11. Part 2 of 2. Sacred Degrees–and the early life narrative.

This post is best viewed by desktop—it is not optimized for iPhone or Android.

We opened the previous post describing the astrologer’s role as privileged storyteller and reverent detective. In the hands of an experienced astrologer the natal horoscope, with its splay of planets, houses and the aspects formed by their distribution, becomes a storyboard for conveying the contours and themes of a unique life narrative, symbolically speaking. The special opportunity of the astrologer–to mine the remarkable vein of wordless symbols embedded in the chart for insights leading to self-discovery.

There are many techniques for interpreting (mining) the symbolic narrative of the horoscope. Many.

All in the name of mining–Cloud mining, Bitcoin mining, Earth mining.

In the West, modern methods for delineating “mining” the horoscope are expressed in terms of angles separating the planets and luminaries. Known by the term, “planetary aspects”, angles are measured and sorted into types: the conjunction, the square, the trine or the opposition. There are many more angles or “planetary aspects” but the big four have just been named. The planetary aspects help reveal major and minor energetic constituents of the chart.

A less common method of interpretation consults sacred degrees or Astrological degrees for insights. In the West, a circle sub-divides into 360 units or degrees [some credit Babylonian astronomers for this convention]. Various hermetic schools, across time, have asserted each degree represents its own lens through which a particular planet in a particular sign may be nuanced. We discussed Decanates in an earlier post—another influence attributable to sub-divisions of a sign. There are (3) Decanates and 30 degrees for each sign (astrological degrees, thereby, represent 10x more detail than a Decanate). Each degree of a sign, 1 degree Aries, for example, is characterized by a unique symbolic signature. Any planet or luminary occupying 1 degree Aries, consequently, is layered with additional symbolic notes and confluences for reflection.

Degree symbols are not rooted in astronomical observation. They represent the outcomes of clairvoyant inquiry. Adept astrologers, using clairvoyant meditations to discern the symbolic content of degrees have codified their results at different times, in different forms. Symbolic degree interpretation is highly subjective.

Marc Edmund Jones (1888-1980)
Dane Rudhyar (1895-1995)

Marc Edmund Jones is a well known 20th century voice among astrological degree proponents, and the Sabian Symbols in particular. Dane Rudyhar, as well. Predecessors to Jones and Rudyhar would include John Thomas and Walter Gorn Old—better known, respectively, by their pseudonyms Charubel and Sepharial.

We will be drawing upon Sepharial’s research into astrological degree observations first referenced by Antonio Borelli as La Volasfera more than 100 years ago. Why?

Walter Gorn Old “Sepharial” (1864-1929)

By definition we are contemporaries with our famous living person. Drawing upon 100+ year old content to interpret the early life narrative of our living subject is one way to avoid contaminating an interpretation with contemporaneous bias!

It is also a constructive way to introduce the AF reader to delineating methods less dependent upon the insights and influence of the Astrologer who sits before you. Instead, we consult long ago recorded clairvoyant investigation for insight.

Source: Mcgill Music

In the previous post, No. 10, we describe in some detail, a Transposition process used to identify degrees of the zodiac associated with the traditional houses involving siblings and parents: 3rd, 4th and 10th.

Review: Non-waking. Wordless. When we consult the horoscope we are investigating a wordless orbit of symbols—the “language” available to non-waking awareness is non-verbal.

In a waking state–with little check or challenge–we march about, infallible little popes that we might be, imputing words to all situations and urges, ex cathedra. It’s a beautiful thing. In a waking state words and experience are entangled phenomena. Only symbols avoid entanglement, even as they remain non-verbal. Entanglement suggests connection–even as our life entanglements can leave us feeling quite isolated. Hmm.

Finding words to express faithfully the unutterable is a very old human endeavoring–and is observable in every time zone and latitude, in hundreds of languages, and more dialects.

We invoke our friend Thomas Stearns Eliot, and select verses from his 1935 gift, “Burnt Norton”, to remind us:

“Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them.”

Somehow, the unutterable experience, the ineffable as wordless insight, makes us want to “talk about it”! Non-waking awareness is personal because it is unutterable perception. Few of us got the memo. So, talk, write, whistle and sing–we must! Even as John opens his gospel, first verse first chapter insisting, “In the beginning was the Word…” What if we could only whistle to convey non-waking insights?

Libraries and galleries overflow with works attempting to put words to the “unutterable”. This appears to be both self-contradictory and true: ineffable: copious eloquence. A precious paradox. Shall we laugh? We must!

