The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 287, titled:
With Chris Brennan
Episode originally released on January 23, 2021
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transcribed by Andrea Johnson
Transcription released September 14, 2021
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CHRIS BRENNAN: Hey, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Tuesday, January 19, 2021, starting at 1:30 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 287th episode of the show. In this episode, I’m going to be presenting a solo lecture titled “Reception: A Mitigating Condition in Natal Astrology.”
So this is a really important technique. It’s kind of an intermediate technique, but it’s a really helpful and really useful one, so I’m actually pretty excited to finally present it here on the podcast today. This lecture is based on one that I gave at the Northwest Astrology Conference I think a couple of years ago now. So let’s go ahead and jump right into it. Here’s my title slide on “Reception: A Mitigating Condition in Natal Astrology.”
So to set up the problem, in modern astrology, we can see that sometimes hard aspects like squares and oppositions, or sometimes even conjunctions between certain planets can be very difficult, whereas other times the same squares or oppositions or conjunctions can be much more constructive. And it creates this interpretive problem where we have this question of how do you know which way it’s going to go? Like how do you know if it’s going to be really hard in that person’s chart for whatever that square or what have you represents versus how do you know when it’s going to be something that’s more workable or a little bit more constructive in their life?
So modern astrologers oftentimes will kind of chalk this up to just levels of consciousness, and they’ll kind of say, well, it’s up to the person to choose or to decide how that’s going to work out in their life; and it’ll work out more constructively if they’re more spiritually-evolved, or it’ll work out less constructively if they’re less spiritually-evolved or something like that. So they kind of write it off as an issue of free will or spiritual evolution or something like that, and that’s usually the modern approach, just to deal with it that way.
However, in ancient astrology, ancient astrologers in traditional astrology in general took a number of other considerations into account as mitigating factors which could push the interpretation of certain placements more in a constructive manner or a constructive direction or more in a less constructive direction. So basically, there were different technical factors that you could actually look to in order to see if the difficult placement was going to work out more positively or more negatively.
So one of the most important mitigating conditions is known as the concept of ‘reception’ and that’s what I’m going to be teaching you today. And if i was to summarize reception into one sentence, I would say that the primary thing that it does is that it makes the benefic planets ‘more benefic’ and it makes the malefic planets ‘more well-behaved’ in its sort of highest expression or its most useful utility. Primarily what you can use reception for is identifying if the benefics are going to be really positive or if the malefics are going to be much more well-behaved. So let’s get into what that looks like here.
All right, so in order to set this lecture up, the first thing you have to understand is that the signs of the zodiac in ancient astrology, in ancient Greco-Roman astrology–we usually call it Hellenistic astrology–the signs of the zodiac were conceptualized as the ‘homes’ or the dwelling places of the planets. So a planet, when it was in the sign of the zodiac that it was said to rule, was viewed as if it was a person who was in their own home. And so, it was viewed as having self-autonomy and the freedom to express itself in a way that is most natural to that planet, because it’s at home and it can kind of do what it wants.
So to extend that metaphor, a planet that is not in its own sign was viewed as ‘being away from home’; sort of like when you’re not staying at your own house and you’re traveling. You have to rely on the owner of that place that you’re staying at for support, in order to support you while you’re away. So a planet that’s not in its own sign is basically like a traveler who’s away from home and that planet has to rely on the ruler of that sign for support.
So there’s different ways that this can go. Just like when you’re traveling away from home, sometimes you might stay with a friend or somebody that you get along with, and it might go well and they might treat you well and give you good food to eat and a good place to sleep and listen to music that you like or something like that, so that you wake up each day feeling relatively good and like you’re able to go out and do whatever your job is relatively effectively, even though you’re traveling basically versus there’s some scenarios where you stay with somebody that you don’t get along with or who doesn’t give you much support or isn’t there to give you food or tell you where to sleep or anything like that, in which case you might wake up each day feeling not very good and not being able to go out and do your job very effectively.
So similarly, a planet that is in a sign that it doesn’t rule has to rely on the ruler of that sign for support, and if the planet is supported by the ruler of that sign then it will function decently, it will function well. Whereas, if the guest planet does not have support from its host planet then its ability to function in the chart will be significantly hampered with varying shades of gray in terms of how bad that is for the specific planet, so that’s one of the premises that you have to understand from the very start.
And when you look at the zodiac, you can just conceptualize it as if each of the signs is a house or a home, which each of the planets lives in. And these are the ideal signs that each of the planets would prefer to be in, where each of the luminaries has one home, which is Cancer and Leo, and then all the other visible planets have two homes. They have a ‘diurnal’ and a ‘nocturnal’ home, or you could say a ‘masculine’ and a ‘feminine’ home based on the signs of the zodiac.
For the purpose of this lecture, I’m going to be using the traditional rulership scheme where the two luminaries are assigned to the signs just after the Summer Solstice–which is the hottest and brightest part of the year–which is Cancer and Leo. And then the zodiac is divided into an axis between Cancer and Leo and each of the five visible planets is assigned in zodiacal order, flanking out from the Sun and Moon based on their relative speed and distance from the Sun.
So Mercury first, which is the fastest visible planet, then Venus next, which is the next farthest and fastest visible planet, then Mars, then Jupiter, and then finally Saturn is assigned to the two signs opposite to the two luminaries. So this is the basis for the traditional rulership scheme, and this is part of the rationale or a large part of the rationale for why each of the traditional planets calls those signs of the zodiac their home or their dwelling place.
Here’s a nice long quote I have from the 4th century astrologer Firmicus Maternus who goes on this extended digression about this conceptualization of the signs of the zodiac as the homes or the dwelling places of the planets. He says: “Note also what planet is located in the domicile or the terms of which particular planet and, if your planet is located in the domicile of another, look at the ruler of that domicile to see which houses of the chart it is [located] in. For if the ruler of the sign is well located, that planet about which we are inquiring also shares in a part of the good fortune of the host’s joy. But if the ruler of the sign is dejected in any way, that planet about which we are inquiring, even though placed in a fortunate domicile, will be hindered by the dejection of that other planet which is the ruler of the sign.”
So he’s really taking this metaphor very literally, and he actually continues and goes on. So he says: “This you can [also] easily observe from human behavior. If you enter anyone’s home by an invitation and the master of the house has just been blessed with an increase in good fortune, you too become a participant in his good fortune, for you share in the happiness of the good fortune of your host. But if the host is suffering from miserable poverty and is embroiled in the wretched accidents of misfortune, you make yourself also a partner in his grief and trouble, and the adversity in which you share overwhelms you too. This is also true of the planets who are rulers of the signs.”
So I use that long quote just to show you that from very early on in the tradition this conceptualization of the planets as the homes or the dwelling places–or the signs of the zodiac as the homes or dwelling places of the planets was very important, and this metaphor was used in an extended way, especially when it comes to planets that are not in their own signs having to rely on the owner of that sign or the ruler of that sign for support as this broader interpretive principle and conceptualization for understanding the role of rulership of the signs in birth chart interpretation.
All right, so here’s the basic gist of reception. Reception basically occurs when a planet is aspected by the ruler of the sign that it’s located in. So for example, let’s say that Venus is in the sign of Sagittarius, and Sagittarius is ruled by the planet Jupiter, so then you would look to see where Jupiter is located in the chart. And let’s say in this chart that Jupiter is located somewhere in the sign of Leo; so Leo is another Fire sign and it’s configured by a trine aspect to Sagittarius, and thus, to Venus, which is located in that sign in this particular chart. So this would be an instance of reception, of sign-based reception, because Venus is in a sign ruled by Jupiter, and Jupiter, the ruler of that sign, is configured by a trine aspect to Venus. And that’s really all reception is. It’s just one planet being aspected by the ruler of its sign.
So having reception is not as good as a planet being in its own sign but it’s kind of like the next best thing; and actually maybe I should contrast that. Okay, so we did an example of Venus in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Leo, where Jupiter is configured by trine to Venus in Sagittarius, so it has reception.
Let’s change the chart a little bit. Let’s say Venus is still in Sagittarius, but let’s say Jupiter is in the sign of Cancer. So Cancer is not configured by a major aspect to Sagittarius, so therefore, Jupiter would not aspect Venus according to a major aspect of conjunction, sextile, square, trine, or opposition in this chart. So there would be no reception in this chart because Venus is not aspected by the ruler of its sign.
So part of the background is that in ancient astrology the aspects were conceptualized as the ability or inability of the planets to see each other based on an affinity between the signs that they’re located in, so based on the properties of the zodiacal signs. So what you’ll notice if you go through the signs that are configured through one of the recognized aspects of sextile, square, trine, or opposition is that all of those signs share something in common either by gender or by quadruplicity or modality or by elemental triplicity.
So for example, if a planet was in Cancer then it’s configured by sextile to Taurus, and both Taurus and Cancer are feminine signs. Cancer is configured by square to Aries, and Aries and Cancer are both cardinal signs, so that’s what they share in common and that’s the basis of their affinity. Then finally, Cancer and Pisces are both Water signs, so that’s the basis of their affinity and that’s why they’re configured by trine partially. And then finally, Cancer and Capricorn are sharing multiple things: one of them is that they’re both feminine signs, and the other is that they’re both cardinal signs, so that’s the basis of their connection or their aspect between each other.
The signs that do not have an aspect are known as the signs that are in ‘aversion’ or are turned away from that sign or from that planet. So in this example with, let’s say, a planet in Cancer, it does not have any aspect to planets in Gemini, Aquarius, Sagittarius, or Leo partially because the sign of Cancer doesn’t share any affinity or any qualities with any of those four signs, so there’s no basis then for them to have a relationship or an aspect between them. So there’s no connection at all whatsoever and it’s just called an aversion or being turned away.
All right, so going back to my basic definition, reception is kind of like the next best thing to a planet being in its own sign. So the ideal situation is a planet being in its own sign because then it’s at home, but if a planet is not in its own sign and it’s traveling away from home and it’s staying as a guest in the house–or the domicile, the dwelling place of another planet, the sign of another planet–then the best-case scenario is if the host of that sign is aspecting the guest planet, so that there’s some support between the host and the guest, and that’s the basic premise behind the concept of reception, basically.
