Karine Dilanyan

Lots of Destiny

       Astrologers and how they view their practice was my inspiration for this article. The history of astrology is generally presented in a chronological order and illustrated with comments on the evolution of astrological ideas. I am going to focus on the evolution (or invariability, depending on the circumstances) of ideas and notions, and then talk about chronology.

       As the philosophical and metaphysical foundations of astrology are my main interests, I have been long trying to unite the ideas, concepts, practices and views of theologists, philosophers and thinkers. This material is expansive and to date I have not been able to organize it into a coherent flow of information. I hope with time I’ll be able to do that but now I would like to present certain elements of this intricate material.

       In addition to a strictly cognitive interest, I would like to present to my readers issues to include the specifics of astrological practice, its peculiarities from the world view of the astrologer.

      At an astrological congress held by the World Astrology Academy I presented a report on the relation of Greek lots (calculation and application methods) related to the understanding of destiny in the ancient Greek culture.

       I also spoke about the gnostical roots of astrological practice at ‘Russia and Gnosis’ conference in 2001. 

       In 2001, I presented the report ‘Astrology of the Beginnings’ – Horary, Elective and Decumbiture at the ‘Uranus in Aquarius’ conference. These reports make a part of the present material.

       One cannot forget to mention the varied attacks on astrology by academic science in our country which have become more frequent.

       Attacks on astrology by rationally thinking philosophers and scientists are old news for astrologers. Recent events indicate a deep crisis of scientific knowledge and science in society. I hope to cover this issue in my research as well.

       To start a conversation on the metaphysical basis of astrology, we should acquaint ourselves with its underlying foundation. We will start with lots although topics should probably be presented in a different order. However the ideas, concepts and terms covered in this article will regularly appear in other articles of this series.


Initially astrology did not have the applied relevance it has now.


Astrology was a tool for understanding the role and mission of humankind, its being in the cosmic sense. To understand this concept, we need to go back to the philosophical sources on cosmology and the relation of man with the Cosmos. As our main source we will use the philosophical dialog Timaeus by Plato which considers the concept of the Cosmos and the role of humans in it.

       Before we have a look at Timaeus, let us speak on the ideas Greeks had on destiny.

       The Greeks believed that human destiny consists of two elements: fate and lot.

       Several gods were in charge of destiny including three Moirae: three goddesses spinning the thread of life (the spindle of Ananke, goddess of necessity).

       The first of the Moirae Lachesis is the apportioner, the second Clotho is spinning the thread, and the third Atropos is the inevitable one. The first Moira selects the fate for a person from the past, the second spins his life, and the third inevitably approaches the future and cuts the thread of life.

       The word “moira” itself has an equivalent in Hellenistic astrology and means “fate” or “part”.

       This is how fates are distributed among souls waiting for their turn to live on earth. This is described in Plato’s The Republic in an episode about Er. Er is a brave man, a son of Armenios from Pamphylia. He died in a battle but when in ten days the bodies of those who died in the battle were collected, Er’s body remained undecomposed. He was brought home and two days later he revived on his funeral pyre and told about his journey in the afterlife. Omitting some details, we will go the description of how souls waiting for their incarnation on Earth choose their future life and destiny.

       Er says that a prophet arranged the spirits in order in front of the three Moirae, took from the knees of Lachesis lots and samples of lives and spoke as follows: “Hear the word of Lachesis, the daughter of Necessity. Mortal souls, behold a new cycle of life and mortality. Your genius will not be allotted to you, but you choose your genius; and let him who draws the first lot have the first choice, and the life which he chooses shall be his destiny. Virtue is free, and as a man honors or dishonors her he will have more or less of her; the responsibility is with the chooser – God is justified.”

       He then scattered lots indifferently among them all, and each of them tried to grab a lot to get the right to choose their destiny. The earlier a soul selects its destiny, the more opportunities it has. There were lives of every animal, lives of tyrants, lives of those distinguished for their beauty, strength or virtue, and lives of common people, etc. Prosperity and poverty, sickness and health and intermediary states were all mingled with one another. There were more lots than souls.

       Er said that the spectacle of spirits choosing their destinies was sad and laughable and strange; for the choice of the souls was in most cases based on their experience of a previous life.

       “There came also the soul of Odysseus having yet to make a choice, and his lot happened to be the last of them all. Now the recollection of former tolls had disenchanted him of ambition, and he went about for a considerable time in search of the life of a private man who had no cares; he had some difficulty in finding this, which was lying about and had been neglected by everybody else; and when he saw it, he said that he would have done the had his lot been first instead of last, and that he was delighted to have it. And not only did men pass into animals, but I must also mention that there were animals tame and wild who changed into one another and into corresponding human natures – the good into the gentle and the evil into the savage, in all sorts of combinations”.

