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Cyril Fagan: The Oktotopos
(with comments by Patrice Guinard)

Ed. N.: This text is the 19th chapter of Cyril Fagan's Astrological origins (St Paul (Minn.), Llewellyn Publications, 1971, p.161-170). It completes my own views about the subject. I've known its existence only in Dec. 1991, nine years after my "discovery" of the Dominion, that is, the set of the 8 domains of the Celestial Sphere.

    [161] Every student of astrology knows that the modern horoscope form is divided into twelve sectors numbered counterclockwise, commencing with the Ascendant or cusp of the 1st house. Thus divided, the horoscope form represents the invisible envelope, or aura, that is supposed to surround the earth and which revolves pari passu with the rotation of the earth on its own axis. This envelope is also supposed to move with the individual concerned wherever he goes, always maintaining the same orientation. Thus, the 1st house always commences with the eastern horizon. The Greeks called such a scheme the Dodekotopos - dodeko meaning twelve and topos meaning places. Moreover, the Greeks made it synchronize with the signs of the zodiac, commencing with Aries 0°, notwithstanding the fact that the order of the houses runs from west to east, whereas the signs of the zodiac run from east to west. Hence, they are incompatible. One cannot pair off twelve signs and twelve houses when they run in opposite directions. Yet, this is precisely what the tropicalists have attempted to do. [Ed. N. : I do not see any relationship with the question of zodiac.] Moreover, in the Arctic and Antarctic circles where certain zodiacal signs never rise above the horizon, while others never set below it, such a synchronization collapses completely.[162-163]

Cyril Fagan: The Dodekotopos
Cyril Fagan: The Octotopos

    [164] The Dodekotopos, which is the vogue today throughout the whole astrological world, appears to have been culled from the hermetic writings of Hermes Trismegistos, literally the "thrice greatest Thoth", and is supposed to be of Egyptian origin. But Thoth is the Egyptian god of the Moon while Hermes is the Greek for Mercury; [Ed. N. : This remark is significant, but the conclusion ? :] so the Dodekotopos is, in fact, a Hellenic rendition of an Egyptian original, which rendition violates at every point the archetypical fitness of things. What appears to be the original, and hence authentic, scheme of houses is described in the Greek Michigan Papyrus No. 149, probably written by the pseudo-Manetho, born in A.D. 80, of which a translation by the Greek scholar, Rupert Gleadow, appeared in the September and October 1950 issues of American Astrology magazine. It also is described in the Astronomicon of Manilius who flourished in Rome during the reigns of the Emperors Augustus and Tiberius. (Manilii Astronomicon, ed. A.E. Housman, London, Grant, 1903-1930). Known as the Oktotopos - okto meaning eight and topos, places - it comprises only eight houses and these run clockwise, no attempt being made to make them tally with the zodiacal signs.

    In the original scheme of things, as conceived by the early Egyptians, these so-called houses or places were not measures of space at all but measures of time; a fact which modern astrological mathematicians have utterly failed to grasp. So, instead of calling them houses or spaces, for want of a better name we shall designate them "watches". The immortal Imhotep, of Sothic fame, is credited with having devised the Oktotopos. [Ed. N. : I remain very skeptic as for this origin. No reference is advanced.] Naturally the arms of the mundane crucifix, the framework of the chart, which defines the Ascendant, the Midheaven, the Descendant and the Anti-Midheaven (often erroneously called the Nadir) is [165] treated, and trigonometrically computed, as being spacial. The division of the mundane sphere into succedent and cadent lunes are also spacial. But in the matter of dominion, the Egyptians treated these watches as measures of time, just conventional time as ordinary people understand it.

