Time Is On My Side, Yes It Is!
By request of one of my Patreon supporters, this post will be bigger on the inside than on the outside. That’s right, this post is a T.A.R.D.I.S. Or at least, you’ll find Time Lords here.
For those who are unfamiliar of Dr Who, the Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels in a spacecraft/time machine disguised as a blue British police call box (because the chameleon circuit is broken and it can no longer change its appearance). The T.A.R.D.I.S. (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) is bigger on the inside than on the outside.
The Doctor is hundreds of years old, and when they are in danger of dying, they have the ability to regenerate, which produces a new physical body, and sometimes slight personality changes. (This is a trick that allows the program to switch out the main character actor every few years.)
Note that I said “they” when referring to the Doctor. The show premiered on Nov. 23, 1963 (80 seconds later than scheduled due to the assassination of U.S. President John Kennedy). It ran until 1989, cycling through eight Doctors, and then was revived in 2005, and has had five more actors portraying the Doctor since then. The Doctor’s most recent regeneration is into a woman’s body.
In astrology, we sometimes go through transformations like the Doctor, where our underlying personalities and qualities are constant, but some of the outer trappings change, according to what part of our natal chart is being activated. These changes are often correlated to planetary periods.
When asked to look at what’s going on in a client’s chart, modern astrologers often jump right to transits. Transits are a comparison of where the planets are today to where they are in a person’s birth chart. For example, today Neptune is at 18º Pisces, which is the exact degree where Saturn was when I was born. There is a certain amount of information that we can gain from this comparison.
Traditional astrologers are much more likely to move the chart through time symbolically as a starting place. Once we do that, we have a better sense of both the context and the specifics that are important currently for a client. One specific way of doing this is to break down a person’s life into periods that are governed by planets (and sometimes signs connected to those planets, depending on the system one uses).
There are a number of different planetary periods that have been used throughout the centuries. Some of these have been recently uncovered by astrological researchers; and some of them mirror the techniques used in Jyotish (Indian/Hindu/Vedic astrology). Hellenistic astrologers (Greek writers of the first few centuries of the common era) referred to these as chronocrators or time lords. See below for a list of some of these.
The technique I’ll present here is called firdaria (singular firdar) also known as alfridaries. This is simply a Persian word that came from the Greek word “period.” (Initial “p” in Greek tended to turn into an “f” in Persian.) This is a simple technique that yields information fairly easily, and can get very specific for the skilled practitioner.
The basic concept is that each planet rules a certain number of years of a person’s life. Saturn rules 11 years, Jupiter 12, Mars 7, the Sun 10, Venus 8, Mercury 13, and the Moon 9. The North and South Nodes of the Moon also rule 3 and 2 years, respectively. (I’ll leave the reasoning behind why each planet rules X number of years for a different day.)
The student of traditional astrology will notice that the order of planets presented here is the Chaldean order, that is, in order of slowest-moving to quickest-moving. That also corresponds roughly to the outermost-to-innermost bodies in our solar system.
You can see that the planets are arranged in this order starting at the top, slightly to the right with Saturn and going clockwise, ending with the Moon. The number of years ruled by each is also indicated. And the North and South Nodes are there, inserted between Mars and the Sun. This provides for a nice, 75-year cycle. Anyone who finishes the cycle simply starts again going around the wheel.
Those born in the daytime, with the Sun above the horizon, start their journey with the 10-year Sun period and continue clockwise (to Venus, then Mercury, etc.). Those born at night, with the Sun below the horizon, jump on this wheel at the Moon, and continue clockwise (to Saturn, then Jupiter, etc.).
This is one of the advantages of this method: the only thing you need to know is if the Sun was above or below the horizon at birth in order to break out accurate periods. Other planetary period types aren’t always so forgiving.
So a person born in the day will have the Sun as a ruler until age 10, then Venus until 18, then Mercury until 31, then Moon until 40, Saturn until 51, Jupiter until 63, and finally Mars until 70. Then the North Node (3 years) and the South Node (2 years) will round out the 75 year cycle.
For a person born at night, the Moon rules until age 9, Saturn until 20, Jupiter until 32, Mars until 39, North Node to 42, South Node to 44, Sun until 54, Venus until 62, and finally Mercury until 75.
