Slowly Getting Back

Hello everyone.

2015 has been a rather difficult year. Annual Profections to the 12th led to revelation of bodily problems that also led to mental distress. I spent most of 2015 playing games and trying to lose weight. Life sucks.

I am slowly getting back into astrology, but I don’t know how frequent I can post. I am so busy this year. I am currently going through Definitions and Foundations. I will probably continue with Valens after this.

Note that I changed my contact e-mail, because I could not access the previous one. Sorry for those of you who tried to contact me with the previous e-mail. My new e-mail is larxeno@hotmail.com.

Stay tuned.

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Valens’ Book III: Some General Comments (T12)

The rest of Book III is unfamiliar to me, so I kind of ran out of comments on it. Today will be a short post giving an overview of what Book III is about.

Book 3 is where Valens starts talking about length of life techniques, as a prelude to time lord techniques, which is will be discussed in the following book. It makes sense to talk about the length of life first: we need to know approximately how long a person’s life is, then we can tell with more certainty when certain events will occur. For example, one would not recommend waiting for a good marriage period at age 45 if one sees that this person will probably live until 40 years old only. All this assumes the techniques work, and there are many techniques. so we will have to do some really extensive research.

Book 3 begins with finding the predominator, which I have covered somewhat in my previous Titbits of Thoughts (T10 and T11). Then he talks about “releasing” the predominator, or aphesis. When the predominator is used for releasing purposes, it is referred to as the apheta. I am not quite sure what releasing means yet, but I think it means manifesting what is promised in the natal chart, according to specific times. In other words, aphesis indicates when certain events will occur, so it is intimately linked with time lord techniques. The first method he describes that releases the apheta is called “circumambulation”, which, to my understanding, is basically what later became known as “primary directions”. In Valens, however, this technique is mainly used to forecast length of life.

After that, we have various length of life techniques, most of which incorporate the ascensional times of the zodiac signs, some of which use the planet’s greater, mean and lesser periods. Regardless of the scary topic of death, the techniques themselves are quite interesting. For example, using circumambulation, we begin the aphesis from the Ascendant degree. The maximum length of life is calculated starting from the Ascendant to the 90th degree from the Ascendant, following the order of the signs. If the Ascendant is in the 15th degree of Aries, we have to count until the 14th degree of Cancer. However, if the Imum Caelum is in between, instead of counting until the 90th degree, count until the IC instead. For example, if the IC is in the 10th degree of Cancer, we count from the 15th degree of Aries to the 10th degree of Cancer instead.

Now, not everyone lives until 90 years old (if we assume 1 degree = 1 year, using Ptolemy’s figure), so why should we ‘count’ this? Well, after counting the number of degrees, we have to multiply it with the ascensional times of the zodiac signs. Example: Ascendant in 15° Aries, the IC is in 10° Gemini. There is 15 degrees left in Aries, and Aries’ ascensional times is 20° (according to Valens), so we find the “fraction of time” left in Aries, which is 15/30 = 1/2. 1/2 of 20 is 10. Aries gives 10 years of life to the native. Next, we calculate how much “time” Taurus allocates to the person’s life. Its ascensional time is 24° (Valens’ number), so Taurus gives 24 years. All that’s left is Gemini. The native’s life is until 10° Gemini, 10/30 of 28° is 9.33 years. 10 + 24 + 9.33 = 43.33 years, or 43 years and 4 months.

The hypothetical individual would live this long, assuming that this method works and there are no other extra factors. There are a few factors to consider, the ‘hurling of rays’ by a malefic being one of the main factors. Apparently this ‘hurling of rays’ aspect word refers to the degree opposite a malefic, that is, the degree that is 180° away from a malefic in the chart. I am unsure if a square aspect is also a ‘hurling of rays’ as well, at this time.

I hope this is easy enough to understand. I realised that I could have used a better format to explain things. I’ll improve on the format in future posts.

Anyway, there are various other length of life techniques similar to this one in this book. There are also some things that seem out of place. Somewhere in the middle of talking about aphesis, Valens suddenly talked about the sects of the planets. In another part, he also talked about a different system of bounds. So far I have seen two types of boundaries/terms/limits, the Ptolemaic one and the Egyptian one. Both of them do not include the luminaries. In this system though, the Sun and Moon are given rulership over some of the bounds.This system is very systematic, unlike the other two systems, but it does not seem to have been used practically by Valens in real charts.

Finally, there’s also some discussion on winds, which seems to be about geographical directions (North and South). It seems that planets have “winds” depending on where they are in a chart relative to their exaltation degrees. I am not sure how Valens plans to apply this however.

