The Sinking of the Titanic

Most people now associate Astrology with character analysis but there’s much more to it than that. It can be used for a variety of purposes, answering questions, looking at the fate of nations, choosing the most auspicious time to start particular actions and to analyse past events.

One such past event that continues to attract attention is the sinking of the Titanic on the night of April 14th/15th 1912. One of the well known things is that the Titanic didn’t sink immediately. There was a period of two hours and forty minutes between striking the iceberg and actually slipping below the waves. So what time should a chart be set for and indeed where should it be set for?

The second question is the easier of the two and even with that there are issues. The distress calls of the Titanic gave two positions, the first at 00:15 (ships time) on 15 April 1912 gave the position as Latitude 41N44, Longitude 50W24. The second at 00:25 gave the position as 41N46 and 50W14. In 1985 the wreckage was located at a slightly different location, again some ten to 15 minutes of arc away in both directions.

There were no satellites to establish GPS in those days. The position was worked out by hand. Nevertheless all three locations make only slight differences to the chart. So I went with the second Titanic position which was their corrected one.

Timing is a little more difficult because the ship was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and operating on its own local time, which was manually changed as it sailed West. According to a number of sources the ships clock was running at 2 hours 58 minutes behind GMT at the time of the sinking. I decided to use Local Mean Time, which makes about a 5 degree difference in the Ascendant, compared to using a corrected GMT time. It seemed to better describe the situation at the time of the collision. One other thing became clear at that point. The events that unfolded over the next two hours and forty minutes were exactly described by rolling the chart forward in real time.

The Collision

Reports say that the first sighting of something occurred at 23:30 on the 14th  April and that the message that it was an iceberg dead ahead came at 23:39 or 23:40.  I’m not sure how much time passed between the sighting of the iceberg and the tearing of the hull on impact and indeed the flooding of the first four compartments but it seems Fourth Officer Boxhall’s reported these had already begun to flood  at 11:45.

Titanic Iceberg
23:40 Iceberg identified

I cast the first chart for 11:40 to signify the initial confirmation of the iceberg.  I used Whole Sign Houses, as this is the original house system and was intended for use in topical analysis.  The chart has Sagittarius rising with Jupiter in the first house, though in an earlier degree than the Ascendant. An initial view might be that this shows a very good situation rather than the onset of disaster, especially as Jupiter is also the Triplcity ruler for the Fire Triplicity in  a nocturnal chart.   The Lot of Victory is with Jupiter in the first – Titanic was allegedly going at full speed to break the record for an Atlantic crossing. However closer observation of the chart reveals a number of indications that all is not well.

Firstly Jupiter is not the benefic of Sect in a night chart, that role falls to Venus. Secondly Jupiter is Retrograde and has only just turned so. Thirdly Jupiter is the slowest of the classical seven at this time being over twice as slow as Saturn. Look more closely still Jupiter is in the Terms and Face of Saturn, the out of sect malefic, the potentially most harmful planet in the chart.  Saturn also rules the Lot of Fortune in the second house of material possessions. the Lot is averse to the Ascendant as is its ruler Saturn, that is they make no major aspect to the Ascendant.

Now with Saturn in the sixth and Mars in the eighth, there is no affliction of the Ascendant by an obvious malefic, nor is Jupiter afflicted. So despite the weaknesses identified there doesn’t appear to be any major problem.

Mars might signify the iceberg because it cuts or slashes the Titanic or Saturn might signify it as it’s a cold planet but neither seem to present a threat at that point.  So whilst both planets are averse to the Ascendant this could be interpreted as that the threats are just not seen until it is too late.

That doesn’t seem to help that much until we realise that the Moon is the ruler of the eighth house of death and it’s in an applying square with the Ascendant. So the Moon is an accidental malefic – it’s maleficence comes only because of the chart, not from its nature. The Moon is in the fourth house, which amongst other things signifies the end of the matter. So at 23:40 we have a clear indication that death is coming and it will be the end of the Titanic. The Moon is below the horizon, it is a moonless night. This was commented on at the time. If the Moon had been up, the iceberg might have been seen earlier and the collision avoided. The Moon is in it’s fourth quarter, it’s waning and heading towards the beams of the Sun and heading there quickly. This indicates a profound weakness in the situation described.

11:42 Moon square Ascendant

If we were to cast for just two minutes later the aspect would have perfected.   Less than four minutes later, the Ascendant moved into the Terms or Bounds of Mars. so the entry into the Terms of Mars, might well correspond to the beginning of the end for the ship.

Titanic holed
11:44 Titanic holed


The Sinking

Andrews reports ship is doomed
Andrews reports ship is doomed

The next chart is set for midnight, when Thomas Andrews reported back to Captain Smith that the ship was doomed. The Ascendant is now just into the first degree of Capricorn. and  it’s clear from the chart that things are not going well at that point.

