The Yeatses’ Charts and the Lunation Cycle

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Hellenistic astrology developed various notional points in the horoscope which are derived from the angular relation between two elements in the birthchart, which is then combined with another point, usually the Ascendant or Rising degree. These are known as the various Lots or Parts, and since they came into European astrology through Arabic writings and are generally called the Arabian or Arabic Parts. They are most readily expressed by a formula, which usually takes the form "Planet X’s position minus Planet Y’s position added on to the Ascendant’s position" (X-Y+Asc). With most of these there are two ways of working as well, one in which there is a different formula for day and night births, and another in which the formula remain the same. The most widely known or used of these is the Lot or Part of Fortune, which is related to the angle between the Sun and Moon. Ptolemy gives a fixed formula for day and night births, as did the nineteenth-century writer Alan Leo, in which the Part of Fortune is as far from the Ascendant as the Moon is from the Sun (Moon - Sun + Ascendant), and it therefore represents a mundane form of the Moon’s actual phase - Fortuna glyph. This is the formula which George Pollexfen also used, and it is very likely the only one that the Yeatses knew of.

If day and night births are taken as different, however, the formula above only applies to day births, such as George’s, and for a night birth, such as W. B. Yeats’s, the angle is reversed: Sun - Moon + Ascendant. For a fuller treatment of this and many other Lots/Parts see Robert Hand’s article The Lot or Part of Fortune.

The Lot or Part of the Daimon, or Part of Spirit, is the reverse of the Part of Fortune, in whichever form is taken. In other words: if the formula is taken as fixed, the Part of the Daimon is Sun - Moon + Ascendant; if day and night births vary, the formula of the day Part of Fortune is the same as the night Part of the Daimon, and the formula of the night Part of Fortune is the same as the day Part of the Daimon.

The Part of Fortune is associated with the Moon, and the Part of the Daimon, with the Sun. These are the only two Lots which use Sun and Moon directly, and therefore express Phase, but several others use the Part of Fortune or Part of the Daimon as one of their terms, together with one of the planets: the Lots of Necessity (Mercury), of Eros (Venus), of Courage (Mars), of Victory (Jupiter), of Nemesis (Saturn); for details, see Robert Hand’s article, Part 4.

In the charts below, the fixed formula is used for the Part of Fortune, and this element will be looked at in more detail below, but first it is worth considering another approach to the Phases of the Moon.

W.B.Yeats’s Horoscope glyphs of the planets and zodiac George Yeats’s Horoscope
W. B. Yeats, 10.40pm LT, 13 June 1865, Sandymount, DublinGeorgie Hyde Lees, 8.25am GMT, 20 October 1892, Fleet

Dane Rudhyar, The Arabic Parts and the Yeatses’ Charts

As stated elsewhere, the Yeatses never proposed their circuits of the Sun and Moon as an astrological system, but a French-American writer, Dane Rudhyar, developed a separate astrological reading of the lunation cycle, highlighting and synthesising the elements of traditional astrology which relate to the phases. There is no evidence of any awareness of A Vision, and he places objectivity with the Full Moon and subjectivity with the New Moon, but when he deals with the role of the Arabic Parts, there are some interesting side-lights on the Yeatses’ System. Rudhyar’s ideas may have been suggested in reaction to a French astrologer, A. Volguine, whose Astrologie Lunaire (1936), subtitled Essai de reconstitution du système astrologique ancien, re-examined mediaeval and Babylonian ideas on lunar astrology. He explored the Mansions of the Moon, as explained in the mediaeval magical text of Picatrix, and an unequal division of ‘houses’ from a 7th-century BCE tablet of Nineveh, based on 28 phases, where the ‘phases’ at the Full Moon are more than five times larger than those at the New Moon. Certainly Volguine and Rudhyar represent two very different approaches: that which looks to ancient authority for its rationale, and that which tries to build psychologically from first principles. In many ways, despite the fictions of ancient provenance, the Yeatses’ approach is closer to that of Rudhyar. The symbolism is analogous but different, since Rudhyar takes the Sun as the creative spirit and the Moon as the realising psyche, expounding an eight-phase system, based on the Moon’s distance from the Sun: New Moon (0°-45°), Crescent Moon (45°-90°), First Quarter (90°-135°), Gibbous Moon (135°-180°), Full Moon (180°-225°), Disseminating Moon (225°-270°), Last Quarter (270°-315°), Balsamic Moon (315°-0°).

Yeats’s Sun and Moon are in a closing trine relationship; the preceding New Moon was on 24 May 1865 at 10.24 pm and, depending on the division of the Moon’s phases, Yeats’s birthday was the eighteenth or nineteenth day of the Moon as it waned. According to Rudhyar’s eight-phase system, this is the sixth or ‘Disseminating’ stage of the phase-cycle, where the individual wants to disseminate or broadcast their ideas and experiences. George’s Sun and Moon are some 49° (or 311°) apart, with the preceding New Moon at 1.20 am on 21 September 1892, so that she was born on the twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth day of the Moon, and the seventh of Rudhyar’s divisions. In the ‘Last Quarter Type’ where there is a crisis in consciousness, so that the people of this stage focus on ‘the embodiment of their ideological beliefs in definite systems of thought and/or concrete institutions’ (54), a characterisation surprisingly close to Yeats’s for his Phases 24 and 25, though George was placed at 18 in his non-astrological system.

