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: CarolTebbs@aol.com