    For the sake of convenience and identification we shall synchronize these eight watches with the local temporal hours of the day which most people in antiquity were accustomed to using. Everybody knows that except on the dates of the vernal or autumnal equinoxes the length of the day never equals the length of the night. In summer, it is much longer and in winter, shorter, so that the Sun rises and sets at different times during the year. In the temporal scheme of things the length of the hours and minutes are so proportioned that the Sun always rises at 6 a.m. and sets at 6 p.m., culminating at high noon - 12 a.m. - and coming to the Anti-Midheaven at midnight - 12 p.m. As stated elsewhere, these were the smedt, or middle points of their respective watches, which ran as follows:

                1st watch =  4:30 a.m. to  7:30 a.m.
                2nd watch =  7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
                3rd watch = 10:30 a.m. to  1:30 p.m.
                4th watch =  1:30 p.m. to  4:30 p.m.
                5th watch =  4:30 p.m. to  7:30 p.m.
                6th watch =  7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
                7th watch = 10:30 p.m. to  1:30 a.m.
                8th watch =  1:30 a.m. to  4:30 a.m.

    In those places where the day began with sunset, the 1st watch would tally with the temporal hours of from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and so on. According to the custom of ancient times and of a people who inhabited the sub-tropics, during the 1st watch, which was that of [166] daybreak and sunrise, all nature awoke to life and the people arose and prepared for the activities of the coming day - hence they designated this watch "life". During the hours of the 2nd watch, the people bartered their wares and otherwise earned a livelihood, so they designated this watch as that of "money". During the 3rd watch, which embraced midday when the heat was at its greatest and so too hot to work, the people wended their way home to rest or often took to their boats to enjoy the cool of the waters, so this watch was designated that of "travel". During the 4th watch parents were honored and entertained so this period was designated that of "parents". During the 5th watch, that of sunset, work ceased for the day and everyone returned home to the family, so this period was designated that of "children". During the 6th watch, the aged and the ailing were attended to and their needs supplied, so this period was designated that of "illness". During the 7th watch, people's homes were closed for the night and husbands and wives betook themselves to bed so this period was designated that of "wife". The 8th and last watch was that of slumber and death, so it was recognized as the "death" watch.

    In their recent book on Sleep, Julius Segal and Gay Gaer Luce observed that at 10 a.m. a man is very different to what he is at 4 p.m. or at midnight. One of the obvious reasons is the daily temperature which with great regularity rises during the day and falls at night, dropping to its lowest point between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. This is the time, they state, when nightworkers and railroad people have the most accidents; the time when doctors receive the highest number of calls reporting coronaries. In the Oktotopos, the hours from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. cover the 8th watch - that of death - and so could [167] hardly be more appropriate. But in the Dodekotopos, currently in use, the 8th house tallies with the afternoon hours from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. which are not particularly noteworthy for mortality. With their passion for schematism, the Greeks, in attempting to synchronize their tropical zodiac with the eight places, or watches, increased their number by four. This nonsensical brew has been accepted by astrologers both in the occident and the orient for the past two thousand years or so, and is reverenced as an article of faith that brooks no contradiction. They see nothing incongruous in the fact that the 2nd house of the Dodekotopos, that house holding dominion over the acquisition of money, tallies with the hours from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. when the vast majority of mortals are deep in slumber; nor with the fact that the 7th house, that of mating, tallies with the hours from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. when most of us are only finishing work for the day and wending our weary ways towards home.

    Incidentally, do all the religious-minded attend church services between the hours of noon to 2 p.m., as the Dodekotopos would have us believe? Or do some communities attend church early in the morning? Of course they do, depending on the sect. Hence, it is pure nonsense to decree that any house or watch is universally that of religion. Should a community consistently attend religious services, say, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., then for them the 1st watch becomes also that of religion. In short, according to the timing of their daily customs, each nation, each community and each person decrees their own watches and their own dominion.

    In his delineation of the geniture of Albrecht von Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland, Johann Kepler, the famous astronomer and astrologer, has this to say about the Dodekotopos: "...Astrologers have made the division [168] into Twelve Houses in order to answer the various questions concerning which man desires knowledge; but I do not think it is possible in this way, which seems to me to be rather superstitious, a sort of fortune telling (Wahrsagerisch) and a kind of Arabian sortilege, where one can get an answer "yes" or "no" to any question that may occur to anyone at any time without knowing the person's hour of birth, thereby making of astrology an oracle, and consequently depending on the inspiration of heavenly (or rather devilish) spirits. And as I make a rule not to deal separately with the various houses and to ventilate special questions, this omission on my part, I hope, will not be taken amiss..." (Beitrag zur Feststellung des Verhältnisses von Kepler zu Wallenstein, Transactions of St. Petersburg University). [Ed. N. : This quotation of Kepler centres in a fundamental way the problem of the transmission of the astrological knowledge, and its possible degradation in superstitious hermetic practices. Horary astrology is found in the center of the debate.]

