Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month we journey into the past to explore the possibility that an entire tier of astrological knowledge has been lost, one that we can only now observe gradually returning.
“How a person masters his fate is more important than what his fate is.”
– Wilhelm von Humboldt, 18th and 19th century philosopher and linguist
Every practicing astrologer knows many variations of the following problem – your clients chart has Venus in a configuration which suggests emotional trouble and conflict connected to their siblings, or Jupiter strongly placed in the 9th house, indicating growth and spiritual expansion of horizons through faith or exploration of the world. However, the client with the troubled Venus has a brother and a sister and only gets along badly with one of them, or the person with the strong Jupiter has absolutely no interest in faith or travel but is instead a lawyer, yet another signification of the 9th house and Jupiter. There seems to be no mechanism in astrology for delineating which of these outcomes will manifest itself. The modern practice of astrology, with its great emphasis on the worship of free will and human psychology, approaches this problem by emphasising that a chart exists within a context which is provided by the choices we make, tasking the astrologer with ascertaining through consultation how the person is manifesting the archetypal energies. To put this more simply, we assume (correctly), for example, that the way that a dancer manifests their Venus will be different to the way that a banker does and it is not really the astrologers job to guess but to adapt the charts pattern to the life circumstances. The problem remains however – the astrologer is faced with a daunting task in interpreting not just one planet with many possible manifestations but an entire chart full of them (and rapidly overflowing with modern discoveries), and that is just planets – the signs, houses and aspects also manifest with spectacular scope. Even a square between planets can signify either continuous trouble or perpetual energy and stimulation.
This context in which astrology operates is composed of what are sometimes called “co-determining factors”. A good example of a co-determining factor is your biological gender. It is not readable from your birth chart. Nor is your skin colour, the cultural background you are born into (your nationality or race). Clearly these are major factors influencing your life, but astrology or your natal chart doesn’t seem to care, only showing our relationship to archetypes. Other co-determining factors are currently up for debate – sexuality is a big one, disability is another. As modern attitudes towards these topics evolves and changes it is forcing a re-evaluation of basic astrological principles. Whereas, for example, in the past it might have seemed acceptable to assign the hard aspects of Saturn to mobility issues or Uranus with homosexuality and lesbianism, shifts in the collective paradigm now bring such judgments into question. The outdated and historical treatment of homosexuality as a perversion, for example, clearly underlies part of this assignment to the planet Uranus, while the emerging maturity with which we treat the disabled now perceives their situation as a social disability involving lack of access and recognition rather than a physical disability which invites pity, a shift which calls into question the idea that disability by necessity has to be represented by ‘hard’ or ‘bad’ or ‘malefic’ planets and influences. Here, again, we touch upon the same issue – why do only some people manifest such aspects as homosexuality, for example, while others do not?
The ancient world had simpler words for many of these ‘co-determining factors’ – fate. The concept of fate, however, was extremely developed and multivalent, requiring several words to describe the different kinds of fate which existed in a metaphysical model that had many deep roots in hermetics, especially in reference to the planetary spheres, the three realms or planes (four if you include the Divine) and the three bodies which act as the vehicles for their realms. This philosophy of fate is at least as extensive as our modern psychology and defies easy summary, so you will need to do more research in this area as it is beyond the scope of this journey, but I will give some explanation here because it is important for understanding what follows:
Pronoia is Divine will, Divine Providence, the fate of implicit order, of universal principles, and it relates to foresight in the human being. Night follows day, day follows night; spring follows winter and is followed by summer, etc. It is the fate of the nature of things as they are, the fate of a human being differing, say, from that of an acorn seed, or a star. It is universal, hierarchical, orderly, with that which is closer to the Divine being ‘higher’ in this hierarchy and that which is more material being ‘lower’, with the important addition that what is ‘above’ is like that which is ‘below’. Possessing foresight permits us to perceive how fate will play out based on our understanding of the natural order of things. It is a part of being. This is an expression of fate in the mental realm, i.e. of spiritual fate. We can say, for example, that the Pronoia of Venus is that it is connected to love and to feelings. It is part of the essential meaning of Venus. Every human being has a specific set of archetypes, the same signs, planets, potential aspects, etc., which is also an expression of Pronoia.
Heimarmene or ‘incarnation of destiny’ is astrological fate, the fact that each thing is born into a certain set of astrological conditions which shape its experience, and is closest to our modern definition of fate. It can be adapted to, escaped or worked out through effort and spiritual maturation and is a part of becoming. A seed must contend with the cycle of the seasons over many years in order to reach its full potential. This is an expression of astral fate, i.e. the fate of the soul, of things at work within it. Venus gets two signs, Taurus and Libra, which acts as another allotment of fate. Thats the Heimarmene of Venus. Valens tells us ‘the planets are servants of Heimarmene. Your specific astrological chart, with its seeding of the universal archetypes in a specific, personal configuration or mandala is an expression of fate at this level too.
