Health & Illness

General Discussion on Natal Astrology matters for which a specific forum does not exist
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Health & Illness

Post by Jim Eshelman » Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:00 pm

GENERAL INTRODUCTION: Sidereal astrologers have rarely written at length about how to judge specific areas of life about which people may have recurring questions. Tropical astrologers dwell on this extensively, surely fortified by the idea (that may or may not be true) that different areas of life are "governed" by different houses.

Speaking for myself, I've not written about such topics extensively because my primary interest is exposing character and its unfolding. I disagree with the house-driven premise that we are drastically different in how we handle different parts of our lives. Instead, I find that, "How you are in one part of your life, so are you in all the parts of your life" - your inherent self ultimately shines through one way or the other. Therefore, my basic answer to any question of "How does this person act in the X part of his or her life?" or "Over the course of life, what is likely to happen to this person?" will always be: "Understand who this person is: That will tell you what you want to know."

Nonetheless, we do have ways of placing a magnifying glass over one or another area of life; we just haven't sharpened these tools. I propose to start a series of threads on different life areas. For each, I will post this introduction; then reserve the first reply space for me to post my primary answer. The rest of the thread is wide open to discussion and contribution. (Over time, I will edit my premise-post with the idea of turning it into an instruction in the topic, fed by the discussion.)

Some will be tempted, based on the nature of these topics, to jump into the houses as a quick answer. As the thread is open to discussion, that's fine; but, as usual, my own opinion is that we should stick with techniques that we have proof work, which at this stage in astrology's unfolding would minimize or exclude the use of houses.

Everyone feel free to jump in!
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Re: Health & Illness

Post by Jim Eshelman » Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:00 pm

I haven't written definitively about medical astrology because I'm not a doctor. I should say (for both clarity and indemnification of liability) that, as I am not a doctor and anything I say below is, at best, lay opinion: You should always consult your physician for medical issues.

Sidereal astrology's literature has many examples (supported by our own many examples on this forum) of the timing of health crises. The discussions have been mostly predictive examples. Basic rules were discussed in the earliest writings by both Fagan and Bradley on solar and lunar returns and Fagan later wrote several times about the impact of transits on natal and SSR Moons and their progressions. I'm not interested in that in the present post: I'm looking at what the natal chart itself says about one's health.

In this, I want to acknowledge the work of Dr. Margaret Millard, who may be counted as an early Siderealist (even though her most circulated work was in the Tropical zodiac). She was a physician who wrote passionately about the importance of astrology in medical diagnosis. Her book Casenotes of a Medical Astrologer remains in print (available on Amazon). I disagree with most of the "rules" she gives but benefited from her passion, from being let inside her head in her interesting writing of case examples, and from being able to convert her sample charts to the Sidereal and learn much. I should also call out the Ebertins (father and son) who contributed much to the research and discussion of medical matters in a horoscope.

Like most important areas of life, health and unhealth are reflected throughout the entire horoscope. Health is a function of our total well-being physically and, especially, psychologically. (The whole core of "medical astrology" rests on the fact that the horoscope shows the nature of the psyche and the health and nature of the psyche is the primary element in physical well-being.) Specific parts of the horoscope then give us clues about overall well-being and specific vulnerabilities.

One important clue: Don't confuse illness with symptoms. A convenient example: The tricephalus ("three-headed") nerve connects the brain, the eyes, and the stomach. A disturbance in any one of these areas can cause symptoms in either of the others. For example, people who get queasy reading in a moving car are placing stress on their eyes which, in turn, causes headache and an uneasy stomach. Or a stomach disturbance can cause a headache (well, almost anything can cause a headache!) or eye distress. In the first example, you miss the mark if you treat the queasy stomach with some sort of medicine when the real problem is in the eyes: The correct treatment is to stop reading in the car for a while.

Similarly, since almost anything can cause a headache, taking something for the headache isn't going to resolve the cause (anything from acid indigestion to cancer). Or, when experiencing radiating pain down to your elbow, the problem is not usually in the elbow but in the pinching of a nerve in the uppermost (cervical) area of the spine, a couple of inches below the neck, on the same side.

Most symptoms from a cold-like virus aren't from the virus itself but, rather, from our immune system fighting off the virus.

Don't confuse the symptoms with the illness!

Another tip: Most people are reasonably well (healthy) most of the time. When encountering a harsh astrological condition, don't assume disease. (Don't go for the exotic and less likely interpretation when there is a prosaic and more likely interpretation.) Serious illness will be an extreme manifestation of astrological patterns that normally will have more ordinary meanings.


When examining a natal horoscope for health matters, first make an overall assessment of well-being. The strongest indication of this is Sun's strength, whether by angularity or Moon aspect. A powerful Sun gives a special psychic, spiritual, and physical energy we code under the name vitality. This is more than the "exuberant strength and mental vigor" of the dictionary: By vitality we mean a pure infusion of life-force itself!

