Visible Astrology


A principle of astrology that is rapidly gaining more and more adherents is that visible astrological factors are the most powerful and most important.


         I was first taught this approach by my Vedic teacher, Hart de Fouw, and have applied it with great success. Many students of astrology don't realize which elements are observable and which are not, so I've created the following table and commentary upon it.



Astrological Factor

Observable

Partially Observable

Not Observable

Retrogradation

X

 

 

Combustion

X

 

 

Eclipses

X

 

 

Phase of the Moon

X

 

 

Planetary War

X

 

 

Declination

X

 

 

Oriental/Occidental

X

 

 

Daily Motion

X

 

 

Outer Planets

 

 

X*

Angles

X

 

 

Directional Strength

X

 

 

House Position

 

 

X*

House Cusps

 

 

X

House Rulerships

 

 

X

Tropical Sign

 

 

X*

Sidereal Sign

 

X

 

Dignity by Sign

 

 

X

Lunar Mansions

 

X

 

Antiscia

 

 

X

Harmonic Positions

 

 

X



            The foremost question is: What does it mean to be observable? By that I mean, what you can see with your own eyes, without a telescope, a computer, calculations, or printed tables.


All of the items in the pink section of the table (with the exception of the Outer Planets) are easily visible with the naked eye, and are therefore very important factors to consider in making astrological assessments. For astrologers unfamiliar with their astronomy, I would point out that combustion is assessed by whether a planet is visible before or after sunrise or sunset (i.e. its visibility defines it as combust or not). Similarly, a retrograde planet is closest in its orbit to the Earth, and therefore is visibly largest. Additionally, for Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, the planet is brightest (like a Full Moon) when it's retrograde.


The Outer Planets are not observable, and weren't even discovered until the development of the telescope. I do, however, consider the Outer Planets to be a special case. Even though they are invisible to the eye, they are not constructs (like signs or rulerships) but actual physical objects. Because they move much more slowly than the inner planets, their "effects" are deeper and more long lasting. And as such, I value Outer Planet transits as a very potent predictive tool.


Note: For those unfamiliar with some of the terms, a planetary war occurs when one of the true visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, or Saturn) is within one degree of one of the other true visible planets. This creates a "territorial battle" with one planet as the victor and one planet as the loser.


Oriental and Occidental refer to whether planets rise before or after the Sun (or the Moon), and these terms are used extensively in Renaissance astrology.


In the orange section of the table, I've examined house positions and related factors. Notice that the four angles are directly observable, i.e. we can tell when a planet is rising, setting or culminating. Since directional strength (called Dig Bala in Vedic astrology) occurs when a planet is on an angle, it is also visible. House positions, however, are not really observable. One may be able to tell when a planet is near an angle that it's in an angular (kendra) or cadent (apoklima) house, but since most house systems in astrology do not divide the sky into twelve equal slices as seen by the eye (only Campanus does), the house position is only occasionally clearly observable.


House cusps, with the exception of the angles, are certainly not observable, nor are house rulerships (as a result).


In the yellow section of the chart, I focused upon Zodiacal issues, and factors concerning signs.


The signs of the Zodiac, as used by Western (Tropical) astrologers, are not visible. Because of the precession of the Equinox, the Tropical Zodiac signs have no correspondence at this point with the actual physical constellations.


The Sidereal Zodiac, on the other hand, which is used by Vedic astrologers, is based upon the actual stars in the sky, and as such is partially observable. I say "partially" because it is vital to understand that the constellations are not symmetrical, and that using signs spanning 30° is a construct that serves astrology well, but is not a physical reality. So while a Vedic astrologer has a much better chance of ascertaining what sign a planet is in by looking at the night sky than a Western astrologer does, their assessment may at times not be completely precise. That's the reason why lunar mansions (aka nakshatras) are also considered partially visible, since the stars in them too do not evenly divide around the sky.


On the other hand, sign rulerships and other dignities by sign are assigned, and are therefore once removed from physical reality, and so they are not really visible. Similarly, antiscia and harmonic positions are clearly not observable.


In my own practice, I have found that if a planet is bright (i.e. a Full Moon or retrograde planet) it is very strong, while if it is dark (combust or New Moon) it is significantly weaker, and that these factors are more important than whether a planet is strong or weak by sign.


An excellent example is in the Western chart of Paul Newman, who has Jupiter in Capricorn rising. The fact that Jupiter was physically just coming over the horizon is far more important than its "weakness" in Tropical Capricorn, and in fact his life accurately reflects the great strength of Jupiter in his chart.


Tom Hanks' chart is another illustration of this principle. In his Vedic chart, the Moon is in its own sign (Sidereal Cancer), which we might think would give the Moon strength. But he was born less than two days after the New Moon, and with a Moon that dark, it's no surprise that he was taken away from his mother at age 5.


It is up to each astrologer to explore this issue for themselves. I think you will find great value in noticing the effects of observable chart elements. Are visible factors more important?



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