The Part of Fortune Revisited

Astrology is traditionally ruled by Mercury. If you have ever done any of the extensive calculations required to set a chart and its derivative charts (primary directions, secondary progressions etc.) then you can understand why. But astronomical calculations and other mathematical operations alone are merely the tools with which the astrologer must work. Important as they are they do not define the art. Over the centuries many heated astrological discussions have been centred on mathematical issues. Questions such as, “Which House System should I use?”, “Should I reverse the PoF for nocturnal charts?”, “Should I use Ptolemy or Naibod for symbolical timing in primary directions?” Every so often someone will have proof which system or systems are the best. Usually the argument is utilitarian; “This works, the other systems aren’t as accurate.” A chart or two is presented to demonstrate this.

If we look at the arguments and their ‘solutions’ we find that there are certain common features:

  • the debated method is mathematical in nature or has a mathematical component
  • a convincing proof is offered. This is demonstrated with a few charts of well known individuals with the desired characteristics. The analysis is without exception convincing. But usually it is already biased towards the favoured method. Arguments for the other method(s), though possible, are ignored.
  • Once the method has been ‘proved’ the author applies it with rigour, ignoring other methods as he has resolved the question for himself.

Let us look at the Arabic Parts. At first sight they look like a mathematical calculation, and are generally treated as such. This is understandable as the astrologer is primarily interested in their position, and if he is looking at a number of Parts, wants the results as quickly as possible. He need not understand the underlying symbolical basis for their use, the focus being on how they are symbolically applied.

Do you, dear reader, understand why a discussion whether to reverse the Parts or not is even necessary? Or why it rose in the first place?

I thought so.

Astrology is a coherent body of knowledge. Each conceptual aspect, whether great or small, is interwoven with every other aspect. If we neglect to explore some of the deeper levels of symbolical meaning we may come to conclusions that seem correct, but are only superficially so. This is why certain questions seem to re-emerge with regularity, the necessary depth has either not been reached or the Zeitgeist requires more depth.

The debate about reversing the Parts has its origin in the consideration of Sect. (No there are not two different sects propagating either reversing or not reversing the Parts 🙂 although some of the more zealous proponents of both schools of thought might awaken the impression!) Sect is planetary strength based on position above or below the horizon. The determining factor being whether a planet is diurnal or nocturnal. A diurnal planet above the horizon by day is in Sect. As is a nocturnal planet above the horizon at night. Both are visible at their favoured time. The reverse is also true. A diurnal planet should be below the horizon at night. A nocturnal planet should be below the horizon by day, if it is in accord with its nature. Think of an owl, a nocturnal creature. By day it is resting and not flying about.

Interestingly enough the debate has mostly been focused on the Part of Fortune and the Part of Spirit. There is a good reason for this. The Part of Fortune belongs to the major Significators of a chart, along with Sun, Moon, Asc. and MC. It is a symbolic adjustment of the Ascendant based on the distance between the two Lights, the exemplary diurnal and nocturnal ‘planets’. The arc between the Sun and the Moon is added to the Ascendant. All are in agreement with this. But from which Light should the arc be taken? Those in favour of reversing the Part of Fortune say that the determining arc must be taken from the Light of the time. By day it is the Sun, so the arc must be taken from Sun to Moon. At night it is the Moon, here the arc must then be taken from Moon to Sun. Simple enough.

But when applied to an individual chart the question may arise whether the Sun and Moon are in Sect? In a diurnal chart the Sun is always in Sect, but in nocturnal charts the Moon is not always above the horizon and so in Sect. Taken a level deeper, what about Parts taken from two planets other than the Sun and Moon? Is Sect the determining feature? What if both or none of the planets is in Sect? From which planet is the arc then taken? Is Sect a relevant criterion?

Sect alone is not enough to resolve the question. Additional factors must be involved if there is to be symbolical integrity. What are they?

I think one factor is the nature of the planets from which a Part is derived. I have already discussed this in the article, “The Part of Fortune and its Counterpart”. Briefly the Sun represents the immortal entelechy, the central spiritual uniqueness of the native (chart ‘owner’). The Moon represents not only the changeable emotional nature but also the natives physical body, his mortality. Mars can represent sudden and violent events. Saturn slowly building morbidity. So if we want to determine how the native is anchored in the world (PoF) then we try to understand how the entelechy reaches down into mortality. Or if we want to determine how the native orients his daily life to his entelechy (Part of Spirit) then we would need to see how the mortal orients itself to the immortal. We may want to determine the susceptibility to accidents, here sudden violence is brought in relation to morbidity. Sickness on the other hand would be morbidity in relation to the quality of violence caused to the organism. Sect may play a role in how effective said planets realise these effects. So Mars and Saturn in Sect have strength and may in fact give a certain imperviousness to the intensity and efficacy of accidents or illness. Or the fortune of the native may be strengthened if both Sun and Moon are also in sect. It may also be worthwhile for those Parts where the Moon is involved to check whether the Moon is waxing or waning. (see Andrew Carter’s discussion).

