Their Nature and How to Use Them Copyright © 2007 All Rights Reservedby Wim van Dam
Many astrologers think they create a complete progressed horoscope by calculating the secondary positions of the sun, the moon, the planets and maybe the lunar node and adding to these positions something they call 'the progressed cusps': first calculate the progressed MC by one way or another, then calculate the corresponding ascendant and intermediate cusps for the local latitude of birth et voilà.
Although this is handy in daily practice (one has to have a complete set of progressed points) and one can get definitely consistent and positive results, one should realize that it is not the complete truth for you without the complete set of primary planets that are also active at the time. It is possible to calculate the primary positions of sun, moon, node and planets too and together with the progressed (actually primary) cusps, that almost any astrologer uses, this gives a real complete primarily progressed horoscope. Personally, outside of the radix-circle, I make one progressed chart with all the primary cusps and planets plus, in a third circle, the secondary Sun, Moon and planets.
At this point it is important to realize that when we calculate progressed cusps we calculate in fact primary cusps. There is no such thing as secondary cusps that move forward by about one degree a year, for secondary directions are based on the assumption that 1 day equals one year and in one day the cusps undeniably move forward by 361 degrees, not by just one single degree. This means that if one uses progressed cusps one is not using secondary cusps but primary ones.
Primary Directions are far older than secondary ones. Secondaries were more or less invented by Placidus. Primaries are already described by Ptolemy (A.D. 150) in his Tetrabiblos, Loeb Edition, Robins' translation, p. 293-307, Ashmand Edition p. 95-100. This text however is so obscure (as you will see when you try to read it) that through the ages heavy discussions have been held on its interpretation. Many astrologers (Cardanus, Morin, Placidus, Kühr to name a few) had their own variant of p.d.'s. Primary Directions, in spite of their fame, this technique did not become a standard tool for astrologers to use.
At the beginning of the seventies, the arrival of calculators with trigonometric functions helped calculate p.d's which are invariably difficult to calculate by hand. It was only with the aid of calculators with trigfunctions, that conducting real research became possible.
1. DAY-ARCS DEFINED
The day-arc of a celestial point is the time it takes for this point to traverse its path from the eastern to the western horizon, not the actual arc it traverses on the sky in that same time. Thus it is possible to define a planet's position at the sky not only in terms of celestial coordinates, as is usually done, but also in terms of the time that has passed since it rose or even in the fraction, the percentage, of the time that has passed in relation to the total time of its day-arc. Paradoxically enough this time-arc usually is expressed not in hours and minutes but in the number of degrees of the celestial equator that passes over the local meridian during that time (a very constant measure), so day-arcs, although being time-arcs, most confusingly are calculated by trigonometric formulae.
The day-arc of a point is dependent on the combination of its declination and the local latitude and may vary greatly. Their mean value is exactly 180 degrees.
In practice, for technical reasons we mostly use half day-arcs, the so called semi-arcs, the time it takes for a point to rise from the eastern horizon to the MC, or to set from the MC to the western horizon, which takes as much time.
Night-arcs are defined from the western to the eastern horizon and under the horizon through the IC.A short day-arc for a certain point is always compensated by a long night-arc and v.v. Together they are always 24 hours equals 360 degrees.Circumpolar points (points that for a given latitude do not rise or set but constantly describe circles above or under the horizon) have no day- or night arcs; one might also say they have a day- or night arc of 24 hours or 360 degrees.
2. PLACIDUS HOUSE SYSTEM
Let us start with true Placidian housecusps. We should understand that they were originally invented by Magini (later latinized to Maginus), who was the first to define them in the pure way.
Note that the ascendant, descendant and the MC/IC are usually defined in purely trigonometric terms. For example, 'the point of the ecliptic that crosses the horizon' or 'the point of the ecliptic that crosses the local meridian' but in this context this would be misleading. If you define these points in this way, you see them as parts of a purely geometric house-system as Regiomontanus. Of course the net result is the same but nevertheless it is important to realise that within a housing system based on time-arcs, this is not the right definition. Indeed the trigonometric view is the easiest way to calculate the ascendant but this is no more than a lucky coincidence so to say.
