August 17, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
Reader Question: I am 29 years old and my husband is 34. We have a healthy daughter. We have been trying to conceive again for over a year now. My base-line blood tests are normal and the sperm test for my hubby is normal. The doctor has suggested to stop trying too hard and taking it easy for a while and if we are still not pregnant in another 4-5 months, he will send me to a specialist. Any advice? Do you see a pregnancy in the near future?
The horary horoscope for your question is very finely balanced, and while there is a good chance of you conceiving, it is not guaranteed, due to some obstacles shown in the chart.
Because this is a medical chart, I should mention that I am not a doctor, and you should listen to your doctor first and foremost. We first notice Jupiter in fall, retrograde, just inside the first house. This house represents your body, so any planets therein are important. Jupiter is the natural ruler of sperm, and seeing it afflicted in this chart is not encouraging. Also, we see the Moon in Capricorn, the sign of its detriment, afflicting the first house as well. The Moon rules the seventh house of your husband, so both indicators show that it may be worthwhile having him tested more extensively.
The baby is represented by Venus, ruler of your fifth house of children, which is in the sign of its fall, in Virgo. This is not terribly auspicious, but if we see a connection between you and the baby, the strength of Venus will be much less important. Venus has just separated from a conjunction with Saturn, the planet representing you, so unless you just got pregnant extremely recently, we will need to see a third planet bring the separating planets together.
Mercury is about to conjoin Saturn, which likely shows your visit to the doctor in a few months. Mercury is the natural ruler of doctors. Thereafter, a complex sequence of planetary aspects unfolds, mirroring the complexity of the situation. Venus trines Jupiter, Mercury trines Jupiter, and finally, Mercury conjoins Venus. Since Jupiter represents the health challenge that is likely keeping you from becoming pregnant, it looks as though the fertility specialist will help you address that obstacle before you can become pregnant.
Because of the domino effect indicating multiple dependencies, and because the planets involved are not terribly strong by sign or house, we cannot be absolutely certain that you will become pregnant. However, if you do, it is likely to happen a bit over a year from now, in the fall of 2009.
[Readers interested in a private astrological reading may use the PayPal button at top left, or find out more at my Astrology Readings page.]
August 17, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
The 5th and last part of GA’s interview with astrologer and translator Benjamin Dykes, where he discusses his upcoming translations. To catch up, read Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3 , and Part 4 of the interview.
NG: That actually leads to my last question. I was curious what your next publications are going to be and why you’re going that direction?
BD: My next book is going to be called “Revolutions and Nativities.” It will be a collection of Arabic astrologers writing on nativities and solar revolutions—both of the native and of the world. While I was writing the Sahl and Masha’allah book I was disappointed with the natal material in it. It has largely to do with life expectancy and then a little bit about some general issues in the native’s life. But other than that there’s not much there. And there’s almost nothing on the revolutions of nativities. So, since most traditional astrologers practice horary or native astrology, and there aren’t a lot of books on natal astrology out there, I wanted to devote my next volume to that.
I’m very excited because several of these works have never been translated out of Latin. And some of them were never even printed: they’re still in manuscript form. But I’m really excited about them. There will be works by Sahl, Masha’allah, Abu Ma’shar, Abu Bakr, and others.
NG: That’s wonderful. So I take it you’re still working with the manuscript collector that you met or have you now branched out to other ways of obtaining manuscripts?
BD: I’ve branched out. I have slowly been collecting my own printed editions and manuscript editions for the last few years. I have plenty of material to work on for years to come.
NG: That’s great. I think the traditional astrological community and really the whole astrological community owes a lot to you and your efforts because only now is someone putting these works out in a very accessible form.
BD: It’s very fun for me and I hope I’m performing a good service for other astrologers. I’m learning a lot ,so I’m going to continue doing it.
August 15, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
Isaac Hayes, who died this week, is best known for his music, spanning soul, R&B, and funk, but he is most famous for his theme song for Shaft. Using traditional astrological methods, we can find music in Hayes’s horoscope.
Isaac Hayes Has Soul
It is said that the planet rising just before the Sun is the strongest indicator of one’s profession. For Hayes, that is Venus in Leo in the Ascendant trine the Moon in the 5th house. Venus in Leo loves to be center stage, and in the 1st house, Hayes had a relentless drive to be famous and unique (Venus ruled by the Sun).
The Moon is in Sagittarius in the 5th house of pleasure and creativity, a high-energy placement for a musician. Bonatti writes that planets in mutable signs make one “expert at gaining the knowledge of music”. This is true for Isaac Hayes: five out of seven planets are in mutable signs, including the all-important Mercury and Moon.
