The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 274, titled:
With Chris Brennan
Episode originally released on October 13, 2020
Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at email@example.com.
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released January 10th, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. This is Episode 274, and I’m recording it on Sunday, October 11, 2020, starting at 5:34 PM, in Denver, Colorado.
In this episode, I’m going to be talking about the concept of sect, which is the difference between day and night charts and a technical distinction that’s used to differentiate people that were born during the day versus people that were born at night. I’m doing this in front of an audience of patrons and students of the Hellenistic astrology course. Thanks, everybody, who joined me today on short notice.
This is kind of unique because it’s a solo episode. Usually, I’m talking to somebody, but I decided to do this one as a solo episode because it’s more of a lecture, and I have a lot of PowerPoint slides. It wouldn’t make as much sense as a dialogue, but I’m hoping to get some good questions from people in the audience.
For those of you that are looking for a really brief, concise, introduction to the concept of sect, I would recommend looking at my older video, where I did a 5- or 10-minute, quick overview of sect a few years ago; I’ll link to that in the description below this video on YouTube. This video, instead, is going to be much more of a deep dive into the concept of sect. It’s still going to be a broad overview or introduction in a sense, but I’m probably going to talk for an hour-and-a-half or two hours here, so that we give you a relatively solid introduction to the concept. All right, so with that out of the way, let’s jump right into it.
So the title of this talk, provisionally, is Sect in Astrology: Day and Night Charts. I gave a version of this lecture a few years ago at the Northwest Astrology Conference. But one of the things I realized last month when Leisa Schaim and I did a Q&A and one of the main questions that we were asked was about the concept of sect. One of the questions was, how do you know when it becomes a day chart versus a night chart?
I realized there was still some basic unfamiliarity with this concept even though we use it on the podcast all the time and it’s something I talk about in my book and my courses. I’ve never really done a good introductory episode on this topic, so that’s the purpose of of this talk, and that’s why I’m doing it as part of The Astrology Podcast series, as a part of my ongoing commitment to educating people in the astrological community and bringing some of these ancient astrological techniques forward into the present time.
All right, so day and night. This is one of the most fundamental astronomical distinctions that we’re all familiar with and we all know about and we have some really deep, immediate, and practical day-to-day exposure with. You wake up in the morning, you go outside, and you can experience what it’s like to be living in the world during the day versus at some point in the evening, the Sun sets and it’s nighttime and the Sun goes away; and if there’s any luminary out, it’s the Moon, which is providing light at that time. This is a really fundamental astronomical distinction that we’re all familiar with, that we all experience on a day-to-day basis, and yet, one of the funny things is it’s not really a concept that’s used that much in modern astrology. There isn’t really a concept of what it means for somebody to be born during the day or to be born at night.
What’s weird about that is it turns out, over the course of the past 30 years, astrologers started going back and translating ancient texts, and one of the first things that they found was that in the ancient Western astrological traditions, they actually did have an interpretive distinction of day charts versus night charts, and it made a huge difference in how they would interpret certain placements just simply based on if a person was born during the day or if the person was born at night.
This was an ancient technical concept that existed and was a cornerstone of ancient, and to some extent, Medieval astrology; but eventually, over time, it dropped out of the tradition, unfortunately, for reasons that I’ll get into later. It was really important though because in all ancient astrological texts, when they would delineate different placements, they would often provide two different interpretations for if the person was born during the day or at night. In that way, it was structurally crucial in terms of how to interpret a birth chart, so it was really an important technique.
I’m going to give just a very broad overview of sect in this talk. I’m going to spend the first bit of the talk talking about why it’s important and how it’s crucial in astrology as a foundational concept. And then I’m going to go into some example charts and talk about how it actually works out in practice and some of the core things that you can do with the concept of sect that make it a really useful addition to modern astrology.
All right, so here’s the basic distinction. In the ancient Greek astrological tradition, called Hellenistic astrology, the technical term for this concept is hairesis, which means a ‘faction’ or a ‘party’–like a political party, a school of thought, or even a religious sect. Most translators have translated the concept of sect as referring to a religious sect, a religious group of people who follow or adhere to a certain doctrine.
More recently, there’s been some translators that translate the Greek term as party, as in a political party; for example, in the United States, you have the two main political parties, which are the Republicans and the Democrats. You can think of the concept of sect as kind of similar in that it divides the chart into two teams: there is a daytime team, which is led by the Sun, and there is a nighttime team, which is led by the Moon. So think about it in terms of two political parties or two religious sects, where there’s a daytime sect and there’s a nighttime sect, and each one has a luminary or one of the givers of light as its party leader or as its sect leader, which we refer to as the ‘sect light’.
Once you establish the two teams–which are the daytime or the diurnal team and the nocturnal or the nighttime team–then you have your sect light, which is the luminary that leads that sect; the Sun is the leader of the daytime team and the Moon is the leader of the night-time team. Then the ancient astrologers assigned one benefic and one malefic to each team. Jupiter and Saturn were assigned to the daytime team; Jupiter is the benefic that’s associated with the daytime team and Saturn is the malefic associated with the daytime team.
Then on the nighttime team, we have, again, one benefic and one malefic. We have Venus as the nighttime benefic and Mars as the malefic that’s assigned to the nighttime team. Mercury is neutral. He’s not inherently assigned to either the daytime or the nighttime team, but instead, he can go between or join any team, depending on how he’s situated or how they are situated in the chart. For considerations that we’re not going to go into, Mercury isn’t super important in sect. It mainly comes down to the other planets, and Mercury is a neutral player, so to speak.
All right, so sect shows up pretty much everywhere in ancient astrology and is definitely a foundational concept. I’ll show some diagrams to illustrate some of these points, but to list just a few of the core places where sect shows up in ancient astrology, it shows up in the domicile assignment scheme. It shows up in the planetary joys, the exaltations, the triplicity rulers. It even shows up in most of the lot calculations; the lot most people know is the Part of Fortune. It also shows up in some more advanced techniques and concepts and calculations, such as the concept of the Master of the Nativity, as well as some timing techniques, such as annual profections and zodiacal releasing.
So all of that is just to say that this is not a minor technique or concept; sect is actually a core, foundational concept. Even though it came into disuse and was forgotten by the time you get to Renaissance, and especially modern astrology, even though the concept disappeared and knowledge of it was lost and not passed down as part of the tradition, it doesn’t really matter. It was already built into or baked into the core techniques of Western astrology to such an extent that we were already kind of using it anyways even though we didn’t realize it. So part of the purpose of this is coming back to a realization of how core this concept or technique is even though we’ve lost touch with it and seeing why it’s important to recognize its pivotal role in the system once again today.
All right, so here’s the domicile scheme. Using the traditional rulership scheme, the ancient astrologers first assigned the Sun and the Moon to the two signs of the zodiac following the summer solstice. So the Moon to Cancer, which is a feminine sign, they assigned it to the Moon, which was conceptualized as a feminine planet, and then they assigned the Sun to Leo. Leo is supposed to be a masculine sign, so they assigned it to a masculine planet, the Sun. There’s also a hermetic text that was rediscovered recently as part of Abu Ma’shar that says that the Sun was assigned to 15 degrees of Leo because that’s the height of the summer and that’s the height of the Sun’s light and warmth and heat. So there was a conceptual, and specifically, a tropical rationale for assigning the Sun to Leo, and then the rest of the planets flanking out in zodiacal order.
One of the things that you notice and that’s talked about by some astrologers is that they drew a dividing line between the Sun and the Moon and then they assigned each of the traditional visible planets in zodiacal order, flanking out from the Sun and the Moon. They basically divided the zodiac into two hemispheres, where there was a solar hemisphere on the right side–or a diurnal hemisphere, you might say–and then there was a lunar or a nocturnal hemisphere on the left.
What you end up with then is a mirror image, where you get the planets–based on the relative speed and distance–going out in zodiacal order in their assignment to the signs: first, starting with Mercury, which is assigned to Virgo on the diurnal side, and Gemini on the lunar side or nocturnal side; then Venus is the next furthest and slowest planet, and it gets assigned to Libra and to Taurus; then Mars gets assigned to Scorpio and Aries; Jupiter to Sagittarius and Pisces, and finally, Saturn to Capricorn and Aquarius.
So you end up with a nocturnal and a diurnal side of the zodiac and each of the planets gets assigned to one masculine and one feminine sign; another way of saying that is one nocturnal and one diurnal sign. There’s this sense of an attempt to create a balance between those, so that each planet has a masculine or a diurnal expression or a feminine or nocturnal expression. Even though diurnal and nocturnal are not completely overlapping with the gender binaries, there is a connection between them to some extent.
All right, so that’s one way in which sect is built into the basic structure of Western astrology through the rulership scheme. In other areas, even the aspect doctrine, there seemed to have been some notions about the Sun probably tied to ancient optical theories. They had some ideas about how vision worked, and the notion that in order to see something, either a beam was emitted from the eye and would strike an object in order to see it, or that an object would emit some sort of beam that would then be received by the eye in order to see or fully visually grasp something.
I think the ancient astrologers integrated this into the traditional rulership scheme through this notion that the Sun emits beams or emits light and the Moon receives light. This shows up in the aspect doctrine through the idea of overcoming aspects which are sent forward or emitted forward in zodiacal order; those are superior aspects, which are the ones on the right side, on the solar side with the Sun versus the inferior aspects, which are received by a planet that is later in zodiacal order, which would match up with the Moon on the left side, in the lunar hemisphere. That’s a little complicated to get into because it gets into differences between superior versus inferior and all sorts of complicated things about the aspect doctrine. I just wanted to point out that it was probably part of the original rationale for the doctrine of inferior versus superior aspects. In other words, right- versus left-sided aspects; it has to do with the concept of sect again.
Additionally, another concept, the concept of exaltations–where each of the planets is said to be exalted in certain signs of the zodiac–for about 2,000 years now, there’s been some uncertainty about where this concept came from; it’s just been passed down as part of the tradition that, for example, the Sun is exalted in Aries, the Moon is exalted in Taurus, Venus in Pisces, Jupiter in Cancer, Mars in Capricorn, Saturn in Libra, and Mercury in Virgo.
Well, it turns out there is actually a rationale for this concept that’s been recently recovered through translations of ancient texts, such as Antiochus and Porphyry, and the rationale partially has to do with the concept of sect. According to Porphyry, an astrologer who lived in the 3rd or 4th century, all of the diurnal or daytime planets–when they’re in their signs of exaltation–are configured to one of their domiciles–so the signs that they’re the traditional ruler of–by a trine aspect.
For example, the Sun, when it’s exalted in Aries, is configured to Leo, the sign of its domicile by a trine; Jupiter, which is exalted in Cancer, is configured to Pisces by trine, which is its second domicile; and finally, Saturn, when it is exalted in Libra, is configured to Aquarius by a trine. In all three instances, there is actually a pretty clear arrangement there that is partially predicated on the concept of sect through the diurnal planets.
Additionally, Porphyry goes on to say if you look at the nocturnal planets–which are the Moon, Venus and Mars–they are all configured to one of their domiciles by sextile when they’re in their signs of exaltation. The Moon, which is exalted in Taurus, is configured to Cancer, it’s only domicile, by a sextile; Venus, which is exalted in Pisces, is configured to Taurus by sextile; Mars, which is exalted in Capricorn, is configured to Scorpio by sextile. So not only does this create a distinction between the diurnal and nocturnal planets that’s built into the very concept of the exaltations, but it also does this weird thing where it connects the diurnal planets with the trine aspect and nocturnal planets with the sextile aspect, which is kind of important and we’ll come back to that later.
Another area where the concept of sect shows up is in an ancient concept known as the ‘planetary joys’ scheme, which was a scheme where each of the seven traditional planets was associated with one specific house and these are the houses that the planets were originally associated with. Mercury is said to have its joy or to be associated with the 1st house; the Moon is said to have its joy in the 3rd house; Venus is associated with the 5th house; Mars with the 6th house; then the Sun with the 9th house; Jupiter with the 11th house; and Saturn with the 12th house.
Right away, you can see what this does–it divides the planets, again, into two sections or two teams, where all of the diurnal planets are assigned to one of the houses in the top-half of the chart, that’s the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn, which are the three daytime planets, and then all of the nocturnal planets are assigned to one of the houses in the bottom-half of the chart, which is the Moon, Venus, and Mars.
Mercury, interestingly, which is neutral, is assigned to the 1st house. Part of the reason for that is because any planets in the 1st house–when you’re using whole sign houses–can actually be either above or below the horizon and still in the 1st house because the degree of the Ascendant can be anywhere in the rising sign in whole sign houses. Unlike quadrant houses, the degree of the Ascendant does not mark the very beginning of the 1st house necessarily; it just marks where the horizon is or is like a sensitive point.
Mercury, which is neutral, basically is in one of the most neutral possible houses, which in this case, is the 1st house, which unites the upper hemisphere with the lower hemisphere of the chart; or the place that is above the Earth versus the place that is below the Earth. That’s another core area then–many of the core significations of the houses originally come from this planetary joys scheme, and many of the ancient astrologers started deriving significations of the houses from this scheme.
If you look at the joys scheme, all of the planets, interestingly, the luminaries are aspecting their sect benefic by a sextile. For example, the Sun is configured to Jupiter by sextile, and the Moon, when it’s in the 3rd house, is configured to Venus in the 5th by sextile, whereas they’re configured to the malefics by a hard aspect. So the Sun is configured to Saturn by a square from the 9th house to the 12th house, and the Moon is configured to Mars by a square from the 3rd house to the 6th house. Interestingly, something happens when you draw aspect lines from the luminaries to the one remaining planet that does not have an aspect line so far, and that is Mercury.
And what’s interesting that I discovered a few years ago and got really excited about during the process of a series of discoveries about the planetary joys scheme is that when you draw an aspect line from the Sun to Mercury, it’s configured to Mercury by a trine, whereas when you draw an aspect line from the Moon in its joy in the 3rd house, it ends up being a sextile. So what’s interesting about that is that it means you get this association of the Sun, which is the daytime sect leader, with the trine, and you get the Moon, which is the nighttime sect leader, being associated with the sextile.
That should sound familiar to you because we’ve actually seen that before already. And where have we seen it? We saw it in the exaltations scheme. For some weird, mysterious reason, that looked like it could be maybe a fluke or an accident at first, but upon closer examination, when you realize the same exact thing is happening in both diagrams, you realize that something else is probably going on. So remember, in the exaltation scheme, all of the diurnal planets were–when they were in their signs of exaltation–configured to one of their domiciles by trine, whereas the nocturnal planets were all configured to one of their domiciles by sextile.
Here we see, again, in the planetary joys scheme, the trine being associated with the diurnal planets, in this case, the Sun and the nocturnal planets being associated with the sextile; in this case, the Moon in her joy being configured to Mercury by sextile. There’s some sort of overarching idea or system here, and this is part of what leads to speculations that large portions of ancient astrology may be the result of some sort of deliberate invention by somebody–by a person or a group of people– sometime around the 1st century BCE, in Egypt.
