Saturday, December 07, 2019

The Reagan Mutation

©2019 J. Lee Lehman, Ph.D.

In the next year, I hope to publish a series of articles about the mutation cycle of Jupiter-Saturn: arguably, the most important astrological trend of our time. In this blog post, I will not be providing the historical justification for the ideas I present, but I want to begin with the immediate astrology which is affecting us now. So we will begin in 1980, the year of the first conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in air since 1405.

The Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions occur about every twenty years, but from the Arabic Middle Ages onward, astrologers recognized that these conjunctions were part of a greater elemental cycle. The conjunctions cluster together in one element before proceeding to the next, following the same sequence as we observe in the zodiac: from fire, to earth, to air, and then finally to water. Each change of element is called a mutation - the change into fire is called the great mutation. This process takes about 830 years, and the number of actual conjunctions within an element varies. Our current mutational cycle began in 1603 with the conjunction at 8 Sagittarius. The following mutation occurred in 1802 with a conjunction at 5 Virgo. For reasons we will explore in a future article, the advent of the conjunction into a new element is almost always followed by a subsequent conjunction or two in the previous element. This process was dubbed the retrogression of the conjunction by 17th century astrologers, and we will discuss a few of the consequences here, focusing on this theme in a later article - and also at my talk at the 2020 ISAR conference.

But let's begin. The first air conjunction occurred in 1980. Contemporary American astrologers were most struck by the fact that President Reagan, while attacked, was the first president not to die in office when associated with the years of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction. The breaking of the so-called Tecumseh's Curse was the first indication that circumstances had changed. But other facets of Reagan’s tenure were far more important for defining the change into air - and many of these were barely noticed at the time.

1980 Jupiter-Saturn conjunction for Washington, DC, USA.

First, let's consider how he won the presidency, apart from the astrological help of Joan Quigley. Reagan was the beneficiary of the shift in the Republican Party to a realignment based upon combining racism, conservative (Christian) religious values, and the more traditionally Republican business support. Reagan used the slogan “family values,” which was code for “traditional family values,” which meant white heterosexual married with children, with the wife in a subordinate position to the husband. As detailed in The long southern strategy : how chasing white voters in the South changed American politics, Maxwell and Shields demonstrate the parallel priorities of the American Republican Party in mixing racism and sexism in an attempt to create a new majority for the Party – a strategy that culminated in the election of Donald Trump. I do not believe that the air mutation is necessarily conservative by nature: air is as changeable as the wind. Nor do I believe it is necessarily religious, because secularism continued to jostle with religious fervor throughout this period, and,in the USA at least, the biggest religious trend was the growth of the religiously unaffiliated Nones. 

The evolution of the Southern Strategy was earth-based in that it occurred in the waning phase of the earth element conjunctions. As such, it was a practical assessment of what components of the American electorate could be combined to produce a consistently winning majority. In the 1950s, the bulk of the segregationists/racists were in the Democratic Party, because the Republicans were still being blamed in the South for the Civil War, and what they perceived of as the invasion of the South as its aftermath.It was the recognition that a white patriarchal religious mythos would produce an invincible voting bloc that moved the Republican Party out of its doldrums - but it also began the process of creating a polarized party rather than an inclusive umbrella.

The approximate chart for the conjunction shows the conjunction in the 4th house - a clear reference to the land of the USA, as well as for endings. But consider also that no region of the USA was more emotionally wedded to the land than the South:witness the rhetoric of Gone With the Wind if you doubt this point.

The Southern Strategy may have begun with pragmatism, but can it survive in an element as unstable as air? Before Reagan, Goldwater (unsuccessful) and Nixon (successful at first) provided the anchors, but it was Reagan who experienced the full benefit of the paradigm shift. Yet Reagan, who exemplified the shift through his 1980 election, was himself a child of the earth element - as were all those politicians on both sides of the divide. The new paradigm by definition is created by denizens of the old element. We could argue that Reagan had his feet firmly in both camps, with natal Sun in Aquarius and Moon in Taurus.

The positioning of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in the 4th house in 1980 may show that the appeal to family values would work. Beginnings and endings in the 4th house can be marked literally by family matters. Saturn is in exaltation in Libra: "traditional" (i.e., Saturn) are literally being exalted. But it's worth remembering that an exaltation is by nature a rise above one's place - and most of the time, an exaltation is followed by a fall! The wheel of fortune will truly turn. The patriarchs of the sky (and Jupiter has exaltation in the sir signs) make their marks in a cardinal sign and an angular house: more power to the patriarchs.

