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Conversations on Natal Astrology, 2

Chapter 2:


“What’s next, then, uncle? Is it time to start looking at charts yet?’

     ‘You’re so impatient, my boy! They’ll be plenty of time for that. First, let’s follow in the footsteps of our illustrious forebears. When they had discussed rectification, they would usually proceed to defining three important technical terms: hyleg, anareta, and alcohoden. The use of these things is in assessing the length of life, either generally, as in whether the life will be long or short, or precisely, in predicting the time of death. There’s nothing at all psychological about them: we would never look at a chart and think “Oh dear, his anareta is Saturn, what a dreadful fellow!” We’re not going to use them for some time, but we’ll do as our ancestors did and establish them right at the beginning.’




‘The hyleg is the indicator of life. This is at a basic level: as I said, it tells us nothing about the person’s nature. It’s like the little red light on the back of the kettle that shows whether it is switched on or not. In theory, we progress the hyleg and the anareta until one of them bumps into the natal placement of the other, on which the native dies.’

     ‘That sounds very simple.’

     ‘Yes, it is very simple. Doesn’t work, mind you, but it’s certainly simple. The practice is much more complex. The hyleg and the anareta play particularly important roles in it, but they don’t dominate proceedings in the way the theory suggests.’

     ‘So how do I find out what the hyleg is?’

     ‘This bit really is simple. To be hyleg a planet must be in one of the hylegal houses: the 1st, 7th, 9th, 10th, or 11th. As always in traditional astrology, a planet in the 5 or so degrees before the cusp is counted as being in that house, provided it is in the same sign as the house cusp.’

     ‘So if the 11th cusp is at 18 Taurus, a planet at 13 Taurus would be in the 11th, not the 10th?’      

‘That’s right. As you can see, to be in a hylegal house, the planet must be above the Earth or just about to rise, and not in one of the nasty houses, the 8th or the 12th. Do you smell a rat here? You should do.’

     ‘It seems a bit odd, uncle. Why should those two nasty houses be excluded? Why can’t a planet be hyleg in any of the houses that are above the horizon? Indeed, why does its house placement matter at all?’

     ‘Well, the particular rat we can smell here is ye royal astrologer. You remember the warnings I gave you? We must always be alert for this fellow sticking his nose in.’

     ‘So this selection of houses is to avoid upsetting the king?’

     ‘Exactly. We’ve avoided anything under the Earth, because if we’re choosing a planet to signify Life we’d much rather have something bright and shiny up in the sky. We’ve avoided the 8th house which is not nice. We’ve avoided the 12th house which is not nice. It’s possible that this is part of a method designed to ensure that the hyleg is in at least some sort of tolerable condition. Because if the king comes to you cradling his newborn, all joy and glee, the astrologer who looks at the chart and predicts a very short life for the little chap is likely to have a life-span that’s even shorter.’

     ‘So this isn’t valid, uncle?’

     ‘There’s an argument for ignoring it, and for taking the light of the time as hyleg, wherever it happens to be. But there’s also a good argument for sticking with these hylegal houses, which I’ll tell you about in a minute. After weighing it up, I stick with them.’

     ‘The light of the time, uncle - is that the Sun in a day chart and the Moon in a night chart?’

     ‘That’s right. Do you know how to tell if it’s a day chart or a night chart?’

     ‘That’s easy, uncle. The Ascendant/Descendant axis represents the horizon. If the Sun is above the horizon, it’s day; if it’s below it, it’s night. For example, if the Sun is in the 12th house it’s daytime; if it’s in the 3rd it’s night-time.’

     ‘Good. We can allow a few degrees of leeway in favour of day at either end, just before sunrise and just after sunset, because it is light before the Sun rises and after the sun sets. There is no precise definition for the number of degrees we can allow: “a few” is as accurate as we can be. That’s because the exact number of degrees varies according to latitude, to the time of year - and also according to the weather at the time. We can find out the latitude and time of year, but it is unrealistic to think of checking if it was a bit gloomy that day.’

     ‘So if the Sun is a couple of degrees below the Ascendant or a couple of degrees below the Descendant, I should still count that as a daytime chart.’

     ‘That’s right.’

     ‘But what if I’m not sure. How many degrees is a few?’

     ‘In the great majority of charts the problem doesn’t arise. When it does, listen to the chart. Always work on the assumption that the chart wants to tell you something: that is its role in life. In cases of doubt, it will make it clear enough which it is.’

