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Light, Darkness, and Polarities in Astrology

Light, Darkness, and Polarities in AstrologyIn episode 105 Israeli astrologer Michael Ofek joins the show to talk about the important but often overlooked role that the concept of light plays as a foundational principle in many different areas of astrology.

The discussion is based on Michael’s research into the role that light plays in astrology over the past decade, and a series of talks that he has given on the subject in the past few years.

For more information about Michael’s work see his website: www.ofek-sky.com.

Below you will find the show notes, followed by links to download or stream the recording of this episode of the podcast.

Sponsors and Giveaways for April

At the top of this episode I briefly talk about the giveaway prizes for April:

  1. A pass to the upcoming Northwest Astrological Conference, which is taking place May 2529, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.
  2. A copy of Ben Dykes’ new translation of Dorotheus of Sidon, which will be released later this month.

For more information about the giveaway and how to enter see the April description page.

Episode Outline

Some of the points that we touch on in the episode:

  • Light as a foundational concept in almost every area of astrology.
  • Planets and their phase relationship with the Sun, especially heliacal rising and setting.
  • Planets reflecting the light of the Sun, just like the Moon does.
  • The concept of sect, and the distinction between day and night charts.
  • The tropical zodiac as being predicated on the relationship between the earth and the Sun, and different amounts of light.
  • The houses that are above or below the horizon and the connection with light and darkness.
  • The concept of aspects being tied in with ancient views of visual rays of light.
  • Lot calculations as projected light relationships, and the rationale underlying the Part of Fortune as being based on the idea of going from light to darkness.
  • The ways in which light was conceptualized as being fundamental in most ancient traditions, especially the Hellenistic, Indian, and Medieval traditions.


A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 105 transcript

Listen to This Episode

You can either play this episode of the podcast directly from the website or download it as an MP3 to your computer by using the buttons below:

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  • What a beautiful podcast. For me it was one of the most resonant and significant one I have heard, though there have been ever so many fine podcasts to date. I felt privileged to hear what you both spoke. Well worthy of further contemplation. My heart-felt thanks to you Chris and to Michael Ofek.

  • I hope you know Chris and/or have heard from people how amazing this series is/has become. I am a relatively new subscriber but am so thrilled with the quality of discussions taking place. These last few with the one on the Aquarian age which throws my decades old assumptions to the wind; The one with Lynn Bell and now this one on light and dark have so enriched my thinking and hopefully practice. I am indebted to you and your thoroughness and persistence in finding reasearching and preparing for these talks in such a way that I am truly thrilled to listen to them and then ponder the new ideas and concepts that you and your guests bring forward. Astrology is no longer a lonley endeavor.

  • Around 14 minutes in, Michael talks about a lecture he gave. I was not present at his lecture, but in this discussion with Chris, Michael says he asked what is special about Einstein’s Jupiter. He says that Jupiter was rising from the rays of the Sun and this is an auspicious placement, making Jupiter really powerful in the sky in the morning of Einstein’s birth.
    Presumably, everyone born in the world around Einstein’s date of birth had this same heliacal rising. We know about Albert, but not so much about the others who share this apparently powerful and auspicious astronomical phenomenon. Is it really that important? Or was it other factors that made Albet who he was?

    • Somehow I doubt that this was the only factor that Michael discussed in that lecture that made Einstein who he was…

      • Well, I know. In the discussion with you, Michael talks about Jupiter ruling the Sun, the MC and so on – it’s this habit people have of cherry-picking charts and/or factors in particular charts that provide apparent proof – except that they leave out multiple other charts that don’t support them. It’s like people talking about something that happened in the US that is supposed to be representative of a universal astrological principle or event. The fact that it did NOT happen anywhere else in the world doesn’t seem to matter to them. Someone in an earlier podcast gave an example about changes in the law in the US affecting women in the military and this was supposed to be Venus going or being retrograde – but you can’t think: Venus is women; there was a change in the law in the US affecting women; therefore this is Venus somehow. I mean, you can, and people do, but astrology ought to be more rigourous than this if we want to get anywhere with it, and have it get us places – which is maybe the point. Start with its all-inclusive nature instead of from our own limited position and understanding.

