This article article has previously been published by the German Meridian (2012), the Italian Linguaggio Astrale (2013) and the English AA Journal (2018). The following is part one of two.


What is a decumbiture?

The word decumbiture derives from the Latin decumbere, which means to lay down. Indeed, a decumbiture is a chart drawn for the moment a person feels so sick to stay in the bed.

A decumbiture can also be calculated for two other moments:

  • The moment a patient consults his doctor.
  • The time the doctor receives a urine sample to be analyzed in the laboratory.

The delivery of the urine sample has traditionally been regarded as the most indicative moment, probably because, until the Renaissance, many physicians had astrological knowledge or were trained astrologers.[1]

A decumbitures analyses in detail, which illness the patient suffers from, where it comes from and how it will develop. While this technique was a primary tool in the past in order to know in advance if the patient would live or die,[2] in our times it is especially helpful in mirroring the different phases of the illness or the recovery process of the sick and the timing of cures or  surgeries.

The roots of this horoscopic technique go far back. Hippocrates and Galen did use it and the latter mentioned the use of decumbitures many times in his works. Especially for Galen, a doctor without astrological knowledge was regarded as “blind”.


The illness in the chart

 The doctor needs to verify, first of all, if the patient is really ill. Three factors have to be checked:

  • Is the ruler of the AC in a sign which is contrary to its nature?
  • Is the ruler of the AC in a cadent house, especially the 6th?
  • Is the ruler of the AC a diurnal planet[3] and below the horizon, in a weak position (combust, in a cadent house, in detriment or in the bounds of a malefic, or conjunct malefic fixed stars)?

Once made sure, that the patient is indeed sick, is is necessary to know in which way he/she has fallen ill. Information concerning the “why” of a sickness is traditionally considered of enormous importance, because it also determine the way a patient can eventually be healed.[4]

The last separative aspects of the Moon and of the 1st house ruler [5]describe how the illness was caused and in which way it has so far manifested in the body. It describes the properties of the sickness, no matter whether the aspect is hard (square, opposition) or soft (sextile, trine).


 The quality of the signs

 Fire describes hectic fever as the result of too much bile, acidification, infection, inflammation and clinical pictures of diseases which heat up and dry out.

Earth describes melancholic diseases, TBC, long fevers and illnesses which are long and insidious.

Water describes that the illness produces much mucus, such as coughs and colds.

Air describes bad blood, which in modern terms shows problems linked to the blood count, e.g. the leukocytes or erythrocytes, the capacity of coagulation or cholesterol.

Next has to be established, which function in the body is disturbed. Galen’s theory of the four humors plays a fundamental role here.[6] The physical constitution of every individual is composed by four humors (elements): earth, air, fire and water. In the Eastern medicine, a similar concept of humors is still used to diagnose the kind of illness.

These four humors are:

  • Melancholy (Saturn)
  • Choler (Mars)
  • Sanguine (Jupiter)
  • Phlegm (Moon/Venus)

At a first glance, this concept appears to be quite antiquate and out of fashion. Who, in our times still mentions phlegm or even knows what this word means?

Nevertheless, we might change our minds if we consider which physical functions the planets do represent in a chart:

  • Sun and Mars govern the assumption and absorption of nutrients.
  • Saturn governs the retentive property which stores and accumulates.
  • Jupiter describes the digestive function.
  • Moon and Venus govern the expulsion. The phlegm describes excreta which smooth, anoint and collect, such as mucus, menstrual blood, or feces. The phlegm transports toxins out of the body.


 Diagnosis of the disease

The illness is described by the 6th house and its ruler.

Mars and Saturn are the two classical malefics and any separative aspect from one or both of them is always an indication that some kind of conflict is present in the body.

Information about the illness can be obtained from several factors in a decumbiture, but at the end, all of them have to match in order to elaborate a precise picture which represents the disease.

  • The ruler of the 6th house describes the illness and gives a clue where it manifests within the body.
  • The phase of the Moon describes whether the illness is waning or if the symptoms are rather likely to increase.
  • The AC ruler describes the physical shape of the patient. Planets afflicting the AC ruler add further information concerning the illness.
  • Planets in the 1st and in the 6th house are always considered as co-significators of the illness.



As shown in Tab. 1, every planet rules specific organs which correspond to its nature.

These indications represent the basic information regarding the disease.








