Displaying items by tag: Hellenistic astrology http://www.kepler.edu Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:26:59 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Prediction Techniques and the 2012 Election http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/working-with-the-chart/item/429-prediction-techniques-and-the-2012-election http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/working-with-the-chart/item/429-prediction-techniques-and-the-2012-election Prediction Techniques and the 2012 Election

barack-obama smThe daily countdown to the Presidential election has started in earnest. It's the season of prediction, so of course astrologers are feeling right at home. Since the Presidential Panel in May at UAC 2012 to the latest commentary in blogs, newsletters and the Huffington post, astrologers have used a wide variety of indicators to determine how the candidates will fare. Below I have highlighted a few of the more interesting columns that present a variety of techniques, from modern to ancient, Western to Vedic. Although most predict President Obama will win, no one thinks it is going to be an easy path.

1) Larry Schwimmer

Businessman and astrologer, in the Huffington Post on 8/27/12 and 9/5/12

Schwimmer's two-part series provided an modern astrological perspective. Part 1 covered the Romney-Ryan ticket and Part 2 Obama-Biden. Larry does a great job of presenting his findings without astrological jargon. Based on current transits, he boils down the indicators to "This election will get meaner, uglier and turn into a fierce 'dog-fight' that will be close, surprising and very upsetting." "This will be the 2012 version of 'Gunfight at the OK Corral.'" Giving a basic astrological profile, Schwimmer explored the personalities and leadership styles of both Romney and Obama, the pitfalls shown by their transits, and why each could win or lose.

Schwimmer notes that Romney is ambitious, an optimist, spiritual and intelligent. He also notes that Romney often lacks common sense and projects insincerity. Schwimmer also notes that in mid-September through October, while he's climbing in popularity, "unexpected information comes out about him and some of his past associations that are not flattering." He also warns that from mid-October to election day, there will be "upsets, frustrations and challenges." Schwimmer does not seem hopeful of Romney's chances at winning.

Schwimmer notes that Obama is a likeable and charismatic speaker, but projects "coolness" in his demeanor. He also can be too balanced and come out as "overly indecisive in his approach to problem-solving." His expectation for the debates is that "Obama will score points and induce Romney to make some major 'verbal gaffes' that get him into trouble." With more favorable astrological indicators, Schwimmer predicts Obama will win, but that the Mercury retrograde on election day "will likely result in a 'contested election.' with major upsets and surprises"

2) Joseph Crane

September 2012 article combines modern and traditional techniques to examine The Astrology of the 2012 Presidential Election.

Crane uses synastry, the election chart, natal interpretation, transits, progressions and solar returns. His conclusion, "Obama and Romney do not like each other or even respect each other; in fact they drive each other a bit crazy.  There’s also sufficient Mars intruding on the first debate that it may be a rhetorical Armageddon.  Expect an October surprise of some kind, one that will make Obama look bad, although his campaign will probably survive intact.  Romney may wilt sometime before the end of the campaign, a victim of physical stress or exhaustion. Election Day may be filled with confusion and rancor, but Obama will likely carry the Electoral College (but possibly not the overall popular vote).  Both men will go through a period of depression after the election, not just the loser."

2) The NeptuneCafe's overview

Using modern Western astrology, particularly progressions and connections to the Inauguration chart.

On June 4 and 11, 2012, the NeptuneCafe responded to the UAC 2012 predictions of an Obama win. The article entitled Election Day Uncertainty is interesting because it uses the January 20, 2013 inauguration chart instead of the November 6 election day chart (because of Mercury retrograde). Using progressions, the NeptuneCafe notes that on January 20, "the planetary flags are surprisingly few. "Note that transiting Mercury at 2 degrees Aquarius is exactly opposite his natal Mercury. This looks like a hand off to his successor." "In contrast, Romney's chart looks like gold." There is also a comparison between the candidates and the US chart (the Scorpio rising version).

3) Chris Brennan and Hellenistic techniques

With a particular focus on inception charts and electional astrology.

On August 31, 2012, Chris Brennan commented on the The Astrology of the Republican National Convention at The Political Astrology Blog. Using Hellenistic techniques, Brennan examined the inception chart for the convention, the timing of the delegate vote and major speeches, as well as Romney's nomination and acceptance speech. He also makes an interesting observation for that speech  "Venus is applying to a square with Saturn, which is the malefic that is contrary to the sect in this night chart, which is a classical condition of affliction or maltreatment.  There is reception between the two, which lessens the severity of the affliction somewhat, but it is still a close applying square to the most difficult planet in the chart.  Although Saturn is the ruler of the 10th, which may be the office that Romney seeks, ultimately can such a difficult configuration between these two significators represent success in such an endeavor?"

On September 11, 2012, Brennan followed-up his analyses with The 2012 Conventions: Horoscope Comparison. Conclusion? "Ultimately I have to give the award to the DNC here for the better inception chart for their convention.  Although the RNC chart has the virtue of not having the Moon closely applying to a hard aspect with a malefic, the DNC chart has a much stronger ruler of the ascendant." He is not overly enthusiastic about the timing of when the roll call showed each candidate had secured the nomination. "The shortcoming in both seems to be with the Moon placement.  Romney has the Moon applying to a square with a contrary to the sect Mars, and Obama has the Moon in the 12th, void, and applying to an out of sign sextile with Venus." In his opinion, he gives the edge to Obama "with Jupiter on the ascendant." He also gives Obama the edge for the timing of Obama's acceptance speech.

4) Curtis Mawaring on Election 2012 - Obama vs Romney and Beyond

Also using a Hellenistic techniques, including the place of acquisition.

Curtis Manwaring begins his article by looking back to Presidents Clinton and Bush. His premise is that "that the place of acquisition in the presidents' charts show what can be said about the nation's economy during their reign in the broadest sense. It sums up the state of the nation's economic health." He uses this technique to examine both Clinton's and Bush's charts with the proviso, "I don't place much credit on Clinton for creating the prosperity of his era and I don't entirely blame Bush for the economic collapse of 2008. These are just two not very important people when contrasted with the whole world of people who have actually had greater impact on the economy such as those who were responsible for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. I am thinking of their charts as an "apotelesma" (outcome) of a long process that started with special interests and the motivations of many people."

What is intriguing in this article is Manwaring's analysis of Valens and his comments on the part of fortune and part of spirit and how he applies this information to Obama's chart. He ties his conclusions to Obama's win in 2008. Next he looks to the 2012 election with an insightful comment, "Traditionally, astrologers find who has the most favorable transits, progressions, etc., and from the preponderance of the testimony declare the winner. This approach has a lot of problems. First and most obvious is that maybe being elected to office will be the worst thing that happens to the candidate." So once again, he works with the lots and to the method of profections. Interestingly, with this method "Obama will be in a 4th house profection year and according to Valens' method, the only active handing over is the Moon to Mars. This is not typically a good handing over as it is indicative of bloodshed and bodily weakness in a typical chart (eminent nativities are judged differently)." and "Romney is in a 6th house profection year which means that the Sun, Mercury and Mars all hand over to Saturn. Four years from now Romney not only reaches his 10th house profection year, but he will have reached his 10th from fortune in 2016."

Manwaring's conclusion is that "If the standard rules that winning the seat of president indicate favorable astrological conditions, then I would have to say that Obama has the edge. If a connection to specific dates through the releasing is an indication, then Romney might pull off an upset. ... So I would suspect that in the month before the election, Romney feeling pretty good says some things carelessly that he will later regret due to his Mercury retrograde in fall. However, as incomprehensible as it seems currently, I do think that this election is going to be a close one and there could be a Truman/Dewey style upset announcement that later gets reversed due to Mercury retrograde or some similar dispute over election irregularities."

Vedic astrology perspectives

On September 15, 2012, Raj Shekhar Sharma, a Vedic astrologer from India, looked at the election through the lens of President Obama's dasha period (currently Jupiter/Rahu) and planetary transits. In his analysis, "Conclusively, the overall planetary strength (dasa and transit) may not be equally strong as it was during 2008, when Barack Obama was successfully registered his victory. The Antardasa lord Rahu is also not having any direct and strong relationship with the planets (viz. the Sun, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn), which are primarily responsible for professional success. Therefore, it may be a bit difficult for Barack Obama to get re-elected; and the chances are not looking in his favor."

In June 2012, The Modern Vedic Astrology blog by Christopher Kevill, took a much more detailed look at both Obama's and Romney's chart. "As the late Richard Houck liked to remind me, transits are only one part of the overall puzzle and they are usually not the determining factor in elections. ... Following Houck's teachings, I have found that a judicious use of progressions, dashas and a few other techniques are probably more decisive in these matters." Kevill does use a combination of techniques, including dashas, planetary strength, transits and progressions in the analysis that follows. He too notes the possibility of a replay of the contested 2000 election.