CONCLUSION

I am several pages shy of completing Book III, so I may not have covered some topics, but the general content of this book have been outlined above. That’s all for this Titbits of Thoughts. I look forward to discussing the 4th book.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Should I include a table of the ascensional times and the greater/mean/lesser planetary periods. Discuss.

Second Part: Finding the Predominator (T11)

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

In this post I will continue my discussion on how to determine the predominator. Last week, I stopped at the part where I elaborated on the favourability of houses and how it may complicate our efforts at finding the apheta. Let’s carry on from there.

Finding the Predominator (Part 2)

As I was saying, in the Maternus passage I quoted, he did not individually rank the houses in terms of favourability, but rather grouped them into three categories. However, in later chapters, there were some attempts to rank the houses individually. There are namely two chapters in which this was done. Let’s examine them.

“2. For the first angles consist of the ASC and the MC; the second angles receive the IMC and the DSC; and from the always varied and contrary power of these four angles the substance <of every nativity is known>, and all the stars denote something when established in the first angles in accordance with the powers of their own nature, but something else in the second angles.

3. But both the fifth and the eleventh houses from the ASC, i.e. the Good Fortune <and the Good Daemon>, disagree with the inert humility of the lazy houses, nor are they <joined> in any aspect with the lazy and dejected houses, <but> they are associated <in a fortunate association of aspect with the ASC>. But the ninth and the third houses from the ASC are allotted a third [and lesser degree of] efficacy, because a maximum fellowship of association also joins these houses to the ASC.”

– Mathesis, Holden translation, Book VI, p. 303-304

Next is the second passage.

“1. Now we ought to know which of these twelve houses precede and which follow, i.e. which houses are first [and] which second, so that we can bring everything together in an accurate system.

2. The ASC precedes the DSC; the MC is put before the IMC; the eleventh house, i.e. the Good Daemon, is preferred to the Good Fortune, i.e. the fifth house; the ninth house, i.e. God, is put before Goddess; anafora, i.e. <the second house, is put before the epicataphora, i.e.> the eighth house; the Bad Fortune, i.e. the sixth house from the ASC, is set ahead of the Bad Daemon, i.e. the twelfth house from the ASC.”

– Mathesis, Holden translation, Book II, p. 64

The angles, due to their designation of being “first” or “second”, seem to imply a hierarchy. The first angles (ASC and MC) seem to be better than the second angles (DSC and IC), and the delineations in some of the books (maybe Book VI) show this to be true. If we read through the whole book, we will find some interpretations where a planet”s effects are better in the first angles compared to the second angles.

After these angles, we have the eleventh and fifth houses, then the ninth and third houses. Finally, we have the four dejected houses, which are arranged thus: second, eighth, sixth, twelfth.

Before comparing Dorotheus’ system with Maternus’ system, let me note that Dorotheus used the word “strength” when talking about the order of the houses, but I do not think he was referring to strength as in “angularity”, because he placed the 11th and 5th houses before the 4th and 7th houses. The 4th and 7th houses are angular, so technically they should be stronger than the 11th and 5th houses. Similarly, the 2nd and 8th houses are stronger than the 9th and 3rd houses.  Thus, I am guessing that “favourability” is what is meant here.

Let’s have a look at the similarities and differences between the two systems:

Favourability of the Houses

Both authors agree that the 1st and 10th houses are the most favourable. Houses ranked 7-12 in favourability are  also identical. However, whereas Dorotheus ranks the 1st as “stronger” than the 10th, it is not known whether Maternus also believes this to be the case. We also have slight differences where the 4th and 7th houses are just below the 1st and 10th in favourability in Maternus, while Dorotheus prefers the 11th and 5th. These four houses basically shift places between these two systems. Finally, it is not known whether Maternus prefers the 7th over the 4th, like Dorotheus does.

Let us see the examples given by Valens to determine whether angularity or favourability is the main factor, or whether both play a role in finding the predominator. In my previous posts I usually provide extensive quotes, but this time I will give a summary instead, as I do not feel like typing and re-arranging the quotes right now. These are the examples I will start with (the numbers represent which house a luminary is in):

Predominator Example 1

Sun in the 1st predominates over the Moon in the 12th. The 1st house is both more angular and more favourable than the 12th, so the Sun is an obvious choice here. The Sun in the 7th also wins over the Moon in the 8th, being in a more angular and more favourable place. The Sun in the 4th place is also more angular and favourable compared to the Moon in the 9th.

