Advanced Considerations on Judging Eminence in a Birth Chart

© 2010 Curtis Manwaring

In this article I will outline the most important considerations for judging eminence in a birth chart starting with the Hellenistic astrological material, elaborating a bit on Schmidt's take on the subject philosophically and then adding my own perceptions. A key question here is what is eminence exactly? In relation to the subject of eminence, Valens says that one of the first things to consider is the "rank" of the nativity. [1] We might say that this is a measure of the importance of the nativity. Rank implies an ordinal quality which suggests that some things come before and some things come later in some sort of lineup, either temporally (as in what is possible), or socially as in status. Within the concept of time, the greater eminence is from those things that lie prior in the greatest quantity, such that old has the potential to be more eminent than new generally. Also eminence is about impact (or glory). In the context of human existence, this is generally thought of as a matter of how many lives will be affected by this nativity. It has been suggested by Robert Schmidt that one also needs to distinguish between fame and eminence as the two don't necessarily go together. It is possible for someone who is not famous to have greater impact in this world than those who are in the limelight. Most high ranking officials in the CIA, the Banking Industry, etc have far more impact than say Tom Cruise who is a household name. Fame is probably most closely associated with the Sun because it is about high visibility. The Sun is the most easily seen in the cosmos. But for eminence, we are looking not for what is easily seen, but for what causes the greatest "affect" or change in most people's lives for good or ill. In this area, politics is of the utmost importance, for often that which is easily seen is not allowed much movement and therefore can not have as great an impact. Visibility invites scrutiny, but the winds of change are invisible.

To get back to Valens, he says that one must examine the trigon lords of the sect light to see if they fall in angles (pivotal) or are in succeedent (post-ascensional) images (or signs) or if they fall in cadent (declining) places. To determine this, one needs to know the rising sign at the time of birth and the sect of the birth chart. I assume that if you are reading this you already know your rising sign, but if not you can find out using many of the astrological programs available on the web (and this site). The sect concept is very simple; if the Sun was above the horizon at birth, then the chart is of the diurnal sect, but if the Sun has already set or has not risen yet, then the chart is of the nocturnal sect. In a day time chart we look to what image [2] (sign) the Sun is in, but at night we take the position of the Moon and the trigon lords of the sign of the Moon. It is easiest to break down the trigon lords according to element (or winds) [3] as shown below:



In a day time chart you use the diurnal table above, whereas in a night chart you use the nocturnal table. For instance if the individual was born at night, you look to where the Moon is by image. If the Moon was in an air image, then the first trigon lord is Mercury, the second is Saturn, and Jupiter is said to assist both. One should look to the first trigon lord and see if this planet is upon a center of activity (angular or succeedent) or to see if it is upon a place that slopes away (declines) from activity (cadent). A planet in the 1st, 10th, 7th or 4th images is best in terms of the support or eminence in the chart. You should also do the same with the other 2 lords. It is said that the cooperating lord adds its support at a later time in life in accordance with the ascensions of the sign that the second trigon lord is found in and that the lord that assists, does so by assisting the first and second trigon lords when they have become active. [4] From this Valens says that there are times when ones status can potentially change either for better or worse based upon the positions of the trigon lords. We are going to see that this is a baseline consideration and only very general (there are of course other high/low points in life). By grouping nativities in this way where the trigon lords are placed in either angular, succeedent or cadent places we are in effect stating whether the nativity is small, medium or large. If you do a lot of experimenting with this you will find that large can range anywhere from being an owner of your own business to being more powerful than the president of the USA. There are lots of reasons for this variation and one of the primary reasons is because the trigon lords are said to represent the "heimarmene" level of the birth chart [5]. This is the kind of fate that a seed has to grow into something, whether it be a tree or a horse, etc. Robert Schmidt says that one cannot exceed the heimarmene of the chart, but frequently one does not fulfill it or falls short of ones potential.

What is interesting about the trigon lords is that before these were associated with the elements, they were associated with the winds, and are part of what Robert Schmidt calls the "nautical metaphor" that is buried within some of the more cryptic texts such as the lost Antiochus manuscript of which only the Antiochus summary and excerpts survive. In this metaphor, Schmidt says that the ascendant is the "helm of life" which is likened to a ship on the ocean. The midheaven is called "praxis" which has as its meanings "to traverse" or to be "at work". Schmidt has called this the "mast" because this is the "doing" part or engine of the ship and is the apparatus which catches the wind. He says that the places that are connected to the helm (the ascendant) are where "ropes" are attached and trigon lords in these places can "manage the wind" in such places. These are the ascendant itself, the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th, 10th and 11th houses (whole sign). Now there are variations within this group as the sextile aspect is called the feeblest. You can think of the sextile as lacking the leverage to get a good grip on the helm, so the 3rd is not normally considered a good place for a trigon lord, but it is better than being disconnected (2nd, 6th, 8th and 12th). The 9th because it is cadent is not considered to be upon a center of activity, but it is a good place, but the best (to worst) places for the trigon lords are in this order: 1st, 10th, 11th, 7th, 4th, 5th, 9th, 3rd, 2nd, 8th, 6th, 12th. Some think that the midheaven can be better than the ascendant in this regard.