A Prolific Musician…
The 5th house of creativity is important for any artist, and Isaac Hayes’s 5th is activated by the Moon trine Venus. However, the Moon is also opposite Saturn in Gemini, a barren but multiple sign, which is strongly placed in the 11th house of good fortune. For Hayes, creativity is combined with a capacity for hard work, but there would have been difficulties stemming from Hayes’s fickle audience and friends. Saturn rules the 7th house of the public, and the 11th house of friends.
Hayes’s sheer quantity of work came from the Moon-Mercury-Mars-Jupiter-Saturn combination, heavily involving the 5th house. All of the planets are in double signs, giving quantity, and Jupiter is in hyper-fertile Cancer. The squares and opposition indicate that creativity was not easy, and Hayes had to work hard to create music. The strength of exalted Jupiter and Mercury suggests the result was worth it.
…with a Prolific Personal Life
Isaac Hayes was married four times, and had a total of 12 children. Saturn, ruler of his 7th house of marriage, is in double sign Gemini, aspecting three planets, all of which are in double signs themselves. Three marriages would have been the absolute bare minimum for someone with this configuration.
The 12 children are shown by the same combination as Hayes’s prolific creativity; the 5th house and the five associated planets. Similarly to his marriages, an astrologer predicting Hayes’s future would probably lose count of the possible number of children, and say he would have lots of offspring. Lots and lots of offspring!
August 13, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
There has never been a better time for astrologers interested in adding time-tested astrological techniques to their repertoire. New English translations of astrological classics are popping up everywhere, and James Herschel Holden’s Five Medieval Astrologers is a recent addition to a growing genre.
Holden has been translating books for many years now, and is perhaps best known for his translations of Jean-Baptiste Morin’s Astrologia Gallica. In Five Medieval Astrologers, Holden pulled together five essential astrological treatises, none of which were readily available to English readers.
The Book of Flowers, a classic guide to mundane astrology, has not been translated into English until now. Three of the treatises were translated, or rather paraphrased, by Henry Coley, William Lilly’s amanuensis. Holden translated them more accurately, and added footnotes to show where the translations differ from Coley’s version. The result is a readable, accessible collection of short texts.
Five Medieval Astrologers is accessible to intermediate-level astrologers, or motivated not-quite-rookie beginners. The language is very accessible, and most cryptic phrases are explained in the footnotes, so we would recommend some familiarity with astrological concepts, such as solar ingresses, planetary latitude, and planetary dignities. Treatise 1 deals exclusively with mundane astrology, while treatises 2 – 5 encompass horary, natal, and electional astrology.
Astrologers familiar with modern techniques wanting to dip their toes into astrological tradition will be well served by this inexpensive but content-rich book. A word of guidance: the aphorisms found in Centiloquies are not necessarily meant to be followed slavishly, as some modern readers believe. Rather, aphorisms are educational tools meant to test and guide the reader’s reasoning. If we ask “why?” while studying these rules, they can greatly enhance our astrological reasoning and understanding.
Five Medieval Astrologers not only enriches our immediate knowledge, but steeps us in the tradition, as though we sat at lectures of five ancient master astrologers.
Book Contents and Structure
Each book begins with an introduction of varying length, explaining the provenance and translation history of the treatise. The contents are as follows:
1. Abu Ma’shar: The Book of Flowers. A collection of rules for mundane astrology. This book is a small treasure, written by the Afghani religious scholar and astrologer Abu Ma’shar in the ninth century. Having experimented with some of his interpretations, I can say that his guidelines are highly accurate. For the Aries Ingress set for Washington, DC prior to the 9/11 attacks, Abu Mashar says that Saturn as Lord of the year in terrestrial signs [it was in Taurus] “signifies troubles and injuries from tremors and earthquakes, and the destruction of houses, cities, and country places.” There is much more to be said about that chart, of course, but Abu Ma’shar’s pithy and minimalistic interpretations get right to the point. This treatise alone is worth the price of the book.
2. Pseudo-Ptolemy: The Centiloquy. A collection of astrological rules and aphorisms. This treatise is written to seem like one of Ptolemy’s books, but Holden says it is not authored by Ptolemy himself. He doesn’t state why, but it is a heavily Arabic-influenced text but also exists in a sparser, earlier version in Greek. The aphorisms range from natal to horary to electional astrology, with a little philosophy mixed in.