That’s a separate topic that I’ve gone into before in different parts of the podcast. So I’ll skip that now and just say, obviously, looking at this–if you’re watching the video version–that looks pretty suggestive and it looks like there’s something going on. There’s some sort of overarching or underlying symmetry and deliberateness about some of these schemes. There’s some ‘schematization’ here that’s not occurring naturally, but might be a result of some sort of deliberate system that somebody created or set up at some point in time. But one of the things that I’m emphasizing here, the reason I’m pointing this out is that at the very core of it is the concept of sect and the distinction between day and night charts.
All right, so there’s another whole area, which is the triplicity rulers–which is an additional rulership scheme, like the domicile rulership scheme–that was used in traditional astrology, and those rulers of the triplicities actually change; the order of the rulers changes depending on if you have a day or night chart. I’m not going to spend a lot of time going into that here because I have a chapter on this in my book. But needless to say, because the rulership system changes depending on if it’s a day or night chart, sect is obviously a very core concept there in that system.
What’s interesting is that even though triplicity rulers didn’t really survive into modern astrology and aren’t used that much, the concept of triplicities–of grouping the signs into four sets of three–and associating them with the four classical elements of Greek philosophy–earth, air, fire, and water–did survive; those assignments of earth, air, fire, and water directly come from the triplicity rulership scheme. Again, that’s another way in which the concept of sect is secretly still in modern astrology, even if we’ve lost some concepts, such as the triplicity ruler scheme.
Finally, there’s a number of other minor areas where sect becomes important; one of them is in the Arabic Parts, which are these geometrical or mathematical calculations. The Lot of Fortune is the most prominent one, or the Part of Fortune is one of the ones that survived into modern astrology. Most ancient astrologers though would reverse the calculation for the Lot of Fortune, depending on if the person was born during the day or if they were born at night. I actually wrote a paper about this years ago that’s up on the Hellenistic Astrology website about the rationale for the calculation for the Lot of Fortune and some of the other early Arabic Parts.
What’s interesting–that I discovered at one point, about 12 years ago, in 2008 or so–is that there was a rationale underlying the calculation for the Lot of Fortune that had to do with this analogy of going from light to darkness. They were associating the concept of darkness with the Lot of Fortune and with the idea of the body and physical incarnation versus this other lot that was used, called the Lot of Spirit, which they associated with light and the concept of the mind or the intellect, or the soul or spirit.
They used a reverse analogy of going from darkness to light for the Lot of Spirit and its calculation. But underlying the Lot of Fortune and this reversal is this actual logic, and it’s very much tied into the distinction between day and night charts and that having a real practical value in ancient astrology. To get more complicated, I did an episode at one point on the Master of the Nativity, which is the original concept of the overall ruler of the chart. I did a whole two- or three-hour episode on that last year. You can see Episode 205 of The Astrology Podcast for more.
One of the things that was interesting about those calculations is that in order to find the Master or the overall ruler of the Nativity, you first have to find the predominator. The predominator–there’s three candidates for it–is either going to be the Sun, the Moon, or the Ascendant; but in all cases, the strongest luminary is preferred, as long as you do have one strong luminary in your chart; and then whatever the domicile lord is of the predominator becomes the Master of the Nativity or the overall ruler of the chart. One of the interesting implications for this–basically, the short version of it–is that many people who are born during the day are characterized by their Sun sign, whereas many people who are born at night are more characterized by their Moon sign; the most important implication of the doctrine of that Master of the Nativity.
In modern astrology, we’ve gotten away from that because modern astrology, from the 1930s onward, gravitated towards Sun sign astrology because it’s easier to calculate a person’s Sun sign; you can write that up in a newspaper column for a horoscope or something like that. But this would have looked weird to an ancient astrologer because of their fundamental distinction between day charts and night charts; and therefore, from that, their emphasis on the Sun sign for a person who was born during the day, but the Moon sign for a person who was born at night. That becomes really fundamental even to character analysis in ancient astrology.
Even though ancient astrology was not focused on character analysis or psychology in the same way that modern astrology is, one of the areas where character analysis and some level or form of psychology was used was once you identified the Master of the Nativity that was supposed to be able to tell you something about a person’s character and their soul, or their psyche, or whatever you want to call it; so this is an area where that would come up.
All right, and finally, one last area was in timing, in the annual profections timing technique. There was a basic version of the technique where you calculate the rising sign, and then whatever sign is rising at the moment of a person’s birth, that becomes the ruler of the first year of their life, and then the sign after that becomes the ruler of the second year of their life, and so on and so forth. That’s the basic method of annual profections and that’s the one that everybody knows. I did a whole episode on that in Episode 153 of The Astrology Podcast.
However, in ancient astrology, there was a more advanced method of annual profections, and in that method, they tell you to also emphasize profections from the sect light. For example, Vettius Valens, in the 2nd century, said if you’re born during the day, you should do the profections from your Sun sign and count one sign per year from the Sun sign versus if you were born at night, you should do the profections from the Moon and count one sign per year from the lunar sign or from your Moon sign.
I’ve actually found this to be really effective over the years. I still primarily focus on the profections from the Ascendant or the rising sign, however, I find that anytime something happens over the past decade–and I go back and check and I don’t see it in the profections from the Ascendant–when I profect from the sect light, it’s always right there.
This has been a constant reminder for me, over the past 12 or 15 years, that I need to profect from the sect light in addition to the Ascendant every time. I’m often not doing that out of laziness or something, I’m not really sure. But every time there’s something that I miss, it’s always constantly there in the profections of the sect light; so it’s something that I’ve tried to remind myself of over and over again over the years.
All right, so that’s the basic overview of why this is an important and pervasive concept in ancient astrology. Clearly, it’s an important concept, there’s no way to argue that. Unfortunately, it did fall out of the later tradition, and I suspect that this was partially due to a misunderstanding that had to do with the planetary joys scheme–not the planetary joys, but the rejoicing conditions, and an overuse of the rejoicing conditions and misapplication of them that happened in the Medieval and the later Renaissance traditions. I’ll circle around and come back to that later and talk about why that’s important and how we can possibly avoid making the same mistake.
But the main thing I wanted to focus on here is just showing you how this is a core foundational concept, and so, it can’t really be rejected. Instead, we’ve got to revive this concept and figure out how to use it again. Part of the reason is because it’s a core foundational concept that’s interwoven in almost every technique in ancient astrology, but the other reason–that I’m about to demonstrate and show you now–is because it’s also a super useful and helpful technique that can enhance your astrology. So let’s get into that part of this by getting into the more practical, chart example-oriented part of this lecture. Before I go there, are there any questions from the audience, at this point in the lecture? Does anyone have any points they want to make? Let me know in the chatbox here, if you get a chance.
How many people joined us today? It looks like we’ve got about 50 participants. Thanks, everybody, for showing up tonight. I appreciate it. This is kind of short notice, but I thought it would be good to have an audience. Yeah, thanks for joining me, Shakira. I’m excited to join you on your podcast soon, where we’re going to be talking about stuff. So a shout-out to Shakira for that next month, in November. Also, we’ll be talking about Saturn and Saturn returns, which is an important application of sect, in an episode of The Astrology Podcast we’re going to record on Wednesday, so that should be good.
Other questions. “How about condition of the planets–warm/hot, dry/moist–and relevance to sect? Is there some way in which the temperament doctrine is integrated into sect in some ways?” I don’t think it’s that important, or at least it’s not something I place a lot of emphasis on, so I’m not going to go into it too much here. Sect is kind of its own thing, which suffices on its own and stands apart from other things. Ray says that “sect light profections are super interesting; it makes sense.” Yeah, sect light, I think I might have some examples. I’m not sure if I’ll have an example of that later in this talk, but we’ll see. We’ll get to the difference or the cut-off for day and night in just a minute.
All right, let’s get into the practical stuff. So switching back to my slides–here it is–how do you tell if it’s a day or night chart? First things first, the most fundamental thing you have to figure out is how to tell–once you’re glancing at a chart–if it’s a day or night chart. The quick way to do this–it’s actually very easy when you look at any chart–if the Sun is anywhere above the exact degrees of the Ascendant/Descendant axis then it is a day chart, whereas if the Sun is anywhere below the exact degrees of the Ascendant/Descendant axis then it’s a night chart. Let me show you a diagram to show you what I mean by that.
Here’s a chart on the left. You just identify the exact degrees of the Ascendant/Descendant axis. If the Sun is anywhere in the top-half of the chart then it’s automatically a day chart. If it’s anywhere below the Ascendant/Descendant axis, in the bottom-half of the chart, then it’s going to be a night chart. So that’s the quick and easy way to do it.
It’s actually pretty simple in most cases to just glance at a chart, and if you see, for example, the Sun in the 10th house, then you know it’s going to be a day chart automatically versus if you see the Sun in the 4th house then it’s going to be a night chart automatically. So even if you’re using Placidus, that makes it really easy to determine if it’s a day chart or night chart because the Ascendant/Descendant axis in Placidus represents the horizon.
If you’re using whole sign houses, you need to actually pay attention to the exact degrees of the Ascendant/Descendant axis because the exact degree of the Ascendant/Descendant axis marks where the horizon is. And since, in whole sign houses, the Ascendant does not mark the beginning of the 1st house–it just marks a sensitive point within the 1st house–when you’re using whole sign houses, you need to pay close attention to where the Sun is relative to that Ascendant/Descendant axis just to be sure. I’ll show you some example charts in a little bit to clarify what I mean by this.
One thing that you can do that I would recommend everybody does–especially if you’re first learning sect, but even if you’ve already been familiar with it for a while–is go outside someday around sunrise, like 30 minutes or an hour before sunrise. Wake up super early, go outside, and take either a laptop, or your phone, or something you can calculate charts with and cast a chart for the exact time that you go outside, and then sit there and watch sunrise take place. Watch the Sun come up over the horizon, just visually, and keep refreshing or recalculating the chart every few minutes, so that you can see what it looks like outside visually as the Sun is rising over the horizon and what that looks like in the actual chart.
Here’s a chart right now cast for this exact moment in Denver. It’s actually really close to sunset because the Sun is about to set there. We can see it at 19 degrees of Libra, here in Denver, on October 11, 2020. We see the degree of the Descendant–which represents the Western horizon–about to set.
So do this exercise where you go outside; do it at sunrise first, but then, also, do it at sunset. Just repeat the same process and see what it looks like in the chart when the Sun is actually setting and what it looks like outside, and you’ll get a really good sense for not just how sect works and what it looks like visually and astronomically, but also, what the chart itself is representing, depending on what house system you’re using and different things like that.
Right now, in this chart, we can see that the Sun is still above the horizon because it’s above the degree of the Descendant. I’m going to advance the chart here in just a few minutes. As soon as I advance the chart, and we move a few minutes forward, we’ll see the Sun eventually move under the degree of the Descendant. At that point, the Sun sets and it becomes dark out–because the Sun moves underneath the horizon–and then it becomes a night chart pretty rapidly.
So that’s what sunset looks like in whole sign houses. I’m going to advance the chart several hours to sunrise, tomorrow morning. Here’s a chart set for October 12, at 5:42 AM, in Denver, Colorado. The Ascendant is at 1 degree of Libra and the Sun is at 19 degrees of Libra. The Sun is below the degree of the Ascendant/Descendant axis right now. That means that this is just before sunrise, so it’s still dark out; it’s still nighttime.
But then, pretty quickly, if you keep advancing the chart and move it forward a half-an-hour or an hour, the Sun is going to inch towards the Ascendant. Eventually, once the Sun hits the degree of the Ascendant, it rises over the Eastern horizon, and that is the moment of sunrise. Visually, if you were standing outside tomorrow morning at this time, you would see the Sun literally rise over the horizon at that moment, and it would suddenly become daytime out; it would become very bright, and it suddenly becomes a diurnal chart at that moment.
So that’s the basic distinction between how to determine if it’s a day chart or a night chart. See if the Sun is above the exact degrees of the Ascendant/Descendant axis or below the exact degrees of the Ascendant/Descendant axis. Does that make sense to everybody? Does anybody have any questions with that?
I’m trying to scan the chat a bit, but it’s a little tricky. Everybody’s talking about profection years. Yeah, everyone’s good. Good, okay. There is a little bit of ambiguity about the concept of twilight and what happens there with sect. There is one proviso I have to introduce, which Leisa and I talked about in the Q&A episode on sect last month, on The Astrology Podcast. I think it was Episode 273, so it was the one right before this one.
We talked about how there is a little bit of wiggle room when the Sun is really close to the degree of the Ascendant or close to the degree of the Descendant, where there’s some ambiguity about whether it’s a day or night chart because you’re kind of in between and that’s what the concept of twilight means. It’s not just a teen ‘rom-com’ movie series, but in fact, it’s an important astronomical distinction, which becomes really crucial here when you’re trying to determine if you have a day chart or a night chart. There’s this period of ambiguity when the Sun gets close to the Ascendant.
This is a tricky topic because most astrologers say that it’s a night chart until the Sun hits the exact degree of the Ascendant and moves above it, and that it’s a day chart until the Sun hits the exact degree of the Descendant and moves below it. However, I started running into an issue over the course of the past decade where I noticed that there were some charts–Shakira says that’s what Demetra says.
Yeah, I’m sure that’s what most traditional astrologers say, honestly. I haven’t been able to find a lot of like Hellenistic authors that are super clear about this, so I’m not actually fully clear what the ancient astrologers themselves thought. I think a lot of traditional astrologers at this point have taken it as a strict distinction that if the Sun is even a few minutes below the degree of the Ascendant that it’s still a night chart.
So I started running into an issue where I started finding charts where somebody was born with the Sun close to the Ascendant, but it was still a few degrees below the degree of the Ascendant. It should be a night chart because it’s just before sunrise, but it was, for some reason, already acting as if it were a day chart. When I would do things like zodiacal releasing or I’d apply sect to the chart–and use techniques that were based on sect, that were very sensitive to whether it was a day or night chart–for some reason, the chart would behave better and would work out better as a day chart than a night chart. Let me see if I can pull up the chart.
One of the first ones that I really started grappling with this issue was the birth chart of George Lucas. Let me see if I have this calculated correctly. Here is the birth chart of George Lucas who was the famous Hollywood director that came up with Star Wars and the Indiana Jones series. So here’s his chart for people watching the video version of this. His birth time is about 5:40 AM. It may be a little bit off; I think it’s actually a minute or two later. He has 17 degrees of Taurus rising and his Sun is at 23 degrees of Taurus, so that means his Sun is a full 5 or 6 degrees below the degree of the Ascendant.
Most astrologers would treat that as a night chart because the Sun is below the Ascendant/Descendant axis and the Sun hasn’t hit the horizon yet, so it hasn’t fully hit sunrise. The problem though is that if you go outside during one of those times, if you go outside when the Sun is within 5 to 6 degrees of the Ascendant, and you look at the sky, it’s actually already quite bright out because the Sun is so close to rising. It’s already pretty much daylight out by that point, by the time the Sun gets within a few degrees of the Ascendant.
