A Beginner’s Guide to Profections

pharosAstrology, as practiced in the Hellenistic Era (150BC – 400CE), was more like Jyotisha (Hindu Astrology) than the western astrology we use today. The whole-sign system of houses was used for interpretation, and sign subdivisions such as the Egyptian Terms (Bounds) and Dodecamotria (known in India as Dwadashamsas) were routinely used. Also, as in Hindu astrology, the centerpiece of the “System of Hermes” was a robust and practical set of predictive tools.

Circumambulation, or “walking the circle”, was the most important of these tools. In this method, the ‘predominator’ (the Sun, Moon or Ascendant depending the structure of the chart under examination) is ‘carried’ through the planetary bounds (Egyptian terms), and to conjunctions and aspects with the planets. The ancients devised this method to describe primary motion, the apparent westward movement of the Sun, Moon and stars across the horizon.

When the predominator changes bounds, a new major period begins, and the planet “ruling” that bound becomes the general time-lord. When a planet, or one of the “rays” of a planet (our familiar Sextile, Square, Trine or Opposition aspects) is reached, that planet becomes the participating time lord until another such encounter. Followers of Ptolemy use reverse nomenclature – the planets aspecting the predominator are the general time-lords, while the bound rulers participate. Ptolemy’s style of Circumambulation is the origin of modern ‘Primary Directions’.

Another accurate and useful time-lord system is the method of “Zodiacal releasing”, or aphesis, as described by Vettius Valens. This method was based on secondary motion, the apparent forward motion of astrological points through the signs of the Zodiac.

While any point (planet, lot or angle) can be released, this technique was generally applied to the Lot of Fortune or the Lot of Spirit. Valens and his contemporaries used the Lot of Fortune to examine forces in our lives that are outside of our control, and the Lot of Spirit to analyze our willful actions.

Releasing can also be done from any lot (or planet) in order to study the particular aspect of life described by the point to be released as it unfolds over time. There are a few calculation tricks to releasing, but learning this system is worth the effort, because aphesis repeatedly proves itself to be a very concise and accurate predictive tool.

Profection (Valens called it “Twelve Turning”) was a popular and simple predictive method, in which the signs moved at the rate of a sign per year, month or day. Profections may have fallen from popularity because the abandonment of whole sign houses and the doctrine of aspects created too much confusion as to how to analyze and interpret them. Yet they are a very important tool, because an ancient astrologer could use them to make marvelous predictions quickly once the standard chart had been cast, without the need for rare and usually inaccurate planetary tables or tables of planetary motion.

Profections count a sign per year by ordinal numbers, such that the time from birth until one year old is one’s first year, the age from 1 to 2 is the second year, etc. Therefore, if one is 12 years (between 12 and 13 by the way we count birthdays) old, they would be in their 13th year, and the annual sign would return to the sign of the 1st house. If a person were in their 24th year (between the 23rd and 24th birthdays, or 23 years old), we just remove two 12’s and end up with 0, which counts as the 12th sign from the rising sign. In other words, every 12th birthday your profected Ascendant is the same sign of the Zodiac as the Ascendant at birth.

Let’s say a person is in their 42nd year (41 years old) and has Virgo rising. They’ve been around the Zodiac 3 times (in the 36th year, or 35 years old), and that leaves us with 6, meaning that Aquarius (the 6th sign from Virgo) is the sign of the year. At this point, all you have to do is remember that the interval between the rising sign and the annual sign tells us how to judge the chart. In this example, if the 41 year old person with Virgo rising has natal Mars in Sagittarius, then Mars “hands over” to whatever is in Taurus, the 6th sign from Sagittarius. Were Venus in Pisces, she would hand over to any bodies or lots in Leo during this particular year.

This action also takes place regarding the divisions of time – the Year-lord hands over to the Month-lord who hands over to the Day-lord. In other words, if Pisces were the year lord, and Leo happened to be the active month in a Virgo rising chart, it could be said that Jupiter, or any planet in Pisces is handing over to the Sun, or any planet in Leo. Therefore, to fully analyze the month, you would need to start with Leo as the first house and hand over to the 6th from all planets and houses in order to get the proper sequence.