     ‘OK, uncle, we have our hylegal houses. Now what?’

     ‘If it’s a day chart, we start with the Sun. Is the Sun in one of the hylegal houses: the 1st, 7th, 9th, 10th, or 11th? If it is, the Sun is hyleg. Some of the old books say it has to be within 25 degrees of the house cusp. Ignore this: it is a hangover from the whole-sign house systems. It has no place in a quadrant system, such as Placidus, which we are using. Whenever you see this reservation about being only in the first 25 degrees of the house, you can ignore it.’

     ‘And if the Sun isn’t in one of those houses?’

     ‘If it isn’t, we move on to the Moon. Is the Moon in one of the hylegal houses? If it is, the Moon is hyleg.’

     ‘Suppose they’re both in hylegal houses?’

     ‘So what? There is a strict order here: Sun first; Moon only if Sun isn’t used. There is never a question of our having to choose between them.’

     ‘And what if neither the Sun nor the Moon is in a hylegal house?’

     ‘Between the two of them, the Sun and Moon will provide us with a hyleg in something over half of all charts. If neither of them work, all we can do is to give up.’

     ‘Give up judging the chart?’

     He gasped, and took a restorative sip from his brandy before replying. ‘No, you young...’ I sensed that he was struggling to find something polite to call me, ‘... scallywag. No: give up looking for a hyleg.’




     ‘But don’t we need a hyleg?’

     ‘Not at all. The ancient masters of our craft list various specious alternatives, but none of these are more than a desperate scratching around to produce something onto which we can stick the label “Hyleg”. They don’t work, so there is no need to bother with them. And don’t ask, my boy: I’ll not fill your head with a lot of stuff that doesn’t work.’

     ‘But if the hyleg is the indicator of life, how can we get along without it?’

     ‘Very well indeed. I said it was like the little red light on the back of a kettle. Have you never seen a kettle that doesn’t have such a light?’

     ‘Of course I have, uncle. We have one at home.’

     ‘It still works, I take it. The error is in thinking that these technical terms - hyleg and anareta, for instance - are exclusive. That is what leads to this desperate scratching around to find something that can be pressed into service. But these terms are not exclusive. We can select one planet and give it the official badge saying “I am hyleg”, but there are other planets which will be significant as representatives of the life-force when we start predicting the length of life. The light of the time, whether it is hyleg or not, will always be important. The other light will always be important. The Ascendant will always be important. To a slightly lesser extent, the Lord of the Ascendant will always be important.

     ‘Or we can select a planet and give it the official badge saying “I am anareta” - that’s the killing planet - but we’re never short of options for killing somebody. There are plenty of things in the chart that will do it just as well as the anareta.

     ‘If there is a hyleg or an anareta it has a particular importance when it comes to predicting death, but that is all. They are each first among equals, you might say. The theory is that once we’ve selected our hyleg and our anareta, we progress the chart until hyleg and anareta meet, on which the person promptly dies. This is a great theory. It doesn’t work, but it’s a very nice theory. The reality is nowhere near as neat as that - nor, if you think for a moment, my boy, could it ever be so.’

     ‘What do you mean, uncle?’

     ‘Consider: a much higher proportion of people born at night will have the Moon as hyleg. By progression the Moon will conjunct or oppose everything in your natal chart within 15 years. If it were really as simple as “hyleg meets anareta, goodbye”, we would expect far more people born at night to head for an early grave. If this were so, we might have expected folk wisdom to notice. Every time somebody had a baby at night, the local wise-woman would be shaking her head, saying, “Oh, he won’t be here for long, dearie”. It’s a far more sophisticated system then that. And people with the Moon as hyleg don’t die younger!’

     I confess I still felt unsure about proceeding without a hyleg, but my uncle promised it would all become clear later on, when he told me about predicting. He continued: ‘If the Sun is our first choice as hyleg by day, what do you think will be our first choice for hyleg in a night chart?’

     ‘The Moon?’

     ‘Yes, my boy. If the Moon is in one of the hylegal houses, it will be hyleg.’

     ‘And if it isn’t?’

     ‘The Sun.’

     I wondered if he was pulling my leg. I was about to ask him how the Sun could be in the 10th house in a night chart, when I realised, ‘That can only be shortly before dawn, can’t it, uncle?’

     ‘That’s right: Sun in the 1st house. As before, if neither Sun nor Moon is hyleg, give up.’

     ‘So rather fewer night charts will have an official hyleg?’

