Natal Astrology and Consultations

What is a Natal Reading?

An Astrological Natal Chart is essentially representative of the stars at the moment of your birth, and it is (if we follow the ideas of the Platonists) on account of them, that the soul is joined with the body. As this occurs, the powers of the relevant stars themselves come into play, and they participate in what is called the process of Generation and Corruption—a power they receive from the World Soul (Anima Mundi) which in turn receives the same power to do this from (the) God(s). This inevitably means that the things below the stars themselves (i.e. the terrestrial) are influenced by them, as these stars themselves are responsible for the bodies that they generate and administer.

Thus, when we look at the Astrological chart, we are considering the condition of the stars and the power they exerted when you, the Native, came into being. The place of the planets (wandering stars) in the heavens dictates their disposition and conduct and whether or not they will favor the Native, and help him/her in life, or even impede and obstruct certain things, presenting challenge and difficulties. Indeed, sometimes they might even be placed in charge of a given matter (or manage it, as we translate it today) and yet be unable to fulfill it, letting another more capable planet step up to the plate to tackle the issues.

The fact that the planets are so present in the affairs of living creatures and are themselves their own souls is also not to be neglected. Astrology is ultimately, through its connections with Platonism, animistic in nature and is arguably a practical application of ideas such as the Great Chain of Being. In this living universe, the whole of the world moves according to the order dictated by the stars and their dance across the heavens. This ultimately includes notions and ideals of fate, the attitudes of which vary greatly depending on the period. We can point to Renaissance Humanists arguing for free will to play a stronger role in Astrology (to account for the importance placed on the topic in Christian theology). However, the Stoics held a different view, which is not to be neglected either, and ultimately we find Astrology entangled with a variety of philosophical schools, such as Platonism, Aristotelianism, Ptolemaic cosmological ideas and Stoicism.

Furthermore, this art itself has been practiced since the Hellenistic period, a synthesis as multicultural as the city of Alexandria whence it is suspected to have originated. Drawing on Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek ideas and technical ability, Astrology ultimately became the gargantuan field that it is today, with schools of techniques dedicated to politics, magic, medicine, questions and, nativities, which we might call the Astrology of the Soul itself.

Thus, in summary, a Natal Consultation can essentially be considered as considering the Stars and how they influenced one in the moment of their birth. It provides an overview of them, their reach into ones soul and life, and how this will shape you and your experiences. If you believe in fate, you could also say it represents the promises that fate has made with you.

On the other hand, the Revolution consultations are a little more contemporary, up to date you might say. If the Root chart is essentially a seed placed in the earth, the Revolution is the perpetual motion of the stars that nourishes that seed and determines how it grows. Tomato seeds don’t become Potato seeds, they’re still Tomatoes. However the weather will still dictate how they grow. In this way, the Root is akin to a seed and the Revolutions, (and transits) akin to the environment and weather. Thus, we look to the condition of the stars at a particular time (the time of a revolution) and by comparing them with the Root of the chart, we get a general picture as to how the stars are moving things for you now today. After all, if the Stars in the sky influenced us the same way, then we would all be doing the same thing! But because of the Root chart we see that how the Stars conduct themselves at a prominent moment will vary, because how they interact with one’s own nativity or root, differs from how it interacts with the person besides you. Typically, the Revolution won’t betray the promise of the Root, but rather acts within its confines. Sometimes what is evil in the nativity is mitigated by the goodness of the revolution; and vice versa.

Ultimately then, we might call Natal Astrology the Science of the Soul. It is the spiritual art of knowing oneself, the world around you, and one’s place in the world. What one does with this information is down to the individual, but whether pursuit of material gain, or closeness to the Gods and theurgy, it is a most rewarding art.

How I Conduct my Natal Consultations

This brief summary will go over the general methods I use to conduct my readings. In particular, we’ll look at some of the sources I use and the core of my practice, as well as what a complete root consultation actually looks like. In the short future an example reading will be up on this page as well.

The Astrology I practice is mostly built around Persio-Arabic Astrological techniques. This school itself is drawing on earlier Hellenistic techniques but also provisioning its own skillset. Thus you’ll see that some of my favoured sources are Sahl bin Bishr, Masha’allah, and Abu Ma’shar. However, I also draw on a wide range of sources and don’t limit myself to this period alone. In particular, including Hellenists such as Dorotheus, Valens, Theophilus, Rhetorius, and even later Medieval Astrologers, such as Guido Bonatti, Al-Biruni, and Ibn Ezra.

I am also familiar with the Early Modern Astrology as per William Lilly, John Gadbury, Partridge and so on. In-fact it is where I first began my Astrological journey and some of my clients have even received consultations using their methods! I have since adjusted to focusing on the “Persian” techniques, and so returning clients will note these readings look considerably different than in the past. However these methods will always retain a very fond place in my heart.

The Consultation Process

I begin each reading by considering the chart and making some calculations by hand. In particular the Mean Longitude of the Planets, needs to be done by hand as there is no reliable software for them that I have access to. I’ll also calculate the 12th Parts (Dodecatamoria) in this way as well for certain points of the chart. This process can take quite some time and is mostly manual calculation, rather than anything interpretive.

