On the Definition of Sect in Hellenistic Astrology

© 2015 Curtis Manwaring

The word in Greek is heiresis, which is division, (sect) as in school or political party. Robert Hand has a book out on the subject that combines the 3 components of sect (masculine or feminine sign, being in one's own light and diurnal or nocturnal) but Schmidt says the former 2 are rejoicing conditions, and it is not possible to define being in one's own light without defining the sect. Hand also translated Bonatti, so this was my interpretation of what the medieval doctrine was. In any case, the sect comes first. Section 5 comes immediately after the winds which is in the context of interpreting the time lord sequences, for if of the successive time lords, a period change comes from planets where the winds are not congenial to eachother, it will be judged malefic (creating a whilrwind). One of the themes of this book couched a nautical metaphor (sailing). It is desirable to have the wind to one's back so that one can progress in life. Since being in one's own light defines the lowest level wind, that is the reason for section 5 (in Delphic Oracle) appearing after the winds. (There are 3 levels of wind - zodiacal (exaltation degrees) - planetary nodes, and being in one's own light).

I'd like to make a conjecture about this that is by no means certain. Because Schmidt has said that sect shows "party affiliation", the period of twilight indicates the transfer of power to the other sect. Each of the 2 sects wants to stay in power as long as possible. While Nous (eidos) would do as Deb Houlding has suggested, the material universe allows for "hule" which in classical philosophy is of a dyadic nature, and contrary to well orderedness. It may be possible that the Moon relinquishes the nocturnal throne, if the trigon lords of the Moon are weak, and alternatively, the Moon may usurp the power of the setting Sun if it's trigon lords are weak. Since the trigons indicate "support", if the Sun's trigon lords are weak, it may be as if the Sun sinks prematurely below the horizon due to lack of support and vice versa.

We haven't seen any usage of twilight in print, but we should keep in mind a couple of things. Most of the material from the period has been lost, much in the same way that medieval astrologers lost the concept of sect by reconstituting it into something else (Bonatti) and then eventually dropping it during the renaissance.

I should clarify that I wouldn't advocate looking at twilight in cases where the Sun is completely above or below the horizon. I'd only be interested in defining more clearly what to do in borderline cases such as: what does one do if the Sun is half set where only half of the Sun's disk is visible? There are also technical and philosophical issues such as atmospheric refraction and topocentric vs geocentric coordinates to consider. Alot of astrologers use geocentric coordinates, which suggests that the actual location of the birth is of less importance, hence observational issues such as refraction and topocentric coordinates would not be as important.

It varies depending upon latitude, but for temperate - tropical climata, one degree passes over the MC every 4 minutes, and since the Sun is half that we are talking about 2 minutes. Get up into extrerme latitudes, say northern England and it might be about 3 minutes. Once you get into the arctics, you can have a situation where it takes a whole day to rise or set (once every 6 months).

My Timaeus application calculates the times of sunrise and sunset for the planetary hours (by sect), but I haven't figured in twilight issues as I discussed on this page.

There is more than one definition possible. Atmospheric refraction can cause the Suns disk to show on the horizon as much as 1.5 degrees before actual sunrise and still be visible about 6 minutes after actual sunset (with no atmosphere). If one thinks of sect as political party in the way Schmidt defined it, then the period before sunrise is a bit of a lame duck session for the Moon and vice versa for the Sun just before sunset.

Astronomical sunrise as reported in many programs uses atmospheric refraction, but this is not the same as the ascendant. If the amount of light is a factor, then twilight might have a tendency to side with the diurnal sect or whatever sect Mercury sides with at the time.

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