Pilot Project: Methodology for Writers—Step 1

Edgar Cayce said that astrology was likely to be inaccurate 20 percent of the time because 20 percent of the population would use their will power to change the astrological picture in the birth chart. If this is true, then we can never expect more than 80 percent accuracy in research results. Considering the possibility of inaccurate birth times and other errors, we are probably looking at 75 percent or less for recognizable results. It will be up to the statisticians to determine the relevance of that figure.


For the many research projects I’ve done in recent years, a basic methodology seems to work much of the time:

(1) First determine the planet(s) that traditional astrology says rules whatever you are researching. For writers this would be Mercury, the planet of communication. The Gauquelins found that the Moon was related to writing. This probably refers to writers of fiction or poetry (who use the imagination) or writers such as journalists who appeal to a large segment of the population, said to be ruled by the Moon.

(2) Then determine if there is a house of the horoscope that supposedly relates to what you are researching. For writing, this would be Gemini’s house--the third--because traditionally Gemini rules the hands and arms which are used in the production of various arts. (Aries the head, Taurus, the throat and neck, etc.)

(3) Zodiac signs and lunar mansions may describe the kind of writing a person does or perhaps how a person writes, but this is not part of the initial pilot study.

(4) If writing has been a career for the person, the 10th house should theoretically come into the picture. Likewise if writing is a part of a person’s inner identity, the ascendant itself or its lord may intermingle with Mercury. This would be part of a more advanced pilot study.

(5) In most of the writers’ charts I studied, the Moon was interrelated with Mercury and/or found in a key area of the chart. The 3rd-10th-Mercury and the Moon were all prominent.

Key Areas of the Birth Chart

So we begin with the theory that Mercury and the 3rd house or its lord should be prominent in the birth chart. How can we define prominent? This introductory pilot study suggests that there are areas of the 360 degree circle of each horoscope that are more active than others. From past studies at present I 've found these areas to be approximately four degrees on either side of an equal house cusp and 14 degrees on either side of equal angular cusps. It's as if the horoscope is a rotating wheel where the spokes are important rather than house areas as such. Now these cuspal and angular degrees total a whopping 49 percent of the horoscope wheel, but at least we’ve eliminated 51 percent of the possible locales for active planets. In practice, of course, most of these areas will be devoid of planets. Although it won’t make the statisticians happy, it’s enough for astrologers to zero in on angular houses and the area within a few degrees of house cusps.

The Importance of Dispositors

In the sidereal zodiac and Jyotish, dispositors are extremely important. Thus, if Mercury itself is not in a key position, if Mercury is to be active (in the sense of activities it rules), its dispositor must be in a key position. I don’t know yet whether the dispositors of house lords as such can be taken into consideration. For the time being the third house will be considered active if:

(1) The third house lord is in a key position as defined above

(2) There are planets in the third house (...that is, in the area surrouding the 3rd cusp)

(3) The dispositor of the 3rd lord is strongly angular

The approach outlined in this pilot study isn’t one that will appeal to traditional science. One cannot count planets in signs or houses or even count aspects and expect to get results. Each chart is unique, but astrologers can easily understand the multiplicity of ways a basic pattern can manifest in the horoscope.

All the horoscopes in the examples below are from AstroDatabank, version 4. I used the Columnist/Journalist category which contains 422 cases, many of them not strictly writers or journalists. Remember, this is only a pilot study from which a statistical model might be developed later. However, for valid research, a control group of non-writers should be used—or a comparison of writers with another career category unlike writing such as acting.

It’s important to have as pure examples of what you are researching as possible. Thus a politician who might write a weekly column for newspapers or a president who writes his autobiography with a ghost writer aren’t contenders for a good pilot study on writers.

It would be very difficult to get a clear picture of how planets relate to angles and cusps without actually seeing the chart itself. I have a page printed up with six small horoscope wheels, and simply place the relevant planets in the chart to see how they relate to the angles and cusps.

