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The Basics of Astrology
Astrology and Planetary Dominants: Method
Methods used to assess planets' strength were devised by noted astrologers ranging from Alexandre Volguine, Jacques Berthon, Christophe de Cène, Gilles Verneret, to Catherine Aubier, Yves Lenoble, etc.
Almost all astrologers started to develop their own system when they got involved in programming. All these methods are historically interesting as, most often, they have led to improvements in the determination of dominants and offered remarkable results. Our purpose here is not to dismantle them, but only to briefly explain in which ways our efforts may have taken the process a great leap further, by applying our mathematical weighting to each criterion, and not mere numerical valuations.
After a whole year of devising and testing, we have put into practice our own method in our Dominants and Celebrities pages. We based our approach on two major points: pragmatism and analysis in its most elaborate form. With regard to pragmatism, a good example is the planets' qualities: each and every student of astrology knows that all planets have a sign in which they are in domicile, exaltation, fall or exile.
The varying degree of the strength of a planet, when in one of the above cases, constitutes quite a strange debate in the sense that, on the one hand, it is written that a planet in domicile or in exaltation is most potent and "gives of its best", and that when in exile or in fall, it is thwarted. On the other hand, it is also mentioned that calculation methods include a bonus in the first two cases and a penalty in the other two. Both bonus and penalty increase the importance of the said planet and they impact on the whole series of usual criteria: hierarchy of the elements, modes, houses, signs, etc. Should a planet in exile be considered "less powerful" than a planet in domicile and that it cannot become a dominant, due to its difficult position? Some people would answer no, because a so-called malefic planet in exile or in fall has its incapacitating potential increased, hence, its power... owing, precisely, to this position! Therefore, is it reasonable to grant a power bonus only to planets with a "favourable" influence? One must remain level-headed on this matter, lest one gets results that do not match those produced by manual analysis.
Actually, caution and common sense dictate that the use of bonuses and penalties must be limited when dealing with rulerships. Indeed, the Volguine's method is quite far-fetched and its distorted results are not confirmed by our experience. The Lepoivre de Vesle's method for dominants calculation, which is used by Astrotheme, significantly reduces the bonus-penalty system in order to avoid distorted results and get a better estimate of the planets' strength.
In other similar arguments, such principles as swiftness of motion, polarity or even retrogradation seem very dangerous to us. An exaggerate numerical grading of this type of criteria produces dominants that prove wacky, therefore erroneous.
A few words about our Method
Which factors should be taken into account? Our view is that the most important criteria are mainly angularity and the principle of activity, along with Ascendant and Midheaven's rulerships and, to a lesser extent, the two luminaries' rulerships (the Moon and the Sun).
In this way, we have developed a sophisticated programming to determine the "active-ness" of each planet according to all the aspects formed with other planets and with the angles, fine-tuning with the nature of aspects, the planets involved and the exactitude - or orb - of the said aspects. Our very thorough calculation allows the measurement and rating of the level of the planets' activity. Then, the said rate is included in the calculation of the overall power of the planet, with a precision that remains unparalleled: a conjunction with an orb of 10 degrees is considered less potent than a conjunction with an orb of 2 degrees. The same holds true for every aspect, including minor aspects such as quintiles, sesqui-quadrates, etc.
We do not intend here to explain all the details of our Method, which we may publish at a later stage, but we wish to provide a few indications to justify it, as our opinion is that our Method is the most interesting and reliable one, among those we have tested so far.
Angularities are also processed numerically, which is more common, of course. The criterion is an orb of 15° since it is when the influence starts to manifest. One of the major difficulties was obviously to balance the importance of all these criteria - quality, activity, angularity, rulerships etc. as delineated earlier.
Once we have at our disposal a good estimate of each planet's strength, the said strength being the result of an accumulation of criteria that rate activity, angularity, rulership and quality in a subtle way according to orbs exactitude, it becomes possible to compute the power of each planet in order to determine the usual dominants: Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western hemispheres, quadrants NE, SE, NW and SW, Yin and Yang polarity, elements (Fire, Air, Earth, Water), modes (Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable), house accentuations (angular, succedent, cadent), esoteric decanates and above all, dominant planets, dominant signs and dominant houses, that is to say eleven dominants. They constitute a good start for the evaluation of the human personality and allow us to enrich a portrait already delineated with the usual meanings of the planets in signs and in houses, along with aspects and rulerships.