As I wrestled with this and started to pay attention to it more and more in other charts, I started to realize that there may be some charts that were acting like day charts when the Sun was that close to the Ascendant because it was already bright out, and functionally, the day had already started once it got within a certain range of twilight. So my working rule at this point is that charts sometimes–when the Sun is within just a few degrees of the Ascendant, but hasn’t risen over the horizon yet–will already act as day charts, and I typically will default to treating them like that if they’re within 1 to 3 degrees of the Ascendant as a day chart.
In reality, the range may extend even further, up to 6 degrees. George Lucas, for example, is somebody where the birth time might be off, so it’s possible that it’s only 5 degrees for him. But up to 5 to 6 degrees, I’m comfortable saying that some of those charts will behave more like a day chart than a night chart, and that’s the working rule that I have at this point in time.
When it comes to the Descendant, I think the range is a little bit more narrow; it seems to shut off much sooner. I have seen charts where if the Sun is just 1 degree, or up to maybe 2 or 3 degrees below the degree of the Descendant, it will still sometimes behave as more of a day chart than a night chart, even though the Sun recently set, and it’s still going to be quite bright out at that point in time. I don’t think it goes as far though; and for some reason, the range seems to cut off much sooner, so that the orb is much tighter for sunset than it is at sunrise.
Yeah, one person is mentioning Obama’s chart. That’s one that I’ve really wondered about as well because he was born very close to sunset, although I think he is further than that. I think it’s more than 3 degrees, if I remember correctly. Let me pull up his chart really quick, just to glance at it and be reminded; his is like 4 degrees. Yeah, we start getting into a range where I’m not really sure, and you start getting into a more controversial range in terms of whether that’s correct, but his is an example. When he was born, his Sun was at 12 degrees of Leo and his Descendant was at 18 degrees of Leo, so the Sun was only 3 to 4 degrees below the Descendant.
While most traditional astrologers would automatically treat that as a night chart–the Sun has moved below the Ascendant/Descendant axis–it’s possible that it’s actually behaving more like a day chart rather than a night chart because it would still be somewhat bright out at that point in time. I don’t want to dwell on this too much because this has been part of my own provisional research over the course of the past decade, and it’s still ongoing and evolving, but that’s where I’m at personally at this point. It’s about 6 degrees on the Ascendant side and about maybe 3 degrees or so on the Descendant side, although I’m still open to adjusting those at different times.
All right, so let’s move on past that point, since we’re still defining some of the basic stuff. It looks like I might have some questions I didn’t see in the Q&A. I’m mainly paying attention to questions in the chatbox, so you guys might want to put your questions there instead of the Q&A. That’s a little bit too complicated of a question, I’m going to skip that one. Okay, some of these are good questions, but I’ll have to save them until later, and I’ll circle back around and come back to them later on.
All right, let’s move on to the next section, which is using sect in practice. So how is this technique actually used in interpreting charts? You may be wondering, at this point, in this talk, now we’re 40-45 minutes into it. And the answer to that is that sect is a qualitative distinction. This is really important, and I always try to emphasize this a lot, right from the start, once we actually start talking about interpretation.
This isn’t about strength, this isn’t about how strong or weak the planets are, which would be a quantitative distinction; instead, it’s a qualitative distinction, and it primarily alters how the benefics and malefics function in a chart. The way that it works is that the benefics are not always fully-benefic and the malefics are not always fully-malefic.
You can think about it as a mitigating factor, where sect alters the way that the benefics and malefics manifest their significations, and there are sometimes going to be more constructive manifestations of the significations of that planet and there are sometimes going to be less constructive manifestations of the significations of that planet. Sect is how you determine where on the spectrum the planet is going to land when manifesting those significations. Since I’ve mentioned the concept of benefics and malefics, I’m taking that for granted at this point; even though I haven’t defined it, I should probably go ahead and define it.
Benefics and malefics are a binary concept that’s built into the basic foundations of Western astrology, where you have two sets of planets. You have Venus and Jupiter, which are the two benefics, which comes from the Greek word agathapois, which means ‘good-doer’, and then you have Mars and Saturn, which are the two malefic planets, which comes from the Greek term kakopoios, which means ‘bad-doers’ or ‘evil-doers’.
The benefics and malefics have very special roles that they play in a chart. The benefics have the special role to affirm, to stabilize, or to improve the significations of different parts of the chart or other planets in the chart, whereas the malefics have the special role or the special power to negate, to destabilize or sometimes even to corrupt the significations of other planets in the chart or different parts of the chart, for better or worse. Generally speaking, one of the ways that you can frame this is that the benefic planets affirm or say ‘yes’ to the significations that other planets want to signify or the parts of the chart that want to be signified, whereas the malefics can negate or they or say ‘no’ to different parts of the chart or what different planets in the chart want to signify.
The concept of benefic and malefic is very closely linked to the concept of sect. One of the things that happened in modern astrology is that astrologers would look at a planet like Saturn and they would look at a person’s Saturn placement, or a person experiencing a Saturn return, and they would say while it’s true, from a traditional standpoint, that this person’s Saturn placement is really difficult for them and has been experienced as extreme instances of hardship or negative things, they would look at another person’s chart and see that this person seemed to do perfectly well with their Saturn; they had more constructive manifestations of it, and eventually, after much effort, ended up doing just fine. That was used as the basis, in the psychological traditions of the ‘70s and ‘80s, to reject the concept of benefic and malefic altogether as not being useful. They said that there could be constructive or destructive manifestations of planets like Saturn in any chart, and therefore, the distinction was not true.
Part of the problem with the rejection of that concept is that they were missing this very related sister concept, which is the concept of sect. In order to determine how a planet is functioning in a chart, especially a benefic or malefic, you also had to take into account the concept of sect, otherwise, you couldn’t actually fully determine if the planet would manifest its more constructive significations or its more destructive significations. The concept of benefic and malefic was never meant to be used in isolation from the concept of sect, and the loss of the concept of sect is part of what made the distinction between benefic and malefic planets untenable to begin with; so a very important reason why we’re recovering this today.
When you’re trying to interpret sect, one of the ways to conceptualize how sect works and one of the things that’s interesting, if you look at the Greek texts, is they often talk about sect as if it’s affecting the mood of the planets; as if the planets are almost like sentient beings that have different mental or emotional states. Sometimes they’re feeling happy and other times, they’re feeling depressed or sort of angry; this is the way they qualified how a planet would be functioning in a chart and what kind of significations it would be saying and about a person’s life in general.
When you’re looking at sect in a chart, when you’re looking at the planets within the context of sect, each planet prefers to be in a chart that matches its own sect or matches the team that it’s on. Each planet, generally speaking, could be conceptualized as being happier when it’s in its preferred chart; so they’re said to be ‘of the sect in favor’ when a planet is in a chart that matches its preferred sect or its preferred team. For example, Jupiter–which is a daytime planet–if it was in a daytime chart. would be considered to be happy based on its sect status. Conversely, Venus–which is a nighttime planet–prefers to be in a nighttime chart and would be happier based on its sect status if it was so.
When a planet is in a chart that matches its preferred sect, it’s said to be ‘of the sect in favor’, and what happens in interpretation is that the benefic planets are more benefic, whereas the malefic planets are less malefic and tend to be more constructive. So you get the more constructive side of the planet if they’re in a chart that matches their preferred sect; the daytime planets prefer to be in a day chart and the nighttime planets prefer to be in a night chart.
Conversely, planets can be conceptualized as being unhappy, or in some instances, even angry and lashing out when they are in a chart that does not match their preferred sect; this would be if the daytime planets were in a night chart or if the nighttime planets were in a day chart. The benefic planets are often less benefic and their less constructive significations come to the forefront when they’re in a chart that does not match their preferred sect, whereas the malefic planets tend to be more malefic and tend to have their negative significations exacerbated when they’re in a chart that contrasts with their preferred sect.
The main summary of this rule is that planets on your team tend to be more helpful. So if you were born during the day, then the daytime planets are on your team and will tend to be more constructive and more helpful towards you, your agenda in life, and what you’ve set out to accomplish; whereas planets that are not on your team tend to be less help helpful and tend to be more obstructive or more problematic in helping you to accomplish your goals in life and accomplish whatever it is that you’ve set out to do–if you were born during the day that would be the nighttime planets or if you were born at night that would be the daytime planets.
One of the most useful, interpretive principles for this entire technique is just using it to identify the most positive and most negative planet in the chart purely based on sect alone. This is something that was done very commonly in ancient astrology, and it’s probably the most important and most useful interpretive principle that I’ve taken from the concept of sect that I’ve tried to pass onto subsequent generations of astrologers because it’s the one that I’ve found to be the most useful.
And the gist of this rule is really simple; it’s basically just this: The most positive planet in your chart, if you were born with a day chart, is Jupiter, whereas the most positive planet in your chart, if you were born at night, will be Venus. Conversely, the most negative planet in your chart, if you were born during the day, is the planet Mars, whereas if you were born at night, the most negative planet is the planet Saturn. It just becomes a very simple, very easy breakdown in terms of identifying the most positive and negative planet in your chart, but also, identifying the most positive and negative planet in other people’s charts as well.
One of the first things that I will always look at anytime I look at a new chart is identifying the sect of the chart and identifying the most positive planet and the most negative planet. And I think this is also one of the first interpretive principles that any ancient astrologer would apply to chart delineations as well because it’s one of the most fundamental distinctions. Is it a day chart or a night chart? Which planets are going to be functioning in a more constructive way versus a more destructive way based on that distinction?
All right, so everybody at this point should probably pause and think about if you have a day chart or a night chart and what the most positive planet is in your chart and what the most negative planet is in your chart because that will help you to establish the extremes in terms of the benefics and malefics in your life. That’s not the stopping point though; that just helps you to identify or establish the extremes of positive and negative.
What ends up happening is it creates a spectrum between the benefics and malefics, where if you have a day chart, you know that Jupiter is your most positive planet–so that’s at one extreme, the positive extreme–and Mars is your most negative planet–so that’s at the other, most negative extreme. What happens is the other two planets that are left over–the other benefic and the other malefic–end up somewhere more towards the middle, where they become more moderate and they become less extreme in the manifestation of their significations.
Venus in a day chart is still a benefic, but it’s not quite as positive or as benefic as it could be; instead it’s somewhere more towards the middle or more towards neutral. Saturn, similarly, is still a malefic and will still tend to be somewhat more challenging in a person’s chart or in a person’s life; however, it’s moved, in a day chart, towards being more neutral and not as difficult or negative as it could be in general or otherwise. Saturn tends to be more surmountable difficulties in day charts rather than the worst-case scenario that it could be, which is typically more of what Mars does in day charts.
Conversely, in a night chart, the most positive planet is Venus, the most negative planet is Saturn. Jupiter ends up being more moderate; and while it’s still somewhat positive, it’s not usually anything to write home about, and instead, tends to be more moderate in its positive significations. Similarly, Mars, while it’s still malefic and can indicate some challenges, tends to be more surmountable difficulties rather than the worst-case scenario; so Mars tends to be much more constructive in night charts than it is in day charts.
Looking at the questions, some people are asking about dignity and if a planet’s sign condition can mitigate things. That can mitigate things to some extent. There’s different mitigating factors that you have to take into account, and I’ll have a whole section on that at the end of this, once we get there to talk about some of the different mitigations.
But yeah, things like a planet being in its exaltation is a positive mitigating factor, a planet being in its domicile is a positive mitigating factor. There’s a few, different mitigating factors like that that can help to balance things out, so that it’s either not the worst-case scenario, or it can take a planet that’s very positively-placed and make it not as well-placed depending on what the mitigation is. Mitigations can go either way; they can be either good mitigations or they can be negative mitigations.
All right, so one of the easiest techniques to do is to look at the house placement of the most positive and negative planets in your chart, and the rule is basically this: Generally speaking, the house of the most positive planet will tend to be an area of good fortune and ease in the life of the native. So think about your own chart. If you have a day chart, this would be the house that Jupiter is placed in, the most positive planet, versus if you have a night chart; this would be the house placement of Venus. Generally speaking, all other factors, especially all of their mitigating factors aside, that should be one of the most positive houses for you; the house that contains the most positive planet in your chart based on sect; so Jupiter in a day chart or Venus in a night chart.
Conversely, the house of the most negative planet will tend to be an area of difficulty, hardship, and sometimes even misfortune; so this would be the house placement of Saturn for those that were born with night charts or the placement of Mars for those who were born with day charts. This can be mitigated, for better or worse, based on other conditions.
There’s a bunch of different conditions that we’ll get into, but for the most part, the rule, generally speaking, holds true, and it’s something that you can apply to charts relatively consistently as one of your first interpretive principles, to get an overall sense of the different parts of the life that’ll tend to be a little bit easier versus the parts of the life that will tend to be the most challenging for the person at different points in their life; so it’s a pretty good interpretive rule to get into.
All right, so we’re 270-something episodes into The Astrology Podcast, so by now, presumably, you know that I use whole sign houses. But if you don’t, for the purpose of this, I’d recommend using the whole sign house system, where you determine what sign the Ascendant is located in, and whatever sign that is becomes the 1st house, from 0 to 30 degrees of that sign, then the sign after that becomes the 2nd house, and the sign after that becomes the 3rd house, and so on and so forth. There ends up being 12 signs and 12 houses, and it’s pretty straightforward.
Here’s some basic significations of the houses for those that are watching the video version of this. I’m not going to read all of these, but these are pretty standard, pretty straightforward significations for the 12 houses. I don’t think these are controversial. The 4th house, for example, is parents, home, family; 3rd house is siblings, learning, travel; 10th house is career; 7th house is relationships, and so on and so forth–pretty standard stuff.
Just take these basic concepts–like sect, benefic and malefic, and now, the significations of the houses–combine them, and already you start getting some really powerful interpretive principles that you can apply to charts. So let’s apply the concept of sect and the idea of the most positive and negative planets to a set of hypothetical charts, just to get a sense for how we would interpret these placements if we were looking at a chart and what sort of statements we could start making based on identifying the most positive and negative planets in the chart right from the beginning.
Do people have any questions, at this point? I guess there’s some discussion about what happens when the most positive and negative planets are in the same sign or the same house; we’ll get to that in a little bit. I think I’ll have some slides on that, here in just a little bit. Okay, so here’s a chart that has Leo rising, and the Sun is in Taurus in the 10th whole sign house. Right away, we know that this is a day chart because the Sun is in the top-half of the chart, above the Ascendant/Descendant axis.
So right away we know it’s a day chart; that’s the first thing that we’ve identified and figured out. The next thing we want to figure out is what the most positive planet is and what the most negative planet is. Since it’s a day chart, we know that the most positive planet is going to be Jupiter; and we see that Jupiter here is in Aquarius, which is the seventh sign from the rising sign, from Leo, the sign that contains the Ascendant.