A vital, healthy person tends to be healthy. A potentially health-weakening aspect doesn't have the same impact on them as on a person of low vitality. You'll usually see this energy as much in a person's attitude and mental vitality as in the physical energy. Foreground Sun gives this abundantly. Middleground Sun gives an ordinary amount of it. Background Sun may signal a shortage of it. Strong Moon-Sun aspects act like an angularity in this respect.

Moon's natal strength is more complicated. Many books speak of the overall strength of both luminaries as reflecting health. I'm not sure this is true with Moon. Yes, a strong Moon does indicate a high level of adaptability, or psychological and physical adaptive shifts that maximize survival. Yet Moon also shows vulnerability. It might, in fact, be the most physically vulnerable spot in the chart. It is one of the first places my eyes go for health issues. Moon-sign is often our strongest clue of health vulnerability. (These two sides of Moon in health - vulnerability and adaptability - are two sides of the same coin: Adaptation is possible because Moon is naturally receptive, responsive, and vulnerable.)

Charles Carter summarized this distinction as, "The Moon governs the functional health and the Sun the constitution, the complaints arising from solar afflictions being as a rule more deep-rooted." This is typical of what the better astrologers of his era said.

Don't confuse Mars' showing of great physical and psychological energy with Sun's showing of vitality. They can look the same at first glance, but strong Mars without great vitality may be more subject to injury or "burning up," rather than great physical strength. That is, strong Mars AND strong Sun shows great vital force, but strong Mars and weak Sun more likely show hurt. (Think of the example of a new, well-tended, well-tuned car that is driven hard and fast vs. a creaky, badly-kept car that is pushed just as hard. Mars is the push, Sun is the overall "health" of the car.)

As in most things, angularity and aspects (especially hard aspects, but also close soft aspects) are the strongest factors. However, signs also play a strong role, not so much functional as in showing where in the body the impact registers. I'm not clear whether signs show more the location of illness or of symptoms. I think it is the location of illness. For example, Mercury afflicted by Mars may show irritation to the nerves, then Mercury's sign would show where in the body the nerve irritation appears.
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Re: Health & Illness

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:30 am

SUN, therefore, signifies vitality or the essence of life. It also corresponds to the heart, with numerous concrete examples of this effect. (These two may turn out to be a single effect.) NOTE: Psychologically, Sun signifies not only the distinguished sense of self or identity, but also the integrative function - which is the basis of individuation - that, working at its best efficiency, draws the diverse parts of the psyche into an integrated, harmonious whole. I suspect its biological role is, in principle, the same: Solar vitality and overall well-being comes not only from an infusion of vital force so much as from an integrated, connected harmony of all the body's systems (which may, in fact, be what allows the strong influx of vitality).

In contrast to solar essence of life, I often say MOON signifies the substance of life. Moon is more organically, adaptively (and vulnerably) significant, as discussed above. It also is connected to all bodily fluids and seems highly responsive regarding the female reproductive system. Behind the scenes, in the way that Sun regulates vitality, Moon's most important part in the psyche-soma connection is probably its direct primary connection to the immeasurably important role of subconsciousness in managing the body and its functions. Physiologically, this management of subconscious is anchored in the hindbrain functions.

NOTE: Historically, Ascendant and its sign have a strong connection to the body. I haven't been able to confirm that this is so. (I haven't seen evidence either way; therefore, on the principle that affirmative evidence is required before we accept a theory into our working model, I suspect there is nothing to this theory. Future evidence may lead to a different conclusion.


For the other planets, it's best to think not so much of body parts as of BODY SYSTEMS. These SYSTEMS and their integration into other functions in the body are strongly connected to one of the first five non-luminary planets in particular.

MERCURY corresponds to the nervous system, including brain (especially forebrain) and spinal tissues. Strong Mercury characteristically means nervous sensitivity. The five senses are part of the nervous system as channels of data and communication.

VENUS corresponds to the hormonal system. Beyond this, it is especially linked to biological femininity. Strong Venus commonly marks someone that colloquially might be called "hormonal" in the sense of feeling and responding strongly. Add the parasympathetic nervous system functions, possibly the limbic system, and (by tradition) the kidneys (though that's probably just a Tropical Libra association that I don't recall actually seeing in practice).

MARS corresponds to the muscular system. Although Venus is connected to all hormones, Mars has a special link to adrenaline and any behavior that surges adrenaline. It signifies inflammation or irritation and, predictively, anything that burns, breaks, or tears. Beyond this it is strongly connected to biological masculinity.

JUPITER corresponds to the alimentary system (including, perhaps especially, the liver). Therefore it is connected to biological functions of building up, assimilation, and digestion. It signifies a (call it "leisurely") state of relaxed musculature. Predictively, it corresponds to effective medical treatment.