Ananke (necessity) is the fate of inevitability and compulsion, the fact that if you jump off a cliff you will not fly but will fall to the rocks below (unless you are winged like a bird and thus fated to fly by virtue of the nature of your being at the higher order of Pronoia). It is the fate of reality and coercion, of things working upon the soul. It can be manipulated with magic or technology so that what is necessary to happen does not transpire or occurs in a particular way. Ananke is a constraining force that embodies the densest form of fate in the material plane, i.e. allotted fate. It represents the fact that we have to operate in a world where things happen independent of our own actions or designs. It is not under our conscious control and has inevitability attached but it is not necessarily bad for us – hunger, for example, prevents us from starving to death. By Ananke the seed falls on a certain type of ground, as in the parable of the sower, and thus meets with this third order of fate – it is eaten by birds, strangled by thorns, burned by the Sun, or grows into full life as a tree. Ananke manifests in human beings as hindsight – shit happens and we learn from it for later – and in modern astrology as things like transits, synastry and the overall way that happenings and the context provided by those co-determining factors and a persons choices in expressing the archetypes in the chart manifest themselves.
This is a super gross simplification of an elaborate philosophy but it illustrates the essential thinking on fate as having multiple levels and forms of mnifestation, represented by different deifications of fate, not just in the ancient Greek world but in other old mythologies like the three Norse Norns. A thing has the mental fate of being what it is (which it cannot change), the astral fate of contending with becoming what it is (which it is born into but can influence), and the material fate of contending with necessary and constraining events in the world it seems to have no control over and can do nothing or little about but can learn from anyway. In modern astrology we could also say that the third level of fate, Ananke, is connected not just to transits and so on but to the house that Venus falls in and all of her aspects. This makes a lot of sense because the house cusps are determined by the time and place of your birth and are the most personal parts of your astrology, so the ascendant literally allots all the planets and signs a particular power and duty according to where they fall, like scattered seeds. Yet the ancient world had a much more developed system for analysing this level of fate, one that practically disappeared but is now being revived: the Lots.
A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON
Like almost all, of astrology we have only the vaguest idea of the origins of the Lots. This fact alone is testament to their antiquity. It’s very unlikely that they were just discovered by noticing things happening in people’s lives and events. Its much more likely the system was received through direct inspiration and/or systematic development with intent by an individual or group. The earliest significant record of them (earlier mentions exist without giving great details) comes from the Tetrabiblos written by Ptolemy in the 2nd century but it is of course well known that he was in the business of cataloging and compiling as well as streamlining, not inventing, and he repeatedly tells us that he is drawing on Egyptian and Chaldean sources for his information. Later writers also tell us the Lots (which became known as Parts) were used extensively by the Egyptians and Babylonians as evidenced in books by them that they were reading but which have not survived down to the present day. It is very unclear whether this is actually true or just a fable from the ancient world. The notion of Lots could have been imported from India, for example.
Regardless of their origin they were an almost universal part of the practice of Hellenistic astrology for many centuries and it seems that they became popular in Arabic practice around the 7th century, leading to the mistaken idea that they were invented at this time and thus being given the alternative name ‘Arabic parts’ by which they are more commonly called today. Use of these Lots continue to be popular after the fall of Rome and throughout the medieval period until the Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries (take that in, it’s at least 1500 years of use, much more if you source them in Egypt or India), when astrology as a whole came under attack as a result of the shift in the paradigm towards rationality and reason together with the still powerful influence of the Church and faith. It seems to me that these factors led to the eventual abandonment of the Lots as astrologers (trying to avoid fatal heresy and blasphemy charges) sought to justify their practice and art more scientifically and the Lots lacked a firm basis in astronomy, physics and reason, concerning themselves more with the concept of fate as a metaphysical force. Without power or influence to shield you it became lethally unfashionable to believe in fate, as either the rationalists would humiliate and dismiss you as superstitious and fatalistic or the Church would kill you for trucking with evil spirits. Since that time the Lots have been largely forgotten, the Part of Fortune somehow weathering the purge but remaining a minor factor not used by many astrologers, although knowledge of their use and examples of that use existed in texts that lay untranslated until the late 20th century. Beginning in the early 1990s, a project was begun to translate these texts for modern astrologers and since that time great advances have been made in recovering the knowledge that has been lost. However, we are still unclear about many issues related to their use and there are even controversies about their calculation. This isn’t too surprising when you consider the fact that thousands of years have passed, for many centuries of which the ideas were lost, and even when they were popular and widely used there was still a lot of debate (pun unintended) about them and their origins. The ideas have probably been resurrected and reconstructed more than once, with the Hellenistic astrologers having to do much the same with holes in their understanding and being just as baffled about where they came from as we are. However, thanks to the work of astrologers at Project Hindsight, many of these treasures are now being unearthed and re-examined and have started to find their place in modern astrology.
