This is not an easy task which can be comprehended in one post only, but I will try to be as much as concise I can be to explain the approach of Abu Ma’shar, as I see it and understand it from reading and studying his work “On The Revolutions Of The Years Of Nativities” as translated by Benjamin N. Dykes, PhD in his series of Persian Nativities. I strongly urge you to have this work. At the moment Ben offers an off sale till 25 of November:
Vettius Valens and Abu Ma’shar are certainly my two favorite astrologers. I love all of them, I enjoy reading and studying Schoener, Montulmo, Morin and etc., they are all great; but these two are special and it seems that there is something in their techniques which is so powerful.
I will not give general outline of his approach here, because all that you have in the introduction of this work given by Ben Dykes. But you have also extracts from this on Skyscript:
I will try to apply the practical side in this post, and how I use the revolutions in my own practice as astrologer.
First thing I want to mention here is that Revolution is the same as Return. So a Solar Revolution means nothing else but a Solar Return. I will use the Revolution word here.
This is a sample nativity which I will use in my delineations:
First thing I do in approaching delineation, is to see in which Ptolemaic Age the person is.
He is in his late 20’s so under Sun’s rulership of Ages.
Just a general note.
Moon rules the first 4 years of life, because she represents nurturing and body. The baby needs the care and help from his mother.
Mercury rules next ten years (4 – 14), because in these years the baby develops his ratio, he learns about the world.
Venus rules next 8 years (14-22) because in these years the boy becomes adolescent and the first passions awakes in him, his basic appetites for sexual intercourse.
Sun rules the next 19 years (22-41), this is the period of success. Here man tries to achieve something in this world, to be recognized for something, to develop stability through work and etc.
Mars rules next 15 years (41-56), this is according to Abu Ma’shar “beginning of stable age“. In this age men fight out in the world, and they are filled with worries and all the pleasures and delights are behind. This is the period of the “middle crisis”, as it is popular to say it today.
Jupiter rules the next 12 years (56-68). This is an old age. Often here the worries stop, men use their privileges, and all the fruits of their past labors and work. This is the period where men are often said to be wise.
Last rules Saturn (from 68 till death) and this is a period of afflictions where the body starts to be weakened and where all the hope is vanished. This is the declining age.
OK. So we know that the person in question (the sample nativity) is in the age of the Sun!
So what we will do next is to examine the Solar Revolution for the year when the Sun took the rulership of Ages!
Sun starts the rulership of Ages in the 22nd year (this would be the 23rd, but because of the zero factor, we say the 22). So, if a person is born 1976, you will look at the Revolution for 1998.
This is the chart of the revolution for the year when Sun took the rulership by Ages:
What I need to stress before going into details, that the birth chart is the beginning of all, it is the prime and final reference, you always compare everything with the birth chart! Abu Ma’shar calls it “beginning” and he always compares all the other derivative charts or tools with the birth chart. Abu Ma’shar stresses this out when he says that we must know what the chart brings, because you can’t predict kingship for someone who is of no noble potential, or high social status for someone who is a slave and whose chart promises slavery. If you find a great revolution for such person, a revolution which promises a lot, you will announce that the slave would achieve recognition from the high officials, or would be liberated, or will receive gifts, something of that sort.. You can’t predict something through the revolution which is not promised in the natal chart, remember this. If the same configuration in the revolution, have had some highly born nativity, then you will predict much greater things for that nativity. So, you must always look at the revolutions from the standpoint of the nativity. This is of greatest importance.
So, before looking at the state of the Sun in the revolution, we will look at his state in the birth chart and what is promised through the Sun in the Beginning!
We will notice that the Sun is in 7th in detriment, ruling the 2nd and 10th by exaltation, has a close applying square with Mars and wider with Saturn. Saturn receives him and is in wider orbs, but Mars is really problematic here. No reception, and close applicative square. What this Sun promises in this birth chart?
First, by local determination, Sun promises famous co-workers (business partnerships) and open enemies. The other people (7th) with whom this person dwells are famous and people who are completely dedicated to their career and receiving honors (Sun naturally signifies this). They also have problems in their careers because Sun receives square from Mars in the 10th from 7th! So, this square is describable for their career and social life too! This is the usage of derivative houses. Their careers are filled with conflicts, fights and struggles. This is very true.
Further, Sun rules native’s 2nd and in 7th describes that this person will earn money (2nd) through business partnerships (7th). So, these famous people who are dedicated on their career, should bring money through partnership collaboration to the native.But because Sun is in detriment, the situation promises much more and brings less then the expected and what was hoped for. The square with Mars also shows struggles between the native and this famous co-workers because Mars rules 10th of native’s actions, so his actions can be source of the troubles with these people. But also, Mars is in 10th from 7th, and this can show that their actions are harsh too (because of Mars!).