The next step of the reading is to pray to the spirits and powers that assist me in my consultations, wearing a talisman that has been created to one of them, so that they may grant clarity to my interpretation and lighting a suitable fumigation of incense. From here, I begin to judge the chart. Typically, I will do this multiple times over a number of days. My readings are not one and done, rather each one takes a considerable amount of work, time, and effort. The topics I cover in a complete reading, are as follows:

Note: Due to the particulars of astrology and how far reaching the subjects we cover can be, clients are always given the option to request that I don’t cover a particular topic in their consultation. You may also, ask further questions on any other various topics.

Topical Considerations in Root Consultations

1. On the Conditions of the Planets and Calculations for Preleminary judgements

Included here is a long list of the planets and their astrological conditions, their temperament and quality in the chart as well as major aspects. A description and summary of the planet, as if it was its own character in a royal court is also given using non-technical terms to express the nature of the planet in an understandable way for those who aren’t themselves astrologers. Furthermore, two charts are also included here. The first hand drawn, showing the Planets, 12th Parts, and Antiscia. The second chart, is as shown in the software used.

2. On the Native themselves, their Soul, Bodily Health and Inclinations

Here, we judge the Temperament and complexion of the Native, the nature of the Soul (or Wit), the constancy of the Native’s bodily health, appearance and also natural inclinations and behaviour in social settings (“Manners”).

3. On the Family and Kinsmen

A judgement upon the family of the Native and any matters of note or major events that stand out in the root occur regarding them.

4. On the Wealth of the Native, and their profession or exaltation

A delineation of the fortune, happiness, wealth and general prosperity of the Native’s life, their reputation and honour, essentially here we judge the good things in life and the measure of the same, drawing on techniques from Dorotheus, Rhetorious, Sahl Bin Bishr, Al-Andrazagar and Valens.

5. On the Marriage and Friendships of the Native

A judgement upon the marriage[s] of the Native, their friendships and associations, and where difficulty or happiness may be found with both of them. Timing can be done on request, as regards Marriage.

6. Of Dangers, Wars, Crime, Imprisonment, Sicknesses, Violence and Injuries

Here, we cover in particular the difficult aspects of life. An emphasis is placed upon sickness and diseases as something every one will experience in their life however any stand out dangers in the chart that are yet to come will also be commented upon.

7. On the Religious life of the Native, and Occult Matters to be considered.

An analysis of the Spiritual Life of the Native, what forms of divination they might well find favourable indications of piety, religious faith and devotion.

8. Of the Home, Household and Country and Travels, whether the same is safe.

Judgement upon whether the Native will face difficulties in moving to another country, and if such is probable. Finally we consider the general safety of the Native whilst travelling.

You can find my services available [HERE].

Planetary Cycles and their Various Kinds I: Ascending in the Apogee of the Eccentric Circle

The following series of posts is intended to be a basic guide to the various cycles of the seven planets within Medieval Astrology, including both Persian-Arabic and Latin sources. In particular, throughout this we will be paying special attention to the motion of the planets, and the role this plays in their condition, which goes beyond just retrograde and direct! For this post, we’ll be observing what we call “ascending in the apogee of the eccentric” or the deferent circle.

So to begin with, we most often find the techniques relating to the apogee alongside a scattering of other techniques in medieval texts. We can find them in works such as Abū Maʿšar’s Great Introduction (Yamamoto and Burnett, 2019), Al-Qabisi’s Introduction to the science of Astrology (Dykes, 2010), Al-Biruni’s Book of instruction in the elements of the art of Astrology (Wright, 1934), and also Ibn Ezra’s work On Nativities (Sela, 2013). It is especially prominent in works of Medieval Perso-Islamic Astrology, however by the 1500’s in Europe, it seems to have considerably fallen out of favor and to have been ignored as a dignity or power of the planet.

What does ascending in the apogee mean? Essentially, it refers to the planet and its distance to the earth. The further away from the terrestrial earth a planet is, the more dignified it was considered. Conversely, a planet closer to us, becomes closer to the nature of the terrestrial, more corruptible and perishable. This technique then, aims to assess whether a planet is close to us, or distant from us, in order to judge its strength and quality. It is a laborious process, but alongside the Solar Phases and strength by Latitude (and planetary dragons, otherwise called nodes) they comprise some facets of Astrology that are often neglected today. Hence I have selected them to be the first in this series of posts.

Now, to understand this technique, we do need to know some Astronomical terms. Geocentric Astronomy, especially in this period, often draws on the Almagest of Ptolemy (usually accompanied by a lengthy commentary from its translator) and what we are engaging with here relies on the model presented by Ptolemy (Toomer, 1984). In particular we need to understand epicycles, and the deferential Circle. I am not going to present the entire theory of epicycles here, as it would distract from the main points. However, hopefully some explanation in the form of the following diagram will be sufficient.