Our forebears, however,  knew they could not calculate this conjunction accurately enough to run a chart - so they relied on the lunation before it. In 1980, that lunation occurred on the day of the winter solstice - also a nice symbol for beginning// ending as implied by the mutational shift. 

Full Moon Prior and Jupiter-Saturn 1980

That this lunation was also at an ingress completely fortifies the conclusion of its importance. And here, the forming conjunction is in the 6th house of workers and health care. What Reagan and his group realized, far better than the Democrats of the time, is that many union members were quite conservative on social issues: a fact that meant that they were only natural allies with the Democrats because of the politics of unions.

This is a good example of the kind of beginning and end process so characteristic of a mutation. A substantial block of union members in such states as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania was Catholic: a group which, at the time, was not substantially aligned with the Republican Party. By breaking the unions, Reagan severed the strongest connection to the Democrats. Then by talking about family/moral values, the Republicans appealed to the social conservatism of these same voters. Substantial numbers of Catholics switched parties over the flash-point moral issues like abortion and family planning, rather than the more pedestrian traditional concepts of Christian charity and support for the downtrodden. While today there still is a majority of Catholics who lean Democratic, the number who voted for Trump in 2016 was 52%.

Reagan’s position as a pivotal figure was firmly cemented by such political scientists as Stephen Skowronek, who named his presidency as representing a paradigm shift, the first since Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s own paradigm-shifting presidency followed the major catastrophe of the Great Depression: the conditions in the USA in 1980 were comparatively mild exceptthat it was a mutation. Forces that had been coalescing since the 1950s attempting to push the USA to the right “suddenly” gained traction at the first appearance of the Jupiter-Saturn in air.

Another concept that appeared around 1980 was Reagan’s remark that the USA would be shifting to a service economy. What this meant at the time was not entirely clear, although perhaps it should have been. In 1980, the United States was a manufacturing country. The growth in the service sector would change the distribution away from the higher paying manufacturing jobs toward lower paying service jobs. This was one of many shifts which were part of the massive transfer of wealth to the 1% that began around 1970, in the waning years of the earth period. At the 1980 conjunction, we also see the approaching Saturn-Pluto conjunction (concentration of wealth) that is again forming now, at the beginning of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction which will cement the air mutation after its brief dalliance back in earth.

But where did the shift to the service economy occur? Among the biggest growth industries since the 1960s is the health care industry - yet another 6th house player. It was Nixon's favor to Edgar Kaiser that resulted in the HMO Act of 1973- which made health care the for-profit juggernaut it became, resulting in the health care industry becoming the leading employer in many communities.

Earth views the purpose of life through work. Whether in the form of contrast between humans and other species through the use of tools, or as a moniker for craftsmanship, earth views the measure of who we are through the lens of our work. On one end, materialism is king,but also the process of manipulating matter. Work may produce the food we need, or the everything things that we use. When we consume, we consume things, whether clothes, shoes, food, or cell phones. Work itself is an honored state.

By contrast, air is almost non-material. It’s hard to envision the attraction of money as cryptocurrency in an earth era, but easy to see the concept in an air era. Air moves things around through the wind. Air circulates. It can be calm or stormy, but it suggests motion.

Air includes speech and language, which is how we communicate. Earth is cold, and thus not so eager to talk about nonfunctional things; air is hot, and so ready to talk about nearly everything. Earth is dry, and thus wanting clear criteria and definitions; air is wet, and thus open to sliding scales, and evolving goals. The fact that both of the Aristotelian qualities of cold and dry going to hot and wet change in this mutation means that this is one of the two mutational shifts which are truly major in scope: the other is the transition from water (cold and wet) to fire (hot and dry).

However, consider the primary rulership of the air element: Mercury and Saturn, who not only rule two of the three signs, but also the day and night Triplicities. Mercury is the planet of youth, while Saturn is the planet of age. Reagan was, at the time, the oldest president the USA had experienced. And he managed to inspire two generations of conservative youths and younger politicians, so much so that he wrested the paradigm for American society from the post-depression ideals of Democrat Franklin Roosevelt to a new hegemony of the Republican Party.

Conservatism, progressivism, and moderation are not the only way to split an electorate, even if they are markers for the current era. This shift to air will speed up the changes. In Astrology of Sustainability, in speaking of Pluto sign ingresses, I talked about how roughly the first third of Pluto's appearance in a sign is about cleaning up the excesses of Pluto in the last sign. Now, as we re-enter Jupiter-Saturn in Aquarius, we have all the detritus of the conjunction in earth lined up before us: the environmental damage, the accumulation of wealth, the death of diversity and species. Sludge has truly happened. And we also have the sludge of decisions: one of them being the deliberate choice to deify white heterosexual maleness to the detriment of all others. The tide has turned, and this group, which was never an absolute majority, but merely a convenient basis for fear-mongering, is still the target of manipulation, which creates the rage of the falsely entitled, and sets up so much chaos for the future.