The terms used to describe how Profections work translate as “handing over” or “taking over” or “taking up”, and make no mistake, this was very different from the “blended influence” theory of aspects and other planetary combinations in vogue today. If, for instance, Venus was the year-lord and Saturn was the month-lord, then Venus would “hand over” to Saturn: Venus would be the substance or matter “filling the form” which is indicated by Saturn. Saturn would describe the pot, Venus would describe the flowers.  *note* – from here on, I will introduce some of the Hellenistic terms for the Planets and Lots

There is an important implication in this: if Venus is the general lord and Saturn is the minor period lord, it means one thing, while the reverse situation would be very different, because Saturn would then provide the substance, while Venus provided the form. The cosmic condition of the planet providing the form is extremely important, because it describes the circumstances – we must consider its dignity, aspects and its dispositor. In our example above, when Venus is the major lord, it could represent funding for a work of mural art in a tough neighborhood, or appreciating or making a Zen rock garden. If Saturn is the major lord, it could be representative of receiving new and decorative trash bins, or dealing with an art restoration project.

Astrological methods are always described best by actual, rather than hypothetical events, so let’s move on to a real-world analysis. The example chart being used here is that of Ms. Gwyneth Paltrow, who won the Oscar for Best Actress on March 21st, 1999, for her role in “Shakespeare In Love.”

Ms. Paltrow was born September 27, 1972 at 5:25 PM in Los Angeles. This chart is cast in the Tropical, or common Zodiac. Profections are precession-proof, like solar arc directions, but the dignities and house rulerships change if the Sidereal Zodiac is used. Although these techniques were developed when the Sidereal and Tropical Zodiacs coincided, most modern astrologers in the western world use the Tropical Zodiac, which is fixed on the equinoxes and solstices, as opposed to the Sidereal Zodiac, which is anchored to the background of the “fixed” stars. A good deal of work has been put into researching this at Project Hindsight, and their conclusion is that the Hellenistic techniques work best in the Tropical frame of reference. After many years of practicing Sidereal methods of both the east and the west, from the standpoint of this system, I have come to agree with them.

Here’s a view of her Natal Chart, done with indicators in the Hellenistic Style – Natal Chart, Hellenistic Style

Since Profections are part of a hierarchy of techniques, it would be good to look at the context in which they function. Profections repeat every 12 years, therefore other time-lord systems help us determine the background, or framework in which their indications will manifest.

First, the Circumambulations: although the Sun is the first choice for the ‘predominator’, because it is the sect light (meaning that she was born during the daytime). It is in a succedent, or post-ascenscional place, while the Moon is in a pivotal or angular one. Therefore we will take the Moon as the predominator. The Circumambulations of the Moon show this to be a period where Mars is the general time lord, and the Sun is the assisting time lord.

Gwenyth - NatalMars, called Ares by Hellenistic astrologers, has a very important role in her chart, in that it is the Lord of the Lot of Fortune. This means that Ares is responsible for reporting what is to befall her, like the lookout on a ship, whose job it is to spot icebergs, storms, pirates, etc. Since Ares can “see” the Helmsman (Jupiter) and Fortune, it shows that she is able not only to foresee and therefore avoid problems, but that opportunities will come to her that she will be able to capitalize on during times when Mars is prominent. It is interesting that since Fortune is located in the 9th place from the Ascendant, and Mars is in the 9th from Jupiter, that her career choices may have more to do with self-discovery and the communication of ideas than money.

Ares also has to do with the financial aspects of her life, due to its management of the 2nd house from the Ascendant. Ares manages the “houses” in which we find the Lots of Fortune and Eros (friendship and the things we like and desire), and we find Jupiter in the house of friends and supporters (the 11th) – there is no doubt that her association with others will be of benefit to her.

Zeus, as the lord of the Ascendant and the Midheaven, is the planet that works to make sure that the agenda of the soul is being carried out. We could say that this planet helps her to make moral and ethical decisions; when it is active, she will “do the right thing”, according to her personal values, even if it requires a sacrifice of some sort. Being in the 11th place, where it “rejoices”, it is in the place of allies and supporters of career. It is very well situated, despite the modern view that it is “bad” in Capricorn. Jupiter is also located on the “Earth Axis” (the first degree of the Cardinal signs, Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn). People who have planets there usually experience some form of public recognition when this axis is activated (modern astrologers, please note that Pluto crosses and stations here in 2008, and she had a major role in a television series at that time). Again, it is lord of the 10th place, therefore, along with the Lot of Daemon (spirit), it’s the manager of her career.

Kronos (Saturn), the lord of the image in which Zeus is located, was associated with “that which is hidden”, trickery, and deceit. As anyone who has seen “Shakespeare in Love” knows, her role was that of a woman pretending to be a man in order to be an actor, because women were not allowed on stage at the time. Shakespeare, thinking her to be a man, gave her a role as a woman. It can be seen through Hermetic analysis that Zeus is a very powerful planet, being the lord of the Ascendant and Midheaven, as well as being in sect (above the horizon in a day horoscope) and in the place (11th house by sign) of its rejoicing. Zeus is, in fact, the “Lord of the Nativity” from the viewpoint of many schools of astrology.

