Performing the Zodiacal Drama: Bounds, Limits, and Particularization

Performing the Zodiacal Drama: Bounds, Limits, and Particularization

“As we know, it is also mistaken to limit the ‘freedom’ of interpretive choice to externals and marginal phenomena rather than think of the whole performance in a way that is both bound and free”—Gadamer, Truth and Method. (Emphasis Mine).


The bounds (ὁρία) are an important yet perplexing form of rulership in traditional astrology. Firmicus Maternus, for example, claims that “we must observe these” bounds “carefully”, since “when a planet is found in its own bounds, it is just as if located in its own sign” (Firmicus, Mathesis II.6).[1] So, on the one hand, the bounds are clearly important. They must be observed “carefully”. Yet, on the other hand, it is unclear why they are important. If, as Firmicus maintains, a planet residing within its own bounds is “just as if” it resided in its sign, what is gained by accepting this additional system of rulership? Why should we adopt another complicated rulership scheme, if it merely replicates the relations of sign rulership? Indeed, would not Ockham’s razor dictate that we should reject it, since we would, in effect, be postulating a new set of theoretical entities without having any compelling reason for doing so?

Similar concerns emerge for other early astrologers’ claims regarding the bounds. Paulus, for instance, attempts to explicate bound rulership by asserting that “just as a star takes delight in the zoidion of its trigon, or in its house and exaltation, so also does it take delight in its proper bounds in each zoidion.” (Paulus, Introductory Matters, 3). But, again, we are here provided with the mere assertion that the bounds are just as important as sign, exaltation, and triplicity rulership, but are not given any account of why they should be considered so, since Paulus fails to furnish a precise account of their nature or function.[2] And a similar difficulty emerges for Rhetorius when he maintains that “the force of the bounds alters the astrological influence of the stars” (Rhetorius, Compendium, 12)[3]. And he attempts to explicate this claim by stipulating that if a star is in a sign ruled by a benefic and in the bounds of a benefic, “it benefits the [native’s] fortune” (Ibid.); if it is in the sign of a benefic but in the bounds of a malefic, “it reduces the good of the fortune” (Ibid.); and if in both the sign and the bounds of a malefic “it hurts and darkens his luck” (Ibid.). The problem with such an alleged “explanation” is, once more, that it is so general that it applies to almost all most astrological doctrines. Sign, exaltation, and triplicity rulerships, as well as places and aspects, all benefit or darken a native’s luck depending on their relation to benefics and malefics. Rhetorius’s theory thus, like those of Firmicus and Paulus, fails to adequately explain the nature and function of bound rulership.

Contemporary Hellenistic astrologers have attempted to solve this problem by offering their own analogies, but they are beset by similar problems. For instance, Brennan likens the distinction between sign and bound rulership to the distinction between owning a house (sign rulership) and renting a room in a house (bound rulership).[4] Similarly, George compares sign and bound rulership to the administration of a school in which principals have the overall authority over the institution (sign rulership) and while teachers handle day to day concerns in the classroom (bound rulership).[5] And, finally, Tyndall compares them to nations (sign rulership) and their constituent states (bound rulership).[6]

While such additional analogies can be helpful, they fail to solve the underlying problem, since they do not provide a precise theory of the nature and function of bound rulership. The analogies sketched above are general and admit to different power dynamics in different contexts. Different landlords, different schools, and different nations admit of radically different conceptions of the relative authority at play within each domain. For example, states, in the early history of the US, had significantly more autonomy than they do now, and the federal government was considerably weaker. Hence, the nature of the kinds of authority inherent in the relation between a nation and its constituent states varies according with its historical context. And things become even more complicated once we consider multiple nations. Citizens of China and the USA, for example, are going to have different conceptions of how their nation relates to its smaller provinces. So, in light of the wide spectrum of possible meanings involved in the relation between nation and state, the analogy fails to adequately define the nature of bound rulership. Similar considerations hold for the analogies about landlords and renters and principals and teachers. These admit of vastly different power dynamics depending on the particular context in which they are embeded.