        • John,

          Your Venus example is brilliant.

          I see this USA centricity in many videos and podcasts. Saturn in X and Jupiter in Y mean Trump is going to have legal trouble and there will be ‘turmoil’ because this reflects US situations. China and India together have a signficant chunk of the world’s population, but the planets seem to ignore them altogether and focus on US politics! With your Venus example, all the women in China and India and Africa ‘don’t count’. ha!

          The cherry picking about natal factors is also true. In *retrospect* one can identify all kinds of factors that contributed to an eminent person’s success. Which is fine, as long as that is *also* predicted *forward* and used to predict eminence *before* it manifests.

          Many astrologers confidently predicted a Hillary victory, and once Trump won, suddenly discovered all kinds of factors that favored him all along. (“But she won the popular vote” lol). Afaik Chris didn’t do this (retrospective Trump prediction), but many many ’eminent’ astrologers did, and they still go on ‘predicting’ and worse ‘teaching’ other people how to do ‘astrology’.

          Accurate prediction is the key metric of astrological skill. Without that astrology collapses into either traditional outmoded cosmology, or new age “psychology”. Predict forward (and accept your lack of skill or technique when you fail), don’t retrospectively ‘explain’.

  • Very thought provoking – leaves me with many questions. I find it helpful when examples are given. This conversation, while most intriguing left me wanting to hear how the natal placements under the beams (aka combust the Sun) play out. The loss of a planet’s singular identity when under the sun’s rays sounds similar to a conjunction of any two planets. One planet dominates the other and neither is singularly expressed? Is this just more prominent with the Sun? Seems too, that a New Moon which is not cazimi (less than one degree orb?), would be at more at risk than any other heavenly body since its nature is the opposite of the Sun. This would be the most pronounced example? Also, Michael mentioned there is a gain to the planet in the Sun’s rays as well but I was unclear from the discussion what that would be. Under the beams is not usually seen as favorable. I find it interesting that a planet under the rays was described as an internalized energy-more of the Mind than of the Earthly expression.Would this be similar to a retrograde in natal placement? And lastly, my guess is that a lot of people have Mercury under the rays – any comment on this? I am one of them, (trine Moon to boot), and since it is ASC ruler have always been sensitive to this discussion.

    • Dear Jen:
      Maybe this will help. You may be approaching the situation from the wrong direction, in that the chart doesn’t tell you anything until you ask it a question.
      So if the question is to know something about you, personally, then you have Virgo rising (I think you mentioned this in an old comment in a previous podcast), so you are in life to analyze yourself, and you do this via Mercury, ruling Virgo. We now have a way of examining Mercury, or a reason for examining him, so we can derive information.
      So you analyze the self through the activities of the house where Mercury is located. You also get help from Sun-type people and conditions, as well as from Moon-type people and conditions and past experiences.
      I don’t know your natal chart so I can’t do much more than this and give specifics, but this is one way to proceed so you read the details – and it’s for you and not some kind of general rule that you apply to everyone. I’m leaving out a lot too, since we don’t know decanates and house positions of the Sun and Moon, and what houses they rule.

  • Chris and Michael thank you for an interesting discussion that called attention to the significance of the Sun and Light. I think you should have mentioned the work of the astrologer Dane Rudhyar. For those not familiar with him he was the consummate philosopher of astrology who called us to a solar and a galactic perspective of the art. His book The Pulse of Life, originally published in 1943, and a paperback in 1974, describes the sun’s progress through the signs of the zodiac from the perspective of light/dark, yang/yin, and the way in which this dynamic creates the fundamental nature of each sign.

  • This was an amazing podcast. The discussions on each podcast are always interesting but this one really resonated. Thank you Chris and Michael.

