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

Whole Signs & Planetary Strength

It is usually implied that if one uses the whole sign system one will need to recalculate the chart using a quadrant based system to determine the relative strengths of the planets. I have always considered this465531_488826147828921_984372261_oLandscape with clerks studying astronomy and geometry, showing an armillary sphere, square, compasse1s highly suspect and self-contradictory. Why use the whole signs in the first place if you cannot tell planetary strength from the chart it yields?

Whole Sign is much older than any quadrant system, so it must have been considered complete in itself. Indian astrologers still use them to this day.

I’ve drawn up a chart for a random time and date for Reykjavík, which is the capital and largest city in Iceland. Its latitude, at 64°08′ N, makes it the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state. Charts for places this far north often have intercepted signs.

The same would occur if a chart were drawn for a similar distance south of the equator. Intercepted signs raise a number of problems, not least that a sign is missing from the horoscope.

The first chart will be drawn using whole sign followed by four common house systems employed by astrologers to establish planetary strength.


 Here is the Whole Sign chart: We’ll just take a cursory look before checking the other charts. Let’s pay particular attention to the angles where the planets are strongest.  Mars in Aquarius is in the Seventh House, He is disposited by angular Saturn in Scorpio. Mars returns the favour and disposits Saturn.  They form a partile square. This looks like a Mutual Reception made in Hades.

The Moon in Scorpio is in her Fall and Void of Course in the Hour and Day of the Moon. She is also the Hyleg if we follow Bonatti. Jupiter is in his House of Joy, but Debilitated and Retrograde. I can’t see that the trine to Mars  is much good and it’s separating anyway.  Mercury is Under the Beams. The Ascendant in Leo is disposited by a chilly but supportive Capricorn Sun.  Taking a few minutes has already given us a good sense of the overall chart and I would say planetary strength as well. Let’s take  a look at the quadrant housesregiomontanus

This is the chart using Regiomontanus  Most obviously the fifth house is strikingly different.  Jupiter is now in the tenth house and angular. Mars, however, is the sixth house. `He is no longer in Hayz. Note the shift in authority. We lose the Scorpio house due to interception. The Scorpio planets are now in a Libran house. Taurus is also intercepted.


Morinus – At first glance Morinus seems to be the most like Whole Sign, until we notice the cusp of the first house is in Cancer Also note the highly significant shift from the fifth house to the sixth. Mars is back in the seventh and ready for war.


Placidus – Jupiter is back in the tenth house Mars in back in the sixth.The fifth house looks fairly good  and the malefics have been slightly subdued. Jupiter is angular and Mars is cadent – opposite to the Whole Sign chart. This might give us something if we pretend that Placidus didn’t say his own system was flawed. And it would have to agree with the other quadrant charts, of course


 Companus – The planets that were in the fifth have moved into the sixth with Mars.  In this chart Sagittarius and Gemini are intercepted. Again, Mars is cadent, but this time Jupiter is back in the eleventh house.

Finally we look at the Porphyry chart: Again, Mars is cadent but Jupiter in the eleventh.


I think these examples show that relying on a quadrant houses system to illuminate a Whole Sign chart is of little or no use. Because each quadrant house yields different results, I think it fair to call the process arbitrary.

Because of the way a Whole Sign chart is read, it tells us all we need to know. We have a plethora of tools by which to determine planetary strength : Fixed Stars, Peregrination, Hayz, Halb, Joy,Void of Course, Face, Term, Retrograde, Besieged, Lunar Mansion, Hour of the Moon, Arabic Parts, Oriental / Occidental and many more. Using a second system is unnecessary.