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Medieval vs Hellenistic Views on Oriental/Occidental Planets
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Mark
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Posted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:14 pm    Post subject: Medieval vs Hellenistic Views on Oriental/Occidental Planets Reply with quote

Examining William Lilly's table of essential and accidental dignity in his book Christian Astrology its quite evident that the inferior planets (Venus and Mercury) are preferred when occidental i.e. rising after the Sun (vespertine) rather than rising before the Sun ( matutine). This seems to be a commonly accepted view in medieval astrology.

The basic reason for this seems to relate to planetary phase. Deb put this very clearly in one of her previous posts regarding the superior and inferior conjunctions of Venus:

'In traditional terms, the superior conjunction occurs when Venus is at apogee - its highest (ie, superior) position above the Earth within its own cycle. This occurs when Venus is on the other side of the Sun. The inferior conjunction occurs when Venus is at the lowest point in its own cycle, when it is closest to Earth (so between the Earth and the Sun). It is traditionally termed inferior because it is at its lowest position.

At the superior conjunction Venus is high in its cycle, direct in motion and moving swiftly. It is traditionally conceived as being closer to the purer realms of heaven, so its influence is then assumed to be most subtle and soul-like.

At the inferior conjunction Venus is low in its circle, retrograde and slow in motion. Being closest to the Earth and lingering in its effects it has its strongest influence over mundane things, but its virtue is then tainted with baser influences and inferior passions (jealousy, lust, etc).'


Generally there is tradition that oriental planets are more masculine and assertive in expression. This seems to add further to the problems of a feminine, nocturnal planet like Venus.

What about Mercury though? Unlike all the other planets Mercury has a common sect determined by its position in a chart. Ptolemy states that when Mercury rises before the Sun (matutine) it is part of the diurnal sect while if it remains in the sky or after the Sun has set it is occidental (Vespertine) and therefore part of the nocturnal sect.

From the Hellenistic perspective therefore planetary phase and sect are inseparable for Mercury. The obvious implication of this is that in a day chart an oriental Mercury is dignified by being in sect while an occidental Mercury would be seen as weaker and out of sect. This appears to be what Ptolemy is suggesting.

Quote:
Mercury common as before, diurnal when it is a morning star and nocturnal as an evening star.
Tetrabiblos, Claudius Ptolemy, Book I, Chapter 7. Trans Frank Egleston Robbins, Loeb Classical Library, 1940


This point seems to be quite explicit in James Holden’s recent translation of Rhetorius were there are numerous references to the superiority of an oriental Mercury. Then there are Hellenistic techniques like spearbearing where it seems only an oriental Mercury in a day chart would seem appropriate for this supportive role. An occidental Mercury rising after the Sun could never fulfil that role. Although it could be a spearbearer for the Moon in a night chart.

Still, in astrology there are always differing views. For example, Paulus Alexandrinus seems to prefer a vespertine phase for both inferior planets.

However, perhaps the apparent contradiction is more to do with our inadequate understanding of what traditional texts mean when they use the terms oriental and occidental? This intriguing point is elaborated by Ben Dykes in the introduction to Bonatti’s Book of Astronomy. Ben Dykes sets out three different ways in which astrological literature used the terms oriental and occidental:

1.Planets are ‘oriental’ if they rise visibly before the Sun, and ‘occidental’ if they set visibly after him. This is similar to the modern understanding, since to rise visibly before the Sun means at least to be in an earlier degree. There were differing opinions on the longitudinal interval a planet had to be in, and whether the intervals were of equal significance.

2.Planets are ‘oriental’ if they are in the ‘eastern’ quadrant between the Ascendant and Midheaven ( i.e., where the Sun rises) or the one opposite to it, and ‘occidental’ if they are on the ‘western’ quadrant between the Midheaven and the 7th ( i.e.,when the Sun sets) or the one opposite to it.

3.Planets are ‘oriental’ if they currently , or within 7 days before or after the nativity , are rising out of the Sun’s beams and will become visible at sunrise or sunset; they are ‘ occidental’ if they currently , or within seven days before or after the nativity, are sinking into the Sun’s beams and will become invisible at sunrise or sunset. In Hellenistic astrology this is an example of of what is called ‘making a phasis’ , and the distance from the Sun at which this arising or sinking would happen, was standardised at 15 degrees. According to this definition , the inferiors can be ‘oriental’ ( or pertaining–to-arising) on either side of the Sun, since they can arise both while going direct and on their retrograde path.
(Book of Astronomy, Guido Bonatti, translated by Benjamin Dykes, 2007, page Ixxxii-Ixxxiii)


Ben Dykes states the latter approach had already fallen out of use even by Bonatti’s day. However, he suggests the third definition found in Hellenistic astrology was vital in the development of the medieval distinction between ‘combust’ and ‘under the beams’ of the Sun. Thus a planet rising out of Sun’s beams within seven days (approximately 8 degrees from the Sun) would be outside the usual definition of combust.

