The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 37, titled:
With Chris Brennan and guest Robert Hand
Episode originally released on July 20, 2015
Note: This is a transcript of an audio podcast. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio version, which includes inflections that may not translate well when written out. Transcripts are created by using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and the text probably contains some errors and differences from the audio version. Please submit any corrections to Chris Brennan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transcribed by Gulsen Altay and Andrea Johnson
Transcription released August 31, 2019
Copyright © 2019 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. For more information about subscribing to the show, please visit theastrologypodcast.com/subscribe. Subscribers who donate a dollar or more an episode through Patreon get access to some exclusive benefits such as private discussion forums, early access to new episodes and more. Today is Saturday, July 18, 2015, at approximately 5:01 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 37th episode of the show.
In this episode, I’m going to be talking with Robert Hand about the interpretive distinction between day and night charts which is commonly known as the concept of ‘sect.’ Rob is the author of a book on sect, and he is presenting a day-long webinar on the subject on July 26th. For more information about the webinar, please visit his website at arhatmedia.com.
Rob, welcome back to the show.
ROBERT HAND: Hello. Glad to be here.
CB: All right. So I’m excited to talk to you about this because you are basically the author of the first, and as far as I know, the only book on the topic of sect, right?
RH: Right, and it needs to be rewritten somewhat, but it’s all there is for the moment.
CB: Sure. So this is one of the early big discoveries that you made during the course of the early phases of Project Hindsight in the mid-1990s. And that book, or that monograph you wrote on sect, I think it was published in 1995, right?
RH: Yeah, it was originally published as a Project Hindsight monograph. And then when Project Hindsight and myself parted company, I kept that and we republished it at Arhat Media, although mostly at the moment, we publish it in an electronic book format.
CB: Okay. And one of the things I noticed about the webinar that’s kind of a great concept or is exciting is that people, when signed up for it, one of the benefits of attending the webinar is they get a free copy of the ebook on sect when they sign up, right?
RH: That is correct.
CB: Okay, awesome. Well, let’s jump right into it then. Let’s start by defining our subjects. So what is sect?
RH: Well, fundamentally, sect is a classification of several elements of astrology into nocturnal and diurnal. I’ll start with the diurnal to be a little more consistent. The diurnal planets, signs, etc., operate more happily and more agreeably in a chart where the Sun is above the horizon, and the nocturnal planets and signs operate better when the Sun is below the horizon. And there are several other factors that are involved in this as well, but the most important is whether the person is born by day or night. And this may seem a little simple-minded of me but I always define day and night because an awful lot of people tend to confuse it with AM and PM.
RH: Day means the Sun is above the horizon, night means it’s below the horizon. And twilight is an ambiguous case to be sure but it has nothing to do with AM and PM, just day and night.
CB: So fundamentally, sect is a distinction between day charts and night charts.
CB: So that’s a pretty straightforward and simple astronomical distinction that everybody experiences on a regular basis, and it’s almost kind of surprising that this is a concept that we lost or that had to be recovered, this distinction between day and night charts.
RH: Yes, it is. I have to say that one reason for it, I believe, is that it was never really elucidated as clearly as it could have been. One of my tasks has been trying to put in more comprehensive, useful terms on exactly what the effect is and its foundations. Its foundations appear to be related to, if not derived from the Pythagorean concept of the ‘ten opposites’ described by Aristotle in the Metaphysics. I just happen to have my slideshow right in front of me, so they’re serving as notes.
RH: There we are, okay. The two columns consist of ten pairs of opposites: one is under the heading of ‘limit’ or ‘limited’ and the other one is under the heading of ‘unlimited.’
CB: This is the Pythagorean distinction?
RH: Exactly. They could also be called ‘defined’ and ‘undefined.’ This is a little peculiar because–well, you’ll see in a moment. The limited, the side on limit is associated with right-handedness, masculinity, day–very controversial, but I will handle this in a moment–good. And the unlimited side or undefined side is associated with left-handed, female, night, and bad.
Now I just want to say right out at the beginning that this table of opposites or the concepts behind it seems to have permeated astrology throughout because item number two in the table is odd and even. Odd is under the definition of limit and even is under the unlimited, and the odd-numbered signs in astrology are diurnal and masculine and the even-numbered signs in astrology are nocturnal and feminine. So it’s a fairly widespread notion, but the central thing we have to be clear about is what do they mean by good and bad. And that’s a very important issue because it’s not your ordinary, everyday sense of good and bad, it’s a very abstract, philosophical one.
And in that respect, I still think the male and female correlation is open to question, especially when you take the actual psychology of members of both sexes into consideration. But here again, even the male/female is rather abstract and I would argue has little to do with real gender, but I’ll give you some of the other ones. ‘Straight,’ for example, is under limit, ‘curved’ or ‘bent’ is under unlimited. Okay, but probably one of the most fundamental of all of these pairs is ‘one’ versus ‘many’ and also ‘rest’ versus ‘motion,’ those are the two most critical ones.
The ‘good’ is associated with that which tends toward unity and which is not in change, not changing at all–in a state of change is what I meant to say there. So God, the divine is unchanging, permanent, and one. Now that’s a very abstract definition of good and bad. By contrast, the physical universe is diverse and multitudinous instead of one. It’s in a constant state of flux, coming to be and passing away. And let’s see, what was the other one I had here? Yeah, those are the principal ones and therefore is ’bad’–that was what I was leading up to.
Deborah Houlding has pointed out that it is also quite likely that the distinction of aspects into good and bad aspects comes from the same source. The aspects that involve dividing the circle by three or its multiples are considered good, and the ones that involve dividing by two and its powers–not so much its multiples–is considered to be bad because the three series tends to promote stability and the two series tends to promote change.
