Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Numbering the Degrees of the Zodiac

I had a question on my discussion group asking whether one should round off to the nearest degree, when considering the degrees of the Zodiac.

Let's talk a bit about the the Zodiac. The Zodiac is a circle, composed, as circles are, of 360 degrees. It is divided into 12 signs, corresponding to the 12 constellations that lie in the ecliptic, the path of the Sun. Each sign, therefore, is composed of 30 degrees. Each degree is subdivided into 60 minutes and each minute into 60 seconds.

Degrees are like your birthday, you don't round them off. No matter how close you are to be 25 years old, even on 24 years and 360 days you still refer to yourself as 24 years old!

In traditional texts, they typically refer to the degrees as the first degree, second degree, etc. Now, keep in mind that the sign begins at 0 degrees and 0 minutes. That means that the very first degree of the sign extends from 0 degrees 0 minutes to 0 degrees and 59 minutes. So if you are at 1 degree 37 minutes, for example, you are in the second degree of the sign.

Normally nowadays, if we are at 1 degree 37 minutes, we tend to call that "1 degree". Be careful not to confuse this with the "first degree"

Just like the numbering of centuries. It is 2009, but we are in the 21st century

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Reasons for Rulership

One of the things that distinguishes traditional from modern astrology is not just additional techniques, but a much more nuanced and variant application of underlying theories. In modern, all assignment of rulerships, be it planet or sign, is on the theory of like rules like. Thus Uranus being the revolutionary rules revolutionary Aquarius (the very traditional side of Aquarius, in traditional astrology, is lost).

However, in traditional astrology, while "like rules like" is definitely used for rulership, other theories are also used. The assignment of sign rulerships, for example, is based more on the negative and positive aspects of Cancer & Leo to the benefic and malefic planets, ie Mercury, being changeable, rules Virgo & Gemini, the signs adjacent to Leo and Cancer, Venus, the Lesser Benefic rules Taurus and Libra, sextile to Cancer and Leo, Mars, the Lesser Malefic rules Aries and Scorpio, signs square to Cancer and Leo, Jupiter the Greater Benefic rules Sagittarius and Pisces, signs trine to Leo and Cancer, and Saturn, the Greater Malefic, rules Capricorn and Aquarius, signs opposite to Cancer and Leo. Very logical, but not "like rules like"

Another alternative rulership methodology is the triplicities, which use a tempering rule for the malefics, putting for example, cold and dry Saturn as ruler of hot and wet air to moderate his malefic impulses.

In terms of the choice of triplicities over sign or exaltation, for the most part our traditional sources have focused on obtaining maximum power. The standard schema is sign = 5, exaltation = 4, triplicity = 3, term = 2 and face = 1.

However, there are variations on this arrangement. In Al-Qabisi (Alcabitiuis) Introduction to Astrology trans. Burnett (Warburg, 2004), Al-Qabisi says that terms are more powerful for movement and triplicities for nourishment. IA at 29.

Also we note Mashallah, in On Reception trans. Hand (Arhat, 1998) says, "...exaltations are of greater authority in matters of kingship, to wit if something is done by a king, the lord of the exaltation is stronger [in signification] than the lord of the domicile [sign]. OR at 3.

When, then is a malefic of maximum strength for evil, however? We know that a malefic in sign or exaltation is powerful, because then as Bonatti says, "the malefic is restrained from its malice just like a vicious horse is restrained from its viciousness by a strong bridle and whatever evil is in it is converted to good..." Consideration 44, Liber Astronomiae, trans. Dykes at 291.

Note however, that there is some confusion over whether or not a malefic is simply weak or strongly malefic when in detriment or fall. Normally this doesn't make much difference as we are normally looking for a benefic result, thus weakness or downright evil are effectively the same, the good we wish we do not receive.