Valens also seems to group fortune in with this consideration as well to see if the native is happy and in a good state as he first examines the trigon lords and if these aren't found in places conducive to business, he looks to other considerations such as fortune and the ascendant lord. A lot of these initial determinations were to see if the infant lives into childhood and then later into adulthood or whether the child is abandoned and not supported by the parents. Now I have a speculation here about the presentation in the texts as to what Valens uses as an order of what to look for. Valens was a stoic, which means that he believed that the events in our lives are mostly fated with little control given to the individual to change the outcome "unless benefics look upon..." etc... He brings up the trigon lords first which is associated with heimarmene according to Schmidt. The stoic conception of heimarmene is to say it is like a seed which has instructions for growth in a particular direction (a potential). From the middle Platonist point of view however, heimarmene represents that given an antecedent, there is a consequent in a general way which later must be elaborated upon by other laws of metaphysics. In one case, if the occasion for action is triggered, then the stoic view is that the result is determined; in the other case if the occasion for action arises then there will be a certain range of possibilities which is more in line with middle platonic reasoning. [6] It is said that one cannot exceed one's heimarmene; which is like saying that we cannot step outside the bounds of what is possible (in a genetic sense or archetypical sense). Within the bounds of heimarmene are the realms of tuche (fortune or luck), pronia (foresight or providence), anangke (family - the ties that bind such as in blood), and agnoia (lack of knowledge), etc. Each of these fates are said to have their own agenda in bringing about a particular order or sequencing of events in life, but it is said that tuche needs to be persuaded to conform to heimarmene. Valens takes up the issue of fortune and the ascendant after the initial determination of the trigon lords which shows potential because you first need to know what is possible and what is not. Also anangke (family) will show what is more likely due to family status and the connections formed between them with others, for if the sisters of fate are weaving the tapestry of all of our lives together, there is an order in which you belong.

Now just because you belong in a given place according to heimarmene, it does not mean that you are actually in that place. Fortune is associated with tuche (Schmidt) because it is depicted in iconographic images as striding across the prow of a ship blindfold, holding the rudder (the sinking place - 7th house)... Keeping in mind that fortune (tuche) needs to be persuaded to keep in line with heimarmene, what we see is that fortune has the ability to actualize the potential given by the trigon lords (heimarmene). I would argue that the act of placing the lot of fortune in a chart is like the act of heimarmene trying to persuade tuche to fall in line with the potential it gives. I believe this to be the case because the formula for the lot of fortune uses the Sun (hegemony) and because Valens makes the statement that fortune frequently becomes spirit (lot of spirit) and vice versa. The Sun and the Moon can be thought of as material manifestations of the Monad and the Dyad, where the Monad is said to be perfect in it's one-ness and the dyad is the principle of being contrary (not necessarily opposite).

Now what does all of this mean in a practical sense? If one has high potential in terms of heimarmene (trigon lords in angles), but fortune falls amiss, Valens, being a stoic might simply look to the trigon lords and say that the native has great support and say that the lot of fortune is not telling (chrematistikos) as to the status of the native. This is the impression I get reading the original text. We see that he examined where fortune was when the trigon lords were not placed well enough. If one thinks of fortune as presenting a level of material causation (Aristotle - think of this as something that is necessary, but not sufficient in and of itself to bring something about), then the Moon representing the physical realm (matter), shows what is made of the potential shown by the trigon lords. In other words, great potential could be maximized if fortune falls angular with the domicile lord looking on or benefics witnessing. Under this scenario, one may have trigon lords in bad places, but because of fortune, maximize the result and still do well. It may also be the case that the trigon lords are well placed, but fortune falls amiss and therefore the potential that is promised through heimarmene is not fully realized. I believe that this latter scenario is a more accurate view of the world because there are many times when great people do not maximize their potential and go unknown in the shadows and there are sometimes buffoons who end up in places (or place of status) well above their abilities. This imperfection in the world that exists could be due to fortune (tuche) failing to fall in line with heimarmene.

