Twelve Easy Lessons for Beginners | 5. Planetary Aspects and Configurations

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But since the variety of the impulses of the soul is great, it stands to reason that we would make such an inquiry in no simple or offhand manner, but by means of many complicated observations. For indeed the differences between the signs which contain Mercury and the moon, or the planets that dominate them, can contribute much to the character of the soul […]  (Ptolemy from the Tetrabiblos (Robbins trans., 1940, III.13, cam. p. 154)

Planetary Aspects and Configurations

This article is part of a series of lessons on the basics of horoscopic astrology as practiced in the first millennium. In this lesson, we’ll look at planetary relationships and configurations, including aspects. Sign relationships and rulers figure heavily in this discussion. We will also explore a method of character analysis from second-century astrologer Claudius Ptolemy.


Initially, in this series, we explored the history of astrology and the significance of the planets.  The second lesson introduced free astrology charting software, as well as how planets advance to a location by way of the local horizon and meridian. We learned more planetary prominence considerations in the third lesson. The fourth lesson introduced the signs of the zodiac and their features. We will be drawing on the information from that last lesson a lot in this one.

Initially, we examined ways in which planetary significations can become more or less prominent in characterizing life circumstances. In the last lesson, we considered that signs contribute to this characterization. Signs are the houses of the planets. These houses have their own features but also have relationships with planets, including those which occupy the house or rule it. Let’s explore planet and house relationships.

Planets Influencing Other Planets

The significations of any planet are further characterized by its relationship with other planets. Consider this: different areas of life are not neatly separate but interact in interesting ways. These interactions differ from person to person, as well as over the course of one’s life. The way that planets influence the significations of other planets and houses, helps to characterize the complexity and nuance inherent in life.

Taking Stock of the Breadth and Depth of Influence

Planets will differ in terms of how forcefully they influence the significations of another planet. Additionally, many planets may simultaneously be influential, and timing techniques can help us determine when these different influences are highlighted. Therefore, we must take stock of both the breadth and depth of the influences on any planet or house. Considering all of the influences alerts us to what is possible. Considering the deepest or strongest influences helps us to understand the “status quo” or what is probable. Timing techniques alert us to when certain possibilities become the most probable.

Rulership and Aspect

The two primary ways that planets influence the symbolism of other planets is through rulership and aspect. We dealt with the basics of rulership in the last post on signs. Aspects are relationships that are based on mathematical angles. The aspectual system of ancient astrology has some advanced features, but at its foundation are whole sign aspects, called regards. The meanings behind the aspects are based on planetary rulership relationships and a sight metaphor. Let’s look at how the system works.

Ptolemy’s Predominator

Planetary regard (aspect), like sign rulership, is a fundamental part of astrological theory. Every major ancient astrologer considered these two factors. Even Ptolemy (2nd century CE), who made almost no use of topical assignment to the houses (i.e. places, as addressed in the next lesson), relied heavily upon rulership and regard. Before moving on to look at regards, let’s use the rulerships learned in the last lesson to start characterizing significations as Ptolemy would.

A Natural Significator Approach

Ptolemy analyzed topics in life from the natural significations of the planets.  For instance, if he wanted to analyze someone’s mind (psychology) then he’d look at Mercury and the Moon (see the opening quote). Mercury naturally signifies the rational mind. The Moon naturally signifies the irrational (what we might term the unconscious today).  In order to look at planets that “dominate” the characterization of these aspects of mind, we would look at which planets most influence Mercury and the Moon. The planet with the most influence is the predominator.

Five Factors for Predomination

As Ptolemy puts it (note”trine” in this 1940 translation is “triplicity”, as in triplicity lord):

In general the mode of domination is considered as falling under these five forms: when it is trine, house, exaltation, term, and phase or aspect; that is, whenever the place in question is related in one or several or all of these ways to the star that is to be the ruler. (Ptolemy, Robbins trans., 1940, II.2, p. 109)

Therefore, the five following relationships are considered to be important types of influence upon a planet. A planet with the more of these relationships will have more influence. The planet with the most is the predominator.

1. House/domicile lord

2. Exaltation lord

3. Main triplicity lord

4. Bound/term lord

5. Planetary regards

The house lord, exaltation lord, triplicity lord, and bound lord were introduced in the last post. We will discuss regards below, but for now let’s look at the first four influences.

Find Rulers and Predominators in Whitney Houston’s Chart

Let’s look at an example chart (Whitney Houston, AA-rated) and determine the rulers of a few planets.

Whitney Houston's Natal Chart

Whitney Houston’s Natal Chart

Mercury’s Rulers

Mercury is at 10 degrees Virgo, in the bound of Venus.

House: Mercury.  Virgo is the nocturnal home of Mercury.

Exaltation: Mercury. Mercury is exalted in Virgo.

Triplicity: The Moon.  She was born at night, and the first triplicity lord of earth signs (of which Virgo is one) at night is the Moon. However, note that Venus is the second triplicity lord.

Bound: Venus. Mercury is in the bound of Venus.

Mercury Analyzed

Ignoring regards, we would consider Mercury, the Moon, and Venus to be influential in the characterization of Mercury. In this case, Mercury has the most influence on the position. However, in terms of the other planets’ influence on Mercury, the Moon and Venus have about equal influence by this method.

Ptolemy judged the characterization of the rational mind based on Mercury. Here we find the fundamental characterizations of Mercury to be reinforced (vocal, talkative, clever, flexible, dexterous, mobile, business-oriented). Mercury is in a mutable sign, so we might say there is an emphasis on social interaction and exchange (mutable moves toward mixing). Mercury is in an earth sign, so there is an emphasis on tangibility.

The Moon and Venus influence Mercury, both of which are feminine. As a luminary, the Moon is naturally prominent. She adds a sense of importance and publicity, while also showing that the rational mind is influenced by the instinctual, natural, and nurturing. Venus brings in significations related to the arts, aesthetics, and/or sexuality to the focus of the rational mind.

Whitney Houston's Natal Chart

Whitney Houston’s Natal Chart

The Moon and Jupiter’s Rulers

These two planets also have the same rulers as they are found in the same bound of the same sign, so we can look at both together.

House: Mars. Mars is the house lord of Aries.

Exaltation: The Sun. The Sun is the exaltation lord of Aries.

Triplicity: Jupiter. Jupiter is the first triplicity lord of fire signs by night.

Bound: Mercury. Mercury is the bound lord of both planets.

The Moon Analyzed

Ignoring regards, we would consider Mars, the Sun, Jupiter, and Mercury to all be about equally influential over the characterization of the Moon and Jupiter by this method.

Ptolemy used the Moon to judge the characterization of the irrational mind. The Moon is in Aries, a cardinal sign. Cardinal signs are associated with confident bold expression and with sweeping sudden changes. Aries is a fire sign, so there is an unconscious pull to be influential.

The cardinality, masculinity, and fiery nature of the sign are all further reinforced by the influences of the Sun and Mars. The Sun greatly amplifies an unconscious pull for attention, importance, and influence. Mars brings aggression and competitiveness to this picture. Jupiter adds opportunity, generosity, and spirituality to the picture. Mercury brings in commerce, communication, the voice, and cleverness.

Whitney Houston's Natal Chart

Whitney Houston’s Natal Chart

The Ascendant’s Rulers

The Ascendant is in the Venus-ruled bound of Pisces.

House: Jupiter.  Pisces is the nocturnal home of Jupiter.

Exaltation: Venus. Venus is exalted in Pisces.

Triplicity: Mars.  She was born at night, and the first triplicity lord of water signs (of which Pisces is one) at night is Mars. Note that the second triplicity lord is Venus.

Bound: Venus. Venus rules the bound that the Ascendant was in at birth.

The Ascendant Analyzed

Ignoring regards, we would consider the Venus, Jupiter, and Mars to all be influential over the characterization of the Ascendant by this method. Ptolemy did not use the Ascendant for the mind, but we are looking at it here because it is the primary significator of the self in the chart. Additionally, many ancient astrologers looked at the Ascendant and its ruler for characterizing the person and their personality. We may consider the predominator of the Ascendant to be particularly influential upon the character and skill of the person.

The Ascendant itself is more symbolic of the body and temperament. Here it is in Pisces, a mutable, feminine, water sign. This makes the body more phlegmatic (soft, feminine, watery) and the temperament quite easy going and malleable (yielding to influence).

The primary influence is that of Venus, the planet of the arts, aesthetics, and sexuality (also drugs). Additional influences include Mars (conflict, aggression, competitiveness) and Jupiter (spirituality, luck, opportunity).

Whitney Houston's Natal Chart

Whitney Houston’s Natal Chart

The Sun and Venus’s Rulers

The Sun and Venus are in the same bound of the same sign, so they have all of the same rulers.

House: The Sun.  The Sun and Venus are in Leo, which is the house of the Sun.  A planet being in one of its own places of rulership is reinforcing to the significations of the planet. This is a type of planetary prominence or strength (in this case for the Sun).

Exaltation: None. There is no exaltation lord for Leo.

Triplicity: Jupiter.  She was born at night, and the first triplicity lord of fire signs (of which Leo is one) at night is Jupiter.

Bound: Saturn. Both the Sun and Venus are in the bound ruled by Saturn.

Venus Analyzed

As the predominator over the Ascendant, Venus is central to understanding Houston. We see a Venus in a masculine, fixed, fire sign (Leo) and influenced by the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn. Therefore, this is a very showy and outgoing (fire, masculine, Sun) sort of Venus who is progressive and focused (fixed). As we get to regards below we will find that the fact that Venus is with the Sun in the same house further amplifies the solar indications (showy, leader, important, influential). Jupiter (spirituality, opportunity, luck), and Saturn (challenge, loss, vice) are also both influential over Venus.


Note on Character Analysis

I think you’ll agree that there is quite a lot of information on the character in the natal chart. We still have not dealt with the aspects, topical places, and other important basics of ancient astrology. However, we already find a picture emerging that is intricate, nuanced, descriptive, and variable. Human beings are not static. They are very complex and dynamic. With this approach, we can actually time when various traits, interests, and influences are most likely to surface.

Regards and How They Relate to the House Rulers

With Each Other

Planets that are in the same sign together are particularly influential upon each other. They are said to be “with” each other.  This is the most powerful type of regard or aspect. However, it is not specifically called a regard because the planets are literally in the same place, rather than “seeing” (regarding) each other.  Note that in ancient texts, it is more commonly referred to as two planets “with” each other than “conjunct”. The term conjunction is often used for close aspects by degree, whether the bodies are in the same place (bodily joining) or aspecting each other (aspectual joining; see below).

For example, the Sun and Venus are with each other in Whitney Houston’s chart, as both are in Leo. In this way, their significations are very strongly tied together.


There are 4 additional aspects between planets, and these are based on a visual metaphor.  Examine the diagram of planetary domiciles/houses below.  Also, see the diagram on The Astrology Dictionary’s entry on “aspect”.

Domicile Rulers


Note that the domiciles of Saturn (Capricorn and Aquarius) are opposite those of the Sun and Moon (Leo and Cancer).  Signs that are opposite each other (180-degrees) are said to be in opposition. The opposition is a relationship of challenge, limitation, or obstruction, much like the nature of Saturn. The 7th sign from any sign is opposed to that sign.


Note that each of the domiciles of Mars (Aries and Scorpio) are at a 90-degree angle from the domiciles of one of the lights (Sun or Moon).  This relationship is called a “square”. The shape of a geometric square is composed of right angles. It is also sometimes called a “quartile” as the signs are a quarter of the zodiac apart. It is a relationship of intensity, competition, and clash, much like the nature of Mars. The 4th and 10th (i.e. 4th counting backward) sign from any sign is square to that sign.


Note that each of the domiciles of Jupiter (Sagittarius and Pisces) are at a 120-degree angle from the domiciles of one of the lights (Sun or Moon).  This relationship is called a “trine” as there are always three signs which trine each other (i.e. those of the same triplicity). Together, the trines form a triangle, so they are also called triangles. The relationship is one of friendship, strong harmony, and opportunity, much like the nature of Jupiter. The 5th and 9th (i.e. 5th counting backward) sign from any sign is trine to that sign.


Note that each of the domiciles of Venus (Taurus and Libra) are at a 60-degree angle from the domiciles of one of the lights (Sun or Moon).  This relationship is called a sextile as it is composed of two signs 60 degrees apart (60 degrees is a 1/6th of the zodiac).  The relationship is one of complement, much like the nature of Venus. The 3rd and 11th  (i.e. 3rd counting backward) sign from any sign is sextile to that sign.

Ptolemy on the Aspects

Read how Ptolemy describes the 4 aspects in Ch. 13 of Book I “Of the Aspects of the Signs” by clicking into this link. Note that Ptolemy sought a physical explanation for astrological phenomena. For him the nature of the aspects is derived from musical harmony rather than ruler-based sign relationships. He sought an explanation based on sign features also, but he erroneously stated that signs in opposition and square/quartile are less harmonious due to being of opposite gender. Opposing signs are actually of the same gender. Only the square involves signs of opposite gender.

Signs Not in Aspect

Signs that are not in one of the above 4 relationships with each other are said to be “not in concord”, “disjunct”, “inconjunct”, or “alien”.  As Serapio of Alexandra put it, “Not in concord are those that are in no way aspecting each other” (Holden trans., 2009, p. 61).  However, some astrologers, including Ptolemy and Porphyry, considered planets not to be disjunct if they have some other type of sign sympathy (see my article on sign symmetry for some of these types of sympathy).

Regarding is Seeing

In any case, planets may be said to regard (to see) those signs that they aspect. Those that are not aspected are not as directly influential as they are out of sight.  The signs that are not in aspect are the 2nd, 6th, 8th, and 12th sign from any sign. This concept of areas out of sight is important, as we’ll see, in the next post on places. Ancient astrologers associated those signs that the rising sign can’t see with topics in life that tend to be the most problematic (the “dark” or “bad” places). This is because the rising sign symbolizes the individual person and the signs that they can’t see are akin to “alien” influences.

Overcoming and Domination

When looking at regards, we should also take into account which planet has the upper hand. Sometimes astrologers do this by seeing which planet is more reinforced, such as by being in a position it rules.  However, in Hellenistic astrology, this was often done by looking at which planet was to the right (clockwise from the other planet) in the relationship.

Overcoming from Behind

Planets normally progress forward through the zodiac, so the planet in an earlier position zodiacally (i.e. to the right or clockwise) is figuratively behind the other planet. The planet in front is in a more vulnerable position. The planet on the right is referred to as “overcoming” the planet on the left.

Domination by Square

Overcoming is strongest for the “square” aspect. In a square, the planet on the right is said to “overpower” (Dorotheus) or “predominate”/”dominate” (Porphyry).  It may be that the distinction is most relevant for the square because of the Mars-like nature of the aspect. It is helpful to know which planet is dominant when planets are in a relationship of conflict.

And the [star] that is in the tenth sign is said to be predominant and to prevail over the one in the fourth [sign from it], e.g. the star that chances to be in Libra is dominant over the one in Capricorn, and the one in Capricorn is dominant over the one in Aries. (Porphyry, Holden trans., 2009, Ch. 20, p. 17)

Overcoming by Trine or Sextile

The right planet in the trine or sextile was also mentioned by some astrologers as “overcoming” or “prevailing”.  See the Porphyry quote below in which “prevailing” is the more general term used for the trine, square, or sextile, in contrast to “predominating” (the above quote) which only pertains to the square.

Every star prevails when it is posited in a dexter trine or square or sextile to one on its left, for that one goes toward it. For example, one that is in Capricorn prevails over one in trine aspect in Taurus […]  They say that prevailing is more powerful when [the planets] are in trine or square. For the prevailing star is thus stronger […]. (Porphyry, Holden trans., 2009, Ch. 21, p. 17)

Overcoming While With a Planet

So far, we see that planets on the right side are more influential in the aspect relationship and that this is especially so for the square. The concept is not used at all for the opposition. However, for at least for one Hellenistic astrologer, Serapio of Alexander, overcoming applied to planets with each other in the same sign as well.

whenever two stars are present in the same sign, and the one having fewer degrees prevails over the one having more degrees, e.g., the star of Mercury in Aries around the 10th degree, that of Saturn in the same sign around the 25th degree–it is evident that the [star] of Mercury prevails over that of Saturn by degrees. (Serapio, Holden trans., 2009, p. 63)

Degree-Based Aspects

In addition to sign-based aspects, there are degree-based aspects. Degree based aspects are more dynamic and intense relationships than the sign-based aspects. Additionally, there are occasions when two planets may be in a degree-based aspect even if the signs are not in aspect. These aspects come about when planets are in the same degree or those 60, 90, 120, or 180 degrees apart. For instance, two planets exactly 60 degrees apart would be in an exact degree-based sextile. There are special guidelines and terminology related to degree-based aspects. In general, the closer the degree-based aspect, the more eventful the significations related to it.


Named after the term for glue or binding in ancient Greek (kollesis), these are very tight and applying degree-based aspects. For most of the planets, they must be applying to an exact degree-based aspect within 3 degrees to be considered “joining”. However, for the Moon, she is joining the next star she will exactly encounter by aspect within a days travel from her position (i.e. applying to another planet within about 13 degrees). A joining aspect is the most intense type of aspect.

They say that an application is a kollesis whenever they apply partilely, according for example to a configuration at some particular time, or even when they are about to come together within three degrees. It is was also said if it was thus: it is a kollesis whenever one star moves toward another star, the swift one moving to the slow one that is not distant more than three degrees. And in the case of the Moon, some say within thirteen degrees; that is, in both her day and night course to observe the conjunction when she applies to one of them. (Porphyry, Holden trans., 2009, Ch. 11, p. 13)

I would consider planets joined together in this manner to be in aspect even if they don’t regard each other by sign. However, this is the only exception.


For the most part, the planets separate as soon as the exact degree-based aspect has been completed. Some ancient astrologers consider this to be after one leaves from the same numerical degree as the other. Occasionally, the bound is given significance, especially for the conjunction, and the aspect is separated when one planet leaves the bound that they shared. Note that the planets also still regard each other by the given aspect until one leaves a sign. Again, the Moon should be considered separating from the last planet that she has not yet left behind by a day’s journey (about 13 degrees).

In short, regards are intensified as planets get closer, and are particularly intense when they are joining, becoming much less intense after they separate. While a separating aspect lacks the immediacy of an applying aspect, separating aspects, especially those of the Moon, were very important for some techniques in Hellenistic astrology (primary directions and electional astrology for instance).


Following the visual metaphor, we will use the term “scrutinizing” for any aspect within 3 degrees, whether applying or separating, as these aspects are particularly intense regards. When applying, these planets are additionally joining to each other (conjoining).

Casting Rays

We noted that planets to the right (i.e. clockwise) overcome those to the left. By contrast, the planet on the left “casts a ray” to the one on the right in an aspect. Additionally, planets in opposition are said to cast rays to each other. Rays casting from a square or opposition were considered to be destructive.

However, this may only relate to close degree-based aspects and may pertain to primary directions primarily. Porphyry’s comments regarding casting rays appear to relate to the length of life technique. Note that by primary directions, planets to the left are directed to planets on the right by aspect.

And Thrasyllus says that casting a ray is a destruction, and those are anaeretic that are occupying a position in the square configurations or in the oppositions in the interval between the ASC degree and the testimony of the trines that are not incurring destruction. And the one they carry from anywhere, it will not carry the ray across, he says, whether from the right or from the left into the succedent of the ASC or of the star holding the rulership of the Moon, then it will be the aphetic place. (Porphyry, Holden trans., 2009, Ch. 24, p. 19)

Additional Configurations

There are many additional specific planetary configurations noted by Porphyry and Rhetorius. These definitions are assumed to have been copied from an early book of definitions by Antiochus. These configurations have been explored in some depth by Robert Schmidt and Chris Brennan in their respective work on reconstructing the full aspect doctrine of Antiochus. I will not explore these additional configurations here because they are seldom if ever referenced by the other major figures of Hellenistic astrology, such as Dorotheus, Valens, Ptolemy, Maternus, and Paulus Alexandrinus.

For more information on the full aspect doctrine of Antiochus check out the existing translations of Porphyry’s Introduction to the Tetrabiblos and Rhetorius the Egyptian. Also, see Project Hindsight and Chris Brennan’s course on Hellenistic astrology.

Putting Things Together

Let’s put it all together by analyzing the “irrational mind” of Jeffrey Dahmer (AA-rated) using Ptolemy’s technique.

Jeffrey Dahmer's Natal Chart
Jeffrey Dahmer’s Natal Chart

Moon is Prominent

The first thing to notice about the Moon is its loudness. It is strongly advancing. In fact, she is conjunct the descendant (western horizon) and in a stake of the chart (the 7th house). The Moon is by far the most prominent planet in the chart. One reading is that the irrational mind is at the forefront of major life circumstances.

The sign (Aries) is masculine, fiery, and cardinal. This sign conveys confident action, impulsiveness, and broad sweeping changes, with an urge to influence.


The Moon is at 19 degrees Aries. She is in the bound of Mercury, the house of Mars, the exaltation of the Sun, and the triplicity of the Sun.  From looking at aspects, it is my opinion that Mars is the most influential of all these rulers as Mars is “with” the Moon in the same sign, and is also of an earlier degree (“overcoming”). Mars is additionally reinforced by being in its own house (Aries).

While Ptolemy lists regard as just one factor, we should look at regard in a more insightful manner. Being with a planet in the same sign is the most powerful type of influence, and is greater than any rulership. On the other hand, some regards are less influential than rulership.

Jeffrey Dahmer HS Yearbook

Saturn’s Domination

Jupiter and Saturn regard the Moon by square from the right side, so they “dominate” the Moon.  The Sun and Mercury regard the Moon by sextile, but they are in the weaker position (the Moon overcomes them). Of the two planets that dominate the Moon, neither has any form of rulership, but Saturn dominates most closely, being at 17 Capricorn while the Moon is at 19 Aries (i.e. scrutinizing regard). Additionally, Saturn is in its own house, so Saturn is the more influential of the two (between Jupiter and Saturn).

In fact, Saturn is the last planet the Moon aspected, so it is the planet that the Moon separates from. The Moon’s separation and application are very significant in Hellenistic astrology. Among other things, they were important planets for assessing psychology. They were noted by Ptolemy as something to investigate.

Major Influences

Therefore, by close examination of the Moon we find that Mars has the most direct and strong influence over its symbolism (irrational mind subject to violence, turmoil, or anxiety). This is because Mars has domicile rulership and is with the Moon, overcoming her in a strong way.

Saturn and the Sun have the next most significant influence on the Moon’s significations. Saturn dominates the Moon closely and is the planet of its separation. Think of the symbolism of Saturn as pertaining to death, as well as darkness. The Sun has multiple forms of rulership as well as a weak sextile aspect.  The Sun and its symbolism of fame, accomplishment, exposure, father, truth, recognition, authorities, and so forth is relevant. However, the Moon may be said to prevail over the Sun.

