EnglishSharon Knight

Sect and Triplicity


In order to understand how to make quick accurate predictions or forecasts for your clients, it has become apparent how important the concept of Sect and then Triplicity were to the ancient astrologers.

So What is Sect?

Sect is simply ascertaining whether the chart is diurnal or nocturnal. Diurnal is when the sun is above the ascendant/descendant axis, i.e. in houses 1, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, to 7. Nocturnal is when the sun is below the ascendant – descendant axis i.e. in houses 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and sometimes 1. Everything is predicated on the position of the sun.

However, the Sun can be in the 1st house and below the horizon, or, it can be in the 7th house, but below the descending degree, therefore it is a nocturnal chart. To repeat, if it is above the Ascendant degree in houses 1/7, Sun is Sect ruler. If it is below the Ascendant/Descendant degree in houses 7/1, it is a nocturnal chart. If you use whole sign houses, the Sun can be in the 1st in a diurnal chart, the key is the degree of the Ascendant.

Everything comes via the Sun. When the Sun is above the Horizon, the Sun is the Sect light. When the Sun is below the horizon the Moon is deemed the Sect light. It does not matter where the Moon is placed in the chart if she is deemed Sect light. If the Moon is above or below the horizon in a nocturnal chart she becomes the Sect Luminary. Obviously it is better if the Moon is in the upper hemisphere of a nocturnal chart, but in a nocturnal chart, the Moon is Sect Luminary no matter where she is placed. I repeat, everything comes from the Sun and its location.

The word Sect comes from Latin and means to cut or divide. In this instance the cut, or divide, is ascertaining whether the sun is in the upper or lower hemisphere of the chart. Sect in the first instance has nothing to do with whether a planet is masculine or feminine. It is simply to do with the location of the Sun.

Everything, planets, Lots, Firdaria, are all interpreted or calculated differently according to whether the Sun is diurnally or nocturnally placed.

This was a vitally important consideration when assessing a chart, as different rules were applied to the delineation dependent on whether the Sun was above, or below the Horizon. The planets weightings, ability to function and their relationship with the luminaries changed according to day or night considerations.

To reiterate, the first consideration of Sect was to ascertain whether the Chart was diurnal or nocturnal. This in turn affected the benefic or malefic nature of the planets.

The next division of Sect came with the planets. Saturn, Sun and Jupiter are masculine and belong to the diurnal sect. Saturn and Jupiter are the Sun’s bodyguards and advisors and should be in the same hemisphere as the Sun. If they are in masculine signs, so much the better. They are more straightforward and easier to track with their actual phases with the Sun. It could be said, those with these two planets in Sect are more direct in their actions, perhaps more visible and may be able to exercise more authority in their day to day lives.

Venus, Moon and Mars are of the nocturnal sect. Why Mars? Although Mars is a masculine planet, he was placed in the nocturnal sect to “cool him down”. There has been some debate as to whether Mars should be in a masculine or feminine sign to be considered to be properly in Sect. Ben Dykes is of the opinion Mars should be in a masculine sign as he is a masculine planet. I tend to agree with Ben. However, the main criterion for these three to be correctly in Sect, is when they are above the horizon in a nocturnal chart or, below the horizon in diurnal chart.

If we think about the Night time, it is more feminine, more personal and reactive. There is not so much a tendency to initiate actions. Whereas the Day time is more obvious, we are more active, make things happen, we are more awake and therefore respond quicker. There appears to be autonomy in our actions. Nocturnal planets are more changeable and we could say even though Venus and Mercury are closely tied to the Sun, they make more “phases”. Perhaps we could liken the Nocturnal planets to those who are slightly more changeable in their life paths. They are not so constant in their movements and they are more flexible in life.

The only times Venus can be correctly placed, is either just before dawn when she is a morning star, or, just after sunset when she is an evening star.

