Today I wish to look in some detail at a specific phenomena that is of great interest to the astrologer, the provocatively named “Astrologer’s Degree.”
Provocative, not least because in binary thinking (which is ultimately commonplace even among astrologers!) it suggests an on-off state, it provokes the deterministic view that an ability for astrology can be realised through placements to a specific degree in the nativity. Of course, this is utter nonsense, it cannot, nor should be so, however, it most certainly is not unreasonable to posit placements upon any supposed degree to incline toward an astrological acumen, an acumen that need never be realised in the life unless other predisposing factors support the same view. Imagine it is like a pushbike. If you have two wheels, a frame, handlebars, brakes and a saddle then you can put them all together and actually ride off into the sunset. If you only have one wheel, then you are at something of a loss, and are going nowhere. An astrologer’s degree placement then is perhaps like a single wheel, useful only if you happen to have the other parts.
So let us discover the nature of those other parts first, before we examine the degrees themselves. Binary thinkers have run various algorithms through databases of nativities in an attempt to discover a golden astrologer’s bullet without any particular success. One such study came out with the following results:
- 38% had the Sun in Scorpio, Sagittarius or Capricorn and these placements were found in the astrologers charts twice as often as they were found in the control group.
- Sun, Moon or Mercury was found in a fixed house for 70% of astrologers and Venus, Mars, Jupiter or Saturn were placed in an air house for 71%.
- Sixty-three percent of the astrologers had the ruler of the eleventh house direct.
- None of the astrologers tested had a mutual reception between Sun and Uranus.
- Pluto, Chiron or the North Node was placed in one of the Gauquelin power zones in 66%.
- Uranus was found aspecting the vertex in the control group more often than it was found aspecting the vertex in the astrologers’ horoscopes.
- Nothing was found in 100% of the astrologers’ charts.
This is not really useful particularly, because it is trying to measure a grey area (human potential); we might as well say that forty percent of vehicles are red, seventy percent have at least two wheels, but only five percent were bicycles! I only include this rather vile pandering to statistical scientism as a reminder of the pointlessness of measuring the immeasurable. What, then, pertinently, would I look for in the astrologer, apart from placements to an astrologer’s degree?
Firstly I would look to the position of Uranus and to a lesser extent Saturn. Uranus configured to the angles seems to be prevalent, as does a strong Saturn. Uranus gives flashes of insight as well as mathematically themed abilities while Saturn provides rigour and an ability to structure. Traditional astrologers point to the importance of Mercury in the consideration of astrological ability. Some people say that the asteroid Urania -muse of astrology and astronomy both – ought to be meaningfully placed. Noel Tyl posits the view in his books that 18 degrees of mutable signs is significant in the study of astrology. Similarly, James Braha asserts that it is common for the greatest Hindu astrologers to have been born with a powerfully disposed Moon (memory) and 2nd house (knowledge).
All of this technical discussion though fails to address one key consideration, since the premise of the study – in my view at least – requires clarification. In my experience, astrology is as much – if not more – about counselling as it is about any technical ability to understand the patterns of energy in the nativity. An abstract grasp of rhyme and metre after all, does not a Dryden make. To pattern recognition, mythic-insight and meditative application you must then add an ability to talk to people, or at least to be able to convey sensitively in writing an appreciation of their struggles; some measure then of humanity and compassionate mettle forged through trial and adversity cannot be lacking otherwise the science of astrology becomes a brittle, artless parlour-trick with no practical application.
So to this list I would add a requirement of sensitivity, which might be supported by the configuration of Neptune with either of the luminaries, a strong Piscean influence, 12th house significators, Virgo too, through the polarity of Pisces and the service-oriented axis and any strongly Lunar characteristics. To the ideal for counselling I would suggest that a study of the descendant may be pertinent, since it is the Aries polarity point of Libra and thus it is concerned entirely with the other fellow.
