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Ptolemy's Centiloquium
    Transcribed and annotated by Deborah Houlding



The following reproduction of Henry Coley's 17th century English translation of Ptolemy's Centiloquium (Hundred Aphorisms), is taken from chapter 20 of his Clavis Astrologiae Elimata (Key to Astrology). How much of this work offers the original insight of Ptolemy is unknown. It is ascribed to Ptolemy but at best we can expect that there are interpolations. Some argue that it was probably authored by an unknown source who gave the attribution to Ptolemy to increase its air of authority, and as a result many believe that most of the aphorism cannot be traced back to the classical period. I am more open-minded about this; the problem is that Ptolemy is known to have written other astrological texts that did not survive, so we cannot be sure of what we are missing. Some of the aphorisms that we assume to be of later Arabic origin are in fact found in works authored by Ptolemy's contemporaries, who make reference to use of his work.

Aphorism 22 is a good example: "Neither cut out, or first put on a new garment whilst the Moon is in the sign Leo: if she then be unfortunate it be so much the worse". Even Coley writes of this: this aphorism smells of the superstition of the Arabians, doubting its authenticity in regard to it being seemingly out of place with classical thinking, and presumably initiating (or at least strengthening) the view that the work is mainly that of later authors. And yet a similar rule appears in the Thesaurus of Antiochus (attributed to the late 2nd century), where he writes in the first section of the Book II: "whenever the Moon is in a solid sign (that is in Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius, but especially in Leo), it is not fitting to put on new garments; for the garments will cause sickness in those that wear them".

Whatever the case, the substantial historical heritage of this text makes it an important astrological treatise in its own right. It contains astrological aphorisms pertaining to natal, electional, horary, mundane, general predictive and synastry technique, many of which have seeped through into traditional lore and practice. It has been referred to as "one of the most influential texts in astrology's history".[1]

The earliest source we currently know of which demonstrates the importance of this text and the belief that it originated from Ptolemy's work can be traced to the 9th century. Ahmed ibn Yusuf al-Misri (born 835 in Baghdad; died 912 in Cairo) is known to have written a commentary on 'Ptolemy's Centriloquium' along with other important astrological and astronomical works. These works survive and historians are confident they are authentic.[2]

At least four Latin translations of this work were made in the 12th century, including one by Johannes Hispanensis in 1136 and one by Plato Tiburtinus in 1138. In 1493 the latter was published in manuscript form (originally in Venice) and thenceforth editions of the Centiloquium were circulated freely, tucked to the end of Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos as an appendix and referred to as 'The Fruit of his Four Books'.

Henry Coley took it upon himself to translate the Latin text of this and two other popular Centiloquiums: one ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus and another ascribed to Bethem. It can be seen from his comments (for example his insert on aphorism 43) that he cross-referenced various Latin sources in his attempt to remain close to the essence of the original text. His opinion was that the three Centiloquiums together "contained concisely the whole Mystery of Astrology".

Coley's words remain unchanged although I have brought consistency to spelling and punctuation, replaced the roman numeration and inserted square brackets to separate Coley's narrative inserts from the original text.





Centiloquium Ptolomei.

Or Ptolemy's Centiloquium Englished


1. A Te & Sceintia; from thyself and learning: for it cannot be, that he who is skilful should pronounce particular forms of things; nor can the fancy undertake a particular, but general notion of the sensible matter; in such things we must use conjecture. None but those endued with Divine Inspiration predict particulars.

2. When he that consults shall better consider of it; he shall find there will be small difference between the thing propounded, and the form thereof. [The meaning of Ptolemy is no more than this; viz. the sympathy any one shall observe that propounds his Question, betwixt the matter intended, and the position of the Heavens at the time of its proposition].[3]

3. He that is inclinable to any art, without doubt in his nativity had some star of the same nature very well fortified.

4. A natural inclination to any knowledge; attains more perfection therein, than one that shall rake hard pains by learning to obtain it.

5. He that is skilful may divert many effects of the stars when he knows their natures, and will prepare himself before their event or coming.

6. The election either of day or hour shall then advantage when it is constituted from the nativity; otherwise, though the election be well made, it will not profit.

7. None can discern the mixture of the stars, unless he first knows their natural differences and mixtures one amongst another.

8. A judicious man helps forwards the celestial operations, even as the discreet husband-man assists nature in his ploughing and preparing the ground.

9. In generation and corruption earthly forms are subordinate to the celestials; wherefore they that frame images, do then make use of them, by observing when the planets do enter into those constellations or forms. [4]

10. In election of days and hours, make use of the two malevolent planets Saturn and Mars; for even so doth the expert physician use poison moderately for cure of man.

