Prince | Part 2: The Timing of his Death
Prince Part 2: Death
In the last article, I discussed Prince’s natal chart with a particular focus on his character and career.
Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, 1958 at 6:17 pm in Minneapolis, MN. His birth data has a Rodden Rating of AA (i.e. from birth record).
Prince was found dead at his home (in Chanhassen, MN) on the morning of April 21st, 2016 (at age 57). He death was the result of an fentanyl overdose (a prescription opioid). He was discovered shortly before 10 am but was believed to have been dead already for about 6 hours.
Significators of Death
The 8th place of death in Prince’s chart is Gemini. Gemini is a busy place, occupied by its ruler Mercury as well as the sect light, the Sun. Saturn opposes the place. Additionally, the Sun applies an opposition to Saturn. Saturn is also a natural significator of death. Therefore, our initial look suggests that Saturn, and the Sun-Saturn opposition, is the most relevant for matters of death.
Mars is the out of sect malefic in the chart (Prince was born by day). Mars is also in the 6th house of illness, a traditional “bad” or “dark” place pertaining to accidents and illnesses. Mars also rules the 1st house (body) and the 6th (illness), while having its twelfth-part also in the 6th. Therefore, there are many repeat themes connecting Mars to indications of accidents, illnesses, and other threats to the body.
Other Places of Death
We want to examine the 8th place from Fortune and the Lot of Death, as both are also places pertaining to the topic of death. Fortune is in Leo, so the 8th place from it is Pisces.
The Lot of Death (from Dorotheus Book IV, Ch. 3) is found by day or night as the distance from the Moon to the start of the 8th sign (~88 degrees), projected from Saturn. It is also Pisces.
We find that both places are Pisces, ruled by Jupiter. Pisces is occupied by the Moon and dominated by Saturn (superior square). The fact that Saturn dominates the Moon and the place that is 8th from Fortune and the place of the Lot of Death further suggests the importance of Saturn as a significator of death.
Jupiter rules the place and is in a tight sextile with Saturn, while it’s twelfth-part is in the 8th in tight opposition to Saturn. Additionally, the Sun’s twelfth-part is tightly conjunct Saturn.
Mars and Other Significators
We’ve established that Saturn is the most relevant for symbolizing death in the chart due to both natural signification and multiple accidental indications. Mars should be kept in mind as being of lesser importance for death as well. It is the out of sect malefic in a place of accidents and illnesses (6th). It also opposes Jupiter (lord of the Lot of Death and 8th from Fortune). The Sun, Mercury, Jupiter, and the Moon are all also relevant due to positions in and rulership over places of death. Mercury is particularly relevant among them as it both rules and occupies the 8th place.
Prince died at age 57 (58th year), less than 2 months shy of his 58th birthday. 57 is an activation of Mars-Jupiter (15+15+15+12), Saturn-Mars-Jupiter (30+15+12), and Moon-Mercury-Jupiter (25+20+12). 58 is an activation of Sun-Mercury (19+19+20) and Mars-Jupiter (15+15+12+12) configurations in the natal chart by planetary years.
The Sun and Mercury are both located together in the 8th house and Mercury rules the house. I’ve noted the importance of Saturn in Sagittarius (Saturn ruled by Jupiter), Saturn in close aspect to Jupiter, and Saturn dominating Pisces (important place of death ruled by Jupitter), and Saturn opposed to Jupiter’s twelfth-part for the matter of death. Additionally, the importance of the Mars-Jupiter opposition was noted as also significant. Therefore, we should pay particular attention to other activations of Saturn-Mars-Jupiter and Sun-Mercury configurations during this period.
Distributors of Ascendant and Sect Light
The distributors of the Ascendant and the sect light are very important for characterizing the general circumstances of a period. These are the bound lords of the primary directed Ascendant and Sun in Prince’s chart. Prince died on April 21st, 2016. The bound lord of the directed Ascendant was Mercury, while that of the Sun was Saturn.
The Mercury bound of Capricorn was directing over the Ascendant at the time of death. This bound spans from 0-7 Capricorn and is aspected by Mars and the Moon. At the time of death the Ascendant had directed past the aspect of Mars but not yet to the aspect of the Moon. Therefore, the aspect of Mars was still considered an active influence upon the bound. Mercury as distributor for the period is appropriate as Mercury rules and occupies the 8th house.