So, we can see that delineating the chart in this way, we have a pretty good understanding of what Sun promises in the birth chart, and this Agenda will be activated in the Age when Sun takes the rulership, but also the Agenda which Sun brings with it in the Revolution when it took the rulership by Ages, i.e. in 22 year!
Let’s now look at the second chart, that is the chart of the revolution for the 22nd year.
We are delineating that chart in the similar manner as the natal chart. We can see that Sun is in 3rd by division 4th by whole signs (always examine the divisions with the whole sign approach!).
We can see that Sun also makes square (though much wider this time) with Mars with the roles interchanged though, Mars is in 7th and Sun in 3/4th.
It is of great importance when some natal configuration is repeated in the revolution. So, we can see that the conflicts with the co-workers are again explained here, but also it is added the 3rd house into it, so the problems and conflicts will be due to lack of communication or exchange of ideas.
Sun is in detriment, Mars is in detriment, so this makes the configuration even more nasty.
Mars rules the 1st and 6th and Sun the 10th, so we can see again the career and native’s actions involved. Saturn from Leo just 2 degrees away from MC, is sending opposition to the Sun in 3rd, and this should be mutual reception but how positive this mutual reception can be through the opposition?!
Let’s see what Abu Ma’shar has to say about this Age:
But Sun disposes the fourth age through 19 years according to his lesser period, for his circle is set over the circle of Venus (whom he is next to): for then we see a man value exaltation and glory and pass over to a better disposition, and from games to worries, and to suppress venereal pleasures, and just in the way that he is a middle between the superior and inferior planets, in a like way this age is the middle between old age and childlike one, and its end of the youthful age.
(Abu Ma’shar – On The Revolutions of the Years of Nativities, Dykes trans., p.63)
So, we can see that this is an age where man dedicates himself to his success (exaltation and glory), and this is why he suppress his venereal desires in greater aim to achieve recognition, to succeed in something.
Going back to the revolution chart with this in mind, we can notice that with all the opposition and squares from the malefics to the Sun, there will be struggles, conflicts and hardship in achieving this general agenda. The native will try to achieve it through communication and sharing ideas (3rd), his home environment will be very important (4rd sign), and through partnership but also open enemies who will try to suppress him through open oppositions and conflicts (Mars in 7th).
This is the specific agenda which the Sun brings with this revolution up to the next 19 years.
The square with Mars will be activated (more intensively) later in these 19 years, because the application from the Sun is through wider orbs.
Till now, we have pretty good idea of what to expect in those 19 years. Now, every single revolution in those 19 years, should be looked through the prism of this agenda of the Sun. The Sun will be important in every revolution, and its specific environment in those revolutions, will have the undertone of the revolution we looked above when the Sun took the Ages disposition.
There is much more to look at this chart of the Sun’s Ages disposition, but for now let this be enough as introduction in to the techniques and the way of approaching them.
We will now look at particular revolutions.
This is the revolution of his 28 year of life.
The first thing we need to look here is the sign of the annual profection and its lord.
Go back to the birth chart and count 5 signs from the ascendant (because 24th year is the first sign, 25 the second, 26 the third, 27 the fourth, 28 the fifth). So the annual profections are at Scorpio and Mars becomes Lord of the Year!
Following Valens and Abu Ma’shar, the announcing of the rulership would be like this:
If there is a planet in the sign, no matter if it is ruler or not, that planet would take the rulership and will be the Lord of the Year. If there is no planet in the sign, but some planet made an ingress in the revolution in that same sign, you will take that planet to represents the Lordship of the Year. If there is no planet in the nativity, nor in revolution, then you will take the ruler of the sign to represent the Lord of the Year!
In the case when there are two planets in the sign, I dispose the year up to two halves, each planet ruling the half of a year.
Lord of the Year (LOY) is describing you in the year above all other things which may represents. This is how Abu Ma’shar uses it. For example, we can see that in our example Mars is LOY, and he will give great deal of explanations of the native’s behavior and events which will encounter in the year. I will explain this more practically bellow.
What you will do when you make a revolution chart is you will look at it as a separate chart. You will notice this things:
- Particular Degrees of the Planets! You will notice in which kind of degrees the planet falls, whether they are light, bright or deep and dark, whether they are fortunate or unfortunate. For this, you have handy table in Deborah Houlding’s site:
- You will look at the zodiacal state of the planets. Whether they are in their domiciles and exaltations or in their falls and detriments. Whether they are in friendly signs or unfriendly signs to them. Signs that share intrinsic similarities with them or signs contrary to their intrinsic nature. For example, the heat and dryness of Mars is tempered in Capricorn, while in Cancer Mars is really nasty because there does not share any intrinsic similarity with the sign (cancer being wet and cold). Saturn in Aries is in its fall, but he shares the dryness with Aries, so it is not as nasty as Mars in Cancer. All this will become important in the practical delineation of the chart.
