Winter Solstice 2014

Sun from a Falnama (1580s) watercolor on paper

Sun from a Falnama (1580s) watercolor on paper

First allow me to wish everyone a joyous solstice, with blessings of all kinds, as we celebrate the return of the light in the Northern hemisphere. The recognition of the importance of the Sun appearing to stand still before he begins to move towards the North is celebrated virtually universally in many variants from the beginnings of recorded history and surely long before. This is the time to welcome and celebrate the return of the Sun, See my previous article for the symbolism, lore and practise of the Winter Solstice 

The Solar symbol of the dot within a circle is one of th3e most ancient symbols. The Sun is the primary source of life. The Chart for the Year is cast for 0° Aries, the Exaltation of the Sun.

Spherical hand warmer, brass middle east 18th - 19th C.

A very Solar Spherical hand warmer, brass middle east 18th – 19th C.

The Winter Solstice charts provides us with relatively short predictions which are concerned specifically with season on Winter.  Solstice Charts are generally used to tell us of the current climate, both literally and figuratively and employed with a particular interest in the season itself. That is not to say they cannot provide us with more. For people living close to the Ring of Fire, earthquake and tsunami warnings are crucial. These predictions also include weather predictions of a general nature because we are talking about a three month period.

Below is the chart for the Winter Solstice 2014, including the seven hermetic lots. It is drawn for the West Coast on 21 December 2014, 15.03 PST. Victoria, B.C.  This gives us a chart for Day of the Sun and Hour of the Moon.


The angles are in Mutable Signs and Mercury, the most Protean of all planets is in Capricorn and the Almuten Figuris. He is of course also Lord of the Ascendant Moreover, the Lady of the Geniture is Venus, also in Saturnine Capricorn. The essence of the chart is Cold and Dry, or Melancholy, by Humour.

Sun, Moon and Mercury are all in the 22nd Lunar Mansion, known as the Head of the Dragon. The significance of this is speed, escape or personal power. Particularly because this is a Mundane chart, this planet and luminaries is stifled in the Eighth House. The Moon is Balsamic and Void of Course and the traditional decanate ruler is Saturn. The Sun is in the Decanate of Jupiter. The New Moon in Capricorn occurs at 5.25 pm

The Mercurial Hyleg is the Pars Fortuna in the First House, conjunct the Fixed Star Aldebaran, the Eye of God, in the fourth Lunar Mansion and often associated with blindness. The fact is the position of Al Debaran (the follower of the Pleiades) is crucial in interpretation. It is far better to have this star on the Ascendant, than in the Seventh for example. One of the Royal Stars on Persia, he is Watcher of the East. He can bring greatness if integrity and nobilit6y of character is preserved.

According to Vivien Robson, ” It gives honour, intelligence, eloquence, steadfastness, integrity, popularity, courage, ferocity, a tendency to sedition, a responsible position, public honours and gain of power and wealth through others, but its benefits seldom prove lasting and there is also danger of violence and sickness.”  [Robson Fixed Stars p.120.]

Aldebaran and the Pleiades are a prominent sight during Winter in the Northern Hemisphere

Mercury is Combust. Venus is Under the Solar Beams. The glimmer of hope lies in the fact that both the Lot of the Sun, the Moon and Venus are found in the First House with the Day and Hour of the chart underscored.taurus-the-bull

In the Seventh House of open enemies, we have the Moon  at 28.35° conjunct Acumen. This is interpreted as enduring attacks  that weaken.  The position of the Lot of Saturn only emphasizes the difficulties. Jupiter is extremely weak because he is deposited by the Sun in the Eighth House, retrograde and Peregrine – like a stranger in a strange land. As Lord of the Seventh he isn’t in a position to ameliorate.

We look then to Mars in the Ninth House and on the MC. in the 23rd Lunar Mansion known as the “fortunate aviator.” There is a suggestion here of attack from the air. Saturn is Lord of Mars, Sun, Venus and Mercury. Saturn is found in the Sixth House. and in Mutual Reception with Mars.

