Category Archives: Historical Figure

Murder, She Wrote: the strange case of the medieval sniper

Being an enthusiastic student of history and having the habit of scrutining ancient chronicles in search of the birth data of historical figures, I am always thrilled when I eventually find such data. This is the case of the Portuguese Duke Dom Pedro, whose birth data can be found in the Chronicle of Fernão Lopes [1] . Dom Pedro was the second son of King João I and Queen Philippa of Lancaster (herself the first child of duke John of Gaunt and Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster). Here is his natal chart, calculated for the 9th December 1392, 01:00 am LAT (Local Apparent Time), Lisbon, Portugal.

The most evident feature of this chart is of course the Moon conjunct the Ascendant, suggesting movement, adaptability and popularity; the latter is further emphasised because the Moon rules the MC. The Moon is in airy and sanguine Libra, another strong sign of sociability and politeness. The Moon in 4th quarter adds a phlegmatic note to his behaviour, thus making him somewhat shy and introverted. “He was graceful in speech – the chronicler says – and his sentences were grave and substantiated”.

Saturn in the 1st house also contributes to the reserved side of his nature, but as it is strongly dignified by exaltation, triplicity and face, results in a courteous and somewhat sophisticated manner. “He was liberal in the right measure (…) and he delighted in study”. Indeed, he was exceptionally intelligent and cultured, having translated into Portuguese some of the classical Latin works. Saturn is also the almutem of this chart, which confers upon him a pronounced sense of individuality. Among his brothers and sisters, he was called ‘the English one’, that is, the one closest to the English style and character of his mother, Phillipa.

As to his physical appearance, it was also determined by Saturn as all the chroniclers describe him as having a “long face… thick nose…and coarse hair”. As to the Moon, it can be detected in his ‘dull eyes’ – definitely an accurate description, although not a very pleasant one.

He had a great devotion to the Archangel Michael, and because of that the adopted the archangel’s symbol of the Scales in his coat of arms. Could it be just a coincidence that is Ascendant is Libra, the scales?

He travelled widely, visiting the courts of London, Bruges, Venice, Rome, Germany, Hungary and Spain. All these travelling brought him the nickname of ‘prince of the seven corners of the world’. Travels are suggested by the angularity of the Moon and Mars which is still conjunct to the MC, although debilitated, in moveable signs. Also the ruler of the 9th house, Mercury is in the 3rd, closely aspecting the Ascendant and the Moon, therefore promising several journeys, both short and long. The main motivation for his travels was definitely mercurial; he wanted to learn and to experience new places and new people. For him, the words ‘prince’ and ‘wise’ “should be one and the same thing”.

But as both Mars and Mercury are debilitated and retrograde, there is some difficulty or discomfort related to travel and learning. In fact, the other reason for his travels was that he felt undervalued.

As the second son of the king, Dom Pedro was not meant to reign, however, his natal chart says otherwise, as it places the ruler of the MC in the Ascendant. In fact, a complex set of circumstances led him to a position of great power.

His older brother, Dom Duarte[2], died in 1338 at the age of 47, a victim of the plague. He left his six year old son, Afonso, as heir to the throne. The obvious regent for the kingdom was the dowager queen, but she was rejected by some because of her Spanish ascent, and eventually ‘invited’ to return to her natal Castille. Being Afonso’s paternal uncle, Dom Pedro was the next logical choice as regent. Life at court was not what he had planned. He had intended to retire to his duchy near Coimbra, to study and work in translations, but he decided to accept. He ruled wisely and capably, for an entire decade. During that time, he developed a good relationship with his nephew, and even after the young king’s coronation he maintained his position as political adviser and favourite uncle. He also arranged Dom Afonso’s marriage with a suitable bride – which coincidentally happened to be his daughter. Wise man, indeed.

But during all the time of Dom Pedro’s rulership some factions at court had been undermining his work and poisoning his relationship with his nephew. In Dom Pedro’s chart Mercury rules the 12th house of secret enemies, thus pointing to intellectual, argumentative and crafty enemies, and because the planet is debilitated, also disloyal, prone to gossip and intrigue. Mars is also debilitated, rules the 7th of opponents, and is conjunct the 10th house, therefore pointing to strong opposition; the debility of Mars suggests resentful and covertly aggressive opponents. The Moon, ruler of the MC, aspects the two malefics, Mars by square and Saturn by conjunction; all the planets are in angles making the situation impossible to hide. And though technically the Moon is not besieged because Mercury interposes[3], it is still in a very difficult position; and besides, Mercury is the ruler of the 12th house, being therefore of little help in this matter. With all these conditions, difficulties and oppositions, both in personal and in public life, are to be expected.

The young king soon came under the influence of Dom Pedro’s enemies, and believed that his uncle was hindering his plans. By the spring of 1449, things at court were so tense that Dom Pedro decided to withdraw to his duchy, hoping that this would help to calm down his opponents. It was a wrong move. His enemies took advantage of the situation and set a trap for him. The Duke of Bragança (who was his half-brother[4] and main opponent), accompanied by a heavily armed escort, demanded permission to cross Dom Pedro’s lands, pretending that they were in a rush to get to Lisbon. Dom Pedro took this demand as a personal offence and sent his own army to intercept him. Again it was a wrong move: this was the excuse his enemies needed to provoke a conflict. The news soon spread to Lisbon and the Portuguese nobility immediately began to take sides. The king supported the Duke of Bragança, and a large faction of the nobility did likewise.

