornful, proud, and disdainful mind, and is very egotistical, and has the vain candor.

Jupiter rules the 4th and 7th houses, so his manners appear the best when it involves his home, his family, and his partners. He wants to govern these, but his control over them is obscure and imperfect, and this weighs heavily on him. When things don’t go his way, he can be at turns violent or sullen. He will not want to have his way questioned, but he doesn’t go out of his way to be a tyrant either.

The close Sun trine in Venus also adds a lustiness and crudity to the character. Indeed, the native is fond of sexual jokes and making his partners feel a little uncomfortable. However, I have never known him to cheat on a woman.

He is, in short, a crude, vain, and boastful man but with an inner core of goodness, the proverbial “heart of gold” we talk about in seedy characters. Indeed, my friendship with him has gotten me out of some rough situations due to his reputation of defending those he found worthy of his trust. I am still always welcome to his home and his food even though it has been years since we’ve talked. Once he gives his word he does not take it back.

The native also does have an inquisitive mind. He took like a fish to water when I taught him about neopaganism (and quickly formed a strong liking around 90’s McWicca more’s the pity) and has gone back to school when he could to get his associate’s degree. He’s proud of his large library, and there is a curious mix of the Venus and Mercury sides in his great love of role playing games. In fact, we met over jigsaw puzzles.

Note that the choleric temperament we talked about in the last post shines through brightly.

Next post, discovering the wit of a person!

Delineating the 1st house: Temperament

Posted: September 25th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Our writers believed that the human body, and all other physical matter, was made up of the four elements in various proportions. Likewise, these elements had a corresponding effect upon our emotional states. These add up to a general temperament in body and soul. Lily states that there are great varieties in temperament because of the varying temperaments of our parents and the influences of the stars. However, there are four main temperaments:

Sanguine: hot and moist (Air)

Qualities: Cheerful, liberal, faithful, affable, peace-makers, open hearted, modest, religious.

Phlegmatic: cold and moist (Water)

Qualities: Cowardly, submissive (Lily uses uxorious), mutable, not capable of keeping secrets, dull, sluggards, lazy.

Choleric: hot and dry (Fire)

Qualities: Angry, quarrelsome, revengeful, ambitious, importunate, imperious, hardy, rash, involving themselves in unnecessary troubles, seditious, often ingenious, easily changing opinions.

Melancholic: cold and dry (Earth)

Qualities: Slow in resolutions, fradulent, keeping counsel close to themselves, prudent, severe, covetous, suspicious, sorrowful, fearful, forward, holds grudges, inexorable, ambitious, loving no man’s esteem but their own.

It should be noted that these are the extremes, but these are basic colors we all have. The more out of balance we are in one way or another, the more that these qualities will show up, especially if a planet that is strongly one temperament is the Lord of the Geniture, as we shall see.

It also may seem like the only good temperament to be is Sanguine, but it was thought that a too-Sanguine person would be too soft-hearted to handle the world.

This hot/cold/moist/dry division points to finer divisions of the elements. Thus, you can say that Fire and Air share a component in their heat. Each of the planets and signs have different amounts of these finer divisions. By calculating these proportions, you get a graph of which divisions are stronger and, thus, which temperament(s) an individual falls into.

The calculation of temperament can get very tricky, but like most things in traditional astrology if you take it a step at a time with the right procedure you’ll get an answer. Let’s begin.

First, we need the planets and signs that are most involved in influencing temperament. According to Lily, these are:

1. The Ascendant sign and the Lord thereof

2. The Planets or Nodes in the 1st house, and those that aspect the Ascendant.

3. The Moon and Planets aspecting her.

4. The quarter of the year the Sun is in.

5. The Lord of the Geniture (see last post)

Let’s take up the chart from last post, since I’ve already calculated the Lord of the Geniture (Mercury):



So we would be looking at:

Mercury as Ascendant Ruler
Virgo as Ascendant
Jupiter in the 1st
South Node in the 1st
Mars aspects Asc
Mercury aspects Asc
The Moon
Jupiter aspects Moon
Venus aspects Moon
Sun in the 1st quarter of the year
Mercury as Lord of the Geniture

But how much hot/dry/cold/wet do these add? Let’s take a look at Lily’s charts on the matter. The primary chart for the planet gives different proportions depending on whether the planet is oriental or occidental in the chart.

Planet Oriental Occidental
Mercury Hot Dry
Venus Hot and Moist Moist
Mars Hot and Dry Dry
Jupiter Hot and Moist Moist
Saturn Cold and Moist Dry
Moon Phase Qualities
Conjunction to 1st Quarter Hot and Moist
1st Quarter to Full Hot and Dry
Full to 3rd Quarter Cold and Dry
3rd Quarter to New Cold and Moist
Sun in this Season Qualities
Spring Hot and Moist
Summer Hot and Dry
Autumn Cold and Dry
Winter Cold and Moist
Sign Element Qualities
Fire Hot and Dry
Air Hot and Moist
Water Cold and Moist
Earth Cold and Dry

Lily also gives several additional rules:

If the Lord of the Geniture is singular (no strong planets aspecting it closely), it counts for 3x.

If the Moon is in the Ascendant, count her 2x.

If Saturn or Mars aspect the Moon or Ascendant with a malevolent aspect (square, opposition, close conjunction while weak), then they will cast their qualities over the native despite the testimony of others.

In this chart, Mars is aspecting the Asc with a square, so there will be an obvious cholerick side to the man. Mars is also aspecting the Lord of the Geniture, so I wouldn’t count the 3x bonus.

Adding all the qualities up, we get the following:

Item Hot Cold Moist Dry
Occidental Mercury as Ascendant Ruler X
Virgo as Ascendant (Earth) X X
Occidental Jupiter in the 1st X
Occidental South Node in the 1st X
Oriental Mars aspects Asc X X
Mercury aspects Asc X
The Moon in 1st Quarter X X
Jupiter aspects Moon X
Oriental Venus aspects Moon X X
Sun in the 1st quarter of the year X X
Mercury as Lord of the Geniture X
Totals 4 3 4 5

Now we look to see what opposes what. Hot opposes Cold. Moist opposes Dry. There is slight heat and slight dryness. This lends itself to a mildly Choleric personality. There is a good amount of balance. However, Mars is heavily involved and bumps up the choler.

It is quite possible for most things to be balanced, and a native will not swing widely one way or another. In these cases, other indicators that I’ll go into with later posts will show the general cast of the mind.

It may be cheating, but I know this native well and I can firmly say that he has been choleric all the years I’ve known him. He has lost many jobs due to quarreling and rushes in where fools and angels both fear to tread. He is intelligent, as discussed back in the last post, but his knack for getting into trouble or bulling his way into things has made him a very bitter man. The last I saw him, he was deep into conspiracy theories and buying heavy artillery and ammo. That being said, there have been times he has been the other temperaments as well, especially when he is around me.

Now, not all of this is due to the temperament. Think of temperament as like the background mood of the mind. In the next post, we’ll be talking about the Lord of Manners. This will add much more detail to this general temperament.

And what about myself, if you’re curious? The Lord of my Geniture is Venus. I am choleric (Hot 6, Cold 1, Moist 3, Dry 7), and I have Mars conjoining my Moon and Saturn conjoining my Ascendant. My Saturn is much stronger than my Mars, so the reserved and suppressive nature of Saturn pushes a lot of anger inward. This tends me toward depression. In those times when that is released though, watch out! I can be quite forceful in presenting an opinion.