Mercury is of course different! He is classed as “diurnal” or masculine, when he rises before the Sun. He is nocturnal and “feminine” when he rises after the Sun. In these instances, he should be in a masculine sign in a diurnal chart and in a feminine sign when it is in a nocturnal chart.

When the masculine planets are above the horizon in a diurnal chart, in a masculine sign, they have extra strength or dignity. This is not to say they are “stronger” in their actions, but they are more beneficial as they can carry out their purpose without hindrance.

When the planets are out of Sect, matters related to these planets and their houses will encounter some sort of hindrance, or involve struggle and hard work, and even disappointment in some way. It can denote those of lower status, not so capable, unstable even. This applies equally to all the planets when they are contrary to Sect.

Hopefully the above will enable you to better understand what the concept of Sect actually means. To repeat, it does not make the individual planet stronger when it is in Sect, it just means it is comfortable pushing its agenda knowing its political party friends will be supportive.

One of the prime uses of understanding which Luminary was Sect Light was in ascertaining the order of the Triplicity Rulers and also when computing the Lots.

Now to Triplicity.

Following on from Sect, we come to Triplicity. These two principles underpin just about everything in traditional astrology. Triplicity is just another word for Element

A planet in “triplicity” has dignity. There is no corresponding debility. A planet is either in, or out of triplicity. As you know, triplicity is simply the division of the four elements; fire, earth, air and water, each element is assigned 3 planets.

The assignation of the planets to the triplicity elements may seem odd, especially in relation to Mars and Saturn. The planets triplicity rulership bears only a little resemblance to the signs they actually rule.

Each triplicity has two rulers which exchange priority according to whether the chart is diurnal or nocturnal, the third ruler was common to both sects. ‘Know the lords of the triplicities of the signs‘ said Dorotheus, ‘the lords of the triplicity of Aries by day are the Sun, Jupiter, then Saturn. By night Jupiter, Sun, then Saturn’ & so on… I tell you that everything which is decided or indicated is from the lords of the triplicities, and as for everything of afflictions and distress that reaches the people of the world and the totality of men, the lords of the triplicities decide it Carmen Astrologicum – Dorotheus of Sidon. 1st century AD.

One planet is the ruler during the day, the next is the nocturnal ruler and the third is the participating ruler. The participating ruler helps both diurnal and nocturnal rulers. He “works” or participates with them both. You go back to the principle of Sect to see which planet is the “lead”.

Here is the table of Triplicity rulerships.

Why are planets in triplicity so important?

When planets are in their “element”, they are happy, comfortable and amongst friends and family. They are in their “tribe”. They help support one another, and most importantly, they are strengthened in their ability to act. This means that the areas of life via the houses they rule will benefit in some way. They may help support members of their “tribe”. Bonatti, when discussing the fortitudes of the planets says: ”While a planet in its own triplicity, it is like a man who is among his allies, his people, his ministers, and followers who obey him and follow him, but are not related to him by kinship.[1]Guido Bonatti Liber Astronomiae. Trans R. Zoller Spica Publications 1998. Page 47. Chap XL

To summarise the foregoing:

When planets are in their correct Sect and Triplicity, they bring benefits. When out of Sect and Triplicity, matters are damaged in some way. This becomes apparent when the planets involved become time lords. The event will either be extremely beneficial, good, fair or average.

When a Triplicity ruler is either badly placed, or in a bad condition, look to see how its Sect Mates relate to it. If they are in good condition and in good places, they will go some way towards mitigating the detrimental effects of the damaged triplicity ruler. They will be able to “control” or retard any bad effects, but will not wholly deny or prevent damage.

Using Triplicity Lords

The Ancients used Triplicity Lords in the main to assess the sign on the Ascendant, the Part of Fortune, the Lights, the pre-natal syzygy and the MC.

Remember, the Ascendant, its ruler and any planets in the Rising Sign described the native. The Condition and the Triplicity Rulers of the relevant Sect Light, also gave indications as to the body and life of the Native and their happiness in life.

