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A Treatise on Astrology, Liber 536 by Aleister Crowley, 1917

How to Set up a Figure of the Heavens

In the present state of the science of astrology, it is not necessary, or even desirable, to strive after great mathematical accuracy, such as is needed by astronomers. Reasons for this are numerous.

  1. It is very rare that the time of a nativity is known with accuracy. Nor is it certain even exactly what moment should be taken, even suppose that the birth took place at the Lick Observatory. with all the astronomers in the world in consultation at the bedside of the mother.
  2. It is not quite certain what exact moment to take as the lime of the formation of an aspect. Sometimes the effects appear to advance slightly and sometimes to delay.
  3. Even were all these points satisfactorily settled, the judgement of the expert astrologer depends on the human factor, on the personal equation. The most successful astrologers are not those who pay the most attention to the mathematics of the subject, but those whose natural gift in this direction is trained and developed by experience.

It is a very easy matter to set up a figure of the heavens suitable for an astrological judgment. Any person with even moderate training in mathematics can learn to do it in an hour. The instructions now to be given will enable him to do this in comfort.

The first thing to be done is to provide yourself with an Ephemeris, which may be obtained through “any bookseller. The present generation of astrologers, as a rule, employ that issued by ‘Raphael’ and we shall suppose the student to possess it. At the left hand of the left hand page will be found. the date and the day of the week. Pick out the day which you require.

In the next column is given the Sidereal Time. We need not here enter into what that means. We merely give the rule. If the hour and minute for which you set up the figure is for afternoon, add that hour and minute to the Sidereal Time for the day. If it be before noon, find out how much before noon, by subtracting the hour and minutes from twelve hours (thus eight o’clock in the morning is four hours before noon) and subtract the result from the Sidereal Time. If, in the first case, the time obtained is more than twenty-four hours, subtract twenty-four hours from it. In the second case, if the time before noon is greater than the Sidereal Time, add twenty-four hours to the Sidereal Time. You then turn to the end of the book and look at the Tables of Houses for the place for which you wish to set up the figure.

Now take the blank form with which you have provided yourself, a circle divided into twelve parts. At the top of the Tables of the Houses you will see the Sidereal Time marked on the left-hand side. Run your eye down the column until you find the nearest approximation to the new Sidereal Time which you have made by adding or subtracting the hours as stated above. Now, against the house in your blank figure which is marked ten, put the sign and degree which is given in the column next to the Sidereal Time in the Table of Houses, and fill in the others as far as the third house accordingly. From the fourth house to the ninth no figures are given, and it is not necessary that they should be given, for the fourth house is equal and opposite to the tenth, the fifth to the eleventh and so on. Thus if 16 Cancer be on the cusp of the tenth, 16 Capricornus will be on the cusp of the fourth. Having filled up all the twelve houses in the manner indicated, you can now turn back to the other part of the Ephemeris.

You then proceed to insert in this figure the planets in their proper places. For example, suppose 24 Virgo is on the cusp of the eleventh house and you find the Sun marked as in 22 Virgo, you put him slightly in front of the cusp; if in 26 Virgo slightly behind it. The daily motion of the Sun is always within about 3 minutes of a degree and it is, therefore, quite unnecessary to make any calculations depending upon the hour of the horoscope. It is quite sufficient to take the noon position, accurate to the nearest degree. Thus, suppose he were marked 16-5-52 Libra, he can be put in the figure as 16, even if the actual time is near midnight. A little common sense is all that is necessary. We then consider the position of the Moon; the Moon’s daily motion is very large; it is some times as much as 15 degrees or even a little more. It is sometimes as low as 12 or even a little less, but this works out approximately as a degree every two hours. In the Ephemeris, the positions for both noon and midnight are given. You should take noon or midnight according to whether the hour of the h horoscope is nearer the one or the other. By allowing half a degree an hour you will get the Moon’s position correct with quite an inappreciable and negligible error. Thus suppose the time you want is 9 o’clock in the evening and the Moon at midnight on that day is in 8 degrees, 37 minutes of Taurus, all you have to do is to subtract a degree and a half, which will give you 7 degrees of Taurus. You then go on to the right hand page of the Ephemeris, which gives you the positions of the other planets.

Neptune never moves more than a minute or two in the twenty· four hours; Herschel rarely more than two minutes; Saturn rarely more than seven; Jupiter rarely more than twelve; Mars rarely more than fifty; and it is therefore quite unnecessary to mark down more than the nearest degree. Venus, however, occasionally moves over a degree, and you should consider the hour of the horoscope in deciding where to place her. Thus, suppose she is in 19-39 Aries, you would mark her as 19, if the time were long before noon, 20 if it were afternoon. Mercury moves still faster, sometimes covering over 2 degrees in the 24 hours. and you will be proportionately a little more careful in deciding his position.

The Nodes of the Moon are given in the Ephemeris in the upper right-hand corner of the page; they’ move very slowly, and no trouble need be taken to correct their position for the hour of the day. (Note: It will be observed that the Ephemeris purports to give the aspects, especially those of the Moon on the right-hand part of the page. The young astrologer will be ,vise to neglect these and work them out for himself, as only the exact aspects are given, and there may be many astrologically applicable which are not noted on the particular day for which he is setting up the figure.)

It will be noted that sometimes planets are marked as retrograde. This never applies to the Sun or Moon, and it is only important in the case of Mercury and Venus from the point of view of setting up the figure. If in casting your eye down the columns, you see the number diminish rather than increase, you know that the planet is retrograde, and in such a case, the later the time of your horoscope, the further back instead of forward, will be the position of the planet.

A little confusion is caused by the fact that the movement of the Zodiac is in an opposite direction apparently to that of the planets. This is, of course, not really the case even the so-called retrograde movements are due to the fact that the earth in moving so much faster than the other planets makes them appear as if they were going backwards. It is a similar illusion to that by which the lower half of a cartwheel appears to be moving backward; or as a local train appears to an express when the latter passes it. However, the point to be observed is this; owing to the rapid revolution of the earth, the observer at any given spot sees a new sign of the Zodiac rise every hour or two, whereas…the Sun remains in the sign of the Zodiac for a whole month. If, therefore, you set up a figure of the heavens for sunrise, and another for noon, it will appear as if the planets had all gone backwards, whereas of course, in reality, they are moving forward. It is hoped that this simple explanation will clear up any difficulty which there may be experienced by the young astrologer in setting up his figure.

There is a very useful and simple check on his calculation. If the time for which he is erecting the figure be near sunrise, he will find the Sun near the cusp of the Ascendant; if near noon about the cusp of the tenth house; near sunset, the seventh; near midnight, the fourth and for intermediate times, in intermediate positions. Until he has set up a few dozen figures, he had belter always use this to check his calculations.

We have tried to make these instructions as simple and practical as possible, omitting any refinements or complexities, but if they are not found perfectly easy to follow, the student after repeated trials, but not before, should get a practising astrologer to show him once or twice how the thing is done.