Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fame and Fortune in the [Fixed] Stars

This week, I wanted to spend some time examining a natal chart for the possibilities offered by the fixed stars. In many ways, the fixed stars are more important even than the planets, though ultimately the two must work in tandem to describe a life. William Lilly, in Christian Astrology, writes: "The fixed stars give great gifts, and elevate even from poverty to an extreme height of fortune, the seven planets do not do so." We can thus see immediately that we are dealing with two different species here; the seven planets will tell you if you will have lots of money, but only fixed stars can give you a place on the Forbes 500.

To demonstrate the technique, I will look at the fixed stars in Oprah Winfrey’s chart. She certainly qualifies as someone elevated from poverty to dizzying heights. She grew up quite poor in the pre-civil rights American South, and today has a spellbound audience of millions who watch her show, read her magazine, and take her recommendations on everything from diet to spirituality. Her cultural influence is great and her personal fortune is estimated at over $1 billion. If Lilly is right, she must have some powerful fixed stars working for her. I will not hold you in suspense: she does. There is also a planetary significator of wealth in her chart, but on its own, it wouldn’t give her the great fortune she enjoys today.

Her chart is as follows (the data is Jan 29 1954, 7:51 pm, Kosciusko, Mississippi, 10 Virgo rising):

To start with, it is important to remember that millions of people are born in the course of a century with a planet on a good fixed star. For instance, given a 1.5 degree orb, Jupiter stayed within spitting distance of Regulus for months in 1955. And yet not all those people born then are extremely wealthy. This is because Jupiter conjunct Regulus must be highlighted in some way in a chart for that fixed star to really do its work. It should rule an important house or point (such as the Part of Fortune) and/or be in an angular house. Strong aspects are also an added perk. Also, there seems to be considerable strength in numbers when it comes to fixed stars: one, the stars need to really be of the bright magnitude to do some work (no dimmer than a 2 magnitude body). Two, the more planets on strong fixed stars, the better.


In Oprah’s chart, we can see three important fixed stars. The MC is conjunct Aldebaran, a royal star. This is a most promising start, since the MC shows what we will make of ourselves in the world – becoming like royalty in whatever our circle of influence, in this case. Aldebaran is the Eye of the Bull in the constellation of Taurus. Ptolemy designates it as a Mars-influenced star. It is one of the four Watchers of the Skies of ancient Persia (the others are the royal stars Fomalhaut, Antares, and Regulus), and correlates with the four Horsement of the Apocalypse. Again, if you had any doubts, this is one of the heavy-lifting stars. Its constellation image is the bull, with his front legs emerging from the sea, in an image reminiscent of Zeus’s abduction of Europa. In a metaphysical sense, the image describes earthly manifestation (the bull) from desire (the sea), and both symbols are powerful images of generation and fecundity. We thus would expect wealth from Aldebaran. Vivian Robson writes of Aldebaran that it bestows honor, preferment, good fortune and favors from women (presumably referencing Europa, and especially apropos in Oprah’s case, since women make up most of her audience).


The Part of Fortune is conjunct Sirius, the brightest star visible today, which is the mouth of the Greater Dog, Canis Major. It is said to be of Jupiterian and Martial influence. Robson ascribes a positive influence to it, stating that it brings honor, renown and wealth. In more ancient times, however, as Sirius made its appearance during the Dog days of summer, it was associated with an excess of choler (inward heat) and ferocity. The Dog in question, mythologically speaking, is one of the hunter Orion’s two dogs, symbolizing the senses of man, which were created to serve. Undoubtedly, the brightness of Sirius shows Oprah’s brilliant fortune. As someone who had made it big in the media – which by definition caters to our senses, the symbolism seems very appropriate.


Jupiter in the midheaven is conjunct Rigel, the star on Orion’s heel. Rigel is of the nature of Saturn and Jupiter, and it is also the star at the end of the celestial river Eridanus. According to Rene Guenon, rivers are a special symbol, as they show the ever-changing but constant (yes, it’s a paradox – the water running through the river is never the same water that just flowed through, and yet it’s the same river) nature of the connection between Heaven and Earth. Orion was the tallest and handsomest giant (for he was a Titan born of Gaia, the Earth) who ever lived. As the son of Poseidon, he was able to walk across the ocean floor with his head above the surface. As a great hunter, he once boasted that he could wipe out all animals from the earth; his mother Gaia grew alarmed and sent a giant scorpion to sting Orion in the heel. In another version of the story, the lunar goddess Artemis, in love with Orion, shot him by mistake as he was crossing the ocean. In either case, the fruit of pure generation, which is what all the Titans are, was slain by generation itself. The Moon is the planet of generation, and creatures like scorpions, that breed in great numbers, are a manifestation of generation as well. So Rigel is at once a star of great abundance but also the threat of a sudden fall from grace when the plentiful blessings grow too profuse.

The 1st C.E. poet Manilius writes of Orion: “A son of Orion's will be worth a multitude and will seem to dwell in every quarter of the city; flying from door to door with the one word of morning greeting, he will enjoy the friendship of all.” How appropriate for someone seen in nearly every home and regarded as a friend by so many!