An example aphorism is #28: “When you’re not able to put the Moon to conjoin two stars [in an electional horoscope], put her to join a fixed star having the nature of the two.” According to the aphorism, if we want the Moon conjunct Venus and Jupiter, but are unable to wait for this configuration, we could simply find a fixed star assigned those two values by Ptolemy, and the Moon will draw upon the energies of Venus and Jupiter via the benefic fixed star. Indeed, this is a very useful text dotted with gems.
3. Hermes Trismegistus: The Centiloquy. Another collection of 100 astrological rules. This is an excellent collection of rules, again spanning several astrological disciplines, including astrometeorology, the forecasting of weather using astrology. One interesting aphorism is #33: “When Saturn is transiting from one sign to another, there are made in the sky shooting stars […] or some other celestial signs of the nature of fire.” When Saturn entered Virgo from Leo last year, this did in fact occur.
4. Bethen: The Centiloquy. A collection of 100 rules, including some quick electional guidelines. My favorite part of this text is the collection of 30 rules for daily elections. For example, see aphorism #49: “When the Moon is joined to Mercury, that day is good for every kind of action, especially bestowing dowries, to meet with writers and stewards; it is good to buy, sell, and make computations.” All major aspects to all the other planets are also listed. A dynamic collection of aphorisms.
5. Almansor: The Propositions. A collection of 150 astrological rules. Some of these aphorisms are obscure, and invite serious thought. Mundane astrology is addressed here, though not explicitly.
Some aphorisms in this treatise are veritable mines of pure astrological gold, such as #63: “The accidents of the body are known from the degree of the ascendant; from the degree of the Part of Fortune the essence of his personal assets is known. But from the degree of the Moon the essence of his body and mind is apprehended. Moreover, from the degree of the Sun, his health, but from the degree of the Midheaven his personal status and actions are distinguished; give one year to each degree.” Voila; natal astrology in a nutshell!
The texts themselves are fascinating, and I am thankful to Holden for translating them. The footnotes are extremely useful as well, and I learned at least one new thing from the footnotes. Ancient astrologers often make reference to planets “increasing in number,” which mystifies most of us today, because the reference is obviously not to planets moving forward by degree. Holden has a very plausible explanation that this refers to a planet’s swiftness — is the planet speeding up or slowing down?
The translation is simple and lucid, which I appreciated. I believe in making ancient texts as accessible as possible to a wide audience, without compromising the integrity and style of the original. Holden seems to have a similar approach. In a recent conversation, the translator indicated that he welcomes feedback or questions regarding the translations from his readers (he can be contacted via the AFA website). This is much appreciated when reading ancient texts, no matter how clearly translated.
Five Medieval Astrologers is a highly recommended book, whether for seasoned traditional astrologers, or those just dipping their toes into the vast pool of tradition.
Note: This is one of several forthcoming translations by Holden, with the AFA slated to publish a half-dozen of his others in the next six months.
Five Medieval Astrologers
Translated by: James Herschel Holden, M.A.
American Federation of Astrologers, 2008
148 pages, softcover.
(If you have written or published an astrology book you would like reviewed on Gryphon Astrology, please contact me at nina [at] gryphonastrology.com or write to me here (don’t forget to include your contact info).
August 13, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
This is Part 4 of Gryphon Astrology’s interview with astrologer and translator Benjamin Dykes. To catch up on prior parts of the interview, read Part 1, Part 2 , and Part 3 here. In Part 4, Benjamin discusses traditional thought and its application to astrology.
NG: It seems like in some ways it’s almost not possible for us to get away from traditional thought. We can maybe layer it over or twist it but you can never really get away from certain concepts entirely.
BD: Yes. Traditional thinkers worked for a couple of thousand years on a set of themes and questions that were of interest to people in many different times and many different places. And in order to get these conversations going we need to know what they said. There are a lot of fantasies that modern people have about themselves and about what it means to be modern. And traditional thought can sometimes be a corrective that can help dispel these fantasies.
NG: I think conveying that traditional knowledge back into a modern person’s language might be a challenge. Have you experienced that? Or do you feel, as you said, that people just kind of naturally are open to what you’re saying?
BD: It depends. I have met both clients and people in social settings who are modern astrologers, and even if they don’t take on clients themselves, they’re modern people who have mainly studied modern astrology and understand its ethical, cosmological, and social claims. And when I can look at their chart and speak frankly about both good and bad things that are going on in their lives it comes often as a breath of fresh air. They are appreciative. There is a belief out there, and part of it is because of modern fantasies, that you can’t ever say anything bad to the client, because the client is so fragile and probably has so many traumas and so many potential mental illnesses that are just waiting to be unearthed, that you might scar them forever—so someone comes to you for advice but you are not supposed to recognize conventionally bad things in their lives. But clients, even those studying modern astrology, often know the bad things that are present or on the horizon, and they themselves consider it bad, and they are pleased when you acknowledge that. That is one of the things I mean about modern people being receptive to traditional thought: because in traditional thought we can say something is conventionally good or bad.
