Astrology Book Review: The Strengths of the Planets (Astrologia Gallica 18)

July 12, 2008 by  

Astrology Book Review: Astrologia Gallica Book 18, The Strengths of the Planets

Why Review Astrological Books?

There are innumerable astrology books out there; many are not very useful, but a few are worth their weight in gold. The problem is, how to find them. The astrological book market being what it is, many of the best books are not heavily marketed or advertised, and these gems often do not register in the public awareness. To address this, Gryphon Astrology will feature a weekly or biweekly book review column to help you find some of the best available astrological publications. The frequency of the column will depend on our book acquisition funds!

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Astrologia Gallica, Book 18: The Strengths of the Planets

Written by: Jean-Baptiste Morin

Translators: Pepita Sanchis Llacer and Anthony Louis LaBruzza

Recommended For: Intermediate or advanced astrologers comfortable (or who wish to get more comfortable) with concepts like planetary dignities, mutual reception, and qualities of the houses. Great for exploring the nuances of planetary rulerships and interrelationships at a theoretical level, supported by many real-life example horoscopes.

Jean-Baptiste Morin was a 17th century French physician and astrologer who wrote prolifically; his most famous and longest work being the huge Astrologia Gallica. This monumental work is being gradually translated, volume by volume, by dedicated astrologers who can read Morin’s Latin treatise.

Morin saw his work as an elucidation of much older astrological tradition from the medieval and Arabic times. In the process of cleaning up after the “confused and inadequate” ancient astrologers, as he calls them, he ends up making changes to the tradition. As a result, his works are commonly considered to comprise “the Morin system,” which is based on, but sometimes varies from earlier astrological tradition.

Many of the earlier volumes of Astrologia Gallica are astronomical/astrological and philosophical treatises, not of immediate interest to working astrologers or hobbyists. The present volume, Book 18, is extremely useful, however. Morin discusses in great detail the strengths and weaknesses of the seven visible planets, and the ways these qualities manifest in practice.

For example, Morin explains how a planet can rule two different signs, one of which may not be in apparent agreement with the planet’s elemental nature. His example is Jupiter, which rules Sagittarius and Pisces. Jupiter, in Morin’s view, has an outward fiery nature, which puts it in agreement with the fire sign Sagittarius; however, he also says that Jupiter has a watery hidden side, which is compatible with the water sign Pisces. As a result, whenever Jupiter resides in any fire sign, his fiery domicile, Sagittarius, is strengthened. The same is true for Pisces when Jupiter passes through a water sign.

While this is a logical approach to planetary rulership, it is rather different from the way ancient authorities may have approached the topic. Sign rulership theory is but one of the many examples of Morin’s subtly changing or re-emphasizing parts of the existing astrological tradition.  In that sense, the Morin reader gets one view of the astrological tradition, but it is by no means the only view or even the prevailing practice.

Later in the book, Morin tackles the way planets are affected by reception. He makes the point that mutual reception between planets is only beneficial when either of the planets can offer something constructive to the other. Morin likes to use contemporary astrological charts, and he gives the example of a contemporary named de Hayes who had been decapitated by order of the King. The native’s mutual reception between Mercury in Pisces, ruler of the eighth house of death, and Jupiter in Gemini, situated in the eighth house, could not save him, as both planets were in signs of their detriment and so had nothing positive to offer the native.

The book is full of gems such as this, with many examples clearly illustrating Morin’s approach and conclusions. Morin goes on to discuss planetary strength based on planets positions relative to luminaries; planetary strength based on their motion (speed and direction); and planetary strength based on diurnal or nocturnal condition.

The second part of The Strengths of the Planets discusses planetary strength based on position in the chart; aspects and house positions. Here, Morin revamps the relative strengths of the houses, based on a simplified point system. The results are interesting and somewhat odd, whereby the malefic eighth house is given 3.5 points, but the ninth house is only given 2. While Morin gives his reasons for assigning the point values he does, his assignments do not always coincide with older authors’ use of the houses. For example, the ninth house, associated with religion, higher learning, and travel, is considered more benefic and “stronger” than the eighth house of death, even though the ninth is cadent and the eighth is succedent.

The Strengths of the Planets is slim, weighing in at 131 pages, but it bears slow, careful reading, to extract maximum value. The book was first translated from Latin into Spanish by Pepita Sanchis Llacer, and then translated into English by Anthony Louis LaBruzza. The translation is extremely readable and accessible by modern-day audiences, no doubt largely thanks to the skill of the translators.  The book is heavily footnoted and annotated by both translators, as well as by the renowned astrological writer and translator of other Morin books, James Holden. Robert M. Corre, a disciple of Morin, also contributed many footnotes to the translation.

The Strengths of the Planets costs $17.95 at astroamerica.com.

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