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Early modern astrology

This is an approximation of how to calculate your ruling planet and determine your character and appropriate professions, according to early modern European astrological theory. It simplifies the process somewhat, as well as taking some shortcuts courtesy of modern technology.

Step 1: Go to

Scroll down and enter your date, place and time of birth to generate your birth chart.

You should get something that looks like this:

Example birth chart

Birth chart key

Signs of the Zodiac

Step 2: Click on ‘Dominants’ (above the chart on the right), then click the table option ‘Switch to Traditional’.

Step 3: Which heavenly body has the highest score (SUM points)? This is your ‘ruling planet’ (it may not actually be a planet). If it’s a tie, go with the option that has the highest score in the first three columns (sign / house / angle). If it’s still a tie, read the descriptors (coming up) and see what suits you best.

Step 4: How high is the score? A higher score is better; it means your ruling planet has a strong position and is able to exert influence effectively.

The usual range is about 8-20, with 14 being average. If you have a score of 15+ you can count your ruling planet as well dignified; if it’s 13- you’re in the ill dignified bracket. A score of 14 is borderline; you incline towards both the good and the bad qualities listed below.

Step 5: Check your results below. How strongly the points about character apply depends on how well or ill dignified your ruling planet is.



Extracts from William Lilly, Christian Astrology (London, 1647), bk. 1, pp. 57–83.


Manners & Actions, when well dignified

Very faithfull, keeping their promises with all punctuality, a kind of itching desire to Rule and Sway where he comes: Prudent, and of incomparable Judgment; of great Majesty and Statelinesse, Industrious to acquire Honour and a large Patrimony, yet as willingly departing therewith again; the Solar man usually speaks deliberately, but not many words, and those with great confidence and command of his own affection; full of Thought, Secret, Trusty, speaks deliberately, and nothwithstanding his great Heart, yet is he Affable, Tractable, and very humane to all people, one loving Sumptuousnesse and Magnificence, and whatever is honourable; no sordid thoughts can enter his heart, &c.

When ill dignified

Then the Solar man is Arrogant and Proud, disdaining all men, cracking of his Pedegree, he is Pur-blind in Sight and Judgment, restlesse, troublesome, domineerning; a meer vapour, expensive, foolish, endued with no gravity in words, or sobernesse in Actions, a Spend-thrift, wasting his Patrimony, and hanging after an other mens charity, yet thinks all men are bound to him, because a Gentleman born.

Quality of Men and Profession

He signifieth Kings, Princes, Emperours … Dukes, Marquesses, Earles, Barons, Lieutenants, Deputy-Lieutenants of Countries, Magistrates, Gentlemen in generall … Justices of Peace, Majors … great Huntsmen, Lieutenants … Stewards of Noble-mens houses, the principall Magistrate of any City … yea, though a petty Constable, where no better, or greater Officer is; Goldsmiths, Brasiers, Pewterers, Coppersmiths, Minters of Money.



Manners & Actions, when well dignified

She signifieth one of composed Manners, a soft, tender creature, a Lover of all honest and ingenuous Sciences, a Searcher of, and Delighter in Novelties, naturally propense to flit and shift his Habitation, unstedfast, wholly caring for the present Times, Timorous, Prodigal, and easily Frighted, however loving Peace, and to live free from the cares of this Life, if a Mechannick, the man learnes many Occupations, and frequently wil be tampering with many wayes to trade in.

When ill dignified

A meer Vagabond, idle person, hating Labour, a Drunkard, a Sot, one of no Spirit or Forecast, delighting to live beggarly and carelessly, one content in no condition of Life, either good or il.

Quality of Men and Profession

She signifieth Queens, Countesses, Ladies, all manner of Women; as also the common People, Travellers, Pilgrims, Sailors, Fishermen, Fish-mongers, Brewers, Tapsters, Vintners, Letter-carriers, Coach-men, Huntsmen, Messengers, (some say the Popes Legats) Marriners, Millers, Ale-wives, Malstors, Drunkards, Oister-wives, Fisher-women, Chare-women, Tripe-women, and generally such Women as carry Commodities in the Streets; as also, Midwives, Nurses, &c, Hackney-men, Water-men, Water-bearers.