NG: Perhaps that is why for many people that’s a relief when they start studying traditional techniques that hey, you are allowed to acknowledge the whole of the life or the whole of the person rather than just start working with these fantasies about everything about being good or beneficial.
BD: Or even indulging in fantasies, as I said, about most people having mental illnesses and neuroses and having all sorts of traumas that you have to tiptoe around.
NG: I suppose people are slightly hardier than modern thought would allow them to be. What do you think the current revival of traditional astrology, where do you think that fits on the astrological timeline? At first, we have traditional thought, then for a few hundred years it really goes into dormancy, and now we’re experiencing this revival. Why do you think that is happening now? And where do you think it might go from here kind of on a very large timeline? What do you think it means?
BD: I think several things are happening. First, there are issues of modern culture in general, having to do with people not really being sure what value system they hold, or who are even afraid to say what is good or bad. And I think this leads to people feeling adrift and alienated: so they might naturally turn to traditional thought. And then in various New Age, occult, magical, or astrological circles there are trends back to traditional practices. I’ve met a lot of modern astrologers who say that after studying and practicing for a long time, they’re exhausted with modern astrology. And I think it is partly because astrologers are experiencing some of the same problems that are in the culture in general. There’s always a new technique, always a new vision of the universe, but very little agreement on how to even read a chart.
And so what traditional thought does, I think, is to help ground us. You don’t have to believe everything that medieval people did in order to feel a lot more grounded and confident in talking about stuff in ways that they do. You don’t have to stop being a modern person. But a traditional dialogue on matters of good and bad, or of fate and freedom, helps to articulate issues and values in ways that modern people often have not been prepared for, because we have modern myths that blind us to alternatives. In one sense modern conservatives are right about how an extreme multiculturalism and de facto moral and intellectual relativism has bad effects on people. But you don’t have to be a judgmental jerk in order to cure yourself of that. Traditional thought often has a very realistic, down to earth way of dealing with these issues.
NG: I think one of the things that people find perhaps confusing with modern astrology is they find issues of morality or things not being right or wrong. In that sense, the traditional astrologers can be very refreshing. They say this person is going to be on the evil side and they don’t have to tell you what exactly evil means because we all understand some of these basic concepts.
BD: And it’s not only more refreshing but it’s more helpful. For example, a modern astrologer recently wrote that we should not give bad news to a client if we see something terrible in the chart about the native’s relationships. Now you wouldn’t even treat your best friend that way, leaving them in the dark about something important like that. But there is a certain strand in some modern astrology that says we just can’t talk about that stuff. Someone comes to us for help and we just can’t talk realistically about it.
The issue of good and bad is also interesting because there are a couple of ways that we can look at matters. In traditional astrology, when you look at the houses, the houses are filled with things that are conventionally good and bad, and I think that’s the key. They’re conventionally good and bad: wealth is good, God is good, death is bad, slavery is bad, friends are good. These are conventional values and they are the ones embraced by a philosophers like Aristotle and most of the astrologers in the tradition. The chart, in essence, presents conventional, Aristotelian values.
But there are other ways of looking at things, and this is where you can adopt different philosophical views and adopt a different cosmology. You can say that from God’s perspective, none of this is good or bad. The planets are doing nothing more than carrying out their natures as God has willed their natures to be. Mars, from a God perspective, is not evil. Mars does what he does. But what he does may be conventionally bad for us.
You could take this further in a Stoic direction, a philosophy which is implied but not often articulated well in many Hellenistic texts. This could be useful in astrological therapy. The Stoics disagreed completely with how Aristotle grouped values together. And their whole attitude towards philosophical therapy and healing emotional problems had to do with realizing that what we conventionally recognize as good and evil are not good and evil in themselves; they’re things we should select or deselect in accordance with our natures and what the situation requires. But getting too wrapped up in conventional values sets you up for either misery or false happiness.
So when we’re talking about good and evil with a client, we can talk about conventional good and evils, but we can also talk about—and I think in the future we need to start doing this—something more of a Stoic approach, in which we realize that we are part of a universe in which everything acts according to its nature. And if we can get a bit of critical distance from these conventional values we’ll be a lot more happy and relieved and confident about what we get or do not get, than if we only think our happiness has to do with having these conventional values, and either get scared out of our wits when we lack them or have a false sense of joy when we have them.