Maybe this is old news to some of you but I found it quite revelatory. I have often wondered why a matutine Mercury , free of the beams, direct in motion , and approaching its maximum elongation (and brightness) should be considered weakened. I know there will be those of you that consider this justified by looking at planetary phase and Mercury's emergence from the inferior conjunction in its matutine phase. However, as I see it that view is too simplistic as it fails to acknowledge the importance of planetary sect to the hellenistic astrologers.

Beyond the specific issue of how we regard Mercury I think the general idea of connecting astrological strength to visibility (or its potential) is more logical. I would welcome other views and insights on this fascinating topic.

Thanks

Mark
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margherita



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Posted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Medieval vs Hellenistic Views on Oriental/Occidental Pla Reply with quote

MarkC wrote:

3.Planets are ‘oriental’ if they currently , or within 7 days before or after the nativity , are rising out of the Sun’s beams and will become visible at sunrise or sunset; they are ‘ occidental’ if they currently , or within seven days before or after the nativity, are sinking into the Sun’s beams and will become invisible at sunrise or sunset. In Hellenistic astrology this is an example of of what is called ‘making a phasis’ , and the distance from the Sun at which this arising or sinking would happen, was standardised at 15 degrees. According to this definition , the inferiors can be ‘oriental’ ( or pertaining–to-arising) on either side of the Sun, since they can arise both while going direct and on their retrograde path.
(Book of Astronomy, Guido Bonatti, translated by Benjamin Dykes, 2007, page Ixxxii-Ixxxiii)
[/color]


What is "oriental", "occidental", "vespertine" and "matutine" is very difficult to say, because these words were and are used with different meaning.

I would say in my opinion that both Venus and Mercury are generally stronger when rise after the Sun, being vespertine, but we should even consider the hairesis, if the nativity is a day or a night one.

In a certain sense I agree with Dr. Dykes, heliacal rising and setting are very important.

If Mercury or Venus are in matutine setting, they are very strong too. On the other hand matutine rising is retrograde, so it is not so good, and the same vespertine setting.

Authors are a little controversial about the astrological meaning of these phases, at least I found different indications.

We saw it even recently in the case of the combust Mercury in professions and trade, if we should consider or not. Obviously combustion is just a part of the cycle...

margherita
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Posted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Margherita,

Thanks for replying with your take on this.

Quote:
What is "oriental", "occidental", "vespertine" and "matutine" is very difficult to say, because these words were and are used with different meaning.


Yes this is one of the points I was trying to make rather clumsily. For example when James Holden translates Rhetorius discussing 'oriental' and 'occidental' planets is he describing defintion 1 or 3 provided by Ben Dykes above?

Quote:
I would say in my opinion that both Venus and Mercury are generally stronger when rise after the Sun, being vespertine, but we should even consider the hairesis, if the nativity is a day or a night one.

....If Mercury or Venus are in matutine setting, they are very strong too. On the other hand matutine rising is retrograde, so it is not so good, and the same vespertine setting.


Of course one can consider the vespertine part of phase as superior because it starts with the planet at superior conjunction when it is direct in motion. However, the vespertine phase finishes with the planet retrograde too! In either case we are discussing a retrograde, planet which is undesirable. Clearly, neither conjunction is a good part of the cycle for either planet either.

I am sympathetic to Ibn Ezra and the hellenistic view described by Ben Dykes which associates planetary strength with visibility and brightness. Based on that criteria the best points in the Mercury phase are its points of greatest elongation east and west of the Sun. In both matutine and vespertine periods these are when when mercury is direct, free of combustion and at its brightest.

However, one could argue the vespertine is to be preferred of these two. Following the superior conjunction once going direct building up to greatest elongation Mercury is fast and at its greatest brightness. In the matuine period following the inferior conjunction leading up to greatest elongation Mercury is increasing in light. However, its relatively slow in motion and it does not speed up until after greatest elongation when it begins matutine setting and decreases in light. So looking at the overall cycle, brightness and speed the best spot in the whole cycle would appear to be when Mercury or Venus are direct, free of the beams, increasing in light and fast. This occurs when these planets are vespertine and at greatest elongation east of the Sun.