SATURN corresponds to the skeletal system and bones, the process of elimination, and aging. (Notice how, predictively, Saturn's negative effects on health are often tied to calcification, aging, and lessened energy, but broadly to restriction).


The three outer planets, of course, are less "classical" in their signification.

URANUS, I think, corresponds to the body’s electrical systems. This includes the neurological effect called the orienting response. Possibly also the autonomic (especially sympathetic) nervous system.

NEPTUNE most obviously signifies weakness, wasting, and atrophy (related to but different from the "aging" effect of Saturn).

PLUTO's Impact on physiology is most clearly rooted in profound psychological impact (especially in predictive work). In natal assessment, it more obviously connects to irregularity or disruption and to "odds-breaking" or highly anomalous medical conditions. As Pluto is symbolically related to conception, it may be connected to cellular growth and regeneration in general, and thus with healing.

Regarding aspects (combinations of planets), I have written a series of health correspondences for aspects here: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=3370&p=25268#p25268
I've benefitted from Ebertin's work in this where concrete research findings are concerned, but otherwise have recreated each from root principle and added my own experience.
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Re: Health & Illness

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:01 pm

Most astrology books have a section listing the correspondence of body parts to the 12 signs. More or less, it's head-to-foot as Aries-to-Pisces. However, Cyril Fagan showed quite persuasively that the original pattern was flipped 180°, with head-to-foot being Libra-to-Virgo. (The Aries-head model dates back at least to Manilius in early 1st century - he is quite explicit about it - even though it is otherwise clear that Manilius' house model equated Libra with the 1st house.)

This 180° flip is softened by the fact that advocates for the Aries-head and Libra-head models both usually acknowledge that there is sometimes "reciprocal action" (as it's often called) whereby a sign effect manifests in the body part of the opposite sign. It's therefore useful to think, say, of the Aries-Libra axis as "ruling" the body parts associated with one or the other.

But, in my experience, the Libra-head model is usually what operates (nearly all the time). Part of what impressed me in Millard's book, for example, was how often the main medical problems were shown by the Sidereal Moon-sign in the Libra-head model (even though she never mentioned it). BTW, various theories connect to this sign-flip. For example, I'm partial to the idea that while primary "rulership" of a body part may fit the Aries-head model (such as Leo and the heart), the opposite sign may signify pathology in that part (such as Aquarius for heart problems), perhaps from a withdrawal of vitality from the body part. However, this is only conjecture - perhaps to calm my mental need for order and understanding - and not really necessary to use the science.

The approximate sign-body correspondences, then, are:

Lib. Head (facial impression, organs of balance)
Sco. Neck, throat, trachea, windpipe.
Sag. Shoulders, upper extremities, bronchi and lungs.
Cap. Breasts, stomach.
Aqu. Heart and circulatory system.
Pis. Lower abdomen (sometimes reaching up to include pancreas).
Ari. Uterus, kidneys, buttocks. (Think: three body parts that look like an Aries glyph.)
Tau. Genitals.
Gem. Lower extremities, especially thighs.
Can. Knees and other joints.
Leo. Back (spine), lower legs.
Vir. Feet.

It's important to understand that signs do not show bodily functions. They show bodily locations. Do not confuse the two. (Occasionally, describing location ends up indirectly showing function.)

[FOOTNOTE: One consequence of the zodiacal flip is that it gives the erroneous impression to Tropical astrologers that the 6th house is of unusual importance in health issues: A Sidereal sign (e.g., on Ascendant) usually has the correct body-correspondence suggested by the Tropical 6th cusp (including solar 6th cusp); e.g., Tropical Libra is usually Sidereal Virgo, corresponding to the feet, but also usually accompanies Tropical Pisces (thought to rule the feet) on the 6th cusp.]
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Re: Health & Illness

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:19 pm

When I look at a chart for health matters, I proceed something like this:

OVERALL VITALITY & WELL-BEING. Primarily the strength of Sun by angularity and Moon aspects. (See expanded discussion above.) Add Moon for its related behaviors (see above).

Other planets are not reliable on this basic feature. It all has to do with innate vitality. For example, an angular Saturn often is interpreted as impaired physical conditions but it works quite differently in a high-vitality vs. low-vitality chart. Same with Mars, as discussed above. Or strong benefics with high-vitality would represent truly splendid health and a sense of well-being, but with low-vitality signify things like lethargy, laziness, or adverse effects of indulgence.

SUN-SIGN interpretations have occasional health-related notes. (Sometimes Moon, too, but especially Sun.) Learn these or look them up in the Sun-sign interpretations.

MOON-SIGN. This is a big deal! Moon-sign shows the most vulnerable body part. Close, especially hard Moon-aspects add information.