The Saturn bound of Leo was directing over the Sun at the time of death. This bound spans from 11-18 Leo. It is aspected only by the Sun. The aspect of the Sun to its own sextile by primary directions was a significant one, corresponding to the time of death within a few months.
As noted, the most notable aspectual direction corresponding to death was that of the sextile of the Sun to itself. This is significant as the Sun is in the 8th house of death in the natal chart and opposes Saturn. This aspect of the Sun to itself occurred while the Saturn bound (of Leo) was directing over the Sun. Therefore, Saturn was distributor with the Sun as co-distributor for this period, highlighting their opposition and its significance. As we will see, the fact that the Sun was directing through Leo is also noteworthy when it comes to the annual profection.
Prince died at age 57. Age 57 represents an annual profection to the 10th house. Prince’s 10th house is Leo, ruled by the Sun. Therefore, the Sun was the Lord of the Year.
It is as if a spotlight is on the Sun when it comes to the major events of the year. This makes an examination of the solar return even more important and alerts us to keep an eye on transits to and from the Sun. The distributorship of the Sun is also intensified (Saturn as distributor; Sun as co-distributor).
The Sun in the natal chart occupies the 8th house, which principally pertains to death and stagnation. As noted in the section on significators, the Sun opposes Saturn in the natal chart across dark houses, which is one of the most prominent configurations pertaining to matters of death. Additionally, the twelfth-part of the Sun is in the 2nd house with Saturn.
Profection of the Lot of Death
In the lesson on the use of lots, I noted that a significant predictive use of the lots involved their profection. Above we saw that the Lot of Death is located in Pisces in the natal chart. The annual profection is to the 10th house, so every point in the natal chart profects to the 10th from its natal position by Valens-style profections. Therefore, the Lot of Death profects to Sagittarius (10th house from Pisces) for the year of death. The Moon, which Valens profected for matters of health, is also natally in Pisces, so it too profects to the 2nd house (Sagittarius).
On its own Sagittarius is occupied natally by Saturn and the twelfth-part of the Sun. Therefore, by Valens-style profections the indications of the Lot of Death are passing to Saturn, which natally afflicts the Lot by a superior applying square within 3 degrees. Additionally, as we’ll see below with the solar return, the death occurred during a year when Saturn was in its return, in Sagittarius. Therefore, there is a confirmation of the significance of the 2nd house Saturn in relation to the significations of the Lot of Death in that year.
Final Solar Return
Prince died at age 57, on April 21, 2016, less than 2 months before his 58th birthday. Therefore, his final solar return was in 2015. This solar return is very striking! The srSun is applying a conjunction to srMars within 2 degrees! Both are right at the solar return MC and overcoming srJupiter, aspecting within a degree (superior sextile). Additionally, the Sun-Mars conjunction opposes natal Saturn, emphasizing the natal Sun-Saturn opposition. Saturn is also in return (in Sagittarius), so the sfSun, srMars, and srMercury are all in opposition to srSaturn by sign.
Mercury, ruler of the 8th house, is also in its return, retrograde, 1 degree from its natal position.
It is easy to see the activation of the most important significators of death in the chart in the return. We see that Prince was still going through his second Saturn return (Saturn was back in Sagittarius). Saturn is the slowest moving of the traditional planets. Its return, which occurs about every 28-29 years, is an important rite of passage. Due to the Saturn return, at the solar return the Sun was in whole sign opposition to Saturn, putting a strong emphasis on the natal Sun-Saturn opposition.
Mars, relevant for threats to the body and health generally, is adding quite a bit of extra oomph to the symbolism. There is an applying conjunction between it and the Sun, which among other things can indicate the health (Sun – sect light) coming into contact with a threat to the body (Mars – out of sect malefic). The fact that the Sun is the lord of the year also adds quite a bit of oomph to the configuration, showing that matters which the Sun symbolizes are coming into focus. These matters importantly include health (Sun as sect light), fame and career (Sun ruling X), and death (Sun in VIII).
The fact that Mercury is in return puts even more stress on 8th house themes. Not only is the Sun joining the out of sect malefic in the 8th, and Saturn is transiting opposed to the 8th, but the ruler of the 8th is backing up to his birth position.