I agree Venus is particularly to be preferred in the Vespertine part of the cycle. A Vespertine, Venus, direct in motion and free of beams is likely to be in sect and very bright. Plus the more feminine association of following the Sun diurnally fits the nature of a nocturnal feminine planet like Venus. Deb has made another point differentiating the root conjunctions. To repeat her quote again:

Quote:
'In traditional terms, the superior conjunction occurs when Venus is at apogee - its highest (ie, superior) position above the Earth within its own cycle. This occurs when Venus is on the other side of the Sun. The inferior conjunction occurs when Venus is at the lowest point in its own cycle, when it is closest to Earth (so between the Earth and the Sun). It is traditionally termed inferior because it is at its lowest position.'


I assume the same astronomical reality applies to Mercury? If so that is a strong symbolic argument for favouring the vespertine part of the cycle. Was this point emphasized in traditional sources much? I just wonder how it was conceptualized from a geocentric world view based on epicycles.

Still, I also believe that planetary sect needs to be factored in. This would make an oriental mercury , direct in motion and free of beams very strong in a day chart too. This is missing from Lilly's dignity scoring system since by his time planetary sect had shrunk to relative insignificance compared to its hellenistic origins. However, to hellenistic astrologers sect almost appears as important as the essential dignities in assessing a planets effectiveness to fulfill its potential.

I just found this old article on skyscript regarding Mercury's phases!

http://www.skyscript.co.uk/mercuryorbit.html

Its a nice complement to Deb's more recent article in the Mountain Astrologer magazine on the phases of Venus. Thumbs up

Plus here is an excellent article by another astrologer...

http://heavenastrolabe.net/the-sun-and-heliacal-phases-of-the-planets/

Quote:
We saw it even recently in the case of the combust Mercury in professions and trade, if we should consider or not. Obviously combustion is just a part of the cycle...


Yes its a perennial discussion if mercury is less harmed by combustion due to its proximity to the Sun and the amount of time it is under the beams. Confused

In the article from David McCann on Mercury above he makes an interesting observation based on his research on nativities:

Quote:
Combustion may also be considered among the phases. Like retrogradation, this does not seem to weaken the planet in a nativity. A close conjunction of Mercury and the Sun is found in the charts of Thomas Edison, J.S. Mill, and Ludwig Wittgenstein - all possessed of powerful intellects. It is worth noting that these all have the superior conjunction; the only celebrities I have noticed with the inferior conjunction are Kings James I of England and Louis XVI of France, neither of whom possessed much sense.


I will need to keep an eye out for what kind of conjunction it is with Mercury or Venus in future. Very Happy

Mark
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astrojin



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Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello MarkC
We are going to have superior conjunction of Mercury at around 28 Jun 2010. I guess it’s appropriate then to use the coming cycle of Mercury’s conjunction for the following discussion!
Figures are approximate.

Superior conjunction of Mercury:
28 Jun 2010 (6 Can), Mercury’s speed is at its maximum (for this cycle only) while direct 2.19 deg/day. Elongation is, of course, zero.
Greatest Elongation:
7 Aug 2010 (Sun 14Leo, Mercury 12Vir, elongation is about 27+ deg), Mercury’s speed is 57 min/day.
Mercury Stationary Retrograde:
21 Aug 2010 (Mercury 19Vir), Elongation is about 21 deg. Speed is, of course, zero.
Inferior conjunction of Mercury:
3 Sep 2010 (11Vir), Mercury’s speed is at its maximum while retrograde 0.96 deg/day which is still less than its average motion. Elongation is, of course, zero.
Mercury Stationary Direct:
13 Sep 2010 (Mercury 5Vir), Elongation is about 15 deg. Speed is, of course, zero.
Greatest Elongation:
20 Sep 2010 (Mercury 9Vir, Sun 27Vir, elongation is about 17+ degrees), Mercury’s speed is 1.02 deg/day.
Superior conjunction of Mercury:
17 Oct 2010 (23 Lib).

I have not included the dates of visibility of Mercury as this depends on the latitude and altitude of the place, atmospheric refraction, etc. Mercury is occidental (according to Ptolemy’s definition) from superior conjunction to inferior conjunction and oriental from inferior conjunction to superior conjunction.