- You will notice whether the planet is direct or retrograde.
- You will notice whether the planet is under the Sun’s Rays, or combust. When it is combust or hidden in the rays, always shows hidden things, thievery, fires and etc., everything analogous to the non-visibility of the planet.
- You will notice the aspects that the planets receive, especially the LOY and those activated, like the Sun through ages in our example. The repetition of natal configuration in the revolution is of great importance. Bad aspects tends to bring troubles, but also the good aspects (trine, sextile) from a bad disposed benefic, up to malefic in bad condition will introduce the problems to the malefic one! Remember this, it is of great practical value!
- Notice the particular Lots and Dodecatemorias (twelfth – parts)!
Abu Ma’shar advises us to calculate Lots and twelfth-parts for every separate revolution, and not twelfth parts for the planets only, but for the house divisions too!
In our example chart, we can see that the Revolution ascendant falls in Taurus and exactly on the natal Part of Mother. In the year the Mother of this native, came to live with him for a while!
You can see how important examination of the Lots is!
Take particular note of the lots and twelfth parts which falls in the sign of the annual profections.
- You will notice where the profection sign falls in the Revolution. In our example, Scorpio falls in the 7th sign of the Revolution. This tells us that the partnerships and open enemies will be on the agenda of the year.
- You will notice where the Revolution Ascendant falls from the sign of profection. In our case it is the same 7th sign.
- You will note the sect of the planet. If the sect is repeated as the same in the natal chart, the significations are more strong, if not, then with less intensity, i.e. moderate.
- Note the orientality and occidentality of the planets, especially the LOY.
Superiors are more strong when Oriental up to the first station.
You will have all these things in mind when delineating a revolution.
Let’s examine the particular revolution from above.
LOY is Mars and in the nativity this Mars is in 4th division, and in 5th sign ruling the 5th. Also rules the 10th and 7th by exaltation. It makes, as we said, square to the Sun in 7th and conjunction to Saturn as ruler of 7th. Sun rules the natal 2nd and is Ages ruler.
We have all this in mind and we continue.
In the revolution we find Mars in 5th ruling the 7th.
Mars does not make aspect with the Sun, so the natal promise of square between them will be less activated. The important note is that IT WILL be activated, but with moderate intensity. If the Sun and Mars were in square relationship again in this revolution, the alarm would have been highly on, it would have been more troublesome year because Mars is contrary to the sect in both years!
What is repeated from the natal figure?
I would notice the beneficial aspect from Mercury. In the nativity it is sextile and here a trine!
The aspect between Mercury and Mars signifies Learning and application of the rational qualities.
Remember that the Pars Rationis was calculated between Mars and Mercury. Mars gives hotness and quickness to the thought and ratio. Mars and Mercury are in perfect mutual reception (Mercury applies toward Mars). This signifies that in this year, the native will be dedicated to deep studies, learning and exercising his rational qualities. The 9/10th and 5th are activated! Mercury is just few degrees away from MC, rules the 5th, Mars is in 5th rules the 9th by exaltation but also the MC!
Religious, astrological, philosophical studies are accentuated here. Help from friends in achieving this (5th represents friends among other things). Furthermore, Mars is on the fixed star Alkes which is of the type of Mercury!
The help from friends is promised through the position of Venus as Lord of Annual Ascendant in the 11th in her exaltation, and in the nativity she falls in 9th: friends will assist in achieving religious, philosophical or astrological knowledge. Association with groups are promised too, but also quarrels and opposition through the aspect of Mars and Venus!
Mars represents brothers. Mars out of sect in the two times, promises difficult year for the brother. And it was indeed.
Mars in human sign (Virgo) gives testimony that the hardships he represents (remember his state in natal) will come from people: fights, quarrels, arguments, attacks through speaking and etc.
If the planet which promises problems is in animal sign, the attacks from animals would have been accentuated or some other symbolism.
Let this be enough as a general introduction into the approaching of analyzing the revolutions.
I haven’t said it all. I haven’t talked about the use of the Novenarias, Distributions through terms, Directions and use of Firdaria rulers and their state in the Revolution chart. I will leave this for my next article.
Persian Nativities III: Abu Ma’shar’s On the Revolution of the Years of Nativities, translated and edited by Benjamin N. Dykes, PhD, The Cazimi Press Minneapolis, Minnesota 2010)
Special thanks to Steven Birchfield for sharing all his wonderful knowledge through out different astrological internet groups, where from I picked up theoretical and practical knowledge for approaching the revolutions in the way I’m doing it. All supposed errors in this article are mine.