Book Review: The Complete Book of Chart Rectification

January 26, 2009


The Complete Book of Chart Rectification, by Carol A. Tebbs, M.A., C.A.P., Llewellyn Publications, 2008.


Probably the diciest job any astrologer has to do is to rectify a horoscope’s exact time if it appears to be incorrect or to determine one if it is not known at all. That is both important – because so much about a chart is told by the angles and house placements – and tricky, because there are many ways to go about figuring the real time, and often there are several times that seem to be equally good candidates.


Worse, even when you have an exact time on a birth certificate, it still probably needs rectification. Why? For several reasons. Often even a hospital certificate will be rounded off to the quarter hour, suggesting that it was simply an afterthought once the birth was taken care of. And even when it’s very precise, it often needs to be pushed back a bit because a doctor’s version of when you are born is not always first breath (when you become a separate system with a beginning) but when he’s decided that you are fully clear of any accompanying birth uncertainties and are ready to be declared irreversibly alive, even if you’d been sputtering along for some minutes already. So, even when you’ve got what looks to be a no-fail exact time on a certificate, you’ll still need to check to see if the chart it produces has dovetailed with known subsequent events, just to be sure.


The traditional approach to rectification is pretty standard and simple in theory, though dauntingly complex in application. Get a list of dates for as many important (preferably traumatic) events relating to the individual concerned and see what transits, progressions, or directions turn up at those times. If there is a recurring pattern that isn’t too obviously tied to the individual planets or Lights, then you can conclude that something is happening to the angles, and you can deduce them (and the birth time) from there. Essentially, it’s number-crunching detective work that computers might do best (except for their noted lack of subtle judgment), but which ultimately the astrologer must oversee and decide what the best fits are, then chase down further clues and events until the conclusion is reached.


In order to succeed at that, you have to have a very specific plan, method, and order of operations, and in her new book Carol Tebbs nicely introduces you to all three. After a general introduction and overview of what it’s all about, she wisely advises you to play your most likely hunches (well, you would, anyway) before getting down to methodical searches for matches between events and different possible versions of a chart. Then she uses a variety of individual charts as examples, ranging from famous time twins Elizabeth Taylor and Johnny Cash to less well-known figures, with stepwise analyses of how their times were produced from life events. Events are inspected with a view to their significance using transits, progressions, directions, and a variety of fine-tuning within those methods, including declinations, combinations of long-term cycles, and lots more. Specific methods more friendly to one or another popular astro-software programs and how to use them are included, as well.


And, should you get lost, you’ll be found again (sometimes for the first time) reading the FAQ section, in which the author not only condenses but expands upon her overview of how the whole thing works, with observational tips and shortcuts about cycle speeds and durations that will help you avoid needless searching and pinpoint your target times. The book is probably worth the price for that section alone.


Left unresolved at the end is the perennial problem of which hard aspect do you favor at the finish – is a square going to tell the story as much as a conjunction or opposition? That’s hard to crack and unique to each horoscope, and probably the reason that the U.S.A. chart has several possible birth times popular among astrologers, most of them with mutable angles, since it is transits through the mutables that seem to have told most of the nation’s historical story.


For obvious reasons of clarity, the book leaves out some of the more off-the-wall approaches, though it mentions a few like physical appearance, relocation, dwads, eclipses, prenatal epochs, degree symbolism, and more, nor does it delve into the finer points of theory and applications as does Lary Ely’s fine piece in Astrology’s Special Measurements (Llewellyn, 1993, Noel Tyl editor). It doesn’t even mention horary or degree-clustering approaches, nor the frequency of a person’s angles turning up in the charts of surrounding friends and family or daily events, both of which can bring palpable returns but are fairly new on the astrological horizon.


All in all, however, you’re not likely to find a more careful and thorough approach to rectification in a single volume, and if you digest all that’s here, you’ll have a pretty thorough understanding of mainstream thought on the subject. Apply that first, and if that doesn’t suffice, you can then go further afield.


The author can be reached at:

A Fortuneteller Told Me

January 11, 2009



by Tiziano Terzani, Three Rivers Press, NY.