In conclusion, Kevill predicts that Obama will win, "Obama's tertiary progressed Sun achieves its point of maximum northern declination at 23N24 in November 2012.  This is another piece of evidence that makes me think that Obama will win.  As an added enhancement to Obama's chances, I should also note that VP Joe Biden has a direct station of tertiary progressed Neptune in the 11th house in October." But while Romney has a powerful chart in 2012, "One possible shortcoming in his chart is that Mercury is retrograde and conjunct 12th lord of losses, Mars.  The other potential problem is that neither dasha lord Sun or Mercury receives a helpful transiting aspect at the time of the election.  In fact, the Sun receives a difficult square aspect from 12th lord Mars on November 6.  The 12th lord is usually unhelpful in this regard and may be interpreted as a negative influence."


  • 2012 election
  • predictive astrology
  • chart interpretation
  • Vedic astrology
  • Hellenistic astrology
  • Presidential Campaign
    enewberg@kepler.edu (Enid Newberg) Working with the Chart Mon, 24 Sep 2012 02:18:00 +0000
    Ptolemy's Digression, Part 2 http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/hellenistic-astrology/item/370-ptolemys-digression-part-2 http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/hellenistic-astrology/item/370-ptolemys-digression-part-2 Wave harmonics

    Ptolemy’s Harmonics

    The Harmonics [12] is probably earlier than the Tetrabiblos.[13]  Although Ptolemy is well known for his astronomy and astrology, he was also one of the ancient sources for theories of harmony.
    The work studies this universal field of knowledge for which music and geometry are considered subsets. Much of the material in Harmonics is exclusively concerned with music, including setting up exact number ratios for the different modes.

    The Harmonics Book III applies his previous exposition of intervals, scales, and ratios to ethics and psychology, and to astronomy and astrology. Unfortunately, some of Book III has been lost to us. In Chapter 9 of Book III, Ptolemy presents the astrological aspects and their ratios to one another. Curiously, in this presentation Ptolemy does not use degree numbers for the aspects. Instead, he considers the twelve zoidia as discrete units and the whole number relationships between them that yield moriai and epimoriai. This discussion might have fit better into the Tetrabiblos Book I, within his treatment of the qualities and relationships between whole zoidia.

    Ptolemy begins not with a line but the circle of twelve units for the twelve zoidia. Instead of using the line and 180°, Ptolemy considers the circle and the total of twelve zoidia that would make up the circle of the zodiac. I have provided a diagram below [14] 

    Ptolemyharmonics_chartWithin this entire circle, A is a beginning of the zodiac and back again, and has the number 12 for the twelve zoidia. AB represents the diagonal line and 6 of the signs of the zodiac (the opposition), AC represents 4 zoidia and one third of the circle; AD is 3 zoidia and one quarter of the circle – this yields the diameter, triangle, and square of the circle. (The hexagon is not represented here.) Ptolemy proceeds to give many permutations of these numbers that yield the same ratios depicted in Tetrabiblos I Chapter 13. For our purposes here I will give the proportions most relevant to our discussion.

    For three places together, ADB yields 9, ABC yields 8, and ADC yields 4. Ptolemy notes the distances that are double from one another (AB doubles AC, and the whole circle doubles AB), which give us the octave or diapason. He also notes the distances that give the fifth and the fourth, the diapente and diatesseron. For the former 3:2 ratio, Ptolemy notes that the whole circle (12) is 3:2 to ABC (8), as ABD (9) is to AB (6), and AB (6) to AC (3).

    Ptolemy also repeats his finding from the Tetrabiblos: AB (the diagonal) is 3:2 to AD, For the latter 4:3 ratio, we note the ratio from the whole circle (12) to ABD (9), ABC (8) to AD (6), and AC (4) to AD (3). Ptolemy notes that AB (the diagonal) to AD is 3:2 (the square) or the diapente, and that AB is 4:3 or the diatesseron to AC (the triangle).

    The difference between AD and AC is 1: one-twelfth of the circle. This gives an interval of 4:3 but spans one zoidion. This would correspond to the emmelic interval between the two tetrachords that constitute the diatonic scale in the Greater Perfect System, and is more of a transitional than a concordant interval according to that system.

    Importantly, one cannot combine or subtract these segments of the circle to form five units or give a 5:12 ratio. This would be discordant, ekmelic, and conform to the astrological aspect of the quincunx.

    Harmonic Scales and the Soul of the World

    Plato’s Timaeus, concerned on its surface with cosmology and natural philosoply, is considered the most overtly “Pythagorean” dialogue in the Platonic corpus. Within a famous passage on the construction of the world, Plato (or Timaeus) depicts the Demiurge constructing the soul of the cosmos, within which time and motion and form could be realized sensibly, and matter could have a measure of intelligibility (35B-36B).
    The cosmos’ soul will take the form of two bands constituting mixtures of Same and Difference that will eventually form the celestial sphere surrounding our earth. Prior to this, the Demiurge has to put together the material of the world’s soul and then sort it out according to specific quantities that conform to universal ratios. He begins by arranging two series of numbers.

    One series uses the multiples of 2 to arrive at 1 – 2 – 4 – 8, etc. The other uses multiples of 3 to arrive at 1 – 3 – 9 – 27, etc. These numbers can continue indefinitely. The Demiurge then fills the intervals between them, using arithmetical and harmonic Means.[15]

    Our result from 1 to 2 will be 1 – 4/3 – 3/2 – 2. This corresponds to the skeleton of the diatonic scale and the model Ptolemy uses to account for the astrological aspects.

    However, by continuing exponential progressions indefinitely and including multiples and means related to the numbers 2 and 3, Plato expands his harmonics further than the realm of ordinary music.

    But first it is necessary to explain more thoroughly the arithmetic and harmonic means that Plato employs.

    The arithmetic mean exceeds the lower number by the same number as that number is less than the greater number. We all learned this in grade school and we still know how to do this calculation. This gives the same number between the lesser and greater numbers, by dividing the numbers of the two extremes. This gives us 3/2 between 1 and 2, 2 between 1 and 3, and 6 between 3 and 9. There are no surprises here. The harmonic mean is a more complex calculation and is more difficult to grasp. The harmonic mean exceeds the lower extreme by the same fraction, as the mean is less than the greater number.

    • Between 1 and 2, 4/3 exceeds 1, the lower number, by 1/3.
    • If you take the same fraction 4/3, this is less than the number 2 by 1/3 of 2 (converting 2 to 6/3), as 6/3 – 2/3 is 4/3.
    • We see the same pattern between 4 and 8, whereby 5 1/3 exceeds 4 by 1/3 of 4. 5 1/3 is less than 8 by 1/3 of 8. There are two ways to compute the harmonic mean between two numbers.

    One is this formula below, A and B being the quantities of the two extremes. This will work perfectly to find this mean between any two numbers you choose.

    2 AB)

    A + B

    The other way is more interesting but more specific to the multiples of 2 and 3 that Plato uses. It requires very simple calculation, and it shows the interdependence between the multiples and divisions of 2 and 3. For multiples of 2, we convert the extremes into thirds to obtain the harmonic mean.

    Using 4 and 8 again, convert the former to 12/3 and the latter to 24/3. We are converting multiples of 2 to fractions with 3 as the denominator.

    • Add the lesser whole number 4 to 12 (the numerator of the lower number) and you get 16.
    • Subtract the higher number 8 from 24, the numerator of the greater number, and you get 16.
    • Therefore the harmonic interval between 4 and 8 is 16/3.
    • One will see that if the exponents of 3 are converted into halves, one easily arrives at a harmonic mean. If we calculate the harmonic mean of multiples of three, we convert the extremes to halves.
    • Between 1 and 3,

    Convert 1 to 2/2 and 3 to 6/2.

    • The lesser whole number (1) plus its numerator (2) is 3.
    • The lesser whole number (3) from its numerator (6) is also 3.
    • This will give us 3/2.

    What is the harmonic mean between 3 and 9?

    • Three is 6/2 and 9 is 18/2.
    • Add the lesser whole number 3 to the numerator 6 and the result is 9/2.
    • Subtract the greater whole number 9 from the numerator 18 and the result is also 9/2.

    Importantly, this second procedure breaks down when attempting to find harmonic means between exponents of 5, 7, and so on.

    In this way we can calculate the mean whereby adding the same fraction of the lesser number and subtracting the same fraction of the greater number gives a mean. We return to Plato’s Divine Worker. He combines the means between multiples of two and three into a single band. The series of the multiples of 2 and 3 are as follows. 1 – 4/3 - 3/2 – 2 – 8/3 – 3 – 4 – 16/3 – 6 – 8, 1 – 3/2 – 2 –3 – 9/2 – 6 – 9 – 27/2 – 18 – 27
    They will make, 1 – 4/3 – 3/2 – 2 – 8/3 – 3 – 4 – 9/2 – 16/3 – 6 – 8 -- 9 – 27/2 – 18 – 27 And so on.

    Plato’s Demiurge fills in numbers between by units of 9/8, corresponding to single tones in music, The amounts remaining he would fill in by units of 256/243, which are the semi-tones as represented in Greek musical theory. However, there is no limit to how far to take these numbers: the multiples simply continue. The reader probably knows the rest of the story. Having divided the main substance according to these proportions, the Demiurge fashions a very large circular band that he then cuts lengthwise into two and then brings them together in the form of a Chi. One becomes the Circle of the Same, our celestial equator, upon which the fixed stars move and which moves from east to west, the diurnal cycle. The other becomes the Circle of the Other; the ecliptic. This circle moves from west to east and divides itself further so that the seven planetary bodies can move along it. Hence time as ordered becomes possible.