WHAT IS A LOT?
Remember the problem raised when we began this journey? Planets are literally godlike, world spanning properties, with Venus representing every kind of feeling and emotion, as well as the arts, beauty, women, sugary treats and more specific things like roses, fashion shows and emeralds, to name just a few. Planets represent a huge number of things through the law of analogy, which is a problem when it comes to interpretation.
The ancients used Lots to solve this problem. A Lot is basically a degree somewhere in the zodiac that represents a single topic related to a particular planet. This means that there are literally countless Lots, with some being more archetypal and thus more commonly used. There are Lots connected to each of the houses with their large scope of concepts and to planets with theirs. Thus, the troubled Venus showing sibling dramas can be further delineated by generating the Lot of Brothers and the Lot of Sisters, which will fall in separate places, and a distinction can then be made between them, or the strong Jupiter can be delineated by looking at Lots related to religion, law or travel which, in theory, will then show the Lot of lawyers to be more favorably placed.
A Lot is generated from the position of three different points in the chart. The practice is always the same – the distance between two objects is calculated and this same arc is then projected from the third, which is most often the ascendant. This locates the Lot. The formulae for any Lot can therefore be expressed algebraically:
Lot = A + B – C (where A is nearly always the ascendant while B and C are usually planets or other Lots)
“If you want to know the market for wine, which is had from the condition of the grapes, take the place of Saturn from the place of Venus and add the degree of the sign of the ascendant to the remainder”
– Guido Bonatti, the most famed court astrologer of the 13th century, adviser of the Holy Roman Emperor
This means the formula for the Lot of wine is Ascendant + Venus – Saturn. To find it, you would add the zodiac degree position of Venus to the zodiacal degree of the ascendant, and then subtract the zodiac degree position of Saturn to arrive at the Lot for wine.
Example: Venus is at 10 ° Taurus, Saturn at 20° Taurus, and the ascendant at 10° Aries. Taurus 10° (Venus) is 40° of the zodiac, and Aries 10° (ascendant) is 10° of the zodiac. First we add these together to get to 50°. Then, we have to deduct the position of Saturn – Taurus 20° is 50° of the zodiac – which puts the score at 0°. The Lot is thus located at 0° of the zodiac, or 0° Aries.
This gets problematic when you end up with a negative number like -50° and then have to add 360 to find the zodiacal position of the Lot, making them a little more mysterious and tricky to work out sometimes. The ancients expressed the Lots geometrically rather than algebraically, as the quote from Bonatti illustrates. Understanding how to find Lots the way they did not only preserves the thinking of the system, it is also easier. The instructions sometimes take the format of saying to start from a certain planet and project or count to another. You always count in zodiacal order, counting from Aries to Taurus, Taurus to Gemini, etc, and always project from the ascendant in zodiacal order, too. So in the quote above Bonatti would be telling us to start from wherever Saturn is (Taurus 20°), go forward in the order of the zodiac signs to wherever Venus is (Taurus 10°), figure out what that distance is (350°), and then add it to the ascendant (Aries 10°), also moving forward in order of zodiac signs. This lands at 360°, which is 0° Aries but by another route.
Ignoring all of this altogether, an easy way to do this in your head is to start from point C in the formula, count the shortest distance to point B, and then move the same amount and in the same direction from the position of point A, which is almost always the ascendant. In the example, point C is Saturn. The shortest distance to Venus (point B) is 10°, and we went backwards in the zodiac. So we just do the same from the ascendant of Aries 10°, move back 10, and we get to the same answer of 0° Aries for the Lot of wine.
Modern technology and software give us an even easier way to visually locate any Lot quickly. We just have to move point C to the ascendant, preserving the relationship between all the objects in the chart, and when we do that the location of point B (which has moved the same distance) will locate the Lot. So when we move Saturn to 10° of Aries in our example, placing it at the ascendant, we will see Venus 10° behind it at 0° Aries, the place of the Lot we are seeking. We can also use software to calculate the Lots for us.
