Astrology of Profession or Calling | 5. Skyscript Mystery Charts

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Enjoy a Good Mystery?

There was a mystery chart challenge posted in Skyscript’s astrology forum by Tom Callanan a couple months ago.  Tom posted three charts without names or birth data. He asked readers to see if they could figure out which was a musician.  Later, before revealing the answer, he also noted that one of the charts is of a Roman Catholic Cardinal and another is of an American football player

At that time, in early March, through private correspondences (and on her Facebook wall), my friend, Kate Petty, and I both accurately matched all three charts to the proper occupations. How did we do so? By using the ancient techniques for delineating occupation which I’ve discussed in this series. Our methods were objective and repeatable, not intuitive.

Actions in Hellenistic Astrology

I discussed the technique in the post Astrology of Profession or Calling | 1. Technique.  The basis of the technique is found in comments made by Ptolemy, Paulus Alexandrinus, Rhetorius, and other Hellenistic astrologers who commented on their work. However, there is some variation in the way the technique is explained by different authors. Additionally, it is by no means the final word in delineating actions and occupation.  Every astrologer should adapt the technique to their needs and attempt to improve upon it.  This technique provides the best foundation you’ll get for delineating profession. You will learn to identify those planets that are most significant in terms of skills and themes developed within the context of one’s calling.  There are many other more specific indications that can then be used in the hopes of narrowing down to more specific professions.

In a chart challenge situation, the technique will rarely be 100% accurate. It’s not the final word on occupation and my adaptation is not perfect. Additionally, special combinations in the chart can be relevant for profession. However, this technique shines in differentiation tasks. Therefore, I’d like to go through and show how the technique itself performs on these three charts to lead to objectively obvious decisions which happen to be correct. Before reading on, please familiarize yourself with the chart challenge thread and my explanation of the technique.

Technique Notes

Below I reiterate what I stated about the technique in the first post. Perhaps the simplest explanation would go something like this: 1. Planets strongly “pertaining” to the 10th, MC, and Lights give strong significations regarding personal striving and one’s calling. 2. Those strongly “pertaining” to the 1st and the Ascendant give strong significations regarding the personality and self-identification. 3. Planets which are generally strong tend to show broad pervasive influences upon the life circumstances.

By “pertaining”, I mean occupying a place, ruling a place or position, scrutinizing a position (i.e. aspecting it within 3 degrees), strongly advancing toward the angle (i.e. advancing within about 15 degrees), being in a “stake” of the place (1st, 10th, 7th, or 4th from it), and otherwise regarding the place or point.

These things are all indications that a planet has “testimony” (things to say) regarding the place or point being investigated. Testimonies form the basis for later almuten or “winner” techniques. However, such “winner” approaches are sophomoric mechanized ways of handling testimony. As astrologers, we must be more judicial than that. One of the problems with “winner” techniques is that there is a tendency to consider one planet as always the most significant. By contrast, there may be many significant planets which become relatively more prominent at different times in the life, which we can observe through timing techniques.  In other words, we want to know both the range and the relative pertinence of each planet, as well as which planets stand out and in what ways.

Technique Recap

Pertinence to actions:
  1. MC: Strongly advancing to MC.
  2. Places: Order of importance – 10th (place of actions), 1st, 7th, or 4th, (i.e. the “stakes” of the 10th), 2nd or 6th (i.e. triplicity of the 10th), 11th, 5th, 8th.
  3. Ruler­ship: Dignity in 10th or Ascendant (or to a lesser extent at the MC).  Planets scrutinizing the Ascendant or MC, i.e. aspecting them within 3 degrees, should also be considered.
  4. Pha­sis and the Lights: In phasis, or a bound ruler of a Light (esp. of sect light).
General strength:
  1. Advancing/Retreating: Advancing planets are stronger than retreating ones, in the sense of being “louder” in the life, and this is a continuous variable.
  2. Lights: The Lights (Sun and Moon) naturally signify prominence and power, so a strong relationship between one of them and a planet make the planet more generally strong.
  3. Stations: Stationing direct within 7 days of birth makes a planet generally stronger or more prominent while stationing retrograde make it generally weaker.

