The purpose of this series of articles is to critically examine the doctrine of sign divisions, different methods of constructing them and their practical application in delineation of a horoscope. The articles will be of a technical nature, discussing astrological theory and are meant for people who want to understand astrological principles and doctrines and are well acquainted with the basics of astrology.
DIVISIONS OF THE SIGNS
When a Western astrologer or a person familiar with modern Western astrology enters the world of Indian astrology something that really jumps out are the many different divisions of signs or amshas. This astrological concept seems complex, very esoteric and deep. What one finds out is that these can be used to pinpoint the specific traits and see the differences between two people born at the same place, with the same rising sign, but some minutes apart. Sure, the two will have different lives and be different and having a tool that lets us see that is a blessing. But what are these amshas? What is the rationale behind them? How are they created? Are they simply divisions of signs or are these divisions meant to be put together into a new sub chart or varga chart? Do we find amshas (parts)or vargas (bundles of the same parts) in all classical Indian astrological texts? Do we find them in ancient western astrology known as Hellenistic astrology? Are they used in modern Western astrology? I will do my best to answer these questions in this series of articles as this is a topic I’ve been pondering for the past few years and I see that there is a lot of confusion and misconceptions about it. From an attempt to make this subject matter clear to me, a few articles will manifest that will hopefully shed some light onto this enigmatic element of astrology.
Let us start with the first question and leave others to be answered as we proceed. What are the divisions of the zodiac?
They are divisions of a sign according to specific rules for each division. Some divisions are of equal amount of degrees, some of unequal. Some of them assign a particular portion of a sign to a planet while some assign it to a sign. Some of them follow the natural order of signs from Aries to Pisces and some have a specific order. The sign can theoretically be divided into the smallest possible parts, but according to my awareness the smallest used is a division into 300 parts which we find in the enigmatic Nadi astrology.
HORA – 2nd division
Let us first look at the most simple division called hora or 2nd division. It gets its name from hora, meaning hour, because one half of a sign rises approximately one hour. Here we split a sign into two 15 degree parts. The first 15 degrees of a male sign are ruled by the Sun while the second 15 degrees are ruled by the Moon. The contrary is for a female sign where the first half is ruled by the Moon and the second half by the Sun. This first type of hora is found in Yavanajataka (chapter 1, verse 31 / chapter 28, verse 4), Brihat Jataka (chapter 1, verse 11), Saravali (chapter 3, verse 14) and Brihat Parashara Hora (chapter 7, verses 5&6). Let’s take a look at it:
Picture no. 1: Hora with Sun’s and Moon’s divisions found in Yavanajataka, Brihat Jataka, Saravali and Parashara Hora which is consistent throughout the major classical Indian astrological texts.
If a planet falls within the first 15 degrees of Aries, then its hora ruler is the Sun. If it falls within the last 15 degrees of Aries, then its hora ruler is the Moon, which is the same for all male signs. The reverse goes for Taurus and the rest of the female signs. This of course has an interpretative application of which we will speak later. Things would be simple if this was the only way to construct a hora, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. It is odd that astrologers disagree the most about this simplest of divisions. None of them and none of the classical texts disagree regarding Sun’s and Moon’s rulership of the horas, but there is a lot of disagreement as to what signs we should assign to the horas. For example in the commentary of Brihat Parashara Hora, Girish Chand Sharma assigns the signs in such a way, that the first half of an odd sign is Leo and the second half Cancer which reverses for even signs. This is actually quite a common approach.
Personally I find this method very odd. It is in accord with the text of Parashara only by reversing the order for even signs, but the idea to use Leo and Cancer signs is not in accord with the text which says that the signs Aries, etc. are counted twice, which suggests that the signs flow in a natural order from Aries to Pisces twice throughout the zodiac as they do in the case of parivritti or harmonic vargas such as saptamsha and navamsha. If there is a specific order of signs in a division Parashara explicitly says so, as he does in the case of drekkana and caturtamsha for example. We also find some astrologers who construct the hora in such a way, that the first half of a sign belongs to the same sign and the 2nd half to the 7th sign from it. This is more logical, because in hora we deal with splitting a sign in a half and the axis from the 1st to the 7th splits the zodiacal circle in a half. But still, it is not what the verse of Brihat Parashara Hora says and the signs that are opposite each other are of the same and not different polarity which is what we want, since the Sun and the Moon are not only splitting the sign, but are of different polarities. We should consider, however, that the opposition also very much applies to the relationship of the Sun and the Moon, because it is when the two are opposite each other that the Moon is full. This type of hora has a problem that the order of signs no longer follows the basic principle of a hora division where the rulership of the Sun and the Moon reverses in even signs. Thus this method is not in accord with the text, either. Since hora is about polarity, it would be interesting to look at a hora with the signs by following the instructions of Parashara.
