Death has always been a controversial subject in religious, philosophical or astrological circles. It was common for astrologers of the past to deal with it and to make precise prognostications about a native’s life and death. Ancient masters mostly believed that there was a precise moment at which a native entered life, as well as a precise and thus forecastable moment at which the native was supposed to leave their physical body behind. They were sure that the birth chart revealed information about the “how” and the “when.” Over the last centuries, people dealt with death differently than we do now, and astrologers’ clients were supposed to cope with certain information which the majority of today’s astrologers would not even address, such as the possibility of a violent death. Many famous ancient astrologers worked for the royal court and one of their responsibilities was to protect the king, giving warning about possible accidents or conspiracy, suggesting alternative options, or, when things got really bad, they sometimes even suggested crowning a different person for a certain critical period, to ensure that the negative transits forecasted for the king would act upon that person and not the “real” king, who would take up his power only after these transits had passed. In Book II, Valens gives precise instructions on how to recognize a violent death in a native’s chart (emphasis is mine):
Now we will press on to consider violent deaths. When the ruler of the new or full moon at the nativity is turned away from its sign or is unfavourably situated, with a malefic in aspect, it indicates violent death. In the same way, if Mercury is in opposition to the full Moon and has malefics in aspect, it brings a bad cause of death. If Saturn, Mars, or Mercury are located in the sign on the fortieth day, they indicate violent death. Likewise malefics in the Descendant or in the sign preceding the Descendant bring violent deaths or the onset of diseases and miserable deaths. The 8th place from the Ascendant has the same influence on the cause of death; so does the 8th place from the Lot of Fortune. It is necessary to examine the Lot and its ruler to see in which signs they are located, because the cause of death will be foretold by the Moon (which is Fortune), when in conjunction with the Sun in Aries, suffers an eclipse or loss of light in the eighth sign, Scorpio. Therefore Scorpio is called its depression. 
The passage I emphasized above did not make sense to me when I first read it. So I asked the Italian astrologer and philologist Lucia Bellizia for an alternative translation, which she made directly from the Greek of Pingree’s critical edition into Italian. She translated the sentence as follows:
It is thus necessary to observe the Lot of Fortune and its ruler, in which sign it falls; by these are shown the causes of the death, because also in the cosmos, the Moon, which is Tyche, conjoined to the Sun in Aries in the eighth place, Scorpio, causes the eclipse and the subtraction of light, this is why (Scorpio) is called (the place of) its fall.
Valens thus simply means, that the 8th place from Fortune shows the cause of death. He then continues and lists the pairs of signs that are in an 8th house relationship (Table 1). Therefore, Fortune, the physical body, can possibly be destroyed in the 8th place from itself.
Now let’s look at these rules more in-depth.
As we can see from the translations, Valens is most concerned about the Syzygy. The term Syzygy describes the position of the prenatal New or Full Moon, depending on the lunar phase when the native was born. If a person is born closer to a New Moon than to a Full Moon, his or her Syzygy is a New Moon. If he or she is born closer to a Full moon, than the Sygyzy is a Full Moon.
The position of the Syzygy and its ruler was given a great deal of importance by Hellenistic astrologers. This is because the Moon is the natural significator of the native’s body, similar to the ASC ruler or the ruler of the Lot of Fortune (also called Lot of the Moon). We can consider the prenatal Moon as the jar which is going to be filled with the Sun’s spirit during birth, therefore, the prenatal Moon needs helpful aspects, in order to guarantee good health and luck to the still unborn child. When the ruler of the Syzygy was in an angular house (especially the first and the tenth), and thus strongly placed, the native would have good fortune in life. Hephaistion of Thebes, fifth-century author of Apotolesmatics, writes:
For no small power occurs with the prenatal conjunction whenever it chances to be upon a pivot, especially the Horoscopos and the Midheaven.
Vettius Valens says similarly:
If the sign of the new or full moon or the ruler of this sign happens to be in the Ascendant or at the MC, the native will be fortunate.
However, if the ruler of the Syzygy did not aspect its own sign and was configured with malefics, this was considered a bad omen regarding the native’s life: the malefics would threaten life at some point.