While Ares is more or less the president of her celestial government during her Oscar-winning year, the Sun was, as the assisting time lord, the current vice-president. Although somewhat undistinguished by placement in the birth figure, the rising degree (being in the “confines” or “bounds” of Venus) and the Sun (Helios – by being in her sign) are both influenced by Venus (Aphrodite). Helios and Aphrodite exchange places – they are not unlike people who trust each other so much that they are comfortable living in each others’ houses. Aphrodite is also somewhat undistinguished in the chart, but it does point to a time of competition (because of being in the 6th) and one in which the native’s ‘name and fame’ are emphasized. Helios, being the “sect light” in close relationship with Aphrodite is certainly capable of receiving honors, especially for artistic performances.

The Zodiacal releasing of the Lot of Fortune is a key technique for examining the good and bad luck a person experiences in life. Like Aristotle’s secondary causes, these are the circumstances that we have little control over, like changes in government, earthquakes, winning prizes despite astronomical odds; and since the Academy Awards fits into this category, let’s see what the Zodiacal Aphesis of Fortune has to tell us.

Fortune is located in Scorpio in the natal chart, and in the 27th year, Sagittarius would define the major period. Sagittarius is the 10th topical place, and therefore is the sign of career. Without going into technical details, Gemini is the sign of the sub-period. Gemini contains the Moon, which has to do with popularity and fame, and Saturn, who can give power and authority. Saturn also provides motivation and momentum for the chart as a whole, because it is the Trigon Lord of the Sect Light (it rules the triplicity in which the Sun resides). Mercury, the planet of Gemini, is in its own bounds. It therefore plays by its own rules, and is in a very strong configuration with the Moon. Both of these testimonies are verified by the role for which she won this award, and many of her choices of roles thereafter, such as the mathematically gifted heroine of “Proof” or the brilliant but troubled poet Sylvia Plath in “Sylvia.”

Now that we’ve gotten the idea of how more complicated time-lord systems play out, let’s look at the Profections. Since we are looking at the 27th year, we remove all multiples of 12, and are left with 3 as a remainder – therefore, every sign and planet of the chart hands over to the 3rd place from itself. Rather than drawing another chart with the houses and planets moved by 3 signs, it’s easier to just see what’s happening in the 3rd sign from all points. Here’s a sample tabulation:

Profection Summary:

Planet/Sign/Lot Hands over to:
Selene in Gemini Aphrodite in Leo
Kronos in Gemini Aphrodite in Leo
Lots of Daemon and Basis in Cancer Ares in Virgo
Aphrodite in Leo Helios in Libra
Aphrodite in Leo Hermes in Libra
Lot of Fortune in Scorpio Zeus in Capricorn
Zeus in Capricorn Horoskopos in Pisces

Points that hand over to “empty” signs are said to hand over to the lord of that sign, therefore the Horoskopos (Ascendant) hands over to Aphrodite, the lord of the confines in which it is situated. Taurus is the profected Horoskopos for the 27th year.

This is a rather nice situation, in which the natal Ascendant Lord, Zeus, distributes to the natal Horoskopos. Horoskopos, in turn, distributes to Aphrodite, who is in mutual reception with Helios, and is in Leo, part of the Trigon (triplicity) of Helios, which also contains the 10th house. Fortune hands over to Zeus, who in turn distributes to Horoskopos. Selene and Kronos also hand over to Aphrodite.

Here are some of Valens’ written interpretations:

“Selene handing over to Aphrodite indicates a year that is on target and conducive to accomplishment, and it indicates reputation and alliances”

“Zeus giving over to Horoskopos indicates a time brilliant and full of acquisition, and reputation and outstanding rank”

“Aphrodite giving over to Helios produces a time suitable for reputation and acquisition, it decks the natives with garlands and brings on high-priesthoods and advancements and offices”

“Lot of Fortune giving over in prospering places with benefics present or testifying indicates good fortune and advancement”

The “handing-over” sequence from Lot of Fortune to Zeus and from Zeus to the Horoskopos is especially auspicious for her, since (again) Zeus rejoices in the 11th place, and this “house” is concerned with friendship and people that support the career.

