Last week we talked about how to elect the best time for a ritual, this week we will look at retrodiction.
Retrodiction is the opposite of prediction, the foretelling of future events. Retrodiction uses events from the past to make sense of, or otherwise, of a chart where the birthtime is unclear.
Johannes Kepler was an astrologer, mathematician and philosopher (in the sense the Greeks meant it, philos-lover, sophos-of wisdom).
There are two horoscopes for Kepler. He rectified his own chart from an approximate birth time of 13:07 by using a pre-natal epoch system (Trutina Hermetis) or something similar. He came up with 14:37 LMT after calculating his time of conception, (pre-natal epoch).
Now, I am always a tiny bit suspicious of astrologers who rectify their horoscopes, yes Alan Leo, thinking about you! I wonder what it is that they wish to show us, as opposed to what is shown. But of course, we need to give people the benefit of the doubt. Kepler was a skilled astrologer and mathematician, so no doubt his calculations are sound. However, we have the benefit of hindsight and can use retrodiction to make a judgement.
The Ascendant should show the physical form. It is hard to tell from a painting if he would be Taurus or Gemini ascendant with either the Moon or Neptune on it.
Kepler’s father was a violent drunk who abandoned the family, his mother was a Herbalist and cunning woman. She is shown by Saturn in Scorpio in both charts. A difficult woman, Kepler described her as,
‘small, thin, swarthy, gossiping and quarrelsome, of a bad disposition.’
Which may be considered a fair description of Saturn in Scorpio.
His father would be shown by Mercury ruling the 4th house in Capricorn. Kepler called him,
‘a man vicious, inflexible … and doomed to a bad end.’
The 7th house shows partners. In December 1595 he met his first wife, Barbara, Venus was around 24’ Sagittarius that month (so conjunct chart 1’s descendant). Barbara had been widowed twice and had a great deal of money and property (Jupiter, Venus) and his marriage to her would have increased his public standing and freedom (Jupiter). Maybe it was a love match (Venus conjunct the Descendant.)
They married, on 27.4.1597. You might imagine such a skilful astrologer would elect an auspicious date for his marriage, but it appears not to have been the case. Jupiter was at 19’ Taurus so opposite his natal Saturn which in chart 1 rules the 8th, 9th and 10th houses and in chart 2 rules the 9th, 10th and 11th houses. The Moon and Saturn were at 14’ Virgo and opposite his natal Jupiter, which in chart 1 rules the Descendant (marriage partner) and in Chart 2 the 8th house (inheritance). Neither seem particularly auspicious for marriage. Finally, Mars was conjunct Jupiter at 18’ Pisces, which may show increase in wealth (Jupiter) and Mars rules the 7th in chart 2.
Kepler went to university in 1589, Saturn was conjunct the Ascendant in chart 2, 29’Taurus (which fits for a change in persona) and Saturn in chart 2 rules the 9th house of higher education. So perhaps chart 2 fits better. Again, in April 1594 he found work as a teacher of mathematics and astronomy. Jupiter was at 24 Aquarius conjunct the MC of both charts.
On January 1st, 1600, Kepler travelled to see the famous Astronomer Tycho Brae, the meeting took place on the 4th of February when Neptune was at 26 Leo, opposite his MC in chart 2. Kepler was hoping the famous scientist would help him find a position, Brae had constructed a telescope and Kepler wanted to use the data for his own research on the movement of Mars. Brae did not wish to share his data freely and the two argued. Kepler returned to Gratz.
Studying the lunar eclipse 10 July 1600, Kepler laid the groundwork for his Astronomia pars Optica which was published in 1604. The astrology of July 1600 included a Neptune, Jupiter conjunction at 22-26’ Leo opposing the MC of both charts and Mars was opposite his Jupiter at 18’Virgo.
1600 was a terrible year for religious persecution, the witch craze was in full swing and especially severe in Germany. Both Lutherans and Catholics disliked Kepler’s science. His insistence that the earth travelled around the sun was considered heresy, punishable by death. On August 8th Kepler was banished from Gratz by the Catholics (he was excommunicated in 1612). Venus was conjunct the Ascendant of chart 1 at 26’ Gemini and conjunct the Neptune of both charts. The Moon was conjunct his Saturn, ruler of Abrahamic religions and the 9th house of religion in both charts. Perhaps Kepler was pleased to be given a reason to return to Prague, money may have been an issue (Venus).