       All the souls had now chosen their lives, and they went in the order of their choice to Lachesis, who sent with them the genius whom they had severally chosen, to be the guardian of their lives and the fulfiller of the choice. This genius led the souls to Clotho, and drew them within the revolution of the spindle impelled by her hand, thus ratifying the destiny of each; and then, when they were fastened to this, carried them to Atropos, who spun the threads and made them irreversible.

       What does the spindle and the thread spun by the Moirae look like?

       The Ananke’s spindle has the celestial axis in the center with hemispheres pinned on it in a blunted cone. Without going into details, let us say that the spheres are the spheres of seven planets joined with the sphere of fixed stars.





Fig. 1

Antique spindle similar to the Ananke’s spindle

АВ – spindle axis.
С – roll.


The most important element of this process is obtaining the moment of birth (or in astrological terms – ascendant or horoscope angles. This gives each sole a unique destiny.

     The circadian cycle was very important for Greeks. Homer describes how Zeus weighs souls on the golden scales of destiny. The weighing takes place strictly at when the Sun is in the middle of its daily route.




Fig. 2
Order of planetary spheres.
First sphere – fixed stars, eighth – moon



The Greek astrology uses the term moira as shares of the signs of the zodiac and monomoiras as one degree of the sign.

       The spindle of the Moirae with planets and planetary spheres indicates the annual, monthly and daily movement of planets, the moment when destiny is selected which is the moment when the ascendant degree is determined.

       The ascendant (and, correspondingly, horoscope angles) is what defines the unique destiny of an individual soul. Paulus Alexandinus writes:

       “Among twelve places considered in relation to any manifestations [of human activity] the first and the primary is the Horoscope through which everything related to a person is understood. The Horoscope is the bearer of life and breath”. 

        All strengthening or weakening qualities of planets are derived from the positions in houses, sectors, etc., i.e. on a map divided into houses and thus with an ascendant.


Translation and Interpretation of Texts 

It is interesting how translators of Paulus Alexandrinus[1] from Greek try to capture those meanings and how meaningful their ideas are from our point of view. That is what Robert Schmidt wrote about moira: “There is one word which we do not even attempt to translate and cannot even literally give its meaning in English. This is the Greek word moira which stands for the part of the zodiac generally known as “degree” but more traditionally indicating a lot or fate that is someone’s destiny” (My italics, K.D.). 

     “…The work of Paulus abounds in word play regarding this and the related words “fate”, “destiny”, “proportional distribution” and others which makes us think that Paulus was discussing more than its astrological meaning.

     …In the initial revision of this translation, we attempted using the word “lot” but we were having a hard time translating astronomic sections. There was no way we could identify who or what was the recipient of this proportional distribution. Was it the share of a child? Or a planet?”

     I hope the meaning of this word becomes clearer as our discussion progresses.

     Another word difficult for translators is horoscopos. Here is another quote from Schmidt: “Horoscopos is a Greek word for ascendant. Sometimes you can hear it translated as an “observer of the hour”. We do not know who the author of this translation is but it is clear that it is a wrong interpretation. The word scopos does have a meaning of “observer” but is often used as “goal” and “target”. Without doubt, this meaning is the one used here…» 

     These terms obviously, in addition to the technical astrological meaning, have a mythological and philosophical significance.

     Any text may be interpreted on four levels: literal, moral, allegoric and anagogic. This approach is still used in the Indian tradition of reading sacred texts. In the classical tradition of learning Sanskrit, an aphorism has several meanings: literal (shabdartha), hidden meaning (bhavartha) and secret hints (lakshyartha).

     In medieval literature, reading a text on several levels was quite common. This tradition was derived from the reading and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. For instance, it says that God created Eve from Adam’s rib. How can this be interpreted? Is it an actual action or do these words bear a different meaning?

     In the times of Thomas Aquinas, the thirteenth century, the system of reading the Holy Scriptures on the four levels was widely used. This approach found its reflection in a well-known saying:


      Letters teach facts, 

      Allegory – what you should believe in, 

      Morals – how you should act, 

      And anagogy – what you should hope for.

   That is the way The Divine Comedy by Dante was written. The true understanding of this work is possible only with interpretation of the text on all four levels.



       These are the opening lines of The Divine Comedy:


       Midway upon the journey of our life, 
       I found myself within a forest dark, 
       For the straightforward pathway had been lost.


        We can interpret these lines as a simple complaint of a traveler who lost his way in a forest or the lamenting of a person who has lived  half of his life and lost the sense of his being.

        Based on the fact that Dante believed that a person reaches the height of his life at the age of thirty-five, these lines may be dated by 1300. In his work Dante makes predictions regarding future events.