We can break these longer periods down further into minor periods. In fact, many astrologers opine that the minor period rulers are actually more important, or at least indicate things that are more acute, than the major period rulers do. The major period rulers give a long-term flavor, while the sub- or minor-period rulers have more to say about daily events.
The minor period breakdown is quite simple. Take however long the major period is and divide it by 7 (one minor period for each of the 7 traditional planets). We don’t use the lunar Nodes here. So for a Moon period of 9 years, we divide 9/7 and we come up with 7 periods of about 1.3 years each, for a total of 9 years. It’s more accurate when done by days, but for our purposes, this is close enough. We always divide the major period by 7, regardless of the planets involved. So while the major periods can vary significantly in length, the minor periods are always 1/7 of that major period.
The first minor period is the same as the major period; so for the Moon, the first sub-period is also the Moon. So for 1.3 years, it’s all-Moon, all the time. Then you progress around the wheel clockwise as described: Moon-Moon, Moon-Saturn, Moon-Jupiter, Moon-Mars, Moon-Sun, Moon-Venus, Moon-Mercury. Each for about 1.3 years.
Each planetary period will bear the characteristics of that planet. Here is a short list of what the planets signify.
- Saturn — delays, denials, destruction, obstacles, hard work, just rewards, old age, older people, seriousness, death, responsibility
- Jupiter — wealth, abundance, good luck, law, education, government, philosophy, religion
- Mars — men, conflict, tension, debate, arguments, accidents, war, brothers
- Sun — honor, glory, promotions, important people
- Venus — women, sisters, peace, luxury, attraction, beauty, art, music
- Mercury — communication, paperwork, study, theft, deception, commerce
- Moon — travel, change, emotions, mother, women, instinct
- North/South Nodes — while not planets, these points of contact between the orbits of the Sun and Moon indicate general increase (North Node) and decrease (South Node). It’s common to think of the North Node (NN) as good luck and the South Node (SN) as bad luck, but if the SN is configured with difficult planets, it can decrease their maleficence, and the NN configured with a malefic can increase its maleficence.
- Uranus & Neptune — while these do not play into the firdaria scheme, if planets in the birth chart are configured closely to these, they will have an affect. Uranus indicates sudden changes or reversals, rebellion, accidents, and liberation. Neptune indicates distraction, loss of self or focus, deception, spirituality, and possible substance abuse. It also has obvious connections to water and the ocean.
In addition to these universal significations, the actions of the planets will be modified for everyone according to what sign and house they occur in the natal chart, as well as whether they are configured with (aspect) any other planets.
Let’s look at an example.
Edward M. Kennedy
Ted Kennedy was born February 22, 1932 at 3:58 am in Dorchester (Boston) MA. At any time of the year in Boston, 4 am sees the Sun below the horizon. But especially in February. So Teddy was a night birth. That means we start his firdaria with the Moon. (Biographical information for what follows is taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Kennedy).
Before we go further, let me state that most of Kennedy’s planets have a moderate amount of dignity. That is, they are in signs that support their authentic expression, without their having to jump through hoops or pretend to be other than they are. There are two important exceptions to this: Saturn is in Capricorn, where it is at home and rules, and Venus is in Aries, opposite her own sign of Libra and therefore in “enemy’s territory.” Kennedy’s Venus is also conjunct Uranus, the planet of reversals, upset, and unexpected change.
Saturn is in Kennedy’s first house, and with Capricorn rising, it rules there. Whenever he experienced Saturn periods, the focus would have been on him and his own issues (1st house). Given Saturn’s good condition in his birth chart, we should expect that Teddy’s Saturn periods should work out well. And given Venus’s poor condition, that Venus periods will be more challenging.
But be careful: Saturn is still a challenging planet demanding discipline, restriction, and boundary-setting, and Venus is still a benefic planet that is focused on relationships, bringing together, and ease.
Moon, age 0-9 (1932-1941)
Movement and change are characteristic of the Moon, and Kennedy’s family moved frequently during his Moon period. His Moon in Virgo is in his 9th house (education, travel), conjunct Neptune (lack of solidity, illusions), opposite his Sun in the 3rd house (early education). According to Wikipedia, “He had attended ten schools by the age of eleven; this was a series of disruptions that interfered with his academic success.”