Air will change. New coalitions will form. In the aftermath of the retrogression of the conjunction back into earth, two generations have been born into the air mutation, which will now take over the full transition to an air-based body politic. 

Weather has always been seen as a phenomenon of air. Climate is weather expressed over time. It is not surprising that an earth-bound society could not fix, let alone fully grasp, the effect of climate change. These changes are coming, and they are likely to be startlingly fast - like the wind. Fox News has peaked. The king is dead! Long live the king!


Abū Ma’šar, Keiji Yamamoto, and Charles Burnett. On Historical Astrology : The Book of Religions and Dynasties (on the Great Conjunctions). 2 vols. Islamic Philosophy, Theology, and Science, 33–34. Leiden ; Boston: Brill, 2000.

Lehman, J. Lee. Astrology of Sustainability: The Challenge of Pluto in Capricorn. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Press, 2011. Maxwell, Angie, and Todd. G Shields. The Long Southern Strategy: How Chasing White Voters in the South Changed American Politics, 2019.

Skowronek, Stephen. The Politics Presidents Make : Leadership from John Adams to Bill Clinton. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1997.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

A Bad Time to do It

©2018 J. Lee Lehman, PhD

After a bruising confirmation process, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the US Senate as the next US Supreme Court Justice. This is an issue over which, seemingly, every American has a strong opinion. The hard part, as an astrologer, is to attempt to be objective: a skill which is vital to our consulting skills, and often minimized in the rush to encourage astrologers to act like psychologists. In fact, there is a huge value to objectivity during a session. The delineation of horaries and electionals for clients would be impossible without it. I am certainly not throwing compassion, empathy, and imagination out the window, but facts are also facts.

I too have an opinion on Justice Kavanaigh. But my role in this blog entry is to examine his term of office. And ion the mundane/electional work that I do, my first question is simple: when did he become a Supreme? Approval by the Senate is mandatory, but the Justice does not take office until s/he takes the oath of office. In Kavanaugh's case, this was a private ceremony, and no official time has been forthcoming. In fact, it was difficult to find the time of the ceremony at all, and only USA Today gave the time of 6:00 pm as the time of the private ceremony.  Unless one of the participants shares the exact time that Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath, we can only guess. But we may also presume that it probably wasn't too much after 6 pm, since this was a private meeting, and hence not subject to the inevitable delays that cameras, reporters, and multiple witnesses can create. So while I present a chart for 6 pm, my assumption is that it was perhaps a few minutes late.

If this is accurate, then indeed this is an interesting chart. First of all, the late degree rising is interesting, because that is the reverse of what we would expect. Justice Kavanaugh, being relatively young for a Supreme Court Justice, would be expected to occupy the bench for decades: this was part of the rationale for the intensity of the fight: that this man would be in place for a long time. But a late Ascendant means exactly that: that this is late in the process. If the oath was really administered after 6:06 pm, then we have instead an early Aries rising chart - and so I am going to delineate this chart both ways, because now we should be able to pick the more correct chart, once events unfold.

 Pisces Rising Chart

If the time is correct, or even a few minutes late, then Jupiter rules the Ascendant. For a judicial swearing in, the choice of planet would be highly appropriate: the "problem" is that Jupiter is peregrine, and in the 8th house.  By this reckoning, Justice Kavanaugh truly becomes a hidden enemy of the Court (judicial matters are 9th, and his significator is in the 8th, which would be the 12th house from the 9th). One might also note that Jupiter is a generic marker for the nobility, so this also would describe his privileged upbringing. However, the fact that Jupiter is peregrine would show that while he came from privilege, he himself doesn't actually have it - meaning, he's got the background, but not the monetary resources.

The late Ascendant suggests his time on the Court would be short, no more than a few years. The proximity of the Ascendant to the fixed star Sheat would make this appointment a shipwreck.

One more point: the 10th house in this swearing in is now Chief Justice Roberts. In most national charts, we would take the President as the 10th, but by the action of this chart, President and Congress have already dropped out of the picture. Justice Roberts is initially shown as being ruled by the same peregrine planet Jupiter.

Here we may surmise several interpretations. Being ruled by the same planet, we might presume that they have similar judicial philosophies and outlooks - and this is probably largely true. However, the bulk of the degrees of the 10th house are ruled by a very dignified Saturn, and so we may allow for this to represent Chief Justice Roberts when he and Justice Kavanaugh are acting independently. In this guise, Chief Justice Roberts is the older man (Saturn), with great dignity, which means he comes across as very jealous of his office and duties as Chief Justice (Saturn, protecting his own authority), and generally believing in the idea of seniority. Now, we see the two men not acting precisely in concert, with Chief Justice Roberts willing to assert himself.

