Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Take on Reception

Ok, reception is another area where we can see change and simplification over the entire range of traditional astrology. The later Renaissance astrologers had simplified the medieval astrology of Bonatti who had already simplified the very complex early medieval Arabic teachings of astrologers like Abu Mashar and Mashallah. Reception is a good example of this, since by the 17th century reception simply meant two planets each in each others sign or exaltation or a combination of sign and exaltation. Thus the Moon in Leo and the Sun in Cancer, or the Moon in Aries and the Sun in Taurus, or the Moon in Aries and the Sun in Cancer. What me might call "17th century reception" is basically mutual reception, by the Renaissance reception and mutual reception have become synonymous.

However, this is another Renaissance simplification. Guido Bonatti, the medieval author of the encyclopedic Book of Astronomy says of reception,

"...if some planet is joined with the Lord of the sign in which it is (or the Lord of the exaltation of the same sign, or with the Lord of the bound [term] or triplicity or face) whether by body [conjunction] or aspect, that planet who is the Lord of the sign (or some dignity of it) commits and gives his own disposition and nature and virtue to it.

It is for instance true if it is joined with the lord of the domicile [sign] exaltation or two of the lesser dignities...but if it is joined only with the lord of the bound [term] or with the lord of the triplicity or with the lord of the face [then] the lord of those dignities or bounds by only one, does not receive him, because they are not of so much virtue that one alone can make reception without the help of another."

Bonatti, Book of Astronomy, Tr III, chapter 13, Dykes trans at 223.

Ok, so what Bonatti is saying is that to have reception you need:

(1) an aspect between the planets [note that because of the nature of separating and applying aspects in horary and electional we need an applying aspect for reception]

(2) At least one of the planets in the dignity of the other.

So, the Sun in Cancer and Moon in Leo would not be in reception according to this definition! Instead in medieval style traditional astrology the Sun in Cancer and Moon in Leo is an example of generosity. See Abu Mashar, Abbreviation of the Introduction to Astrology, trans Burnett, (Arhat 1994) at page 28, note 1, citing the Abu Mashar's Great Introduction.

Now we can get into all sorts of complex permutations of terminology, but I like the clarity of reception requiring an aspect and generosity simply indicating being in the dignity of a planet. Either way this these show a connection and/or special relationship between the planets that are in reception or in generosity and the people or things they signify.

So what difference does reception make? Bonatti, in his section on horary explains that reception makes an aspect more positive, for example a trine or sextile, both good aspects, with reception makes things come easily, while a square with reception indicates it takes effort to get the thing or person desired, while a square without reception requires great trouble.

Bonatti, Book of Astronomy, Tr VI, chapter 2, Dykes trans at 362.

Ok, so this is how I explain reception and generosity. This is certainly not the only way, nor is it the "BEST" way since I don't think that there is one, perfect, best for everyone for all time method. Of course at the same time there are lots and LOTS of plain wrong methods!


Unknown said...

Very nice! I've noted, in practice, that many of the mutual receptions which cannot include a classical aspect (Mars in Libra, Venus in Scorpio, etc) generally do not give the type of positive results which a reception would suggest.

Christopher Warnock, Esq said...

Well, an additional explanation is that Bonatti says that if a planet is in detriment (presumably also in fall) or aspecting a planet in detriment (or fall) that reception is not effective.