You asked about where are we going in the future. I don’t know about the reception of traditional astrology among astrologers generally. But I am confident that within the next five years we will have all of the major and most of the minor works of these key medieval astrologers translated. And we will have resolved issues like whole-sign houses versus quadrant houses, and other matters. I think we’ll have resolved all the main issues and have all the material there. The next step will be to train a new generation of traditional astrologers to work with it.
[Read part 5 of the interview with Ben Dykes.]
August 12, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
Mars enters Libra, the sign of its detriment, and will zip through the sign in about six weeks. Generally speaking, this is a bad time to do martial tasks, such as fighting, physically exerting yourself, or working with tools. Theoretically at least, you can put off that renovation project and exercise routine you’ve been dreading. However, the good news is that Mars will be in a Cardinal sign in Libra, and it will be moving very fast. So any martial activity that you want to happen quickly might be helped by Mars’s placement in the next month and a half.
Mars in Libra
Libra is the beginning of the dark time of the year, when night begins to outweigh daylight in the northern hemisphere. The fiery planets, the Sun and Mars, are ill at ease in Libra, while Saturn, the planet of darkness, is exalted there. Libra is also the beginning of the cold and dry quarter of the year, associated with the melancholic temperament. None of this makes fiery Mars very happy, as he is already uncomfortable being placed in an air sign. Mars is all about action, and Libra is altogether too cerebral for the Lord of War.
Further, Libra is considered one of the human signs, because it has to do with the human quality of reason. To Mars, this is an alien concept, further weakening the planet. Ibn Ezra, in The Beginning of Wisdom, writes that Libra rules “the marketplace people, judges, mathematicians, musicians, and merchants who deal with food and drink.” None of these occupations are particularly congenial to physically-oriented Mars.
The one bright spot of Mars’s transit through Libra is its conjunction to the very benefic fixed star Spica at 24° Libra, which brings Venusian and Mercurial blessings.
Mars Aspects in Libra for 2008
September 7 – Mars square Jupiter in Capricorn. This is a very expensive combination, and might be useful for intimidating your opponents. Jupiter is weak in Capricorn, but exalts Mars, so this might be a good day to verbally confront those higher in social standing than yourself.
September 8 and 23 – Mercury conjunct Mars in Libra. This might be another day for verbal confrontation; there might be a lot of talking and weighing arguments, but not necessarily with a tangible result.
September 11 – Venus conjunct Mars in Libra. This is an attractive combination, because Venus is in its own sign. It’s a good day for romance, and generally making your roof. Mars in Libra may be a little wimpy, but a good time should be had by most.
September 26 – Mars conjunct Spica at 24 Libra. A bright spot of beauty during Mars’s otherwise uncomfortable sojourn through Libra. A good day to try your luck in most things if your natal ascendant is Aries or Scorpio.
[Missed Mars in Cancer? Read about it here.]
August 11, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
This series looks for indications of war in Iran’s horoscope, both to examine past events and to identify the possibility of war in the future. Last week, we examined Iran’s 1977 and 1978 horoscopes for indications of the Shah’s fall and of the revolution. This week, we examine the horoscopes for the Islamic Republic, with an eye out for indications of the devastating Iran-Iraq war. We hypothesize that the same indicators promising the Iran-Iraq war will also forecast any major future conflict in Iran.
Khomeini Arrives in Iran
Just as Reza Khan’s dynasty had a founding chart, that of the 1926 coronation, the start of the Islamic Republic can be traced to Khomeini’s disembarking in Iran after a period of exile.Khomeini returned to Tehran on February 1, 1979.
This chart is stunning in its symbolism of opposition to the Shah: its ascendant at 4° Aries is exactly opposite the coronation ascendant at 4° Libra.Moreover, the Khomeini chart also has the Moon just inside the ascendant at 7° Aries, opposing the coronation Moon at 5° Libra.
There are plenty of indicators of future violence in this horoscope.The Khomeini Moon and ascendant are near violent stars of the nature of Mercury, Mars, and Saturn.We also want to keep an eye out for the eighth house cusp near the South Scale, which indicates violence and evil.The chart’s close conjunction between Mars and the Sun is also important, indicating the warlike nature of the Republic’s rulers, and their propensity to get Iran involved in conflict.