In spite of his fall from grace, Dom Pedro still had some powerful allies. His 11th house ruler is the Sun, a clear symbol of power, dignified by triplicity, thus ‘among his own’ and in the 3rd house of close relatives. One of his supporters was his younger brother Henrique (Henry the Navigator), who tried to intercede.

But it was already too late to achieve any agreement: incited by the Duke of Bragança and other noblemen opposite to Dom Pedro, the young king sent his army to engage his ‘rebel’ uncle. Meanwhile, Dom Pedro and his men moved towards Lisbon – yet another bad move. The two armies clashed in Alfarrobeira, on the 20th of May, 1449.

Now here is the mysterious part: Dom Pedro died in this battle, but the circumstances of his death were never clear. He was shot in the heart by a single arrow, but his body presented no other wounds, nor any sign of a fight – definitely not the classic case of death in battle. Actually, it would be very difficult for an enemy to get close enough to attack him, even in the heat of battle, because he would have been at some distance, overseeing the battle, and surrounded by his escort at all times. As it would be expected of a 57 year old man and a member of the royal family, only on occasion would he have engage in combat.

The circumstances of his death are described in his natal chart: Venus rules both the Ascendant and the 8th house, identifying the individual and death – he contributes to his own downfall. But this possibility of danger would not by itself be enough to predict certain death, if it was not aggravated by the poor condition of Venus, combust and cadent in the 3rd, and afflicted by the opposition of Mars in Cancer – an arrow (Mars) through the chest (Cancer).

Some of his allies at court were not convinced that he died in battle; there were rumours that he had been assassinated by a cross-bowman – the medieval equivalent of a sniper. If so, his death was murder, not a casualty of battle.

The chronicler, Fernão Lopes, seems to have no doubts about this, as he clearly says “the bowman who shot him was well known and very skilful in the craft”, and “he was chosen [by Dom Pedro’s enemies] to hasten his death”.

So, he says it was murder, and the solar return for that year agrees with him:

– The Moon is again conjoining the Ascendant in a airy sign, and this time it rules the 3rd house of brothers and short travels. Once again it is afflicted by the malefics, as it separates from a dissociate square of Mars and applies to a square of Saturn. In fact, he was confronted by his nephew (another 3rd house signification) and his half-brother while travelling to Lisbon;

– The ruler of the return’s Ascendant is Mercury which is afflicted by combustion in the 8th house of death, thus suggesting a dangerous, if not fatal, situation. Furthermore, Saturn, ruler of the 10th in the return, is peregrine (therefore having no support) and is conjunct the South Node (loss, depletion), pointing to a possible loss of status;

– Allies are of little help this year, as they in the return are signified by Jupiter, ruler of the 11th, which is peregrine and cadent in the 6th house; it also rules the 7th and 8th houses, therefore identifying the allies with the opponents and death.

– On the other hand, the enemies are strong: Mars, the ruler of the return’s 12th house of secret enemies and conspirators, is strongly angular in the 10th house. (It is worth noting that Mars rules the natal 7th of opponents.)

Everything in Dom Pedro’s solar return speaks of betrayal and death. Shot by a sniper? Most probably. The astrological chart also confirms the chronicler’s theory.

So, murder it was. Even with 600 years of delay, it is good to come to a conclusion.

Note: this stet conflict between uncle and nephew has a wider context, as it symbolises the conflicts between two forms of government: the medieval, exemplified by the king and feudal lords, and the modern principles of government, incarnated by Dom Pedro, a forerunner of the Modern Age. Things were changing rapidly in the 15th century, and in astrological terms, this corresponds to a major change, as the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions were shifting from the Air signs to the Water signs. The conjunction before the battle occurred on 17th July 1444, at 9º Cancer – right on Dom Pedro’s MC!

Helena Avelar


[1] Crónica de D. João I, written by Fernão Lopes (reprinted in 1983 by Livraria Civilização). The chronicler says “he was born in the city of Lisbon, one hour past midnight, nine days of the month of December of 432 years” (Era of Caesar); although the medieval chronicles are often wrong when it comes to dates (as this one is), there are several other documents which confirm the year of 1392.

[2] The name “Duarte” is a Portuguese version of the English name “Edward” (another version is “Eduardo”); although not a common name for a Portuguese king, it was taken from his maternal great grand-father, King Edward III of England (the father of John of Gaunt).

[3] Technically, besiegement occurs only when a planet separates from an hard aspect with one of the malefics and applies to hard aspect of the other; in this case, the Moon separates form the square of Mars, but then it applies to the sextile of Mercury (which is not a malefic), before perfecting the conjunction of Saturn.

[4] Afonso Duke of Bragança (1377-1461) was the bastard son of King João I and Inês Pires, a commoner.


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William Lilly’s nativity by himself

Sue Ward has just made available on her blog William Lilly’s true nativity.

This a very important information. So far the only source for the chart of this great astrologer came from his rival John Gadbury – which is know for his errors in chart data. Now we finally have a chance to look at the real thing, from Lilly himself.

Read the complete post at:

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Anna Kingsford: a warrior for her beliefs

Since we are talking about animals in The Tradition web log, it seemed appropriate to evoke the life and work of Anna Kingsford, one of the most prominent, and yet relatively unknown, British women of the 19th century.