Reviewing Basic Solar Return Rules
In an article from 2012, I summarized the oldest set of rules we have for interpreting solar returns. These rules originate with Dorotheus (1st century CE) and treat the solar return positions much like a set of transits to the natal chart. Let’s go through these rules again now against Prince’s chart.
The first rule was that planets opposing their own natal positions can show difficulties. This does not apply as no planets in Prince’s solar return oppose their natal positions.
Out of Sect Malefic to Sect Light
The second rule was that the transit of an out of sect malefic to the sect light or sect benefic is particularly difficult. This situation strongly applies. Here we see Mars (out of sect malefic) transiting at the place of the sect light (Sun) in the solar return within 2 degrees. A very strong sign of difficulty for the year.
“It is worse for this [native] and more difficult in its maleficence if Mars is reaching the place in which Jupiter or the Sun was by day, or [if] Saturn is reaching the place in which the Moon was by night.” (Dorotheus, Book IV, Ch. 1, #188, Pingree trans., 2005)
The third rule pertains to a number of different types of aspects. We would like malefics to be trine their natal positions, not opposed to or square them, as those aspects can indicate difficulty. None of the malefics are trine, square, or opposed their natal positions here.
We would prefer benefics to dominate (right side square) the positions of malefics. Both benefics in the return are in Leo and no planets are in Scorpio in the natal chart, so benefics don’t dominate any malefics. Similarly, there are no return malefics dominating natal benefics.
The fourth rule concerns watching transits to dark places. Return transits of planets to dark places are said to be difficult, especially if the planet occupies a dark place in the natal chart. For Dorotheus, the 6th and 12th are the worst, while the 8th, 2nd, and 3rd are moderately bad.
In Prince’s return we have a lot of this to worry about. Four of the seven planets in the return are transiting through dark places (the 2nd and 8th houses). This includes the lord of the year (the Sun) plus Mars, Mercury, and Saturn. Additionally, all 4 of those planets occupy dark places in the natal chart, with three of them being in return (Mars occupies the natal 6th house).
Dorotheus also put a lot of stress on the position of the Moon in the return. Additionally, we should look at contacts between the return positions and the natal Moon.
The return Moon is in IV, Aquarius, in the 22nd degree (21AQU38).
Notably, the house is ruled by Saturn and the bound is ruled by Mars. Additionally, the Moon is applying a very close aspect natal Saturn (22SAG). Finally, IV is a house that also pertains to death and endings, being the lowest point in the chart (anti-culmination). Therefore, when it comes to the health and body (Moon), there are multiple indications of danger, coldness, and endings.
Natally, the Moon is at 1 Pisces. The natal Moon is dominated (superior square) by return Saturn at 0 Sagittarius, and it is a close aspect (within 3 degrees). The return benefics do not aspect the natal Moon at all. Therefore, we see a repetition of the theme of Saturnian affliction of the Moon (depression, impediment, or death afflicting health).
Dorotheus also put a stress on the house of the annual profection and the house occupied by the lord of the year (ruler of the house of the annual profection).
One thing that is notable is the conjunction of the Lord of the Year (the Sun) with Mars. The house occupied by the lord of the year is the 8th, but this is less notable in this case because the Lord of the Years is the Sun and it will be in the 8th house at every solar return as that is its natal position.
Coming at the chart in terms of the timing of death, it may seem odd that the sign of the year, Leo, was occupied by both benefics. However, there were more significant events to this year than just Prince’s death. Prince died about 10 1/2 months into the year. This was a year with an intense career-focus (10th house themes) including the release of two albums and a tour. Hit n Run Phase One and Two was something of a double album released in two separate phases. The Piano & A Microphone Tour was a raw solo tour with just Prince at the piano on stage. The tour opened to critical acclaim in February, but started running into problems pertaining to Prince’s health in April.
Conclusions Regarding Dorothean Rules
We find that Dorotheus provided some good guidelines for interpreting solar returns. The main concerns in the return pertain to the conjunction of the out of sect malefic with the sect light, a stress on positions in dark houses with such dark houses already stressed in the natal chart (particularly the 8th of death), and the Moon-Saturn configurations.
The profection provides more complex indications, both showing danger (Sun-Mars in VIII) as well as a career focus and career benefit (Venus-Jupiter in X).