So let's look at an acceptable "curse" talisman, Rat's Begone http://www.renaissanceastrology.com/agripparatexample.html from Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy itself from Thabit Ibn Qurra's De Imaginibus,

But to chase away certain animals from certain places, that they be not generated or abide there, let an image be made under the ascension of that animal, which thou wouldst chase away, and after the likeness thereof; as if thou wouldst chase away scorpions from any place, let an image of the scorpion be made, the sign of Scorpio ascending with the Moon...[A]nd thou shall make unfortunate the ascendant, and lord thereof, and the Lord of the house of Mars; and thou shall make unfortunate the lord of the ascendant in the eighth house and let them be joined with an aspect malignant, opposite or quadrant:

Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk. II, Chapter 50

Clearly to do the maximum damage we wish to afflict as many significators as possible. But this still has not answered our question regarding the placement for maximum power for evil for malefics.

Let's get another clue from William Ramesey's Astrology Restored/Astrologia Restaurata, where he says, "Jupiter and Venus; neither (as I say) are they always fortunes: for accidentally they may be infortunes: and when they are Lords of the eighth, twelfth and sixth, they are occasions of sickness, poverty,
imprisonment, mischief and death as effectually as Saturn or Mars" RA at 123-4.

So perhaps we can come to some conclusions. For malefic power, Saturn or Mars in detriment or fall, in a conjunction, square or opposition would be rather nasty. Similarly Saturn or Mars as rulers of the 12th, 8th or 6th, and in sign or exaltation, thus very powerful, would be powerful for affliction (12th) death
(8th) and illness (6th) when making a conjunction, square or opposition.

So, in the end we return to our standard traditional approach which is not to have just one approach!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Great Astrology Job? Sign Me Up!

One of the things that you just have to get used to as a professional astrologer is a certain amount of weird phone calls and e-mails. Not that many really, but astrology and astrological magic do attract a certain amount of those who are bit, how do you say, nuts?

I've had a couple of people trying to ask horaries that go something like, "When is the government going to stop putting mind control drugs in my eyedrops?" This actually doesn't surprise me as this is classic DSM-IV paranoid schizophrenia. No, I don't take those questions, since clearly the government is not going to stop its nefarious mind control activities and thus there is no point in wasting the client's money on it.

Today, though, I had the best so far. I got a call from person, in the US, but with a rather heavy accent, could have been Middle Eastern or Eastern European. They first asked if I sold software for creating horoscopes. I suggested Astrodienst as a good free horoscope maker.

The dialogue, as best I can remember, then went like this:

Caller: "Do you know where I can get a good astrology job?"

Me: [Incredulously] "Do you mean an astrology job with a corporation?"

Caller: "Yes, that is what I need"

Me: "There is no such thing as an astrology job!"

Caller: "Do you mean they are difficult to get?"

Me: "They are impossible to get!"

Wow! Well, I suppose it makes sense, you like astrology and you need a job, so let's go on Monster.com and start posting resumes. Gosh, this recession is really bad I'm not getting much of a response.

Monday, March 23, 2009

As Golf is to Miniature Golf....

As a graduate of the University of St Andrews, I am often asked if I played golf there, St Andrews being the home of golf. While I didn't I certainly did learn a bit about the origins of golf, which dates back to the Middle Ages in Scotland. One of the most interesting things about it is that the original golf course, the Old Course at St Andrews, is just laid out right on the Scottish seaside. No massive, artificial landscaping, the bunkers, ie sand traps, are just that sand from the dunes. If you've ever seen the movie "Chariots of Fire" you can see what I mean as the opening sequence is running on the West Sands of St Andrews and then across the edge of the Old Course, past the Royal and Ancient Golf Club into the ancient city of St Andrews. And of course, golf has a long history, is quite complex to really learn, and takes great expertise to truly master.

And then we have miniature golf. According to Wikipedia, miniature golf aka "mini-golf, midget golf, goofy golf, shorties, extreme golf, crazy golf..." had its origins, not suprisingly at the Old Course in St Andrews, but its biggest expansion after the Depression when it took on its familiar form with the astroturf, windmills, bobbing dinosaurs, etc. While there are apparently professional miniature golf tournaments and such, it remains predominately an amateur amusement played with a single club, the putter on tiny courses.