UNDERSTANDING THE FORMULA
This is a very important aspect of working with Lots to grasp because it enables you to interpret them and also to create your own Lots. The first point in the formula of A + B – C, the A, is usually the ascendant because this is a deeply personal degree determined by the location and exact moment of your birth. It is philosophically and astronomically the place where things first appear or arise and in the formula it projects and personalises the matter at hand, applying it to you, causing it to show itself. It is therefore revelatory and a primary reference point. If another part of the chart is used as point A then the Lot is derivative of that specific point rather than of the chart as a whole. Point C in the formula is the planet of the main or general topic being considered, while point B of the formula, is a specifier, a descriptor and definer of that topic. The formula of the Lot for wine is therefore a topic of Saturn (agriculture, harvesting, the ripeness and condition of things, wine because it matures with age) defined more specifically by a topic of Venus (grapes, wine because it brings pleasure, parties, etc). This understanding will be important later when we look at 7 powerful and commonly used Lots.
A great deal of thought was put into this matter and the many hundreds of agreed upon formulas we have had handed down are far from arbitrary, in fact they reveal a deep subtlety of thought and a sophisticated philosophical position, especially in the early Greek and later Arabic traditions. These were all considered to be astrological operations upon fate, which is why the term Lots, as in a lottery, for there is no telling where the various Lots of your life will fall, and this places the outcome in the hands of Divine Providence like any divination does.
HOW THE LOTS ARE INTERPRETED
Once a Lot has been determined its position in the chart is evaluated in much the same way as other positions, however the way that astrology operates and the various systems attached to it have changed greatly over the millennia and so the descriptions of how to use the Lots are all based on the more traditional Hellenistic system. This means that they use sign based aspects rather than degree based aspects – a planet in Scorpio is always opposite one in Taurus regardless of degrees, while Virgo is always square Gemini and Sagittarius for example – and many used a whole sign house system which does away with the problem of house cusps – if you have Capricorn rising, Aquarius is the sign of your 2nd house, Pisces your 3rd, Aries your 4th, and so on. In essence the emphasis on degrees is minimised, although certain emphasis did exist such as with the position of the ascendant, exaltation degrees for the planets, actual degrees for the planets, etc. These changes are easy for us to mentally compute and visualise without needing to recalculate a chart.
The system for analysing anything present in the chart is remarkably consistent and is one of the features of Hellenistic astrology we can be confident about. Being concerned much more with fate it is mostly a process aimed at evaluating whether a planet or Lot will be beneficial or malefic towards us, strong or weak, well placed or not. The first step is to look at the sign and to consider how that sign shapes the object, with planets becoming stronger in the signs of their rulership and exhaltation and weaker in the signs of their fall and detriment. Since, unlike planets, Lots do not have these attributions among the signs the process at this point for a Lot is mostly for the astrologer to consider how well the sign expresses the concept of the Lot and to gather clues and hints about what it might contribute, for example a Lot of children in a masculine sign (Fire or Air) would be symbolising boys, with Aries more specifically suggesting boys who are born soldiers. Judgments like these are gathered and layered together at each step to form an answer. Next the house position of the object is considered. In this respect the ancients evaluation operated quite differently to ours with some houses being clearly worse and some better than others. The strongest houses are the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th places of the chart (angular houses) while the weakest are those which are cadent, the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th, with succeedent houses (the 2nd, 5th, 8th and 11th) all having an intermediate power. Houses are also strengthened if they form a major aspect to the ascendant – the 3rd and 11th are sextile the 1st, the 5th and 9th are both trine, while the 4th, 7th and 10th are all square or opposite it. Taken all together, and there was some variation on this, this resulted in an order of power from greatest to least as follows: 1st, 10th, 7th, 4th, 11th, 5th, 9th, 3rd, 2nd, 8th, 6th, 12th. The placement of the Lot would be evaluated according to the strength of the house it fell in, often with more attention than the sign, and the nature of the house would provide further information for the answer. Next, the Lot or planet would be evaluated according to the other planets and Lots in its sign as well as the planets which were in major aspect to it by sign, with the malefic planets Mars and Saturn always harming what they aspect (especially in a hard aspect) and the benefic planets Venus and Jupiter increasing the fortunes of the Lot or planet (especially in a soft aspect). Aspects were seen as testimonies or planets witnessing one another (part of a prevalent judicial paradigm) and more generally as having vision of, seeing one another. A planet or Lot that is not seen at all by Mars or Saturn but is seen by both Jupiter and Venus, especially by trine or sextile, has a lot of good going its way and much less bad. Mercury and the Lights are generally neutral to positive influences that only cause trouble when the aspect is a square or opposition. Conjunctions were a special case, not considered an aspect as such because the planets were not beholding one another, they were more closely bonded in some kind of union like a marriage. Finally, the ruler of the sign that the Lot or planet falls in is evaluated, following exactly the same procedure, starting from its sign position. You get a secondary full layer of interpretative context from this ruler. This was really the main function of the sign the Lot falls in, to identify its planetary ruler, the one responsible for responding to the allotment. This means that, for example, if the Lot falls in one of the signs of Saturn then the person should take a responsible and enduring approach to the Lot, but their ability to do so will rest upon the condition of Saturn in the chart. In other words, the position of the ruler of the Lot or planet modifies both the outcome of how the situation fares (it gets worse or better) as well as how well situated we are to be able to deal with it (which is perhaps why it gets worse or better).
