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Archive for Friday 10th June 2005

Astrology Secrets Revealed: Eric Francis Answers Your Questions
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The Aries Point Cometh

Dear Friends,

There are two aspects approaching that are likely to have some impact on the news, and to prod our personal lives to the next level. It's interesting that astrology sees the connection between our private or individual existence and its connection to the larger public life a lot more clearly than we do. One of the great issues of our times is that we tend to see ourselves as separate from the world in which we live. The news is kind of a show, and unless something actually happens in our backyard, it's more or less irrelevant. It affects other people or other countries.

Astrologically, we are now entering 'the personal is political' territory -- as in, take the news seriously, think about your relationship to the world, and consider how you impact what goes on around you and how it impacts you. We're steadily moving into one of those extended moments when we'll be able to see and feel the connections, and where the level of energy increases quickly.

Last week, here and on Planet Waves, I continued the discussion of the Aries Point -- the mysterious first degree of the zodiac that possesses this 'personal is political' theme. The Aries Point is related to the first degree of the other three 'cardinal signs' -- those signs which, with the entry of the Sun, begin the seasons: Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.

A precursor to the story is that earlier this week, on Sunday, June 5, Jupiter stationed direct in Libra, close to the beginning of Libra and quite closely opposite the Aries point.

The next point of transition involves Mars going into Aries on Sunday, June 12. This means that Mars has been in the last degrees of Pisces for the past couple of weeks -- not so easy for many people, as the end of any sign is sensitive, and Pisces is particularly so. So Mars entering Aries may come as a relief to quite a few people. And it's also going to stir the global pot.

As Mars gradually approaches an opposition to Jupiter, the Sun moves through the late degrees of Gemini, and approaches Cancer. The Sun's ingress to Cancer on June 21 begins summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern, but in either case, it's a turning point. In either hemisphere, a peak has been reached; in the north we're at the longest days of the year and in the south, the shortest. Difficult to believe that soon, the days start getting shorter for those of us up north who just seem to have come out of that long winter.

Less than 24 hours later, with the Sun still in the very first degree of Cancer, the Moon enters Capricorn and makes an exact opposition -- also called the Full Moon. The fact that this occurs exactly in the first degrees of the cardinal signs is truly meaningful; not exceptionally rare (maybe there is an exact lunation right in the first degree of a cardinal sign every couple of years) but it's still meaningful and somewhat unusual.

Maybe it's just because I've been paying attention, but the Aries Point seems to be very active now. I started noticing in the summer of 2001, after a total solar eclipse of the Sun (including a New Moon, as solar eclipses always do) occurred four hours after the Sun entered the sign Cancer. Now, for the first time since, we have an exact Full Moon on the first day of summer. While not an eclipse, it is aspecting the exact degree of a very powerful eclipse.

This is followed by two significant developments in July: Saturn changes signs to Leo, and Chiron makes an exact opposition to Saturn for the fourth time (of the current cycle), and for the first time with Saturn in Leo. So, this reminds us that next week's Full Moon may symbolize events that happen a month or two down the road, that is, some time in the coming season.

Those of us watching astrology and the developing history of the modern world often wonder what will ultimately trigger a real change. It's very difficult to say, and many astrologers have incorrectly predicted many changes that should have already happened. Part of what complicates the problems is that vitally important things surface and make the news that seem to have no actual effect, in reality. People in positions of corporate and political power these days seem to be entirely disconnected from the effects of their actions.

And on another level, many, many people seem to be so involved either in a) surviving, or b) their ideas of how life should be, that it's difficult for us to notice, or to stand up and make any fuss at all.

The world is an extremely complex system at the moment. Nobody really understands how all the different factors interrelate. But the astrology remains a factor, and the Capricorn Full Moon is definitely a factor. We will see the logic of something; we will see the effects of something that originated or first surfaced in 2001; and something will change. For good or for ill? That, like most everything, is truly a matter of interpretation.

The gut feeling I have about this Full Moon is that something that should be obvious becomes really obvious. In itself, it may not be 'good' but awareness of it certainly will be helpful.

Here's the chart for the Full Moon, set for Washington, DC, followed by a few of your questions this week. See you over at Planet Waves. Thanks for tuning in.

Capricorn Full Moon chart

What House the Sun?

Hi Eric,

Someone asked me, if you are doing a chart for someone and you have the day, year and location of the person's birth, but no time, how do you determine what house the Sun is in?


Dear Fresno,

The time of birth is directly related to the house that the Sun is in. This would be better with a diagram, and if somebody has one in a book or finds one online, we'll try to get permission to publish it here. But it's still pretty easy to explain.

