Though a student of traditional astrology, I’m hardly averse to poking around the vast and diverse discipline in search of technical gems that intrigue. As such, while you’ll most likely see my nose buried in Bonatti or Paulus, I’ll occasionally incorporate a little modern astrology into my reading buffet.
Enter Steven Forrest’s The Book of the Moon: Discovering Astrology’s Lost Dimension. Before I delve into the reason for my post on Mr. Forrest’s book, I need to say that his highly accessible volume, The Inner Sky, launched me on my journey into the depths of astrology — a rabbit hole that I went down a few years ago and have barely emerged from since.
I’ve amassed more than a few titles concerning Luna. Yasmin Boland’s Moonology (and her companion oracle deck), was my first engagement with the Moon beyond what Mr. Forrest’s Inner Sky covers. Though an extremely high-level introduction, I nevertheless think Ms. Boland’s work is often the framework to which many astrological learners first come to encounter the Moon in the natal chart: that is, through its various phases. I’d consider Ms. Boland’s and Mr. Forrest’s work — along with Demetra George’s various texts — a far more accessible entry to lunar phases than Dane Rudhyar’s The Lunation Cycle, which Mr. Forrest credits in his tome. I’ve read The Lunation Cycle at least three times and something about it just don’t stick. Maybe it’s my advancing years or the fact that my Mercury in Taurus simply does better when you strip out the evolutionary and spiritual threads and replace them with the cold, dry “science” of figures and signs. However, I digress.
Mr. Forrest’s The Book of the Moon both builds on Rudhyar’s seminal work and also departs from it, endeavoring to recast the lunar phases in a more “ancient” understanding of the lunar cycle thereby offering a conceptual alignment between the shifting phases of the moon and the “so-called ‘pagan’ people of pre-Christian, pre-Aristotelian, Europe” (xxii). In this way, Mr. Forrest is building on the theosophical, New Age and pagan cosmologies of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which “[eschew] all talk of prediction and instead [concentrate] on psychological and spiritual analysis, the assumption being that self-aware individuals alter their behavior and so change the future” (Nicholas Campion, Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions, 197).
Despite the tantalizing opportunity to dissect the philosophical and cosmological underpinnings of evolutionary astrology, I’m a technique girl at heart and, so, was intrigued by Mr. Forrest’s introduction of the out-of-bounds moon and lunar parallax concepts, both of which I reacted to with a raised brow and a keen interest in applying these considerations to my own natal work. While the out-of-bounds moon has applications to the radix chart, it can also be an important consideration by secondary progression — something that I can’t wait to try; for this blog, however, my focus is on lunar parallax and its impacts on the chart.
Defining the Parallax Moon
Unless you cast natal charts by hand, most software is geocentric by default. Rather than adjust the position of the moon relative to geographic location, astrological chart software assumes that we’re all standing at the centre of the earth. There are, of course, parallax corrections: AstroGold’s app, for instance, allows you to click the parallax feature on or off with the tap of your thumb. I had never used it and never really considered it of material import, not least because I subscribe to the theory that the natal chart is a symbolic representation rather than a literal one, and so, why should I begin modifying the chart to match the sky if I use the tropical rather than the sidereal zodiac to begin with?
Mr. Forrest effectively disabused me of this notion. He writes: “Thinking about parallax with the Moon is cutting-edge astrology. Because the biggest difference it can make — just a degree — does not sound extreme…Even at maximum, that probably will not have much impact on a natal interpretation of the Moon — although do note that it could potentially shift the Moon into a different sign! Also, if you are using the Sabian degree symbols, the difference would often throw the Moon into the next or previous degree.” But what about decan, term and dwad!?
Parallax Moon and Subdivisions of the Signs
In adjusting for the lunar parallax in my chart, I made a startling discovery: my natal moon shifted bound lords!
For those who may not be familiar with the uneven subdivision of the signs into sub-rulerships, then I recommend a quick internet search on the myriad ways astrologers can carve up thirty degrees. Tarot practitioners are likely familiar with the decans, but the terms and bounds (same concept, used interchangeably) and the dodekatemoria are both additional subdivisions that I suggest students of modern astrology take a gander at for the way that they modify planetary placements and interpretations.
Bound lords function a little like jurisdictional modifiers in the chart, adding another layer to the temple reference that traditional astrology practitioners are familiar with, a boundlord colours the nature of the temple itself. For instance, a planet at two degrees of Aries is in the temple of Mars, in Aries’ dwad (the 2.5-degree subdivision according to the zodiac — think of this as a zodiac within a zodiac), in the decan of Mars (as the first face ruler), and in the bounds and terms of Jupiter (according to Ptolemy’s scheme). When you put all that information together, you get quite a complex picture of that planet and how its placement is modified by the degree it occupies: imagine its activities and significations modified not only by the condition and placement of Mars in the natal chart, but also Jupiter. What happens to the action-oriented, driven spirit of Mars in amplifying Jupiter’s territory?
When I turned on the parallax feature, my natal moon shifted from Venus’ to Jupiter’s bounds, suddenly opening up a new possibility for understanding my emotional baseline and environment (sorry, Steven!), and for appreciating the topography of my soul. Mr. Forrest writes, “The Sun is the Secret of Sanity and the Moon is the Secret of Happiness” (21) — something which resonated as I considered the shift of my natal moon by degree. While Venus and Jupiter are both tied into houses of learning, travel and exploration in my chart — and so the overall delineation may have been altered almost negligibly — I began ruminating on whether the Jupiterian boundlord made more sense than the Venusian one. Was the secret to my happiness in beauty and relationships, or in boundless expansion and exploration of the divine? Invariably, I’d point to the latter over the former.
To Parallax or Not to Parallax?
Does the parallax feature materially change your overall chart delineation? In many ways, for broad strokes and overarching natal themes, I’d say not. If you are bent on quick delineations or getting a “feel” for a chart, than little benefit might be seen from tapping on the parallax feature. However, many of us enjoy dissecting the natal chart and peeling back the layers of the celestial onion — in that case, I’d give the parallax adjustment a go. Ultimately, as with most astrological techniques, I’d say that their application matters only in so far as they help refine a reading and increase resonance. But you won’t know this unless you try.