On The Melancholy of Marsilio Ficino Part I

Ficino De Vita Bk 3 eObtaining life from the hEavens

A Copy of Ficino’s Liber Da Vita Triplici

It is always a daunting task to interpret the subtleties of Marsilo Ficino’s thought. Not only was he brilliant in an age of brilliance, his interests were as deep as they were impressive in their broad compass. He was ever attempting to reconcile different religions and philosophies in search of the Prisca  Theologia.  His massive translation projects put him at the vanguard of Italian Renaissance endeavours. His syncretic Ne0-Platanism was at the root of his intellectual pursuits, which gives us one key to systems. However, no matter how prepared, I shall no doubt raise more questions than provide solutions. If nothing else, it is my hope that this short study might lead to fruitful discussions.

His father was a well-respected physician in Florence. When Cosimo de Medici met Marsilio he said “Cosimo, perceiving the genius of the young man and recognizing in him the extraordinary desire for study which set him afire, re-joiced greatly as if he had now fully understood that, beyond any doubt, this would be the man whom he had long since chosen to shed light on the

Marsilio Ficino

Marsilio Ficino

philosophy of Plato. And presently summoning Ficino, he exhorted him to take especial care over Marsilio’s studies so that he should not go against his natural disposition. He said that there was no reason to take account of domestic hardship, for he would never neglect him in any matter but would supply everything most generously. ‘You, Ficino,’ he said, ‘have been sent to us to heal bodies, but your Marsilio here has been sent down from heaven to heal souls.’ The Life of Marsilio Ficino by Giovanni Corsi p.6

However, Marsilio was also a skilled physician. With the combined knowledge of medicine and astrology, he was also a magus, philosopher and musician. He certainly knew his way around the complexity of a human being from the points of view of body, mind and soul.

To know anything much about Ficino at all is to know of his life-long project of finding ways to minimise the deleterious effects of Saturn.  He was passionate about it. He refers to its influence on himself as the great burden of a Melancholy Humour, otherwise known as an excess of black bile. Ficino was certainly among the brilliant minds of his age and has a reputation of having been a competent astrologer. He certainly knew the humoral system, probably as well as any physician of the time. However, we have Ficino’s birth chart and his comments upon it and they may well give us pause,

He certainly knew the humoral system, probably as well as any physician of the time. However, we have Ficino’s birth chart as well as his comments upon it. Ficino makes numerous comments on his severe Melancholy, but the most succinct passage, dealing with both his chart and humours is as follows in a letter to Giovanni Cavalcanti he writes “Saturn seems to have impressed the seal of melancholy on me from the beginning; set, as he is, almost in the midst of my ascendant in Aquarius, he is influenced by Mars, also in Aquarius, and the ficinonatalchartMoon in Capricorn. He is in square aspect to the Sun and Mercury in Scorpio, which occupy the ninth house. But Venus in Libra and Jupiter in Cancer have, perhaps, offered some resistance to this melancholy nature.”Marsilio Ficino, Three  Books on Life, [Florence 1489] 1989, p. 20

Further in a letter to Rinaldo Orsini, archbishop on Florence, he wrote “Venus subdues Mars and Jupiter Saturn. Letters Vol II. p.15

It was an odd comment to make to Cavalacanti because Ficino didn’t have the salubrious Venus in Libra or Jupiter in Cancer in his horoscope. Venus is instead in Virgo and Jupiter in Leo. This isn’t a minor error. His horoscope would have to have been in the previous year to have the Jupiter he cites. Of course,  if Ficino had said or meant that his chart would be better with the impossible planets, we can write this off as an error in communication. No other plausible option occurs to me.

Plato's natal chart as described by Maternus

Plato’s natal chart as described by Maternus (Mathesis VI. XXX. 24)

I have no way of guaranteeing the provenance of the chart above but it does closely match his own comments on it. The green planets have been added by an astrologer, noting the disparities between the original, using modern software and Regiomontanus houses, If however we use Porphyry houses the resulting chart is almost identical to the one he describes, with the exception of the impossible positions of the greater and lesser Benefics.

We have seen that Ficino notes that Jupiter in Cancer would have helped the situation, but if Jupiter were at that degree in Cancer, it would set the chart back one year while leaving everything more or less as is..

Instead, Jupiter is very much in Leo It isn’t easy to understand why Ficino would wish that Jupiter were in another sign, because Plato’s horoscope has the same first / seventh house axis in Aquarius and Leo. It is evident that Ficino admired Plato in the highest degree. I think at times the identity of Plato and Ficino got blurred. Further, we can argue that Ficino knew what he was doing, He certainly had extraordinarily wealthy and generous patrons and friends to remind him of the Royal throne of Jupiter.

Marsilio Ficino - 19 Oct 1433 - 1:42 pm - Figline Valdarno. Italy - Porphyry houses

Marsilio Ficino – 19 Oct 1433 – 1:42 pm – Figline Valdarno. Italy – Porphyry houses

In Book Six of his Mathesis, the fourth century CE Roman astrologer, Julius Firmicus Maternus, gives the following account of the natal chart of Plato, the fifth century BCE Athenian philosopher:

If the ascendant is in Aquarius, and Mars, Mercury, and Venus are in conjunction in that degree; Jupiter is on the descendant in Leo; the Sun is on the anafora of the ascendant in Pisces; the Moon is in the fifth house in Gemini, in trine to the ascendant; and Saturn is in the ninth house in Libra-this chart produces an interpreter of divine and celestial matters. He possesses a combination of learned speech and divine intelligence and is trained by some kind of heavenly power to give true expression to all secrets of divinity. This chart is said to have been that of Plato. (Mathesis VI.XXX.24)

Standard - Oriental - Occidental considered.

Standard – Oriental – Occidental considered.

2. Oriental and Occidental ignored

2. Oriental and Occidental ignored

Whether or not Plato shared what Ficino considered salient similarities with respect to his own horoscope, Ficino found his own to be problematic because as he stated “Saturn seems to have impressed the seal of melancholy on [him] from the beginning;” His references to this excess of black bile, which he sometimes refers to as scholarly melancholy are ubiquitous. It’s virtually impossible to think of Ficino without recalling his Melancholy humour.

In spite of the challenges in the horoscope, the philosopher has Sun and Mercury in the 9th House disposited by Mars in his sign of Exaltation.