Sometimes the Lot position is also used to generate a new subsidiary chart by considering its sign as a 1st house and reading the natal chart accordingly. This is called turning the chart and was most frequently used with the Lots of Fortune and Spirit, described below. For example, if your natal chart has Leo rising with the Sun in Leo in the 1st house and the Lot of Fortune in Gemini in the 11th, the chart will be turned so that Gemini is instead the rising sign, placing the Sun in Leo in the 3rd house of the Fortune chart. As you can see when this is done the planets of the natal chart end up in new houses relative to the Lot, changing their strength, unless of course the Lot in question happens to fall in the native charts 1st house. The position of the Lot will then be evaluated in both charts according to the same general rules described above, adding even more complexity and nuance to the system.
Many considerations were involved in all of this, including whether a planet was retrograde, in reception, combust, in some form of essential dignity or debility, rises before or ahead of the Sun, whether a planet is in sect or not, etc. Some of these considerations would be familiar to us, others completely unfamiliar. In fact these considerations are so many that they present one of the more cryptic aspects of the entire system as different astrologers noted different considerations at different times. It’s in these considerations that much of the present confusion for us arises, as it did for them, as evidenced by some of the texts where authors remark on the controversies of their time and the missing information they have from ancient sources which for us are now completely lost or hidden in private collections. There was further controversy over some of the technical aspects of astrology such as the calculations for various Lots, as there always are in scholarly matters, and these are worth looking into if you want to go deeper.
An astrologer, then, when faced with a soldier going to war, might first look at the natal chart Mars, perhaps also at Saturn and Jupiter to consider the innate likelihood of defeat, death or victory in the natives chart, these being natural to consider in all matters of war, then might consider the ruler of the 8th (again because that might show death) or the 9th if it is a crusade oveseas, perhaps the ruler of the 1st house if the war is initiated by the soldier or the 7th ruler if they are being invaded, but then finally would also examine the Lots, probably Fortune, Spirit, Courage, Victory, Nemesis and Necessity (described below), as well as any other Lots they considered specific to the war. They might do all this for charts they construct for the nations or the war itself as well as for the soldier. They also had their own sophisticated forecasting techniques added on to this (the equivalent of progressions and transits today). If all indicators pointed in the same direction, the strongest warnings or encouragements would be given. Most often this did not occur of course, and a more nuanced and carefully judged interpretation had to be arrived at. Lives and reputations were often at stake, including the astrologers.
THE HERMETIC LOTS
Seven of the Lots have a special place as the Lots of the visible objects in the sky, the Sun, Moon and planets out to Saturn. These Lots are given descriptive names like the Lot of Eros for Venus and the Lot of Courage for Mars. Some of this is a bit cryptic to us now as the use of dead language, several paradigm ending cultural shifts and the perils of translation get in the way. The primary Lots in the entire system are two of these Lots, the ones for the Lights, and the Lots for the luminaries are used to calculate the Lots for the other planets, so must be calculated first. The Lot for the Moon is called the Lot of Fortune (in modern parlance the Part of Fortune) while the Lot for the Sun is called the Lot of Spirit or Daimon. These were the two Lots that were most commonly used to turn a chart as described above.
These Lots are called the Hermetic Lots because according to ancient texts (Paulus and Olympiodorus) we are told that they originate from a book called the ‘Panaretus’ which was written by Hermes Trismegistus. It is possible, in my view likely, that this text or one of its companions, all lost, is the source for the entire system of Lots, a seed that was developed over the many centuries that followed. We may never know.