Planetary Influences

We would be remiss if we ignored the promise of wealth by Oprah’s 2nd house. That house is ruled by Venus, which is cadent, so accidentally weak, but also cazimi (within a few minutes of the Sun). Lilly writes of cazimi planets that “they are wondrous strong,” since they are in the bosom of the king (the Sun). Alone, this Venus may have granted some wealth, but not the fabulous wealth and fame Oprah enjoys today.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Horary of the Week: Will I Keep My Job?


Email your horary questions to nina “at” by Friday to be published on Sunday.

Question: "Will I keep my job?"

Background: The Querent found out that several coworkers were going to lose their jobs due to a company reorganization. Though he knew that his job was not in danger at this time, he wanted assurance that he was not going to lose his work sometime later.

Short answer: Yes. The Querent's position seems secure at this time. Though there are changes in his immediate environment, he seems in a remarkably good place for the foreseeable future.

The astrology: First, to get a general overview of the situation, we look to the angles; they are all mutable, showing that we can expect the situation to be in flux, ebbing and flowing. Let's see what's going on with our Querent. His significator is Jupiter in the 7th house in Scorpio; Jupiter just entered Scorpio, a fixed sign, so we can see the Querent is not going anywhere for quite a while. The Moon, as the Querent's cosignificator is also fixed, emphasizing that the Querent is staying in place. It is also void of course, making no further aspects in its sign, indicating that there is nothing going on in the situation. Now, the Moon is at the end of a fixed sign, about to move into Pisces, so the indicator is that there may be some change in the future.
Let us look at the Arabic Part of Resignation & Dismissal (Saturn + Jupiter - Sun); it lies at 26 Cancer. Its dispositor, then, is the Moon. The Moon's first aspect upon entering Pisces is a trine to Jupiter. The implication is that after some change in the situation, symbolized by the change of sign, the Querent may leave, but not at this time.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Traditional Astrology Books: The Greatest Hits

--Jacob's Ladder. Clipart collection at

I have been asked for the best way to learn tradtional astrology, both with regard to technique and the underlying philosophy. While technique is important, the thought behind traditional astrology is a thousand times more important to master. The difference between the two is like knowing how to read versus knowing why we read and what to read once we learned how. Finally, your understanding of traditional thought will greatly improve your technique. In traditional astrology, the method and the philosophy are one, demonstrating the excellence of the type of astrology which stems from the Spirit, rather than material concerns.


  1. Lilly’s Christian Astrology (both volumes); I recommend the edition published by D. Roell of Please see my post on How to Read Lilly for additional elucidation.

  1. Bonatti’s books on horary (there are four currently available from Project Hindsight). Bonatti was an excellent astrologer, and a meticulous (sometimes even pedantic) pedagogue. His books are very clear and easy to understand, though even he had moments when his technique was weaker than we would expect; see last week’s post on Besieging a Castle.

  1. Al-Biruni. The Arabs were instrumental in combining concepts from eastern (i.e. Indian) astrology and western (Hellenistic) astrology. There was substantial cultural exchange between India and the Arab world, and this is reflected in the astrology passed down to the European medieval world.


  1. Mystical Astrology According to Ibn ‘Arabi by Titus Burckhardt. First, I would never recommend reading this book as my first foray into traditional thought. Though slim, it is extremely dense and assumes that the reader already has a solid grasp of traditional thought. Second, the prose itself is not easy to understand; the sentences often run a paragraph long. However, I have put it in first place, as it is such an excellent summary of the intersection between traditional thought and astrology. My recommendation is to read it first and get a passing familiarity with the concepts therein. Then put it aside and read one or more of the books below, after which it is best to revisit this book. Your brain will thank me.

  1. Advice to the Serious Seeker by James Cutsinger. This is where you should really begin. Cutsinger, a professor and disciple of Frithjof Schuon’s (more on him below) does an excellent job of laying out the esoteric outlines that underlie traditional thought. He also has a few chapters on integrating the tradition into your modern life, a unique and practical approach to living the philosophy (long medieval gowns are not a prerequisite to practicing traditional astrology, in case you were wondering).

  1. The Essential Frithjof Schuon. Schuon was a renowned exponent of the traditional philosophy. I highly recommend his works in general, as they are a good introduction to many traditional thinkers. The Transcendent Unity of Religions is excellent as well.

  1. Any of Ibn ‘Arabi’s works. Ibn ‘Arabi is considered a great Islamic thinker. He lived during the 12th century and moved through the Islamic world as an itinerant scholar. He was extremely prolific and put much of his mystical understanding into writing. Though a challenging read, his work goes to the heart of traditional thought like no other. A good start is Ringstones of Wisdom (Fusus al-hikam).

  1. The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times by Rene Guenon. This book is definitely a must to get the “why” of traditional philosophy and how in heck we got to where we are today. Another top-notch, instructive and slightly less depressing read is Fundamental Symbols (published by Fons Vitae Press (under the Quinta Essentia imprint)).