Delineating the 1st house: Basics and the Lord of the Geniture

Posted: September 18th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Astrology | No Comments »

I know I started working on the 7th, but I really think we should take a look at the 1st house instead in our journey of delineation. It is, after all, the first house. It is you. It’s the closest house to describing who you are personally.

Christopher Cattan, a geomancer, defined the first house thus in brief:

“The first house is commonly called the the Horoscope, or the Angle of the Orient, and his ascendant signifieth all the beginnings of life, and all works.”

And in more detail thus (many of these are for horaries):

“1. In what disposition is the person, the intent of his will, and the place of his abiding or dwelling

2. The beginning of things which he will take in hand and execute, and the longness and shortness of his life, and the quality of his heart.

3. Anything that he beareth hidden upon him, and the alteration of his hearts desire.

4. The making, Physiognomy, and proportion of his body, to know if he be or shall be made well or ill,  and whether he is well, or hard, or ill-favored

5. The nativity of the person, whether he shall be well or sickly, strong or weak.

6. The beginning of all enterprises.

7. The joy and sadness of the person

8. All things related to the head (medical, paraphrased)”

Remember that you should always start by doing a general delineation of the 1st before moving to specific techniques. This will give an overall view of the person and their ability to live. Let’s take a chart:


Let’s start with the general technique first. We have Virgo rising. Jupiter is in Virgo, which means he is in detriment. He is also conjunct with the South Node, which greatly weakens benefics. And on top of that, he’s retrograde. Already this bodes very poor for the general life. Jupiter wants to bring out blessings and wealth, but they’re slow, tortured, and never quite as much as the native would like.

Jupiter is also receiving two very tight aspects from the Sun (a trine) and the Moon (a square). Jupiter is in neither of their dignities, so there is no reception to him. Before we pick apart Jupiter’s aspects, let’s go through the rest of the list.

The ruler of the Ascendant is Mercury. He is in his rulership and is the most elevated (closest to the 10th house cusp) planet in the chart. While he is in the 9th, he isn’t far enough away from the cusp for me to consider him to be cadent. However, he is afflicted because of an opposition to Mars and he is retrograde. There is also a Mercury sextile. All but one of the aspects in this chart are very tight, so none can be ignored.

The significator of the house is Jupiter, but we’d rather not take him if at all possible.

The almuten of the house is Mercury as well, although Venus is also very strong here. Some people don’t like to calculate both Mercury’s rulership and exaltation in Virgo for point counting. If we didn’t count the exaltation, then Venus would be the almuten. I still add it personally, but considering Venus’ participation with the house ruler I wouldn’t completely ignore her either. Venus is also sorely afflicted by being in detriment.

There isn’t an Arabic part that I choose to use for the 1st.

All in all, we’re not looking very good! We have two main planets trying to bring about the native’s 1st house, Jupiter and Mercury. Jupiter is going to try to bring about good, long-lasting benefits, but they will all turn out crooked. Why? Often circumstances from the outside (reactive sign), though because this is the first house he is still the participant.

In his outward action, he wants to appear very smart, but he will be often wrong (retrograde mercury). Not only that, but he will want to fight hard to preserve his viewpoint. Woe be the person who tries to force an argument (opposition to Mars)! Not only that, but his pride will get in the way. However, he is not unintelligent. Mercury is still essentially strong. His thought just doesn’t flow in the right directions.

What of the Sun and Moon? The Moon is peregrine and ruled by Mercury. His emotions take on a mecurial, 10th house vibe. He wants to use his brain to provide for others. However, he may try to give too much for his own good, or in the wrong ways. The Sun is peregrine in Taurus, ruled by Venus, and cadent. Venus is in Aries, which is a really bad placement, especially as it still squeaks in the 7th. Venus in Aries makes people very lusty, and with Mars being powerful and retrograde, and projecting this power through the sun, open lust will be common.

So far we have an intelligent, horny, blowhard that can’t get ahead in life for trying. Let’s turn to some of the special techniques.

The Soul

I’m not fond of the word soul, but it’s the best word they had for the entire interior life of a person.

First, we need a bit of soul theory. According to Aristotle, the soul was divided into three parts: the vegetable, the sensible, and the rational. The vegetable part we share with, well, vegetables. It handled stuff like reproduction, digestion, and other very basic bodily functions. The sensible part we share with animals. It consists of our sensory inputs, our imagination, our desire drives, and our anger drives. The rational part consists of our will, our reason, and our judgement.

Much of Bonatti’s understanding of the 1st house comes from Ptolemy, and the trouble with Ptolemy is that he was not an astrologer. He was an encyclopedist of techniques from all over his travels. He is useful for some things, but Bonatti’s torturous re-capitulation of that part of the Tetractys is clear as mud to me. A few things can be discerned though:

Mercury is seen as the significator of the rational soul. Moon is the significator of the sensible and vegetable souls.

Bonatti would have us look at six distinct parts of the chart to get a general sense of personality.

1. The essential dignity of Mercury and the luminary in questions (he uses Moon throughout this part of the text)

2. The signs they are in

3. The Lords of those signs

4. The conjunction of the planets (all the aspects, notably by whole-sign since we’re using a Greek source)

5. The individual signification of all the planets participating

6. The angles (houses 1, 10, 4, and 7) and their lords, all of which play a big part in any chart.

We’ve done a lot of this work already in the general process above, other than the angles. Most charts are going to have the signs of the angles all be of the same mode, and this has particular effects to wit (all citations from Dyke’s translation):

Cardinal (or moveable in Bonatti’s parlance): “Indeed if they were in movable signs, they will make the man stay gladly in cities, and associating with others (on account of the mobility of those signs); they make [the soul] loving matters of communities and guilds [or societies]; likewise striving for praise; and they make it a ponderer of divine things; and it will be of a praiseworthy character [or talent], and ready to move itself toward those things which it ought; an investigator into matters; and liberal and of a good opinion toward practically everyone indifferently; and caring for (and noticeable in) the judgments of the stars.”

Fixed: “For if they (namely the significators and the angles) were in fixed signs, they make these accidents or these qualities come into the soul: wherefore they make it benevolent, upright, legal, not deceitful, not lightly changing, stable, many troubles, sustaining many labors; and many efforts, able to understand and talented, true and rigid; and bringing about what it wills; very free [or pure] from malices; and defending itself well from pleasures. [The soul will be] a collector of things which it sees or hears, and of words (both of vile and valuable things), letting go of nothing or very little of them, committing [them] to memory; jealous in useful matters, and especially in the sciences, for it does not want to be outdone by others in them; a lover of honor and of things concerning which praise is acquired; and to a good extent contentious in lawful matters; passing beyond the talents of other souls, changing [only] with great difficulty from proposal to proposal.”

Mutable (or common): “If however the Ascendant and the aforesaid significators were in common signs, on account of their multiformity and mutation they will make the soul multiform, slow and reluctant to act, difficult to be understood appropriately, easily loving, and lightly leaving love behind; unstable, cunning, wanting now this, now that, persevering in few things well; and it will be expert at gaining the knowledge of music; easily repenting for things both good and bad; however it will be of a manifest intellect.”

These broad descriptors would be further shaded by the other factors already noted above. Given the strong Mercurial vibe noted above, the mutable angles, and the main planets in question in mutable signs, much of the mutable paragraph will apply. Smart, but difficult to understand, unstable, cunning, and rarely persevering in actions.