One could say there are two ways of calculating cusps generally, the one based on trigonometry, f.e. Regiomontanus, the other one on day/night arcs, f.e. Magini/Placidus. Both of them are respectable, we only have to decide which one gives the best results. As a convinced Placidianist, I think it is nice and beautiful that we use a trigonometric definition for positions in the celestial ecliptic (in zodiaco) and time-arcs for positions in the earthly houses (in mundo), a kind of symmetry made in heaven.
The only problem is that the intermediate cusps by Magini are difficult to calculate: there is no direct way, no direct formula, to determine their exact position in the zodiac. The only way to get them almost exactly is to make an educated guess and then by repetitive approach ('successive substitution' as it is officially called) getting closer to the desired value until the deviation (that will always be there, no matter how small) has become so little that it is neglectable as one tenth of a second of arc. Now we see why it is easier to calculate the ascendant and the MC trigonometrically since for these cusps at least we do not have to use successive substitution.
Nowadays, even the slowest computer calculates Placidian cusps in a split-second but for centuries this was quite a stumbling block for astrologers. Therefore, Placidus invented a system to calculate these intermediate cusps directly, with some deviations. He therefore used the concept of Polar Height, which is in fact alien to the realm of day- and night arcs. This was extremely useful however since for regular local latitudes up to say 60 degrees north or south the deviation is acceptable. A Magini-cusp is better, even if it deviates by half a degree, than one of Regiomontanus which has been calculated exactly but that is useless for astrological purposes in our Placidian eyes.
Placidus' simplification enabled astrologers to calculate intermediate Magini-cusps as fast as Regiomontanus'. Placidus' system became popular amongst them and was called "Placidus". One might say nowadays, with our PC's, we have returned from approximate Placidian cusps to real Magini ones although we still call them Placidian.
3. PRIMARY DIRECTIONS
After the above elaboration, we may now discuss p.d.'s, since they are one family house systems.
What are primary directions anyway?
Primary directions are systems where the planets, independent of their own speed in the ecliptic, are kept in the same position relative to their day/night arc as they were at birth while the MC is progressed. This means that they will always maintain the same position in the progressed houses as in the radix if they are Placidian. It is also possible to calculate primary directions based on the planets' positions in Regiomontanus-houses but that will be another article to write.
If you are afraid of technicalities, it may be sufficient for you to know that, in p.d.'s all planets and cusps progress through the horoscope, each with a speed that varies from about a half two and a half degrees a year, and skip to catch 6.
In the case of Placidian cusps, a planet that is radically 'halfway' the tenth house will have traversed the mean between 2/6 (cusp eleven) and 3/6 (M.C.) of its own day-arc, equals 5/12th of its own day/arc equals 0.416666. This is the proportional factor for this planet and it should be calculated for each point (sun, moon, planets, node) in the radix except for the cusps for we know on beforehand that their proportional factors will be 0, 0.1666... , 0.333. etc. by definition.
If we calculate the progressed M.C. for any time in life, we calculate the corresponding ascendant for the latitude of the place of birth; the intermediate cusps may be calculated in the usual way by using the proportional factors 0.16666. , 0.3333. etc. We may also calculate each progressed (primary) planet using the same formulae as for the cusps, only with the planets' proportional factors we calculated earlier for the radix.
If we were to draw the progressed chart as if it is a radix, we would get a surprise: the figure would look much like the radix, (f.e. planets radically on a cusp would still be on the same primary cusp). All cusps and planets progressed by a different number of degrees and not by the same number of degrees for all planets. It is the same way as the ascendant progresses with a speed different from the M.C., dependent on the local latitude. Each point is primarily progressed with its own individual speed, dependent on its radical position in the houses and on the local latitude. Progressed (= primary) ascendant's speed varies by the years, so the primary points' individual speeds are not constant. They can however be calculated for any date with amazing precision.
The main speed for p.d.'s is about the same as the solar arcs. It varies from less than half a degree to more than two degrees and as said above, it is different for each point in the horoscope. However, just like Placidus and most other housing systems, it shows a tendency to produce equal houses as one gets closer to the equator. Therefore, primaries tend to coincide with solar arc directions in tropical areas. For European and North American latitudes however, differences can be considerable as we will see. The results will differ depending on the house system used. The first problem we have to solve is, determine the house system we should use as the foundation to caluclate p.d.'s. Will you use Placidus or Regiomontanus house system? (Other house systems are seldom proposed for this purpose). In this article we will use Placidus to get the best result.