Learning astrology is not just about astrologers learning technique from others, but learning about the context of their art and craft, both historically and geographically. What does it mean to go to an astrologer in different cultures (like, who is your audience?) and how do other practitioners from totally different traditions and upbringings treat the same needs and demands from those who come to them? Why, indeed, does anyone consult you and what are their expectations, fears, and experiences?


Here’s an example. What if you went to a well-known, reputable astrologer and were told that the chances of your dying in a plane crash were extremely high for the next year? Would you laugh in the face of it like you might in the face of a physician who told you you’d die if you didn’t quit smoking, and this very year? What would rule your feelings and actions – fear, reason, probability, actual daily choices? That’s the kind of situation any client faces when any astrologer makes any judgment, and the astrologer shares responsibility as well.


And that’s exactly what happened to Der Spiegel magazine’s Southeast Asian correspondent Tiziano Terzani a few years ago when he by chance visited a local, well-respected astrologer and was told an airplane crash was in the cards in the next year. His response to it changed his whole life (perhaps saved it, as the journalist-filled helicopter he would have been on did indeed crash later that year), as he chose to stay on the ground for a year and pay the price for not flying along with the rest. In the process, while engaged on the land and at sea in endless journeys and fascinating local color he would have flown over otherwise, he made a point of consulting every astrologer and other fortuneteller he could find along the way and then committing the experience to print.


The result is a delightfully entertaining and colorful reading experience for any travel reader, but particularly enlightening for anyone who has been in astrology or any other aspect of ancillary fortunetelling businesses. After all, as a seeker, what an authority tells you produces an endless stream of inner questioning and outer probability-gathering that can take over your whole life. And, as Terzani found out, that authority can range in both believability and accuracy (not at all necessarily the same), depending upon the approach, technique, and philosophy of the practitioner. The same goes for the strategy of the advisee and how the advice is considered and applied. It’s a real can of worms, insightfully explored and adventurously applied by the author to the experience at hand.


The entire travel epic is laid against the sometimes footweary background of a tumultuous, changing Southeast Asia where traditional wisdom and lore is being daily supplanted by money and power, rank consumerism and social and ecological destruction. Some of what the author saw and experienced is already extinct, only a few years later, which makes one mourn. But other inner aspects seem to be totally tenacious, from greater philosophical approaches to tiny details. Western astrologers will be perhaps condescendingly amused by the inclination of clients (and their encouraging advisors) to take certain parts of forecasting over-specifically. If one is told to expect death (tomb) from hanging (execution), perhaps hanging a few lamps in your ancestors’ tombs would put fate off the track and satisfy the prophecy. Ancient Classical Western tales are full of such transpositions, though we may now mock it at our peril. It’s still commonplace over there, and there are plentiful palm-nut crops being grown in Burma that never would have been planted but for just such advice, as only last year’s news reveals.


In the end, the issues are existential in the extreme, and any astrologer should be prepared to answer every one this Western journalist on foot in Asia has asked. What are the real possibilities at any moment, and how much input does the individual have in addressing them? Fate and free will are not abstract issues here, but daily choices on the ground that have to be answered in multiple languages with sometimes potentially lethal results (as with this his astrologer-described near-death experience with the Khmer Rouge). Life and death are only an instant apart, and your perception of them is no more than a dream in the tropical heat until that dream suddenly comes true, as predicted. Got to read this one…


P.S. Not accidentally, I’m sure, this book was given to me by a wise and introspective astrological client born not far from these climes, and I am grateful for the window I might have otherwise missed entirely…

The Point Of Passion

January 4, 2009

Mars and Venus discovered by the godsOne of the problems with using midpoints in a chart is there are so many of them, at least 72 just for the basics. And, when you’re doing synastry, there are twice as many to look at, literally cluttering the skyscape. What are the first ones to look at, the most important branches of the tree to inspect before getting lost in the leaves and twigs?


That depends on what subjects you want to focus on in the nativity, of course, but the five basic planetary pairs and their basic qualities are a good place to start:


Sun/Moon, primal – Sometimes called the “Karmic Ascendant,” this is the center of the inner child, the strongest axis in the chart, combining the fundamental ego (Sun, self outwardly projected) and the emotions (Moon, self as responsive mode). It represents preverbal development as the child after birth learns the shortest repeating cycles in the first two or three years after birth. You’ll find its degree prevalent among close friends and family.