In summary, with a Pisces rising chart, Justice Kavanaugh probably does not last very long in his post until he is shipwrecked, and his tenancy may well be negative for the reputation of the Court.

Aries Rising

An Aries Rising chart means different significators for both Kavanaugh and Roberts. Kavanaugh's significator is now Mars, and Roberts is now unequivocally Saturn. Mars is also peregrine, so either significator challenges the notion that Kavanaugh will have a big influence on the court. Both potential significators are succedent, suggesting mean or moderate influence. Not being angular, his presence does not stand out.

There is a big difference in tone, however. If Jupiter, Justice Kavanaugh will attempt to appear judicial, whereas if he is Mars, he will continue to appear as a fighter.  In either case, he will find it difficult to lead.

If Mars rules the Ascendant, then Chief Justice Roberts will appear even more powerful, and will move forcefully to assert the legitimacy of the Court.

Whether Mars or Jupiter rules the Ascendant, Venus in Detriment retrograde rules the 2nd. If Mr. Justice Kavanaugh had any expectations that joining the Court would improve his finances, this chart argues against it. I would suspect that the savagery of the resistance will mean that his finances are severely scrutinized, and he may well discover that his expenses are increased. If the chart is Aries rising, then the double applying square of Mars and Venus truly speaks to financial problems, whereas this would be considerable reduced with Jupiter ruling the Ascendant.

So which will it be: short term, or financial problems? Either way, this does not look like a happy chart.

Note: subsequent examination of the photos from the private event by Christopher LaFond show a time for the swearing in by Chief Justice Roberts of 5:58 pm.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Toady Position

©2018 J. Lee Lehman, PhD

Mundane astrologers generally have two choices for house placement of lawyers: the 9th, or 2nd. The use of the 2nd is relatively uncommon, but specific: this refers to the old idea that the 2nd house includes your second in a duel. Thinking in the terms of the British legal system, your lawyer is the 9th when she is acting as your solicitor, or legal advisor. A lawyer become the 2nd when she is acting as your barrister - the person defending you in a court of law.

Both of these roles are perfectly legitimate, traditional job descriptions for lawyers. However, as an editorial in the Washington Post pointed out, a lawyer takes an oath to abide by the law. A lawyer is responsible for upholding the law and to interpret it to her client.

Events in Washington, DC have thrown some of these ideas into question - or at least, challenge these assumptions. The trial, conviction and pleas bargain of Michael Cohen puts us in the position of looking for a model for how to evaluate this situation astrologically.

But first, let's be clear. Cohen was convicted of eight counts of bank fraud, tax fraud, and a campaign finance violation. As such, in the chart for his trial, he is the defendant, and he pleaded guilty. My question is: can we characterize the services he performed for Trump as being 2nd or 9th in nature? Perhaps not.

Below is the chart for the beginning of his trial, at which he pleaded guilty.

The time for the trial was confirmed by Stephen Brown, of the NY Daily News. I mention this because there were news reports about the announcement of the plea bargain, before the trial ever started. While the rumors were true, they don't mark the moment where the trial became official.

Born 25 August 1966, the trial date fell in his apoklima: the period of a month preceding the solar return, when the new solar return takes effect from the old one. His natal Moon is in Capricorn (perhaps the natal Sun in Virgo and Moon in Capricorn begins to explain his rather morose appearance).

But in examining the chart itself, I was struck by several things. The two parties to this trial, Jupiter and Mercury, will perfect by square. Cohen has placed himself in the hands of his enemies, so to speak: he will now be unable to avoid answering questions, and he will have to cooperate. But the square suggests that this may be anything but easy.

But in terms of symbolism, the chart has one other factor which may be instructive: the Ascendant itself. The sign Sagittarius is already suggestive as one of the signs of Jupiter. Ptolemy gave law makers to Jupiter, but ever since, there's been a debate about whether to assign lawyers to Mercury or to Jupiter. Lilly conveniently gave both. However, Jupiter's placement in the 11th seems highly suggestive to me. The reason being that one of the archaic meanings of the 11th, one which Lilly would certainly have recognized, is the king's man.

The reason that legislatures ended up being 11th house matters was that they started out as vassals of the king. This may not be their current function, but in days gone by nobles became such because they did favors for the king - and then the king rewarded them with lands and other favors.