     ‘Yes. But that makes no difference. Like those born by day, people born at night live until they die and then stop, hyleg or no.’




‘Now we come to choosing the anareta: the killing planet. Our first choice for anareta is any planet in the 8th house.’

     ‘Not the lord of the 8th?’

     ‘No, not the Lord of the 8th. A planet in the 8th. Anywhere in the 8th, even if not in the same sign as the 8th cusp. Why do you think this is our first choice, not Lord 8?’

     ‘If we go for a planet in the 8th, this automatically excludes the hyleg.’

     ‘Exactly. This is the argument for retaining the hylegal houses in our system for selecting the hyleg. Maybe it isn’t just the royal astrologer trying to save his neck; maybe there is a valid reason for it. As you’ll see, using a planet in the 8th as anareta does seem to work. Remember:



Even if the Sun is in the 8th house, the Sun will be anareta, the killing planet, despite the fact that the Sun is light of the time; despite that fact that it is naturally the Lord of Life.’

     ‘What if there’s more than one planet in the 8th?’

     ‘The one closest to the cusp is the one that gets to wear the official badge, “I am anareta”. But any of the other planets in the 8th can do the job as well, so when you come to progressing the chart you’ll need to keep an eye on them too.’

     ‘That would be a particularly horrible chart, one with four or five planets in the 8th.’

     ‘Not necessarily. Lots of planets in the 8th doesn’t mean that the person will die more than once, any more than an empty 8th house means he won’t die at all.’

     ‘And this includes the 5 degrees before the house cusp?’

     ‘Always, my boy, for any house, so long as they are in the same sign as the cusp. This is always so, in all circumstances, in any form of astrology that we’re doing. It is not in any way a kind of fuzzy area, or no man’s land, between the houses: the planet is very definitely in the one house and it is very definitely not in the other. Just as if I am standing in someone’s front garden. I may not be in their living-room, but I am definitely on their property, and I am definitely not in the house next door.’

     ‘I see. What if there are no planets in the 8th?’

     ‘Then we take Lord 8. Provided Lord 8 is not hyleg, it will be anareta.’

     ‘So this gives us an anareta for every chart, except those that have an empty 8th house and Lord 8 as hyleg.’

     ‘Yes: almost all charts. For those few awkward ones, again the best we can do is to give up. Lilly and the others cite various options for selecting an anareta in these cases, but what this comes down to is “any planet you don’t like the look of”. Better to do without an anareta than to give out the badge for no sounder reason than that. We’re never short of ways to kill someone! The Lord of the 8th can always do it, even if it’s not the official anareta. Even, indeed, if it is hyleg. It can play both roles at different times when we progress the chart. Saturn can kill; Mars, at a pinch; any number of fixed stars.’


     ‘What does the anareta tell us about the person?’

     ‘Nothing at all. As with the hyleg, there’s nothing psychological about it. It doesn’t even tell us anything about the person’s death. Having Jupiter as anareta doesn’t mean you’ll die laughing. Whether Murder Incorporated send out the fat guy to shoot you or the thin guy to shoot you, it doesn’t really matter: either way you end up shot. The only use of the anatera is in predicting when the native will die. I think you’ll agree, my boy, that this is quite an important matter. If we can’t predIct that, which is the most signifIcant event in the entire life, what else can we predict?’

     ‘Can we predict it, though, uncle?’ I had heard so many claiming that we cannot.

     ‘There is so much nonsense talked about this. The great and the good of Astro-world solemnly assure us that it is no longer possible to predict death from the chart, because advances in medical science have increased our life-span. It’s difficult to credit it, but they apparently say this in all seriousness.

     ‘Consider, my boy: if this were so, it would mean that at some point in our life we move beyond our fate. I’m looking forward to that day...’ his voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper as he tapped me on the knee, ‘... because that’s when I get to marry Lauren Bacall.’ My aunt, who has ears as sensitive as a cat’s whiskers, shot him a glance. ‘And I get to win the lottery every week. Desirable, but, alas, unlikely.

     ‘It also carries the arrogant implication that medicine in the past never prolonged anyone’s life. Even the most basic medical intervention, like staunching a wound, didn’t prolong that person’s life by even a day. It makes you wonder why they bothered.’




Nodding at my aunt for her to fetch him a mince-pie, he continued. She had evidently forgiven him his comment about Lauren Bacall, as it came heaped with cream and brandy butter. One for me too, I was delighted to see.

