The Critical Year according to Vettius Valens

I was a little boy when I watched on TV the brutal public execution of the Romanian head of state Nicolae Ceausescu. I still feel the fear I felt back then when I think of it. This was the first time I faced real death (not in a movie) and the concept of fate as an uncertain factor in life.
Even though I was only 5 years old at the time, I knew that it is not a movie (even though my parents probably were telling me that this is so), but a real murder, a real public execution.
When I entered the world of Astrology years and years later, the first intention which I had  (encountering the traditional astrology techniques) was to find his chart.

Was the execution a fated event or just a random chain of causes and effects?
Was it possible for him and his wife to escape that brutal public murder?

I offer this advice to my readers, not with the idea that it is possible to appeal the decrees of fate and to act according to one’s wishes, but <with the suggestion> that it is possible (I would certainly claim it to be so) for the initiates of this art to weaken the evil to some extent. For God, in his desire that man should foreknow the future, brought this science into the world, a science through which anyone can know his fate in order to bear the good with great contentment and the bad with great steadfastness.
(Vettius Valens – Anthologies, Book V, Riley trans., p.96)

Here Valens uses the Stoic concept of fate, in which one is free only to react on the events which the Fate is presenting to him. In other words, developing virtues (and knowing Astrology is a virtue itself) is what one can do but not to prevent what was fated to be.

The Fates

The Fates

The nativity
http://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Ceausescu,_Nicolae

Astro databank gives AA chart for Nicolae Causescu. His biography rapports that in his youth he was often imprisoned because of his communistic activities.
Here’s some biography from astro databank:

Romanian politician, an indestructible dictator for 24 years and one of history’s mass murderers. The son of a shoemaker, Ceausescu had a limited educated before he joined the Communist army fighting against fascists. Captured, he spent several years in prison before assembling the coup that won him the nation’s highest office in 1965.

The week before Christmas 1989, he ordered a massacre in Timisoara. Bucharest erupted in a furious revolution and Ceausescu and his wife were captured by enemy forces. Tried in secret, they were swiftly executed on 12/25/1989, Tirgoviste.

Of course, this is very short sketch of his life and activities and I do not like to engage in deeper analysis of his biography here. I’m interested in the fact of his critical year, the last year of his life.

The Critical Year

How to find the Critical Year?
Firstly, Valens advises us to look at the annual profections of the ascendant. If the year happens to be in the sign of the new or full moon (syzygy), or in square or opposition to the syzygy, this year will be critical or troublesome, especially if Saturn happens to be in the cadent place by transit.

If the basis of the nativity is in accord, death will follow, bodily weakness, bleeding, dangerous diseases, hidden troubles, falls, sudden dangers.

Image

This is his natal chart with the transits of the day on the execution (I don’t know the precise hour, so just ignore the cusps).
Annual Profections of the Ascendant are at the 12th place Taurus, which is in square relationship to the syzygy (at 6 leo). So, we can see that one of the conditions for critical year is fulfilled.

Saturn is not transiting a cadent house in the nativity, but it is in the place of death, transiting Mercury, the ruler of the nativity. Saturn was at the same sign as the Moon at the prenatal lunation in Leo, and this same Saturn is in the same sign (bad zodiacal shape) in the nativity. After the syzygy Moon is applying to this Saturn in detriment at IC and retrograde.

Likewise the critical year will occur if Saturn is at the ascending or the descending node, or at the points square with these. If someone takes to his bed ill while the sun is transiting the ascending or descending node or through the points square with them, and if a malefic beholds the sun, then the bout of disease will be dangerous and hazardous.

We can see that his nativity and day of death fulfills the second condition too: Saturn transiting the descending node. But also the Sun is here, and even though Valens speaks about disease (some sort of decumbiture chart), we can assume that the maleficity of the configuration can also apply to the overall state of the nativity at that particular time.

Thirdly, Valens advises us to follow the transits of the ascending node, because the sign and its ruler will be weakened (Schmidt says “brake down”). So, we can see that the ascending node is transiting the MC in Aquarius (Saturn becomes ruler!) in very close aspect to the natal Sun (infamy). But also aspecting the Lord of the Year (Venus).

Fourthly, Valens says that certain signs are critical and when the years are in these signs, they are dangerous. These signs are: Aries, Taurus, Cancer, Leo, Libra, Scorpio, Capricorn and Aquarius.
We saw that Ascendant was in Taurus by profection and that Saturn at the descending node at Capricorn. Nodes were transiting the Leo-Aquarius axis, so all critical signs!

Furthermore, the zodiacal releasing of Fortune at the time was at Level 5 in Cancer, and sublevel Capricorn, making the transmission from Light to Darkness (Moon to Saturn). Interestingly enough this is the axis of the nodes, and Saturn happens to be in Capricorn. This is the 8th natal place.

I hope that in some future post I will explore this event through some other of the Valens’ timing techniques. Let for now this only be a bust for the enthusiasm of the interested reader to read more Valens and to explore his Anthology, because I suspect that there lies great deal of goldmine of precious Astrological knowledge.

 And what, you ask, is the fullest span of life? It is living until you
possess wisdom. He who has attained wisdom has reached, not the
furthermost, but the most important, goal. Such a one may indeed exult
boldly and give thanks to the gods – aye, and to himself also – and he
may count himself Nature’s creditor for having lived. He will indeed
have the right to do so, for he has paid her back a better life than he
has received. He has set up the pattern of a good man, showing the
quality and the greatness of a good man. Had another year been added, it
would merely have been like the past.
(Seneca – Moral Letters to Lucilius, translated by Richard Mott Gummere, letter 93)

Sources:
Vettius Valens – Anthologies, Riley translation.
Free download: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/r/rileymt/Vettius%20Valens%20entire.pdf

Websites:
Astro databank
Wikisource.org

The chart was calculated in freeware Morinus:
https://sites.google.com/site/pymorinus/

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