Nevertheless, the Syzygy is only one issue factor to check; the other is Mercury. Mercury can either act in a positive manner or as a malefic, depending on which planet he is associated with:
Mercury will make everything capricious in outcome and quite disturbed. Even more, it causes those having this star in malefic signs or degrees to become even worse.
When he thus opposes the Syzygy and is configured with the malefics, he transfers their light to the Syzygy and diminishes its power. Saturn, Mars, and Mercury cause crime, treachery, judgments, and alarms. Men go into debts and expenses for the sake of scriptures or mystic lore, and they suffer no ordinary tribulations and ruin. In other cases, these stars make men keen and intelligent in business, leading a varied life, maligned by some because of violent and illegal activities. Occasionally they become involved in toilsome and dangerous business and fall into poverty. Then they blame their own Fortune, blaspheme the gods, and become oath breakers and atheists. If the stars are not in their proper domicile, they bring criminal charges and imprisonment.
In order to understand why the fortieth day of birth is so important, we have to consider that this time is associated with the concept of renewal. According to the Talmud, it takes forty days for an embryo to be formed in its mother’s womb, and forty weeks to be born. This may also refer to the time a baby needs to learn to suckle and regain weight after its initial loss during the first few days after birth.
After forty days, the Moon has made a complete revolution around the zodiac plus 160° (calculating its average speed with 13° per day): this is what Valens refers to in his passage in Anthology Book I, 15K, about the third, seventh and fortieth days of the Moon. Valens rather than counting degrees as, he says, his colleagues do, seems to consider the opposition of the Moon to his own sign in the birth chart when he says:
The third, seventh, and fortieth days of the moon as follows: assume the moon is in Scorpio 7°; the third day will be in Sagittarius 7°. [It is necessary to investigate the day in this way. Sagittarius 7° has become the third day.] In the nativity chart the seventh will be found in square, at Aquarius 7°. The fortieth will be at Taurus 7°. (Some add 160° to the moon’s position at birth and count off this amount from the Moon’s sign. Others add to the Moon’s position at birth on the third and seventh and fortieth days, then after calculating, they interpret the moon at those places).
Both Mercury and the Moon are associated with the human brain. While the Moon rules over instinctive intelligence, Mercury rules the rational mind. When Mercury is configured with the malefics, the rational mind could potentially be harmed or uninhibited. Therefore, when Mercury is opposed to Saturn, the brain might show dysfunctional disorder or might not be fully developed. Mars in opposition could show some damage to the brain (as for example the consequences of an unsuccessful abortion or similar). However, since the sentence in Valens’ passage is not very clear, my interpretation is that he is asking to check if malefics are in the sign of the Sygyzy Moon after forty days. However, Valens himself does not apply this rule in his examples charts very thoroughly.
According to Valens, the Lots, especially the Lot of Fortune, are as important as the Syzygy. This is because Fortune is associated with the body and physical well-being of the native, similar to the ASC and its ruler, or the Moon, which also describes the physical shape of a person. In fact, Valens derives places from the position of Fortune in order to identify particularly strong or weak places. Many of his techniques are based on the houses derived from Fortune. Following this logic, in the 8th place from Fortune, the latter is “eclipsed” and loses its life-light. It is thus necessary to examine the position of the Lot of Fortune and its ruler in order to determine which sign they are in, because the manner of death is foretold by them. Generally speaking, it seems from Valens example charts, that he uses the Sygyzy to establish whether the chart warns of a violent death and uses the Lot of Fortune to define the cause of death.
In summary, here are the indicators of violent death in a natal chart according to Valens:
- The ruler of the NM/FW is turned away from its sign or is unfavourably situated with an aspect to a malefic
- Mercury is in opposition to the Sygyzy  and is configured with malefics
- Mars, Saturn or Mercury are located in the sign of the Sygyzy  on the fortieth day
- There are malefics in the DC or the sign preceding (6th house)
- Malefics are in the 8th place from the AC
- Malefics are in the 8th place from the place of the lot of Fortune.
We will now apply Valen’s rules to modern nativities.
- Example: Diana Princess of Wales
The princess died in a car accident on August 31, 1997 together with her lover Dodi Al-Fayet and the driver Henri Paul, while her bodyguard Trevor Rees Jones survived.