I noted that the trouble for Prince didn’t really surface until April. In fact, it was on April 7th, exactly 2 months prior to his upcoming birthday (June 7th) that Prince saw a doctor and first postponed a couple shows on his tour, announcing he had influenza. Whether the influenza story was a cover for an addiction that was spiraling out of control, or Prince was battling both influenza and addiction to pain meds that April, this would be Prince’s final month.
As his last month was two months prior to an upcoming birthday, it was two signs prior to the sign of the year (Leo). Therefore, the profection of the month was to Gemini, the 8th house of death, and the site of the Sun-Mars conjunction in the solar return.
Final Lunar Return
Prince died in the early hours of April 21st, 2016. The exact time of death is unknown but he was already dead when found shortly before 10 am.
Prince’s last lunar return was on April 4, 2016. It has a number of very striking features.
Most striking is the fact that Saturn was at 16 Sagittarius, opposed to the natal Sun (16 Gemini) in the same degree. Also striking is the besiegement of both the Sun and Jupiter in the lunar return. Jupiter (retrograde) is separating from Saturn and applying to Mars. The Sun is separating form Mars and applying to Saturn. The lunar return Sun (lord of the year) was actually applying to Saturn in the return within two degrees!
Lunar Return Twelfth-Parts
Also, let’s consider the twelfth-parts of some of these return positions. As I noted in an article on computing twelfth-parts in one’s head, each 2 1/2 degrees is an additional sign, and every 5′ is a degree. Software programs don’t always allow you to easily calculate twelfth-parts in every chart, but twelfth-parts are extremely important in all astrological work. Therefore, one should regularly practice quickly finding twelfth-parts for all positions in any chart.
Let’s find the twelfth-part of lunar return Saturn at 16SAG19. 15 SAG to 17SAG30 is the sign opposite Sagittarius, Gemini, so the twelfth-part is in Gemini. Every degree equates to 12 for the twelfth-part so 16SAG is 12GEM. Then we have the 19′ to account for, with each 5′ equating to another degree. This puts it at 3 more (almost 4) degrees. Therefore, the twelfth-part of Saturn is at 15GEM, just before 16GEM. The natal Sun is at 16GEM. So lunar return Saturn is opposed to the nSun within a degree and has its twelfth-part conjunct the nSun within a degree.
This is a good time to recall that the Sun opposes Saturn while the twelfth-part of the Sun is closely conjunct Saturn in the natal chart.
Let’s find the twelfth-part of lunar return Mars at 7SAG54. 7SAG30 is 3 sets of 2 1/2 degrees past the start of the sign so from 7SAG30 to 10SAG is in Pisces (more than 3 full signs from the start of Sagittarius). 24′ equates to 4 (almost 5) degrees. Therefore, the lunar return Mars is at 4 Pisces, conjunct the natal Moon within 3 degrees in the place of the Lot of Death, and square natal Mercury (4 Gemini; ruler of and occupant of 8th house) within a degree.
Lunar Return’s Lot of Death
I noted earlier that the formula for the Hellenistic Lot of Death is the distance from the Moon to the start of the 8th sign, projected from Saturn. The 8th sign in the lunar return is Virgo, so the distance from the Moon to the sign is just over 178 degrees (Moon at about 2 Pisces). 178 degrees from Saturn in the return (16SAG) is 14 Gemini, putting the Lot of Death in the 8th house of the natal chart, conjunct the Sun.
Transits are superficial in themselves. They take on meaning through their relationship with activations of specific natal promises. These activations include times lords as well as indications in returns which reflect specific subsets of indications in the natal chart.
The danger to Prince’s health was most succinctly represented in his last solar and lunar returns which highlighted the 8th house close and intense afflication of the Sun (sect light) by malefics.
Saturn stationed retrograde at 16 Sagittarius on March 25th of 2016 (less than a month before death). That station was in partile opposition to Prince’s Sun (16 Gemini). Mars stationed retrograde on April 17th, just 4 days before Prince’s death, at 8 Sagittarius. That Mars station was actually within 2 degrees of Prince’s prenatal Syzygy (10 Sagittarius), a significant point pertaining to length of life according to Vettius Valens.