In Rudhyar’s scheme, the planets which the Moon has conjoined since the previous New Moon represent energies that are part of the character at birth, whereas those which lie ahead of the Moon represent elements which the person must learn and integrate during life. In Yeats’s case the planets lying ahead of the Moon are Neptune, Venus, (Pluto) and Mercury. In this interpretation, therefore, Neptune, the more intuitive and mystical approach, was something which Yeats needed to apprehend during his life rather than something which he was born with, as was romantic love and even perhaps intellectual balance. In George’s case Venus also lies ahead of the Moon, as does Saturn,

Related to the Sun and Moon’s angle is the Part of Fortune (Fortuna glyph) which is the point in the Zodiac that bears the same relationship to the Ascendant as the Moon does to the Sun (Rudhyar dispenses with the tradition of different calculations for night-time and day-time, of which more below). The house, in particular, represents the area of life where satisfaction or happiness may be found, ‘organic well-being’. In Yeats’s case the Part is in the Seventh House of relationships and marriage, which may also negatively be linked to investing too much energy in the idea of a relationship, but its position in Virgo also implies a degree of intellectual analysis and rigour in the approach. Rudhyar also posits a polar opposite, the Point of Illumination, which is diametrically opposite to the Part of Fortune, and can also be seen as the Moon’s angle to the Sun taken from the Descendant rather than the Ascendant (see charts below). It remains always opposite to the Part of Fortune, as the Mask does to the Will in Yeats’s System, and Rudhyar suggests that it represents creative joy or subjective lucidity. In Yeats’s case it is found in the First House of the self, in the intuitive and imaginative sign of Pisces, which is otherwise rather weak (both Virgo Virgo glyph and Pisces Pisces glyph are ‘intercepted’, that is, fall wholly within a house).

W.B.Yeats’s Horoscope George Yeats’s Horoscope
The Charts of W. B. Yeats and Georgie Hyde Lees, with only Sun, Moon, Ascendant and generated ‘Parts’. The angle between the Sun and Moon is ascertained (blue angle) and then projected from the Ascendant (red line on left): if the Sun is ‘moved’ to the Ascendant, the equivalent of the Moon’s position by angle is the Part of Fortune (purple angle), and if the Moon is ‘moved’ to the Ascendant, the equivalent of the Sun’s position by angle is the Part of Spirit (green angle). These parts therefore represent the solar-lunar phase translated into the frame of the Mundane Houses. Rudhyar adds a complementary point for the Part of Fortune, the Point of Illumination (faint purple) and, by analogy, the complement to the Part of Spirit might be one of breaking with or transcending the past, independence (faint green), which effectively form the same angle with the Descendant (red line on right).

At the New Moon, the Part of Fortune is conjunct the Ascendant, while the Point of Illumination is conjunct the Descendant (and vice versa at the Full Moon), and Rudhyar identifies these two as fundamentally lunar in nature. The Part of Fortune’s solar counterpart corresponds the converse of the Part of Fortune, named the Part of Spirit or of the Daimon. This too conjoins the Ascendant at the New Moon, but while the Part of Fortune moves forward through the houses as the Moon moves away from the Sun, the Part of Spirit moves backward, mirrored across the axis of the Ascendant/Descendant (very much in the way that Yeats’s Creative Mind reflects Will). For Rudhyar, the ‘Part of Spirit represents the hold that the past tradition, and indeed the whole of society which this tradition has molded have upon an individual personality’ (90). In this sense it might better be called the Point or Part of Tradition. In Yeats’s chart, because of the deformation of the houses, his Part of Spirit, or Point of Tradition, falls very close to the Imum Caeli in Gemini, along with Mercury (Mercury glyph) and would represent the need to communicate the theme of ‘Traditional sanctity’ (VP 491) and express his social roots. As with the Part of Fortune, there is a polar opposite to the Part of Spirit, though Rudhyar does not explore the idea, which might be seen as the way in which the individual transcends the collective past and asserts independence of mind. This would move as the Body of Fate does with respect to the Creative Mind.

There is a further factor to be considered, since Yeats was born at night-time: traditionally this would lead to the interchange of the two Parts, so that it would be his Part of Fortune that was at the IC and his Part of Spirit that was in the Seventh House. There is debate amongst astrologers who use these Parts about which formula is preferable, depending upon how they interpret the symbolism of the Parts and how much they regard ancient astrology as a lost corpus of knowledge to be restored. The more complex formulae seem to have gained in popularity as computers do the calculation rather than human beings, and George Pollexfen certainly used the same formula for both day and night. The chart that Yeats drew up for himself, which Heine reproduces in ‘W.B. Yeats’ map in his own hand’, does not include the Part of Fortune. Purely from the point of view of Yeats’s ideas, Rudhyar’s idea of a forward-moving Part of Fortune and a backward-moving Part of Spirit, seems to have more consonance with Yeats’s Faculties, but Yeats himself seemed to be unsure about whether the consciousness might be resident in the Creative Mind rather than Will during primary incarnations, (see AV B 104; where ‘Phase 28’ is almost certainly a misprint for ‘Phase 22’).

It must be stressed that these are analogues only, particularly since the Yeatses’ own private astrological practice identified the Phase of incarnation in their System with the position of the Ascendant in the horoscope, aligning George’s Scorpio Ascendant, for instance, with her Phase, 18, at the centre. In this method, the Ascendant therefore takes the phasic position of Will and the Descendant the position of the Mask.



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Text and original images copyright © Neil Mann.