Now we come onto the How and Why.

You want to know what the quality of the natives’ life will be like. All lives have the good, the bad and the ugly. Triplicity rulers can give you an idea as to which part of life will be good, really good, or mediocre, to not very good at all. The not very good at all can come about through ill health, financial woes, loss of family or simply through “bad luck”.

In The Beginning of Wisdom Ibn Ezra[2]Translated by Raphael Levy & Francisco Cantera. Ascella (reprint 1939) Publications, page 192 sets out the use of triplicity rulers and their influence over the life: “. . . The first house . . . The ruler of the first triplicity prognosticates the life and character of the new-born and of the asker, his requests, and all that which may befall him early in life whether beneficial or baleful. The ruler of the second triplicity exerts an influence over the body, over strength, and middle-age. The ruler of the third triplicity shares, jointly with his companions, in all that they dominate, and, in addition, he controls the end of the span of life.”

For instance, in a nocturnal chart, the Moon who is Sect Light is located in a fire sign, first you look at Jupiter. If Jupiter is cadent and with mediocre aspects, the first third of life would be unremarkable. If the second triplicity ruler, Sun, is angular, but in Libra, the middle third of life would be better but not quite achieving the promise indicated, unless the Sun had terrific aspects with Venus and Saturn. There may be issues around the father which influence the middle part of life. The third triplicity ruler of the nocturnal fire sect is Saturn. If Saturn is angular and in Libra, the sign of its exaltation, then you would judge the third part of life would be extremely good and comfortable. You can use this method to look at the various houses and their rulers. If you wished to assess the condition of the natives finances or assets through life, you look at the triplicity rulers of the 2nd house and so on.

Dividing the life.

There are various methods (naturally!) for ascertaining ages at which certain planets are activated. You can use the minor, or mean ages of the planets or, as I do, be optimistic and hope everyone who comes to you, will make 3 Saturn returns, giving a life span of 87 years. To make it easier, you can give 3 periods of 25 years each = 75 years. This also then ties in with the Firdaria 75 year life span. If we are working with charts with a known life span, then divide the life lived by 3. If someone lives past 75, it is still worth looking at life changes at 25, 50 and 75. Those who die young, simply divide the life span by 3.

To sum up:

Sect determines the order of the Triplicity rulers.

There are three planets for each triplicity, all have equal value.

The stronger each triplicity lord is for each topic, the better the “fortune”. If the triplicity Lords are angular, the native will be blessed. If two Triplicity Lords are well placed and in good condition, the native will have fair fortune in the affairs under consideration. If one Triplicity Lord, is well placed and in good condition, and the other two are in fair condition, the native will have moderately good fortune. If all three Triplicity Lords are in poor condition relating to the matters under consideration, the native will struggle.

If the Triplicity Lords are in aspect to one another, they will provide support through the people or matters represented by the planets, or through the areas of life under consideration.

If you are doing a “quick” consultation, just by focusing on the Triplicity rulers of the Ascendant, 2nd, 5th, 7th and 10th houses will give you so much information, you will amaze your client or friends with your knowledge of their affairs and approximate times when things either improved, or started to stall. Do remember that for everyone, life ebbs and flows, some parts are wonderful, some so-so and some parts mediocre. No life is all good and no life is all bad.

President of The Association of Professional Astrologers International (APAI) and Honorary Member of AAR

The recording of the workshop „In the heart of the chart”, held by Sharon Knight in Bucharest, on September 30, 2023, during the AAR Congress, is available on the AAR video platform. Details at asociatie@aar.org.ro

Articolul tradus în limba română de Ioana Ion-Pavlescu: ”Secta și Triplicitatea – de ce sunt importante”


1 Guido Bonatti Liber Astronomiae. Trans R. Zoller Spica Publications 1998. Page 47. Chap XL
2 Translated by Raphael Levy & Francisco Cantera. Ascella (reprint 1939) Publications, page 192

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