The fact that there are Lots for the planets raises a question – why do we need them? If the use of other Lots is to treat the vast array of topics given to a planet as individual concerns, what does a Lot for Venus mean that differentiates it from the natal position of Venus? What we are told in answer to this question in the ancient texts (as well as the way history went down as I mentioned earlier) indicates that we are dealing with an entirely separate tier of astrological interpretation, one that deals head on with fate and destiny. That is, the Lots are potentially like the signs, houses, planets and aspects, a fundamental component of the whole, generated at a planetary, astral level but applying themselves to worldly, physical experience, a more concrete level that is closer in nature to the way houses shape things but actually at a more granular and differentiated, i.e. incarnated, level than houses. In fact it could be argued that the Lots are a subset of the house system since they often project from the ascendant, and additionally the placement of a Lot in a house acts to modify the natural significations of that house, adding something potentially foreign to it. For example, your 10th house might contain Lots for captives, soldiers, kings and cucumbers. These don’t necessarily naturally belong to the 10th (kings does) but in your case your lottery draw places them there. You are reputed (10th) as the king of cucumbers who will go to war and be captured! I joke of course, because in reality only Lots of concern to a matter at hand were usually given attention.
In this scheme, then, the position of planets is an astral situation and the planets become more about what we experience of that planets principle being placed within us (its presence in our soul) while its Lot expresses how that planets essential meaning operates upon us, as an allotment of fate in the Akasha (its presence in the world at large), and how well we are equipped to respond to these happenings. The experiential difference is that the planet itself represents our innate inborn connection to that principle, a relationship we can work upon and change, while the Lot is what we experience of that principle in the external world, the way that a planets stuff interacts with us outside of our intention or action. This, to me, is one of the most fascinating revelations of the Lots.
REVERSING THE FORMULA
Before looking in detail at each of the seven hermetic Lots we need to address an important curve ball thrown in by the doctrine of astrological sect, the idea that astrology functions differently during the day and night. This was an important consideration throughout the astrology of the ancient world and according to what we are told we must reverse the formulas we are given if a person is born during the night, exchanging B and C. This does not seem to apply to all of the formulas but it does apply to the hermetic Lots and many of the older ones. For example the formula for calculating the Lot of Fortune is given as Ascendant + Moon – Sun. However, if instead you were born at night the formula is changed to Ascendant + Sun – Moon.
The problem with this is that reversing the formulas interchanges the general and main topic with the specific one, as explained earlier in Understanding the Formulas, which obscures our ability to understand what the Lot is actually about and over time occults our ability to perceive the underlying philosophy of the formulas as well as how to formulate our own. This is not the only philosophy underpinning the Lots that helps to explain the formulas, there are others which don’t necessarily contradict one another, revealing the underlying thought behind the system to be extremely sophisticated. Ultimately, lurking in the depths where we cannot go in this article, there is esoteric and magical thinking on the power of number behind the entire system, even behind all of astrology. If you’re interested in exploring this further I recommend you read my journey on harmonic charts.
In any case, when reversing the formula as described, remember that it is the original day formula that identifies the general topic and specific topic, with C being the general and B the specific.
FORTUNE & SPIRIT (SUN & MOON)
Lot of Fortune (Moon) : In a day chart you measure the distance from the Sun to the Moon and then add that same distance to the degree of the ascendant. By night you measure the distance from the Moon to the Sun and do the same.
Day Formula: Asc. + Moon – Sun
Night Formula: Asc. + Sun – Moon
The general topic is related to the Sun (life, vitality, enthusiasm, spirit, consciousness and being) and the specific topic is the Moon (change, the soul, the astral realm). This Lot is about how being alive and constantly exposed to the ebb and flow of fortune and change in the world around us personally affects and shapes our life story, causing us to act or shine. Interestingly, the ancients connect it to the body (the Moon was taken generally as the body, the Sun as the soul, with spirit or conscious presence being represented somewhat by its Lot rather than the Sun), with the formula neatly expressing the hermetic philosophy of the three bodies, since the formula (as well as Spirit, below) is composed of Sun, Moon and ascendant, the three representatives of the spirit, soul and physical body in the chart, suggesting the Lot is connected to the astral matrix or silver cord which connects the physical and astral bodies and also therefore with the karma of the soul in its earthly incarnation (the cord or matrix is set to naturally expire at a certain time from birth according to the needs of the incarnation). Other significations for this Lot given include possessions, the way we make a living, reputation and how much privilege we enjoy. It is taken as a general indicator of fortune and its positional strength and that of its ruler indicators of how much favour we enjoy generally.
Lot of Spirit or Daimon (Sun): In a day chart you measure the distance from the Moon to the Sun and then add the same distance to the degree of the ascendant. By night you measure the distance from the Sun to the Moon and then add the same distance to the degree of the ascendant.