And this is not the only problem that besets the ancient theory of bound rulership. For, not only do we have no clear account of what role it is supposed to play in traditional astrology, the very notion of bound rulership itself appears to be confused, since there were a variety of competing systems employed in the ancient world. For instance, Sextus Empiricus, writing in the second or third century AD, observes that:

“And they call the boundaries of the stars in each zodiac sign the places within which each star, from a certain degree to a certain degree in the series, has most power; about this there is non-trivial disagreement, among them and in terms of their tables” (Sextus Empiricus, Against those in the Disciplines, 5.37).

Sextus Empericus thus attests that there were multiple conflicting systems of bound rulership in his era. Indeed, we have evidence of at least nine different systems in the extant literature, and there were likely many more that did not survive the vagaries of history.[7] So, we are left with multiple conflicting systems of bounds, each with its own unique demarcation of the zodiac. Worse yet, some of the most popular systems display no discernable logic for their preferred order. Brennan, for example, observes that the popular Egyptian system of bounds appears to lack any systematic rationale: “Despite how widely used they were, there is no clear systematic rationale underlying the distribution of the Egyptian bounds, and so the logic for their allotment remains a mystery.”[8]

The doctrine of the bounds in ancient astrology is thus doubly puzzling. We not only lack a clear account of their nature and function, but also must choose between multiple competing systems some of which appear to defy rational comprehension. I will not here attempt to solve the problem of competing systems of bounds. Personally, I reject the popular so-called Egyptian theory of bounds on account of its irrationality, and adopt instead the Chaldean system which is governed by simple consistent principles and integrated into the logic of the triplicity rulers.[9] I’ll leave it to others to defend the Egyptian system or argue for the superiority of the Chaldean or some other framework. Rather, in what follows I will set forth a general philosophical account of the bounds that can explain their overall nature and function within astrology.  

The Bounds of Concrete Existence

The Greek word ὅριον means a boundary or limit. One might, for example, erect a boundary to distinguish one’s farm from that of one’s neighbor, to demarcate between the territories of two peoples, or to mark the limits of a road (See LSJ entry on ὅριον).[10] Boundaries, then, in this concrete sense, delimit a domain and allow us to differentiate one region from another. Likewise, when viewed from a metaphysical perspective, this concept of limitation should remind us of the fundamental Pythagorean distinction between the limit and the unlimited. This doctrine is preserved by Aristotle when he reports:

“These thinkers [the Pythagoreans] also consider that number is the principle both as matter for things and as forming their modifications and states, and hold that the elements of number are the even and the odd, and of these the former is unlimited, and the latter limited; and the 1 proceeds from both of these (for it is both even and odd), and number from the 1; and the whole heaven…is numbers.

            Other members of this same school say there are ten principles, which they arrange in two columns of cognates—limit and unlimited, odd and even, one and plurality, right and left, male and female, resting and moving, straight and curved, light and darkness, good and bad, square and oblong” (Aristotle, Metaphysics I.986).

Here Aristotle observes that the two fundamental principles of Pythagoreanism are the limit and the unlimited and that these correspond to the odd and the even. These constitute the realm of number, which, in turn, grounds the visible cosmos. The principle of the limit is correlated with the odd, oneness, right, male, rest, straight, light, good, and square (a geometric shape that remains identical when reproduced). And the principle of the unlimited is correlated with the even, plurality, left, female, movement, curved, darkness, bad, and oblong (a figure that varies its proportions when replicated).

These Pythagorean principles can serve as a clue to help us understand the nature and function of bounds, or limits, in astrology. To see how, let’s examine how these concepts of the limit and the unlimited were employed by Plato.