    Plato’s proportions show intimate relationships between number, music, and of the soul of the world. All this seems necessary the postulate how the world would need to be for true opinion to arise, and to account for true knowledge found reflected in it. This cosmological story brings us into the motif of the harmony of the planetary spheres, an idea that was pervasive in the Hellenic and Hellenistic worlds and lasted well into the Renaissance. Johann Kepler’s 1619 work Harmonice Mundi was probably the last full attempt to bring together the motions of the planets and harmonic ratios.

    We return to astrology’s aspects, now using some of the proportions we see in the Timaeus. We begin with the cleanest example. 1 – 4/4 – 3/2 – 2

    These correspond with the astrological aspects according to Ptolemy’s exposition in Tetrabiblos I Chapter 13, so that 4/3 gives us the hexagon or sextile and 3/2 gives us the square.

    If one uses the numbers between 1 and 3 in the same way, however, you get something we haven’t seen before. 1 – 3/2 – 2 – 3 3/2 corresponds not to the sextile but the semi-square, an astrological aspect of 45°, half the square of 90°. This aspect requires using degree numbers, not whole zoidia.

    The semi-square violates Ptolemy’s use of whole masculine and feminine zoidia to describe the effects of different aspects. Because Ptolemy uses specific numbers in Tetrabiblos I Chapter 13 for the astrological aspects, he expands the possibilities for aspects beyond those that are between whole zoidia. By employing multiples and means that Plato uses, the astrologer can finds himself or herself with a wide range of new possibilities.[16]


    It is clear, from Ptolemy’s digression in Chapter 13 of Tetrabiblos I, that using degree numbers makes it possible for astrological aspects to imitate universal laws of harmony and thus account for their effects. Ptolemy presents a correspondence between aspects and musical harmony that allows us to see astrological “action at a distance” in a new and profound way. The modern mind may not consider the wider implications of these correspondences. How do the teachings on musical harmony help us account for the aspects of astrology?

    Sitting down at a piano briefly supplies us with the answer. Sounding out harmonious tones (homophonous or consonant), they can be said to meet each other, to interact with each other. In music they act upon each other because of their distance along the scale. I know of no other phenomenon in nature in which interaction is based upon number ratios related to distance between two agents.

    I also remind you of the contrasting experience that is quite familiar – the discordant and ugly result of striking the wrong note. This is the result of having accidentally come upon an unmelodic interval in the context of the harmonics established within the piece being played. An accomplished musician or composer may find a way to resolve the discord, but does so by finding a way back to the original harmonic intervals. The experience of accidentally unmelodic intervals may correspond to disharmony in the world, in the individual soul, and between planets affiliated by dispositorship but in disconnected zoidia.

    Two or many harmonious tones played together also create a blend of sameness and difference that is analogous to the relationship between a visual perceiver and its objects of perception.

    One can represent musical tones and intervals by numbers and ratio. Their arithmetical properties allow us to move from the aural sense perception of musical tones to an intellectual arena of harmony. This harmony may manifest in the soul of the world, the soul of the individual, and even given an account for the aspects of astrology.[17] The sensible model for principles of harmonics is music, not geometry, since parts of a geometrical figure do not interact with each other based upon the ratios of their distances.

    Because divisions and multiples of 5 or 7 do not fit into these harmonic models, they cannot themselves form the basis for either musical harmonies or astrological aspects, if the correspondence between aspects and harmonic intervals is to be taken seriously.
    Ptolemy’s argument in the first past of Chapter 13 is indeed a digression. The remainder of Tetrabiblos I uses the natural philosophy of his day to account for astrological effects in general. His argument for aspects, however, derives from Pythagorean and Platonic sources as evidenced in his earlier Harmonics. Yet his digression roots us in some of the basic principles of the western intellectual tradition.


    [11] In the Greater Perfect System, which was dominant in ancient harmonic theory, and generally covers two full octaves. Tetrachords where also cast in chromatic and enharmonic forms, although our interest here is in the diatonic. See R.P. Winningham- Ingram, cited above.
    [12]  J. Solomon, Ptolemy Harmonics: Translation and Commentary.(2000) Leiden, Boston: Brill
    [13]  See N.M. Swerdlow, “Ptolemy’s Harmonics and the ‘Tones of the Universe” in the Canobic Inscription” Charles Burnett, Jan P. Hogendijk, Kim Plofker, Michio Yano (edd.): Studiesin the History of the Exact Sciences in Honour of David Pingree, Leiden – Boston 2004 (Islamic Philosophy Theology and Science. Texts and Studies; Vol. 54).
    [14]  N. Swerdlow, cited above. Pg. 154.
    [15]  A fuller explanation is in D. Zehl. Plato’s Timeaus. (2000) Indianapolis, In.:Hackett Publishing, 2000) and F. Cornford, Plato’s Cosmology.(1935/1997) Indianapolis, In.:Hackett Publishing.
    [16] Take the distance between two different numbers and superimpose that on the first 180° of the zodiac. It gives some intriguing possibilities. Using the sequence using numbers 1 through 9: 1 – 3/2 – 2 – 3 -9/2 – 6 – 9, if 1 is 0° Aries and 9 is 0°Libra. 3/2 is the semi-sextile of 30°; 2 corresponds to 40° which astrologers know as the novile, which divides the 360° circle into ninths and is the foundation of the modern Ninth Harmonic: 3 is the sextile, 9/2 is the square, and 6 is the trine. Modern astrologers who use Ninth Harmonic astrological charts may take comfort in this sequence. Now we take the sequence from 1 to 4: 1 – 4/3 – 3/2 – 2 – 8/3 – 3 – 4, if 1 is 0° Aries and 4 is 0° Libra 3/2 is slightly less than a sextile; 3/2 is a 67°30 aspect, which is a semi-square and another half of that; 2 is the square, 8/3 is slightly more than the trine; 3 is the sesequiquadrate of 135°, which is a square and a half-square. Plato’s expanded harmonics give possibilities to the modern astrologer that would be unavailable to Ptolemy, who restricted aspects to those whose aspecting zoidia have the same aspect. On the other hand, as we have seen with the sequence from 1 to 4, we sometimes only get approximations to aspects’ conventional degrees.
    [17] The topic of the harmony of the soul is beyond the scope of this paper. It is suggestive that Plato’s Timaeus is supposed to have taken place the morning after the long discussion of the “just” – well proportioned – soul in the Republic. (Also see E. McClain, The Pythagorean Plato (1978) York Beach, Me.: Nicholas-Hays) In Ptolemy’s Harmonics III, Chapter 5, he brings together the harmonious activity of the soul as the integration of its parts resembling the familiar intervals of the diapason, diapente, and diatesseon. and haunts us with the possibility that the symbols of astrology have something to do with the nature of reality.

    • Ptolemy
    • Harmonics
    • Aspects
    • world soul
    • Hellenistic astrology
    • Tetrabiblos
      joseph.crane2@gmail.com (Joseph Crane) Hellenistic Astrology Mon, 06 Jun 2011 16:15:48 +0000
      Reading a Chart Using Hellenistic Methods http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/hellenistic-astrology/item/369-reading-a-chart-using-hellenistic-methods http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/hellenistic-astrology/item/369-reading-a-chart-using-hellenistic-methods Rush Limbaugh's Hellenistic Chart

      Here’s a chart example to demonstrate many of the major themes of the Hellenistic tradition of astrology.  In this essay I refrain from outright interpretation and simply discuss how one would see a chart according to the Hellenistic tradition. I choose a person well known to many Americans as both or either a politician and an entertainer.


      Rush Limbaugh, according to some (Democrats), was the de facto leader of the Republican Party, yet he has never held elected or appointed office.  He is an influential talk-radio host and self-proclaimed spokesperson for the conservative cause.  He has been a national figure for the past twenty years.  He has helped steer many a political cause, his depictions of liberal politicians can be devastating, and he is not particularly beloved by women.  Yet even some liberals find him an entertaining guilty pleasure. 

      Let’s take our time with what we have here. First of all we’re seeing his astrological chart using whole sign houses, the original house (or “place” topos) system. In the next image of his chart, to make the contrast more clear, I have deleted the Midheaven degree, which in the ancient tradition was mostly used for predictive purposes. I have included the Ascendant that always falls somewhere in the first house or place.


      If Limbaugh was born a little later and had late Aquarius rising, Venus and Mars would continue to be first-house planets: no planet position would change. If he was born a few minutes earlier he would have Capricorn rising and every planet would be in a different place or house.


      (Additional note: the modern planets are not presented in this chart nor will we discuss them during this course. If you looked it up, you would find Uranus at 9° Cancer, Neptune at 19° Libra, and Pluto at 19° Leo. This may be interesting to you; I will pass them over in silence.)


      There were other house systems used during the Hellenistic era but only for specific purposes of establishing planetary strength. One is called “Porphyry” and trisects the ecliptical degrees of Ascendant, Midheaven, Descendant, I.C.


