Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cazimi in Longitude & Latitude?

I had an interesting question recently regarding the definition of Cazimi (Kasmimi) found in Ben Dykes' wonderful translation of Bonatti's Liber Astronomiae.

"And when it [the Moon] is with the Sun in one degree, so that there are 16' or less between them, both by latitude and longitude (which rarely happens), it is said to be united, and then it is made strong, because it is said to be in the Sun's forge, that is, in his heart. And many of those dealing with the stars, and particularly in my time, agreed in this, that when a planet is distant from the Sun by 16' or less, it is made strong, and it is said to be in the heart of the Sun. Indeed I am in agreement with them, but not purely and simply. Because for a planet to be in the forge or in the heart of the Sun, it is necessary that it be distant from the Sun by less than 16' according to longitude and latitude - and this was the intention of the philosophers. Because if a planet is distant from the Sun by less than 16' in longitude, and according to latitude it is distant by more than 16', nevertheless it is combust, because the distinction between combustion in latitude and combustion in longitude is practically imperceptible." [Bonatti, "Book of Astronomy", trans. Benjamin Dykes PhD, Cazimi Press, 2007. , Treatise 3, Part 2, Chapter 7, page 211.]

Generally in astrology we are concerned only with Zodiacal longitude, the location of planets, stars, etc., in the 360 degree circle of the Zodiac. Latitude, being above or below the ecliptic, doesn't even come into the picture, particularly in the later, less complex Renaissance style of traditional astrology.

Being cazimi, in the heart of the Sun, is basically a conjunction, albeit a special one. It appears that it was not unusual in early traditional astrology to consider latitude in cazimi. Al-Qabisi (Alcabitius), for example, does include longitude in his definition of cazimi. Introduction to Astrology, Ch III, sec 5, trans Burnett, Yamamato, (Warburg 2004) at 93.

This concern with latitude as well as longitude does appear to be a consideration with all conjunctions in Hellenistic astrology as Ptolemy says that conjunctions or aspects are only valid if the planets are both either in North or South Latitude. Tetrabiblos I, ch. 24. This Hellenistic concern with both latitude and longitude in conjunctions seems preserved with the early traditional definition of cazimi.

We have a similar issue with regard to the fixed stars. Unlike the planets, which are basically fairly close to the ecliptic, the fixed stars range all over the sphere of the heavens. They are projected from this 3 dimensional space on to the 2 dimensional space of the ecliptic, which greatly distorts their position. Nonetheless, all traditional astrologers use their projected positions, while precessing their positions.

From a practical standpoint, I have always used cazimi just in terms of longitude, not latitude. How exactly you would "test" this I don't know due to the multiple variables. Getting nor not getting the expected results even multiple times is certainly not definitive proof!

An argument could be easily made that if we are going to use latitude with cazimi, that we really need to use it with all aspects, I'm not sure that there really is any significant difference between conjunction with the Sun and conjunction with other planets.

Ultimately, if the mechanism of astrology is some sort of rays or beams from the
physical planets, then the longitude plus latitude definition makes sense because then the physical bodies of the planets are superimposed. Of course then we have the problem of other aspects, which seem to work perfectly well with just longitude. Plus the question of how to work with the latitude of the fixed stars!

An alternative explanation is that the cycles of the Heavens are an imperfect material manifestation of deeper, more perfect spiritual cycles. In this case it makes sense to be less concerned with the actual physical position of the planets and stars and more focused on their cyclical relationships, as a means to view the underlying spiritual cycle.

In any case, for now I am going to continue to follow Renaissance practice and view cazimi, like all other aspects, as requiring longitude only. With the proviso, however, that if cazimi or any aspect is both in longitude and latitude, that will increase its power.

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