Refinements enter the picture (that is, influence Mercury) through aspects from other planets, zodiac signs, lunar mansions and navamsa signs and aspects. But nothing can change the basic picture of the relevant planet and/or dispositor either being in an angular house (within 14 degrees of an angular EH cusp) or very close to another EH cusp. In practice most angular planets have a much smaller orb than 14º. The 4º orb for other cusps holds fairly firm.

The examples below can't in any way be considered scientific. They are charts chosen at random for an exploratory study. The random choice used was simply to scan the ADB files for names of writers who were listed primarily as writers without other varied occupations such as teacher, astrologer, musician or movie producer. Since there were so many writers in the journalist file (over 400), I tended to choose names which were familiar to me. So the sample will be heavy in names of the more popular writers. This is perhaps why the Moon was prominent in almost every chart.

The Moon is combined with Mercury and the 3rd lord in most cases. Like Mercury, the Moon or its dispositor is angular or near a cusp. All positions are rounded off and are sidereal (Lahiri/Krishnamurti ayanamsa).

Mercury, Moon and the Third House for Journalists/Authors
Name  Ascendant Mercury Mercury's
Third House/
Ros Reines Aries 3º 2º Leo cusp 5 --- Mercury Mercury is with the Moon (6º orb).
Barbara Cartland Aries 3º 1º Cancer
cusp 4
Moon 5º Aries cusp 1 Mercury Cartland has a very strong writer's signature with an angular Moon-Mercury square.
Anthony Powel Aries 5º 24º Scorpio
Mars 3º Aqu cusp 11 Mercury Mercury isn't in a key position in this chart, but navamsa Mercury is in 6 Aquarius, a degree from cusp 11 with Mercury's natal dispositor. Moon is on cusp 7 at 3º Libra.
Russell Baker Taurus 16º 16 º Leo
cusp 4
--- Moon12º
cusp 2
Third lord Moon at 12º Gemini is sextile Mercury in 4th, its dispositor.
Vance Packard Taurus 18º 14º Taurus conjunct asc --- Moon 8 Ari; Disp Mars 18º Cancer
cusp 3
The third lord Moon in Aries isn't near a cusp, but its dispositor Mars is exactly on the 3rd cusp and aspected by Mercury in 1st.
Seymour Hersh Taurus 20º 10º Aries Mars 12.5º Scorpio (7th) Moon 19.5º Aqu cusp 10 Mercury's dispositor is angular and squaring the 10th house Moon, lord of 3rd.
Irving Wallace Gemini 14º
14º Aquarius
cusp 9
Saturn 17º Gemini 1st Sun 6º Pisces 10th house Mercury, its dispositor and 3rd lord Sun are all in key areas. Moon is in 4th at 6º Virgo.
Ellen Goodman Gemini 13º 6º Pisces house 10 --- Sun Pisces, house 10 Goodman has a stellium in 10th with Mercury: Sun, Venus, Ketu; Moon is at 24º Virgo in 4th.
Jan Bone Cancer 4º 25º Sag in 7th
--- Mercury
The angular Mercury is in the 6th house sign, support for the concept that the distance from a cusp takes priority over sign placement. Moon at 4º Sagittarius is on cusp 6.
Philip Adams Cancer 17.5 22º Cancer Moon 20º Aries,
cusp 10
Mercury Angular Moon-Mercury square, a writer's configuartion, esp since Mercury is 3rd lord.
Jess Stern Cancer 23º 22.5 Pisces, cusp 9 --- Mercury A prolific popular writer, Stern's Moon is at 26.5 Aries on cusp 10 with the Sun.