As you can see, the circle of the deferent encircles the eccentric point in the centre. Conversely, the epicycle moves itself along the circle of the deferent. When a planet is “outside” the deferent circle (far from the earth) we call the planet direct. When a planet is “inside” the deferent circle via his epicycle, we call him retrograde; when he’s on the circle itself, we say he is in his stations. The deferent ring moves around the Ecliptic, which means each part of the deferent has its own “Zodiacal Longitude,” i.e: 0 degrees of Aries, 5 degrees of Cancer and so on, with the “Start” always beginning at the Vernal Equinox, or 0 Aries. The next part that is important for us to note is that the centre of this epicycle is called the mean longitude of a planet. This mean longitude, or the middle of the epicycle, moves across the deferent in its standard secondary motion, from east to west. Its motion is uniform, constant, unceasing and unchanging in Ptolemaic thought. It does not retrograde, there is no tangible body to be found here. It is an invisible axis point around which the planet circles, whilst the epicycle itself circles around the eccentric point. This uniformity of movement, is also the reason we use the mean longitude in considerations like the solar revolutions.

Now, in the above diagram, you’ll note that we also defined the apogee and perigee of the eccentric circle. But we also need to note that there is an apogee and perigee of the epicycle. They are depicted in our image, marked as PE and AE. These are based on the location relative to us on the earth. The pink line cutting through the middle of the epicycle, is known as the apsidial axis in modern Astronomical terms. The same term is applied to the one cutting through the deferent.

Thus, we have two apogees and two perigees. The first is the epicycle’s apogee; the second is the deferent’s apogee. We’re going to talk about the deferent’s apogee for now, saving the epicycle’s apogee for the future, as the calculations are considerably laborious and involve us having to find the verus locus of the planet using tables of anomalies if we want to make use of the technique itself via Ptolemy. Whilst I do intend on writing on this topic, it is more properly treated on its own once we have become acquainted with the calculation of mean longitude, which is a pre-requisite for the calculation of the “epicycles” anomalies and how we might consider this, in Modern Astronomy where there is no such thing as an epicycle.

I also want to add a brief note here. Judging from Al-Biruni’s work, it was common for contemporary astrologers to mainly emphasize the deferential motion. On the one hand, he criticizes this and seems to consider the epicycle’s apogee more important. On the other, it does show that the deferential apogee was thought to play an important role in the planetary motions regardless. When we look in these older texts and see the various terms “equation of centre” and “increasing in number,” these are referring to the tables of anomaly used to calculate a planets true position in the epicycle. Conversely, the tables of mean motion are relatively easy to understand with a little engagement, and so I have chosen to start with the deferential motion.

Finding the Degree of the Mean (Eccentric) Apogee

With this out of the way, how do we find the degree of the deferent’s apogee? In Islamic Astronomy, we find one method presented by Al-Biruni, building on Ptolemy’s theory and adjusting it for precession. The theory he puts forth in his The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology is that the planetary apogee (upon the deferent) moves according to precession. The rate of motion for the deferent is the rate of precession. According to Al-Biruni, that is 1˚ for every 66 Arabic years, or 64 years in the Gregorian calendar; Astrologers today typically use 1˚ per 72 years for precession of the fixed stars, we also have the modern Astronomical rates of procession which are as follows.

The Apsidial lines of the planet’s today follows the following key, according to Mohammed Mozzafari.

Saturn: 1˚ 50.8y,
Jupiter: 1˚ 61.2y,
Mars: 1˚ 54.1y,
Sun: 1˚ 58.2y,
Mercury: 1˚ 64.9y,
Venus: 1˚53.2y

Below is an example of Biruni’s calculations. The year in which he wrote this portion of his text was 1029AD, or 420AH. Thus we can surmise (sticking to his technique) the following longitudes for the apogee of the deferent. You can also find alternative values in Introductions to Traditional Astrology (Dykes, 2010).

Planets and their Deferent Apogee, a table according to Al-Biruni

Apogee Longitude in 420 AH;
According to Biruni


Apogee Longitude
Values adjusted for precession according to Al-Biruni

Year: 2020 Key: 1˚ per 64 Gregorian Years
Value added: 15˚29’
Perigees
(180˚ from the Apogee)
Saturn6˚48′ Sagittarius22˚17’ Sagittarius22˚17’ Gemini
Jupiter16˚43′ Virgo02˚12’ Libra02˚12′ Aries
Mars:08˚33’ Leo24˚02’ Leo24˚02’ Aquarius
Sun24˚32′ Gemini09˚01’ Cancer09˚01’ Capricorn
Venus24˚32′ Gemini09˚01’ Cancer09˚01’ Capricorn
Mercury23˚43′ Libra08˚12’ Scorpio08˚12’ Taurus

*Note, there may be some inaccuracy as pertaining to the precise minute ’ of the table. However, the degree itself should be fine.

A planet is considered to be in its eccentric apogee when its mean longitude (the middle of it’s epicycle) is within the eccentric apogee. The same, of course, applies for the perigee. Thus, we cannot for this technique apply the true longitude of the planet as we usually see it in our Astrological software, but instead must calculate this ourselves via the mean longitude of the planet.