We know that Jupiter is in the 7th house; the 7th house has to do with relationships. One of the most basic interpretations that we could say is that since this is a day chart, and the most positive planet in the chart is Jupiter, the fact that it’s in the 7th house means that some of the most positive things that will probably happen in this person’s life will happen in the sphere of relationships, partnership, and marriage; that this will either tend to be an area of greater ease in the person’s life, of success, or generally, luck and good fortune will come to the native through the sphere of relationships.
Conversely, since this is a day chart, we would then look to identify the most negative planet in the chart; the most difficult planet in the chart, based on sect, would be Mars. In this chart, we find Mars in Virgo, which is the second sign from the rising sign; so that means it’s in the second 2nd whole sign house. The 2nd house has to do with finances, livelihood, and possessions. Right away, one of the most basic and fundamental interpretive statements we could make is that some of the greatest challenges, difficulties, and potential hardships or setbacks in the person’s life will come through the area of financial matters and possessions and other 2nd house topics, like livelihood or finances.
So right away, we’ve identified one of the areas then that will tend to be more fortunate, which is the area of relationships, and we’ve identified one of the areas that will tend to be more problematic or more difficult, which is the area of finances in the 2nd house. We’ve ignored the other two planets–which are Venus, the other benefic, and Saturn–and we focused instead on the two extremes of the most positive area and the most negative area because those are going to tend to stand out more and those are going to tend to be more prominent in the person’s life and more obvious.
What happens with the other planets is that Venus, for example, here, is in the 9th house, which is the place of religion, education, and travel in foreign places. It’s a benefic–so it indicates positive things—but because it’s a day chart, Venus is not as positive as it would normally be. So this will indicate some moderately positive things in the area of education or travel, or interactions with foreign people or foreign places, but it’s not really all that positive, and it’s not necessarily something to write home about; it’s just moderately good at different points in the person’s life. Similarly, Saturn, since it’s in a day chart, tends to be a bit more constructive.
Saturn, here, is in the 11th house, which is the place of friends and groups and alliances. Saturn in the 11th house, in a day chart, would mean that the person would run into some surmountable difficulties and some obstacles, especially early in life, that have to do with friends and groups and alliances, but eventually, it would not be a huge issue. It would be something that the person, after struggling initially in life, would eventually overcome, or potentially become a strength in this person’s life; that’s because it’s a day chart. Saturn is still a malefic and still indicates some challenges, but they tend to be much more moderate than the extreme, than they could be otherwise; so you’ll tend to get the more positive manifestations or constructive manifestations of Saturn than you otherwise might.
All right, so that’s our first example chart. Let’s switch it up though. We still have a chart with Leo rising, but now, the Sun is in Scorpio; so it’s in the 4th whole sign house. Because the Sun is in the bottom-half of the chart, we know right away that it’s a night chart; so the sect of the chart has suddenly changed. In this chart, because it’s a night chart, we would focus on Venus as the most positive planet, which, here, is in the 3rd house of siblings, short distance travel, and communication, and we would focus on Saturn now as being the most negative planet in the 11th house of friendships and alliances and groups.
The basic statement we would make here is that some of the most positive things in the person’s life could come from the area of siblings, communication, or travel and some of the greatest challenges would happen in the sphere of friendships and alliances and groups because Saturn is there in the 11th in a night chart. Jupiter is still in the 7th, but because it’s a night chart, Jupiter would not be as positive as it would be otherwise; so it’ll be moderately positive indications for relationships, but it’s not going to be the most positive or fortunate area of the person’s life, in all likelihood. And with Mars in the 2nd house, it would still indicate some potential for challenges or obstacles in the area of finances, but it’s not going to be huge, insurmountable difficulties necessarily because it’s a night chart, and Mars tends to be much more moderate for people with night charts. And that’s basically how sect works; that’s the basic distinction, just applying it to a hypothetical chart.
Let’s run through a few more examples of hypothetical charts, just to make sure you get the concept. So here’s a chart with Leo rising again. The Sun is in Sagittarius in the 5th house, so again, this is a night chart. Immediately, it’s a night chart, so we identify the placement of Venus; Venus is in Aquarius in the 7th house. It’s in the place of relationships–and it’s the most positive planet because it’s a night chart–so we would then expect relationships to be the most positive area of the person’s life. And Saturn is still there in the 11th house, so we would expect the major area of struggle to be the area of friendships, alliances, and groups.
Here’s another chart. We’ve moved the Sun to Aries in the 9th house with Leo rising, so it’s a day chart. Jupiter is now in the 3rd house of siblings and communication and travel, so that’s the most positive area of life. Mars is in the 2nd house, the area of finances, so that’s going to be one of the most challenging areas of life. Venus is over in the 7th house, but it’s a day chart, so it’s not super positive. Saturn is up in the 11th house, so it’s challenging, but it’s not super negative. So again, I’m trying to drive home that whole spectrum that I was talking about earlier between establishing the extremes and figuring out where the most positive planet is in the chart, where the most negative planet is in the chart, but then also understanding what that does to the two planets that it puts more towards the middle that makes them much more moderate, and therefore, much less capable of harm but also less capable of good.
All right, so other examples. Let’s say we have a chart with Leo rising and Sun in Scorpio. We then look to Venus, which, here, is in Sagittarius in the 5th house, which is the place of children. So it would indicate that some of the most positive parts of life would come from the topic of children or creativity or other 5th house topics; whereas with Saturn in the 7th house, some of the greatest challenges would come in the area of partnership and relationships.
Leo rising, Sun in Aries, Mars in the 2nd, Jupiter in the 3rd–I think I already did that example, but basically difficulties in finances and positive things in siblings and communications. If the Sun was in Taurus with Leo rising, we would look to Mars as the most negative planet, which is in the 7th house of relationships, and Jupiter in the 3rd place of siblings and so on and so forth. Basically, I keep going through hypothetical examples here. Let’s take a look at some real examples.
Let me glance–does anybody have any questions at this point? Carolina Fernandez asks, “Does it matter somehow if the main benefic is ruled by a malefic?” Yeah, that would come into the area of mitigating factors. You do ultimately also have to pay attention to what the ruler of the house is doing, and that can sometimes counteract what the planet in the house is trying to indicate; but then it also depends on what the sect is and how sect is affecting the ruler of that house as well.
For example, if the ruler of the house is a malefic, is it the most malefic planet in the chart based on sect? In which case, that’s going to be a more problematic outcome for the ruler of that house. Is the ruler of that house of the sect in favor? Is it Saturn in a day chart or is it Mars in a night chart? In which case, you’re going to get a more constructive manifestation of the ruler of that house than you might otherwise; so you’ve got to take those factors into account as well.
Khalid asks, “Given that the luminaries are neither beneficial or malefic, what is the quality of the influence of the sect light?” For the most part, I just focus on what the benefics and malefics are doing when it comes to this technique and that’s what really stands out the most to me about this. I haven’t seen any major thing qualitatively related to the luminaries that really stood out. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s nothing there, or there’s not some underlying interpretive principle. But for the most part, for me, what’s really been useful with this technique is just using it to identify how the benefics and malefics are functioning and I think that’s the primary application.
Karen says, “If a malefic is exalted in its own house, does that make the effects manifest more positively?” Yeah, that would be a mitigating factor. If a malefic is contrary to the sect–like Saturn in a night chart or Mars in a day chart, so that they’re the most negative planet in the chart–that’s going to indicate difficulties and it’s going to be the most difficult planet. However, if the planet is in the sign of its exaltation, or in the sign of its domicile, that will tend to act as a mitigating factor that often will make the planet not as bad as it could be.
So it’s still going to be your most difficult planet in all likelihood, just based on sect, but you may not get the worst-case scenario that you might see in some charts if they don’t have that planet mitigated by some sort of zodiacal dignity. That’s something I’ll come back to a little bit later once I start talking about the concept of mitigations. Let’s take a look at some more real example charts first. It looks like there’s some good questions, so keep your questions coming in. I appreciate it. Let me get rid of some of these.
All right, so here’s one example chart. This is a client chart. It’s a chart from a consultation I did over 10 years ago and they had given me permission to use it. This couple came in for a consultation. They were primarily focused on his chart, but I ended up looking at both of their charts. And so, this is a chart of a person who has Capricorn rising, and he has the Sun in Gemini in the 6th whole sign house. Because the Sun is in the bottom-half of the chart–below the Descendant/Ascendant axis–we know that this is a night chart. So it’s a night chart, and Saturn is in Aquarius, in the 2nd whole sign house, and Venus, the most positive planet, is in Cancer in the 7th house; basically, the most positive planet is in the 7th house, the most negative planet is in the 2nd house.
What was really interesting about his life–as he described it and as his wife actually chimed in to describe it–is I started making some basic statements about, “You have Saturn in the 2nd house, in a night chart. One of the areas of greatest difficulty or setbacks in your life was probably in the area of finances.” And he ended up describing this situation where he said his family had a really hard time financially when he was growing up. He grew up during the Great Depression, and he was raised very frugally. The family phrase that was often repeated was, “That’s all we have. So just make due with what little we have because we don’t have any more of it, and you’ll just have to adjust to that.”
As a result of this, he was aware of every penny he had as he grew up into an adult–and then eventually went on to have his own career and become successful–but it gave him this recurring, lifelong focus and awareness of money and watching things and being extremely careful, almost to the point of being obsessive about his finances and being cautious about his spending due to this underlying fear that was there from his early experiences in childhood; so that was definitely the area of recurring issues.
The area of the most positive things was Venus. So Venus is in the 7th house, in a night chart, and what happened is that he met his wife–he was 19 and she was 18; they were born about a year apart. They met when they were young–in high school or just out of high school–and they ended up being married. They had a long and successful marriage and ended up being married for 64 years. What was interesting is that she also had Venus in the 7th house, in a night chart.
So here’s her chart; she was born about a year later. She’s a Cancer–he was a Gemini–and she was born about a year after him. Interestingly, she was also born with Capricorn rising, with a night chart, with Saturn in Aquarius in the 2nd house. Venus also ended up being in Cancer in the 7th house, in a night chart; so the most positive planet in her chart was also in her 7th house of relationships. They met when they were very young, they got married relatively early, and then they spent the next 64 years of their life together, having a long and successful marriage, with both of them having the most positive planet in their chart in their 7th houses.
I’ve been using this chart. I asked them for permission to use this because I always thought it was such a good example 10 years ago. I just looked today to see how they were doing and found out that he had actually passed away about five years ago. So they were married for about 64 years before he passed away, and then she passed away just a few years later, just last year, in 2019. So that was kind of sad and actually made me kind of depressed seeing that today–finally following up to see how they were doing–but it was at least positive to have that realization that with the most positive planets in both of their charts, in the 7th houses, they both found each other that early in their lives and then spent the rest of their lives together, for all intents and purposes, and there was something that was really beautiful and really neat about that I really appreciated.
Of course, when we did the consultation 10 years ago, it was primarily about his chart, but then she got on the phone and knew everything about his life. Sometimes, when he was being reticent about talking about certain things like his finances and things like that, she’d be like, “Oh, yeah, that’s totally what he does,” and she would fill me in on other stuff that he was a little bit more reticent about. So it was a really funny and cute couple, and I always remember that example and like using it for that reason, just because it was such a good example of the most positive planet in your chart and how that works out sometimes in very literal ways.
All right, so I want to move on with other example charts. I’d like to get some questions, if anybody has any questions at this point. I want to pause for a moment and I want to go grab some tea, just because my throat’s a little bit scratchy. So I’m going to take a very short, two-minute break to go grab that and come back. If anybody has any questions in the meantime, please let me know in the chat and I will try to answer them. I’ll just put the chart of the moment up in the meantime, but let me know if you have any questions in the chat, and I’ll be right back.
All right, I am back. I have some tea, I’m getting refueled, and I’m looking at some questions here. Thanks, everybody, I am appreciating the chat. The people joining us today–for those listening to the recording, whenever I release this in a few days–are people that are patrons of The Astrology Podcast who are able to attend the live recordings each month. I’d like to start doing more live recordings besides just the forecasts. So this is kind of an experiment in doing that and recording more episodes live in front of an audience, to get more audience interaction. And then there’s also some people joining us from my course on Hellenistic astrology, where I’ll probably add this lecture to the course as a bonus lecture as well.
All right, so questions. Wendy says, “As a visual learner, your real-life example was helpful to me.” Good. Yeah, the rest of this lecture is basically all example charts. I’m going to teach a bunch of different interpretive principles through sharing these different examples. That one, though, is always important to me; it’s one of the ones I think I used in my book.
It’s also interesting because it’s a good profections example as well because the woman in the relationship–who also had Venus in the 7th–I think they met when she was 18-years-old; so she was in a 7th house profection year. According to the profections from the Ascendant, it actually activated that Venus in the 7th house the year that she met what became the love of her life and started that relationship. So it all sort of ties together in this very interesting way once you get into the different layers of sect, benefics and malefics, house placement, most positive benefic, and then activation of that according to annual profections.
And that really goes back to this entire idea that in the birth chart itself, there’s this concept–and I don’t know where I got this from originally; I thought it was from an Indian author. When I first started learning Hellenistic astrology, I studied Indian astrology at the same time because there were a lot of parallels due to interactions between the Hellenistic and Indian traditions 2,000 years ago. But there was this notion of the natal chart indicating something about the natal promise; that there are certain promises or certain indications that are made in the natal chart, but they’re not always active. Instead, at some point, they’ll become awakened in the life of the native when the planets become activated as time-lords through the different time-lord techniques. Profections is definitely one of those time-lord techniques that tells you when certain placements are going to become awakened and unleashed in the life of the native.
All right, Beth asks, “I have a day chart with Jupiter in the 2nd house. Is Jupiter diminished by being in the night?” No, if it’s a day chart, Jupiter is the most positive planet in your chart. I think you’re thinking about the rejoicing condition of what side of the horizon it’s on. But that’s a secondary consideration, and we’ll get into that later, but it’s not as important. You need to just focus on the primary consideration, which is, is it a day chart or a night chart? If it’s a day chart then Jupiter is automatically the most positive planet in your chart versus if it’s a night chart then Venus is the most positive planet in your chart.
Okay, just reading other questions. Yeah, we’ll get to the hemisphere emphasis in just a minute because it’s really a big thing that trips people up actually, and I wish I could erase that from people’s initial learning of it. That’s why I haven’t introduced it at this point because it’s not as crucial as people sometimes think it is, but I will get to that soon. All right, let me do a few more example charts and then I’ll get back to answering some questions here in just a moment.
Okay, so back to my slides. There’s that example. Let’s move on to the next example. The first one was a client chart; here’s some celebrity charts. This is the timed birth chart of Ernest Hemingway. He was born with Virgo rising and the Sun in Cancer in the 11th house, so we know it’s a day chart because it’s in the top-half of the chart. We immediately look to the most positive planet in his chart, and we find Jupiter in the 3rd house of siblings, communication, and travel, and we find the most negative planet, being Mars, in the 1st house, which represents the body and physical vitality of the native. So the most basic statement we could say for Ernest Hemingway’s chart then is good things in the 3rd house of communication and bad things in the 1st house of the body and physical vitality.
