Book Review: “On the Fixed Stars” by Hermes, translated by Rumen Kolev

Rumen Kolev is a familiar name in the traditional astrology community. He is the developer of the Placidus and Porphyrius Magus traditional astrology software. As someone who has a mathematical background he is also specialized in the study of primary directions. He is also well known for the restoration of Babylonian astrology.

Maybe not many people know that he is also a translator from Latin and Ancient Greek into Bulgarian and English languages. In 2013 Rumen translated De Stellis Fixis from the Codex Vindobonensis Latinus 3124 into Bulgarian language (I don’t have the English translation of the book, my review here is based on the Bulgarian translation). One thing I like much about his translations is that he gives the transliterated Latin original alongside the translated content. In such a way, it is easier for those who know a bit of Latin to compare passages alongside the translation. His introductions into the material and the history of the critical editions are also on pair with the best translators and editors in the astrological community.

Ego dicam vobis de rebus fortune!
I will tell you about Fortune!” – with these words Hermes Trismegistus begins his introduction into the world of the Fixed Stars – “and you will have great benefit and happiness from that“.

This book is known by the name “Beybenie” that comes from the full title “Liber Hermetis de Stellis Fixis que dicintur Beybenie“. According to Kolev this word comes from the Ancient Greek βεβαιόω (bebaióō) a verb which means “to make firm, establish, confirm, make sure, to fixate”.

Though the Codex Latinus 3124 from which Kolev translates is written in 15th century, Salio da Padova has translated this book in 13th century from Arabic, which was a translation from Pahlavi and this from Ancient Greek. Kolev traces the text to the third Hermes who lived in 9th century B.C.E. in Babylon. This may be far fetched and I suppose we don’t have enough material to prove such a claim at this moment.

When they speak of the social status and the prominence in the chart, many authors in the tradition begin their examination with the fixed stars and analysis of whether the native has some powerful star on the sensitive points in the horoscope.

On the matter that a star can override otherwise middling or unfortunate horoscope, Hermes speaks at the very beginning of his book:

“Indeed, the planets can be badly disposed in the horoscope, but this will not harm the native if these stars are on the five places which I mentioned above (Asc, Mc, Dc, Sun and Moon). Even if the planets are made unfortunate or in cadent houses, but if some of these stars are on the five places [I’ve mentioned], then this means elevation of the native, if God wills, and signifies that the native will rise to such a heights of which no one ever believed or thought about”.

Translation of the quote is of the author of this review from the Latin/Bulgarian edition of the book

The stars Hermes mentions in his book are the following:

Stars of Venus-Mercury nature:
– Spica
– Vega
– Deneb
– Fomalhaut

Stars of Jupiter-Mercury nature:
– Gemma
– Castor
– Zubeneschamali

Stars of Jupiter-Mars nature:
– Regulus
– Antares
– Sirius
– Menkalinan
– Altair

Stars of Jupiter-Saturn nature
– Rigel
– Alnilam
– Algol
– Rukbat
– Capella

Stars of Mars nature:
– Pollux

Stars of Mars-Mercury nature:
– Bellatrix
– Procyon
– Alpheratz
– Betelgeuse
– Shaula
– Scheat
– Zavijava

Stars of Venus-Jupiter nature:
– Acamar
– Arcturus

Stars of Venus-Saturn nature:
– Zosma
– Alphard
– Denebola

Stars of Venus-Mars nature:
– Rigel
– Aldebaran

At the end of the book the translator gives example charts of fixed stars in paranatellonta (stars “rising alongside”) with certain horoscopic degrees arising, culminating or setting, alongside other 5 ecliptic projections using three coordinate systems.

Though the translator may be biased and has strong opinions on some matters, I find it very interesting read. I especially like the astrological significations of the stars which Hermes gives to specific stars or group of stars united under one or two planetary natures.

The Speed of the Lord of Ascendant

If you find the Lord of the Ascendant being slow in course, very often these people are of procrastinating nature, very often they are too late on meetings, sometimes it seems that they are too late for everything in life. Especially if this lord is Saturn. But do not rush into conclusions if you see Saturn Lord of Ascendant, but quick in its own course, that is, oriental and free from Sun’s rays, in its quickest rate of movement, this Saturn can bring pretty timely and auspicious results.

