Astrological Predictive Techniques | 6. Manilius-Style Profections

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Why Explore Obscure Profections?

This is the last planned post exploring the use of profections.  This one is presented more for the sake of completeness, than intended as endorsement in practice. Manilius was a very early (1st century CE) Hellenistic astrologer but not a very influential one. He often approached topics in a unique manner. He created Lots relative to Fortune, subdivided twelfth-parts and more. His approach to profections follows the same basic principles as standard Hellenistic profections but what he chooses what to profect is unique to him.

The Diversity of Ancient Astrology

I have an additional motivation for exploring the variety of methods and opinions for profections in ancient astrology.  I wish to convey the great degree of diversity and richness that is ancient astrology. This diversity stands in contrast to false assumptions about ancient astrology as cut-and-dry, uniform in technique and attitude, narrow in scope, and fatalistic in philosophy. The first one thousand years of the horoscopic tradition provided the richest body of astrological technique and opinion we have. It can provide a lifetime of new insights and challenges to enrich our practice.  I discuss this matter further in the article, “Ancient Astrologers Didn’t All Agree“.


For those unfamiliar with the basic technique of annual and monthly profections, please review the first three articles of the series. Those articles introduce annual profections, discuss profections of smaller periods, and illustrate ways the profected Ascendant and its ruler are combined with other predictive techniques.  I find basic annual and monthly profections indispensable in predictive astrological work.

Two Methods: One Unique to Manilius

In Book 3 of his Astronomica, Manilius (1st century CE) described two different methods of profection.  First, at about lines 510-529, he presented a method of profection I have not seen elsewhere.  Next, at about lines 537-559, he presented a different method attributed to “some who approve of an alternative scheme” (Goold, 1977, p. 207). The second type is actually the familiar profection of the Ascendant used by most Hellenistic astrologers. Interestingly, the method first discussed by Manilius, which he seemed to have favored, is idiosyncratic and not seen in other sources.

Profect the Sun Annually, Moon Monthly, and Ascendant for Days and Hours

In the method of Manilius for the annual profection we move the Sun (one sign per year), while for the monthly profection we move the Moon (one sign per month).  The Ascendant is profected for groups of days and hours, with some confusion as to the time period used.  In fact, there are many ambiguities in the discussion and questions that naturally arise with it.  Let’s let Manilius explain the basic method and then we’ll discuss some of the difficulties with employing it.

Manilius on Profections

Now I shall assign their special periods of life in classes to the signs; for the signs are also allotted to their own particular years and months and days and hours of days; and during these periods they each exercise special influence.  The first year of life will belong to that sign in which at birth the Sun has shone, since the Sun takes a year’s duration to traverse the firmament; the next and subsequent years are consecutively bestowed upon the signs in their order.  The Moon shall denote the months, since in a month it completes its course.  The Horoscope [Ascendant] brings under its regency the first days and the first hours, and hands the others to the following signs.  Thus did nature wish year and months and days and even hours to be duly counted out through the signs, that every period of time might be distributed over every sign of the zodiac and vary its movements through the sequence of signs, according as it made a change to each one as it came round in the circle.  (Manilius, Astronomica, 3.510-521, Goold trans., 1977, p. 205)

Annual Profection

In this scheme the sign of the year is that into which the Sun profects at a rate of one sign per year from its birth position.  For instance, a 31 year old who was born with a Sagittarius Sun, would find oneself in a Cancer year.  Remember that the profection comes back to the starting point, Sagittarius, at age 36 (a multiple of 12). Therefore, the 31st birthday, 5 before the 36th, would put it 5 signs back from Sagittarius, at Cancer.

Under this method the annual profection of the Sun, rather than Ascendant, marks the sign of the year, and is the main factor for annual profections.  This varies from the predominant view that the annual profection of the Ascendant is most important. It also varies from the approach of Vettius Valens who took the annual profection of the Sect Light and Ascendant as most important.

Monthly Profection

Here’s where things start to tricky.  Manilius appears to be advising us to take monthly profections from the Moon. For Manilius, monthly profections are disjointed from annual profections. Rather than dividing the annual profection up into twelve months, we use a totally different starting point for the monthly profections. A profection from the natal Moon has a different starting point.

