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I’ve long been an advocate for the use of the twelfth-parts in astrological analysis. The twelfth-parts are divisions each zodiacal sign into twelve 2 1/2 degree segments, one for each sign of the zodiac. This mini zodiac within each sign kicks off with the sign itself. Some free astrology software programs will display projections of twelfth-part positions along the natal chart. However, they are also not hard to calculate in your head.
A Very Important and Very Ancient Division
Almost every Hellenistic astrologer mentioned the twelfth-parts. Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th century) and Rhetorius (6th or 7th century) regarded them as essential. Abu Ma’shar used them in a myriad of predictive techniques from primary directions to solar returns. Interestingly, they date back to Babylonian astrology. In fact, they are nearly as old as the regular zodiac itself, first appearing about 100 years after the first evidence of a regularized zodiac.
Attention on this Site
I’ve given the twelfth-parts a lot of attention on the site. Like Maternus and Rhetorius, I regard them as absolutely essential to astrological analysis. Whether analyzing a natal chart or even just looking at transits of Saturn, it astounds me what astrologers miss by ignoring the twelfth-parts.
In the text above, I’ve linked to a few of my introductory articles on twelfth-parts. However, one of the most important is not linked above, but is the one on their use as projections of the planets – a second set of planetary positions (click for link). Additionally, in almost every analysis on the site there is a look at the twelfth-parts, even when just looking at transits. Therefore, if you don’t yet understand twelfth-parts or their utility, I’m sure you’ll find clarification and encouragement after some exploration of the site.
Symbolism and Assumptions
Twelfth-parts are one of the most important and undervalued elements of ancient astrology. I do what I can to promote greater awareness of them. I’ve even addressed how important they are within a symbolic view of astrology. Their quick dismissal is due to misguided assumptions rather than to a lack of utility.
Multiple dominant worldviews in astrology, from the naturalistic to the psychological, tend to discourage astrology that is “too symbolic”. Factors like “lots” and twelfth-parts fly in the face of assumptions of astrology working through natural causes or by way of the planets “indexing” occult causes. My focus has instead been on seeing whether these elements of the language of astrology have something to say. Indeed they do, and in all areas of astrology.
The lack of a birth time is a frustrating situation for traditional astrologers in a way that it is not for modern astrologers. In modern psychological astrology, powerful factors index or influence powerful causes. For instance, the Sun and Moon may be taken to directly reflect the most powerful influences upon the individual’s psyche. Finer distinctions, such as those shown by houses, may modulate things, but much can be seen from just the sign placements of the planets.
By contrast, in ancient astrology, there is an emphasis on compositional indications. By the combination of symbolism and its reinforcement does a meaning emerge that can pertain to indications about the life and timed activation. Furthermore, for the self and character, the emphasis is on the fastest changing elements of the chart. Especially pivotal is the degree rising at birth.
Unfortunately, there are times when we do not have a birth time. In such cases, twelfth-parts can still help us get some deeper insight into a chart. This is in part due to their faster moving, and thus more individuating, symbolism. Here, I’ll be taking a quick look at one such example of this.
Joacine Katar Moreira
Joacine Katar Moreira is history-making new member of parliament in Portugal. She is an academic and activist, turned politician, who has become the first black woman to lead a party into elections. She is with the left-leaning Livre party, an eco-socialist party founded in 2014. Moreira became the party leader and the first member of the party to win a seat. She was also elected in the first election to bring black women onto Portugal’s parliament (her and two other women).
Joacine is interesting not just for making history, but also for her bold individuality in the face of a disinformation war, and her stutter. She has been heavily and unfairly defamed by the far-right party in Portugal in a campaign of disinformation. Her race, nationality, and her stutter being primary targets.
Joacine was born in the West African country of Guinea-Bissau, a former Portugese colony. She moved to Portugal when she was 8. Additionally, she has a persistent stutter that has been with her since birth. The disinformation campaign has attempted to characterize her as not truly Portugese. She has also been accused for faking the stutter for attention.
It is always disgusting to see people attacked for their race and other accidents of birth, such as Joacine’s stutter. Equally disgusting is the use of misinformation and lies to defame and unfairly discredit. This got me curious as to the nature of her chart, but we unfortunately have no exact birth time. Will the twelfth-parts have anything to say? Is there some symbolism of a stutter even without access to topical symbolism from houses and lots?