There was one who became the infamous specimen of the  type: Richard Rich (1496-1567), who was the "fixer" for Henry VIII. Rich appears as the villain in the play about Sir Thomas More, "A Man for All Seasons." The truth seems to match the play. Rich used all means fair and especially foul to solve some of Henry's more difficult problems - for which we was immensely rewarded. So here we have our prototype: the amoral type who accumulates wealth, power, and prestige by doing the dirty jobs for an alpha male.

What seems clear in the story is that Cohen went beyond the job of lawyer in his dealings for Trump. We don't normally have a job description or a house assignment for "fixer." But this chart at least suggests the house rulership.

Lee's STA Medical Practitioner's Course will be in New York City in October.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The Accuracy of Historical Solar Returns

©2017 J. Lee Lehman, PhD

In Classical Solar Returns, I discussed accuracy issues with respect to the accuracy of the calculation of solar returns, even as recently as several hundred years ago.1 This critique was based on wok that has been done on the accuracy issues facing ancient astronomy and its attempts to create accurate orbital equations within the geocentric system of circular orbits that were how these orbits were computed prior to Johannes Kepler.2 The conclusion of Morelon was that there was a genuine question of the accuracy of such returns.

Recently I began perusing Abraham ibn Ezra’s work on solar returns, and was stunned to discover that the very first paragraph in the work gives the method for computation which, examined carefully, gives a method for computation which turns out to not be as inaccurate as I had been led to believe.3 The method was simple, but definitely not what I learned myself when doing by-hand computations, lo! So many decades ago. In ibn Ezra’s method, the calculation was done by adding 365 days, plus 5 hours and 49 minutes to the time of birth for the next year after birth, and then repeating the computation as many times as necessary to arrive at the desired age of solar return. By contrast, our modern method was to interpolate between the time (noon or midnight) in the ephemeris for the day before the solar return to the day after, to arrive at the precise degree of the Sun, preferably expressed to complete minutes and seconds.

The figure 365 days plus 5 hours and 49 minutes is ibn Ezra’s figure for the length of the mean solar day. In other words, the solar return calculation is by definition, the time between the occurrence of the Sun at a particular degree and minutes, and the next time the Sun returns to that point is the solar day. My question was: how accurate is this? Ah, the internet is our friend, and so I found a very helpful page detailing modern ideas about this.4 It turns out the modern figure is 365 days + 5 hours plus 48.75 minutes: just 0.25 minutes less than ibn Ezra’s! This told me immediately that, while ancient figures would nt completely agree with modern ones, they would be fairly close.

To assess this concept in practices, I did the first few solar returns for Julie Andrews, whose chart I just so happened to have up in Sirius at the time. Here are the results.

Solar Return Year
Time computed in Sirius
Ascendant degree
Time computed by ibn Ezra method
Equivalent Ascendant degree
27 Sc 43
26 Sc 52
02 Pi 51
02 Pi 40
14 Cn 27
15 Cn 23
18 Vi 16
17 Vi 43
19 Sc 40
19 Sc 08

Natal data (B): 1 October 1935, 6:00 am, Walton-on-Thames, England.

As you can see, these are not huge differences: all amounting to less than a degree on the Ascendant.

1 Lehman, J. Lee. Classical Solar Returns. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Press, 2012, p. 19.
2 Morelon, Régis, “Eastern Arabic Astronomy between the eighth and eleventh centuries,” pp 20-57 in Rashid, Roshdi, and Régis Morelon, Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science. London ; New York: Routledge, 1996.
3 Ibn Ezra, Abraham, and Shlomo Sela. Abraham Ibn Ezra on Nativities and Continuous Horoscopy : A Parallel Hebrew-English Critical Edition of the Book of Nativities and the Book of Revolution. 2013, p. 373.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Special Considerations relating to Relationship Horaries

©2017 J. Lee Lehman, PhD

While relationship horaries are one of the simplest types of horary to teach and learn, in practice, relationship horary clients are often not very happy. I would like to explore some of the reasons this is true.

Why use horary at all compared to natal methods? In fact, what each method can accomplish is quite different. The typical natal chart comparison model, whether by synastry, composite, or relationship chart, shows how two people will interact - if they interact. The "if" is very important. A friend years ago wrote a very funny synastry description of herself and Henry Kissinger: the point being, she had never met Henry Kissinger, but if she did, it could be a bombshell! Chart comparison applies regardless of the type of relationship, whether business, romantic, casual, serious, or even cross-species. Because it describes how the two will interact, it cannot also describe whether they will interact in any capacity. This is a very important distinction.For someone evaluating a potential relationship, knowing something about the complexity and contours of that relationship can be very useful.

