Hellenistic Astrology


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The Planets


In the earlier part of this thread I gave Robert Schmidt's key principles for each planet. There were deduced from the various significations that were given by the authors, rather than actual statements by Hellenistic astrologers.

One thing I didn't mention but I've become increasingly aware of is the use of 'opposites' not only in the meanings of the planets but also in Hellenistic Astrology generally. That's not going to be a shock to most modern Astrologers, who are used to considering the opposite house when considering the delineation of a particular house. So we might consider the tenth house to get more understanding of the fourth and the possible different pulls on a person trying to balance home and work.

In Hellenisitc Astrology you'll find this is rather widespread. Thus the planets themselves form opposite pairs - Sun/Saturn Moon/Saturn, Venus/Mars, etc. Thus the Sun according to Schmidt shows the principle of selection whereas Saturn shows the principle of exclusion and so on for the other planets.

This isn't the only way planetary opposites become important. The use of benefics and malefics is clearly one of the most important distinctions in Hellenistic Astrology, as is the difference between diurnal planets and nocturnal planets. This is all based on one of the key philosophical principles that a quality cannot be explained unless we have an opposite to compare it too. 'Soft' has no meaning unless we also have a concept of 'hard' (and vice versa). We can't talk about 'justice' unless we have a concept of 'injustice' and 'good' has little meaning unless we have a concept of 'bad' or 'evil'.

I'll point out more opposites as we go, especially when we get to the elments but please remember that for the Hellenisitic Astrologers it was impossible to talk about good things unless there were corresponding and in a sense interdependent bad things. A person would have no ability to judge if something only had one and only one property. It would be what it is and that's all that could be said. So opposites are important for making Astrological judgements.
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Sect and the planets


I've used sect extensively, so this post just clears up a couple of points that came up in the early part and I wasn't sure of.

The first point is literally that - the point at which a chart becomes dirunal or becomes nocturnal. Chris Brennan says that he can't find an exact definition in the texts - which to me seems to imply it was an obvious distinction. The distinction Chris uses in his practice is that to be a dirunal chart the Sun must be above the degree of the Ascendant - that is if the Ascendant is 24 Leo the Sun must be in 23to 24 Aquarius and to be a nocutural chart, if the Ascendant is 24 Leo the Sun must be in 25 Aquariusto 24 Leo. That is the Sun must be either above or below the horizon byby at least one degree respectively. There are clearly arguments about twilight, when there is light from the rising or setting Sun but such a distinction does not seem to be mentioned in the texts available to us.

The second point is the sect of Mercury. Brennan says that the most frequently used definition is that when Mercury is a Morning Star (that is it rises before the Sun and can be seen in the sky before dawn) it is of the diurnal sect. The condition of being a Morning Star makes Mercury more masculine. When Mercury is an Evening Star (seen in the sky after sunset) it is taken as a nocturnal planet amd being an evening star makes it more feminine.

Note that the conditions of being a morning or evening star apply to all planets, and all of them gain a more masculine quality when they are a morning star and a more feminine quality when they are an evening star. It seems though this is perhaps more important in the case of Mercury because Mercury in hermaphroditic and in the case of Venus, because with the Moon it is one of the two feminine planets. Note Venus does not loose her femininity by being a morning star - but she does become more of a 'tomboy' or more proactive to use a modern term.

Sect also affects the qualities of the planets. In a diurnal chart the diurnal planets, Sun, Jupiter and Saturn behave more favourably towards the native. In a nocturnal chart the nocturnal planets, Moon, Venus and Mars behave more favouraably towards the native.

This allows us to actually modify the continum between acting in favour of and against the interests of the native - or at least signifying good and bad things on a continuum rather than as extreme polarities.

In a day chart the benefic Jupiter is the planet which signifies the best that can happen and the area of life in which it can happen. Venus as the out of sect benefic signifies things which are neutral to beneficial, though not as beneficial as Jupiter. Saturn as the malefic of sect signifies things that are neural to being rather negative and Mars as the malefic out of sect signifies the worst that can happen. Note that other considerations will have to be taken into account in fixing what the extremes are - whether Jupiter is in its own sign, or one of its dignities for example would influence how good the best is. That's where aspects or configurations become important plus issues of speed, retrogradation, rising or setting.

Benefics affirm, stabilise or improve, malefics destabilise, negate or corrupt. In short Benefics say 'yes' and malefics say 'no'. Benefics may help things be achieved easily and in full, malefics may obstruct, delay or lead to only partial achievement or in the extreme failure.