The Iran-Iraq War and the Great Conjunction of 1980
The Great Conjunction of December 31, 1980 triggered most of the violence-prone points in the Khomeini chart.
The Great Conjunction itself fell on the malefic fixed star Vindemiatrix, a.k.a. the Widowmaker.This was the case worldwide, but in Tehran, Jupiter and Saturn opposed the Khomeini ascendant and Moon (both indicators of the country’s people).Jupiter and Saturn also activated the Sun-Mars conjunction by trine aspect.The Great Conjunction Moon is in fall in Scorpio, a Mars sign, conjunct the Khomeini eighth house of death.Finally, the Great Conjunction MC is at 21° Cancer, halfway between Castor and Pollux, the mortal and immortal twins, respectively.Both stars are violent.
In contrast to the Great Conjunction which presaged the Shah’s fall, the 1980 Great Conjunction does not show danger to the government.However, there is plenty of suffering directed at the Iranian people, since it is mostly the first house of the people, its ruler, Mars, and the Moon (natural ruler of the people), which are heavily afflicted.
Next week, we will look at more specific timing for the conflict predicted in the 1980 Great Conjunction in Tehran, Iran.
Read Part I of the Iran Series – The seeds of the revolution in the Shah’s Coronation and 1961 Great Conjunction charts.
Part II of the Iran Series – The revolution draws near: Eclipse hits to the coronation and 1961 Great Conjunction.
Part III of the Iran Series – The revolution is here and the Shah is deposed. Aries Ingress charts for 1977 and 1978.
Part IV of the Iran Series – War comes again: the charts for the Islamic Republic and the 1980 Great Conjunction.
Part V of the Iran Series – Early indications of war and Khomeini’s death.
Part VI of the Iran Series – When would the war begin?
August 10, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
Concluding our tour of the malefic houses of the horoscope, the eighth house is thoroughly and completely malefic; it is associated with death and fear. The only neutral meaning of this house is that of other people’s assets, including inheritances; if we want to know whether our spouse will be wealthy, we might look, among other indicators, to the eighth house. This is because it is the second house from the seventh — our partners’ money.
The reason that the eighth house is malefic is because it does not form a major aspect to the ascendant, through which light enters the horoscope. Therefore, the eighth house is harmful to the life force, along with the sixth and twelfth houses.
Despite what some astrologers may claim, we will all die, and it is unlikely to be a fun experience. Traditional astrology acknowledges that the quality of death varies dramatically from person to person. Strong planets in the natal eighth house represent a saving grace that helps us cheat death, or they might give an easy, peaceful death. Malefic planets in the eighth house promise the contrary. A heavy emphasis on the eighth house in predictive techniques, such as the solar return, or in progressions or directions, can indicate death. Most often, the other malefic houses, the sixth and the 12th (possibly the fourth, being the house of endings) will be activated as well.
For example, the French astrologer Jean-Baptiste Morin had an ominous solar return in 1656, well into his 70s. The solar return ascendant was conjunct the cusp of his natal eighth house, and the solar return Sun conjoined the natal 12th house cusp, along with Jupiter, ruler of the natal eighth house of death. The solar return Jupiter, ruling the eighth house of death in the natal chart, was exactly conjunct the solar return ascendant. The ruler of the natal sixth house of illness, Mercury, was conjunct the solar return Sun. Morin died in November 1656. [Data from The Art of Forecasting Using Solar Returns by Anthony Louis.] We can see that the eighth house alone may not predict death in the natal horoscope, and other malefic houses will often be involved as well.
This meaning of the eighth house tends to show up most strongly in horary charts, and disproportionately often, the ruler of the ascendant is in the eighth house, showing the querent’s fear about the issue at hand. Phobias, as such, are more of a 12th house affair. The eighth house experience of fear is more temporary and event-specific.
To round out the parade of horribles, the eighth house also rules the organs of excretion (in contrast with the organs of reproduction, ruled by the 7th house).
Other People’s Money
A couple of years ago, I did an informal study of a couple dozen natal horoscopes of those who made their money through marriage or relationships. I expected to see a strong eighth house, reflecting the spouse’s assets. However, I was disappointed, because it was usually the native’s second house or other personal indicator of wealth that was strong, not the eighth house. It was usually the natal second house or related indicators that were connected to the seventh house ruler, the Lot of Marriage, etc. The eighth house never really stood out in these horoscopes.
There is an important lesson here for astrologers. The eighth house as other people’s money is really only indicative in horary charts, where someone might ask about the assets and wealth of a prospective spouse, customer, or business partner. In the natal context, we would revert back to the usual indicators of personal wealth.