     These lines also present an antimony valley forest where the open space symbolizes peacefulness of the soul and clear understanding of values, while the forest is a place where everything is tangled and where wild beasts reign symbolizing the passions of the human soul (allegory).

     This is a turning point in the author’s life, the start of a new period which will be followed with new actions, new thoughts, new insights, new understanding and new faith.

     It is a simple elementary example of text interpretation but all these levels should be applied to the reading of old astrological texts.


 Lot Calculation 

 Now back to our topic of astrological lots. All readers surely know how to calculate lots. The standard formula of the Fortune lot is as follows:

Ascendant + R - Q (with night birth vice versa).

Lot of Spirit: Ascendant + Q-R (with night birth vice versa).

     The Lot of Necessity is calculated as follows: Ascendant + Fortune Lot - S (with night birth vice versa).

     Thus, the formula of lots consists of two parts: fixed and flexible. The fixed part is the location of a planet and a star, and the flexible is the location of an ascendant or a house cusp. This is a concept of the general outline of destiny shaped by planets and an independent choice of a lot which gives human life a unique nature.


How to Read your Destiny? 

With lots, there are those that send us directly to the understanding of our destiny. First, it is the Fortune lot related to the Moon and those aspects of human life for which the Moon is responsible, and then the Spirit lot which describes topics related to the Sun or the human essence in the horoscope.

     I would like to talk about the lot known in the Arabic astrology as Pars Hyleg.

     That is what Robert Zoller writes about Pars Hyleg: “The ancient did not talk much about Pars Hyleg as it is involved with other things. But this part can exist beside them. It relates to these things as matter relates to form... This part is the root of all others... It is known as radix vitae (root of life) as it grasps the human essence itself…”. This Lot shows the goal and essence of human life, the goal of its incarnation on earth.

     Zoller believes that in spiritual astrological consulting lots revealing the essence of life and the goal of incarnation are of huge and maybe primary importance.

     To calculate a Lot, a distance between the natal Moon and the prenatal syzygy (new moon and full name preceding the birth of native) is added to the ascendant.

     In the given example, the ascendant is in Sagittarius, and Jupiter – owner of Sagittarius is in Libra in the tenth house.

     The Sun, the owner of the ninth house, is in the ninth. Without going deep into the map, we can say that this is a horoscope of a person for whom religious values are of primary importance. The emphasized role of Jupiter and the ninth house indicates a person whose life is related to travel and foreign countries.

     The Sun in this map (owner of the ninth, is in the ninth, with Mercury as a dispositor, which is in the tenth, in conjunction with Mars and in trine with Saturn from the fifth) indicates a person who will follow religion in an effective and active form. The person will follow religion by labor through specific, clearly comprehensive actions. The trine from Saturn in the fifth house shows asceticism, self-discipline and conscious restrictions imposed on the person’s life.

 Chart 1.   27.08.1910 г.  Skopje, Yugoslavia Local time 13:25 GMT 12:25



At this stage, we will not give a detailed analysis of the horoscope. In this example Pars Hyleg is in 16 degrees of Pisces. Its dispositor is Jupiter, owner of the ascendant in the tenth house. It is a clear indication that the person’s mission will be religious service.

It is time to name the person whose horoscope we reviewed - Mother Teresa.

This legendary woman is known to everyone. There are certain special aspects of her service. In the poorest districts of India she founded homes for the poor, sick and dying. The sisters of her mission fed and cared for the sick, washed and treated them, gave them medications and made the suffering of the dying easier helping them spend their last minutes on earth in peace and surrounded with love.

     Here is a part of her daily prayer: “Dear Jesus, let us have the dignity to serve our brothers, people of the entire world, living and dying in hunger and poverty. Give them, Lord, bread from our hands and love from our souls, give them happiness and peace…”.

     The way she described the essence of life is very interesting: Jesus lives in each person: the vagabond, the drunk, the poor and the sick. Jesus lives in their bodies and thus touching their bodies, we touch the body of Jesus. Jesus lives in their suffering bodies and by relieving their sufferings, we relive the sufferings of God: “We touch His body, and he is a hungry Jesus and we feed Him; here is an undressed Jesus, and we dress Him; here is a homeless Jesus, and we give Him home. But this is not the hunger that can be satisfied with bread, not the nakedness that can be covered with clothes, not the homelessness that can be helped with a brick home. Jesus is still hungry in the poor and in the rich as everyone wants to be loved, desired and heard”.


[1] Paulus Alexandrinus is a Greek astrologer who lived approximately in the fourth century. His book Eisagogika or Introductory Matters is one of the few astrological works preserved to our day. The book was published in Russian by Urania publishing house in 1997 based on the English version published by the Hindsight Project.


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© Karine Dilanyan

© Global Astrology and Metainformation Academy, 1997 - 2011

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