By Peter Gadek
The basic concept of the technique of Solar Arc Directions is probably as old as the known history of astrology. It appears that this technique evolved from the Primary Directions technique. The purpose of this discussion is to trace the origins of the system of Solar Arc Directions and outline how the technique developed.
Review of Main Predictive Techniques
1. Primary Directions are called this because they are based on the Earth’s primary motion, namely its rotation around its own polar axis, which takes place on the plane of the Celestial Equator.
2. Secondary Progressions are called this because the technique is based on the Earth’s secondary motion, its annual orbit around the Sun, which takes place on the plane of the Ecliptic. It is generally accepted that this technique was developed by Placidus de Titis in the 17th century, although some sources say that this technique was known before the time of Placidus. Placidus introduced this technique as an auxiliary system to Primary Directions, which he called Secondary Directions – currently called Secondary Progressions. The current practice of combining the primary directions of the angles with the secondary directions of the planets was originated by Alan Leo.
3. Solar Arc Directions were developed mostly in 19th century. This technique will be further clarified in this discussion.
4. Solar Returns are sometimes called Solar Revolutions. This is a very ancient technique. The planetary arrangement is analyzed for the moment when the Sun (in its apparent motion along the ecliptic) returns to the exact degree of celestial longitude that it occupied at the moment of native’s birth. This technique will not be included in this discussion.
5. Annual Profection is a system of symbolic directions. This technique has been in use since classical antiquity. This was the widespread time-lord technique that was used during the Hellenistic period of astrology, and was used together with Primary Directions.
6. Transits – This is another technique has been known since antiquity. Ptolemy gives importance to the transits of the planets through the signs of the significators, using aspects by sign. Renaissance and modern authors give transits to directions the role of triggering events.
7. Ingresses. This technique presents the configuration of the heavens at the time of a solar, lunar or planetary entry into a zodiacal sign. The Sun’s ingress into the sign of Aries is considered especially important in mundane astrology.
The concept of directions is at least as old as Ptolemy. This technique was described in the Tetrabiblos, and further developed over the centuries. The technique of Primary Directions is built on this basic foundation, namely that the actual motion of the heavens in the hours following birth is bringing the planets and other points to significant places in the natal chart, and thus shows the unfolding events in years to come. In this technique one degree of such motion (primary motion – measured on the equatorial plane in Right Ascension) corresponds to one year of life.
As the earth turns on its axis, it completes a full circle (360 degree rotation) in 24 hours (1440 minutes). One degree of primary motion therefore equals about 4 minutes of clock time (1440/360 = 4). This 1 degree of primary motion is symbolically equated with one year or life, so that every hour after birth covers 15 years of life events. The directions formed to the natal chart within six hours of birth will then correspond to 90 years of life.
Every direction has two elements. The first element is considered more passive in determining the area of life concerned – this is the significator. Ptolemy, and many astrologers throughout the centuries after him, used only five significators: ASC, MC, Sun, Moon, and Lot of Fortune. The second element is considered more active in determining the nature of the event – this is promissor. The traditional promissors are usually the original five planets (now seven), the major aspects, and sometimes the fixed stars. The promissor being carried by the east-to-west primary motion to the natal place of the significator constitutes a direct (right) motion. The significator being carried by the same motion to the place of the promissor constitutes a converse direction.
As an example let us consider the situation when sky carries one planet (for example the Sun) in its diurnal motion (clockwise) towards another planet that is stationary (for example Moon). Then we say that Sun is being directed to Moon – where
Sun is the promissor (causes action) and Moon is the significator (target of action). This is the case of direct primary directions. Jean Baptist Morin assumes that in some situations the stationary planet (Ex. Moon) can act causatively on moving planet (Ex. Sun) - within the same scheme and the same motion (clockwise). The motion stays the same but actions of Sun and Moon are reversed. This would constitute converse primary directions.
To obtain accurate and reliable results (predictions), this method requires an accurate time of birth, within 1 minute (or less). It also requires an understanding of spherical geometry/trigonometry, as well as precise calculations. In the pre-computer era this was a major issue, since for this method the calculations were very demanding on astrologers. Because of the issues with calculations, by the beginning of the 20th century Primary Directions were largely abandoned as a predictive tool. At this time astrologers began to favor the use of transits, progressions and solar returns.
In the 19th century another astrological predictive technique also started to emerge: this was the increasing use of Solar Arc Directions. This system gradually became a viable alternative to other predictive methods, such as secondary progressions or primary directions. Ease of use and effectiveness were the two major reasons that Solar Arc Directions gained in popularity. This system is often used together with transits, with transiting planets acting as triggers for events.
This method is based on solar arc in longitude, referencing the position of the secondary progressed Sun. In Solar Arc Directions, the Sun is first progressed (secondary progression), then the position of the natal Sun is subtracted from it. This number, or arc, is then added to all of the bodies and sensitive points of the natal chart. The new positions (the “arced” placements) are then compared to the natal placements, and exact aspects are noted.