      Next, we will look at Limbaugh's chart using Porphyry houses. Rush Limbaugh - Porphyry HousesAccording to how the Porphyry system was used, planets in the angular houses are most powerful, in the succedant houses less powerful, and in the cadent houses the least powerful.This was used in particular for assessing length of life.In this and future presentations we will confine ourselves to whole sign houses.


      The advantage of whole sign houses, to my mind, is obvious: the relationships between the signs are the relationships between the houses.We will be using only the first chart with whole sign houses.


      How might Dorotheus or Vettius Valens look at this chart?


      A modern person might see Limbaugh’s twelfth-place Sun and Mercury and his Moon in Pisces and think of him as a “new age sensitive guy.” They had those in Hellenistic times, too, but this is not the case with Mr. Limbaugh.


      We are not particularly interested in the zodiacal signs (or zoidia) as identities but for their aspect relationships with one another, their character of cardinal, fixed, and mutable, and for the planets that govern (or are “familiar with”) the different zodiacal signs.

      In Limbaugh’s daytime chart the Sun is the “luminary of sect” and we will want to focus on that.Also, the Sun’s placement in the twelfth might tell us that he would be ruined by his enemies, not that he might ruin them.We need to look at the Sun in some detail.


      We could begin simply by looking at the Sun’s “house lord” Saturn.Ordinarily Saturn aspecting the luminary of sect could bode trouble, yet this seems to me to be a rather fortunate combination.Although retrograde, Saturn is exalted and is oriental to the Sun.Saturn has a “looking ahead” aspect of predomination to the Sun and its strong status allows it to be of some assistance to his Sun (as well as Mercury) in Capricorn.His Saturn placement is like having the toughest kid in the neighborhood looking out for you.


      Saturn, a diurnal planet, is in sect in Limbaugh’s diurnal chart: he will encounter Saturn as less difficult than the out of sect malefic Mars.


      According to Valens and Dorotheus and many others in the Hellenistic as well as medieval period, it is the triplicity lords of the luminary of sect that will give indications during the span of his lifetime.


      For planets in the earth signs the triplicity lords are Venus (day), Moon (night), and Mars (participating).


      Limbaugh’s Venus is out of sect – and so less of a benefic – but is also in the first and is therefore strong (maybe “loud” is a better word). Its major difficulty appears to be Mars being present with it. (If we were talking about love and marriage, this combination would be a strong indication of instability.) For the first third of Limbaugh’s life, the condition of Venus would tell us much about his situation: self-motivated (first) and appealing (Venus) but with a distinct edge and ability to repel people (Mars). Governed by a strong Saturn, Venus could certainly tough it out.


      The middle of his life – where he would be now – is governed by Moon, the nocturnal triplicity lord of the earth signs.In the mediocre second house, Moon is made positive by the co-presence of a dignified Jupiter also in sect and by the fact that Mars does not aspect it.Saturn and Moon have a small connection: they are in equally powerful signs (symmetrical to 0°Cancer/0° Capricorn) but this is a weaker relationship than an aspect and, as stated above, Saturn is less of a malefic in his chart anyway.Jupiter is the planet of abundance and it’s no accident that Limbaugh has become quite wealthy during this time.


      Mars governs the final third of his life; this seems less auspicious than the previous two eras.Mars in Aquarius is strong by being in the first but is the malefic out of sect and has no relationship with Jupiter.The co-presence of Venus, however, may make him lusty well into old age, if other indications agree.


      If one wanted to look at the quality and vicissitudes of his love life, the triplicity lords for Venus: Saturn (d), Mercury (n) and Jupiter (participating) would give us some indications.On the basis of Jupiter, it’s quite possible that he will be married quite happily and securely later in life.There are other factors we could also look at, including relevant Lots of “Marriage”.


      Since Limbaugh is a talk radio host and man of many words, we would want to take particular note of his Mercury placement. Mercury is oriental, rising ahead of the Sun and is in Capricorn, governed by Saturn and in square to his exalted Saturn. And the close relationship (the word is actually “familiarity”) between Mercury and Saturn give definitiveness and clarity to thinking, maybe with a tendency to be self-righteous and intimidating.


      Because Mercury is also in Capricorn, the same triplicity lords as the Sun would apply.


      We still have the problem of both Sun and Mercury being in the 12th house and Limbaugh’s degree of success. Saturn’s positive position is one factor but there must be others.


      Now we move into other areas.We should look at his major lots.


      The Lot of Fortune (and its inverse, the Lot of Spirit) uses the arc from one luminary to the other and projects the distance from the degree of the Ascendant. To calculate the Lot of Fortune in a diurnal chart, one uses the distance from the Sun to Moon; for the Lot of Spirit it would be from the Moon to the Sun. Limbaugh’s Lot of Fortune at 2° Aries helps rescue his Sun from its 12th house exile


      According to the Hellenistic tradition, the Lot of Fortune is another general indicator for anybody’s natal chart. It signifies the factor of luck in one’s life but in particular is one of the many indications of wealth in Limbaugh’s chart (along with his well-endowed second house). Rush’s Lot of Fortune is governed by Mars in the First, meaning that he made his money on his own. Because Mars is in favorable position the red planet would help him to be fortunate in wealth and other ways.How would this mitigate his twelfth house placements?


      According to the Hellenistic tradition, the Lot of Fortune can be its own first house. Differently put, from the viewpoint of Lot of Fortune houses, Sun and Mercury are in its tenth.This also places Saturn angular to the Lot of Fortune and enhances these planets as well (if Saturn were more malefic than in Limbaugh’s chart it would be more a hindrance to the Lot.) This allows these planets to help increase fortune for him.


      Another important lot is the Lot of Spirit.Symmetrical to the Lot of Fortune, for him it falls at the last degree of Scorpio. (Aren’t you glad we have the correct birth time?) The Lot of Spirit in the tenth also means that the planets Venus and Mars are angular to the Lot.


      Here we find ourselves to Mars, who governs both Lots: both lots are governed by the fiery planet of anger and outrage.


      There are two other important lots that, in one formulation, are derivative from the Lots of Fortune and Spirit.These are the Lots of Necessity and Eros (friendship, actually). Using the formulations with the historically longest legs, Necessity is from the arc from Spirit to Fortune; Eros is from Fortune to Spirit (they reverse at night to bewilder the dyslexic). In Limbaugh’s case the Lot of Necessity is 26° Virgo and the Lot of Eros is 4° Gemini.Both are governed by Mercury and gives further evidence of Mercury’s importance in Limbaugh’s chart.


      Now let’s move away from natal considerations although there are many we have not considered.


      For Hellenistic prediction, here are some numbers to memorize:Saturn is 30; Jupiter is 12; Mars is 15; Sun is 19; Venus is 8; Mercury is 20; Moon is 25.These come up in different planetary period or chronocrator systems.


      I like to start off by teaching decennials; they are easier, more universally practiced, and were used well into the Middle Agew.The major or general periods are of the same length – 129 30-day months. And they would start with the luminary of sect and go around in zodiac order.


      Limbaugh the sequence would be Sun-Venus-Mars-Jupiter-Moon-Saturn-Mercury.


      There is a variant, however: if the luminary of sect is in poor condition like being in the twelfth house, one would instead start with the first planet ascending after birth, in this case Venus.


      The student who wishes to pursue this material in depth may want to experiment with both possibilities.


      For the specific planetary periods, take the number of the planets and that becomes 30-day months, so that if in 1993 Limbaugh began a Moon period, the first 25 “moinths” would be governed by the Moon, then Saturn would take over for 30 “months.”


      Using decennials beginning with the Sun, Limbaugh entered a Saturn/Saturn period in 2004, roughly when he admitted to being addicted to painkillers and separating from wife#3.Now, however, he is in a Saturn/Sun period.This seems to accentuate toughness, considering the strong link between Sun and Saturn in his chart.


      Here’s another planetary period system for contrast: “Zodiacal releasing from the Lot of Fortune.”One begins with the sign of the Lot of Fortune (Aries for Limbaugh) and that yields 15 years (of 30-day months) because of Mars.Within that general period, the first 15 30-day months go to Aries, the next eight go to Taurus, etc.There are further divisions I will not discuss here.


      At this time Limbaugh is in a Cancer general period (since 1993) and within that a Gemini period that will further accentuate his strong Mercury placement.

      The word “profection” means “advancement.”In yearly profections all positions advance one sign per year. According to Valens, the ruler of the profected placement would be first any planet in that sign, secondly any planet transiting that sign, and thirdly the domicile ruler of the sign.


      Limbaugh is in his 59th year; the next lowest multiple of twelve being 48, everything advances 11 signs.


      His yearly profection of the Ascendant accentuates Jupiter since it profects to Sagittarius and Limbaugh has no planets in Sagittarius.Jupiter is a pretty good friend of his.Additionally, Jupiter and Moon in Pisces profect to Capricorn, inhabited by his Sun and Mercury.


      I will add transits to the extent that in the Hellenistic tradition they are used to add to information from profections and other predictive systems.I am particularly interested in Jupiter transiting Limbaugh’s whole-sign first house of Aquarius at the same time at the profected Ascendant, Venus, and Mars profect to eleventh house Sagittarius, governed by Jupiter.