So if the host planet aspects the guest planet and there is reception then there’s going to be support from the host to the guest. However, if there is no aspect shared between the host planet that rules the sign and the guest planet who’s staying in the sign temporarily then there is a lack of awareness between the host and the guest, as well as a lack of support from the host to the guest, which leaves the guest in a much more compromised position if there’s no reception between them, basically.
All right, so that’s the basic conceptual idea underlying all of this. So l’ve been looking for the earliest reference to reception, and it’s kind of tricky, but this is one of the closest approximations that l’ve been able to find, one of them at least, in Book 7 of the Anthology, Chapter 2, Sentence 34, Vettius Valens.
At one point, the 2nd century astrologer says: “One planet in another planet’s sign and having some relationship with it is productive and beneficial during the applicable time-lord periods.” So what Valens is saying there is that if a planet is not in its own sign, if it’s staying in another planet’s sign, if there’s a relationship between the ruler of that sign–if they have an aspect between the ruler of that sign and the planet that’s staying as a guest in that sign–then when the guest planet gets activated according to the time-lord techniques then it’s going to be a positive and constructive and relatively beneficial time.
So even though Valens is not using the specific keyword for reception here, it’s at least alluding to this concept that it’s positive for the domicile lord of a sign to aspect any guest planets in the sign. And we can see different traces of that throughout the Hellenistic tradition of that being a positive thing versus if the ruler of a sign is in aversion to any guest planets in its sign, that not necessarily being a good thing and potentially being a bad thing because of the lack of support.
All right, so when it comes to the textual origins of reception, it’s kind of hard to trace as a distinct technical concept because the earliest explicit references occur kind of late, starting in the early Medieval tradition, especially with the astrologers Theophilus of Edessa, Masha’allah, and Sahl ibn Bishr who lived in the 8th and 9th centuries. This is the point basically where reception becomes defined as a distinct technical concept, where they start using the term reception to mean this specific thing of some kind of relationship between the guest and the host that requires an aspect between those two in order for it to exist.
I do think that the idea of reception was probably implicit in some ways in the earlier guest/host concept that was mentioned by Firmicus, for example, and also is used in that quote that I mentioned from Valens in the 2nd century. And there’s also other places where, for example, in the calculation of the Master of the Nativity, they say that the predominator needs to aspect its ruler–which is usually its bound lord but sometimes its domicile lord–in order to consider the rule as a potential candidate for the Master of the Nativity.
And those calculations and those rules go back very early to the text of Nechepso and Petosiris, so there’s some conceptualization of the necessity of being configured to the domicile lord–at least of a sign–as being something important as a rule that was taken into account very early on, even if it wasn’t formalized into a specific definition that was given a particular term or a particular sort of phrasing like it was in the early Medieval period.
So Valens does use this Greek term hupodokhḗ, which means ‘reception’, to talk about a host planet welcoming a guest planet into its sign, but it’s not necessarily used in the exact same technical way as the later Medieval tradition, so there was some sort of shift or transition there from the Hellenistic tradition to the early Medieval one.
So I do think because of the idea of the guest/host relationship and due to the idea of the signs of the zodiac acting as the homes or the dwelling places of the planets that reception was probably originally conceptualized primarily as relating to the domicile lords of the signs. And that being said, the early Medieval authors later started incorporating other dignities which had become standardized by the Medieval tradition, which included looking at exaltation lords of signs, looking at triplicity lords of signs, and also looking at the terms or the decan lords of certain signs.
So for the purpose of this, I’m just going to stick with the domicile lords of the signs when I’m talking about reception for the purpose of this lecture. And in terms of my personal practice, I primarily just focus on looking at reception involving just domicile lords, but I know there’s a lot of other Medieval and Renaissance astrologers that pay attention to exaltation lords and also sometimes term, triplicity, and decan lords as well. So there’s a lot of different nuances and different ways of approaching this topic, but I think it’s going to be, first, simpler to just explain and introduce this concept within the context of the domicile lords, and secondly, I also personally think that it’s more effective in practice to focus on the domicile lords as well, so that’s why I’m going to focus on just that for the purpose of this lecture.
All right, so there’s two different levels of reception that I want to define here, or two different scenarios, let’s say. So one scenario is when there’s a type of reception just involving a sign-based aspect between the guest planet and the domicile lord of the sign that it’s staying in, then the second type of reception is when there’s actually an applying degree-based aspect between the guest planet and the ruler of the sign that it’s staying in.
So for example, let’s go back to our example chart where Venus is in the sign of Sagittarius, which is ruled by Jupiter, and Jupiter is located in Leo, which is a sign that is configured by trine to Sagittarius. So this would be an example of the first version of reception which just involves a sign-based configuration or a sign-based aspect between the guest planet, which is Venus in this case, and then the host planet or the ruler of the sign that Venus is in, which is Jupiter, which is located in Leo and configured by a sign-based trine; so that’s scenario one.
Scenario two, let’s imagine that Venus is actually at a specific degree in Sagittarius, and let’s imagine that it’s at 13 degrees of Sagittarius, whereas Jupiter is at 15 degrees of Leo. So as long as Venus is moving direct and is not retrograde, Venus at 13 degrees of Sagittarius would be applying within 3 degrees–within 2 degrees actually in this instance–of an exact trine with Jupiter at 15 degrees of Leo. So as a result of that this would be an example of the second version of reception, the more intense version of reception, which involves an applying degree-based aspect between the guest planet and the ruler of the sign that it’s in, otherwise known as the host planet.
So the way that I’m outlining this and the way that I conceptualize this is that the degree-based version of reception is kind of like the ideal scenario, when there’s an aspect that’s applying within a few degrees–with an orb at least, let’s say–and that it will perfect or it will go exact between the planets. And this is the type of reception that for the most part is discussed the most commonly when reception gets used in the Medieval tradition, the applying degree-based aspect version, and I think that’s the ideal, sort of best-case scenario for reception. However, the sign-based version of reception is also still very useful and is still something that I would recommend paying attention to because you’ll see it come up a lot in charts, and it’s actually very useful if you pay attention to it as an explanatory factor for why some aspects work out in different ways depending on if there’s reception present.
So what I’m teaching here in my approach to reception is that both just a pure sign-based reception is important and relevant and the more idealized degree-based version is also important and relevant. They’re really just different levels of auspiciousness basically in terms of how significant of a mitigating factor it is. So the sign-based version is like the general version which is okay and then the degree-based version is more ideal and is going to tend to be much more helpful in most instances depending on the specific planets involved and depending on the configuration.
Okay, so this allows us to move into and introduce the next concept which is an extension of the concept of reception, which is the idea of ‘mutual reception’ or exchanging signs. So a mutual reception is basically just when two planets are in each other’s signs. So previously, we were talking about a scenario where one planet is in the sign of the other, but mutual reception just extends that and says, what happens if both planets are in each other’s signs? So for example, if Venus was in Sagittarius and Jupiter was in the sign of Taurus then they would be in the signs of the zodiac ruled by the other planet, so this would count as an instance of exchanging signs because they’re in the signs ruled by the other.
So with this type of reception, which is mutual reception, there’s three different versions of this. So version one is when the two planets are in each other’s signs, but there’s no aspect; so version one is when the two planets are in each other’s signs, but there’s no aspect between them. So that would be like the example that I just gave with Venus and Sagittarius and Jupiter and Taurus.
So those two planets are exchanging signs and they’re in each other’s domiciles, but Sagittarius and Taurus are two signs that do not aspect each other, so there’s not a relationship; they can’t see each other and they can’t support each other or give each other as much support. So exchanging signs like that is still somewhat helpful, but it’s the lowest level of helpfulness in terms of mutual reception.
The second type of mutual reception is when the two planets exchange signs, so they’re in each other’s domiciles or the signs of the other rules, and then there is a sign-based aspect between them. So for example, let’s say Venus is in the sign of Sagittarius, anywhere in that sign, and Jupiter is in the sign of Libra, which is the other sign ruled by Venus.
So in this instance, they are again in each other’s signs, but here there’s actually an aspect between them because Sagittarius and Libra are in a sextile. So it’s not a degree-based aspect, but it is a sign-based aspect and that is the next-best thing, so this would be ranked just above the previous one, which is exchanging domiciles but not having any sign-based aspect.
And then finally, the third version that I wanted to outline here is the most ideal version of a mutual reception, which is when the two planets exchange signs–they’re in each other’s domiciles–and they also have a relatively close degree-based aspect between them, which ideally is also an applying aspect that will perfect or will go exact at some point in the not too distant future. So for example, let’s say Venus is at 13 degrees of Sagittarius and it’s applying to an exact sextile with Jupiter at 15 degrees of Libra.
So in this instance, they’re not just in each other’s signs, they’re not just configured by sign–by a sign-based sextile–but they’re also configured by a close degree-based sextile since the sextile is a 60-degree aspect; and on top of that it’s also applying, and it’s going to go exact here just 2 degrees away.
So this would be the most ideal form of what would be considered a full-fledged case of mutual reception because they have that degree-based aspect that is applying and will go exact while in each other’s signs or domiciles. So this is the best-case scenario in terms of those two planets mutually supporting each other and providing each other with support; even though they’re not otherwise in the signs that they rule, it’s kind of like the next-best thing.
So one of the ways that I conceptualize this or one of the ways that you can conceptualize this is that it provides a kind of sign-based dignity or a mutual support that goes both ways. So if a planet can’t be in its own sign, which is the best-case scenario, or if it’s not, let’s say, in its exaltation, which is second-best, then the next-best thing in my mind is if the planet has reception with its domicile lord or ideally is even in a mutual reception with its domicile lord, so that those two planets are providing mutual support to each other. And what that does is it creates a sort of temporary sign-based dignity for the planet that has reception for the guest planet that’s staying as a guest in the host planet sign, because then the guest planet is supported in the alien environment that it’s located in; even though that’s not a place that it otherwise would call home, it has support there.
Okay, so reception as familiarity. Imagine a scenario where you have two planets that are in a difficult aspect, like a square or an opposition, and they’re both located inside in signs that neither of the planets rule. So the scenario or the analogy for this would be like two strangers who are at odds with each other and share nothing in common.