You may have another questions to resolve before you continue with your p.d calculation: Should you use the Pars? Should you progress primarily the Pars itself or should you calculate primary sun, moon and ascendant first and then from these calculate the Pars as usual by adding and subtracting?My answer is, I really don't know. I dropped the Pars many years ago and lived happily ever after.
4. PROGRESSING THE M.C.
The first step in calculating p.d.'s for any desired date is calculating the primary M.C. And here we come to the second problem concerning primary directions: What is the right speed of progressing the primary MC?Ptolemy suggested one degree a year in Right Ascension on the meridian for each year of life.
Later authors corrected this to 360 / 365.24 degrees a year, the so called mean or Naibod-measure of 0.58'18" a year.
Tycho Brahe had the idea of using the progression of the sun in right ascension on the day of birth as a constant measure for each year in life.
The most used measurement of time for progressing the M.C. is progressing it in longitude at the same speed as the secondary sun. See for a survey of this history the Astrologia Gallica Book 22, p. 77 and further.
5. ON PLANETARY LATITUDE: A NON-PROBLEM
Through the ages it has been a point of discussion whether the latitude of the moon and the planets should be reckoned with or not. The sun and the lunar node have no latitude by definition.
I do not see how this can be a problem. If we are to reckon without planetary latitude in the radix (as we all do), and we do reckon with it in p.d.'s, we get a paradox. For example, if Pluto has a latitude of 10 degrees, then 1 second of time after birth its primary position will be many degrees from its radical position while of course one would expect it to be virtually identical to the radical one.
One dutch school of astrology solved the above problem in a radical way: First, calculate a planet's proportional factor in the radix reckoning with its latitude. Then, calculate what ecliptical point has the same p.f. and that's the radical position of this planet. Unfortunately some decades after they developed this idea, Pluto reached its maximum latitude, which meant that in the course of each day for the latitude of Europe, this slowest planet rushed through the zodiac ten degrees forward and then ten degrees backward which is most incredible. The only logical solution (which in practice gives by far the best results too) is to neglect planetary latitude.
6. HOW TO USE THESE P.D.'S?
Primary directions are a part of the classical heritage of astrology and should be treated as such. Do not use them in combination with midpoints, fictitious planets, etc. for you will not have any profit of them. Of course, you can use them with the node and even the newer planets Chiron, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto but all in the same classical way.
In order to have full profit from them, you should use such old-fashioned ideas like houses, rulerships, and, a surprise for most astrologers today, degrees of exaltation. Whenever you find an aspect or an antiscion between a primary planet and a radical one, you should check what houses these two planets are the ruler of. To make things seemingly worse, for Jupiter you should check both the house with Sagittarius on its cusp and the house with Pisces on its cusp (for Neptune only the house with Pisces, etc. and a house with a planet's degree of exaltation on its cusp is (also, mainly) ruled by this planet! These houses are the most probable to play a role in the event indicated by this progression, followed by the houses where they are placed in the radix and the natural houses of the planets (the moon for the fourth house etcetera). In practice you will see that some houses are stressed more than other ones and these houses are the most likely ones to play a role.
As always I use the following set of aspects:
The inclusion of the tredecile (108 degrees) will be astonishing for most American astrologers but it is the supplement of the quintile (72 degrees) and I have found them both as effective (and benevolent) as the sextile, using a smaller orb, about 2.30 degrees in the radix.
No more aspects (except of course the antiscion) are needed and certainly not the inconjunct (150 degrees) that I think one of the great errors of modern astrology. Maybe it has some value in 'psychological' or 'Jungian' astrology but I don't take these branches seriously. In fact, for the critical astrologer who does not take for granted anything just because it is written in a textbook, using primary directions is a very good way to learn which aspects are more significant and less significant.
Also I have noticed that the mean node, when it differs from the 'true' one, gives far better results, i.e. the time is closer to the real date of event. The node in my chart is a good example: the 'true' node is at 0.03 Aries and the mean one at 1.10. As we will see, the discussion on which one is the right one can be decided by p.d.'s and in fact it has been decided.