Hmmm...two paragraphs and I still haven't gotten to astrology yet. Well, dedicated readers can probably see that I am laying out an extended metaphor. To my mind golf is to miniature golf as traditional astrology is to modern astrology.

We can think of the 14 clubs of golf like the many and varied techniques of traditional astrology, perhaps the woods are horary, irons are electional, hybrids, mundane and putter, natal astrology. This fits nicely since miniature golf only uses a putter and modern astrology only uses natal. This metaphor could probably be spun out endlessly, eg the extended length of a golf course versus the cramped quarters of miniature golf = the wide reach of traditional astrology and the limitation of modern astrology to psychology.

But let's throw in some illuminating differences. To really fit the traditional is to modern astrology metaphor, miniature golfers would have had to have forgotten that miniature golf had its origins in golf, not even known that golf existed or dismissed it as an earlier and obviously inferior form of miniature golf. In fact, they would think that they were true "golfers".

Occasionally miniature golfers would have wandered out onto largely abandoned golf courses. Knowing that "golf" can only be played with putters they would have tried to play par 3, 4 and 5 holes with little success, ala trying to predict with modern psychological natal astrology.

The key change, however, would be that many miniature golfers would have thrown out the golf scoring system. Counting strokes, like making predictions, would be taboo and what was the heart of golf, like traditional astrology, would be banished from miniature golf, as prediction has been from modern astrology.

Hmmm...that really does seem ludicrous, whacking around 18 holes with just a putter and refusing to keep score while being utterly convinced this is how Tiger Woods did it. Well, welcome to traditional astrology in the modern world!

More on Traditional Astrology

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tips for Professional Astrologers

I had a series of phone calls recently that really brought into sharp focus one of the things that a professional horary astrologer needs to keep in mind, which is that when querents ask a horary question they often do not want an accurate prediction, they want a positive answer! This goes beyond the understandable desire to have things go your way as a considerable number of clients appear to have not even considered the possibility of a negative answer and are noticeably shocked and chagrined to get one.

The question the caller asked was one that I am not surprisingly getting more and more of these days, "When exactly will I get a job?" Not "Will I get a job?" with the possibility of a negative answer, but "I am 100% I will get one, but when is it going to be?" Not a good start! I spent way too much time and several separate phone calls explaining how to ask a horary. Then more phone calls as they fumbled through the Paypal transaction, then finally when I took the question, they flipped out because I couldn't give them an answer on the spot. No, I couldn't since I had 12 other clients ahead of them already waiting for their readings. The "client" then repeatedly hassled me to jump the queue and when they couldn't freaked worse. As quick as possible I got rid of them!

This is a good example of the real motivations that clients have for asking a horary. First of all, this client was looking for reassurance. This is certainly characteristic of the "When will I get a job?" question, but also of the relationship question. Clients in these two categories are often looking for you to tell them that everything is going to be ok and that everything was going to go their way. I have had this type of client get very upset when they got a negative answer. "I got ripped off, this is not what I paid for!"

The insistence on getting an immediate answer is also symptomatic of the true motivation of the client. If they were serious about job hunting or using a horary to find or make a job decision then a reasonable wait wouldn't matter, but flipping out when they couldn't get instant gratification is telling.

Another very typical client motivation is a desire to simply have someone to talk you about their life and their problems. This type of client is easy to discern because they send 15 paragraph e-mails and talk endlessly on the phone. With relationships they tend to be obsessive, both with a particular person and the situation, going over the same ground again and again.

Clearly these clients are living in something of a fantasy world, but in actuality we are all floating around in various fantasies, playing out our own psychodramas. I guess my fantasy is that all clients are going to want clear, precise predictions and know what to do with them! Setting clear boundaries and having set policies is a good start, but there are plenty of clients that are going to ignore anything that doesn't fit into their current fantasy.

So, I think it is a bit of trap and one I have certainly fallen into, to start thinking, "oh those clients are bad" Yes, they may be poorly oriented to reality when they ask a question and subconsciously are expecting the answer to be 100% "YES", but having had this happen a few times I am just setting myself up and then unreasonably getting upset if I am not prepared and calm when it does happen.