So imagine you run into, let’s say, a stranger on the street and they bump into you, and you get in a verbal altercation. And this person’s just a complete stranger to you and they’re being a jerk to you, and you’re not pleasantly inclined towards them, so you both exchange words and then walk off angry at each other. That’s kind of what it’s like when two planets are in a hard aspect, like a square or an opposition, and they don’t have any reception. Because there’s no familiarity between them, they’re just complete strangers; it makes things worse, basically.
Conversely, compare that to another scenario where if two planets have reception, it creates almost like a family tie between them. So think of an alternative scenario where you’re walking down the street and you bump into somebody. And at first you’re kind of annoyed or angry at them, but then you look up and you see that it’s like your cousin who you grew up with or something like that.
So even though you’re still temporarily annoyed and they’ve inconvenienced you, you’re able to overcome that difference due to that family background that the two of you have ideally. So family members may fight or be at odds, but there’s a sort of motivation to overcome their differences due to sharing a common bond, and that’s the basic conceptualization for the most part behind reception; it creates a familiarity and a sympathy between those two planets.
So this is important because if there’s a malefic planet that’s involved in that hard aspect, if there’s no familiarity and there’s no reception, then the malefic is going to be as harsh as it possibly can be towards the other planet that it’s in a hard aspect with, especially if it’s in a square or an opposition or even a conjunction. If a malefic has reception then it’s like a malefic; so they’re kind of a jerk or they can be kind of harsh. But if they know you and they consider you to be family, they’re not going to be quite as hard on you as they could be because of the sympathy or the familiarity between you.
That’s how the malefics act towards other planets when there is reception and that’s going to be the greater part of the focus basically of the second part of this lecture once we get into example charts. So when you’re thinking about reception, some of the keywords to think about are ‘friendship’, ‘alliances’ and ‘familiar relations’ between planets, basically; it helps to create these sorts of keywords between the planets when they’re configured.
Another concept that we have to talk about is the idea of reception as hospitality. So in ancient cultures, when you take a guest into your home, they were thought to come under your protection. So this is tied into the concept of what’s called guest/friendship, or xenia in Greek. And this is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality where basically a host has a religious obligation to be hospitable to travelers and to guests, and that it would actually be ethically or morally wrong to harm them, to harm somebody who’s staying as a traveler or as a guest in your home.
So many Greek myths incorporate this concept in different ways, often in a funny manner. There’s stories of somebody hosting somebody who’s a stranger and they treat them badly, but then later it turns out that that stranger was a god and they cursed the person who treated a guest badly. So this becomes a recurring theme in terms of don’t mistreat strangers who are staying as guests in your home because you’re morally obligated to support them and to help them out.
So this is where the mitigating factor comes into play because the most important part is that malefics are less harmful when they have reception in a chart. They’re less harmful towards the planet that they have reception with, and this becomes a major factor in understanding the difference between how the malefics play out in some charts versus others. If there’s reception then the malefic has sort of like a moral obligation to not be as hard on the guest planet or the other planet that it has reception with as it could be otherwise.
Here’s a few quotes that I wanted to pull out from some of the Medieval texts about reception acting as a mitigating factor. So one of them comes from the 9th century philosopher and astrologer al-Kindi who in The Forty Chapters at one point says: “…every application becomes stronger with reception.” So this is from Ben Dykes’ translation of The Forty Chapters by al-Kindi: “…every application becomes stronger with reception.” So every application in the sense of every applying aspect between planets becomes even stronger with reception, and this becomes a recurring theme in some of the Medieval texts.
For example, the later 12th or 13th century astrologer Guido Bonatti has this whole table in his text on horary where he talks about how reception improves certain aspects and almost kind of bumps up some aspects and makes them stronger and more auspicious depending on how the planets are configured. So keep that in mind and we’ll come back to that as an idea that every application becomes stronger with reception.
Elsewhere, Sahl ibn Bishr in the early 9th century, in The Fifty Judgments, Judgment 25 is: “When planets are received, and they are benefics, their good will be stronger; and if they were malefics, their impediment will be less.” So this is a really important one; this is from the Latin translation by Benjamin Dykes of Aphorism 25, basically. And then a few centuries later, Abraham Ibn Ezra, towards the end of the Medieval tradition, writes in Hebrew. He copies over that definition from Sahl’s work and he frames it that: “A planet that is received (by another planet): if it is a benefic its good fortune is increased, and if a malefic its misfortune is lessened.” So these are really crucial; and that’s from Sela’s translation of The Beginning of Wisdom, Chapter 8, Aphorism 39 from Abraham Ibn Ezra.
So keep that in mind because this becomes the crucial factor when you read through Medieval texts. There’s this recurring theme, especially when malefics are involved, that if there’s reception it’s not going to be as bad as it could be; but if there is no reception then you could be looking at a potentially worst-case scenario or at least a worst-case scenario if there’s no reception.
So one of the things that reception does is it helps you to establish both the extremes of best-case scenario and worst-case scenario, as well as some of the shades of gray in between, because you’re then adding in more interpretive factors and more conditions that can help you to identify the different shades of gray in between the two opposite poles.
All right, and I think I have one long quote here from Abu Ma’shar from the 9th century, from his text, On Solar Revolutions, where he has a delineation involving Saturn within the context of his chapter on annual perfections, where he talks about reception as this mitigating factor. So he says: “And if Saturn was the lord of the year and he’s in the sixth [house] in the two times [in the two charts], [and Saturn is] in a suitable condition, he indicates few pains in that year, from cold and moisture, and benefiting from being treated from those ailments; [however] if [Saturn] was in [a] bad condition, it indicates pleurisy and chronic illnesses.”
So if Saturn is in a good condition, there may be a little bit of problems, but they’ll be treatable, and you’ll benefit from treatment if the 6th house is activated in a given year. But if it’s not in a good condition, if Saturn’s in a bad condition then you’re going to struggle with major chronic illnesses if Saturn is involved with the 6th house in that year, since the 6th house is the house of illness.
So he goes on and he says: “And if [Saturn] was received [and] made fortunate, he will recover from them, and the days of his illnesses will be few, and he will benefit from remedies.” So this is a continuation of the last condition, which is if Saturn is in a bad condition then the person’s going to struggle with chronic illnesses when the 6th house is activated in that year. But then he says basically if Saturn is in a bad condition, but it has reception and it’s also made fortunate, “…he will recover from them and the days of his illnesses will be few and he will benefit from remedies.” So there will be some sort of positive resolution to the situation partially as a result of the reception.
All right, so he goes on and he says: “Now if in addition to that the lord of the sixth house was made unfortunate, then it indicates the ruin of his servants and riding animals; but if it was received [if the lord of the 6th house was received], in a suitable condition, an ailment will afflict them but they will escape it.” So it’s the same thing where he starts talking about the ruler of the 6th house, and if it’s poorly-placed then it’ll indicate problems with the native’s servants or helpers in that year. But then he says, however, if the lord of the 6th has reception and it’s in a decent condition, then the servants may still struggle with ailments in that year, but they’ll get through it; they’ll basically come out on the other side okay.
So I wanted to use that quote, and there’s actually tons of quotes just like this throughout the Medieval tradition where reception is always introduced as this factor that can mitigate things. If there’s no reception then there may not be any good resolution to the scenario, whereas if there’s reception then sometimes there’s a problem that arises, but it’s a problem that is manageable and that the person can overcome by getting help for it; and that’s often what reception indicates is getting help from some sort of outside source or having some sort of mitigating factor that allows you to overcome what becomes then just sort of like a surmountable difficulty. So ‘surmountable difficulties’ is another good reception keyword, especially when it’s involving malefics.
All right, so let’s transition into basically the second-half of this lecture where I’m going to go through a bunch of example charts. And there’s a few prerequisite concepts–I just want to make sure everyone’s on the same page that I’m going to be using–but I’m not going to dwell on them too long here. One of them is that I’m going to be using the concept of whole sign houses where whatever sign the Ascendant is located in, that sign becomes the 1st house, then the sign after that becomes the 2nd house, and the sign after that becomes the 3rd house, and so on and so forth.
So if the Ascendant, for example, was anywhere in the sign of Cancer, then the entirety of that sign, from 0 to 30 degrees would become the 1st house, then Leo would become the 2nd house, Virgo the 3rd house, and so on and so forth. So l’ve got a bunch of other lectures on my YouTube channel or on The Astrology Podcast website that talk about whole sign houses. So if you need any clarification on that just look it up and you’ll find lots of other treatments about that on the podcast.
Another concept that’s kind of relevant here is a concept that I did a podcast episode on and another lecture like this one just a few months ago, which is the concept of ‘sect’, which is the difference between day and night charts. So according to the concept of sect, one of the things that you can use sect for is to identify the most positive and the most negative planets in the chart functionally.
And the basic gist of it, all other things aside, is that the most positive planet for people who were born with a day chart, who were born during the day, is Jupiter, whereas the most positive planet for people that were born at night is Venus. Conversely, the most negative or difficult planet for people who were born during the day is Mars, and the most difficult planet for people who were born at night is the planet Saturn.
So that’s going to be a background rule that I’m going to take into account as I’m going through some of those example charts. And I don’t want to dwell on it too much, but you should know somewhere in the back of your mind that that’s another factor that’s coming into play. And it’s also important because sect is another major mitigating factor that, together with reception, is a real game-changer in terms of being able to learn and interpret and see the subtle nuances and differences in charts and knowing both the extremes of good and bad, as well as all the shades of gray in between.
All right, and one other prerequisite concept that we need to mention briefly is the concept of ‘bonification and maltreatment’ that is used in Hellenistic astrology. And the basic premise underlying this is that the benefics and the malefics have special powers or special roles to play in the chart, and that they can manifest these powers through a special set of conditions which are known as the conditions of bonification and maltreatment.
So to boil it down really simply or really simplistically, one of the roles that the benefics play in a chart is that the benefics have the special power to say ‘yes’ to things or to affirm the significations of other planets in the chart. So that’s the special role of Jupiter and the special role of Venus under certain conditions, and this is usually within the context of specific topics and whether the benefics are affirming those topics or not. Conversely, the malefics have special roles to play in the chart, and their special role under certain conditions is they have the ability to say ‘no’ to what other planets want to signify in the chart or to negate what other planets want to signify in the chart.
So this usually comes in use within the context of the topical analysis of the chart, which is when you’re analyzing the 12 houses and the different potentials that they indicate and whether those things are likely to happen in the native’s life or if they’re unlikely to happen in the native’s life for some reason.