The Lord of the Geniture

I must admit that I learned with Bonatti and Zoller’s courses and I have little experience with Lily’s special methods. However, Lily is far easier to understand and communicate to others. If there was a natal course based on his work back when I was first learning this stuff I think it would have gone a lot smoother. Bonatti is great for digging into weird details, but it is torture to pull out his methods into something resembling coherency, especially for much of the 1st house stuff. So we’ll turn to Lily for some additional shading.

The Lord of the Geniture is Lily’s term for the planet that rules the birth by basically finding the planet with the most dignities and the least debilities. This planet will cast its shadow of the whole chart. There is a separate calculation for a similar thing called the almutem figuris, or the victor of the chart, but it uses a different calculation. I use that more for spiritual delineation later.

Lily has a much broader definition of accidental dignity than I’ve discussed so far. Therefore, here is his chart of dignities in full from Christian Astrology Book 1:

Essential Dignity Points Essential Debility Points
Rulership 5 Detriment -5
In Mutual Reception 5
In Exaltation 4 In Fall -4
In Mutual Reception by Exaltation 4
Triplicity 3 Peregrine -5
Term 2
Decan (Face) 1

The only thing new here is mutual reception. Mutual reception by rulership would be when two planets are in each other’s ruling signs. Mutual reception by exaltation would be when two planets are in each other’s exaltations. The same can be done for the other essential dignities too, but Lily only makes note of the two strongest and so that is what I recommend. However, I would also add that for reception to occur there must be an aspect between the planets! Mere sign placement is not enough for true mutual reception.

Lily also adds a heavy negative total to peregrine. I think for the purposes of determining a planet’s strength this is true, but in actual delineation it is the condition of the sign ruler that really determines how good or bad it is.

Now on to accidental debility, which is a much larger chart:

Accidental Dignity Points Accidental Debility Points
In the 10th or 1st house 5 In the 12th house -5
In the 7th or 4th or 11th house 4 In the 8th or 6th house -4
In the 2nd or 5th 3
In the 9th 2
In the 3rd 1
Direct (☉ and ☽ don't get this) 4 Retrogradation -5
Swift in motion 2 Slow in motion -2
♄ or ♃ or ♂ Oriental 2 ♄ or ♃ or ♂ Occidental -2
♀ and ☿ Occidental 2 ♀ and ☿ Oriental -2
☽ increasing or occidental 2 ☽ decreasing in light -2
In Cazimi 5 Combustion -5
Under the beams -4
Partil Conj. with ♃ and ♀ 5 Partil Conj. with ♄ and ♂ -5
Partil Conj. with N. Node 4 Partil Conj. with S. Node -4
Partil Trine with ♃ and ♀ 4 Beseiged of ♄ and ♂ -5
Partil Sextile with ♃ and ♀ 3 Partil Opp. with ♄ and ♂ -4
Conj. with Cor Leonis 6 Partil Square with ♄ and ♂ -3
Conj. with Spica 5 Conj. with Caput Algol -5

In the first part, you can see that planets greater or lesser amounts of extra power for being in important houses. Angular ones have the most power, some of the cadent ones are less bad than others (though cadency is still an affliction!)

Direct and retrograde are opposite of each other. If the planet were in 1st or 2nd station, the pause points between going retrograde or direct, these wouldn’t apply. The moon and sun are always direct, so they don’t get that benefit.

Swift and Slow in motion means is the planet going significantly faster or slower than its average speed. Another chart:

Planet Moon Sun Mercury Venus Mars Jupiter Saturn
Slow below 12'15m 57m16s 20m 15m 10m 3m 2m
Average 13'10m36s 59m8s 59m8s 59m8s 31m27s 4m59s 2m1s
Fast above 14'10m 1'1m 1'40m 1'10m 43m 12m 6m

Oriental and Occidental mean would the rise before or after the sun respectively. Many of the texts say that it is better to have the “superior” planets, Saturn, Jupiter, and Sun, to rise before the Sun, and the “inferior” planets, Venus, Mercury, Moon, to rise after.

Remember that the moon increases in light as she moves away from the Sun. At opposition she is full, then decreases. Interestingly, Lily says that an occidental sun still has benefit even if waning, but this doesn’t quite make sense. Would have to play with it.

Cazimi, Combustion, and Under the Beams has to do with how close a planet is to the Sun. Combustion happens when a planet is within 8 degrees 30 minutes of the sun. Lily also says both planets need to be in the same sign. If a planet is between 8 degrees 30 minutes and 17 degrees, it is under the beams. Cazimi is a rare condition where a planet is within 17 minutes (minutes!) of the center of the Sun, and that adds a huge amount of power to the planet.

A partil (partill, partile) aspect is traditionally defined as when the planets are less than a degree apart. However, in other works Lily spreads this to 3 degrees and I think that is fair considering he does the same in the example nativity he delineates in Christian Astrology. So, consider a partile aspect to be anything closer than 3 degrees apart.

What about that funny “beseiged” entry? This is a rare case when a planet is sandwiched between Saturn and Mars. If the planet is conjoined with one of them and could move to the other and have no other planet intervene with an aspect, then the planet is beseiged.

The last few entries regard whether or not the planet is conjunct to certain very strong fixed stars. Lily suggests a 5 degree window for these, certainly for Caput Algol.

So, to find the lord of the geniture, you’d calculate all the dignities and debilities for all the planets and see who had the highest total. If there is a tie, the one that is closer to the midheaven is the winner. However, there is an important caveat which I’ll get to after the example. Let’s go through Dave’s chart:


Peregrine -5
10th house +5
Slow in motion -2
Increasing in light 2
Total = 0


Rulership +5
Triplicity +3
10th house +5
Retrograde -5
Occidental +2
Total = 10

(Note, I consider that a planet needs to pass 5 deg beyond the cusp before the mode of the house changes. This is a fudge factor to account for many things)


In Detriment -5
Peregrine -5
8th house -4
Direct 4
Oriental -2
Total = -12


Peregrine -5
8th house -4
Conj. Caput Algol -6
Total = -17


4th house 4
Retrograde -5
Peregrine -5
Oriental 2
Total = -4


1st house 5
Retrograde -5
Peregrine -5
Occidental -2
Total = -7

8th house -4
Peregrine -5
Oriental 2
Swift 2
Total = -5

Clearly the winner is Mercury. Mercury is also extremely elevated in the chart, conjunct the MC, further adding to his benefit.

Lily has this to say about what the Lord of the Geniture represents: “…the whole actions of the Native will more or lesse pertake of the nature of that Planet and so his Conditions, Complexion, Temperament, and Manners shall be much regulated unto the properties assigned that Planet… yet doubtlesse if any other Planet be very neer so strong as him whom we formerly mentioned, he shall much participate, and a kind of mixture must be framed according to the several fortitudes each Planet hath, together with the aspects good or evill of the other Planets intervening…”

Put another way, and I have to thank Tom Callanan for this description, the Lord of the Geniture is the planet that:

* Has the most power AND

* Can act on that power

The most powerful planet in the chart may not be the planet most able to act on that power. Essential dignity shows the inherent power, but essential dignity is the ability of that planet to use that power out in the world. Both are important. And so, even with this point calculation, you have to take into account how the planet fits into the chart as a whole.

You can do this with my chart, which I won’t share, but I’ll give you the gist. The only planets with very high dignity using this method are the Sun and Venus. The Sun is far more powerful that Venus, but he is cadent in the 12th and the aspects he receives are heavily debilitated. Venus is may be less powerful, but she is far more powerful than the rest of the planets, elevated in the chart, and in the 10th.