She was born on July 27, 1982 in Guinea-Bissau. I pulled up a Noon chart for her with the twelfth-parts to see what was there. I was immediately struck by some symbolism of the stutter, as clear as day, but hidden in the twelfth-parts.
Joacine Moreira’s Natal Chart with Twelfth-Part Positions Along Outside
As we do not know the birth time, it is not possible to dig deep into symbolism pertaining to the houses and lots. This is very significant as the houses and lots can key us in to the topics that the planets relate to. They allow us to see how indications may pertain to the identity and physical body of the person for instance. Therefore, we have just a small piece of the story here.
In this case, we are stuck largely with the natural significations. Mercury is the planet that has the most to say about communication. Saturn is the planet most relevant for obstruction.
When it comes to the planets, the Moon is particularly relevant for matters of the body. Note that the Moon is shown at 1 Scorpio but could be in late Libra or a little later in Scorpio as well depending on the birth time.
Examining Mercury simply in the natal chart, we find very little that is particularly unusual. Mercury is combust the Sun (close to the Sun under its beams). That has some light symbolism pertaining to being hidden or obscured, but is also extremely common. Mercury is under the Sun’s beams very frequently for long stretches of time, so on its own the signification is insignificant.
Mercury is in the Sun’s house (Leo), with the Sun, squared by Jupiter, and possibly the Moon. It is in the bound of a benefic (Venus). These all pertain to loftiness, opportunity, and power associated with Mercury, consistent with her political accomplishments. However, Mercury does not appear to have any affliction by a malefic or other difficulties we can surmise.
Mercury-Saturn in the Twelfth-Parts
There is significant Mercury-Saturn symbolism that we miss by not examining the twelfth-parts. Mercury is at 6-7 Leo. It’s twelfth-part is in the middle of the sign Libra. Libra is occupied by both malefics, Saturn and Mars. In fact, Saturn is at 16 Libra. It is actually possible for the twelfth-part of Mercury to be in a partile conjunction with either natal Saturn or Mars, depending on the time of birth. In any case, Mercury’s twelfth-part is almost surely in mid-to-late Libra, with both malefics.
Additionally, the twelfth-part of Saturn is at about 20 Aries. Therefore, the twelfth-part of Mercury is conjunct natal Saturn and Mars, while opposed to the natal twelfth-part of Saturn. Furthermore, the twelfth-part of Mars is in Leo, with Mercury.
Joacine Moreira’s Natal Chart with Twelfth-Part Positions Along OutsideWhat we find with the addition of the twelfth-parts is that Mercury provides for symbolism of important communication disturbances. The symbolism of obstruction pertaining to Mercury is seen in three ways even without houses. Mercury is combust, has its twelfth-part with Saturn, and has that opposed by the twelfth-part of Saturn. Combustion, the most easily noticeable condition, is here actually the most common and least significant of them. Symbolism of the use of communication as a weapon and as a force of change may also be shown by the links with Mars.
It is also worth noting that this link between Saturn and Mercury is also apparent in the decans. Mercury is in the first 10 degrees of Leo which is the decan of Saturn. This is yet another significant link between Mercury and the obstructive symbolism of Saturn.
Traditional astrology is extremely limited without an accurate time of birth. However, even in such situations, we can still carefully study the natal chart for a small slice of its symbolism. When we do so it is helpful to pay attention to subtler distinctions than just planets in signs. Twelfth-parts are one too that allow us to do this, seeing additional symbolism that is absent or only in common forms in the bare natal chart.
A link between Mercury and Saturn does not make for a stutter. It is not even sufficient symbolism for indicating a stutter. However, the link between symbolism pertaining to communication and obstruction is necessary to astrologically indicate speech impediments like this one. Mercury is one of the most important astrological symbols for communication, and Saturn for obstruction. Just in using the twelfth-parts and decans we see that multiple forms of this symbolism is indeed present in Joacine’s chart, even without an accurate birth time.
I hope this look will encourage you to take the time to look at the twelfth-parts in every chart you examine as well.