A Modern Approach to an Ancient Method, October 1953
In this installment Fagan demonstrates the use and interpretation of lunar and demi-lunar returns. Fagan considered lunars—a chart for the monthly return of the moon to its natal place—to be the best predictive instrument in an astrologer's toolkit. The all-important issue of natal versus transiting planets in interpretation is considered classic.
His is perhaps the first voice to dispense with the "trines are good squares are bad" notion that has confounded astrologers ever since horary astrology became conflated with natal astrology many centuries ago. He also discusses the importance of mundane aspects and how they are more important than zodiacal aspects.
Centrifugal and Centripetal Planets
Because the influences of the planets in the radix or birth chart diverge outward from the native they are designated centrifugal ("fleeing from the center"), whereas the emanations of transiting bodies are termed centripetal ("seeking the center") because they converge towards the center, i.e., towards the native himself. In other words the action of the natal bodies are subjective, while those in transit act objectively. The art of successful solunar prediction depends on the thorough understanding and mastery of this relationship. For example, in genethliacal astrology, the radical Mars symbolizes the jungle instincts in all of us, however much these may be veneered by our cultural background; often this expresses either as a constructive forceful drive to accomplishment or to force our way through life regardless of the consequences to others; sometimes it gives the instinct to plunder, destroy, kill, torture, violate or oppress, and those often come to the surface to seek expression in some form or another during the ensuing month should the birth Mars appear in the foreground (i.e. on the "Maltese Cross") of the current lunar or demi-lunar return. On the other hand should the transiting Mars be in the foreground, then the native may become the victim of an attack, from adverse criticism, slander, illness, fever, accidents, surgical operations, et cetera.
The natal Venus denotes the native's amatory instincts. It signifies the capacity to love and cherish another, and should the natal Venus appear on the "Maltese Cross" of the current lunar or demi-lunar return (especially if it is simultaneously transited by Jupiter) the native may fall deeply in love according to his capability. But should the transiting Venus appear in the foreground, then the native himself may become the object of affection and another may seek to attract him by displaying all the arts of inducement, as by flowers, music, money, presents, invitations or the like. Whenever the place of a planet at birth comes into the immediate foreground of the lunar or demi-lunar return, its influence, for the time being, dominates the upper or conscious mind, but when it is in the background, it lies dormant in the unconscious mind.
The reader can test his understanding of the secret of successful prediction by asking himself, for example, what is likely to happen should the natal Jupiter rise or culminate in the lunar return and how would the effects differ had the transiting Jupiter been there instead. The test should be extended to embrace all the planets including the Sun and Moon. If the reader is satisfied on theoretical and experimental grounds, that he can successfully differentiate the effects, then there is no reason why he should not take his place among the most skillful astrologers of all time.
In regard to the angles that comprise the "Foreground" or "Maltese Cross," the Arabians styled the degree of the ecliptic that crossed the eastern horizon (Greek-horoscope [Fagan means the horoscopos or ascendant, ed.]) the Apheta or "Giver of Life" because it betokened birth, life, renewal, awakening and freshness. The Egyptians called it "The Place of Sunrise," and the rising Sun (especially on New Year's Day) was symbolized by the ideogram of a handsome naked boy of royal mien. The midheaven represented attainment, fulfillment, maturity, domination and over-lordship. Called "The Lake of Heaven," the Egyptians symbolized it by Horus, the falcon soaring into the noonday Sun.
While the 7th house of the lunar or demi-lunar return is frequently strongly tenanted by the planets at the time of marriage yet, strange as it may seem, the 7th is also the "House of Death" (the 8th, being the 2nd from the 7th, represents the property of the dead, such as wills, legacies and bequests, but not death itself). The Egyptians called the 7th house "The Place of Sunset" and the Entrance to the Duat ("Abode of Shades") and they identified it with Atum (the root "tm" means "completion," "closer," "finisher," "lack of breath"), the god of sunset.
The Arabians termed the setting degree of the zodiac the Anareta or "Destroyer of Life." It is not uncommon to find the Sun on the cusp of the 7th house (sunset) at the death of a parent and the presence of Venus here—especially should it aspect the natal Saturn—not infrequently indicates grief, departures and death-bed farewells. (In the bunker under the Reich Chancellery, Berlin on April 29, 1945, Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun and at 15h 30m GST or 1h 30m P.M., GMT of the next day, he mortally shot himself through the mouth, while the dead body of the poisoned Eva lay by his side.) The darkness of the 4th angle signifies the Underworld, and all that lay buried in Geb, the god of the earth, such as mines, dank cellars, earthquakes and the like.