- Diana was born prior to a Full Moon with the Moon at 6° 33’of Capricorn, thus ruler of her Sygyzy is a malefic. Saturn is retrograde but in his own domicile and trined by Venus. (The position of the Sygyzy is trined by a Mars/Pluto conjunction, if we want to consider the outers).
- The position of the Sygyzy is opposed by peregrine Mercury, whose next aspect is a sextile to Mars, the malefic out of sect (and conjunct Pluto).
- On the fortieth day after Diana’s birth, Saturn was in the Sign of the Sygyzy (chart not shown).
- There are no malefics in the DC or the sign preceding.
- There are no malefics in the 8th house.
- Fortune is in Leo and thus its dispositor, the Sun, is destroyed by Jupiter, ruler of the 8th place from the Fortune.
Diana died during a Jupiter return, and in a 1st place profection year . Her profected ASC ruler was Jupiter (the exaltation ruler of her 8th house), who was exactly opposing transiting Moon (L8) over her 9thhouse (foreign country).The 8thplace from the Lot of Fortune is the radical 4th place, ruled by Jupiter. The 4thplace describes places below the earth. Diana died in a tunnel under Paris. The tunnel runs alongside the river, but not below the river Seine. Aquarius is the sign of the water pourer, associated with water but not a water sign. Jupiter is a human sign in Diana’s third house, which describes cars, but also reporters, who were chasing her at the moment of her death.
2. Example: John Lennon
- John Lennon was born prior to a New Moon at 10°08’ Libra and the ruler of his Sygyzy is Venus. She is turned away from her own sign (Libra), in a cadent house, in her fall, and trines and receives Saturn, the malefic out of sect.
- Mercury is not in the opposition of the Sygyzy.
- On the fortieth day after Lennon’s birth, Mars is in the sign of the Sygyzy (chart not shown).
- The malefic out of sect, Mars, is on the DSC opposing his own sign.
- Mercury is in the 8th place, opposing Saturn.
- Fortune is in Capricorn and thus ruled by Saturn. Fortune is exactly square Mars, who opposes the AC (Life). The 8th place from Fortune is in Leo, ruled by the Sun in his fall, opposing the AC. Saturn is destroyed by the Sun. Transiting Saturn is conjunct the Sygyzy and applying natal Sun. Lennon’s profected AC ruler was the Sun. The luminary (destroyer) is in the 9th house (USA foreign country) exactly conjunct transiting Mars (1st house ruler, Life) by Antiscium. Transiting Moon is conjunct Daimon and makes a trine to natal Venus (the 8th place ruler from Daimon and squares natal Mars). Transiting Daimon is in the 8th place from its natal position.
Can the death by shooting being seen? The 8th house is ruled by Mars, natural ruler of guns. He is in the 7th of open enemies (Lennon did superficially know his killer). The 8th place from Fortune is in Leo, a fire sign and natural significator of the heart, where he was shot.
3. Example: Giovanni Falcone
Giovanni Falcone was a famous Italian judge and a member of the anti-Mafia pool. He was assassinated by the Sicilian Mafia on May, 23, 1992 by a car bomb.
- Falcone was born after a Full Moon, with the Moon at 12°17 Scorpio. Its ruler is thus exalted Mars, the malefic out of sect. He is not turned away, but makes a square to Saturn, who is exactly opposing the AC from his fall.
- Mercury is conjunct the South Node and opposes the Moon during the Syzygy.
- On the fortieth day after Falcone’s birth, Mercury was squaring angular Saturn (chart not shown).
- Saturn is in the 7th place.
- The 8th place in Falcone’s chart falls in Taurus. It’s ruler Venus is in aversion to her own sign. The Moon (general ruler of the body) is in this place, combust.
- The ruler of Fortune in Falcone’s chart is detrimental Venus, conjunct Saturn, both opposing the AC. The 8th place from Fortune is the radical 8th place in Taurus, ruled by Venus, and thus Venus is destroyed by herself.
- Mercury is in the 8th place. He rules the 12th place, associated with hidden organizations such as the Mafia.
- The Sun is also here, it was his profession as a judge (ruler MC) who brought him into the focus of the mafia bosses.