So, if a person is born on the critical day of occidental maximum elongation of Mercury i.e. 7 Aug 2010, he would have a very bright Mercury (maximum elongation) though not at its brightest, it is direct, it is occidental and the speed is quite OK (not very fast but quite close to its mean motion). For me, this is very good. I do not take the occidentality of Mercury being a debility, I would say that it is enhancing (following Lilly). I would use the occidentality of Mercury as the determinant of Mercury’s sect (which in this case would be Nocturnal). So, blessed is he/she who is born at night during this day especially when Mercury is above the horizon (more so as Mercury is in Virgo, exalted and in domicile). This is of course, good for his Mercury (and whatever Mercury represents). His Sun would not enjoy being in the 6th house (if Mercury is somewhere in the 7th house) – in a night chart. Having said this, those born during the day would still have a relatively good Mercury, it’s just that Mercury is probably much better at night for this chart. In both cases (day and night), Mercury is not the candidate for spearbearer of the sun. In a night chart, Mercury is a candidate for the speabearer of Moon because Mercury is occidental.

The period before 7 August 2010 should also be good for Mercury provided that it is after the day that Mercury is first seen in the evening sky (whose date is dependent on latitude, altitude, etc. – the freeware PLSV can do the necessary calculation). This first day that Mercury is seen in the evening sky just after sunset is the day that Mercury leaves the period of invisibility where he was under the beams of the Sun. To be born on this day is to be born when Mercury makes its first appearance where he is not so bright (small elongation) but at least is getting brighter, he is also occidental (making him of the nocturnal sect – so better to born at night) and he still is in his speedy motion (unlike when he is at his brightest in the above case). To be born within seven days before or after the day that Mercury makes its first appearance is what the Hellenistic astrologers refer to as being born when Mercury is making a phasis (which a big plus for Mercury).

The data above shows something that astrologer-beginners should take note. When Mercury is direct, it reaches its maximum elongation first and then the elongation gets smaller before turning retrograde. When Mercury is in retrograde motion, it turns direct first before reaching its maximum elongation! This means that there will be a period when Mercury is increasing and decreasing in light when it is occidental or oriental.

Referring to the title of this thread (medieval vs. hellenistic), it is difficult to make a comparison because the medievalists did no use sect as much as the hellenistics and they were probably talking about sect that has different definitions! (the sect definition that was understood by many medieval astrologers was called one of the rejoicing conditions and not sect proper by the hellenitic astrologers).


Last edited by astrojin on Mon Jun 28, 2010 1:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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margherita



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Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MarkC wrote:

Of course one can consider the vespertine part of phase as superior because it starts with the planet at superior conjunction when it is direct in motion. However, the vespertine phase finishes with the planet retrograde too! In either case we are discussing a retrograde, planet which is undesirable. Clearly, neither conjunction is a good part of the cycle for either planet either.


Generally authors highlight different moment of being vespertine and matutine. For "vespertine" I understand when the inferiors are in vespertine heliacal rising or at at least of fast motion, not after.
Generally they mention what they are talking about. They say "from this to that" , "from that to this other"....

Anyway for example Giuseppe Bezza gives a lot of importance to this, with schemes and definitions.

As Dr. Dykes highlighted the problem is more with "oriental" and "occidental", like him I'm not sure those mean matutine and vespertine. But as you write at a certain point the concept behind is corrupted. What Lilly thinks when he says "oriental" I really don't know.


Quote:
I assume the same astronomical reality applies to Mercury? If so that is a strong symbolic argument for favouring the vespertine part of the cycle. Was this point emphasized in traditional sources much? I just wonder how it was conceptualized from a geocentric world view based on epicycles.


Why not? They share the same epycicle.

Quote:
Still, I also believe that planetary sect needs to be factored in. This would make an oriental mercury , direct in motion and free of beams very strong in a day chart too.


yes, we agree.


Quote:

Yes its a perennial discussion if mercury is less harmed by combustion due to its proximity to the Sun and the amount of time it is under the beams. Confused


Obviously combustion is a phase of epycicle and like that, it is discussed together with the rest of the meaning of the phases, this is a reason I mentioned.
Anyway the fact Mercury is invisible for long time makes it very different from others, and moreover looks like everybody has idea on it, and make poor students of astrologers very unhappy,
margherita
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Deb
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Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mark

I wrote what follows after your first post but lost my connection as I tried to upload. Unfortunately it doesn’t account for any comments made after your initial post because I haven’t had time to do more than skim through the thread this morning.

I see the matter differently because I don’t believe that Paulus disagrees with Ptolemy; in fact it is noticeable that Paulus follows Ptolemy’s philosophy quite closely. I also don’t believe that Ptolemy shows a preference for Mercury when it is oriental. In the principles of spearbearing (I prefer the older translation ‘attending’) Mercury should be oriental for attendance upon the Sun, and occidental when it attends the Moon. But this confirms the point about its nature being able to align with both groups - hence I don’t see the contradiction that seems to be the main point of your post.