Source: livingsanskrit.com

In Sanskrit, the ironic is considered an attribute of Hāsya–a mood or bhava associated with humor or the comedic; color, white. Hāsya is our friend–maybe our salvation.

Some readers will be aware of hasyayoga–the Yoga of Laughter. It is a powerful technique for allowing insights to reach waking and non-waking awareness by way of liminal (oblique v direct) points of entry. Consider the following digression:

According to the Natya shastra, the goals of theatre are to empower aesthetic experience and deliver emotional rasa. The text states that the aim of art is manifold. In many cases, it aims to produce repose and relief for those exhausted with labor, or distraught with grief, or laden with misery, or struck by austere times.[15] Yet entertainment is an effect, but not the primary goal of arts according to Natya shastra. The primary goal is to create rasa so as to lift and transport the spectators, unto the expression of ultimate reality and transcendent values. Source: Wikipedia.

The astrologer as privileged storyteller…

The detective story may be one of the best suited literary genres for developing a narrative framework en route to delineating the horoscope.

Source: Mrs. Miniver (1942) Story by Jan Struther

The horoscope is full of clues. Without a first question, however, it can be difficult to know where to begin. This is why a first question is required to launch the interpretation process.

What is our first question for exploring the horoscope of a famous living person?

How are the siblings and parental relationships, as placeholders for karma, evident in the subject’s life as a public figure?

Why siblings and parents? The Mystic William Blake, pondering the Lamb and the Tyger, asks appropriately: “Did [s]he who made the Lamb, make thee?”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tyger-tyger-quote-image.jpeg

Source: “The Tyger”, William Blake (1794) Quotefancy.com

In the detective story we are organizing, the siblings and parents are Lamb and Tyger.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is karma-sanskrit-image.jpeg

Siblings and Parents are placeholders for karma in the life narrative.

The planets, the houses they occupy, and their specific degree location in a sign, represent the themes and the conflicts of the narrative. The Transposition process identifies these specific locations within the chart. Taken together, the various degrees and their clairvoyant content cohere as symbolic messengers. The diligence of the good detective then proceeds to test each premise (astrological degree) for its relevance and voracity.

Elders reminisce at family gatherings. Memories shared by aunts uncles, parents, grandparents and the family friend begin to take up space in the awareness of younger members. With repetition, an ensemble of characters, as fools, villains and totemic heroes, begins to take form. The mean step-mother is always mean; a crazy cousin never seems to be able to leave home; step-siblings are always lightening rods for anger or the erotic; a handsome eldest brother who dies young defines abandonment; a weak, hard working, father is both present and remote; not to be left out, a cruel mentor, the inept coach or teacher; or the grandmother’s sister, prior to her suicide, discloses her love affair with the parish priest. And, there always seems to be room, somehow, for one more “are you kidding me?” moment. [Actually, this is the capacity of love at work—but we defer this discussion for another AF venue.]

The imagination, fired by these relationships, hostile or friendly, may all be found in the horoscope. Relationships inform and betray karma. The cyclicality of the horoscope is an imaginative way to portray karma symbolically.

As adults, much of the journey involves re-litigating lessons associated with early life. The role and purposes of recurring lessons are encoded in the natal horoscope. Matters of Fame (earned or squandered), Fortune (made or forfeit), Partners (loved or eschewed), emerge as preoccupying life themes. Self-discovery leading to transformation is, thereby, a thematic endeavoring. Themes provide context for the facts of life. All this takes place before allowing room for any proclivity for Self-undoing. Self-undoing presents as procrastination, deceptive communication, co-dependency, passive aggression. Self-undoing is loveless. It is not ironic. It cannot participate in paradox. It is almost inert to the healing power of Hāsya. Self-undoing proclivity can indicate one’s capacity to be generous is virtually out of gas. Think: small kindnesses.

What else do we know about the life narrative? There will be challenges and obstacles along the way.

Challenges include encounters that are antagonistic to one’s hopes and wishes–if and when one’s personal health, security, and/ or the capacity to self-actualize hit a speed bump or worse. Challenges can threaten one’s sense of safety, including the capacity to be mindful, trusting or forgiving. Challenges may take the form of other persons as adversaries. And, sadly, not all of our adversaries will be visible; some shall remain hidden from our waking awareness. The unseen adversary can be the more haunting. Adversaries, seen and not seen, present some of life’s biggest self-learning headwinds. And so we bargain, deny, shun, bully and self-medicate. Erase. Hāsya. Repeat.