But it's horary that answers the question of whether A will have a relationship with B of the nature specified by the question. Thus, it is possible to ask about friendship, romance, or partnership.

And now we enter the special issues that arise in horary. The adage is true: if you look at the ephemeris, most of the time, the answer to a question would be "no." Think about this. For any horary which requires action in order to come about, you need either a translation of light, and approaching aspect between significators, or a reception. This has to be between the specific planets that rule the appropriate houses for the chart. How often is this true? Yes, if someone really is "supposed" to get a "yes" answer, they will ask at an appropriate time, but you get the idea: horary tilts toward the default "no."

Relationships represent strong emotional issues for us. A "no" feels like rejection. But now, let's examine this more closely. I have always noted that there is a class of querents who are actually relieved to hear "no." Given how hard it is for many people to say "no" to a process, sometimes having an outside objective party using the word can be tremendously empowering.

And speaking of objective, that's another word that's important, especially in horary, but in natal too. The role of the astrologer is to be the objective outsider - someone with a different point of view.

However, for every querent who is relieved by "no," there is another querent who expects a "yes." Tarot and other readers will recognize this subpopulation as well. But let's be honest: if any querent approaches any method of divination with too much conviction about what the outcome has to be, then there is a disappointment and difficulty about to occur - and the reader is the one likely to be blamed.

As a reader, you can only call what you see. And while those convinced of the outcome are not the majority, it is a real class - often, the very same one that "shops" for the reader who finally tells them "yes," and then castigates all the others who said "no," in blissful ignorance that it is only the first reader in the series who actually could give a "real" answer.

However, there is another set of reactions which seemingly only occur when the answer is "no." It is these questions that I would like to discuss. The questions at this point are often along the lines of asking what the success rate of horary is. The problem is: that answer is more complicated than it would appear at first blush.

As I taught in Martial Art of Horary Astrology, we can understand the horary question as having an implied beginning phrase, "If things continue as they are now,..." In other words, what happens in a divinatory moment is that the Querent and the Question lock into showing the path of least resistance for the querent in that moment - what will happen if all players operate according to their own tendencies. But this raises the question: how often is it true, that people follow this path of least resistance? The answer appears to be: the vast majority of the time. Horary astrology appears to be able to be about 90% accurate on most types of questions.

We can, however, say more about this. A horary can always be read in strictly predictive, which is to say deterministic mode, if the nature of the question involves movement. But often, it can be read in a second way: to pinpoint why the answer is no, and then to see whether there is an alternative strategy to reverse the expected result. In Lilly's horary, "A Lady, if marry the gentleman desired?" which begins on page 385, uses the chart to devise a strategy to achieve her goal, because, frankly, she had blown it. He takes that same tack in two other horaries in Christian Astrology as well.

The total horaries where Lilly takes this approach is only about 10% of his examples. Why not all of them? The answer appears to be: because that's about the right ratio of those cases where there's a reasonable chance of changing the outcome. In the most recent example where this came up for one of my clients, her potential husband was ruled by Saturn in Sagittarius in the 6th, while she was ruled by Venus in Libra in the 4th. The two would come to a sextile, but only after Venus conjoined Jupiter, and only after 18 degrees.

So could you change the result? In Libra, the Moon is peregrine. It's coming to another planet, which means another potential partner anyway. But Saturn is cadent. She, as the Moon could move or adjust, but he couldn't. The peregrine nature of her shows that she really doesn't have the strength to create the result on her own - and anyway, with a new Mr. Right coming into the picture, why should she? Mr, Less Right had mixed Triplicity, but the cadency took away such strength as he had.

That other trite phrase, it takes two to tango, also reminds us of the difficulty of changing the fate of a relationship: the other party has to agree as well. Unless you want to use magic to coerce the other party, there better be some agreement and enthusiasm. Horary is the measure of that duality of purpose - or its lack.

2017 New York STA Horary

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Debbie and Carrie

©2016 J. Lee Lehman, PhD

The death of Debbie Reynolds a day after her daughter Carrie Fisher is quite shocking, and yet strangely appropriate. This mother-daughter relationship, so public through Carrie’s books and joint interviews, is a magnified larger than life version which nonetheless provides truths to many mothers and daughters. As an exercise in astrological interpretation, it is priceless as much for the questions it raises as the answers it provides.

On the surface of it, the time of Debbie’s decumbiture is “better” than Carrie’s, simply because it is more common to call 911 in a medical emergency than to have the pilot of an airplane do the equivalent.