Kepler returned to Prague and Brae and was given a position by him. Brae died suddenly in October the following year (24.10.1601) and Kepler was given his role. It was Kepler’s Saturn return. Saturn was conjunct his natal Saturn at 11’ Scorpio (Saturn ruling his MC in both charts). The North Node was at 25 Sagittarius, conjunct the Descendant of chart 1, perhaps showing a fated event involving a colleague (7th house).
In October 1604 a new star (Supernova) was observed by Kepler and the calculations he made at that time became his book, De Stella Nuova 1606. This discovery again, undermined the Church’s belief that the heavens were immutable and unchanging, i.e. created by God. Mars and Jupiter were conjunct at 23’ Sagittarius, so opposite the Ascendant of chart 1.
1611 was an annus horribilis for Kepler. The religious turmoil continued, there was political upheaval making his position insecure and family tragedy, his son and wife died. Uranus was at 26’ Gemini so conjunct the Ascendant of chart 1, suggesting a shocking change. Saturn was at 18’ Pisces so conjunct his natal Jupiter (which rules the 7th house of chart 1) death or the grim reaper coming for his partner. Jupiter was at 10’ Virgo so opposite his natal Jupiter, in chart 2 Jupiter rules the 8th house of death and inheritance, there was a bitter dispute about his wife’s estate.
During these years (sources say 1608 or 1609 but it is unclear) Kepler wrote a novel trying to show through prose, his understanding of the cosmos. It was not the first science fiction novel, (this was written by Lucian in the 2nd C CE). One character in the book, Fiolxhilde, sells magical charms and dialogues with a spirit on the moon. As Kepler’s mother was a herbalist, is was believed that he was writing about her. Although the book was published posthumously, copies of the manuscript circulated in 1611 in Tubingen. And small minds saw their chance. Kepler wrote,
‘You would think a spark had fallen on dry wood… My words had been taken up by dark minds which suspect everything else of being dark.’
Which I think is a good enough description of a Saturn, Jupiter conjunction, light eclipsed, and hope lost.
Katherine, his mother, was feared and disliked in her local community. She was accused of hurting local women several of whom had reason to hate her, one owed her money which she refused to repay, another had had an abortion to hide an extramarital affair and wanted to cover this up. Katherine was abrasive and combative, as perhaps only a Saturn in Scorpio can be (the ruler of his 10th house), and perhaps she did do a little spell casting to earn a living.
Undoubtedly, the church wanted to destroy Kepler and one way was to attack him through his mother. In 1615 Katherina was accused of poisoning and responded by counter suing her accusers for slander. Kepler hired lawyers to defend her and moved her to Lindz. The case rumbled on but when a less sympathetic magistrate was appointed, Katherine was charged with witchcraft and in August 1620, arrested. In August 1620 the South Node was at 23’ Gemini 58, 7 minutes of arc from his Neptune and conjunct the Ascendant of chart 1. Saturn (the government and the church) was conjunct his Moon (mother).
Kepler mounted a robust defence, detailed in 128 pages of rebuttal. The judge could not find enough evidence to convict Katherina and she was released in October 1621. Jupiter was at 26’ Gemini (luck, the law) on the Ascendant of chart 1, suggesting a burden had been lifted and he was free (of legal wrangling perhaps). The shock of imprisonment had been too great for Katherine and she died on 13th of April 1622. Jupiter was still conjunct Kepler’s Ascendant suggesting this represented freedom for him too.
When the book was finally published in 1634, Saturn was at 25’ Sagittarius, conjunct his descendant. Which I feel relates to the longevity (Saturn) of his ideas which were being shared by another (7th house).
So what do we have? I think a strong case can be made that chart 1, the rectified chart, is the correct one as aspects to his Ascendant happened when his mother was arrested and freed, when his wife and son died, when the supernova was seen, when Tycho Brae died, when he was banished from Gratz and when he met his wife.
Neptune was not visible in the 17thC, but I wonder if Kepler had seen it rising in his horoscope, he would have been delighted to find it on his Ascendant. Neptune rising in Gemini shows a brilliant mind (Gemini) an inspired imagination (Neptune) and being misunderstood as a threat to the unscientific (Neptune) mindset of organised religion.
A brilliant move by a brilliant astrologer.