11. Make no election either of day or hour, before you know the quality of the thing intended.

12. Love and hatred cause error in judgement; for affection magnifies even trifles, and envy as much depresses weighty things.

13. When the position of heaven shall signify anything to come to pass, make use in the business as assistants the malevolent planets, though in the question they were not friendly.

14. The astrologer plunges himself into many errors, when the cusp of the seventh house, and lord thereof are unfortunate or afflicted.[5]

15. The ascendants of a kingdom's enemies are those signs which decline from the ascendant of the kingdom: the ascendant of the kingdom's friends are the signs of the angles, and of the signs succeeding those angles. The same is considerable in the rising or beginnings of sects and schisms.[6]

16. When benevolent planets have dominion in the eighth house & are ill dignified, he that is then born shall receive damage from honest men; but if those planets be well affected, the contrary shall happen.

17. Being demanded of the length of an old man's life, be not rash to give your judgment before you have considered or measured according to his nativity how long he may live according to nature.

18. When the sun and Moon are in one and the self same degree and minute at the time of anyone's birth, and a benevolent planet is lord of the ascendant, the native that time born shall be fortunate in all his actions; the same shall happen if the two lights be in opposition, the one in the ascendant, the other in the seventh house, so qualified as before. But if an infortune be placed in the ascendant, you may well judge the contrary.

19. A purging medicine shall not operate so effectually when the Moon is conjoined with Jupiter.

20. Draw not blood from that member, whilst the Moon is in a sign representing the same. [The meaning whereof is this, that if you find at any time the Moon in Gemini (which signifies the arms) to be unfortunately afflicted of Saturn or Mars in Sagittarius, Virgo or Pisces, it's not then, says he, so good to let blood at that time, as when she hath made her progress out of that sign: many expert physicians now living know the truth hereof.] [7]

21. When the Moon is in Scorpio or Pisces, and the lord of the ascendant in aspect to a planet under the earth, it's good to give purging medicines: but if the lord of the ascendant apply to a planet above the earth, it's probable the sick shall vomit up his potion.

22. Neither cut out, or first put on a new garment whilst the Moon is in the sign Leo: if she then be unfortunate it be so much the worse: [this aphorism smells of the superstition of the Arabians, and pertains to elections. Mr. Lilly saith, once casually, without inspection to the position of the Moon, he put on a new suit, the Moon being in Leo and ill dignified, and tore many holes in the suit going a nutting within a fortnight after; nor did that suit ever do him any service: yet we must not be superstitious, but modest in our elections, only use them as natural helps.]

23. The aspect of the Moon, or her conjunction with the planets, inclines the native to be moveable in his disposition; if the planets be strong, they show him to be active or full of spirits; but if they be ill fortified, they incline to sluggishness.

24. An eclipse of the sun or Moon in the angles of a nativity or yearly revolution is obnoxious; but we take the time thereof from the distance which is between the degree ascending and place eclipsed: and as in a solar eclipse we give or allow for each hour one year; so for every hour in a lunar eclipse, we admit one month for the effect's continuance.

25. Direct the Medium Coeli of a nativity by the table of right ascensions, but the ascendant by the oblique ascensions under the elevation of the pole where the native was born, &c.

26. The matter of any question is obscured, when the planet signifying it is either under the earth, or joined to the sun in an obscure house: but is manifested when a planet is brought out of his depression into his altitude, and posited in his proper sphere or element.

27. Venus demonstrates that member to be neatly formed or shaped in which she is posited at time of birth; the like do the other planets.

28. In elections, if you cannot fortify the Moon by her joining to or aspecting of planets, see that she be near some fixed stars of that nature your planet ought to have been, &c.

29. The fixed stars do design immeasurable and admirable preferments, which notwithstanding determine in unusual calamities, unless the planets concur in judgment, or be in conjunction with them. [8]

31. When the principal significator of a kingdom shall come to his climacterical year, either then the king of that kingdom shall die, or some of the most eminent heroes of that nation: [this was verified in the death of a valiant worthy person, and true lover of his country that deceased some years since in England].[9]

32. An amicable aspect of the stars doth conduce much to the friendship of two persons; but if you will know the quality of the thing wherein they shall agree, you must observe that from both their nativities.

33. From the benevolent or malevolent positure of the sun and Moon, and each other's ascending sign at time of birth, is discerned the love or hatred betwixt any two: those signs which we call obedient[10] do increase unity and friendship.