Life and Work of Abu Ma’shar

The Persian astrologer Abu Ma’shar  (787-886 AD) had a profound effect on Western astrology and the modern-day student of the Western Predictive Tradition will be well rewarded by close study of his works and their influence.1

With these words Robert Zoller begins his treatise dedicated on the life and work of the wonderful astrologer by name Abu Ma’shar.

In my study of traditional astrology so far, there are few astrologers who were able to take my attention for a closer study and Abu Ma’shar is one of them. His astrology is very insightful, concrete and rational. Once you try to incorporate it in your astrological practice tools, it is hard to forget about it, jut because it is so natural and fluent.

This will be the first of the series I’m planning to write on Abu Ma’shar’s approach to astrology.
In this article I will try to give a broader scope of his life and works, his influences and influences on him, and in the later series I will give practical examples of his delineation style and approach.

His Life

The full name of Abu Ma’shar is Abu Ma’shar Ja’far ben Muhammad al-Balkhi, was born 10th of august in year 787 in town Balkh, an ancient city on the territory of today’s Afghanistan. Today it is a small city in the province of Bakhl, which is one of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan. But once it was a great city in the then famous Khorasan. Marco Polo says that Balkh was “noble and great city”. Khorasan was a name of territories during the caliphate in 750 AD. It was part of Persia, and bordered with Hind (Sind, which was culturally connected mostly to India [Hindustan]) on north-east. Hence the influence in Abu Ma’shar’s mundane (and natal) works from the Hindu’s Siddhantas in which the entire system of Hindu’s chronology was preserved. Abu Ma’shar used this chronology in his mundane calculations,  but I will speak more on this in the future series.


Abu Ma’shar entered into the world of Astrology in his late years (around 47). He was at first criticizer of the subject but his teacher – the great polymath Al Kindi –  told him that a wise man should not criticize any subject before studying it.
It was this decisive moment when Abu Ma’shar decided to study Astrology and become his life since.

One of his students wrote about his master depicts him as an “omniscient wise men”.

There is an interesting anecdote written in the medieval treatise “Albumasar in Sadan”:

“Abu Ma’shar said that when a native’s 2nd house is impeded at birth and its ruler also unfortunate, the native never prospers. When asked why he never mentioned this in his writings, he said: “The sage who writes down all he knows is like an empty vessel. Nobody needs him and his reputation declines. He should keep some secrets to himself and communicate them only to his closest friends.”2

Abu Ma’shar died on 9 March 886 in Wasit, Iraq.


Abu Mashar’s works

  1. The Greater Introduction to Astrology (as I’m aware, no full translation of this work is made in English)
  2. The Flores Astrologicae (translated in English by Benjamin Dykes)
  3. On the Great Conjunctions and on the revolutions of the world (translated in English by Keiji Yamamoto and Charles Burnett)
  4. On the Revolutions of Nativities (translated in English by Benjamin Dykes as the third of the  series of Persian Nativities).
  5. Thousands (translated in English by David Pingree)
  6. The Abbreviation of the Introduction to Astrology (there exist two translations, one made by Burnett,Yamamoto and Yano, and the newer made by Benjamin Dykes compiled together with Al-Qabisi)

Abu Ma’shar’s works served for a greater part of the Guido Bonatti’s monumental work Liber Astronomiae. He often quotes him using his Latinized name Albumasar.

In 1489 at Augsburg, Erhard Ratdolt published three of his works, the Greater Introduction to Astronomy in eight books, the Flowers and 8 books concerning great conjunctions and revolutions of the years.
John of Spain and Hermann of Dalmatia translated the Introduction and the French translation of Hagins the Jew made in 1273 (from which Peter of Abano translate portions for his compilation): “Le livre des revolutions desiecle”.