As most of us know, Ernest Hemingway of course was a gifted writer who is very well-known, which is very fitting for his Jupiter in the 3rd house placement of communication. What most people don’t know is he’s characterized as also having a strangely accident-prone life. For example, he was wounded by mortar fire when he served in World War 1. He was also in two successive plane crashes. He suffered a serious head injury at one point. Later in life, he suffered serious mental and physical deterioration as a result of a genetic genetic issue that he inherited from his father, and later he ended up actually committing suicide by shooting himself in the head.
That’s obviously an extreme example, but again, it just emphasizes this notion of focusing on the most positive planet and making a blanket statement of some of the most positive things happening in that house versus focusing on the most negative planet and sometimes that bringing some of the most, in this instance, very extreme negative things to that house, the 1st house being the house of the body and physical vitality, but also, the house of the self. We’re going to come back to that concept of the 1st house and the self later in the lecture to expand on why that is or what that means.
There’s a lot of different overlapping reasons for the specific manifestation of this in Ernest Hemingway’s life, so I don’t want to freak people out too much. Obviously, that’s a very extreme example and there’s compounding factors in his chart that indicate why it went the way it did in his life, and not everybody that has the most difficult planet in the 1st house is going to have that extreme manifestation. But sometimes, when doing predictive astrology or doing traditional astrology, we have to understand what the extremes are and establish what the extremes are; that way, we can then also establish what the more moderate or what the phases in between are. What’s helpful about looking at the extreme examples is being able to establish what the furthest extent of the worst possible thing is that could happen versus what’s the best possible thing and then figure out where most people fall, which is somewhere in between.
All right, so that’s Ernest Hemingway; a very simple example. This is a personal chart. This is somebody with Taurus rising and the Sun is in Scorpio, but it’s probably above the degree of the Descendant, so it’s a day chart. The most negative planet in the chart is Mars, which is also in Scorpio, in the 7th house of relationships, and the most positive planet is Jupiter, which is in the 8th house of shared resources, other people’s money, and inheritance.
What ended up happening is the native was married in her 20s and had children with her husband, but then the husband ended up dying of cancer relatively early in their marriage, after like five or six years of marriage, which left her with two children to raise. So one of the most negative things that happened in this person’s life is that she lost her husband tragically to cancer relatively early in her life. When she was only 30-years-old, she was actually in a 7th house profection year at that point, which was activating that Mars in the 7th house, in a day chart, and therefore, indicating the loss of the partner.
What was interesting is that maybe less than a year before her partner died, he ended up signing up for a life insurance policy shortly before he became sick with cancer, and as a result of that, she inherited a decent bit of money after he died, which allowed her to go on to raise their children and put herself through college, and then eventually helped to support them to some extent through college as well once they grew up. That is the manifestation of Jupiter in a day chart in the 8th house, which indicates the partner’s resources, but also, inheritance; and especially, sometimes inheritance from the death of others in a person’s life. In this case, it was a positive financial windfall that came as a result of a negative event, which was the death of the partner, as indicated by Mars in a day chart in the 7th house.
Yeah, Drew, Levente points out that it seems important that the ruler of the 2nd house is conjunct the sect benefic; that is a good point. Mercury is the ruler of the 2nd house of finances, and it’s actually in the 8th house applying conjunction to Jupiter; super important; lots of other things. Venus is also overcoming all the Sagittarius planets and Mars is in aversion to them. The Moon is also there, which is important. There’s lots of different details that I’m leaving out of the overall analysis of some of these different placements, but we’ll actually see some of that come into play later when it comes to the rulers of the houses and why that can be important in one of my next example charts. Let’s take a look at that.
Here’s the birth chart of Johnny Depp. The main thing I wanted to demonstrate here and point out is the malefic contrary to the sect. So he was born with a day chart. He has Leo rising, the Sun in Gemini in the 11th house; therefore, the most negative planet in this chart is Mars, which is in Virgo, in the 2nd house of finances, which initially seems kind of weird and you kind of wonder about.
Actually I’ve used his chart as an example for years but was never sure why Mars in the 2nd house would be problematic for him. As far as I knew, or as far as anybody knew, just from a public standpoint, he was a millionaire. He was making millions and millions of dollars as an actor, especially once he landed the role in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, starting in the mid-2000s, which went on to make just ridiculous amounts of money. And he came back for many sequels, so he was making tons and tons of money from that series.
But what was interesting is, a few years ago, when I was working on this lecture, Rolling Stone Magazine published this article titled, “The Trouble with Johnny Depp,” and it basically did this interesting discussion about his financial issues, and how he was really struggling with major financial issues at the time. Some of the quotes that I pulled from the article that were really interesting were describing this Mars placement in the 2nd house in a day chart and some of the ways that manifested as problematic or difficult for him.
So one of the quotes was, “It appears that Depp may suffer from a compulsive spending disorder.” I thought that was a really interesting Mars-type signification, the idea of compulsion; being impetuous in terms of one’s spending is a very Mars-type thing. Elsewhere, it said, “Depp’s situation was all about ‘Hollywood math’, where the star spends what they think they’ve made, not taking into account taxes and agent and manager fees.” And then later, it said, “The lawsuit suggests that Depp has a $2-million-a-month, compulsive spending disorder. Offering bon mots like wine is not an investment if you drink it as soon as you buy it.”
So it’s just this interesting article, and I’m only giving you a piece of it here, but obviously, it relates partially to that Mars in the 2nd house house placement and the notion that that could be an area of his life that he does struggle with. It’s also an interesting, cautionary tale about how sometimes when you’re doing celebrity charts, you don’t necessarily know, or the public doesn’t necessarily see everything that’s going on. Sometimes, the astrology itself can be descriptive of something that’s happening, even if you don’t realize it, or in some instances, even if the native themselves doesn’t realize it. It may be something that they don’t recognize or that they have a sort of blind spot to in a way, or may not be fully cognizant of or aware of at different points in their life.
Checking the questions. Yeah, we will talk about having the sect benefic/malefic in the same house. I think I have some examples of that coming up here in just a minute. Okay, so here’s the birth chart of Lisa Marie Presley, which is one of my favorite examples to use. She’s the daughter of Elvis Presley, the famous singer. He died when she was super young and she inherited his estate, which was worth millions of dollars; she inherited the entire estate the day that she turned 25-years-old. She was born with Leo rising. The Sun is in Aquarius in the 7th whole sign house, but it’s just barely above the degree of the Descendant, so it’s still a day chart. So it’s a day chart and she has Jupiter and Virgo in the 2nd house.
So this is an interesting contrast with Johnny Depp because she has the most positive planet in the chart in the 2nd house of personal finances, and she basically inherited an estate worth $100 million when she was 25-years-old; so financial matters, at least, initially, were one of the most positive areas of her life that came the easiest to her or where she had good fortune in her life.
What’s interesting, however, is the most difficult planet in her chart is Mars in Pisces, in a day chart, in the 8th house. The 8th house represents inheritance, but also, other people’s resources; it can also sometimes be extended to other things, like taxes. This sets up an interesting issue, not just with Mars in the 8th house of inheritance, other people’s money, and taxes, but also, with the rulers of the houses because she has Virgo on the 2nd house–and the ruler of that house is Mercury–and the ruler of the 8th house itself is Jupiter. So there’s this mutual reception or this exchange between the 2nd and the 8th houses as well, which sets things up in basically tying up the most positive and negative things in her life in that area, not just in terms of finances, but also, just in the fact that her father died when she was relatively young. The 8th house is also the place of not just inheritance, but also, mortality.
In recent years, there have been some stories that have come out about her spending–similarly, to Johnny Depp’s–being out of control and something about potentially either squandering $100 million or perhaps getting involved in financial schemes or partnerships that allegedly, according to her, may have scammed her out of money or something like that. So we have both the most positive planet, but also, the most negative planet tied up in this tense opposition, and therefore, causing some issues at different points in her life.
Another famous example, this is the birth chart of Maurizio Gucci, who was the grandson of the founder of the Gucci fashion empire, and in the 1980s, he inherited his father’s 50% stake of the family business. What’s interesting is this is a night chart. He was born with Cancer rising, with the Sun in Libra in the 4th house and Venus is placed in the 2nd house. The most positive planet in his chart is Venus in the 2nd. The ruler of the 2nd house–we see Leo on the cusp of the 2nd house–is the Sun, which is placed in the 4th house of the parents, the father, and the family. The ruler of the 4th house itself is Venus which is placed in the 2nd house of finances, money, and personal possessions.
So he has a mutual reception between the ruler of the 4th and the ruler of the 2nd, showing a close connection between those two areas of life, and basically, he inherited millions and millions of dollars from his father; so a pretty straightforward and literal example. There’s some not so great stuff about what ended up happening with that later in his life in terms of losing it and other things like that I won’t go into; but just for the sake of this, just the idea of positive things happening in the area of personal finances and that being tied into his family’s inheritance or family wealth due to Venus being the ruler of the 4th house, so pretty straightforward.
This is the birth chart of Elliott Smith. He was a musician who was born with Taurus rising and the Sun in Leo, so this is a night chart. The most positive planet is Venus in the 3rd house in this night chart. And what’s weird about that is not just the 3rd house being the place of communication, and Venus being the planet of art and artistry, and him ending up expressing that through being a musician–through artistry, through communication–but also, if you look at his biography, he had some interesting other 3rd house significations that came out prominently in his life. One of them is that he had several siblings who he had very close and very positive relationships with, which is characteristic sometimes if a person has benefic planets or the most benefic planet in the 3rd house; sometimes it indicates that they’ll have support and help from siblings or other relatives.
Additionally, one of his most prized personal possessions–for a person who is otherwise not big into personal possessions–was his car. He would actually test out new songs that he had written by recording them and then driving around in his car listening to them first, or sometimes first showing them to other people by driving around in his car with them and listening to the music. So there’s this interesting 3rd house focus of short distance travel that came up over and over again in his life.
Unfortunately, with Saturn in the 1st house–the 1st house being the house of self, the body, and physical vitality; the 1st house is also the place of mental vitality as well–it has a serious mental focus in the 1st house, in addition to a physical focus. With Saturn there in the night chart, he actually suffered from depression and alcoholism and drug dependence and eventually ended up committing suicide at the age of 34 partially due to that. So it’s kind of tied up in not just that Saturn in the 1st house, but it’s the Saturn in the 1st house with the Moon, and the Moon-Saturn combinations can sometimes lead to depression. Saturn overcoming and squaring the Sun and Mercury in Leo in the 4th house, and so on and so forth. Some offsetting or compounding factors that are making things more difficult, but again, just showing you a combination of a real-life example where positive things were happening in the 3rd house and some challenging things were happening in the 1st house.
Another example that’s kind of interesting, also, a little bit depressing, is Britney Spears. This is an example that I’ve been using for almost 10 years now, and so, it’s interesting because this has come back in the news recently. Britney Spears was born with a night chart with the Sun in Sagittarius in the 3rd house and Libra rising. The most positive planet in her chart is Venus, which is in Capricorn in the 4th house, and that is also the ruler of the Ascendant; so Venus in the 4th house is the most positive planet and then Saturn in the 1st house in the night chart is the most negative placement.
So this is a similar example, a little bit like Elliott Smith, where Saturn in the 1st house in a night chart can sometimes manifest as issues with depression or mental issues. In 2007, she famously suffered a major mental breakdown after a really tumultuous period in her life, and she ended up being committed to a psychiatric ward and placed eventually under the temporary–it was supposed to be temporary–conservatorship of her father. But it’s been 12 years at this point since she was originally put in that situation since 2008, and what this does is it then gives him complete control over all of her assets, as well as control over pretty much all other aspects of her life, such as what she does with her career, who she spends time with, her schedule, and everything else.
This is a really tricky example because it’s tied in with the rulers of the houses–the ruler of the Ascendant, which typically represents the native, and the ruler of the 4th house, which typically represents the parents or the family, or in this instance, more specifically, the father–and this weird sort of exchange and mutual reception between those two planets, where Venus is in Saturn’s sign in the 4th house and Saturn is in Venus’s sign in the 1st house. We’re seeing then this close connection between the 1st house of the self and the 4th house of the father, the parents, and the family.
I don’t want to speculate or get into opinions; I know there’s a lot of stuff going on with that court case. She’s recently tried to challenge the conservatorship of her father, saying that it’s become overbearing and unwanted and that sketchy stuff is happening with that. I don’t really know what the case is myself, but it’s interesting seeing that indicated so literally in her chart here, with the 4th house and the 1st house being such major focal points in her life. I think we can understand some of the mental issues and how the struggles with her father’s conservatorship have come to dominate such a large chunk of her life, of basically the last 12 years.
Somebody asked, “Is Saturn’s exaltation in Libra a mitigating factor?” Yeah. Normally, Saturn’s exaltation is a mitigating factor if Saturn’s in its domicile, so Capricorn or Aquarius. If it’s in its exaltation that is typically a mitigating factor, so that things are not as bad as they could be. So there’s probably a worst-case scenario of Britney Spears’ situation where maybe it’s mitigated to some extent because she’s a millionaire. Even if she’s in a difficult situation that’s negative, maybe there’s some way in which it’s not as bad as it could be versus there could be a situation where Saturn’s not exalted, or this chart is configured in a more negative way and perhaps the conservatorship, or whatever version of that, is even more negative than it could be in this instance.
Well, one of the things that’s funny right now is she’s trying to break free of it, and we can see that happening right now partially because Saturn has been transiting through Capricorn for the past three years now, since December of 2017. So Saturn recently stationed direct on September 29th, very late in Capricorn, right on top of her Venus. I think Saturn stationed at 26 or 27 Capricorn, so we can see that focus right now and that push where she’s having problems in that area and tensions with her father and trying to break free of that. It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of that in the next few months, between now and December, when Saturn is about to finally leave Capricorn and complete its three-year transit through that sign.
Shakira says, “It’s stationed right at 25 degrees on her Venus.” Yeah. And during that time, there were protests, and the hashtag, #freeBritney, or something like that was trending on Twitter, and there was this big push to force the authorities to take the case more seriously and take her attempts to get out of the conservatorship more seriously. So there’s been a lot of stuff going on with that recently. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out; hopefully, for the best.
All right, so that’s an interesting example. It brings up a really important point, which is what happens when the planet rules the Ascendant. Basically, whatever planet is ruling the Ascendant in the birth chart, the native will take on the agency of that planet in some way; and if it’s a benefic then it’ll do benefic things, and if it’s a malefic, it will sometimes do whatever the malefic things are that are indicated by that planet.
The main reason I bring this up is because the main area in which it usually comes up is when a malefic, or specifically, when the most difficult malefic in the chart is the ruler of the Ascendant. It indicates sometimes that the native can cause or become the source of problems in their own life–or that somehow, the native takes on the agency of the malefic and carries out the duties of the malefic in some way themselves–as opposed to the alternative scenario, which is some external force in the native’s life comes in and causes problems, or somebody else in the native’s life somehow causes them problems, which is typically what happens when the malefic is ruling one of the other houses in the chart.