34. That planet who hath most dignities in the degree wherein the Moon changes, if he be cardinal, viz, in an angle, he doth demonstrate the principal actions of that month: [this is of most force in the change of weather, &c]. [11]

35. When the sun by transit shall come to the degree of the zodiac wherein any principal significator, viz, planet is, he makes that planet more active in such things as concern change of air or weather. [12]

36. In the new construction of any city, make use of the adjuvant[13] fixed stars; in building houses take the planets: those cities that in the time of their foundation have Mars culminating, their princes usually die by the sword.

37. Who hath the sign of Virgo or Pisces in their horoscope[14] they shall attain preferment by their own industry and worth; but they who have Aries or Libra their ascendants shall willfully or innocently be the cause of their own deaths.

38. When Mercury shall be well fortified or placed in either of the houses of Saturn in any one's nativity, the native hath a divining soul, and is capable of prying far into matters; if he be placed in the house of Mars, especially in Aries, he inclines to eloquence.

39. If the eleventh house be unfortunate at what time a king is crowned, it's an argument his domestic servants shall thrive little by him, nor will that king grow rich; but if the second house of the figure be afflicted, it shows his subjects shall be impoverished under his government.

40. When the sign ascending is besieged or infortunated by the malignant planets, he who is then born will delight in coarse actions, and in his sense of smelling shall take pleasure in filthy odours.

41. When thou settest forth upon any journey, beware that the eighth house and lord thereof be not unfortunate; when you return, in the same manner have regard to the second house and his lord.

42. A disease or sickness first beginning whilst the Moon is in a sign wherein a malevolent was in the nativity or in square or opposition thereunto, will prove very grievous; and if at that time she is in ill aspect of an infortune, it will be very dangerous; but if at the first decumbiture she do possess the degree where a fortune was, there's little danger.

43. The infortunate planets do impedit those matters which they performed according to natural existence, as matrimony: but what things are acted according to nature, and not unto laws or customs; or those affairs which neither are performed naturally, or according to laws; such things receive destruction from the fortunes. [I must truly acknowledge, neither Pontanus or Trapezuntius have given any light to this aphorism; I have followed Haly: it's as followeth in pontanus: "Contrary configurations of the times do intend or remit the obnoxious figures of a nation. Utrum horum mavis accipe."][15]

44. When the figure erected at the beginning of any sickness is contrary to that of the nativity; if no propitious thing be then in force, the sick party is like to be in great peril.

45. Whosoever hath not the predominant planets of his nativity in humane signs, will be little sociable, and not very humane.

46. Excellent prosperity is designd in men's geniture from the fixed stars, and from the angles of the preceding lunations, and from the degree of the Part of Fortune,[16] when the degree ascending at the birth chances to be the same.

47. When in any one's nativity a malignant planet is placed where a fortune was in another's geniture, he who hath the fortune so placed, shall receive prejudice from him that had the infortune so posited.

48. When the Medium Coeli of a king's nativity is the horoscope[17] of a subject, or the principal dominators are in benevolent configuration, they shall continue inseparable: judge the like when a servant's sixth house is the ascendant of his master: [it may be thought the late duke of Buckingham had such a one].

49. When the ascendant of a subject shall culminate in his prince's nativity, his lord shall so entrust him, that he will be ruled by him. [This must be understood of such of the nobility or gentry that have offices or commands in princes' services].

50. [N.B.] Forget not in general judgments the one hundred and nineteen conjunctions: in well considering these, you shall understand what will be done in the world both of generation and corruption. [What the conjunctions are, and how to understand them, you may have recourse to Mr. Lilly's Prophetical Merlin, fol. 51.][18]

51. In what sign the Moon is at the time of birth, make that sign the ascendant in conception; and in what sign she is found at the conception, make that or its opposite the sign ascending at the birth.[19]

52. The lords of the genitures of men of tall stature are in their sublimities,[20] and their horoscopes[21] in the beginnings of signs: but the lords of their nativities who are of short stature, are found in their falls: together with this, enquire whether the signs be of right or oblique ascension.[22]

53. The lords of the genitures of lean men have no latitude, but of fat men they have: if the latitude be south the native will be nimble; if north, more sluggish.[23]

54. When the principal lords in buildings are joined unto a planet under the earth, they hinder the erection of the building.

55. The malicious influence of Mars against ships is lessened when he is neither placed in the tenth or eleventh house of heaven; in either of those places he destroys the ship, thieves surprising and possessing her by force; but the ship will be fired if the ascendant be afflicted by any fixed star of the mixture of Mars.