Anna Kingsford was born at 5:00, 16th September 1846 in Stratford, Essex, England (the chart was corrected trough the primary directions to 4:53 pm) [1].

In her natal chart Saturn, the ruler of the Ascendant, is strongly placed in Aquarius (a fixed sign) in the 1st first house, clearly describing her strong will and firm sense of individuality. But the harsh, saturnine traits of her personality were somewhat softened by her sanguine temperament, which conferred her sociability and versatility.

While conducting a busy practice as a physician, she could still find the time to pursue many other activities in the areas of spiritualism, literature and charity. She was a writer, a feminist, a lecturer, a spiritualist and – above all – a devoted supporter of animal rights.
Her 9th house of beliefs and religion starts in Scorpio, a fixed watery sign, which associates stubbornness and emotional intensity to these matters. The 9th house ruler, Mars, is combust and therefore distempered by the Sun; this configuration adds impatience, boldness and excessive zeal to her beliefs, sometimes to the point of obsession. In fact, she could go to extremes, devoting all her time and energy to what she believed it was right.

In order to continue the animal rights and anti-vivissection campaign from a position of authority, she decided to study Medicine in Paris. She left for France with the blessing of her husband, but at the university she was confronted with aggressive rejection from some of her teachers, who could not accept a female student.
At the university she witnessed some horrific situations of cruelty against animals in the vivisection laboratories, and these visions would haunt her for the rest of her life. Again, the Sun-Mars conjunction can be linked to this ‘haunting’, as it is placed very close to the cusp of the 8th house, of fears and death.

In spite of all the odds, she managed to obtain her degree in Medicine – and she achieved it without ever performing a single experiment in animals, something unheard of at that time. Her final thesis, later turned into a book, endorsed the benefits of vegetarianism.

She was also active in the spiritualist movement in England, and became president of the Theosophical Society in 1883. Most of her works in this field are now available in digital format.

At heart Anna Kingsford was a writer and a communicator as Mercury, dignified and angular, stands as her main vocational significator. The participation of Venus, which is conjunct to Mercury and in mutual reception with it by term, makes her also a poet and a storyteller. She started writing poetry and stories at a very early age, published countless articles in the field of medicine (especially about vegetarian nutrition) and was for a brief period director of an avant-garde magazine.

Throughout her life she suffered from poor health, and her passionate campaigning efforts in favour of her causes ultimately contributed to her premature death at the age of 42.
In 1886 she travelled to Paris to visit Louis Pasteur, a well-know vivisectionist, trying to collect evidences of cruelty towards the animals in his laboratory, in order to publicly expose him. In November 17th, while waiting in front of Pasteur’s laboratory, she was caught in heavy rain; she stood there for several hours, her clothes soaked and exposed to cold wind. Her already fragile health suffered terribly because of this episode: what could be a simple cold developed into pneumonia and later into consumption. She never recovered, and died 15 months later, on 22nd February 1888.

Helena Avelar


1) Among other indicators: Ascendant in primary directons squaring her natal Moon, ruler of the 6th house of illness, by the time of her death. The differences between the two charts are minimal, although important. For the 5:00 pm chart: Ascendant: 17º00’ Aquarius; MC: 11º47’ Sagittarius; P. Fortune: 03º58’ Capricorn. For the 4:53 pm chart: Ascendant: 13º53’ Aquarius; MC: 1 0º08’ Sagittarius; P. Fortune: 00º48’ Capricorn.

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Claus Stauffenberg: A Hellenistic Perspective

This week we present an article by astrologer and researcher Maria J. Mateus – Claus Stauffenberg revisited by Hellenistic astrology.

Helena and Luís

Claus Stauffenberg: A Hellenistic Perspective

by Maria J. Mateus

Birth Data: November 15, 1907, 1:00 AM, Jettingen, Germany (source: Astrodatabank, citing birth certificate in Astrolog.)

Hellenistic astrology is event-based (apotelesmatika). It does not concern itself with a study of the individual character of a native, but rather with the kinds of events that will occur in the native’s life. It is easy to interpret the relative impact, fortune, and success of a famous person’s life events when we know in retrospect what that event is. This is not so when we are looking at a chart blindly or at the chart of a young person who has not yet left their imprint on the world. Thus, Hellenistic astrology first establishes the entire life as a single event whose good or bad fortune must be assessed as a type of overall signature. Only then can the individual life’s events be placed within the broader backdrop of this life’s general signature.

If we did not know anything about Claus Stauffenberg’s life, we would first want to consider how generally fortunate this man’s life as a whole will be. Will his life be filled with unrest, fear, grief or with success, prominence, abundance or renown? The assessment comes from an examination of the condition of the sect light and its trigon lords (1), or what has been translated from the Medieval tradition as triplicities. Valens says of the 3 trigon lords: “If the ruler of the preeminence [the first in the sequence] by day or by night should fall amiss upon badly situated zoidia, while the ruler by proxy [the second in the sequence], should be found upon a pivot point and well figured, then after the native has had his ups and downs in his early years until the ascension of the zoidion or until the return of the circular period, he will later be active, except that he will spend his life without stability and in fear.”(2) The criteria he uses to assess the condition of the trigon lords are as follows: whether they are at a pivot (angle), post-ascension (succedent) or decline (cadent) house, whether they are rising or setting, or in their own signs, and whether they are witnessed by benefics or malefics. Of the two authors who write about this technique, Valens places heavier weight on the sect condition of the trigon lords, while Dorotheus places a greater emphasis on their house placement.