Another work cited by Peter of Abano and other medieval authors is “Albumasar in Sadan”, also called “Excerpts from the Secrets of Albumasar”. The famous orientalist and biographer Moritz Steinschneider is of opinion that the Latin translation of this work is a shortened or incomplete version of an Arabic original entitled al-Mudsakaret, or Memorabilia by Abu Sa’id Schadsan (corrupted into ‘Sadan’) who wrote down the answers of his teacher to his question. (Lynn Thorndike p.651).

There is also a work called Mysteries, in Greek “Musteria”, also preserved in Byzantine versions of Shadhan’s Mudhakarat and of Abu Ma’shar’s Kitab al-madkhai al-kabir.
Giuseppe Bezza has Italian translation of fragments of this work preserved in the Angelicus Graecus 29. The translation into English by Daria Dudziak can be found here:


(Albumazar: woodcut from his ‘Introductorium in Astronomiam’, Venice, 1506.)

Indian influence on Abu Ma’shar

The Art historian Aby Warbug gave a lecture dating in year 1922 on a congress in Rome on the study he had made on the eerie frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoja of Ferrare.
In that lecture he claims that the key to ‘read’ these images is astrology!

Abu Ma’shar was mentioned in this work of Amy Warburg as a “principle authority of medieval astrology”, whose work “Introductorium majus” (The Great Introduction) served to the compilation of Peter of Abano by name “Astrolabium magnum”.
In the lecture Amy Warburg is tracing the chronology of migration of the Sphaera Barbarica, and states that it was Abu Ma’shar’s work which is deserving praises for surviving of the decanic images which later on served to the mentioned compilation of Peter of Abano.

Amy suggests that the Sphaera was traveling from Asia Minor by way of Egypt to India, and found its way to Persia through the work of Abu Ma’shar (Great introduction).
This text was then translated by a Spanish Jew by name Ibn Ezra (supposedly John of Spain?). Then, his translation was translated into French by a person named Hagins, a Jewish Scholar, and Amy suggests that this French translation served as a basis for the Latin translation made by Peter of Abano in 1293.

In investigating the source of the decanic images, Amy is of opinion that Abu Ma’shar had an ‘unacknowledged’ Hindu source. This is the sixth century Indian author by name Varahamihira “whose Brihat jataka was Abu Ma’shar’s unacknowledged source”:

“The first Drekkana of sign Aries is a man with a white cloth tied around his loins, black, facing a person as if able to protect him, of a fearful appearance and of red eyes and holding an ax in his hand. This Drekkana is of the shape of a man and is armed. Mars (Bhauma) is its llord”.

Abu Ma’shar (Boll, Sphaera 497) writes:

“ The Indians say that in this decan a black man arises with red eyes, a man of powerful stature, courage, and greatness of mind; he wears a voluminous white garment, tied around his midriff with a cord; he is wrathful, stands erect, guards, and observes”.
(German Essays on Art History, Amy Warburg: Italian Art and International Astrology in the Palazzo Schifanoia Ferrara, Continuum International Publishing Group, Jun 1, 1988 edited by Gert Schiff p.242)


(Decans of Aries from Astrolabium Magnum)

Lynn Thorndike in his “A history of magic and experimental science” says that although he was the most celebrated astrologer of 9th century Bagdad astrologers, he was also accused for plagiarism (p.649).
Some things never change?!

David Pingree, in his article published in Viator Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Volume 1, by name “The Indean and Pseudo-Indian Passages in Greek and Latin Astronomical and Astrological texts” compares texts in Abu Ma’shar’s “On Solar Revolutions” in the section dedicated to the Novenaria with that of the Hindu “Navamsas” as explained in III.9 of this book. I here refer to the translation by Benjamin Dykes in his series of Persian Nativities, but Pingree discusses the Arabian original by name “Kitab ahkam tahawil sini al-mawalid”.
Abu Ma’shar in that particular chapter tells us that in determining the ruler of the year, the Indian astrologers used the lord of the first navamsa in the sign in which the revolution of the years of the nativity has reached.