56. When the Moon is in her first quarter, that is, from the time she is receded from the Sun's conjunction, the moistures of bodies do flow, until her second quarter,[24] at other times they decrease.

57. Change your physician when you shall see the seventh house and his lord afflicted in any sickness.

58. Consider the place of the conjunction, in which part of heaven it falls to be from the ascendant of the year; for when the profection[25] shall arise unto that part of heaven, then shall the event appear.

59. Pronounce not rashly that the absent person shall die, before thou considerest whether he be not drunken; nor say that he hath received a wound, before you have enquired whether he were not letting blood; nor do you judge that he shall find treasure, before you have searched out whether perchance he took nothing to pledge of late, seeing the figures of all these demands are alike.

60. In consideration of the sick, behold the critical days, and the peragration of the Moon by the angles of a figure of sixteen sides; for where you shall find those angles well affected, it will fall out well to the sick party: On the contrary, it will fall out ill if you find them afflicted. [How to set a figure of sixteen sides, see Mr Lilly's Introduction, page 294].[26]

61. The Moon signifieth those things which appertain unto the body, as what have resemblance unto her in regard of her motion.

62. When you shall make the minute of a conjunction your basis or radix,[27] you may give judgment of the change of weather in that month; for your judgment shall be framed according to the principal dominator of the angle of every figure, for that planet overcomes in the nature of the air; assuming together with these things the quality of the present time, viz., the season of the year.

63. When Saturn and Jupiter make their conjunction, see which of them is most elevated, and pronounce judgment according unto his nature; do the like upon all the conjunctions of the other planets.

64. When thou hast considered the lord of the question, see what essential dignity he hath in the querent's annual revolution, or in the ascendant of the new Moon preceding, give judgment accordingly.

65. In minima conjunctione differentia media conjunctionis, & in media maximae conjunctionis differentia.[28]

66. Use not profection alone, but also the agreement of the interficient[29] and benevolent planets and their aspects. [This aphorism hath relation unto nativities, and is for discovery of the true time of the native's death.]

67. The years of the native are diminished and made much shorter, by reason of the imbecility of the giver of life.[30]

68. A malevolent planet when he is matutine,[31] signifies a fall[32] ; when vespertine,[33] a disease.

69. There will be a blemish in the native's sight when the Moon is in opposition to the Sun, and is near to nebulous or cloudy fixed stars; or when the Moon is in the seventh house, and both Saturn and Mars in the horoscope: but if together with this the Sun be angular, the native will quite lose his sight.

70. Mercury is not in conjunction with the Moon in their nativities, who divine by a kind of fury of things to come, nor is either of them in the ascendant of those who are daemoniack, in such a kind of a figure in the night time Saturn shall possess that angle, but in the day time Mars, especially in Cancer, Virgo or Pisces.[34]

71. In men's nativities, when both the Sun and Moon shall be in masculine signs, their actions shall appear according to the nature thereof: but in the nativities of women, these very actions are augmented. Judge the fame thing of Mars and Venus, for being matutine, they incline to be more manly; but vespertine they are effeminate.

72. Require such things as concern the native's education from the lords of the triplicity of the ascendant: what may concern life must be derived from the lords of the triangularity of the conditional[35] luminary.

73. Where the Sun is found to be with Caput Algol if then he is neither aspected by a benevolent planet, or that a benign planet doth govern the eighth house, and the disposer of the temporal light shall be in opposition to Mars, or afflicts him with a square aspect, he that then is born shall be beheaded: But if the light shall culminate, or be in the tenth house, his body shall be wounded: If this copulation be in Gemini or Pisces, his hands and feet shall be cut off.

74. Who hath Mars in the ascendant of his nativity will not fail to have a scar in his face.

75. When the Sun is joined unto the lord of the ascendant in Leo, or that Mars hath no prerogative[36] in the ascendant, or no benevolent planet is placed in the eighth house, he that is born under such a constellation shall be burned, viz, shall die by fire.

76. When Saturn possesseth the tenth house, viz, is positioned therein, and the temporal light of the time is in his opposition, and an earthly sign is in the fourth, he who is then born shall perish by the ruin or fall of houses or buildings: If the sign of the fourth be a watery sign, he will die in the water or by water, viz, he will be drowned: If the sign of the fourth he humane, he will die by the hands of man; viz, he will either be hanged or strangled, &c., but if a benevolent planet is posited in the eighth, he will be near to death by such accidents or casualties as aforesaid, but shall evade and not die thereby.

77. Make use of, or direct the profection of the ascendant for such things as concern the body; direct the part of fortune for external or outward things; the Moon for such things as concern both the body and the mind; the MC for the actions, magistery or professions, &c.