Let us then look at Stauffenberg’s sect light and its trigon lords. Stauffenberg was born at night, therefore his sect light is the Moon. The Moon is in Pisces, the sign of the water trigon, whose rulers in the nocturnal order are Mars, Venus, and the Moon. The Moon is in a partile conjunction to Saturn, an indication that the life as a whole has difficulties “shining forth”.

The first trigon lord in the nocturnal sequence, Mars, is said to rule over the first part of his life.(3) Mars is located in Aquarius, the 6th house, a declining place, and does not see the sect light. Valens says Mars in sect will “entrust leadership and generalship and popular rank in public affairs,” particularly since it is also witnessed by Jupiter. However, the poor condition of Mars as trigon lord of the sect light indicates that even while Claus might attain military prominence and rank, the first part of his life is generally expected to be difficult, with “ups and downs” as Valens notes and “without stability and in fear”. We know from his biography that Claus was a frail boy and prone to illness in his youth, which is consistent with a 6th house Mars placement.(4) Dorotheus says that if the lord of the trigon does not see either the sect light or the Ascendant, “this indicates also that he will not long survive, especially if Saturn or Mars be in this place.”(5) The second part of Stauffenberg’s life is ruled over by Venus, the second trigon lord of the nocturnal sect light. Venus is located in Sagittarius, the 4th house (a pivot), is witnessed by a benefic, Jupiter, and does itself see the Moon, the sect light. Additionally, Venus is in sect in a nocturnal chart. This indicates that the second part of his life should generally be more supportive with benefits coming from his family and/or homeland.

The question then becomes when does the 1st part of the life give way to the second part? Using the method Valens gives to calculate the activation times of the trigon lords,(6) we find that Mars is located in Aquarius and becomes activated at his birth latitude just before his 20th year of life (when he is 19 years old). This means that the Mars period in his life activates sometime in 1926. It is that very year that Stauffenberg joins the military, becoming a member of the family’s traditional regiment, the Bamberger Reiter-und Kavallerieregiment 17 (17th Cavalry Regiment) in Bamberg. It is not clear from the traditional texts what the exact role of the participating trigon lord is. We are only told that it “participates” with the other two trigon lords. Interestingly, the Moon rules the 11th place, which relates to alliances and patronage and its ascensional time activates it in 1922. It is during this time at school that Claus and his two elder brothers join the Neupfadfinder, a youth movement where they develop a number of friendships that will ally him with the nationalistic ideas of poet George Stefan and his circle. Many of the members of this circle would later become active participators in the resistance movement. Thus, the Moon appears to participate in the circle of friendships that will play a part in his failed coup.

Venus, the second trigon lord activates by ascensional time during his 37th year of life, that is, just before he turns 37 in November of 1944. From his biography on Wikipedia, we read that in 1943, Claus was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the general staff and sent to North Africa to fight the Allies. His vehicle was hit by British forces and he was severely wounded losing his hand and left eye. During a slow recovery back home, he participated with conspirators of the resistance movement and actively developed a plan to assassinate Hitler from September 1943 to July 20, 1944. The plan was unsuccessful and on July 21, of 1944, Stauffenberg was executed for high treason. Interestingly, another central figure in the assassination plot was Claus’ eldest brother, Berthold, who was executed by slow strangulation. We note that Mars rules both the 8th house of death as well as the 3rd house of siblings. To put it in Hellenistic terms, it seems then, that Mars was handing over the times to Venus at just about the time when he died. Had he been successful, one might have expected a very fortunate remaining life with benefits coming from the homeland coming from the Venus activation. But other time lords interfered with the transition.

The Divisions of the Times

Having established a general signature for the life as a whole and identified a problematic governing of Mars as trigon lord for the first part of it, we may now turn more closely to dividing up the life into smaller segments. A full exposure of these time lord techniques is not possible. Instead, we’ll simply examine the Hellenistic version of Primary Directions translated as circumambulations (7) since quite a few of the Hellenistic authors spend a great deal of time discussing them. In contrast to the Medieval method of directing, the circumambulations establish periods of influence corresponding to the ascensional time (in a 1 degree per year correspondence) that it takes the prorogated point (Dorotheus’ haylaj) to traverse a particular bound (term) at the birth latitude. The planet ruling over the bounds of this period becomes a time lord that governs over the nature and quality of the events pertaining to matters of that hyleg.

We’ll examine the prorogated Ascendant in Stauffenberg’s chart, since it has to do with matters affecting the body, travel and changes in residence. The circumambulating Ascendant entered the 7th degree of Libra – the bounds of Mercury – in February of 1935 and would remain within Mercury’s bounds until it reached the 14th degree of Libra in July of 1944. Thus, with regard to matters affecting the body, travel and changes in residence, Mercury had primary rulership during this period (Abu Mas’shar calls this the distributor of the years or the Zamoktar, according to the Persians). We find that Mercury is particularly important with regard to the body and physical life since it also rules the Ascendant in Stauffenberg’s natal chart. It is natally located in Scorpio in the 3rd house in a superior square to Mars. Mercury is not in good condition: it is retrograde, in none of its rulerships, in a declining house, and combust. Therefore, during this time we might expect setbacks and difficulties relating to communications, documents, travel, vehicles, and ideas that may have repercussions on his body and occupation (also rules the 10th). Because of Mercury’s testimony to Mars, we would also expect these endeavors to relate to the war and his military duties. Hephaistio says that when Hermes (Mercury) distributes the years and it is located in the signs ruled by Mars, it “causes clamor and business intrigues, and accusations and oppressions and slanders and insurrections of enemies and slaves and pain and treachery in dealings.”(8) We’ve already seen that it is at the end of this period that he is wounded in a military attack on his vehicle and certainly intrigues and insurrections abounded.