Now I want to go back to the idea that often fortune becomes spirit (and vice versa, or simply that both are in the same place). One of the significations of fortune is financial or money matters and health. One cannot turn a blind eye to the nature of money in today's world if one is to fully understand how this is likely to manifest in the chart. Since money (cash) no longer completely represents what one has, but also what is owed to you, you shouldn't look to fortune alone to understand the power/eminence of the native. Fortune has the Sun as a factor in the formula and the Sun represents hegemony and the ability to sway others. The Moon and the ascendant are also in the formula and depending upon the emphasis in the formula fortune can become spirit and vice versa. The lot of spirit is the lot based upon the Sun (actions, reputation, hegemony, etc). When emphasizing the Sun in the formula, one is really looking at your intent and the force you are capable of impressing upon the world. As a mirror of this, fortune represents what is making an impression upon you by the world.

To understand this within the political context of todays world, when one is counting the relationship between the Sun and Moon, one is looking at a form of debt and debtor relationship where the few are able to control the many. Since the USA went off the gold standard in 1913, dollars no longer represent a certain amount of gold at Fort Knox, but political IOU's which are measured in the relationships between people and in their status. Every time the Federal Reserve "invents" dollars and infuses them into our economic system, this is the equivalent of dangling a carrot in front of a horse to try to get your people to do what you want them to do. This is commonly called "credit". Your employer looks at your credit score and asks the question: "If I hire this person, can they do what I want them to do and are they reliable and willing?". This is why the credit score is really a measure of obedience on a more fundamental level.

The work ethic has changed in the era of automation when effort is no longer necessarily "felt" such as working in a field to bring up a crop of grain. Effort has been taken over by machines and the few people with the greatest level of eminence have used this to their advantage. The nature of financial compensation has changed in the last couple of centuries because what is really of value has been taken off the table and replaced with paper and electronic accounting and the true ownership of these things is reserved for the few. You might say that you own a few acres of land, but this is not true. Stop paying your taxes and you will find out who really owns it. If you own a car, then you have to pay for insurance, a license and registration, maintainance, etc. Most of the things that you think you own really own you and not the other way around. Except for a very few, the mass population only owns what they can carry on their back and the rest is used by the elite to keep you under their control. With too much Sun (hegemony) one will get burned and eventually turn black (Saturn) under a system of oppression and facism.

The dollar is not actually worth anything under a system of credit, but instead is a promise that if you do something for someone then they will do something for you. Politicians and people in power or offices of great hegemony are the only ones allowed to invent dollars, whereas the common people doing the same thing is a crime of counterfeit. What makes this interesting is that the common people are represented by the Moon and the Moon is called the "counterfeit light" in Valens. In other words the people do not have the power to get large numbers of people to do something for pieces of paper, but the political powers associated with the Federal Reserve and World Bank do. One has to ask the question why commercials are being run in the USA in large numbers saying that if you are more than 10,000 in debt (or taxes), you can settle for significantly less now, when this was not the case until recent times. Those at the top understand that they aren't losing anything of substance. They took the ownership of land off the table through taxation, but they want you to manage it for them and make a profit off you in the process and if not, they will find someone else to replace you through foreclosure. The sales pitch to get you to buy into this scheme was "the American Dream". In this situation, the only way to get ahead is to maintain the land long enough to be able to sell it at a profit; in effect passing the buck onto future generations when the pyramid collapses as land gets chopped up into ever increasingly small portions at ever increasing tax rates.

As a correlary, because the dollar now represents political power and hegemony (and not gold at Fort Knox), when monopolies are present, dollars vented between corporations become all or nothing power struggles where the number values are not extensive magnitudes where more or less substance is indicated, but intensive magnitudes [7] where one has the right do something and another does not in an absolute sense. Political campaigns show this dynamic where absurd amounts of money are dumped through lobbiest's to gain one objective; the vote. When you have an opposition of this nature between parties, the dollar values mean little of substance, but it is a matter of power and control. In cases such as these, those who understand power and desire absolute control will not stop at having enough cash; they have to have all of it until they reach complete power saturation. Tyrants (CEO's, politicians, etc...) generally think of money in terms of intensive magnitudes where it is desired that others have as little money as possible so that your own control can be more absolute. I believe that this is what is really going on in this world's financial crisis; it represents a power struggle where the victor will try to reduce the rest of us to slaves through all of the nations national debts. To free the USA and other countries from debt is the same as saying that it won't serve the crown (World Bank - run by the Rothchilds, Asters, Mellons, etc). Capitalism is by nature only a friend of freedom (so called democracy) in the early stages. It is really a pyramid scheme that concentrates an infinite amount of wealth (absolute power) over time to bring all who are under it into subjugation. This of necessity needs to be considered when judging eminence of the chart in our current times because there are so few with so great a power and the trigon lords are less likely to show this in a standard reading. The fate of anangke (family and blood ties) is much more powerful at this time as I will show below.

