Hi. I moved this article to my new website. Please read its updated and improved version there. Thank you.
Astrology is an enormous subject. Human life is only a small and ephemeral part of it.
It is for this reason that when someone has anything authoritative to say about Astrology, they, regardless of intention, had better done their homework.
Astrology, the natal branch which I am concerned with in this article, encompasses a few well-known and established types Babylonian, Hellenistic, Perso-Arabic and Medieval, to mention the Western tradition, (otherwise Jyotish (Indian, which also contains a few natal branches) and Chinese Astrology which has 2 natal branches), which on the surface may seem very similar, but when properly studied show there are significant differences. Since Astrology deals with pretty much almost everything in one’s life and the essence of human life has almost not changed at all, it is vital that the practitioner knows the fundamental principles and how the various topics and their delineation and prediction was formed. The reason for this is very simple: if one studies the history not just of Astrology but other very powerful types of knowledge such as Classical Feng Shui, Western Physiognomy, Chinese Physiognomy (Face and Palm and Body Reading), Magic, etc it becomes evident that there was a golden period during which the fundamental principles were laid down and after they, with few exceptions, were passed down from teacher to student in the next 1000+ years.
One of the major things that prompted me to write this article is the length of life topic in Astrology, which is among my favourite ones. I recently heard this radio podcast (episode 2 Length of Life, which can be downloaded for free, as all the others):
The two Astrology practitioners are well-read in general, but no way near well enough when discussing this most important topic. They make the typical mistake for which I warned in my article “Why I Use the Term “Ancient Astrology” and What I Mean by It” by mixing Medieval Astrology, which type they admittedly practice, with traditional Astrology – which is wrongly used to cover all types of Astrology historically.
So what happened was when they were discussing the topic of calculating the length of life, they were using Medieval techniques but representing them as traditional ones, that is, ones that are encompassing the whole history of Astrology and are therefore the original and correct ones. This is flat wrong, very dangerous and misleads the public about Astrology. The techniques I refer to are the so called Giver of Life (Hyleg), Giver of Years (Alcochoden) and Destroyer of Life (Anaereta). Without going in detail about easily accessible historical astrological textbooks, not only are these techniques not the original ones for calculating the longevity in Astrology, they are, in fact, the last ones. Moreover, they do not work consistently. In fact there are types of charts with specific dispositio (arrangements of planets and other points as per Guido Bonatti) where the Hyleg and Alcocoden technique does not work at all.
Also, if someone tries to split hairs about Ptolemy being a Hellenistic Astrology practitioner and thus representing the original ancient techniques, he is indeed such in terms of the period, but in actuality he is not: his views and some of his techniques are revisionist and run contrary to Hellenistic astrological principles. I don’t even think it is worth paying attention that we was most likely just an astronomer and not an Astrology practitioner., as that is not what I am concerned with in this article. Ptolemy’s length of life method is ancient, no doubt about it, but it is no different than the Perso-Medieval one when it comes to its essence.
What do I mean that? Speaking broadly, there are three approaches of Astrology. While this is made implicit in the astrological textbooks, they are not named.
I call them the fixed/static, the continuous one and the mixed one. This is not unlike the Early and Later Heaven sequence in Chinese Metaphysics. The fixed approach in Astrology is the superior and idealistic type. It requires no predictive techniques simply because, when it comes at least to the major, foundational topics in human life, they are predetermined. In other words, the chart dispositio is such that they can be seen without resorting to predictive techniques or lengthy calculations. However, this is no easy thing to do!
The second type is the continuous one: it demands predictive techniques because of its underlying principles and methods differ significantly from the first one. Such approaches to Astrology are exemplified by Jyotish (the Parashara branch of Indian Astrology) and Four Pillars of Destiny aka BaZi (one of the branches of Chinese Astrology).
The third approach is a mixture of the first two but it is really much closer to the first, the fixed one. As Robert Zoller likes to say: “the natal chart/promise tells us what, the predictive techniques tell us when”. Jean Baptiste Morin says the same, namely that predictive/timing techniques cannot bring about (his philosophy dealt with causal Astrology) anything not promised by the natal chart.
To get back to the topic of calculating how long one will live with Astrology, it is these primary, original techniques that I mean when I explain about the fixed approach. In other words, provided one has deeply studied them over a period of time, separated the wheat from the chaff and has come up with practical insights, determining the lifespan can be successfully done using ancient astrological techniques without having to resort to predictive techniques.
However, because these two practitioners do not know this, yet present what they know from Medieval Astrology as the authoritative, traditional statements on the subject of the length of life, the public is mislead, albeit I am sure not deliberately, yet the end result is the same.
To make a comparison, that is like studying one major approach to eminence and saying unless the person has the Sun and Moon, particularly the Sect Light, in angular houses, and attended by angular bodyguards they won’t become a king (an extremely powerful, wealthy and influential person nowadays). That is simply not true. Or that not having prominent 9th and 3rd houses and rulers means that someone will not travel a lot or emigrate abroad. That is not true either. Neither is it true that the Hyleg, Alcocoden, Anaereta technique is the primary and authoritative technique for length of life in Astrology. Far from it.