The Lot or Part of Fortune

Part 3

If the Part of Fortune is a first house marker, our natural tendency as modern Western astrologers is make the degree of the Part the cusp of the first house and to set up equal houses from the Part using the Part as an Ascendant. However, from the material we have found so far in Project Hindsight what the ancient astrologers actually did was a bit different. And what they did was characteristic of house division in all of the oldest texts including, we now know, Ptolemy himself. As I have already mentioned, the houses of the Fortuna system were measured from 0 degrees to 30 degrees of the sign that the Part of Fortune was in. This practice, which has been dubbed whole-sign house division, was not only used with the Part of Fortune, but also with the Ascendant itself! The entire modern problem of house division did not exist for the ancients. They did not see the signs as separate from the houses. The houses were simply roles that the signs took on depending upon their relation to some point that marked one of the signs as being the first house or place ("place" is the proper translation of the word that the ancients used for house as we use the word). That marking point was called in Greek, horoskopos.

If that word sounds familiar, it should. It is the basis of the word 'horoscope', and its literal meaning is "hour marker," not "watcher of the hour" as often stated in the texts. The hour marker was any point that had the ability to mark a sign as a first house or place for some purpose. In modern astrology we have sun-sign astrology, a technique not widely respected by professional astrologers. Yet in sun-sign astrology we see an ancient practice used (simple-mindedly to be sure) in a modern context. In sun-sign astrology the Sun is a horoskopos in exactly the ancient manner; it marks the sign of the Sun as a first house or place. All other signs become houses or places with respect to the sign of the Sun. The only problem with modern sun-sign astrology is that the solar horoskopos was supposed to be used to describe a native's father, not the native, and then only if the native was born in the daytime.

The ancients in the West used the Ascendant and the Part of Fortune as the major hour markers. The ancients of the East in India used the Ascendant and the Moon is the primary hour markers. What is interesting here is that the Part of Fortune is a part associated with the Moon! Apparently these practices are related.

The following is a quotation from Paulus Alexandrinus a 4th century author:
"And Fortune signifies everything that concerns the body, and what one does through the course of life. It becomes indicative of possessions, reputation and privilege."

And Vettius Valens who lived at about the same time as Ptolemy wrote the following:
". . . the Lot itself will possess the power of the Horoskopos, that of life; the tenth zoidion [sign] from this, the power of the Midheaven, that of reputation; the 7th, the power of the Descendant; the 4th, of the subterraneous zoidion, and the remaining places will possess the power of the 12 regions."

In another place he wrote "We have also found the 11th place [sign counted as a house] from Fortune to be an acquisitive place, a bestower of belongings and goods, and especially when benefics are upon it or are testifying [aspecting]."

These statements are holding up in practice. I have found that the sign of the Part of Fortune and its ruler give very good information on profession as it relates to making money along with the tenth house (counted in the usual manner from the Ascendant). The tenth sign from the sign of the Part of Fortune is also very good for helping to describe the actual social role that the occupation serves. The eleventh sign from the Part has a special role in determining both how well and by what means one earns money. Astrologers who actually earn money from doing astrology have been seen to have Mercury in the sign of the Part of Fortune, or the eleventh sign from the Part of Fortune, or ruling either of these. Mercury is the ancient ruler of astrology before Uranus was discovered. And I would have to say that it still works! The ancient writers also said that the Part of Fortune and the houses derived from it had to with the body, health, and actions that are done spontaneously or on an emotional basis.

Another interesting Fortuna house is the seventh. While it may have something to do with relationships, its primary symbolism seems to derive from its being the opposition to the Part itself, and the effect is stronger if a point in the seventh Fortuna place is closer to the exact opposition to the Part of Fortune. One of the oldest significations of the seventh house was death because the Sun set there and its light was extinguished. The Fortuna seventh of course is not a sunset point, but since the Part of Fortune has something to do with the body, the opposition to the Part seems to have something to with illness and physical problems.

Much more work needs to be on the Part of Fortune, and this can only be considered a taste. However, we are not done with parts yet. There are many other parts as well, and many of these also serve as hour markers. We will take up some of these in the next installment.

A final note: all the passages used in this text are from the Project Hindsight translations of the ancient Greek texts unless otherwise noted.

Copyright 1996-2011 © by Robert Hand.

Our thanks to (Tees Reitsma) for initiating contact with Mr. Hand and securing his permission to post this material to the Oracle-a list. And our thanks to Mr. Hand for giving us permission to post his material here.

Mr. Hand has been doing translations of ancient and medieval astrology texts now for almost three years with Project Hindsight and that effort has published over 2000 pages of translations and commentary. If anyone is interested in further information on Project Hindsight, they have a web page at Project Hindsight. Small warning: have your modem at maximum speed. The graphics take a long time to load.

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