What also seems to be ignored in these discussions is that under certain conditions the Parts of Fortune and Spirit are identical (sometimes it is the exceptions that can provide the greatest insight). For example at the New Moon when Sun and Moon are conjunct (this is true for all paired Parts). Then it is irrelevant whether the chart is diurnal or nocturnal or what the light of the time is. Under this condition Sect might however still be able to determine whether the native has a strong or weak orientation toward the spirit or physical body and which of the two might be stronger.

A study where all of these factors are explored in an unbiased manner and with great thoroughness has yet to be done.


12 thoughts on “The Part of Fortune Revisited

  1. There is some problem over here !

    “In a diurnal chart the Sun is always in Sect, but in nocturnal charts the Moon is not always above the horizon and so in Sect.”

    That is not important as it is not the traditional definition of sect. If nocturnal charts, the moon is always on sect, as the sect can only be diurnal or nocturnal !

    “Or the fortune of the native may be strengthened if both Sun and Moon are also in sect”

    They can´t be both in sect the same way republicans and democrats can be both have the presidency !

    I think you are confusing the concept of “sect” with the “rejoicing conditions” that are sometimes described as “sect” for abbreviation, but are not the same thing.

    The rejoicing conditions include being above or below the horizon, being in a masculine or feminine sign, and in a m/f quadrant. But they all depend on the chart being diurnal/nocturnal.

  2. Hello Yuzuru,
    Please give me your traditional source.

    Al Biruni in his description of nocturnal and diurnal makes the following remark:

    The sun is lord of the day and the moon of the night, because their influence is exerted during these periods. Every planet which is under the horizon during its own period is without influence.

    I think the last sentence describes precisely the situation. It is possible for the Moon to be under the horizon after the Sun has set.

    The question is about symbolical integrity. Can this be ignored?

    best regards,

  3. A traditional source would be difficult, as the whole helenistic concept of sect is very unlike what you said… but Valens would be a start. Paulus alexandrinus is important too.

    Sorry, but you can´t just take a piece of Al Biruni (with all the problems he have, besides all) and put that as a definition of sect), but lets break this quote into pieces

    The sun is lord of the day – meaning the sun is in sect during the day
    The moon of the night – meaning the moon is in sect during the night.
    “because their influence is exerted during these periods” – not they are not without influence in other periods, but he is showing that the planet in sect is like a King.

    Every planet which is under the horizon during his own period is without influence
    Now we have probably the style of al biruni creating confusion. This is not a consideration of sect, this is a consideration of rejoicing condition.

    My problems with that are two: one that, as I said, you are not using the correct doctrine of sect. Second that I don´t remember any of the ancients saying that the moon being above or below the horizon affect in any way the power of fortune.

  4. Hello Yuzuru,

    But I am not using the ‘hellenistic’ concept of sect. It is not enough to cite ‘hellenistic tradition’ and then leave it up to me to run after the sources. Either you have them at hand and can quote them or you shouldn’t cite them! I could equally ask if you understand the concept of sect.

    By whose authority is al Biruni not allowed? You will have to qualify what “all the problems he has” are and why he isn’t correct if I am to accept your argument.

    Consider the following:
    1. visibility is important. If a planet is without its own light it is weak (for example when combust or eclipsed)
    2. The Sun and Moon as the Lights are most potent when their light is also visible. When the Moon is half- full or more and above the horizon on a clear night her light is strong enough to cast shadows. She is effective.
    3. The same Moon before she has risen sheds no light and can cast no shadow. She is ineffective, even if she is Lady of the Night. She is effective once she has risen.
    4. Therefore when al Biruni says

    Every planet which is under the horizon during its own period is without influence.

    he is describing such a situation.
    5. I don’t think al Biruni is creating confusion. I think you haven’t understood what he is saying!

    I don´t remember any of the ancients saying that the moon being above or below the horizon affect in any way the power of fortune.

    Welcome to the present Yuzuru. That is the whole point of the article. To think about what the ancients have said and explore the permutations and not merely to quote them!

    with best regards,

  5. Hi, Thomas
    I will not insist in this. If you think your concept is right, well, good for you. But I though you would trust me more that what I said had some meaning 🙂

    Anyway, why I didn´t provide sources ? Because they are all around and available. In fact, all sources say that, you are the one who is saying otherwise, so, sorry, I don´t think I have the burden of proof. I will not look in all the books just to give you a quote. If you don´t believe me it is just fine by me, people usually don´t.

    You say you are not using the helenistic concept. Well, this is a choice, but you should also consider that, first, the concept began with the helenistic authors, like Valens, not with Biruni. So, Biruni doesn´t have a stronger saying on this. Second that it is not right to just quote a passage and say that this is the whole truth… usually the teachings have to be compared over several authors to be sure we are not reading what we want.

    Anyway I resent the “welcome to the present”. I though you were a traditional astrologer, but apparently, if you don´t believe in something of the tradition, worst for the traditional astrology. Well, this is called modern astrology.

