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Spear-bearing in Vettius Valens' The Anthology

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

Over the past two weeks, Vettius Valens was probably the most popular astrologer over 2000 years after his times. While that was regarding the house division debate, this is about another concept that Valens presents called as Spear-bearing (doryphory). In Book I, Valens writes some hints about spear-bearing.

…Each star is the ruler of its own “element” in the universe with reference to the stars’ sympathy or antipathy or mutual influence. Their aspects are blended according to their application or separations, their superior aspects or blockages, their attendance, their way of shooting or the approach of their masters.

P6, Book I, The Anthology, Vettius Valens, Translated by Mark.T.Riley, Amor Fati Publications, Denver, Colorado, 2022.

A planet having a trine relationship with the sign of the same element that it rules, they are considered as the ruler of its own element and hence, the trine is considered good considering other factors. The aspects, with due consideration to application or separation, whether it is left or right, and the hurling of rays based on which spear-bearing is noticed in the nativity.

Although this statement doesn’t directly refer to any specific type of spear-bearing which is very evident in the later text by Hephaistos of Thebes, Valens clearly seems to have considered and described spear-bearing. Infact, in the Book II of Anthologies, Vettius Valens talks provides an example chart and calls it a “distinguished nativity” which is a perfect case of two spear-bearing conditions drawn out by the later Hellenistic astrologer, Hephaistos of Thebes. It is more likely that Hephaistos was drawing on the text by Valens.

Sun in Scoprio, Moon in Cancer, Saturn in Aquarius, Jupiter in Sagittarius, Mars in Scropio, Venus in Libra, Mercury in Scorpio, Ascendant in Libra. Since the birth was at night, I investigate the Moon: this happens to be in Cancer, triangle of Mars. We find Mars rising just after the Ascendant and in its own house <Scorpio> triangle <Scorpio Pisces Cancer>, and sect <Nocturnal>. Then we find Venus sharing rulership with Mars, being in the Ascendant and its own house <Libra. Third, we find the Moon at the Midheaven in its own house <Cancer>. It is obvious that the nativity is distinguished, since the houserulers are configured so appropriately. Investing the Lot of Fortune, I find it in Aquarius, in its own house; Saturn is there, the ruler of Aquarius and in the 5th place of Good Fortune, in its own house from the Lot of Fortune, i.e., the place of accomplishment is Sagittarius, and Jupuiter is there. I also found the exaltation of the nativity; from the Moon to Taurus is eleven signs, and the same distance from the Ascendant in Libra brings me to Leo, in the 11th place of Good Daimon. The Sun is the ruler of this and since it is found to be at the Midheaven with respect to the Lot of Fortune, it made the birth even more illustrious and distinguished.

P70, Book II, The Anthology, Vettius Valens, Translated by Mark.T.Riley, Amor Fati Publications, Denver, Colorado, 2022.

In the above example, Valens notes the position of the planets in each sign (treated as houses) and mentions that Mars is in trine to Cancer with the Moon (sect light) placed in it. Valens also mentions that the MC is in the 10th house with the Moon placed in the 10th house of Cancer. The Moon is in the 10th house which is a pivot and Mars is forming a trine to the Moon which is a type of Spear-bearing.

The second kind is spear-bearing according to the hurling of rays. For example, if for a light upon one of the pivot points in the Horoskopos or the Midheaven even if it should lie in the house of another of its sect (diurnal sign in this case), a star should hurl its rays for the Sun, at the Pre-ascending degree; but for the Moon, at the degree next to that which ascends - while hurling them according to an isosceles line. The triangular spear-bearers are more powerful than the square or diametrical ones, the hexagonal spear-bearers are weaker than they are.

P35, Ch17, Apotelesmatics, Hephaistos of Thebes, Translated by Robert Schmidt, Edited by Robert Hand, The Golden Hind Press.

In the same example, Venus is placed in the 1st house of Libra with the Moon in the 10th house of Cancer where the MC is also placed. The Moon (sect light) is forming a square with Venus which is placed in its domicile, Libra.

The third kind is of for a star lying upon the Horosckopos or the Midheaven, in a diurnal birth, diurnal planets should act as spear-bearers when they are preceding while in a nocturnal birth, nocturnal planets should so act when they are following.

P35, Ch17, Apotelesmatics, Hephaistos of Thebes, Translated by Robert Schmidt, Edited by Robert Hand, The Golden Hind Press.

The examples in the Book-II listed by Valens are pertaining to the concepts he had elucidated prior to that point in this work, Anthologies. It was interesting to see how Valens clearly pointed out the nature of the nativity by pointing out the planetary placements with reference to spear-bearing.

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