Astrology by Hand Week 33

Another Interesting Passage from Schoener

Last week, we explored one astrological judgment whose meaning was not apparently derived from any theory, but saw that it did in fact come from theory. Now I want to look at another statement from Schoener that reveals something very deep about medieval astrological theory.

"The Ascendant and the Moon are the significators of the body. The lord of the first house and the lord of the house of the Moon are the significators of the soul."

In modern astrology we do not find such a distinction. The way most modern astrologers read a chart, and I would have had to include myself in that number up until recently, the entire chart signifies the soul, i.e., the psyche, to use the more modern and psychological term. Modern astrologers (at least psychologically oriented ones) tend to read the chart primarily as a map of the psyche, and to regard all other manifestations in life as being the result of the movement of energies within the psyche.

The radical you-create-your-own-reality school of thought in new age circles is the result of similar thinking outside of astrology. Interestingly, this point of view is just about the perfect opposite of the materialist school that dominates science and certain branches of psychology. There it is believed that almost every manifestation (especially illness) in life is the result of something changing in the body or is the result of a mechanical process operating within the body or mind. So we have a nicely polarized pair of viewpoints.

Medieval thinkers were somewhere in between. For them the body was matter and the soul was an essence. How did this operate within astrology and exactly what did this mean?

The Double Meaning of the Planets

All of the planets and other points (Ascendant, Midheaven, cusps, etc.) functioned as indicators or significators in their own right. That is, they gave indications about the chart based on their positions in the signs and houses. But each of the planets, and only the planets, also had a second kind of indication based on the houses and signs they ruled.

For example, the Sun in the First House of a chart tells us something about First House indications. But if the Sun is not in Leo, somewhere else in the chart there is a house with Leo on the cusp. The Sun is said to ”rule” that house. In most modern books there is no difference made between a planet being in a house and sign, and the planet ruling a house and sign. Was there such a distinction in traditional astrology, and should we, as modern astrologers, be looking at that distinction?

Body and Soul: The Difference

In our passage from Schoener, we are told that the Ascendant and the Moon represent the body but that their rulers indicate the soul. This is a difference between houses occupied and houses ruled and it is quite significant. But what exactly is meant here by the words ”body” and ”soul?”

A complete answer would require a long digression into medieval philosophy, but for the present let me just cut directly to the answer. The body is matter out of which the soul arises and is formed. The soul is the essence of the body, what makes it a living being in general and an individual living being in particular. In other words, from the medieval point of view, my soul gives my body life and also makes me Robert Hand, as opposed to someone else. To put this into new age-style speech, my soul is my Robert-Hand-ness.

Now before we get off the rails on the subject of matter, matter to the medievals was simply anything out of which something else can be made. Matter is not simply mass or "m" in the equation E=mc2, and matter is not opposed to energy in medieval thought. If they had ever conceived of energy in the modern sense, they would have regarded it as a kind of matter, since things are formed from energy.

Physical Illness Versus Mental Illness

So Schoener and other astrologers are telling us that the Ascendant, the rising sign as a whole and the Moon and its sign give indications for the physical structure of the body. The rulers of these tell us about the soul or individual living form that the body contains and manifests. Schoener continues that passage with the following:

"Wherefore, if the Ascendant and the Moon are impeded and their lords are free from the malefics, these signify an infirmity of the body but the health of the soul. And if the Ascendant and the Moon are free from the malefics and their lords are impeded, these signify the health of the body and the sadness of the soul."

Now we see what the importance of the distinction is. If the material indicators are in poor shape but the soul indicators are in good shape, there may be a physical illness. If the reverse is true, the body is fine but there is a soul illness. Next week, I will show another important distinction between these two functions of the planets.



Rob Hand, author of Planets in Transit and other works, is now involved in the translation and publication of texts regarding ancient and medieval astrology through ARHAT Media Inc.

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