Day Formula: Asc. + Sun – Moon
Night Formula: Asc. + Moon – Sun
Notice that this is the reverse of the formula for Fortune. This means that both of these Lots will be equal distances from the ascendant but on the other side, like a mirror with the ascendant as the reflector, the midpoint. The general topic is related to the Moon (the soul, astral realm, change) and the specific topic is the Sun (life events, consciousness and being). This is a more spiritual Lot connected to the enlightenment and awakening of spiritual powers within the soul. It characterizes how life will present us with events that are tailored towards our own personal spiritual evolution according to our fate in the Akasha and the needs of the soul. This Lot both awakens and inspires us to take some kind of action and can be interpreted as the fortune we are fated to create through our own actions. It is the nature of the Sun to invigorate and enliven, to bring about action, and so we can interpret this Lot as being about how life events in general happening around us are fated to cause us to take action that results in changes within our soul, adaptation and personal change – to astrally respond to the light. It therefore also connects with the mental matrix or golden/violet cord that binds the astral and mental body together and which naturally expires when the souls return journey is complete. Paulus writes that it signifies the exercise of every power. The world changes according to our actions and this Lot connects with that power.
Lot of Necessity (Mercury): For a day chart you measure from Mercury to the Lot of Fortune and by night you go from the Lot of Fortune to Mercury, and then project the same distance from the degree of the ascendant.
Day Formula: Asc. + Lot of Fortune – Mercury
Night Formula: Asc. + Mercury – Lot of Fortune
The general topic is related to the planet Mercury while the specific focus is the Lot of Fortune. This Lot is about our fortune, fate and karma with Mercury. It is about how interaction in the world with all Mercurial things brings either what we would call fortune or misfortune, trouble and strife or agreement and alignment. In the ancient texts we see this Lot is given many malefic qualities like imprisonment, exile, enmity, poverty, a lack of education, battle and disagreements and in general is delineated as being about restrictive and difficult situations, bringing about the necessity for adaptation and mercurial inventiveness (“Necessity is the Mother of invention.”). The world is bothersome, we get into all kids of trouble, there are countless problems, things we must learn about, controversies, opinions and factors to consider, and overwhelming input like this forces us to make choices and develop our own viewpoints. Knowledge itself is part of this as from the earliest age we must learn number, letters, and all the subjects to study and lessons just multiply from there. The Lot shows the outcome of our pursuit of knowledge, the way our own mental viewpoint can imprison our thinking and how we are fated to experience being affected by all this, all of which expresses the trickster side of Mercury who delights equally in creating problems and solving them.
Lot of Eros (Venus): For a day chart measure the distance from the Lot of Spirit to Venus but by night measure it from Venus to the Lot of Spirit, then project the same distance from the ascendant degree.
Day Formula: Asc. + Venus – Lot of Spirit
Night Formula: Asc. + Lot of Spirit – Venus
The general topic is the Lot of Spirit (things that happen to inspire you to take a course of action and which serve as spiritual instruction or awakening) while the specific topic is Venus (emotions and desires, the Venus sphere), so this Lot is about the outcome of pursuing those things we cant help but set our hearts on firmly, the Venus things in and of the world (really, the universe) which inspire us to take action, to live life and embrace it as a lover by pursuing them. Do we attain them, and is that attainment to our satisfaction? Remember though that Venus is as much about attraction as she is about repulsion. Eros is about how the sensation of being alive in a world where everything else is alive and expressing stimulus towards us goes down according to our destiny or fate, the karma we have with Venus, and about what happens concerning those things we cannot help but desire. It connects with how Cupid’s arrows will strike us unawares or without our intention and the responsiveness we have to artistic muses. The ancient texts say it is connected with appetites and desires that arise by choice and voluntary association or friendship.
Lot of Courage (Mars): Measure from Mars to the Lot of Fortune for a day chart but from the Lot of Fortune to Mars in a night chart and add the same distance to the degree of the ascendant.
Day Formula: Asc. + Lot of Fortune – Mars
Night Formula: Asc. + Mars – Lot of Fortune
Here the general topic is connected to Mars while the specifics are connected to Fortune. This Lot is about those events and happenings in the world which force us to draw upon courage in situations where we would not normally feel courageous in and expresses our souls karma that is connected to our use of power and strength – Mars. Thus it is often connected to calamities and very dire situations such as treachery, plotting and “all kinds of evil doing” in the ancient texts, as well as with boldness and conviction, which seem positive but it is important to understand that these qualities can also be employed toward acts of great cruelty. Esoterically Mars is connected to individuation (it emphasises difference, specialness) and what the Lot expresses is how we are fated to encounter risk, danger, battles and struggles as a result of fortune and how this will shape and define the uniqueness of our individual nature as well as awaken inner strength we did not know we had. This differs from Mars because Mars in our chart represents how we initiate such situations and how we tend to handle them. This Lot is about the battles that seek us out, not the ones we seek.
