CYCLES AND TIMING
The three basic time cycles that govern our lives are set by the three core factors of the natal horoscope:
The Ascendant pertains to the 24 hour circadian cycle, which is set by the daily rotation of the Earth on its axis.
The Moon measures out the lunar months, which are set by the waxing and waning phases of the lunation cycle.
The Sun measures out the year and its seasons, through its annual cycle of solstices and equinoxes.
The Ascendant passes through all 12 signs of the zodiac in one 24 hour day. The Moon passes through all 12 signs in 27 nights, or two days short of a lunar month. The Sun takes a whole year to make the same journey.
The Ascendant and the Circadian Cycle
The Ascendant sets the circadian cycle through the daily rotation of the Earth on its axis. The Ascendant also sets the houses of the horoscope, or the mundane wheel, which shows a planet's directional relationship to the Earth.
The four cardinal angles of the natal horoscope represent the four cardinal turning points in the daily circadian cycle. Over the course of a 24 hour day, each planet will:
Rise on the eastern horizon, or Ascendant (First House cusp)
Culminate at Midheaven, the highest point in the sky (Tenth House cusp)
Set on the western horizon, or Descendant (Seventh House cusp)
Anti-culminate at the Nadir, the lowest point in the invisible sky (Fourth House cusp)
The most important planet that makes this trip is the Sun; when He is above the horizon, it's daytime, and when He's below the horizon, it's night time. The Sun's passage through the cardinal angles sets their basic nature and temperament, as we saw in the daily cycle of The Greek Medicine Wheel:
Ascendant (Sunrise) - Sanguine - Warm and Moist
Midheaven (Noon) - Choleric - Hot and Dry
Descendant (Sunset) - Melancholic - Cold and Dry
Nadir (Midnight) - Phlegmatic - Cold and Wet
Although the entire six hour period surrounding each critical turning point has basically the same nature and temperament as the turning point itself, the qualities of temperament are the strongest when the Sun is at the exact turning point, or conjunct the cardinal angle. For example, the entire six hour period surrounding Noon is Choleric, but Noon itself, when the Sun is exactly conjunct Midheaven, is the most Choleric.
The cardinal angles correspond to the solstices and equinoxes, which set the seasons of the year, which share their same nature and temperament:
Ascendant (Sunrise) - Spring Equinox - Sanguine
Midheaven (Noon) - Summer Solstice - Choleric
Descendant (Sunset) - Fall Equinox - Melancholic
Nadir (Midnight) - Winter Solstice - Phlegmatic
Having any one of the planets conjunct any one of the cardinal angles greatly heightens its power and influence. But according to classical Greek Hellenistic Astrology, each one of the classical planets has its own preferred angle, where it's especially powerful, according to its own inherent nature and temperament. These are the directional strengths of the planets, which are as follows:
The Mutable planets, Mercury and Jupiter, are strongest when conjunct the Ascendant. This is due to the inherent Mutable nature of the Sanguine Air element.
The Choleric planets, Mars and the Sun, are strongest when conjunct the Midheaven, which is also Choleric.
The principal Melancholic planet, Saturn, is strongest when conjunct the Descendant, which is also Melancholic.
The two feminine Phlegmatic planets, the Moon and Venus, are strongest when conjunct the Nadir, which is also Phlegmatic.
These directional strengths of the planets represent a more inherent, fundamental form of mundane dignity than their dignities by house placement according to the essential sign / house correspondences. For example, the Sun is dignified in houses Five (Leo domicile) and One (Aries exaltation), but has His directional strength at Midheaven, when He is at His zenith of light, heat and life.
The Moon and the Lunation Cycle
The Moon, as the fastest moving "planet", or heavenly body, is the significator of acute illnessses and conditions in Medical Astrology. Progressions and changes in acute illnesses are linked to the daily phases and movements of the Moon.
The most important cycle to understand is the monthly lunation cycle of the cardinal quarters or phases of the Moon. Significant changes and developments in the progression of acute illnesses, for better or worse, including onsets and remissions, tend to happen at the lunar quarters.
The lunation cycle consists of two complementary parts: the waxing hemicycle, from New Moon to Full Moon, in which the Moon is growing in size and brightness; and the waning hemicycle, from Full Moon back to New Moon, in which the Moon is diminishing in size and brightness. The waxing hemicycle favors nutrition, growth and regeneration; the waning hemicycle favors cleansing, elimination and release.
Halfway through the waxing hemicycle is the First Quarter; this is the dynamic crisis of action. Halfway through the waning hemicycle is the Third Quarter; this is the reflective crisis of consciousness.
