Don’t forget about the Decans

“For example, suppose that the Sun is at ten degrees in the first decan of Aries, in the face of Arēs (Mars). Since then, we have found that the Sun signifies matters of the soul, you will find the soul of this manly spirit to be irascible, delighting in battle, arms-loving, and the like. But again, suppose that the Sun is at 20 degrees in the second decan of Aries in the face of the Sun; it signifies that such a manly spirit is bright in his soul, a lover of fame and of honor and not at all delighting in battle. But again, suppose that the Sun is at 30 degrees of Aries, in the face of Aphroditē (Venus); it signifies that his manly spirit is feminine-souled, of the female type.”

This fragment is survived from the lost book on decans by Teucher of Babylon (3rd C.E.), highly commended by Antiochus/Porphyry. The translation here is of Robert Schmidt in the book ‘The Astrological Record of Early Sages in Greek’. This author was later on quoted by Rhetorius also. It seems out that he dedicated special time in analyzing the decans, just as the Anonimus of 379 dedicated his life in observation of the Fixed Stars and their effects.
It is supposed that some of the descriptions of the signs of the zodiac and the nature of the planets at Valens are derived from the works of Teucer. This puts Teucer back in at least 1st century AD.

What is interesting for me in this quote is first how he delineates the character of the native, or the quality of his soul [matters of the soul], through the position of the Sun in specific decan ruled by certain planet. The significations of that planet that rules the decan, would give the significations for the nature of the native’s soul. This again confirms my recent talking here, and on other places, that Sun is indeed very much part of our own inner make up. The modern usage of the Sun sign astrology, even though exaggerated, is not as wrong as we thought previously in the first years of the revival of the tradition. I know that these Sun sign delineations sometimes go to the banal extremes, but the Sun is really representing the inner most part of our soul, of what we are and what we are alike. I know that we here speak about Sun in different decans and not zodiac signs; what I like to stress out is the importance of the Sun in natal chart and in delineating the native’s soul. Sun would not give us the whole character as is presumed in the question to an astrological hobbyist: ‘what is your horoscopic sign? Tell me to tell you the whole  life story of yours’. This is banal and funny, also sad in certain regard. We should apply these things with measure.

I found these teachings of Teucer amazing. I have checked this in several charts, and indeed in my own chart, with Sun in a decan of Venus, and I very much have Venusian soul, as lover of the beauty, art and music, lover of peace and piety, lover of laughter. These are all Venusian qualities. This finding about the Sun in different decans is very exciting for me, and I hope for you, check it out and you will find many truths in it, I am sure.

Later on in the fragments Teucer speaks about every individual planet positioned in particular decan. Not all delineations are survived but from what it is survived, I found many matches with real-life examples, like for example he speaks that Venus in 3rd decan of Sagittairus gives indications for ‘those who are unfortunate due to women and those who sail to desert places or the sea [metaphorically for going to distant places] for the sake of a woman’. Now, when you read these significations you need as always to take in account the overall position of Venus or some other planet. If that planet is in such particular decan, but positioned in a good place from the ascendant, like let’s say, the 11th Place, the bad significations will be ameliorated. If this planet is in bad house such as 12th, the significations of the planet inside particular decan will be intensified and more surely realized in native’s life.

Teucer uses the so called Chaldean decans, where to every sign are assigned decan rulership of 3 planets. They follow the Chaldean order of the planets. The first decan of Aries is ruled by Mars, the next is ruled by Sun, the third by Venus. The first decan in Taurus is ruled by Mercury, the second by Moon, the third by Saturn, and so on. Nowadays through the modern astrology world, in widely usage are the so called ‘Indian decans’ or the decans of Varāhamihira which are distributed through the signs in triplicity order, where the first decan of Aries is ruled by Aries itself, second by the next sign in triplicity order, that is Leo, and third decan is ruled by Sagittarius. In Taurus, first decan is ruled by Taurus, second by Virgo, third by Capricorn, and so on. However, we are speaking here about the Western or so called Chaldean decans.

Abū Ma’shar in his Great Introduction (Introductorium Maius) mentions 3 general sources for his own working with the images rising with the 36 faces: 1) according to the Persians, 2) according to Indians and 3) according to Ptolemy. Margherita Fiorello in her introduction to the translation of this section of Introductorium Maius referring to Franz Boll’s Sphaera argues that regarding ‘according to the Persians’ we should understand ‘according to Teucer of Babylon’. Then Margherita comments:

“Teucer the astrologer was the author of a work about the “Sphaera Barbarica”, the spheres of foreigner’s constellations, which we know in fragments and from a quote in Rhetorius’ work, published by Boll in the same year of Sphaera in CCAG VII. Surely Albumasar read Teucer from a Persian mediation which mentioned some of the Greek words of the original text”. [The Images of Stars Rising with 36 Facies, from tractatus VI, differentia I of Great Introduction written by Albumasar, translation from Latin Version of Johannes Hispaniensis by Margherita Fiorello, Rome year 2009]

So, the works of this great astrologer were spread through out the Perso-Arabian world too, and from there (through the popularity of Abū Ma’shars works) throughout Medieval world.

I wish all his works were survived today.