Anna Murdoch Leo 6º 14º Gemini with Sa, Sun and Venus, 3rd lord No dispositor Moon 4º Libra cusp 3 Murdoch's chart contains several variations which astrologers would understand. Mercury is linked to the 11th cusp via Saturn at 8º Gemini. Also navamsa Mercury is at 6º Aquarius, directly on the cusp of the 7th house. The Moon on the 3rd cusp replaces the 3rd lord, and the Moon's dispositor Venus is with Mercury.
Kitty Kelly Leo 26º 6.5º Pisces Jupiter 23.5º Taurus, 10th Venus 5.5 Aqu 7th sign out of orb The 3rd house lord Venus in Kelly's natal chart isn't emphasized, but Venus from the navamsa conjoins the natal Moon in 4th. Mars, the Moon's dispositor is on cusp 10.
Ruben Dario Leo 21º 10º Sag Jupiter 17º Cap, cusp 6 Venus 22º Sco cusp 4 Like many of the writers' charts, the Moon is prominent in this chart in 7th square Venus in 4th.
Cleveland Amory Virgo 1.5º 11º Virgo 1st Mercury Mars 1º
Cancer cusp 11
The Moon in Amory's chart is directly on the 7th cusp at .5º Pisces
Bob Woodward Virgo 6º 4º Pisces
cusp 7
Neptune 7.5º Virgo 1st Moon in Scorpio 3rd Another case where Moon in 3rd replaces the lord of 3rd (in 21º Capricorn in 5th)
Elizabeth Cosin Virgo 11º 17.4º Capricorn Saturn 2.7º Aqu in 10th Mars 5º in 10th Mercury's dispositor and the lord of 3rd are together in the 10th house. Mars also disposits the Moon in Aries.
Tina Merlin Libra 6.5º 17º Cancer, 10th Moon 6.5º Sag, cusp 3 Moon in 3rd Another case of Moon in 3rd, the Moon dispositing Mercury in 10th.
Mary Strassmeyer Libra 16º 26º Cancer, 10th Moon in Cancer 10th Jupiter 18º Tau, cusp 8 Again, a Moon-Mercury connection, in an angle.
Alexander Woolcott Scorpio 12.5º 25º Sag Jupiter 12º Lib cusp 12 Sun, Venus in 3rd Moon is a degree from the Ascendant in Woolcott's chart in Scorpio.
Francois Chalois Scorpio 15.5º 10º Scorpio
Mars 15º Vir cusp 11 Saturn 19º Leo, 10th Moon is with Mars (asc lord and Mercury's dispositor) and both are sextle Mercury and the ascendant.
Ernie Pyle Sagittarius 15.5º 14º Cancer cusp 8 --- Saturn 7º Sag (Asc) Venus, the Moon's dispositor, is directly on the 7th cusp at 15.5º Gemini.
Walter Gibson Sagittarius 12º 15.5º Virgo, cusp 10 No dispositor Sat, Ur 3.5º Sco; Mars in 10th The Moon in 4th opposes Mercury in 10th. The only way the 3rd house is emphasized is through the 3rd lord's dispositors in 10.
Jennifer Merin Capricorn 9º 3º Libra, 10th --- Jupiter in Leo, Sun in 10th This chart combines Mercury, the Moon (7º) and the Sun (11º) in Libra in the 10th.
Billy Norwich Capricorn 14º 16º Gemini cusp 6 No dispositor Conj Mercury 3rd house lord Jupiter at 19º Gemini conjoins Mercury on the 6th cusp. Co-3rd house lord Neptune is in 10th. Moon is on cusp 2, its dispositor Saturn in 10th.
Oriana Fallaci Aquarius 16.5 24º Taurus in 4th -- Mars 4.5º Leo in 7th; disp Sun 15º Gem cusp5 Rahu and Venus are in the 3rd in Fallaci's birth chart. Moon is on cusp 2, its dispositor Jupiter with Mercury in 4th.
Vittario Zucconi Aquarius 25º 27º Leo cusp 7 -- Mars 29º Leo cusp 7 Mercury and the lord of 3rd are conjunct near the 7th cusp. The Moon is not prominent.
Jane Brody Pisces 8º 20º Taurus Venus 13º Taurus Stellium in 3rd -------> Brody's chart doesn't have the usual pattern, but she has a large stellium in 3rd: Uranus, Sun-Jupiter-Venus-Mercury all in Taurus. Uranus-Sun-Jupiter are on the cusp.
Pauline Kael Pisces 22º 14º Gemini in 4th -- 19º Cancer cusp 5 The Moon is trine Mercury in Kael's chart, but the Moon isn't angular.

© 2006 Therese Hamilton/East-West Publishing

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