Each of the Moon's quarter's has a certain inherent nature and temperament. Each exerts a different influence, by transit as well as natally. Due to the Moon's inherent Cardinal modality, each of the lunar quarters initiates a week-long phase of the same nature and temperament. However, the influences of humor and temperament are strongest at the exact quarters.
The New Moon has a Sanguine temperament, and initiates a period of regeneration, expansion and growth. The vital energies are high, and everything is fresh and new. This is the best time to begin a period of nutritional rebuilding after a fasting or purification regime; it also favors healing and recovery from surgery. Those born at the New Moon have good vitality, and are genuine, wholehearted and sincere, but often lack objectivity and perspective.
The First Quarter has a Choleric temperament, and is associated with hot, bilious conditions. It initiates a phase of maximum lunar light and energy, and a high pressure drive towards fulfillment at the Full Moon. Because the Sun and Moon are in a difficult square aspect, this is usually a period of crisis and struggle in the lunar cycle, which is called the crisis of action. The First Quarter also exerts a Choleric influence on those born at this phase, and spurs them on to take bold, decisive action.
The Full Moon has a Melancholic temperament; initiating the dark, waning half of the lunar cycle, it's analogous to the Fall Equinox, which initiates the dark half of the year. The Full Moon aloso has a Nervous temperament because psychic, nervous and emotional energies and tensions are highest at this phase, when the Sun and Moon are in direct opposition. All fluidic fluxes are also at their height at the Full Moon; surgery isn't advised because of the danger of bleeding and hemorrhage, and for men practicing Tantric techniques of ejaculation control, sexual continence will be the most difficult at this time of the month. Those born at the Full Moon can experience the energy of the Sun / Moon opposition in many different ways: it may put an emphasis on relationships and partnerships; it may give heightened wisdom, objectivity and perspective; negatively, it can couse confusion, dilemma, or psychic tension and instability.
The Third Quarter has a Phlegmatic temperament, and initiates the darkest, coldest, wettest phase of the lunar cycle. Having a Phlegmatic Expulsive Virtue, it favors the eliminative functions, and is a good time to undertake purification regimes. Sleep tends to be the most sound and restful at this phase. Because the Moon is returning to the New Moon, which is opposite the Full Moon, surgery is advisable, and the danger of hemorrhage low. Those born at the Third Quarter are often reflective and contemplative, in response to the crisis of consciousness felt at this phase.
The monthly lunar cycle also corresponds to the female menstrual cycle, which also lasts about 28 days. Women born at the cardinal quarters of the lunar cycle tend to have painful, difficult menstrual periods, with much cramping, because there's conflict and tension between the vital solar and lunar forces. The New Moon isn't so problematic in this respect, but the other quarters are.
It's also good to do a short fast, or to eat very lightly, on the eleventh days of each lunar hemicycle, or three days before the New and Full Moons. This cleansing and balancing prepares the organism to better handle the intense enrgies of the two poles of the monthly lunar cycle.
The Lunar Phases and Critical Days
The week long lunar phases are also the basis for the Greek medical doctrine of critical days in the progression of acute diseases. The day of appearance or onset is the first critical day in the progression of an acute illness; the next critical day comes a week later, when the transiting Moon is squaring Her position at the date of onset. The following critical day comes a week after that, with the transiting Moon opposing Her original position, and the subsequent one at the following week, with the transiting Moon at the waning square.
Critical turning points in the progression of an acute illness, for better or worse, tend to come on the critical days, when the Moon is in hard aspect to Her original position at onset. In between the critical days are other intermediary days, following roughly at two day intervals after the critical day.
Two days after the day of onset, or first critical day, when the transiting Moon has progressed to the following sign, comes the first judicial day. On this day, the illness becomes full-blown, and reveals itself in full. It is on this day that we can really judge the full extent of an illness or affliction, and its overall prognosis.
Two days after the first judicial day, or on day 5 of the acute illness, comes the first intercedental day. It's like a preview of the following critical day, which will follow about 2 days thereafter. The transiting Moon has progressed a full two signs beyond Her original position at onset, or a harmonious sextile aspect. Improvements in the patient's condition on this day are particularly auspicious, and indicate a favorable prognosis, that the following critical day will either be a remission or a decisive turn for the better.
Since the progression of critical days and intervening judicial and intercedental days are linked to the transiting Moon's progression by sign and quarter, the sign placement of the Moon on the first critical day, or day of onset, is important in the overall prognosis of the acute illness:
If the Moon is in a Cardinal sign at onset, the illness is likely to be short and decisive, and not progress beyond the the acute stage.
If the Moon is in a Mutable sign at onset, the illness is likely to be changeable and transitory.
If the Moon is in a Fixed sign at onset, the disease will be difficult to eradicate, and is likely to become refractory or chronic.