Calculating the Mean Longitude of the planets

I will now present the following method, utilized by Ptolemy, in observing the mean longitude of the planets. Following it will be a modern table of the orbital cycles of the planets using modern astronomy, usable should you wish to adapt these values to more modern ones. I’d also note that mean longitude has other uses than simply the relationship of a planet with the apogee of the deferent, including a role in the mean conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter, often phrased as the “Great Conjunctions,” as Ben Dykes succinctly puts forth [here]. There is also the option of calculating these mean longitudes using Ptolemy’s values online, thankfully due to this excellent [tool].

Abbreviations used in calculation:

  • Difference in Time = DT
  • Difference Times Motion = DTM
  • Stored Value = SV; this is the number you add to the next calculation
  • Preserved Value = PV; this is the final value of that particular position.
  • DTMF = Difference Times Motion Final, i.e.: DTM + SV, (Do not calculate this for sixths, simply use the DTM)

Formula

Calculate difference in time, IE: How many days and hours between the two dates?

Consult the table below, starting from the far right hand side. Take the value on the far right there and times it by the DT. This is called the DTM, or difference times motion.

Then divide the value of DTM by 60, take the integer of this answer, and add it to the next calculation. We call this the SV, stored value. (an integer is a whole number, IE: You need to ignore decimal places and make sure not to round it up or down)

Then take the same DTM, and modulus 60, this gives us the remainder, or how much is left in this time.

Then move onto the next calculation (IE: From sixths to fifths) and repeat the process, making sure to add the SV from the previous before calculating the remainder.

The formula is as follows, and an example is provided also.

Date A – Date B = DT

DT x TableValue = DTM

DTM + SV = DTMF (Ignore this step the first time, IE: when calculating sixths)

DTMF / 60 = SVn (make sure only to use the Integer value, ignoring decimals)

DTMF % 60 = PV

The Example

For our example let’s say we are calculating the mean longitude of Jupiter. Let us say that the difference in time for our hypothetical motion to keep things simple, is measuring between 5 precise days. Thus, we observe the table of his daily motions as follows:

DegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
045914264631

The Example calculation with notae:

Sixths

5 x 31 = 155, thus we say that Jupiter moves 155 sixths in this time period.

Each time the number reaches 60, we add 1 to the next calculation. (IE: Fifths) and keep the remainder with the sixths. To see what we add to the 5ths, and what we keep in the sixths when we make our new table, consider the following calculations for the SV and the PV. If you wish, you may choose to ignore the PV until you begin to calculate the motion in seconds as we don’t typically consider them in the chart. But if you plan on observing new dates based on your new calculations as the starting date in the future, it might be wise to keep them.

Sixths, Calculating the Stored Value/SV

To see what you add to the next value, take the number obtained and divide it by sixty. Ignore decimals and use the actual integer or whole number given, (do not round it upwards, ever.)

155 / 60 = 2.58333333, so we will add 2 when we calculate the fifths.

Sixths, Preserved Value/PV

155 % 60 = 35, so our final value for sixths, if we were going to make a new table, is 35 Sixths.

Fifths

5 x 46 = 230 + 2 = 232

232 / 60 = 3.86666 (so SV = 3)

232 % 60 = 52 (So we keep 52 in our fifths position)

Fourths

5 x 26 = 130 + 3 = 133

133 / 60 = 2.216666666666667 (so SV = 2)

133 % 60 = 13

Thirds

5 x 14 = 70 + 2 = 72

72 / 60 = 1.2

72 % 60 = 12

Seconds

59 x 5 = 295 + 1 = 296

296 / 60 = 4.93333333333 (so SV = 4)

296 % 60 = 56

Minutes

4 x 5 = 20 + 4 = 24

24 / 60 = 0.4

We do not have any SV, so we do not need to calculate a PV. The total motion in minutes, is therefore 24

Degrees

0 x 5 = 0

Since there was no SV when we observed the Minutes, we do not add anything here and his motion in degrees remains zero. Thus, Jupiter, in the course of five days has not moved a full degree of mean longitude

With this, our final table for five days of motions, now looks something like this. You’ll note I haven’t included the thirds and fourths in his final position. However it is certainly valuable when they do, and are desirable when calculating over very long periods of time.

JupiterDegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
Starting Point 3˚2’3” Aries
—› Position now
32659
Amount of mean motion he has moved in 5 days:0245612135235

Adjusting to more precise values – Minutes & Julian Days

Now, most of the time when we consider two different dates, they will typically be more than five days apart, and also making use of hours, minutes, etc. When we want to consider the mean longitude over for a long period of time, to begin with, it is typically it is best if we use the smallest value we have (i.e. the hourly mean motions of the planets). Thus, you’ll note that what I described as difference in time does not necessarily equal to one day, but can also apply to hours, minutes, seconds and so on.

Ptolemy gives us hourly values, which is more than enough for most purposes. So, if we were to consider the above calculation for 5 days, rather than DT = 5, DT now = 120 (5 sets of 24 hours). But what if we need to calculate minutes? Well, a minute is a 1/60 fraction of an hour. Thus we just need to divide the hourly motion by 60 to get the result for one minute of mean motion.