Full Moon Opposed Venus
Prince’s death came on the morning of a Full Moon, in the early hours (about 4 am) of April 21, 2016. The Moon had a opposed Venus some hours earlier, prior to midnight. Venus, transiting through Prince’s 6th house (health/accidents) was very symbolic of health issues with substance abuse as Venus pertains to intoxicants. Perhaps the Moon’s opposition to Venus coincided with Prince’s administration of the fentanyl that killed him.
Saturn-Mars Culminating in Sagittarius
Prince’s death would have coincided with the approximate time that Saturn and Mars were culminating in his location.
tSun Conjunct nSouth Node
We have already noted the close opposition of Saturn (and to a lesser extent Mars) to Prince’s Sun, evident in the lunar return. Also, noteworthy was the conjunction of the transiting Sun (lord of the year) with Prince’s natal South Node within a couple days of death.
Moon Applies to Natal Saturn
The time of death is believed to have been about 6 hours before Prince was found. At that time the Moon would have been at 22 Libra, applying to Prince’s natal Saturn (22SAG51) after just having separated from his natal 12th house Jupiter. It is worth noting that transiting Jupiter (Saturn’s lord) was afflicted at the time of death, as it was beseiged by the malefics.
In conclusion, the timing of Prince’s death pertained to the activation of his natal Sun-Saturn opposition by his Saturn return. Prince’s Saturn in the 2nd not only afflicts his natal Sun by opposition but also dominates his Moon and Lot of Death.
The annual profection and the distribution of the sect light both put the focus on the Sun-Saturn opposition. The solar return did as well while also highlighting the role of Mars, which afflicted the Sun by conjunction in the return. The profection of the Lot of Death also raised additional concerns about Saturn and highlighted Sagittarius.
The timing of the death occurred after Saturn and Mars had both stationed retrograde in Sagittarius. These stations were opposite the natal 8th house Sun and Mercury. The Saturn station was in partile opposition to Prince’s Sun. The Mars station presaged the death by only a few days.
Death most likely occurred while transiting Saturn and Mars culminated. The Full Moon had opposed Venus probably around the time that Prince took the fentanyl, then it applied a conjunction to Prince’s 12th house Jupiter, and likely separated to applying to Prince’s Saturn at the time of death.
Cause of Death Considerations
Some Hellenisitic astrologers explored techniques for finding the cause of death in the natal chart. While some, like Dorotheus, provided multiple possible factors to consider, Valens put most of his stress on the 8th sign from Fortune. How does that approach hold up against the known cause of Prince’s death, an accidental drug overdose?
One of the more disturbing features of Prince’s drug overdose is that he believed he was taking a safer medication. Apparently, Prince was taking counterfeit Vicodin that was actually laced with the much more potent fentanyl. Additionally, he seems to have reached out to get help after an overdose less than a week prior. He was being treated for opioid addiction and was found by the son of a doctor who was to treat him.
The prospect that Prince was unwittingly taking a much more dangerous medication raises concerns about poisoning. However, no one was charged with any wrongdoing in relation to Prince’s death.
Valens and the 8th from Fortune
In Book II, Ch. 41 of his Anthology, Valens considered looking at the cause of death in terms of the nature of the 8th sign from Fortune.
The 8th from Fortune is Pisces, as we’ve noted. It is also the position of the Lot of Death. The Lot of Death was one of the places noted by Dorotheus as used by astrologers for assessing cause of death. Therefore, in this case both the Valens’s Place of Death and the Dorothean Lot of Death are the same place.
Jupiter Destroys the Sun
“Leo is destroyed by Pisces, i.e. the sun by Jupiter. As a result men die from heart attacks and from complaints of the liver. They are at risk in wet places or from moist complaints, falls, the ague, accidents in the baths, and the treachery of women.” (Valens, Book II, Ch. 41, Riley trans., 2010, p. 56)
While heart and liver are certainly relevant to Prince’s death, they are also relatively general. It is easy to see where Valens derives most of the significations. Pisces is moist and feminine and ruled by Jupiter which also rules the liver. The Sun rules the heart.
In one sense we may say the heart falters by way of the liver, which applies here in terms of the heart stopping due to toxicity (liver). The ties of Pisces to Jupiter and Venus, relief and drugs, are appropriate for toxicity pertaining specifically to pain relievers. Additionally, the Moon is there in Prince’s natal chart adding a sense of physical need and subjective power, as in addiction.
