In Chris Brennan’s Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, he carries us through the texts of the Hellenistic astrologers who were practicing over 2,000 years ago. With no technology to observe the skies other than their own eyes and with only scraps of papyrus to record their observations, these astrologers created an elegant system for understanding the movements of the planets and Sun and Moon as signs foretelling events occurring on earth. And this system would travel, evolve with those who practiced it, slip away under cover to other civilizations when those who practiced it were persecuted, and lie sleeping in forgotten corners of libraries, finally to be awakened by intrepid scholars and translators centuries later. The odds against the survival of astrology were staggering, yet it prevailed. “Hellenistic Astrology” is a survivalist tale, teaching all of us who practice astrology that we stand on the shoulders of brilliant, wise and generous giants.
In sharing the techniques used by these early astrologers, Chris Brennan introduces astrologers to a well-constructed system for approaching an astrological chart which quickly and impactfully reveals the circumstances and experiences of the native’s life.
For example, using techniques outlined in this book on the chart of actress Julia Roberts, we begin by noting that she was born at night. While she is a Scorpio Sun, usually a rather reserved and private person, the Moon in Leo is the primary light in the chart. This would fit the profile of someone who has lived in the spotlight since she was 20 years old, her imagine and creative gifts displayed on movie screen throughout the world.
A night chart also indicates that the primary benefic, or planet that brings the greatest good to the native, is Venus in Virgo in her third house. It is interesting that her star-making, breakthrough role was as “Pretty Woman,” and much of her fame has been the result of her transformative beauty on the movie screen. Venus is considered “in its fall” in Virgo (and, it is also interesting that “Pretty Woman,” earning her living as a sex worker, was considered a “fallen woman”), and this could suggest that while her beauty was helpful at building her success as an actress, Julia Roberts found this to be somewhat of a bar when she was struggling to find parts which gave her the opportunity to thrive as an artist rather than as just a pretty face.
Another benefit suggested by this Venus is that it rules Julia Robert’s fourth house of family of origin, and has been imported through her IC into her third house of early education. Julia’s parents owned and operated a theater and acting school in Atlanta, so she grew up learning how to act and perform. She was later easily able to transition from modeling to acting without having to go through formal theatrical training. A touching story has been in the news lately about Julia Roberts’ parents. They had the first integrated theater and acting school in Atlanta, and Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. sent their children to this school. Julia’s parents were struggling financially, so when Julia was born, Dr. and Mrs. King paid the hospital bills for her birth. You can see that both benefics in Julia’s third house of the community around us shows that she has enjoyed support and good wishes of others around her from the moment of her birth.
The most difficult planet in a night chart, then, is Saturn. We see that it is placed in the tenth house of career – which is surprising, considering that Julia Roberts has a career most would envy. Saturn is also in fall in Aries, indicating that one would struggle to achieve the self-determination an Aries demands. Looking at Julia Roberts’ biography, however, explains this placement. Saturn can be an indicator of the father, and Julia’s father died of cancer when she was ten. Her mother remarried a man Julia despised because he was abusive towards her mother. So, the experience of the father was a permanently painful one for Julia.
But the tenth house can also indicate authority, and Saturn suggests a system or hierarchy. When Julia began making movies in the late 1980’s, women were not well paid for their work, especially when compared with the salaries earned by male actors. Pretty Woman earned $464 million world-wide – and Julia Roberts was paid a grand total of $300,000 for her part in the film, which was literally being the Pretty Woman! Within a few years, Julia demanded – and got – $20 million dollars per film, paving the way for other women to demand salaries comparable to those of their male counterparts. She took the responsibility, Saturn, for being a trailblazer, Aries. She would say in interviews that being liked was nice, but it was more important to her “to be correct.” And as the primary malefic in the chart indicates a lifelong struggle, she continues to face this battle of being paid what she is worth with each acting role she takes.
And this brings us back to her primary light, the Leo Moon. This Moon is also the “helmsman” of her chart, the ruler of her Ascendant, which Chris Brennan tells us directs the overall life path of the native. With the Leo Moon in Julia’s second house of earned resources, we see that being fairly paid (second) for her work as an artist (Leo) has been an important theme of Julia’s life – and that her efforts have improved conditions for other women (Moon) in the profession.
Hellenistic Astrology is a rich resource of many other techniques astrologers today can apply to their chart interpretations. As you can see, these techniques are clear, rich in symbolism, and extremely effective at explaining the heart of one’s chart – and life journey.