One thing we should notice is that the Sun in the 1st by Whole Signs can be either above or below the horizon, so the chart may be a day or night chart. In Porphyry houses, the Sun will be below the horizon though, so it will be a nocturnal chart. Similarly, the Sun in the 7th can be above or below the horizon by Whole Signs, but the chart will be diurnal if we use Porphyry. In the first situation the Sun predominates, and in the third situation where the Sun is contrary to sect, it predominates anyway, due to being more angular and favourable. These evidence suggest that sect is less important than house placement for this technique.

The following examples also imply that house placement is more important compared to sect.

Predominator Example 2

In all cases, the predominator is contrary to the sect in favour. In the 3rd case, the predominating Moon is in a less favourable house, but it is more angular. This is one of two examples that suggests that angularity is the factor considered, rather than favourability.

There is another weird rule regarding Sun in 5th, Moon in 9th, but I think this example is an anomaly. I prefer the judgment in the image above, where the luminary in the 5th predominates over the light in the 9th.

Finally, here is the other situation which demonstrates that angularity, rather than favourability, is the factor we should consider:

Predominator Example 3

Here, the Sun is of the sect in favour, but it is in a less favourable and less angular house. Yet, it predominates over the Moon. We already know from many other examples that sect is less important than house placement. I am unsure whether there is corruption in the text or whether this was a later addition, but at the moment if this example stands, then we may be able to eliminate favourability as a factor. The reason is, the 7th house is the 3rd/5th in favourability, while the 8th house is in 10th place. Since neither are cadent places, both places are considered operative, but being that the difference in the favourability of these two houses is quite significant, most likely favourability is not an important factor.

CONCLUSION

In the footnotes on page 27 of Book II & III Valens, where this material is found, Robert Hand made the following comments:

“The reader should be aware that the terms ‘predominator’ and ‘apheta’ are the same thing. They differ only in the point of view that the writer has when he uses them. ‘Predominator’ refers to its strength and power in determining life expectancy. ‘Apheta’ refers to its role in directions and planetary periods.”

Schmidt’s hypothesis regarding the house system used becomes more reasonable in light of all the evidence we’ve appraised. As I illustrated above, angularity is likely to be the main consideration in determining the predominator. This is followed, to a lesser extent, by sect and zodiacal dignities. Based on Valens’ description of the Porphyry style houses, which are based on the pivot points, it seems that this house system is only used for determining “profitability” or “unprofitability”, which, in this context, likely refers to angularity. Furthermore, the term ‘predominator’ refers to the ‘strength and power’ of the planet in determining life expectancy.

It seems likely that the angular houses derived from the pivot points are used to determine a planet’s ‘strength’ or ‘power’. Therefore, it is likely that the house system for this technique should be a quadrant house system, and since Porphyry is the only quadrant house system described by Valens at this moment, we can infer that we should use it for finding the predominator. However, this is not for certain. More research needs to be done to determine whether it works using this house system.

Okay, that’s all for this Titbit. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Finding the Predominator/Apheta (T10)

Merry Christmas, dear viewers! I hope you’re enjoying your holidays and getting nice presents. As for myself, I got hooked on an RPG game and almost forgot to write my Titbits of Thoughts. 😀

Anyway, now that school’s out of the way temporarily, it’s time for some star-gazing again. This week, I want to talk about the predominator, also known as the apheta or hyleg in the later traditions.

The procedure for determining the predominator is important because of the role that the predominator plays in many length of life techniques. Some people may dislike the idea of determining one’s length of life. I think that if the technique works, it would create some serious philsophical questions about how life works. That’s not all, however; it may also assist us in timing certain events in life, such as when someone will marry, when they will enter college and when they will graduate, etc. Putting aside the philosophical enquiries, it is certainly helpful to time these events.

In actuality, one of the length of life techniques HAD been adapted to time non-death kind of events. It’s called Primary Directions, or circumambulation. I will not talk about it here, as some of you may already be familiar with the technique, and also because I am not sufficiently well versed in it to comment about the technique. The calculation is quite complicated.

What I am more interested in though, is that the predominator is also used in another time lord technique. This method is called the “Decennials” or “Decennia” by the later traditions. Briefly, one’s life begins from the predominator, and this planet rules over the first 10 years and 9 months of your life. Then, it hands over rulership of the times to the next planet in zodiacal order. The second planet also rules over one’s life for 10 years and 9 months, after which it passes rulership to the third planet. This continues ad infinitum, until one’s life-span is up (length of life techniques may allow us to determine when this happens, if they work). There are sub-periods within these “major” periods as well. In order to use this technique, however, we need to determine the correct predominator.