With regards to the different definitions of orientality and occidentality, the problem is that modern astrologers (even traditional ones) tend to have a pre-formed opinion on what those words ought to mean, but there is a variable meaning in the ancient terms that lie beneath the words. Oriental, which is usually translated as ‘eastern’ is connected at its root to a word which means ‘rise / grow / develop’; so its root term may be aiming to express the principle of being associated with the direction east; or rising from the east; or it might have nothing to do with the direction east, and be everything to do with rising out of a new cycle with the sun, from which it develops a new cycle. The same with occidental – the word means western, but it also means to perish or destroy – a principle which relates to the fact that planets perish from view at the descendant. However, the underlying principle is more reliably connected to the principle of 'decline' than 'western', so the same word is used to refer to a planet retiring back into the Sun. The words for 'morning' and 'evening' are tied into the same principles too - and to show just how long this confusion has been around, we even have Babylonian reports of a king asking his astrologer to explain how a planet can be doing something ‘in the morning’ during the middle of the night.

So this is where confusion can easily creep in, because the inferior planets are able to ‘rise’ in the west and ‘decline’ in the east – so we have to be careful to translate the word appropriately according to context. Ben Dykes tripped up over this in his first volume of Persian Nativities, footnote 54 p. 27, where he says that a reference to the nocturnal planets rising doesn’t make sense because this ought to place them between the ascendant and midheaven (when actually the ‘evening’ -vespers- rising of inferior planets takes place above the descendant).

I would say that there are the only two main astrological uses of the terms to distinguish between, and unless the phrase ‘oriental of the figure’ (or some such) is used, we can generally assume that the reference is to the planet rising out of, or setting into, its synodic cycle with the Sun. In every sense this is tied to visibility and the combustion cycle, and there are many variations on this theme, which talk about a planet ‘rising’ when it makes its visible reappearance a certain number of days after the chart (not always seven). These details are elements of the combustion cycle - it is true that you cannot distinguish the matters of sect and gender from phase and visibility, and all of this shows how ‘heliocentric’, astrology has always been. Fortunately Ptolemy left clear definitions in his Almagest, to distinguish between 'true' risings - which is when the alignment with the Sun moves from exactness, and the variable visible risings, and its various stages, all of which have aquired astrological meaning and importance.

It is probably worth saying now that this a major theme of a book I am currently completing. I have been working on it for a number of years and I hope to have it published around the New Year. The principles need clear explanations, with diagrams, because they not only demonstrate the whole ‘combustion concept’ but filter through to practically every element of astrology, from our symbolic perception of planetary motion, the meaning of the zodiac, use of humours and qualities, and even the origin of aspectual connections. (So if I seem as if I am not contributing so much to the forum this year as I have in the past, it is because I am making a big push to get this, and a number of other long-term projects, seen through to completion!)

Deb

PS - I just noticed your comment about maximum elongation being the brightest point for Mercury. Actually it's not, but I would need a diagram or more time than I have available to explain the astronomy behind this. I explained in relation to the Venus cycle though in the MA article you mentioned (I think I did - unless we edited that point out for space reasons??)
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Mark
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Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Astrojin,

Thanks for going to all that trouble to provide a worked examples! Interestingly in her outstanding article in the Mountain Astrologer ('The Beauty of The Venus Cycle', Mountain Astrologer February/March 2010) Deb states that the mean motion of Mercury is actually 1.23.

She states:

Quote:
....since Mercury and Venus revolve around the Sun, as they move across the ecliptic, a mean measure of their motion through the zodiac, over the course of the year , leads us to assume that they are tied to the progress of the sun and therefore move through the zodiac at the same velocity as the sun, at least on average. The result is that Mercury is often incorrectly 'fast' and allowed accidental strength for being swift in motion as soon as its daily rate of motion increases over 59'08' of longitude per day. In fact this distance is well below Mercury's actual average motion of 1.23 per day-a figure which recognises that as the Sun is steadily trotting along the ecliptic in a perpetualy direct motion, Mercury (like an energetic child running circles around its strolling parent) moves forwards , backwards , and forwards again, doing proverbial cartwheels around the Sun in order to travel through the zodiacat the same average rate. When Mercury covers the same distance ( about 1 degree) , it moves at a slow rate by comparison to its own standard.