However using traditional methods of determining  humor from the horoscope, we see immediately that he actually has more of the Sanguine and Choleric Humour. Sanguine is warm and wet, Melancholic is cold and dry.

So what happened? Did he perhaps feel the leaden weight of Saturn and conclude, considering also the exact Saturnine ascendant, the with the Moon and Mars disposited by Saturn.

At first glance, it appears that his humour is far more balanced than he suggests, with Melancholy taking no more than 16.67%  Sanguine shares dominance with Choleric and Phlegmatic takes the same as Melancholy. if we use the classical systems available to us, which take the sign. phase and many other elements into account.  If he ignored the Oriental or Occidental significators, he would deduce a Humour that is about 50%. of the Melancholy Humour. This still means the dominant Humour is Melancholy. However,  it matters how the black bile is produced. His biographer tells us:

His bodily constitution contained excessive blood which was mixed with a thin subtle red bile. His health was not at all settled, for he suffered very much from a weakness of the stomach, and although he always appeared cheerful and festive in company, yet it was thought that he sat long in solitude and became as if numb with melancholy. This came about either from black bile produced by the excessive burning of bile through continual night study, or, as he himself said, from Saturn, which at his birth was in the ascendant in Aquarius and nearly square to Mars in Scorpio. The Life of Marsilio Ficino by Giovanni Corsi p.46

If we take the considerations or Oriental and Occidental we would have the possibility of “excess blood with thin subtle red bile.” The other calculation renders no Choleric. This is a degree of sophistication that goes far beyond the usual calculations. What Ficino is saying is that how we live affects the expression of our humours. Humours can be altered in the process or their interaction with each other. His penchant for describing his own condition as scholarly melancholy takes on another level of meaning.

There will be a Part II, mostly to tie up one or two loose ends and to discuss his various remedies, including his use of sympathetic magic.

Hanging in the Balance


I think that by now the vision of an Aquarian Utopia populated by highly evolved, spiritualized beings devoted solely to the perfection of humanity has very little currency outside the lunatic fringe. At least I wish that were the case. The fact is, the idea has been marketed very successfully. If you can get a population to believe such things, they are very easy to control.

The illusion of progress makes real progress all but impossible to achieve. If you don’t realize there is a problem, there is no motivation to solve it. There are of course highly evolved and spiritualized beings here on Earth. There always has been. Humanity didn’t need to wait for Saturn.

This is likely to be the last article in a series regarding the nature of the Aquarian Age. The series of articles have been in large part a response to Robert Zoller whose views are notably dystopian.  I’m accepting Zoller on his own terms and methodology for this project. Although I’ve added many of my own thoughts, I find myself in general agreement with Zoller.

When we are talking about an Age, we paint with a very broad brush. This makes most astrologers understandably uneasy (or it ought to) but this is the right tool for the occasion. However, we do need to be careful of using the correct terms. For example, the word “fascist” have become so overworked that it’s oftentimes used in ways that are cliche and not helpful at all.

When the courtyard attendant asks someone not to smoke within nine meters of the door, he might be called a Nazi in an absurd attempt to link the enforcement of rules designed to protect asthmatics and non smokers to Nazi atrocities during the Third Reich.  This sort of trivial use or misuse of the term makes it a bit more difficult to recognize when we see the real thing.


Chart showing the angles to which Zoller is referring

Zoller suggests that “In the Age of Aquarius, religion will be humanistic love of fairness and justice. While feeding the people with Libran platitudes, the Scorpionic rulers will work tirelessly toward the realization of their goal – absolute power over others, as Leo is seen in position on the 7th house.” (The Use of Archetypes in Prediction .)

In this we can find either hope or despair. Venus is nicely placed in the Ninth House which informs the Tenth. Libra, however, is the Fall of the Sun. Venus will tickle the ear, but lack authenticity that comes with a stronger sense of self.  But the placement itself is benign, even if misguided. Optimism is a wonderful thing but that doesn’t mean the pessimist has nothing to be concerned about.

There are no goose stepping soldiers in Montreal, London, Berlin or Manhattan, but the police forces in many Western countries have become increasingly militarized, to the point that someone from a previous era wouldn’t recognize them as police at all.  The right to even peaceful protest has been greatly diminished. The implications that what used to be called citizens are now the *enemy.* The term used most often to refer to the population is “consumers.” They are guilty if the powers that be say that they are.

Again, the implication is that this world is in the hands of a small, but inestimably rich plutocracy. According to Oxfam less than 1% of people in the world have more than half of the wealth (The Guardian).

Even these figures distort the reality because the Plutocracy is a tiny fraction of that 1%. It has become virtually common knowledge that this wealth contributes in no small way to foreign and domestic policies in all of the most powerful countries. It’s called lobbying but in many cases it’s rewarding what is demanded and implied threats of consequences if the donor fails to get what he or she want. .

The International Monetary Fund which we are lead to believe is a benevolent institution devoted to the development of the third countries sound very humanitarian. However the IMF loans amounts the country cannot afford to pay back as the interest compounds. The recipient then has to offer its resources in lieu of payment. This keeps the third world in thrall while making the *humanitarian* bankers richer than ever.  There is nothing new about greed and injustice; but packaging these things as benign acts of altruism and humanitarianism soars to a new level of cynicism, which is decidedly Saturnine.


Somalia – Famine, war and corruption – only one case of a failing state resulting in massive refugee populations.

I also concur with Zoller: “As the Aquarian dream of humanistic science and universal brotherhood is a vision of the world to come in Pisces, and realized in Aquarius, so too, the Aquarian avant-garde will look forward to an Aquarian Golden Age on the one hand, while the Aquarian technocrats will look for a world corporation to fossilize society into a rigid caste system run technologically.” The Use of Archetypes in Prediction

The key problem is that the proponents of an Aquarian Golden Age are blinded by unfounded optimism. Ironically perhaps, if they were more realistic they would see that the agenda of the Aquarian technocrats must be curbed, not just for a better world, but for our survival as a species.

The Aquarian technocrats require powerful militaries and endless wars which are justified as necessary for the security of the nation. For “our own good” we give up freedom and human rights,

With Mars on the MC the Scorpionic “overlords” will have no scruples about using whatever force they deem necessary to put down the perceived enemies of complete global domination. In the spirit of Aquarian egalitarianism, a one world government sounds like a good idea. Just as George Orwell wrote in 1948, the world is divided into larger and larger sections, such as East Asian (“we have always been at war with East Asia”). Those not complying with the agenda are called terrorists – Orwell showed how the masses can be convinced that lies are true and visa versa.