Instead what I am striving towards is a state where I am not surprised by what any client does and I remain calm, never crossing my limits and boundaries and not getting my emotional buttons punched just because theirs are.

Realizing that my fantasy of what I want to do and be as an astrologer, may or may not fit the client's fantasy is an important first step!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Traditional Houses & Aspects

Originally in Hellenistic astrology it appears that house placement had more to do with strength than areas of life, we still have the angular = strong, succedent = ok and cadent = weak distinction.

In Hellenistic astrology it appears that whole sign houses were used in which the rising sign was the 1st house, 2nd sign = 2nd house and so on. We can still see this in the use by 17th century astrologers like Lilly of the word "house" which depending on context can mean either mundane house (house as we understand it) or sign.

In a whole sign house system aspect were thus house to house, eg all planets in the 1st house were sextile all planets in the 3rd house. Still the Porphyry house system where the houses are different from the signs appears to be a Hellenistic system.

By the time of the Arabic astrologers (and note that they are called Arabic because they wrote in Arabic, often they were Persian, Jewish or Syriac) in the 9th century AD, other house systems like Alcabitius and Campanus had arisen and aspects were by degree, ie 60 degrees away was a sextile. Again the original sign to sign practice still has power because out of sign aspects are often looked at as not quite being the same an in sign aspects. By using degree aspects the Arabic astrologers could differentiate applying and separating aspects and thus past, present and future in horary and electional charts. They developed complex aspect interrelationships like
translation of light and collection of light that allowed for a high level of precision in prediction.

Medieval European astrology is basically Arabic astrology, so they used Porphyry, Campanus and Alcabitius houses. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance new house systems like Regiomontanus, Placidus and Morinus were invented. All of these house system systems were available to the 17th century astrologers, but which one they used was often politically based. Protestants, as in England, often used Regiomontanus; Catholics on the continent Placidus.

The "best" house system is a popular and to my mind fruitless, subject for debate. My view is that any traditional house system, ie the ones listed above, is fine. I use Regiomontanus simply because that is what Lilly used and what I trained on. Placidus, the most popular house system in modern astrology is perfectly fine. The key is to not jump around! Pick one and stick to it.

Ok, now aspects. The Ptolemaic aspects used in Hellenistic and traditional astrology are the sextile, square, trine and opposition. Technically since an aspect literally means "seeing" Lilly calls this beholding, a conjunction is not an aspect, but in practice the conjunction is treated just like the other aspects.

By the 17th century Kepler's new aspects, eg semi-sextile,etc., were known by astrologers, Lilly says,

"We seldom use more aspects than the conjunction, sextile, square, trine, opposition: to these of late one KEPLER, a learned man, hath added some new ones, as follow, viz:

A semisextile, charactered SS, consisting of 30 degrees.
A quintile: Q, consisting of 72 degrees.
A tredecile: Td, consisting of 108 degrees.
A biquintile: Bq, consisting of 144 degrees
A quincunx: Vc, consisting of 150 degrees.

I only acquaint you with these, that finding them anywhere you may apprehend their meaning" Christian Astrology, page 32.

Lilly uses the semi-sextile as a secondary indicator in one horary and the rest of the new aspects in primary directions in natal charts.

I just mention this to show that "modern" influences were showing up even in 17th century English astrology. In traditional horary and electional astrology and most natal delineation, we use only conjunction, sextile, square, trine and opposition aspects.

Ok, now a bit of philosophy! Why just use the traditional house systems and aspects? From a practical standpoint my experience is that the traditional house systems, in particular the ones I have used, Regiomontanus and Placidus, work, ie give accurate predictive results. Much of this comes, I believe, because traditional astrology is not an assemblage of disparate parts and techniques, but a unified whole. Modern astrology strikes me like a car assembled from many different suppliers on a whim, like having a Toyota engine, Hyundai transmission, Ford windshield, GM doors, Subaru wheels and a Volvo body and seats the driver made themselves. Such an automobile is likely to look weird and be unreliable with lots of problems actually getting from point A to B, just like modern astrology!