I will write about this time lord technique at a later time, as it is covered in Book VI of Vettius Valens. For now, let us move on to how Valens determines the predominator/apheta/hyleg.

Determining the Predominator

Valens begins by saying that some people determine the predominating planet based on sect alone, but his preferred method is to consider which light is more “opportunely figured”. I should note that Firmicus Maternus does in fact select the predominating planet for the Decennials technique based on sect alone, so Valens’ claim is not unfounded.

“Some, then, gave it to the Sun by day and the Moon by night, but I say that the Sun also predominates at night and the Moon by day if they should happen to be figured opportunely. And if this should be the case for both, then I say to assign the predomination to the one that is more properly figured and to the one that is found in sect or trigon.”

– The Anthology, Book II & III, Schmidt translation, p. 27

A recurring pattern that I observed in the Hellenistic texts I’ve explored is that planets are often evaluated using three basic criteria: sect, dignity and house placement. This passage is no different. Valens also determines which planet is more fit to be the predominator based on dignity, sect and house placement.

Aside from that, heliacal phase and aspects are also important. Personally, I believe that sect, heliacal phase and aspects are all part of the same consideration: they are about a planet’s relationship with the Sun. I can’t quite justify this perspective yet, so I will keep them separate for the moment.

Now let’s move on the quotes.

“Primary predomination: With the Sun in Leo, the Moon in Cancer, the one more opportunely figured with the Horoskopos or the Midheaven will predominate…”

– The Anthology, Book II & III, Schmidt translation, p. 28

“If the Sun should somehow be found in its own depression, it will not be the apheta unless it should be marking the hour to the degree. Similarly also for the Moon in Scorpio.”

– The Anthology, Book II & III, Schmidt translation, p. 31

Here we see the importance of the dignities, mainly the domiciles and exaltations. Having a planet in domicile will help it to predominate, while a planet in fall cannot predominate unless it is in the same degree as the Ascendant. This implies that even if a planet is in the Midheaven, which is angular and a favourable house, if it is in its fall, it cannot predominate. Similarly when the planets are in the 11th and 5th places, both of which are considered operative places. Thus, these dignities have a great impact on predomination, maybe even more than house placement. Trigons, boundaries and decans may be less important than house placement for this procedure, however.

“When the Moon has been found to be conjunct and has fallen under the beams of the Sun, it does not become the apheta unless it also marks the hour to the degree. And when it is being brought to a Whole Moon, if it dissolves its phase within the bound of the Horoskopos, it is the apheta…”

– The Anthology, Book II & III, Schmidt translation, p. 31

Here, we see that the Moon’s phase also factors into whether it can predominate. It seems to be just as important as being in fall, as the Moon can only predominate under very specific circumstances which are related to the Ascendant degree or boundaries.

Note that in the case of the New Moon, Valens also stated that if the Sun and the Moon are in the same house when this phase occurs, the Degree of the New Moon (i.e. the Pre-Natal Lunation) will predominate.

“If the Sun and the Moon should happen to be in the setting zoidion, the bound of the Conjunction will predominate…Similarly, if both should happen to be in the Horoskopos or in the Midheaven or in the subterraneous pivot point, the bound of the Conjunction will predominate…”

– The Anthology, Book II & III, Schmidt translation, p. 31

Viewers should note that in Valens’ The Anthology, Robert Hand said that whenever the boundaries or terms of a planet were being referred to, they were always mentioned in plural form. Since the singular form “bound” is used here, he infers that it is the degree of the New Moon that Valens is looking at, not its boundaries.

Before we move on to the implications, I need to explain something. The question that we should be asking is, why does the Pre-Natal Lunation predominate in such cases? When the Sun and the Moon are in those angular houses, they are both “opportunely figured”. Therefore, they are both capable of being the apheta. The Pre-Natal Lunation is a point where the Sun and the Moon are in the same spot, thus it represents both planets’ effects. So it is more appropriate than either the degree of the Sun or of the Moon alone. (Note that it is important that we select only one apheta, because otherwise it will complicate the determination of the “Alchocoden”.)

Anyway, from this, we may infer that Valens likely considers out-of-sign combustion to have an effect on the burned planet. For example, if the Sun is in the 28th degree of Scorpio and the Moon is in 2nd degree of Sagittarius, this is an out-of-sign combustion, because the two lights are in different signs. From what I’ve observed in Skyscript, there are some disagreements as to whether out-of-sign combustion is valid or otherwise.