We have the potential for an attack – religiously motivated because of Ninth House placement – but on a limited scale, if not intercepted entirely  But there is definitely a need for heightened vigilance,  Again, we largely create what happens to us within prescribed limits and forewarned is forearmed

What initially appeared to be a fairly straightforward chart proves to be complex and suggestive of the following:

The weather will be changeable, from dry and cold to high winds and heavy rainfall. There is no indication of a major seismic eruptions, always of concern for those of us living on the West Coast, over the next three months. There is no indication of a Tsunami on the West Coast either.

The lot of the people collectively is somber and in need of leadership with vision and integrity. I would anticipate on-going protests to be particularly energized.

We are not passive observers in either our individual or collective lives. If the season is Cold & Dry we may elect to embrace its opposite, which in this case is Sanguine, or warm and wet.  This can be facilitated by the strong Mercurial signature in the chart, even with the afflictions. There is a reason that warm soup tastes especially good in the cold weather. Mild and pungent spices as well as squash, carrots and  other root vegetables may also help, unless there is some other reason you shouldn’t  eat these foods. If you are already of a Sanguine Humour, increasing its preponderance will server no useful purpose

Winter-Solstice-Lantern-Festival-Photo-by-eych-you-bee-ee-ahr-tee-via-flickr.Vancouver 2012

Winter-Solstice-Lantern-Festival-Photo-by-eych-you-bee-ee-ahr-tee-via-flickr.Vancouver 2012

Greet the return of the light with lanterns, candles, yule logs and solar incenses such as Sandalwood, Frankincense and Dragon’s Blood.  ,

The Astrological Mysticism of Shaykh al-Akbar Ibn Arabi

 Ibn Arabi Portrait - Muhammad Ibn Arabi

Astrology is a mystical art. As far as Occidental, Arabian, Persian and to a large extent Indian astrology is concerned, its basis is the Syncretic Neo Platonic and Hermetic Philosophy as it flourished in Alexandria. Of course these different but compatible philosophies had far more ancient roots. It is also true that astrology differed in its expression, depending on the culture in which it was practiced. But the differences are for the most part quite superficial. At the core of all these strains is the Hermetic dictum : As above, So below. This isn’t just a saying or something that is true some of the time. It is Divine Spark and Living truth. This is but a brief introduction to the underlying spiritual principles ,from the point of view of  a Sufi master.

I wonder if anyone understood this better than Ibn Arabi. You won’t just finds his Mystical Astrology in the books he wrote on the subject. His world view was soaked in and consumed by the expression of mysticism – a cosmos where all was inextricably connected. I recommend his book Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom for deeper insight.

Ibn ʿArabī was an Arab Andalusian Sufi mystic and philosopher, nicknamed “Son of Plato.” He is also one of the best know Astrologers of the Islamic Golden Age. Born: July 28, 1165, Murcia – Died: November 10, 1240 in Damascus. One of his greatest gifts is what I will call meta – astrology, and articulation of the manifestation of the divine through astrology.

At about the age of fifteen. he had an extraordinary mystical unveiling or “opening.”  This is mentioned in his famous account of  his meeting with Averroes. The experience changed him and only after this original divine “attraction did he begin his Sufi practice . Ibn ‘Arabi also studied the traditional sciences, as did virtually all astrologers.

15 th Century Map of Andalusia

15 th Century Map of Andalusia

His full name, of great importance in the Islamic tradition, consisting of mostly titles and references to his lineage is Muhyī al-dīn Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muhammad bin ‘Alī bin Muhammad bin Ahmad bin ‘Abd Allāh bin al-‘Arabī al-Tā’ī al-Hātimī al-Andalusī

The title Muhyī al-dīn appears in early manuscripts written during the lifetime of Ibn ‘Arabī, and would seem to have been not simply an honorific title but a conscious appeal to the common Muslim view that in every century of Islam there would appear

Ibn Arabi

Ibn Arabi

someone who would “renew” the religion (mujaddid). AbūHāmid al-Ghazzālī had been generally accepted as the “reviver of religion” in the sixth century of the Hijra, and another great renewer was expected for the

seventh. Ibn ‘Arabī himself was certainly very aware of al-Ghazzālī’s legacy, and named several of his works in imitation of his great predecessor.[4] While there is no evidence that he openly portrayed himself with such a title, he equally did nothing to prevent its ascription to him during his lifetime. (by Stephen Hirtenstein -Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, Vol. 41, 2007.)