Whatever house it rules will tell you the other actor in the native’s life that causes problems for them in some way. So if it ruled the 5th house, it could be the native’s children, or if it ruled the 4th house, it could be the native’s parents, which might be what we’re looking at here with the Britney Spears example, where Saturn is the ruler of the 4th house and it’s in the 1st house. It’s causing feelings of restriction and oppression coming from the agency of the father, the parents, or what have you.
What I’m talking about here though is when the malefic is the ruler of the Ascendant, sometimes it’s usually one of two scenarios, or sometimes both, but these are the two main scenarios I’ve seen. Sometimes the native’s own actions become problematic if the most difficult planet in the chart is the ruler of the Ascendant, so the native themselves might bring about problems in their own life. Other times, the problems come from within the native; so the problems come from the native themselves, not as a result of deliberate actions, but just as something that is somehow connected with or emanating from the native in some way. I’ll show you two or three example charts to demonstrate what I mean because I know that sounds a little bit vague, but it’s actually a pretty cool and pretty important interpretive principle in some charts.
All right, here’s one example. This isn’t a super concrete example; it is to me because I know the guy and lived through it, but it’s a little bit harder to explain. So this is the birth chart for Alan White who was born with Aries rising and the Sun in Capricorn in the 10th house, so it’s a day chart. Mars is in Aries in the 1st house ruling the Ascendant and is also the most difficult planet in the chart, whereas the most positive planet in the chart is Jupiter in Gemini in the 3rd house.
Some of you will remember from a podcast episode that Alan was an astrologer. He was one of the early people that was involved in the revival of Hellenistic astrology and he was an associate of Project Hindsight. He lectured and taught Hellenistic astrology and was one of the people that influenced me early on and led to Hellenistic astrology being taught at Kepler.
Alan was a really cool and really funny guy. He was actually a green beret in the United States Army Special Forces, and he was a soldier and was involved in the war in Vietnam in the 1960s. So he actually took on the agency of Mars–the ruler of the Ascendant–in that he was actually a soldier; and of course, soldiers and wars and things like that are one of the significations of Mars. One of the other significations of Mars is that it can be very direct and it can be some somewhat prickly or somewhat Martian. And what was funny about Alan is that he was very gruff. He was very direct, very assertive. Sometimes he could be kind of combative. Sometimes he could be kind of coarse or kind of rude or vulgar, but he could also be very honest and very forthright.
So it was kind of funny because during his own lifetime, Alan had kind of a mixed reputation in the astrological community because he could be very direct and sometimes vulgar and sometimes kind of coarse, but he would always give it to you straight and be a straight-shooter. I was kind of nervous releasing that lecture of his; I forget what episode it was, but it was just earlier this year in March.
I released his Intro to Hellenistic Astrology lecture, and I was kind of nervous releasing it because he was his usual personality and usual self–which was this Martian, ex-special forces guy that was very gruff and very direct and sometimes kind of coarse–but he was also a good teacher and he was a very good communicator. He was good at breaking down basic concepts and teaching them to you in a pretty straightforward fashion, and I partially attribute that to his Jupiter in the 3rd house in a day chart, in terms of his ability to communicate very clearly and to be a very effective teacher and a very effective astrologer.
I was actually nervous about releasing that episode just because, for some people, those sort of personality traits can come off as very brusque or somewhat negatively–and he very easily ruffled feathers during his time in the astrological community–but for the most part, it seemed like that lecture was received much more positively than I expected. A lot of people appreciated that and it was like a welcome breath of fresh air. So that’s part of the example–Alan took on the agency of the malefic in that he manifested those Martian traits himself, and some of those were positive traits that we can associate with Mars and others were more negative traits that you might as associate with Mars that became personality quirks for him just in general.
So that’s one example of what I mean by when the malefic rules the Ascendant; the native sometimes takes on the agency of the malefic in some way. Sometimes Alan could get into trouble or could accidentally cause problems in his own life just as a result of being a Martian-type character and sometimes ruffling feathers in the community as a result of that almost accidentally or inadvertently.
Another example of that–this is the birth chart of Ted Kennedy. He was born with Capricorn rising and the Sun in Pisces in the 3rd house–so this is a night chart–and he had Saturn in Capricorn in the 1st house. His story is really complicated and tricky, and I don’t want to go into too many details with it, but the short version of it is that he was the younger brother of President John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.
After his two brothers were assassinated—first, John F. Kennedy famously in 1963 and then Robert Kennedy, when he was running for president in 1968–Ted Kennedy became the next in line and was expected to step up and to run for the presidency, and probably would have had a pretty good shot at becoming president at that point in time after those losses of his siblings suddenly left him as the next Kennedy in line.
Unfortunately, what ended up happening is that that opportunity to become president was ruined when he went to a party one night and he left the party with a young woman, and he was probably intoxicated. He was driving somewhere and they ended up driving off of a bridge and into the water, and the woman that he had in his passenger seat ended up dying and ended up drowning in the car and he somehow ended up surviving; there was a whole story after that point.
So as a result of this accident, it became such a big deal that it pretty much killed any chances that he had of winning the presidency and becoming president. He still ended up going on to have a long and successful career in the United States Senate, but as a result of his own personal actions and his own personal errors, as a result of that incident, it probably tanked any future prospects that he had of becoming president at that point.
Obviously, he had other major tragedies in his life that are indicated by other parts of the chart, especially as it’s tied in with his 3rd house and the death of his siblings–having the ruler of the 3rd house of siblings in the 8th house of death, and it’s opposed by Mars in a night chart as one of the indicators for that–but there’s also this separate, really famous instance of an unfortunate accident that happened in his life that was partially due to his own actions being something that negatively impacted him.
Obviously, we all have instances like that to some extent where we all make mistakes, but this was one where the course of his life and what could have happened in his life was changed in such a major decisive way, by such a major mistake and a major incident, that it stands out in a much broader, universal sense as being somehow characteristic of his life in some major way. So that’s part of what I’m getting at in that example, in terms of how sometimes, when the malefic–that is, the most negative planet in the chart–rules the Ascendant, the native can take on the agency of the malefic, and sometimes through their own mistakes, they can bring about some of the greatest challenges, difficulties, or setbacks in their own life. That’s a very concrete example of what I mean by that.
All right, just one more example. This is the birth chart of Michael J. Fox. He has Aquarius rising, and the Sun is in Gemini in the 5th house, so he was born also with a night chart. Venus is the most positive planet in Taurus in the 4th house, and the most negative planet is Saturn, which is located in Capricorn in the 12th house, and it’s also the ruler of the Ascendant because he has Aquarius rising. So the ruler of the Ascendant is Saturn, in a night chart, in the 12th house.
Michael J. Fox was a successful actor in the 1980s, going into the 1990s, who ended up developing Parkinson’s disease at the height of his career in his late 20s and early 30s. He actually started developing the symptoms and exhibiting them and was eventually diagnosed during the course of his Saturn return, when Saturn was going through Capricorn, activating that ruler of the Ascendant in the 12th house. That kind of threw his acting career off for many years. He would later make a comeback, once he was able to get some of the symptoms under control to a certain extent, due to different medications and things like that, but it became, from that point forward, a lifelong struggle from the time of his Saturn return onwards.
With Saturn ruling the Ascendant in a night chart, it’s less of an instance, like in the previous example where it’s clear that he did something wrong himself. Instead, it’s more of an instance where the issue came from within him, in that it was a physical issue that came out of his body in some way, or a physical issue with his body in developing this disease. It wasn’t necessarily something that was due to some action or some mistake that he took; it was just something that still had to do with him or coming from within him rather than something that came from without or that came from another person in his life, like his father, his partner, his friends, or other people that are indicated by the other 12 houses. Because it was connected with the Ascendant, it was something that came from within him in some way, even though it was not a result of personal actions.
There’s other things we could go into in this chart, and I do use it a few times for different things in the Hellenistic course. But that’s the main thing that I wanted to illustrate here when I mean that sometimes when the most difficult planet is the ruler of the Ascendant, the issue comes from within rather than from without.
All right, how are we doing for questions? Does anybody have any questions at this point? Drew says, “It’s interesting how the 6th house lord is the Moon in such an excellent condition. I wonder how that figures into his story with illness?” Yeah, it’s tricky because sometimes we have this issue about what’s a 6th house illness versus what is a 12th house illness.
Sometimes it comes down to this distinction of 6th house things being more like Martian-type things, which can be sudden injuries and short-term type things versus 12th house things being more long-term, lifelong illnesses and diseases or battles that a person struggles with or has recurring issues with. Sometimes that may be the distinction there when we’re seeing a difference between a nice-looking 6th house versus a more problematic-looking 12th house in this instance.
Taylor says, “I wonder how he’s doing now during his second Saturn return?” That’s a good question. I saw some stuff with him. They did a Back to the Future celebration thing a few years ago for the 30th anniversary or something like that, and it seemed like he was doing pretty well. I know there was a period in the past decade or so that he was acting again on sitcoms on television and stuff and was having kind of a comeback for a while.
Khalid says, “I’m uncertain how to interpret malefics when they are in their joys. Is it better for a night chart native to have Saturn in the 12th house because it’s not configured to the Ascendant or worse because the 12th house is the place of bad spirit for the joys?” They’re not like the signs of the zodiac where the planets are better in those houses necessarily, and I wouldn’t think of them like that, as dignities. Instead, the joys are houses that the planets are connected with, that you can derive ideas for what the significations of those houses are. All you’re supposed to do, for the most part, with the planetary joys is think of them in that context; as useful tools for understanding the deeper meanings and implications of those houses primarily rather than as things that are strengthening or weakening factors, per se.
All right, let’s move on. Let me see where we’re at. Oh, yeah, so this is the question that everybody always has: What happens when the most positive planet and the most negative planet are in the same sign? Well, it basically just means what you would think it means, which is that the native experiences great highs and great lows in that area of the person’s life. So there often ends up being a mixture of extremes of good and bad fortune, of success and failure, of highs and lows in the same area of the native’s life; they experience both extremes in that one area of life rather than in separate areas of life.
To give some examples, this is the birth chart of the musician Kurt Cobain, who was born with 19 degrees of Virgo rising. The Sun is at 1 degree of Pisces in the 7th whole sign house, but because it’s 18 degrees below the degree of the Descendant, that means he was born after sunset with a firmly night chart. So this is definitely a night chart, and he has Venus in Pisces in the 7th house of relationships, but he also has Saturn in Pisces in the 7th house of relationships at the same time; and the two planets are actually conjunct because Venus is at 26 Pisces and Saturn is at 28 Pisces.
So the basic delineation then, if we have the most positive planet and the most negative planet in the 7th house, is we would expect some of the most positive things to happen in the native’s life in the context of relationships and also some of the most negative things in the native’s life to happen in the context of relationships; and that very simple, very basic delineation is actually startlingly true for Kurt Cobain.
A large part of his adult life was focused on relationships, and he desperately wanted a partner, although he encountered several major disappointments in relationships and setbacks in relationships early on. On the one hand, he drew a lot of inspiration from his relationships when writing certain songs, and you can see this show up in many different areas of his lyrics. But on the other hand, he and his wife, Courtney Love, were said to have “bonded through drug use, through their use of heroin,” which eventually ended up contributing in some part to his eventual suicide.
So there’s this positive factor in relationships, and there’s this this level where relationships were important and inspired some of his greatest work and most lasting contributions to the world, but then, on the other hand, there’s this side where he got in not an unhealthy relationship where some of their negative tendencies reinforced each other in the relationship and it spiraled into being one of the contributing factors for his death at the age of 27-years-old; so great highs in great lows.
Ray Rollins says, “And with the Ascendant ruler there too, it contributed to his negative tendencies.” When the ruler of the Ascendant is located in the 7th, it tends to show greater focus and greater emphasis on that house or that area of life; in his case, that’s the area of relationships, having Mercury ruling the Ascendant, with Virgo rising, and Mercury being in Pisces in the 7th whole sign house.
So it just shows greater emphasis or greater focus on that area of life, as well as greater attention towards that area, in terms of it being part of the native’s overall life focus.; that somehow relationships would be part of the destination and the important topic that his life would be navigated or guided towards, since the ruler of the Ascendant is the captain of the ship, or it’s the planet that sets a destination for the native’s life. It’s interesting that it’s also the ruler of the 10th house of career and some of the career decisions get motivated, not just by relationships, but also impacted by his eventual marriage to Courtney Love as well. Part of the reason he was super into her is because she was also a musician.
Yeah, there’s a lot of complicated things we could get into about Mercury’s condition and the fact that it’s in fall and that it’s actually an evening star, so it’s of the sect in favor. It’s just barely outside of the 15 degree range. It has some positive things going for it in that it’s co-present with Venus and has a sign-based trine with Jupiter that it’s applying to; but it’s also co-present with Saturn, which is problematic and constraining and somewhat depressive for Mercury at the same time.
That co-presence with Saturn and everything applying to Saturn is really tricky. When a planet is applying within 3 degrees to the most negative planet in the chart, it ends up being in a condition of called ‘maltreatment’ or affliction, where Saturn is able to negate, corrupt, or fully say ‘no’ to the significations of that planet; especially in the case of his Venus that’s really problematic. So lots of different layers we could go into. I think I used Kurt’s chart a bunch of different times in the Hellenistic course, in the triplicity rulers of the sect light lecture that comes up, as well as in the bonification and maltreatment lecture.
All right, so let’s go on to the next example. Oh, yeah, this is the birth chart of Christopher Reeve. He had Leo rising, and he had a night chart, with the Sun in Libra in the 3rd house and a stellium of other planets in Libra, including Mercury, Saturn, and Venus, also in Libra in the 3rd house. The 3rd house of course is the place of communication, but also short distance travel and siblings. Christopher Reeve famously became a quadriplegic after a horse-riding accident, and he ended up being paralyzed from the neck down.
Part of where that’s coming from and part of why this is important and interesting is that not only is the ruler of his Ascendant there–so he has Leo rising and he has the Sun in the 3rd house, in the place of short distance travel and communication–but he has Saturn there in a night chart. The most difficult planet in his chart is in the 3rd house, therefore indicating major obstacles, difficulties, or setbacks, or potentially, misfortunes in that area of life at the same time. So we get the negative thing, which is that at some point in his life, he eventually had a major incident which left him immobilized and unable to move–which is a very Saturn-type signification in the negative sense, in the most extreme sense–but we also get some of the Venus-positive significations as well. Venus is there in a night chart, in Libra, in the 3rd house.
What ended up happening is that he ended up using his fame to draw attention towards people with spinal cord injuries and disabilities and ended up founding with his wife, Dana, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which is “dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information, and advocacy.” From an article, “In the years following his injury, Christopher did more to promote research on spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders than any other person before or since.” Eventually, through some of those donations, different things have been developed that have had a positive impact on people who have spinal cord injuries or are quadriplegic like he was.
So in that, we see some of the different themes of extreme difficulties with Saturn there in the 3rd house–and in that instance, limitations and misfortune when it came to mobility and short distance travel, which is the 3rd house signification–but also positive things developing in that area as well and his eventual contribution of his life in some universal or total sense being something that was ultimately positive in that area rather than just personally or purely negative in some sense.
