A Question of Combustion


An anonymous Indian astrologer recently requested astrologers at large “to develop their own faculties of discrimination and judgement which is necessary to appraise an individual chart. No set of rules can provide for all contingencies and all the permutations and combinations possible.”

Yet Vedic astrology has a vast number of considerations resulting in 66 different Yogas alone. If this applies to Vedic then it certainly applies to Traditional Western Astrology.

Divination is not a mechanical or dogmatic process. In fact, some cannot learn it at all. The word Divination is from the Latin divinare “to foresee, to be inspired by a god”

Considerations Before Judgment are laid down for posterity to assist in the different forms of astrology. Bonatti alone identified 123. We don’t know whether he applied them all in every case, but I should think it virtually impossible and certainly unnecessary.

Moreover, he is not in complete agreement with his predecessors or posterity. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t read what he has to say.

Traditional astrologers are wont to mock Modern astrology for its “cookbook” answers to deep questions or being fuzzy-minded as well as employing outer planets without adequate knowledge of the original ones. I think this criticism comes down to saying there is no coherent metaphysical underpinning for Modern astrology.

It’s essentially based on the whims of the Theosophists with little or no foundation in the true origins of the Art.

However, when Traditional astrologers unquestioningly follow rules,  precepts, and dogma, they too can fall into the cut and paste category in its worst manifestation. More often though, they just become confused. Divination is to know and read the Divine Will. It can’t be learned by rote or practised without critical judgment. The sources are not all in agreement about everything.

The Theory of Combustion is based on the same metaphysical framework as orbs. In Traditional astrology planets, not aspects have orbs. These are actually orbs of light. We then remain true to the principal of at least potentially visible light. In fact, without light, there is no vision.

However, William Lilly and his Christian Astrology have arguably shaped Traditional astrology over the last few decades. For many astrologers, his is the last word on the subject. His form is in fact referred to as “The Real Astrology”  When someone of his stature decides to innovate in such as way as to undermine the entire edifice upon which Traditional astrology is built, this surely raises some very interesting questions.   He tells us that if the planet is in another sign from the Sun, it can be conjunct the Sun and not be Combust.


Venus Transits Sun – Cazimi

This may seem to be a fine point,  but he who argues that this is consistent with the larger scheme of astrological theory based on light will find himself denying the undeniable. This might serve as a cautionary tale of dogmatism versus Divination. Essentially, Lilly broke the Cardinal rule but is still loved and respected as a great astrologer because he was. Lilly is distinguished in his humility and honesty. When he gets it wrong, he tells us. For some reason, he persisted in using the same formula for the Part of Fortune, day or night, although even in the earliest sources it’s reversed. He seems a bit muddled on that point, but at least he was aware of the issue.

Strictly speaking, William Lilly already broke with tradition if we are to disallow any form of innovation.

Let’s look at one or two practical examples: first of all, anyone who believes that Mercury has anything to do with thinking or intelligence will need to explain why Albert Einstein’s Mercury is Combust, not in a good sign and applying to Saturn in Aries! Oh yes, and the Chart Almuten is Venus in her Fall.! Followers of Lilly will find an opportunity for validation, but it still won’t explain why being under the beams is still relevant. The theory based on celestial light cannot be used here

If you didn’t know whose chart it was, the chances are you would think of art before science. I think it’s fair to say that Einstein had an approach to knowledge unlike the majority of theoretical physicists. Whether in another sign to the Sun or not, I would say they are working together to some extent. It helps that Mercury is in the Exaltation of the Sun and that Pisces is visionary.

There are two principal reasons for this. The first is that the Traditional is not a monolith and our predecessors didn’t agree on everything. Take a simple example regarding Combustion. Some will tell you that a planet cannot be combust if it’s in a different sign from the Sun. Another will tell you that anything within 15 degrees of the Sun in either direction is rendered virtually useless. Others give the number of degrees at eight and some as little as three.

Although physical attraction is subjective to some degree, there are many people considered attractive by a large number of people. Super models, actors and actresses might come under this category. A brief survey finds that many people who are considered attractive tend to have Venus well beyond the Beams as would be expected

Kate Moss on the other hand, has her Venus within 3 degrees of the Sun and retrograde. If we say Kate Moss has her Venus Combust, we are saying that all things Venusian are radically undermined, are we not?

It’s clear that we need to consider the nature of the planet Under the Beams in a variety of ways in the context of the entire chart. Mars Combust might share some Solar traits depending on Sign or other considerations.  We would be foolish to downplay the power of a combust Mars with other forms of strength, including reception.

Let me be very clear. I am not trying to undermine any Traditional beliefs. What I am saying is that there is a time to consider the spirit rather than the letter of Divination. The Craft requires constant studying. When we cease to query it will die.