This moment of the year is the feast of Light and astrology in itself is the science of the Light, which comes to us by the Sun. Everything on the earth, starting from the switching between day and night, seasons, years derives from the Sun.
Planets have not light, it derives from the Sun, so every planetary effect eventually depends on the position of the planet in respect with the Sun, and the same its light and speed.
Curiously enough planetary phases were forgotten by modern revival of traditional astrology as it comes from Anglosaxon world, and only recently Rumen Kolev produced a software with the exotic name of “Babylonian astrology.”
Still the influence of planetary phases is not confined to Babylonian astrology but it has not small importance in traditional astrology because Ptolemy almost in all page of his Tetrabiblos uses for judging almost every side of geniture- temperament, mind, sex….
So an invisible Mercury gives a propension to study, a vespertine Venus a feminine sexual taste like an oriental Mars a male one , while planets according their phase concur in the determination of the temperament, and more, the planet in phase with the Sun determines the ruler of profession.More known is the meaning of the retrograde planets, which are again just one of the heliacal phases of a planet.
As we see it’s impossible to follow Renaissance and Medieval texts without knowing about heliacal phases.
Ptolemy was not the only one to talk about planetary phases – in the post about magistery and trade for example we saw for example Paulus Alexandrinus- but in Middle Ages and especially in Renaissance it became one of the most common subject for Ptolemy’s commentators like Cardano, Naibod or Placido.
As my friends of Almugea school, Fabrizio Corrias and Giancarlo Ufficiale, said in a lecture (( Fabrizio Corrias and Giancarlo Ufficiale, L’arte e l’architetto in Atti del Congresso CIDA Roma 2009 )) about this subject, if they had presented this lecture in front of a Renaissance audience, they would be mocked because of the platitude of their statements.
But in our days, even in traditional astrological community, the whole matter has been completely forgotten, maybe because no Renaissance commentary has been translated in an modern language, let alone the wonderful work of restoration made by Giuseppe Bezza, who translated and explained what was forgotten and negletted. As evidence shows now in fact it’s impossible understand whatever author- William Lilly’s Christian Astrology for example without understanding the scheme of planetary phases in respect of the Sun.
Why does Lilly give to an oriental Saturn a moist temperament? It’s impossible to understand if we have completely forgotten Ptolemy heliacal phases. But it will be evident if we consider them and give to them the importance they need- this should be one of the first things we should consider in a geniture.
The following is a small overview as taught in Bezza association, CieloeTerra, but obviously who wants to know more can attend their wonderful course, which I highly recommend. On the other hand, unfortunately – as all the most beautiful and precious things – there are people around who- having had the possibility to study their things and buy their books – are selling what they have learned without any credit from the provenience of texts, profiting from the fact Bezza’s works are written in Italian. And when one has a list of reference – as always Bezza gives- it’s very easy to search in the original scanned text in the Internet… Anyway people are not as we would desire and believe, shining knights ready to save damsels, sometimes they are without any sense of moral and honesty.
The pattern of the planets in astrology is based on the model of eccentric, epicycle and deferent. Each planet moves along its epicycle, which spins around another circle called deferent. The Earth is not in the central point of the greater circle but it is eccentric in respect to this point.
When planets change their position alongside the epicycle – ie their position to the Sun- they change their speed and light.
Planets are not all the same, because Mercury and Venus are faster than the Sun, while on the other hand Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are slower, so we will see them in two different groups.
Outer planets:Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.
The cycle of outer planets starts from the:
conjunction to the Sun, and the planet is fast and invisible and rises with the Sun.
In respect of its distance from the Sun when is 15′ from the Sun is very strong and benefic, like someone sitting with the king. The Sun is faster than the planet and it goes beyond, so the planet now is burned by the Sun and considered very damaged. But the Sun goes on further, leaving the planet at its back so the planet starts to recover from the combustion: it’s still invisible but always faster and faster; please notice that the planet which rises from the Sun it is called oriental and it is at right on the Sun (here picture is flipped- so the planet should be in Aries when rises with the Sun in Taurus.).
heliacal rising: it’s when the planet becomes visible before the rising of the Sun, and it increases in light and it is very fast. In this moment as all the new things it is moist in temperament and very strong in the birth chart;
first station: the planet, direct in motion, becomes slower and slower, but it’s lighter and lighter. It is less moist, a little hot and its effects less positive. Station is around 90-120° degrees from the Sun;
retrograde motion: after the oriental station, the planet starts again to move but it is retrograde, it reaches the maximum light and it is hot; it’s in opposition to the Sun. Then the planet leaves the opposition, still retrograde but becomes slower and slower, until it arrives at the second station;
second station: the planet stops, then it turns direct and become faster (around the other trine with the Sun); in this occidental phase it is mostly dry;
heliacal setting: this is last phase of the planet. The planet, direct and fast becomes invisible, because it’s very near to the Sun. After this, it starts the weaker phase of the planet until the new conjunction with the Sun.
Inner planets: Mercury and Venus.
The cycle of inner planets is different from the outer ones because they are faster than the Sun, so their motion is very different. They never are in opposition to the Sun but have with it two conjunctions, one while their motion is direct, the other when it is retrograde.
As we see differently from outer planets, they start their direct rising at left of the Sun and they are called vespertine, and their retrograde rising at right of the Sun, and they are called matutine.
The cycle starts from the:
direct conjunction to the Sun, and the planet is fast and invisible and cold.
In this case differently from outer planets, the inner planet is faster than the Sun and it goes beyond the Sun. As usually, it is direct, very fast and invisible, cold in temperament.
vespertine heliacal rising: it’s when the planet becomes visible and it increases in light and it is very fast. Now it is moist in temperament and very strong in the birth chart;
first station: the planet, direct in motion, becomes slower and slower, its light decreases. It is hot in temperament and it reaches the maximum distance from the Sun;
retrograde motion: after the vespertine station, the planet starts again to move but it is retrograde, and it is dry; it’s still visible but it’s going to the
vespertine heliacal setting: The planet, retrograde and fast becomes invisible, because it’s very near to the Sun. After this, it starts the weaker phase of the planet until it reaches the conjunction with the Sun.
retrograde conjunction to the Sun, and the planet is fast and invisible, again cold in temperament;
matutine heliacal rising: the planet becomes visible and it increases in light and it is very fast. Again it is moist in temperament but retrograde in motion.
second station: the planet is retrograde until it stops and it turns direct, hot in temperament;
direct motion: the planet starts again its direct motion, dry in temperament;
matutine heliacal setting: this is last phase of the planet. The planet, this time direct and fast becomes invisible. After this, it starts the weaker phase of the planet until the new conjunction with the Sun.
As we see in this short presentation, every phase has its temperament, which explained like that by Ptolemy:
The planets, when matutine, and from their first emerging until they arrive at their first station, are chiefly productive of moisture; from their first station until they rise at night, of heat; from their rising at night until their second station, of dryness; and from their second station until their occultation, they produce cold. ((I,8. The influence of position in regard of the Sun ))
Only starting from heliacal phases we can really understand a birth chart. In this can be useful a free software called Planetary, Stellar and Lunar Visibility which can be downloaded for free here. It gives for a given place at time, visibility condition and phase of planets.
Giuseppe Bezza, Commento al Primo Libro della Tetrabiblos di Claudio Tolemeo: con una nuova traduzione e le interpretazioni dei maggiori commentatori 2° ed. (Milano: Nuovi Orizzonti, 1992).
Giuseppe Bezza, I seminari di Roma