Saturn, age 9-20, (1941-1952)
Ted Kennedy’s 11-year Saturn period was from age 9-20, as it is with all night births. During this time, two of his siblings died in plane crashes, and one of his sisters underwent a failed lobotomy. Note that when his brother Joseph died during World War II, Teddy was in his Mars minor period. Mars is about war, violence, and male siblings. When his sister Kathleen died a few years later in a plane crash, Teddy was in his Venus (women, sisters) sub-period. We know that Venus periods would be challenging, and the conjunction to Uranus would bring an unexpected element to them.
His academic achievement was only mediocre, though his athletic accomplishments were more successful. So overall, this was a very challenging time with a lot of Saturnian-type blocks and hurdles, but overall, Teddy remained fairly resilient.
Kennedy entered Harvard University, and in 1951, in an attempt to maintain athletic eligibility, had a classmate take a Spanish exam for him. They were both expelled for cheating. Note that this was during his minor period ruled by the Moon, which is conjunct Neptune (illusions, deception) in his natal chart. Typical of Harvard at the time, they were both told that they could reapply in a year or two if they could demonstrate good behavior in the meantime. The next month, Teddy joined the army.
Jupiter, age 20-32 (1952-1964)
While he was in the army, Kennedy entered his 12-year Jupiter period (February 1952). Jupiter is in his natal 8th house (death, debt, taxes, other peoples’ money and resources) and rules his 3rd house (siblings) and his 12th (isolation, enemies). His Jupiter in Leo is in middling condition otherwise, slightly positive, since it likes to be in fire signs. Remember that Jupiter is the natural significator of wealth, abundance, good luck, law, education, government, philosophy, and religion, among other things.
Kennedy re-entered Harvard in 1953 and seemed to improve his academic habits, though he still never really broke out of the “mediocre” category. In 1956, during his Sun minor period (so Jupiter/Sun), he was accepted into law school, though not without some controversy, due to his past cheating episode. In his natal chart, his Sun is in Pisces, which is ruled by Jupiter, and his Jupiter is in Leo, which is ruled by the Sun. The Sun is about honor, glory, and promotion, and this Jupiter/Sun period seems to have saved him from what could have been the end of his aspirations to enter politics.
In October 1957, a few months into his Venus minor period, Teddy met Joan Bennett, and just before the end of that sub-period, in late 1958, they married. We know that Venus periods can be challenging for him, but Venus is also the universal significator of love and romance. In his own natal chart, Venus rules his 10th house (career, reputation) and his 5th house (children, fun, romance), so these significations would have been prominent at this time.
His Jupiter period ended with a Saturn minor period that saw Teddy’s election to the US Senate to fill the seat that his brother John had vacated two years earlier when he won the presidential election. We see all the Jupiter themes we spoke of, such as law, government, and good luck, as well as the solar themes (remember that his own Jupiter is in Leo, the Sun’s sign) of promotion and fame. We also note that, as we saw earlier, the Saturn periods are essentially about Teddy as an individual, since Saturn is in his first house and rules it. Saturn also brings responsibility, seriousness, and a certain limitation (e.g., living even more in the public eye). His dignified Saturn also delivers here on the promise of reward for hard work.
Unfortunately, Jupiter’s 8th house placement also indicates potential death, and the Sun’s 3rd house placement points to siblings. And it was near the very end of the 12-year Jupiter period that Kennedy’s brother John was assassinated.
Mars, age 32-39 (1964-1971)
Mars has the distinction of being a 7-year major period, which makes dividing the minor periods very easy, since there are seven of them. Remember that the first minor period is always the same as the major period, so for the first full year of the Mars period, the minor period was also Mars (violence, accidents, conflict, pain).
Just a few months into this Mars period, in summer 1964, Teddy was in a plane crash, which put him in the hospital for months. His wife had to campaign for his reelection to the senate, and he had back pain for the rest of his life.
(Kennedy also suffered a punctured lung, broken ribs, and internal bleeding. The pilot and one Kennedy aide were killed in the accident.)
The upside to this was that during his recovery, Kennedy studied and became a life-long advocate of health care services.
Shortly after the 1965 legislative session began, Kennedy entered a minor Sun (fame, honor) period, and it was then that he made his mark.