Shakespeare In LoveDaemon giving over to Ares is a tricky one to quote directly, because Valens uses terms like “easily effected reckonings, gifts and reputation” etc. We could say that this would be a year of rewards for good career choices. This indication is echoed by the Lot of Basis handing over to Ares, representing a fundamentally auspicious event where efforts and aspirations are rewarded. Ares is lord of Fortune and resides with the lots of Exaltation and Victory in the 11th place from Fortune, also known as the “place of acquisition”. Both Daemon and Basis have made an auspicious move indeed.

Most of the indications of Kronos handing over to Aphrodite are specific to medical issues in Valens’ work, but he does say (about the charts of women) “she will be uncomfortable with the friends of her husband”. Ms. Paltrow was not married then, and I do not know that she had problems with the friends of Ben Affleck, her partner at the time. Kronos does, however, profect into an angular position from Fortune (the 10th, or house of career), and as lord of another angle from Fortune (Aquarius, 4th from Fortune) is probably not engaging in its worst possible behavior.

The lots of Daemon and Basis also hand over to the lots of Victory and Exaltation, and the latter lots hand over to Fortune, who is in an angular position in relationship to the profected Horoscope. The names are enough to tell a good story.

Transits also figured into the Profection methods, but only the transits of the time lords or the participators, and the rulers of the active profected signs were considered important. If a sign was “taking up” from a significator but empty (having no planets in it), any planets transiting into that sign would be considered as taking up from the profected planet, like an actor coming on an empty stage.

Transiting aspects were usually considered by nature of the planet. Squares and oppositions were not evil in themselves, they were just powerful ingresses, being in pivotal places from the transited planet.

Ms. Paltrow’s chart, at the time of the awards, showed transiting Zeus in Aries opposite (by whole sign aspect) Helios and Hermes, which would make it a favorable transit. Transiting Ares, in Scorpio, despite its retrograde state (it went retrograde two days before the ceremony) is the Lord of Fortune conjunct the Lot of Fortune, in a pivot, or angular house, of the profected horoscope. Aphrodite, the lord of the profected Horoskopos (Taurus) had just entered its own sign.

Receiving the OscarMonthly and daily Profections are done in a number of different ways. By the Medieval era, Ptolemy’s calculations were in vogue. He started at the profected Ascendant for the year and moved it at the rate of a sign per 28 days. This way, it would move 13 signs per year, and synch up with the annual Ascendant for the next year. Then a smaller cycle of a sign every 2.5 days (taken from the monthly Ascendant) was used. There are older ideas about this, for instance, Manilius’ method, described in “Astronomica”, in which the the whole chart was moved by the sign-per-year rate, but the profected Sun signaled the sign for the year. The months start from the profected Moon, and the days started from the annual Ascendant.

I like simple methods and follow Valens’ technique of starting from the profected Horoskopos and counting a sign per month from the sign of the year, and a sign per day from the sign of the month. This obvious and simple system works out very well.

For instance, in Ms. Paltrow’s chart, on the ceremony day, the monthly sign was Libra. Libra hands over to the 6th sign from itself, which is Pisces, the natal ascendant. This means that Zeus (ruler of Pisces) is the form through which Helios and Hermes now operate. The daily sign was Leo, and Leo contains Aphrodite, who is in a mutual relationship with Helios, lord of the day’s sign. Since Leo is the 11th sign from Libra, the month sign, Aphrodite would hand over to Gemini, the place of the natal Selene and Kronos, and the 2nd house from the Annual Horoskopos. As above, Transit Aphrodite is in Taurus, the 10th from its natal place, in an angular relationship with the Lot of Fortune, and both are angular to the day sign as well. It would be safe to predict that one would receive gifts or honors regarding their career on a day with this many favorable indicators.

There are several other time-lord systems, but the elegance of profections makes for satisfying predictive work once the roles of the planets in the birth chart are understood.

It is very easy to take a few charts of friends, family and famous people, and apply the profection model to them, and enjoy how simple, yet astrologically profound they are. Despite the 2000 years that have passed since the time of Manilius, Dorotheus, Nechepso, Ptolemy and Valens, the methods of prediction used then are still useful today.

References:

  • Ms. Paltrow’s chart source: Astrodatabank Software, from birth certificate.
  • Works of Vettius Valens: “Vettius Valens – The Anthology Books I – VII” tr. by Robert Schmidt, Project Hindsight.

Software:

  • Delphic Oracle: Zodiasoft Technologies/Curtis Manwaring – available from Project Hindsight.
  • Solar Fire: Astrolabe Software

© copyright Roy Kirkland 2008