The rich features of Astrotheme's method stem from our will to work with the most extreme precision, which implies that the exactitude and nature of planet criteria are thoroughly dealt with. The hindsight we have gained with other currently available methods has also played an important part. Finally, a painstaking and huge programming work has resulted in reliable values for all the dominants.
These eleven calculations have been integrated into all Astrotheme's portraits of Celebrities. You are offered the possibility to sort out, search or screen all the celebrities of our entire database according to our eleven new astrological criteria. For instance, you can get the list of Celebrities with a strong influence of Fire, or highlighted cadent houses, or prominent mutable elements, or else, the supremacy of the South-eastern quadrant. You can also search the most Neptunian or Solarian celebrities, or those who have the strongest 8th House, or else, the most powerful Sagittarius, etc. Later, you can even run a "Multi-criteria" search and enrich these eleven criteria with other existing criteria using the planets' positions in signs and Houses and defining the exactitude parameters as you please.
Note: When the birth time is unknown, it is obvious that astrological houses and angles cannot be taken into account. In that case, we work with six planetary dominants instead of the usual eleven. Although results are less precise, they remain very valuable nonetheless.
The Activity Parameter
Each planet usually receives a number of major and minor aspects, with a more or less wider orb in most cases. (Orbs refer to the space within which an aspect is active. An orb of zero degree means that the aspect is perfectly exact, for instance, an angle of 90° for the square and 180° for the opposition. An orb of 5° means that for these aspects, the angle measures 85° or 95°, and 175° or 185°, respectively). Each aspect has an intrinsic strength. For example, a conjunction is stronger than a trigone, a sextile is stronger than a semi-square, etc.
All factors are weighed according to their nature and exactitude (orb) so as to deduce a value that is included in the calculation of the planet's strength. Aspects to angles are of course taken into account when the time of birth is known. Besides, we also add a differentiation, depending on the planets involved, so as to not overrate generational aspects. For example, a Neptune-Pluto aspect carries less weight than a Moon-Mars aspect.
The Quality Parameter
We pay a relative attention to rulerships. The position of a planet in domicile, exile, exaltation or fall is processed with a mild bonus or penalty.
The Rulership Parameter
The planet ruling the Ascendant always has an increased value in a natal chart, sometimes to the extent that it becomes the dominant planet. Therefore, it is logical to give it a significant bonus. To a lesser extent, the planets ruling the Sun, the Moon, and the Midheaven also get a bonus.
The Angularity Parameter
The Tradition has it that a planet posited near the four angles of the natal chart has its strength dramatically increased. The Ascendant, the Midheaven, the Descendant and the Nadir, in decreasing order, bring about a bonus whose importance depends on the angular distance existing between the angle and the planet involved. This parameter is included in the overall calculation process.
Our calculations of planet's strength are carried out in differentiated ways, depending on the types of amplification we have chosen: for instance, bonuses for angularity, rulership or quality do not consider the planets' initial value, whereas the activity parameter does take a series of initial values into account. In the end, we integrate them all. One of the major difficulties encountered has been to numerically grade the parameters pertaining to each factor on the one hand, and on the other hand, to grade factors among themselves. The price we had to pay translated into months spent testing in order to ensure that, in practically every case, our computer analysis produces the same results as the very detailed analysis carried out by the professional practitioner of astrology.
In hindsight, months after we started our calculations, we can say that they are entirely satisfactory and we are going to use them for other various themes.
Annex: a few words about Planetary Typology
This annex is an excerpt from an Astrotheme's Article, "Money and You".
We thought it might be interesting to broach the subject of planetary typologies in spite of the fact that they constitute only one among the twelve criteria mentioned in these pages and that they are considered from a money perspective... The topic of dominants has caused a lot of ink to flow and it is worth bringing it to your attention:
The different human typologies
In the above graph, the different human typologies are delineated in the guise of caricatures. Their corresponding planet glyph is also displayed. They are arranged in elements, hot / cold / dry / moist principles, and bilious / lymphatic / nervous / sanguine psychological characteristics. We all belong to several typologies blended together, which constitute as many different cases.
There is a tendency to talk about dominant planets rather than dominant signs. It is also common to use such expressions as "a dominant Mars-Mercury on a Scorpio backdrop", meaning that Mars' characteristics (fighting spirit, courage, action but also fits of anger, etc.) along with Mercury's characteristics (quick-wittedness, sociability, curiosity, but also some superficiality) are prevailing, on a background of strong Scorpio features (desire to provoke, masterminding, endurance, stubbornness, intransigence, etc.).