RH: So again, whether they’re good or bad in any ordinary language sense is–well, it’s not debatable, I think it’s flat out wrong.
CB: So we’re getting to fundamental concepts here when it comes to what is the philosophical concepts underlying astrology in very simple distinctions like masculine and feminine or what have you as linked to ancient Pythagorean numerology.
RH: Yeah. And the odd/even one is a little peculiar but the reason for this is actually really Pythagorean. If you start taking odd numbers, starting with one, and you add up a series of odd numbers that are contiguous in the series, you don’t skip any, 1+3 is 4, right?
RH: 1+3+5 is 9.
RH: 1+3+5+7 is 16, And I can tell you that if I keep on doing this, it’ll always produce a square-numbered sum.
RH: All squares are identical except in size that puts them in the category of oneness, whereas even numbers produce rectangles of various size, and there’s an infinite number of possible rectangles. For some reason, the circle and the ellipse aren’t in here, but following the same logic, the perfect circle would be on the limited side and the ellipse should be on the unlimited side.
The circle is of course considered a divine figure. And the injunction that Plato allegedly left behind was that astronomy had to figure out the motion of the planets in terms of perfect circles which was not revoked until Kepler said, “Well, actually they’re conic sections,” which still made them kind of Pythagorean, but at least he was able to predict much more accurately planetary positions by going to the ellipse over the circle.
CB: Right. Yeah, that caused some problems for a few hundred years in the history of astronomy with people…
RH: Oh, yeah.
CB: …like Ptolemy coming up with elaborate systems in order to maintain that conceptual model of perfect circles.
RH: In fact, Copernicus didn’t change that, he did the same thing. And as a result, his system was almost as complicated as Ptolemy’s, and actually they never did get to produce as accurate positions. It wasn’t until Kepler came up with the elliptical orbits that they were actually able to get planetary positions anywhere near accurately. When I say ‘near accurately,’ they always had them within a few minutes–unless somebody made a calculation error–but Kepler’s values typically got the right minute.
CB: Right. Yeah, I always thought that was a fascinating chapter in the history of science, just that thousand-year period. With epicycle theory, I think I was talking to Ben Dykes on the last episode about how you can get the right answer and have the correct values for the astronomical positions but for almost the wrong reasons because you’re using a model that involves epicycles and other things that are not necessarily astronomically correct, and yet, you’re still coming to the correct conclusion through using that.
RH: Yeah. As a matter of fact, with any mathematical system complex enough you can model almost anything, which is one of the reasons why our tendency to confuse mathematical models with reality is really kind of dangerous, philosophically-speaking. I think physics is currently in the throes of a good deal of this. We’re back to deferents and epicyles when it comes to quantum mechanics and things of that sort.
CB: Right, how many dimensions are there.
RH: Yeah. Specifically that one, yes.
CB: Okay. Well, we’re going a little far afield, so let’s back it up. Why is it called sect? What is the term ‘sect’ trying to convey?
RH: It’s actually not by any means the best translation, except I can’t come up with one better. The Greek word is hairesis, which means ‘to adhere to something.’ It’s a cognate with the ‘here’ in ‘adhere,’ that is to say it’s ‘inherent.’ Even though those are Latin, the stem is the same. And so, if you are in a hairesis that means you are in a group of people who clung to the same ideas.
CB: Right. You’ve made a choice, or you’ve picked one thing over another.
RH: Exactly, yes. And the idea of it being deviant was created by the Christian church. So what hairesis does is it divides the planets into two categories–I don’t know what the plural of hairesis is but we’ll just say categories for the moment–in which there are three-and-a-half planets per category using only the classical seven. The half is because Mercury can go either way depending on the solar phase and some other considerations.
Sect is based on the idea of a group of people who have made a choice or are into the same thing. The actual Latin word that was used was conditio spelled with either a ‘c’ or a ’t’ . We spell it with a ‘t’. The orthodox Latin spelling is with a ’c,’ condicio, which means ‘condition.’ As a matter of fact, I used to go nuts in reading Ashmand’s translation of Ptolemy because he kept referring to, especially if aspected by planets of the same condition, well, what condition?
RH: Well, he wasn’t wrong. It’s just that he never bothered to provide a glossary in English.
RH: Now there are two explanations given for the word ‘sect’: one is from the Latin seco which means ‘to cut’ or ‘divide’, and the other one is for sequor–that one, I think, is a bit of a stretch–which means ‘to follow.’ And in fact, the two sects have a leader. The Sun is the leader of the diurnal sect and the Moon is the leader of the nocturnal sect, and consequently, the diurnal planets prefer to be in diurnal charts, the nocturnal planets prefer to be in nocturnal charts.
And this is where it becomes a relevant factor for interpreting charts because the three-and-a-half planets that are not of the same sect as your chart are a little unhappier than the three-and-a-half planets–obviously Mercury would be one or the other–that are of the same sect as the chart, that is to say a day or a night chart, a day or a night planet. It’s just our propensity for using Latin that makes us use nocturnal and diurnal. Day or night is just fine.
CB: Yeah, day and night tends to be a little bit more straightforward for people to conceptualize. So we’re starting with a distinction between day charts when the Sun is above the horizon versus night charts when the Sun is below the horizon, and then saying that the Sun is the leader or it divides the planets into two teams, the visible planets. And then we have the Sun as the leader of the daytime team and the Moon as the leader of the night-time team, and then each team is assigned two or three other planets to it, right?
RH: Correct. And on top of that, it would appear that there–let me find the graphic here. Yes, here we go. This is the one I discussed with you the other day where I changed my mind in view of your work. The solar sect in order, from most diurnal to least diurnal, is Sun, Jupiter and Saturn.