Source: study.com Faustian bargain

We all make naive assumptions–these are concepts we accept unchallenged, viz.“I trust my instincts”. “I have confidence in natural knowing.” “My desire to be adored can be kept under wraps.” Some naive assumptions become errors. Unforced errors, if they become recurring, can occupy a great deal of psychic real estate in one’s heart, mind and personal story. Recurring lessons of life, coupled with unforced errors in timing or judgment, can embitter. Laughter is still helpful.

Digression: over centuries of observations, astrological methods have adapted and changed–even if human nature remains unassailed. The changes in method may be viewed as progress—new thinking succeeding earlier points of view. Contemporary astrology is the adult version of earlier versions that pre-date it. Earlier versions, consequently, are indigenous to the modern form. The adult, thus considered, becomes the legacy of the child, and not the other way around. To wit, the poet’s message conveyed by William Wordsworth in “My Heart Leaps Up” (1807), speaks to this point:

My heart leaps up when I behold 
   A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 
   Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

“The Child is father of the Man”—the mature life is intrinsic to the early life. Early astrology and its modern adaptations are “Bound each to each by natural piety”. There is a natural piety linking adult and child. Similarly, the Buddha Mind had to be latent long before 6th century BCE; and Christianity had to be intrinsic to the heart of people long before the Nativity. The butterfly is bound to the caterpillar by natural piety. So let it be done.

Beware of shiny objects–cautions the Zen master, even as we consider Zen, sacred astrological degrees, detective work and storytelling (astrology included) for our delight! Hāsya!

Introducing Sacred Degrees…

Quickly—a brief tale:  “there is a story that in very far-off days the zodiac was reckoned to consist, not of twelve signs of 30 degrees each, but of ten signs of 36 degrees each; the Libra sign being omitted, and the signs Virgo and Scorpio being reckoned as one. This, says an obscure occult legend, referred to the time when the human race was androgynous…” Source: Doreen Valiente

And a second example: The sidereal Zodiac used in Eastern astrology originally included a thirteenth sign Ophiuchus the snake holder but this sign was eventually discarded by the Ancient Babylonians who preferred a Zodiac with 12 houses.

Ophiuchus holding the serpent, Serpens, as depicted in Urania’s Mirror, a set of constellation cards published in London c. 1825. Image via Wikipedia

Think of each degree in the horoscope as an address. In the Western tradition there are 360 degrees, or addresses, that comprise the existential circumference, or neighborhood, of the horoscope.

From our previous post No. 10, our Transposition work produced the following sacred addresses within the natal horoscope:

Siblings, Parents degrees:

  1. 8 degrees Cancer (Siblings): Mercury, 11th house
  2. 23 degrees Cancer (Siblings and Father): Saturn, 11th house
  3. 25 degrees Cancer (Siblings): Venus, 11th house
  4. 21 degrees Sagittarius (home, Mother): Moon, 4th house
  5. 10 degrees Leo (home, mother): Pluto, 12th house
  6. 26 degrees Leo (home, mother): Mars, 12th house

We will soon look at each one, beginning with 8 degrees Cancer, as 8 degrees Cancer was clairvoyantly discerned by adept astrologers in the Western Tradition a long while ago. The ensuing discussion draws heavily from Sepharial’s degree symbol interpretations of Antonio Borelli’s La Volasfera.

The degrees selected were identified via a Transposition process (described in detail in Post 10, No. 1 of 2). While the text presented below is attributable to La Volasfera, the images are visual interpretations selected by AF. The text, not the images, to be clear, is the more important channel of this communication.

Take a few moments to ponder Sepharial’s written degree interpretations. They appear in quotes beneath each La Volasfera degree and sign indicated.

How are the siblings and parent relationships, as placeholders for karma, evident in the subject’s life as a public figure?

Natal horoscope, Donald J. Trump

8 degrees Cancer (Siblings): Mercury, 11th house

“A little village lying in a fertile valley.”–Mercury 8 Degrees Cancer, 11th house.