  • Michael’s comments about defining the signs in terms of light and the relation of the Earth to the Sun at various times of year got me thinking about a matter that has always been puzzling, namely, whether the zodiac signs differ above and below the equator. It seems that, for example, Aries above the equator would have the same seasonal properties of light as Libra below the equator. Would we therefore interpret planets in Aries north of the equator as having the same significance as planets in Libra south of the equator?

    • That is one of the troubling issues with the tropical zodiac that I’ve never really seen anyone resolve sufficiently. The question I was posing to people for a few years is: what makes the vernal point a reliable symbolic starting point for the tropical zodiac that is true in both the northern and southern hemisphere. Answer that and you solve the problem, more or less.

      • Just when I thought it solved the dilemma of being tied to the seasons and all the symbolic correspondence that way this issue of decreasing and increasing light comes up and blows it all out of the water again. I think it is important to remember where astrology originated – in the Northern hemishpere – and then to ask a Southern hemishpere astrologer why the symbolic language still works for them – when Aries is the turn toward darkness and not light. To my mind the answer is in how these astrologers use this northern hemisphere system and still see it work.

      • Chris,
        This is why I like you.
        Many astrologers argue vehemently that the Tropical Zodiac is “true” (which it maybe, I don’t know) but then refuse to answer this question. You say straight up this is troubling. Good for you

      • I am out of my depth here a bit but it seems to me one could ask why the Equinox of the Northern Spring and not the Equinox of Autumn? What is of parity is that they are both equinoxes. One goes continues on to the highest position is Sun the other not. Since this is the inverse in the Southern Hemisphere yet astrology as it stands still works there, meaning Aries is still seen as start up energy and has fire as element, etc shows interpretation goes beyond the analogy to the seasonal environment. Less focus is given to the external view of seasons. Capricorn for e sample is the depth of sleepy winter but is utterly ambitious and achieving in the external world as opposed to cozy home for example. This works above or below the Equinox.

        • It’s a principle you’re dealing with here, so it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about north or south of the equator. 2 + 2 = 4 in England. We don’t have a different answer if we’re doing addition in Australia.

          • Yes and we know astro works everywhere. Its all the analogy to the seasonal external enviro in north that has confused.

  • Please notice the analogy of the full moon as the ‘mooniest’ or “loony” time – this is equivalent to a planet being furthest away from the sun, thus being able to show its true colors.

    Also notice that unlike the sun-moon relations, sun relations with planets including and past mars is different. The sun needs to pass the planet for it to make a heliacal rising since the sun is faster.
    On the same note notice how the maximum elongation of mercury & venus is the full manifestation of them and try to cross reference it with the retrograde cycle in mercury’s case.


  • These beautiful ideas, as metaphors, must always be at the core of astrological interpretation. They may be reductive and dualistic, but therein, paradoxically, lies their utility for our art as you so wonderfully show in this podcast. Still, a less linear, but complementary logical development is also needed. As Bernadette Brady has suggested, a richer technical understanding of astrology may soon arise from interacting Chaos and Complexity Theory with Quantum Field Theory and Quantum Electro-Dynamics. These recent ideas may come to describe a non-linear, non-dual emergent kind of causality which could shed much light on many aspects of astrology, from trines and sextiles to Fibonacci Harmonics and Zodiacal Releasing. I expect we will soon be hearing from young new neo-Platonists positing Probability and Degrees of Freedom against prediction and “free will.” (And the Archtypes above will smile, and the magic and music will flow…)

  • Thank you for this podcast, I found this topic fascinating, and it made a lot of sense to me. I have recently started to learn about sects, solar phase etc. so it has really helped deepen my understanding and appreciation of those aspects of astrology. There is a lot of food for thought here, and I hope Michael or someone else will publish a book on the subject too. I’d like to see more discussion about this topic generally in the community.

    Thanks Chris for providing transcripts. I find reading them helps me absorb the information more than just listening (when my mind can sometimes stray off).