Valens considered planets in the two houses (Fortune and its 8th) as well as the relationships pertaining to their rulers. We have already looked at the Moon in Pisces. Venus is the main planet that Valens associated with poisoning. The Moon is in the bound of Venus, in the sign that is the kingdom of Venus, Venus is first triplicity ruler, and she aspects the Moon. Therefore, there is a pretty close connection between the Moon in Pisces and Venus in the chart.
It is important to note that Jupiter, the ruler of Pisces, is actually in a trine with the Sun, the ruler of Fortune. Also, Leo itself is unafflicted. This was a painless, nonviolent death, but still an early and accidental one. The malefics are not very strongly and directly involved with Pisces, a sign ruled by the benefic Jupiter and occupied by the Moon. This helps to indicate that death is not of a violent sort.
Saturn as Problematic
The issues with Pisces, Jupiter, and the Sun pertain chiefly to Saturn in the chart. Saturn is in a close aspect with Jupiter, an applying opposition with the Sun, and dominates Pisces. Additionally, the fact that the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn are all in dark houses (hidden issues) can be problematic. As we saw in the predictive techniques, things became problematic during a time in which the Sun-Saturn configuration was repeatedly activated in numerous ways.
Pisces, Death, and Children
It is a good time to bring up Prince’s attempts to have children. Prince has a prominent Venus and a prominent Moon. Both of these planets tend to confer children. However, Prince has no children. Why?
The 5th house is not only the 8th from Fortune but is also the Place of Death by lot, and is dominated by Saturn. We looked at the Lot of Death in relation to timing Prince’s own death, but the significance of the Lot of Death goes beyond that. It is simply an important indication of matters of death in the life. Prince actually had a son but he lived only a few weeks. Later his first wife also had a miscarriage.
These connections between the 5th house of children and death are not superficial. They are not apparent from a cursory glance at the chart. By looking at lots we find the Lot of Death in the 5th closely aspected by Saturn, and we find the lots of Son and Daughters (given by Valens) to both be in the 8th house.
Rumors of a possible love child continue to circulate, so I suppose time will tell if there’s a another child.
Note on 8th House: Gemini
I think Valens is on the right track to chiefly consider the 8th from Fortune in this consideration. The 8th house in general is less instructive. Gemini destroying Scorpio is much more about Gemini-like limbs (and extensions), complications, and flammability hitting upon Scorpio ruled genitals, insects, heat, aggression, and infection. We don’t see that here.
“Scorpio is destroyed by Gemini, i.e. Mars by Mercury. They die by knife cuts to the genitals or the rump, or from strangury, festering sores, choking, crawling things, violence, war, attacks by bandits, assaults of pirates, or because of officials, and by fire, impaling, attacks of beasts and crawling things.” (Valens, Book II, Ch. 41, Riley trans., 2010, p. 56)
I have written a couple articles on Hellenistic techniques for estimating the length of life. First, I did an article that surveyed early traditional length-of-life techniques. Next, I illustrated and tested those techniques on the chart of Kirk Kerkorian who lived to 98. Often these techniques can be difficult to apply and yield conflicting results. However, let’s look at a few of these techniques relative to Prince’s chart.
By my understanding of the Dorothean technique, Prince’s Sun qualifies as the Control in the chart. This is because the Sun is the sect light, is not cadent, and it is aspected by its house ruler (Mercury) and first triplicity lord (Saturn). However, it should be noted that the Moon is in the stronger position in the chart and she is aspected by her bound lord (Venus).
For Dorotheus death comes when the control (Sun) is directed through a bound that is ruled by or aspected by a malefic without any intervention from a benefic aspect.
First, let’s consider the bounds where this can happen in Prince’s chart. The Mars bound of Gemini is malefic and aspected by Saturn but it is also aspected by Jupiter (and occupied by Jupiter’s twelfth-part), which is protective. The Saturn bound of Gemini is malefic and is not protected. The Mars bound of Cancer is malefic but aspected with a trine from the Moon. The Saturn bound of Cancer is malefic and is not protected. So Prince passed two malefic bounds without death.