Picture no. 2: Hora with signs counted twice as described in chapter 7, verses 5 & 6 of Brihat Parashara Hora. The order of the signs flows naturally, but it reverses for even signs.
In my opinion this is the only hora that is constructed according to what the text itself says. It follows the reverse rulership of the Moon and the Sun for even signs, and the same sign portion is in opposition with itself. We have both the polarity and opposition present.
Varahamihira mentions in Brihat Jataka that some astrologers assign the first hora of the sign to its ruler and the second hora to the ruler of the 11th sign from it. This is actually how Yavanajataka defines a hora when it assigns signs to the two parts of a sign in chapter 1, verse 39. This type places two male signs in a male sign and two female signs in a female sign and thus doesn’t affirm the polarity within a sign. Although present in a classical text, I very much doubt its rationale.
Picture no. 3: Hora with the sign order as found in Yavanajataka, chapter 1, verse 39.
As we will see in the coming articles not all texts agree on how a certain division is done. All the texts I mentioned define a hora in two ways, first as Sun’s and Moon’s halves of a sign and the two halves that become signs based on a rule specific to the text in question.
Now that we have looked into a quite chaotic world of hora division it would be natural to ask: »Ok, so we have generally two types, the Sun/Moon type and the signs type. What do we do with each of them«?
It is obvious that the two are different and thus meant for a different purpose. The Sun/Moon hora division simply shows the polarities in a sign which can be helpful to determine which side of a body section indicated by a sign is more prone to illness or injury. For example, if we would have the ascendant lord placed in the 6th house, in a bad dignity and aspected by malefics, we would look at the hora of the ascendant which would indicate illness or injury to the left (Lunar) or to the right (Solar) half of the body section indicated by the sign the ascendant is in. This is one way of using Sun/Moon hora that was introduced to me by an astrologer friend of mine Lars Panaro and I find it extremely effective. Another practical use would be to look at the placement of planets in their horas and see if they fall in a hora of their sect Light (Sun by day, Moon by night) which would help us to determine how well a planet serves in terms of wealth which is what hora is said to be looked for in Brihat Parashara Hora. If the Sun, Jupiter or Saturn (Mars*) fall in Sun’s hora, then they become strong for accumulating wealth. The same is true if the Moon, Venus or Mars (Saturn*) fall in Moon’s hora. Furthermore, when through timing systems of dashas or time-lords a planet is activated that is in Sun’s hora, then it indicates a period when the person accumulates wealth through her/his own efforts according to the indications of the planet in question. When a planet located in Moon’s hora is activated as dasha lord it indicates a period when wealth comes to the individual effortlessly, provided the planet is suitably placed otherwise. This is a very classical way of using the hora. At this point, where we are looking at reading wealth from this division it would be interesting to note the geometrical pattern we get in Sun/Moon hora:
Picture no. 4: Hexagon in Sun/Moon hora.
The subject of geometric patterns and numbers related to planets is beyond the scope of this series of articles and I hope readers are acquainted with them or will get so. A hexagon is a geometrical form of Venus which is a significator of money, luxury and prosperity. A hexagon is the most stable form as it is the only form that continues in a perfect un-interrupted pattern when we spread it out from its sides. A honeycomb pattern is formed. Stability is essential for prosperity. Furthermore, although we’re dealing with number 6, we’re still dealing with polarity, because when we connect the angles of a hexagon we get a hexagram, a six pointed star where one triangle is pointing downwards and one upwards and it represents the union of opposites. Also, in a hexagram / hexagon we have oppositions due to opposing angles. We see that this simple division can be quite complex and deep. It is a division that we don’t see mentioned very often, but seems to have some importance in classical texts.
Now, we need to go back to the hora from picture no. 3. If we again look at it we remember that the same sign division is in opposition to itself. If we would create a separate hora chart, the two planets that are 180 degrees apart in the main chart would fall in the same sign in the hora divisional chart. A planet in the first half of Aries and a planet in the first half of Libra would be in the same hora. Since an opposition is a very evident spatial relationship the use of a hora chart in order to determine which planets are in opposition by looking at conjunctions in hora chart makes little practical sense, so I will not take this any further, but we will look at the conjunction of planets in the 5th, 7th and 9th divisional charts as they will reveal something we don’t immediately see in the main chart. Since I see that of all the divisions this simple two-fold division is the least agreed upon I’m inclined to think that the only hora that is safe to use is the Sun/Moon hora as we find it consistently in all the classical Indian texts, but if we have to use a hora with signs in order to determine the dignity of a planet in connection to producing wealth, then the Parashara’s hora (picture no. 2) should be used as it is the only one truly in accord with Sun/Moon rulership being reversed for even signs.
