I recently received my copy of “Persian Nativities” translated and edited by Ben Dykes. Now this article isn’t quite a review as I have just finished reading the introduction and am partway into the Book of Aristotle. I can only speak of a first impression.
It is always refreshing to read a translation where the translator actually thinks in detail about the content and presentation of his translation and where the Introduction ( of course you read the introduction, don’t you?) already provides a few seminal ideas. This is the case here. In section 6 of the Introduction Ben Dykes speaks of the concept of ‘sect and being “at rest.” ‘ I would like to discuss this a little as I think it is an exciting idea.
A planet in its own sect is referred to by Hugo of Santalla, who translated the Arabic text into Latin, as having quies and quietus, in other words as being at rest or restful, as Ben Dykes points out. How may we visualize this and how may it help to understand sect qualitatively? This is the image that came before my minds eye, actually there were two, but first things first. If you light a candle in a room that has little or no draught, the flame will burn steadily and quietly, and although constantly in motion appears to rest on top of the column of the candle. The flame consumes not only the wax of the candle but also the air (oxygen) around it, so in effect there are barely visible swirls and eddies of warmer and colder air around it. But the general appearance is that of rest. Now carry the candle outside into a light breeze. There the flame is likely to dance around and almost gutter. Sometimes larger, sometimes smaller until either the wind quietens or it is extinguished. Now a planet, traditionally is not just a block of matter, it is a potency, and that is anything but passive. So a planet in sect is like the ever active flame that is allowed to unfold its potency, quietly and effectively. A planet out of sect is not allowed this, its potency must contend with an inimical environment. So the Sun by day effectively shows his potency. His light and warmth are present, felt and seen by all. At night he still sheds light and warmth but it is not experienced.
A second analogy could be found in the animal world. Just think how uncomfortable a nocturnal animal such as the owl or bat would be during the day. Restless would be lightly spoken. The same could be said for a diurnal animal such as a Robin.
I look forward to the passages in the text where sect is discussed. You should too.