Manners & Actions, when well dignified

Being wel dignified, he represents a man of a subtil and politick brain, intellect, and cogitation; an excellent disputant or Logician, arguing with learning and discretion, and using much eloquence in his speech, a searcher into all kinds of Mysteries and Learning, sharp and witty, learning almost any thing without a Teacher; ambitious of being exquisite in every Science, desirious naturally of travel and seeing foraign parts: a man of an unwearied fancie, curious in the search of any occult knowledge; able by his owne Genius to produce wonders; given to Divination and the more secret knowledge; if he turne Merchant no man exceeds him in way of Trade or invention of new ways whereby to obtain wealth.

When ill dignified

A troublesome wit, a kinds of Phrenetick man, his tongue and Pen against every man, wholly bent to spoil his estate and time in prating and trying nice conclusions to no purpose; a great lyar, boaster, pratler, busibody, false, a tale-carrier, given to wicked arts, as Necromancy, and such like ungodly knowledges; easie of beleef, an asse or very ideot, constant in no place or opinion, cheating and theeving every where; a newes-monger, pretending all manner of knowledge, but guilty of no true or solid learning; a trifler; a mere frantick fellow; if he prove a Divine, then a meer verball fellow, frothy of no judgment, easily perverted, constant in nothing but idle words and bragging.

Quality of Men and Profession

He generally signifies all literated men, Philosophers, Mathematicians, Astrologians, Merchants, Secretaries, Scriveners, Diviners, Sculptors, Poets, Orators, Advocates, School-masters, Stationers, Printers, Exchangers of Money, Atturneys, Emperours, Embassadours, Commissioners, Clerks, Artificers, generally Accomptants, Solicitors, sometimes Theeves, pratling muddy Ministers, busie Sectaries, and they unlearned; Gramarians, Taylors, Carriers, Messengers, Foot-men, Userers.



Manners & Actions, when well dignified

She signifies a quiet man, not given to Law, Quarrel or Wrangling, not Vitious, Pleasant, Neat and Spruce, Loving Mirth in his words and actions, cleanly in Apparel, rather Drinking much then Gluttonous, prone to Venery, oft entangles in Love-matters, Zealous in their affections, Musical, delighting in Baths, and all honest merry meetings, or Maskes and Stage-playes, easie of Beliefe, and not given to Labour, or take any Pains, a Company-keeper, Cheerful, nothing Mistrustful, a right vertuous man or Woman, oft had in some Jealousie, yet no cause for it.

When ill dignified

Then he is Riotous, Expensive, wholly given to Loosenesse and Lewd companies of Women, nothing regarding his Reputation, coveting unlawful Beds, Incestuous, an Adulterer; Fennatical, a meer Skip-jack, of no Faith, no Repute, no Credit; spending his Means in Ale-houses, Taverns, and amongst Scandalous, Loose people; a meen Lazy companion, nothing careful of the things of this Life, or any thing Religious; a meer Atheist and natural man.

Quality of Men and Profession

Musitions, Gamesters, Silk-men, Mercers, Linnen-Drapers, Painters, Jewellers, Players, Lapidaries, Embroiderers, Women-tailors, Wives, Mothers, Virgins, Choristers, Fidlers, Pipers … Ballad-singers, Perfumers ... Picture-drawers, Gravers, Upholdsters, Limners, Glovers, all such as sell those Commodities which adorn Women either, in Body (as Cloaths) or in Face, (as Complexion-waters.)



Manners & Actions, when well dignified

In feats of Warre and Courage invincible, scourning any should exceed him, subject to no Reason, Bold, Confident, Immoveable, Contentious, challenging all Honour to themselves, Valiant, lovers of Warre and all things pertaining thereunto, hazarding himself to all Perils, willingly will obey no body; nor submit to any, a large reporter of his own Acts, one that fights all things in comparison of Victory, and yet of prudent behaviour in his own affaires.

When ill

Then he is Pratler without modesty or honesty, a lover of Slaughter and Quarrels, Murder, Theevery, a promoter of Sedition, Frayes and Commotions; and Highway-Theef, as wavering as the Wind, a Traytor, of turbulent Spirit, Perjurer, Obscene, Rash, Inhumane, neither fearing God or caring for man, Unthankful, Trecherous, Oppressors, Ravenous, Cheater, Furious, Violent.

Quality of men & profession

Generals of Armies, Colonels, Captaines, or any Souldiers having command in Armies, all manner of Souldiers, Physitians, Apothecaries, Chirurgions, Alchimists, Gunners, Butchers, Marshals, Sergeants, Bailiffs, Hang-men, Theeves, Smiths, Bakers, Armourers, Watch-makers, Botchers, Tailors, Cutlers of Swords and Knives, Barbers, Dyers, Cooks, Carpenters, Gamesters, Bear-wards, Tanners, Carriers.



