The Part of Fortune and her Counterpart

Fortunae te regendum dedisti, dominae moribus oportet obtemperes. Tu uero uoluentis rotae impetum retinere conaris? at, omnium mortalium stolidissime, si manere incipit fors esse desistit.*  Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

What is the Part of Fortune? Why do we use it and what does it symbolise? I would like to explore this in the next two, maybe three articles.

The Part of Fortune may rightly be called the Part of the Moon. And as we will shortly see, even its glyph reflects the lunar cycle. But first a little background information. The realm we live in, was known by the ancients as the sub-lunar realm. It is the realm of mortality, where everything is subject to change. Here Fortuna with her Wheel of Change (some would say Chance) holds sway. From a personal, biological viewpoint this is the Wheel of Incarnation – birth, childhood, youth, maturity, old age and death. But in all of this change there is continuity. The wheel turns but it doesn’t become undone in the turning.

The formula is: PoF = Ascendant + (Moon – Sun). But we mustn’t succumb to the temptation to look at it as an exercise in arithmetic. Fill in the spaces, add and subtract and finished. The formula itself deserves closer examination. We note three factors: the Sun, the Moon and the Ascendant.

  • the Sun, the constant Light
  • the Moon, the factor of change, the inconstant Light
  • the Ascendant, the doorway to life and the sub-lunar realm of corporality

What is measured? The arc between the Sun and the Moon. And this arc has direction. It is from the Sun to the Moon. From the eternal realm to that of change. And, when you think about it, it makes more sense not to reverse the formula for night births. The reverse formula is symbolically more consistent when used for the Part of Spirit or Daemon. Here the direction is from Moon to Sun, the realm of change directed to that of eternity.

The Part of Fortune and the Part of Spirit have the same reciprocal relation as a planet to its antiscion. The only difference is that the horizon replaces the Cancer/Capricorn solstice axis. Whereas the solstice axis represents generally the two gateways, one to mortality the other to immortality, the Part of Fortune and the Part of Spirit represent the individual focus, once the gateway of birth or mortality has been passed through. The solstice axis isn’t flipped for a day or night birth and it seems reasonable not to do this for the Part of Fortune and the Part of Spirit. This question is a matter of debate among astrologers. It is not only a matter or personal taste but one of consistency. At the moment the argument points in favour of not reversing the formula for the Parts of Fortune and Spirit. This may only be true for those Parts that behave like antiscia to one another and where the Ascendant is involved. The question is still open.

There is only one arc. Once found it is taken from the Ascendant to give the position of the Part of Fortune.
Sun –> Moon is the same as Ascendant –> PoF

(see the illustration below)


We can say that the PoF represents the integrity of the body during the cycle of change which is its lot, being part of the sub-lunar realm. For the same reason, its opposite, the Part of Spirit shows the moral integrity of the mortal creature striving towards the Divine.

There are particular situations which can deepen our understanding of these two Parts.

The first set is the cycle of lunation where particular configurations that need not be calculated because they are immediately apparent:

  • At the New Moon both the Part of Fortune and the Part of Spirit are conjunct the Ascendant.
  • Likewise at the Full Moon both are in opposition to the Ascendant.
  • With a waxing the Half-Moon the Part of Fortune will be square the Ascendant below the horizon and the Part of Spirit in opposition above the horizon.
  • This is reversed with a waning Half-Moon.

The second set is the daily cycle of sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset.

  • At sunrise the Moon is conjunct the Part of Fortune.
  • At sunset the Moon is in opposition to the Part of Fortune.
  • At moonrise the Sun is conjunct the Part of Spirit.
  • At moonset the Sun is in opposition to the Part of Spirit.

Compare the following two illustrations:


The first shows the Glyph that we normally use. It is a George’s Cross. The second shows the spaces in between, the quarters of the four central phases of the Moon. So we see that the Glyph itself is an image of the cycle of lunation where the Moon itself demonstrates the ever recurring cycle of poverty to prosperity and back again to poverty. The Cornucopia of Fortuna fills or empties itself with light.

*You have given yourself over to Fortune’s rule, and you must bow yourself to your mistress’s ways. Are you trying to stay the force of her turning wheel? Dull-witted mortal, if Fortune were to stay still, she is no longer Fortune.


10 thoughts on “The Part of Fortune and her Counterpart

  1. Dear Thomas

    Thank you so much for bringing this up for discussion. It used to perplex me that we reverse some of the Arabic Parts or Lots as they are sometimes called and not others, but it made sense when I discovered that reversing the factors in some of the Lots arises from a need to use sect, and therefore relies on either ‘in-sect’ planets or the ‘light of the time’ for their calculation.

    As you point out, that does not mean that the we should reverse the Lights themselves when they are factors in calculating their own ‘Lots’. In fact I would think their very names should have pre-empted all attempts to reverse, with the Lot of the Moon (Fortuna) being a calculated point showing where the Moon would be if the Sun was on the Ascendant, and the Lot of the Sun (Spiritus) being the calculated point showing where the Sun would be if the Moon was on the Ascendant.

    Of all the texts I could find on the subject only Ibn Ezra agrees with Ptolemy in that we should not reverse the calculation when casting Fortuna. He says in ‘The Beginning of Wisdom’ that we should not reverse “because as the relation between the rising sign and the Sun so is the relation between the Lot of Good Fortune and the Moon, and therefore it is called the rising sign of the Moon.” So to me it would make no sense at all to reverse the formula and thus place the Sun where the Moon should be in what is termed the ‘Lot of the Moon’.