Quote:
I have not included the dates of visibility of Mercury as this depends on the latitude and altitude of the place, atmospheric refraction, etc. Mercury is occidental (according to Ptolemy’s definition) from superior conjunction to inferior conjunction and oriental from inferior conjunction to superior conjunction.


Here is the link to the PLSV free software you mentioned that calculates this:

http://www.alcyone.de/planetary_lunar_and_stellar_visibility.html

Quote:
So, if a person is born on the critical day of occidental maximum elongation of Mercury i.e. 7 Aug 2010, he would have a very bright Mercury (maximum elongation), it is direct, it is occidental and the speed is quite OK (not very fast but quite close to its mean motion). For me, this is very good. I do not take the occidentality of Mercury being a debility, I would say that it is enhancing (following Lilly). I would use the occidentality of Mercury as the determinant of Mercury’s sect (which in this case would be Nocturnal). So, blessed is he/she who is born at night during this day especially when Mercury is above the horizon (more so as Mercury is in Virgo, exalted and in domicile). This is of course, good for his Mercury (and whatever Mercury represents). His Sun would not enjoy being in the 6th house (if Mercury is somewhere in the 7th house) – in a night chart. Having said this, those born during the day would still have a relatively good Mercury, it’s just that Mercury is probably much better at night for this chart. In both cases (day and night), Mercury is not the candidate for spearbearer of the sun. In a night chart, Mercury is a candidate for the speabearer of Moon because Mercury is occidental.


Yes that all sounds on target to me. Although following Ptolemy(?) an occidental Mercury in a day chart would be out of sect. This would be significant debility to the Greeks no?

Quote:
The data above shows something that astrologer-beginners should take note. When Mercury is direct, it reaches its maximum elongation first and then the elongation gets smaller before turning retrograde. When Mercury is in retrograde motion, it turns direct first before reaching its maximum elongation! This means that there will be a period when Mercury is increasing and decreasing in light when it is occidental or oriental.


In her article Deb makes the very interesting point that Paulus Alexandrinus (along with his contemporaries) refers to planets at their maximum elongation as at their 'stations' during their points of maximum elongation. This term was not used by Paulus due to their velocity and the change between retrograde/direct but rather because the point of maximum elongation either side of the Sun, marks when their speed accelerates or decelerates.

In favouring the occidental phase stemming from the astronomical cycle of superior conjunction for the inferiors was seen as more 'pure'. As the planet was most distant from the Earth and at its highest epicycle it was seen as less tainted by worldly , materiaist passions of the Earth. Hence Ibn Ezra mentions that a planet at its lightest in body and at the height of its circle above the Earth, makes a planets influence more subtle and spiritual. In regards Venus or Mercury this would appear to be the point of maximum elongation in the occidental phase.

Quote:
Referring to the title of this thread (medieval vs. hellenistic), it is difficult to make a comparison because the medievalists did no use sect as much as the hellenistics and they were probably talking about sect that has different definitions! (the sect definition that was understood by many medieval astrologers was called one of the rejoicing conditions and not sect proper by the hellenitic astrologers).


Thats fair comment. There were really two points I wanted to bring out here. One was certainly about sect. For those of us heavily influenced by hellenistic astrology that is an important consideration. There is no denying the medieval understanding of sect was quite different. In hellenistic astrology ( e.g. Vettius Valens) there are three considerations of planetary sect. The major one being if the chart is diurnal or nocturnal. The two lesser considerations being whether a planet is above/below the horizon with the sect luminary or in a sign of the zodiac ( masculine/femine) matching its sect.

However, planetary phase does appear another important issue that could strengthen or weaken sect harmony for a planet. Thus an oriental Venus in a day chart , above the horizon, in a masculine sign is completely out of sect in every respect. To the Greeks this planet is not going to operate well. A good example in natal astrology is Marolyn Monroe who on top of all that had Venus in Aries! Her assertive oriential, Arien Venus had the power to seduce the world but all this success brought her little personal happiness or contentment.

By the medieval period the basic distinction of night day chart was lost. The focus inevitably shifted to consideration of whether planets were above/ below the horizon with the Sun or in a matching sign.

However, beyond sect the other important point I wanted to raise was that I gave in the quote from Ben Dykes. This seems to offer a totally different idea of planetary strength based not on oriental/occidental cycle distinction but rather the periods of greatest brightness and visibility for the planets on either side of the Sun.

Mark
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margherita



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Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deb wrote:
Hi Mark

I see the matter differently because I don’t believe that Paulus disagrees with Ptolemy; in fact it is noticeable that Paulus follows Ptolemy’s philosophy quite closely. I also don’t believe that Ptolemy shows a preference for Mercury when it is oriental.