Manners & Actions, when well dignified

Then is he Magnanimous, Faithfull, Bashfull, Aspiring in an honourable way at high matters, in all his actions a Lover of fair Dealing, desiring to benefit all men, doing Glorious things, Honourable and Religious, of sweet and affable Conversation, wonderfully indulgent to his Wife and Children, reverencing Aged men, a great Reliever of the Poor, full of Charity and Godlinesse, Liberal, hating all Sordid actions, Just, Wise, Prudent, Thankfull, Vertuous…

When ill

When Jupiter is unfortunate, then he wastes his Patrimony, suffers every one to cozen him, is Hypocritically Religious, Tenacious, and stiffe in maintaining false Tenents in Religion; he is Ignorant, Carelesse, nothing Delightfull in the love of his Friends; of a grosse, dull Capacity, Schismaticall, abating himself in all Companies, crooching and stooping where no necessity is.

Quality of men

He signifies Judges, Senators, Councellours, Ecclesiasticall men, Bishops, Priests, Ministers, Cardinals, Chancellours, Doctors of the Civill Law, young Schollers and Students in an University or College, Lawyers, Clothiers, Wollen-Drapers.



Manners & Actions, when well dignified

Then he is profound in Imagination, in his Acts severe, in words reserved, in speaking and giving very spare, in labour patient, in arguing or disputing grave, in obtaining the goods of this life studious and solicitous, in all manner of actions austere.

When ill

Then he is envious, covetous, jealous and mistrustfull, timorus, sordid, outwardly dissembling, sluggish, suspicious, stubborn, a contemner of women, a close lyar, malicious, murmuring, never contented, ever repining.

Quality of men

In generall he signifieth Husbandmen, Clowns, Beggars, Day-labourers, Old-men, Fathers, Grand-fathers, Monks, Jesuits, Sectarists, Curriers, Night-farmers, Miners under ground, Tinners, Potters, Broom-men, Plummers, Brick-makers, Malsters, Chimney-sweepers, Sextons of Churches, Bearers of dead corps, Scavengers, Hostlers, Colliers, Carters, Gardiners, Ditchers, Chandlers, Diers of Black cloth, an Herdsman, Shepheard or Cow-keeper.

Early modern philosophers commonly held that the heavenly bodies influenced human behaviour. The position of the planets at the time of somebody’s birth was a good indicator of how that person’s life would play out. Respectable astrologers were thoroughly trained in astronomy and mathematics, enabling them to calculate these charts for their clients.

The natal chart comprises three rings. The outer ring is signs of the zodiac, the middle ring shows the positions of the heavenly bodies (represented by symbols) in relation to these zodiac signs, and the inner ring identifies significant relationships between heavenly bodies. The middle and inner rings are divided into 12 segments, known as houses.

From the perspective of an observer on Earth, over the course of a year the sun moves along a path (the ecliptic) in relation to the fixed stars in the celestial sphere. The zodiac is a ‘belt’ of sky that extends about 8 degrees north and south of the ecliptic. The sun, moon and planets always appear (to us) to move through the zodiac. Western astrology divides the zodiac into 12 signs, each aligned with a particular constellation.

In modern-day astrology, your zodiac or star sign is the sign that the sun was in when you were born – so it depends on how far the sun has progressed along the celestial path it travels over the course of the year. Early modern astrologers called this your sun sign, but didn’t attach as much importance to it as do modern-day astrologers. If you look at your natal chart, the red symbol representing the sun should be in the section of the chart corresponding to your zodiac sign.

The middle ring is a picture of the sky when you were born, showing the position of the heavenly bodies. Sunrise is at the 9 o’ clock position on the chart, noon at 12 o’ clock, sunset at 3 o’ clock, and midnight at 6 o’ clock. According to astrological theory, the sign in which a planet is located influences how that planet behaves.

The innermost ring identifies aspects, or the angles the planets make to each other.

The houses correspond to different areas of life. If you wanted to know about someone’s character, you’d look at what was going on in the 1st house; information about family would come in the 4th house; education and knowledge in the 9th house, etc.

The more influential a planet, the more impact it had on your character. This method looks at which sign the planet is in, because planets can exert a stronger influence if they are located in signs that have similar natures to them. It looks at which house a planet is in, because some houses are more influential than others. It also looks at how the planet is placed relative to key angular points in the ecliptic, and how they are placed relative to other planets.

There were different methods of calculating the ruling planet in early modern astrological theory, and some were much more complicated than this!