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Do you need an accurate birth time to cast a horoscope?

TimeRecently I have been getting some criticism for trying to interpret horoscopes that don’t have a birth time.  This usually happens when I look at someone in the news, where I only have a date and a place of birth.  When I do the horoscopes of clients, they invariably know their birth time.  Having the birth time certainly allows me to more accurately delineate their character, and it is essential for most predictive techniques.  However, I do believe that a horoscope without a time can be useful, particularly if we want to confirm what we know about someone already.

The horoscope is a map of the heavens at the time of someone’s birth.  It is usually relative to the horizon.  So someone born at 7.10 am in London, on February 20, will have the Sun rising, and someone born at exactly the same moment in New Zealand will have it setting.  In astrology this makes a big difference.  The Londoner will be more dynamic and transparent while the New Zealander will be more people-oriented.

In astrology the  planets are often described in terms of sign and house.  The sign describes how a planet acts, the house where it acts.  Planets can stay in a sign for a long time – a couple of days for the Moon, a month for the Sun, over a decade for Neptune and Pluto.  This means you don’t necessarily need to know the time someone was born in order to know which signs the planets are in.  However the houses move rapidly, and over the course of 24 hours a planet will go through all twelve of them.

When you have an untimed chart, you generally set it for the time of least error, which is midday.  This means that your time is going to be no more than 12 hours out.  You won’t have the houses, and you won’t have the sign of the Ascendant, but you will have the sign of most if not all of the planets.  Yet there will be times when a planet changes sign halfway through the day.  This is most frequently the case with the Moon, and not having the Moon sign can make interpretation very difficult.

We then have the question of aspects, which are the angular distances between planets, measured along the ecliptic.  The Moon is a fast-moving body, which travels around 12 degrees a day.  A midday position will fix the Moon to within 6 degrees, and this means that we can’t use the minor aspects, which have small orbs.  Aspects involving the planets Mercury through Pluto won’t be affected too much by a 12 hour margin or error.

Let’s now a have a look at a well-known personality, who we don’t have a birth time for.  We’ll go for Joseph Stalin, who was born on December 18 1878, in Gori, Georgia.  The chart is given an X Rodden Rating, meaning that there is no time of birth.  According to some sources, I shouldn’t even look at Stalin’s horoscope, because I don’t know what time he was born.  And I certainly shouldn’t make publically available statements about it.  However, I believe that the midday horoscope tells us a great deal, about both Stalin and astrology.  Here is the chart:

Stalin's horoscope

The Moon was at 12 47 Libra at midday in Gori.  The earliest it could possibly have been was 5 47 Libra, the latest 19 58 Libra.  We can therefore be sure that Stalin had a Libra Moon, and this might tell us something about his political style.  In the 1920s and early 1930s he consolidated his power by being the moderate – keeping the balance between rival factions of the Communist Party.  That way he could split and marginalize his enemies.

As far as aspects are concerned, there was a close square between Stalin’s Sun-Venus conjunction and Saturn, which was operational throughout the day.  Likewise Mars and Saturn, the death pair, were in trine –  for Stalin, sending people to their deaths was easy.

And if you’re analyzing horoscopes without a time, it can be useful to use midpoints.  By looking at the midpoint structure of the planets, node and Aries point you get some compensation for the lack of houses.  For example, here is the midpoint structure of Stalin’s Aries point, with Witte’s hypothetical planets included:

AR = SU/KR = PL/NN = ZE/KR = VE = HA

The Aries point represents our relationship to the world at large, and can be especially important in the chart of politicians.  The Sun-Kronos and Zeus-Kronos midpoints represent the power of the state, with particular emphasis on military might.  This is what Stalin brought and manifested into the world.  Also, through Aries on the Pluto-Node midpoint, we get a sense of a tragedy being visited on the general population, strengthened by the connection with Hades.  Yet Stalin also had the planet Venus close to the Aries point.  The Russian people loved him, and the tears they shed at the news of his death were genuine.

I think you would have been hard-pushed to predict Stalin’s death on the basis of the midday chart.  Indeed, you would have been hard-pushed to make any detailed predictions.  This is because most predictive systems require an accurate time of birth.  For example, primary directions, a system traditionally used to forecast death, are based on the turning of the Earth, with one degree of rotation representing one year.  In many cases this means that for every four minutes out the birthtime is, the prediction will be out by a year or longer.  Likewise the Vimshottari Dasa system of Vedic astrology requires an accurate time.  If Stalin was born right at the beginning of the day, his Mercury dasa would have started on April 19 1946, if right at the end then ten years earlier, on August 7 1936.

Nonetheless, transits can be used on charts with a midday horoscope.  They might be vague, because you don’t have houses, but they will tell you something.  So let’s imagine that you’re an astrologer in Moscow in 1941, and Stalin consults you for a chart reading.  He doesn’t know his time of birth, so you have to use a midday chart.  And let’s say he gives you his real date of birth, December 18 1878, not his preferred date of December 21 1879.

Even without a birthtime, you would have noticed that Stalin had a strong Mars – it is in Scorpio, the sign of its rulership, in both the Western and Eastern zodiacs.  However, you would have been worried.  In 1941 Saturn and Uranus were in late Taurus, opposition to Stalin’s Mars.  This would have been a stressful time for him.  There might also have been a battle of wills between him and his enemies.  And let’s say Stalin pushes you, wanting you to be more precise.  When is the day of maximum stress?  What should he expect? It is difficult to give him a precise answer, because his Mars is anywhere between 25 30 and 26 12 Scorpio.  The Uranus aspect could have been exact any time between May 5 and May 17 1941.  The Saturn aspect would be two months later, between July 12 and July 20.

You would explain this to Stalin, and being a reasonable man, with the Moon in Libra, he might have asked you to compromise, to find a happy medium.  Or to put that in astrological language, you would tell him when the transitting Saturn-Uranus midpoint made the oppostion aspect to his Mars in Scorpio.  If it had been available, you could then have looked at Astrodienst’s midpoint ephemeris for the month of June 1941:

Transitting SA-UR midpoint, June 1941

We can see that the transitting Saturn-Uranus midpoint would have hit Stalin’s Mars between June 18 and June 27 1941.  Operaton Barbarossa, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, was on June 22 1941.  This suggests two things.  Firstly, that you can forecast real events, with a good degree of accuracy, on the basis of a midday chart.  Secondly, the chart of the leader is often the chart of the nation.

Over the course of this article, I have argued that you don’t need a time of birth to usefully interpret someone’s horoscope.  You are going to lose detail, but if you make maximum use of the technical resources available to you – for example midpoints – you can come up with important insights into someone’s character and destiny.  As far as client work is concerned, the issue of missing birth times doesn’t usually come up.  In my experience, people who consult astrologers tend to know their birth time.

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