     ‘Now for the third and last of these technical terms - and the one that is most misunderstood. The alcohoden is “the giver of years”. There are those who make inordinate claims about its powers, saying we can exactly predict the length of life from it alone. Don’t believe a word of it, my boy! In fact, don’t believe any such claims for instant accuracy from any one single technique: they are invariably spurious, and misunderstand the nature of astrology.’ I resolved to be circumspect, between mouthfuls of mince pie.

     ‘We find the alcohoden by looking at the hyleg, he continued. ‘Of course, if there is no hyleg there is no alcohoden either. This doesn’t mean the person is underprivileged. Many people have no alcohodens and live quite happily without ever even suspecting it. It is a convenience for the astrologer; it makes no difference to the person.’

     ‘But if there is a hyleg, how do we get from that to the alcohoden?’

     ‘Good question. We are often told to take the almuten of the hyleg. Do you know what an almuten is?’

     ‘It’s the strongest planet in a particular place,’ I answered, proudly.

     ‘No. It’s an Arabic word meaning “utter nonsense”. The best thing you can do is to forget all about it.’

     What was he saying? Esteemed authorities set great store by it, I knew. He read my mind. ‘Esteemed authorities set great store by all kinds of unthought-out ideas. You know what dear Nicky said.’

     Yes, I knew. How could I not? My uncle had been drilling these words into my head since my earliest memories of conversing with him. Even when reading me fairy-stories he would often interject Nicholas Culpeper’s dictum: 




     ‘Let us then replace our wits in our heads and examine the idea of almuten. The idea is that every degree in the zodiac has one of the planets as its almuten, and therefore anything that falls in that same degree has that same planet as its almuten. The almuten of 3 Libra is Saturn, so the almuten of anything at 3 Libra is Saturn.’ I nodded. ‘The problem lies in the way we work out what is the almuten of any degree.

     ‘To find the almuten, we are told to add up the essential dignities in that degree, giving 5 points to the sign-ruler, 4 to the exaltation-ruler if there is one, 3 to the triplicity-ruler, 2 to the term-ruler, and 1 to the face-ruler. For example, at 3 degrees of Libra, Venus will score 5 points because it is sign-ruler. Saturn will score 4 points because it is exaltation-ruler. Let’s say it’s a daytime chart, so Saturn will score another 3 points because it rules the triplicity. Saturn scores another 2 points because it rules the first term in Libra. The first face of Libra is ruled by the Moon, so the Moon would score 1 point.’

     ‘Wow, uncle - you know all those minor dignities by heart!’ I was impressed.

     ‘Dear me, no! I have better things to fill my head with. The reason I chose 3 Libra as my example is because that is one of the few places in the zodiac where the minor rulerships have for some reason stuck in my brain. You should know the major dignities and the debilities, but there’s no need to memorise the rest. Anyway - if we add these numbers up, we see that even though Venus is the sign-ruler, Saturn scores higher. With 4 points for exaltation, 3 for triplicity, and 2 for term, it gets 9 points, while Venus has only 5.’

     ‘So Saturn is almuten of 3 Libra, and of anything at 3 Libra.’

     ‘So the theory goes. There are some places in the zodiac - many places, indeed - where two or even three planets score equally on this method. For instance, in much of Gemini Mercury and Saturn score the same. When you have a choice like this, you would take the one that is stronger in that particular chart. So you would favour Mercury on the Midheaven over Saturn in the twelfth house.’

     ‘So what’s the problem with almuten, then, uncle?’

     ‘The theory sounds plausible enough. But talk it over with Nicky Culpeper’s friend, Dr Reason, and he will soon show you it makes no sense at all. I trust you have made the good doctor’s acquaintance?’ I had to admit I spent less time in his company than I might, for all I knew how my dear uncle valued his conversation.

     My uncle looked disappointed at my bashful silence, but continued, ‘As Dr Reason would tell you, if only you asked him, the first problem with this neat little theory is that we cannot add these dignities. We can add things that differ in quantity, like a 2 kilo weight and a 5 kilo weight. Together they make 7 kilos. We cannot add things that differ in their quality - things that are essentially different. 2 dogs + 2 dogs = 4 dogs. 2 dogs + 2 tables = 2 dogs + 2 tables. We cannot add dogs and tables.’

     ‘1 boy + 1 mince-pie = 1 boy,’ my aunt interrupted, smiling as she refilled my plate.


