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Contranticions or degrees of equal ascension

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Joined: 30 Sep 2005
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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Posted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:02 pm    Post subject: Contranticions or degrees of equal ascension Reply with quote

I am curious why the tradition evolved the view that contrantiscions (equally ascending degrees by sign) reflect a negative connection between planets.

This point of view is expressed by William Lilly as follows:

…….so are there Contrantiscions, which we find to be of the nature of a square or opposition’ Christian Astrology, p92

To summarise the equally rising signs are Aries and Pisces (inconjunct or in aversion), Taurus and Aquarius, Gemini and Capricorn (inconjunct or in aversion), Cancer and Sagittarius (inconjunct or in aversion), Leo and Scorpio, and Virgo and Libra (inconjunct or in aversion).

In ancient astrology planets in this kind of relationship don’t seem to be treated in such a negative manner.

For example Ptolemy describes such signs as ‘commanding and obeying’ but there is no negative connotation:

Similarly the names "commanding" and "obeying" are applied to the divisions of the zodiac which are disposed at an equal distance from the same equinoctial sign, whichever it may be, because they ascend in equal periods of time and are on equal parallels. Of these the ones in the summer hemisphere are called "commanding" and those in the winter hemisphere "obedient", because the sun makes the day longer than the night when he is in the summer hemisphere, and shorter in the winter. Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, Book 1, Ch 14, by Cltranslated by FE Robbins

Paul of Alexandria seems to suggest planets of equal ascensional time (contra-antiscions) are actually in a positive relationship similar to a conjunction:

And those neighbouring to themselves have sympathy for one another just as if they were placed in the same domicile…. The equally-ascending zoidia which are adjacent to each other likewise will exert the same power on each other as has been said, as if they were positioned in like-engirdling or similar configuration." Paulus Alexdandrinus Ch12 'Introductory Matters, "Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus with the Scholia from Later Commentators" Translated by Dorian Greebaum

So how did we get from this view to the position of Lilly that this is a negative connection?

Here is the medieval astrologer Al Biruni:

Two signs equidistant from an equinoctial point are said to be equipollent, because the day hours of each are equal to the night hours of the other, and their ascensions are equal in all places, such as Aries and Pisces, Taurus and Aquarius, etc. The correspondence is by inverse degrees (contra-antiscia), one being north the other south, the 1st of Aries being equal to the 29th of Pisces and the 10th (of Aries) to the 20th (of Pisces). Al-Biruni's "The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology" — Translation by R. Ramsay Wright

Al Biruni is referring to the fact that at 0° Aries and 0° Libra the night hours are equal the day hours. This relation remains constant as you move away from the equinox by inverse degrees. So at 1° Aries the daylight hours are equal the night hours at 29° Pisces just as at 29° Aries the daylight hours are equal the night hours at 1° Pisces. This later became known as contra-antiscia.

Does the later negative association relate to the contrast with antiscion points? The very term 'contra-antiscion' does sound a give away. The ancients called the antiscional signs those of equal power or corresponding in course referring to the fact that their day hours are equal as are their night hours, and their ascensions are identical at the equator, such as Gemini and Cancer, Taurus and Leo. Antiscions relate directly to degrees across the signs where the Sun has identical declination. In contrast when we look at the signs of equal ascensional time (contra-antiscional) the connection is no longer equal day and night between the signs. Instead the link between the signs involves equal time between the day of one sign and the night of the other. Could this day-night association explain it? Moreover, with the notion of commanding and obeying signs we have a mix of signs from the northern and southern hemisphere. Ptolemy's point about the association with a seasonal winter-summer contrast between the signs maybe also reveals why the connection was later seen as less than harmonious despite the equal ascensional time.

What do others think?

‘’As thou conversest with the heavens, so instruct and inform thy minde according to the image of Divinity…’’ William Lilly
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Joined: 14 Dec 2009
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Location: Mount Kailash

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:27 am    Post subject: Polarities Reply with quote

Good morning,

Command-obedience is a polar, binary relationship and thus resembles in quality an opposition. Not all such polar relationships necessarily involve strife. However, based on the specific configurations of the factors involved, the obeying factor could be resentful, the commanding one overbearing. One should of course be cautious about judgement based on a sole item like contra-antiscion. For example, Dr H of Regulus Astrology often emphasises the importance of bounds placements.

One might point out that the definitions of antiscia and contra-antiscia are based on astronomic phenomena related to a tropical zodiac and generally do not fall 'parallel' to sign boundaries in a 'sidereal' zodiac.

Conclusion: William Lilly's statement about the quality of contra-antiscia relationships should be taken in overall context. To me there generally seems to be less of a case for square than for opposition quality.

A very good reference work for such items is, methinks, Mathesis by Julius Firmicus Maternus, of which a scholarly, commented translation by James H. Holden was published last year.

Best regards,

Non esse nihil non est.
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