So one of the topics, for example, is if you’re analyzing the 2nd house and the topic of finances and the question of will this person be rich or have a lot of money or possessions. And the benefics within that context have the ability to say ‘yes’, and the malefics within that context in some instances have the ability to say ‘no’, so that’s one thing.
Another topic is relationships or the 7th house of marriage and the question of whether a person will ever be married at some point in their life and whether the answer is ‘yes’ or the answer is ‘no’; or 10th house topics, which is career; or 11th house topics, which is friends; 5th house topics, which is children, and so on and so forth. So there’s many different topics and the benefics and malefics have the special power to say ‘yes’ or to say ‘no’ in certain circumstances, depending on how they’re positioned in the chart and how extreme they are in one direction or another.
So the benefics and malefics also have the power to alter the quality of those same topics. The benefics through the bonification conditions have the ability to affirm but also to stabilize and to improve the topics that they are associated with in a chart. So they could make the topic of relationships, for example, go better or they could make the topic of career more successful in the native’s life depending on how they’re configured to let’s say the 10th house.
Conversely, the malefics through the maltreatment conditions have the ability to negate, to destabilize, and potentially also corrupt the significations of different houses. So for example, the 2nd house, it could indicate financial loss or financial ruin, or the 11th house, it could indicate the loss of friends or the destabilization of one’s alliances and friend groups at some point, just to give an extreme example.
So all of these conditions indicate extremes, especially the bonification and maltreatment conditions, but reception can help to modify those extremes to make them either more constructive or potentially more destructive, depending on how the reception is present or whether it’s completely absent.
There’s one type of bonification and maltreatment condition that’s very important that we’re going to see come up a few times in some of my example charts, so I wanted to mention it here very briefly–even though this is kind of like a whole separate lecture, a whole separate topic–and this is the concept known as ‘overcoming’. So the basic premise of overcoming is that planets that are earlier in the order of signs are said to be or thought to be in a ‘superior’ position over planets that are later.
So when two planets are in an aspect, there’s almost always going to be one planet that is earlier in the order of signs. And the premise of overcoming is that the planet that’s earlier in the order of signs–by a sextile, square, or trine aspect–the planet that’s earlier is going to be the one that plays a dominant role in the relationship between those two planets. So the earlier planet is the one that is said to overcome the planet that is later; this is always relative in terms of zodiacal order. Let me give an example of it actually really quickly; that probably doesn’t make any sense.
So here’s a diagram. Let’s say that Mercury is in the sign of Cancer, Jupiter is in the sign of Aries, and Venus is in the sign of Pisces. So Jupiter is configured by a square to Mercury in Cancer and Venus is configured by a sign-based trine from Pisces to Mercury in Cancer. So Jupiter is earlier in the order of signs, so Jupiter is said to be overcoming Mercury because it’s earlier, and therefore, in the dominant or the superior position over Mercury.
So in that instance, Jupiter would have the upper-hand in the square between Mercury and Jupiter versus if their roles were reversed. If Mercury was in Aries and Jupiter was in Cancer then Mercury would have the upper-hand and Mercury would be overcoming Jupiter in Cancer. Also in this diagram, because that is five signs earlier or five signs before Mercury in Cancer, Venus is similarly said to overcome and to be in the superior position over Mercury in Cancer when Venus is in Pisces.
On the right, there’s another diagram that has Mercury in Cancer and Saturn in the sign of Aries. So in this instance, Saturn in Aries is in the superior position and is overcoming Mercury through a superior sign-based square. So this is important because the malefics have the ability to maltreat other planets and to negate their significations when they’re in a superior square. So that instance of Saturn in Aries overcoming Mercury through a superior square would be a condition of maltreatment where Saturn can say ‘no’ to whatever Mercury wants to signify in the chart.
Conversely, the benefics bonify and make other planets good or affirm their significations either through a superior sign-based square or through a superior sign-based trine. So Jupiter in Aries or Venus in Pisces would both be overcoming Mercury in Cancer and bonifying it, and therefore, affirming or saying ‘yes’ to its significations. So this happens by sign regardless of degree when planets are in a superior position, especially by square or trine. The superior sextile is also positive, but it’s much weaker, so most of the ancient texts focus on the superior square and the superior trine.
All right, so I know that’s a little complicated, but I wanted to mention it because it’s a condition that’s going to come up a lot. And you have to understand at least the basic premise because then you know what configurations can be mitigated and that you can mitigate some of these bonification and maltreatment conditions in order to make them even better or in order to make them not as bad and not as negative basically, that’s what reception helps with.
All right, so this is something that I go into in a lot more detail in my course on Hellenistic astrology which is an online course. So if all of that doesn’t make sense yet, it’ll make a little bit more sense when I get into the example charts here in a minute. And if you’d like an even more in-depth explanation of it, then check out my course lectures, which spend a lot of time talking about the concept of overcoming and some of the nuances and details underlying it.
All right, so here we go. So there’s one more quote I wanted to use from al-Kindi, from The Forty Chapters, where at one point in Ben Dykes’ translation, it says: “…the infortunes are especially strengthened when their regard and application are deprived of reception, namely when an infortune should apply to some star from a place in which it obtains no dignity.”
So a very important concept. This is talking about the concept of the malefics and the concept of reception and saying basically that the malefics are worse, are much worse, when they do not have reception and when they’re applying to a planet while being placed in a place where they have no dignity, where they’re basically in a sign that is not their home and not their exaltation.
So let’s see how that actually works in practice. In order to do that I’m going to have a few examples first that demonstrate the exact concept that al-Kindi just outlined from Aphorism 100 in The Forty Chapters. But basically, I want to demonstrate first the worst-case scenario by giving a few examples where there’s maltreatment through hard aspects by malefics without reception in order to show the worst-case scenario. That way, I can set up the extremes and then show you what it looks like when you have a mitigation where there’s maltreatment, but then it’s mitigated through reception. So in order to do that we have to first outline or explain and demonstrate what the potential worst-case scenario is.
All right, so here’s a chart which has Cancer rising and the 3rd whole sign house is the sign of Virgo, and the ruler of the 3rd house of siblings is Mercury, which is placed in its own sign in Gemini, but Mercury is also in the 12th house. And Mercury is located at 4 degrees of Gemini, and it’s applying to a square with Mars at 8 degrees of Pisces in a day chart. So Mercury, even though it’s well-placed by being in its own sign, it’s in a bad house–it’s in the 12th house–and it’s also being overcome and maltreated by a superior degree-based square from Mars. And it’s also in a day chart, so Mars is actually the most negative planet in this chart because the person was born during the day.
So how did that work out? So this was somebody who had an older sister, and this is the birth chart of the native who had a sister. They said that their sister had a good life and was very successful, and this is partially because Mercury is in its own domicile, so theoretically being in its own sign as a significator has a lot going for it. And this person described their sister as a classic overachiever and said that their sister was the president of her class in high school, that she became president of the student union in college, that she was pretty and that she was popular, and that she was basically, in her family, the superstar who their mom lived through vicariously. So she had a lot going for her, which is Mercury being dignified being in its own sign in Gemini, basically being at home.
However, because Mercury is also maltreated by Mars and it’s in the 12th, what ended up happening is that the native’s sister was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 33 and she ended up passing away two years later at the age of 35. So the person’s sister, the native’s sister, even though they had a lot going for them ended up dying much earlier than she should have and having her life cut short due to a terminal illness, basically.
So what we have going on here is the dignified planet indicating some strength and positive circumstances surrounding the person, however, the placement in the 12th house–which is one of the worst houses–and the maltreatment by Mars–which is overcoming through a superior square in a day chart–indicated loss and the native’s sister being cut down in her prime.
And the important thing to note here is the lack of reception. So Mercury is in its own domicile, Mars is in Pisces, which is not a sign that it rules, and neither of those two planets are in signs ruled by the other, which means that they have no familiarity and they have no relationship between them in terms of reception, other than just that hard, applying degree-based square aspect. So there’s no mitigating factor that makes the square between Mars and Mercury better, and as a result of that what we get is essentially the worst-case scenario, so this is a worst-case scenario without reception.
Similar example–this is the birth chart of Che Guevara and an example of maltreatment without reception; in his case, it’s maltreatment of the ruler of the Ascendant. So he was born with Aries rising and the ruler of the Ascendant is Mars, which is located in Pisces in the 12th whole sign house, in a night chart. So again, it’s a planet that’s placed in the 12th house–which is one of the most difficult houses; which typically in traditional astrology, the 12th house signifies things like sickness or enemies–and it’s in the 12th house, which is not great.
And then what happens is Saturn is placed in the 9th house and it’s overcoming Mars through a superior sign-based square. And because the Sun is below the horizon in the 2nd house, we know that this is a night chart. So therefore, Saturn is the most negative planet in this chart and it’s overcoming; it has the upper-hand over Mars and it’s overcoming it through a superior sign-based square. And what happened is that he was like a revolutionary fighter, but he was executed while fighting in a foreign country after being captured by his enemies.
So that’s also the difference between the last chart example; it was the ruler of the 3rd house of siblings, which is located in the 12th house and was maltreated, so it was showing something that was negative or problematic happening to the native’s sibling, whereas here, because it’s the ruler of the Ascendant, it’s more directly related to the native themselves and their body and physical vitality. The 1st house is primarily the house that pertains to you in the birth chart, whereas the other houses tend to pertain to other people in your life or other parts of your life.
So again, note the lack of reception because Mars is in Pisces and Saturn is in Sagittarius. So those are both signs ruled by Jupiter, but they’re not signs which are ruled by one or the other planets; so therefore, it creates a lack of familiarity between those two planets. And that square, which is already pretty bad, has no mitigation. So what we end up with is the worst-case scenario in terms of manifestations for that placement, which is getting executed prematurely by one’s enemies in this case, which is a pretty extreme manifestation, I think we could all say.
Okay, the next example is somebody who had a maltreatment by Mars, again, without reception, just because I really want to establish some of the different variations of worst-case scenarios here, so that you can see the contrast when I start introducing reception mitigation examples here in a moment. So this is somebody who was born with Sagittarius rising, and the 11th whole sign house is Libra.