Venus/Mars, physical – This is where desire (Venus) meets action (Mars) and together they make up not only the sexual nature but the charisma (or lack of it) that comes from being able to achieve your goals or be conflicted about them. You find it in your lovers, both real and unrequited, and your general passion for life.


Jupiter/Saturn, social – This fundamentally societal axis doesn’t really kick off until the first Jupiter return, and ultimately the first Saturn return, but it still exerts influence across the board, representing the balance between social and economic change and advancement (Jupiter) with stability and enduring values (Saturn). It’s the key to your income.


Uranus/Neptune, spiritual – It’s a bit of a stretch to call this axis “spiritual” as that term is so multiply-defined, but it has to do with longer-range goals (Neptune) and defining understanding and achievements (Uranus) that most people don’t even see a full cycle of just one. Thus, it’s about yearnings and longings and visions that transcend the individual or even his/her generation in favor of greater historical evolution. It drives the beliefs that you would live or die for.


Mercury/Pluto, structural – Not everyone would make this duo a complimentary pair, with two cycles so different in length. But, it is the contrast of developing structure and organization (Mercury) and the destruction of what has been created (Pluto), the paragons of childhood learning and death of all one has constructed, literally or figuratively. It’s your sometimes terrifying handle on stark, immutable reality.


 The midpoints of these pairs are particularly strong meeting points of yin and yang, outgoing and intaking style, and any third planet that falls there highlights the fundamental character dynamic, both when it is within your natal chart or from another’s natal to your own. Treating them all could (and may) be the subject of a series of articles, but for the moment, the most immediately attention-grabbing pair serves as an example:


Venus and Mars, the “point of passion”


It’s well-known that where Venus and Mars meet tells much of the tale of your sexuality, and your reaction to that of others. As a conjunction, Venus and Mars together show up disproportionately in the charts of people in show business, politics, the military, industry management, and other areas where compelling personal magnetism and charisma are critical to success. People with that aspect just have a sparkle and effulgent energy that’s almost palpable. You get stimulated just being in their presence. The reason? Perhaps because any cycle of progressions or transits hits both their Venus and Mars at the same time, so desire and action go hand in hand, and they just naturally get what they want just by reaching for it, something that at times can appear almost magical, although it may be totally circumstantial. It means that for them it’s all right and indeed customary to get what they want, ask for more, and get it again. And, when it’s not available, because of an adverse transit, they don’t even want it.  So different from individuals with Venus and Mars in square or opposition, where hesitation and disappointment make for lack of confidence, bad timing, shyness, or even bumbling. Not that the style can’t be made to work for you, but it takes more effort and some painful mistakes along the way.


Whatever your relationship of Venus and Mars, or even if you haven’t any major aspect between them, what’s on their midpoint will kick them into action according to the added planet involved. So, people with the Sun or Ascendant as the midpoint of Venus and Mars tend to be particularly self-obsessed or even narcissistic, as they are literally getting off on their own ego/personality or reflection in the mirror. No fault (though it can be off-putting), and often it’s quite a charming effect, as it’s just the way it feels to them, and they get rewarded for it. Jupiter there has an ebullient effect, producing a large appetite for sex and life in general. Planets traditionally looked upon as malefics tend to tamp down sexuality or give a strong, controlling or compulsive aspect to personal needs and gratification. Such people can be highly-charged and even dangerously attractive or repulsive, depending upon how they are exercising their preferences and upon whom.


Inflame and Melt


In synastry, the effect can sometimes be even more telling. When you meet someone with Ascendant or the Lights on your Venus/Mars, that person can enflame and melt you on the spot, without either of you even knowing why. They literally awake your inner passion – not just sexual, but total life energy and attraction. It’s definitely what great love affairs are made of, and it can be as effective a bond as the more traditional Light-on-Light marriage aspect. On the other hand, if that’s the only contact, it can make for merely transient affair or, quite oppositely, lasting but largely unrequited love. Similarly, a marriage without any Venus-Mars contact may be a great friendship but without a sexual core – or, either or both may pursue sexuality and/or life passions elsewhere.