The Sun may be more powerful, but he really can’t act as forcefully as Venus can in comparison. This leads to a very important point. Do not be a slave to these methods! Use them at first and study the personalities of many charts. See where the exceptions lie and you can begin formulating principles. Astrology is an art as well as a science.

To keep this post from becoming even MORE long-winded, I shall stop here. Next week, elemental temperament. Take your chart and figure out your Lord of the Geniture before next time to make the process easier.

Marriage and Love Delineation Part 1

Posted: September 11th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Astrology | No Comments »

Due to a request, I’m going to take a few posts to dive into how marriage and love relationships are delineated in traditional astrology, as I understand it. First, we need to get an orientation about what this means.

People then as now have been very interested about their future partners in many different domains. What they’ll look like, how much money will they earn, are they interested in sex, are they interested in children, and so on. Traditional astrology can answer these questions, but you may not like the answers. First, because most marriages do not turn out in the ideal that is presented by modern Western culture. Second, because the source texts come at marriage from an extremely traditional point of view both from a marriage viewpoint and a sexuality viewpoint. Anything outside of a heterosexual marriage where the male is dominant is seen as a bad thing.

I see this more as a flaw in the mores of the time than in the system itself. Often I’ve found when I see some harsh dictation of fate in a text that I can follow the astrological logic back to see the reasoning. Understanding the why behind the reasoning of our forebearers in this art is the key to further astrological development. I just have to unspin the reasoning from the harsh language.

So as we go through this series, remember this please.

My primary sources that I’ll be using for this series are William Lily and Guido Bonatti. Lily is a very late traditional astrologer that sticks to the most important points. Bonatti goes whole-hog into everything he can find, and is quite opinionated to boot. I’ll be paraphrasing them both, since this is not a middle ages English class. My focus for this post is going to be on Lily.

Will I get married or not?

Before we can even get to describing what a marriage is like, we need to see if marriage is even portended in a chart. By marriage, I mean a long-term relationship that is formally recognized. It is important to remember that the standard delineation procedure I gave out is rarely overridden by any special technique you may find. Always start with the general procedure before moving to specifics. However, just so we get the technique out of the way we’re going to look at it first.

Lily says there are three main things to look for to determine the answer to this question. First, the planets in the 7th. Second, the 7th house lord. Third, the general significators of marriage. For male charts, these are Venus and the Moon. For female charts, these are Mars and the Sun.

We want to see what the condition is of all of these points. Lily likes to lean on the significators a bit more than the 7th house, so let’s start there. Let me pull up a chart again:

Kelly, Gene

Here we have the chart of Gene Kelly. First, let’s identify our players.

Venus: In Virgo, dignified by all three minor dignities (triplicity, term, face), but also in fall. Very interesting. This reminds me of the lines from the TMBG song Road Movie to Berlin:

We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned.

Venus also has a wide square to Jupiter and a very tight trine to the Moon. Conjuncted to the Asc.

This Venus also gives me a chance to talk about the 5 degree rule. There’s a bit of a fudge factor when it comes to determining cardinal/succedent/cadent. The planet needs to clear five degrees above the cusp line for it to be firmly in the next house.  Venus is only 2 degrees above the horizon. Therefore, I would call Venus cardinal and primarily working in the 1st house, though a smidge in the 12th.

Moon: In Capricorn, and thus in detriment. No other dignity. Moon is waning so she is malefic. She is trine the Asc and to Venus. Note that she is succedent. She has not been carried over the line into the 4th.

7th house planets: None. The north node is there, but this does not matter for this.

7th house ruler: Jupiter, cadent in the 3rd but in Rulership and in term. A planet in rulership but cadent is like a strong individual undergoing an illness. He is also opposite Saturn, a very bad sign. Jupiter is also the Almuten of the 7th.

Now right away from the general procedure we can see that it isn’t looking good for a long-term marriage. The ruler of the 7th is strong, but afflicted and opposite Saturn, the planet of solitude. Saturn is in triplicity, but also cadent. I would judge just from this that a long-term marriage is not in the works, or if there is that it won’t last long. However, the desire for 7th house experiences is there due to the strength of the planet. Remember though that the 7th house also represents other things like business partners, open enemies, and the like. More analysis would be necessary to see how this desire is channeled.

Let’s continue with the procedure. It’s generally best to see if there something is denied before seeing if it is present. So what are signs of no marriage? First, we want to see if the Moon and Venus are cadent or in the 8th, or are in barren signs.

Now a note on barren signs. Signs have a lot of other descriptors besides the ones I gave you a few weeks ago. The main barren signs are Gemini, Leo, and Virgo. Much of this reasoning has to do with their actual images. Gemini is an image of two brothers, so there is no chance of generating a child. Virgo is the virgin, so obviously no children. Lions rarely give birth and only one or two at a time.

Thus, having Moon or Venus in these signs would mean that the libido and urge for children is low. We see that Venus is in Virgo, so that is one indicator. Lily seems to weigh Venus (and conversely Mars) much more than the Moon (or the Sun), so this is another strong sign of no marriage.

Why look for cadency? That would suppress the natural powers of these planets. We also look at Jupiter, who is in a prolific sign but cadent and very afflicted. The most prolific signs are Cancer, Libra, Sagittarius, and Pisces.

We also have a special condition to look for that shows someone who doesn’t want marriage at all. If Venus is conjoined to a strong Saturn and has no support from a benefic AND the moon is in a barren sign, a cadent house, or is very afflicted, then not only will there be no marriage, but no desire for marriage will be present.

Now we do have this, in a strange way. Saturn is elevated in this chart, it is at the top of the sky. Lily considers this, at least for this combination, to be the same as conjoining Venus and the Moon if Venus and Moon receive no good support. As both are afflicted, we can continue to examine things. Saturn isn’t particularly strong thanks to cadency, but Venus doesn’t have support from a benefic and the moon is very afflicted. I’ve found if you’re most of the way there in these combinations, some of it is going to peek through.

But what about the flip side of this? Will the native want to have an unmarried non-chaste life? Lily has this to say:

Venus aspected to Saturn and Mars, all weak or peregrine, plus no good aspects from the Sun or Moon.

Lily also gives a few considerations for the moon that are signs of the single life:

Moon in Scorpio square Saturn in Leo/Taurus (though other factors are necessary to completely deny marriage)
Moon Combust and in square or opposition to Saturn in Capricorn, Aquarius, Libra

So what would I say to this native? I would say that the native’s marriages are going to be very unhappy. Why do I say marriage will happen despite all the negative indications above? Because of Jupiter. Jupiter is very strong in Sagittarius. He will be trying his best to make a marriage happen that will come from 3rd house (students, co-workers, neighbors) and 7th house locations. Venus’ strength despite her fall and Jupiter’s essential strength will want to make the marriages work, but it won’t hold together.

Gene Kelly in fact had three marriages. He was an actor and dancer. His first marriage was to Betsy Blair, a dancer, which ended after 15 years suddenly by her on charges of “mental cruelty”. His second marriage was to a choreographer named Jeanne Coyne for 13 years until her death. His last marriage lasted six years until he died. According to a memoir written by Blair, it was reported to her by one of Gene’s children that the the third wife ‘threw him away – as if he were garbage to be incinerated and thrown away. There aren’t even any ashes’.

Now why would he end up having three marriages despite all these negative indications? We go back to our general interpretation! The good or bad of a house is signified by the ruler. Jupiter despite cadency is very strong in rulership. Jupiter would want to make the grandest of marriages, deep, sustaining, and satisfying. The marriages all lasted for a long time, relatively, but they all did end on very bad notes.  Jeanne Coyne died at 50 of leukemia. Blair accused him of mental cruelty. His last marriage was spent mostly in bad health and his body was tossed out.

