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Skyscript Astrology Forum

Decans and the Chaldean Order of the Planets
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Michael Sternbach



Joined: 01 Mar 2014
Posts: 491
Location: Switzerland

Posted: Sun Oct 12, 2014 12:01 pm    Post subject: Decans and the Chaldean Order of the Planets Reply with quote

Hi Skyscribes,

The decans have been a part of astrology ever since most ancient times. Originally, they were linked to fixed stars. For all we know, it was Teucros the Babylonian who connected them with the Chaldean order of the planets, starting with Mars ruling the first 10 degrees of Aries, followed by the Sun ruling 10°-20° etc.

However, it seems like this system was not really popular until comparatively modern times when it was i.e. adopted by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Even nowadays, despite the fact that the concept is known to virtually all astrologers, few of them have much to say on its practical application.

How are they being used in traditional and modern astrology? What do you make of if i.e. the Sun is in Aries and in the decan ruled by Venus? Does Venus become a co-ruler of the Sun?

I invite any kind of information on this topic.

Cheers,
Michael
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james_m



Joined: 05 Dec 2011
Posts: 2901
Location: vancouver island

Posted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi michael,
pick up the book 'ancient whispers from chaldea' making babylonian astrology work for you by arthyr chadbourne if you are interested in gaining more insight into how the decans were used by the chaldeans.. the book is quite good on this topic.. arthyr uses the sidereal zodiac and states that the ideas can't be applied using the tropical zodiac.. he expresses some of what i would call innovative or unique astrological viewpoints that i haven't read anywhere else.. it is worth getting the book if you are really interested.. some of his understanding is steeped in indian astrology, but it is also drawing from sources i am unfamiliar with that bring out some fascinating viewpoints.

he has a technique for prediction based on the use of the sunset chart in connection with the birth time chart that is quite original, although he claims this is what the chaldeans did.. could be for all i know.. get the book if you are interested in this sort of thing...
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Michael Sternbach



Joined: 01 Mar 2014
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Posted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks James,

That sounds interesting regarding one of the origins of the decan system. I plan to read the book. Smile
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james_m



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Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

michael,

the book goes into depth on how the decans were used. their central use runs thru the the first half of the 500 page book - which is about as far as i am into it!
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Michael Sternbach



Joined: 01 Mar 2014
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Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

James,

I have ordered the book. It interests me anyway, but I wonder - does it mention the Teucros system as outlined above?
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james_m



Joined: 05 Dec 2011
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Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

no to your question.. i haven't read anything on the chaldean order of the planets yet either. there is a book index and neither are mentioned in the index either.
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Michael Sternbach



Joined: 01 Mar 2014
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Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teucros is believed to have lived in the 1st century AD. It looks like the book only covers the earlier history of the decans then. But that's interesting, too.

I look forward to talking about the book with you. Very Happy
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libra_rising



Joined: 23 Nov 2014
Posts: 23
Location: West Coast USA

Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use Chaldean Terms and the Chaldean Order (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon). I think the Chaldeans set that order in accordance to power rank. Saturn being the most powerful of the Superior planets and can modify/malefy the rest of the chart (and also the most public), whereas the Moon is the least powerful of the Inferior planets (but also the most intimate).

Here's the Chaldean Terms chart:

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ea



Joined: 26 Apr 2006
Posts: 55

Posted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Austin Coppock recently published a very interesting book on the decans called "36 Faces" in which he writes about the history of the decans and in which he also has delineations of the traditional planets in the different decans. You can read about it here:

http://austincoppock.com/shop/36-faces/
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Mark
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Joined: 30 Sep 2005
Posts: 4960
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Posted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Michael,

Here is a very informative article by Dr Benjamin Dykes on the decans. Dykes points out there are at least two traditions of decans from the hellenistic era. One based on the Chaldean order (planetary speed), and the other based on the triplicity rulers by sign.

http://www.bendykes.com/articles/decans.php

This piece by Deborah Houlding on the origin of the decans is also very interesting:

http://www.skyscript.co.uk/heritage/egyptians2.html

The Chaldean order system seems to have been the earliest system and became the mainstream approach in later medieval astrology. Although the Roman astrologer Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE) seems to have used the triplicity system. Moreover, Indian astrology seems to have adopted the triplicity system of decans as its main approach from quite an early stage.

