One of the big dilemmas when it comes to astrology is the problem of fate vs. free will. When we read a Nativity Chart or do predictive work, are we saying that our lives have been predetermined by the position of the planets at the moment of our birth? I do not believe this to the be case, but I do believe that we were born with certain impulses and tendencies. I also believe that a good understanding of these tendencies is quite helpful to us in the exercise of our free will. An understanding of the disposition pattern and the Almuten Figuris in a Nativity Chart is particularly important in this regard, as these factors are crucial in terms of how we make decisions. The disposition pattern shows what motivates us, and the Almuten Figuris shows what our souls are trying to accomplish in this life.
I discussed in an earlier article that the building blocks for Western Astrology are the 7 traditional planets and the 12 signs. In the Traditional Western system, the luminaries, the Sun and the Moon, each rule one sign, Leo and Cancer, respectively, and each of the other planets rules two signs, which are also called their day and their night houses. A list of the signs and their rulers can be found in the first two columns of this chart. If a planet is in a sign that she rules, she has the power to do as she pleases and act independently. For example, in the chart for yesterday’s Solar Eclipse, Saturn is in Capricorn. This means that Saturn can act freely.
If a planet is a sign that she does not rule, the planet that does rule that sign is known as her dispositor. For example, in the Eclipse chart, the Sun is in Cancer. The Sun does not rule Cancer, the Moon does. Therefore, the Sun is disposited by the Moon. This means that in this chart, the Moon has authority over the Sun. The Moon is in her own sign of Cancer, so like Saturn, she is currently her own mistress.
Let us look at the rest of the planets in this chart. We can start with Mercury. Mercury is in Leo, that means that she is disposited by the Sun. As we saw, the Sun is in Cancer, so she is disposited by the Moon. This means that the Moon has ultimate authority over herself, the Sun, and Mercury.
Now let’s look to the other planets and see if a pattern emerges. Venus is in Virgo, which is ruled by Mercury, so Venus is ultimately governed by the Moon as well. Jupiter is in Scorpio, and Scorpio is ruled by Mars. Mars is in Aquarius, which is ruled by Saturn. As I have discussed earlier, Saturn is in her own sign of Capricorn. So from this, we can see a pattern of two distinct teams. One team is led by the Moon, and its members are Venus, Mercury, and the Sun, and the other is led by Saturn, and its members are Mars and Jupiter.
The relationship between the two team leaders, the Moon and Saturn, is a difficult one. While they are just barely passed an opposition by degree, they are still opposed by sign. Cancer and Capricorn are opposite each other. This polarity will be a feature of the impact of this eclipse.
While disposition is a feature of all charts, the Almuten Figuris is primarily used with Nativity Charts. I explained the Almuten Figuris in detail in a previous article, but briefly, the Almuten Figuris is the planet that shows a person’s Guardian Janya, or Guardian Angel and her connection with that Janya. This planet is also representative of the state of the native’s soul in the present incarnation, and more than any other planet, shows what the native is here to do in this lifetime. The calculation of this planet is rather complicated, and if you are interested in the mechanics of this calculation, you can look here.
Knowing the pattern of disposition and the Almuten Figuris and the relationship between them is helpful in understanding our natural impulses as well as what our souls are trying to accomplish in this lifetime. This information can help us make conscious decisions about our lives rather than being blindly governed by our impulses.
To see how this works, let’s look at some Nativity charts. As I seem to have a fondness for English queens, I will begin with the chart of Elizabeth of York, who was the ancestress of all future English monarchs continuing through to the present day.
Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York was born on February 11, 1466 in the midst of what is now known as the War of the Roses. She was the first born child of the controversial marriage between King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Had she been born a boy, the entire history of England and the United States would have likely been much different. As she was born a girl, however, her younger brother, Edward was the heir to the throne when their father died in 1483. At this time, Elizabeth was 17, but her brother was only 12. This meant that there would need to be a regent until Edward V was old enough to rule on his own.
There was a struggle for the regency and Elizabeth’s uncle, Richard used this as an opportunity to seize the throne for himself. He had Edward and his younger brother sent to the Tower of London, presumably in preparation for the coronation of Edward V. In the meantime, Parliament declared the marriage between Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville to be invalid and gave the throne to Richard, who became Richard III. The two boys disappeared never to be seen again and the mystery of the Princes in the Tower has remained unsolved to this day.
Elizabeth Woodville fled into sanctuary with her daughters, but after a time, Elizabeth of York and her younger sisters entered the court of Richard III and his wife Anne Neville. It is rumored that there was a romantic interest between Richard III and Elizabeth of York. Richard III was widely blamed for the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower. Henry Tudor, who had a remote and tenuous claim to the throne, used Richard III’s unpopularity to stage a revolt against Richard III, and Elizabeth of York was betrothed to him.