Transits and progressions have their place as well. A transit of Pluto to your Venus/Mars midpoint axis can shut down the dynamic only to have it blossom in a new form after the transit has past. Jupiter crossing the axis, on the other hand, can bring new life where it was dormant and cause positive new ground to be broken. Those with Venus/Mars at the winter or summer solstice areas have been getting a taste of both lately.


Even locational astrology is useful in taking full advantage of this midpoint. Areas where your Venus/Mars is on the Angles will tend to have a special magnetism for you, and when you go there, you’ll feel your feet rise a bit above the ground as the energy of the place incites and excites you, carrying you along. Go there and be thrilled.


Deep Background – Your Magical Spot


The developmental aspects of Venus and Mars are critically important as well. The process of learning how to get (Mars) what you want (Venus) begins with the first Mars return (initializing the “terrible twos”) and evolves throughout childhood until adolescence begins with the first Jupiter return, by which time your sexuality has already been mostly formed. The inner desires and strategies, the way you handle your evolving growth chemistry as you relate (or don’t) to both sexes of your age group and adults as well, all develop then. If you’re a straight arrow, it’s because that period was largely obstruction-free – and if you’re weird, it’s because you had to devise some unusual strategies to bring need in line with action, all in those formative years. And later, when you hit someone with an important planet right on your Venus/Mars midpoint, it all washes over you and you’re carried off by the familiar flood.


So watch your “point of passion” and treasure it like the hard-earned jewel that it is. Although it can be highly sexual, above all it’s your sparkle, your joie de vivre, your inner charisma that allows you to shine and take center stage while everyone looks on with approval. And when you find others with something special there, expect to share your stage with them and enjoy the play.

Book Review: Synastry

December 28, 2008

I promised some book reviews, when I find the occasional book worth reading, so here goes one, from one of my personal specialty areas, synastry. It’s by South African astrologer Rod Suskin, who hails from Capetown, a port forever associated in my mind with the CSS Alabama, whose visits there were legendary. If you grew up in that vicinity, you are certain to know the song “Dar Komm Alibama” which resulted and is still sung today.




Synastry: Understanding The Astrology Of Relationships, by Rod Suskin, Llewellyn 2008. Website:


In all of astrology, there is nothing more complex and yet more in demand than chart comparison. Whether it’s for love or money, fleeting fame or perpetual posterity, how we get on with each other is the critical bottom line for a species that depends on social interaction for very survival itself. Making sense of it astrologically is perhaps the practitioner’s supreme challenge.


For many astrologers, students, and clients, it’s too often a challenge that brings more fantasy and confusion than results, simply due to its complexity, the needs of the participants, and a tendency to put the cart before the horse. By which I mean, it’s too easy (and often disastrous) to see the multiple charts and techniques first and the people involved second. That’s a common mistake, and a good reason to remember that it is critical to first know well what you’re applying the astrology to – in this case, evolution-driven human instincts and the biological and social needs that are the drivers to begin with.


From the very beginning of this wonderful work astrologer Rod Suskin does just that – he begins with exploring the nature of relationships themselves and deftly working in just how astrological factors color and help shape the progress of relating. That starts with looking at relating itself, followed by looking at each person’s relating potentials, and only then getting into the details of specific comparison elements between charts. By building very carefully from the foundations up, the author allows you always to get back to the basic structure if you lose focus along the way, something that is so critical and which so few astrologers manage to understand or convey.


This is a very easy and graceful read (though not for beginners), but it covers an enormous amount of ground, which the author clearly understands well. It ranges from an outlay of most of the common analytical issues that arise from combining synastry, composites, transits, progressions, and wedding charts, to addressing the unique client issues and motivations you will encounter in counseling two people at a time. In every instance Suskin gives you thoughtful and firm ground to come back to that reflects consistent internal order, right down to clearly knowing why not to use progressions for composite charts (because they grow by accretion, being conditional artifacts and not sets of initial conditions themselves).