It is unclear what sort of months are intended.  For instance, if one were born December  1, 1980 with a Libra Moon, then we might be tempted to count calendar months to the present day. This is easy as the Moon would profect back to the natal sign every December of every year.  In January, the Moon would profect to Scorpio, one sign after Libra, as January is one month after December. However, it is unclear whether calendar months are intended or a more astronomical lunar month. There are the synodic month of about 29.5 days and the sidereal month of about 27.5 days.  If one of these other months are used, starting from birth, then over time you will get other indications for the sign of the month.

Daily and Hourly Profections

The daily and hourly profections are the most difficult to understand.  It appears that Manilius is separating out two different rates, a daily rate and an hourly rate.  We are using the same factor (Ascendant) for two different rates in a symbolic fashion.

The way that Manilius presented the more common profectional technique later in his book suggested that he used planetary hours for hourly rates. There are normally 24 planetary hours in a 24-hour day based on division of the length of day (sunrise and sunset) and that of night (sunset to sunrise). I assume in this approach two planetary hours would equal one profectional sign hour.  That discussion also seemed to imply that the daily rate was one sign per day.

Daily Profections in Practice

My best hypothesis as to how to find the daily profectional sign is to count the number of days since your birth to the present time (it may help to use a date duration calculator online). You then divide the number of days by 12 and take the remainder (multiply the portion after the decimal by 12) as the number of signs past your Ascendant.  For instance, if your Ascendant is Aquarius and the remainder is 3, then the sign of the day is Taurus (i.e. counted Pisces, Aries, Taurus).

Hourly Profections in Practice

My best hypothesis for the hour is that every day at your birth time is the start of the hour that pertains to your Ascendant.  For instance, take one born at 3 pm with an Aquarius Ascendant. Every day at 3 pm would start the Aquarius hour.  An easy approach is to use a regular rate of a sign every two hours.  So around 5 pm would star the Pisces hour of the day. Since it would cycle through 12 in a day, these hours would be in the same order starting from the birth time each day.

I noted that Manilius may have used planetary hours for this, which is a bit more complex. You could use a free planetary hours calculator, and have the first sign start at the beginning of the planetary hour that contains the birth time (i.e. the one that is happening at 3 pm in the example). Change to the next sign after every two planetary hours.


Annual and monthly profections of the Ascendant have won me over as to their value time and time again.  Many of the other types of profections, including this one by Manilius may also prove themselves useful with time. I advocate experimenting with them and urge you to keep me informed about what you find. Happy journeys!


Manilius, M. (1977). Astronomica. (G. P. Goold, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library.
Image Attribution

Featured image (cropped) is of the Hampton Court Astrological Clock by Mike Cattell [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons



Blogger interested in all things astrological, especially Hellenistic, medieval, Uranian, and asteroid astrology.

3 thoughts on “Astrological Predictive Techniques | 6. Manilius-Style Profections

  • February 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    I don’t know of any program that does these Manilius-style profections automatically. Most programs that do profections do them in the degree-based Persian style, where they pull up a chart, much like a secondary progressed chart, which has the positions all moved by a rate of 30 degrees per year. I use Morinus, which is free and does a lot of traditional stuff, and a very old version of Kepler (Version 7.0) that I bought 7 or so years ago. My old Kepler doesn’t seem capable of doing anything with profections. Morinus can pull up the degree-based profectional chart, and can pull up tables of profections. The tables give profections by degree, but show it in yearly intervals, and you can click into a year and it shows you the interval positions for each month.

    I agree that some type of online tool would be very cool for all this traditional stuff. For instance, I still tend to use to calculate people’s firdars. Overall, if you do profections in the more typical Hellenistic manner, as I do, I think profections are easiest to do in one’s head. If you divide by 12 and add up to 12 then it’s one of those few techniques that can be calculated immediately in one’s head, helping to highlight natal, solar return, and transit configurations. These smaller interval Manilius-style ones are pretty weird though, and software with different options for their calculation could be very helpful for experimenting with them.

  • February 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I wish there was a site like for classical astrology that would do this sort of calculation – automatically.

    What astrology program does it, btw? Kepler?

  • January 17, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Very nice serial.
    I think, that it should not forget the version of Ibn Ezra. She is sometimes called primary profections.
    There is also the question of connections between
    annual profections – natal(solar revolutions)
    monthly profections – solar revolutions
    daily profections – lunar revolutions.



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