Venus, the destroyer, is in a fire sign, exactly squaring Mars, natural significator of bombs. The bomb was hidden at the entrance to the highway, under the pavement. When the bomb exploded, it caused a huge chasm and Falcone’s and two other cars were destroyed. Mars is in the 4th house in an earth sign and disposes of Venus.
Exalted transiting Venus was exactly conjunct Falcone’s Sun. His profected AC was in the 6th house in Pisces, Venus’ exaltation and ruled by Jupiter, who is in the 7th house, together with Venus (whole sign aspect). Transiting Moon transfers light from Saturn (ruler of his 4th house of grave) to Venus, ruler of his 8th of death.
4. Example: Woman who died in a car accident
The woman, walking down the road to the bus stop, had stopped at the traffic light. It was early in the morning; streets were empty but she waited patiently for the green light. When it came, she was hit by a car and died several hours later from brain damage.
- The native was born following a New Moon at 23°45’ Taurus in the 8th house. The ruler of the Sygyzy is Venus, in her detriment opposing the first house of Life. She is in aversion to her sign in which the New Moon occurs. She squares Mars, her dispositor.
- Mercury is not configured with the New Moon and is linked to Saturn only by a separative whole sign aspect.
- On the fortieth day. Mercury is conjunct Jupiter and is linked to Saturn only by a separative whole sign conjunction.
- There are no malefic planets either in the descendant nor the 6th house, but there is the South Node.
- Daimon is in in the 7th house in Aries, ruled by Mars. It is exactly sextiled by Saturn.
Mars destroys himself: suicide, accomplices in crime, bandits, murderers, death by animal attacks, fire, collapsing buildings, bleeding, attacks.
The Moon (physical body) is in the 8thplace from Fortune closely trined by Mars, the malefic out of sect, her dispositor and destroyer. Also the AC is squared by Mars, with mutual reception by domicile.
It is worth noticing that Mars is in the 10thplace. The woman was going to work, when she was hit (Mars) by a car. Her profected AC was in the 12thhouse and its ruler Mercury squared the Moon in the 8th place from Fortune, while the destroyer Mars was in exact opposition to transiting Venus (1st and 8th house ruler).
5. Example: Nicole Brown Simpson
Nicole Brown Simpson was the ex-wife of the former football star O.J. Simpson; she and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman were murdered together on the night of June 13th, 1994.
- Nicole was born following a Sygyzy in Taurus, whose ruler is Venus. She is in Cancer, exactly opposed by Saturn. Mars is in the same sign as Venus.
- Mercury is in the sign of the Sygyzy, configured with both malefics.
- On the fortieth day after her birth, Mercury was not configured with the malefics (chart not shown).
- There are no classical malefics in the 7th or 6th place, but Pluto is angular.
- The 8thplace has no malefics.
- Daimon is in the radical 8th place together with the Moon, who squares Venus and Mars in the 5th place. The 8thfrom Fortune is the sign of the Sygyzy, ruled by Venus. Valens says:
Venus is destroyed by herself. Suicide by poisoned drinks, snakebite, through self-starvation, excessive intercourse, excision of the uvula, drowning or by mutilation, blindness or paralysis.
She was mutilated, as her head was nearly cut of. The motive for the crime might have been jealousy.
Nicole was in a 12th house profection year and the profected AC was in Aquarius. Transiting Saturn was in her 1st house, trining natal Venus. Transiting Venus was conjunct her natal Mars.
Interestingly, her husband was accused of the murder but found “not guilty”. Anyway, Mercury, ruler of the 7th house is exactly conjunct Venus, the destroyer and opposed her profected AC ruler.
6. Example: Isabelle Hayat French infant, who died in the maternity ward of the Clinique Alexis Carrel in Sarcelles. On March 13th,1971 at around 11:45 PM a fire broke out in the maternity ward where 32 babies were asleep.
- The baby was born following a Sygyzy in Pisces, thus its ruler is Jupiter, who also rules the AC.
- Mercury is not opposed to the Sygyzy, but in the sign of the Sygyzy, combust and configured with both malefics.
- The baby lived less than 40 days.
- There are no malefics on the angles, but Saturn is in the 6th place.
- The ruler of the 8th place has no malefics but its ruler in turned away.