Also refreshing is that an author who is so fully engaged with soul growth, karma, spiritual medicine, and the like in some of his other works has chosen not to clutter this work with any of it, however much he may have been tempted to, because it is unnecessary and the material is clearer without it. It’s kind of like separating church and state – both are better off because of it, and it’s something too few astrologers recognize. When you are dealing with such a fundamentally self-evident structure as astrology is, the more you let it speak for itself, the clearer it becomes. In a subject which is so rife with distractions and irrelevancies, that is actually harder to do than it looks, and few accomplish it. This is certainly a thorough and thoughtful wrap on astrological comparison that should be on any serious student’s bookshelf, both as a learning tool and a constantly-available reference point.


So, hearty congratulations to Mr. Suskin for supplying this bracing breeze from around the Cape of Good Hope. Unlike the ghost of Vanderdecken, he negotiates these complex and tricky waters with a master’s steady hand, in a single, even tack. 






St. Stephen’s out of Christmas comes

December 24, 2008

The evening of this St. Stephen’s Day (December 26) sees a shift from a tense lunar T-square with the fractious Saturn-Uranus opposition on to the first new Moon conjunct Pluto in dead-early Capricorn in centuries, joined by Mars changing into Capricorn as well, a heavy-duty dark of the Moon if ever there were one. And, as everyone else has been saying, astrologically and otherwise, it’s the heart of another paradigm shift, another regrouping after failed illusions and expectations make us doubt the compacts we thought we’d made with the sky above and the earth below. Maybe so, maybe no. But it’s Christmas Eve, and ‘tis the season, so here’s a reflection, originally part of my very first e-card, long ago when the Net was young…


St. Stephen’s out of Christmas comes

The Lamb of God unshod in all but

Slippers that in dead of winter run

The gamut of the oft-repeated song

Only the strong recall

The fall of lesser leanings

History’s gleanings to a single thread

A final shred unfolds the thought

That aught can know impelled into the only note

The instrument is trained to play

And to this day

The sacrifice is bought

By trades once taught

Before exchanges still resounding

Made accounting far beyond our ken

The choice of men is still mankind

But now and then upon the wind

Remains an echo of that first repast

When Christmas and St. Stephen’s

In an evening

By the Lamb were cast.

Where in the World, Why in the World?

December 19, 2008

…some speculations on what makes locality astrology tick…

 Relocation astrology is simple. You cast a chart for someplace else other than your birthplace but for the same instant in time to see where the planets fall by house and find out if some of your planets are more emphasized by the new coordinates. And AstroCartography is simply a map that allows you to spot where certain of your planets would be on an angle. It’s kind of like picking a good solar return. You can’t change the overall planetary relationships of the instant, but you can go somewhere for your birthday to get them in better relationship to the houses and angles. 

But why does that mean anything? After all, unlike a solar return, where you can actually be there for the event, you were in one place and one place only at your birth, and travel doesn’t change that. Your real Ascendant will never change, wherever you go, so what’s the deal? Within the normal principles of astrology, why would going somewhere else affect your chart? If you knew why, you might be able to do much more with it. Most astrologers seem to think that relocation seems to work – I do, I can palpably feel it in some strong locations – but based on what principle? No one, to my knowledge, has suggested an answer to that.

The Why in the Where

So here’s one, and it’s directly related to the solar return comparison, and simply based on the presumption that astrological effects are not only natal (where the principle of the evolution of initial conditions applies) but behavioral and are learned and increase over time. As we experience each planetary cycle (diurnal, lunar, solar) we become increasingly entrained by the experience, with each cycle repeat bringing reinforcement of the last and anticipation of the next. This is perhaps the bottom-line principle upon which return charts are based – the patterns surrounding each of these cycle re-beginnings (returns) gives an overlay of indicators about the coming cycle period, be that a day, a month, or a year (or longer for other planetary returns). 

Now, you can affect the patterns of a solar or lunar return by going someplace where the planetary pattern best fits the angles. But how about a diurnal return – the instant each day you’re exactly one sidereal day older, functionally defined by the moment your precise angles reappear at the place of your birth? You can’t exactly go rushing about to get each diurnal return optimized every twenty-four hours to improve each day’s outlook. But as it so happens if you go to someplace where, say, your “relocated” Mars is on the Ascendant, you’ll find that there the degree of your Mars is the Ascendant of every day’s diurnal return chart. You are, by daily repetition, having your Mars degree reemphasized every day, with each diurnal return. No wonder you can feel it! Your most fundamental and frequently-reinforced cycle has a natal Mars overlay, strengthened each day you’re at that location. The longer you stay, the greater the emphasis – it’s cumulative.