CB: Okay, so those are the three primary planets that are assigned to the daytime sect or daytime team of planets.
RH: Exactly. And the lunar sect, from most nocturnal to least nocturnal, is Moon, Venus, Mars.
RH: And the malefics–for reasons that I will be presenting in this but you are the source–seem to be the least diurnal and nocturnal of the ones that are unambiguously of one sect or the other. Then Mercury, there are two criteria, and people disagree on which one–I suspect probably we should look at both. Mercury rising before the Sun in the morning is diurnal and setting after the Sun at night is nocturnal. However, Mercury can also be rendered diurnal by applying to a diurnal planet and nocturnal by applying to a nocturnal planet or a nocturnal planet applying to it, the Moon mainly.
CB: Right. Mercury is tricky because they always say that it just joins the sect of planets that it’s closely associated with. And even one author, I think Valens, says that Mercury joins the team of the sect of whatever planet is its bound lord or the ruler of its terms, that it joins that sect.
RH: That’s defensible too. I keep with the solar phase one because it’s more unambiguous. Similarly, Venus, which is unambiguously nocturnal, is benevolent when it’s setting after the Sun in the evening which is a nocturnal placement and not so benevolent when it’s rising before the Sun in the morning. And there is a certain amount of sect associated with solar phase as well, I should point out. That’s not one of the principal criteria but it’s definitely there.
So Venus is classically Venusian when she’s an evening star and not so classically Venusian when she’s a morning star. And in fact, the Babylonians, according to a German historian, believed that Venus as a morning star was the militant goddess Venus, and the Venus as an evening star was the love goddess.
RH: The Greeks interpreted that as a good and bad Venus. You know, the Greeks were a little more sexist, shall we say. Sexist, not sectist.
CB: Right, a little more patriarchal maybe.
RH: Yeah, quite. Even by ancient standards, they were pretty–not all of them actually. The different city states, it is now widely known, had very different attitudes toward females. In some of them, they were essentially equal to men. The problem is the two famous ones were notoriously anti-female, which was Athens and Sparta.
CB: All right. And that brings up an interesting point which is one of the things that initially I think it is kind of startling or off-putting to people when they first learn about sect is that you have the Sun which is obviously a daytime celestial body, and the Moon which is night-time, and then you have Jupiter which makes sense as a daytime planet, and then you have Venus which makes sense as a night-time planet. Then you get to the two malefics and you run into a bit of problem where Saturn is assigned to the daytime planets and Mars is assigned to the night-time planets. At least, at first glance, that seems a little off or a little contrary to what we might expect just knowing the basic natures of those planets in astrology.
RH: Yeah, and there have been several explanations given. But what I’ve tried to do more subsequent to the book–this is some of the newer material–is to give a behavioral distinction as opposed to a philosophical one. A word that is definitely and unambiguously associated with the unlimited side of the ‘ten pairs of opposites’ is ‘conditional’ versus ‘unconditional,’ and I don’t mean that in terms of sect. I mean, all of the material in the ‘limited’ column are clearly defined and definite and they are all subject to well-defined conditions. The ones on the other side are not subject to well-defined conditions. We’ll omit the male/female thing again.
At night, for example, you can’t see clearly so you don’t know what the conditions are. I mean, if the Moon isn’t out at some time, especially if you live in a polluted neighborhood, it’s sometimes hard to tell whether there are stars or not, you can’t even see them. This actually transformed my understanding of Mars. The Saturn I didn’t have a problem with because Saturn is clearly about making distinctions. In fact, it’s practically the ruler of that phenomenon.
But Mars, you think of an unconditional Mars, that’s horrible. That means you’re going to blow up everything without limit. Why is Mars not a diurnal planet? Well, when we talk about Mars as being of the nocturnal sect, not only is Mars of the nocturnal sect, but it is more benevolent when it is in a nocturnal chart. So what is a benevolent Mars like? It is unconditionally willing to do whatever is necessary to protect and defend what it holds dear.
RH: It’s not egoistic at all, it’s altruistic. So one of the things that’s come out of this is a totally new understanding of Mars as a search for personal authenticity, which is another aspect of the high Mars, and effectively, what policemen and soldiers are supposed to be. They’re not there to create havoc. But when somebody has taken this planet, which is actually interpersonal and societal in orientation and made it their own, it becomes malevolent and that’s the diurnal Mars.
CB: The idea of altruism brings up the fact that Mars’ Hermetic Lot–the Part or the Lot that was associated with Mars–is called the Lot of Courage, and the idea of courage being associated with Mars sounds like it would be connected with that.
RH: Yeah. People who don’t have courage can really create violent mayhem, they just do it sneaky and they were sneaky when they do it. So courage is not a necessary condition for committing acts of aggression, whereas the willingness to do whatever is necessary to protect and defend and not having any particular regard for one’s own survival is a benevolent quality. Now of course, when they obey stupid leaders that’s another matter, but the leader is then the one who is commiting the fault.
CB: Sure. Well, this brings us into an important area for sect which is what is it used for and how it’s used as a qualitative distinction in order to get to a finer level of detail or understanding about where on a qualitative spectrum each of the planets is going to manifest, especially the benefics and malefics, in terms of whether their more constructive significations are going to come to the forefront in a person’s life or whether the more challenging or sometimes destructive significations might come to the forefront.
RH: Yeah, in the webinar, I’m going to present the following which is implicit in a night and day but I have never made it explicitly. There are basically two principle ways in which sect is important: one is an accidental dignity/debility for the planets. That is, if a planet is basically in an environment of the same sect that it is, it works better in some way that’s hard to define. But I think the simplest way of describing it is it works the way it’s supposed to.
CB: Rather than malfunctioning in some way that it’s not supposed to?
