Stars, trade, magistery, profession and inclinations

We know that traditional astrology is not an uniform group of tools, rules and techniques, so sometimes it’s difficult to find a common thread in it, we should just collect single inputs trying to put them together.

Surely this is the case of profession and trade determination.

Not all the planets can be chosen as significators of trade, but the ones called “of the swift motion”:

From stars with a swift motion, we can judge about profession, because action needs in itself a swift motion. These stars are Mars, Venus, and Mercury and truly every art and science can be considered according these three stars. ((Paulus Alexandrinus,   Introduzione all’astrologia. Lineamenti introduttivi alla previsione astronomica (Milano: Mimesis, 2000).))

The general character of these stars are mentioned by William Lilly, who is quite true to the ancient texts.

Mercury shewes the Wisdome and parts of the mind; Mars the Strength of body to endure; Venus the Delight. (( William Lilly, Christian Astrology, Book 3 (Astrology Center of America, 2005).  ))

to make things more difficult,  these stars should occupy a special position:

THE dominion of the employment, or profession, is claimed in two quarters; viz. by the Sun, and by the sign on the mid-heaven. It is, therefore, necessary to observe whether any planet may be making its oriental appearance nearest to the Sun.
It is, therefore, necessary to observe whether any planet may be making its oriental appearance nearest to the Sun,  and whether any be posited in the mid-heaven; especially, when also receiving the application of the Moon. And if one and the same planet possess both these qualifications, that is to say, make its nearest appearance to the Sun, and be also in the mid-heaven, that one alone must be elected to determine the present inquiry: and, likewise, though the planet should not be thus doubly qualified, but only singly, in whichever respect, even then that planet alone must still be elected provided itself alone should possess such single qualification. If, however, there should be one planet presenting its nearest appearance, and another in the mid-heaven conciliating the Moon, both must then be noticed; and whichever of two may have greater sway, and possess greater rights of dominion, that one must be preferred. But where not any planet may be found so situated, neither making its appearance as above described, nor being in the mid-heaven, then that one, possessing the dominion of the mid-heaven, is to be considered as lord of the employment: it is, however, only some occasional occupation which can be thus denoted; because persons, born under such a configuration, most commonly remain at leisure and unemployed.
(( Tetrabiblos, IV,4 ))

Be careful that what Ptolemy signifies for “oriental” it is not always plain, because “oriental” in Ptolemy is just the most important phase, left or right of the Sun is not important. Let come back again to Paulus Alexandrinus:

We should take into consideration which planet takes the application of the Moon or the Sun, or which star performed  since seven days or is going to perform in seven days from the birth its matutine phase for Saturn, Jupiter or Mars , or its vespertine phase for  Mercury and Venus.

When the planet is invisible or under the sunbeams, cannot act like significator of Profession, it could just show the inclination. All Ptolemy commentators , like Lilly here, agree that:

If then any of these is posited in places of Heaven fit to designe Magistery, that is, in the 10th, 1st or 7th, in their owne Dignities, not Combust, or under the Sun beames, that Planet so posited, or those Planets, shall have signification of the Art, Profession or Magistery the Native is inclinable unto.

And Cardano, in his  comment:

For this reason,  stars hidden under the Sun beams make the interest, not the profession. (( Claudius Ptolemaei Libri IV. De Astrorum Iudiciis cum expositione Hieronymi Cardani ))

Let’s see an example.

a portrait of Eleonora Duse
a portrait of Eleonora Duse

Eleonora Duse is one of the most famous actresses together with Sarah Bernhardt, who was her great rival; she was the mistress of the one of the most controversial Italian poets, Gabriele D’Annunzio, who described their love in the novel “The fire”  (please notice where Ascendant and Moon fall) and who loved acting in intellectual works like Ibsen or Verga, who she made famous to the greater public.

this is her birth chart:

Eleonora Duse, 3rd October 1858, h:2:00 am,  Vigevano
Eleonora Duse, 3rd October 1858, h:2:00 am, Vigevano

Of the three planets which indicate the profession, Mars is western to the Sun, Mercury is visible and matutine, while only Venus is vespertine and visible. Moreover, she is the Lord of the MC and she is separating from the application of the Moon (Venus is in her detriment, but there are so many favourable conditions here that we can easily forget this).

Mercury  is applying to Venus from its domicile, so we can easily attribute some influence, and according Ptolemy:

Further, should it happen that two arbiters of employment may be found together, and provided they should be Mercury and Venus, they will then produce musicians, melodists, and persons engaged in music, poetry, and songs: they will also produce (especially if changed in their places)  mimics, actors, dealers in slaves, makers of musical instruments, choristers and musical performers, dancers, weavers, modellers in wax, and painters.

Anyway this is a very easy example, I know, often things are more complicated because we cannot find any of the significators in the right place, and moreover as we will see, other traditional authors like Manilius and Firmicus consider profession in a different way.

This difference can be shown in the chart presented in the previous post about Southern Hemisphere births where we discussed the method elaborated by Girolamo Cardano and Tommaso Campanella.  (( example taken from Joe Fallisi, Maradona e l’emisfero australe in CieloeTerra site )).

Diego Armando Maradona, 30 Oct 1960 h. 8:00
Diego Armando Maradona, 30 Oct 1960 h. 7:05 am

The Italian software reverses the diagram putting the Ascendant to the right, but in practice it is just a common chart with  reversed signs.

Mercury, retrograde in Taurus in the 12th house,  in a day will  become invisible – it’s already in another phase in practice;  on the other hand Mars here is very strong, exaltated in Capricorn,  oriental to the Sun and in aspect with Saturn, ruler of MC.

What would say William Lilly about this?