1Aquarius - Delv - Kova by al-Sufi 'Book of Fixed Stars'1

Aquarius – From al-Sufi ‘Book of Fixed Stars’

Neither will their domestic critics be spared. This is all out fascism, largely concealed by the velvet glove. Wars are no longer fought for the nation state in the West, They are fought mostly to further the interests of corporations and to make the very wealthy even wealthier.

Some will argue that there have always been wars and tyrants to send good people to fight them. However, the level and scope of what have become endless wars since the Age began, with the dominance shifting from Naval Power to Air Power, is truly unprecedented. To a very real way we have the technology  to have wars that don’t end but become their own reason for being.

Predator drones are controlled from the other side of the world with impunity; but the target is people who are often unarmed ,with no chance of self defense They are destroyed without warning.. Arbitrary extrajudicial executions, carried out at the press of a button from CIA locations in California or Virginia, require no transparency or accountability. They operations are secret and above and beyond even international law.

The current President of the United States has insisted on his right to kill anyone, anywhere in the world, including the US, simply on the basis of alleged suspicion, This comes from a Democratic President with a Peace Prize. There is no trial and often no specific charge at all, All youths 16 or older can be considered enemy combatants. Almost 200 children have been killed by drones in Pakistan and Yemen alone on his watch. This mechanical, high tech form of slaughtering people is particularly ghoulish. The victims are often innocent and remain anonymous in our media. The globalism so commonly espoused in the Western world is often blind to who it kills, except of course for those who ordered the strike.

The astrological Saturn, by Hans Sebald Behamd 1539

The astrological Saturn, by Hans Sebald Behamd 1539

Many scientists, political commenters, environmentalists and others now consider nuclear war the most likely existential threat to the human race and thousands of other species, even if the exchange were limited to India and Pakistan. A nuclear winter would ensue and it would be difficult to imagine a more Saturnine fate. Rapid climate change, accelerated by the burning of fossil fuel is a threat as well. An accidental or deliberate leak of biological agents having the affect of a rapidly spreading plague of pandemic proportions is often cited as close to the top of the list of doomsday scenarios. These are created, exacerbated or potentially ameliorated by human beings.

Optimists are becoming less numerous regarding outlooks for the future. As Zoller stated, the two malefics on the angles lacks the optimism and idealism of a Piscean Jupiter. Steven Hawking, one of our most brilliant and  best loved physicists, has said many times that the only chance of human survival is for us to leave this planet. We have the technology to do real harm to the environment on an epic scale. In the meantime, famine, so often a result of war is obscenely commonplace considering the tools we have at our disposal,

Just as Libra in the Ninth is good at whispering sweet nothings into the ears of the rich and powerful, so it is an opportunity for renewed moral balance of a spiritual nature. Libra is after all the Exaltation of Saturn and the higher impulse is for true justice. We live in very dangerous times, If we can invoke the positive collective qualifies, we have an opportunity to take back what is ours. The real enemy is stealthy and the fist looks so much nicer in a velvet glove. Certainly denying or trivializing our powers of destruction will yield nothing but more of the same.

Saturn is the Reaper and what we reap is what we sow.  Saturn is all about consequences and revealing limitations, often in very challenging ways. It’s said that the path of good intentions leads to Hell. When humanism becomes a rallying cry for the availability of every human whim, it becomes something very different. The most poignant irony is that humanism, always attributed to Aquarius, spells the end of truly human life.

Clearly, this is no longer seen in an entirely negative light. For some, it’s the only solution. Why not have a humanoid that’s “Forever Twenty One” to do all the work and be able to function in the most extreme conditions, should they occur. Japan would prefer robots to immigrants in a rapidly aging society. And of course, the humanoid has perfect manners and can teach Japanese in Viet Nam.

The Aquarius / Leo axis has brought a culture of conspicuous consumption, unparalleled technological innovation, the rewarding of selfishness and celebrity for its own sake (one can now be famous for being famous) as well as opportunities to defeat the most miserable illnesses, illiteracy and some forms of inequality. The scales offer us a choice and until we make that choice we will be ever hanging in the balance waiting for “Godot” the Aquarian messiah or the end of everything that matters.

Eclipse – Battle of Isandlewana

Battle of Islanhlwan by Charles Edwin Fripp

Battle of Islanhlwan by Charles Edwin Fripp

The Battle of Islandlwana on January 22, 1879, was the most dire defeat of the British Army against any indigenous people in the Empire and it occurred at what might be considered the zenith of British power during what has become known as the Zulu Wars. This battle has been of great interest to military strategists and historians. I’ll be looking at this through the eyes of an astrologer.

Although they eventually realized that they were massively outnumbered, the British forces were confident. The battle had not been expected and in fact the British also had 1500 oxen with them, presumably for settlers – certainly not what one takes to war. British forces had never encountered what was now bearing down upon them with unimaginable force.

They were well trained and seasoned soldiers, numbering 1800, including British, colonial and native forces. They also had approximately 400 civilians with them. They were using state of the art weapons and under the able command of Lt. Lord Chelmsford.

Of primary interest were the much prized Martini – Henry rifle, equipped with bayonets. This was the first time it had been used in combat and it turned out that it had a flaw when used repeatedly for long periods of time. They tended to overheat, making reloading more difficult. It is unlikely that this would have been a problem in other battles. As well, the rocket battery was not mounted and became increasingly useless as the battle unfolded


The effective firing range of the Martini – Henry rifle was 400 yds or 370 m. I emphasize this because the range of sight needed to allow for this ability. The may seem obvioius, but at the time the soldiers had no real doubts of being able to hold back the massive Zulu assault.

The army of 20,000 Zulus had no bows, horses or wheels for that matter. What they had were spears and clubs. According to the grandson of the Zulu chief, the warriors were given a variety of drugs that made them fearless, bloodthirsty and in fact visionary. At one point in the battle the Zulus saw “strange birds” coming for them which they believed were evil spirits conjured by the British.