      These certainly add to his current situation of being the most influential he will ever be and that this will not be forever – such is the nature of planetary and human time.


      This essay has had the purpose of exemplifying some chart factors utilized by astrologers during the Hellenistic era and does not exhaust the possibilities.I have also excluded sources other than Ptolemy - adding in other writers brings in a wealth of other techniques and options.

      • Hellenistic astrology
      • rush limbaugh
      • chart interpretation
      • whole sign houses
      • hellenistic lots
      • triplicities
      • house lords
        joseph.crane2@gmail.com (Joseph Crane) Hellenistic Astrology Tue, 06 Sep 2011 14:56:32 +0000
        3-minute Vocabulary: Sect http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/working-with-the-chart/item/360-3-minute-vocabulary-sect http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/working-with-the-chart/item/360-3-minute-vocabulary-sect 3-minute Vocabulary: Sect

        The concept of Sect comes to us from Hellenistic times. It is a concept that fell out of use for many years, but is being rediscovered as more and more astrologers are re-examining ancient techniques. Sect can help you determine the the qualities of a planet, whether for good or ill, and its effect in the chart.

        Depending on whether it is a daytime or nighttime chart, sect tells you which of the classical planets (Sun and Moon, and the planets Mercury through Saturn) have the upper hand. It also provides clues as to which planets will be more helpful or more problematic in the chart.


        As with any technique, there are nuances. But the basic process for using sect is simple. First, find the sect of the chart. This is easy - where's the Sun?  If it is above the horizon (the ascendant/descendant axis), it is a diurnal chart that emphasizes the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn. If the Sun is below the horizon, it is a nocturnal chart that emphasizes the Moon, Venus and Mars. Mercury's sect is determined by whether it rises before (oriental) or after (occidental) the Sun.

        Next, determine whether or not the planets are in their natural sect. For example, Saturn is a diurnal planet. If it is above the horizon in a diurnal chart, it is matched with its natural sect. This gives Saturn an even extra boost as it delights in its placement. Third, consider whether the planet is in a masculine (diurnal) or feminine (nocturnal) sign.

        Planets that are in their natural sect by hemisphere and in a sign which matches their natural sect are in hayz. In Medieval astrology, this was considered a particularly beneficial and powerful condition. If a planet is out of sect by hemisphere, sign or both (a condition Robert Hand calls ex conditione), it will have difficulty expressing positively in the chart.

        • Sect
        • chart interpretation
        • Hellenistic astrology
        • Medieval astrology
          enewberg@kepler.edu (Enid Newberg) Working with the Chart Tue, 21 Jun 2011 17:00:00 +0000
          Ptolemy's Digression, Part 1 http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/hellenistic-astrology/item/351-ptolemys-digression-part-1 http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/hellenistic-astrology/item/351-ptolemys-digression-part-1 Ptolemy

          Ptolemy’s Digression: Astrology’s Aspects and Musical Intervals
          Statement of the Problem

          This essay addresses a problem in the development and continuity of astrology: how do astrologers, past and present, account for the astrological aspects? Aspects are the means by which a planet or position (Ascendant, Lot of Fortune) has contact from another planet or other planets. Once an astrologer has designated planet or a position to answer a question posed to the astrological chart, aspects to the designated position provide information to answer a question and determine an outcome.

          How is it that this connection by aspect occurs? Because aspects are based on the distances of two positions from each other along the zodiac, the solution is not obvious. Of course, one needn’t question aspects at all. The teachings on aspects from ancient India are very straightforward. All aspects are cast forward in the zodiac, and each planet aspects the house (and sign) opposite to it. Additionally, Mars aspects the fourth and eighth houses from itself, Jupiter aspects the fifth and ninth, and Saturn aspects the third and tenth from itself.[1]

          These rules are part of the astrological craft passed down from their tradition. Most ancient western astrologers also used aspects without questioning them, and were not different from their Indian cousins in this regard. However, the Hellenistic mind, and that of Ptolemy in Tetrabiblos I, sought to give astrology a coherent theoretical form, and integrate astrology more firmly with other fields of understanding. This attempt is, in large part, the reason why the Tetrabiblos is the most important single work in the history of western astrology.

          We will closely examine Tetrabiblos I Chapter 13[2]. Here Ptolemy gives two accounts for aspects. The first one, the subject of this paper, is based on what we might call “fractions” and “super-fractions,” moriai and eprmoraia. The second argument of Chapter 14 depicts sympathetic and unsympathetic aspects through the nature of the zodiacal signs or zoidia brought into aspect.

          Ptolemy’s first account in Chapter 13, although of a different style than the surrounding material, gives a provocative and critical account of aspects – one related to harmonics and the diatonic musical scale in particular. Later astrologers, from the Renaissance into the modern era, subordinated musical harmonics to an arithmetic template alone. They have brought more information to astrological analysis but perhaps with a shakier theoretical foundation.

          When, as a new astrology student, I first learned about them,the account given was wholly arithmetical and geometrical: because we can divide the whole circle by halves, quarters, thirds, and sixths, we can connect planets to one another by aspect. These relationships also give us the line, square, and what astrologers call the trine and sextile; they are geometrically the side of a triangle and hexagon within a circle. These aspects divide the whole circle into sections divisible by the twelve signs of the zodiac. We might also ask, however, why it is that we do not consider the dodecahedron, a twelve-sided figure, and thus an aspect of 30°? This should fit conveniently with the others, but this was not considered a true aspect in the ancient tradition, nor, indeed, by most modern astrologers.

          What is it about number relationships that empower planets to act upon one another, based on their distance from each other?

          The modern mind has an easier time comprehending action at a distance, because the physics of the modern era has given this understanding to us. And if we are not of a theoretical bent, we have our various remotes to unlock our cars, open the garage door, turn on and off our televisions and radios, and so on.

          Because of our background in popular science and technology, modern astrologers do not raise a skeptical eye to our understanding and use of the astrological aspects. This does not solve the problem, however, since neither gravity nor electromagnetic waves can account for their action.

          Most of the Greek words for aspects are those of seeing or looking. Directly or indirectly, aspects are acts of visual perception.

          Ancient astrologers indeed thought of aspects in terms of seeing and being seen. A planet “looks ahead” – epothoreõ -- to another planet, forward in the zodiac, to which it is in aspect. In return, the aspected planet “casts rays” – aktinoboleõ – back to the aspecting planet.[3] Additionally, an aspecting planet may “testify to” or “witness” – epimarturõ – another planet.

          Our English “aspect” is indeed such a word, as is the Indian word for aspects, drishtis, from the word “to gaze.”

          Two planets in the same sign or zoidion – the modern “conjunction” -- are not in aspect. Seeing words are not used for these relationships: instead, planets in the same zoidion are considered with one another. The planet must be outside its own immediate zodiacal environment than the other in order to see or be seen.

          Modern astrologers might note that vision is action at a distance, since we routinely see things distant from us. Our science books tell us that light waves are along a range of bandwidth of a vast vibratory spectrum that surrounds us. These waves allow an outside object to be represented to us, although an otter or a bat might “see” something quite different.

          Modern theories of vision hardly apply to astrology’s distinction between aspects that are based on the distance that are, in turn, based upon number. Nor are ancient theories of vision helpful to us. Nor perhaps to Ptolemy, who did not use visual perception to account for aspects, although most aspect words imply this kind of action.

          Ancient tradition gives a variety of accounts for visual perception. To our modern sensibilities, they range from relatively straightforward to rather weird. Aristotle’s De Anima takes not vision but touch as the most basic – and paradigmatic –sense faculty, and posits that vision, like the other sense faculties, has a medium (metaxu) by which the object carries itself to the perceiving subject. For vision, this medium is light. The object somehow alters the light by which the view of the object comes to the subject.

          “For what is to be colour is, as we say, just this, that it is capable of exciting change in the operantly (actual) transparent medium: and the actuality of the transparent is light.” (418b) [4]

          According to the Stoics, what binds together the object of perception and the subject is the tensing of pneuma. In the case of seeing, “the seeing-pneuma in the eye makes the object visible by ‘tensing’ the air-pneuma into a kind of illuminated cone with the object at base and eye at apex; the tension of this air is experienced as sight.”[5] The Epicurean school posited that images flow from the objects themselves in a constant manner and the eye picks them up.[6]

          Another possibility, of uncertain seriousness, is found in Plato’s Timaeus, 45 B-D. After commenting on the fact that the human body is well suited for the faculty of sight, especially to look up toward the heavens, he notes that vision occurs through means of the fire of daylight, another kind of fire in one’s eye faculty, and fire emanating from the object seen. As they connect, we see something.[7] In his astrological analysis, Ptolemy also uses words for seeing and looking (as well as witnessing or testifying) when referring to aspects. He does not use these words in Tetrabiblos Iwhen giving an account of the aspects themselves.[8] If the act of looking or seeing requires a medium to connect object of sight and subject, it is not at all clear what a medium would be that could carry the aspects of astrology. The medium must be the aspect intervals themselves, but how?