Although I have touched on the topic of wealth in connection to the hora we should note that this comes from Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra and if we look at Yavanajataka or Brihat Jataka we won’t find this idea. Instead we will see hora used for many purposes in Yavanajataka while it is seldom mentioned by Varahamihira in his Brihat Jataka. In my humble opinion the safest way to use a hora division is to look at it for the purpose of seeing which things the individual pursues with his own endeavors and which things come to her/him without much effort.
With the example of hora I’ve attempted to illustrate what a division of a sign is and how we have to critically examine all the different opinions regarding the construction of these divisions. The farther back we go, the less signs as divisions we find, but instead the signs are divided into portions that are under a rulership of a particular planet, often with an addition of a specific set of symbols that aid us to see the nature of a planet more precisely as opposed to a very broad and general picture we get only by looking at its placement in a broad, 30 degree division of the ecliptic, a zodiacal sign.
EAST, WEST AND THE 9TH DIVISION
The difference in the construction of divisions brings us to the question of harmonic charts which are used by some modern Western astrologers. Yes, divisions of signs are present in modern Western astrology as well, albeit they are more of an exception than a rule. When we construct a harmonic chart we simply divide the zodiac into as many parts we want and the signs flow in natural order so, for example in the 9th division, we will simply repeat the order of signs 9 times around the zodiac. With this we arrive to the most commonly used division in Indian astrology called navamsha (nava means nine and amsha means a part). I’ve chosen to jump to the navamsha, also called D9 or the 9th division because interestingly enough the avamsha is constructed in exactly the same way as the 9th harmonic chart of modern Western astrology. Let’s take a look at it:
Picture no. 5: Navamsha or the 9th harmonic.
Western astrologers say that when we see a conjunction in the 9th harmonic chart that this actually means that the two conjunct planets are in a novile aspect in the main chart and that the 9th harmonic chart highlights this. We see in the picture no.5 that if a planet falls in an Aries navamsha of Aries and another planet in Aries navamsha of Taurus that they are at an angle of approximately 40 degrees which is a novile aspect in modern Western astrology. But, what about a planet in Aries navamsha of Aries and a planet in Aries navamsha of Leo? That is not a novile, but nevertheless it is an aspect from a novile family called tri-novile. Let’s make it clearer.
Noviles are derived from dividing 360° by 9 = 40 degrees. Multiples of this give: bi-novile = 80°; tri-novile = 120°; quad-novile = 160°; quin-novile = 200°; sen-novile = 240°; sept-novile = 280° and oct-novile = 320°. This makes up a nonagon as you can see in the picture no. 5.
Planets which are conjunct in Navamsha varga chart share geometrical relation of being parts of a septagon. This confirms what I’ve heard one Vedic astrologer say, that varga charts indicate the geometrical relationship that the planets have in the main chart. I think there is no doubt that looking at such geometrical relationships with the help of divisional charts is very elegant as it removes all the clutter created by many minor aspects either with aspect lines in a round chart or in an aspects table. I have to say I like this approach very much. We will look at the navamsha more closely in one of the future articles.
Seeing this we can acknowledge that both, astrologers of India and the West are striving for precision, they are looking at the same thing, but from a bit different angles. Vargas and western aspects have a lot in common as we have seen! But let’s leave it at just a lot in common, because there are places where the two diverge greatly and not all the vargas show us geometrical relationships, i.e. not all of them are harmonics as is usually thought as we have seen in the case of some types of hora and we will see in the case of Drekkana or Deccans, the Caturtamsha, the Trimsamsha or bounds and the 12th part or Dvadashamsha. We will examine this in the future articles along with all the differences in constructing vargas and different practical approaches to their use in interpretation of a horoscope.
I wrote this first article as an introduction to this quite vast subject matter and to give a taste of what we’ll be discussing in the coming articles where I will demonstrate everything graphically like in the examples above and we will look at the information from the classical astrology texts in detail.
I sincerely hope this will be a fun an enlightening journey for both you and for me and I will be happy to read some of your thoughts as well, so feel free to comment below or message me.
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