I have not found an exact, reliable time for the beginning of the battle, but it was close to Noon. The real problem came a couple of hours later. We do know there was a Solar Eclipse that sealed the fate of the British. From the blinding early afternoon Sun, there was a darkness, made worse by the excessive smoke and dust . This was at 2.00 PM LMT

The approaching Zulus became invisible long enough to advance well within the rifle’s range and therefore too close for the army to have the advantage of being able to shoot the approaching Zulus before they were close enough for arm to arm combat, an enormous disadvantage to the British. The fact that the Zulus were unflinching suggests their shaman had predicted the eclipse. I have not found any evidence that this particular eclipse was know to the British soldiers in advance of the event.

The Zulu soon breached the perimeters and were virtually face to face with the British before they could see what was coming at them.. The Zulu used a traditional formation known as the “horns of the bull.” The idea was to encircle and destroy the enemy. The motif of the bull and cattle is quite evident and it’s difficult to ignore the relationship to the Ascendant,

These were the days when armies wore brilliant colours proudly, rather than using camouflage. Yes, there were ambushes, but we cannot call this the age of stealth. Yet non – visibility is what won the day.

The Ascendant is the life force and this chart gives us a highly afflicted Taurus Ascendant. Along with the Part of Fortune, it is in tight conjunction with the highly malefic Fixed Star know as Algol. It has a reputation for making one lose their head, either figuratively or literally and is associated with piled up corpses.  The Ascendant is disposited by Venus, in turn disposited by Saturn, She is Peregrine and Under the Beams. Saturn is in a weak sign in the Eleventh House, denying help from military associates and friends in general. Moreover, Saturn is Almuten of the chart and Venus is the Killing Planet.

Saturn in Halb can also be said to be Lord of the Eclipse, as he disposits both luminaries and both benefics. It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to suggest the Zulu association with the Tenth House Sun, as they are in effect eclipsed and maintain the high ground, retaining their sovereignty,serpens

The *enemy* is in the martial and stealthy sign of Scorpio, ruled by Mars, out of sect in the Eighth House of Death and dispositing the Twelfth House – all in all, a nasty piece of work in the context of the chart as a whole.  The Lord of the Eighth House is Jupiter, suggesting many dead.  Mars is conjunct Ras Alhague, the star in the head of the Serpent-charmer (Orphiucus), the Moorish El Hauwe.

Pliny said that it occasioned much mortality by poisoning. This constellation has also been called Aesculapius and held to rule medicines. By the Kabalists it is associated with the Hebrew letter Oin and the 16th Tarot Trump “The Lightning Struck Tower”. [Robson*, p.54.] It also has another role – that of Shamanic healer. The considerable participation of the shamanic priests shouldn’t be underestimated. From the concoctions given to the warriors to the healings during the battle. They evoked a powerful force that made the Zulus fight as one and without fear.

Given the inescapable association of the British with the Lion, I cannot but associate the Leo S. Node as the ‘end of the matter’ in the Fourth House. This can be taken as both the Lion defeated as well as resurgent. The Zulus won the battle, but decidedly lost the war

Thema Mundi & the Aquarian Age

The Thema Mundi can strike one as a rather strange beast at first. Thema Mundi literally means “World Theme”, with ‘the word theme also meaning chart.  What we have is perhaps best described as a mythical horoscope, of particular interest to Hellenistic Astrology, showing the ideal position of the planets and luminaries. I use the term ‘ideal’ in the Platonic sense of the Forms.


The chart shows the supposed positions of the five visible planets and the two luminaries, the Sun and Moon, demonstrating the logic behind the rulership of signs, planetary exaltations and so on. It is regarded as the placement of all bodies at the time of Creation.  It is clearly not intended to correlate to an actual astronomical event. because Venus and Mercury are at impossible distances from the Sun. Venus is 60° from the Sun and Mercury is 30° Astronomically, the angular distance of Venus is never more than 47.8° and Mercury not more than 27.8° from the Sun.

All planets and luminaries are positioned in a sign they rule and at 15 degrees of the sign. Below we has the same Thema Mundi illustrating the ways in which a planet may aspect another : conjunction, opposition, trine, square and sextile. These are what have become known as the Ptolemaic aspects, but it’s clear that they long proceeded Ptolemy. It is estimated that the Thema came into being circa 322 B.C. One could very well write a book on this, but for the time being think of this as something of a universal key to Hellenistic astrology and beyond.


There is another term used to describe how signs or planets can relate. Ptolemy referred to it as an aversion, But strictly speaking it isn’t an aspect for the simple reason that it doesn’t aspect anything.  This is very important in Hellenistic Astrology because the Ascendant is as the life force and also what ‘steers’ the owner of the chart. The Sixth, Eight and Twelfth House are unfortunate houses because they are in aversion to the Ascendant. They cannot ‘see’ it.  It is not nearly as important with an aversion between signs, such as Aries and Virgo, but a matter of great concern between the Eighth House and the Ascendant.

If you believe that any of this has any credibility whatsoever, there is no getting around the fact that Aquarius is in the House of Death on the Axis of Hades. Once again, we can see that utopian views of the Aquarian Age are delusional. There isn’t ant other way to interpret this Thema with respect to the Eighth House.

I have stated elsewhere that I believe the Aquarian Age began in earnest at the beginning of the 20th Century, with sea power giving way to domination of the skies, including space. I have also raised the issue of what I’ve called “velvet fascism.’ This first century of the Aquarian Age and now the second is extremely destructive with 60 million killed in WWII and 40 million Chinese under Mao Zedong. alone Most strikingly the greatest conflicts were over secular ideology. The Communist Revolution in China promised a world of equality and plenty – a worker’s paradise. That sounds very Aquarian.


Once in power, Mao was so fixed in his ideology that he became a great tyrant, tens of millions of people starved, he set his mind on destroying anything traditional or old. Long before the Cultural Revolution, the bloody invasion of Tibet took place, with ensuing physical and cultural Genocide.

Mao famously told the Dalai Lama that religion is poison. But he has in effect formed a secular religion that was not to be questioned. As a plethora of images show us, he liked to be portrayed as a demi-god and the people were mostly acquiescent. Is it really a true revolution to replace an Emperor with a dictator? The Bolshevik Revolution promised similar benefits, but again we have a case of ideology that resulted in untold tragedies and death.

It is estimated that 100 million Russians died under Stalin ,What has made the wars and revolution so much more horrible if the rapid advancement of technologies with which Aquarius is commonly associated.  From mustard gas to atomic bombs, we have seen unprecedented destruction. None of this seems out of place with what we saw in the Thema Mundi and in previous articles on the Aquarian Age.