In the Philebus, a late dialogue ostensibly concerning the role of pleasure in human happiness, Plato engages in some of his most detailed metaphysical reflections. Specifically, he employs the Pythagorean distinction between the limit and the unlimited to solve the problem of the one and the many (Philebus 15b). For Socrates, the main speaker in this dialogue, contends that “everything in any field of art that has ever been discovered has come to light because of this” distinction (Philebus 16c) and he describes it as “a gift of the gods to men…hurled down from heaven by some Prometheus along with a most dazzling fire” (Philebus 16c). He explains,

“The people of old, superior to us and living in closer proximity to the gods, have bequeathed us this tale, that whatever is said to be consists of one and many, having in its nature limit and the unlimited” (16d).

Here Plato, through Socrates, invokes the Pythagorean tradition, claiming that it has been handed down as if from the gods themselves. But he goes on to note that, from an explanatory point of view, we cannot simply assert the general fact that a domain is both limited and unlimited, one and many. Rather, we must show exactly how they are so. We might, for example, observe that there is an unlimited variety of sounds that can be produced from the human mouth, and subsume them all under the limit of vocal sounds. There would thus be one kind, <vocal sound>, and many possible instantiations of that kind. But this would not provide us with knowledge of the structure of this domain of inquiry (17b). For to know how such a field is structured, we would need to know precisely “how many kinds of vocal sounds there are and what their nature is” that lets us understand speech. Once we understand the basic building blocks of a language, its basic sounds and grammatical rules, then it is possible to grasp an infinite variety of possible sentences from this limited set of basic elements. Socrates explains:

“The way some god or god-inspired man discovered that vocal sound is unlimited, as tradition in Egypt claims for a certain deity called Theuth. He was the first to discover that the vowels in that unlimited variety are not one but several, and again that there are others that are not voiced, but make some kind of noise, and that they, too, have a number. As a third kind of letters he established the ones we now call mute. After this he further subdivided the ones without sound or mutes down to every single unit. In the same fashion he also dealt with the vowels and the intermediates, until he had found out the number for each one of them, and then he gave all of them together the name “letter.” And as he realized that none of us could gain any knowledge of a single one of them, taken by itself without understanding them all, he considered that the one link that somehow unifies them all and called it the art of literacy” (18c-d).

This limited set of letters, given together as a systematic whole, allows us to grasp the conceptual structure of the domain of language. If we were merely to say, there is a one thing, a human mark, and an infinite variety of possible instances, this would not suffice for a knowledge of the art of literacy. Instead, to understand it, we need to see exactly how the unlimited is brought under limits. Socrates explains:

“Just as someone who got hold of some unity or other should not, as we were saying, immediately look for the unlimited kind but first look for some number, so the same holds for the reverse case. For if he is forced to start out with the unlimited, then he should not head straight for the one, but should in each case grasp some number that determines every plurality whatever, and from all of those finally reach the one” (18a-b).

Socrates then applies this discovery about the systematic unity of fields of study to empirical reality as such. Just as the one and the many are brought together to constitute the domains of the various sciences, subsuming their subject matters under a specific number of basic principles, so is empirical reality itself a mixture of the limit and the unlimited.

Specifically, he attempts to explain reality in terms of four ontological categories. First, as noted above, there is the unlimited. We can understand the unlimited in terms of degreed properties, properties that things can exemplify more or less of without having to admit of a definite amount. For example, x can be larger than y, regardless of whether it is a millimeter larger or a kilometer larger. According to Socrates “the ‘more and less’… reside in these kinds, and while they reside in them do not permit the attainment of any end” (24a-b).

The second principle is the limited. We can understand it in terms of non-degreed properties. These properties do not admit of more or less, but are either exemplified or not. Two sets, for example, will either be equinumerous or they will fail to be so. They cannot be more or less equal in number. Socrates explains “but look now at what does not admit of these qualifications but rather their opposites, first of all ‘the equal’ and ‘equality’ and, after the equal, things like ‘double’, and all that is related as number to number or measure to measure: If we subsume all these together under the heading of ‘limit’, we would seem to do a fair job.” (25b).