Therefore, if we are considering a nativity, and the birth was at 5 hours and 20 minutes, we would calculate the first 5 Hours as was said above. For the remaining 20 minutes, we would calculate them separately, and then we would divide the result.

A quick way of calculating this formula would be to take the hourly mean motion and divide by 60. Then multiply the resulting answers based on how many minutes you had left, as per the following brief and easy formula.

Formula for Adjustments by minute

Mean motion per hour / 60 = Motion per minute.

Motion per minute x number of minutes desired = final result for the adjustment.

IE: We want to add on 15 minutes to our previous calculation.

Now, Jupiter’s hourly motion in seconds = 12”.

Therefore:

12 / 60 = 0.2

0.2 x 15 = 3

Therefore, we would need to add 3 more seconds to the calculation for Jupiter’s mean longitude. If we obtain a decimal number, but no integer (i.e. 0.35584484 as a random example) we can take the decimal number, multiply it by 60, and add the integer from that number to the next table, though this shouldn’t be a common occurrence for most planets.

Julian Days

The most precise way to calculate difference in time, when it is over a long period of time, is using Julian Days. This doesn’t refer to the Julian Calendar, but rather a system created in order to count days, with day 0 beginning from the date January 1, 4713 BC in the Julian Calendar. This topic has been spoken about at length by others elsewhere (see here) and so there isn’t much need for me to explain it, however if you are learning astrology I do advise at least attaining a cursory understanding of them, if not the formula as it is the preferred dating system in astronomical systems.

With that, here are the tables of mean motion, taken from G.J Toomer’s edition of Ptolemy’s Almagest.

Table of motion via mean longitudes for the seven planets taken from the Almagest (Toomer, 1984)

Note on the tables: Mercury and Venus in the Ptolemaic system are considered to share the same mean motion with the Sun, which is the centre of their epicycle. Hence Mercury never has more than 28 degrees of elongation from him, and Venus 48 degrees. Their difference with the Sun lies not in their mean longitude, but in the true and apparent longitude (that is, in motion along the epicycle). I would also note that when a planet moves over 360˚, Ptolemy keeps the remainder, much as we have done. Thus the Moon’s yearly motion in mean longitude is not the large number she actually travels, but her difference in location from the starting point from where we begin our measurement.

SaturnDegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
Yearly motion12132356303015
Monthly (30 day) motion101645442530
Daily Motion02033312851
Hourly Motion0051234842
JupiterDegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
Yearly motion30202252525835
Monthly (30 day) motion2293713231530
Daily Motion045914264631
Hourly Motion0012286656
MarsDegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
Yearly motion191165427383545
Monthly (30 day) motion15431826554630
Daily Motion0312636535133
Hourly Motion011836321439
Sun/Venus/MercuryDegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
Yearly motion35945244521835
Monthly (30 day) motion2934836361530
Daily Motion059817131231
Hourly Motion0227504331
MoonDegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
Yearly motion129224613503230
Monthly (30 day) motion3517291645150
Daily Motion13103458333030
Hourly Motion0325627262323

Mean Longitudes of the Planet’s from January 1st, 2020, 12pm, Greenwich, England (Ptolemy method)

Julian day: 2458850.0000000

(Starting from 0 Aries, the vernal equinox)

Sun: 271˚ 25’ 48”

Moon: 342˚03’20”

Saturn: 287˚14’42”

Jupiter: 275˚58’26”

Mars: 214˚59’33”

Venus: 271˚ 25’ 48”

Mercury: 271˚ 25’ 48”

You may use these to calculate the mean longitudes of the planets at your own desired date. Note that these are considered using Ptolemy’s values, and so there are certainly arguments one can put forth that they are outdated. On account of this I have calculated a corrected mean motion of the planets using better values from NASA. Note that they may still lack precision.

Modern tables of orbital periods

Here is a modern table of the planetary orbits, taken from NASA’s planetary fact sheets for those who’d prefer more precise values. Note that I have included the inferiors here, but we need to remember: their mean longitude were considered equal to the Sun in Geocentric astronomy/astrology and so those particular values aren’t all that useful for our purposes in this particular context.

PlanetDays to complete a revolution in the Tropical Zodiac
Saturn10,746.94
Jupiter4,330.595
Mars686.973
Sun365.24217
Venus224.695
Mercury87.968
Moon27.3217

The formula of correction and notes to the table

Here follows the formula I have used in order to calculate this corrected longitude; with thanks to my friend, B. Key for his help in determining the best way to go about these initial corrections.

I will also note, that where the table has said year, it refers to a solar or tropical year, and thus is 365.24217 days, rather than simply 365 days.

Terms used:

  • VT = Value of time (I began with the solar year, 365.24217, to calculate daily motion)
  • PO = Planetary orbit (in days) value, as above
  • FR = Fraction result
  • POS = Position
  • POSI = Position Integer (IE: The integer number preceding a decimal point in POS)
  • POSD = Position Decimal points. (IE: the numbers following the integer)
  • NTPOSI = Integer to place in next table (as as POSI)
  • NTPOSD = Decimals to round to get the next tables POSD.