When the Sun rises in the morning, it goes above the horizon and starts the day in the 12th house. This is to say that when the angle of the Sun is low on the horizon in the morning, it's in a particular region of the sky and that region, also called a house, gets a number. There are 12 altogether. The numbers go backwards as the Sun moves through the day, and by two hours after sunrise the Sun is in or close to the 11th house and by around 10 a.m., it's in the 10th house and at noon or so, it's on the line between the 10th house and the 9th house -- also called the MC.

This is a fancy way of saying that the house the Sun is in is really the angle of the Sun in relationship to the horizon, which is based on the time of day. The houses always surround us; they stay more or less in the same place, though their size changes with the seasons. By late afternoon, the Sun is in the 8th house, somewhat low on the horizon, and in the two hours before sunset, it's in the 7th house.

When it sets and crosses the horizon again, it enters the 6th house. And so on, till just before sunrise, when the Sun is in the 1st house and the cycle repeats. This is the cycle of the world turning the world rotating on its axis.

Naturally, it's not just the Sun that goes through the houses; every planet follows this same pattern, but it happens to be easy to visualize with the Sun. As the world turns, all the planets rise, culminate and set each day.

Now, let's use an example. Let's say you're born on Feb. 18th, the first day of Pisces. People born just after sunrise would have a 12th house Pisces Sun. Those born just before noon would have a 10th house Pisces Sun. Those born just before sunset would have a 7th house Pisces Sun. And so on.

As for the heart of your question: how do you tell the house of the Sun if you don't know the time of birth? There are several possible answers.

  1. You get the time. Usually, people who don't know the time can actually scrounge it up, and I do speak from some experience. I regularly send friends and clients to find their baby book, their certificate of birth or birth announcement, or to ask their mother or granny, or their dad, or to call up the hospital or county records office, and so on. A little research goes a long way.
  2. All of that not working out, there are two easy methods that work well when the time is not available -- as long as you trust them. One is I take the time of the conversation about having the chart done, or the conversation of the final verdict that the actual time of birth is not recoverable, and use that as the presumed birth time. The other tried and true method is to use the time of the reading as the birth time, or, alternately, the degree rising at the start of the reading as the natal chart's presumed ascendant. One might ask how does this possibly work? But the real question is, how does astrology work at all? It's the same answer.
  3. If you have a lot of time on your hands and the client is willing to either pay for, or otherwise endure, a long interview, you can use a process called rectification that is basically a logical method of figuring out where the ascendant is. Once you know the ascendant, you know all the other houses. It's a little complicated to explain how this rectification process works, but basically, astrologers are accustomed to feeling the ascendant and other angles (the MC, the 7th, and the IC) 'behaving' a certain way at different times in a client's life. So based on past transits, contrasted with a careful look at the timing of biographical events, a good chart can be created.
  4. The other work-arounds are to use a chart for Sunrise of the day of birth, which works quite well (called a sunrise or solar chart), or in the case of a well-known person or a corporate entity, to use noon. And you can always start the chart at 1 degree Aries rising and you've got a chart that will work.
  5. Dave Roell, my old teacher and great friend who owns the Astrology Center of America used to say, "Stick something on an angle and read the chart." That is, just make sure some planet is rising or on the 10th cusp and get down to business.
You can use these estimation methods because the time of birth (and thus the house positions) is only part of the information you need; the planets, for example, all have the same aspects to one another on any given day and therefore they will have similar interpretations no matter what time the person is born. The time helps, for sure, and usually it helps a lot. But part of being a good astrologer is working with what you've got and not getting too hung up on the details, once you have addressed them to the best extent that you can.

I realize that if you're reading this and possess the intellectual ability sufficient to operate a washing machine, you might wonder how astrology can possibly function if the rules and methods are so slippery.

There is something odd about the fact that, once you work with a method and apply it when you need to, the method usually works. The real lesson is that something much larger than astrology is coming through the chart. So all you need to do is trust that something and do your best work. That, as the I Ching reminds us, involves being sincere more than it involves being accurate or technically proficient.

Or to put it another way, when in doubt, ask your dog -- but sincerely.

Speaking of Which

Dear Eric,

On my birth certificate it states that my father declared that I was born at 16.00 hrs. (4 p.m.). My mother, on the other hand, maintains that I was born "sometime in the morning" but cannot remember the time. When asked for a more accurate estimate she can't even approximate which part of the "morning" I was born. She becomes rather impatient if I press her to remember, saying that there really were more important things to keep in mind after the war! Moreover, not having the same interest in astrology as I do, she doesn't attach much importance to my question. Since my father could be very unreliable in so many things and was not close by when I was born, I'm inclined to believe my mother who is a thoroughly practical, reliable person. My mother herself believes my father just made up a time! My dilemma is this: which of the birth times should I quote when requesting a chart - the precise one (which could be false) or the imprecise one which may be closer to my true time of birth? I would much appreciate your opinion on this matter.