Although there was certainly no astrological consensus about the use of plantary decan rulers (when was there ever about anything?!) the use of the decans in assessing physiology seems to have been quite an ancient technique.

Here are a couple of articles that pick up this topic in a general discussion of the astrological approach to physiology:

Firstly, Regulus Astrology:

http://regulus-astrology.com/pdf/WP%20on%20Physiognomy%20-%20History%20and%20Sources%2020100420.pdf

Secondly, Bernard Eccles:

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

The decans also has a place in mundane astrology. For example in his work on eclipses called Annus Tenebrosus, William Lilly delineates eclipses by individual decan:

https://altairastrology.wordpress.com/2006/11/28/annus-tenebrosus-a-peek-behind-the-scenes/

Mark
_________________
‘’As thou conversest with the heavens, so instruct and inform thy minde according to the image of Divinity…’’ William Lilly
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Michael Sternbach



Joined: 01 Mar 2014
Posts: 491
Location: Switzerland

Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ea wrote:
Austin Coppock recently published a very interesting book on the decans called "36 Faces" in which he writes about the history of the decans and in which he also has delineations of the traditional planets in the different decans. You can read about it here:

http://austincoppock.com/shop/36-faces/


That looks very interesting. Thanks.

Can you tell me if the book also addresses the Chaldean decans? The description is not specific in this regard.
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Michael Sternbach



Joined: 01 Mar 2014
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Location: Switzerland

Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark wrote:
Hi Michael,

Here is a very informative article by Dr Benjamin Dykes on the decans. Dykes points out there are at least two traditions of decans from the hellenistic era. One based on the Chaldean order (planetary speed), and the other based on the triplicity rulers by sign.

http://www.bendykes.com/articles/decans.php

This piece by Deborah Houlding on the origin of the decans is also very interesting:

http://www.skyscript.co.uk/heritage/egyptians2.html

The Chaldean order system seems to have been the earliest system and became the mainstream approach in later medieval astrology. Although the Roman astrologer Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE) seems to have used the triplicity system. Moreover, Indian astrology seems to have adopted the triplicity system of decans as its main approach from quite an early stage.

Although there was certainly no astrological consensus about the use of plantary decan rulers (when was there ever about anything?!) the use of the decans in assessing physiology seems to have been quite an ancient technique.

Here are a couple of articles that pick up this topic in a general discussion of the astrological approach to physiology:

Firstly, Regulus Astrology:

http://regulus-astrology.com/pdf/WP%20on%20Physiognomy%20-%20History%20and%20Sources%2020100420.pdf

Secondly, Bernard Eccles:

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

The decans also has a place in mundane astrology. For example in his work on eclipses called Annus Tenebrosus, William Lilly delineates eclipses by individual decan:

https://altairastrology.wordpress.com/2006/11/28/annus-tenebrosus-a-peek-behind-the-scenes/

Mark


Hi Mark,

That's very useful information. Thanks.

Besides my general interest in all things pertaining to planetary orders, what led me to the topic is its use by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In particular, the numerous Tarot decks designed according to the GD system are based on it. The pip cards (minus the Aces) are directly correlated with it. The nine Wand cards are attributed to the Fire signs, the Cups to the Water signs, the Swords to the Air signs, the Pentacles to the Earth signs. As an example, I show you the Two of Cups which belongs to the first decan of Cancer, ruled by Venus.



However, the meanings of the cards are, besides other factors, also influenced by the imagery of the decans according to the classical book on Magic called Picatrix.