The chart is ruled by the out of sect malefic Saturn now into the fifth house and apparently there was some sense of party on the Titanic at that time. The Hellenistic Astrologers associated Saturn with death by drowning and its movement by house over the remaining period shows how this interpretation is strengthened.

Saturn also still rules the fortune of the Titanic and will do so until it is nearly sunk.. Mars is now in the seventh house in an applying opposition to the Ascendant being only five degrees away.

Titanic Lifeboats
00:25 Lifeboats launched

At twenty one minutes past twelve Mars reaches the Descendant (and thus opposes the Ascendant) four minutes later Captain Smith gives the order to launch the lifeboats, now realising the ship was lost.  At 01:40 Bruce Ismay, the Chairman of the White Star Line, and symbolic owner of the Titanic climbs into Lifeboat C, at that point Saturn is on the Astronomic IC


01:40 Bruce Ismay flees


01:55 Last lifeboat launched
01:55 Last lifeboat launched

At 01:55 the last of Titanics regular lifeboats is launched. All that will come after that is the collapsible lifeboats At the same time, 01:55, the Ascendant moved into Aquarius still ruled by Saturn which is now in the fourth house and near the IC.. By sign the Ascendant ruler is squaring the Ascendant from the House of the end of the matter.

The ship eventually sank at 02:20 by which time Benefic Jupiter had taken over the rulership of the Lot of Fortune but too late to indicate good things for the ship and passengers as the Lot was still averse to the Ascendant.

02:20 Titanic sinks
02:20 Titanic sinks

Getting Solar Fire to Use Dorothean/Egyptian Essential Dignities.

There are several versions of Essential Dignities by Triplicity and by Terms.  The   original system of Triplicity Rulers was that which we now attribute to Dorotheus of Sidon, though he did not develop it.  The original system of Term rulers was that which we now call ‘Egyptian’

In the second century CE Claudius Ptolemy suggested an alternative system, though it is not even clear whether he used it himself.  His system does not seem to have been used to any significant extent until William Lilly and other Seventeenth Century English Astrologers, introduced it into their own work.  By Lilly’s time it was thought that Ptolemy was much more central to the original system of Astrology than he actually was and genuine Hellenistic methods, including the Lots and the Dorothean and Egyptian Terms were thought to be later Arab innovations.  So Lilly thought he was helping in a return to the original Astrology.

There is some variation between the rulers or the Water Triplicity as attributed by Lilly and those attributed by Ashmand in his 1882 translation of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos. This led to some speculation that Lilly’s attribution was wrong and that Ashmand’s was the better version.

When Astrolabe developed Solar Fire 3, they used a table of Essential Dignities that effectively accepted Ashmand as their default.  They also added a Lilly version and later a Dorothean/Egyptian version but these are difficult to change so what follows is a set of instructions for editing the Essential Dignities in Solar Fire.  I’m using Version 9 but this should work on earler versions.

Step 1:

You need to edit at least one of the essential dignity files contained in the Solar Fire program folder using the Almuten/Dignities editor found under the utilities menu . That means finding out where that folder is on your computer. For me it was in Program Files (x86) but earlier versions may be in Program Files.  Solar Fire also saves user files in a folder in My Documents, called Solar Fie User Files.  You will need to save any new dignity files into that folder (in the Almutes and Dignities sub folder)

Then start up Solar Fire and open the Almuten /Dignities editor from the Utilities menu. You will need to use the File/Open menu to navigate to your Solar Fire folder and select one of the files with a .alm file to edit. I chose essdig.alm and this is probably the easiest one to do.  There are others and you can edit them as well if you wish.



The Almutens/Dignities editor with essdig.alm loaded

Step 2:

Once loaded into the editor click on the Options button top right (see screenshot above) and alter the Triplicity and Terms rulers to Dorothean and Egyptian respectively (see screenshot) and click OK to return to the editor screen.


Step 3:
Now edit the full name description to read Essential Dignities (see screenshot)


It’s not essential to edit the description but you might chose to do so if you wish to be completely tidy.

Step 4:

You need to save the file but it is important to change it’s name and to save it in the Solar Fire user folder in My Documents.

So in the editor use File Save As and rename it to myessdig (Solar Fire automatically supplies the file extension) and navigate to the Solar Fire User Files folder, open it and find the Almutens & Dignities folder (should be the top one) open it and then save myessdig to it.

That completes the use of the Editor, so you can safely exit it.

Step 5:

From the Utilities menu select Page Designer. You can then use File Open, to find and load the Horary Page. from the list of pages displayed.