Pingree says: “Abu Ma’shar frequently in his other works in Arabic refers to Indian theories of one sort or another, but little of this material was translated into either Greek or Latin”. (p.173)

Pingree argues that Abu Ma’shar was one of the most important transmitters of a knowledge of Indian astrology among the Arabs. His pupil Shadhan says that his teacher had some direct contact with India.

Abu Ma’shar was highly influential in the years to come after his death.
He influenced as we said, Bonatti’s monumental work Liber Astronomiae, but he also influenced Morin even though Morin was probably not aware of the fact that he is reading and quoting an Arabian astrologer.
In quoting him in his Astrologia Gallica nr.23 dedicated to the Solar Revolutions, Morin thinks that he quotes some person by name (or pseudo-name) “Hermes the Philosopher”. At this moment I’m not sure whether Morin knew who the author was but decided not to quote the name due to his despise of Arabs (political reasons), or he truly didn’t knew about the fact that he is quoting the famous Abu Ma’shar.
Morin’s delineation style of the Solar Revolutions depends a lot on this treatise of Abu Mashar.
We saw also how Abu Ma’shar’s works was important for the persevering the ancient decanic images, which he probably took from Indians through some corrupted version of the original Greek or Babylonian sources. He has tremendous importance for the preservation of the knowledge of mundane astrology practiced in Perso-Arabian times, and has great value for us today.
It is important to note though that Abu Ma’shar preserved the ancient tradition of Hellenistic Astrology migrated through the Sassanian sources. Abu Ma’shar got his basics in astrology from Valens:

And when Abu Ma’shār transferred to the Great Introduction the elements (of astrology) from al-Bizīdhaj (The Anthology), he mentioned that the Persians called the first type which is equipollent (lit. corresponding in strength) potent, and the type which is corresponding in ascension he called corresponding in course, and he left the third type as it is. And when Abū Muḫammad al-Saifī has mentioned it and called the first type equipollent and he called it also corresponding in course. And he judged Abu Ma’shār (adversely) for calling the second type the ones corresponding in course, and he ascribed it to ignorance of the heavens. And in spite of his (Abu Ma’shār’s) telling the truth, he (Abū Muḫammad) still degrades Abu Ma’shār, and he does not give him his due esteem. For after all Abu Ma’shār does not deserve all this attribution of ignorance, even though he erred in his nomenclature here and followed partially the author of al-Bizīdhaj. (Valens)

This is documented in Al Biruni’s On Transits; but this can be observed as correct by knowing the similar approach to certain techniques Abu Ma’shar had with that of Valens. For example, taking into consideration the planet present into the sign in which the annual profections (or Solar Return Ascendant) came as a Lord of the Year, instead of the Ruler of the Sign. There exist other similarities of which I will talk in the next series dedicated on Abu Ma’shar.
If we trace this thread of influences, we can draw an interesting line between Valens, Abu Ma’shar and Morinus, who even though didn’t incorporated the “non-natural” segments of the astrological tools (such as the lots for example, which are numerical fractions and not real astronomical phenomena) into his Astrology, it is obvious that the approach in delineating is very similar.
I hope I was able to spark your curiosity for this very important astrologer, and your impatience to read some of my further articles on this subjects 🙂

1.Robert Zoller – Abu Ma’shar: Prince of Astrologers, p.4.
2.Thanks to Steven E. Birchfield for pointing me out this and the quote from Al-Biruni [later in the text].


– Robert Zoller – Abu Ma’shar: Prince of Astrologers (A New Library Publication, electronic edition 2002)
– German Essays on Art History, Amy Warburg: Italian Art and International Astrology in the Palazzo Schifanoia FerraraContinuum International Publishing Group, Jun 1, 1988 edited by Gert Schiff.
– Lynn Thorndike – “A history of magic and experimental science”. (Volume II, Columbia University Press,1923).
– David Pingree – “The Indean and Pseudo-Indian Passages in Greek and Latin Astronomical and Astrological texts”, published in Viator Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Volume 1.
– Abu Mashar – “On Solar Revolutions”, translated by Benjamin N. Dykes PhD, Persian Nativities III (The Cazimi Press 2010)
– Al-Bīrūnī on Transits – A study of an Arabic Treatise entitled Tamhīd al-mustaqarr li-taḫqīq ma´nā al-mamar (5:10-19 p6.), By Abū l-Rayḫān al-Bīrūnī Translated by Mohammad Saffouri & Adnan Ifram With commentary by Edward S. Kennedy, Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science, At the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Islamic Mathematics and Astronomy Volume 33 ©1998