Five Significant but Unequal Factors

One Point Regard

Note that in the modern period, those rediscovering the techniques of Ptolemy often apply the predomination technique using rulership and regard in a mechanical fashion. Typically, a point is given to each planet for each type of rulership and regard that it has over the planet (or point) being considered.  For example, if we were looking at just the Moon, as we have, then we’d give the Sun 3 points (exaltation, triplicity, regard by sextile), Mars 2 points (house, with), and Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury one point (regard). This approach fails to take into account the varying influence of different types of regards and rulerships.

Weighted Rulership (Dignity Points)

The later medieval approach to find a predominator (the almuten, al-mubtazz, or “winner”) tended to drop regard out of the picture altogether. That approach looked at the type of rulership or combination of rulerships a planet had over a position. Different types of rulership were given different point scores.

This approach also fails to account for the fact that a planet “with” another planet or closely dominating another planet may have a much stronger influence over a planet than one that it is just its ruler. I’ve provided some critiques of this approach in the past.

Diversity of Influence

Understanding both the breadth and depth of planetary influence is more helpful than simply finding a single planet with the most points. We do want to know the strongest influence or influences. However, there are situations of competing influence, of blended influence, and of influences taking on varying degrees of prominence at various stages of life. These are important things to consider.

Returning to Dahmer’s chart, Mars has the strongest and most constant influence on the Moon in Dahmer’s chart. Mars strongly characterizes the nature of what the Moon signifies due to their being so strongly tied together. This characterization is modified by the features of Aries (fire sign; cardinal).

Saturn represents a conflicting and challenging influence on the irrational mind. Saturn is able to “dominate” the irrational mind with its significations. It also emphasizes the cardinal feature as Saturn is in a cardinal sign.

The Sun’s symbolism then relates to the irrational mind in a way that is less direct. Though the Sun is important nonetheless.

Take It Further

In this post, we looked at ways in which planetary influences combine to yield more complicated symbolism.  The interpretation of planet and sign combinations is very difficult as the possibilities are numerous. It follows that astrological prediction, especially of particulars, is difficult.

Ancient astrologers would devote large portions of texts to giving some examples of possible indications from the planet, sign, aspect, and rulership combinations. Often they would give extreme examples so that one would stay open-minded to the range of possibilities. Please take some time to study these. Some texts are available free online, including translations of Ptolemy, Valens, and Maternus. Search online for these. Look at a chart and think about what sorts of possibilities and probabilities could be symbolized.

In the next post, we’ll relate some of these significations to specific areas of life. We’ll explore the main strategy of assigning life topics to signs, called the “places”.

Horace Weston Taylor - Contemplation, 1919

Note on Psychology

The fact that Ptolemy used the Moon to symbolize the irrational mind was brought up strategically. Modern astrologers often assume that ancient astrology had nothing to say about psychology; that it was just about trying to predict events. Ptolemy’s treatment of the Moon and Mercury as relating to rational and irrational aspects of the mind or soul was written in the 2nd century CE. It shows that ancient astrologers did indeed concern themselves with psychology (despite it not being called psychology at that time). In fact, they had a more sophisticated toolset at their disposal for symbolizing the nature of influences and disturbances upon the mind than found in modern psychological astrology today.



Porphyry, & Serapio. (2009). Porphyry the Philosopher. (J. H. Holden, Trans.). Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers.

Ptolemy, C. (1940). Ptolemy: Tetrabiblos. (F. E. Robbins, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library. Retrieved from

Image Attributions

Featured image of eye is derivative work: Laitr Keiows (talk) Iris_-_left_eye_of_a_girl.jpg: Laitr Keiows (Iris_-_left_eye_of_a_girl.jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Whitney Houston image by Asterio Tecson [CC BY-SA 2.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Source for Planetary Domiciles Image: “Fig.3 Planetary Domiciles” by Meredith Garstin commons – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Dahmer’s yearbook picture is in the public domain. 

The image of the painting Contemplation (1919) by Horace Weston Taylor is in the public domain.



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

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