Prince died during the Sun’s direction through the Saturn bound of Leo in terms of true primary directions. This bound is malefic and it is only aspected by the Sun itself (sextile). Ptolemy considered a sextile to be harmful when across signs of long ascension (Gemini is short ascension but Cancer and Leo are long). But overall, without the benefit of our hindsight and knowledge of the significant role played by the Sun-Saturn opposition in death, we’d be more likely to predict death during one of the empty Saturn bounds than this one aspected by the Sun.
Considering Other Controls
Still, I think our evaluation of the Sun as control is correct. Of the other possible controls/hylegs, none were directing through a malefic bound in April of 2016 except the Sun. Additionally, of them, only the Sun and Ascendant significant aspectual direction within three months of death. The direction to the Ascendant was that of the sextile of the Moon in early July of 2016 which seems much less threatening than an aspect of the Sun to itself from the Saturn bound.
Still, as I noted in my article looking at the technique relative to Kerkorian’s chart, we find that in itself it is not enough. Death does not simply come with the control’s direction to a malefic bound unaspected by a benefic. Malefic influence on the bound is necessary but not sufficient.
Directing by Ascensions
As Dorotheus directed by ascensions rather than by true primary directions, let’s consider where the Sun was at about age 57 7/8 *57.875) by ascensions. A table of the ascensional times of the signs at Prince’s birth place is below.
The Sun at birth still had 44.44% of Gemini to pass through. This equates to about 12.45 years (0.4444*28.018). Then all of Cancer equals about 36.35 years, bringing us to age 48.8. 9 years remain to bring us to the time of death. All of Leo is 39.722 years so each degree of Leo is 1.324 years. 9 years takes us about 6.8 degrees into the sign of Leo (9/1.324). This would equate to the Sun’s entrance into the Venus bound of Leo. The bound is ruled by Venus and aspected by Venus, but is not aspected by any malefic.
In conclusion, we had better results with true primary directions than with directing by ascensions. Recall that for Kirk Kerkorian too, I found that the Dorothean technique worked better with true primary directions. In that case, the control directed to a malefic bound aspected by both malefics at death.
Ptolemy’s main technique is quite similar to that of Dorotheus but uses true primary directions with an emphasis on aspectual directions rather than bounds.
Question of Control
There is a huge complicating factor with Prince’s chart. Ptolemy required the control to be in the 1st, 11th, 10th, 9th, or 7th equal house. He defined these equal houses starting 5 degrees before the Ascendant to 25 after it. In other words, the Sun will only qualify if it is within 25 degrees of the Descendant. The Ascendant is 16SCO41 and the Sun is at 16GEM40, so it is not in the 7th equal house. This calls the choice of the Sun for Ptolemy’s technique into question. The Moon also cannot be control because she is below the horizon.
Ruler of the Proper Sect
If the lights cannot be control then Ptolemy advised to consider the ruler of the proper sect. First, any control must be in one of the authoritative places. In Prince’s chart only Mercury is in an authoritative place (7th equal house). To be ruelr of the proper sect, the planet must have the most testimony (and needs at least 3 forms of testimony) over the Sun, prenatal conjunction (New Moon preceding birth), and Ascendant.
Mercury is in the place of the Sun and rules the Sun by house and as one of the triplicity lords. It also rules the bound of the Ascendant. It does not have any testimony in the place of the prenatal conjunction (27 Taurus). Venus has more testimony over these positions, as she is in the place of the prenatal conjunction and rules it, she rules the bound of the Sun, and she aspects the Ascendant. Therefore, Venus has testimony over all the sect points. However, Venus is not in one of Ptolemy’s authoritative places.
In conclusion, there is some ambiguity in Ptolemy’s technique. Do we find the ruler of the proper sect as the planet with the most testimony over the sect positions, and then see if it is authoritative? Or, by contrast, do we only consider the planets in authoritative positions and see if they qualify as ruler of the proper sect? I’m of the opinion that we find the ruler of the proper sect (Venus) which plays a significant role in the life, then we see if it can be control. By that reckoning, no planet is control so it gets assigned to the Ascendant.
Mercury as Control
Before considering the Ascendant as control, let’s consider Mercury as the control. Does a malefic direction to Mercury coincide with death? No, Mercury was directing near the end of the Saturn bound of Cancer at the time of death but Ptolemy looked at aspectual directions. There are no planets that aspect the Saturn bound of Cancer.