Formula for year

Year (or time)/ PO = FR

FR x 360 = POS

POS % 360 (if the POS is over 360. IE: the Moon)

Place POSI within table (the whole number)

POSDx60 = NTPOSI and NTPOSD

Repeat process until yearly table is filled out.

Formula for time when under one year in length

1 unit = days

365.24217 / 365 for tabledays;

tabledays x30 for months;

tabledays / 24 for hours

Therefore, years values in table: time = 365.24217

Month values in table: time = 30.019904383561643835616438356164

Days values in table: time = 1.0006634794520547945205479452055

For hours: time = 0.04169431164383561643835616438356

Corrected Tables of Mean Motion in Longitude for the Seven Planets

SaturnDegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
Yearly Tropical motion1214527142517
Monthly (30 day) motion102010273035
Daily Motion0204020551
Hourly Motion0051405217
JupiterDegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
Yearly Tropical motion30214434351637
Monthly (30 day) motion22943561630
Daily Motion04592752326
Hourly Motion001228394120
MarsDegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
Yearly Tropical motion1912425237517
Monthly (30 day) motion154353394024
Daily Motion031274719204
Hourly Motion011839281820
Sun, Mercury, VenusDegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
Tropical year360000000
Monthly (30 day) motion2935203252369
Daily Motion059104154512
Hourly Motion022756424423
MoonDegreesMinutesSecondsThirdsFourthsFifthsSixths
Tropical year132331738183732
Monthly (30 day) motion353385049127
Daily Motion1311617413824
Hourly Motion03321193737

Corrected Mean Longitudes of the Planets for January 1, 2000, 12:00PM

Saturn: 49°33’50”
Jupiter: 34°24′ 15″
Mars: 355°27’11”
Sun, Mercury, Venus: 280°27’36”
Moon: 218°18’58”

Ascending in the Apogee of the Deferent

With this information in our hands, it’s time to actually see whether according to what we have calculated so far, if a planet is ascending in the apogee of its eccentric circle (that is, the deferent). This is a fairly easy process, as what we do in this consideration is observe the mean longitude of the planet, and whether it is ascending (moving towards the apogee) or descending (moving towards the perigee). The values for these have already been given (using historical, not corrected values). Thus, quadrants 1 and 2 represent a planet descending from its apogee. It is a place of weakness, with quadrant 2 weakest of all, and quadrant 1 more like one who is descending towards weakness. Quadrants 3 and 4 represent the climbing of the planet, that is to say, it is a place of strength, and quadrant 4 is stronger than 3, because 3 is more like a recovering from weakness. Thus we might decide to label them as follows, in the same manner we see the Solar Phases treated in Guido Bonatti’s Liber Astronomiae (Dykes, 2010):

Quadrant 1) Strength moving towards weakness;

Quadrant 2) Most Weak

Quadrant 3) Weakness moving towards Strength;

Quadrant 4) Most Strong.

The Effects of a planet ascending in its Apogee and its implications

Ibn Ezra in his Book of Reasons (Sela, 2007) says of a planet ascending in its eccentric circle (the deferent) that for the planet, it is the same to a horseman as having a horse with excellent legs. Further, a planet in its apogee is close to the zodiac, thus it resembles a soul; when it is low (besides its perigee) and close to the earth, it is more like a body instead. We see then that we have two conditions, one of strength and one of weakness. These two conditions are divided between moving towards strength, or being naturally strong and continuing in increase; likewise, we also see decrease in strength, followed by weakness.

This motion within the deferent here is essentially very much like the solar phases of the planets (their relationship in distance with the Sun), in that this cyclical and uniform motion reflects a period of motion and travel. From strength to weakness to strength once again. It is unceasing and unchanging, undisturbed. In much the same way, the motion of a planet by its latitude (southern or northern within the ecliptic belt) also follows the same pattern. A planet ascending to become northern is strong, especially when beside its ascending dragon (called the mean north node of the planet). A Planet descending is sapped of strength, especially when besides its descending dragon (called the mean south node of the planet). Indeed, the mean nodes are calculated from the apogee’s longitude! So we can see there is a correlation between these techniques.

Now, each of these two topics (both solar phases, and latitude/nodes) will receive more discussion in time, and I do also intend on writing on the calculation of a planet’s true position, so that we might consider its place in the epicycle and its relation to the epicycle’s apogee. However for now, hopefully this will suffice. Astrology is one of my most beloved passions, and I deeply enjoy discussing and teaching its mechanisms.


If you would like to purchase any astrological services from me, I offer long, in-depth, customizable and clear readings on this page. It would be my honour to be of service to you!


References:

Ptolemy, G.J. Toomer, The Almagest (1984).
Abū Maʿšar, Al-Qabisi, Benjamin Dykes, Introductions to Traditional Astrology (2010).
Abū Maʿšar, Keiji Yamamoto, Charles Burnett, The Great Introduction to Astrology (2019).
Al-Biruni, Ramsey Wright, The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology (1934).
Abraham Ibn Ezra, Schlomo Schea, On Nativities and Continuous Horoscopy (2013).
Abraham Ibn Ezra, Schlomo Schea, The Book of Reasons (2007).
NASA, Planetary Fact Sheets, https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/planetfact.html.