All right, so again, that’s another example of extremes of positive and negative in the same house, when you have the most positive and negative planets in that house. There was a similar example; this is an example of a French businessman who was the former director of a champagne company, and he was very well-off–Phillipe Pozzo di Borgo. There was actually a movie that came out about him a few years ago.
He had Cancer rising and a day chart, with the Sun in the 8th house, and he had Mars and Venus and Jupiter in Pisces in the 9th whole sign house. So the most positive planet is Jupiter and the most negative planet is Mars, and they’re both in the 9th house of long distance travel, foreigners, and foreign places. What happened is that, in 1993, he became quadriplegic after a paragliding accident, and this was shortly after his wife had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. He fell into this really deep depression at the time, and he was only saved due to the help of his caretaker who was from Algeria.
So what ended up happening, or the short version of this–I think I have a much longer version of this in the Hellenistic course. But the short version is that we see the paragliding accident coming from Mars in the 9th house because he was actually in a foreign country when he experienced this accident and was injured and became quadriplegic–with Mars in the 9th house in a day chart–but then also seeing help and assistance and finding the will to live again from a guy that helped him out that came from a foreign country, which is very literal and seems kind of kind of abstract, but it’s actually a very literal signification that you will often see from the 9th house.
When people have a focus on 9th house things, it either ends up manifesting as travel and being in foreign places, in foreign countries, or sometimes, it ends up manifesting very literally as interaction with people who are from a country–or a culture, in some instances–that is foreign from your own or that is experienced or perceived as foreign in some way. So in his instance, we had both extremely negative things coming from that area of his life, as well as extremely positive things. There’s a bunch of other complicated details you can get into here, like the ruler of his Ascendant is in the 12th house; it’s being overcome by Mars and Venus and Jupiter.
Additionally, it’s not just Mars and Jupiter that are in the 9th house, but Venus is there as well and that’s helping to offset things. So there’s lots of other stuff going on here, but again, the main takeaway here is just extremes of extremely positive things and sometimes extremely negative things coming from the same house.
All right, so I think those are all of my most positive and most negative planets in the same house examples. Does anybody have any questions about that before I move on? I think the final section of this lecture is just about mitigating factors. Okay, I think we’re good. All right, so let’s move on.
Khalid says, “If Mars was adhering to Jupiter in that chart rather than separating from Jupiter, would it definitely have the upper hand?” I think that would have been more positive actually. In my understanding and reconstruction of the bonification and maltreatment conditions, if the malefic was earlier in zodiacal order and applying to Jupiter, then Jupiter would be bonifying Mars, and that would be a very positive thing or a much more positive thing for Mars.
In this instance, it’s almost too bad that Mars is on the other side of Jupiter because then it’s not able to be mitigated or downplayed as much as it could. There’s still positive things going on with Mars being co-present in the same sign as two benefics and almost having a form of reception with Jupiter, even though it’s separating, but I think it would have actually been better if Mars was applying to Jupiter rather than separating from it.
All right, so let’s talk about mitigating factors. There’s a bunch of different mitigating factors that can offset things, and some of those mitigating factors can be rejoicing conditions related to sect, which I’ll go into in a second, another can be a planet when it’s in its own sign or exaltation or is in a mutual reception with another planet; it can majorly mitigate planets, including the malefic that’s contrary to the sect.
Additionally, a planet being ‘bonafide’ or maltreated is a whole other class of planetary condition. I was almost just referring to one of them, ‘adherence’, with the idea of Mars applying to Jupiter within 3 degrees would be a major mitigating factor. There’s seven of those conditions of bonification and maltreatment that I talk about in my book and in the course.
Another major mitigating factor that I run into all the time is the presence of reception. So if you have a planet that’s in bad shape due to sect, but it has reception with its domicile lord, that’s oftentimes a major mitigating factor. Or if you have a planet that’s being afflicted by another planet as a result of sect–the most malefic planet in the chart is afflicting another planet–if the planet that’s being afflicted has reception with that malefic, it’s going to seriously take the edge off of that affliction and make it so that it’s not typically the worst-case scenario.
These are all things that you need to pay attention to because it can mitigate the outcomes and make them more moderate, or in other instances, more extreme depending on whether it’s a positive or negative mitigation. Some mitigations are positive and other mitigations can actually make things worse if it’s just heaping more difficulties on the placement rather than alleviating them. So understand that that’s what I mean when I say mitigation is just something that’s pushing things the opposite direction from the way it’s inclined in the chart by default.
In reality, when you’re applying these considerations, most charts will have multiple mitigating factors present. You rarely get a chart where it’s just a straightforward instance of most positive planet/most negative planet and there’s nothing else going on; typically, there’s a bunch of different factors that are present that you also have to take into account. For the purpose of simplicity and just teaching this technique and giving you the gist of it, I’m kind of skipping over some of those things because typically these are things that I would introduce in stages in different parts of teaching Hellenistic astrology through my course or what have you, but there are multiple mitigating factors that you have to take into account.
I recommend checking out Episode 28 of The Astrology Podcast titled, Mitigating Factors in Traditional Astrology. I don’t have a video version of this episode because it was done before I did video versions, but it’s an excellent discussion on different mitigating factors that are used in traditional astrology that I did with Michael Ofek several years ago; I guess many years ago now; maybe four or five years ago. So check that out for more information on some of these mitigating factors.
One of the mitigating factors I have to mention is sect-related, what’s called ‘rejoicing conditions’, and the rejoicing conditions–there’s two of them–relate to other factors that you can take into account that are connected with sect in one of two ways; one of them is what side of the horizon the planet is on. The rule is this: The diurnal or daytime planets prefer to be in the top-half of the chart when it’s a day chart, and they prefer to be in the bottom-half of the chart when it’s a night chart. Conversely, the nocturnal planets prefer to be in the bottom-half of the chart when it’s a day chart, and they prefer to be in the top-half of the chart when it’s a night chart.
So this is what’s known as one of the rejoicing conditions; it’s mentioned by Valens and other authors. It’s a sect-related rejoicing condition, but it’s secondary to the primary consideration, which is just is it a day charter or is it a night chart. This is an additional thing that you can look at that also relates to sect, but it’s not as important and it’s not as crucial as the primary consideration. The other sect-related rejoicing condition is the connection between diurnal and nocturnal signs where the masculine signs are said to be diurnal and the diurnal planets are said to prefer being placed in diurnal signs, and the feminine signs are said to be nocturnal and the nocturnal planets are said to prefer to be in nocturnal signs; so that’s the other sect-related rejoicing condition.
Because this is an introductory lecture, I want to really emphasize that these two sect-related rejoicing conditions are not as important as the primary consideration. I need to get that across to you because usually when other people teach sect, especially early in the traditional revival, they taught all three of these considerations right away, from the start, and they would treat them as if they were on par with each other or that each of the three was just as important as the other, and that’s simply not the case. In fact, one of my speculations is that it was the misapplication of these rejoicing conditions later in the tradition, during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, that eventually led to a decline in the use of sect as the tradition progressed.
Basically, what happened is that at some point during the Medieval tradition, the Medieval astrologers started giving one point to each of these three conditions. So they would say you get 1 point if you’re a diurnal planet and it’s in a diurnal chart, you get a 2nd point if you’re a diurnal planet that’s in the top-half of the chart in a day chart, you get a 3rd point if you’re a diurnal planet that’s in a diurnal sign of the zodiac, and then they would add them all up and if you had all three of them then that was best.
The problem with this approach is that it treats all three of those conditions as if they’re equal in power; but that is not the way that it was treated or presented at any point in the Hellenistic tradition. Additionally, it overlooks the fact that the primary consideration is the most important and most fundamental overriding condition and needs to be treated as the most important and placed above any of the rejoicing conditions–and that consideration is just is it a day chart or is it a night chart. If it’s a day chart then the diurnal planets are in power and the nocturnal planets are not in power versus if it’s a night chart then the nocturnal planets are in power and the diurnal planets are out of power. That’s the most important consideration and that’s the one that I want everybody to walk away from this lecture understanding and using and applying because that’s the one that’s most important and most consistently useful.
The rejoicing conditions may alter some things in a very minor way, but they’re really just not that important, and I think it’s a distraction that can lead people astray too much in this technique if you focus on those rejoicing conditions early on, instead of just paying attention to what the primary consideration was. I think that’s why this technique eventually fell out of practice because there was a misunderstanding about how important those considerations were at some point in the tradition, and that’s why we eventually lost sect as a concept or as a technique.
Carolina says, “Let’s say day chart, Mars conjunct the MC. It’s in the upper part, so it’s mitigated as a malefic; a little less malefic.” No, it would be the opposite. If it’s a day chart, Mars according to the rejoicing condition, would prefer to be below the horizon because it’s a nocturnal planet. So it prefers to be on the opposite side from the Sun if it’s a nocturnal planet. But again, I don’t want to focus on that too much just because people tend to like obsess about this, and it becomes more of a distraction than it is something that’s useful. So there’s the rejoicing chart again–diurnal planets preferring to be in the top-half of the chart by day, bottom-half by night; nocturnal planets preferring to be in the bottom-half by day, top-half by night.
All right, so I have two example charts for some mitigating conditions. They’re kind of complicated, but I’ll try to see if we can get through them. One of them is the birth chart of Aretha Franklin who was a famous singer, famous musician She was born with Scorpio rising, and the Sun in Aries in the 6th whole sign house, which means that this is a night chart. She has Saturn in Taurus in the 7th whole sign house in this night chart, so that’s the most negative or most difficult planet in her chart, whereas, conversely, the most positive planet in her chart is Venus, which is an Aquarius in the 4th house.
So just a basic delineation, we would expect relationships, 7th house, to be the area of greatest difficulty for her and 4th house, which is home and family and parents to be the area of greatest ease. It’s complicated though because Venus and Jupiter are in a mutual reception, so they’re in each other’s signs; Venus is in Saturn’s sign, which is Aquarius, and Saturn is in Venus’ sign, which is Taurus. They have a mutual reception because Venus is actually applying to a square with Saturn while being in its sign, and Venus is also in the superior position in Aquarius; so it’s overcoming and dominating Saturn, and therefore, forcing Saturn to be more positive than it might be otherwise and trying to mitigate or offset the negative placement in the 7th house with more positive significations to counteract Saturn’s negative one in the 7th house.
What ended up happening is that she was married twice in her lifetime and both of those marriages ended in divorce. When she was much younger, she had two children, with two different men, as a teenager, but then the fathers didn’t stick around. Later on, she married a much older man, in 1961, who became her manager, but interestingly, her father was against the relationship and she suffered domestic abuse during it and eventually divorced him in 1969.
I mentioned the father thing and the father interceding because it was actually interesting how her father became involved in and sort of interceded in her relationships, and how the ruler of her 7th house is that Venus, which is in the 4th house, and the ruler of the 4th house is that Saturn that’s in the 7th, and her father in some way intervening or causing problems with her first marriage that eventually led to divorce or at least being a contributing factor that led to that divorce. Later on, she had a third child during an affair with her road manager, in 1970. Her second marriage was in 1978, almost a decade later, but they ended up splitting up in 1982, and eventually, were divorced in 1984.
So she was having relationships in her life with Saturn, despite Saturn being in the 7th house. One of the things you have to remember is that when malefics are in a house–let’s say Saturn is in the 7th house or even Mars to some extent, but especially Saturn–one of the things that Saturn will try to do sometimes is negate or say ‘no’ to the topic of relationships. One of the potentials, if Saturn was in the 7th in a night chart, is it saying, “No, relationships will not occur,” or “No, this person will never be married,” or something like that. The most extreme scenario could be a person that never has a relationship for the entirety of their life or never gets married at any point in their life, hypothetically, as the most extreme example.
Even though Saturn was there, she didn’t get that extreme because she was actually able to have relationships and was married twice, but what ended up happening is that things didn’t go very well and things never ended up lasting. Instead, these marriages and these relationships kept breaking off or kept having various problems with them at different points, which led them to eventually fail.
However, with the mitigations present, and with Venus trying to offset what Saturn was doing, later on, towards the end of her life, she did end up getting into a relationship that ended up being a long-term relationship, that ended up being relatively happy and relatively healthy. Eventually, she announced plans to wed her longtime companion in 2012, but ended up calling off the wedding several weeks later; but they ended up still staying together and staying in that relationship all the way until she died.
So it ended up being this interesting middle-ground for her, that she found a good relationship by the end of her life–where she was relatively happy and that was relatively successful–they just never ended up formalizing it into an official marriage by the end. But in the end, that ended up being okay and that still ended up being a fulfilling relationship for her regardless. So that’s an example of the most negative plant in the chart being in the 7th house and struggling with that being an ongoing issue at different points in her life.
But eventually, at some point, through the mitigation, she still had relationships and still found periods of happiness and success in relationships, albeit, briefly, and towards the end of her life found a relationship that stuck around, but she ended up not formalizing it in order to avert things in some sense; or that ended up being her almost propitiation or way of getting around the Saturn in the 7th house, never formalizing it as an official marriage in the end. So that’s an example of a mitigated placement of having the most difficult placement in the house, and that still being a very difficult area for life, but it not being the worst-case scenario, and at different points, having positive things happening there as well.
Finally, here’s a positive example of a mitigation where there’s a positive placement that’s being made better by a mitigation. This was a chart of a doctor who eventually became the head of a hospital. They had Pisces rising, with Jupiter ruling the Ascendant and also ruling the Midheaven, which is Sagittarius, and being placed in the 6th house of illness at 26 degrees of Leo, trining the degree of the Midheaven at 24 degrees of Sagittarius.
With the ruler of the Ascendant, the ruler of the 10th and the 6th house of illness, the native focused on illness, which is a 6th house topic, but they ended up focusing on it in a positive way through being a doctor. That 6th house placement is not just mitigated by Jupiter being trine the degree of the Midheaven at 24 Sagittarius, which is a significant mitigating factor, but also, this is a night chart with the Sun in the 3rd house. Venus is the most positive planet in the chart, and it’s in Taurus in a superior square overcoming Jupiter in Leo in the 6th house; so that Venus is encouraging Jupiter to be even more positive or more benefic than it would be otherwise.
Remember, because this is a night chart, Jupiter is not the most positive planet in the chart, but what we have here instead is Venus overcoming Jupiter as the most positive planet and forcing Jupiter to be even more positive than it would be otherwise. So it becomes a mitigating factor in the sense that it’s a compounding factor that makes something even better than it would be otherwise, and that’s that’s the sense of a mitigation. There are situations where you can have a mitigating factor, where you have a malefic that makes another malefic even worse than it would be otherwise, but I think I’ve done enough depressing chart examples for tonight, so I’ll save that for another lecture.
All right, where does that leave us? Other ways sect is useful–there’s a whole bunch of stuff I’m going to skip over and not get into today, but sect is useful when you’re studying transits because it can help you to identify which transits are going to be more difficult or more easy. Generally speaking, what I mean by that is Jupiter transits tend to be more positive for people with day charts, whereas for people with night charts, Venus transits actually tend to be more positive for them.