Aspects: A Warning
If the reader wished to master the technique of solunar interpretation he must be prepared to un-learn all that he has read about trine and sextile aspects producing only “good” results, while squares and oppositions produce only “evil” effects. As far as Solunars are concerned this is simply not true. “Goodness” and “badness” depend on the intrinsic nature of the planets in mutual configuration, and not on the character of the aspect. The seeming “goodness” of trines and sextiles is due to the fact that these are configurations of moderation, coming languidly into effect, temperate in action, and avoiding all extremes; while the apparent, “badness” of oppositions and squares comes from the fact that they tend to excess, acting sharply and vigorously. Swinburne’s lines:
“The Lillies end languors of virtue, The roses and raptures of vice,”
might fittingly be applied to these so-called “good” and “bad” aspects only that the “good” ones are not necessarily virtuous, nor the “bad” ones vicious. To the extent that extremes in all matters are inimical—extremes of heat and cold, extremes of plethora or want, extremes of sunshine or rain—so are oppositions and squares “evil.” A surfeit of wealth can be just as evil—perhaps more so— than dire poverty. On the other hand the principle so much advocated in the Eastern doctrine of the “Middle Way”—that moderation or temperance in all things if the safest and less troublesome path in life, so are trines and sextiles deemed to be virtuous. But today the doctrine of the “Middle Way” appeals but little to those living outside monastic orders. On the contrary, in the mad scramble for fame (Sun) and wealth (Jupiter) the world finds greater satisfaction in the witticisms of Oscar Wilde that “Nothing succeeds like excess.”
It is a fact that in the genitures of those who have achieved eminence or made fortunes, oppositions and squares to the Sun or to Jupiter will be far more conspicuous than the expected trines and sextiles. Should the Sun, for example, in the Lunar or demi-lunar revolution, be in trine aspect to Saturn (without any other configuration) the month will prove to be on the whole uneventful, uninteresting and rather dreary, being moderately dull and uncreative. On the other hand should the Sun be in opposition to Jupiter, the month, compared with others, will prove to be joyous, prosperous and progressive in every way, especially should Jupiter be in the foreground. An opposition or square of Venus and Jupiter is always a happy augury (if partile or in the foreground it often denotes a wedding), while a trine aspect of Saturn to Mars, Uranus and Neptune is often a configuration of ill-omen.
At the time of the terrible triple railway smash that occurred at 7:19 A.M., GMT, on October 8, 1952 at Harrow-Wealdstone Station (N51°36', W 0°16'), the Moon was in the 8th house in close trine aspect to the Sun, Saturn and Neptune in conjunction in the 12th house in the constellation Virgo. In collisions of this nature one generally finds Uranus, the significator of changes and traveling, seriously afflicted by Mars and Saturn and frequently from the constellation Gemini, or from the houses associated with locomotion. The indication of this shocking smash was the position of Uranus in the constellation ruling “inter alia” railroads and highways, i.e. Gemini, in the 9th house in square aspect to the Sun, Saturn and Neptune (fog?) in Virgo. The terrible bus accident that occurred at about 6 P.M., GMT on Dec. 4, 1951 at Chatham (N 51°16'; E 1°02') shows Uranus on the Ascendant in Gemini in square to Mars, Saturn and Neptune in the 5th house (Children). In this appalling calamity over 20 young cadets, marching in the dark, were killed. In the tropical zodiac Uranus was in the sign Cancer, not usually associated with locomotion.
Unless zodiacal aspects are partile (exact) they have very little significance in solunar returns, as they are common to many millions whose returns fall on the same dates. With the exception of the nonagesimal they can be ignored.
Of far greater importance are the mundane aspects, especially those falling in the "Maltese Cross." For example, a planet that is on the meridian will be in mundane square aspect to one that is bodily on the ascendant or descendant, although these planets may hold no mutual aspects in the zodiac. Mundane aspects are powerful testimonies, and these include zodiacal conjunctions and oppositions for these, too, are mundane configurations. A planet that is, say, on the cusp of the 11th house (Campanus) will be in mundane square to one on the cusp of the 2nd house (Campanus) but in the Placidean and Regiomontanean methods of house divisions they would not be in mundane configuration if so placed. The effects of planets that are in the foreground of solar and lunar returns are tantamount to a conjunction of Sun and Moon respectively. Unless trines and sextiles (zodiacal or mundane), are partile they can be disregarded.