Aspects between a cusp and a planet (be it a primary cusp to a radical planet or v.v.) are mostly more easy to interpret. The own significance of the cusp in combination with the nature and/or the rulership of the planet will mostly give a clear indication of what is to be expected. Note that an aspect from or to a cusp will automatically mean an aspect to the opposite cusp too. Always look which cusp is the most probable to be related to the event in combination with the nature of the planet involved and the house(s) it rules.
Aspects to and from intermediate house cusps are most informative too. Beginners however, will do well to use only aspects between a house cusp and its actual or natural ruler. For example, if you have Leo at your 9th cusp, pay attention to the aspects of this cusp to and from Jupiter and the Sun, etc.
Very important in the interpretation also are possible relationships in the radix: the points involved may be in aspect in the radix, or the one may be the ruler of the other. In such cases the progressed aspect will be stronger and it will have the color of the radical relationship and also the nature of the planets involved is important. If Mars and Saturn are in a square in the radix, then even a primary trine between them should be feared. On the other hand, if Venus and Jupiter are radically in a trine, a progressed square will be welcome.
A well-known dutch astrologer when testing p.d.'s for the first time way back in 1976 on her own horoscope noticed that at the time of her divorce the sun and moon primarily were trine. When she asked me how to explain this, I noticed without looking up from the book I was reading: "no doubt a bad aspect in your radix?". She was perplexed since this was true (an opposition) and she was converted to p.d.'s at the spot.
In the Windows-program that I developed, Morinus 2000, I made it optional to indicate at each progressed aspect whether the one cusp or planet radically rules the other, whether they are radically in aspect, whether one of them progressed or radically is in a degree of exaltation and some other indications. I found this to be a great help.
Finally, it proves to be important to progress primarily the point 0 Aries too. Its aspects indicate an important change in life, or the native is to do something for the first time. Thus when at the age of barely eighteen, I started studying Russian, my 0 Aries was square to my 3rd cusp (languages) and nine (study, foreign affairs). I started writing on astrology when my primary 0 Aries was trine to my natal Mercury in Leo in the 9th house.
When after this study, so meaningfully started with a square, I was unemployed for a long time (but what young and ambitious astrologer minds about that as long as he gets a living!), I found a permanent job when my 0 Aries trine to my MC - as I had stated a year before.
Richard Nixon had 0 Aries conjunct to his Saturn in 9th house when he resigned his position as President of the US. Hitler had 0 Aries square to Saturn in Leo in ten when his Third Reich collapsed and he committed suicide.I have not found any value for primary 0 Cancer, which progresses primarily with another speed than 0 Aries (one important difference with symbolic or solar directions!)A more advanced technique of interpreting some more difficult primary aspects is discussed in my forthcoming paper on Signs and Houses.
I have not found any value for primary 0 Cancer, which progresses primarily with another speed than 0 Aries (one important difference with symbolic or solar directions!). A more advanced technique of interpreting some more difficult primary aspects is discussed in my forthcoming paper on Signs and Houses.
7. SOME PRACTICAL EXAMPLES
After all these theoretical considerations, we are now going to use some examples from real life. First from my own horoscope. This chart was created from Morinus 200:
As for this Pfeiffer illness, if we suppose it was at its height around February 1976, we get the following most applicable indications:
Since I have devoted my life to the good sake of astrology, I married late: June 14th 1986, at Warszaw:
One might state that this indication did not relate much to the marriage of June 14th for as said above we had to wait until half December that year before my wife could join me in Leyden. Primary MC then was at 29.05 Virgo. The antiscional point is 0.55 Aries. Once again too far from the 'true' node but certainly within orb with the mean node (1.10 Aries).
Primary ascendant at the time of the wedding was at 1.46 Leo. It is within orbs of a trine both to the radical (mean) node in five and the radical sun in Leo in nine. Not only the houses involved (five, romance and nine, abroad) are most fitting, but also this progression formed a grand trine between (primary) ascendant and radical node and sun. How much richer and how much more traditional is this analysis than simply stating that my primary ascendant was at the midpoint of the node and the sun, which is technically true but flat as a dime, missing the point completely.