    Also as you have described above, Fortuna shadows the phases of the Moon: at the new Moon she is on the Ascendant, then she waxes down through to the 4th house at the first quarter Moon, up to oppose the Ascendant at full Moon before moving up to the MC at the last quarter and back to the Ascendant again at New Moon. The Lights don’t physically swop over at dusk and then leapfrog each other again at dawn, with a waning Moon jumping over the Sun to become a waxing Moon; and so neither should Fortuna and Spiritus hop about the place just because the earth revolves upon it’s axis!

    I once read that confusion over whether to reverse or not to reverse Fortuna according to sect arose from an early mistranslation of Masha’allah’s ‘Book of Experiments’, where he said that by night Spirit is stronger than Fortuna; but I can’t remember who quoted this, and I don’t have that book. Perhaps you have it, or you know if this is correct or not Thomas?

    Thanks for the Beothius quote; I love it.


  2. Dear CarO,

    Thank you for your very thoughtful comment. I am not aware of the source that describes the origin of the controversy on whether or not to reverse Fortuna. But if I should come across it I will certainly let you know. Perhaps another reader knows of this? What is available to us from the past, is very important, but there is always the danger of mistranslation and from that a corruption in how later some techniques are used. This means that each of us cannot avoid thinking about them and using our discriminative judgement. As you say so aptly,

    “The Lights don’t physically swop over at dusk and then leapfrog each other again at dawn, with a waning Moon jumping over the Sun to become a waxing Moon; and so neither should Fortuna and Spiritus hop about the place just because the earth revolves upon it’s axis!”

    I have recently been reading Boethius’ “The Consolation of Philosophy” and was captivated by the imagery. The first two books more or less discuss the contrast between Fortune and in this context the Spirit. It is highly recommended. I would include it on any traditional astrology book list as a must.

    yours ever,

  3. Good Morning Thomas

    You said:
    ” I am not aware of the source that describes the origin of the controversy on whether or not to reverse Fortuna. But if I should come across it I will certainly let you know.
    Perhaps another reader knows of this?”

    Thank you for your reply and yes, I would be very interested to hear if anyone else can enlighten me on this please!


  4. for what it could be of help, in CieloeTerra, Italian traditional astrology association, they are doing the same, they don’t reverse Part of fortune but reverse the rest, according Albiruni list.

  5. Hello Gjiada,

    Thank you for your comment and the reference! Here is the link to the article by Marco Fumagalli, which has been translated into English, “The calculation of the lots, according to Placidus”:

    for those readers who are interested in pursuing this further.

    When the Lights are used for Parts or Lots other than their own, then reversing by night and day seems to be reasonable. Why some Parts are reversed and others are not might be worth looking into with more detail.

    best wishes,

  6. Great post, Thomas!

    See also:

    My comment follows it.

    See also:

    In my view, the pars fortunae also refers to the type of activities which develop along the path of the waxing Moon. The pars fortunae is conjoined with the Ascendant (the symbol of all beginnings) at the New Moon. The cycle of the pars fortunae (from the Ascendant to the Nadir, then to the Descendant and the Zenith, and back to the Ascendant) begins and ends thus with the New Moon.

    In Lilly’s Moon phases, New Moon to First Quarter imparts the sanguine humor. Jupiter rules the sanguine humor, and Jupiter presages wealth, material and otherwise.

    The Latin translation of the Tetrabiblos (printed at Perugio in 1646) makes reference to the Part of Spirit. The original text of the Tetrabiblos does not. Ptolemy assigns a Lunar Ascendant (Fortuna) in relation to the Moon. He does not assign a Solar Ascendant (Spiritus) in relation to the Sun. Why not? Presumably because the Ascendant of the Sun is the horoscopos itself: as Morin states, the Ascendant is (already) subject to the jurisdiction of the Sun, so there is no need to calculate a Solar Ascendant. But, as Morinus argues (citing Pontanus), there is a need to calculate a Lunar Ascendant: thus the Part of Fortune.

    I don’t wish to be dogmatic about this: I’ve just tried to understand the rationale underlying Ptolemy’s practice. I look forward to your next installment!

  7. Dear Andrew,
    Thank you so much for your comment. In fact in the sequel to this article, not yet posted, I have quoted parts of your first comment. There will have to be an additional article to discuss the last part of your comment, which is also worth being examined and given some thought to!
    best wishes,

  8. A follow-up comment: it might be more appropriate (from the perspective of Ptolemy, so to speak) to consider the placement of the Part of Spirit in relation to the lunar zodiac, in terms of lunar houses, such as those suggested by Alexandre Volguine. Just a thought …

  9. Hello Andrew,
    Yes a very interesting thought. Well worth pursuing! A new article has been posted in answer to your first comment. As I said there I find this a most stimulating discussion!
    best wishes,

  10. I do not know much about Part of Fortune and Part of Spirit. I do know that my Part of Fortune and Part of Spirit are both in Leo 15 degrees in the 3rd House. My life has not in any case been an easy one. Andrew if you have any information about these placements, please share them. I would like to know. As a matter of fact, many of my placements, especially (Arabic Placements) are in fixed signs at 14-16 degrees Avataric aspects.

    I’m Capricorn Sun, Gemini Rising, Aquarius Moon, Capricorn Mercury, Scorpio Venus, Scorpio Mars, Scorpio Jupiter, Taurus Saturn, Libra Uranus, Virgo Pluto, Scorpio Vertex, Aquarius North Node and Pisces Midheaven. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s