When Henry Tudor defeated Richard III, he became Henry VII and he did marry Elizabeth of York according to their prior betrothal. Not much is known about their marriage, but they had four children who survived infancy. Of these children, one of them became Henry VIII and another, Margaret became the mother of the Stuart dynasty. Elizabeth of York died at the age of 37 after a difficult childbirth. Even though her claim to the throne was arguably stronger than that of her husband, she was allowed no role in politics or government. She was overshadowed by her difficult and formidable mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort.
Despite growing up in a time of war and turmoil and being heavily embroiled in that turmoil, from the historical record, she seemed remarkably well adjusted. She was well loved and known for her gentleness and kindness, and from outward appearances to have suffered little emotionally despite the difficult circumstances of her life. With this background, let us look at her chart.
At first glance, we can see that she had a Pisces Sun, a Capricorn Moon, and a Cancer Ascendant. It is easy to see where her reputation for kindness came from, but not her seemingly remarkable resiliency. To do this, let us look at her disposition pattern and her Almuten Figuris.
We can start with any planet, but let us begin with her Moon. Her Moon was in Capricorn, which is ruled by Saturn. Her Saturn was in Pisces, which is ruled by Jupiter. Jupiter was in Aries, which is ruled Mars, and her Mars was in Aries, and of course, Mars is the ruler of Aries. From this, we have the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter all under the ultimate leadership of Mars.
Next, let’s look at Venus, which is in Aquarius, ruled by Saturn. We have already seen that Saturn is under the ultimate command of Mars. Her Sun and Mercury are in Pisces, which is ruled by Jupiter, which is also under the ultimate command of Mars. So, we see that all seven traditional planets are under the control of Mars in Aries. This makes Mars the final dispositor of this chart. Not everyone has a single final dispositor, but for those that do, the final dispositor acts as a single central command for the entire chart. With Mars in Aries as final dispositor, for all her seemingly meek and mild character, she was at heart a warrior and a survivor.
While Elizabeth of York clearly had a strong instinct for survival, what was her life’s purpose? What was her soul trying to do in that lifetime? For that, we can look to the Almuten Figuris. I used her chart as an example in the page describing the mechanics of the calculation of the Almuten Figuris, and it turns out that it was Mars as well. Not only did she have a strong instinct and motivation for survival, but this was also her life’s purpose. She was a child born during war, and she was able to navigate her circumstances to thrive and prosper in spite of that. It is no wonder that whatever her private feelings may have been, she was able to put them aside and do what she had to do to survive in a tumultuous time.
Elizabeth of York’s chart is unusual is that she had a final dispositor and her Almuten Figuris was the same planet. For a chart with a final depositor with a different Almuten Figuris, let us look at the chart of her daughter-in-law, Catherine of Aragon.
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon was born on December 16, 1485, and she was the youngest surviving child of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. Through her mother, she also had a claim to the English throne, and like her mother-in-law, her claim was arguably stronger than that of either of her husbands. She was betrothed to Arthur, the eldest son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, when she was 3 years old, and she and Prince Arthur married when she was about to turn 16.
After they had only been married about 6 months, Prince Arthur died of a mysterious illness, and Catherine claimed that their marriage had never been consummated. After being caught in the middle of negotiations between her father and her father-in-law over her dowry which reduced her to poverty, she was betrothed to Arther’s younger brother, Henry, who later became Henry VIII.
Catherine of Aragon is most famous for her marital troubles with Henry VIII when she failed to produce a living son. They did have a living daughter, Mary, but at that time, there was no precedent for a daughter to inherit the throne in England. Rather than quietly stepping aside and entering a convent, as she was asked to do, she maintained the validity of her marriage to Henry VIII until the day she died. This was euphemistically known as the Kings’ “Great Matter,” and was responsible for England’s schism with the Roman Catholic Church. To understand her life and her motivation, let’s look at her chart.
Catherine of Aragon had four planets in Sagittarius, Saturn, Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter. Jupiter rules Sagittarius, and thus it is the depositor of all of the other planets in that sign. Her Sun was in Capricorn and her Venus was in Aquarius. Both of those signs are ruled by Saturn. The remaining planet, her Moon was in Aries which is ruled by Mars. Like her mother-in-law, Catherine of Aragon had a final dispositor, and that was Jupiter. Clearly, Catherine of Aragon was motivated by her faith.
Yet what of her life’s purpose? As it so happens, her Almuten Figuris was Saturn. Saturn and Jupiter are both in Sagittarius, so there was a strong connection between her final depositor and Almuten Figuris, but Jupiter and Saturn have a much different flavor to them. While Catherine of Aragon clearly had a strong faith, she is most known for her steadfastness in defending her marriage and her daughter’s right to inherit. I find it interesting that her 7th House of Marriage was ruled by Mars, and her Mars was right next to her Saturn. Clearly, her struggle for her marriage was closely connected to her life’s purpose.