We know that Debbie complained of problems breathing, and here is Jupiter in the 6th. Jupiter is generally given as a ruler of the lungs. Mercury ruling the 6th is given as the ruler of lung disease by Partridge and Kirby-Bishop. This already changes the interpretation of the 6th house away from the first blush, in which we were told that she was a victim of a possible stroke. Stroke by its nature is more Mars-Sun, as it involves the brain, which, located in the head, would have an Aries rulership, where Mars is the domicile ruler, and the Sun the exaltation ruler. When a decumbiture chart fully matches the sign and rulership descriptions, it is a hint that the chart is really worth noticing. There were other calls to 911 that afternoon – but not all of them had fatal consequences. It’s the ones that match that tell you they are the ones with the most extreme consequences.

Venus was the Ascendant ruler – and Debbie’s natal Ascendant was in Libra, so Venus had special meaning for her.  The alternate sign (here, Taurus, but natally, Libra), doesn’t seem to matter.  Venus in Aquarius was peregrine: it was weak, which again is descriptive. What else are you going to be the day after your daughter dies? Venus will make no more aspects before leaving Aquarius, although the Moon will conjoin Venus before Venus reaches Pisces.

Again, at first this looks like a good thing. Venus does not aspect Mercury, ruler of the 6th, until Venus moves into Pisces – Venus in fact aspects Mercury in the day of Mercury’s station direct. Venus has separated from the trine to Jupiter, ruler of the 8th, and posited in the 6th; and likewise separated from sextile Saturn, the exaltation ruler of the sign of Libra intercepted in the 6th, and likewise dispositor of Jupiter by exaltation as well.

In fact, we have a chart where  the 6th and 8th are extraordinarily inter-related. The usual reading of cross relations is that the Querent will have the disease unto death, meaning that the disease will never be cured, but not necessarily kill the person. So, when stroke was being floated, it would be reasonable to say that the probability would be that she wouldn’t recover, at least fully. And this would have been a reasonable prediction for an eighty-four year old woman.

However, some of our sources give the interaction of 6th and 8th as an argument of death. So when is it chronic, and when is it death? That’s what needs to be sorted out. In what is surely one of the more unusual astrological events, Jupiter translates the light from Uranus to Saturn! This adds the danger of a sudden event to our description of the circumstances. So we have this translation, we have a perfection between a 6th house planet to an 8th house planet, where the 8th house planet has dignities in the 6th, and the 6th house planet rules the 8th, and Jupiter and Saturn are in mutual reception by sign and exaltation: it is completely over the top!

Then, we have the metaphor of the waning Moon, with Mercury ruling the 6th in a partile conjunction (cazimi!) with the Sun. Planets conjunct are burned up: they are annihilating the old in preparation for the new cycle. But the phase is the death of the Moon.

So this chart has gone from maybe benign to actually quite extreme. But it gets more-so. Now add Carrie’s decumbiture.  The Sun at 2 Capricorn is now replaced by the Moon at 2 Capricorn! The Part of Fortune, being a hylegical point, does represent in part the physical body is posited in a partile trine to that degree. Could this be anything but the moment?

Noting that Debbie had just had her Uranus return, I have come to wonder whether one function of this return isn’t to “loose the bonds”  with earthly existence: not necessarily to die, but to create a space in which it’s easier to let go.

The death of a parent is a pain that rarely leaves. The death of an adult child is even more so because our minds cannot accept that it should happen. Debbie’s life was an exemplar of unsinkability. Until now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Demonstration of Decumbiture: Carrie Fisher 1956-2016

 ©2016 J. Lee Lehman, PhD

The viewing of a life through the death is, to put it mildly, an odd way to operate. Astrologers often engage in ambulance chasing, and yet the ironic piece is that most astrologers get very nervous about the prediction of death within their own practice. Does fame somehow make this acceptable?

I would propose an alternative.  In Traditional Medical Astrology and other references, I have denied the absolute possibility of fixing the time of death in a particular life because there are more factors at work than astrological necessity. The ability of your mother to have access to good prenatal care is probably a bigger factor for you in the first few years of your life than the condition of your Hyleg. The efficacy of antibiotics and the availability of clean water is probably more important before the age of fourteen than the position of your Alchocoden. But, even though that may be true, astrology can identify periods of “death weather” – times when the being’s life comes into proximity with the veil, and when the outcome is open to discussion.

A further consideration is worth some thought, and even if you accept the possibility of free will, we can all be seen as being caught in the Norse god Wotan’s dilemma.  Wotan, or Odin, had a magic spear, but this spear was where he recorded all of his oaths. The problem was, eventually he would swear oaths that would conflict. Those oaths could destroy him. This is our dilemma, too. Each decision that we make opens doors, and closes doors, and as we grow older, our options diminish, because we carry all the ramifications of these past decisions. We can see this process metaphorically, biologically, or astrologically.