Abu Ma’shar says that if Mercury distributes the years but is in a corrupted state “the native will be unwell with terrible ailments”. During this 9 year period, Mercury’s distribution has a participating influence from Jupiter, since Jupiter casts a sextile ray into its bounds. According to Abu Ma’shar, “it indicates an increase of knowledge and education, through which the native will be benefited, and he will acquire benefits and wealth from kings and rulers.” In his biography, we read that in June 1944, Stauffenberg was promoted to Colonel and appointed Chief of Staff to Home Army Commander General Friedrich Fromm, the only man able to implement operation Valkyrie.(9) This gave him direct access to Hitler’s briefing sessions and  set the stage for his downfall.

Abu Ma’shar also tells us that the period when a bounds ruler hands over the distribution of the times to another time lord, this is the most intensified period during the planet’s governance.(10) We find this to be the case here, since it was precisely at the change-over in July 1944 that Stauffenberg’s plan to assassinate Hitler was implemented. In itself, the handing over of the distribution from the bounds of Mercury to those of Jupiter would not have been interpreted as a particularly difficult one. But in Stauffenberg’s chart, Jupiter has several problems associated with it. First, it is located in the 12th place, a declining house related to imprisonment and secrets, it is out of sect, and it forms a superior square to Mercury and witnesses the malefic Mars through opposition. Thus, the transition could bring strife or imprisonment through enemies in high rank, particularly from enemies who govern the homeland (Jupiter rules the 4th and 7th).

1943, A Closer look at a terrible year

Having identified the period between 1943 and 1944 as particularly problematic, we will use the Hellenistic method of profecting from the Ascendant to find the lord who is said to hold the ‘time-lordship’ over that year, (11) which we know in retrospect was Stauffenberg’s fateful final year. On Stauffenberg’s 36th birthday (his 37th year of life), the Profection had come to Virgo, the rising sign of his nativity. A profection through any of the angles always marks a significant time. Thus, with a Virgo profection, we also have Mercury activated as time lord for the year running from November 15, 1943 to November 15, 1944. Therefore, the handing over of the distribution becomes activated under this very profection.

The Hellenistic authors all tell us that the planet ruling the annual profection needs to be checked in the nativity as well as in the Solar Revolution and by transit. We’ve already seen that Mercury is configured with Mars in the nativity, as well as being opposite the Part of Fortune, both universal significators for this life as a whole.(12)

In the Solar Return (the Solar Revolution) for this year, we find Mercury has once more returned to its natal sign of Scorpio, is combust, and in a declining house (the 6th) that does not see the Ascendant, nor any of the planets it disposits in Gemini (Moon, Mars and Saturn). Dorotheus says that if the year lord is in the western part of the sky it indicates misfortune. Interestingly, as ruler of the Ascendant of the Solar Revolution it receives a superior square from Jupiter in Leo, echoing its 12th house placement in Leo in the nativity. Therefore, this solar return also marks a return of Mercury and Jupiter to their natal signs, yet another sign – given what we already know about the division of the times – of a particularly significant year.

In the transits for the day of the plot, July 20, 1944 we would also be interested in what Mercury was doing. We find that on this day, Mercury has come to within a 3 degree opposition to natal Mars and a superior square to its own natal position. Thus it is setting off the potential that has been signaled by the larger time frames mentioned earlier. Although Mars is not the year lord, it is, as was mentioned earlier, a participator in the distribution of Jupiter, which occurs during this year. In the transits for July 20th,1944, Mars is in partile square to the Midheaven, both disposed by Mercury. Thus, all of the danger associated with Mars is triggered through his public occupation (the MC).

We can see from this abbreviated examination how a Hellenistic astrologer would have followed a thread that begins with the most important universal chart element (the trigon lords of the sect light) and traced it down through a series of time-lord techniques to a particular year and day containing a high degree of danger to the life.


(1) This technique is outlined in The Anthology, Book II, Chapter 2. Vettius Valens. as well as in Carmen Astrologicum Book I, Chapter 22. Dorotheus of Sidon.

(2) The Anthology, Book II, Chapter 2.

(3) The Anthology, Book VII, Chapter 3. Although it is not the case here, it is possible for the ascensional times of the signs in which the trigon lords are found to activate them in a sequence different from that dictated by the trigon. Thus, had Mars been in Sagittarius and Venus in Aquarius, Venus would have activated before Mars.

(4) Hoffmann, Peter. Stauffenberg. A Family History, 1905-1944. Second Edition (Revised). (Montreal & Kingston, London, Ithaca:  McGill-Queen´s University Press) 2003.

(5) Carmen Astrologicum Book I, Chapter 25.

(6) The method consists of calculating the Ascensional times of the sign in which the planet under consideration is located or the planetary period of that planet. See The Anthology, Book VII, Chapter 3 for details.