          Outside and Inside Ptolemy’s Digression

          Even in this theoretical section of Tetrabiblos I, Ptolemy’s allusion to musical intervals is out of place where it stands. Preceding and following Ptolemy’s accounting of aspects in Chapter 13 is material solely related to classification of zoidia as discrete units.[9]

          Chapter 11 discusses zoidia as cardinal (related to a solstice or an equinox), fixed, and mutable or double-bodied. Chapter 12 classifies them into masculine or feminine. The end of Chapter 13, continuing the topic of aspects, states that trines and sextile are sympathetic (sumphõnoi) because their genders agree and squares are unsympathetic (asumphõnoi) because their genders differ.

          Chapter 14 divides zoidia into commanding and obeying, based on their northern or southern declination respectively, symmetrical to the 0°Aries/0° Libra axis. (These particular zoidia are also symmetrical with respect to their rising times.) Chapter 15 concerns itself with the zoidia of “equal power,” symmetrical to the 0° Cancer/0° Capricorn axis, and spending equal amounts of time above the horizon. Chapter 16 takes up aspects again and tells us that zodiacal signs are averse (asundeta) when they are not familiar by aspect, nor in a relationship of commanding/obeying or equal power, i.e. symmetrical to the cardinal axes.

          Chapters 17-20 discuss the affiliations of the zodiacal signs to planets by means of domicile, triplicity, and exaltation. It is only when discussing the horia (translated as “terms” or “bounds”) does Ptolemy consider segments within the zoidia.

          Now we take up the material in the first part of Chapter 13.

          We have already noted the unusual vocabulary Ptolemy uses for aspects. A more important surprise is that he uses degree numbers for them. Many modern astrologers, I included, have read this passage sleepily, not noticing anything unusual -- yet in the context of his emphasis on whole zoidia in this part of Tetrabiblos I, the degree numbers are completely out of place.

          Using aspects from zoidion to zoidion, from one planet in Aries and another in Gemini, for example, planets could be in aspect to each other regardless of where in their respective zoidia they happen to be. Two planets in sextile by whole zoidia could be distant from each other anywhere from 31° (late Aries to early Gemini) to 89° (early Aries to late Gemini). As long as these planets are two zoidia from each other, they are in a hexagonal interval, i.e. in sextile. Why, then, does he include 180° for the diameter or opposition, 90° for a square, 60° for a hexagon, and 120° for a triangle?

          He continues.

          The diameter causes the zoidia – or the same degrees of opposite zoidia – to meet on a straight line. This is clear enough and also corresponds to the visible sky: if two planets are in opposition, one will be seen to rise at the same time as the other is seen to set.

          To derive the other aspects from the straight line, Ptolemy employs fractions (moriai) and “super-fractions” (Schmidt) or “super-particulars” (Robbins) – (epimoriai). First we discuss moriai. Bisecting the line above into two right angles gives us the square of 90°, and taking one-third of the line gives us the hexagon of the circle of 60°, and doubling the one-third mark gives us the triangular configuration of 120°. This gives us all the aspects by degrees that have come down to us as “Ptolemaic,” using what appears to be an arithmetical and geometrical account. The epimoriai, however, bring us into a different field.

          Ptolemy gives us two epimoriai, the hêmiolos and the epitriton, which correspond to one and a half (3/2) and one and a third (4/3) respectively. Ptolemy cites these aspect intervals in an interesting way. If you take these amounts related to one of the right angles, the hêmiolos (3/2) forms the square (90°) from the hexagon (60°), and the epitriton forms a triangle (120°) from the square (90°). In Latin these proportions are called the sesquialter and the sesquiterian.

          Here is the basic figure.

            Hexagon Square Triangle Opposition
            1/3 1/2 2/3 1/1
          0°___________ 60°___________ 90°___________ 120°___________ 180°___________
                    3/2           4/3    

          Having mentioned these proportions at the beginning of Chapter 13, he drops the matter entirely. However, Ptolemy is nothing if not intentional and I cannot imagine that he would make a random point and just leave it. Yet he appears to do so.


          Both the moriai and the epimoriai he cites relate to ancient music and in particular the pentatonic musical scale.

          Perhaps a short introduction is in order here. Discovering that musical tones correspond to specific number ratios is a discovery attributed to Pythagoras and throughout history has been associated with the teachings of the Pythagoreans. Using a string or a wind musical instrument, a discrete tone arises from plucking or strumming a vibrating string or blowing air through a hollow of some kind. Other tones relating to this tone come from holding the vibrating string or containing the air somewhere up or down the length of the string or air current.

          If you sound out a vibrating string or air current and put your finger exactly halfway, you get another tone one octave higher –the same relative tone but at a higher pitch. Using the key of C, all the while keys on a modern piano, this is the interval from C to c. These two tones are homophonic.

          The beginning tone is given a ratio of 1:1. A note one octave higher gives a proportion of 2:1. This interval is the diapason. If you place your finger half again, that gives two octaves and a proportion of 4:1. Moving through many octaves, the ratios for intervals yield successive multiples of 2.

          If you take a string or an air current, and divide that into thirds and pluck the string or stop the air within the smaller segment, you get a tone between the higher and next higher octaves. If you drop this tone one octave you arrive at what is called the musical fifth, which gives a ratio of 3:2 to the fundamental of 1:1. Using the key of C, we have the note G. This interval is the diapente. The tones are not homophonic but consonant.

          If you take the original string or air current and lengthen it by half, you get a tone that is somewhat lower than the original tone but less than an octave below. If you raise this lower tone by an octave, you get what is called the musical fourth, which gives a ratio of 4:3. Using the fundamental C, we arrive at our F. This is the diatessaron. This interval also tones that are all harmonious.

          This yields the fixed tones of C – F – G – c for the key of C. The octave or diapason is from C to c, or, in the key of G, from G to g. The fifth or diapente is the interval from C to G and from F to c. The fourth or diatessaron is the interval from C to F and from G to c.

          Although there is much tradition about the ratios that make up all seven discrete tones of the diatonic scale, this scale also varied according to the modes of ancient Greek music, e.g. Lydian, Phrygian, Dorian, and so on.[10] We know far more about theory of Greek music than its practice.

          It is important to note that the dynamics of the diatonic scale does not conform precisely to Ptolemy’s rendition of the figure that yields astrology’s aspects, although both use the same ratios.

          Ptolemy’s use of the line for the 180° opposition gives exactly halves and thirds of 90° and 60° respectively, yielding the square and sextile. The diatonic scale spans eight notes, including the two homophonic notes one octave away. This scale traditionally consists of two tetrachords, consisting of two intervals of the fourth between the lower and upper notes, and a tone in between both tetrachords.[11] Again using the key of C, one tetrachord is between C and F, another between G and c, with a tone between F and G.

          Ptolemy supplies us with a rudimentary musical scale only. Perhaps this is sufficient.

          Part 2 in our next newsletter continues with an examination of Ptolemy’s Harmonics.


          [1] See J. Braha, Ancient Hindu Astrology for the Modern Astrologer. (1986) Hollywood, Fl.: Hermetician Press. pg. 55

          [2] This is according to the translation by F.E. Robbins (1994). This chapter appears as Chapter 14 in the translation by R. Schmidt (1994) The latter combines Chapters 10 and Chapter 11 of the Loeb edition.

          [3] Hephaistio, Book I Chapter 16; Tr. Schmidt,(1994) Cumberland, Md. Golden Hind Press. Antiochus, Chapter 20 Tr. Schmidt (1993) Cumberland, Md. Golden Hind Press

          [4]Translated by R.D. Hicks. See Aristotle’s De Anima In Focus, Ed. M. Durrant. London, Routledge, 1993.

          [5] J. Annas, Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind. (1992) Berkeley, Ca;: California University Press , pg. 72

          [6] ibid, pg. 158-159

          [7] F. Cornford, Plato’s Cosmology. (Hackett Publishing, 1997) pg. 152

          [8] In Tetrabiblos Books III and IV, Ptolemy presents astrological analyses of issues such as soul, profession, and parents. In this context, he also uses conventional terminology for aspects. In Tetrabiblos Book I, which is the more theoretical book that is the main concern of this article, he uses the words schêmatizô and suschêmatizô to refer to the aspects. These words refer to forming a figure or posture, as a group of dancers in an ensemble performance. It appears that instead of the planets looking to and back from each other, Ptolemy alludes to our perceptions when watching the planets in an arrangement with one another.

          [‘9] The numbers of the chapters are as they appear in the Robbins, not the Schmidt, translation.

          [10] The “species of the octave” preserved the fifth or diapente and fourth or diatessaron in Lydian, Phrgyian, and Hypophrygian modes, although they did not in the others. The Dorian and Hypodorian have a diminished diapente, and the Hypolydian and Mixolydian have a diminished diatessaron. See R.P. Winningham-Ingram, Ancient Greece. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians I., Ed. S. Sadie(1980) London, Macmillan. Pg. 665. Modes appear to have pervaded the practice of music, and theoreticians seem to have tried to make the best of them. Plato, in Republic (Book III, 398 C- 399 D), characterized their effects and banished most of them from an ideal state; Aristotle gave a more tolerant description of their effects. (Politics, Book VIII Chapter 5. 339-1342) If the general principles of harmony can make for the well-proportioned soul, the different musical modes seem to conform to discrete personality styles.