Titus Burkhardt writes in his Introduction to The Mystical Astrology of Iban Arabi :

Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi englobes in a certain fashion the essential reality of heliocentricism in his cosmological edifice : like Ptolemy and like those all th rough the Middle Ages he assigns to the sun, which he compares to th e ‘Pole’ (qutb) and to the heart of the world’ (qalb al-‘alam), a central  p0sition on in the hierarchy of th e celestial spheres, and this by assigning equal numbe rs of superior skies and inferior skies to the sky of the sun; he amplifies nevertheless the system of Ptolemy by yet again underlining the

Medieval list of Ibn_Arabi_Books

Medieval list of Ibn_Arabi_Books

symmetry of the spheres with respect to the sun : according to his cosmological system, which he probably holds from the Andalusian Sufi Ibn Masarrah, the sun is not only in the centre of the six known planets -Mars (al-mirik.h ), Jupiter (al-mushtari) and Saturn (az-zuhal) being further away from theibnarabi-cosmos Earth (al-ardh) than the Sun (ash-shams), and Venus (az­zuhrah), Mercury (al-utarid) and the Moon (al-qamar) being closer -but beyond the sky of Saturn is situated the vault of the sky of th e fi xed stars (falak al-kawakib), th at of the sky with­out stars (al-falak al-atlas), and the two supreme spheres of the ‘Divine Pedestal’ (al-kursi) and of th e ‘Divine Throne’ (al­’arsh), concentric spheres to which symetrically correspond the four sub-lunar spheres of ether (al-athir), of air (al-hawa), of water (al-ma) and of earth (aJ-ardh ). Thus is apportioned sevenmansions

degrees to either side of the sphere of the sun, the Divine (Throne) symbolizing the synthesis of all the cosmos, and the centre of the earth being thereof both the inferior conclusion and the center of fixation (Burkhardt p. 12).

Ibn Arabi’s mysticism is in most respects universal, but with regard to the Moon for example, his beliefs coincided with Islamic esotericism. The Moon plays a particular visual role in Islamic culture. Most Islamic countries have the Moon as part of their flag, Islam itself  however is under the governance of Venus as all Arab and Persian astrologers have made clear.



I would like to focus on this Lunar material because of course it directly relates to the Lunar Mansions. For Ibn Arabi, the Moon receives all influences which she then collects to transmit to Earth.  Adam is considered Lunar Man and Enoch is Solar Man – The first is Primordial and individual man and the latter the Divine Man. The full extent of this system requires considerable study and certainly more than I am able to do here. Still, these simple but profound things are important to keep in mind.

Ibn Arabi compares the “‘unique man ‘, which receives th e revelation (tajaili) of the Divine Essence (dhat); this heart changes form continually according to the different ‘essential truths’ (haqc1 iq) which leave successively therein their imprint” (Burkhardt 34).He has a masterful understanding of the archetypes and employs them in a mystical astrologer that is also accurate. We are after all referring to Divine Essence.

The qualities of the Divine Names are of necessity innumerable, because this Essence cannot be the “subject” of a science because that would imply distinction, in a similar sense as the infinite cannot be grasped by a finite mind.

” the Master makes th e 28 mansions of the Moon correspond to as many Divine Names. On the other hand, these, which all have an active or creative character, have as complements or as direct objects the same number of cosmic degrees, so th at their connection forms a second analogous cycle. The series of these cosmic degrees produced by the series of the Divine Names go from the first manifestation of the In­tellect down to the creation of man. ” (Burkhardt 37.) Ibn Arabi ‘s is a living breathing and divine creation.

Returning to the Moon, Ibn Arabi explains that it is this Lunar mediation that relates to what he calls the “transformation of the Primordial Sound” that is the vehicle of spiritual revelation, in articulated language. Islamic mysticism creates a correspondence between the  28 Mansions of the Moon and Twenty Eight letters or sounds of the sacred language.