Indians think in much longer succession of Ages The length of Ages are not always consistent. Depending of which school of Hinduism you ask, there can be a massi9ve discrepancy. Some sources say  the Kali Yuga lasts for 432,00o years only 5,000 years of which have elapsed.  The Kali Yuga is considered the worst Age of all, yet the symbolism is not so out of place in our own age.  The imagery is comparable to Rubin’s painting of Saturn devouring his children.  Saturn, is, after all, a malefic. and the Eighth House is the place of death.


The Platonic system gives us much shorter ages, but even so, it would be very far from the truth to say that someone can’t do good things in difficult times. They always have. However, the Age of Aquarius has been consistently portrayed as a Golden Age when people will attune to higher frequencies and love each other, as nobody could have loved each other in any other age. The most insidious aspect of velvet fascism is that it promises freedom, while globalisation, a very Aquarian idea, makes slaves of some and consumers of others. As always, to have knowledge is to be forewarned..

Queen Isabella I of Castile – An Exercise in Rectification

Isabel_de_castillaIsabella in the Rimado de la Conquista de Granada, from 1482, by Pedro Marcuello

Isabel de castile in the Rimado de la Conquista de Granada, from 1482, by Pedro Marcuello

The Astro Databank  offers the following natal data for Queen Isabella I of Castile.  22 April 1451 Jul.Cal. (1 May 1451 greg.) at 16:40 (= 4:40 PM ) Place Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain, 41n05, 5w0 Timezone LMT m5w0 (is local mean time). Rodden gives it a AA rating. Although I’m comfortable with the date, there is reason to believe the time is off by about two hours.

Rectification is made a bit easier if we have a good image of the person whose chart we are adjusting. Regrettably , portraits of Isabella differ considerably.  That still leaves us with scores of techniques, but I’m going to use just a few of them that work well in situations like this..

Rectification is a core skill for any astrologer. One needs to learn to recognize what I will call astrological discrepancies. For example, it is not a difficult task to recognize whether Saturn is in the First House or the Twelfth. there are physical and temperamental differences. One need only look and ask a few simple questions. The same goes for any planet or luminary. However, other potential house misplacements are more subtle and require other means.

Like any historical character of note, there have been many biographies, commentaries, pamphlets, films and polemics about Isabel. They portray her in a better or worse light and from many points of view However, there are a few core traits attributed to her which are almost universal.  She was an intensely pious Roman Catholic and her religion came before everything, with her duty to the realm as a close second. Nobody has credibly argued she didn’t love her husband, King Ferdinand, but she always made it clear that the realm came before everything but God. For Isabel they were in fact closely related when it cam to purging the Moors and Jews from Spain

She was tenacious, famously stubborn and excessively jealous. She was courageous beyond all expectations. She could also be fanatical, particularly in matters of religion  and it is this trait that has left the darkest legacy. Sometimes our virtues are our vices taken to the extreme.

As a savvy Queen, she was blessed with great statesmen, but the final decisions were very much her own. She was determined to turn a conglomerate of states into a unified, Christian Spain. She was shrewd enough to be the only monarch to supply and offer her patronage to a young Christopher Columbus,. Because of the immense groundwork done by Isabella and Ferdinand, Spain became a united and affluent state.


Below is the chart as shown on Astro Databank. Here we find both Mercury and Venus retrograde in Aries and on the Descendant, disposited by Mars in the Ninth and of course in Mutual reception with Mercury. An Airy Mars dispositing a weak and retrograde Mercury in Venus in Aries. is a recipe for volatile jealousy. However, it would seem to fit better if Mercury and Venus were in the Eighth and Mars in the Tenth. We can return to this chart, but for how I have good reason to consider alternative times. Mercury is conjunct the Pillar of the Horoscope ( Lot). This is true in both charts and draws attention to the importance of Mercury as the Lord of the Ascendant in the rectified chart.

Picture8The suggested rectification is for the same place and date but for two hours earlier. We can refine this, but this is good place to start. Instead of the Sun in the Eight and Libra Ascending, we know have a Ninth House Sun with the Part of Eros (Venus) and a Mercurial Virgo Ascending.

The Sun in the Ninth House of God is in his Joy. The placement accompanied by the Part of Eros speaks of intense piety, as was not shown in the previous chart. Ferdinand and Isabella had seven children;, five of whom survived to adulthood.

Although neither one of the Houses of Children seems to support that, there is in fact an enormous difference. In the rectified chart the Lord of the Fifth House changes from dry, barren Aquarius to Capricorn which is a semi fruitful sign. In itself, this is slight, but when we consider that the Lord of the Fifth is disposited by Venus and that the Lord of the Seventh is now Jupiter and the Lord of the Eleventh is the Moon.

PicturebThe overall picture, by no means ideal, is immeasurably better than what we had in the first chart. Perhaps we may allow ourselves to ponder the significance of Pisces in the House of Partners, signifying,  confidante-like relationships, including interaction with priests, marriage and business partners, agreements and treaties, matters dealing with diplomatic relations of all kinds, including open (known) enemies and attraction to qualities we admire from the other partner. I do not think it irrelevant that Ferdinand was a Solar Pisces.

The alternative is Mars as Lord of the Seventh House, complete with Venus in detriment. This doesn’t fit.

Mostly what we’ve done is move the houses over one place, but the results are considerable. Such things as the Part of Fortune and possibly the Hyleg will differ accordingly.

The Lord of Manners is easily identified as Saturn and Isabella was in fact known for her austere demeanor and life in general. Her dominant humour is melancholic., secondarily choleric   ( See Edwards, John. The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs 1474–1520. Blackwell Publishers Inc, 2000, p. 241-260 ). In the previous chart, Saturn would be in the Twelfth House an would radically change her stature and demeanour.

There are a few things that convince me that the second chart is closer to the correct time. In this one, The Sun is parallel Regulus and Aldebaran. The Part of Fortune is conjunct Aldebaran. These are both royal stars of the first degree.

In both charts Mars is overwhelmingly supported by Bellatrix and Betelgeuse and these are conjunct the mid-heaven in the rectified chart. Both are powerful stars. Bellatrix is a bright star in the shoulder of Orion  which embodies the power of the Feminine.