The third ontological kind is the mixture of the previous two. The limit and the unlimited are combined in a particular manner, and this combination, when performed rightly, creates a harmony between the limit and the unlimited. Limits are imposed on the unlimited making that domain “commensurate and harmonious by imposing a definite number on them.” (25e). So, for example, health, music, and moderate weather are all created in this manner (25e-26a). And, the seasons too are created by such a mixture. “When the unlimited and what has limit are mixed together, we are blessed with seasons and all sorts of fine things.” (26b). This third kind, then is identified with the “coming-into-being created through the measures imposed by limit.” (26d).

And, finally, the fourth kind is the cause of this mixture, the agent that does the mixing. (26e). Socrates identifies this with the demiurge who creates the cosmos (27b).

This Pythagorean framework can help us understand the function of the bounds in ancient astrology. Apart from the bounds, astrology can account for the abstract meanings of planets, the archetypal abodes of gods in sign rulership, the exceptional manifestation of planetary powers in exaltations, and the determination of logically real content through the triplicities. What the bounds contribute to the system is an account of how planets and signs are concretely enacted in the world, their “coming-into-being” by the imposition of limits on the unlimited.

Not only is this account of bounds suggested by the conceptual connection between boundaries and limits, but it also makes sense of why the bounds were often associated with the length of life technique. From the point of view of this procedure, the bounds, in short, concretely determine the amount of time in which a person can live. Other techniques might reveal a person’s character or the events of his or her life, but the bounds, in contrast, specifically concern embodiment at its most concrete level. Paulus, for example, declares “For, by means of these bounds, the Egyptian wise men formed a judgement about the determination concerning rulership, from which the determination concerning the years of life is established.” (Paulus, Introductory Matters, 3).

Iamblichus on the Pentad

This interpretation is further born out by the fact that five bounds are given to each sign. To a Pythagorean, the number five would convey the idea of the union of the limit and the unlimited, since it is the combination of the first even number, two, with the first purely odd number, three. Recall that the number one was treated as unique and originary, and thus neither odd nor even within the Pythagorean system (Aristotle, Metaphysics, I.986). The Neo-Platonist Iamblichus thus describes the number five, the pentad, as follows:

“The pentad is the first number to encompass the specific identity of all number, since it encompasses 2, the first even number, and 3, the first odd number. Hence it is called ‘marriage,’ since it is formed of male and female. It is the mid-point of the decad….There are five solid figures with equal sides and qual angles—the tetrahedron (i.e. the pyramid, octahedron, icosahedron, cube and dodecahedron. And Plato says that the first is the figure of fire, the second of air, the third of water, the fourth of earth, and the fifth of the universe. Moreover, there are five planets, not counting the sun and moon” (Iamblichus, Theology of Arithmetic, 65.)

Iamblichus thus associates the number five with the union of the limit and the unlimited, and he describes this union in terms central to astrology. In the five solid figures, we have the four elements and the universe as a whole (corresponding to the entirety of the zodiacal wheel). Indeed, we even have an explicit mention of the five planets, excluding the sun and moon, the very planets which rule the bounds. This further bolsters the idea that the bounds were introduced to represent the imposition of limits on the unlimited and thus concrete embodiment  within the realm of becoming.

Since the number five was thus selected to indicate the mixing of the limited and the unlimited, two of the traditional seven planets needed to be excluded from bound rulership. Given that the bounds are meant to constitute a harmony between conflicting elements, it seems natural to exclude the Sun and Moon which already contain a principle of harmony within themselves.[11] Paulus, for example, invokes this rationale when he claims that:

 “Someone will ask the reason why the Sun and Moon became alienated from the mastership of the bounds. To which one must respond thus: they are the rulers of one’s all, and, since they are actually kings of wholes, they have taken the authority over the whole for their rulership” (Paulus, Introduction 3).

The luminaries are thus excluded from bound rulership since they already constitute wholes in themselves and thereby would not be well suited to express the discrete elements composing a mixture that the five individual bound lords are supposed to represent.

We thus have a general account of the nature and function of the bounds within the system of traditional astrology. In the next section, I will provide a further analogy to suggest how this theoretical account might be applied in practice.

