Sabian Astrology™ Q&A Corner


Dr. Marc Edmund Jones
(Oct. 1, 1888 - March 5, 1980)

The purpose of this column is to provide answers to questions we receive regarding the Sabian system of astrology that was developed by Dr. Marc Edmund Jones and set forth in his many books. Our first Guest Astrologer was the late Delle Fowler Frech, a long-standing member of the Sabian Assembly and practicing Sabian astrologer. New questions will be selected from those we receive and will be answered by other Sabian astrologers. Please feel free to email us with your questions — general questions, please. We cannot answer personal questions about your own or others' charts.


I have two questions concerning the INTERPRETATION OF INTERCEPTED SIGNS IN A HORARY CHART. First, what does it mean if the ruler of the house under consideration in a horary chart is in an intercepted sign? Second, what does it mean when the house under consideration in a horary chart holds an intercepted sign?


Horary astrology is a very precise science. Perhaps more so than any other area of astrology. It is very important to understand and keep your priorities in order as you are working with this technique. Not everything in the chart is important and the astrologer must be trained to know what is and what isn't. Also he or she must be aware of the ORDER OF IMPORTANCE and how that ranks, as some things are important under certain conditions and not in others. It depends upon exactly what it is you are doing with the particular chart and what the purpose was at the time you chose to draw the chart.

RETROGRADATION and INTERCEPTION are way down on the list of importance and are RARELY SIGNIFICANT in a horary chart. The one place that they play a weak but significant role is when the question falls under what is called SEQUENTIAL OPTION. This technique is wonderfully helpful for distinguishing between various possible options, as when an employer is considering several applicants for a particular position. These options can be charted on the horary wheel and compared to one another and a very clear indication found as to which option is to be preferred and why. This same technique becomes relevant when considering any series of possible choices when the object is to fill a particular need. You could be charting florists, plumbers, financial advisors, stores — anything where you have options as to which one to choose and you have no way to distinguish.

Very precise rules are used in this technique of sequential option and it is important to use them very carefully. For example, the first and best indication is when you have a YES ASPECT (conjunction, trine or sextile) between the planet that rules the sign on the cusp of the house governing the question and the planet that rules the sign on the cusp of the house opposite the sign that planet is in, within a 3-1/2 degree orb of exactness. This is very strong. (What you are looking at are the planets that rule the house that governs the question and the opposite house, or what opposes it.) The individual described by the aspect in this first consideration is going to outweigh all the others. If there is no aspect between these two planets at all then the answer is superficially indeterminate or too complex for a simple yes or no answer.

The next consideration is the TYPE of aspect between the planet that rules the question and its opposite, for aspects greater than 3-1/2 degrees. The trine is ranked first, then the sextile, then the conjunction, and then on through several more possibilities. Way down at the BOTTOM OF THE LIST of possibilities, you will find that if the planet describing one of these individuals is RETROGRADE or INTERCEPTED, then that is a weaker indication relative to those whose indicators are not so placed. So, you can see that this indication of retrogradation or interception is really of very little importance in horary astrology. There are just too many other factors of greater significance to be considered first.

It's true that in the hands of an extremely proficient astrologer this could add some slight additional information about an individual. For example, retrograde significators could be seen as describing a more introverted or less outgoing person. Interception could mean the individual is constrained or restrained in some manner. These factors would be only slightly relevant, though, and would not in any way determine the final answer to the question asked.

The second part of this question, as to what it means if there is an intercepted sign in the house of the question, has been pretty much covered already. In summary, the mere fact that the house in question contains an intercepted sign doesn't mean anything at all. If the intercepted sign holds a planet that is a relevant ruler then, as described above, it could be SLIGHTLY meaningful.

The technique partially described here, called sequential option, is detailed in Marc Edmund Jones' book Problem Solving by Horary Astrology.


Can you explain the Sabian method of chart rectification?