© Beyond The Heaven, Oct. 2012


Decennials – Ancient Timing Technique

I have discovered, tested, and put to use the following distribution, which had been discarded casually,
even blindly, because the explanation of it had been puzzling. I append it now so that lovers of beauty may
make their nature divine, travelling through many paths to one power of forecasting. They may expect to
meet in one place after travelling many straight, as well as many rough, roads.
(Vettius Valens – Abthologies, Book VI, Riley trans., p.117)

I have found this technique used at several places and these places (according to my current position of material I’ve read) are:
– Vettius Valens – book VI of Anthology.
– Hephaistio of Thebes – Apothelesmatics, Book II, Chapter 29.
– Firmicus Maternis – Mathesis, Chapter 33.
– The now famous analysis of the chart of the Italian nobleman Alfonso D’este from an unknown Italian astrologer from 16th century.

Some say that the medieval title of this technique as “Decennials” is a misleading and wrong, but I’ve found it “handy” for use in lack of a better name. Decennial means “recurring in ten years”, which is not the precise timing because the technique uses a period of 10 years and 9 months and not 10 exact!

What is the logic behind the 10.9 division?
The sum of the lesser years of the planets is 129 years total. The sum of 10 years and 9 months is 129 months. It is like a microscopic mirror of the cycle of the lesser years of the planets.

The first planet in the cycle starts from the beginning of life till 10 years and 9 months.
Here is a simple table:
1. From 0 years, o months to 10 years, 9 months.
2. From 10 years, 9 months, to 21 years, 6 months.
3. From 21,6 to 32,3.
4. From 32,3 to 43.
5. From 43 to 53, 9.
6. From 53,9 to 64,6.
7. From 64,6 to 75,3

Some of the ancient Egyptians, having already added together the periods of the 7 stars, which extend to 10 years and 9 months, beginning from the primary light of the sect, divided (this number) among the stars successively in zodiacal order, giving to each planet its own period; and furthermore also making a proportionate subdivision of each period into shorter times, they likewise gave them to each of the planets in order, (starting) from the time-lord”
(Hephaistio of thebes – Apothelesmatics, Book II, Schmidt trans., p.83)

Places Conducive to Business

However, the problem arises in choosing from which light to start the chronocratorship. All sources seems to agree that we should start from the light of the sect, but if it is “declining and unconnected to the Horoskopos” Hephaistio advises us to use the other light, and if this is also in bad shape, then Valens advises us to use the first planet (in good shape?) after the Horoskopos in zodiacal order.

Here we must apply the doctrine of the busy and non-busy places (operative and non-operative).
The places conducive to business, or in Greek “Chrematisticos” (which means “profit) are places where the planet is said to have operative strength. “Achrematisticos” are non-profitable places, or places non-conducive to business.

According to Nechepso, Achrematistikos are only the cadent places.

But according to the system of Dorotheus, non-profitable places are only the places that don’t regard the ascendant (2, 6, 8, 12) and for some reasons the 3rd which is the only place of these which regards the ascendant. Hephaistio seems to use Dorotheus’ system because he says “if the planet is declining and unconnected to the Horoskopos”.

The question that arises is whether the Sun in 9th in the system of Nechepso would be counted as “Achrematistikos” when we know that it is in its joy; and Moon in 3rd in both systems, when we know that the third is her joy. I don’t think that the lights are achrematistikos in those places.

However, the unknown Italian astrologer, who probably follows Firmicus – who BTW didn’t gave strict rules for which planet to use and when to use – in his analysis of the chart of Alfonso D’este, starts with Sun which is in the 8th place, which is a place conducive to business according to Nechepso, but not for Dorotheus.