Cosmology, Astrology, and Conjuring Spirits

Hello, all. We hope you’ve been well. Sfinga and I have been busy in the past few months with a number of new magical operations and workings, her with witchcraft, the Tuba Veneris, and Quimbanda, and myself with astrological magic and my own projects with the Goetia. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking lately about how astrology informs my practice as a ritual magician, and decided to write a short post expressing my thoughts on their relationship.

Before even delving into the practical virtues of astrology in terms of talismans and the like, I think that first and foremost we must discuss its cosmological scope. I think a lot of modern magicians as a whole have a tendency to forget the prime importance of cosmology and how it impacts our practice. In fact, this is one of the biggest boons one obtains through the practice of Astrological Image Magic (and astrology in general) in that it provides a solid cosmological grounding and foundation from which to conduct one’s workings. It’s true that today there are those who will call to the Four Kings or their equivalent spirits in their capacity as rulers of the cardinal airs (even if I think calling to them so casually and informally is a bizarre choice of action given their status and power – not to mention malicious bent), and you would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t experimented with some kind of practice based around the Heptameron (which of course, divides its spirits into planetary divisions). Yet overall there is a lack of cosmological awareness with respect to the unifying principles in which these spirits function within the western magical mindset. We know this planet is like this, and that star is like that—but the way in which they interact with each other, the web of interweaving relationships between them and the world view that emerges from these relations is all too neglected.

For a premodern magician, this was not a problem, as their very literal world was one and the same as this conception. It was the world they inhabited and worked within and it was also the world in which the spirits lived alongside them. On the other hand, the vast majority of us today (especially those raised in urban Anglo-Protestant backgrounds, in which I count myself) exist in a disenchanted, materialist world centered around mechanistic attitudes and principles. We fail to immerse ourselves in the world of spirits, claiming to be animists yet rarely behaving in any such way as one might find in other, even Christian cultures, especially the Catholic and Orthodox ones where indigenous animist attitudes have been far more preserved and inculcated. And for those of us for whom literate ritual magic (grimoires) makes up our predominant practice, or even only practice—this is where the problem begins.

During the early days of the occult revival, the previous dominant cosmology of (literate) magical practitioners in Western Europe (which can be defined in an overly simple way as a blend of Christian Platonism and astrology, in addition to regional “folk” beliefs) was upturned by three main factors. The first was that the scientific advances throughout the last few hundred years meant that, in the eyes of an increasingly materialist scholarly elite, the previous geocentric model and the “spheres” (among other things) were now scientifically redundant and moreover incorrect. Of course, while this is true for the physical descriptions of our solar system, these observations do not necessarily negate the spiritual principles upon which these ideas rested and were founded upon. After all, without a conception that the virtues of the planet are mirrored in us, and that we possess sparks or emanations of the light of these celestial bodies that resonate with their true forms, much of pagan theurgy we find in the PGM goes completely out the window.

The second was that at the time of the occult revival, we saw the overturning of the sophisticated belief systems of the early modern and medieval period. These world views came to be replaced by the Golden Dawn’s Hermetic Kabbalah, Theosophy, and even the materialistic, atheistic mindset that many people today still think is compatible with a healthy magical practice. Finally, the industrial revolution itself cemented the status of materialism in modern society.

The result of these three changes in combination meant that we “lost our roots” along the way; centuries of spiritual and intellectual research into the nature of the world and its spiritual make up were ultimately replaced by either the scientific model (whose influence we can see in myriad occult traditions in the latter half of the 20th century); Rosicrucian and Hermetic Kabbalah; or by the Theosophical model. None of these models really gave us the vibrant and living world populated by spirits that we once had. It has in a sense, created a distance between us and the spirits. Note that the context which I am speaking to of course is the Protestant, western, and indeed Anglo-American setting. The impact of Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and the like in areas such South America is entirely different, given the presence of Catholicism and existing syncretic indigenous, African, and other spiritist cultures.

But how does this relate to the manner in which Astrological Image Magic and spirit trafficking operate? Well, all things occur within a framework. My issue is not over cosmology in the sense of having a preference for one over the other. After all, most magicians have multiple worldviews and cosmologies that they operate within depending on their initiations and core practices. Rather, it is the damage done to the practice of medieval and early modern ritual magic that I am attempting to highlight. To give an example: Stephen Skinner has mentioned that the reasoning behind the use of certain suffumigations in conjuring spirits is to enable them to take shape here in our world. This is far from a new idea; Paracelsus makes this point about the Elemental creatures, in that they exist in their “chaos” (that is to say, their proper element). Just as humans breathe air and walk about in the air as if it was empty space, so it is the same for the Gnomes with the earth, the Undines with water and so on. Thus when a human is entirely submerged in water, he drowns, meanwhile the same is true for the Elemental creatures—a nymph who predominantly lives in water would suffer in the air according to Paracelsus. Skinner has picked up on this, however if you were to ask many a Western practitioner who proudly boasts of his “spirit model” practice (as if the bare minimum is impressive), you’ll hear him tell you about it using terms he’s heard someone in an entirely different practice use to describe it, rather than drawing on the ideas that informed its original usage and technique.