So the ruler of the 11th house of friends is Venus, which is located at 9 degrees of Cancer in the 8th hole sign house, which is the place of death and mortality and inheritance and other people’s money or other people’s finances. So Venus at 9 degrees of Cancer is applying to a conjunction with Mars which is at 12 degrees of Cancer, and this is a day chart. Because it’s a day chart, Mars is the most negative planet in this chart, and Venus, the ruler of the 11th house, is applying to a conjunction with it. So this is a case of maltreatment through what’s known as ‘adherence’, which is an applying conjunction within 3 degrees with a malefic, which is one of the other maltreatment conditions that I cover in my book and in my course.
So what ended up happening with this person is that she only had one really close friend that she grew up with and they were sort of lifelong friends, but what happened is once they both became adults, her friend died of cancer relatively young, in her 30s. So the death of the native’s friend was particularly difficult for her, and she doesn’t really have any other friends and she isn’t really interested in developing any other friendships anymore because of what a traumatic experience that was with the ruler of the 11th house being maltreated in the 8th house of death by Mars and losing her one, significant, lifelong friend.
So again, this is happening in the sign of Cancer, so it is not a sign that is ruled, in terms of domicile, by either Mars or Venus, and therefore, there’s no reception between these two planets. So there’s no mitigation to soften that applying conjunction, whereas, conversely, if there was reception then it could be mitigated to be not as extreme.
But what we’re seeing here is just harkening back to that quote from al-Kindi that I started with. He says: “…the infortunes [or the malefics] are especially strengthened when their regard and application are deprived of reception, namely, when an infortune should apply to some star from a place in which it obtains no dignity.” And that’s exactly what we’re seeing in the case of these three chart examples.
So there’s other examples that I could keep going through, but this is already getting kind of depressing, so I think I’m going to skip over to some reception examples so that we can get to the point. Otherwise, I was going to show charts of Caroline Kennedy who has the ruler of the 8th house of death in the 3rd house of siblings being maltreated or overcome through a superior sign-based square from Mars in a day chart, or Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who has the ruler of the 7th house in the 8th house of death applying to an opposition with Saturn. Although it’s in a day chart, there’s no reception; and that did not work out well since she was the wife of John F. Kennedy.
Let’s go to another example. Here’s an example where we start getting into the idea of mutual reception, because what we have here is a sign-based reception or an exchanging of signs without an aspect between the two planets. So this is the birth chart of Ted Kennedy. He was a prominent US politician, and he was the brother of US President John F. Kennedy. So in his chart, he had Capricorn rising and Pisces is the sign that is on the 3rd whole sign house of siblings, and the ruler of the 3rd house of siblings is Jupiter, which is the ruler of Pisces, which is located in Leo in the 8th house of death and mortality.
So Jupiter is the ruler of the 3rd house of siblings located in the 8th house of death. And the ruler of the 8th house in this instance of death, which is the Sun, which is the ruler of Leo, is actually located in Pisces, which is the sign ruled by Jupiter. So basically, the ruler of the 3rd house of siblings and the ruler of the 8th house of death have exchanged signs in this chart, and what that does or what l’ve found that that does is it closely draws together the topics associated with those two houses in the chart and it makes them more prominent and more closely intertwined in the life than they would be otherwise if they didn’t have that exchange between the two rulers.
Again, this is the weakest example of an exchange of signs or a mutual reception because there is no aspect between those two signs, so they’re not exactly able to help each other out. But the exchange of those two planets between those two houses definitely emphasizes and closely ties together those two topics in the native’s life more than it would be otherwise. Additionally, the ruler of the 3rd house is just not in good condition because it’s Jupiter retrograde in a night chart, and it’s opposed by Mars, which is not very good.
So what happened of course was Ted Kennedy was the youngest in the family, and he had a bunch of siblings, but he repeatedly experienced instances of death coming up with respect to his siblings. So when he was younger, his older brother, Joe, Jr. died in World War 2, then later his sister Kathleen died tragically in an airplane crash, and then later both of his brothers, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, were assassinated in separate instances in the 1960s.
So what we have here then is we see those two houses and the topics associated with them, which in this instance is the 3rd house topic of siblings and the 8th house topic of death, being closely intertwined or closely interlinked because of the exchange of the rulers of those two houses, but it’s not necessarily a positive thing in this instance. Clearly, because of the topic involving the 8th, it’s a much more negative or problematic thing. So that’s just one instance of that. Let’s see another, little bit more positive instance of mutual reception.
All right, so this is the birth chart of Maurizio Gucci who was the grandson of the founder of the Gucci fashion empire. And he at one point, in the 1980s, inherited his father’s half of the entire empire which was worth millions of dollars. So he was born with Cancer rising, and the 2nd house of money and finances was Leo–the 2nd whole sign house–where we find Venus at 18 degrees of Leo. And the ruler of the 2nd house of finances is the Sun, which is located at 2 degrees of Libra in the 4th whole sign house, in the place of family and parents, and especially the father. In some Hellenistic and some Medieval texts, the 4th house is called the ‘place of the father’, or ‘the place of the fathers’.
So the ruler of the 2nd house of finances is located in the 4th house of parents. And if you pay attention to the ruler of the 4th house, you’ll find that it’s actually Venus; and Venus is again located in Leo, in the 2nd house of finances. So that means that the ruler of the 2nd house of finances is in the 4th house of parents, and the ruler of the 4th house of parents is located in the 2nd house of finances. So that means that there is a sort of mutual reception here between the ruler of the 2nd house of finances and the 4th house of parents. And it’s not an applying degree-based sextile, but instead this is an example of the second category.
It’s a mutual reception because Venus and the Sun have exchanged signs, and they’re also–unlike the previous example of Ted Kennedy–configured by a sign-based sextile or by a sign-based aspect because the entire sign of Leo is configured by sextile to the entire sign of Libra, but they are not applying through a degree-based aspect.
So it’s not necessarily the best-case scenario, per se, but it’s still pretty good. And that’s one of the reasons why I really want to emphasize that even a sign-based reception–where there’s just a sign-based aspect and the two planets either are exchanging signs or one of them is in the sign of the other–is pretty good and pretty helpful; so in this case, it’s an almost full-fledged mutual reception.
And again, what happened is basically he inherited his father’s half of the family business in the 1980s, which was worth hundreds of millions of dollars at the time. So he became very rich as a result of his family and as a result of his father and his father’s inheritance basically, and that is what’s showing up in terms of the connection between the 2nd house of finances and the 4th house of parents in this person’s chart.
It also helps that it’s a night chart, and therefore, Venus is the most positive planet in the chart. And it is the ruler of the 4th house, and it’s located in the 2nd house, so that’s actually helping in terms of this being a relatively positive thing in terms of him inheriting this money from his parents instead of let’s say the alternative, which could be inheriting debt from your family or debt from your parents; having your parents incurred debt that you owe for some reason could be a worst-case scenario. It’s working out in his case, his inheritance, because of the involvement of the most positive planet in the chart. So this is our first example of a mutual reception with a sign-based aspect between the two planets involved.
All right, so here’s an example of a more difficult one, but where there’s a bonification that’s being enhanced and mitigated a little bit through reception. So this is the birth chart of Carrie Fisher who was a famous actress who famously played Princess Leia in Star Wars. So she was born with Capricorn rising, and the ruler of the Ascendant is Saturn, which is located in the 12th house.
It’s a day chart, so Saturn is of the sect in favor, so that especially as the person gets older, it’s a little bit more constructive. But nonetheless, in a 12th house placement, there’s the potential for issues related to the 12th house, which can be issues related to loss or self-undoing. The 12th house is one of the houses that declines away from or falls away from the 1st house of self, so sometimes it has to do with issues of self-undoing. There can also be issues related to illness; either physical illness or sometimes mental illness can come up in terms of any of the houses with respect to the 12th house.
And what happened is that she struggled with drug and alcohol issues in her life, and at one point she survived an overdose, where she almost accidentally killed herself by overdosing but was able to survive it. And part of what’s going on here is even though that’s a little bit of a challenging placement in terms of how the ruler of her Ascendant is set up in the 12th house, it’s being offset relatively significantly by the two benefics, which are in the superior position in Virgo.
So Venus is at 18 Virgo and Jupiter is at 21 Virgo, and they’re both overcoming Jupiter through a superior sign-based square, which is a condition of bonification. And especially because this is a day chart, that is particularly helpful from Jupiter, and what’s even more important is the fact that because Saturn is in Sagittarius, it’s actually ruled by Jupiter.
So the fact that Jupiter is configured to Saturn, while Saturn is in Jupiter’s sign, means that this is actually a case of reception. So it’s a somewhat weaker case of a sign-based reception rather than a degree-based one; and also rather than one that’s applying, nonetheless, it is an instance of reception which enhances Jupiter’s ability to help and to do better in terms of Jupiter trying to make Saturn do better than it would otherwise.
And what happened is that even though she did struggle with drug and alcohol issues from the time that she was relatively young, she did end up being able to work through that and still live a relatively successful life. And she did pass away a few years ago eventually, but she was able to be relatively successful. And once she got older, she had a career as a writer and as a script doctor in Hollywood where she would help clean up scripts in many different films and ended up playing a semi-influential role in terms of that during the course of her later career, even when she wasn’t acting.
So for me, this was a situation where it could have been worse in the sense that there’s some scenarios where people get really tied up in drug and alcohol abuse or get stuck in self-destructive spirals. There’s some scenarios where it’s the worst-case scenario, and the person isn’t able to pull themselves out of that and they sort of self-destruct. There’s people in the ‘27 club’, for example, who overdosed or who died relatively young while still in their 20s.
And while that was a possibility at one point for Carrie Fisher, it was something that she was able to pull herself back from the brink of and to overcome, and I think that’s partially owing to the counteracting influence of the two benefics, especially Jupiter overcoming Saturn, the ruler of the Ascendant, and making it do better and making it improve itself better than it would otherwise, and that’s enhanced a little bit due to the reception between Saturn and Jupiter, so I hope that makes sense.
One of the things I just wanted to demonstrate with that chart example is just that we sometimes need to be able to articulate what it looks like in the instances where somebody is able to get help and to turn their life around in a positive way versus what does it look like in a chart in some instances where a person isn’t able to get help and isn’t able to, for whatever reason, turn their life around. We of course have to make room for things like free will and for things that are maybe outside of the scope of astrology that don’t need to be explained in that context.
However, sometimes there may be actual technical factors that we can look for and that we can identify in a birth chart that could help us to anticipate certain instances where there is help or there is the ability to mitigate difficulties and to turn things around in a positive way. And that’s really one of the main things that reception does is provide a technical rule for what to look for in the instances where the person does experience difficulties, but is able to find help and support in order to overcome them and make them not as bad as they would be otherwise.
Here’s another example that’s kind of similar in terms of that. So this is the birth chart of Robin Williams who was a famous actor and comedian. And he was born with Scorpio rising, and the ruler of the Ascendant is Mars in the 9th house, in the sign of Cancer, in a day chart. So one of the things that I talk about in the Hellenistic astrology course is because this is a day chart, we know that Mars is the most difficult or negative planet in the chart. But in this instance, because it’s the ruler of the Ascendant, sometimes when the most difficult planet in the chart is the ruler of the Ascendant, it can mean that some of the problems or some of the native’s greatest struggles and difficulties come from within, or there’s something that the native struggles with that comes from within the native themselves rather than from outside of the native as external circumstances necessarily.
And with Robin Williams, one of the things that he struggled with is that he suffered from depression, and he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for much of his career. And this is kind of a similar setup with the last one because it’s tying in the 12th and the 6th houses, which are the houses that traditionally have to do with illness, which can sometimes pertain to physical illness; but also those are the two houses that in some instances cases deal with issues of mental illness or depression or other things like that as well, so he suffered from these things during the course of his life.
And the ruler of the Ascendant is also the ruler of the 6th house of illness, and it’s Mars, which is contrary to the sect. Additionally, it’s not dignified–it’s in the sign of its fall; also known as the sign of its ‘depression’–in Cancer, in the 9th whole sign house. So it’s not really in great condition, but one thing that’s important to see and to recognize in this chart is that there’s a major mitigation going on because Mars is being overcome by Jupiter through a superior square in a day chart with the best-case scenario of reception at the same time.
So Jupiter is at 13 degrees of Aries, in the 6th whole sign house, in a day chart–so Jupiter is actually the most positive planet–and Mars is applying to a square with Jupiter from 11 degrees of Cancer. So that means there’s an applying square aspect between these two, which normally is kind of a tense aspect.
But in this instance, Jupiter has the upper-hand over Mars because Jupiter is earlier in zodiacal order; so therefore, Jupiter is overcoming Mars and bonifying Mars. And that square, even though it’s difficult, a lot of the edge or much of the edge is taken off of the square between Mars and Jupiter due to the fact that Jupiter is in Aries, which is Mars’ sign. So that means there’s reception between Mars and Jupiter, and therefore, some of the tension in that square is taken away, and it also allows Jupiter to be a bit more positive towards Mars.
So despite his struggles with depression and drug and alcohol addiction, he was generally regarded as a good person who had a positive influence on many people, and he lived a relatively long and successful life–Robin Williams did, I mean, if you’re like a certain age. Most people weren’t really aware of his, for most of his life, with some of his struggles with depression and substance abuse, but they were more just aware of his personality and the sort of positive vibe that he brought through his comedy and through his acting.
So what I’m pointing out here is that Jupiter was able to help Mars in this instance, the ruler of the Ascendant, to keep some of the problems associated with that placement in check for most of his life and to make things much more positive and surmountable than they would have been otherwise in terms of thinking about a scenario where somebody’s able to overcome their difficulties and still live a relatively long and successful life versus a scenario where early on in the person’s life, they’re cut short or they’re not able to live a long and successful life as a result of those issues dragging them down, so this is more of a positive instance.
So of course it doesn’t remove all problems entirely, and eventually towards the end of his life, he did end up committing suicide by hanging himself at the age of 63. His wife said that he was struggling with depression and anxiety, as well as the early stages of Parkinson’s, or I think it was later reported as Lewy body dementia that he developed later in his life, which eventually contributed to his suicide. But despite those things, he still was able to live a relatively long and successful life and to play a relatively positive role in the world.
Even though some of his struggles came from within, and some of those struggles eventually in the end ended up being contributing factors to how his life came to an end, nonetheless, the positive influence of the benefic Jupiter in this instance was able to offset some of that significantly, and especially through the presence of reception was able to amplify some of the positive aspects of Jupiter even more, which is a helpful thing in this instance. My next example is the singer Aretha Franklin.
So Aretha Franklin has a night chart with Saturn in the 7th house of relationships. So the most difficult planet in her chart is in the 7th house of relationships in Taurus–it’s at 24 degrees of Taurus–but then Venus is in the sign of Aquarius at 20 degrees of Aquarius, in the 4th whole sign house. And Venus is actually in a mutual reception with Saturn in the full degree-based sense because Venus is actually applying to a square with Saturn in a night chart. So this is kind of a complicated example because there’s a lot going on here, where she has some majorly-challenging things and some also majorly-positive things that are trying to offset it.
So Saturn in the 7th house, in a night chart, is automatically going to indicate difficulties in terms of relationships or some of the greatest difficulties coming within the context of relationships. Venus as the ruler of the 7th house applying to a square with Saturn in a night chart is also going to echo and relate some difficulties in relationships because there’s basically a Venus-Saturn square in a night chart, which is tricky for the ruler of the 7th house in this instance, indicating additional difficulties. However, because of the presence of reception and mutual reception, and also because Venus is in the superior position overcoming Saturn in a night chart and Venus is the most positive planet, there is mitigation to this condition.
In the worst-case scenario, for example, if Venus was not overcoming Saturn in the night chart, or if there was no mutual reception–since in this case Venus is in Saturn’s sign traditionally and Saturn is in Venus’ sign–if you didn’t have that then Saturn might have the power to say ‘no’ to relationships altogether and might have the power to say this person will never have a significant, long-term relationship, or this person will never be married at any point in their life, for example, let’s just say worst-case scenario.
But Venus is fighting pretty hard to counteract that and to counteract the negation that Saturn is trying to bring to the 7th house of relationships, and Venus is trying to say ‘yes’ and is trying to improve it and is trying to affirm the significations of the 7th house to whatever extent it can through that mutual reception and through overcoming Saturn.
So what ended up happening is that this mitigation did allow for relationships, but it didn’t necessarily remove all of the difficulties, sort of like what Abu Ma’shar said in that quote that I read earlier. So she did end up getting married twice in her life, but both of her marriages ended in divorce. She had two different children with two different men as a teenager, but then the fathers didn’t stick around, so she sort of struggled with heartbreak earlier in her life.
Later on, she was married to a much older man in 1961 who became her manager. But interestingly, her father was against the relationship, which I thought was kind of an interesting factor in her biography with having the ruler of the 7th house of relationships and marriage in the 4th house of parents, and then the ruler of the 4th house of parents in the 7th house of relationships and her father sort of not being happy with that relationship and being against the relationship, and to some extent being a factor eventually in it breaking up, if I’m remembering her biography correctly.
So during the course of that relationship, she suffered domestic abuse during that marriage and eventually ended up being divorced in 1969. She ended up having a third child during an affair with her manager in 1970. Then eventually, she had a second marriage in 1978, but they ended up splitting up just a few years later in 1982 and then eventually divorcing in 1984. Eventually, about eight or nine years ago, in 2012, she announced plans to wed her longtime companion who she’d been with actually for a while at that point, but they ended up calling it off several weeks later.
And what was funny is that ended up being her last relationship, which basically ended up being successful towards the end of her life, but they just never ended up finalizing it. And she passed away a few years ago, but that seemed to be almost like the workaround or the solution that ended up working out for her, which is that she didn’t end up finalizing that last relationship, even though it was something that was in her life for I think the last decade or two of her life; they were together and they had a relationship that was loving and good and relatively compatible. Part of the solution in the end was just not finalizing it or formalizing it into a marriage and that somehow ended up working out for her.
So in the end, she did end up finding love and did end up finding a stable relationship at some point in her life, despite relationships always being an area of trouble and difficulty for her repeatedly at different points. And in her older age, which is interestingly another Saturn signification, she was eventually able to essentially find success in relationships through a sort of unique path or a unique way in just not formalizing it into a marriage.
All right, so that’s an example. It didn’t completely get rid of all of the issues with relationships in her life obviously because that was still something she struggled with, with Saturn in the 7th house in a night chart and with a Venus-Saturn square. But she wasn’t completely bereft of relationships, and it wasn’t like she never had any relationships or never had any significant successful relationships because she did end up having significant relationships especially towards the end of her life. It was just something that became a lifelong thing that she didn’t fully figure out until later, and it was something that she had to work for; but eventually, I think she was able to get it right later on in her life. So that’s one of my examples of a mutual reception with a degree-based applying aspect and with the mutual reception taking a little bit of the edge off of that square between Venus and Saturn.
Here’s an example of reception with a benefic ruler of the 8th house. So this is somebody that was born with Leo rising, and the Sun is located at 22 degrees of Pisces in the 8th house of death and inheritance, and it’s applying to a conjunction with Jupiter at 24 degrees of Pisces, also in the 8th hole sign house of death and inheritance.
This is a day chart, so Jupiter is the most positive planet, and because they’re in Pisces that means that they’re actually in Jupiter’s sign. So not only is the Sun applying to a close degree-based conjunction with Jupiter within 3 degrees–which is actually one of the conditions of bonification known as adherence–but because the Sun is in Jupiter’s sign, there’s also reception between the Sun and Jupiter, which is strengthening the conjunction and making it even more positive.
So what ended up happening is that it is still the Sun and it’s the Sun in the 8th house, and the Sun is one of the general significators for death and mortality–or the Sun is one of the general significators for the father, and the 8th house is one of the houses of mortality. So the native’s father died unexpectedly of a heart attack when the native was 26-years-old, and he had a significant life insurance policy which the native received the entirety of since she was an only child and her father and mother had divorced years earlier. So basically, when her father died when she was 26-years-old, she inherited the entirety of his life insurance policy which was a significant sum of money at that point in her life.
So the native ended up investing some of the money in a mutual fund that did really well for a period of time, and the money ended up lasting for about 10 years, and it allowed the native to grow and develop and accomplish some things in her life that she never would have done otherwise. And that ended up significantly impacting and sort of altering her life course in different ways, in a relatively positive way, even though it was still as a result of something that was somewhat negative or difficult, which was the death of her father.