The meanings of the card above are given on www.corax.com as

Quote:
Drive: Love, unity in difference

Light: Harmony, pleasure, mirth, love, friendship, passion

Shadow: Dissipation, waste, sillyness, subtlety


Dykes' article cites the Picatrix on the image of the 1st decan of Cancer:

Quote:
A man having twisted and crooked fingers and head; and his body is like the body of a horse, and having white feet and upon his body fig leaves. And this is a face of teaching, knowledge, of love, subtlety and of skills.


All this makes me curious about the Chaldean decans in Astrology and Hermetic Magic. There just doesn't seem to be so much information within easy reach on how exactly they were used i.e. in Medieval/Renaissance Astrology. According to the last link you are providing above, certainly William Lilly was making use of them. Perhaps somebody versed in Lilly could give me some directions here?
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Michael Sternbach



Joined: 01 Mar 2014
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Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Libra Rising for bringing my thread to the fore again. Smile
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libra_rising



Joined: 23 Nov 2014
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Location: West Coast USA

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure thing. I respect and like the Chaldean methods above all others. It's thanks to the Chaldeans that I understand my chart a whole lot better, and as a result, know more of myself that I was not aware of.
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Mark
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Joined: 30 Sep 2005
Posts: 4960
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Sternbach wrote:
Quote:
Besides my general interest in all things pertaining to planetary orders, what led me to the topic is its use by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In particular, the numerous Tarot decks designed according to the GD system are based on it. The pip cards (minus the Aces) are directly correlated with it. The nine Wand cards are attributed to the Fire signs, the Cups to the Water signs, the Swords to the Air signs, the Pentacles to the Earth signs. As an example, I show you the Two of Cups which belongs to the first decan of Cancer, ruled by Venus.


Yes its a fascinating topic. I work with Tarot myself too. Historically, although the Golden Dawn and BOTA heavily influenced modern Tarot use of the decans they were not the originators of the idea. The French writer Paul Christian (1811-1877) seems to be the first writer to make an explicit link. He wrote a couple of works in French (1863 & 1870 I think) linking the Egyptian 36 division known as decans to the 40 numbered or pip cards in the Tarot. Christian seems to be the author who first proposed using the terms Major and Minor Arcana to the Tarot.

All things Egyptian had been very popular in France since Napoleon's campaigns there not least due to the efforts of the French linguist Champollion, (1822–1824) in deciphering the so called Rosetta stone from Egyptian hieroglyphics, to modern French. As a consequence of this major breakthrough there was widespread popular access for the first time to works of ancient Egyptian arcana such The Book of the Dead. This was followed by the efforts of archeologists from France, Britain and Germany in recovering (or stealing!?) lost Egyptian treasures.

Looking at the decans and Tarot in a pedantic sense there is no precise correlation between these two systems. There are 36 decans but 40 numbered or pip cards in the Tarot -22 Trump cards, 16 Court cards and 40 pip cards=78.

While I do use astrological symbolism for the 4 suits, court cards and trumps I find numerology a more useful basis in deriving the pip card meanings myself. The attempt to fit the pip cards to the decans has always looked quite artificial to me. To make it work you either need to drop out the aces from consideration (leaving 36 numbered cards). The logic here is that the Ace is assumed to contain the essence of the elemental nature of the suit before differentiation. Alternatively, you can use all 40 cards but accept a mixed decanic influence for each pip card. Personally, I dont find either approach that convincing but its an interesting topic nonetheless. Certainly, some modern Tarot readers still follow the Golden Dawn/BOTA approach and therefore link the Tarot to the decans in this way.

I will pick up the topic of the origin of the images of the decans after the Christmas holidays.

Have a nice holiday everyone!

Mark
_________________
‘’As thou conversest with the heavens, so instruct and inform thy minde according to the image of Divinity…’’ William Lilly


Last edited by Mark on Sat Jan 03, 2015 2:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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