This is covered in detail in Marc Edmund Jones' book Scope of Astrological Prediction (pp. 168-173 ff). My own use of this technique has been most helpful and highly successful in bringing approximate birth times into alignment with the actual events of the life and thus the correct birth time.

A horoscope with not even an approximate birth time is virtually impossible to rectify as the pattern is such that you can arrive at a working diagram — but it can be upside down or even a quarter turn off. As we review the system you will see how that is possible.

You need two lists of major events in the life of the individual whose chart you wish to rectify. The first of these should consist of major changes with the parents, early in the life, such as death, divorce, bankruptcy or any other demanding circumstance. These are most applicable when taking place before the individual is 30 years of age. The younger the age in which the events occurred, the more accurate the rectification is apt to be.

The next list of events should include graduations from educational institutions, changes in residence, births, marriages and any other significant events that occurred prior to 30 years of age.

This method involves two parts, and here I deviate slightly from Dr. Jones' system. First, the midheaven is progressed to the year of the event. Next, the aspects to the midheaven by opposition or square or sometimes even septile or semi-square are considered. These are especially important when aspecting Mars or Saturn. This is the timing that sets up the pattern of the rectification. What you are looking for is a major demand in the life coming through the parents. The death of either or both parents is one, but you can use any of the other events on the first list. You should align the chart to where the midheaven would reach the appropriate aspect at the time of the death or other event from the first list. You can approximate these aspects, as the midheaven moves approximately four degrees a year. For example, if the parent died when the person was four years of age, it would have moved 16 degrees beyond where it was at birth. If the approximate chart shows the event occurring somewhat ahead or after the aspect to the midheaven, it is simple enough to alter the midheaven on the birth chart to where it would make the aspect in 16 degrees (or four years) from the time of birth.

After the midheaven aspects have been considred, it is time to consider aspects to the ascendant with your second list of events. This cannot be approximated as the ascendant doesn't move at a set pace. It depends on whether the signs moving over the ascendant are of long or short ascension, so you will have to progress the midheaven and then find the corresponding ascendant in a table of houses in order to work out the correspondences with these events. If the first procedure has allowed you to align the chart correctly, then the second part of the system will prove this to be accurate.

When you have these events lined up to where they make a valid sequence with the lists of events, it is time to go to the second half of the procedure. This involves the progressed Moon and its movement over the angles of the chart. As the progressed Moon crosses the ascendant there can be a change of residence or graduation from an educational institution or one of similar possible events. It sometimes corresponds to periods of illness. The criterion here is that it matches a time when the person is making a major shift of some kind that makes a psychological demand. As it crosses the nadir (or 4th house cusp) it may not be too noticeable, as this point can be very subjective. The 7th house cusp measures to events connected with the outer world or a coming into new relationships. The 10th house cusp measures to career issues or a coming into prominence of some sort (or the opposite, which could be a downfall).

This entire process is a little like putting a puzzle together. But when you have the chart aligned correctly, then the events fall into place with the proper timing, one after another, and you know you have the chart rectified correctly.


Is it possible for a planet to be acting in more than one house in the natal chart when it is within a few degrees of the cusp?


Yes, this is possible. The planet has to be within five degrees of the cusp, as a general guideline, for this to be applicable. If we had perfectly accurate birth times we might be able to refine this to a greater degree but, as it is, the five degree orb is a fair working guide. If it is closer, that makes it even more functional.

The planet involved is always most effective in the house that actually holds it, but the affect is felt in the adjacent house as well. The more tightly the planet is conjunct the cusp, the more effectively it functions in both houses.

Although a planet conjunct a house cusp can extend the influence of the planet in the natal horoscope, it is even more effective with progressions and transits. When this planet is activated, the enlarged involvement of two houses gives the planet more breadth of activity in the life as it becomes dynamic.

Example: One man who had Mars (his vocational significator) in the 4th house, closely conjunct the 5th house cusp, was successful as a real estate broker. The 4th house rules property and real estate while the 5th house rules teaching, children and risk investment. This fellow very effectively developed and taught his own real estate course. He was also frequently involved in risky and personal real estate investment. And in this case, the fifth house was ultimately highlighted when his son joined him in the family business.


