Monomoiria, a lost essential dignity…? (part I & II)

Abstract

Despite the vast research of Hellenistic astrology, little is known about the monomoiria, meaning assigning each degree of a zodiacal sign one of the seven heavenly bodies.

It is the objective of this study to present an understanding of monomoiria by analyzing ten (10) birth charts of twins. It is a qualitative research that seeks to understand the underlying reasons and nuances of how twins can become completely different persons, while having almost the same birth chart, the same angles and so on. How can astrology account for two identical charts bringing different outcomes?

This study covers one of the possible explanations, which is related to monomoiria of either the Ascendant, MC, Moon or Part of Fortune in the birth chart of twins. In addition, there could be also other parts or lots which change within minutes in a chart, but I have selected only the one mentioned above, which together with the Sun, the Moon, MC and Ascendant brings a deep and complex understanding of a chart.

Therefore, in order to have very accurate data I have selected only birth charts which have either AA or A Roden rating; all birth charts being selected from www.astro.com.

The first part of the paper, the Introduction, outlines the theoretical principles of monomoiria doctrine as explained in Paulus Alexandrinus’s Introductory Matters. A connection with the ancient Egyptian horoscope recently discovered is also made, since the horoscope presents monomoiria of planets. Part I contains information regarding the calculation of monomoiria and Part II presents the astrological meaning of it. Last part, part III presents practical examples using birth charts of famous twins.

Introduction

The Monomoiria represents the 360 individual degrees of the sky in Hellenistic astrology. They were each associated with a planet.

The concept was introduced by Vettius Valens’s Anthologies Book IV (150-175 CE) and Paulus Alexandrinus’s Introductory Matters written in 378 CE.

Based on Paulus’s Introduction we know there were two types of Monomoiria, one by sign explained in Chapter 5 and the other one by trigon/triplicity which is discussed in Chapter 32.

Valens uses Monomoiria as a method for the distribution of the time-lords according to the seven spheres and this seems to operate under the same rule that Paulus gives for the Monomoiria by sign.

However, there are even earlier references to Monomoiria by sign, as we know that Vettius Valens attributed it to the 1st century astrologer Critodemus, who was a Greek astrologer: „One of the earliest known authors on astrology”1. His dates are uncertain but 1st century CE at the latest.

It might be also be the case that the Monomoiria doctrine goes back to the ancient Egyptians. The connection could be related with the new discovery of an ancient Egyptian horoscope on a papyrus dating back to 319 CE2, a period when Paulus Alexandrinus must have lived, also in Egypt. Among technical information regarding the dignities, the length of life, the lots and the master of nativity, the papyrus also mentions Monomoiria, calculated in the same manner as Paulus did, which indicates that it was an important technique for analyzing a natal theme.

Moreover, in Paulus’s work the doctrine was presented right after the description of the twelve signs, the terms and faces (decans) of the signs, which might imply that Monomoiria used to be an essential dignity that the ancients followed.

Part I – How is Monomoiria calculated?

In Chapter 5 of “Introductory matters”, Paulus Alexandrinus explains that in order to find the planetary ruler of the Monomoiria of a degree by sign, one starts with the ruler of that sign:

“The single degree division of the stars must be distributed following their position in the heptazone, assigning the first degree to the star whose sign it is, but the second to the one after it in the order of the heptazone, and so on until you come down to the degree which the star holds, including the minutes as one degree.” – Paul of Alexandria, Introduction to Astrology translated from Greek by James Herschel Holden, M.A, Fellow of American Federation of Astrologers.

Thus, that star (planet) will rule the first degree of the sign. Thus, for Libra, Venus is the ruler of the first degree. The process continues with the planets in Chaldean order (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon) through the rest of the degrees of Libra – the second degree’s ruler being Mercury, the third degree’s Moon, and so on. At the end of Chapter 5, Paulus also presents the Table of Monomoiriai for all the 30 degrees of the twelve signs.

Unfortunately, nor the text nor the Egyptian horoscope nor other horoscopes give us any information regarding the use of the single-degree distribution (Monomoiria).

However, in Scholium 153, there is mentioned that Monomoiriai – plural form of Monomoiria – are useful because they can connect (by “sympathy”) two signs otherwise unrelated to each other, such as Taurus and Libra (both ruled by Venus) which sympathize with each other, whether they are disjunct and averted from each other.

Part II – Astrological meaning of Monomoiria

The Greek word Moiria had two meanings:

1. Degree or apportionment – a standard term for the division of the zodiac in Hellenistic writings and

2. Fate, as it is the singular of Moirai, incarnations of destiny, primordial deities (Clotho – the spinner, Lachesis the allotter and Atropos – literally ‘unturnable’ but metaphorically ‘inflexible’ or ‘inevitable’ – i.e. death). Moira is a power acting in parallel with the gods, and even the gods could not alter what was ordained. The ancient Greek writers call this power Moira or Ananke4. The concept of a universal principle of natural order has been compared to similar concepts in other cultures like the Vedic Rta, the Avestan Asha (Arta) and the Egyptian Maat.

“Moira means that part of the zodiac which we call “a degree”, but it more commonly means that portion or allotment which is one’s fate.”[5. Paulus Alexandrinus – Introductory Matters translated by Robert Schmidt, Edited by Robert Hand, Project Hindsight, Greek Track, Volume I, pg. XI]

As Robert Schmidt mentions in the Translator’s Preface of Paulus’s Introductory Matters,

“from the frequency with which it occurs in the astronomical sections of Greek astrological writings, one might argue that Moiria had come to simply mean a division of the zodiac, and could be safely translated as “degree”. However, Paulus’s work is too full of word play on this term and the related vocabulary of allotment, apportionment to think that he was not constantly reflecting on its astrological meaning.”

Thus, we may deduct that the significance of Moiria was that a certain „fate” was apportioned to a degree. Monomoiria was seen as there was a „familiarity” among planets in degrees having the same „fate” because they were interconnected. In addition, Monomoiria was useful because it could modify different relations between signs.

In the end of the fragment the commentator mentions that the table of Monomoiria is worthwhile only for applying aspects of planets, for the separating aspects being useless.

We can conclude that the Hellenistic astrology was concerned with the symbolic patterns of the fate (Moira) who distributes the fortune of the souls. As they were saying: the Moira is the ultimate “order”, which even the gods must surrender to.

We can manipulate our conscience and sometimes use the planets in our favor, in order to change our life, but we cannot control our Fate. What we can do is to look deeper into planetary degrees and see the master plan the Moirai laid down on them.

To be continued…

ANCUȚA CATRINOIU,
Member of Romanian Astrologers Association

Articolul este disponibil în revista Astrele și în limba română.

  1. Neugebauer, H. B; Van Hoesen, H. B. (1987). Greek Horoscopes, Volume 48. Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society. p. 185
  2. P.Berl. 9825: An elaborate horoscope for 319 CE and its significance for Greek astronomical and astrological practice.
  3. Scholia means commentary notes made either by copyists or other users of the manuscript
  4. In Plato’s Republic the Three Fates are daughters of Ananke (necessity), primeval goddess of inevitability who is entwined with the time-god Chronos, at the very beginning of time.

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