It is not like people think,’ – says Muhyid din Ibn ‘Arabi, – ‘that the mansions of the Moon represent the models of the letters; it is the 28 sounds which determine the  lunar mansions.” These sounds represent in fact the micro­ cosmic and human expression of the essential determinations of th e Divine Breath, which is itself the prime motivation of cosmic cycles. The Master counts the 28 sounds of the Arabic alphabet from the first lunar mansion, which follows the Spring Equinox, in the successive order of their phonetic exteriorisation, beginning with the hiatus (al-hamzah), and going on through the gutteral consonants to the labials passing through the palatals and the dentals. If one takes into account the fact that the initial hiatus is not properly speaking a so und, but only a transitory instant be tween silence and locution, the series of sounds attributed to the lunar mansions begins with the haand ends with the waw, these two letters composing the Divine Name huwa, ‘ He’, symbol of th e Essence one and identical to Itself.  (Burkhardt p.35)document-image8

In this brief but admittedly dense introduction to Ibn Arabi’s metaphysics and astrological mysticism we can find deep insight into the entire astrological tradition, most specifically Arabian, but really of all true forms of the art. I hope it encourages readers to delve further into this fascinating and rich material. I would be very happy to discuss it with you. I might follow-up with an article on a specific element of Ibn Arabi’s astrology in the near future

Consecutive Full Moons in Scorpio

There will be two consecutive Full Moons in Scorpio in 2008. The last one occurred 20 April 2008 @ 2:33 am pst. This is not to be confused with the Blue Moon phenomenon, which is a fourth Full Moon in a given season. That occurs approximately every 2.7 years to reflect the fact that the Solar Year is longer than twelve Lunar Cycles, but less than thirteen. It is commonly misunderstood that a Blue Moon is the second Full Moon in a given calendar month.

Nevertheless, to have two consecutive Full Moons in any one sign is a rare enough event. I am giving this pair a little extra attention because the configuration is of great interest for a number of reasons.

The April chart had Saturn as the ruler of the Ascendant retrograde in the seventh house with the Dragon’s Tail. The Eight / Two axis is known as the Gates of Hades or Domain of Typhon.  Note that in the May chart the Sun and Moon change places on the same axis.

The Moon is parallel Sirius and conjunct the Arabic Part of Understanding. The parallel aspect is much stronger than the conjunction. The Moon is in her fall and the powerful influence of Sirius brings passionate, searing intensity to an already volatile mix. The Moon in the traditional decanate of Mars, accentuates her already Martian nature. She is disposited by Mars in Cancer, the sign of his fall. This provides what is called a negative mutual reception. Both are in the sign of their own fall. A weak malefic is a damaging one.

According to Ptolemy, Sirius, the brightest of all stars is of the nature of Jupiter and Mars. With the Moon, there is general good fortune, if free of malefics. This is a case of a highly baneful situation being ameliorated by association with a particular star and Arabic Part. However, this relief is slight considering the overall picture. Regrettably, the planets have delivered their promise by way of global catastrophes in the same elements. Much suffering could have been avoided if the celestial forcasts had been heeded.

In itself, we can then see that the chart is certainly challenging enough, but its full import is seen with the second opposition in the same sign a month later.

The second consecutive Full Moon in Scorpio occurs 19 May 2008 @ 4.44 pm pdt, just before the Sun enters Gemini. Note that Saturn has gone direct and sits on the same degree as the Full Lunar Eclipse of 20 February 2008 @ 7:26 pm. pst. It is also in almost precisely the same position as it was in the April chart.

The May chart has Venus combust in the eighth house and, although dignified by sign, cannot do much due to both combustion and house placement. Venus is ruler of the Ascendant and caught up with the Sun’s opposition to the Moon on the same axis.

Morover, the Dragon’s Tail is besieged by Saturn and Mars. Both Saturn and the South Node are in the twelfth Lunar Mansion, Al Safah, the Changer of the Weather. Mars disposits the Part of Fortune, found in the unfortunate sixth house in the Mansion of the Belly. By any standards, this is a nasty piece of work.