Sometimes people get bummed out when I say that because they’re, “Well, Venus transits are really fast, so that’s kind of lame for people with night charts,” but it actually works out due to the retrograde periods. What happens is when Venus slows down for those retrograde periods that last for 40 days and 40 nights, they end up staying in that sign for quite a long time; and it’s those night chart people that tend to experience those Venus retrograde periods as more positive, especially if they’re hitting a really crucial part of the person’s chart, so it ends up working out well. So day chart people, Jupiter transits are better; night chart people, Venus transits are better.
Conversely, Jupiter transits are typically not as positive for people with night charts and Venus transits typically are not as positive for people with day charts; so it helps to explain sometimes why one person might experience a Jupiter transit or a Venus transit as being particularly positive whereas another person might look at that and say, “I’ve never really had a super positive Jupiter or Venus transit. I don’t know why that is.” It partially has to do with sect.
Conversely, when it comes to the malefics, Mars transits tend to be more difficult for people with day charts whereas Saturn transits tend to be more difficult for people with night charts. So again, some people are like, “Well, that really sucks for night chart people,” because that means when you get a heavy Saturn transit that lasts for a long time, like up to three years when Saturn is transiting through a single sign of the zodiac. That’s true.
However, conversely, it means when Mars goes retrograde for very long periods of time and stays in the same sign for six months–like it’s doing this year when Mars is retrograde in Aries–it’s typically the day chart people that tend to get hit the hardest during those Mars retrograde period transits. And so, it’s during those times that if you’re a night chart person, you see what the downside is, and you see what happens for people that have day charts, and how negative Mars transits can sometimes be in those instances; whereas for people with night charts, Mars transits often tend to be more constructive and not as big of a deal, at least from a negative standpoint.
Yeah, so people with night charts, more difficulty with Saturn transits; day charts, more difficulty with Mars transits. Conversely, people with day charts, Saturn transits tend to be a bit more constructive, whereas for people with night charts, Mars transits generally tend to be more constructive when you have them. So keep that in mind when you’re studying transits. It’s very useful for understanding how different transits are going to work out in different charts, just paying attention to the sect of the chart in general.
Let’s see, other things you can use sect for. Sect is also extremely useful as a filtering tool in electional astrology. Generally speaking, when you’re doing election astrology, you should emphasize the most positive planet in the chart based on sect, and you should try to downplay or mitigate the most negative planet in the chart based on sect.
So for example, if you’re going to do a wedding election, and you know it’s going to be during the day, then you might try to emphasize the planet Jupiter–which you know is going to be the most positive planet in that day chart–by putting it on the Ascendant or putting it on the Midheaven, so that you’ve emphasized the most positive planet in that electional chart for that wedding. Conversely, if you’re doing a day chart election for a wedding, you’re really going to want to avoid making Mars, which is the most negative planet, prominent; so you’d want to avoid putting Mars on the Ascendant or putting Mars on the Midheaven, for example.
I had somebody who tweeted me today, who said they were listening to a recent electional astrology episode that we did, and they decided to go back and look at their wedding chart from a few years ago. They cast the chart, and the chart had a day chart with Mars in the 1st house, and she laughed and exclaimed, “Now I know why it’s, three or four years later, we’re getting a divorce and it didn’t work out. It was not a very good electional chart because I put Mars right on the Ascendant in a day chart in an election.”
And it was a funny learning experience and everybody is going to have experiences like that. If you go back and look at event charts that you’ve done in the past when you weren’t paying attention to election astrology, you’ll start to see little things like that. The events that were really successful, you’ll tend to see the more positive planet being prominent in the chart based on sect, whereas the events that were more difficult or not successful, you’ll tend to see the most negative planet in the chart based on sect being more prominent; so that’s a really important rule to pay attention to from an electional standpoint.
Every month that we do the auspicious elections podcast, or when we put out the most auspicious electional chart each month, you’ll see in every one of those charts that we’re always trying to emphasize the most positive planet, and we’re trying to mitigate or downplay the most negative planet in whatever way that we can.
Finally, you can also use sect in identifying the most positive and negative planets when looking at synastry and relationship charts because you can sometimes see really crucial connections that are either very positive or very negative, depending on how the most positive and negative planets in the chart are interacting with each other in different ways.
Sometimes that works out really positively. Remember the example from the beginning of this lecture of the couple that got married. Both of them had Venus in Cancer in a night chart within a few degrees of each other in their 7th houses, and that ended up being a very positive indication for relationships, and they ended up being married for 64 years successfully. But imagine another scenario where the two people have the most difficult planet in the chart, and it’s in both of their 7th houses and it’s conjunct; that might not work out as well. Instead of being attracted to each other or keeping them together, it might do the opposite and repel them in some way or for some reason; so you can also pay attention to sect when it comes to synastry as well.
And Shakira laughs and says that she just had a relationship like that end. You had Mars opposite each other’s Mars. Yeah, that’s a tough one, especially if you have day charts; but even for night charts that can be tense, although sometimes a little bit more constructive. And your Mars was in his 7th house.
Oh, you both have day charts, okay. Yeah, that’s really tricky. I have done that as well, the Mars opposite Mars; especially when it’s close to degree in synastry and day charts, it can be really tricky. Part of it is that anytime something comes up and makes a hard aspect with your Mars, it’s making a hard aspect with both of your Mars at the same time, and at the very least, that’s happening four times a month.
Anytime the Moon conjoins one of your Mars, squares, or opposes your Mars, it’s hitting both of them at the same time, and it’ll just indicate periods where you’re getting into fights and difficulties and things like that. The other side of that is longer-term transits. If Saturn comes up and stations on top of your Mars then it’s also opposing the other person’s Mars at the same time, so that can be really tough.
Now if it’s mitigated, if you have both night charts, and your Mars is conjunct or opposed, that might not be as big of a deal because Mars is not going to be the most difficult planet in your charts. So that may be a little bit more negotiable, or you may be able to work through that in some way. There may be some positive or constructive manifestation where maybe you both do martial arts or something together, or you both do rock climbing or some athletic activity together; therefore, there’s constructive outlet for it that would be more expected if they were both night charts and had that connection. But if it’s day charts, it can sometimes be a little bit too explosive or a little bit too volatile.
All right, so those are some of the other ways that sect is useful. I believe I’m on my last slide, so it’s time to wrap this up. My concluding remarks are basically that sect is obviously a very powerful tool. It can be used to get additional information about a chart–like lots of additional information–even though it’s such a simple technique. It’s a simple technique, but it has major implications for how we interpret other techniques that just has this ripple effect in improving your delineation skills all the way across the board, by giving you more information that’s very practical and that’s very useful.
So this is one of the techniques that I like to teach modern Western astrologers because it complements techniques that you already know, and it modifies them to give you more information. It doesn’t take away anything that you already do, but instead, it just gives you additional information that can help to specify and help to narrow down the exact manifestation of certain placements, which is nothing but useful and helpful in improving your skills and your ability to read charts as an astrologer.
To me, sect really demonstrates the importance of looking back into the older texts to see what we lost. It turns out that the past 2,000 years of the astrological tradition are not just this linear development of astrology where it’s been improving and improving all across the board, and we just would refine it and we just got rid of techniques that didn’t work, but instead, there were some techniques that worked that we just lost during the course of the transmission over the past 2,000 years due to the faultiness in the transmission of doctrines from language to language and culture to culture. Sometimes when you would transmit astrology from one language to another, some things would get lost and other things would get added, and it wasn’t always a very clean, orderly process.
That’s why it’s important to go back and look and see if there’s actually techniques like this that we’re missing that can do things that we didn’t really realize that we used to be able to do, so that’s part of the purpose of going back into the past. What I’d like to say is that by looking back into the past, we can create a better astrology for the future; and that is not by going back into the past and everybody putting on togas and pretending that it’s 2,000 years ago and just adopting entirely traditional techniques, but instead, the point is to go back into the past, see if there’s anything interesting or useful that we forgot about, and then bring the best techniques forward into the future and incorporate and synthesize them with some of the great techniques that we have in contemporary, modern astrology from the 20th century.
It’s in that sense that by going back into the past, we create a better astrology for the future by synthesizing ancient techniques with modern ones. And I think sect is a major piece of that, that I think that we’ve almost successfully revived in the past 30 years, and it’s starting to finally gain mainstream acceptance once again today.
So I think that’s my presentation on sect tonight. Thanks, everybody, for joining me. If you would like to learn more about any of this of course, I have a book out which is titled, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune; it was published in 2017.
It’s got 600 pages or 700 pages of techniques just like this one and kind of an overview of ancient astrology, including a treatment of sect, a treatment of the rulers of the houses, benefics and malefics. I also go into timing techniques like annual profections and zodiac releasing and tons of other stuff. You can find the book on Amazon, or you can find links to like the e-book version or other things like that at hellenisticastrology.com/book. There’s an e-book version on Google Books for $10 or something like that, so it’s pretty affordable if you just want an e-book version.
This is kind of an old ad for it, but I also teach a comprehensive online course on ancient astrology called the Hellenistic Astrology course through my online course site at theastrologyschool.com. I’ve got over 100 hours of lectures just like this one on different facets of Hellenistic astrology. I go into hundreds of different chart examples, just like I did in this lecture, except, typically, in those lectures, I spend a lot more time unpacking the chart examples and looking at them from different angles and really getting into the details of different techniques. So you can find out more information about that at the astrologyschool.com.
And that, my friends, is the end of this lecture. Here are my websites, hellenisticastrology.com, chrisbrennanastrologer.com, and theastrologypodcast.com. Thanks, everybody, for joining me for this tonight. Turned out to be a little bit longer of a lecture than I anticipated. I should have probably anticipated that, but here we are.
My voice is failing me a little bit tonight. I remembered like 20 minutes into this lecture why I usually try to dialogue with somebody, since my voice usually goes out after an hour or two, but thanks for joining me tonight. It was good having an audience, and I appreciated many of your questions, so thank you. Let me see if there’s any questions here before we wrap this up. Looks like I answered that one. If anybody has any questions, please let me know in the chat.
Thank you. I appreciate it, everybody. Thanks to all the patrons for joining me tonight. I appreciate your support in doing the podcast. Sorry for getting this episode out kind of late. This is actually going to be the first episode of October, but I’ve got some other good episodes coming up. Kirah and I are going to do an episode on Saturn generations of millennials that we’re planning on recording on Wednesday, and I think that’s going to be a great episode, so I look forward to doing that; and then we’ll see what other episodes I’ll get into later in the month.
Drew asks, “Do you believe the sect of a planet is essential to understanding the nature of the planet itself?” I think that the planet itself represents and has an overarching archetype, which contains its own range of hundreds of significations or thousands of significations, but what sect helps you to do is to narrow down some of the significations of that archetype; so it helps you to figure out what direction or to narrow down.
If a planet has 100 significations, depending on the sect of the chart, you can eliminate 50 of those significations, and instead, it’s less likely to be those 50 significations and more likely to be these 50 significations based on the sect of the planet in a specific chart. So it’s like a specifying factor that helps you to narrow down the range of the manifestation of the significations of the planet.
I think that’s primarily what sect does, not in changing the fundamental nature of the planet so much, but instead, it constrains the range of significations of the planet in that specific chart. “Not the sect in the chart, but the sect assignments themselves?” I’m not sure if I understand what you mean.
No, Alison, we haven’t scheduled the November forecast yet. We put it off because we knew there was going to be a lot of news and stuff happening this month; and we’re just getting ready to start the Mercury retrograde, so some of the crazy stuff’s just getting ready to begin this month.
We’re having a debate between pushing the forecast as late in the month as we possibly can, in order that most of the news and events of October have already happened and some of the different October surprises have already transpired–so that we can already know that that’s part of the context of the discussion–or if we should do it early in order to get some of our predictions for November out early. I think we’re debating that right now.
Trying to see if there’s any other questions. Yeah, Khalid says, “In Aretha Franklin’s chart, Venus is 1 degree away from being struck with a backward ray by Saturn. Would you say that this weakens the advantage Venus has from being in the superior position?” Yeah, it does because that becomes a situation of hurling rays or casting rays of Saturn backwards at Venus, even though Venus is otherwise in the superior position.
It probably would have been better if Venus was in the superior sign-based position without having a close degree-based aspect coming back from Saturn. The only thing that kind of helps out there is the fact that they’re in a mutual reception, and I think that reception between the two helps to take some of the edge off of that square, so that it could have been much worse than it was, even though she certainly experienced some major issues and major setbacks in her life.
Taylor asks, “This might sound silly, but I Saturn, Jupiter, Sun–because they’re big–and Venus, Mars, Moon–because they’re small–is there an explanation for why Saturn and Jupiter are for the day and Mars and Venus are for the night? I joined late, so I apologize if you explained this.” I didn’t explain that; Porphyry actually explains it.
If you’re in the Hellenistic course, I would recommend going into–it might be in the configuration section. I recently added a translation of the definitions of Antiochus and Porphyry, which Levente Laszlo recently translated for his translation project, and he allowed me to put that translation out there as part of the Hellenistic course, publicly.
But in there, Porphyry does have an explanation about the basis of sect and how those assignments came about. Part of it, he says, has to do with how frequently the planets set under the beams of the Sun versus how often they do not. And what he says is that Jupiter and Saturn do not frequently set under the beams of the Sun, whereas Mars and Venus, because of their greater speed, do actually set under the beams of the Sun more frequently.
So it seems part of the original conceptual distinction came about as a result of the notion of planets being under the beams of the Sun being hidden, and in some way, almost endarkened and that being likened to the concept of night, where light is extinguished and is hidden versus planets not being under the beams of the Sun being visible and being out there, which is associated with light, and therefore, the daytime sect or the concept of being diurnal.
As long as Porphyry’s accurately relaying the tradition, that seems to be part of it. And I’m not explaining it very clearly right now, but I recommend checking out that translation that Levente did of the chapter on sect in Porphyry and Antiochus because he explains it in that chapter and it’s pretty interesting.
All right, best houses for Mars and Saturn in a wedding chart. I don’t know if there’s a good answer to that. You’ve just got to put them where you can put them, but try to make them less prominent, ideally. Don’t put them in angular houses, especially Mars in a day chart, or Saturn in a night chart.
Retrogrades are kind of a separate thing that would take a while to get into, so I don’t want to get into it tonight, but maybe in another episode. All right, I think that’s it for questions.
I think that’s it for this episode of The Astrology Podcast, so thanks, everyone, for joining me today. If you guys enjoyed this, I’ll think about doing more episodes like this in the future as livestreams.
Thanks, everybody, who joined me tonight and asked questions, I appreciate you. Thanks to all the patrons who support The Astrology Podcast through our page on Patreon, and thanks to all the students of the Hellenistic astrology course who joined me tonight as well. If you have any questions, feel free to post them on the Facebook forum where I put this post.
All right, that’s it for this episode. Thanks, everyone, for watching or listening, and we’ll see you again next time.
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