(7) This seems to be a commonly used technique in the Hellenistic tradition, although there are variations in its use and calculation. Here, I follow Ptolemy who is unique in using the directed significators topically, rather than selecting a universal significator, as in Valens IV, 11; Hephaistio II, 26; and Dorotheus III, 2.  See Ptolemy’s, Tetrabiblos. Book IV, Chapter 10.

(8) Book II, Chapter 35

(9) Hoffmann, Peter. Stauffenberg. A Family History, 1905-1944. Second Edition (Revised). (Montreal & Kingston, London, Ithaca:  McGill-Queen´s University Press) 2003.

(10) On Solar Revolutions. Book II, Treatise III.

(11) See the technique as it is outlined by Paulus Alexandrinus. Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus with Scholia by Later Commentarors. Dorian Greenbaum trans.ARHAT. pp.130-133. See also Apotelesmatics. Hephaistio of Thebes. Book II. Chapter 27; and The Anthology, Vettius Valens, Book IV, Chapter 17.

(12) We will not treat this here. Further discussion of the role of the Part of Fortune in assessing the overall good or bad fortune of the life as a whole can be found in The Anthology. Vettius Valens Book II, Chapter 3.


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Claus Stauffenberg: the man behind the hero

The Hollywood mega-production Valkyrie called the public’s attention to the failed attempt of 20th of July 1944 to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and to one of its protagonists, Count Claus Stauffenberg.

The attempt was meant to trigger Operation Valkyrie, an emergency plan approved by Hitler and intended to come into force in the event of the Fuehrer´s death or physical incapacity. This plot was the last of a series of attempts of the German Resistance to overthrow the Nazi regime. Its uncovering, and the subsequent execution of thousands of suspects, ultimately destroyed the resistance movement in Germany. (learn more)

Although Stauffenberg had no previous personal contact with Hitler, his military rank and functions granted him direct access to the Fuehrer, as well as first-hand knowledge of all his schedules and itineraries; thus he became a key element in the plot.

The birthchart

Claus Stauffenberg was born on 15 November 1907 at 1:00 AM, Jettingen, Germany (source: Astrodatabank, quotes birth certificate in Astrolog).

Claus Stauffenberg’s chart has a predominantly Melancholic temperament, which is prone to solitude and caution, rigorous, spartan in his habits, and a bit withdrawn. These traits are further stressed by the Moon-Saturn conjunction which emphasises and distempers the Melancholic temperament by adding to it a depressive tone. He also has some Choleric traits, which confer on him energetic and imposing qualities; these are also distempered by the two Choleric afflictions of the lord of the Ascendant: the combustion and the square of Mars.

The Melancholic-Choleric combination enhances the dry quality of the temperament (1), thus conferring strong will and a distinct trace of harshness, which is further intensified by the distempered conditions of Mercury (combustion and square to Mars) and the Moon (conjunct to Saturn), often turning into an oscillating behaviour, alternating between periods of solitary introversion and sudden outbursts of impatience (2).

His significator of mentality is Mars, which is in Aquarius, denoting a stubborn mind, determined to have things its own way and at its own pace, not easy to persuade and prone to arguing (due to the square to Mercury). Venus participates with Mars and because it is angular and aspects    the Ascendant, it adds a more polite and agreeable demeanour.

He had a difficult temper, but in social situations he was able to control it, enhancing his better side and deflecting the more aggressive traits of his nature to his military career. He was very determined (due to the emphasis of the Dry quality) and persistent, able to go to extremes to accomplish what he thought to be correct.

His military vocation is shown by the exact square of Mercury, the main significator of vocation, to Mars, its dispositor; note that Mercury rules both the Ascendant and the MC and Mars is in its house of joy. They are therefore strong significators of military vocation. This is further enhanced by the conjunction of Aldebaran, a star of the nature of Mars, to the MC.

In this chart there are clear indications of violent death:

– the ruler of the Ascendant, Mercury, is afflicted by the ruler of the 8th house, Mars, which is in a human sign (3), which points to death by the hands of men;

– the main significators related to death in this chart are placed in violent signs (4): Mercury is in Scorpio, Mars in Aquarius and the 8th house cusp in Aries;

– both luminaries are afflicted by the malefics: the Sun (which is also in Scorpio) has a square to Mars and the Moon is conjunct to Saturn, also suggesting active enemies and possible violence.

The chart also presents several configurations which suggest difficulties and struggle:

– the ruler of the Ascendant is combust and retrograde, and the Sun, which combusts (subdues, obliterates) Mercury, is the ruler of the 12th house, thus bringing into play some hidden or uncontrollable factors (12th house) into his life;

– Mercury squares Jupiter, the ruler of the 7th house of enemies (posited in Leo, a feral sign, in the 12th of secrets and limitations);

– the Moon-Saturn partile conjunction in Pisces, a strong significator for enemies and opposition.

The bomb attempt

Let us now see how these configurations where activated by the time of plot. We will use Primary Directions, Profections and his Solar Return of 1943, which was still active by the time of the bomb attempt, 20th July 1944.