In my own practice I’ve found that in some cases the 8th place apheta is operative for using it in this technique, but it all depends. This planet may be attacked and made unfortunate in different ways then just being in place conducive or non-conducive to business.

For example, Valens gives us an example of a night birth where Moon in Pisces on IC was operative to be an apheta. Valens says that this is so because she is on IC, in feminine sign and in a triangle of the sect member (Mars rules the watery triplicity in a night charts), and is “appropriately situated”.

As we can see, Valens here does not investigate Moon’s place only, but the position in zoidia and triangle. But my mind full of questions again and again goes back to the unknown Italian astrologer and I’m asking myself why he used Sun as apheta.

An introduction to this astrologer you can read on these two links:

The second link is in Italian, but the first link is very good introduction in English from Margherita Fiorello. I advise you first to read her article, and then if you know Italian or use Google Translate, try to read the Italian article.

Back to the Italian astrologer. I think he had no other option than the Sun.
If he discarded the Sun because of the placement in the 8th, then get to the Moon, he probably saw as we see that the Moon is in 12th house, place achrematistikos in both systems. Then he probably looked at the first planet after the ascendant, and saw Mars in Sagittarius, malefic contrary to the sect in favor and a planet which is not suitable for being apheta. Jupiter and Saturn are in bad zodiacal shape, Mercury and Venus are also in 8th place, so the Sun in the zoidia of a sect member, in 8th, and first option by day, probably was the best candidate of this magnificent astrologer, knowing that some astrologers in the past has used the 8th place as chrematistikos.
And he did great job of predicting the life of Alfonso D’este with great precision.

I know that many people would like to have strict rules in choosing the apheta, but I don’t think there can be such rules. Sometimes a Light in angular house would not be fit to be apheta. It all depends on the circumstances of the chart, and experienced astrologer would use his experience and knowledgeable intuition to decide from which star to start the distribution.


Rulership of the Decennials are then subdivided into the rulership by months, i.e. days.
The distribution of the months is according to the lesser years of the planets minimized in to months instead of years. So, Saturn would rule 30 months, Jupiter 12, Mars, 15, Sun 19, Venus 8, Mercury 20, and Moon 25.

The order of the planet would not be like the one I gave here in the tables (except accidentally), but will go to the zodiacal order of the placement of planets in the particular chart. Saturn when rules by monthly decennials, will always give the first distribution of days to himself, and then would give the following days to the planet next in zodiacal order and etc.

Distribution of days is less proportional and there exist two systems, the one which Hephaistio gives and the one which Valens gives. Valens’ system seems more precise because it divides the months of the planet which rules up to the minute precisely. Hephaistio’s system adds more days to the distribution which exceeds the monthly rulership of the planet in question.

I will present here the both systems in tables, so you decide which you will use in your practice.
When Saturn rules the Decennials, the monthly rulership then goes in the following order:

  • According to Hephaistio:                                              According to Valens:
    Saturn gives to itself 210 days.                                209 days, 6 1/4 hours.
    Jupiter 84 days                                                                83 days, 17 1/3 hours
    Mars 105 days                                                                 104 days, 15 2/3 hours
    Sun 133 days                                                                    132 days, 13 5/12 hours.
    Venus 56 days                                                                 55 days, 19 1/2 hours.
    Mercury 150 days                                                          139 days, 12 2/3 hours
    Moon 175 days.                                                              174 days, 10 hours.

Note: Hephaistio’s system gives total of 913 days, which is 13 days more than Saturn’s actual rulership of 900 days (30 months multiplied by 30 days).

Naming of the Periods

Some use the names “General time lord” and “Specific time lord” to designate the overall ruler of 10.9 period (general) and the ruler of the months (specific).
Other astrologers use the names 1st, 2nd and 3rd level to make a difference in rulership assumed.

360 year or Conventional Year?

With the advancement of astronomical observations and calculation tools, it is well established at present day that the actual year is 365.2421897 days in length.