The highest point of the zodiac is that degree which is zodiacal dexter square aspect to the "horoscope" (ecliptic degree that is crossing the eastern horizon) and it is known as the Nonagesimal (more commonly known today as the zenith, not to be confused with the midheaven, ed.). For example, Leo 27° would be the Nonagesimal when the "horoscope" is Scorpio 27°. The Nonagesimal is a point of particular sensitivity and transits to it have a marked effect in solunars. Sometimes the Nonagesimal falls in the 9th house or even 8th house, and at other times it may fall in the 10th and 11th houses, depending on the R.A. of the M.C. and the latitude of the place.
The Lunar Return
When the Moon returns to the degree and minute of Sidereal longitude it occupied at birth—which happens about every 27 days (the sidereal month: 27.32166 days, ed.)—the flow and ebb of the "humors" begin a new cycle, but conditioned by the distribution of the Sun, Moon and planets in the fore and backgrounds. That is to say, a chart of the heavens accurately computed for the instant of the Moon's return to its natal place in the constellations, and for the place of residence, will indicate the main peripheral events for the ensuing month and their reactions on the native's mental condition and behavior. That is why the lunar return is the most important and most reliable of all prophetic instruments. The Grand Lunar Return occurs about every 19 years (Fagan had a literary slip of the tongue here—the grand lunar occurs in the 27th and 54th years of age when the secondary progressed moon returns to its natal longitude; the Metonic cycle returns the nodes to their natal places about every 19 years, ed.) at the time the Moon's nodes return to the sidereal longitudes they occupied at birth, and when the Moon's latitude will approximate to its natal latitude. The demi-lunar return is a figure computed for the moment the Moon comes to the opposition of its natal latitude. The demi-lunar return is a figure computed for the moment the Moon comes to the opposition of its natal sidereal longitude, which happens about every 27 days. This "opposition" return is equal in importance to the "conjunction" figure and its calculation should never be neglected; for what is promised in the regular lunar return finds its fruition in the demi-lunar.
Queen Elizabeth's Lunars
By way of illustrating the predictive value of Solunar astrology, two lunars and the radix of Queen Elizabeth II of England are here presented. According to the official news the Queen was born at 17 Burton Street, London, at 2 :40 A.M. BST on April 21, 1926. Her Ascendant, Sagittarius 27° 37' is almost identical with that of her famous namesake, Queen Elizabeth I of England, who had Sagittarius 26° 11' rising.* Jupiter, her "ruler," was in Capricorn 28° 41' in conjunction with Mars in 27° 07' of the same constellation, the exact degree of Mars' exaltation. Both planets were in opposition to Neptune in Cancer 28° 13' and in square to Saturn in Scorpio 0° 38', all four bodies being on the "Maltese Cross," and hence very influential. The most powerful, Saturn, is only one degree past the meridian and only 10° past its own exaltation point (Libra 21°). The Moon in Cancer 18° 17' is in its dignity and strong on the "Maltese Cross," but the Sun, in Aries 6° 23' 31", is the weakest and most, ineffective body in the whole chart for it is placed exactly in the middle of the 2nd house, which shares with the middle of the 5th house as being the "dumb note" of the mundane sphere. Although Pluto, in Gemini 18° 53', had set, it is still within the "Maltese Cross," but Venus, Uranus and Mercury are in the background.
At 11:44 A.M., GMT, November 20, 1947, the Queen was married at Westminister Abbey, London, and the lunar return for that event occurred at 4:59 P.M., GMT, November 5, 1947. The return shows Venus and Jupiter in conjunction—a token of marriage—in Scorpio in the "House of Matrimony" (7th), Venus being close to the exact setting degree. The glory of the setting Sun added lustre and dignity to the scene by being included in the occidental arm of the ''Maltese Cross." There was a most dangerous conjunction of the Moon, Pluto, Mars and Saturn in the last decanate of the constellation Cancer, but their sinister powers were nullified by being placed in the middle of the 5th house, which, as stated, shares with the 2nd as being the most ineffective positions in the whole mundane sphere.