What has been your experience with the eighth house in your chart or that of others?
August 8, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
I met G. nine years ago when I interviewed him for a news story I was writing. I felt an instant kinship. But since he had a wife of two years, I kept everything professional. Fate kept having us collide once or twice a year and we always had memorable conversations that were deep and compelling…we just clicked. About 2 years ago, we began meeting to converse more frequently — he says he feels more intellectually stimulated with me than with anyone. We talk for 4 to 6 hours at a time about philosophy, etc. Now, we’re constantly getting drinks together and wanting to be with each other.
There’s almost like a psychic energy between us. We have never kissed or slept together because we are both very noble and good people. We want to make each other stronger and more successful — not destroy one another’s lives. But we seem to love being together and can’t stand being apart. Once we met at a place with a huge parking lot and came out to find we had somehow parked right next to each other. It was surreal … and yet, things like this happen with us. It’s as if the Universe wants us together.
He loves his wife. I don’t want to be a mistress. But emotionally, I’m more than a friend. I wish he would conclude the marriage and marry me instead. Will this happen? Will we have an affair? Am I what he needs in his life to be fulfilled? I don’t want to “take” him if she is the better suited for him. I want everyone to be with their highest soul matches.
I have been getting a lot of questions about hidden relationships in the last few weeks. Perhaps the planetary configurations are just right to describe such situations. I cast a horary chart for your question:
Powerful Physical Attraction
There is a lot of physical attraction here. The Moon, one of your significators, is in Scorpio, where it is in the sign and triplicity of Mars. Mars can symbolize sex in relationship questions, which seems accurate here. You are emotionally very focused on the physical attraction to G. He is represented by the Sun, ruler of the 7th house of partners (or potential partners), and is likely attractive. The Sun in its own sign, Leo, can be quite magnetic, even dazzling. A person represented by the Sun in its own sign will put out some very seductive vibes; not necessarily because he is deeply attracted to you, but just because that’s how he is. The Sun shines for everyone.
Things certainly seem headed toward a physical encounter, at least from your perspective. Venus, which shows your physical attraction, recently moved out of Leo, and into the sign of its fall, Virgo. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, which represents his wife. You now feel that his wife stands between you and your happiness. Your third significator is Saturn, which is also in Virgo, repeating the same theme on a more conscious level in your mind.
The Sun is about to conjoin the malefic South Node, which shows a sudden “fall” in that planet’s strength. There are an awful lot of planets falling in this chart; the Moon in Scorpio, Venus in Virgo, and shortly, the Sun. This is not uncommon in charts about affairs, so someone is certainly contemplating an affair. Whether it will happen is another matter.
I do not see him motivated enough to leave his wife for you. The Sun is in a fixed sign, Leo, which is also the Sun’s own sign. He’s not moving from where he is. However, and you might already be aware of this, his wife might be. She is Mercury, in Leo, so in her husband’s house. However, shortly, Mercury will leave Leo and enter its own sign, Virgo.
Your energy is certainly focused on his wife right now. In fact, the Moon recently opposed Mercury by antiscion, indicating some kind of hidden aggression between you and his wife in the recent past. You didn’t put a curse on her, I hope! Whatever happens between him and his wife, I don’t really see an upcoming connection between you and him. The Moon’s next aspect is a sextile to Saturn, followed by a sextile to a very weak Jupiter in the 12th house of secrets. Jupiter rules your 11th house of hope, so you might hope for a secret relationship, but I’m not sure there is more here than that. There are hints of an affair or something secret going on here, but I don’t really see marriage. An affair is a possibility, but not clearly shown.
You wondered about the compatibility between him (Sun) and you (Saturn), and him and his wife (Mercury). Given that he does not seem terribly motivated to pursue this relationship with you, that probably says everything. However, I do see that in this chart, you are represented by Saturn, and he is represented by the Sun. These are not considered traditionally friendly planets, as one is the bringer of death and the other, of life. Mercury and the Sun are a bit better together, because Mercury is the messenger of the Gods; the planet that circles around the Sun like a faithful servant.
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August 7, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
Last month, Ben Dykes published a new translation of the works of 8-9th century Persian astrologers Sahl and Masha’allah. The book is a compilation of 16 shorter astrological works. As Dykes pointed out in his interview with GA, this is not an exhaustive collection of Sahl and Masha’allah’s works. The works that are included have dual value: they are of use to a practicing astrologer, and provide insight into the practice of astrology by the Arabs.