He took on President Lyndon B. Johnson and almost succeeded in amending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to explicitly ban the poll tax at the state and local level (rather than just directing the Attorney General to challenge its constitutionality there), thereby gaining a reputation for legislative skill. He was a leader in pushing through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a quota system based upon national origin. He also played a role in creation of the National Teachers Corps.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Kennedy
February 1969 until February 1970 fell in the Mars/Saturn period. In the summer of ’69, the famous Chappaquiddick incident took place. Briefly, Kennedy left a party with a younger woman, and went off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, off Martha’s Vineyard Island. He claims to have tried to rescue her, but then left the scene and didn’t report the accident until morning.
Kennedy claimed that he was not under the influence of alcohol at the time, and was charged only with leaving the scene of the crime. But an inquest found that he had not been truthful about the incident. While he continued to serve and be reelected as the senator from Massachusetts, Chappaquiddick effectively put an end to his presidential aspirations. When he ran for president later, the whole thing was like the proverbial albatross around his neck.
Again, we see the accident and violent potential of Mars, and the limitations imposed by Saturn, as well as the very personal way it affected him as his first house ruler.
North Node, age 39-42 (1971-1974)
South Node, age 42-44 (1974-1976)
In 1974, during Kennedy’s South Node period, he had come around to supporting the policy of busing Boston students to schools outside their neighborhoods in a quest for more racial integration. He showed up to an anti-busing rally and was nearly attacked. The crowd yelled insults about his children and pelted him with food. He had to retreat into a federal building, and protesters even broke one of the glass walls as they followed. This is consistent with the South Node (bad luck, diminishment) in the 9th house (education) of his own birth chart.
Sun, age 44-54 (1976-1986)
Generally, in a Sun period, one should come into one’s own. Fame, honor, and recognition, as well as dealing with people in authority, are all hallmarks of this time.
While Kennedy had considered running for president in 1972, he decided not to. He was even offered the Vice Presidential running mate slot at the Democratic Convention that year, but refused.
In 1976, Teddy entered his Sun period. His star had risen higher than ever, but he still declined to run for president. Even though polls showed that he would be the democratic front runner (before Carter emerged as the nominee). But Chappaquiddick had a long shadow.
A couple of years later, polls showed that he was a strong favorite to oppose Carter in his reelection campaign of 1980 and he formally threw his hat into the ring in November 1979. This was during the Mercury minor period. Mercury in Kennedy’s chart is very tightly conjunct Mars, so debating and fighting was in order. Mercury is in decent shape, so this should be a fairly good time for Kennedy.
While Carter’s popularity ratings were in the dumps, two things happened in November and December which caused the country to rally around him: the Iranian hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
While he won a number of large states, including California and New York, on Super Tuesday, just two days later, June 5, 1980, his minor period ruler switched back to the Moon, which we remember is conjunct Neptune. This is hardly a good indication of differentiation and leadership. This time around, we see the Neptune=god of the sea/water in an almost literal way as questions about Kennedy’s character and the Chappaquiddick affair resurfaced. Along with the new-found support for the Carter administration as they faced Iran and Soviet aggression, Kennedy foundered more than expected, and certainly more than recent polls had suggested he would.
He went into the Democratic convention in August trying to work a deal where the delegates didn’t have to vote according to primary results. This is reminiscent of the cheating incident at Harvard during a previous Moon (with Neptune) period: illusion, deception, smoke and mirrors. But the ploy failed and Kennedy lost. His tepid support for Carter in the general election may have been a help to Reagan, who defeated him in November, bringing with him a new Republican majority in the Senate as well.
During the Saturn (restrictions) minor period, in 1982, Kennedy decided not to run again for president in 1984.
In December, 1985, just as his 10-year Sun period was wrapping up, Kennedy put an end to speculation that he would run in 1988, saying:
“I know this decision means I may never be president. But the pursuit of the presidency is not my life. Public service is.”
This is an apt end to the most public 10 years of his life, especially given that his Sun is in Jupiter-ruled Pisces.
Venus, age 54-62 (1986-1994)
The fact that Kennedy’s Venus was in Aries, a Mars-ruled sign, where she has to try to take on much more warrior-like characteristics, helps explain two divergent tracks.
On the one hand, Kennedy struggled with women. His divorce from Joan had been finalized in 1982, under the Saturn sub-period (Sun major period). His drinking increased, and the end of his Sun period and the beginning of his Venus period saw him in the news occasionally for inappropriate advances, often while under the influence. He maintained a number of romantic interests without seeking a long-term commitment with anyone (Venus conjunct Uranus in Aries).