Oh my God, who teaches that Paulus disagrees with Ptolemy and Mercury is better matutine (you mean that I believe) ?

margherita
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Mark
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Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Deb,

I missed your last post as I was still composing mine. Shocked

Quote:
It is probably worth saying now that this a major theme of a book I am currently completing. I have been working on it for a number of years and I hope to have it published around the New Year. The principles need clear explanations, with diagrams, because they not only demonstrate the whole ‘combustion concept’ but filter through to practically every element of astrology, from our symbolic perception of planetary motion, the meaning of the zodiac, use of humours and qualities, and even the origin of aspectual connections


First of all I am very glad to hear you are bringing out your book on this subject quite soon. Thats terrific news! To state there is a gap in the market for this is an understatement. I think this is a subject that many astrologers struggle with (traditional and modern) so your work on this will be extremely useful. The fact you have amassed evidence of how planetary phase underlines the whole astrological tradition and its core techniques makes your work sound absolutely indispensible. Thumbs up

Quote:
I see the matter differently because I don’t believe that Paulus disagrees with Ptolemy; in fact it is noticeable that Paulus follows Ptolemy’s philosophy quite closely. I also don’t believe that Ptolemy shows a preference for Mercury when it is oriental.


I dont believe I ever suggested Ptolemy preferred an oriental Mercury did I? All I suggested was that Ptolemy links phase to planetary sect so an oriental Mercury above the earth in a day chart is in sect while an occidental Mercury is not. There are certainly writers in this area that do believe Ptolemy favoured a matutine Mercury ( David McCann, Joseph Crane etc). However, I am not clear what they base that view on from the Tetrabiblos or Almagest.

Quote:
In the principles of spearbearing (I prefer the older translation ‘attending’) Mercury should be oriental for attendance upon the Sun, and occidental when it attends the Moon. But this confirms the point about its nature being able to align with both groups - hence I don’t see the contradiction that seems to be the main point of your post.


Yes this does show Mercury's common nature. However, its also a graphic reminder of how important planetary sect was too. Clearly, only an oriental mercury (in sect) could fulfill this in a day chart while an occidental Mercury would fulfill this at night. My point was simply that an oriental Mercury could be seen as more preferable than an occidental Mercury in a day chart. Do you disagree?

Quote:
PS - I just noticed your comment about maximum elongation being the brightest point for Mercury. Actually it's not, but I would need a diagram or more time than I have available to explain the astronomy behind this. I explained in relation to the Venus cycle though in the MA article you mentioned


Ok I confess I didn't get this from your article(!). I was lazy and scanned a couple of astronomy sites which both mentioned the best time to observe Mercury were close to the point of maximum elongation either side of the Sun.

I had thought they suggested this was when it was brightest too. However, it seems Mercury is actually reaches brightest in the week before or after maximum elongation.

Quote:
The two most interesting phases to observe are the half-moon shapes and the crescent shapes. The half-moon times occur at the Greatest Elongation dates. At that time there is a straight edge visible in a telescope, marking the day/night boundary, while the side facing the sun is a semi-circle. During the evening appearances of Mercury (Eastern Elongations) the planet starts to move back into the solar glare after it has reached its maximum visible distance from the Sun. It moves closer to us, gets larger in apparent size but also shows more and more of its dark side to us. Since the planet has a spherical shape, what we see of the lit side has a crescent shape. Maximum visible brightness (greatest brilliancy) usually happens within a week before or after greatest elongation.

Following solar conjunction, everything happens in reverse. Mercury appears in the dawn sky as a crescent, expands to a half-moon shape but shrinks in apparent diameter, brightens to a peak somewhere within a week of the half-moon phase of Greatest Western Elongation day.


http://www.hermograph.com/science/mercuryb.htm

Ok I will go back to your article and read it all again regarding the Venus cycle. ( in my defence it is 14 pages of extremely detailed notes!).

Mark
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Last edited by Mark on Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:05 am; edited 4 times in total
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Mark
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Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Oh my God, who teaches that Paulus disagrees with Ptolemy) ?


Joseph Crane for one in his book 'Astrological Roots: The Hellenistic Legacy'. Shocked

Check out Chapter 9 'The Planets and When You see Them'.

Mark
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pankajdubey



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Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really want to understand this topic.