RH: Yeah, but it’s different from essential dignity, it’s an accidental dignity. And what we’re doing here is elevating it to a rather important accidental dignity where the ancients–well, the ancients did too. The Medievals kind of gradually watered it down, until by the 17th century, it was largely ignored.
CB: Yeah, that’s actually a topic we should circle back around to at some point as well, which is why it gradually declined in the tradition almost.
RH: Yeah, I will definitely do that and I have some ideas on the subject. Okay, so as an accidental dignity/debility system for planets that’s one of its uses. I should point out that the accidental dignity/debility is the aspect of it that died out in modern times. The other one didn’t die out, it was just nobody identified it for what it was, that is, that there are several areas of chart analysis where sect affects the way you proceed. For example, the diurnal and nocturnal Lot of Fortune and Spirit flipping their planets at sunrise and sunset, that’s a sect effect.
CB: Right. You have to change or reverse the calculation for the Part of Fortune whether it’s a day and night chart.
RH: Yeah, exactly, and quite a few other ones as well which I’ll be talking about. Mainly, it also seems to be leading in the direction of why do they flip if they do flip and why they don’t when they don’t. Although I wouldn’t say it’s hard and fast, but I think we’re almost in a position to go through the vast quantity of traditional Lots, which even in the Greek material are somewhere nearly 200. In the Arabic material, as Al-Biruni put it, “they create new ones everyday.”
CB: He throws his hands up in the air and says, “they multiply daily” or something to that effect.
RH: Yeah, that was actually in horary astrology in particular, so I can imagine it was really bad there. But in the terms of conventional Lots, they didn’t add that many. The main conventional Lots they added were Lots of various commodities like Lot of Beans, Lot of Honey, Lot of Iron, that sort of thing for trading. They were very instrumental in trading these commodities.
CB: I’m a big fan of the Lot of Lentils myself.
RH: Let’s see. One I’m pushing, which is a newer idea, is the benefic/malefic quality of planets as greatly affected by their sect element. It’s not just afflictions by nasty planets and being in bad houses, sect can mess up a planet without anything else going on.
RH: This explains a lot of charts I’ve seen. One of my favorite ones is the Charles Stuart murder case where he murdered his wife and unborn child and then blamed it on some anonymous black man who mugged them in Roxbury because he wanted to marry somebody else.
RH: His chart does not look like the chart of a murderer. What it looks like is the chart of a self-indulgent, spoiled brat, and that is a negative Jupiter quality.
CB: And then sect was the missing piece of that for you in order to identify that as the negative Jupiter quality?
RH: Yeah, and I‘ve subsequently found quite a few others where that was a phenomenon too. I have a nocturnal Jupiter. Yes, it helps my life along, but it also makes me gain weight at the drop of a hat.
RH: It’s in the 1st house.
CB: Let’s get into that. I think that’s the most practical application of the technique in some ways which is just allowing you to make those sorts of distinctions with the two benefics and two malefics.
RH: Particularly those two, yes. For example, what’s wrong with Saturn in a nocturnal chart? That is this: Saturn’s function is to delineate limits and make structures and things, and it has a very strong drive. I’m speaking as if it had a will. The energy has a very strong drive to do this, but at night it doesn’t know when to stop because there’s no limit.
RH: See it?
CB: So it goes too far in creating boundaries or restrictions?
RH: It either sets a goal which is impossibly unattainable, or it sets a goal which keeps changing every time you approach it. The latter one is the worst, the first one can be actually dealt with somewhat. But most people who have a nocturnal Saturn–I’ve seen this over and over and over again, especially if they have some aspect that indicates perfectionist like Sun-Saturn or Mars-Saturn and it’s a nocturnal chart–they don’t know what constitutes adequacy. And they just keep upping the ante until somebody like me comes along and says, “Hey, wait a minute. Make an arbitrary decision for a goal and achieve it, then you can up the ante. But don’t up the ante while you’re moving, it’s nuts.”
I have this tendency myself. I’m a nocturnal chart. So of course I have Saturn in my chart and it’s above the horizon, so it’s almost completely out of sect. But it’s in a diurnal sign, that’s its one saving grace, and it wasn’t till I realized that the constantly upping the ante was stupid. A major point, by the way, is one can consciously take control of these effects. You’re not cursed by it, but you do have to be aware that it’s a problem.
CB: Yeah, that’s an issue that I discussed a few episodes ago with Leisa Schaim when we talked about Saturn returns and the application of sect. One of the arguments against the benefic and malefic distinction in modern astrology in the late 20th century was that they would point to certain placements like Saturn and they would say sometimes we can see certain people that have really negative Saturn transits or negative Saturn return experiences, but other times there’s these people that have really constructive, almost quasi-positive experiences with this planet.
That was the fundamental argument against making any distinction between benefic and malefic because they argued that the placement could work out in a constructive or a destructive fashion and that it was entirely up to the native they went on to say. Whereas it seems like the recovery of sect seems to imply that–I’m not clear if it’s less about actually that it’s up to the native–sometimes it goes back to a chart placement. Sometimes the people with night charts do struggle with Saturn more, and the people with day charts do tend to struggle it with somewhat less. Where does that come into play?
RH: Well, you see, it’s not an either/or situation. A better definition for a difficult planet than malefic is ‘harder to work with.’
RH: And similarly, a benefic is ‘easier to work’ with sometimes. And I believe it is always possible, at least in theory, to make everything work properly, everything work in a beneficial way. The problem is you are not entirely free to make this decision on your own. Totally aside from your own personal awareness, your awareness is also conditioned by your family culture, your local culture, your national culture and the general zeitgeist of the time in which you’re born.