So, what about Astrology? Well, when we conjure a planetary spirit directly, rather than tapping into the occult virtues of its planet itself first, we may indeed find that the spirit can do things for us. Yet there is an accompanying difficulty depending on the actual state of its planet. Let us say that the planet is in bad condition; it might be in its domicile, a fortune yet could also be besieged by Saturn and Mars, and even in the 12th House. This is a very serious affliction indeed. Imagine, if you will, a King in his castle—he is wealthy and his food supply is considerable. However, his castle is surrounded by a rebel army. In this situation, you definitely wouldn’t want to tap into the raw occult virtues of the planet itself, since it is negatively afflicted. Instead, you might want to call a spirit subordinate to that planet directly. (Speaking in terms of personal experience, I’ve found that you really don’t need to be astrologically perfect in your timing when working with subordinate spirits, as they are more used to navigating the distance between our world and theirs). However, this does not mean that it is the best possible situation, nor that it doesn’t have an impact on what it is we are trying to achieve. The planet is besieged, so the spirit might come down and agree to help us, but a number of things in the very chain of manifestation are going to be affected by the astrological and thus cosmological situation.

For starters, the condition of the planet itself means that the spirit is limited in what it can do—its home is currently competing with and being suppressed by the two malefics, which will inevitably influence how the spirit comes down and appears to us when it manifests. Similarly, with its home in disarray, the resources at the spirit’s disposal are also limited. In addition, many or even most spirits are easily influenced by the environment in which they dwell. They don’t live in a vacuum—the space around them is influencing them just as they influence it. Imagine approaching a military engineer (because if the planet is besieged then it is in effect in a state of war) who is in the middle of a firefight, and asking him to help you get a job or fix your car. The spirit is in poor condition to fulfill your request, not to mention it would likely manifest in a way that is less friendly than usual, as he is currently preoccupied. His home is in turmoil and he is in the midst of trying to defend it.

Does this mean we shouldn’t call on the planetary spirits at all when the stars are not aright? Not necessarily. The example I gave was an extreme and somewhat uncommon affliction, but as magicians we should be able to rectify problems like this. We aren’t just astrologers, after all, and we need to be equipped so that we can handle situations like these. For example, if we called the above spirit in order to rectify its problematic condition, we might begin by removing all the Saturnian and Martial influences in the room to prevent the occult virtues of the spirits from clashing; we can burn fumigations (even better if they were made on a good election!) that will explicitly pacify the spirit and calm it whilst also strengthening it, and so on. Even then, the condition will still not be ideal, but we as magicians should be able to navigate such situations, just as we ought to be able to make use of ideal ones when they arise (even if we only use them to consecrate and store the powers of a star or planet for use at a later date). This especially is why an understanding of cosmology is so important in early modern ritual magic; we need that understanding in order to navigate these affairs properly. The planetary spirits of the grimoires exist within this cosmology, and we need a map if we want to know our way around their world. If we don’t understand something then we can even ask the locals (i.e. the spirit themselves, so that they may teach us more about their world and their ways), but ultimately it’s always best to come conversant and prepared.

When we better understand our cosmological inheritance, we become more confident in our own systems, and do not need to run around begging for validation from other traditions. For whatever reason, there’s a common tendency among many western occultists in ever looking outside in order to prove our worth or correct ourselves. Pasting over the cosmology of another practice/tradition/belief over our own context, just because we do not understand our own, tends most often towards aimless syncretism—a polite word for colonialism. The divination practices, ritual techniques, and spirits of our systems do not need to be constantly compared to ATRs, for example, for them to be “valid”. This is not to say that no comparisons should ever be made, rather that they are best left in the hands of those with initiations and practices in both, so that they might arise organically and informed by the teachings of their lineages and traditions directly.

The difficulties faced by those who practice western ritual magic, such as the distance between the worldview of pre-modern practitioners and we contemporary ones, will not be solved by copy-pasting practices that are only tangentially, if at all, related. I’d argue correction is to be found through introspection followed by adjustment within the confines of the same tradition—we need to look inwards, at our own sources, and deal with the difficulties that accompany understanding them before anything else. We do this by practicing the grimoires themselves, reading our primary source exegetes, and engaging directly with the spirits, asking them questions and learning from them above all, whilst simultaneously researching the historical context from where our texts arose. We don’t need absolute precision with respect to historical accuracy; it is after all not only impossible but far from the point, for we are magicians and not historical re-enactors stuck in the past. We live in an occult Renaissance where books, translations, tools, candles, and all the rest have never been more easily accessible, with some of the rarest materia available at just the click of a button on the Internet. This is age is an exciting opportunity to refine our practice and improve it in light of our globalized, connected world, so let’s not let ease of access overwhelm our desires to know more and be ever more precise.