78. A planet doth many times exercise his influence in that part of the heaven wherein he hath no essential dignity, bringing unto the native unlooked for wealth. [This hath relation unto the antiscions of the planets.]

79. When Mars is in the eleventh house of heaven, he that hath him so posited, shall not have dominion over his master or lord.

80. When Venus is joined unto Saturn, and he hath any dominion in the seventh house, he that is then born will be sordidi coitus.[37]

81. The times of the events of things are discovered seven manner of ways: first, from the interval or distance of the two lords or rulers;[38] secondly, from the distance of their configuration each unto other;[39] thirdly by their access each unto other;[40] fourthly, from the interval betwixt themselves, or the one of them, from the place signifying the thing desired or looked after;[41] fifthly, from the setting of that star which gives assistance or impediment;[42] sixthly, from the mutation of the principal significant planet;[43] seventhly, from the access of a planet unto his own proper place[44] .

82. When the figures of the new and full Moon are equal, behold the ascendant, which if that be also equal, then defer your judgment for that time.[45]

83. The time of craving any thing at the king's hands, doth show the affection betwixt the king and the petitioner; viz., the time when the petitioner receives the dignity granted him, shall show the quality of action depending upon the preferment, &c.

84. When Mars is lord of the ascendant at the time of taking any possession, and doth also govern the seventh house, or is in conjunction with the lord of the second, he brings much damage or loss.

85. When the lord of the ascendant is in configuration with the lord of the second, the prince or lord shall willingly consume much treasure. [This hath relation to the two preceding aphorisms].[46]

86. The Sun is the fountain of vital power, the Moon of natural.

87. Monthly conversions[47] consist of twenty eight days, two hours, and about eighteen minutes; but some there are who judge them from the peragration[48] of the Sun when he is equated partilely[49] unto the degree and minute he was at the beginning of the month.

88. When we direct the profection of the part of fortune for the whole year of a revolution, we take it from the Sun to the Moon, and project it only from the ascendant.

89. Require what concerns the grandfather from the seventh house, but the uncle from the sixth house. [50]

90. When the lord of the ascendant doth behold the ascendant, the thing which lies undiscovered is of the nature of the ascendant: if he behold not the ascendant, its quality shall be according to the nature of the place where the lord of the ascendant is; the lord of the hour demonstrates the colours, but the place of the Moon the times: if that place of the Moon be above the earth, the thing or matter is new; if under the earth, old: the part of fortune shows its quantity, whether it be long or short; the lords of the terms of the fourth and tenth houses, and of the Moon, show its substance.

91. It's an ill sign when the lord of the sick party is combust, especially if the part of fortune be afflicted.

92. Saturn being oriental doth not so much oppress the sick body, nor doth Mars when he is occidental.

93. In questions do not pronounce judgment before you confider the next subsequent new Moon; for the first beginnings are varied in every conjunction; wherefore mix both together, and you shall not err.

94. The place of heaven wherein the principal and most powerful significator is posited, doth declare such things as are in the thoughts of the querent to be demanded.[51]

95. Those images[51] which do arise with the several decanates, they declare the inclination of the native to that profession he handles. [What they are, see Scaliger upon Manilius[52] or Johannes Angelus[53] ].

96. The significations of an eclipse shall be most apparent when the eclipse is near unto an angle; consider also the nature of the stars in configuration to one another, as well of the erratical planets, as of the fixed stars, so also the images co-arising with the sign ascending, and pronounce judgment accordingly. [By images he means asterisms, of which see Maginus, Origanus and Argol].

97. The matter or thing in question which is demanded, will be performed in a short time, when either the lord of the new or full Moon is cardinal.

98. Blazing stars and shootings of the stars in the air (or prodigious apparitions therein) have a second signification in mundane affairs; viz., eclipses are in the heavens, but apparitions in the air, therefore events portended by eclipses are first preferred.

99. Fiery apparitions show want of rain, or a dry air, which if they are carried or moved unto one part of heaven, they declare wind to come from that quarter of heaven: but if those apparitions are carried diversely, or into sundry parts, they show scarcity of rain or waters, the elements often troubled, and the incursions of armies.

100. Comets, whose distance is eleven signs from the Sun, if they appear in angles, the king of some kingdom or one of the principal men of the kingdom will die; but if they appear in a succedent house, his treasures are like to do well; yet shall the king or kingdom change their governor. If they appear in a cadent or obscure house, diseases, and sudden deaths will succeed. If they move from the west toward the east, a foreign enemy shall invade several kingdoms and countries: if the comet move not the enemy shall be provincial.