Mars signifies such laborious and hard Professions which require both the strength and endeavour of the whole body, he therefore principally governeth Mannuall Occupations, which are toylsome, and exercised of themselves by fire; if the Sun be in aspect with him, yet the Profession is performed by fire: In a nocturnall Geniturem he rather imports Warfare, Honour and glory obtained by Warres: Being well constituted he makes Souldiers, Horsemen, Captains, Commanders of Armies, Hunsmen, &c. If he be meanly dignified, he makes Champions, Copper and Iron-smiths, Founders, Engineers, makers of all Iron Instruments, Husbandmen, Physitians, Chyrurgions, Stone-cutters, Carpenters, Architects; but if weak, he makes Cooks, Wood-cleavers, Carriers, Labourers, Pyrates, Theeves.

The same Lilly some lines before, but especially Firmicus gives athletics, sports and championship to Mercury.

Mercury with Mars indicates many different kinds of occupations and administrative posts. If the planets are located in the house of Mercury or in his terms, the natives are fond of the gymnasium or are athletes in public games. (( Julius Firmicus Maternus, Ancient Astrology: Theory and Practice. Matheseos Libri VIII (Park Ridge N.J.: Noyes Press, 1975).  ))

This is  a completely different approach, obviously, which originates from the fact that Firmicus, who has his source in Manilius (or from a lost common source) derives the qualities of the signs from the stars rising with these signs, the socalled paranatellonta, and to which he dedicates all the book VIII.

The same is in all the literature  about  paranatellonta , in  Liber Hermetis as in Rethorius or  Teucer of Babylon.

Simonetta Feraboli – the greatest expert of ancient stellar catalogues and Professor of Greek in an Italian university- writes about Lepus rising with Gemini:

Speed depends both of the constellation characteristic and from Mercury’s domicile, the swifter planet in its revolution around the Sun, while agility, lightness, mobility are in agreement with Gemini. The reference to wings and flight can be connected with the opposite sign, Sagittarius, which is winged and showed as a  hawk in the dodekaoros. …..Limbs of a native born with the Ascendant on Lepus, even wingless, participate of the Air of Gemini. It’s not a coincidence that the first three degress of  Gemini vocatur Ventus (Liber Hermetis). All the athletic sports are favourite in Mercurial signs, especially Gemini, one of them is Heracles. ….Mercury well beheld with Lepus makes conjurers and players with ball. (( Marcus Manilius, Il Poema Degli Astri (cura Simonetta Feraboli, Enrico Flores, Riccardo Scarcia), 1° ed. (Verona: Fondazione Lorenzo Valla : A. Mondadori, 2001). )) 

Lovers of Renaissance pictures can see this depicted in one of the images taken from my personal collection. It comes from Palazzo Te in Mantova, where there are showed 12 medals with paranatellonta of the zodiacal signs under their own Gods and Goddesses protections.

It is a well known scheme preserved in Medieval astrology by Albumasar in the Great Introduction and copied by Ibn Ezra in the Beginning of  Wisdom, from Herman version of Albumasar.

So for example Aries paranatellonta is shown under Athena:

In its first facie there arises a woman called Athena brilliant and wonderful. (( See Albumasar chapter about paranatellonta ))

Our Gemini are under Venus protection, who is depicted with her child, Cupid, and Maia (it sounds like May, true?) with her son Mercury.

The paranatellonta of Gemini (1527, Mantova)
The paranatellonta of Gemini (1527, Mantova)

Now when the Twins lift their fraternal stars into the sky and float on the surface of the sea, their seventh degree brings to view the Hare. To those born under this constellation nature all but gives wings and flight through air – such will be the vigour of the limbs which reflect the swiftness of winds. One man will come off winner in the footrace before even receiving the signal to start…. (( Manilius, Chapter V ))

We can recapitulate the subject saying that trades and professions are very differently explained by Ptolemy (and his commentators) on one side and Teucer and his followers on the other: Ptolemy gives great importance to the real astronomical position of the Sun and to the planetary phases; in Manilius or Firmicus we mostly find a sideareal zodiac where constellations and fixed stars have the main importance.

Hope that readers would be less shy and ask directly to me for explications.

Written by Margherita Fiorello, CIDA certified member, for heaven astrolabe blog @ year 2009. If you want to be notified the next time I write something, subscribe to my RSS feed.


2 thoughts on “Stars, trade, magistery, profession and inclinations

  1. Hi Margherita,
    ofcourse you know my profession 🙂 and going by Ptolemy’s rules, it is like inevitable I should have become an astrologer (at age of 24!).
    Even so, also corroborated by his rules, I have always been attracted to the arts (becoming a ballet-dancer or going to art-school was denied by my parents.
    And as for becoming a magician: I studied the western magical tradition at the age of 18-23, but never did anything with it in practice; nowadays: I have already realised some astrological talismans, intending to go further along that path. Also painting has become more and more important as I age.
    For those who want to check Ptolemy’s “rules” cited here, these are the data:
    sept 24, 1954; 10:10 AM central european time; wilrijk (antwerp), Be (51n10, 4e24)d
    It is wonderfull thanks to your article, to find such confirmation on this all too important aspect of life!


  2. I’m still sorry for the misunderstanding…again forgive me.
    Ptolemy chapter about profession to me it’s very difficult and moreover I believe in it there are some traces of hellenistic astrology and paranatellonta and sphaera barbarica.

    I gave a look to the chart, both Mercury and Venus are vespertine, and Moon is separating from Mercury sextile.
    Mercury is in Venus sign so I believe that you really desired study art.

    And Mercury in a sign of Saturn gives the attitude to be a good astrologer.
    “Centiloquium, 38. When Mercury shall be well fortified or placed in either of the houses of Saturn in any one’s nativity, the native hath a divining soul, and is capable of prying far into matters”


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