So far, I understand that astrology was really WYSIWYG and then it became complicated.At some point of time someone tried to make it easier by explaining planetary positions in terms of sun and ascendant rather than Sun,dusk and dawn.Could be as early as the time when Astrology and Astronomy separated Exclamation Exclamation

Feel free to correct these definitions:

Matutine =from Matuta goddess of the dawn
Of a celestial object: that rises above the horizon before sunrise

Vespertine :Of a star, planet, etc.: setting at or just after sunset.
Vesper = Partly from Latin = evening star, evening,
corresp. to Greek Hesperos (adjective) western, (noun) the evening star

Occidental=from Latin occident-, occidens setting, sunset, west
1 The region of the sky in which the sun sets; the west.
2 The part of the world to the west of some recognized part, i.e. western Europe, Europe and America, or the Western hemisphere; the civilization or culture of the West.

Oriental=1 Belonging to or situated in the eastern part of the sky or (formerly) of a specified country or region.
Also (Astrology), (of a planet) seen in the east or eastern part of the sky, seen before sunrise.

Heliacal= Relating to the sun. Chiefly, in ancient astronomy:
heliacal rising, the first rising of a star after a period of invisibility due to conjunction with the sun (in a given year);
heliacal setting, the last setting of a star before a period of invisibility due to conjunction with the sun.

Interestingly, the grandmas in the village would usually describe morning or evening birth timings by rising and setting of Venus in the sky.That with the month and an ephemeris can help time the birth- enough to get the Sidereal Moon sign and Nakshatra(Mansion)

PD
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margherita



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Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MarkC wrote:
Quote:
Oh my God, who teaches that Paulus disagrees with Ptolemy) ?


Joseph Crane for one in his book 'Astrological Roots: The Hellenistic Legacy'. Shocked

Check out Chapter 9 'The Planets and When You see Them'.

Mark


I like very much Crane's book but he does not quote from where he took this idea-

Ptolemy says that an oriental planets make nobler and stronger souls, but the point is how Dr. Dykes highlighted, what is "oriental" for an inferior planet?

I guess Ptolemy knew they had a different epicycle- at least this please gave to him, he should have copied it between the rest of his compilations Sad

margherita
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Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Margherita,

Quote:
I like very much Crane's book but he does not quote from where he took this idea-


Yes I agree on both points. Its a pity as his book is very good overview of hellenistic astrology. However, his lack of references for much of the content does make it difficult to follow up his ideas and check them against the actual texts. I suppose this is why Deb is always reminding her students to go back to the primary sources themselves rather than the trust modern interpretations of them. Even if we make mistakes at least they will be our own and not somebody elses!

Mark
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Deb
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Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mark

I took the implication from this comment. After talking about Ptolemy's views you say:

Mark wrote:
This point seems to be quite explicit in James Holden’s recent translation of Rhetorius were there are numerous references to the superiority of an oriental Mercury. Then there are Hellenistic techniques like spearbearing where it seems only an oriental Mercury in a day chart would seem appropriate for this supportive role. An occidental Mercury rising after the Sun could never fulfil that role. Although it could be a spearbearer for the Moon in a night chart.

Still, in astrology there are always differing views. For example, Paulus Alexandrinus seems to prefer a vespertine phase for both inferior planets.


If I misrepresented your purpose, I'm sorry.

Margherita wrote:
I guess Ptolemy knew they had a different epicycle- at least this please gave to him, he should have copied it between the rest of his compilations


I am certain the reason Ptolemy did not explain the basic differences in his Tetrabiblos, is only because he took it for granted that the Almagest - which was published beforehand - was first of all known and understood by the reader. This is the opening point Ptolemy makes in the Tetrabiblos, that of the two means of prediction in astronomy the first (the astronomical cycles) has already been expounded, and now he is turning to the second, which is not self-sufficient (in other words, not intended to be read without an understanding of the former).

I believe that McCann has misrepresented the principle, but he had very little to refer to at the time he wrote that article. There are a number of finer points upon which I disagree with Crane, but I know his book was intended to be an introduction, so I mainly think that some principles are too simplified, and because of that they can miss the mark, and sometimes cause confusion. (I'm afraid I often think like this about the popular texts of modern authors, so I know I should make allowances for the fact that I am particularly hard to please).
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Stellarium



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Posted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thomas Jefferson and Bill Clinton are regarded as the most intelligent Presidents to occupy the White House - both have Mercury Oriental in a diurnal nativity greater than 20 degrees from the sun. Jefferson has Mercury in Pisces in bounds of Mars. Mercury is partile sextile Uranus.
Clinton has Mercury in Leo sextile Mars within a degree.

I have compiled a list of Mercury's position relative to the Sun for all 43 Presidents here: http://skyscript.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=5446
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