Both Elizabeth of York and Catherine of Aragon had a final dispositor in their charts. For a chart without a final depositor, let us consider the very complicated chart of Catherine of Aragon’s daughter, Queen Mary I of England.
Queen Mary I of England
Queen Mary I of England was born on February 18, 1516, and she was the only surviving child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. By all accounts, she was a precocious and intelligent child and was the beneficiary of an outstanding education, thanks to her mother’s insistence. Like her grandmother, Elizabeth of York, had she been born a boy, the entire history of England and the United States might have been very different.
She was the child of the world’s most famous messy divorce, and her relationship with her half-sister is a world-famous example of sibling love and rivalry. When Henry VIII married his second wife, Anne Boleyn, Mary was declared illegitimate, and she was forced to serve their daughter, the infant, Elizabeth. After the execution of Anne Boleyn, Mary was forced to sign a document acknowledging her illegitimacy and her father’s break from the Roman Catholic Church.
Henry VIII did eventually have a son through his third wife, Jane Seymour, and presumably, due to the influence of Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, she was restored to the line of succession after her half-brother, Edward, who became Edward VI. Though only a child and under regency, King Edward VI took an active interest in religion and furthered the religious reforms of his father, and it is under his reign that the Church of England began to take its current form. Mary was a staunch Catholic, and it was feared that if she took the throne, she would reverse the reforms of her father and brother.
King Edward VI became deathly ill when he was sixteen and before he died, he wrote a will that disinherited both Mary and Elizabeth and gave the throne to Lady Jane Grey, who was descended from Henry VIII’s younger sister, Mary Tudor. Mary I successfully defended her claim to the throne, deposing Lady Jane Grey after nine days. Although Mary was determined to return England to the Roman Catholic Church, she initially favored a policy of relative religious toleration. Over staunch popular resistance and rebellion, she married her Spanish cousin, who later became King Phillip II of Spain. After her marriage, she had a false pregnancy, which led her to believe that God was punishing her for her leniency towards “heretics.” This led her to begin a harsh and infamous policy of religious persecution for which she was posthumously given the appellation “Bloody Mary.”
Queen Mary I was also infamous for the loss of the English port of Calais in France. In obedience to her husband, she led England into war with France, and which led to this loss. Her husband largely abandoned her, and she died childless on November 17, 1558 at the age of 42. Even though she believed, rightly, that Elizabeth was Protestant, she did eventually accept Elizabeth as her heir, thus ensuring a peaceful succession.
Let us look at the chart of Queen Mary I.
Like her grandmother, Elizabeth of York, Mary I had a Pisces Sun. She was born under a Full Moon, her Moon in Virgo opposite her Sun. Her Ascendant was Capricorn, with Mars in Capricorn in her 1st House. Her Mars is opposed by Jupiter, and Jupiter is the ruler of her 3rd House of Siblings. This is clearly a complicated chart.
To determine the disposition pattern, let us start with her Virgo Moon, ruled by Mercury. Mercury is in Aquarius ruled by Saturn. Saturn is in Sagittarius ruled by Jupiter. Jupiter is in Cancer, ruled by her Moon. So, Mary I did not have a final dispositor, as the four planets, the Moon, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter formed a circular deposition pattern. Let’s look at the remaining three planets. Mary I’s Sun and Venus were in Pisces ruled by Jupiter, and her Mars was in Capricorn ruled by Saturn. So her chart was ruled by this circular disposition pattern.
People with a circular disposition pattern of three or more planets often have a great deal of trouble making decisions. They often feel that their minds go round and round in circles. The reason for this is that no planet in their charts is truly in charge. Usually, in these situations, when advising a client, I will often look to the most dignified planet in the group and suggest that the client intentionally make decisions based on that planet. In Mary I’s case, this is not so easy. All four planets in this circle have dignities and debilities, and weighing these dignities and debilities is largely a matter of opinion.
When we look to her Almuten Figuris, we find that it is her Mars in Capricorn. Like her grandmother, Elizabeth of York, Mary I is a survivor and warrior; however, unlike Elizabeth of York, she has no final dispositor and her Almuten Figuris is not one of the planets in the circle of disposition.
Given all of this, if I were her astrologer, I would have counseled her against marriage. Her Mars in Capricorn, representing her life purpose, was in her 1st House, and at that time, women, even reigning queens, were expected to submit to and be obedient to their husbands. With a Mars Almuten in the 1st House, she needed to assert her own authority. Furthermore, her 7th House of Marriage was ruled by the Moon and Jupiter was located in her 7th House. Clearly, marriage would lead her right into the circular disposition pattern, sending her round and round in circles.
