Astrology by Hand Week 34

More on the Two Functions of Planets

Here is another passage that uses a different kind of rulership but nevertheless makes another general distinction between the two functions of the planets. This is a passage that we looked at couple of weeks ago.

”The Sun in a praiseworthy place and the lords of the Sun’s triplicity in evil places, say that at the time of the nativity of the child the father would be well and fortunate, but afterward he would come to poverty.”

Don’t worry what is meant by the phrase, ”the lords of the Sun’s triplicity.” The four triplicities of the chart, fire, earth, air and water, are considered to have rulers just like the individual signs. All we have to understand here is that these rulers are used in a manner very much like sign rulers.

Here the difference between the Sun and its rulers is not obviously one of matter versus soul, but of earlier versus later in life. This brings us to the second great distinction between the two functions of planets. As the planet occupies a house and sign, it tells us about that house and sign in early life. As a planet rules a house and sign, it tells us about something in later life.

Where does this come from? It comes from a characteristic of matter and essence as held by medieval philosophy. Matter is intrinsically formless but has the capability of assuming forms. At the beginning of a process, the forms exist only as potentials of the matter. Gradually, the forms begin to manifest in the matter and take on actual existence. This is quite similar to the modern idea of potential and kinetic energy. In fact, the modern idea is historically derived from the medieval one.

Now soul is a form, an essence, what a living being really is. Therefore, the body as matter gives rise to the actual form or essence, the soul, over time. Or it can be that a set of early conditions in life gradually gives rise to a new set of circumstances come later on. So the ruler of a house and sign indicates the outcome or future state of that house and sign.

So we have two related but distinct pairs of functions of the planets both derived from the evolution of matter toward its final form.                         

Planet in HouseRuler of HouseMatterFormPhysicalPsychologicalEarlier LaterThe early-later distinction does not just mean early life versus later life, although it includes that. It also means that in any process that goes from an early phase to a later phase, the occupant of a house or the sign in a house indicates the early phase of that process and the rulers indicate the outcome or later phases.

Here is an example: Let us suppose that we have Mars in the Seventh House in Capricorn and Saturn, the sign ruler of Capricorn, is in Cancer in the First House. Remember that the Seventh House indicates what kind of person one is attracted to for partnerships and marriage as well as the kind of partnerships and marriage one has.

Okay, recall that Mars in Capricorn is in its exaltation and therefore quite dignified. But Saturn in Cancer is in its detriment and therefore could represent problems. This placement presents two possibilities either or both of which may come to be. (Please keep in mind that what I am about to say assumes that the individual person does not operate very consciously with these energies. One always has the ability with the proper understanding to improve the way that something manifests.)

Planet in HouseRuler of HouseMars in Capricorn dignifiedSaturn in Cancer debilitatedPhysical form of partnerPsychological nature of partnerEarly stage of relationships Later stage of relationshipsThe two manifestations therefore are as follows:

1) The native is attracted to people with the physical qualities of Mars in Capricorn which would suggest a strong, masculine style with a rather disciplined and crisp appearance. But the partners turn out to have the weaknesses of a negative Saturn in Cancer, sadness, depression, feelings of alienation and a tendency to regard the world as a dark, oppressive place.

2) The partnership starts out strong and solid with clear limits and rules, and gradually evolves into a relationship featuring the repression of one person by the other, mutual loneliness and a general sense of failure. And please remember that I am intentionally showing the worse side in both of these descriptions in order to make the point about how the theory works in practice.

We will continue with more of this investigation of medieval astrological theory in future installments, but the next columns will deal with some people in the news starting with our new president.



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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