Finally I would like to look at Chiron, since here is a new factor in astrology; indeed, Chiron was the first astrologer, so it is only fitting that he ought to figure in the craft very centrally. Chiromancy and chiropractics are both concerned with the hands, the healing power of the hands specifically and Chiron recognises, not a power centre in the nativity, but actually the astrologer, card reader, palmist him or herself, on one level at least.
So, these are the other factors, now what of the degrees themselves? I do not wish to discuss the etymology of the degrees as individual powers to promulgate fate and character, at this stage, let us just accept that for whatever reason, they have relevance. The sources are obscure, the interpretations many, but here are the astrologer’s degrees according to deVore:
From 22° – 28° Aquarius.
From 25° – 29° Leo.
With particular emphasis being given to the 27° Leo – Aquarius axis.
Furthermore, 11° Virgo is considered an astrologer’s degree, no doubt with a very tight orb, thus 10° – 12° of Virgo and there may be a polarity point at 11° Pisces, although this is by no means agreed upon uniformly in the various sources.
It is assumed then that any placement upon these degrees will give some propensity toward astrological ability. Let us look at a couple of cases to check the veracity of these degrees. Firstly, Alan Leo, the great Edwardian astrologer who very much revived the art in the early days of last century. From our list of correspondences then:
Uranus: in the 10th, so career configured, but not much otherwise.
Saturn: Rising, partile Ascendant at 27° Leo (the astrologer’s degree).
Mercury: nothing here particularly, Rx in the 12th, separating from Saturn rising.
Urania: Found at 5° Libra in the second, which is relevant according to James Braha.
Sensitivity: This does not appear to be a big theme in Leo’s chart, his Moon is in mania-susceptible Aries, and highly stressed as the focus of a t-square from Venus opposing Mars. Neptune is in its rulership though and at the 30th degree, thus it is especially fated.
Chiron: He falls conjunct the descendant, an ideal counselling position, especially for the astrologer Chiron and opposing the Saturn and Ascendant, he too falls in the astrologer’s degrees of Aquarius. Evidently it is this axis in particular which is of overwhelming import in creating an aptitude for astrology.
18° of Mutable signs: Nothing here either.
Beyond this, there are no other major asteroids on any of the astrologer’s degrees, although his Part of Plays falls exactly conjunct Chiron at 25° Aquarius.
Applying the same methodology to my own chart I get:
Uranus: Rising, thus prominent.
Saturn: Nothing here.
Mercury: Peregrine (unaspected) in the second.
Urania: At 11° Pisces, thus at a possible astrologer’s degree.
Sensitivity: Moon is probably peregrine (unaspected) but the closest major aspect at near 9° is a conjunction to Neptune. I am never sure whether to count this or not.
Chiron: conjunct the descendant in Pisces and partile to the Vertex.
18° of Mutable signs: Mars at 17°49′ Sagittarius.
Otherwise, I have Jupiter at 27° Leo exactly opposing Isis at 27° Aquarius, Pars Fortuna at 25° Leo and Pallas – pattern recognition – at 26° Leo, all astrologer’s degrees, with Venus in the 12th on the cusp of Virgo, just a degree or so off the range of Leo.
I know a fair few astrologers around the world, and I can comfortably say that those who appear to have the greatest blend of skill in applying the understanding of the science to the practical and compassionate art of counselling all appear to have some strong configurations around the aforementioned degrees, and usually several other indicators to boot.
I should add as a disclaimer, because I have read message boards on this subject before and those who do not have the configurations indicated seem to delight (I think for fairly understandable reasons) in debunking the theory, but again, I am not claiming that without these degrees configured there is no ability in the study of astrology. Far from it, I have known many people who are deeply skilled in astrological techniques who show none of these indicators; to which I say only that they source the individual cogs and gears of their bicycles from different suppliers and pedal along with just as much enthusiasm as myself or anyone else, and to them I wish safe journey, to the stars, the sunset, or wherever the great art might take you.