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.