The Burning Way (Via Combusta)

The Burning Way (Via Combusta)

By Walter Cambra, MA (LAMAFA)

According to the ancients “Via Combusta” exerted a malefic influence, particularly for the Moon in one’s natal chart.[1] Via Combusta is Latin for “the burning way” and generally refers to the first fifteen degrees of the sign of Scorpio.[2] Other astrologers have extended Via Combusta to include the last fifteen degrees of the sign of Libra and/or the entire sign of Scorpio.[3]

Modern astrologers have speculated that the negative influence of the signs of Libra and Scorpio, specified as Via Combusta, had its origins in antiquity when many of the malefic fixed stars were located in those two signs.[4]

A more insightful explanation used by the ancients considering the influence of Libra and Scorpio as malefic is suggested by Al Biruni: Libra is the Fall of the Sun while Scorpio is the Fall of the Moon. Furthermore, these two signs contain the two malefics. Libra is the Exaltation of Saturn (Greater Malefic); Scorpio (by classical ruler, contains Mars (Lesser Malefic).[5]

The ascription of “Via Combusta” is still used in Horary Astrology where its importance is amplified by the Ascendant having two rulers. The Moon is the primary ruler and the secondary ruler is the planet ruling the sign of the Ascendant.[6] Modern astrology no longer uses the Via Combusta to delineate natal charts.

However ostensibly antiquated, Via Combusta is insightful in delineating the natal chart of the master of horror and terror literature, namely, Edgar Allan Poe.[7]

Edgar Allen Poe 1 am ChartExamining the natal chart for Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809; 1:00 a.m., Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Rodden Rating C), if his time of birth is indeed 1:00 a.m, we notice his rising sign at the Ascendant to be 3 degrees 33 minutes in Scorpio, within the Via Combusta zone. This would make Pluto (god of death and hidden forces) not only the modern sign ruler, but ruler of the first decanate of Scorpio as well as overall chart ruler. [Pluto is in Pisces, conjunct Poe’s Moon.]

Poe’s first house has Mars as its classical ruler. Mars in the 1:00 a.m. chart is located in the twelfth house in the sign of Libra. In modern astrology, Mars is also considered the natural co-ruler of the eighth house.

Poe’s first house is concerned with his physical self and inner psyche.

  • The North-Node in Scorpio indicates a soul journey, to be taken alone, into the unconscious.[8]
  • Uranus (planet of sudden upheavals and horrible extremes) is located at 9 degrees 23 minutes of Scorpio.
  • Saturn (Greater Malefic) is in the first house on the cusp of Sagittarius at 1 degree 33 minutes.
  • Mars (Lesser·Malefic) is in Detriment in the twelfth house at 18 degrees 36 minutes of Libra.

edgarallenpoePoe’s natal chart exhibits another astrological notion, namely, “Combust” and more particularly “Cazimi”, where Mercury (planet of the mind’) is partile (in the same degree) and within 17 minutes of the Sun (ego-centricity). This close Mercury-Sun conjunction gives the native unusual mental intensity. Unfortunately for Poe, his Mercury-Sun is afflicted by a wide square with Uranus in the Via Combusta zone near the power point of the Ascendant.

The preponderance of planets in Poe’s natal chart are located in the Northern Hemisphere, indicating an introspective nature. This is further reinforced by the preponderance of planets in the first quadrant, which is indicative of self­-absorption.

The placement of Uranus in the first house indicates that Poe was a risk taker and pursued an unconventional life­style. Uranus, within the Via Combusta zone, is trine Poe’s natal Venus, Moon, Pluto and Jupiter in the fourth house of home! Many modern astrologers consider Uranus to be Exalted in Scorpio, indicating that its disruptive influence is greatly enhanced.

Poe never had a stable family/home environment. His parents were wandering actors living. in financial poverty. His mother died when he was only three. His foster mother died when he was about twenty. Poe married a thirteen-year-old girl (cousin) who died eighteen years later. He had a couple of marriage engagements that were broken off.[9]


[1] The Astrology Encyclopedia.(p. 521). James R. Lewis. Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI. 1994.
[2] The Astrology Encyclopedia (p. 521)
[3] The Astrology Encyclopedia (p. 521)
[4] The Astrology Encyclopedia (p. 521)
[5] The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology (p 317). [Al Birurii, circa 1029 a.d.] The Wessex Astrologer []
[6] The Astrology Encyclopedia (p. 284)
[7] Today’s Astrologer (pp. 14-15, 17). American Federation of Astrologers, Inc. Vol. 69 No. 12; December 9, 2007.
[8] The Complete Node Book (pp. 73,74). Kevin Burk. Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN; 1st ed. 2004

[9] Today’s Astrologer (pp. 14-15, 1·7). December 9, 2007.

Source Notes from Astrodatank at,_Edgar_Allen

  • LMR quotes a handwritten list by Andre Barbault in hand that gives “three hours after .. mother left the theater” from a biography by Mary Philipps, Chicago, 1926; same in L’Astrologue 6, same from de Lescaut.
  • Formerly Ruth Dewey gave 1:00 AM “allegedly from family records.”
  • Joan McEvers quoted Margaret Latvala for 3:38 AM.
  • Penfield Collection quoted Louis MacNiece for 1:30 AM and Barbault for 2:00 AM.
  • Alan Leo gave a spec time of 7:57 AM in Modern Astrology 1/1932.

Note that Scorpio would be Poe’s rising sign if he was born anytime between 12:42 am and 3:16 am. At the 2:00 AM time, it would be 15 degrees Scorpio.