Therefore, before we even start to examine aspects related to a given area, such as finance, marriage, health, etc., it becomes obvious that, depending on the native's deep nature, some questions may be less relevant than others. For the sake of simplification, let's look into a few pure case studies.
The Saturnian is the very prototype of the individual who is totally detached from material and financial contingencies. Since he is less interested than other people in this area, it is most unlikely that he becomes one of our planet Earth's billionaires. Unlikely, but not impossible and, should the case occur, it will be in spite of and not owing to the Saturnian characteristic. Since Saturn's nature is dry and tough, synonymous with contraction, concentration, and time, is it possible to associate him with "easy money"? No, obviously.
The Saturnian type above is more concerned about researches, sciences or inner values rather than festivities and opulence
Regarding the Marsian type, the native is not really favoured, except in terms of energy, audacity and courage are concerned. Those qualities are suitable for sport careers and a behaviour that definitely yields many good results, although not necessarily in terms of financial success.
The Marsian above, daring and ready to fight, always prefers to be honoured by his peers and to have his courage acknowledged, rather than to be rewarded with money.
The Solarian (Sun dominant) is not interested in material wealth. With his noble conceptions, his charisma and his true nature, although he does not seek them, honours and power (no pejorative meaning) seem to fall on his lap.
The Solarian, above, so noble and so pure, is not interested in money!
The Mercurian type does not pay attention to his material well-being or his bank account: as long as his craving for novelty and his curiosity are constantly met, he is very happy!
The Mercurian, above, lives to fulfil his curiosity and his thirst for contacts. He sees money as a tool enabling him to communicate and nothing more!
The Lunarian, type, vegetative and lymphatic, longs for physical comfort and emotional security. He is unlikely to be motivated to amass wealth.
The Lunarian, above, lives according to his emotions and his sensuality. His nature is receptive and not active and his interest for riches and money is of secondary importance!
The Venusian type, by contrast, is completely different... Venus is synonymous with desire, she stirs up the need to charm and the thirst for well-being. She is in analogy with the possessive sign of Taurus and the 2nd House, that of money earned oneself and material goods. Thus, a Venusian person is naturally inclined to obtain the riches necessary for his material comfort, most of the time through his charm. Above all, he strives to get the indirect means - from his point of view - to please. He must live in a gorgeous mansion with expensive pieces of furniture and be surrounded by luxury as often as possible: the Venusian person has got luxury in his blood and, should the rest of the chart confirm the tendency, money will be readily available because the Venusian native is deeply attached to it.
The Venusian, above, is naturally attracted by money and riches. Although without much energy, he is constantly thinking of them!
The Jupiterian type is well-equipped to get riches and material goods. He is more money-oriented than the Venusian who is quite passive and for whom money is only an indirect way to charm and to enjoy life. The Jupiterian person is active, clever and warm, sociable and charismatic. He is not too interested in spiritual values and asceticism - one of the paths to wisdom - he is concerned about material life, here and now in very concrete terms. His wallet and its content are more important to him than anything else. His energy and his certainties regarding money are in general the winning assets helping him to obtain the things he covets, usually before he reaches his forties.
The Jupiterian, above, is the very symbol of the power and opulence-oriented person. This is the dominant that is the more suitable for money and wealth!
Since the Uranian, the Neptunian and the Plutonian types derive from the seven typologies described above, we will not elaborate. We will only say that they are not particularly appropriate or unsuitable for material wealth. The Uranian prefers to mark his difference with his genius and not with money. The Neptunian strives to conquer his public and to melt into it in a kind of osmosis when he is fascinated by a given topic. The Plutonian needs to keep persons and things under his tight control. Money is of a secondary importance to him, and he tends to get it through other people, but he is satisfied as long as he wields power...
With a little imagination, it is possible to suppose that Christopher Lee, the 6' 5" tall British actor who played the part of Dracula brilliantly, can accurately embody the Uranian type, who is individualistic to an extreme degree. Regarding the Neptunian type, Honoré de Balzac can be a good example, with his face expressing his fusion with the external world and his remarkable capacity for imagination. The exercise is a bit more difficult with the Plutonian type, but it can be quite well represented by the actor Julian McMahon, in the TV series "Charmed", who plays the role of a demon in love with Phoebe, one of the three witch-sisters... But it is only a character part!