- Daimon is in Leo, together with the Sun and the South Node. The 8th place from Daimon(Pisces) is the sign of the Sygyzy, and Jupiter is the destroyer. Jupiter exactly squares the Sygyzy. The chart is overall fiery. Jupiter is in his own domicile, triplicity and he is angular. The Moon trines him from Leo.
If we want to look at the profections, we need to use days instead of years, in this case. Annual profection can be done on a daily basis, using one sign for each 2,5 days or 12° every day. The baby died 6 days after it was born, so the profected AC is in Aquarius, opposing the Moon (ruler 8th house) and Fortune.
7. Example: James Dean
James Dean was a famous American actor, who died in a car crash at age 24.
- He was born after a Full Moon with the Moon in Leo, so the ruler of his Sygyzy is the Sun. Mars, the malefic out of sect and ruler of the 1st and of the 8th place is in the same sign.
- Mercury is turned away.
- On the fortieth day after Dean’s birth, Mercury is not opposing the Sygyzy, but he is trining Mars with reception (chart not shown).
- There are no malefics in the DC or the 6th house.
- The Moon is in the 8th place, squaring the Sygyzy and Mars.
- Fortune is in the 8thplace, Mars makes only a whole sign trine. The 8thplace from Fortune is Cancer:
Jupiter is destroyed by the Moon. Death from disorders of the spleen, liver, stomach, from vomiting fluids or blood, falls from animals, attacks of ravenous beasts, collapsing buildings, shipwreck, wet places. They die from lunacy, blindness, feebleness.
He had seen the other car in front of him but was convinced it would turn around, so he did not take his foot off the gas pedal. Maybe this is also a kind of (judgmental) blindness? The transiting Moon (destroyer) was exactly opposing Dean’s natal Mars (1st house ruler), which, at age 24 was also his profection ruler.
Conclusion As we can see from the example charts, when the ruler of the 8th from Fortune is in the place of the Sygyzy, or in the sign of Fortune, it is a strong indication of a violent death. As an area of further study, there seems to be a strong connection between the 8th place ruler from Fortune and profections .
I did not find the rule of the fortieth day very useful in any of the example charts, however, difficulties are already being indicated by the rulers of the Sygyzy and of Fortune being turned away from their signs.
This article has previously been published in
The Ascendant, Revelore Press, 2018.
The Ascendant, Revelore Press 2019.
 All charts are taken from astro.com, A or AA rating, only nr. 4 is personal with AA data
Valens, Anthology Book II, trans. Riley, 55. Available online: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/r/rileymt/vettius%20valens%20entire.pdfc
“Occorre pertanto osservare la sorte e il suo signore, in quale segno cade; in essi saranno mostrate le cause delle morti, poiché anche nel cosmo la Luna, che è Tyche, congiunta al Sole in Ariete, nell’ottavo segno, lo Scorpione, causa l’eclissi e la sottrazione della luce; perciò (lo Scorpione) viene detto (luogo della) sua caduta.” (The English translation above is mine).Vettii Valentis,Antiocheni Anthologiarum Libri Novem, edited D. Pingree, (Leipzig: Tuebner, 1986):
Hephaistion of Thebes, Apotelesmatics, Book II, Schmidt trans., p. 53
Vettius Valens, Anthologies Book II, Riley trans., p.38
Vettius Valens, Anthologies Book II, Riley trans., p. 2
Vettius Valens, Anthologies Book II, Riley trans., p.20
Vettius Valens, Anthologies Book II, Riley trans., p.33
Chris Brennan, Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune(Denver, CO: Amor Fati, 2017), 518ff.
Valens only has “Full Moon” here, but since the paragraph is about Sygyzy, I suppose he is referring to either (prenatal) Full OR New Moon.
Valens only has “Moon”.
 Hellenistic astrologers did not know about the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto). Many modern traditional astrologers do not use them either, I personally consider them, when they are angular or in conjunction to any of the seven traditional planets. I will put these planetary contacts into brackets, as they are a modern interpolation.
 Hellenistic authors divided the zodiac in twelve segments of 30°. They start with the ASC at 0° of a given sign and each sign is called “place” in order to distinguish these segments from quadrant houses which can start at any given degree and whose segments are called “houses”.