This one, far more than the first, is the chart of a great Queen, with intense religiosity and devotion. We have identified the volatile jealousy, replaced the infertility with far better conditions.  The Lord of the Eleventh House is her Moon in detriment. This tells us that she was largely self reliant.

These are fairly simple techniques for cases such as this one, where the main problem is the house and planetary positions providing a clearly inaccurate description based on what you know about the native.

Appendix I : Solar Revolutions

As stated in the article above, this wasn’t intended to be an exhaustive exercise, but rather to show some basic techniques for detecting an incorrect birth time. This was in part based on house placements that seemed to conflict with our knowledge of the native. I had made it very clear that there were several other techniques that might be applied to back up or fine tune our rectification.

However, in light of recent queries I’m happy to show that the chart is proven closer to the exact time by other means. Again, there is a myriad of tools available. However, I’ve settled on the what is probably the simplest technique. I’m adding the Solar Revolution Charts for the Year 1470, when Isabella gave birth to her first child, who was also named Isabel. The first is the chart for the Rodden data. The second is for the rectified chart.

roddenSRI find it unnecessary to go into great detail here. The charts speak plainly enough. The one from Astro Databank (above) gives virtually no hint of childbirth. In fact had there been one at all, it would likely not have not gone full term. The Lord of the fifth house of children is a Mercurial Venus in the barren sign of Gemini. Morover, the Lord of Venus is Mercury retrograde in the Twelfth House with Saturn. There is mutual reception, but I can’t ss this being of much use in this case. We vcan look at the Seventh and Eleventh House, but we find the Lord of the Seventh also in a barren sign.  The Eleventh tells us next to nothing. The Lord of the Eleventh is Mars in his Fall.

rectifiedThe second chart is very different. Here we have Jupiter in Leo with the Part of Fortune, but in the Fourth House., disposited by the Sun in Venusian Taurus. This gives us some hope.

Mercury, Lord of the Fifth, is still Retrograde, but he’s in his Joy in the first house. This is a very signicant difference. Mercury tends to take on some of the qualities of the sign we find him in. Taurus is a very fertile sign and Mercury can act here.

Over all, the rectified chart is immeasurably better than the original, particularly indofar as it’s signatures of fertility.

Both charts are Void of Course and neither gives us any of the Lots of parenthood as a guide. I’m still far more certain about the rectified chart. Neither chart is ideal, but the unrectified chart is clearly incorrect.

Appendix II : Solar Revolution – Marriagefinal

Finally, as if we needed more evidence, we have a Solar Revolution for the year of her marriage to Ferdinand. I’m using Morinus software because it provides more graphic information. I do not intend to get into much detail. The charts authenticity pretty much speaks for itself

Those of you who have studied Isabella’s life, will know her brother Henry was an ineffectual but treacherous monarch. He had done all he could to block her from successsion. It is no surprise then to see a weak Mars in the house of brothers as it is for the following year. Henry was in frail health and died during 1474 in Madrid

Most spectacularly, Jupiter is in his Exatation is in the House of Partners. The Sun is in the Fifth House. The Part of Fortune is in the Royal sign of Leo.

So we have an ongoing process. First there is the recognition that the chart is skewed, then step by step we narrow it down then test with Solar Revolution. Again, there are many other tools to use and many events we can try to nail down, but that really isn’t necessary. I’m convinced of the superiority of the rectification, although I make no claims to the exact degree. I’m primarly concerned with house placements and plausible planetary positions. This will meet most requirments in any case. Perhaps at some later time, we can discuss the finer tuning.

Astrology of the Bubonic Plague

bubonic-plague-attacks-a-couple-in-rome-rome-italy12961696119-tpfil02aw-764Not long after the Vernal Equinox of 1348 King Philip VI ordered a report on the causes of the Bubonic Plague from the University of Paris Faculty of Medicine. The response came by way of an astrological explanation. If the cause was understood, a cure might be found. The Faculty pointed to a chart for 1.00 pm 20 March 1345 there was a conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in the House of Aquarius. Moreover, there had been a significant Lunar Eclipse on March 18 at 9:38 pm.

There is another chart of great importance in this matter. It’s the Solar Revolution for the year that the first known strains of the Black Death made landfall in Byzantium and spread rapidly throughout the eastern Empire, killing 100,000 people a year. At this time the Empire contained the lands on the Mediterranean coast and stretched far into the heartland of Europe. The plague went as far as Denmark and Ireland, ultimately killing about half the population of Europe. . The Emperor Justinian contracted the disease in Constantinople, but miraculously survived.

Byzantium frequently imported large amounts of grain from Egypt. The shipments became infested with vermin, who in term carried fleas infected with the plague. It has been suggested that the Plague was a Pandemic originating in China at a time unknown. It is not certain however that it was the same strain, In light of this, our focus is on the European experience.


The Byzantine historian Procopius first reported the epidemic in AD 541 from the port of Pelusium, near Suez in Egypt (Wade, 2010). We are not given a date. The chart is set for 0°Aries at Suez, constituting a Solar Revolution.

First of all, a quick word about the symptoms of the Plague.

Plagues have been the result of various forms of Human y pestis infection, taking three main forms pneumonic, septicemic, and the notorious bubonic plagues. See Ryan KJ, Ray CG (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). pp. 484–488.

At first glance we can see the Byzantium Chart is not good, but perhaps not bad enough to signify what we are looking at. However, we have Saturn in Martian Scorpio in Partile conjunction to the Ascendant. His dispositor is in the Eighth House of Death.

Mars is also conjunct the South Node and Almuten of the chart as well as the Ascendant, adding considerable strength to the malefics. Mars is the Killing Planet. The angles are in Fixed Signs lending more power and longevity to the influences.

Less obvious is Venus in her domicile in Taurus.  In most cases this is a good placement for her. However she is exactly conjunct the highly malefic Fixed Star, Algol named by the Chinese as ‘piled up corpses’ and by others as loosing one’s head. as in decapitation or madness. The deaths were so numerous that the corpses were literally piled up.

You could say that Venus is a devil in disguise. She is in Hayz and Lady of the Year.  She is also Lord of the two most unfortunate houses, the Twelfth and the Sixth. Mercury is in his Fall and disposits Mars and Moon in the Eighth without benefit. However, he is in the fruitful sign of Pisces. It seems that everything is conspiring ensure this Plague has all it needs to spread without hindrance.