Here is more on traditional Houses and Aspects

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Best Time for Internet Elections?

I had a recent post on my discussion group Spiritus Mundi about the proper time and location to elect the start of an Internet business

This raises an important issue, which is, where is anything on the Internet? This kind of fuzzes up the issue of timing. My tendency is to go with the user or owner, but what about when the web designer is the one uploading the site and they are in LA, while the owner is in NY? Still probably the owner, but....

Or how about if you had several owners, each in separate locations?

It gets complicated. However, part of the complication is the persistent idea that there is a single "best" time to start for any activity that needs to be elected. This probably comes from natal charts which have a pretty obvious start time, birth! Still even there we have the traditional use of conception charts.

Marriage, similarly, the beginning is when you take the vows. Pretty simple and straightforward.

Many other elections are not so simple. Starting a business. Many like the time and date of incorporation. My rebel take on this is that they don't feel legitimate without the government stamp of approval, but I have to admit that this is a good time to elect. Of course, then there is the time you actually open your doors and start accepting business. Or the time you make your first sale. Or even when you send out your mass announcement of your business start. All of these are legitimate beginnings and can be elected.

So rather than looking for or worse arguing about the "single best" thing to elect, it is better to realize that often we have a variety of different starts that could be elected. A key to which one to select is to determine which one is most under your control.

In DC, for example, you can't determine the time of incorporation, the city Corporations Office stamped it when they felt like it. For Delaware, a popular state for incorporation, on the other hand, you can do it online whenever you want.

Anything you can do by mail is good because if you want to go out to the mailbox and mail the envelope you can do it at 3 am if you want.

So, interesting question and interesting issues raised. Bottom line, be practical!

More on Electional Astrology and electing When to Start a Business

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How Dare You NOT Use the Outer Planets!

I have frequently been called upon by modern astrologers to justify my use of traditional technique. One of the most popular questions is "why don't you use the outer planets?"

I will say that as a traditional astrologer I use the outer planets like fixed stars, with a very small orb and only conjunctions to significant house cusps or significators. They are, like a fixed star, a secondary indicator. Neptune in a horary can show confusion, obsession, lack of clearsightedness, fraud, particularly financial. Uranus, (I never know whether to call it "your anus" or "urine-us") can show separation and divorce in a horary.

Like a fixed star, these outer planets appear to be sensitive points and secondarily useful. One can, of course, completely and accurately delineate a chart without them. We will not be entertaining any further debate or argument regarding the outer planets nor any other posts unless someone can make a convincing case of an additional way to use them without doing violence to the methodology and philosophy of traditional astrology.

Now, very often modern astrologers seem to phrase their question of traditional astrologers as, "how can you possibly justify not using the outer planets?" It is useful to turn that around and see why it is that modern astrologers are so adamant that the outer planets must be used.

Again, we return to the Modern World View

Modern astrologers see the causality behind astrology as some sort of mechanical, or electo-magnetic or gravitational force because, as moderns know, nothing else exists except matter and energy. Since this is so, then the physical matter and energy of the planets is paramount and the physical existence of a planet means that it must be considered.

The symmetry of the 7 planets and their rulerships of the 12 signs along with the planetary days and hours is thus broken and each new planet and even asteroid is jammed willy nilly into the modern astrological system. Now that Pluto has been demoted from being a planet, is it going to be dropped from ruling Scorpio in modern astrology? Are we going to have 10 days of the week since the week is based on the 7 traditional planets?

The methodology of traditional astrology is capable of completing expressing all relationships, of describing all things using the traditional planets, signs and fixed stars. Insisting that additional planets exist and thus must be used is like insisting that there are more letters than exist in the English language and they must also be used by English speakers.

What we are doing, as traditional astrologers, is trying to see through matter, to the deeper and more perfect spiritual realities that underlie it. A wide variety of systems can do this, sometimes well and sometimes inadequately. If, however, we acknowledge the primacy of the spiritual, then we must not expect to map it well with a system based in modern atheistic/materialism.