Monday, December 3, 2012

Studying Traditional Astrology

A note about the "Magick Monday" plan - there won't necessarily be a Monday post every week, but the idea is that if there is one it will be related to actual magick rather than weird news, cryptozoology, religion, or what have you. Enjoy!

Over the weekend I joined a local discussion group that is studying traditional astrology. Traditional in this context means up to around the eighteenth century or so, when the modern ideas that most of us are more familiar with began to take hold. I first attended a talk on this older form of astrology back in 2010 and one of the key concepts from traditional electional methods, the Mubtazz or Victor of the chart, was incorporated into a series of zodiacal workings performed by my magical working group from 2010-2011. Those workings proved quite effective for accomplishing both mystical and practical goals, and also provided me with much of the data I gathered on EMF and evocation.

For those of you who are used to working with modern astrology, the traditional version has some key differences. The most basic is in the overall approach. Modern astrology operates from the perspective that for the most part your chart represents your mind and is therefore largely psychological. Traditional astrology, on the other hand, looks at the chart as a collection of macrocosmic forces that act upon you in addition to the components of your mind. In effect, it focuses much more strongly on macrocosmic events than its modern counterpart. This allows the traditional form to be approached in a more empirical manner, in which specific predictions can be tested against real-world events. In this way its approach is more similar to that taken by Vedic astrology, though there are many technical differences between the two systems.

Another difference is that, as one might expect, traditional astrology employs only the seven ancient planets rather than including those such as Uranus and Neptune that were discovered in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries respectively. The system by which rulership, exaltation, detriment, and fall are assigned to these planets make up a comprehensive scheme that is quite ancient. In fact, Aleister Crowley, writing in General Principles of Astrology, argued that this system was so elegant and workable that there was no reason to replace it simply based on the discovery of Uranus and Neptune. He would later propose a system of "superior governors" in which Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto would interact with the attributions of the traditional seven-planet system. This arrangement is not widely used, but it shows the esteem Crowley held for the traditional planetary arrangement.

A third difference is the use of whole sign equal houses. What that means is that rather than the modern method of assigning houses that usually cross sign boundaries each sign is also treated as a house. So, for example, my ascendant is Cancer and my birth time is a little over halfway through the sign. Using a house system such as Placidus or Koch my first house would start at that point and extend into Leo. But in traditional astrology, everything in Cancer is treated as the first house, everything in Leo is treated as the second house, and so forth. At the same time, the symbolic relationship between house and sign as applied in modern astrology essentially does not exist. So the idea that there's a relationship between things attributed to the first house and those to the sign Aries, things attributed to the second house and the sign Taurus, and so forth is not part of the traditional system but rather a later addition.

Now back to that Victor of the chart. Traditional astrology includes a method for calculating the strongest planetary influence in an electional chart. One of the ideas I had after attending the original seminar is that the system of planetary days and hours found in the grimoires may be a simplification of the Victor system, and that by using the full technique one might be able to more precisely tune rituals to the planets and signs. In the Victor system points are allocated to the seven ancient planets based on their positions in the signs and houses in addition to the day and hour according to the Chaldean Order. Working on the day and hour or a planet will automatically assign 13 points to that planet, but sometimes the overall point value for a Victor can be as high as 40. So according to this method, working on the day and hour of the planet helps but does not guarantee that it will be the strongest planet at the time of your operation.

So far I have not done enough comparative testing to verify whether or not this is the case, though the rituals we performed as part of the zodiacal series look promising. What I really need to do is apply the system in such a way that I can compare the simple day/hour planetary method with the Victor method or a variation on it. A simple way to do this might be to bring in some the elements from the Victor system and use them to augment the system of days and hours. On any given planetary day there will be four hours corresponding to the ruling planet. If you want to then find the which of those hours in which the planet is strongest, look for a couple of additional factors. One of these is house position. In the Victor system, a planet gains 1 to 12 points depending on which house it is in. Remember that these are full sign equal houses, as the Victor system is a traditional astrology method. House points are assigned as follows:

1st House - 12 points
2nd House - 4 points
3rd House - 5 points
4th House - 9 points
5th House - 7 points
6th House - 2 points
7th House - 10 points
8th House - 3 points
9th House - 6 points
10th House - 11 points
11th House - 8 points
12th House - 1 point

The second is the ascendant. If in any of the three possible hours, the planet is the ruler (5 points) or exalted (4 points) in the sign of the ascendant, the planet will be stronger.

Other considerations for the Victor are based on periods longer than a day - the sign of the Sun, sign of the Moon, sign of the Lot of Fortune, and so forth. However, if you can line up the day, hour, ascendant, and a strong house position you run a very good chance of matching the planet that would be the Victor of an electional chart and therefore the strongest planetary influence for your magical operation. To clarify, here's an example for today.

As today is Monday, we would be looking at an operation attributed to the Moon. The four Moon hours, then, and their respective point allocations are as follows. Note that these are based on the midpoint of the hours, and could possible be tweaked further by working out more precise chart times.

(1) 7:30 AM - 8:15 AM:
Ascendant Sagittarius (0 points), Moon in 9th House (6 points) = 6

(2) 12:45 PM - 1:30 PM:
Ascendant Aquarius (0 points), Moon in 7th House (10 points) = 10

(3) 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM:
Ascendant Cancer (5 points), Moon in 2nd House (4 points) = 9

(4) 2:30 AM - 3:45 AM:
Ascendant Libra (0 points), Moon in 11th House (8 points) = 8

So according to these two additional aspects of the Victor system, the most auspicious Moon hour would be the 2nd, followed by the 3rd, 4th, and finally 1st. If anyone would like to test this out, I would be very interested in hearing the results. The biggest challenge, as with many of these magical methods, is pulling together a large enough sample size to draw a firm conclusion.

Besides tweaking planetary operations, a second reason that I'm so interested in traditional astrology is that with my draft manuscript for Mastering the Great Table complete and waiting on my publisher, my next non-fiction project is the third book in my Enochian magick series, Mastering the Thirty Aires. The Aires or Aethyrs in Enochian magick are related to the signs of the zodiac in John Dee's original arrangment of the system, and traditional astrology would have been the system that he practiced in his role as astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I. I am hoping that a greater understanding of the traditional system will provide me with some new insights into the system that other authors may have missed.

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