The other technique used by Ptolemy involved finding the time for the control to set. This age indication is modified by the proportional hourly times of aspecting planets. Mercury set by primary directions at age 22. Ptolemy allowed benefics and malefics that have aspects that intervene in the setting to add or subtract years. Only Mars is relevant here as intervening with an aspect (to 0 Gemini). As Mars would subtract years, we know the indication would be less than 22 years without even calculating the proportional times for Mars. Prince lived far past age 20 so this is incorrect.
Note that the Sun set by directions at age 38.5 and would also be subject to subtraction from Mars. Therefore, whether using the Sun or Mercury, the timing of their setting was not involved in the timing of death.
Ascendant as Control
When a planet cannot be control, as appears to be the case here, Ptolemy advised to use the Ascendant by day. I noted above that the Ascendant was directing through the Mercury bound of Capricorn (0-7 CAP) at the time of death. The Ascendant had passed the square of Mars without death while death came at about the time the Ascendant met the sextile of the Moon.
Ptolemy did not suggest that a sextile from the Moon could kill. Why wouldn’t death come at the Ascendant’s much more lethal square to Mars which happened 3 1/2 years prior to death? Additionally, he advised that an aspect from Venus to the 8 degrees in front of the directed point would be protective. Venus is at 7 Taurus, so she would be regarded as protective of 1 Capricorn.
In conclusion, while the Ascendant sees some action at the time of death, on the whole we find Ptolemy’s technique lacking when it comes to the timing of Prince’s death.
Valens has a lot in common with Dorotheus when it comes to choosing the control. For our benefit, the Sun qualifies as control here because it is not cadent or in fall.
Maximum Life Span
One maximum life span is from the Sun to its square (16 Virgo). We already noted that death occurred wit the Sun’s direction to about 16 Leo by true primary directions and 6 Leo by ascensions. Therefore, Prince didn’t live to that maximum shown by 16 Virgo (~79 years by true primary directions; over 90 by ascensions).
The bound ruler of the control is Venus. However, she cannot be house ruler because a position in the 7th house is disqualifying. Additionally, Venus is turned away from the Sun (she doesn’t aspect the Sun) and she is in inoperative degrees (retreating).
Timing of Death
As with Dorotheus, Valens stressed malefic bounds and aspects, particularly when directing the control by ascensions. We’ve already looked at these factors in the material on Dorotheus. Valens stressed malefic aspects in a 7 degree span (3 degrees on either side of the degree of the directed control). However, Valens also noted anaeretic bounds, including those aspected by the Sun, Moon, or angles. Therefore, the direction of the Sun into a bound ruled by Saturn and aspected by the Sun may qualify as possibly deadly by Valens’s approach.
The timing of Prince’s death is striking from an astrological perspective. Prince was born with a Sun-Saturn opposition across his 8th and 2nd houses. He passed during his 2nd Saturn return, after a solar return with a Sun-Mars conjunction. Death occurred less than a month after Saturn stationed exactly opposite his Sun to the degree, and a few days after Mars stationed in opposition to his Sun.
The Sun-Saturn opposition was further highlighted by the primary direction of his sect light, the Sun, which is arguably the control of his chart. The Sun was directing through the bound of Saturn and in aspect to itself (the Sun). The lord of the year was also the Sun.
We entertained the possibility that Pisces played an important role in the chart when it came to describing cause of death. Whether this is due to it being the 8th place from Fortune or the place of the Lot of Death (or both) is to be determined. In a future article, I’ll look more deeply at Hellenistic techniques for delineating cause of death.
In contrast to the striking indications of our predictive tool set we find the shakier indication of the special techniques for length of life. I’ve long warned that there is quite a bit of variation among Hellenistic astrologers in their approach to length of life and that the techniques have some issues. Some of the longevity techniques show some promise that warrants further work and development. However, astrologers should not kid themselves that techniques exist which clearly and accurately spell out length of life.
Valens, V. (2010). Anthologies. (M. Riley, Trans.) (Online PDF.). World Wide Web: Mark Riley. Retrieved from http://www.csus.edu/indiv/r/rileymt/Vettius%20Valens%20entire.pdf
Featured image (cropped) by nicolas genin [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons