Saturday, 7 March 2009

Ruler of the chart

This is Tony Blair's chart. In The Real Astrology Applied John Frawley refers to this chart in order to show how mutual reception can strengthen planets. The ruler of this chart is Mercury tucked away in the 12th house. This, he says, almost always guarantees failure. Since this obviously isn't the case with Tony Blair, we must find something that turns things around. And this is Mercury's mutual reception with Mars exactly on the Ascendant, therefore empowering Mercury.
Of course, this is not a very powerful mutual reception, is it? Both planets are peregrine, meaning they have no essential dignities and, as a result, weak. Mercury is weakened even further by being in the 12th house, however Mars, being on the Ascendant is accidentally dignified. But how much help can it give to Mercury? As I understand from John Frawley, accidental dignity shows power to act but if the planet has no essential dignities, it is more likely to do harm than good.
Consequently, I'm not entirely convinced that this mutual reception is very helpful. With this chart, one could make a very good case in favour of the whole sign house system. Since Mercury is two signs away from the Ascendant, in this house system it would be an 11th house Mercury and we wouldn't feel the need to look for dubious receptions.

Let's have a look at Roger Federer's chart which is a much stronger and even more confusing example. Here is the chart:

For those of you who do not know who Roger Federer is, let's just say that he is one of the best tennis players of all time. He may currently be No2 in the world, as Rafael Nadal has the upper hand in their encounters, but even if he never beats Nadal again and starts to fall down in the rankings, he has had four phenomenal years, he is very close to equalling Pete Sampras' record for most Gran Slam wins and he is the player with the most prize money ever. So he is more than succesful.
But when we look at his chart using the traditional techniques, we are surprised, to say the least. His chart ruler and Midheaven ruler (profession) is Mercury. Mercury is on the cusp of the 12th house and applying to conjunct the Sun and become combust so, even though fast, this doesn't help him. What can we make of this? This is a severely debilitated planet and a strong indication that Roger would not amount to much. Yet, this is obviously not the case, in fact, quite the reverse. Granted, the Midheaven receives beneficial trines from a well-dignified Saturn and Jupiter and they are both in the 2nd house of money, but is that enough to completely offset the destructive influence of Mercury?
Need we rethink combustion when it comes to the sign of Leo? The Sun in Leo of course burns like hell, but it seems that planets in Leo want to be combust. Mercury in this chart absolutely loves the Sun. It is ruled by the Sun and it's in the triplicity of the Sun. Still, both Mercury and the Sun are accidentally debilitated by being in the 12th house.
What if we don't use Mercury as the ruler of either the Ascendant or the Midheaven? Finding the almuten, that is, the planet with the most essential dignity in those degrees, is not much help either, since Mercury is also the almuten. The only thing that would perhaps accurately portray the truth would be if we used the triplicity ruler of the Midheaven, which is Saturn. But should we?
I would appreciate it if you had any thoughts on the subject and shared them with me.

Both charts were taken from the astrotheme website.


  1. Ebertin has answered your questions a long time ago! According to him, and not only, dignities are not so important (with the exception of horary of course) and 8th harmonic aspects can be extremely beneficial, depending on the planetary energies combined. You don't have to desregard sign and house placement altogether as Cosmobiology used to do, you may combine their principles with more traditional ones like many astrologers do nowadays. And one should never judge a horoscope staticaly. Looking at solar arcs is extremely important, and all successful people receive beneficial aspects, transits, progressions and solar arcs, as long as their success lasts.

  2. Ebertin is not a God. If his system were so perfect, then there wouldn't be a traditional astrology revival in recent years, but instead we would rely exclusively on Ebertin to provide all the answers. The question is: Is there a foolproof system that is always correct? If we do what you are proposing, which is, a little bit of this and a little of that, then of course I will get the answer I am seeking. I will use whatever method gives me the result I am looking for. But is that right? If combustion is such a serious debility, then it must be so in every chart.
    Now, of course you look at various progressions, transits, etc. (I am not a big fan of solar arcs, but anyway). Here the question is: If something is not promised in the natal chart, can it happen because of a progression?

  3. Planets "escape" combustion when in the Sun's sign (Leo) and exaltation (Aries); I'm pretty sure this is a traditional concept and will be back to you when I find where I read this. Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?


  4. That does indeed make sense and I will be waiting for more details from you. However, from what I've read, combustion is not such a serious problem ONLY if the planet is in the sign it rules. Sun conjunct Mercury in Virgo, for example. In that case, the Sun may burn Mercury, but Mercury rules the Sun, so things are not that serious, somehow the combustion is cancelled out.

  5. From Hellenistic astrology litterature we know that combustion can be mitigated by a planet being in any of its own places, like its domicile or bound, it's like a planet in its own chariot: you can pull the shades down to block the Sun's rays.


  6. So, james, what you are saying is that we should not only check rulership, but also triplicities, terms and faces. OK, but Mercury in Federer's chart has just left its own terms and entered the terms of Venus. In short, this Mercury is peregrine, in a bad condition. The only positive thing I can think of right now is that this Mercury, by its mutual reception with Venus in the 1st (Venus in the sign of Mercury and Mercury in the terms of Venus), strengthens somewhat, since it finds a way to the Ascendant. But the reception is weak and Mercury is still combust, so I don't think it helps us much.