A Gadamerian Analogy

The bounds signify the concrete particularization of the planets and the signs they fall within. While planetary sect corresponds to general principles (e.g. the representation of Being (diurnal) and Becoming (nocturnal) and the in-itself (malefic), for-itself (benefic), and in-and-for-itself (luminary)), sign rulership corresponds to the archetypal dwellings of the gods, exaltation rulership to the maximal exercise of planetary virtues, and triplicity to the dialectical determination of logically real content, the bounds represent their concrete enactment. To illustrate how this might function in a natal chart, it will be useful to consider Gadamer’s account of the ontology of art.

According to Gadamer, dramatic artworks, such as a dramatic play, should be understood through the more general phenomenon of play. He observes that we speak as if play were an activity that exists in the world at large. We can, for instance, talk about “the play of light, the play of the waves, the play of gears or parts of machinery, the interplay of limbs, the play of forces, the play of gnats, even a play on words” (Gadamer, Truth and Method, 104). Play, in such cases, is a movement, not a mere substrate. “It is the game that is played—it is irrelevant whether or not there is a subject who plays it. The play is the occurrence of the movement as such” (104). In the same way, play itself has primacy in human play. Play is not generated by the mere subjectivity of the players but stands above them as the subject matter that calls forth their efforts. Gadamer explains:

“All playing is being played. The attraction of a game, the fascination that it exerts, consists precisely in the fact that the game masters the players. Even in the case of games in which one tries to perform tasks that one has set oneself, there is a risk that they will not ‘work,’ ‘succeed,’ or ‘succeed again,’ which is the attraction of the game. Whoever ‘tries’ is in fact the one who is tried. The real subject of the game (this is shown in precisely those experiences in which there is only a single player) is not the player but instead the game itself. What holds the player in its spell, draws him into play, and keeps him there is the game itself” (Ibid., 106).

Play thus has primacy over players. Yet, at the same time, play can only present itself through the playing of players. “The players are not the subjects of the play; instead play merely reaches presentation (Darstellung) through the players” (Ibid., 103). A game, for example, might be generally characterized through abstract set of rules, but it would have no being as a game if players did not engage in it.  Indeed, Gadamer even goes so far as to claim that the mode of being of play is self-presentation. “One can say that performing a task successfully ‘presents it’ (stellt sie dar). This phrasing especially suggests itself in the case of a game, for here fulfilling the task does not point to any purposive context. Play is really limited to presenting itself. Thus its mode of being is self-presentation” (Ibid., 108).

And, according to Gadamer, a theatrical play is also an instance of play. As a work of art, it is play that has been translated into structure (Gibilde). The play, Hamlet, for example, is repeatable in a way that a tennis match is not. There is a certain sequence of events that must be followed for a play to be an instance of the play Hamlet. Gadamer explains:

“I call this change, in which human play comes to its true consummation in being art, transformation into structure. Only through this change does play achieve ideality, so that it can be intended and understood as play. Only now does it emerge as detached from the representing activity of the players and consist in the pure appearance (Erscheinung) of what they are playing. As such, the play—even the unforeseen elements of improvisation—is in principle repeatable and hence permanent. It has the character of a work, of an ergon and not only of energeia. In this sense I call it a structure (Gebilde)” (Ibid., 110).

Once endowed with such structure, the dramatic play is repeatable. And the same tension displayed with the general phenomenon of play emerges for theatrical drama as well. For, there is a contrast between the subordination of the players to the play and the fact that the play can only exist in its self-presentation through the players. Gadamer likens it to a religious ritual or a festival in this regard. A religious ritual, for example, exists only as it is actually performed by a community. The spiritual truth to which it points might exist in its own right, but the ritual itself is only in its performances (115). Gadamer contends:

“The same is true for drama generally, even considered as literature. The performance of the play, like that of the ritual, cannot simply be detached from the play itself, as if it were something that is not part of its essential being, but is as subjective and fluid as the aesthetic experiences in which it is experienced. Rather, it is in the performance and only in it—as we see most clearly in the case of music—that we encounter the work itself, as the divine is encountered it he religious rite. Here it becomes clear why starting from the concept of play is methodologically advantageous. The work of art cannot simply be isolated from the ‘contingency’ of the chance conditions in which it appears, and where this kind of isolation occurs, the result is an abstraction that reduces the actual being of the work. It itself belongs to the world to which it represents itself. A drama really exists only when it is played, and ultimately music must resound” (Ibid., 115).