As noted in the original post, I start with pertinence, and then use general strength pick out the more dominant planet or planets among the most pertinent ones.

Analysis of Charts

I will deal with the charts in a rather collective way.  I want to note the first impressions of the chart that anyone should get when using this method for such a purpose.  Rather than posting them here immediately, I want the reader first to view them on the thread here as one did in the chart challenge.

Evaluating Placement

The first thing you want to look at is to see if planets are strongly advancing toward the MC, i.e. to the left of the MC degree within 15 degrees.  None of the charts have this.  Next, you want to look to see if any of them have planets in the 10th place, which is the 10th sign from the Ascendant, which in the first chart is Aries, the second is Taurus, and the third is Leo. All are empty except for Moon in Leo in Chart 3.

Next, look at planets in the other “stakes” of the chart, which are the 1st, 7th, and 4th, in about that order of priority.  Chart 1 has Venus (in Capricorn 7th).  The next one, Chart 2, has Mars (in Scorpio 4th). The last one, Chart 3, has the Sun (in Scorpio 1st) and Saturn (in Taurus 7th). We have planets with pertinence to action by place already, so we won’t keep looking at less pertinent places, except maybe for Chart 3 as we’d like to know which is most pertinent by place among Mercury, Venus, and Mars.  However, all three are in the 12th of that chart, so the relative pertinence of each will have to be assessed without consideration of place.

Brubeck's Natal Chart
1st Chart
Butkus' Natal Chart
2nd Chart
Cardinal Krol's Natal Chart
3rd Chart

Preliminary Placement Results

So far our best candidates and their indications by chart number are as follows:

  1. Venus – the arts – the musician. Why? Because Venus is angular (in VII).
  2. Mars – physical or dominance-oriented – the football player. Why? Because Mars is angular (in IV).
  3. Moon, Sun, Saturn – all leadership-oriented planets – the Cardinal. Why? Because the Moon, Sun, and Saturn are all angular (in X, I, and VII).

Evaluating Rulership

Let’s look at rulership for confirmation.

For Chart 1 we find that Venus has rulership by triplicity and bound of the Ascendant. She also has rulership by exaltation and triplicity atthe MC. Additionally, Venus also most closely scrutinizes the MC (sextile of about 2°). Therefore, there is strong support for Venus.

Chart 2 is one in which Mars has triplicity in the 10th and MC. No planets scrutinize the MC or Asc. Therefore, there is a little bit of confirmation for Mars, though  it is fairly weak from rulership.

In Chart 3 we find that the Sun, which is in the 1st house, as domicile and first triplicity lord of the 10th house. Additionally, the Sun and Saturn both closely scrutinize the MC. The Moon has only triplicity at the MC. All three are confirmed as significant, but especially so for the Sun.

Dave Brubeck

Chart 1 has Venus angular, ruling the rising bound, and exalted ruler of the MC. Looking at the chart we also find that Venus is the bound lord of the sect light, the Moon. She is also bound lord of the Sun. So she is bound ruler of both luminaries. Furthermore, Venus is strongly advancing. No planets are in phasis. If we were to look at twelfth-parts we’d also find twelfth-part Venus angular in her own domicile (Libra). Therefore, Venus is the obvious choice. The first chart is that of the musician, as Venus pertains to art and aesthetics (and sexuality/sensuality, etc.).

Brubeck's Natal Chart

Brubeck’s Natal Chart

It is also good to understand how other planets can be involved in the occupation. Saturn may be relevant because it is strongly advancing on the IC, where it scrutinizes the MC. Additionally, Saturn dominates Venus. Finally, Mercury is a planet of actions and in a relevant place (the 5th), and it closely aspects Venus, within 2 degrees, so it also relates to the occupation. Mars can also pertain to matters of the occupation as Mars rules the 10th and is in an eligible place (the 8th). However, what is most important is that Venus provides much stronger testimony than any of the other planets, including the other planets of actions.