With the current vulnerability to seismic activity, particularly around the Pacific rim, Central Asia and all countries where the Lunar Eclipse was visible,  vigilence and preparation should be a matter of course. Any country under the governenance of Virgo should also beware. Extreme siesmic activity is often the case with Sun, Jupiter and Saturn in Earth signs; and here we have exacerbating circumstances.

Ptolemy does not mention China by name, but the country would fall under what he calls the second quarter:

“which embraces the southern part of Greater Asia, the other parts, including India, Ariana, Gedrosia, Parthia, Media, Persia, Babylonia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, which are situated in the south-east of the whole inhabited world, are, as we might presume, familiar to the south-eastern triangle, Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, and are governed by Venus and Saturn in oriental aspects.” (Tetrabiblos. Bk II. p. 43)

This places Myanmar (formerly Burma) and China under the governance of the Earth triplicity at a time when Saturn, Sun and Jupiter occupies these signs. What he calls Ariana is what is now known as Afghanistan and Pakistan as far east as the Indus.

The Moon was Void of Course in the 24th degree of Leo, crossing the Dragon’s Tail and activating a square to the Sun when the 7.9 magnitude quake hit the Chendu area in the Szechuan province of China. The Sun was cojoining with Algol. The result was mass destruction causing the death of 10,000 people as the result of the quake and aftershocks. The Chinese refer to Algol as the star of “piled up corpses”

In the chart for 19 May 2008, the Sun is conjunct the Fixed Star Alcyone, the brightest of the Pleiades, situated on the shoulder of the Bull. It is of the nature of Mars and the Moon. Negatively the star is associated with blindness caused by fevers, either literally of figuratively. The spread of disease as a result of the catastrophes in Myanmar and China is a very real, but preventable threat; but first, blindness must give way to vision. This is most particularly the case in Myanmar.

The Lunar degree of this chart falls in the nineteenth Mansion known Al Shaulah, The Sting. The Ascending degree is in the sixteenth Mansion Al Jubana, The Claws, and in Via Combusta. The latter is a region of the zodiac that contains many baneful stars, with the notable exception of Spica. However, the Moon in the 28 th degree of Scorpio has Venus for decanate ruler, rather than Mars as was the case in the April chart.img_sign_on islamic astrolabe

This Solar degree falls in the Lunar Mansion Al Thurayya (the many little ones) and is said to be profitable to sailors and alchemists. Taken figuratively, this augers well for the afflicted and an albeit belated rescue effort for Burma, particularly as the Sun moves into Gemini and the Moon enters Sagittarius, forming a fleeting but perfect trine to Mars at the time of the Solar Ingress.

She will be in parallel with Antares, the Heart of the Scorpion,  before the opposition fully separates. Venus will soon be out from under the Sun’s beams. This is a brief period of respite, before Mars closes in on the Dragon’s Tail. Excessive heat and fires fanned by high winds are predicted when the Moon co-joins with them.

Please bear in mind that the house placements will differ from one time zone to another. These comments are most specifically relevant to the Pacific Coast in that regard only.  The comments on fixed star placement and planetary aspects otherwise remain the same and are most immediately concerned with the areas Ptolemy identified with the Earth Triplicity.

To be continued …

Foundation Chart for Baghdad

Al-Biruni mentioned a foundation chart for Baghdad, calculated by the court astrologer, Nawbakht with the assistance of the great Mashallah. This occurred under the caliph Abu Ja’far Al-Mansur who believed Baghdad would be the ideal capital of the Islamic empire under the Abbasids. They were appointed to select a favourable time to begin construction of the capital. It was a truly massive project that would ultimately hire 100,000 labourers.

The date given is 31 July 762 02:40 pm, using Alchabitius Semi-Arc, placing Jupiter precisely on the Ascendant and allowing the builders to indulge in a late brunch. Here is the result:

The first question likely to arise in the modern metaphysical mind, is ‘were they completely mad?’ The first element most likely to strike fear and loathing into the sensitive New Age soul is the Grand Cross, that most hated and damning of all aspect patterns. There is a chart showing the aspects and modern planets here.