This is a great lesson. Always look at the general before going to the specific!

What would we look for in a chart for yes? We would want to see the above planets to be strong and in the prolific signs. We would like to see the moon in happy houses like the 5th, 1st, 11th, or 10th. We would judge marriage if a benevolent planet is in the 7th despite a bad house ruler (planets in houses are stronger than rulers remember). Also if the lord of the 1st is applying to the lord of the 7th and there is mutual reception, then marriage will play a major role in the native’s life. I will save what applying/separating and mutual reception are for another post.

Let’s go for another, this time a female.


Let’s start with the general interpretation this time. We have three planets in the 7th: Moon, Sun, and Mars. Cancer is the ruler. Almuten is Venus and Moon. House significator is also the Moon since she is in the house.

Moon: In Cancer, in rulership and face, angular, very strong. Square with Jupiter, sextile with Saturn, sextile with Venus.

Sun: In Leo, in rulership and triplicity, also angular, very strong but afflicted due to very tight conjunction with Mars. No other aspects.

Mars: Peregrine, angular, VERY combust with sun. No other aspects

Venus: In fall, cadent, very tight trine with Saturn, sextile with moon.

Placement is always stronger than rulership, but the ruler is in the sign so we must look at Moon first. The Moon is definitely going to bring about a nurturing marriage. None of the aspects are afflictive, so we can just stop here and say marriage is going to happen. We do have signs that there will be problems with it though, but to keep from blowing out this post too much wider let’s stick with the original question of getting married or not.

Turning now to the special technique, we’ll be looking at the planets in the house, the ruler, and the special significators of females: Mars and Sun. Mars and Sun are in a barren sign, but the Moon is in a very fecund sign and is the ruler and is in the house. Since the Moon is running the show I would say that marriage is desired and it will happen. Venus may be very afflictive and will definitely have an effect on the marriages, but it is not enough to kill the marriages off.

I know this native personally and know she has been in two marriages.



The Beginnings of Traditional Delineation

Posted: September 4th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Astrology | No Comments »

So, here we go.

Before you can predict what will happen in a chart, you have to delineate it. Delineation tells you what will happen in a chart. Prediction will tell you when. If you cannot delineate, you cannot predict. Before we can delineate, we have to describe that accidental dignity thing I alluded to in past posts.

Essential dignity measures the quality of the planet’s action. The more dignified the planet, the more it is able to bring about results in accordance with its nature and sign in the house it is ruling. Accidental dignity measures the quantity of the planet’s power. This depends, among other things, on what house the planet is in. If the planet is in an Angular house (1,4,7,10), then it operates at high power. Succedent houses (2,5,8,11) make the planet operate at average power. Both of these are fine. However, if it is a Cadent house (3,6,9,12), then it is operating at weak power and considered afflicted. For a planet in a cadent house to make things happen, it needs assistance from the outside.

What if the planet is strong essentially, but weak accidentally? It’s like having your boss out sick. They’d love to help you, but they’re laid up and can’t do much. What if the planet is weak essentially, but strong accidentally? That means they have a whole lot of power to activate those weak qualities. Planets afflicted both ways are very weak, but when they do become active some of the worst qualities of people can come out.

Most of the other things to look out for in accidental dignity are afflictive. The first is retrogradation. This is when the planet is appearing to move backward in the sky, and signifies delays and difficulty. The second is combustion. If a planet is within 8 degrees 30 minutes of the Sun in either direction, it is afflicted with combustion. If it is within 17 degrees of the sun, then it is under a minor affliction called “under the sun’s beams”. The third is cadency, which we talked about already. The fourth is receiving a square, opposition, or conjunction from a malefic planet.

In short, essential dignity tells us about problems with the planet itself. Accidental dignity tells us about environmental factors from the outside that are keeping us from achieving what the planets promise.

Now, if you read traditional astrology texts, you’ll find a lot of pronouncements and special techniques. We’re not looking at those. We want a general delineation of what is happening in the house. We want to know:

* Whether the house is active or not

* What kind of thing related to the house is being promised

* How it will come about

* Why it will happen

We need a chart to work on. Let’s take the chart of a friend of mine:


Hopefully this is clear enough to see. We’re going to stick with one house, the 10th, but you’ll see as we go through the basics that we’ll see a lot of interrelated things come up. Often charts are wrapped up in one or two clusters of related influences. Remember that the 10th house relates to profession and to public actions.

There are five things to look at in any general delineation of a house:

1. Any planets in the house.

2. The significator of the house.

3. The ruler of the house.

4. The almuten of the house.

5. Any Arabic parts related to the house that you’re interested in.

Basics first. We start at the top. If we look at the top, Jupiter is in the 10th. Position in a house is always stronger than the rulership of a house unless the ruler of the house is also in the house. Remember that the ruler of the house is the ruler of the sign that is on the house cusp.

In the sample chart, we see that Libra is the ruler of the 10th house, but Jupiter is in the house. So we need to look at Jupiter first. Jupiter in this degree of Libra is barely dignified. He is in his decan. Jupiter is also very elevated in the house and in the 10th. Jupiter is operating at full power. This planet isn’t hiding. Jupiter is also receiving a square aspect from the Moon, who is waning. This means she is malefic, and so we can’t ignore her influence. However, we need to study Jupiter more fully first.

Jupiter wants to expand itself in a Libran way. Libra is an active cardinal air sign. The native will want to express and move about forcefully in the directions of liberality, freedom, and generosity. This is a very good combination for a socialite who wants to spread their ideas far and wide.

However, will she be able to do it? Only on a very small scale. While the planet is powerful through house position, there is only a weak decan dignity here. The native will try to expand but will only be known in a small circle, or perhaps a subculture. We also have trouble because Jupiter is ruling the 12th and 3rd houses. This liberal nature may be a course of hidden trouble for her, though if she has siblings she is very kind to them. It also shows that her profession will have 12th or 3rd house aspects.

So much for Jupiter, but we have to look at that Moon square now because the aspect there is pretty tight. This liberal nature is fighting with something. The Moon is highly dignified in the 7th, in rulership and in term. Since she is in the 7th she is also angular. The Moon is in Cancer, a reactive cardinal water sign.Cancer actively seeks emotional security, and responds very easily to people who can give that. This is a very excellent placement boding good things for the 7th (at least on it’s own, that Sun/Mars combo is gonna shake it up).

Yet there are still problems with the Moon. The Moon is waning, which means instead of growing and nurturing it is decreasing and decaying. The Moon is in her malefic aspect. However, she is highly dignified. This means that she will try hard to bring about 7th house things, but they will be difficult to maintain. She is not as malefic as Mars and Jupiter, but her blessings are not going to last long.

The Moon has other aspects too but we’re going to ignore those for a bit. How are the Moon and Jupiter dancing in the sky? They are arguing, in conflict with one another. They’re not shunning each other like an opposition. The Moon is trying to bring about partners that are very good for the native, but the native’s public actions of liberality and social connection are causing friction. Likewise, the native’s actions cause problems for the partners, despite their positive qualities.

That’s the first part. Now the second part is to find the specific significator of the house. Horary astrology uses large amounts of general significators so that seven planets can cover everything. What we’re looking for is a planet that is especially strong in relation to the house. To find the specific significator, find the planet with the most dignity that is either the planet in the house that is closest to the cusp, the ruler of the house, or the almuten. We’ll get to how to calculate an almuten in another post.