So, on the one hand, actors and actresses must lose themselves in the play to perform it. No player qua player is significant in terms of his or her own contingent empirical personality, but only in reference to his or her part in the play (e.g. Hamlet, Horatio, Ophelia, etc.). Gadamer observes,

“It is clear that to start from the subjectivity here is to miss the point. What no longer exists is the players—with the poet or the composer being considered as one of the players. None of them has his own existence for himself, which he retains so that his acting would mean that he ‘is only acting’” (Ibid., 111).


“Rather, play itself is a transformation of such a kind that the identity of the player does not continue to exist for anybody. Everybody asks instead what is supposed to be represented, what is ‘meant’. The players (or playwright) no longer exist, only what they are playing” (Ibid., 111).

Yet, at the same time, the play can only exist insofar as it is enacted through time. Like a religious rite, the play Hamlet, exists as a play, only through its historical performances.

This, I contend, provides us with a helpful analogy for understanding the function of the bound lords in relation to the signs. If the signs are the archetypal dwellings of the gods, they can be likened to the dramas which draw us into themselves.[12] They would thus correspond to the subject matter of the artwork. The bound lords, in contrast, are, as noted earlier, the concrete enactment of these archetypes in the world of becoming through the subjugation of the unlimited to the limited. This, in our analogy, would correspond to a concrete performance of the drama.

And note further that performances are open to a range of valid interpretations. For example, Henry Irving, John Gielgud, and Lawrence Olivier all bring the Danish prince to life in different ways, yet each is equally a valid embodiment of Hamlet. All productions of a theatrical drama are “subject to the supreme criterion of the ‘right’ interpretation” (117). Yet this criterion admits of multiple exemplars. Gadamer accounts for this variability in terms of a tradition of performance. He explains:

“We know this in the modern theater as the tradition that stems from a production, the creation of a role, or the practice of a musical performance. Here there is no random succession, a mere variety of conceptions; rather, by constantly following models and developing them, a tradition is formed with which every new attempt must come to terms. The performing artist too has a certain consciousness of this. The way that he approaches a work or a role is always in some way related to models that approached it in the same way. But this has nothing to do with blind imitation. Although the tradition created by a great actor, director, or musician remains effective as a model, it is not a brake on free creation, but has become so fused with the work that concern with this model stimulates an artist’s creative interpretive powers no less than does concern with the work itself. The performing arts have this special quality: that the works they deal with are explicitly left open to such re-creation and thus visibly hold the identity and continuity of the work of art open towards the future” (Ibid., 117).

Actors and actresses attempt not only to do justice to the script of the play but also to an entire lineage of prior interpretations of that script. In this manner, one does not merely ape what has gone before, but brings the subject matter to life again in the spirit of past masters.