Stauffenberg’s directed Ascendant was at 9º Libra, conjoining the antiscium of his natal Moon-Saturn conjunction in the 7th house (5). This configuration is a ‘red flag’ by itself, as it activates the potential for strong opposors signified by the natal Moon-Saturn conjunction. The Moon is also quite probably the hyleg of this chart, thus having determination over life. Additionally, he was in a planetary period (firdaria) ruled by Mars and the Moon, which due to the significations of these planets in this chart, also reinforces the possibilities of life-threatening situations.

As if these testimonies were not worrying enough, the solar revolution chart presents striking signs of danger.

In the revolution chart we find the Moon, Mars and Saturn conjunct the Ascendant – a configuration which speaks for itself. The Moon and Saturn are significators of enemies in his natal chart, and are activated by the directed Ascendant; furthermore, Saturn is the ruler of the 8th in the revolution chart. As to Mars (6), it is the natal ruler of the natal 8th house. It is therefore a clear configuration of grave and immediate danger, with the possibility of death. The Ascendant and the planets are in Gemini, which in the natal chart corresponds to the 10th house of public image, which emphasises the visibility of the event. Therefore some dangerous (Mars) enemies (Moon-Saturn in the natal 7th) which would come to him in this period (conjunct the Ascendant in the revolution).

The ruler of the Ascendant in the revolution is Mercury, the same as in the natal chart, and again it is combust, only this time in the 6th house, a weak and debilitated place. It receives a square from Jupiter, which rules the 7th house of enemies both in the natal and in the revolution charts. He was in a weak position before his enemies and too debilitated to overcome them – as we can see clearly in the revolution chart.

Helena Avelar


(1) As the Melancholic is Cold and Dry, and the Choleric, Hot and Dry.

(2) For a complete calculation on the Temperament refer to Luís Ribeiro’s article “Judging Temperament: a study of the method”, published in The Tradition journal, 1st and 2nd issues (Autumn 08).

(3) William Lilly, Christian Astrology, page 646: “human signs, denote death by a man, as by arms or violence”.

(4) The violent signs are: Aries, Scorpio, Capricorn, Aquarius and Libra, according to William Lilly, C.A. page 644. For the complete delineation for violent death refer to C.A. page 644, chapter CLVI (of death, whether violent or natural).

(5) This event helped the rectification of this chart; the original time given by Astrodatabank from the birth certificate was 01:00 AM, which corresponds to 10º32’ Virgo rising; the chart was rectified in 6 minutes, which changes the Ascendant into 11º38’ Virgo rising.

(6) To be precise: Mars is in the 12th house, as it does not comply to the 5 degree rule, but its orb still reaches the Ascendant and it is conjunct the Moon and Saturn, which are conjunct to the Ascendant.


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Dom Theodosio, the astrologer prince

Prince Dom Theodosio is a very interesting figure from 17th century Portugal. He was the first born son of King João IV and heir to the Portuguese throne.

In 1640 his father, King João IV, restored Portugal’s independence following 80 years of Spanish occupation. Being the rightful heir to the throne, and with the continuing threat of reintegration with Spain, Dom Teodosio’s role in the succession was of the greatest importance for Portugal. All hopes of maintaining independence from Spain were upon the seven year old prince. He was carefully prepared to succeed his father and he seemed to measure up to those expectations perfectly. He grew up to be a cultured young man, with great intellectual curiosity and with very definite political and religious opinions.

Interestingly enough, he had a keen interest in Astrology and he is said to have had a collection of charts of his family, and to have made predictions on several political subjects, including the fall and restoration of the British monarchy. It is also mentioned that he wrote a short astrological essay, but unfortunately these manuscripts have yet to be found. He also received regular astrological reports from the most prominent astrologers of that time. His astrological and metaphysical interests were actively encouraged by his tutor, the Jesuit priest António Vieira (see previous post), himself a student of Astrology.

When Dom Theodosio fell seriously ill and subsequently died at the early age of 19, it was a great shock not only to his family, but to the nation at large. With the country’s independence still under threat by the Spanish, an uninterrupted succession was vital. This succession was guaranteed first by Theodosio’s middle brother, Alfonso, who, it became clear, was unsuitable because of physical and mental handicaps, and then later by the younger brother, Pedro. (A curious fact: his sister, Catarina, of Braganza, married King Charles II of England).

Dom Theodosio was born in Vila Viçosa, Portugal, on February 8th 1634 at 4:15 PM and died in Lisbon, on May 15th 1653.

His chart is very descriptive of his life and his passions: his active pursuit for knowledge is clearly indicated by the mutual reception by exaltation, that is of Mars in Virgo and Mercury in Capricorn. This combina-tion produced a sharp mind, very focused and practical in his studies. The conjunction of Venus to Mercury adds the artistic giving him a love for music (which he also inherited from his father).

The main dispositors of Theodosio’s mind are Mars and Jupiter, an enthusiastic but difficult combination, particular when they are in square. It signifies boldness, courage and idealism, but the debilitated state of Jupiter can also signify excessive enthusiasm for one’s ideals. Jupiter is further afflicted by the opposition of Saturn which added the strict and hard religious discipline the prince was so fond of. Religion forms a large part his life because not only is Jupiter the natural significator of religion, but it also disposits the Part of Spirit and the Part of Faith (both posited in Pisces). As Jupiter is in its house of joy and is the almutem of the nativity, its place in Theodosio’s life cannot be overstated and, in fact, proved fatal because Jupiter also rules the 8th House.