The next step is the analysis of the sign in which the ruler of the 6th house is in, because the function of the planet adapts to it. The table on the right lists the associations between signs and diseases.[9]













The last point to look at is the house in which the significator is placed.

Beside its natural signification we have already looked at, every planet can represent a number of different organs according to the sign it is located in. Lilly says, that planets in their domiciles always describe the head (for example Venus  in Taurus).[10]

In the signs following their domicile, the planets describe the organs just in the same sequence as in the zodiacal man shown in Fig.1: first the head, then the neck/throat, followed by shoulders/arms/upper breast, then lower breast/heart, heart/belly stomach, belly/back/bowels/small guts, secrets/stomach/thighs, thighs/knees, knees/lower legs, and finally the feet.

This order induced me to arrange Lilly’s table differently (without changing anything of its content), adding one column, in order to have one column for each domicile.

Each column starts with the respective domicile of each planet (in bold) and follows the sequence shown above. So in Gemini, Venus rules the neck and the throat. In Cancer she rules the shoulders and arms.

This sequence proceeds downwards, as shown in the illustration right hand, until the feet, which Venus rules when she is in Aries.

The third column shows the planet’s second domicile which in the case of Venus is Libra. Here the table is to be read starting from Libra (in red), where Venus, as its lady, represents once again the head, after this, the table follows the same sequence as the column on the left side.

In the last sign of this sequence, Virgo, Venus rules the feet.

These principles also apply to the other planets, starting always with their domicile=head.

Tab. 3 is to be understood as a double spiral where the domiciles are crossing points. Now the associations between planet and signs do not longer appear as casual but follow a straight logic.


The information gathered by the natural signification of the ruler of the disease and the sign it is located have now to be put together.


The last point to check is the signification of the houses.

For example, let us suppose that we have a chart with Saturn in Gemini in the 4th house. The planet in the sign describes the breast. Gemini is an air sign, so we can suppose that there is a problem with the lungs or more specifically with the absorption and elaboration of air in the lungs (Saturn’s function in the body).


 Distinction between acute and chronic diseases

The chart shows a chronic disease, if the Sun is separating from any aspect with Saturn, while the Moon, and the ruler of the AC are free from negative aspects. Also the presence of Saturn in the 6th house or ruler of the 6th house describes the illness as chronic. Saturn generally describes time while the Sun shows vital strength. Accordingly, a hard aspect between Sun and Saturn generally indicates a long duration of the disease, slowness, heaviness and suffering.

The Sun’s transits to its own position in the decumbiture and the aspects it makes or receives, describe the development of chronic diseases.

If there is no such separating aspect between Sun and Saturn, then the chart shows an acute illness.[12]

Acute illnesses are described by the transits of the Moon to her own position in the decumbiture and by the aspects she makes. The Moon is the fastest moving planet and thus shows diseases which have a quick evolution.

In the second part of this article ( Decumbiture part -2 Cuplpeper’s use of the Mooncrisis chart), I will discuss practical example charts.


[1] In the past, the urine sample was given to the doctor even before the latter visited the patient. The doctor, evaluating colour, flavor and taste (!), pre-diagnosed a specific illness which was then verified during the visit of the patient.

[2] If the chart was very negative, expensive or timeintensive, cures would probably not have been used on that patient.

[3] Sun, Jupiter and Saturn are diurnal, Moon, Venus and Mars are nocturnal planets, Mercury can be both, depending if it raises before the Sun (diurnal) or after the Sun (nocturnal).

[4] Generally speaking, a medicine can act in a sympathetic way (increasing) or in a antipathetic way (diminishing). An afflicted organ would be cured with a sympathetic medicine, while an antipathetic cure might be applied in order to reduce the effects of a dysfunction (e.g. a swelling).

[5] The first house and its ruler always describe the health condition of a person, while the 6th house describes the (eventual) illness.

[6] See at this regard my article on Galen published in the German magazine Meridian 2/2012

[7] Mercury describes the rational perception: imagination, judgement, memory, When Mercury describes the brain, functional disorders are shown.

[8] The Moon describes the sensitive functions of the brain, thus the perception through the senses which cause an emotion.

[9] Following Lilly, p. 93-99

[10] Lilly, p. 244

[11] Lilly, p. 245

[12]Acute illnesses are not necessarily easier to cure than chronical. In the worst case, both can be mortal. The difference between them is only the speed of course of the illness. Accordingly, acute illnesses are more easily subject of drastical changes.


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