Primary sun at 8.55 Virgo made a sextile to the radical ascendant, radically a (wide) square, but the radical sun in Leo is a benefic (as every Morinist knows) so its primary sextile to the ascendant is a good aspect indeed.
Venus at 8.35 Leo was square to the ascendant (from the ninth house!) but radically this is a trine - the best indication for marriage one can imagine. The primary square only being an indication for the temporary problems with the Polish authorities.
Besides other indications, we also find 0 Aries in 28.50 Aries which trine's to my moon in Sagittarius. I suppose it relates more to the time when I first met my wife. This was indeed the start of something new!
I became a father for the first time even much later, at the ripe age of 44, when our daughter Lilian (Lily) was born January 10th 1995. For this event, we find a most interesting indication. The primary cusp 5 (children) square to the sun in Leo (children). One more example that in primaries a square is not always a square, since of course cusp 5 has a natural relationship with the sun (benefically positioned in Leo, the fifth sign) and the radical link is a (transgressional) trine.
We see that primaries are indispensable in a regular person's horoscope like your reporter's one. But they are equally important in the horoscopes of men of history, f.e. Hitler. At this point, I will now analyze a second example chart, Hitler's:
For the time he came to power in Germany, we see a primary MC of 15.58 Virgo, a very exact semisquare to the sun, a technically bad aspect that preliminarily worked as a benevolent one since the sun is the ruler of the MC. The radical square between them however was an indication how this was to end: in a catastrophe.
The same primary MC was in a trine to the conjunction of Mars and Venus. Once more a most applicable indication as only p.d.'s can give: it is a trine for sure. Mars-Venus conjunction radically is placed both in a square and in an antiscion to Saturn in its detriment in Leo in ten, so this good luck too was doomed to end in a catastrophe.
Primary sun was in 1.19 Gemini, a quintile to Saturn in ten, ruled by the sun. One more technically good aspect, made stronger by the rulership-relation in the radix. Saturn in its detriment in ten is the fatal indication par excellence in this horoscope so this was to end in the worst possible way too.
The same for primary moon at 18.48 Aquarius: this is a quintile to the radical sun from a moon that was radically positioned in its detriment too, so another initially benevolent aspect that at the end of the day proved to be malevolent. Note that there is also a radical link between the two, for the radical sun is placed within orbs from the moon's degree of exaltation, which stresses the importance of this aspect.
Primary Mars and Venus (19.21 Gemini) are semisquare to the radical MC, stressing the trine that primary MC forms to their radical positions, but not in a favourable, lasting way since Mars too is positioned in its detriment. Venus is in its own sign but both planets are square to Saturn in its detriment in ten. Here once more, it is becoming a bit monotonous. We see an aspect that is initially good but indicates a clear final disaster.
Primary Jupiter at 20.15 Aquarius, like the moon, forms a quintile to the sun and like the moon its radical position is hopeless for it in the sign of its fall.
Primary Chiron at 18.43 Leo, in my opinion the main ruler of the ascendant, from the tenth house is tredecile to the sun, ruler of ten.
For the time of his final defeat and suicide we find the following:
Well, primary ascendant at 4.17 Sagittarius, opposite to Pluto in eight - serves him right!
Since a planet radically on a cusp primarily stays on that cusp, primary Mercury had moved together with the primary descendant and had now reached 3.42 Gemini, conjunct to this same Pluto in eight, positioned in Mercury's sign Gemini - a very heavy indication;
Primary cusp 8 was in 7.57 Cancer, opposite the moon in Capricorn, the sign of its fall;
0 Aries is square to Saturn in Leo in ten; the conjunction of Venus and Mars has progressed to 28-29 Gemini, semisquare to Saturn, with whom they radically are in a square and in antiscion;
Will this be enough? I think so, but unfortunately for this time we find some very positive indications too that need an explication:
Moon 1.06 Pisces, sextile to radical sun
If you realise that Neptune is the ruler of five and you agree with me that Chiron is the ruler of Libra then the striking truth is that these three romantic indications all relate to his marriage with Eva Braun a few days before their common suicide. Even this horrifying act is clearly reflected by the mighty tool of p.d.'s.
Hopefully the American reader will realize now why these p.d.'s have become so popular in north-western Europe.
AUTHOR: Wim van Dam