And it simply isn’t possible that everybody everywhere can get the same benefit out of the same symbols because even if they, themselves, rise up enormously in their own understanding, they still have to battle those cultural factors as well. And so, Saturn in the Middle Ages basically had only one real outlet and that was repression, structure, order, but then you had an awful lot of people that loved structure and order. They were the ones who were on top of course, and for them it wasn’t a malefic…
RH: …and I think that’s true for all of them. The Mars thing, again, the unconditional willingness to do whatever is necessary, I will share with you my favorite quote which is not in the book, mainly because I hadn’t seen the movies yet, they weren’t out. The Lord of the Rings, when Aragorn introduces himself to the Hobbits, it’s different in the book than the movie but it’s the same quote exactly. If they had removed this quote, they should have been shot, but they didn’t, they just moved it. “I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn. If by life or death I can save you, I will.”
RH: Hear the unconditional statement?
RH: And then my second favorite one, which is not quite as good, but it illustrates an unambiguity in the whole matter. In the old version of The Karate Kid, Pat Morita who was playing the karate master said, “Best way to win fight is to not be there.”
RH: See, a person who is highly martial is completely in touch with the energy and does not waste it or use it for narrowly, egoistic purposes.
CB: Okay, going back to the altruism theme.
RH: Exactly, and that actually is a nocturnal trait.
CB: Got it.
RH: This is why we have to be real careful with this good/bad stuff. We have to understand that it’s a very abstract, philosophical definition they meant because altruism actually–assuming it isn’t done stupidly–is a very good thing.
CB: Sure. Yeah, it can be misapplied.
RH: Yeah, of course it can. I mean, the old line from the Bible, “Cast not thy pearls before swine,” basically means don’t be altruistic to the people who won’t benefit from your gift. It’s a waste of a gift.
CB: Sure. Well, that brings us back to this practical application and distinction, as we’re talking about this, that people should know about, just the idea that generally speaking, Mars tends to be experienced more positively in some sense when it’s in a night chart, whereas it tends to be a little bit more challenging when it’s in a day chart. And conversely, with Saturn, Saturn tends to be more challenging when it’s in a night chart, and it tends to be a bit more constructive or easier to deal with when it’s in a day chart. Whereas for the benefics, Jupiter prefers to be in a day chart and is not as well-placed if it’s in a night chart.
CB: Venus prefers to be in a night chart and does not do as well if it’s in a day chart.
RH: I have actually tallied up to some degree–this is very simple because it takes a much longer time to do this–the effects of a planet being in and out of sect. I just want to find the relevant passage here. Yeah, here is my description of Venus severely out of sect. This is a one-liner because I had to fit it on a slide: “Love given unconditioned, and it is more self-indulgent.”
CB: Okay. So that would be Venus in a day chart?
RH: Yeah, you got it.
CB: Okay. Go ahead.
RH: The Sun actually in a nocturnal chart is not all that terrible but it isn’t very solar: more introverted, less social, cares less about controlling others. Mars, when it’s completely out of sect is belligerent, competitive and selfish. Mercury, I really have to say I don’t see much of an effect. I think they just put it in there because they figured they had to account for it, but it’s also not masculine or feminine.
CB: Right. Yeah, it always has that in-between stage in pretty much every tradition of astrology.
RH: Yeah, as I say, “and Mercury swings.” And then even the Moon in a diurnal chart tends to set more conditions for giving love and support than it does in a nocturnal chart.
CB: Okay. Interesting.
CB: Okay, so part of the practical application is basically that there’s an interpretive distinction between whether each of these planets, especially the benefics and malefics, are in a day chart or in a night chart.
CB: So we’ve talked a little bit about other applications such as sect telling you whether you need to reverse the calculation of a Lot by day or by night. It also has other applications to the triplicity rulers which change depending on if it’s a day or night chart. It can also be applied to finding the ruler of the chart, usually the sect of the chart was very much dependent on that. Have you done much work in that area?
RH: What you’re talking about is the sect light or sect luminary–or luminary that has authority, it has all kinds of names–which is the Sun by day and the Moon by night. As a matter of fact, in Dorotheus of Sidon, many of the sample charts purely deal with the placement of the triplicity lords of the sect light and from that makes a general statement about whether this is going to be a good life or a bad one. And in this case, when they mean bad, they mean bad, like ending up as a beggar on the street and things like that.
And so, those triplicity lords in Medieval astrology are considered to be very important. However, there’s another use which is not so widely known and that is two related uses: one is the triplicity lords rule time in sequence. Now which ones go where depends on whether it’s a day or night chart. If it’s a day chart, the daytime triplicity ruler is the first of the three and the night-time is the second, and then there’s the third one which doesn’t have much application outside of what I’m talking about now. In the night-time, the nocturnal lord rules first, the diurnal lord rules second, and again, there is this participating ruler which is the same day and night.
So these three lords, in whichever order they go, rule the beginning, and the middle and the end. This is the Medieval technique I’m talking about. There’s a similar one which we discussed in Valens which uses it a different way of timing. He only used the two first ones, he doesn’t use the third one at all. When you look at the triplicity lords in terms of beginning, middle, end, take Gates, for example, whose 2nd house is Leo, and he has Jupiter in it. Because he’s a night-time birth, Jupiter was the first triplicity lord. Okay, it’s in his 2nd house, so he was born into a fairly wealthy family. The Sun…
CB: Hold on. So he has a night chart.
RH: He has a night chart.
CB: His Moon is in Aries.
RH: No, we’re changing now to houses.
CB: Oh, you’re just looking at house triplicity rulers?
RH: If you were doing the chart as a whole, you would do the Moon. Correct.
CB: Okay, I got it. So you’re looking at the 2nd house, which is Leo, which is a fire sign.
RH: Yeah. So Jupiter is the first triplicity lord. It is the night-time ruler.