Such terms are not used in modern psychological astrology, which tries to avoid value judgements. However often thing a neutral value free stand may lead to a loss of empathy with the 'client' or leave them frustrated as their questions remain unanswered. Even so in the modern world 'malefic' which literally means 'bad-doer' has overtones gathered from religion, so you might prefer the terms that the Stoics used, which are 'preferable' and 'unpreferable'. Benefics are going to help achieve that which is preferable to realising the potential shown in the chart. Malefics will show things which are not preferable in achieving potential. That doesn't mean that in an objective sense malefics are always 'bad'. If the chart shows a predisposition to drink or drugs or cheating in relationships, something which obstructs these traits could objectively be seen as 'good', even though to the native they are obstructions and 'bad'.
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The Venus' description as a morning star fits for me. I'm not sure how to consider Mercury as more masculine as I fail to see him as feminine but I'll keep reading and hopefully, get it.

Does it still matter for the benefics/malefics if they are above/beyond the horizon when cosnidering their attitude towards the querent? For example, you say in a day chart Sun, Jupiter, Saturn behave in a positive way, do I ignore Jupiter in this case as being below the horizon or just take him as powerless?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronia View Post
The Venus' description as a morning star fits for me. I'm not sure how to consider Mercury as more masculine as I fail to see him as feminine but I'll keep reading and hopefully, get it.

Does it still matter for the benefics/malefics if they are above/beyond the horizon when cosnidering their attitude towards the querent? For example, you say in a day chart Sun, Jupiter, Saturn behave in a positive way, do I ignore Jupiter in this case as being below the horizon or just take him as powerless?
Mercury is a hermaphrodite, so not entirely feminine to start with. Be careful, I'm not saying that Mercury becomes masculine or feminine but tends to show more masculine traits than if it was an evening star. Think of your Venus - it doesn't suddenly rob you of female Venusian tendencies, but it does present a female side that is more assertive, proactive, positive than the evening star version, which is more the typical stereotype of the submissive, receptive, reactive female. The Roman world probably preferred the latter but that is not to say that they didn't recognise the former and allow for it.

The position of the planets in the chart relative to sect is nowhere near as important as it became in the later medieval period. Jupiter below the horizon in a diurnal chart is still the most benefic planet, followed by Venus (ignoring other factors such as aspects, sign (domicile) placement, house (place) placement, etc. Being above the horizon does add something, as does being in a dirunal (Fire/Air) sign but it's not an additional strength it's perhaps more a slightly easier way of being the best planet. I tended to look at this from a medieval perspective but Chris cautions against that. So it's placement by hemisphere or by sign does not have to be taken into consideration, and if it is, it's only going to be a subtle influence.
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Yes, I understand, Minderwiz. I guess my point is that to me Mercury is always more on the boyish side though a bit immature, I would probably have hard time seeing him as a girlish actually. But since I'm practising with my own chart, he's boyish anyways, according to these rules. Venus too and it fits. I'm in the audience awaiting the next series. (i still need to clarify for myself the below the horizon - above the horizon rules and all kinds of dignities as in the question about Jupiter)
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Other considerations for planets


In addition it's worth considering:

The planet's speed - faster than average suggests it tends to expedite matters it's related too.

If the planet is stationing Retrograde or Direct. Retrogradation indicates delays in matters related to the planet.

If the planet is 'under the beams' for the Hellenistic Astrologer this meant being within 15 degrees either side of the Sun. Within this range it can't be seen in the sky at night (or the day for that matter). This appears to be associated with things that are hidden, secret or internalised about the planet. So if the Lord of the Seventh is under the beams that might point to a marriage in secret or Lord 5 under the beams might indicate a person has a child that most people are unaware of. It's usually taken as undesirable, though if you're doing an election chart for an activity that you want kept secret then having it's significator undert the beams is a good idea.

When a planet emerges from under the beams - gets to be more than 15 degrees from the Sun, it is said to make an 'appearance' (phasis). This makes it prominent and powerful. If a planet has a phasis either 7 days before or after a birth it is taken as being very important.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronia View Post
Yes, I understand, Minderwiz. I guess my point is that to me Mercury is always more on the boyish side though a bit immature, I would probably have hard time seeing him as a girlish actually. B
Think about him as one of those Victorian boys who was made to have long hair and was dressed almost like a girl - still a boy and immature as you said but now with feminine overtones whether he likes it or not
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One mustn't confuse sect and sex: Mars belongs to the lunar sect as well as Venus!

Mercury does have a strong difference: compare the communists with Mercury as evening star Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky and those with the matutine Mercury Stalin, Mao, and Castro: very different characters. But sometimes other factors override: Bach and Wagner were born in the same mercurial phase.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
One mustn't confuse sect and sex: Mars belongs to the lunar sect as well as Venus!


Quie so, though it does seem that Mars and Venus like to snuggle up by Moonlight

'Sect' is as in 'religious sect'...it's a group or side with common likes or a shared identity. One sect loves the dayand the other loves the night.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minderwiz View Post
Think about him as one of those Victorian boys who was made to have long hair and was dressed almost like a girl - still a boy and immature as you said but now with feminine overtones whether he likes it or not
Ah, OK.
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