SIGNS OF MALEFICS, especially Mars. These show areas of possible damage (e.g., Mars in Sagittarius for bronchial inflammation or wounds on the upper extremities). I've often noticed this with Mars - less often with Saturn - but the Saturn-sign if engaged by aspect or other factor, theoretically shows an area of physical harm, perhaps through Saturnian restriction, reduced circulation, bruising, crushing, compression, loss, etc.

BACKGROUND HARD ASPECTS. Close hard aspects represent strong psychological energies demanding expression. Background location shows reduced expressiveness. Any fundamental aspect of our character that we don't express stands a greater chance of manifesting as a health break-down. These three facts explain why strong, dynamic aspects in the immediate background have a high chance of manifesting as medical problems.

BTW, this ties in (loosely) with historic attribution of health pathology to cadent houses (not quite the same as background zones). Western Tropical astrology has linked this especially to the 6th and 12th houses. Ancient Greeks and Romans (vide Manilius) attributed the health-pathology rhythms to the 3rd and 9th houses.


Some further observations on the statements regarding are background and hard aspects:

Sometimes foreground aspects signal health problems. Instead of being pathological because they are blocked expression (if background), they express negatively anyway. (Any astrological factors can manifest positively or negatively.) I've observed this mostly in cases where there are no strong background hard aspects.

Soft aspects can signal health problems, too, but primarily when they are very close, preferably partile. (Partile trines and sextiles tend to act more like hard aspects.) Some astrologers have suggested that hard aspects show acute problems and soft aspects show chronic problems: I can't substantiate this; I suspect it isn't true.

Finally, since each planet represents a different body system, we can examine the whole state of the planet to see what it says about that system. However, no problems may be shown. Remember that most people are reasonably healthy and free of serious disease most of the time. Astrological signatures of illness aren't a forecast, they're merely showing possible points of weakness where, if the body breaks out in illness, it likely will manifest.

That's the basic rundown of how I check a chart for health issues.
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Re: Health & Illness

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sat Apr 10, 2021 1:12 pm

Reinhold Ebertin wrote a book titled Astrological Healing: The History and Practice of Astromedicine. The English version was published in 1989 and I likely bought it as it first came out. It's a beautiful hard cover book of over 400 pages published by Weiser.

I can tell from the condition of the book that I've never read it, have barely folded back a single page of it. I should probably correct that error one of these days but, in any case, wanted to mention the book as a significant work by a gifted astrologer who probably has much to offer that would be thought-provoking (which, of course, is surely why I bought the book in the first place). Flipping through now, I see it concentrates on nutrients and micronutrients, their astrological correlations, and their impact on the health.
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Re: Health & Illness

Post by Parto » Tue Apr 13, 2021 4:38 pm

Would you say moving to where one's Sun is in a different ground from the birthplace affects a person's vitality (either increase or decrease) significantly, or is that fixed from the radix?

Also, wouldn't Leo or Aries luminaries (or possibly only the Moon) be another way for the Sun to be strong?

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Re: Health & Illness

Post by Jim Eshelman » Tue Apr 13, 2021 4:41 pm

Leo or Aries luminaries don't add solar force in the same fashion as an angular Sun. - I just looked at the full site interpretations, and "greater vitality" or something similar is not a trait I've ever been able to confirm with an Aries or Leo Sun, though one does generally think of these as strong individuals (but not necessarily physically).

As for relocation, remember that you never lose anything that's in your birth chart, it stays fixed and permanent forever. Therefore, you would not lose the benefit of an angular Sun at birthplace, though you could add solar force by moving to where it was angular, in the same way you would if Sun became angular in one year's solar return or one month's lunar return.
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Re: Health & Illness

Post by albetly » Wed May 11, 2022 1:45 am

Hi, I really want to express that i really enjoyed reading your posts in this magnificent forum, I also want to thank you for all the efforts you've did,

I have one question regarding this post, may you explain what you mean by Background?

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Re: Health & Illness

Post by Jim Eshelman » Wed May 11, 2022 6:21 am

albetly wrote:
Wed May 11, 2022 1:45 am
Hi, I really want to express that i really enjoyed reading your posts in this magnificent forum, I also want to thank you for all the efforts you've did,

I have one question regarding this post, may you explain what you mean by Background?
Welcome to Solunars, Albetly. Background means the weakest part of each quadrant of the horoscope, especially the half-house either side of a cadent cusp. A longer discussion is here (it's the blue areas in the first illustration): viewtopic.php?f=15&t=173
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Re: Health & Illness

Post by albetly » Wed May 11, 2022 7:17 am

Got it, Thank you

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Re: Health & Illness

Post by ODdOnLifeItself » Wed May 11, 2022 10:29 pm

Re: Pluto

Perhaps I missed it in reading through the posts, but I have found Pluto aspects often for events where part of the body is cut away to die or when artificial objects are implanted into the body.

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