          • Hellenistic astrology
          • Aspects
          • history of astrology
          • Tetrabiblos
            joseph.crane2@gmail.com (Joseph Crane) Hellenistic Astrology Sat, 05 Mar 2011 15:38:35 +0000
            Features of Hellenistic Astrological Techniques http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/hellenistic-astrology/item/321-features-of-hellenistic-astrological-techniques http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/hellenistic-astrology/item/321-features-of-hellenistic-astrological-techniques Features of Hellenistic Astrological Techniques
            Features of Hellenistic Astrological Techniques
            Joseph Crane
            Here I address not the historian and scholar of the Hellenistic world, but instead I address the person who is trained in modern astrology and comes to this astrological tradition for the first time.
            There are several issues that one who is familiar with other astrological traditions must confront immediately.  For some people, it would be easier to learn Vedic or Chinese astrology, which appears sufficiently different from custom to require any adjustments.
            No Outer Planets: all of a sudden the natal chart looks more barren and appears to give much less information.  This means that we have to find more information from the visible planets than we are used to finding.  There is one consolation: during this course we will look at some additional positions in the birth chart: fixes stars and lots.  The natal chart will not seem so barren for long.
            Tropical Zodiac: this is a complicated issue, especially since the constellations and tropical signs were roughly aligned during the first and second centuries C.E., a period of time that gave much astrology to the world.  The pictorial dimensions of the twelve signs of the zodiac stem from utilizing the constellations, not tropical signs, for astrological purposes (although there is evidence for the Hellenistic use of sidereal positions). But if we confine ourselves to the tropical zodiac,  essential issues like symmetries of rising times and times above the horizon, which correspond to symmetries to the Aries/Libra and Cancer/Capricorn axes respectively, and the use of ascensions for predictive purposes will not be compromised.
            Whole Sign Houses: these may be familiar through Vedic astrology.  According to this house system, the first house or place was the entire sign of the Ascendant and the eleven others proceeded around the zodiac.  This was the first one used and, in my view, has a compelling and enduring intellectual attraction.  Astrology’s subsequent use of quadrant system for houses is an accident of history and not necessarily a positive development in the field of astrology.  Although many people are habituated to quadrant house systems, during this course students are required to cast charts in a whole sign system. I suspect that several students will continue to use whole sign houses after they have completed this course.
            Whole Sign Aspects: The Hellenistic tradition does not use aspect orbs as do modern astrologers, nor are there planetary orbs as used by medieval astrologers.  Using sign-to-sign aspects unconditioned by orb does not create an unwieldy amount of information. Instead, there is a strong limiting factor: the aspects that are most critical are from a benefic or malefic to a significator for a particular issue.  One does not use all aspects from each to each planet, nor do we find complex aspect configurations as we do in modern astrology.
            Planetary-based Predictive systems: Modern astrologers are accustomed to using predictions based on transits – mostly transiting outer planets when they form aspects to fast-moving natal positions like the angles and the luminaries.  Ancient astrologers also used transits but did not emphasize them.  Instead, profections by year and by month can give detail to prediction for shorter amounts of time.  What is unusual to the modern student of astrology, however, is the prevalence of planetary lords or chronocrators to depict shorter or longer periods of time in a person’s life.  The interpretation of this time is based on the intrinsic natures of the planets involved and how they are placed in the natal chart.
            There are chart factors from the Hellenistic tradition that are less demanding to the modern student and add to natal astrology.  These are considerations of planetary sect, orientality and other configurations with the Sun, lots and fixed star positions, triplicity lords and compound dispositors.  Having made the adjustments outlined above, the student may find these considerations of lasting importance in their understanding and use of astrology.
            By Joseph Crane, MA, BCIA
            Here I address not the historian and scholar of the Hellenistic world, but instead I address the person who is trained in modern astrology and comes to the ancient Hellensitic astrological tradition for the first time.
            There are several issues that one who is familiar with other astrological traditions must confront immediately.  For some people, it would be easier to learn Vedic or Chinese astrology, which appears sufficiently different from custom to require any adjustments. Here are a few:
            No Outer Planets: all of a sudden the natal chart looks more barren and appears to give much less information.  This means that we have to find more information from the visible planets than we are used to finding.  There is one consolation: Hellenistic astrology uses some additional positions in the birth chart: fixes stars and lots.  The natal chart will not seem so barren for long.
            Tropical Zodiac: this is a complicated issue, especially since the constellations and tropical signs were roughly aligned during the first and second centuries C.E., a period of time that gave much astrology to the world.  The pictorial dimensions of the twelve signs of the zodiac stem from utilizing the constellations, not tropical signs, for astrological purposes (although there is evidence for the Hellenistic use of sidereal positions). But if we confine ourselves to the tropical zodiac, essential issues like symmetries of rising times and times above the horizon, which correspond to symmetries to the Aries/Libra and Cancer/Capricorn axes respectively, and the use of ascensions for predictive purposes will not be compromised.
            Whole Sign Houses: these may be familiar through Vedic astrology.  According to this house system, the first house or place was the entire sign of the Ascendant and the eleven others proceeded around the zodiac.  This was the first one used and, in my view, has a compelling and enduring intellectual attraction.  Astrology’s subsequent use of quadrant system for houses is an accident of history and not necessarily a positive development in the field of astrology.  Although many people are habituated to quadrant house systems, it is worth practicing casting charts in a whole sign system. I suspect that you may find yourself continuing to use whole sign houses after you have tried it out.
            Whole Sign Aspects: The Hellenistic tradition does not use aspect orbs as do modern astrologers, nor are there planetary orbs as used by medieval astrologers.  Using sign-to-sign aspects unconditioned by orb does not create an unwieldy amount of information. Instead, there is a strong limiting factor: the aspects that are most critical are from a benefic or malefic to a significator for a particular issue.  One does not use all aspects from each to each planet, nor do we find complex aspect configurations as we do in modern astrology.
            Planetary-based Predictive systems: Modern astrologers are accustomed to using predictions based on transits – mostly transiting outer planets when they form aspects to fast-moving natal positions like the angles and the luminaries.  Ancient astrologers also used transits but did not emphasize them.  Instead, profections by year and by month can give detail to prediction for shorter amounts of time.  What is unusual to the modern student of astrology, however, is the prevalence of planetary lords or chronocrators to depict shorter or longer periods of time in a person’s life.  The interpretation of this time is based on the intrinsic natures of the planets involved and how they are placed in the natal chart.
            There are chart factors from the Hellenistic tradition that are less demanding to the modern student and add to natal astrology.  These are considerations of planetary sect, orientality and other configurations with the Sun, lots and fixed star positions, triplicity lords and compound dispositors.  Having made the adjustments outlined above, a student of Hellenistic astrology may find these considerations of lasting importance in their understanding and use of astrology.
            • Hellenistic astrology
            • whole house system
            • whole sign aspects
            • time lords
            • profections
            • joseph crane
              enewberg@kepler.edu (Enid Newberg) Hellenistic Astrology Fri, 09 Jul 2010 17:25:53 +0000
              The two lights http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/working-with-the-chart/item/240-the-two-lights http://www.kepler.edu/home/index.php/news-mainmenu-139/articles-mainmenu-157/working-with-the-chart/item/240-the-two-lights The two lights

              The Sun and the Moon have been known as the two Lights for a very long time. In Hellenistic astrology, it was advantageous for the Sun and the Moon to have attending planets, just as any earthly royalty should have a court. Early on, it was recognized that the cycle of this pair was extremely important.

              The angular relationship between these two bodies defines the lunation cycle. The two most important parts of that cycle have been considered the New Moon (Sun-Moon conjunction) and Full Moon (Sun-Moon opposition). If either of these points occurs conjunct the nodal axis, then that lunation is also an eclipse. When one of these bodies is eclipsed, a shadow passes across the Earth in the region of visibility. A solar eclipse is only visible during the day, while a lunar eclipse is visible only at night. One of the high points of Hellenic astronomy was the discovery of the Metonic Cycle (although this discovery was not unique to the Greeks), which recognized a nineteen year cycle to eclipse patterns.

              Astrologically, the typical meaning of the event is that something is eclipsed: a shadow passes over it; it become invisible. Usually, this is not considered a good thing.

              The Sun and the Moon were the first chronocators in most societies: time keepers. The lunar calendar, which begins with the New Moon of every one of the 12-13 months per solar year, is still in use in Arabic and Jewish societies and households. In these calendars, the difference between the number of days in solar years and in the lunar months results in a seasonal shift of the months after a short period: this is corrected in soli-lunar calendars, which adjust the lunar calendar to the solar one by adding intercalary days.


              Because the Moon moves so rapidly and has visible phases, it is easily possible to observe nightly changes in the Moon: the time of its rise, its shape, and its proximity to the Sun. Venus too has phases to the careful observer. But planetary movements are much slower - though observable. Once a coordinate system was mapped out against which observation could occur, the planetary cycles could first be observed, then understood (at least historically), and finally predicted based on past motion.