However, we may also interpret it this way. In the case of the Sun and the Moon being in the same sign in the 1st, 4th, 7th or the 10th, Valens might have meant that the Pre-Natal Lunation predominates if and only if the Moon is also not combust. In other words, if the Moon is in the same house as the Sun BUT it is combust, then it cannot be the apheta. In this special case, the Sun would presumably predominate by default (assuming they are found in the angular places mentioned above). However, if the Moon is in the same sign as the Sun, and is combust, BUT it is marking the hour, then it is capable of being the apheta. In this second special case, both lights are capable of becoming the apheta, thus we would use the Pre-Natal Lunation as the apheta. Complicated? Astrology is often like that. 🙂

Finally, let’s briefly examine how sect and house placement affect predomination.

House placement is complicated for two reasons. First, house system. Robert Schmidt speculated that the house system used to determine the predominator might have been the Porphyry house system instead of whole-signs, although he was not certain about this. I see no justification for this claim, aside from the fact that the Porphyry house system was described in the next chapter after the one that talks about predomination. Up until this chapter on predomination, none of the charts used Porphyry, so I am not sure about this claim. More research to do here.

Another issue involves the “profitability” of the houses. It is not certain whether we are merely considering angularity, or whether favourability also plays a role. Let me explain.

If we only need to consider angularity, then the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses have equal power relative to each other, and they are each stronger than the other eight houses. Similarly, the 2nd, 5th, 8th and 11th have equal power compared to each other, and are stronger than the four cadent houses. The last four houses, the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th, are feeble, but they are equal in strength to each other.

However, if we have to consider the favourability of the houses, then things become more difficult, especially when we have to consider sect and other criteria in addition to this. One issue is that there are some disagreements between authors regarding the favourability of the houses relative to each other. Let us read what Dorotheus and Maternus respectively have to say on this matter.

“Keep what I tell you of the places and the superiority of one of them over another in power. So the best of the places is the ascendent, then the midheaven, then what follows the midheaven, which is the eleventh from the ascendent, then the opposite to this eleventh place from the ascendent, which is the fifth from the ascendant which is called the house of the child, then the opposite to the ascendent, which is the sign of marriage, then the cardine of the earth, then the ninth place from the ascendent.”

– Carmen Astrologicum, Book I, p. 4

Grandpa, why do people in your days hate full stops? 😦

“Thus, these are seven places which are preferred to the places which are not recognized as good: the third from the ascendent because it is said that it is the place of the joy of the Moon [Larxene: implying that the Ascendant is somehow not compatible with the Moon], and the second from the ascendent, then the eighth from the ascendent, which is the sign of death. Of these places which I told you, the first is the strongest. There remain equal to these [Larxene: I would put a comma here] two places which are the worst of the worst, and they are the sixth and the twelfth.”

– Carmen Astrologicum, Book I, p. 4

So according to Dorotheus, the order of the houses in terms of “strength” is thus: 1st, 10th, 11th, 5th, 7th, 4th, 9th. The other five houses after the 9th are considered unfavourable. Their order is as follows: 3rd, 2nd, 8th, 6th, 12th.

“In nativites, there are four angles–the rising, the DSC, the MC and the IMC…

After these four angles, i.e. after the ASC, DSC, MC and IMC, there are four more houses in nativities which have a [Larxene: secondary and] favorable power, i.e. Goddess, God, Good Fortune and Good Daemon…

The remaining four houses are said to be inactive and dejected on account of the fact that they are joined in no association with the ASC. Moreover, the first of these houses is that which is located in the second sign from the ASC, which is called the Gates of Hades or anafora. The house that is in opposition to this sign, i.e. in the eighth sign from the ASC, is called epicataphora. But the last <houses> are those of the Bad Fortune and Bad Daemon.”

– Mathesis, Book II, Holden translation, p. 62-64

Maternus, however, ranks the houses differently. The four angles were considered the most favourable, followed by the 3rd, 9th, 5th and 11th houses. The last four houses are unfavourable, and they are: 2nd, 8th, 6th, 12th.

These houses were not individually arranged in an order of favourability, so we only have groups of houses which were considered superior to other groups. However, in other chapters we can see that there was some attempt to order the houses individually in terms of favourability.

TO BE CONTINUED…

I intended to finish this piece in one post, but it seems that this topic is just too complex for me to do so. I will try to complete my discussion of predomination in the next Titbits of Thoughts instead.

Have any questions or comments? Leave them below.