Lot of Victory (Jupiter): Measure from the Lot of Spirit to Jupiter for a day nativity and for a night chart from Jupiter to the Lot of Spirit and then project this distance from the ascendant.
Day Formula: Asc. + Jupiter – Lot of Spirit
Night Formula: Asc. + Lot of Spirit – Jupiter
The general topic is the Lot of Spirit (spiritual awakening, the impetus to take part in life, self awareness and presence) and the specific topic is Jupiter (spiritual truths and laws, connection to a greater and larger whole, deity), so Victory is about those (positive) happenings which inspire us to have faith and hope and to act upon the spiritual laws which lead to the awakening of the spirit. We are told in the ancient texts that it brings about successful and satisfying conclusions to enterprises, success and all kinds of generosity, winnings and contests and things which inspire us to be hopeful. The Lot is about how we are fated to encounter these situations seemingly at random, seemingly by the spinning of the wheel, as it were, but really arising as an impetus for our own awakening and as a broadening and deepening of our awareness of natural law and spiritual truth. It is in essence not the Jupiter within us but what we are alloted to encounter of the Jupiter principle in the world and how this will lead us to be more active as a positive force in life as an active manifestation of Divine laws.
Lot of Nemesis (Saturn): Find this in a day chart by measuring from Saturn to the Lot of Fortune and in a night chart measure from the Lot of Fortune to Saturn and project the same distance from the degree of the ascendant.
Day Formula: Asc. + Lot of Fortune – Saturn
Night Formula: Asc. + Saturn – Lot of Fortune
The general focus here is Saturn and the specific descriptor is Fortune. This sobering Lot is about how we are seemingly randomly fated to encounter very difficult situations, the most difficult kind, some of us more than others, situations we can do nothing about and must simply be endured and learned from as aspects of our karma and as situations which potentially embroil us in new karma. We each come into this material existence prior to earthly life understanding that the conditions of physical life increase the problems and difficulties that we will have to contend with and this is a feature, not a bug, one that draws us towards earthly incarnation again and again seeking the precious opportunities for growth that it offers our being. The ancients say in the texts that this Lot relates to spirits of the underworld (ghosts, demons, evil spirits like vampires, witches and werewolves too, I think in modern times we would also include malevolent aliens as well) and all things that remain concealed or hidden, which we may say in our modern language means those things we are fated to encounter as a result of the unconscious, but I would say we have to add this to what was said before, not replace it with it. The texts also say that this Lot symbolises the quality of death as well as the degree of sorrow and burdens we will face along the way to that nemesis. The frail, mortal, temporal world is full of sorrows, an endless parade of them, just as it is an endless parade of other things too, and how we are allotted to experience this is expressed in this Lot. Yet instead of death as the nemesis of this lot we could also say that it is time and that the lesson is for us to mature through the ever-changing circumstances of the world, especially through the suffering we witness in the world which can serve to awaken us to more enduring things within us.
As you can hopefully see from this brief exploration the system of Lots was/is very intricate and well thought out and presents the modern mind with some uncomfortable notions that can make working with them difficult but this perception can be overcome if you understand the core principles being communicated. While we are all furnished with the same archetypal forces – a zodiac, a complex solar system, houses and aspects – and we all differ from one another in the specifics of those archetypes and the aspects which arise from a universe constantly in motion, we all also differ according to the way we meet with more or less of certain kinds of experiences as we journey through a world where there are billions of other souls at the same time, leading to so many happenings, and we each have to deal with a different set of experiences as a result. In modern astrology the planets take all of these responsibilities, they signify the principle within us and the principle as we encounter it in the world as well as all of the topics that each planet must represent, but in the ancient word the latter factors – how we encounter the planet while incarnated and the specific individual topics of each planet – seem to have been taken up more specifically by the Lots, as tokens of fate.
As always, I suggest that you learn from direct experience and calculate your own Lots as well as the Lots of other people you know to evaluate their effectiveness, remembering that you would be best served by switching to a whole sign house system and adopting sign based aspects rather than a degree aspect approach, as it seems this is how they were looking at things much of the time. Maybe not, but I am not getting into that controversy here though! So, where are your Lots? Do they reflect your worldly reality? How do my interpretations of the Lots match up with your experience? Have fun exploring!
SOURCES & FURTHER READING
Project Hindsight: http://www.projecthindsight.com/geninfo/about.html
The Arabic Parts in Astrology, a Lost Key to Prediction (Robert Zoller)
Hellenistic Astrology, the Study of Fate and Fortune (Chris Brennan)