On a general astrological clock, we can examine Carrie Fisher’s solar return for 2016 and see Mercury, ruler of the Ascendant of her solar return at her birth location opposite Uranus – showing the possibility of sudden events that could be dangerous to her vitality, further argued by the fact that Uranus was in the 8th house. Mercury was combust in the superior conjunction – the direct one. The combustion itself can be seen as a death and rebirth experience. Mercury natally ruled her 6th house of illness and 8th house of death. Mars ruled her solar return 8th – and Mars was conjunct Pluto, with the Moon coming to oppose the conjunction. There is surely enough to say that 2016-2017 was an exit visa for her: a year where death was a possible outcome, and where if it would happen, it was through a sudden event.

This general reading was confirmed by looking at the solar return of Carrie’s mother, Debbie Reynolds. Mercury, ruling the 5th (daughter) is conjunct Uranus, and the 8th from the 5th has a Moon-Pluto conjunction in it, with the Moon partile square Mercury, ruler of both 5th and 8th. This is a very specific reading for the potential death of a child in this solar year.

What could you (or I, or anyone) have said? This could be a difficult year, don’t stress, etc. Would taking a polar flight of 11+ hours in length constitute a stress? My friends who are former flight attendants say yes, but would the average person agree?

Once the heart attack commenced, we the public got next to no information, other than the confirmation that she did in fact have a cardiac event, that she was taken to the hospital, and that her condition had been “stabilized.” There was one time which was shared: the time that emergency services on the ground in Los Angeles was informed that an ambulance would be necessary: 12:15 pm Friday afternoon, 23 December 2016.

From an astrological perspective, this can count as a decumbiture, although not the preferred one. The best decumbiture, which is the event of an illness, would have been for the time that she experienced the attack in the first place. In the coming weeks, we may discover this time, because doubtless, the airline personnel recorded this in the flight log. However, hospital admissions are recognized decumbiture events, and we could consider the request for an ambulance as at least an extension of that concept.

As a decumbiture, it’s pretty grim. Mars has taken over the chart. Mars rules both 1st and 8th houses, as well as disposing the Moon. The Sun, which rules the heart, is ruler of the 6th and conjunct the 10th – this was a very public heart attack.  The Sun is coming to the sextile of Mars, since the Sun is the faster body. Mars itself has minor dignity by out-of-sect Triplicity, unless you prefer Lilly’s Triplicity table, in which case it is the sole Triplicity ruler. As a minor dignity, we can hope, but it’s not as strong as we would like. The malefic quality of Mars comes through too easily. Mars is in the 12th, applying to the South Node and Neptune – not exactly the dynamic duo that would spell life. Of the two of them, I judge the South Node the more dangerous: I have seen it as a point of destruction in other deaths.

But decumbitures have a second function: they are the basis for Hippocrates’ doctrine of the critical days. This doctrine, which actually predates the use of Hellenistic horoscopic astrology, observes that diseases undergo crises at the points that we would now define as the 8th harmonic lunar returns. At these points, the patient can improve, get worse – or die. And sometimes if they are boring enough, there’s no change.

The four-chart graphic shows the decumbiture event in the upper left, and then the first three critical days. The first one occurred less than two hours before she died, and you can clearly see why I posted the comment on Twitter: “Best wishes #CarrieFisher! Her critical day on Tuesday morning is rough, but things improve after.” This statement also illustrates how I work with people when death is the probable (or a strong possible) outcome: I try to identify a point after which the primary danger has passed. Like breaking a board in martial arts, if you can visualize your fist on the other side of the board, then you have gone past your target and succeeded.

For December 27th, there are a whole series of arguments of death in the decumbiture which have become exact:

  • The Moon has come up to the position where it is applying to the Part of Fortune (a hylegical point), and also Saturn.
  • The Sun has come to the partile sextile with Mars, the planet which was so active in the decumbiture. The Sun is also precisely at sunrise – one might hope a new beginning, but a change of state.
  • Mars has come to the partile conjunction of the South Node, which was the aspect I was focused on in the decumbiture.

This, then, is the moment – and it was. She died at 8:55 am. If she had survived, the next critical day chart shows Mars applying to Neptune. While not as severe in scope, this suggests that she would have been unconscious. The prominence of the 12th house in the third critical day, and the Moon’s application to the square of Saturn shows she would still not have been better. She might have been “stable,” but the stability of intensive care can either be a life saver, or an eerie in between state.

So once we get past the shock, and this analysis, perhaps we will be able to get back to the essence of the woman who we are missing so much now. Journey well, Carrie. It is your life that enriched us.