In the summer of 1989, in the middle of his Venus period, paparazzi photographed him having sex on a motorboat in Europe. It’s unclear whether this was during his Moon sub-period (with Neptune: deceptions, the ocean, alcohol) or the Saturn sub-period (restrictions, denials).
On the other hand, Kennedy became a champion for women’s rights. Venus in warrior-like Aries is a perfect descriptor of an activist or agitator for women’s rights. Unfortunately, Teddy’s history of womanizing, as well as his role in the Chappaquiddick incident and in the 1991 rape trial of his nephew (who was acquitted) hamstrung his efforts. This is also consistent with a planet — in this case, Venus — being opposite her own place in the chart. You get both Venus and the opposite qualities.
During this Venus period, Kennedy met his second wife, Victoria Reggie. They were engaged and married before the end of this period.
Mercury, age 62-75 (1994-2007)
Remember that Kennedy’s natal Mercury is conjunct his Mars in late Aquarius, in his second house. This is an excellent placement for oratory. It’s not Mars himself, so a bit of the hostile edge is taken off. But it certainly energizes Mercury.
In January 1995, Kennedy’s mother, Rose, the family matriarch died. From that point on, Teddy became more devout and active in his Catholic faith. Note that Mercury rules his 9th house of religion.
During this time, Ted’s reputation grew as the liberal lion of the Senate. While Kennedy had always been known for his oratory (a Mercury function), during this time, he stood out more than ever.
The Republicans, who had gained control of the House and Senate in 1994, overreached in their efforts and the Democrats were able to move forward with legislation, most of it coming out of Ted Kennedy’s office. While Jupiter is the general ruler of laws, Mercury is the negotiation and paper-pushing necessary to bring a bill into law.
The other house that Mercury rules in Kennedy’s chart is the 6th, representing illness and daily work, among other things. During this time, Kennedy achieved an increase in the national minimum wage, as well as health initiatives (including mental health and children’s health).
During the Saturn minor period, his nephew, John Kennedy, Jr., and his wife were killed in a plane crash (July 1999).
Moon, age 75 (February 2007)
At his 75th birthday, as with all people who live that long, Kennedy began again the firdaria sequence, in his case bringing him back to the Moon. In an appropriate gesture of passing the torch to a new generation, he endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama in his campaign against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president.
Just a few weeks before his Saturn minor period began in the summer of 2008, Kennedy suffered a pair of seizures and was diagnosed with a malignant glioma. Though he continued to work whenever possible, the treatment and convalescence were difficult and exhausting.
On August 25, 2009, just before his Jupiter sub-period began, Kennedy died. Jupiter is in his natal 8th house (death), and as the signifier of unlimited growth, is the unfortunate signifier of cancer (under the right circumstances).
The above demonstration of the events of Ted Kennedy’s life through his planetary periods is just a brief look at how they work. Yet this quick look can yield an astonishing amount of detail.
One of the most common uses of firdaria and other planetary periods is to see what planets are currently activated. We (astrologers, at least) have all had the experience of seeing major planetary transits that come and go without much to-do, despite our expectations. And other times what seems like it should be a minor transit wreaks havoc. Well, one clue is that if the transiting planet isn’t activated by being a current Time Lord, then it’s just not nearly as effective or powerful as when it is a current ruler.
To get even more specific, Firdaria are often combined with Solar Return charts, which I’ll demonstrate in another post at some point.
For those interested in learning even more about Time Lord Techniques, Curtis Manwaring of Zoidiasoft Technologies has assembled the following list of known “basic” Hellenistic Time Lord Techniques:
- Quarters of the Moon
- Balbillus Procedure
- Idealized Balbillus (aka 129 Year System)
- Annual, Monthly and Daily Profections
- Lunar Monomoiria
- Zodiacal Releasing Fortune
- Zodiacal Releasing Spirit
- Zodiacal Releasing (user defined)
- Nine Years of the Moon
- Yearly Circular Period Circumambulations
- Monthly Circular Period Circumambulations
- Daily Circular Period Circumambulations
- Ascensional Times of the Signs
- Standard Annual Divisions
- Annual Divisions of Hephastio
- Annual Divisions of Maternus
- Valens Annual Divisions
- Valens X4 Annual Divisions
- Annual Division by Domicile
- Annual Divisions of Junctinus