The Ascendant is the only candidate for Hyleg. Being in a malefic sign and conjunct another, this is dire indeed. The humour of the chart is an airy sanguine, warm and wet. So what is promised by other elements of the chart has the advantage of the best conditions for the Plague to thrive. If it was too hot or cold and dry, it would have been arrested. The Piscean Mercury is is Lord of the Eighth House, brings more wetness that only serves to spread the contagion


Let’s now consider the  Eclipse chart referred  to by the astrologers from the Faculty of Medicine. The chart is for Paris, France. 18 March 1345 at 9:38 pm. There are some similarities between this and the previous chart.

The Part of Fortune is Hyleg and Conjunct Algol, as Venus had been.  She is again in Taurus and in the 7th House. She is Almuten of the chart. Saturn is the Almuten of health according to the rules set down by Omar.

The eclipse is the 6 / 12 axis denoting health and hidden enemies respectively. We know that by this time the plague had become airborne being passed from one to another on the breath. The Killing Planet is Saturn in his own domicile and dispositing Jupiter and Mars. The malic of Mars and Saturn are made larger by Jupiter in this case.

The eclipse would have been read as an omen

Finally, we look at the chart delivered to King Philip showing the conjunctions of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in the Fixed Air sign of Aquarius. This is for 20 March 1345, Paris France at 1:00 pm. bp

As physicians reading the chart there are many things that would have been clear. It’s Sunday in the Hour of Mars. The Moon is in Via Combusta. Saturn is in the 7 th House

Offsetting the emphasis on Air is the Leo Ascending and the Sun and Mercury in Aries.  The Hyleg is the Sun. We end up with a Choleric chart, being hot and dry, hosting the two malefics in Aquarius with Jupiter Parallel Sirius (searing heat). Again, Saturn is the Killing Planet. This happens not two days after the Lunar Eclipse. More often than not, Eclipses auger bad fortune for those under it’s influence.

We now have the same air considerations, but the humour is now more a raging fever being driven by the forces of air. The close proximity of the Descending Node to the Sun merely aggravates and exacerbates the situation. The force is unstoppable and all the physicians can do is try to lessen the fatalities.  The Moon represents the people. She is about to slip into the sign of her fall in Scorpio and in the Fourth House. This has among other significations, that of ancestry and the end of the matter.

The Plague in Byzantium was bubonic, but the one refered to King Philip’s physicians appears to have been pnuemonic. The first is primarily spread by blood, as in flea bites and the second is carried in the air. This is at the heart of the issue with the charts comprising Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in the Fixed Air sign Aquarius.

The symptoms in either case include boils and ultimately, several organs can be affected, including the spleen and brain. The infection , accompanied by violent fever causes immunologic breakdown, leading to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), resulting in bleeding and necrotic skin and tissue, particularly of the hands. This resembles gangrene. Historically, the disease was almost always fatal.

We can see then that the disease displays symptoms attributed to Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. Richard Saunders lists these in his Astrological Judgment & Practice of Physic (esp. pp. 52 -53). When we think of fever, Mars is what comes to mind. Indeed, Saunders duly lists, adds red Cholera, Smallpox, breaking of the veins and  great deal more that applies quite specifically to the Bubonic Plague.  Less well known are the attributes of Jupiter in the study of disease. Saunders includes all “diseases of the veins and proceeding from corruption of the blood, windiness and all putrefaction in the blood or fevers proceeding from too much abundance thereof.” (p. 50).

In the airy and Saturnine sign of Aquarius, these would be emphasized.  It would also make Mars and Jupiter * sympathetic* to Saturn in the Ficinian sense. Finally, we look at Saturn himself. The first quality is to make the disease persistent. Although victims didn’t last long and the disease wreaked havoc more or less continuously for more than a thousand years that we know of . Saunders also tells us the Saturn, if in ill aspect with Venus, he corrupts the blood, with Jaundiesy and Melencholy (Black Bile) . We have noted Venus in all three charts and in the last two she is applying to a square with Saturn. The latter also “brings Black Jaundice and a super abundance of Flegm and crude humours”  Of course this is but a sampling of the attributes. but what can be seen most clearly is how the planets work together

Astrology can still be used for prediction and diagnosis with the same accuracy as in the time of King Philip. But what was an unmitigated tragedy on an epic scale  would today be read as a warning, perhaps. The Plague is still with us and surfaces every now and again. Today we have effective treatments that make it no much more serious than a bad case of the flu. This doesn’t negate the fact of the accuracy of astrology and the validity of using it to warn of epidemics. seismic activity or extreme weather.

Coronation of Elizabeth I


We know the Election for the Coronation was calculated by Dr. John Dee. Elizabeth’s personal astrologer, mathematician, navigator and magician. However to the best of my current knowledge, the timing has been passed in good faith and no contemporary written document to this effect is extant. Most troublesome is when the information was first passed on. Although we should be quite safe in assuming it’s using the Julian calendar, there is the lurking possibility that the date was passed on after the Gregorian calendar was adopted. With these things in mind I would like to read and compare both possible charts.

If nothing else this provides a good study of Electional astrology at work. I’m often surprised how many people view their life without contemplating alternatives, if they are possible, favorable or disastrous.  This is the difference between a strong election with fair results and another that actually makes things worse. Personally, I see both charts as candidates. Although tradition would favour the Julian date, I do not claim that either is the definitive charts. Even Frawley gives no source for the time he uses for the Coronation chart.

Elizabeth was vulnerable at a particularly dangerous point in English history. Her legitimacy was questioned on all fronts and being a woman made it worse

The enmity between Scotland and England and Roman Catholic vs Protestant were events that could tear the realm apart

John Dee Demonstrating an Experiment at Court - Artist Unknown

John Dee Demonstrating an Experiment at Court – Artist Unknown

It’s a marvel that she survived at all But she was to be the greatest Queen, if not the greatest Monarch England has known.

The portrait at the top of the page is of Elizabeth in her prime. The painting is known as the Armada portrait.

I have little doubt that John Dee played a role in the annihilation of the Armada.  Beyond being the Queen’s astrologer he is said to have used a powerful magical curse against Her Majesty’s adversaries.


Coronation Chart 1

The perfect Election exists only in the mind of God. I’m frequently asked to do an Election for all manner of events. Often I’m asked to do so with precious little notice.