Sincere regards,

Dear Teresa,

To really answer this question, I would need to work with you and your chart(s) for a while.

However, a birth certificate in hand is pretty good evidence of the birth time, and it is, at least, the 'stated time' of the event the officially recorded time. I know this is not always right, but astrologically, it carries a peculiar authority.

As does your mother, according to the 4 p.m. chart -- it gives you a Mars-Leo conjunction right on the MC and that suggests that mother has a certain sense of infallibility, in your perception.

If I may politely challenge her, WWII ended in 1945, not in 1944. So you were born during the war, but that, really, is no excuse to not remember when you were born. Also, being born 'some time in the morning' is a span of 12 hours. Morning begins at midnight and it ends at noon. I would be inclined to go with the time on your BC, and work with that chart and see how it checks out.

If someone handed me this chart and said, 'Describe the person', I would say: deeply spiritually involved or dedicated, but also quite ambitious. Deeply sensitive, emotional, but somehow able to overcome all adversity as if by miracle.

There is a kind of split personality regarding long-term relationships, where something very deep and intense and committed is desired, but where there is a lot of uncertainty and adventure instead. Many ups and downs financially, but also continually positive about the subject of resources and finances, which has a way of getting you through.

If you showed up in my office as my client and told me the story of your birth time, I would cast the BC-based chart and ask you about events at the following phases of time:

  1. Spring 1979.
  2. Late 1987 and much of 1988.
  3. Late 1997-early 1998.
  4. Spring 2001.

This would check out the chart as stated, and begin the process of rectifying it. Please --feel free to send your responses in. Thank you!!

At Arms Length

Hi Eric,

I am a Scorpio born in Adelaide, South Australia. My question is why do I keep people at arms length? I never let anyone get too close. I also have an over the top fantasy life whereby all my energy goes into imagining a romantic future with certain men. Are the two observations linked? I love your work and would appreciate any insights.


Dear Eloise,

I think it's great that you're asking this question. I am looking at your chart, but I am feeling quite reluctant to comment based purely on the astrology without some sense of your personal history. Yours is definitely a chart and a situation that calls for careful discussion, taken slowly, over a period of time.

I can, however, suggest that there is in my view a relationship between keeping people at a distance and running a lot of emotional energy through mental channels -- rather than taking an actual chance in the relationship. I mean, we need contact, and if we can't get it, for whatever reason, we're often going to think about it.

And I'll do my best to offer you a plausible description of your situation based on your chart -- which is not the same thing as getting a sense of yourself, or why you are the way you are, or what it will take to gradually build trust with people around you.

I can see that you may carry some sense that you can't quite define yourself, and this makes relationships risky. It is true that most people make up a fictional definition of who they are and work with that, which is also risky, but you're way too self-conscious to work with a fictional self-image. Rather, the question and the surrounding issues are so strong that, in a sense, they have a way of getting you to doubt your own existence.

Then, people can come on so strongly and with so much emphasis that you can't really even relate to them, particularly because you don't stand on a solid enough foundation to do so.

However, if we remember that you are born with a Scorpio Sun and both Venus and Neptune in Scorpio, you have a deep and powerful desire to relate, and a need to relate, and lots of feeling to relate with...and the whole thing must add up to a frustrating situation.

I suggest that asking this question is just the beginning of the story of growing out of your struggle. I also want to say that I feel you can and will grow into a much stronger state. Developments over the next 12 months will go a long way toward helping you not just define yourself in real terms, but also assert your desire for freedom, independence and authenticity.

Just remember that it's impossible to learn to trust other people without actually relating to them. So if you're going to learn to trust, I suggest you do it with real people, gradually over time.

One other thing. If we were working together, I would be interested in the content of the scenarios of your fantasy relationships. They tell a story about what you believe, how you expect to be treated, and they would, if understood, probably give away a lot of the clues as to why you are experiencing what you are experiencing. But you'll probably need some objective help to sort through those, as often the most obvious things are not quite apparent to us while someone with a little distance can see them easily.

But if you're good at analysis and can make the connections between what you fantasize about now, and what you went through in the past, I am sure you can learn something interesting.

Last and once again, I suggest reading the book A General Theory of Love. For anyone asking, 'Why am I the way I am?', this is an excellent book. You would also benefit from reading anything Melanie Reinhart has to say about Chiron in Pisces or the 12th house, as well as her write-up on Aries and the 1st house.

Ruling Planets

Dear Eric,

Several years ago, I had my chart cast and the astrologer who helped me told me that Uranus was my ruling planet (due to having Aquarius rising), but I see in a recent answer to a question that you also identify Saturn as a ruling planet of Aquarius. Please explain what a ruling planet is, its significance, and the difference between traditional ruling planets and those that have been added to astrology over the past 100 years. Also, could you recommend some good books that deal with things like ruling planets, house cusps, etc.? There is so much out there to look at it's hard to know where to start!