RH: And the Sun is the second lord, and the Sun is reasonably okay, and Saturn’s the third one.
RH: Well, he didn’t do it right on the money, but according to Bonatti and his sources, these three periods are roughly a Saturn cycle. He says 30 years, I say Saturn cycle because that is the minor period of Saturn. So I say 29-point-something, he says 30.
RH: As Gates approached his second Saturn return, he started giving away his money.
RH: Whereas in the first two periods, he just brought it in on a grand scale. He was born with a reasonable amount and then made a whole hell of a lot more.
CB: Okay. So yeah, that’s a great application, just the idea that you can use sect combined with the triplicity rulers technique from the Hellenistic and Medieval tradition to determine what planets are the rulers of certain parts of a person’s life and being able to clearly define different parts of a person’s life into distinct phases.
RH: Then the second application which depends on triplicity lords is from this weird dude–Al-Andruzagar is his real name. He gets butchered both by Arabic writers like Alcabitius or Al-Qabisi and really badly by Bonatti. But to make a long story short, what Al-Andruzagar said–and we don’t have the original work. All we have is everybody quoting the same passage from him because he’s the only one who talked about it.
But that doctrine stuck like glue throughout and into the early modern period, I assure you, and that is that in several of the houses, the first triplicity lord rules one of the things that house signifies, the second triplicity lord rules another aspect of what that house signifies, and the third triplicity lord indicates a third factor that that house signifies. Now for the 1st and 2nd houses, they simply mean beginning, middle and end, but the first lord–I want to check this one.
RH: I think I’ve got the order backwards. At any rate, the first triplicity–yes, I do have it backwards. The first triplicity lord is older siblings, the second triplicity lord–this is the 3rd house now–is siblings close to the native’s age, and the third triplicity lord is younger siblings.
CB: Right. Yeah, this is a huge issue in astrology and even in traditional astrology where you have specific houses that have a broad archetypal meaning but there’s several very different specific significations within a house. And normally, when you’re just looking at the domicile lord of the house or something like that, it’s sometimes hard to know which signification is specifically going to come up in a person’s life or that it’s going to refer to.
CB: But this Medieval technique was an attempt to deal with that by distinguishing between specific or different significations within a singular house.
RH: Yeah. For example, the 5th house is one of those that has all kinds of apparently unrelated significations.
CB: Sure, like children and…
RH: Second lord is having a good time, that would include love affairs–it just says ‘pleasures.’ But the third one is messengers and gifts–sending messages by a messenger not just sending a letter and giving gifts–because this was related to what lords do when they’re negotiating. They send messengers who bear gifts like that famous opening scene of Henry V where the Dauphin sends him a whole pile of tennis balls and says, “Play tennis. Don’t try to deal with France,” and that’s what provokes Henry V into making war right then and there.
RH: Yeah, now this one I don’t really honestly know works but the principle behind it is very simple. If the first triplicity lord of the house of children is really in wretched shape then children is not what it’s going to be about.
RH: If the second triplicity lord is in great shape then the person is going to really enjoy having a good time or games and sports and stuff like that. And the third one, I don’t know too many people who spent their lives sending messages and gifts outside of the Department of State but the principle is perfectly clear. Another one that is really a major problem is the 9th house, and its three lords indicate journeys–surprise, surprise–religion, science, divination, and whether or not it is true and whether or not rumors are true.
CB: Okay. Yeah, because the 9th house is a pretty broad house in terms of different significations, and this would be a technique for narrowing down which ones specifically you’re talking about.
RH: Exactly. And if this works, this is an incredible breakthrough. Like you said, while I perfectly am willing to accept the idea that people do have choices in these matters, nevertheless, they have hardwired inclinations.
CB: Sure, the path of least resistance.
RH: Exactly. And as long as they’re not being what I would call ‘terribly conscious about their lives’ then they will pick the path of least resistance, which is quite frequently not a good path half the time, I would say roughly.
CB: So in that philosophical model, people would tend to operate as their birth chart has it laid out for them most of the time whether for good or bad, and it would require a lot of conscious intention to change it otherwise.
RH: Yes. I’m fond of saying the first two difficult aspects of faith, the first one is ‘natural law,’ you can’t escape it. You’re physically incarnate. Welcome to the world of where physics works. The second one, however, is called ‘necessity,’ but it’s really the result of ignorance. And one of my favorite made-up Latin models translates as, “For the ignorant, there is no freedom.”
RH: And there isn’t even for people who are not so ignorant. But people who basically operate out of ignorance are absolutely predictable, especially by astrology.
CB: Right, because they’ll just do exactly what their chart indicates that they would do.
RH: Yeah, but I also have seen an awful lot of people who don’t. Well, they do something that the chart indicates but not what most people would do.
RH: In other words, they take a high manifestation of it. That’s why I don’t think I’m blowing smoke when I talk about these high manifestations, I’ve seen too many of them.
CB: Sure. Okay. So as we start to get to towards the end of this, one of the questions we should address that we meant to circle back around to was in the 1st century and first few centuries, sect is incredibly important. It’s almost the first thing any astrologer would look at or mention anytime there’s a chart delineation. But as the tradition goes on, especially after the Hellenistic tradition, in the early Medieval tradition, you start to see it used a little bit less and then…
RH: Not much as much. Yeah, just a little less.
CB: Right, just a little less. And then as the tradition progresses by the late Medieval and eventually by the Renaissance period, sect has almost virtually disappeared from a lot of the discussion and the question of why that is.
RH: Well, like ourselves, the early modern astrologers, aside from their Arabophobia because of the Islam matter, we have to keep in mind that the Islamic world almost completely conquered Europe three times: once in the early Middle Ages, and twice in the 16th and 17th century. So anything Islamic or Arabic became unfashionable. Everybody tried to reconstruct astrology from Ptolemy.