     ‘The dignities,’ my uncle went on, ‘all contribute towards essential strength, but they are not mere gradations on one scale. They come from quite different places, deriving from quite different sets of ideas, and have been shoehorned in together to create this table. It’s simply untrue to say that sign-rulership is stronger than exaltation. It’s like comparing a great scientist to a great artist: which is the greater? We can say that the great scientist is greater than a workaday scientist, but how can we decide he is greater than the great artist? There is no basis on which we can decide that the one is worth 5 points and the other only 4.

     ‘Even if we stretch a point and choose to add these things, the tidy 1 2 3 4 5 scale of strength is indefensible. Sign rulership and exaltation are hugely stronger than triplicity rulership, and triplicity rulership is hugely stronger than term and face. Consider this: suppose the general of the army - 5 points - has an argument with a sergeant - triplicity ruler: 3 points - and a corporal, with his 2 points. Who is going to win the argument? The general, of course. There is no equality here, whatever the arithmetic might say.

     ‘The idea of almuten does not make sense, so don’t use it. Ever.’

     ‘OK, uncle, so we’re not going to take the almuten of the hyleg to be our alcohoden. What will we use?’

     ‘Take the dispositor of the hyleg. There is no need for any other options, because there are none of the exclusions that we have when choosing the hyleg and the anareta. The dispositor of the hyleg will be alcohoden no matter where it is in the chart, and even if it is the anareta or itself the hyleg.’        ‘So if the hyleg is in its own sign, the hyleg will also be alcohoden.’

     ‘Yes. It’s that simple, so don’t complicate it. If you read the old books, you’ll find all sorts of limitations on these basic rules for choosing hyleg and alchoden. To be selected, for instance, the planet has to be aspected by its own dispositor. Ignore these extras! The authors throw them in just to make sure you’re awake. It seems to be a particular characteristic of the Arab writers - for whom I have the highest regard, so I mean this as no criticism - that they like giving sweeping theoretical statements, which have no practical meaning whatsoever. I think it’s done from the love of intellectual architecture: “we can build it, no matter if it has no function”. You’ll read all sorts: “planets under the Earth have no power” - in which case there is no such thing as an opposition. “Planets not in their hayz have no power” or those not aspected by their dispositors - in which case a fair proportion of people have utterly redundant birthcharts. “Aspects must perfect by latitude as well as longitude” - palpably false. You need to develop a nose for such statements. They are not to be taken seriously.’

     ‘So I can’t believe all I read in those old books?’

     ‘Dear me, no! You must be on your guard all the time.’

     ‘Anyway, uncle, you’ve told me how to find the alcohoden. What do I do with it once I’ve found   it?’

     ‘Each of the planets has three sets of years. These are called its lesser years, its middle years, and its greater years. There is a fourth set, the greatest years, but these are not for natal astrology. Suppose Mercury is alchohoden: his greater years are 76, his middle years are 48, and his lesser years are 20. The numbers are different with each planet.

     ‘The theory is that we look at the alcohoden, and decide on its general condition. If it’s strong, we start with the greater years; if weak, with the lesser years; if middling, with the middle years. We then adjust that number up or down, depending on what else is happening to the planet. If the alcohoden is trined by Jupiter, we’ll add a few years on. If it’s near the South Node, we’ll take some off.’

     ‘So we consider all the accidental dignities and debilities?’

     ‘Yes. Then to fine-tune our calculation we go and ask next-door’s cat for its opinion, which is worth more than anything this calculation will give us.’

     I was puzzled. ‘You mean the calculation is worthless, uncle?’

     ‘Utterly. First, the books themselves tell us that this calculation gives us the time when the person will die - unless they die at some other time.’

     ‘Hmm, I see what you mean. Maybe next-door’s cat does know best.’

     ‘But let’s remember dear Nicky’s advice, and put our wits back in our heads. We are supposed to adjust the number of years according to what is happening to the planet. But how can we quantify these adjustments? How many years is a Jupiter trine? Is it at 2 degrees of separation? 3 degrees of separation? Applying or separating? What sign is Jupiter in? What houses does it rule in that chart? What else is happening to it - does it have some accidental afflictions which limit its ability to act? And so on. These things cannot be quantified, and, my boy, they are not meant to be quantified! Life cannot be reduced to arithmetic.