This is also a part of the larger picture of recurring degree areas and how critical they are on a moment-to-moment basis. When the degree of your Sun rises each day, your personality is emphasized, when your Saturn degree culminates you run into small but creeping roadblocks and restrictions, and so on. You can even rectify your chart by it. You may travel to get this phenomenon strengthened for the year on your birthday or for the month on your lunar return. But where you reside tells the story about the emphasis of the chart for the day, each day, and that is depicted by the simply-recast relocation chart – which by itself is a mathematical shortcut with no intrinsic meaning except that it conveniently tells you what happens there every day at your diurnal return. It doesn’t mean you have a new chart, only that this location affects your real chart selectively through daily repetitive occurrences.

Other Possibilities

Of course, AstroCartography maps can give you an even better shortcut by showing all possible locations where your angles will match certain planetary degrees in your diurnal return. It’s great to know where you have both your Mars rising and your Jupiter at the MC. Most, however, still leave out the Vertex, the third angle. It would be nice to know, for instance, where three planetary degrees would be featured, all in the same spot. It would also be nice to mix and match the degrees of the angles themselves. Where, for instance, could I go where the degree of my Ascendant is on the MC while the degree of my Vertex rises and my MC is the degree of the Vertex – and other like combinations including natal planetary degrees. Places like that are the hotbeds of your creativity and fated connections, but so far you have to do much of that by hand or come upon it by chance.


**Want to read a good book on a variety of approaches to relocation astrology, from the sublime to the ridiculous? Try From Here To There edited by Martin Davis. A fun read, if you know the basics already. For those new to the technique, he’s written several other excellent introductory books on the subject, as well.**

Blog Time!

December 18, 2008

“Something there is that doesn’t love a blog”…or is it “good blogging makes good neighbors?” I’ve always been rather of two minds on the subject and so have refrained from this most popular pastime, and I’ve certainly had enough articles to write for and for Matrix. Since AstroCocktail began a few years back, however, a whole astro-blogosphere has arisen that invites participation. So, I’m glad to be responding to Michael Erlewine’s call to help set up a Matrix family of astro-bloggers in connection with his return to head this greatest pioneer of astrology software companies, the technology of which he himself was the pioneer.


And, it lets me do some things I have avoided on AstroCocktail, which is entirely devoted to full-length articles, plus world news, with only a little music and maritime hiding in the rear. Like, for instance, just opine on a subject without trying to do a complete wrap on it. Or, maybe move to the edges of other material that touches on astrology and astrologers though may be only ancillary to it, but interests me particularly. And, to invite other opinion and experience to fill in the blanks where ideas are half-formed or curiosity is piqued. Maybe even to do a little political and social commentary which I’ve avoided in the past. Those are the kind of things that blogging uniquely suits, so why not dive in and try, in the good company of other friends I’ve known in the field for many years?


I’ll also use the opportunity to post the latest handful of world news astrology story links, though for a full listing of the thousands of stories that have appeared around the world in the last few years, you’ll have to go to the AstroCocktail news page and its archives…


Here are some now…

Reaping the Retro (Llewellyn Journal) – There are reasons to look forward to Mercury turning retrograde – it has all kinds of advantages, it would appear…

Lunar Crime Spree (Northern Star) – As if Pacific flooding wasn’t enough, this SuperMoon seems to have roused the criminal element down under…

 The Antikythera Mechanism (Astrological Musings) – We’ve covered this one a lot, as specific news developed, but here’s a really good wrap on this amazing, ancient astro-device, with video…

When The Sun Is Resting (Fiji Live) – That would be Dec. 15 – Jan. 15…Not the time to get married, according to Hindu astrology…Sagittarius, in their system, but dead of winter, by any…

Your Own Soul (Potter World) – Do twins with same chart share astro-karma or is each unique beyond that?…an old chestnut revisited…

SuperMoon Tidal Catastrophe (Market Watch) – Last week’s unusual full Moon has made 50,000 homeless in Micronesia flooding…

A Passing Shower ( – Catastrophic showers of comets may rain down on us when a passing star rolls by…