Step 6:

Once the page has loaded click on the Essential Dignities Object and it should become framed in a red outline with sizing points. This will bring up the properties, of the Essential Dignities object over on the right. By default the Dignit File box (next to the bottom on the list) is empty, meaning that Solar Fire uses it’s own default dignities. You need to change that to show myessdig  as the Dignity File. If you highlight the box you will see an entry window open at the top. type myessdig in there and press return (see screenshot). Remember to save the page using File Save. You don’t need to change its name but you can do if you want to use the default and the new dignities interchangeably.

If you are using the horary page which shows mutual receptions, you will need to click on that object and repeat the process of making myessdig the Dignity file.



Page designer showing the loaded Horary page.  The lower screeshot shows a close up of the  Properties box and the box for entering the Dignities file name (you should leave the extension off) .  Once entered the file name shows up in the dignity file box.

Selecting the horary page for any chart will now provide you with the Dorothean Triplicity Rulers and Egyptian Terms and if you are using mutual receptions, the adjustment to that object will reflect the chosen Essential Dignities file

My view is that this procedure is almost Kafkaesque in it’s complexity but there is one advantage. You can now change any page where Essential Dignities are used in the same fashion and you can even create your own page.

If you create further dignity files by re-editing myessedig and, say, choosing Lilly Triplicities and then saving it as lillyessdig you can have pages for all three of Solar Fire’s Dignities options. Even so, they should have made this much easier and much more clear.

A technician form Esoteric Technologies (Solar Fire’s publishes) told me that closing Solar Fire and then right clicking on the Desktop Icon allows Solar Fire to be run  as an Administrator.  This allows you to edit and save the Solar Fire program folder versions and to save them under their existing name back into the program’s folder.  Doing this has a bonus feature.  The Reports, Current Chart, Tabulations, gives an Essential Dignities table that reflects your chosen preferences.  it also saves you having to edit in Page Designer.  However it’s even more arcane than method described in detail above.  So if you’re at all concerned about causing damage, it’s better to use the system of creating a new dignities file.  If it doesn’t work properly all you need do is delete it put the Page Designer properties back to their original state.

To me this is something of an exercise in masochism.  I tried the same basic change of dignities for Delphic Oracle and it took me sixteen seconds.  That’s because DO like virtually every other program that features the essential dignities allows them to be changed in settings.  It would take another sixteen seconds to switch them back.

You do lose the chance of producing a page that brings all the information together but then the reports in Delphic Oracle always reflect the settings, where relevant.  So it’s still possible to obtain the information.  The same holds for the freeware Morinus.

Traditional Astrology

Traditional Astrology is the Astrology that was practiced from the Hellenistic Period till the Seventeenth Century. There are roughly three main periods.The first was the Hellenistic period that dates from the inception of Horoscopic Astrology, that is Astrology that uses the Ascendant as it’s key marker, This period lasted from around the first century BC and lasted until around the seventh century AD. The second period was the Medieval period, which included the Astrology of the Arabs and Persians, which in turn was derived from the Hellenistic Astrologers and was transmitted into Western Europe following the crusades. It lasted from around the Eighth Century until the Sixteenth Century. The final period was the Astrology of the Seventeenth Century, which was practiced in a lesser form up to the end of the Nineteenth Century, though much of the mechanisms for learning that were in place, such as university courses, were lost. The end of the Traditional Period is usually taken as the new style of Astrology introduced by Alan Leo at the turn of the twentieth century. Leo’s reforms went on to underpin the psychological approach of the mid to late twentieth century and also many variants and styles, giving modern Astrology little unitiy.

Since the last two decades of the twentieth century there has been an increasing interest in reconstructing the traditional methods and approaches. In part this was due to an interest in the origins of Astrology and in part due to some Astrologers becoming disillusioned with the modern fragmentation.

The argument in favour of the traditional approach is that it takes a more objective stand and sees prediction as it’s main purposes. As this blog continues I’ll be looking at some of the issues that divide the tradition from the modern and giving some examples of how these would show up in practice.

Standish Astrology

Standish Astrology is run by me, David Wilson, and is based in Lancashire, UK.  I’m just setting up a website as well and this should be operational in the not too distant future.

I follow a Traditional Approach to Astrology, rather than the modern psychological approach, so you will find a different take on astrological issues here.  Most notably, I don’t use the three outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto but keep to the classic seven.  My main interests in Astrology are in the Seventeenth Century Astrologers, J. B Morin and William Lilly but  I’m also beginning to look at the Hellenistic period.  One of my key interests is in Horary Astrology. that is the art of answering specific questions by casting a chart for them.  I’ll be giving examples and some greater explanation in future posts.

I’ll also put in links to other astrologers who share the same approaches, especially where I see they have something of significance to say.