     ‘It is also impossible that this technique might allow us to predict death with precision, even were it not for these practical obstacles. It is philosophically unsound to expect any single technique to work exactly. You will hear people claim the contrary of all sorts of techniques. Aficionados of primary directions, for example, are especially fond of claiming that primaries are all you need for long life and fresh breath confidence. But we live in a fallen universe. Because it is fallen, there is a slippage between what is down here and what is up there. Because there is this slippage, any single technique will always fall short; it will never give us exactitude. It cannot do.’

     ‘I know! I know, uncle!’ I chimed in. ‘I remember you’ve told me before:

God = perfect

Creation ≠ God

Creation ≠ perfect.

     ‘That’s right. We can predict, and we can predict with great accuracy, including the time of death - remembering, of course, that all is subject to the will of God. But this precision is not achieved with one magic technique. It is achieved only by using several techniques in combination. Using several techniques, we find that each takes up the slack of the slippage between the mundane and the celestial.’

     ‘Right, uncle. But what, then, do I do with an alcohoden?’

     ‘Using the alcohoden as a precise means of prediction is a complete misuse of it. Yet it’s not totally valueless. There are two reasons for its being carried down in the tradition. One is for what we spoke of earlier: fairground astrology. It allows you to look at the chart and very quickly - of course, you can work out the alcohoden within seconds of casting the chart - come up with a prediction. And it sounds so good! “Length of life? Well, gov’nor, I can do it - but I’ll have to use your alcohoden.”’ My uncle sucked his teeth and shook his head slowly, with the air of a plumber informing a householder that what seemed the simple repair of a dripping tap would require demolishing the whole house and rebuilding with bricks of solid gold. ‘“And alcohodens – ooh, they don’t come cheap. Demand special knowledge, they do.”’

     ‘So the astrologer can make a quick prediction and it doesn’t matter if it’s wrong.’

     ‘Of course. “You’re going to live to be 72. That’ll be $20, please. Goodbye.” If he dies at 25, he’s not going to come and ask for his money back. That’s one reason; but there is a legitimate reason too. It can save the astrologer a lot of work, and that is always a good thing.’

‘I like that, uncle. It wasn’t the love of hard work that attracted me to astrology.’

‘So why do it, then? As I said, we can predict death, but casting all those progressions, profections, solar and lunar returns: even with a computer, it’s a laborious business. If we can reduce the amount of labour, let’s do so. The alcohoden is one part - and I stress that, my boy,’ which he did, by waving his brandy glass violently in the direction of my head, ‘one part of a quick assessment of roughly - very roughly - how long a life the native is going to have. Suppose we have a client, who is, say, 40. We want to know how long he will live. If the chart looks robust, we can think, “I can forget the next 15 or 20 years: he’s unlikely to die. I’ll start checking the progressions for death at maybe age 55 or 60.” Or we might think, “Oh dear, it doesn’t look like he’s going to live long. I’d better start doing the progressions from right now. And I’d better get a move on.” This assessment tells us at which point in the life we need to start doing the serious work.’

     ‘If the alcohoden is one part of this assessment, what are the other parts, uncle?’

     ‘What we need to consider is:


* the Sun and the Moon, with particular emphasis on whichever is the hyleg, if there is one

* the alcohoden

* the Ascendant

* the Lord of the Ascendant.


If all these are in a really bad way - I’m not talking about essential dignity here: people with the Sun in Aquarius don’t die any younger than anybody else - but if all these points, including the Ascendant, are in the middle of the 12th house, and they are all conjunct the South Node and various nasty stars, the native is unlikely to have a long life. Unless - and this is extremely important - unless there is a saving aspect from a benefic. A benefic is any planet with major essential dignity, but particularly, in this instance, Venus or Jupiter. That will save, as we shall see when we look at William Lilly’s chart later.

     ‘On the other hand, if all these points are strong, all of them up on the Midheaven, conjunct the North Node and generally happier than an aging astrologer who’s had some of your aunt’s excellent plum pudding...’ He paused like an old theatrical ham, and she took the hint, ‘... you know the native will live to a full term.’

     ‘I see. That makes sense, uncle.’ My aunt looked at me, her spoon laden with plum pudding, wondering if I had room for more. Why not? It was Christmas, and all this thinking gives a boy a powerful appetite. As does the taste of my aunt’s cooking.

     ‘So that, you see, is what the alcohoden is for.’ He waved his spoon at me vehemently, ‘What you must always remember is the underlying rule behind all astrology:


God is not a Virgo.


1 REFERENCE!_2 Nicholas Culpeper, Astrological Judgment of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick, p. 67; London, 1655, reprinted Nottingham, n.d._



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