    Horoscope: This word is generally held to mean a birth chart or figure of the heavens for the moment of birth or for any other such event. This is incorrect. Dr. Richard Garnett, Curator of the Printed Books in the British Museum, who, as an astrologer, wrote under the anagram A.T. Trent and who also is one of the great Greek scholars of his day, contributed a most learned paper to the Classical Review, July 1899. [Ed. N. : Upon Richard Garnett, see Patrick Curry, A confusion of prophets, London, Collins and Brown, 1992.] Therein he points out that the Greek word hora not only meant hour and season but also "the degree of the zodiac ascending in a nativity" and cites, at length, from Manetho and other Greek astrological writers to that effect. Hence, the Greek word horoskopos (horoscope) literally means "an observation of the degree of the zodiac crossing the eastern horizon at any given moment". In short, the words Ascendant and Horoscope are synonymous. Therefore, it is not possible to ascertain one's horoscope, unless the hour of birth to the nearest minute, as well as the date and place of birth, are known. [Ed. N. : Fagan stresses that the Ascendant, and consequently the chart, lose all their meaning in a horarist context.] In ancient times before the advent of ephemerides, the [169] ascension of such a degree - considered the most personal degree in every chart - was observed by means of astrolabes or by similar instruments.

    The Foreground, Middleground and Background: When planets are in close propinquity to the angles of any chart, they are said to be in the foreground - the angles, hinges, or corners as they are often called, being the points of the ecliptic that rise, culminate, set, and also that point at the Anti-meridian. Some astrologers call the point that rises the East Point and that which sets the West Point but this really is quite erroneous. The point of the ecliptic that rises is only due east when in conjunction with the vernal, or with the autumnal equinox, not otherwise; and it is due west when it sets in conjunction with these equinoctial points. [Ed. N. : The ecliptic location does not seem to me to be an absolute value.] But the point of the ecliptic that culminates is always due south in the northern hemisphere while the opposite or midnight point always is due north. In the southern hemisphere these orientations are reversed. These angles constitute the middle and the strongest points of their respective watches. This means that the Ascendant, or Horoscope, is the center of the 1st watch of the Dodekotopos; the Midheaven is the center of the 10th watch; the Descendant of the 7th watch; and the Anti-Midheaven of the 4th watch, should we elect to substitute the word watch for that of house. When planets are so placed, they are in the foreground and at their maximum potency for good or evil according to their individual nature. They overrule and take precedence over all other planets, dominating and coloring the life and character to the exclusion of all other influences. The foreground denotes those events and things that are fully conspicious, that are immediately before one's eyes and that eventuate at once or very early in the life.

    [170] Planets near the cusps or centers of the succedent watches are said to be in the middleground. The succedent houses are those that follow the angular ones reckoned counterclockwise. [Ed. N. : Fagan seems to have given up the Octotopos, and returns to the "traditional" Dodekatopos.] So placed, their influence is less effective and not so obvious as those in the foreground. Having a middling nature, their action is more laggard and frequently they do not develop to their full capacity until middle life.

    Planets situated on the cusps of the cadent watches are said to be in the background. The cadent watches are those which follow the succedent ones. So placed, their influence is dim, vague, remote, feeble, weak, distant, ineffective and devoid of potency. The cadent watches denote the far-flung horizons of forgotten things or else the distant future. Not uncommonly, planets posited in the background are dumb notes, having, for good or evil, no influence at all unless they strongly configurate planets in the angles. A happy birth chart is one where the benefics are angular and the malefics cadent; [Ed. N. : This notion of malefic and benefic planets is oldish.] while an unfortunate geniture often has such positions reversed.

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Cyril Fagan: The Oktotopos (with comments by Patrice Guinard)
(version 1.1 : 01.2000)
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