Saturn is in the fifth house, squaring Mercury and the Nodes. Worst of all, he opposes the Moon. As if they couldn’t botch things any worse, Jupiter opposes Mars. This is a fair presentation of how a modern astrologer would view this chart.

From a traditional point of view the chart is an entirely different entity and a stroke of electional genius. Let’s forget about geometry for one minute and think instead of essential nature. An aspect such as an opposition has meaning only insofar as natures oppose each other. In this case, the Moon is in the late degrees of Libra and Saturn in the early degrees of Taurus. The opposition of nature would occur if the Moon were in Scorpio.

Planets and luminaries, not aspects, have orbs. The Nodes emit no light and therefore have no orbs, for that is the basis of orbs in the first place. They are orbs of light. Although a modern aspectarian would view Saturn as squared the Nodes, by nature they are in fact trine and of the same element.

In fact, we can see that the astrologers were working within a relatively small window to find the closest thing to a perfect time. The perfect election exists only in the mind of God. A good election is comprised of the best possible moment, accentuating the beneficial and minimizing the malefic towards a desired end.

It is surely no coincidence that the Moon has entered the 12th Lunar Mansion, Al Simak. The meaning of this Mansion is “The Unarmed. Causes marital love, cures the sick … With Moon here, dig but do not marry or travel.” The astrologers might have prefered it were at the entrance degree of 22 Libra 43; but that would have left Mars above the horizon and the election would have been spoiled.

What we said about the Moon and Saturn, we can say about Mercury and Saturn. We find Mercury in the late degrees of Cancer which, like Libra is Cardinal. Fixed does not square or oppose Cardinal. It is a question of essential nature. So, the “Grand Cross” is in fact a geometric illusion and nothing more. Being in orb is not the point. Essential nature is.Abbasid Baghdad was a walled, fortified city, set among an extensive network of canals Courtesy BBC

Now, let’s look at the Mars / Jupiter opposition. The sixth house is considered an unfortunate house, along with the eighth and twelfth. One reason given for this is that it cannot ’see’ the Ascendant.

Mars has just set. It is also the perfect place to put  Mars because in the sixth House he is like a tiger in a cage. He is said to be in his Joy in this house. The astrologers probably thought that Mars was rendered far less harmful because of his house placement and the fact that he’s in sect.  At any rate, this is the chart the astrologers selected and must have felt that Mars was sufficiently subdued. The only other explanations that occur to me at this time is that their intentions were malicious or they were incompetent beyond imagination, neither of which are at all convincing.

This great new centre of learning has Jupiter in his own sign as the life blood of this new city, as the Ascendant is the health of the native. The Sun in the eighth place, by the rule of 5 is in the ninth house. This is the House of God and the Sun finds his Joy here in the royal sign of Leo. Here we find the Lord of the Geniture. The Arabic Part of Faith is found in the same house. The Part of Spirit is in partile conjunction with the Midheaven.

A protective Venus, disposited by the eleventh house Moon in Venusian Libra is placed in the house of partners and enemies. The enemies of Baghdad are rendered benign, as they have been for the majority of the city’s history. The eleventh house supports the tenth, which is in turn informed by the ninth. Baghdad was the greatest centre of learning and culture when Europe was a comparatively primitive backwater.

In this cursory reading of this election, it is evident that these astrologers were truly masters of the art. This also serves as a striking example of how a modern and traditional astrologer would view this election in the first place. The timing is ingenious from a classical point of view; yet the same chart seems mere folly when viewed through the lense of post enlightenment astrological theory.


In response to several thoughtful comments and queries (and two really obnoxious ones) regarding this article, I’ve added two other versions of the same chart. The first is Whole Sign. The second is Whole Sign using the Sidereal zodiac. The latter was mentioned by Mark and I think it deserves some close  study. I’ve set the charts up as thumbnails so you can comment on them individually if you prefer.


Whole Sign – Tropical


Whole Sign – Sidereal