Reading a Chart Using Hellenistic Methods

Reading a Chart Using Hellenistic Methods

Here’s a chart example to demonstrate many of the major themes of the Hellenistic tradition of astrology.  In this essay I refrain from outright interpretation and simply discuss how one would see a chart according to the Hellenistic tradition. I choose a person well known to many Americans as both or either a politician and an entertainer.


Rush Limbaugh, according to some (Democrats), was the de facto leader of the Republican Party, yet he has never held elected or appointed office.  He is an influential talk-radio host and self-proclaimed spokesperson for the conservative cause.  He has been a national figure for the past twenty years.  He has helped steer many a political cause, his depictions of liberal politicians can be devastating, and he is not particularly beloved by women.  Yet even some liberals find him an entertaining guilty pleasure.

Let’s take our time with what we have here. First of all we’re seeing his astrological chart using whole sign houses, the original house (or “place” topos) system. In the next image of his chart, to make the contrast more clear, I have deleted the Midheaven degree, which in the ancient tradition was mostly used for predictive purposes. I have included the Ascendant that always falls somewhere in the first house or place.


If Limbaugh was born a little later and had late Aquarius rising, Venus and Mars would continue to be first-house planets: no planet position would change. If he was born a few minutes earlier he would have Capricorn rising and every planet would be in a different place or house.


(Additional note: the modern planets are not presented in this chart nor will we discuss them during this course. If you looked it up, you would find Uranus at 9° Cancer, Neptune at 19° Libra, and Pluto at 19° Leo. This may be interesting to you; I will pass them over in silence.)


There were other house systems used during the Hellenistic era but only for specific purposes of establishing planetary strength. One is called “Porphyry” and trisects the ecliptical degrees of Ascendant, Midheaven, Descendant, I.C.


Next, we will look at Limbaugh’s chart using Porphyry houses. Rush Limbaugh - Porphyry HousesAccording to how the Porphyry system was used, planets in the angular houses are most powerful, in the succedant houses less powerful, and in the cadent houses the least powerful.This was used in particular for assessing length of life.In this and future presentations we will confine ourselves to whole sign houses.


The advantage of whole sign houses, to my mind, is obvious: the relationships between the signs are the relationships between the houses. We will be using only the first chart with whole sign houses.


How might Dorotheus or Vettius Valens look at this chart?


A modern person might see Limbaugh’s twelfth-place Sun and Mercury and his Moon in Pisces and think of him as a “new age sensitive guy.” They had those in Hellenistic times, too, but this is not the case with Mr. Limbaugh.


We are not particularly interested in the zodiacal signs (or zoidia) as identities but for their aspect relationships with one another, their character of cardinal, fixed, and mutable, and for the planets that govern (or are “familiar with”) the different zodiacal signs.

In Limbaugh’s daytime chart the Sun is the “luminary of sect” and we will want to focus on that.Also, the Sun’s placement in the twelfth might tell us that he would be ruined by his enemies, not that he might ruin them.We need to look at the Sun in some detail.


We could begin simply by looking at the Sun’s “house lord” Saturn.Ordinarily Saturn aspecting the luminary of sect could bode trouble, yet this seems to me to be a rather fortunate combination.Although retrograde, Saturn is exalted and is oriental to the Sun.Saturn has a “looking ahead” aspect of predomination to the Sun and its strong status allows it to be of some assistance to his Sun (as well as Mercury) in Capricorn.His Saturn placement is like having the toughest kid in the neighborhood looking out for you.


Saturn, a diurnal planet, is in sect in Limbaugh’s diurnal chart: he will encounter Saturn as less difficult than the out of sect malefic Mars.


According to Valens and Dorotheus and many others in the Hellenistic as well as medieval period, it is the triplicity lords of the luminary of sect that will give indications during the span of his lifetime.


For planets in the earth signs the triplicity lords are Venus (day), Moon (night), and Mars (participating).


Limbaugh’s Venus is out of sect – and so less of a benefic – but is also in the first and is therefore strong (maybe “loud” is a better word). Its major difficulty appears to be Mars being present with it. (If we were talking about love and marriage, this combination would be a strong indication of instability.) For the first third of Limbaugh’s life, the condition of Venus would tell us much about his situation: self-motivated (first) and appealing (Venus) but with a distinct edge and ability to repel people (Mars). Governed by a strong Saturn, Venus could certainly tough it out.


The middle of his life – where he would be now – is governed by Moon, the nocturnal triplicity lord of the earth signs.In the mediocre second house, Moon is made positive by the co-presence of a dignified Jupiter also in sect and by the fact that Mars does not aspect it.Saturn and Moon have a small connection: they are in equally powerful signs (symmetrical to 0°Cancer/0° Capricorn) but this is a weaker relationship than an aspect and, as stated above, Saturn is less of a malefic in his chart anyway.Jupiter is the planet of abundance and it’s no accident that Limbaugh has become quite wealthy during this time.


Mars governs the final third of his life; this seems less auspicious than the previous two eras.Mars in Aquarius is strong by being in the first but is the malefic out of sect and has no relationship with Jupiter.The co-presence of Venus, however, may make him lusty well into old age, if other indications agree.


If one wanted to look at the quality and vicissitudes of his love life, the triplicity lords for Venus: Saturn (d), Mercury (n) and Jupiter (participating) would give us some indications.On the basis of Jupiter, it’s quite possible that he will be married quite happily and securely later in life.There are other factors we could also look at, including relevant Lots of “Marriage”.