Jupiter is the closest to the cusp, but he only has decan. He gets one point. The ruler of the house is Venus. Venus has triplicity, that’s 3 points. The almuten is both Saturn and Venus with 7 points a piece. That means both Venus and Saturn will play a role as significators. Because Venus is also the house ruler, I want to see her role more.

The significator tells us how it is. How will this liberality manifest itself? So let’s look at Venus. Venus is in Virgo in the 9th. She has a VERY tight trine with Saturn and a sextile with the Moon. She has triplicity by being in an Earth sign. So essentially she’s not terrible. Accidentally she’s cadent and that’s not good. The trine with Saturn doesn’t necessarily afflict, but it does hinder things too and also means that we can’t ignore looking at Saturn in this.

Venus is the principle of lust, we must remember. Virgo is the receptive mutable earth sign. Earth signs seek physical security. From a 9th house level then we can say that her religiosity wants a physical manifestation of love/lust and wants it drawn to her, but because there is significance for the 10th house her actions are also mingled with this physical need for love. However, due to the cadency of the planet, this isn’t going to come out easy and will come out in ways more on the lust side, albeit in a responsible manner thanks to triplicity.

Combine that with the social liberality of Jupiter in the 10th, and we have a native that expresses her liberality through more physical Venusian means. However, remember that the planet in the house is stronger than the ruler. So any overt lust is more coming from a Jupiter POV rather than a Venusian POV.

We also have a sextile with the Moon with Venus, so we also have a helpful aspect pushing her lust along. The Moon is much more powerful than Venus. However, the Moon is in her changeable form. Thus, we can say that her love/lust also changes quickly, and that suggests many partners in an attempt to satisfy Venus’ demand. As an aside, this placement also means that many of her partners probably come from her lover’s friends. The 9th house is the 11th from the 7th, which is the friends of the partner. This is an example of derived houses.

But what of Saturn? Saturn sees both Venus and the Moon. Saturn is in Taurus in the 4th, however it is barely over the cusp line. Bonatti has a rule that that considers a planet within 5 degrees rising over a cusp line to still have some influence over the house it just left, and may not have the full power of the new house promises. So we can say that Saturn has some play in both the 4th and 5th houses, and that it is gearing up toward the power of a cardinal sign but isn’t quite there yet.

Saturn is very weakly dignified by decan. He would receive a bit of a boost from the Venus trine, but Venus is afflicted due to cadency. It is possible for benefics to become “accidental malefics” if they are heavily afflicted. However, I don’t judge Venus to be in that bad of shape. So what is Saturn trying to do.

Saturn is all about restriction and being alone. Taurus is the reactive fixed earth sign. How does this differ from Virgo? The direction of the desire for physical security. Taurus would rather have its physical environment stay fixed in the bliss of Spring, and Saturn will be trying to do this in a 4th/5th house manner. Saturn is also in Venus’ sign, and we’ve seen how Venus is seeking to make physical security through lust.

Saturn is in the house of the Home and is just leaving the house of Children. A child is definitely something that is physical and something you draw to yourself. A stable home life is another. But remember the nature of Saturn. It will either come with great difficulty, or come about and then decay. Plus, we have the lack of nourishment from the moon due to being so close to a new moon.

I had not intended to delineate the almuten in this post but it just happened to fall out that way. We’ll save the calculation for another time. Arabic parts add color to a delineation but there’s not a major one for the 10th I use.

So going back to our four-fold questioning, what do we get?

Is there a 10th? Will the native have a profession/a public face?: Yes.

What sort of public face is it?: The native is driven by physical needs for a home and children. She will seek far and wide among a large number of people to get it. The native is not shy about expressing her sexual needs, nor her desire for physical security. Outside of this domain, she will also express very high-minded, liberal, cosmopolitan ideals about the world.

How will it manifest?: Good in some, poor in others. The native will draw people to her very easily, but they will not fulfill the ultimate desire for children and home life.  Her partners will be very many (a feature of Venus/Saturn connections, many secret loves) and change quickly if they do not fulfill the function of either children/security or match her high-minded liberal expression. Lust will be no stranger to the native. In fact, one could say that the desire for stability and children is sublimated by having many partners instead. However, if the native does attain children or home, there will be problems with both either related to the native’s body or her finances.

Why does it manifest this way?: The native’s high ideals, or even the religion, push the native toward her public persona of liberality, but there is a strong sexual component to it. Sexual liberation, sexual freedom, and other liberal orientations toward Venusian topics will be deeply-held core beliefs.


I’m describing it in this manner because we are looking at how that complex signifies her public actions in the 10th. This is no hidden drive. The native will make clear her desire for children, partner, and sex, and the need for physical security, and will spread that liberally to many people. She’ll talk about it a lot and will not be shy about acting upon it if opportunity presents itself, which it will. Partners will come and sex will be prevalent, but a lot of the seeking will be due to a lack of a child or a stable home. More unfortunately, the major reason for the lack will be herself and her finances (Saturn ruling the 1st and 2nd houses).

This brings us to an important point about delineation. Sometimes charts suck. MOST charts suck actually. Modern astrology is rife with trying to turn all negatives into positives or challenges to overcome. There’s some benefit to that viewpoint, but if it hides what is there then there is no way the native can act on this to change it for the better. Traditional astrology is really good at exposing ugly truths about our lives. But the question for the native, or anyone looking to get their chart read, is what are you going to do about it? Will you roll with it? Fight it? Learn from it? That is where your power lies. This is the hand that is dealt. How will you play it?


A Different Definition and Praxis of Magic

Posted: August 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Buddhism | No Comments »

Strange thoughts come to you at 1 in the morning when your sleep schedule is wonked, but let’s see what comes out of this rambling jangling bundle of ideas I have going through my head.

I have this weird ability where I dream of the future that started back when I was in high school. I would dream of some mundane scene and forget about it. When I encountered the scene in my life, I would be struck with a heavy sense of deja vu. Within a day of that sensation, something important would happen. The last time this happened was during my recent meditation retreat. That day I had a big personal breakthrough in insight.

When I had my big break with magic a few years ago and turned to Theravada, I deliberately stopped practicing divination as well. As you can see by these posts, I’ve started to dip my toes back in. One reason is because even after making a clean break I still kept having dream portents that were coming true.

The Buddha never said that the whole magic/divination rigamarole didn’t work. It’s just that it didn’t lead to the elimination of suffering and that it was unseemly for people devoted to that to pay attention to that stuff. For laypeople, the big thing he was against was believing in signs and portents and auspicious activities rather than kamma, the law of cause and effect that underpins much of our experience of reality.

This is actually a liberating viewpoint because kamma gives you the ultimate freedom and ultimate responsibility for how your respond to your life and how to create your future experiences. Karma is not an impersonal force. It is intensely personal. It is, in fact, built up out of your volitions.:

“…Bhikkhus, what one intends, and what one plans, and whatever one has a tendency towards: this becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is a basis there is a support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is established and has come to growth, there is the production of future renewed existence. When there is the production of future renewed existence, future birth, death, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.” SN 12.38, Bodhi.

“…It is volition, bhikkhus, that I call kamma. For having willed, one acts by body, speech, and mind. And what is the source and origin of kamma? Contact is it source and origin…” AN 6.63, Bodhi.

Each little act of will that we perform pushes out a ripple of cause and effect that culminates into our experiences, our contact, which is technically the meeting between one of our senses, a sense object, and a subsequent consciousness arising from that meeting. Senses in this case is our five physical senses and our mind.