Dick Butkus

Chart 2 has Mars angular in IV while it rules the MC and 10th by triplicity. Looking at the chart we find that Mars does not rule the bound of either Light. However, Mars does rule the Moon, the sect light, by exaltation and triplicity.  There are no planets in phasis.  Mars is the most advancing planet in the chart, and there are no stations, etc. It is also domicile and first triplicity ruler of its own place. The obvious choice here is Mars, clearly indicating Chart 2 to be the football player. It is the chart of Dick Butkus.

Butkus' Natal Chart
Butkus’ Natal Chart

Mercury and Venus can also be relevant for occupational matters as they are planets of actions in the eligible 5th place. Butkus became a sports commentator and an actor later in life.

Butkus and Twelfth-Parts

It is always a good idea to look at the twelfth-parts in the matter of occupation. The lots, especially the lots of Fortune, Spirit, and Actions, can also be significant, as can relationships by antiscia. Let’s look briefly at the twelfth-parts in Chart 2.

Dick Butkus Twelfth-Parts
Dick Butkus Natal Chart with Twelfth-Parts (outside wheel)

Mars takes on increased important as twelfth-part Mars is in the 2nd place, another eligible place, and very closely aspects the MC. Additionally, the twelfth-part Ascendant is in a house of Mars (Aries) and conjunct Jupiter (fortune). Twelfth-part Venus is with twelfth-part Mars connecting their significations (Venus-Mars can pertain to athletics). Mercury (voice, analysis) becomes more pronounced and important for the profession and identity as its twelfth-part is in the 1st house.

Cardinal Krol

We noted that the Sun is particularly relevant for the profession, as are Saturn and the Moon. We didn’t see much from the planets of actions, as they are all in the 12th house in chart 3. Paulus also advised to check the place of Fortune but it is empty (ruled by Mercury). However, we find that only Mercury is in phasis, and Mercury rules the bound of the Moon. Additionally, Mercury receives the next aspect of the Moon, which Paulus also advised as significant. Mars rules the bound of the sect light (Sun). Therefore, out of Mercury, Venus, and Mars, we expect Mercury to be the most pertinent to occupation, tending more toward a thinking occupation. Mars is next most pertinent.

Cardinal Krol's Natal Chart

Cardinal Krol’s Natal Chart

Altogether we see strong relevance for leadership and administration. This is due to the importance of the Lights and Saturn in signifying for profession.  Without really strong signification for a cardinal specifically, we still rule this chart to be the best match for the Cardinal.

Krol and the Twelfth-Parts

The twelfth-parts really provide the key to understanding the religious leadership orientation in Krol’s chart. Twelfth-part Jupiter is at 18 Leo, in Krol’s 10th house, in partile conjunction to his Moon (ruler of his 9th). The twelfth-part Ascendant, Venus, and Mars (Mars rules the Asc) are in the 9th of God. Twelfth-part Mercury is in an eligible place (the 8th) in its own domicile.

John Krol twelfth-parts
John Krol’s Natal Chart with Twelfth-Parts (outside wheel)


The method indeed lead to the correct matches, with some additional valuable information.  So while this isn’t as much of a flashy technique as many of them used in that thread, it is systematic and objective. It is also has its origins in the earliest strains of traditional horoscopic astrology.


Featured image is in the public domain and is the Egyptian design of a scarab amulet with two different images of Thoth from some time between 646 BCE and 342 BCE (Late Period). It is from the collection of the Walter Art Museum and was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

Update 2018: This article was updated on 12/15/18 with some editing for clarity as well as a couple new links. The notes and charts concerning twelfth-parts were also added at that time.



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

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