AP11 Core Principles XI

The Hermetic Lots

Hermetic Lots - Astrology Project Intensive 11

The very old doctrine of the seven Hermetic Planetary Lots had a remarkably key significance in ancient astrology. They were calculated points integrating vital primary factors, plumbing the chart surface to reveal meaning that would have otherwise remained hidden. Overlooked into modern day, these lost horoscopic dimensions now offer a further refinement and sophistication which is open to interesting rediscovery. The objective of this Intensive is to explore the unique nature, workings, and use of an intriguing underlying symbolic network.

Astrological Lots hark from mysterious antiquitous roots, perhaps related to the legendary Nechepso and Petosiris. They appear to have a very primary tone to their character which may represent an original ancient doctrinal template. Due to difficulty identifying exact dates and authors, it is important to realise that this proposition does remain hypothetical. The oldest known set relates to each of the seven classical celestial bodies, which have been traditionally associated with the legendary wisdom figure of Hermes Trismegistus – hence the title of the ‘Hermetic Lots’.

Thus Hermes Trismegistus names his own writing in which he spoke about the lots, expounding straightaway about the necessary and useful ones. For in a book called the Panaretus, Hermes has written about such lots. There, also, he hands down the outcomes of these, and so puts together the seven lots with the number of the seven stars …
Olympiodorus Scholia in Late Classical Astrology (Greenbaum trans)

These subtler factors are particularly customised to the chart they derive from. As well as relating to deterministic aspects of worldview, these lots also reflect a sense of ancient psycho-spiritual symbolism. As they underpin and interweave in an astrological picture, lots open the door to considerations about the nature of fate and soul. A ‘lot’ refers to such ideas as what one is dealt by destiny, ‘allotted’ by incarnation, the ‘lottery’ of life. Most crucial were the Lot of the Moon (Fortuna) and that of the Sun (Spirit).

… one must seek the Lot of Spirit and Fortune before all the [other] lots. Yet truly also there is another reason, that because of this one must first cast out the Lot of Spirit and Fortune, since from these we cast out all the others. And so we could not cast out the rest without these being looked at …
Olympiodorus Scholia in Late Classical Astrology (Greenbaum trans)

A lot is a calculated point in an astrological chart. It is created using a specific formula involving the distance between two positionings upon the ecliptic and relating this to a third point of reference (commonly, that of celestial bodies to a particular calculated point, especially the ascendant). Over time and across cultures a multitude were developed, and they consequently became tagged as ‘Arabian Parts’.

It is impossible to enumerate the lots which have been invented for the solution of horary questions and for answering enquiries… …they increase in number every day… …7 of which belong to the planets…
Al Biruni – Elements of Astrology 476 (Ramsay Wright trans)

The matter of casting lots is a very long one, so that one might think there is no end to it …
Al Biruni – Elements of Astrology 478 (Ramsay Wright trans)

Through the centuries the philosophical knowledge underlying lot technique and meaning became modified, misunderstood, and lost. Eventually, they fell from use to become generally disregarded into modern times. Only an abstracted ‘Part of Fortune’ was to remain, but largely as a dated curiosity and ‘lucky’ significator. It is only since the late 20th century that the nature of this ancient technique and symbolism has been seriously reconsidered – and it is still early days. The study of primary writings and their translations has led some respected astrological thinkers to propose just how notable lot doctrine really could be.

This intensive (AP11) was first presented on the Gold Coast (GCAS) in May 2010, and on the Gold Coast (GCAS) in revised form in September 2013.

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