One could look at the Sun / Moon (King and the people under rule) relationship as showing your ability to sway others and this will reflect in the positions of the lots of fortune and spirit. For this reason, these lots also have the potential to show eminence of the native. Good positions for the Sun or Moon (and the trigon lords of the sect light), in angles and in their own places, with the lots of spirit and fortune angular and in their own places show the greatest influence over others. Now it is sometimes the case that given 2 charts, one eminent and one not as much so (in terms of trigon lords and fortune), that the chart of the less eminent person actually has greater real impact upon the world. It is not just the case that heimarmene and tuche have a say in this, but anangke (family and blood ties) also influences this. For this reason, one should look at the eminence of the native in relation to the charts of his/her relatives, for the breed will show a sort of baseline probability for the potential of advancement. This is generally speaking shown by the position of Saturn (aspects and testimony to Saturn as well), the 4th house and the lord of the 4th house. For example, JFK Jr. has a chart that is not very eminent if looking only at the trigon lords of the sect, and mine is much more so; but I came from a family that was poor and involved in agriculture and John came from a family that is revered as royalty. As such, I rose well above the status of my relatives, but John stayed at about the same status as his and in fact was considered to be an underachiever. One should look at the general eminence considerations in relation to the consideration of anangke to see if one rises above the status of their relatives or not.

The consideration of Sect in relation to Power Struggles and Eminence

One may wonder why in the lots of fortune and spirit you take the arc between the two planets in one direction or the other depending upon the sect of the chart and I believe I have an answer. Schmidt says that the two sects (day and night) form the basis for politics, showing who is in power and who is not. Since the lots of spirit and fortune involve the Sun, Moon and ascendant and one of the 2 lights is necessarily not in power, the shift of hegemony and influence will be primarily in one direction or another. When it is directed at you, that is fortune because that is what befalls you in a way that you have no power over. In a day chart, the Sun naturally has the power and the Moon submits and because fortune represents submitting to an imprint of luck that comes from the world, the arc is measured from the origin of the power (the Sun) to where the power comes to bear to make an impact (the Moon), and an equal amount in the same direction from the ascendant. When the Moon is in power then the impact is made upon the Sun, therefore at night the Moon exerts pressure upon the Sun by taking the arc from the Moon to the Sun (as a variation, Valens says that the Moon only does this if the Moon is above the horizon at night). The inverse of this is to act on your own accord as represented by the lot of spirit which by day is naturally the arc from the light not in power to the one in power. It is more naturally the case that ones actions start from a place lacking full power and this is shown by taking the arc from the light not in power to the one that is. Over time as that arc completes symbolically, the action is refined and matured and finally becomes powerful. When the two lights are in conjunction, in the zodiacal releasing from spirit, Valens says to start from the sign following the conjunction. This is as if to say that the origin of the power and it's impact can not really be in the same image (sign) because there can be only one victor and the victor does not waste time impacting or changing ones self, but preferably those nearby.

Spear bearing (doruphoria), is also a consideration that has importance in regard to the subject of eminence. According to the most recent translation of Antiochus by Robert Schmidt, there are 3 types. Schmidt says that there seems to be variations of level of protection shown by spear bearing and that not all spear bearing is created equal. He also says that spear bearing is a form of protection from the 8 different kinds of maltreatment. If spear bearing can increase eminence, then the lack of spear bearing combined with maltreatment can reduce a nativity. I will continue this at a later time...


1. The Anthology, by Vettius Valens. Book 1I. pg 16. Translated by Robert Schmidt © 1997. Published by The Golden Hind Press.
2. Robert Schmidt prefers the word "image" to "sign" as a translation of the word "zoidion". The metaphysics surrounding this issue makes for an elegant understanding of the cosmos.
3. Valens appears to be the first to mention the association of the signs of the zodiac (images) with a certain element, but before Valens, the signs were associated with the 4 winds of the cosmos.
4. There is an argument that gives periods of time to all 3 trigon lords as if the 3rd one was independent of the other 2. This is not consistent with Valens statements on the subject.
5. Schmidt says that the planets are said to be in the service of what is known as "heimarmene".
6. This from a discussion with Robert Schmidt on the role of heimarmene from the perspective of different philosophical schools.
7. An intensive magnitude is a measurement that reaches a saturation point. An example is the nature of measuring color such as green. If you have a bowl of water and use and eyedropper to drop green dye into the water, there is a point after which adding green dye will not make the bowl of water any greener. This is known as it's saturation point. Money in a power based system can act in the same way.

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