With Solar Arc Directions, the movement of all the planets and points is approximately 1 degree per year, since the secondary progression of the Sun is approximately 1 degree per year (with slight variations depending on the season of the year in which the subject is born). With an ephemeris it is easy for an astrologer to find the location of the Sun at the birth, and then count forward one day in the ephemeris for each year of life. This new position of the Sun (for the desired year) would represent the position of the progressed Sun. This is what makes the system of Solar Arc Directions so easy to use, and it quickly became a useful tool in astrological practice
There are several methods, called “keys”, used to calculate the Solar Arc for any given moment of life:
a) The Ptolemy Key
A quick calculation of one degree = one year of life. This method is suitable for very general work.
b) The Cardano Key
This is based on the Sun's mean daily arc of 59' 11". It is more accurate than Ptolemy Key method. This system is based on the projection of 360 degrees of ecliptic into the time length of the year (365.00 days). 360 degrees / 365.00 days = 59' 11" per day
c) The Naibod Key
This Key is based on Sun's mean daily arc of 59' 08". It is more accurate than either the Ptolemy Key or the Cardano Key. It is based on the projection of 360 degrees of ecliptic into the time length of the year (365.25 days). So therefore, 360 degrees / 365.25 days = 59' 08" per day.
d) The Individual Solar Arc (True Solar Arc)
This is the most exact and the most reliable system for critical timing. The Sun’s speed in its daily motion through the sky ranges from between 57' 05" and 1° 01' 10", depending upon the time of the year. The highest speed is nearthe time of the winter solstice; the lowest speed is near the time of the summer solstice (true for the northern hemisphere, and reversed for southern hemisphere). This is because the trajectory of the Earth in her motion around the Sun is elliptical, not circular.
e) Radix Directions
This is a variation of Individual/True Solar Arc Directions. The Midheaven, Sun and planets all move forward at the rate of the Naibod Key (0° 59' 8" per year, the Sun’s mean diurnal motion). However the Moon is moved forward at the rate of 13° 11' per year, which is the Moon’s mean diurnal motion (known as the “minor arc”). This system was developed by Sepharial and later further popularized by Vivian Robson.
Bibliography – Classical:
1\ Tetrabiblos – Claudius Ptolemy.
Edited and translated by F.E.Robbins. Published by Harvard University Press in 1940
2\ Genethlialogia, or the Doctrine of Nativities – John Gadbury
Early English Books Online Editions. Originally printed in London in 1658.
3\ Astrologia Gallica – Book Twenty-Two – Directions – Jean-Baptiste Morin
Translated from Latin by James Hershel Holden.
Published by American Federation of Astrologers in 2004.
4\ The Elements of Astrology – Luke Dennis Broughton
Kessinger Legacy Reprints. Originally published in New York in 1906
as revised edition.
5\ Complete Arcana of Astral Philosophy – William J. Simmonite
Kessinger Legacy Reprints. Originally published in London in 1890.
6\ Clavis Astrologiae Elimata – Henry Coley
Originally published in London in 1676.
On-line copy available through http://www.skyscript.co.uk/clavis.html
7\ The Text-Book of Astrology – Alfred John Pearce
Published by American Federation of Astrologers in 2006.
8\ Primary Directions – A Definite Study – Sepharial
Published by Astrology Classics in 2006
9\ Science of Foreknowledge – Sepharial
Kessinger Publishing. Originally published in London in 1918.
10\ A Student’s Textbook of Astrology – Vivian E. Robson
Published by Astrology Classics in 2010. Originally published in London in 1922.
11\ The Radix System – Vivian E. Robson
Kessinger Legacy Reprints. Originally published in London in 1930.
12\ Symbolic Directions in Modern Astrology – Charles E.O. CARTER
Published by Astrology Classics in 2010. Originally published in London in 1929.
13\ Directions – Co-determinants of Fate – Reinhold Ebertin
Published by American Federation of Astrologers in 1976, and 2011
Bibliography – Contemporary:
1\ Prediction in Astrology – Noel J. Tyl
Published by Llewellyn Publications in 1995.
2\ Solar Arc – Noel J. Tyl
Published by Llewellyn Publications in 2001.
3\ Synthesis and Counseling in Astrology – Noel Tyl
Published by Llewellyn Publications in 1998.
4\ Primary Directions (Astrology’s Old Master technique) – Martin Gansten
Published by Wessex Astrologer in 2009.
5\ Primary Directions (A Primer of Calculations) – Bob Makransky
Copyright 1988 M.J.Makransky. Published by Dear Brutus Press.
6\ Primary Directions I & II – Rumen Kolev
Published by Placidus Research Center
7\ Progressions and Directions – Charles A. Jayne
Published by American Federation of Astrologers in 2011.
8\ Primary Directions in Astrology: A Primer – Anthony Louis
Kindle Edition 1.0; Released September 8, 2013.
9\ An Easy Introduction to Primary Directions – Deborah Houlding
www.skyscript.co.uk/easy-directions.html; Published online September 2009.
10\ Larousse Encyclopedia of Astrology.
Published by McGraw-Hill Book Company in 1980.
11\ A history of Horoscopic Astrology – James Herschel Holden
Published by American Federation of Astrologers in 2006.
12\ Progressions – Robert P. Blaschke
Published by Earthwalk School of Astrology Publishing in 1998.
13\ Forecasting Backward and Forward – Bruce F. Hammerslough
Published by Llewellyn Publications in 1994.
14\ What Evangeline Adams Knew – Karen Christino
Published by Stella Mira Books in 2004.
15\ Foreseeing the future. Evangeline Adams and Astrology in America
– Karen Chrisitino. Published by One Reed Publications in 2002.
1\ Morinus 6.2 Astrology Program (Free Software) by Robert Nagy
2\ Stellarium 0.13.3 Astronomy Program (Free Software) by Stellarium Developers