The Queen was crowned at Westminister Abbey on June 2, 1953 and the demi-lunar return occurred on the same date at 12:14 P.M., GMT. The reader can see that the chart is an extraordinary characteristic of the event. The royal constellation Leo rises, with the Sun, its "ruler," in conjunction with Jupiter in the traditional sign of the British monarchy, namely Taurus, Jupiter, the Sun, Mars and Mercury are astride the meridian in the southern arm of the "Maltese Cross." Even the merest tyro in astrology knows that there can be no more significant indication of a royal coronation than that of a conjunction of the Sun and Jupiter on the midheaven. In this configuration we find all the scintillating splendor, military pageantry and ecclesiastical dignity associated with such an event. The fact that the malefics, Saturn and Neptune, conjoined in the end of the constellation Virgo, were rendered "hors de combat" by being placed in the background and under the earth, will not escape the attention of the astute student of sidereal astrology.
*The only record I’ve seen gives these data for Elizabeth I who many consider the greatest English monarch to date: September 7, 1533 (Julian) at Greenwich, England between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. LAT. Astrodatabank gives 14:54 pm LMT. Local Mean time was not a time standard in place anywhere in Christendom in 1533. The equation of time for Elizabeth’s birth was +5m 43s thus the LMT equivalent of 3:00 pm Local Apparent Time was 2:54:17 pm LMT, hence the Astrodatabank value. Tropical Capricorn was on the ascendant throughout the hour 3:00 to 4:00 pm which was considered inappropriate for royalty thus many times were proposed in an unsuccessful attempt to get around that problem. Elizabeth did, however, have Sagittarius rising by sidereal zodiac reckoning as well as the Moon in Aries which are both royal constellations. Fagan and possibly the great Italian mathematician and astrologer Junctinius (Francisco Giuntini (1522-1580 or 1590) determined a birthtime of 3:24 pm to 3:25 pm LMT [3:18:17 pm to 3:19:17 pm LAT] which gives sidereal ascendants of 25 and 26 degrees Sagittary. The 3:24 LMT time produces a double primary direction condition for shortly after her 25th birthday when Elizabeth became queen on November 17, 1558, upon the death of her half-sister Queen Mary (known as Bloody Mary for her persecution and executions of Protestants).
Elizabeth had her natal I.C. directed to natal Mars at the same time that her converse primary directed ascendant arrived at natal Jupiter, which, like her ascendant, is also in the Archer. The Imum Coeli relates to family matters and the “end of things.” One may well experience loss at such times when Mars is directed to the I.C. So even though Elizabeth was deathly afraid of Mary who had had her imprisoned in the Tower of London, they were both fathered by Henry VIII. Mary was her closest family relation when Mary's death made Elizabeth Queen of England. Jupiter consistently represents an elevation in rank and general good fortune. For someone who was already a prince of the blood, the primary direction to Jupiter meant an elevation in status to the highest rank in the realm. Almost surely this was Fagan's reasoning unless he found a time for Elizabeth in Junctinius's Speculum Astrologiae.
It is worth noting that some people have proposed “correcting” Julian dates into their Gregorian equivalents for dates before the Gregorian Reform of 1582. This is an especially significant mistake for astrological purposes as there was no such thing as a Gregorian calendar before 1582; thus it is not only unnecessary and misleading but incorrect to convert Julian dates for years before 1582. One of the proofs of this is that when the ten days of the Julian calendar were dropped to produce the Gregorian calendar, zodiacal reckoning didn’t miss a step; to wit, at noon on Thursday October 4th 1582 Julian at Rome, the Sun had 1 Libra 46, sidereal. The next day, Friday October 15, 1582, the first day of the Gregorian calendar, the Sun had 2 Libra 46, sidereal at noon at Rome. The respective tropical positions are 20 Libra 42 followed by 21 Libra 41. England did not adopt the Gregorian calendar for another 172 years but it did not alter the fact that October 5th Julian and October 15th Gregorian are the same day. The would-be converters want to advance Elizabeth's Julian birthday by the difference between Old Style and New Style Gregorian dates before there is a New Style. Doing that makes Elizabeth's horoscope wrong by many days.
We would like to thank Derek Kinsolving for scanning the original article from his collection of American Astrology magazines.