So what I’m pointing out here is just this is an instance of reception improving a positive aspect, which is the Sun-Jupiter conjunction in the 8th house of inheritance, and the reception strengthening that making it even more positive than it already was otherwise. So that in this instance it becomes inheriting a significant sum of money from one’s father, which ends up impacting and altering in a positive direction the course of your entire life.
There’s actually also other instances of reception here that I don’t really want to get into, but just glancing at the chart are worth mentioning as well, because this is something that I want you to get in the habit of doing in charts. One of the things you should do immediately when you’re looking at charts is to look and see if there’s any receptions between planets. So for example, in this chart, we see that there’s a pretty close applying Moon-Mars square, since the Moon is at 0 degrees of Scorpio, and it’s applying to a square with Mars at 5 degrees of Leo.
So our initial thought or our first thought when it comes to that is that it’s going to be tough that there’s a square between the Moon and Mars, especially because it’s a day chart; however, we see that the Moon is in Scorpio. Even though that is the sign of the fall or the depression of the Moon and is not a good placement for the Moon, that is one of the signs ruled by Mars; so that means that there is a reception between the Moon and Mars, which is going to take a little bit of the edge off of that square between the Moon and Mars because there’s reception.
Similarly, we see there’s a conjunction, an applying conjunction between Venus and Saturn in this chart, with Venus at 10 degrees of Aquarius and Saturn at 18 degrees of Aquarius; so it’s like there’s a Venus-Saturn conjunction. It’s a day chart, so Saturn’s not going to be as negative as it could be. It’s going to be a bit more constructive due to sect, so that conjunction is not going to be as bad due to that.
And then, additionally, this is taking place in the sign of Aquarius, which is one of Saturn’s signs. So that means that Venus is applying to a conjunction with Saturn, with reception, because Venus is staying in Saturn’s house or Saturn’s domicile, Saturn’s home. And Saturn is there in the home–it’s in its own home in Aquarius–welcoming Venus into that sign.
So sometimes people get that tripped up, like what the terminology is in terms of which planet is receiving or which planet is welcoming which planet into the sign, and you always just have to remember that it’s the ruler of the sign or the domicile lord of the sign which is welcoming the guest planet into its home. So in this instance, it’s Saturn welcoming or receiving Venus into its home and helping to support it as a good host, so keep that in mind.
Here’s another example. This is one that I use from time to time just because it’s a good example of what should otherwise be a majorly problematic debilitation of the ruler of the Ascendant that gets mitigated. So this is the birth chart of Marilyn Manson who is a famous musician. So he has Leo rising, and the Sun at 15 degrees of Capricorn in the 6th house, and it’s applying to a square within 3 degrees with Saturn, which is located at 18 degrees of Aries.
So this is also a night chart because the Sun is below the horizon in the 6th house, so that means that Saturn is actually the most negative or most difficult planet in the chart according to sect. The fact that the Sun is applying to a square with Saturn and the fact that the Sun is the ruler of the Ascendant should normally be a major problematic factor which is going to indicate problems and difficulties with respect to 1st house topics related to the native’s physical vitality and body, as well as their mind and spirit.
And so, this would normally be a major affliction of the ruler of the Ascendant, which could be problematic for those factors and could be a major roadblock with respect to them, but the thing to point out here is that the Sun is in Capricorn, which is Saturn’s sign. So that means the Sun is actually being received into Saturn’s domicile and that’s actually taking some of the edge off of that square between the Sun and Saturn.
So even though there’s a major square and that’s a major condition of potentially maltreatment, where Saturn is maltreating the Sun as the ruler of the Ascendant, the fact that there is reception means that he’s able to get some help and support, and it takes some of the edge off of that square in order to allow him to be more successful than he would be otherwise despite that major sort of affliction to the ruler of the Ascendant.
So there’s a lot of different things to go along with that that I don’t want to get into in terms of the biography and even some recent news surrounding Marilyn Manson and some of the things that he’s done or hasn’t done. I don’t really know and haven’t gotten into a lot of the details, but I just wanted to use that because it’s one of the more notable examples of a major affliction of the ruler of the Ascendant that has some mitigation, so that it’s not the worst-case scenario in terms of what could happen in terms of that placement.
One other example I wanted to have that’s more positive–so this is the birth chart of the rapper and famous music producer Dr. Dre, which is an example of bonification with reception. So this is a timed birth chart, and he has 0 degrees of Gemini rising, and the ruler of the Ascendant is Mercury, which is at 25 degrees of Aquarius. The 2nd whole sign house is Cancer, and the ruler of the second house of finances is the Moon, which is in Libra, at 7 degrees of Libra, in the 5th house; and the 5th house is called ‘the place of good fortune’ in Hellenistic astrology.
So the Moon is applying to a trine with Venus, which is located at 16 degrees of Aquarius; so the ruler of the 2nd house is applying to a trine with Venus, which is a benefic. This is a day chart, so Venus is not normally as positive as it could be otherwise. However, the Moon is in Libra, so that means that there’s reception between the Moon and Venus, because the Moon is in Venus’ domicile and it’s applying to a very favorable trine and favorable degree-based aspect within 13 degrees with the benefic Venus.
So what I’m pointing out here is that this trine between the ruler of the 2nd house and Venus, which is already positive in and of itself, is actually getting strengthened and improved and made to be even more benefic, at least towards the Moon, as a result of the presence of reception because the Moon is actually in Venus’ domicile.
So one of the things then that it does, or one of the things that reception can do is it can actually strengthen trines and make the trine aspect even better. So think of it in terms of like there’s two different versions of a trine aspect. There’s a trine without reception, which is pretty positive and is the most positive aspect you can get, but then there’s a version where there’s a trine with reception, and then it becomes a ‘super trine’ that is even more positive than a normal trine already is on its own.
So in this instance, what that did of course is that in 2014, quoting from an article, it says: “Dr. Dre was ranked as the second richest figure in the American hip hop scene by Forbes with a network net worth of $550 million.” So what happened with that is that he is the CEO of the headphone manufacturer Beats Electronics, and in 2014, Beats was acquired by Apple, which then basically became a huge deal and made him quite a bit of money when his company that he founded was basically acquired by Apple.
And there was this period in the mid-2010s when everybody was using Beats headphones, and as a result of that company, he became just extremely obscenely rich and wealthy; and we can see that through the birth chart by having the ruler of the 2nd house of finances being bonified through reception with a trine with the benefic Venus.
So it’s also worth mentioning here that Venus itself is getting bonified by Jupiter and also has reception with Jupiter. So Venus is at 16 degrees of Aquarius, and it’s applying to a square with Jupiter at 18 degrees of Taurus, so that means that there’s a square basically between Venus and Jupiter, but that Jupiter is in Venus’ sign. So as a result of that this becomes sort of like a condition of bonification where even though the square is somewhat tense between Venus and Jupiter, it’s improved significantly as a result of that reception. And this is something that actually helps out Venus, which then potentially in turn helps out the fact that the Moon, the ruler of the 2nd house of finances, is applying to a trine with Venus with reception as well.
So there’s kind of an interesting chain reaction that’s going on here between these two different sets of planets that are configured with reception, and the reception is helping to strengthen and improve the significations of both of those sets of configurations. In some instances, it takes it from a situation where having the ruler of the 2nd house applying to a trine with a benefic is something that’s going to indicate the potential for positive financial circumstances just in general, but if you add reception on top of that you can get a situation where it could indicate somebody that becomes very successful or exceptionally successful in terms of wealth and finances, which is basically what ended up happening in his chart and in his life.
So again, it’s just identifying those situations where reception is not just a mitigating factor that makes difficult aspects better, or makes difficult aspects not as bad or not worst-case scenarios as they could be, but reception is also a factor where it can actually improve and magnify when there’s positive aspects in the chart between benefics. So being able to identify standout cases of best-case scenario is also just as important as being able to identify the instances of worst-case scenario or the bonification of that.
All right, so let’s look at the last couple of chart examples that I put in recently. A shout-out to Drew Levanti who mentioned some of these when I was looking to put a couple more chart examples in this lecture. I was asking him if he’d seen any good examples of reception recently, and he mentioned that he’d been working with these two charts and that they were pretty good examples.
So one of them is the birth chart of Queen Elizabeth II who is currently the longest-reigning English monarch in history. So she has Capricorn rising, and Saturn is the ruler of the Ascendant, and it’s located at 24 degrees of Scorpio in the 11th whole sign house, but also conjunct the degree of the Midheaven at 25 degrees of Scorpio. So it’s got some 10th house and 11th house properties going with it.
One of the tricky things with that placement of course is that this is a night chart, so that means Saturn is contrary to the sect and is therefore the most difficult planet in the chart. Additionally, we see that Mars and Jupiter are located at 20 degrees and 22 degrees of Aquarius respectively, so both of those are squaring Saturn at 24 degrees of Scorpio.
So the square between especially Mars and Saturn sets up a potentially difficult situation where Mars could be afflicting Saturn, which is a problem since Saturn is the ruler of the Ascendant, and that can be problematic for things like health and vitality or longevity which are all 1st house significations or significations that relate to the 1st house, but what’s important to note here is the presence of a mutual reception between Mars and Saturn.
So Mars is in Aquarius, which is a sign ruled by Saturn, and Saturn is in Scorpio, which is a sign ruled by Mars. So not only does this help to take a major part of the edge off of that square between the two malefics, between Mars and Saturn, to make the square between them not as problematic and not as damaging as it could be for both of those planets relative significations, but it also helps to give them a sort of sign-based dignity which they otherwise wouldn’t have in this chart because Scorpio is not a sign that Saturn is otherwise normally dignified in and Aquarius is not a sign that Mars is otherwise normally dignified in. But because they’re in a mutual reception and exchanging signs, it does give them a sort of temporary sign-based dignity in this chart.
Additionally, because Jupiter is at 22 degrees of Aquarius, normally it would also be getting afflicted through that superior sign-based–or actually degree-based square with Saturn at 24 degrees of Scorpio, which would normally be much more difficult and much more harmful for Jupiter.
