Another Hellenistic technique Chris Brennan describes in Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune is how the planets “witness” or “treat” each other. Aspects between planets is something studied in other forms of astrology, but the ancient astrologers created a system for differentiating the aspects which are more or less helpful to the energy of the planet. Is the aspect formed with a benefic or malefic? Is the aspect applying or separating? Which planet is in the superior or inferior position?
To explore these questions, I have pulled up the chart of actor George Clooney (you may be getting the impression that I have recently enjoyed a romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney!). We first identify the chart as nocturnal, with the Moon in Capricorn as the primary light. Venus in Aries is the benefic of sect, indicating what brings him the greatest boons in life. Saturn in Capricorn is the malefic of sect, showing the greatest difficulties.
We first look to see if the benefics or malefics are “overcoming” a planet by sign-based aspect. Saturn in Capricorn squares the Aries Venus. Mars in Leo opposes Jupiter in Aquarius and squares the Sun and Mercury in Taurus. While we would think that a world-famous movie star would have only benefics dominating his chart, the challenges from the malefics tell the tale of a young George Clooney who longed to play baseball but was rejected when he tried out for the Cincinnati Reds, and who went off to Hollywood to break into acting and then struggled for twelve long years before getting his break on ER.
And the rewards are in the benefics. Venus and Jupiter see each other by sign-based sextile, and Venus trines his sixth house Mars – showing how his hard work of the sixth house reaped the benefits in his second house of income. Jupiter can also function as an overcoming benefic when in square, so it brings its gifts to the Sun and Mercury in Taurus.
Another aspect to be noted in a Hellenistic interpretation in “adherence,” when a planet applies within 3 degrees to a benefic or malefic. George Clooney’s Moon applies to Saturn by two degrees, which “maltreats” the Moon. In Capricorn, the Moon is also in detriment; however, the Moon is moving towards a dignified Saturn in Capricorn. This could reflect George’s long bachelorhood. He was married fairly young, but was miserable and decided he was better off single. True to the late-bloomer aspect of Capricorn, George did finally marry and start a family when he was 54. He is also deeply private about his personal life, drawing those Saturnian boundaries around his Moon. The 11th house place also tells us of his involvement with charitable groups who support ALS research and provide relief to victims of war. This Saturn also rules his humanitarian Jupiter in Aquarius in the 12th house, showing his desire to share his gifts and fortune with those who suffer in the shadows of life.
Every life has its share of good and bad, Hellenistic astrologers asserted, and we can use the astrological chart to see where “fate and fortune” fall. But looking at George Clooney’s chart reminds us that an “unfortunate” planet or aspect can function as a spur in life, an energy that helps us meet and overcome obstacles and delays. A successful life is not found in the trines and benefics alone – or even at all. It’s the squares and malefics which cause us to roll up our sleeves and make the best of our gifts and challenges.