Thus, at some point, “I” must have done actions that have culminated in my ability to have these dreams, and push me toward divination, magic, etc. I willed the action, which set ripples through time and space, and ripened in an experience of contact. There is a functioning brain, the dreams touched it, consciousness of those dreams arose. What normally happens is that the experience triggers feelings and perceptions which lead to further volitions, causing further experiences.

Which brings me to magic. The cliche definition of magic is the “Science and Art of causing Change in conformity with Will.” Donald Kraig, in Modern Magick, defines it as “the science and art of causing change (in consciousness) to occur in conformity with will, using means not currently understood by traditional Western science.”

If we were to view kamma as described above through the lens of magic, kamma is magic and the experience of our lives is one very long spell that we’re maintaining. This isn’t to say that everything we experience is due to kamma though. We may have willed to continue existing in a body, but the rules of the universe have set it so that bodies do get sick, grow old, and die. We can’t change that. There are limitations to which experiences our minds can bring about. Also, there are things that may have been set off many many lifetimes ago that finally get a chance to bear fruit in your life that the current “you” didn’t cause but you’re the recipient anyway. Astrology, to my mind, is a way of getting a sneak preview of those sorts of things. But if you had a prepared mind that could skillfully handle anything that came your way then there would be no need for divination. You’d just deal with it and keep on going.

In fact, I wonder just how much divination systems hang on the acceptance of the tenets behind them for their accuracy. There are so many systems out there and their users all say that they work, assuming they’re not acting as charlatans. Some systems require great buy-in into a belief structure, such as many ATR divination systems, or the system of Mo divination used in Tibet. Others require nothing more than the belief that x means y for whatever you’re manipulating. It doesn’t even have to build off of an existing symbol set. A.O. Spare details how he made his own divination decks in The Zoëtic Grimoire of Zos (see 5th section.) One could take this argument further to say that we have language as our symbol set and we have to “believe” our language accurately symbolizes reality enough to take volitional actions based it, but that’s a rabbit hole I’ll leave for another time.

What I want to theorize on is how to make the constantly on-going spell of our life better by talking about a subject in the suttas that doesn’t get much attention in western Buddhist circle. It’s called the four iddhipadas, the four bases (lit. roads) to spiritual power. They are an important component of the path, especially later sections, but they can be developed. In fact, you may already have.

Here they are in brief according to the suttas:

  • The basis for spiritual power that possesses concentration due to desire and volitional formations of striving.
  • The basis for spiritual power that possesses concentration due to energy and volitional formations of striving.
  • The basis for spiritual power that possesses concentration due to mind and volitional formations of striving.
  • The basis for spiritual power that possesses concentration due to investigation and volitional formations of striving.

There’s that volition thing again! The Buddha doesn’t say that this is just a Buddhist form of gaining spiritual power:

“Bhikkhus, whatever ascetics or brahmins in the past generated spiritual power completely, all did so because they had developed and cultivated the four bases for spiritual power. Whatever ascetics or brahmins in the future will  generate spiritual power completely, all will do so because they will have developed and cultivated the four bases for spiritual power. Whatever ascetics or brahmins at present generate spiritual power completely, all do so because they have developed and cultivated the four bases for spiritual power.” SN 51.6, Bodhi.

The formulas break down into a two part refrain (concentration and volitional formations of striving) and a differentiating component (desire, energy, mind, investigation). Let’s start with the refrain.

Concentration, in this instance, means “one-pointedness of mind”, the ability to keep the mind fixed on an object. This is the primary skill that concentration meditation teaches, e.g. keeping the midn on the breath. The best sort of one-pointedness is to be able to access certain states of meditation absorption called jhana. I am uncertain how the jhanas and the iddhipadas might work together in practice, since you’re applying concentration on four factors that aren’t usually used to enter that sort of state. But certainly the ability to clear the mind and place full attention on one thing is key for the formula to work.

The other part of the formula is “volitional formations of striving.” To quote SN 51.13, “he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives.” But he does so in four specific ways:

  • To prevent unarisen states you don’t want from arising
  • To overcome arisen states you don’t want that have appeared
  • To generate unarisen states that you do want that aren’t there yet
  • To maintain arisen states that you do want that are present

If I was to put it as a simile, your current life is a boat. Your previous kamma is the stream the boat is on. The volitional formations of striving are signals in the water that steer you toward or away from your goal. Concentration is the driver of the boat. But we still need an engine and that’s where the other components come in.

First, desire (chanda). Those of you familiar with Buddhism may wonder why desire is here since the goal is to get rid of desire. This is true, but there is also the desire for desirelessness. Also, the word used in the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering is tanha, craving. More literally, thirst.

Chanda is merely the “wish-to-do”, but tanha normally has greed wrapped up in it. It is a craving that has a needy, wanty, grabby component to it, like how a thirsty person would want a drink of water on a hot day. Chanda doesn’t have this grasping quality. To use another example from the suttas, it’s like saying to yourself “I will go to the park.” You then go to the park, and the desire is terminated because it is fulfilled.

This, in my opinion, is why lust for results and magic made under extreme emotional duress doesn’t often work. The greedy, craving part of the mind interferes with the purity of the desire. In fact, there is another refrain that I will get to that talks about this in a bit.

However, that doesn’t mean that your wish needs to be weak! Chanda must be very strong for it to activate the path. To quote Ledi Sayadaw: “It is the kind of desire that evokes the thought, ‘If I do not attain this accomplishment in this life, I shall not rest content. It is better that I die rather than that I shall not attain it.'”

If you can concentrate on your desire with your whole mind and direct it according to the four volitional formations of striving, this is one of the roads. Much of the magic that’s getting shuffled around in success books uses this principle a lot. Setting up vision boards, affirmations, visualization, and other practices keep the desire in the mind. There is also often a lot of work done on keeping negative thoughts counter to the goal down and boosting positive ones.

The next path is energy. It’s one thing to have a desire, but you need the energy to do actions to move toward it as well. The kind of energy sought is not an intense, shaky one. It is a firm, steady effort ready to go as long as necessary to attain the goal. To go back to the park metaphor, it is the energy to follow through with the desire to go to the park, pushing you to get dressed, go to the car, and drive to the park. When energy has accomplished its purpose, it dissipates just like the desire.

Like desire, energy has to be present until the goal is accomplished. You have to become infused with the thought that your desire can be attained with energy and effort, and that it won’t go slack no matter how long the process might take or how hard the road may be. There is a lack of discouragement. In fact, the word viriya, energy, is connected with our word virile. It is a manly energy that doesn’t give up.

Again, the energy has to be channeled with concentration toward states that are in line with the goal and away from those that aren’t. You can’t have a desire in your mind to go to the park and spend all your energy playing video games instead.

The third basis is mind (citta). I don’t particularly like the term mind as a translation, but it’s the most succinct one. It’s more like the climate of the mind. Think about the last time you were angry. You had angry thoughts, but along with those thoughts there is an angry mindstate. The thoughts feed the mindstate and the mindstate inclines your thinking toward anger. This background mindstate is the citta.

Citta isn’t just the rational mind, but it is also the emotional mind. There really isn’t much difference from this viewpoint. It’s all the mood of the mind. You can think of it as putting your heart into something, to generate the mind state that aligns with your desire and your energy.