This, again, provides us with a helpful model for understanding the bound lords. For we can see each of the five bounds as a unique performance of the sign, bringing to life the possibilities inherent in its subject matter. So, for example, if we were to compare melancholy Capricorn to the play Hamlet and employ the Chaldean system of bounds, we could make the following analogy to a series of performances. The first production would be Venusian and would emphasize the themes of love and desire, perhaps accentuating the relationships between Hamlet and Ophelia and the love triangle between Gertrude, elder Hamlet, and Claudius. The second Saturnian productions would emphasize the themes of time, death, and melancholy. Hamlet would be dressed in black, and pride of place would be given to the soliloquies and his ruminations on Yorick’s skull. Third, Mercurial productions would emphasize the prince’s verbal dexterity, his restless energy, and constant plotting (though not actually translating his mental activity into physical action till the final scene). Fourth, the Marshal productions would emphasize the contrast between Hamlet and young Fortinbras and interpret the play through the fact that Hamlet is given a soldier’s burial at the end. “The soldiers’ music and the rites of war speak loudly for him” (Hamlet, V.ii). And, finally, the fifth Jupiterian production would focus on the duties of Hamlet as an heir to the rotting kingdom of Denmark, a kingdom he is called to restore. This duty is enjoined on him by the dead king, his father, who is described as having “the front of Jove himself” (III.iv). Such a production would do all it can to call attention to the fact that the prince would likely, had he survived, “to have prov’d most royal” and would also emphasize the excesses of Claudius’s reign (I.iv). Thus, though there is only one play, Hamlet, and there are definite success conditions for its proper performance, it is nonetheless capable of being staged in five distinct ways, each of which concretely actualizes its potentialities.

As a result, the forgoing account of bound rulership not only provides us with a straightforward account of the nature and function of the bounds, but it also suggests a fruitful model for their use in chart delineation. For, the bounds, when understood in this manner, prove to be essential in speaking to the particularity of life, the concrete production of the divine work that draws man ecstatically into itself.

Peter Yong, Ph.D.

[The image used in the thumbnail of this essay is a painting of Neuschwanstein castle by Christian Jank and is in the public domain. It can be found here:]

[1] Modified by me. The translation uses the term “terms” instead of “bounds.”

[2] Paulus does suggest that the bounds are important in that they allow one to determine rulership, and that this, in turn, allows one to determine the length of someone’s life (Introductory Matters, 3).  This suggests that the bounds were used in connection with the so-called length of life technique. See, Brennan, Hellenistic Astrology, 276.  I’ll consider this claim in more detail later in section II.

[3] Modified by me. Holden uses the term “terms” instead of “bounds.”

[4] Brennan, 278.

[5] George, 209-211.

[6] Tyndall, “Egyptian Terms and Bounds” talk for Nightlight Astrology Speaker Series.

[7] Jones and Steele, “A New Discovery of a Component of Greek Astrology in Babylonian Tablets: The Terms”, 2-3.

[8] Brennan, 278.

[9] This problem was evident in the ancient world. Indeed, Ptolemy, articulated the problem of the inconsistent rationale for the Egyptian bounds explicitly in his Tetrabiblos. Frustrated at the inconsistencies of the Egyptian bounds he queries, “For in the first place, in the matter of order, they have sometimes assigned the first place to the lords of the houses and again to those of the triplicities, and sometimes also to the lords of the exaltations. For example, if it is true that they have followed the houses, why have they assigned precedence to Saturn, say, in Libra, and not to Venus, and why to Jupiter in Aries and not to Mars? And if they follow the triplicities, why have they given Mercury, and not Venus, first place in Capricorn? Or if it be exaltations, why give Mars, and not Jupiter, precedence in Cancer; and if they have regard for the planets that have the greatest number of these qualifications, why have they given first place in Aquarius to Mercury, who has only his triplicity there, and not to Saturn, for it is both the house and the triplicity of Saturn? Or why have they given Mercury first place in Capricorn at all, since he has no relation of government to the sign? One would find the same kind of thing in the rest of the system.” (Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, I.20). As alternatives, he lists two other systems of bounds, the Chaldean and what came to be called the Ptolemaic, both of which admit of a more rational order (I.21). A detailed discussion of the Ptolemaic  bounds can be found in Houlding’s “Ptolemy’s Terms and Conditions”. It can be found online here:

[10] Schmidt also speculates on the meaning of the word in his translation of Paulus p.7-8, n.1.

[11] This fits with my interpretation of sect in which the luminaires are identified with the representation of the in-and-for-itself. The sun being representing being-in-and-for-itself and the moon becoming-in-and-for-itself. See

[12] For my account of sign rulership see

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