In reading Mr. Jones' lecture on chart synthesis, I noticed he mentioned that relationships may be indicated by the planet that the Moon next applies to in the natal chart. Does he mean any and all aspects, or just the "hard" aspects, or generally speaking the Ptolemaic aspects — conjunction, sextile, square, trine, and opposition? Some astrologers make distinctions, but in the text I couldn't find a specific answer to that question.


In the article on the Sabiana pages which is taken from a lecture, Dr. Jones didn't have time to go into the full explanation. You are correct in your surmise that it would be the Ptolemaic aspects. You do use the Conjunction, Sextile, Square, Trine and Opposition.

In a man's horoscope, as in the example of Teddy Roosevelt that Dr. Jones was using, you do use the Moon and you take the aspects in order as they apply to the various Planets. What wasn't mentioned was that in a woman's chart you use the Sun in exactly the same manner.

You do not use any aspect that is lower in degree than the Moon or Sun (which ever is applicable) as these do not represent viable relationships. Occasionally a very close in degree and minute planet to the luminary, but which is still lower in degree than the Moon or Sun, may indicate a passing attraction but it doesn't materialize into a lasting relationship.

You take the aspects in order as the proper luminary applies to them and they each describe a relevant relationship. They can be either heterosexual or homosexual. Not all manifest in marriage. They do represent significant relationships. Early in life they can indicate a teacher, for example, who has a real impact on the life. This is the key to identifying them. If a relationship is represented in the chart by one of these planets, then it will always have an impact upon the life. In some cases they even repeat. For example if there are two significators, the person most probably will have two relationships, described by the two planets in order. Then they may have two more, again described by the two planets.

As mentioned in the article, only the Chaldean planets (Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn) are used to represent people. The outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) tend to describe what Dr. Jones has referred to as being married to a "cause" or something of that nature. They don't usually represent an individual.

If there are no planets that are contacted by the five major aspects when moving the Moon or Sun counterclockwise, then there are no marriage significators. This does not preclude marriage but it does indicate that there must be a more deliberate approach to marriage. This can be equally satisfying, as when the significator is there to indicate the more instinctive response to certain people represented by the planets aspected.

If you are fortunate enough to own or find a copy of Essentials of Astrological Analysis by Dr. Jones, there you will find this technique fully explained.


I would like to know where the orbs used for the aspects in Sabian astrology come from (17 degrees for the sun, 12.5 for the moon, 10 for the other planets, and 2 for the minor aspects). In other words, how did these orbs originate?


To properly answer this question it may be best to use Dr. Jones' explanation from his book, Fundamentals of Number Significance, pp. 191-192. There, he says:

"As already explained, orb is the allowable deviation from exactness if planets are to be considered still in aspect. The rationale of greater allowance when sun or moon are involved has been inherited from the ancients, but the author rounds out the usual natal orbs to an even 10° otherwise. Why it should be 12° 30' for the moon has no obvious reason. This somewhat approximates its mean daily motion of 13° 10', and an even 12° might be better as a fifth of the 60-base or sexagesimal number system. 17° for the sun is equally without any known explanation. It is a prime number made up of the addition of eight and nine, or the two in the decimal system between the terminally significant seven and ten, but that approaches the fallacy of merely reaching for a conclusion. He has retained this detail of holdover favoring of the lights in pattern formation as in practice seeming to be a fruitful contribution of the Medievals. Any aspect of course may be found actually in full force of significance with the wider orb. Such cases usually are special indication of exceptional effort in force. To adopt lesser orbs would be to narrow perspective and lose considerable patterning potential."

Although the above explanation is rather complex, it might be well to add that although these orbs originated with the ancient astrologers Dr. Jones continued to use these orbs throughout his long astrological career because he found that they worked.

« Read Questions 6 - 10   |   Read Questions 16 - 17 »