[ -End- ]





Notes & References:



  1 ] John Frawley, in his chapter on Electional Astrology, The Real Astrology, (Apprentice Books, London, 2000), footnote 2, page 109.
Reproduced online at http://www.skyscript.co.uk/electional.html
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  2 ] See 'Ahmed ibn Yusuf al-Misri' by J. J. O'Connor and E. F. Robertson at the University of St. Andrews website
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  3 ] In other words, for a well considered question, the planetary positions should show sympathy (and therefore appropriately describe) the matter being asked about. However, J.M. Ashmand's 19th century translation of this aphorism reads "When an enquirer shall make mature search into an expected event, there will be found no material difference between the event itself and his idea of it" - suggesting that the aphorism relates to the astrologer's clear understanding of the situation. I believe that Coley's interpretation if the most appropriate.
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  4 ] Images of the constellations, (used as talismans).
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  5 ] An early reference to one of the traditional 'considerations before judgement'.
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  6 ] sects and schisms: agreements and disagreements.
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  7 ] Ashmand's translation simply says "Pierce not with iron that part of the body which may be governed by the sign actually occupied by the Moon"
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  8 ] Ashmand's translation reads: "The fixed stars grant extremely good fortune, unconnected with the understanding; but it is most commonly marked by calamities, unless the planets also agree in the felicity (happiness)."
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  9 ] Coley is referring to King Charles I, who was beheaded in 1649. Coley's text was written in 1676, after the restoration, when there was a general inclination to see Charles I as a martyr.
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  10 ] The obedient signs are Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. These are generally considered supportative of the others, which are called 'commanding'.
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  11 ] Ashmand: "If the lord of the place of the new Moon be in an angle, he is indicative of the events liable to happen in that month."
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  12 ] Ashmand: "When the Sun arrives at the place of any star, he excites the influence of that star in the atmosphere"
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  13 ] Assisting
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  14 ] Horoscope here means ascendant.
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  15 ] This complicated aphorism has obviously caused a great deal of confusion and Coley admits that having checked it with the Latin translations of Johannes Pontanus (1426-1503) and Giorgio Trapezuntius (1395-1484), he still considers it lacking in clarity.

As we can see, the Pontanus translation is much briefer and forms the basis of Ashmand's which merely states: "The malefic figures of a nation are strengthened by adverse figurations of existing times." Reading carefully through the complicated turn of phrase, Coley (following Haly) simply suggests that unfortunate planets are destructive to natural or wholesome events such as marriage, whereas benefic planets are destructive to events which are unnatural, unlawful or unwholesome.
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  16 ] Ashmand says the kingdom's Part of Fortune, which makes more sense. His translation reads: "In nativities much happiness is conferred by the fixed stars; and also by the angles of the new Moon, and by the place of a kingdom's Part of Fortune, should the ascendant be found in any of them."

However, Coley is probably more correct in referring to the angles of the preceding lunation rather than the new Moon, since if a chart was preceded by a full Moon that would have been the effective preceding lunation.
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  17 ] Ascendant.
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  18 ] It is not clear why Coley refers to 119 conjunctions instead of 120; Ashmand does the same. Yet Lilly's text in his England's Prophetical Merlin reads:

"I must acquaint you with that Aphorism of Ptolemy, viz, 50 No praetervuttas centum & viginis conjunctiones; In his enim posita ast cognitio eorum quae siunt in mundo & generationis & corruptionis: In your general judgement pass not over the 120 Conjunctions. For the knowledge of Mundane affairs is posited therein, as well of generation as corruption: that which I now handle is the first in order of the 120 but because few there are that understand Aphorisms, or what those one hundred and twenty conjunctions are, I will orderly in a subsequent Table put them down"

These are all the possible conjunctions of the seven traditional planets - with the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter being considered the greatest of importance because it involves the most superior planets. A reproduction of Lilly's table is included below.
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  19 ] This is used in rectification when the time of birth is unknown. Al Biruni also attributes a more complex method to Ptolemy. The 521st chapter of his Elements reads:

If time not noted: use of animodar
Should no observation have been made at the time of birth, the determination of that time is beyond the reach of science, for there is no way of knowing it. But astrologers by estimation and conjecture arrive at one little difference in the sign of the ascendant, so they find a way, by using an indicator (namudar), which furnishes one which they assume to be the degree desired. The indicator most in use is that of Ptolemy, which if it does not disclose the exact degree, is the best substitute. The method in question is to ascertain as accurately as possible the time communicated to you, and determine the ascendant, the cardines and the places of the seven planets. Then find the degree of the conjunction of the Moon which occurred before the birth if that was in the first half of the month or else the degree of opposition, if the latter half. Then determine which planet has the most dignities and testimonies, then the one that comes next, and so proceed with the others till the last and note the result. The most important testimony is being in aspect to that degree, for when two planets are equal in the number of their dignities, the one in aspect whatever that may be, is preferable. Then examine which of the two most dignified planets is nearest to an angle by counting the number of their degrees. Thereafter transfer the angle to the degrees of the nearest planet and derive the ascendant from that. If the degrees of the two planets are very distant from an angle, take the next planet in order of dignity, and examine the others till you find that which is nearest to an angle and proceed as before.
There are astrologers who do not attach any importance to the relative distance from, or nearness to an angle but simply make the degree of the angle which is the most dignified planet the place (from which to derive the ascendant) without altering its degree to that of the planet and proceed as we have said.


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  20 ] exaltations
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  21 ] ascendants
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  22 ] Right ascension = long ascension: Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius.
Oblique ascension = short ascension: Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus and Gemini.
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  23 ] Ashmand translates the latter part as "if the latitude be south, the native will be active; if north, inactive".
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  24 ] Ashmand translates: "the bodily humours expand until her second quarter"
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  25 ] By use of profections one sign of the zodiac is related to a year in time. The technique is first explained in Manilius's Astronomica, III v. 537.
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  26 ] Critical days are when the Moon squares, opposes or comes to conjunction with its position in the decumbiture. To 'peregrate' means to 'travel through' so the 'peragration of the Moon by the angles' refers to the Moon's crossing of the angles. The use of 'a figure of 16 sides' is an unnecessarily time-consuming procedure used to determine the intercalary and judicial days that fall between the critical periods. Culpeper explains it more clearly than Lilly in chapter VI of his Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick. However in chapter VII he suggests that method is ignored and presents a far simpler way of establishing these significant periods.
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  27 ] That is, a conjunction of the Sun and Moon.
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  28 ] Coley does not have enough confidence in the meaning of this aphorism to translate it out of Latin. Ashmand translates it thus: "In the least conjunction, the difference of the mean conjunction, and in the mean conjunction the difference of the greatest conjunction". John Partridge also declined to translate such a comment and left it in Latin, writing of it "how Ptolemy meant it to be understood, I know not; and so I leave it."
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  29 ] interficient = destuctive/destroying; the interficient planet is also known as anareta
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  30 ] The 'giver of life' is also known as the hyleg. 'Imbecility' means affliction.
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  31 ] Oriental
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  32 ] Ashmand says 'accident'
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  33 ] Occidental
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  34 ] Ashmand shows a different emphasis to this aphorism "Insanity is produced if the Moon have no connection with Mercury; and, if neither of them be connected with the ascendant, Saturn being in occupation of the angle by night, but Mars by day, especially if in Cancer, Virgo, or Pisces, a daemoniac affection will be produced."
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  35 ] Conditional = governing; ie, Sun by day, Moon by night.
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  36 ] Rights, ie dignities.
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  37 ] Ashmand translates this term as "of spurious origin", ie, illegitimate.
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  38 ] The longitudinal distance between them, eg, Moon at 10 Aries to Sun at 15 Leo: 125 of zodiacal arc translated into time units.
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  39 ] Eg, Moon at 10 Aries to Sun at 15 Leo: their trine aspect is separated by 5 which is translated into time units.
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  40 ] Eg, using the ephemeris to see when the Moon's aspect to the Sun becomes exact.
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  41 ] Eg, noting the movement of significators to house cusps.
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  42 ] Or the movement of a promittor to a destructive place - as used in determining the length of life.
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  43 ] When a significator moves out of its present sign into another.
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  44 ] Eg, when a significator comes to its own terms or dignities.
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  45 ] This aphorism regarding the judgement of lunations also applies to other charts of a judicial nature. Lilly says of this "When the testimonies of fortunes and infortunes are equal, defer judgement, it's not possible then to know which way the balance will turn: however, defer your opinion until another question better inform you". (CA., p.122)
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  46 ] Ashmand has for this "Should the lord of the ascendant be configurated with the lord of the second house, the prince will spontaneously create many charges."
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  47 ] Revolutions / returns
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  48 ] Travel, ie, movement
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  49 ] Exactly
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  50 ] The grandfather is identified as the father of the father (4th from 4th); the uncle as the brother of the father (3rd from 4th).
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  51 ] Constellations
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  52 ] Manilius described the influence of the constellations as they rise by decanate; as did Firmicus who followed him closely. Joseph Scaliger produced an edition of Manilius's Astronomica in Paris, 1579. See http://www.brynmawr.edu/occupations3a.htm
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  53 ] 15th century Professor of Astronomy in Vienna.
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The 120 Conjunctions in Ptolemy, Aphoris. 50