“It is a degree of contentment (8 Cancer). It indicates one whose heart is full of native goodness, whose hand is set to great work in modest ways, and whose patience, thrift, and true humility will bring his work to perfection. There is very little aggression and no self-assertion in this nature; but, like the valley, it is fruitful in good things because of its lowliness, while surrounding high peaks of the mountains are barren. The native, though never famous, will always be successful, even beyond his ambitions, which are modest but steadfast. ” indicates one whose heart is full of native goodness, whose hand is set to great work in modest ways, and whose patience, thrift, and true humility will bring his work to perfection. There is very little aggression and no self-assertion in this nature; but, like the valley, it is fruitful in good things because of its lowliness, while surrounding high peaks of the mountains are barren. The native, though never famous, will always be successful, even beyond his ambitions, which are modest but steadfast. ”

23 Degrees Cancer (Siblings and Father); Saturn, 11th House

25 Degrees Cancer (Siblings); Venus, 11th House

A strong castle on a high rock, and upon the battlements of the castle a flag with a crown upon it is seen extended into the wind.” –Saturn 23 Degrees Cancer, 11th house.

It is a degree of mastery (23 Cancer). It denotes a strong, masterly character of great endurance, stability and daring; ambitious of honor and capable of withstanding his enemies while achieving greatness and fame for himself.”

“A meteor, or falling star.” Venus 25 Degrees Cancer, 11th house.

It is a degree of uncertainty (25 Cancer). It denotes a person of somewhat poetical or aesthetic nature, but wholly unsuited to the routine of daily life in its sterner and more prosaic aspects. Like the meteor, he has an eccentric path, and his appearances are spasmodic and evanescent, although bright. His position in life will be subject to reversals and changes and his success will not be lasting. If he should attain eminence he will be in danger of a failure.”

21 Degrees Sagittarius, home, Mother; Moon, 4th House

10 Degrees Leo, home, Mother; Puto, 12th House

“Two crossed arrows.” Moon 21 Degrees Sagittarius, 4th house.

“It is a degree of strife (21 Sagittarius).
This is the symbol of an aggressive spirit in mind Given over to contention and strife, and a soul that is against the current of public opinion and feeling. Such an one will run counter to the established laws of social life, and Continually be engaged in the pursuit of his own eccentricities. There is danger of litigation and the menace of a violent end.” 








“Lavish viands and wine.” Pluto 10 Degrees Leo, 12th house.

“It is a degree of self-indulgence (10 Leo). It Indicates a person of a very sensuous nature, addicted to extravagant habits, and apt to be easily led into dissolute ways by ill-chosen companions. There is a very little strength or firmness in the native, though the genial disposition is, kind and sociable. The instinctual
sense, however, is stronger than the moral sense, and therein lies danger of self-debasement and loss of virtue.  ”



26 Degrees Leo, Mars, 12th House

A thick wood at the back of a field–a dagger.” Mars 26 Degrees Leo, 12th house.

“It is a degree of destroying (26 Leo). The native will certainly be of a quarrelsome, argumentative nature; Given over to impulsive actions. The restless and destructive mind, always on the alert to attack, to oppose, to argue. Very executive, but by the means in constructive disposition, and hence liable to go through life like a tornado, remarked but not esteemed.”

The karmic role of the siblings and parents of our living famous person are portrayed as six clairvoyant descriptions corresponding to the astrological degrees identified by Transposition.

The houses involved: 11th, 4th and 12th. An over-simpified description of these houses would be–Hopes and Wishes and Friends (11th); the Mother and early home (4th); Hidden Enemies, Confinement (12th).

Every chart includes an 11th, 4th and 12th house. They are prominent in this horoscope, in part because they are occupied by planets including the Sun and Moon, and their significance is reinforced by virtue of the Transposition work performed on the 3d, 4th and 10th houses (the traditional domains of siblings, Mother and Father).

See Sepharial’s key words following. Sepharial might argue, the key words describe how our living subject is experiencing his integration into the world.

Contentment, Mastery, Uncertainty, Strife, Destroying.

Time to put our pencil down?

Thank you for your patience to review this two part post–and all the discussion points leading to the application of astrological degrees

Until next time, we bid you peace,

Frater A

Should you have time to consider a musical reflection to accompany this post, we refer you to an Oscar Paterson performance, “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)” —from the album Oscar Peterson Trio (1952).

A Reference of symbols, charts and definitions important to Western Mystery Tradition studies is listed as Post No. 900. Enter “900” in the Search box to be directed to this location.

© 2016-2019 Astrologers’ Folio, Astrologers’-Folio.com, all rights reserved.

Source for the title image: https://www.lunarplanner.com/Astrology/Nakshatras/index.html Source: illustration.

Source for opening image, storyteller silhouette: fredericksburgarts.com/event/julia-storyteller/2018-06-02

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-kicker-rock-press-rj-1.png