Thank you,

Dear Tim,

Before the discovery of Uranus in 1781, there was agreement about the planetary rulers of the astrological signs since long before the times of Ptolemy. The rulers are the planets most closely associated with a sign. For example, the Moon rules the sign Cancer and the Sun rules the sign Leo -- even people who have very little astrology knowledge seem to know this. Studying the rulers helps us understand the energy of a sign as well as tells us whether a planet does well when places in a sign. And they are very helpful in decoding a chart. Plus, they are fairly easy to understand.

Planet Table

Note that the rulers or rulership are one of five different methods for understanding whether a planet is well placed (or poorly placed) in a sign, or a particular region of a sign (the other methods, called 'essential dignities', are exaltation, term, face and triplicity; and related, on the negative side, are detriment and fall). For this week, we'll leave out the others, and work just with rulership. Rulership is also called 'domicile' because it involves discussion of whether the planet is placed well (at home) in its 'house' (really, its sign, but in old timey astrology the terms house and sign are sometimes used interchangeably, for a variety of good reasons).

Ruling planets help orient astrology in its own logic. They present a basic guideline for using and understanding astrology. For example, if a person has Taurus rising, then Venus (the ruler of Taurus) becomes an important planet in their chart, regardless of what sign their Sun is in. The condition of the planet that rules the rising sign is an important indicator of the person's life and how their chart works.

Or, if a person has Gemini on the 8th house cusp, then Gemini and its ruling planet Mercury become important factors in helping understand how they deal with all things related to the 8th -- such as contracts, agreements and sex.

Using the ruling planets adds depth to astrology, and it helps us make sense of a chart by providing a stable set of references, and consistent language. You can take a truly complex chart and a truly complex situation and if you can boil it down to what is going on in a particular house, take the ruler of the sign on the cusp of the house and look at its condition (aspects, placement, etc.), you can find yourself with a genuine, clear understanding of what is happening. Rulership is an easy guideline to apply, it works exceptionally well, and it's not done often enough.

Up until the discovery of Uranus (around the time of the American revolution, and many other revolutions), the seven known bodies (planets, including the Sun and Moon) were applied to the 12 signs in a symmetrical, orderly way: the Sun and Moon each ruled one sign, and Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn each ruled two of the rest.

Some time after Uranus was discovered, the astrologer Raphael the 1st (of Raphael's Ephemeris fame) declared that Uranus ruled Aquarius. Did he have a clue? Was he right? Could a newly discovered planet rule a sign? Well, um, who knows? But true to form, Uranus made a little revolution in astrology and then suddenly every time a planet was discovered, some people decided it would depose the ruler of a sign and become the new ruler. So the discovery of Uranus did not just affect Aquarius -- it spread. The next place it spread was Pisces, to which Neptune was eventually ascribed rulership by most astrologers. Then in 1930, Pluto was discovered and largely ignored by astrology, but as the 60s and 70s wore on, people started associating it with Scorpio. When Chiron was discovered (really, re-discovered) in 1977, a debate began about what sign it should rule. The leading candidates were Virgo, Libra and Sagittarius. Some pointed out that this was a moot debate, as rulership may not even apply to modern planets. Others pointed out that Chiron had properties of all these signs (an argument I like a lot). The good thing is that the discussion was, and to some extent still is, happening.

This is all well and good and modern, but what I like to remind people is that the traditional rulers still have a great deal of vitality, and were used for thousands of years with great effectiveness before Uranus came along. It's also true that they represent 'old school' thinking, but that does not, automatically, make them wrong. But it does mean that there is a lot of tradition behind them, and when getting into occult matters such as astrology, tradition is truly important, both because it helps us ground in something stable, and because it helps us understand a complicated field of knowledge. Then, we're free to do things our own way.

When I started studying astrology, I happened to have a teacher who encouraged me to make sure I really understood what was going on with the traditional rulers of all the signs, then take a look at the condition of the modern rulers.

So, this is how I do astrology. I love modern developments, such as new planets and the Galactic Core. But I also have abiding respect for the early traditions of the craft, and I think, at least, that everyone practicing astrology should be aware that they exist, and aware of how they work.

However -- the case could be stated this way. It's important to understand ANY system of rulership, and to learn to apply it until it works. Astrology is learned on one level in theory, but it's really learned in practice, through applying it to questions and people. If you know that a system of rulership exists and apply it until you see it working, that will get you pretty far in terms of gaining confidence as an astrologer. And it's EASY -- you just have to do it.

Here's a link to another article by me on rulership:

Here a Table of Essential Dignities is provided by David Roell of the Astrology Center of America from his translation of William Lilly's classic book Christian Astrology. Reach David at:

Essential Dignity Table

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