The task then becomes not necessarily to find an ideal chart but one with the least problems. I do not know how much notice was given to  John Dee, but I suspect it wasn’t much. Nevertheless it’s a fine piece of work.

The chart date and time given is 15 January 1559 AD  at 12.00 Greenwich, using the Porpyhry House system. That is the first chart. The second is adjusted to ten minutes later and showing Al Biruni’s planetary parts We are told it was around noon, so we have room for a little maneuvering, but not very much.

First of all we have a chart for a few minutes after high noon, with Sun and Jupiter in The Tenth house, disposited by Saturn Rx in the Twelfth House, in his own Joy. The Hour is Jupiter The Day is the Moon. The Sun is with the fixed star Altair and in partile  Trine to the Ascendant.

Adjusted to 12.10

Adjusted to 12.10

The Tenth House is the place of high office, preferment, standing, command and honour. Primarily the Sun but also Jupiter are royal in this context.

We have Mercury and Venus in Capricorn in the Ninth House as well. The Saturn signature is pervasive. The Eleventh House informs or influences the Tenth. Venus in Capricorn is cool and with the Fixed Star Vega but also suggests a favorable relationship between Religion and Finances.

The Moon is separating from a Sextile to Jupiter and will then Trine the same when she passes into Libra. I’m not happy about the Moon in the Eighth, but having both Malefics in their Joy in the Twelfth and Sixth House is always a good idea.. Mars in the Sixth is said to be like a tiger in a cage.

It might seem detrimental having Saturn disposit Jupiter, Sun, Mercury and Venus, particularly considering his condition. First of all, the old Devil is doing the best and transferring his light to Mars. This I believe neutralizes the Saturn and Mars opposition. Elizabeth’s hidden enemies are thus significantly weakened. I don’t know what Dee had in in mind, but I strongly suspect he would have interpreted the Scorpionic Mars in the House of Servants as a strong and  loyal military.

A phoenix is a mythological bird which never dies but, after 500 years, is consumed by fire and born again, making it a symbol of the Resurrection, endurance and eternal life. Only one phoenix lives at a time, so it was also used to symbolize Elizabeth's uniqueness and longevity.

A phoenix is a mythological bird which never dies but, after 500 years, is consumed by fire and born again, making it a symbol of the Resurrection, endurance and eternal life. Only one phoenix lives at a time, so it was also used to symbolize Elizabeth’s uniqueness and longevity.

The Part of Fortune is in the Fourth House and parallel to Fixed Star Aldebaran. I’m not sure if Dee planned this or not because there is more than one way of reading Aldebaran. It is  often referred to as the Eye of God It is also associated with blindness.

If he had reversed the calculation from the one above, the Pars Fortuna would then be found in the Eleventh House and that is a great blessing  The House is known as that of the Good Spirit and speaks of influential friends and alliances. It’s at the degree of the twelfth cusp but hasn’t crossed the threshold. Things like this make us realize how tricky it can be to construct an Election with a small window of time to work with.

The Almuten of the Chart is fortuitously the Sun according to rules set down by Ibn Ezra. He is in Sect. Venus in the House of God and Religion has the highest score for Essential Dignities

After all, Elizabeth is not only to be the Queen but the head of the Church of England as well.

Elizabeth I in Coronation Robes

Elizabeth I in Coronation Robes

The Lady of the Geniture is the Moon, which I find highly appropriate. She is strong with Procyon, a Fixed Star of high magnitude possessing  the nature of Mercury and Mars. The Planetary Parts according to Al Biruni offer another dimension.

The Part of Jupiter is beautifully placed in the Ninth House, lending it more strength and depth. The Parts for both Malefic are in their House of Joy  just as are the planets themselves. The Parts of  Mercury and Moon sit well in the Eleventh. But the Part of Venus in Royal Leo in the Fourth Angular house is exquisite.

I received a comment that the chart may be questionable because the ruler of the twelfth is applying to the ruler of the ascendant. I freely admit that isn’t prefect by any mean, but doesn’t undermine the entire election. Electional astrology is what Frawley refers to as the “art of the possible.”

I do not know if Dee had read Al Biruni, but it would very odd if he didn’t. He was a polyglot, an occultist and well supported by the Queen. I’m sure he could get any book he desired.


Coronation Chart 2

Let’s now look at the chart most frequently quoted, with the same time and date, but using the Julian calendar. This chart has much to commend it, not least the fact that we have Regulus both conjunct and parallel the Pars Fortuna in the fourth.tudorrosemain  Regulus is of the Nature of Mars and Jupiter. The Pars is also with the Arabic Part of Abundance in House.  This would help meet the need of a strong foundation.

The chart gives us the Day of the Sun and the Hour of Mars. The first is a blessing, the second is a mystery.  It could be that the time is slightly off by perhaps  minute, when the Hour of Jupiter would have ended, but I still see this as a compromise. It’s cutting it too fine. I have looked at the Lunar Mansions and their is nothing particularly auspicious, so I’m guessing Dee didn’t use them.

Saturn is direct in this chart, dispositing Jupiter, the Sun, Venus and Mercury. However, the Saturn – Mars opposition is much stronger. Mars is applying to the opposition and is but one degree from perfection. Nevertheless they are still restrained by House placement, each in their Joy. This is a trade off many would be reluctant to make.

Elizabeth's Radix Chart

Elizabeth’s Radix Chart

My remarks on the previous chart regarding a strong and loyal military are still true, although somewhat diluted. Mars is not receiving the light from Saturn.

Saturn is the uncontested Almuten of the chart in the Fixed Earth sign Taurus, dispositing the Fixed Air signs in Aquarius. While this might seem a bit gloomy, it is excellent for stability and longevity of the reign.

The Ninth House is still in very good shape, auguring a favorable and financially harmonious relationship with the Church.

That only leaves the Eleventh House, the House of the Good Spirit. When considering a Monarch, this would be best represented as court, courtly advisors and others in a supportive role.  Moon in Aries means changeability, volatility and ill will in this position.  She is also in an applying Square to Venus.

coronation parade1

Coronation Parade

The transits to Elizabeth’s natal chart at the time of the second Coronation chart are notable. They include Jupiter Sextile Jupiter and Venus Trine her Sun. This speaks strongly for the second chart.

We don’t know how much time Dee at his disposal, it might have been very little. That would have diminished his options. All in all, I tend to favor the first version.