Basic Principles Of Ancient Astrology

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The chart, whether it concerns a birth or any other event, is simply a map of the heavens, frozen at a particular moment. There are a variety of ways of presenting the information: one is visible in Figure 10,

Figure 9 Positions of the planets in their orbits relative to Earth.
Figure 10 The same positions represented in the birth chart.

which represents the situation in Figure 9. A crude round birth chart, which does not include the Places, known as (mundane) houses to modern astrologers, is found in a papyrus (Figure 11), but astrological manuscripts (which are not earlier than the Byzantine period) are illustrated with square types of chart (Figure 12; Figure 1).

The defining point of the chart is the Ascendant, known to the Greeks as the Horoscopes, which was to give its name to the whole birth chart. This was the degree of the zodiac rising over the horizon at the moment concerned. Conventionally, the Ascendant is placed

Figure 11 Diagram from first-century CE papyrus.
Figure 12 Types of diagrams in manuscripts.

in the middle, on the left of the chart, at 9 o'clock on round charts, representing the point in the East rising at the moment concerned. In fact, it would only be due East when the equinoctial points were rising, or during the rest of the year at the equator, because of the different rising times. Similarly, the other cardinal points, Midheaven (Mesuranema to the Greeks, Medium Caelum to the Romans), the point directly above the observer's head, the Descendant (Dusis, Occasus) in the West and the Imum Caelum (Hypogeion), known as angles to the modern astrologer, would not, at other times, be 90 degrees apart, as they are illustrated (Figure 13). However, ancient astrologers' attention to this problem was erratic, to say the least. In the earlier horoscopes preserved, it seems most common to assume that the Midheaven was simply three signs from the Ascendant. Where degrees are mentioned, it is usually taken that the cardines are 90 degrees apart. Clearly, astrologers' calculations depended on the tables they used: some later literary horoscopes benefit from the more

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