August 2011: This is Benjamin Dykes' first original book. It is a milestone for him.
I was hoping this would be a lot like Avelar & Rubeiro's On The Heavenly Spheres, in other words, big & thick & meaty, but it is instead a smaller book.
The opening section, on History, is generally good, though with visible quirks. Dykes twice says Valens was an Alexandrian Greek (pgs. 5 and 6), when a casual study of his Anthologies (the wretched and incomplete Schmidt version is listed in the Bibliography) proves him to be a Ukranian Greek who lived in the Crimea. Which, by the way, is why he and Ptolemy, contemporaries, did not know each other. And, no, quadrant astrology did not start in Medieval times (pg. 12). Study of Valens shows quadrants (Porphyry explicitly, Alcabitius implied) go as far back as Hypsicles, 190-120 BC. With sundials, midheavens were not hard to find, simple trisection of the arc ("Porphyry") was an easy thing, Valens is explicit. Dykes, like many others, tells us of Ficino (1433-1499), but is unaware of the much larger, more critical contribution by Fibonacci (1170-1250). I am frankly beginning to despair of the modern "traditional" movement, that it is not going overripe before it first gets ripe. Medieval astrology, not to mention the modern ephemeris, are frankly inconceivable without Fibonacci and his Arabic number system. Dykes has spent too much time with Campion and not enough with Bobrick.
Part 2, the meat of the book, is frustrating. In the initial chapters Dykes walks you up to the edge of the water and gets your feet wet, but does not teach how to swim. Chapter 8, On Dignities is typical. Ruling and exalted planets are shown in a wheel of signs. Another wheel shows planets in debility and fall. The simple relationship of signs to planets, which can easily be shown in a wheel (see pgs. 45 and 46 of Al Biruni) is not given. And it is screamingly frustrating to be told, again and again, of rulers and dignities and triplicities and terms but not to be told how they are actually to be used. This is like being told about the primary and secondary colors, but not how to put them on a canvas.
The chapter on houses, stripped of any mention of klima (or clima, terms that are not in the glossary), is fatuous. Equal houses were abandoned for reason. When they work, it is because of context, and that context is latitude. The rest of his remarks on houses, with this planet here and this one there, is simply a muddle. You cannot use what Dykes is giving you to read a chart. Here is an example:
On the other hand, the Moon is in the tenth house (an advantageous place for the native) but she is in a weaker dynamical division so although she is in a foundational house of the chart and shows something important in life (reputation, profession), she is not as stimulated and prominent as we might want her to be. This means that although she will pertain to tenth-house matters, she might not carry as great a weight as a competing planet such as Saturn (since the degree of the Midheaven still always bears a sense of reputation and profession). (pg. 62)
"Weaker dynamical division" is gibberish. The chart in question is for July 5, 2011, 6:20 pmm CDT, Minneapolis. As the book was published in 2011, this is not an actual natal chart, but merely an exercise. Here is another, from the same chapter:
If you look at Jupiter he is in the sixth whole sign house. This means that he pertains to illness, slavery, stress, pets and small animals, and so on. This house is not one of the advantageous ones according to the seven-place diagram, because it does not aspect the rising sign. But in terms of dynamisim or stimulation, he is in a middling region. According to the solution I'm suggesting, he is not necessarily advantageous to the native but he has middling strength in the chart as a whole and with respect to sixth house matters. (pg. 62)
We are left wondering if, for Dykes, Jupiter has any meaning at all in the chart. In frustration I simply gave up on the book, but after an hour I relented and continued futher.
Chapter 10, on whole sign aspects, is nice. If Dykes were better read, he would know the late (and very not traditional) astrologer Sophia Mason developed the same idea in 1977. He continues with orbs applying to planets, not aspects. Dykes gives the traditional Persian planetary orbs, which are so very large (Mars has a 9, or maybe 8 degree orb, on either side, with all Ptolemaic aspects) that, thinking of Valens, I am immediately suspicious if the Persians had accurate ephemerides and were erring on the generous side. This is another reason why number systems are so very important (Fibonacci strikes again), as some number systems will produce accurate ephemerides and some others will only produce bad guesses. In astrology, bad numbers mean guesswork and fudging. Dykes then spends a great deal of time developing the semi-sextile and the inconjunct, to which he gives different names.
Chapter 11, on Lots tells us how to calculate, but little on how to use them.
Chapter 12, on Two Rules is good. I wish instead of stranding these, that he had incorporated them in the chapter on Dignities, and again in the chapter on Houses, where they belong. The first rule is that a planet's domicile (house location) is more important than the ruler of the sign the planet is in. This is debatable. All such planets should be examined individually. The second, the lord of the house determines the condition of the house (or as Dykes puts it, what is indicated by a house, emanates from the lord of that house). This is one of the major keys to reading a chart, and if Dykes were serious about it, would collapse his crude whole sign house system, because quadrant angles can easily be demonstrated by this technique alone. Dykes shies away from this, his example is muddled.
Chapter 13, on Predictive Techniques is largely about profections. Profections advance the sign on the ascendant by one whole sign per year. The year is then under the influnce of the planet which rules that sign, by means of its own house and sign in your natal chart. So, at age 1 (your second year) everyone gets the ruler of their second house cusp as their ruler for the year, a cycle which repeats every 12 years. I am now in my 60th year, which, evenly divisible by 12, means that Gemini, my ascendant, is again my profection for the year. Gemini is ruled by Mercury, Mercury is in Aquarius in the 9th. As I am of supreme age (the late 50's are the pinacle of active life) and as Mercury is the overall chart ruler, I should well expect to find myself making distant trips, dealing with foreigners and matters of religious importance (9th house), by means of writing, speaking and travel (Mercury). I regret that though the year is half over, little of this has happened. My newsletter has taken off this year, but newsletters are, on the face of it, 3rd house, ruled by the Moon. Not 9th. Last year was Taurus, ruled by Venus in Capricorn in the 8th. My mother died. I got a small inheritance. I also published a dozen books, but they didn't seem to be part of the program, so they don't count, so far as profections go. I've been happy about those books this year, as, 9th is publishing, I get income from them. But that would happen in any case, and will continue to happen next year, and not only for those books, but the thirty others I have also published over the years. The year before, Aries, ruled by Mars in Scorpio in the 6th, I spent with a Chinese herbalist. The year before, Pisces, ruled by Jupiter in Aries. Completely unmemorable. You can spin your own profections this way. They are fairly blunt instruments. The 8th house year did not tell me my mother would die (mommies are 10th house), the 6th house year said nothing about my heart (Leo, not Scorpio), etc. Next year will be the Moon in Leo in the third. By my definition, I get to be a big shot. Just like I was back in 2001, and 1989, and 1977, and 1965, etc. Really!
Chapter 14, delineation of the case study, is frankly muddled. Dykes falls into traps that Donna Cunningham, in an out of print book, warns against. The case study has Libra rising, ruler Venus in Gemini in the 9th. Dykes hems and haws. It is first and foremost an education abroad, specializing in poetry, if that is at all possible. It might take the form of study of the Vedas (for example), as they are foreign, poetic, and concern religion. Dykes tells us the man was a singer with the urge to travel. Songs are poetical by definition, but Dykes does not tell us if he favored bawdy ditties, or religious chants.
I was hoping for a masterful exposition. I am disappointed, as the book is academic and spotty in many places. The author too often writes as if he were giving a lecture. The glossary is very good, though with omissions.
Cazimi Press, 130 pages.