Egyptians, Mayans and Babylonians (to name a few) had in use a calendar of a year 360 days long. However, they were still aware of the fact that this was not an actual length, and the astronomers of those days reported that the actual length of the solar cycle is 365 ¼ days.

There is interesting myth on the increasing of the length of the year involving different Egyptian gods:
A long time ago, Re, who was god of the sun, ruled the earth. During this time, he heard of a prophecy that Nut, the sky goddess, would give birth to a son who would depose him. Therefore Re cast a spell to the effect that Nut could not give birth on any day of the year, which was then itself composed of precisely 360 days. To help Nut to counter this spell, the wisdom god Thoth devised a plan. Thoth went to the Moon god Khonsu and asked that he play a game known as Senet, requesting that they play for the very light of the moon itself. Feeling confident and that he would win, Khonsu agreed. However, in the course of playing he lost the game several times in succession, such that Thoth ended up winning from the moon a substantial measure of its light, equal to about five days. With this in hand, Thoth then took this extra time, and gave it to Nut. In doing so this had the effect of increasing the earth’s number of days per year, allowing Nut to give birth to a succession of children; one upon each of the extra 5 days that were added to the original 360. And as for the moon, losing its light had quite an effect upon it, for it became weaker and smaller in the sky. Being forced to hide itself periodically to recuperate; it could only show itself fully for a short period of time before having to disappear to regain its strength.


Egyptian calendar was based on a lunar cycle of 12 months grouped in three seasons of 4 months each. They based the system on the flooding (rise and fall) of the river Nile which begins to rise somewhere in the end of June. But this was not a precise measurement because it happened in period of 80 days, so the experienced astronomers of those days noticed that the Nile’s rising coincide with the heliacal rising of the brightest star in the sky: Sirius.

The rising of Sirius was somewhere near the date of 21th of June in the constellation of Canis Major. The Egyptians called this date “The Opening of the Year”. But because rising of Sirius is a stellar event which occurs every 365 ¼ days, and the Egyptian calendar was based upon the lunar cycle, the dates did not matched because the lunar cycle ended after 354 days – 11 days before the solar year. To correct this, the Egyptians add an extra month to create a “Great Year” of 384 days in every 2 or 3 years.

In 238 BCE Ptolomy III add an extra (epagomenal) month of 5 intercalary days, or 6th “leap” day on every 4th year to match the solar cycle.

In the calendar most in use today (Gregorian calendar), those intercalary days are distributed in certain months (with 31 days instead of 30) throughout the year. Every 4th year is a leap year where February has 29 instead of 28 days to add that 6th intercalary or a leap day.

There are some scholars who believe today that once the actual year was of 360 days of length indeed. It is a well-known astronomical phenomenon today that the change in speed of the axial rotation of Earth, directly affects the orbital distance between the earth and moon.

However, for our purpose of learning “the way” of the ancient astrological masters, I propose to use their method of 360 days a year, which of course, will require converting.


Converting the dates

This will require having calculator in your hand or in your computer and access to this webpage: where you can calculate how many days are in between two dates in 365 days year.

Valens uses 360-day system for calculating the distribution of days and cycles, but a 365 ¼ days for calculating the native’s years.

129 months multiplied with 30 days equals 3870 days in total.
3870 divided by 365.25 (365 ¼ days) equals 10.595.
To convert these 595 in days, you need to further multiply these 595 with 365.25 to get around 218 days. So, a decennial reulership would be 10 years and 218 days in total.

But let’s try a little bit easier method by using this web tool:

This is a date calculator where you add a number of days from a certain date, in order to find the resulting date in the 365 days system.

Let’s find the decennial distributions of this chart:


The person is born 23 January 1984. For the sake of the example let’s assume that Sun is apheta.
We enter the date in the first column of the web tool and in the column bellow under the group of Days (be sure to check ADD instead of subtract) add 3870 days. The web tool will calculate the date 3870 days from 23 January 1984. 3870 as we said are 129 months of 30 days each multiplied. We came to the date of 28 August 1994. Sun will rule the Decennials by general period from 23 January 1984 to 28 August 1994.