I would have talked to her at length about her Almuten Figuris of Mars in Capricorn. I would have emphasized the positive qualities of this planet, such as strength and practicality. I would have counseled her against the negative traits of this placement, such as coldness and cruelty. Unfortunately, she is most famous for the negative trait.
Finally, I would have talked to her about her relationship with her half-sister. The complicated relationship between them can be seen by the fact that Jupiter ruled her 3rd House of siblings. Jupiter is retrograde, or moving backward, in the 7th House, which is the house of open enemies as well as marriage and opposed to her Almuten Figuris, Mars. This is clearly a karmic relationship. Still, Jupiter was exalted in Cancer and next to her Part of Fortune. This meant that ultimately it would be her sister that would determine her legacy and her fortune.
Perhaps, Mary I did receive and accept advice concerning her sister, as she did not execute Elizabeth, even though Elizabeth was Protestant and was the focal point of resistance and rebellion. She also did not name a Catholic cousin, such as Mary, Queen of Scots as her heir. By allowing the succession of Elizabeth I, she forestalled the political unrest of the War of the Roses or the trouble that occurred at the beginning of her own reign.
Just for good measure, let us now look at the chart of Mary I’s half-sister and successor, Queen Elizabeth I.
Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I was born on September 7, 1533 and was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn was executed when Elizabeth was 2 1/2 years old, and like her half-sister, she was declared illegitimate. Like Mary, she was precocious and extremely well educated. She survived the reigns of her father, her brother, and her sister, and came to the English throne in 1558. She was advised by the famous astrologer, John Dee, and his coronation electional chart for January 15, 1559 is considered a masterpiece.
For monarchs of the time, she was remarkably tolerant with respect to religion, and she is reported to have said, “I do not want to cast window’s into men’s souls.” She did persecute Catholics, however, after putting down several rebellions instigated by France, Spain, and the Roman Catholic Church.
During her reign, which is known as the Elizabethan era, the arts flourished, and William Shakespeare wrote his plays during. She was reputed to be fickle and indecisive, but she reigned over 44 years and her historical appellation is “Good Queen Bess.” Notable events during her reign include the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots and the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
Even though she had many suitors and her marriage was a major issue in the early part of her reign, she never married. It is rumored that she vowed never to marry at the age of eight, when her cousin, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fourth wife, was executed. If this is true, I can not say that I blame her. She died without issue, and the throne passed to Mary, Queen of Scots’ son, James VI of Scotland and James I of England. James VI/I was a descendant of Henry VIII’s sister, Margaret Tudor though both his mother and his father.
Here is the chart of Queen Elizabeth I:
Let’s start with Saturn to begin the disposition trail. Saturn was in Cancer, which is ruled by the Moon. The Moon was in Taurus, which is ruled by Venus, and Venus was in her own sign of Libra. So, the Saturn and the Moon were governed by Venus. Mars was in Gemini, which is ruled by Mercury. Mercury was in Libra ruled by Venus, and as we saw, Venus was in Libra, her own sign. So Mars and Mercury were also ruled by Venus. Elizabeth’s Sun was in Virgo, ruled by Mercury, which was under Venus’ domain. We have one planet left, which is Jupiter. Jupiter was in her own sign of Sagittarius and thus outside of the Venusian chain of command. I find it interesting that Jupiter was in her 12th House, which among other things, relates to hidden matters. It is no wonder that she had no desire to “cast windows into men’s souls.”
It turns out, Queen Elizabeth’s Almuten Figuris was also Venus. She is said to have been quite charming and her image was that of Glorianna. With Venus in Libra, one can see where she would seem a bit indecisive, but the indecision of Libra is very different from the consternation of one born with a circular disposition pattern like her elder sister, Mary. Libra seems indecisive because she can see all sides of an issue, but Libra has a single underlying motivation, maintaining balance and protecting harmony and peace. Making a decision often involves displeasing someone, which Venus in Libra is loathed to do. The indecision of a circular disposition pattern is that of several competing internal voices and motivations, with the lack of a clear leader.
In this article, I have explained how to determine the disposition pattern in a chart, and how that pattern relates to the Almuten Figuris in reading a Nativity Chart. To do this, I have examined the Nativity Charts of four queens from three generations of the Tudor era, two queen consorts and two reigning monarchs. First, Elizabeth of York, with Mars in Aries as both the final dispositor and Almuten Figuris; next, Catherine of Aragon, with Jupiter as a final dispositor and Saturn as Almuten Figuris; third, Queen Mary I, with a circular disposition pattern and Mars as Almuten Figuris; and finally, Queen Elizabeth I, with Venus dispositing all but one planet, Jupiter, with Venus as Almuten Figuris as well. In this, I have attempted to show how the disposition pattern and Almuten Figuris work on a practical level by discussing how these factors shaped the legacy of these historical queens as well as their responses to the dangerous and violent time in which they lived.