Since Limbaugh is a talk radio host and man of many words, we would want to take particular note of his Mercury placement. Mercury is oriental, rising ahead of the Sun and is in Capricorn, governed by Saturn and in square to his exalted Saturn. And the close relationship (the word is actually “familiarity”) between Mercury and Saturn give definitiveness and clarity to thinking, maybe with a tendency to be self-righteous and intimidating.


Because Mercury is also in Capricorn, the same triplicity lords as the Sun would apply.


We still have the problem of both Sun and Mercury being in the 12th house and Limbaugh’s degree of success. Saturn’s positive position is one factor but there must be others.


Now we move into other areas.We should look at his major lots.


The Lot of Fortune (and its inverse, the Lot of Spirit) uses the arc from one luminary to the other and projects the distance from the degree of the Ascendant. To calculate the Lot of Fortune in a diurnal chart, one uses the distance from the Sun to Moon; for the Lot of Spirit it would be from the Moon to the Sun. Limbaugh’s Lot of Fortune at 2° Aries helps rescue his Sun from its 12th house exile


According to the Hellenistic tradition, the Lot of Fortune is another general indicator for anybody’s natal chart. It signifies the factor of luck in one’s life but in particular is one of the many indications of wealth in Limbaugh’s chart (along with his well-endowed second house). Rush’s Lot of Fortune is governed by Mars in the First, meaning that he made his money on his own. Because Mars is in favorable position the red planet would help him to be fortunate in wealth and other ways.How would this mitigate his twelfth house placements?


According to the Hellenistic tradition, the Lot of Fortune can be its own first house. Differently put, from the viewpoint of Lot of Fortune houses, Sun and Mercury are in its tenth.This also places Saturn angular to the Lot of Fortune and enhances these planets as well (if Saturn were more malefic than in Limbaugh’s chart it would be more a hindrance to the Lot.) This allows these planets to help increase fortune for him.


Another important lot is the Lot of Spirit.Symmetrical to the Lot of Fortune, for him it falls at the last degree of Scorpio. (Aren’t you glad we have the correct birth time?) The Lot of Spirit in the tenth also means that the planets Venus and Mars are angular to the Lot.


Here we find ourselves to Mars, who governs both Lots: both lots are governed by the fiery planet of anger and outrage.


There are two other important lots that, in one formulation, are derivative from the Lots of Fortune and Spirit.These are the Lots of Necessity and Eros (friendship, actually). Using the formulations with the historically longest legs, Necessity is from the arc from Spirit to Fortune; Eros is from Fortune to Spirit (they reverse at night to bewilder the dyslexic). In Limbaugh’s case the Lot of Necessity is 26° Virgo and the Lot of Eros is 4° Gemini.Both are governed by Mercury and gives further evidence of Mercury’s importance in Limbaugh’s chart.


Now let’s move away from natal considerations although there are many we have not considered.


For Hellenistic prediction, here are some numbers to memorize:Saturn is 30; Jupiter is 12; Mars is 15; Sun is 19; Venus is 8; Mercury is 20; Moon is 25.These come up in different planetary period or chronocrator systems.


I like to start off by teaching decennials; they are easier, more universally practiced, and were used well into the Middle Agew.The major or general periods are of the same length – 129 30-day months. And they would start with the luminary of sect and go around in zodiac order.


Limbaugh the sequence would be Sun-Venus-Mars-Jupiter-Moon-Saturn-Mercury.


There is a variant, however: if the luminary of sect is in poor condition like being in the twelfth house, one would instead start with the first planet ascending after birth, in this case Venus.


The student who wishes to pursue this material in depth may want to experiment with both possibilities.


For the specific planetary periods, take the number of the planets and that becomes 30-day months, so that if in 1993 Limbaugh began a Moon period, the first 25 “moinths” would be governed by the Moon, then Saturn would take over for 30 “months.”


Using decennials beginning with the Sun, Limbaugh entered a Saturn/Saturn period in 2004, roughly when he admitted to being addicted to painkillers and separating from wife#3.Now, however, he is in a Saturn/Sun period.This seems to accentuate toughness, considering the strong link between Sun and Saturn in his chart.


Here’s another planetary period system for contrast: “Zodiacal releasing from the Lot of Fortune.”One begins with the sign of the Lot of Fortune (Aries for Limbaugh) and that yields 15 years (of 30-day months) because of Mars.Within that general period, the first 15 30-day months go to Aries, the next eight go to Taurus, etc.There are further divisions I will not discuss here.


At this time Limbaugh is in a Cancer general period (since 1993) and within that a Gemini period that will further accentuate his strong Mercury placement.

The word “profection” means “advancement.”In yearly profections all positions advance one sign per year. According to Valens, the ruler of the profected placement would be first any planet in that sign, secondly any planet transiting that sign, and thirdly the domicile ruler of the sign.


Limbaugh is in his 59th year; the next lowest multiple of twelve being 48, everything advances 11 signs.


His yearly profection of the Ascendant accentuates Jupiter since it profects to Sagittarius and Limbaugh has no planets in Sagittarius.Jupiter is a pretty good friend of his.Additionally, Jupiter and Moon in Pisces profect to Capricorn, inhabited by his Sun and Mercury.


I will add transits to the extent that in the Hellenistic tradition they are used to add to information from profections and other predictive systems.I am particularly interested in Jupiter transiting Limbaugh’s whole-sign first house of Aquarius at the same time at the profected Ascendant, Venus, and Mars profect to eleventh house Sagittarius, governed by Jupiter.


These certainly add to his current situation of being the most influential he will ever be and that this will not be forever – such is the nature of planetary and human time.


This essay has had the purpose of exemplifying some chart factors utilized by astrologers during the Hellenistic era and does not exhaust the possibilities.I have also excluded sources other than Ptolemy – adding in other writers brings in a wealth of other techniques and options.