Generating concentration on citta means that you keep your mind focused on your desire no matter what distractions may come up. Again, from Ledi Sayadaw: “Although one lives amidst the beauties and luxuries of the world, amidst acquired powers and fortunes, amidst the sacred books and the study of them, one is not allured, but one’s mind is always turned towards the iddhi. One attains satisfaction and tranquillity only when one’s mind is absorbed in matters connected with the iddhi. It is like the absorption of the alchemist engaged in the transmutation of the baser metals into gold or silver. Such an alchemist has no interest in anything else but his alchemy. He forgets to sleep or whether he had slept or eaten. He does not notice anything when out walking. Citta is great absorption or attachment of this nature.”

Ledi Sayadaw is a bit hardcore about it all, but he was a monk. This whole-heartedness also needs to be one-pointed and in line with the volitional formations of striving. We’ve all had experiences when we said we want to do something and try to do it, but our hearts aren’t into it. That lack of wholeheartedness will sap your energy and desire. As another magician put it, “enflame thyself with prayer.”

In my opinion, this is what a lot of the theater and belief structures in magic are for. It brings about a strong citta and raises energy in the mind to make the desire happen. As to whether or not the actions performed in an act of traditional magic do work with the spirit realm is beyond this particular discussion. From the point of view of kamma anyway, you put forth your will to summon a spirit and now you receive mental contacts in line with what you planted. That doesn’t mean the spirit doesn’t exist, but your experience of it is the fruition of your kamma. If I’m understanding it right anyway.

The final road is investigation. This is the trickiest one. It is the governor that recognizes whether or not the other three factors are working correctly, and that what you want is really what you want. We all have desires, applications of energy, and mind states that pop up all the time, but the wisdom and skill to discern whether this is something you truly want, and that other things are what you don’t want, is the power of investigation.

When investigation is satisfied, there is no more quibbling about whether or not your desire, energy, and mindstate are being used correctly. Nothing can distract you from the goal. I personally have a lot of work to do with this one. I often go off on desires to do things that I turn my entire attention toward, but only after I’ve been in it for a while do I realize that this isn’t something I really wanted to do. I didn’t investigate things enough to kill my doubts and jump in wholeheartedly.

Even just cultivating one of these four roads would be enough to help someone achieve a certain level of success. Imagine what could be done if you cultivated all four!

There is also a refrain on how these four should be cultivated: “Thus my X will be neither too slack, nor too tense; and it will be neither constricted internally nor distracted externally.” And he dwells perceiving after and before: “As before, so after; as after, so before; as below, so above; as above, so below; as by day, so at night; as at night, so by day.” Thus, with a mind that is open and unenveloped, he develops the mind imbued with luminosity.”

  • A slack mind is one that is accompanied by lassitude or laziness.
  • A tense mind is one that is accompanied by restlessness.
  • Constricted internally is a mind that is full of mental and physical fatigue (get your sleep!)
  • Distracted externally is a mind that is repeatedly distracted and disturbed externally by sense pleasures.
  • Before/After is keeping your mind on the task you’re trying to accomplish and staying mindful throughout.
  • Above/Below is a little weird. The text refers to a contemplation on the parts of the body. I would assume this removes attachment and distractions caused by the body due to developing a lack of identification with the body.
  • Day/Night is to keep the goal you’re going after the same at all times (using the same qualities, features, aspects, etc.)
  • And what about the luminous mind? Apparently if you can do these roads well and keep the mind in this sort of state, you become percipient of light.

I think this is the closest I’m going to get to true Buddhist magic. While the overall goal may be to break the spell of samsara, these roads are a handy trick to getting that to happen. But they are also a trick to helping you achieve things in this world too. How does your practice generate these conditions from a subjective point of view? Does it? Would love to hear your thoughts!





Almuten Calculation

Posted: August 28th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Astrology | No Comments »

Just a quick post this time about Almuten calculation and what that means. Almuten is a corruption of an Arabic term meaning “the victor”. Every degree in the zodiac gives different amounts of dignity to different planets. The one or two planets that have the most dignity for a particular degree are the almutens.

To calculate it, you make a running tally of how many points of dignity each planet has on the scale of essential dignities. The one with the highest number wins. Let’s take my ascendant degree, 27 Virgo.

The ruler of Virgo is Mercury

The exaltation is Mercury

The triplicity rulers of Earth are Venus, Moon, and Mars (I have a diurnal chart)

The term ruler is Mars

The face ruler is Venus.

So we have the following ranking:

Mercury = 9 points

Mars = 5 points

Venus = 4 points

Moon = 3

Mercury is clearly the winner.

Almutens are used all over the place in special techniques, but for general delineation they are calculated for the house cusps as a sort of co-ruler. In fact, if the sign ruler is very weak and the almuten is very strong, it can serve as a replacement for the sign ruler! In most positions the sign ruler is going to be the almuten, but not always. It can be shared with another planet or completely supplanted by another, most commonly in signs where a planet is exalted.

Since this post is so short, I want to share a basic delineation of a house:

Female #2

Let’s take the 2nd house. Everyone loves money! But the 2nd house is more about “moveable wealth”. Not a lot of people had actual cash back in those days. Moveable wealth means stuff. So we go back to our list of questions:

1. Will there be wealth?

2. What kind of wealth?

3. How will the wealth come about?

4. Why will it come about that way?

We start with the 2nd house. There are no planets in the second house so we can skip that section entirely. The next thing is the significator. Which is stronger, the ruler of the house or the almuten of the 2nd?

Venus is in Cancer and very strong essentially. She has triplicity, term, and face, giving her more dignity than even the sign ruler (6 points vs. 5 points.) Thus, Venus is the almuten over her position in the chart. She is succedent, so she has power to act, but there are some major afflictions. She is quite combust and is also conjoined with Mars. We would rather not use this though we cannot ignore it due to it being the sign ruler.

Who is the almuten of the 2nd house cusp?  Saturn has exaltation and triplicity over the position of the 2nd house cusp, so he is the Almuten. Is he strong though? No, he is not. He is in detriment in Aries. However, there is a square from a very strong Moon to him, and the moon is benefic in this chart. More on this in a bit.

Saturn doesn’t receive much help from aspects. The Moon is waxing in this chart but it is squaring Saturn, and the Mercury sextile doesn’t help too much since he is retrograde. Venus has the aforementioned conjuctions, but also has a sextile with the Ascendant and a sextile with Jupiter. Positive aspects can boost a planet, so let’s see if Jupiter is helping. Sadly, not so much. Jupiter is in detriment.

So out of the sad options available, Venus looks the most promising. She herself is very strong but is afflicted by outside forces. She will be trying to realize, but outside forces keep yanking it away. If Venus wasn’t essentially strong, I would have judged that there is little chance for wealth. However, since Venus is essentially strong, I would say that wealth will come and go many times.

We cannot ignore the Almuten though, and it is in the 8th house. The 8th house is death, but it is also the spouse’s finances (2nd from the 7th). Saturn may be in detriment, but he is supported by the moon. The ruler of the 8th is afflicted as well though, so even with this extra help I judge unstable wealth.

So we’ve identified whether there is wealth. There is, but it is very unstable. Sources will come from the partner’s finances, friends,  and organizations (another 11th house meaning). But what kind of wealth? Venusian wealth! The native will have access to many sensual experiences, multiplied hotly by Mars and Venus. The pursuit of luxury will dissipate the wealth.

So we have a native who can get wealth thanks to strong Venus and a very strong Moon assisting the Saturn Almuten, but it gets burned up again and again in the pursuit of luxury. She treats her friends and herself to much venusian-related experiences and pleasures.

Next week, we go more into delineation!