(Reproduced from William Lilly's, England's Prophetical Merlin, p.50)

2 3 4 5 6 7 (planets)
Saturn Jupiter Saturn Jupiter Mars
Saturn Jupiter Sun
Saturn Jupiter Venus
Saturn Jupiter Mercury
Saturn Jupiter Moon
Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun
Saturn Jupiter Mars Venus
Saturn Jupiter Mars Mercury
Saturn Jupiter Mars Moon
Saturn Jupiter Sun Venus
Saturn Jupiter Sun Mercury
Saturn Jupiter Sun Moon
Saturn Jupiter Venus Mercury
Saturn Jupiter Venus Moon
Saturn Jupiter Mercury Moon
Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun Venus
Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun Mercury
Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun Moon
Saturn Jupiter Mars Venus Mercury
Saturn Jupiter Mars Venus Moon
Saturn Jupiter Mars Mercury Moon
Saturn Jupiter Sun Venus Mercury
Saturn Jupiter Sun Venus Moon
Saturn Jupiter Sun Mercury Moon
Saturn Jupiter Venus Mercury Moon
Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun Venus Mercury
Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun Venus Moon
Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun Mercury Moon
Saturn Jupiter Mars Venus Mercury Moon
Saturn Jupiter Sun Venus Mercury Moon
Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun Venus Mercury Moon
Saturn Mars Saturn Mars Sun
Saturn Mars Venus
Saturn Mars Mercury
Saturn Mars Moon
Saturn Mars Sun Venus
Saturn Mars Sun Mercury
Saturn Mars Sun Moon
Saturn Mars Venus Mercury
Saturn Mars Venus Moon
Saturn Mars Mercury Moon
Saturn Mars Sun Venus Mercury
Saturn Mars Sun Venus Moon
Saturn Mars Sun Mercury Moon
Saturn Mars Venus Mercury Moon
Saturn Mars Sun Venus Mercury Moon  
Saturn Sun Saturn Sun Venus
Saturn Sun Mercury
Saturn Sun Moon
Saturn Sun Venus Mercury
Saturn Sun Venus Moon
Saturn Sun Mercury Moon
Saturn Sun Venus Mercury Moon    
Saturn Venus Saturn Venus Mercury
Saturn Venus Moon
Saturn Venus Mercury Moon      
Saturn Mercury Saturn Mercury Moon        
Saturn Moon          
Jupiter Mars Jupiter Mars Sun
Jupiter Mars Venus
Jupiter Mars Mercury
Jupiter Mars Moon
Jupiter Mars Sun Venus
Jupiter Mars Sun Mercury
Jupiter Mars Sun Moon
Jupiter Mars Venus Mercury
Jupiter Mars Venus Moon
Jupiter Mars Mercury Moon
Jupiter Mars Sun Venus Mercury
Jupiter Mars Sun Venus Moon
Jupiter Mars Sun Mercury Moon
Jupiter Mars Venus Mercury Moon
Jupiter Mars Sun Venus Mercury Moon  
Jupiter Sun Jupiter Sun Venus
Jupiter Sun Mercury
Jupiter Sun Moon
Jupiter Sun Venus Mercury
Jupiter Sun Venus Moon
Jupiter Sun Mercury Moon
Jupiter Sun Venus Mercury Moon    
Jupiter Venus Jupiter Venus Mercury
Jupiter Venus Moon
Jupiter Venus Mercury Moon      
Jupiter Mercury Jupiter Mercury Moon        
Jupiter Moon          
Mars Sun Mars Sun Venus
Mars Sun Mercury
Mars Sun Moon
Mars Sun Venus Mercury
Mars Sun Venus Moon
Mars Sun Mercury Moon
Mars Sun Venus Mercury Moon    
Mars Venus Mars Venus Mercury
Mars Venus Moon
Mars Venus Mercury Moon      
Mars Mercury Mars Mercury Moon        
Mars Moon          
Sun Venus Sun Venus Mercury
Sun Venus Moon
Sun Venus Mercury Moon      
Sun Mercury Sun Mercury Moon        
Sun Moon          
Venus Mercury Venus Mercury Moon        
Venus Moon          
Mercury Moon          
21 35 35 21 7 1



© Deborah Houlding, 2006.



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