Well, problem number one is while Ptolemy mentions it, you hardly see him doing anything with it except nocturnal planets like to be around other nocturnal planets and so forth. So the emphasis on Ptolemy tended to wreck the emphasis on sect that way. Another way is he abandoned almost all of the Lots. He only used the Part of Fortune and that only occasionally for certain specific purposes.
As people started going back to Ptolemy, they realized that all of these Arabic Parts as they called them–even though they were in fact Hellenistic Egyptian–were part of the great Arabic accretion that occurred in the Middle Ages. Basically, it was that revolution that did it. I’ll just make it flat. When the Turks nearly conquered Vienna twice in the early modern period that’s when astrology gave up everything that had to do with Lots etc., etc., and sect got carried along with it.
RH: I mean, you’re doing very good work trying to uncover the theoretical underpinnings of Hellenistic astrology, but you’ve got to admit it’s not like you found a philosophical treatise somewhere, you’re having to deduce it.
CB: Yeah, there’s a lot of inference and reading between the lines that has to take place.
RH: Yeah, and so do I, and that’s the way it is. The only philosophical statements made about astrologers were made by people like Plotinus and Iamblichus who were philosophers primarily. And they sort of darkly hint, especially Iamblichus, that there might be very practical applications in terms of spiritual yogas but nothing concrete has survived. Proclus, in his Theology of Plato, the whole fourth volume was lost. It was almost entirely about the philosophical significance of astrology. We have only a crude idea of what he was going to say.
So your ordinary, day-to-day astrologer almost entirely dealt with meat-and-potatoes aspects of astrology, be they Hellenistic, Greek-speaking, Coptic-speaking or whatever, or Latin-speaking, and then the Arabic astrologers were more or less in the same condition. So when early modern, more philosophically-oriented types started trying to work with this, they pretty much inferred their philosophy from Ptolemy and just started dropping things left and right that didn’t make sense.
CB: Sure, or that weren’t in Ptolemy, or weren’t clearly explained.
CB: One additional theory that I’ve had about the decline of sect as the tradition progresses is I think there might have been a bit of a mistake in elevating the two sect-related rejoicing conditions to be on par with the primary condition, which is just is it a day or night chart. And if it’s a day or night chart then certain planets are going to be doing better and certain planets are going to be doing worse.
CB: So that was always the primary distinction in the Hellenistic tradition. And in addition to that there are these two additional secondary rejoicing conditions which is, is the planet above the horizon or below the horizon, and then is the planet in a diurnal sign of the zodiac or a nocturnal sign of the zodiac.
CB: And that would be additional side conditions, but those were almost very seldom mentioned in the Hellenisctic tradition compared to just the primary consideration.
RH: Yeah. Actually, I’ve come to two possible conclusions if you want to do indulge in Medieval practice of scoring sect: one is to pretty much go along with the Hellenistic and say that the minor conditions of sect are relevant only if the planet is in sect with the chart. Hypothetically, give it a +5 or a -5, +5 if the chart is the right sect and -5 if the chart isn’t.
If in addition it has other factors that contribute, you add those on. If in addition it has other factors that take away, in addition to the chart itself, you get a more serious minus score, that’s one rule. The other one is simply to give the chart 5 and the other ones 1 and 2 or 2 and 3, but not go down by increments of 1. Yeah, it’s clearly true that the sect of the chart as a whole is the biggy experientially as well as in the Hellenistic literature.
CB: Sure. Well, that could be maybe an explanation as well. I think if you didn’t treat it that way, if you approached it assuming that all three were on par with each other in their importance then the technique might not work as effectively.
RH: Oh yeah.
CB: As the tradition went on, perhaps they would be applying it in a mistaken way and therefore not seeing it work as well, and therefore starting to devalue it in terms of their own practice over time.
RH: Yes, I think that’s quite correct. Yeah, there’s nothing like using a technique improperly to destroy its validity.
CB: Right. Exactly, and then people defending it having to say you’re not necessarily using this properly. It becomes a weird debate over a technique when a person’s not using it properly. I think we run into that a lot when it comes to traditional techniques in general and the question of whether they’re being tested in a way that’s appropriate or in keeping with how they used to be used, or if they’re being used or tested in an inappropriate fashion.
RH: Yeah, I’ll give you an example. I am now in the third triplicity lord category of the 9th house, ‘is the rumor true.’ I heard from two different people, Lee Lehman and–who’s the physics professor at the University of Michigan?
CB: Yeah, who taught statistics at Kepler.
RH: Right, right. Come on. I’m having a ‘senior’ moment here as I know well. It’ll come to me if I stop trying, that’s how it works. Both of them said that if they took the sect of the planet in the chart into consideration and then replicated the Gauguelin studies to that additional consideration, the odds against chance rose significantly.
RH: And not only that, but all of the planets became significant.
CB: Yeah, so sect could change the results of the Gauguelin tests.
RH: Yes. For example, I haven’t done a study, but theoretically I would argue that Mars in athletes would probably be stronger in a diurnal chart than a nocturnal chart, because what do you do? You’re trying to win, period…
RH: …especially in the kind of sports they did which were not team sports. Team sports, they couldn’t find the effect because there the players have to be altruistic. So I wouldn’t be surprised if you did find the effect in the nocturnal charts.
RH: So in other words, if this is correct–and I don’t know for sure if it is or not–if this information I got many years ago was correct then the fact that Gaugelin found anything is a remarkable testimony to the strengths of the effect because if the planets being in or out of sect tend to cancel out then all you’ll be testing is the residual.