The Sun and Chronic Diseases
After a disease has lasted a whole lunar month, it ceases to be acute, and becomes chronic. Its progression and development shifts from the month long lunar cycle to the year long solar cycle, with critical turning points coming at roughly three month intervals after the date of onset, when the Sun is making hard aspects to His original position.
The Sun is related to chronic diseases in another important way: chronic diseases tend to have their onset, or to worsen, when the solar forces of vitality and immunity are being challenged, or are at a low ebb. This usually happens when the natal Sun is being afflicted, either by transit or progression, by some hard aspect to an outer planet like Saturn, Neptune or Pluto.
The Influence of Eclipses
Solar eclipses happen at the New Moon, and lunar eclipses happen at the Full Moon, when they are conjunct the lunar nodes. An eclipse is a critical turning point like any of the lunar quarters, but much more intense. As with any of the other lunar quarters, they will be felt much more intensely if they form hard aspects or conjunctions to sensitive points in one's own natal horoscope; otherwise, they will be a minor consideration. Stress and tension build up for several days before an eclipse, and are released after they have resolved or passed the exact New or Full Moon.
In Ayurvedic medicine, eclipses are considered to be dangerous for the expectant mother and the foetus in her womb. If the pregnant woman goes outside to view the eclipse, birth defects are likely in the offspring. Since the luminaries concern the vision and eyesight, visual problems and blindness can result.
Jupiter and Saturn: Growth and Maturation
The two slower moving classical planets outside the asteroid belt, Jupiter and Saturn, rule the slower, longer developmental cycles of the human organism. Jupiter rules the cycle of growth, and Saturn rules the cycle of maturation.
Growth and expansion are governed by Jupiter, and maturation and consolidation are governed by Saturn, Jupiter's complementary opposite. Growth and development don't occur in a straight line, but rather in hills or spurts of growth followed by plateaus of maturation and consolidation.
Jupiter takes about 12 years to make a full orbit through the zodiac, and rules the cycle of growth. Jupiter's first return to its natal position at around age 12 heralds the onset of puberty, a period of radical change, the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics, and one's entry into the reproductive phase of the human life cycle, with its added social responsibilities.
By the following Jupiter opposition at around age 18, the process of adolescence, sexual development and gross physical growth is over. However, subtler developmental changes continue until the second Jupiter return at around age 24.
Saturn takes about 29.5 years to make a full orbit through the zodiac, and rules the cycle of maturation, which is the completion and fulfillment of growth. Saturn's cycle of maturation divides the typical lifespan into three parts. The first 29.5 years of life, or the first Saturn cycle, is the period of youth and young adulthood, where life is on the up-and-up. The second 29.5 years is the period of maturity or middle age, the first half being a steady state or plateau, and the last half beginning a gradual decline in health and vitality. The third Saturn cycle isn't completed by most individuals, and is characterized by a more marked decline and degeneration.
Classical Greek Medicine divides the growth and development of the organism into seven year periods, which are roughly one cardinal quarter or phase of Saturn's orbital cycle. Some modern approaches to the growth and development of the individual over the course of his or her lifetime also use seven year periods.
All true planets, from Mercury on out through Pluto, have certain periods during which their apparent motion, when viewed from the Earth, is backwards through the zodiac. When a planet appears to be moving backwards, it is in retrograde motion. Typically, a planet will slow down in its direct motion, stop, or come to a station, and then turn backwards, or retrograde; then, the retrograde motion will slow down, come to a stop or station, and turn back direct.
A retrograde planet in the natal horoscope needs to be examined very carefully, for it often represents an organ or function that isn't working quite right. The possibility of pathology is increased when the planet is afflicted by hard aspects to other significant planets in the natal chart. The retrograde planet's sign and house placement, as well as its aspects, will give further clues as to the nature of the problem or pathology.
When planets are at a station between direct and retrograde, or vice-versa, their power and influence in the natal chart are greatly increased. It's best to check an ephemeris to see if any planets in a certain natal horoscope were stationary at the time of birth.
Timing of Surgery
If a surgery isn't a medical emergency, astrology can be used to pick a time when conditions are optimal. To pick the best time for surgery, several conditions must be met:
1) The Moon must not be full.
2) The Moon must not be in a sign pertaining to the part of the body to be operated
3) The Moon must not make any hard aspects to Mars, or other malefics like
4) The Sun should preferrably not be in a sign pertaining to the body part to be
5) The Moon should preferably not be making any hard aspects to the outer planets.
6) The Moon should not be Void-of-Course.
7) The individual should preferably not be going through a difficult outer planet transit,
especially those involving Neptune or Uranus
I have tried to present these conditions in descending order of priority, with the most basic and important ones first.