Next we put the new date (28 august 1994) in the first column and calculate again 3870 days from that date, to see to which date will rule the Moon by general period and etc.

To find the months rulership you will first calculate with your calculator how many days has the particular monthly rulership. For example, Moon rules 25 months which multiplied with 30 days month gives total of 750 days. To find to which date Moon rules the specific (monthly) times you only add the number (750) in the days column in the web tool I refer above.
In our example, Moon would rule from 28 August 1994 till 16 September 1996, which is total of 750 days, or 25 months of 30 days each month.


Let’s try this technique with an example.

I have been in doubt whether to use Sun as apheta or Moon in this nativity (see the chart above).
Sun is in 8th so according to Dorotheus’ system non-operative, but according to the system of Nechepso, place conducive to business.
Hephaistio would probably use Moon. But since Sun is in the trigon of its own sect buddy (Saturn), I will try to use it as apheta and we will see where would lead us.

The date in question is 30 of June, when native was 28 years and 159 days old.

Open the two web applications: date to date calculator and date calculator.
Go to date calculator add the birth date and in the column named “days” add 3870 days. This brings us to 28 August 1994. Sun will rule from birthdate, till 28 August 1984.

Then Sun transmits to Moon. To find the exact period of rulership, now enter the new date and add 3870 days. This brings us to 2 April 2005. Then Moon transmits to Mars who rules from 2 April 2005 to 6 November 2015.

Because this exceeds the date in question, we now need to calculate the specific rulership.

Mars would distribute to himself 15 months, this is 450 days. We add 450 days in the column named “days” of the date calculator. This leads us to 26 June 2006. Then Mars distributes to Saturn 30 months, or 900 days. This leads us to 12 December 2008. Saturn will rule the specific period till 12 December 2008. Then Mars distributes to Venus which rules 8 months or 240 days.
This leads us to 9 August 2009. Then rules Jupiter for 12 months or 360 days. This leads us to 4 August 2010. The next specific ruelrship goes to Mercury for 20 months or 600 days. This leads us to 26 March 2012. On 26 March 2012 the specific rulership goes to the Sun which rules 19 months or 570 days. This exceeds the date in question, so we should now count the daily rulership. Sun would distribute to himself (refer to the tables above) 84 days according to Valens’ table (I round 84 because of the 22 hours, and try to compensate later).
From 26 March, 84 days leads us to 18 June 2012. Next rules Moon for 110 days, and here we found the daily ruler.

So the rulership goes like this:
Mars received the distribution from Moon, Sun received the distribution from Mars, and Moon receives from Sun.

We can see that the times are troublesome because the general ruler is the contrary to sect in favor malefic – Mars. Mars receives from Moon which is the ruler of the nativity, and Mars transmits to Sun. Hephaistio says that Mars distributing to Sun by day brings “dangers and plaints on account of public affairs.

The event that happened was very troublesome for the native, and he was in danger for losing his life. Also, dangerous problems with coworkers arise and this brought him public infamy.

Sun is in the 8th but is goaded toward action in the 7th angle.

For the Sun transmitting to Moon in diurnal nativity, Hephaistio says that it is not good, because it brings jealousies and loses.

Further investigation needs to be made in the usage of Decennials. I’m planning to investigate their timing on more life events to compare the results and I hope I will be able to post them in future posts. I have used Firdaria in the past and I have good results with it. But the technique of Decennials intrigued me so many times, and I just can’t ignore it.
I hope that this short introduction to the Decennials will spark the enthusiasm in your astrology soul, to investigate furthermore in this direction and to use this very ancient timing technique.

Vettius Valens – Anthologies, translated by Mark T. Riley.
Vettius Valens – Anthology, book VI, translated by Robert Schmidt (The Golden Hind Press, 1997).
Hephaistio of Thebes – Apotelesmatics, Book II, translated by Robert Schmidt (The Golden Hind Press, 1998).
Joseph Crane – Astrological Roots: The Hellenistic Legacy (Published by The Wessex Astrologer Ltd, 2007)


The charts are calculated in free Morinus software.

© Beyond The Heaven, Sep. 2012