Dykes translated Guido Bonatti’s Book of Astronomy last year, and because Bonatti refers to Sahl and Masha’allah very frequently as his sources, Dykes sought to make the works by the two authors more available to the English-reading public. If Bonatti was only sparsely translated into English (such as his aphorisms, by Henry Coley), Sahl and Masha’allah were translated even less frequently, despite their importance in early medieval astrological practice.
Works of Sahl & Masha’allah is a difficult, dense, but extremely rewarding text. The astrological concepts themselves are not terribly complicated, but we would recommend a working knowledge of planetary dignity and reception, planetary movement, and astronomical phenomena like eclipses. Dykes’s introduction to the text is a must-read, because he explains several specific concepts/phrases recurring frequently in the texts that the reader is unlikely to have encountered before.
Readers interested in the nitty-gritty practica of horary, electional, political, and weather astrology will find very useful material here. However, there is also a nice balance of more theoretical texts on the building blocks of astrology, such as Sahl’s Fifty Judgments, or Masha’allah’s On Reception. Dykes’s easy-to-read translation is a fine addition to a library of the intermediate/advanced working astrologer or astrological history enthusiast.
Book Contents and Structure
The book begins with a listing of text or reference abbreviations, of which there are plenty, Arabic transliterations, and a table of figures. The 80-page introduction by the translator is a must-read, not only for key phrase definitions, but also for a succinct comparison of techniques used by Sahl, Masha’allah and other ancient astrologers, and an explanation of frequently used sources in the text.
Because a book with just one introduction is for weaklings, the book proper begins with Sahl’s Introduction, which is essentially Astrology 101, medieval-style. Here we get the meanings of the signs, houses, aspects, and astrological concepts such as reception. This is followed by On questions, an horary treatise organized by house. Astrologers familiar with William Lilly’s Christian Astrology will see similarities in organization, but the substance is rather different. Topics such as “on a commander setting off to war, or another worried person when he asks about him,” are covered, often in great detail, along with “a question about the age of the winning beast,” such as in horse races.
A short work On the elections, follows, again organized by house-related topics. The last of Sahl’s works in the book is On times, which is a work on methods of timing events in horoscopes. These methods seem most obviously applicable to horary charts, but they could be applied to natal horoscopes as well.
The Masha’allah part of the book begins with “on the knowledge of the motion of the orb,” a cosmological, astronomical, and physical treatise. This is followed by a short work called On the roots of revolutions, and On rains, the former introducing key concepts in mundane astrology, such as solar and planetary ingress charts, and eclipses, with the latter treatise showing how to apply the methods to astrometeorology.
A useful and information-rich treatise, On the revolution of the years of the world follows, focusing on mundane astrology and specific positions of planetary significators, and their meanings. Two treatises on nativities follow, one more of a planet-in-terms cookbook, the latter containing lots of example charts in traditional square format with a paragraph of analysis each.
To shorter treatises follow, On the interpretation of cognition, and On hidden things. The former gives hints to the astrologer for discovering the intention of the questioner, and the latter text is about finding lost objects. The next text is on reception, first discussing the theory, and then its applications to various topics, such as financial questions, and “will I get the kingdom” kinds of questions, with example charts. The last text is What the planets signify in the 12th domiciles of the circle, a kind of cookbook, which could be applied both to natal and horary charts. For example, Saturn in the 12th house gives “impediments which happen in connection with the King, and he will be strong and bold in this, and he will be captured by enemies, and he will be afraid in all of his matters.”
Finally, we are treated to a multipage bibliography and detailed index.
As noted above, Works is a very dense, rich book. The ideal way to read it is in small pieces at a time, to better experiment with unfamiliar techniques and concepts. The sheer magnitude of information can be intimidating, though the astrology itself is pretty accessible to a modern reader.
The translator does not pull any punches, and obviously enjoys bringing to light forgotten techniques and astrological concepts. He does not bend the text to shape it to our modern preconceptions. This is good, because it preserves textual integrity, and bad, as many readers might benefit from more familiar terms to help ease into a very different text than they might be used to. Ultimately, however, a translator has to balance integrity with accessibility, and Dykes’s choice, though more demanding of the reader, leaves us with the sense that justice was done to the text.
Works of Sahl & Masha’allah
Translated by: Benjamin N. Dykes, Ph.D.
The Cazimi Press, 2008
Available from the translator at www.bendykes.com. 532 pages, hardcover.
(If you have written or published an astrology book you would like reviewed on Gryphon Astrology, please contact me at nina [at] gryphonastrology.com or write to me here (don’t forget to include your contact info).