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Directing the Hyleg - I

Martin Gansten, in his groundbreaking book on Primary Directions dedicated an entire chapter to discuss the Hyleg and the length of life. Ptolemy and Valens used Primary Directions to find out the length of life, possible timings of a native’s death, manner of death and so on. This is just a start that I am doing and I am not writing much in this blog except astrologically depicting the death of a native using Primary Directions.

I am using Paul Walker’s chart to find out what this technique has to offer.

The native was killed in an accident in November 2013.

Before actually getting into the technique, I think it is worth noticing a few details in the chart. The native was born when Leo was rising with the Sun in Leo. Ruler of the Ascendant in the 1st house is as good as it gets. However, the 8th house and the ruler of the 8th house also have an equal say in longevity. Although the Sun is placed in Leo and is dignified, Jupiter which rules the 8th house is debilitated in Capricorn (yet placed in its own bound). Saturn, the significator of longevity, is placed in the 11th house of Gemini in the nodal axis; closely conjunct Ketu. Saturn enjoys reception from Mercury but Saturn is out of sect and is shadowed by Ketu.

It is important to determine the Hyleg of the chart before getting into the technique. I used the software to do it but I will write on it in upcoming posts on the determination of Hyleg. The Moon is the sect light and the Moon is placed in one of the hylegical places above the horizon. The Moon turns out to be the Hyleg. This seems to be more of a straightforward choice. Now, we are to play with the Moon using the Primary Directions.

Martin Gansten explores and explains the ways of directing the Hyleg (as suggested by Ptolemy) and differentiates them by the placement of the Hyleg based on whether the Hyleg is in the eastern part of the chart above the horizon or the western part of the chart above the horizon. In our example, the Moon is placed in the western part of the chart.

In explaining the Ptolemy method, Gansten writes, “One is directing the malefics and their aspects to the Hyleg by direct motion. The other is directing the hyleg by its own primary motion to its setting point on the western horizon or descendant, which becomes the killing point ‘by causing the lord of life to vanish’. This echoes earliers doctrines discussed by Ptolemy’s contemporary Vettius Valens. Traditionally, such a direction would be labelled converse”.

I exactly did the same as what Gansten taught by directing (converse directions) the Moon through the bounds. By primary motion, the Moon was in the bound of Mars in Capricorn from late December 2008 to late October 2013. From October 2013, the Moon entered the bound of Saturn which is also a quite tricky period.

The entire idea of using the directions here is to make use of the symbolism of setting as Gansten states. The Moon (Hyleg) was above the horizon at birth and had moved below the horizon by primary motion. By getting into Saturn’s bound in Capricorn, the Moon would also form a whole sign square with Mars in Aries which indicates an accident. Moreover, Jupiter is placed in Capricorn in the nativity in a debilitated state. Saturn, as the time lord of Hyleg during the death, is also the ruler of the 6th and the 7th house. Saturn is a destructive malefic in the nocturnal nativities and Saturn is also a killer planet as it rules the 7th house and let us just say it played its role.

I am still making my way through this technique and I will write more as I find and learn more. But this technique is fascinating yet not the easiest to learn as far as I am concerned.


  • Direct the hyleg and watch the bounds

  • Direct the hyleg and watch the malefic aspects

  • Direct the hyleg and watch if it is setting

Reference quote:

Page 109 and 110, The Hyleg and the Length of Life, Primary Directions - Astrology’s old master technique, Martin Gansten, Published in 2009 by The Wessex Astrologer Ltd, England.


© Aswin Subramanyan 2020 More for articles and to know about me, please visit To subscribe to the bi-monthly magazine Celestial Vibes, please visit: To support my work, please visit:

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