    I will not insist on this point. I am not the astrology police. I only advise when I see a mistake, but that everyone do as they please

    Best regards

  6. Hello Yuzuru,
    Sorry to have ruffled your feathers. The “welcome to the present” is not meant as an insult and it is not referring to ‘modern’ astrology. I just want to point out that we have to think about our sources. If I have upset you, please accept my apologies. Perhaps I may misunderstand the concept of sect. You seem to think so. But whether or not we agree I very much appreciate your presenting another view. I suppose I will have to look up the citations now. It would have been a friendly gesture. But Yuzuru please understand that I have merely tried to offer a possible reason why some see it necessary to reverse the PoF for nocturnal charts. Sect, whether I understand it properly or not, probably plays a role. Or?

    with best regards,

  7. I did not exactly understand which is the point both of you are talking about so I’m not sure if I can help.
    Moreover I hate quarrels, I have enough of them, so please don’t shot at me. I’m just sharing with both of you what I know.

    Told these necessary words, for what I know the fact that planets in sect should be above the horizon- day planets in the day, night planets in the night – comes from Arab astrology.
    Hellenist astrology was more general, they just consider if the nature of the ruler of a chart was in agreement with hairesis.

    Firmicus writes (II.20.11):
    ” For if the planets which rejoice by day are in important houses in a diurnal chart, and are found on the first cardinal points, they portend the greatest increase in good fortune. But if the planets which we said rejoice by night are in the important houses or cardinal houses in a diurnal chart, they indicate unending misfortune and constant catastrophe.”

    In peace,

    Told this, I should say I don’t follow any rule, as always 🙂
    I firstly consider if there is agreement and then I check if they respect Arab rule.

  8. Hello Margherita,
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! 🙂
    It isn’t my intention to quarrel. And it is very thoughtful of you to provide the Firmicus quote. One might have to add this to the list of trying to understand the reasons for proposing the reversal of the PoF in the first place!

    I don’t blindly follow any rules either 🙂 They have to make sense to me if I am to apply them.

    One could of course simply apply Occam’s Razor (“All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.”) to the whole question and save all the bother. Facit: Don’t reverse the PoF by night!


  9. Thomas said: “In a diurnal chart the Sun is always in Sect, but in nocturnal charts the Moon is not always above the horizon and so in Sect.”

    Yuzuru said: “That is not important as it is not the traditional definition of sect. If nocturnal charts, the moon is always on sect, as the sect can only be diurnal or nocturnal!”

    ~~ CarO ~~ My Fourpennyworth: Actually, according to Robert Hand there are three factors that can relate to the sect of a planet :

    ” 1.) Whether the chart itself is diurnal or nocturnal.
    2.) The nature of the placement, (that is, whether the planet is diurnally or nocturnally placed)
    3.) The sect of the sign (whether the sign is diurnal or nocturnal.)”

    And so it is perfectly possible as Thomas says for the Moon to be placed out of sect in a nocturnal chart by being placed below the horizon in a nighttime chart.

    Thomas: “Or the fortune of the native may be strengthened if both Sun and Moon are also in sect”

    Yuzuru: They can´t be both in sect the same way republicans and democrats can be both have the presidency!

    ~~ CarO ~~ I beg pardon Yuzuru, but they most certainly can! Robert Hand states that any planet is placed diurnally when it is above the horizon in the daytime or below it at night. As is any planet placed nocturnally when it is below the horizon by day or above it by night. And so both the lights would be ‘in sect’ in a chart where the Sun was above the horizon in the day and the Moon below the horizon; as would both lights be in sect should the Moon be above the horizon in a nocturnal chart and the Sun below it.

    (source: ‘Night & Day’ Planetary Sect in Astrology by Robert S Hand: ARHAT)

  10. Hello Caroline!

    Thank you for taking the time to look up a source. And thank you also for the clear presentation.

    If you think about it, it seems to me that it is often very important to imagine the celestial situation being discussed and not merely leave it on the paper of a book or manuscript.


  11. So am I to understand by this essay that the part of fortune and the part of spirit are opposite views of the same thing, the soul unfolding in space and time?

    As soul expresses in worldly matters, so part of fortune. And as soul expresses in spiritual matters, part of spirit?

    Ah, but I couldn’t follow the stuff on Sect at all! 🙂

  12. Hello pb,
    In essence yes. If how one arrives at a lot is not treated as a formula but a symbolic act then it seems to me that there is a difference moving from Sun to Moon or from Moon to Sun. Is it symbolically enough to say that in nocturnal charts the Moon is stronger and therefore the direction from Moon to Sun is justified? Sect is usually the argument given why the formula should be reversed. Sect just means that a diurnal planet such as the Sun is above the horizon by day and below it by night. With the Sun this will always be so. Not with the Moon, which is a nocturnal planet. There are times when the Moon at night is also below the horizon and therefore not in sect. Logical conclusion is that if sect is the reason for reversing the direction between Sun and Moon then it can only be given weight when the Moon is in sect.
    best regards,

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