              Planets could then be studied, not merely in isolation, but in respect to each other. This is where the aspects come in. The aspects are particular angular separations between planetary pairs that have been deemed to have particular significance. To understand the meaning of particular, we will digress briefly into harmonics. This is not really a digression, because this is one way that the aspects themselves were historically understood.

              In the study of harmony, it was discovered that pleasing or dissonant tones could be produced by plucking or bowing strings of different lengths - where the ratio of the lengths of the strings would predict whether it would sound good or bad. This ratio idea was carried over into astrology: and it is likely that the earliest representations of these orbs were as ratios, not as degree numbers as we express them today.

              The perfect or partile aspects are simply one degree, but normally an orb is allowed. "Partile" means in the degree. Let me illustrate with the conjunction: Venus and Mars are partile conjunct if they are at 1 Taurus 01 and 1 Taurus 59 respectively. But if one is at 1 Taurus 59 and the other is at 2 Taurus 01, they are not partile, although they are considered conjunct. The reason that this later orb - though closer - is platic (i.e., inexact), is that, following pythagorean arithmetic protocol, no rounding occurs: the minutes are truncated, not rounded, and only the degree number itself is used. (Numbers were considered too sacred to arbitrarily change.)

              If we look at the so-called ptolemaic aspects below, I have expressed the aspect using both the modern degree convention, and the more ancient harmonic ratio.

              Angular Separation
              Relation to other Aspects
              all other angles are divisible by this
              1/2 the trine; 1/3 the opposition
              1 1/2 a sextile = sesqui-sextile; half the opposition
              twice the sextile
              1 1/2 a trine = sesqui-trine; twice the square

              Back to the issue of orbs. Orbs, or the amount of area surrounding the partile aspect that will still be allowed to be "within orb," have been of varying sizes. In Hellenistic astrology, the sign has such overriding importance that the "orb" was actually the entire sign. Thus, Venus at 29 Taurus is conjunct Mercury at 1 Taurus, but not conjunct Mars at 1 Gemini.

              Occasional modern astrologers have also advocated whole sign orbs: one was Betty Lundsted, a rather typical East Coast astrologer who had a very busy practice in the 1970's and 1980's. Another modern example is Karen Hamaker-Zondag, who does not routinely use whole-sign orbs, but uses the break in sign to determine whether a planet is unaspected. Thus, she would agree that Venus is not conjunct Mars above, but she was also say that Venus isn't conjunct Mercury either.

              The typical approach in the Middle Ages was to assign the orb size to each planet. Then, to determine whether two planets were in aspect, you would take half the orb size of each planet (this half is called the moiety) and add them together. Page 204 of Burk gives you the orb sizes used by William Lilly. You will also see an example of how to calculate an orb based on this system.

              As Burk points out, it was Alan Leo who really started the ball rolling for assigning an orb to each type of aspect. Sometimes, a further elaboration was to assign a larger number to the Lights: you will observe in Lilly's table how much greater orb they traditionally had. The logical extension of this system was achieved by John Addey, a British astrologer known for his study of harmonics. Addey pointed out that, since the aspects themselves can be expressed as harmonics (thus, a square, is 1/4 of the circle; hence the 4th harmonic; a sextile is 1/6 of the circle, hence the 6th harmonic), then the orbs should be adjusted to compensate for the harmonic of the aspect itself.

              For example, if you allow 12 degrees for the conjunction, then you allow 6 degrees for the opposition (remember, its ratio is half the conjunction), 4 degrees for the trine, 3 degrees for the square, and 2 degrees for the sextile. (These ratios are taken from David Hamblin. 1983. Harmonic Charts. Aquarian Press: Wellingborough, page 19. Hamblin was a student of Addey's until he was seduced to the Dark Side of the Force by Geoffrey Dean. (remember the lecture by Nick and me on CSICOP in 103!)

              As you can see, with all these methods of assigning orb size, it's really important to spell out your method!

              Before we leave aspects, there are several other systems of classification you need to know:

              Approaching and Separating: especially in horary and its sister schools of electional and event interpretation, whether an aspect is forming (approaching) or leaving (separating) from partile can be important in interpretation. In horary, only approaching aspects show the future; separating aspects are past. In general, an approaching aspect would be stronger.

              Hard and Soft aspects: this refers to the subjective experience of the possessor, and how "easy" the aspect seems. A hard aspect (square or opposition) is generally difficult. A soft aspect (sextile or trine) is easy. The conjunction is situational.

              Major and Minor aspects: for a long time, only the major, or ptolemaic aspects were even considered. There was always debate as to whether to call the conjunction an aspect at all, but that is another matter!

              It was Johannes Kepler who raised the issue of the minor aspects: other possible aspect ratios which could be interpreted, especially as they were representative of divisions of the circle by relatively small numbers. They can be classified by the division, which also represents their harmonic, using the newer

              • 2nd harmonic: the opposition, a major aspect
              • 3rd harmonic: the trine, a major aspect
              • 4th harmonic: the square and opposition, major aspects
              • 5th harmonic: the quintile (72°) and biquintile (144°), minor aspects
              • 6th harmonic: the sextile and trine, major aspects
              • 7th harmonic: the septile (51.4°), biseptile (102.8°), and triseptile (154.3°), minor aspects
              • 8th harmonic: the square and opposition, major aspects; and the semi-square (45°) and sequiquadrate (135°); both minor aspects
              • 9th harmonic: the novile (40°), binovile (80°), and tetranovile (160°), minor aspects; and trine, a major aspect
              • 10th harmonic: the decile (36°), quintiles (72° and 144°), and tridecile (108°), minor aspects; and opposition, a major aspect
              • 12th harmonic: the semi-sextile (36°) and quincunx (150°), minor aspects; and the third and fourth harmonic major aspects

              Burk covers these aspects, differing only from my interpretation here by referring to the quincunx as a major aspect. Many modern astrologers consider the quincunx important enough to rate major aspect status.

              Planetary Speed:

              As far back as the Babylonians, the speed of a planet was considered an important component of its delineation. Later astrologers did not follow the Babylonian system precisely, but vestiges of these ideas continued, especially in the development of the concept of accidental debility.

              As you should recall from lectures on spherical astronomy and Week 2, the conjunction of a planet with the Sun and its opposition to the Sun can be considered extrema of its orbit.

              • When any planet is conjunct the Sun, it is invisible. That is the primary meaning of combust: when any planet is within about 8° of the Sun, it is invisible, hence combust.
              • Planets between 8° and 17° of the exact conjunction with the Sun may or may not be invisible, depending on the brightness of the planet. This zone is called Under the Beams.

              The astrological interpretation of these conditions is negative for the planet, but not necessarily for the Sun. From the standpoint of the planet, it’s rather like an eclipse: invisibility means that its expression is muted.

              In Hellenistic astrology, however, there is a somewhat additional interpretation relating to the Sun. Because the Sun, like the Moon, is considered royal, it’s considered very bad form for a monarch to be wandering around without attendants. Planets with the Sun are called either Attendants or Spear-bearers, depending on the Englished source, and this is a good thing from the standpoint of the Sun.

              Notice that this idea matches up precisely with the way that Medieval monarchs treated their lords. By requiring their lords to spend time “attending” the king, the king made life more expensive for the lord, took the lord away from his own area of greatest strength, and in the mean-time, increased his own strength in the process. The only exception from the standpoint of the planet is cazimi, the 30’ of arc in the “Heart of the Sun.” This is considered very fortunate, and in our Medieval model, this would be like being one of the King’s favorites.

              So much for the conjunction. When a planet is opposite the Sun it is, by definition, retrograde. For the inferior planets, one of the two conjunctions can be considered analogous to opposition, since it is also retrograde. While the planet at the conjunction is at its fastest, a planet at opposition can be considered the slowest, although technically, it has negative speed. A slower planet was generally interpreted as less functional than a faster planet through the 17th c.

              Both combustion and slow speed were classified as forms of accidental dignity from the Medieval period forward. That they continued to be linked as part of the same cycle is shown by the fact that both conditions were collectively referred to as “imbecilic.”

              Lots/Arabic Parts:

              Lots or Arabic Parts? Which word you use depends upon which historical period you are studying. The term Lots is applied in the Hellenistic period; after that, the same concept is called the Arabic Parts. These are points arrived at by calculation; they are not physical entities.

              The Lots first appear in Hellenistic astrology. At that time, they were developed to aid in the interpretation of houses. This idea came out of the difficulty that every house had/has multiple meanings: so unless all affairs of that house work equally well, or more-or-less in the same way, how does one - for example - distinguish small animals, disease and employees/slaves through the 6th house? Having several Lots (with different calculation schemes) associated with a house "solved" this conundrum, as, later in the Arabic period, the three Triplicity rulers of each house were used to distinguish three major themes within a house.
              (c)2006 Lee Lehman

              • chart interpretation
              • the lights
              • Hellenistic astrology
              • hellenistic lots
                Working with the Chart Sun, 31 Dec 2006 16:00:00 +0000