RH: That’s actually one of my motivations for getting into the history of astrology right from the beginning. After years of working in the area of scientific research in astrology, or at least cheering loudly for it, I realized that the problem here was maybe we’re testing an astrology that is not fundamentally correct. Let’s go back and check.
CB: Yeah, one of the lingering things that bothers me when people invoke some of the scientific tests that were done in the 1980s–like the Carlson test–is that so many of the basic theoretical principles of Western astrology weren’t even worked out yet. We didn’t even know what the original house system was until 10 years later when you, through the work of Project Hindsight, rediscovered whole sign houses, and then you rediscovered sect as this hugely important distinction. And I don’t think a lot of this stuff has been reintegrated into the tradition enough to be able to do tests like that properly at this point.
RH: I agree, yeah. The Carlson test was a singularly flawed study. One of the leading statisticians of the period wrote an article excoriating the quality of that study, and it was little things like, number one, Carlson was a physicist. The program is supposed to be administered not only by people who are in psychology but people who have been specifically trained to give the test and evaluate its results.
RH: Secondly, men and women had different profiles, and you have to know the gender of the person to interpret the text and that was ignored completely. But I’m not talking about astrology here, I’m talking about the protocol for administering that test.
CB: Right. It was like the California Personality Index or something?
RH: Yeah, inventory. And it actually is also regarded as one of the more useless tests because it is so difficult to administer properly, and here we had somebody who knew nothing about it at all. But he had the arrogance of many scientists, believing that because he was scientifically-trained, he could do anything in any science he wanted to.
CB: Right. Yeah, I’d like to do a whole show on science in astrology and some of the past tests like that because there’s a lot of questions I have about that time period in the 1980s and what was going on and what happened. It seemed like there was a lot of push towards science and research in the ‘60s and ‘70s and ‘80s, and then a lot of that came back negative and it kind of dropped off by the ‘90s. And then there was this period of soul-searching of what does this mean, and then you have works like Geoffrey Cornelius’ The Moment of Astrology coming out of that time period and different people drawing different conclusions about the results of the scientific testing that took place in the ‘80s and earlier.
RH: Yeah, one of my favorite examples was a fairly well-known English astrologer who converted to siderialism. And I don’t mean Indian astrology, I mean Western sidereal which has a tendency to throw out almost everything. And he gave up astrology because it didn’t work. Well, yeah, if you throw out all the techniques it by God isn’t going to.
RH: But I think the subject of why astrology works is it works because things aren’t the way they seem at all–that’s the best answer I can give. Actually, I can give a much better answer, but it would take another hour to do it.
CB: Right, we’ll save that for another show. Okay, so the last point in terms of sect is just even at the most simplest level, one of the basic distinctions that people could walk away from this with is–contrary to even Sun sign astrology–just knowing if you have a day chart or a night chart that the Sun is going to be more important in a day chart and the Moon’s going to be more important in a night chart. Do you think that has a basic distinction or interpretive value in saying that people should focus more on the Sun if they have a day chart and more on the Moon if they have a night chart?
RH: Absolutely. I’m a Sagittarius Sun and a Scorpio Moon in a nocturnal chart. Thanks to the fact that I have a Jupiter rising, the Sagittarius is obvious, but I’m not a classic Sagittarius except in my interest in just about everything. My humor and my literary styles are definitely Scorpionic.
CB: Okay. Excellent. Well, and that in and of itself is just a huge distinction. That’s interesting in that we didn’t know about it until 20 years ago, until the research that you and others started doing to revive this technique. So thanks for doing that.
RH: Okay, and I hope some of your listeners will enroll in our webinar. There’s no limit on enrollment because we’re using GoToWebinar which can handle any number beyond what we’re likely to get.
CB: Yeah, so tell us a little bit about the webinar. It’s going to take place on July 26th.
RH: Right, starting at 10:00 AM Pacific Time. I will probably be on the East Coast when that happens, so I’ll be starting at 1:00 PM. It’s not a full day.
CB: I think it said something like from 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM, and I wasn’t sure if there was a break or a lunch or something.
RH: Oh no, it’s not that long. No, this is a shorter one, which is why it’s a little less expensive than our conventional ones. I think it’s 3 hours with a short break in the middle, then an hour break during which people are supposed to come up with questions, and then an hour or two to whenever we get finished discussing the questions the second session.
CB: Okay, so you’ll have a full hour-long Q&A directly with you.
RH: At least, yeah. Frankly, my intention within reason is to go on either until my mind turns to mush or until we’ve answered all the questions.
CB: Awesome. Well, that’s a really unique opportunity for a lot of people, especially younger astrologers that haven’t had a chance to interact with you at conferences or other things yet.
RH: Yeah, it is. I hope to increase those opportunities in the not-too-distant future but this will definitely be an example of the style, yeah.
CB: Okay. Excellent.
RH: We’ve had Q&A sessions in the other ones but not like that.
CB: Okay, great. Well, yeah, definitely I think people should join, and they’ll get a copy of the recording of the workshop and handouts and then a copy of your ebook on sect.
RH: They don’t get the handouts. No, that’s right, they do get the handouts, but also the recording is a video.
CB: Okay, so it’ll be all of your PowerPoint slides and everything.
RH: Yeah, that’s about it actually. You don’t see much of me in it because, well, for one thing, it tends to create bandwidth problems if I leave it on. I have the same problem with Skype, so I usually turn it off at some point. I turn it on from time to time so that people will know I’m still there, that it’s not just a pre-recorded announcement.
CB: Sure. All right. Great. Well, I’m sure a lot of people will join, and thanks for coming on the show to talk about sect. And I’ll have to have you on again sometime to talk about that issue of science in astrology.
RH: Yeah, I’d love to actually. Okay.
CB: Excellent. All right. Well, thanks everyone for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
RH: And goodnight to you all.