Finding the Hyleg and Alchochoden
© 1998 Curtis Manwaring
The hyleg is that planet (or point) which is strongest in a birth chart. The meaning is derived from an arabic word that means "the giver of life". In a sense, this place performs like an almuten for the chart itself, sort of like the chart ruler, except the rules for finding it are very different and it's usage is for determining the length of life of an individual. The alchochoden is at least, according to Greek definition, the bound lord of the place found to be the hyleg. By the time of the medieval era, the alchochoden was considered to be the "almuten" of the hyleg, where the planet which has the most dignities in the place of the hyleg is the alchochoden. The difference between the Greek and Medieval definitions of the alchochoden is due to differences in the way they perceived the function of the dignities. To the Greeks the bound lord was peforming a limiting principle upon the planet occupying it's bounds. The alchochoden therefore limited the hyleg by determining the length of time according to the major years of the planetary period (the period length of the alchochoden) which it could not exceed. It is a bit like determing the life expectancy in the sense of determining the longest possible lifespan. There was also an eidos/hule (form/matter) relationship between the hyleg and alchochoden, where the hyleg was the "material" that the alchochoden "formed" into a living entity. You might think of the hyleg as the person's vitality or energy level and the alchochoden as the form or physical shape and orderedness of the body. Under the medieval definition, any planet could perform the function of a limiting principle as long as it has the strongest dignity in the place of the hyleg.
Finding the hyleg is a bit tricky and depends also upon whose definitions you rely upon (research is needed in this area). The general procedure was to locate the "light of the time" (by day, the Sun and by night, the Moon) to see what house it was in. Most ancient authors agreed that if the Sun by day or the Moon by night happened to be in either the 1st, 11th, 10th, 9th, 7th, 5th or 4th place then it could be hyleg. In all cases, first consider the light in sect, then the light out of sect. Ptolemy considered only those houses above the horizon (excluding 8th and 12th) and the 5 degrees above the horizon of the 1st, and nothing below the horizon. Valens considered some places below the horizon as long as those places had a Ptolemaic aspect to the rising sign. If after considering both the Sun and Moon and neither planet is in a place that enables it to be the hyleg; then consider the lot of fortune, then the place of the prenatal new or full moon. If all of this fails then the ascendant is itself the hyleg.
Once the hyleg is determined, you find that planet which is the bound lord (or almuten if you are researching the medieval definition) of the hyleg and make it the alchochoden. The Greek definition included the stipulation that the alchochoden had to have a Ptolemaic aspect to the hyleg in order to be the alchochoden. Without an aspect the vitality of the body could not ascertain a form in the material world which would be the case if the two planets are in aversion. Most authors agreed that the hyleg and alchochoden could be the same planet, which negates this rule since the conjunction is not properly called an aspect. Obviously, since the person is alive, the alchochoden could not be a planet in aversion to the hyleg because without this "aspect" there is no relationship that the vitality can assume in the physical world.
Once the hyleg and alchochoden are determined with relative certainty, finding the lifespan is a matter of directing the rays of the hyleg (usually by primary direction or ascensional times) to the rays of a destroyer or malefic planet. Unless the rays of a malefic planet should "cut the debt short" then one lives the entire period indicated by the alchochoden (old age). It should be noted that under modern sentiments about death and old age that one should not predict death as they sometimes (rarely) did but rather danger of death or illness. It was common practice of astrologers in the past to not predict death unless all of the indicators were thoroughly bad and there were no benefic planets also aspecting or somehow mitigating at the time.
It is my conjecture that the form/matter relationship between the hyleg and alchochoden might be useful in other ways than just determining the lifespan and the timing of a possible illness. The relationship between these two planets (or one) could show how sickly or robust the health is in a more general sense. The alchochoden if afflicting the hyleg in some way for example could show the cause of illness. If the hyleg and alchochoden are the same then the chances are that the planet is dignified, and the nativity blessed. If there is a beneficial relationship between the two this might help the robustness of the natives health, etc.; all for research to determine....