But because there is the presence of at least a one-way reception–because Jupiter’s in Aquarius, which is Saturn’s domicile–that square is not going to be as harmful towards Jupiter as it would be otherwise in terms of a condition of maltreatment that would be harming Jupiter. And also, that’s going to improve a little bit the positiveness of the square and the extent to which Jupiter is able to help out and offset some of the significations of Saturn by sending that square backwards the other way. And that’s also important because that’s a full case of reception because it’s applying within just a few degrees to a degree-based aspect between those two planets.
The main thing I want to get into–I don’t want to go into a whole extended digression about Elizabeth’s biography. But I think the primary thing is just that sometimes with the ruler of the Ascendant, the 1st house represents the health and physical body and physical vitality, and part of what this is showing here is it’s acting as a major mitigating factor for helping to indicate greater physical vitality and longevity than there could be otherwise. And that’s one of the reasons why in her chart, for example, in her life, she’s been able to live as long as she has and has become over the course of I think the last decade the longest remaining English monarch in history, which is a pretty notable thing just in and of itself.
So that’s part of the reason why and this just shows off several of the different properties of reception in terms of giving a sort of temporary sign-based dignity when a planet is otherwise not in its own sign or exaltation, and also taking some of the edge off of difficult or harmful aspects in the chart, like squares or oppositions or even sometimes conjunctions, or alternatively, sometimes improving positive aspects between benefics and other planets in the chart. So her chart sort of has it all packed in there; so thanks Drew for mentioning that example.
One other example that I want to end with that Drew mentioned that’s another good example of reception is Kurt Cobain whose chart l’ve used before for other things. But one of the things that’s really interesting about it with respect to the ruler of the Ascendant, Kurt Cobain of course was a famous musician who was in the band Nirvana, which was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame just in the past few years; I think a few years ago, several years ago maybe now. But Kurt Cobain had Virgo rising and the ruler of the Ascendant is Mercury, which is located at 18 degrees of Pisces conjunct the Descendant in the 7th whole sign house.
So what’s important about this placement–it’s like there’s a lot of interesting things we could get into in terms of his chart–but what’s important about that in terms of the ruler of the Ascendant is Mercury at 18 degrees of Pisces is applying to a trine with Jupiter at 25 degrees of Cancer in the 11th house. So Mercury as the ruler of the Ascendant, as well as the ruler of the 10th house of career and overall life direction, it’s already applying to a positive aspect with a benefic, which is a trine with Jupiter in the 11th house, but what’s important in this instance is that Mercury is actually in Pisces.
Now normally Pisces is actually not a great sign for Mercury in terms of sign-based dignity because Pisces is the sign opposite to one of Mercury’s domiciles and opposite to the sign of its exaltation, which is Virgo, which means that Pisces is typically or traditionally considered to be both the detriment as well as the fall or the sign of depression for Mercury because Pisces significations are thought to be the opposite of some of the significations associated with Mercury in. Virgo. But that being said, even though Pisces is not traditionally considered to be a great position in terms of zodiacal dignity for Mercury, Mercury is in Jupiter’s domicile and it’s applying to a degree-based trine with Jupiter. So it actually has reception with Jupiter, its domicile lord, and therefore, it has help and support from its planetary host.
So this is very important and this is one of the final pieces of advice and one of the final rules that I wanted to end with, just pointing out when planets are traditionally ‘debilitated’ or in signs that they traditionally are not thought to do well in, which is, let’s say, the sign of a planet’s fall or depression–which is the sign opposite to its exaltation–or when a planet is in the sign of its detriment–which is the sign opposite to a planet’s domicile; this is also something l’ve been promoting over the past few years, calling that the sign of a planet’s ‘antithesis’ or the sign of a planet’s ‘exile’ which are other good keywords that tie into some of the ancient and traditional interpretations of planets in detriment.
So when a planet is in one of those signs where it’s usually thought to not do well for different reasons–because the significations of that sign are somehow antithetical to that planet–there are exceptions to that, and one of the main exceptions to that is if the planet, when it is in that sign, has reception with its domicile lord.
You will see and I have seen consistently that planets, even when they’re debilitated based on zodiacal dignity–by being in the sign of their depression or the sign of their detriment–if that planet has a strong reception with its domicile lord or even a weak reception with its domicile lord, honestly, those are the cases where you see people–even though they might have some issues with that placement or they might struggle with it or have some awkwardness surrounding that placement initially–they’re eventually able to turn it around and overcome those issues so that it becomes a strength, or it becomes something that’s not a major obstacle or difficulty for them eventually, and it’s something that they’re actually able to overcome.
And this is something that’s commonly missing when, for example, l’ve had debates occasionally with modern astrologers who reject the concept of planets not doing very well in certain signs of the zodiac, like in their fall or detriment, and they’ll cite example charts of people who do just fine with those planets in those signs. And one of the things that I often notice is that when those examples are cited, they tend to be instances where those people that are exceptions to the rule often have that planet having reception with its domicile lord, so that there’s a major mitigation to that placement, basically.
So the thing I’m trying to point out here, the short version of that is even for planets that are in difficult placements based on zodiacal sign, if the planet has reception with its domicile lord then those are going to tend to be the instances where it works out much more favorably and much more constructively than it might otherwise.
So it’s not just planets that are poorly-placed by house or planets that are poorly-placed by other considerations, like hard aspect with malefics or other things like that, but reception is really a factor that can even improve basic zodiacal dignity of planets that are not in signs where they are otherwise usually thought to be favorably placed. So that’s one of the reasons why reception is extremely important, and I would very much encourage you to pay attention to it.
All Right, so just to wrap up the Kurt Cobain example, so Mercury is applying to a trine with Jupiter. Jupiter’s in the 11th house of friends, and he of course formed a band with his high school friend, which was Nirvana; he formed the band with Krist Novoselic. And the band ended up going on to be very successful, and they made millions of dollars and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Kurt of course still ended up dying very young, prematurely I think at the age of 27, and there’s some other major problematic factors going on with his chart primarily centered around the prominence of Saturn as part of his Pisces stellium there at 28 degrees of Pisces in a night chart, which is kind of dragging some things down and is causing some major problems and, for example, maltreating Venus.
But at least in terms of the ruler of the Ascendant and the ruler of the 10th house, that strong reception between the ruler of the Ascendant in the 10th and that benefic in the 11th house of friendship and alliances is something that helped to indicate the career success that he would end up finding as a result of forming a band with his high school friend. And I think that’s significant in terms of that being a really defining factor in terms of his overall life and biography in retrospect and what he’s known for and how he would go down in history.
So it’s not just the trine between Mercury and Jupiter, which is also positive, but that trine is getting supercharged through the presence of reception between Mercury and its domicile lord Jupiter. So that is why reception is important because it can actually strengthen things like trines, and it can be the reason why sometimes certain trines stand out as being even more positive, whereas other trines are not necessarily as significant to write home about.
All right, so I think that is my last example. So at this point let’s talk about some concluding remarks. Obviously, I hope l’ve made the point by this point in the lecture that reception is a super useful mitigating factor. The purpose of it–or at least one of the core purposes of it is that it can make the benefics even better, and it can also mitigate the malefics and make them much more constructive. Conversely, the absence of reception can show worst-case scenarios; it can also be used to establish all of the shades of gray in between.
So one thing that I should point out is that this is not the only mitigating factor in traditional astrology. There’s many other mitigating factors that you need to pay attention to as well, and l’ve talked about some of those in this lecture. So for example, one of them is the concept of sect and whether it’s a day chart or a night chart can make a huge difference in terms of which planets are going to be more harmful or more helpful in the chart in general. And that’s something I go into a lot in the lecture of sect that I gave a few months ago and that I go through in many more chart examples in my book and in my course on Hellenistic astrology.
So I don’t want to make it seem like reception is the only mitigating condition, and there’s actually a whole other podcast that I did with Michael Ofek several years ago on mitigating factors in traditional astrology that you can find on TheAstrologyPodcast.com website. I think there’s only an audio version of it, but we talk about a bunch of other mitigating factors in that podcast as well if you’re interested in learning more about that.
So reception’s not the only mitigating factor, it’s one of many, but it is one of the most helpful or one of the most useful mitigating factors. So I would recommend starting to integrate it into your practice and start to pay attention to it and keep an eye out for it. Because once you know about it, it’s one of those things that you’re going to start seeing come up all the time in charts, and it’ll become an explanatory factor of a thing that you didn’t know that you needed, but once you know about it, it’s one of those things that you really can’t live without in terms of chart interpretation, so that’s why I wanted to share it with you today in this podcast. So I hope you find it useful and good luck using the technique of reception in the future.
All right, if you’re interested in learning more about the approach to astrology that I outlined in this lecture then I actually wrote an entire book about it titled, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune. So this is a book that took me over a decade to write, but it’s basically one of the first comprehensive treatments of ancient astrology in modern times. So it’s available in print through online retailers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and there’s also an e-book version that you can get through Google Books. So to find out more information, go to HellenisticAstrology.com/book.
Additionally, if you want to learn more and watch more lectures like this one, I have an entire online course on Hellenistic astrology that goes together with the book, where I basically teach you how to interpret birth charts according to the ancient methods. And I have over 100 hours of audio and video lectures in the course just like this one. It has guided readings of ancient texts. I go through hundreds of chart examples basically like I did in this lecture, and actually most of the chart examples from this talk were taken from examples that I used in my Hellenistic astrology course.
There’s guided readings of ancient texts. The course is basically suitable for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. I kind of designed it to have a little bit of something for everybody, so no matter what level you’re at, it’s probably something that would be useful for you–especially if you enjoyed this lecture on reception–in order to improve your ability to interpret birth charts and make predictions about people’s lives. So you can find out more information about that at TheAstrologySchool.com or go to courses. TheAstrologySchool.com to look at the Hellenistic astrology course and the other courses that I have available.
And I believe that is the end of the lecture. So thanks everybody for watching this today. Here are the links to my websites: TheAstrologySchool.com, TheAstrologyPodcast.com, and ChrisBrennanAstrologer.com.
So thanks to everybody who watched this lecture, I really appreciate it. If you have any comments, please put them in the comments section below, either on TheAstrologyPodcast.com website or especially on the YouTube page on YouTube, and l’ll try to get back to you if i can. If you’re watching the video version of this then please do me a favor and like the video below and subscribe to my channel on YouTube. But that’s it. Good luck using reception in your practice, and l’ll see you again next time.
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