The prince was well intentioned and stayed true to his beliefs, which we can deduce from Jupiter being in its joy, Venus being conjunct Mercury and the North Node being in the 9th House. But, although a benefic by nature, Jupiter is intemperate in this nativity because it is afflicted by Mars and Saturn which led to excessive and unbalanced expression. It is mentioned quite emphatically in the chronicles, and in his biography, that his tutors and educators frequently warned him of the dangers of his excessive devotions. Historians and biographers, too, refer to the severity of Theodosio’s religious activities which included regular fasting and mortifications, which contributed to his poor health and ultimately to his early death due to lung and stomach problems.

The prince’s death

A combined study of the firdaria, profections, directions and solar revolution shows this event very clearly. By the time of his death, May 15th 1653, the directed Ascendant was at 24º of Leo, conjunct Regulus, a star of the nature of Mars and Jupiter. This not only portends honours, which indeed the prince was receiving at that time, but also can imply a choleric disease. This is further emphasised with the entrance of the Ascendant into the terms of Mars, a choleric planet.
Note that in that year’s return, Mars is in opposition with the natal Part of Sickness and in conjunction with the same Part in the return.

The profected Ascendant was at 16º Pisces, right in the middle of his natal 8th house of death, applying by square to natal Saturn, ruler of the 6th House of illness.

Jupiter is the ruler of the year and it is somewhat debilitated in his natal chart. In the return this same planet is in the 12th and afflicted by the opposition of Saturn. The return’s Saturn is conjunct the natal Ascendant and it is the natal ruler of the 6th House, thus bringing sickness to the prince. Saturn is also ruler of the return’s Ascendant and is debilitated in Leo, its exile, in the return’s 6th House.

This overall debilitated condition is further emphasised by the firdar of Mercury, which is a 6th House planet in the natal chart. In the return Mercury is in the 12th House conjunct to Jupiter and afflicted by the opposition of Saturn.

Notably, the solar return is also a lunar return, as the Moon is in exactly the same degree as in the natal chart. The Moon rules the natal 12th House of impediments and the return’s 6th House of illness. In the return the Moon is placed in the 5th house, which rules the stomach, and in the sign of Cancer which also signifies that area of the body. Indeed the prince died of a stomach disease and lung problems (also Cancer).

A touch of Mundane…

Being a prince and therefore having his life inextricably linked to the nation’s fate, his death is also shown in mundane charts; the partial solar eclipse of 8th April 1652 is a good example of this. In Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, the eclipse was at its maximum apparent obscurity (88%) at around 9:24 am.

The eclipse degree is afflicted by a square of Saturn from the 2nd House. Not only is Saturn ruler of the radical 8th, but is also placed in the 2nd House which is also the 5th derived from the 10th, that is, the king’s son.

Traditionally an eclipse in the 2nd face of Aries is referred to as bringing “some King, Prince or eminent officer to Prison or restraint of Liberty, it adds sorrow and danger of Death unto him”: a very accurate description of Theodosio’s eminent death.

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Father António Vieira – 400 years

Father António Vieira, an outstanding figure in the history of 17th Century Portugal, was born in Lisbon on the 6th of February 1608, 400 years ago.

Vieira chose a religious life when he was only 15 years old. He joined the Company of Jesus (also known as the Jesuit order) in Brazil, to where his family had migrated in his early childhood. Soon his religious fervour and his profound application to studies became evident.

His strong and charismatic personality, his inspired sermons and the strength with which he defended his causes led him the admiration and respect of kings and popes. Unfortunately it also brought him the profound hate of some nobleman, clergy and later the Inquisition.

Being a man of strong convictions he persisted in his cause – the protection of the Indian and African slaves, and the restoration of Portugal’s past glory – even when his social status and physical integrity where at risk.

He is also known for his many works of prophetical nature, like “A História do Futuro” (The Future’s History) and the famous concept of The Fifth Empire, so characteristic of Portuguese mysticism.
In this context Vieira was also an avid student of Astrology, making several astrological references in his writings, letters and sermons.

As far as we know there are no records of Vieira’s time of birth. Given his interest in Astrology is most likely that he himself had calculated his horoscope, but this study – if it exists still – was not yet located.

Without the Ascendant or the astrological houses it is not possible to cast a true astrological chart. Any astrological study is limited to the list of planetary positions for 12 o’clock on the day of his birth. This way we obtain an average position for each planet, particularly for the Moon, which being the fastest heavenly body can travel about 13º in 24h.

Despite these limitations it is possible to apply some traditional techniques in order to obtain a partial view of Vieira’s personality and behaviour.

One of the most noticeable planetary configurations is the Mercury-Saturn conjunction in Capricorn. Saturn is in a position of great strength being in his domain and also in its own term. This conjunction gave António Vieira a natural aptitude towards study and investigation and made him a “lover of justice, unbending and of profound counsel”, as the Tradition puts it. The power of Saturn is indicative of an independent personality, an individualist. It’s placement in the sign of Capricorn signifies someone ambitious and passionate in his actions.

Adding to this more independent and profound drive derived from the element Earth, is the feverous idealism conferred by the exact trine between Jupiter in Aries and Mars in Sagittarius. This trine is further emphasised by the mutual reception between the two planets which gave Vieira the “spirit of a crusade”, leading him to be the defender of the Indian’s rights, of the Jewish people and of the slaves.

From our part here is a small tribute to this great figure of the Portuguese culture.

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