Reading Money in the Chart
Updated: Jul 26
First, the Traditional Approach
The 12 houses in the chart represent places or "arenas" that make up the life of a person, or as Manilius called them, the "temples" of the geniture. The 2nd house of the chart is specifically said to represent one's assets, any material resources we possess, our "manner of living" – or generally speaking, what we own that is of value or translatable into material value. In modern astrology, one's personal skills and "values" are also said to be found in this place. In order to "read" what type of financial situation the individual is likely to encounter, the typical instructions given in the literature, involve an examination of the planet that rules the sign on that house's cusp. (More specifically, when an author refers to a planet that "rules the sign" or "rules over the sign", they mean that the planet has domicile rulership over that sign. There are other types of rulerships, as we will see shortly. But when not specified, it often refers to the domicile dignity.) In other cases, some Medieval astrologers might instead examine the almuten of the 2nd house to ascertain the wealth of the native. The almuten is the planet that has the most dignity points in that sign. In other words, it is the planet that rules over the most dignities of a sign. After that, astrologers may also examine other planets located in that same 2nd house. We might say that the traditional instructions typically involve a full examination of the 2nd house and its lord's overall condition, so that one can ascertain whether it is "strong" enough to deliver "fortuitous" outcomes into the life of the native.
In both Hellenistic or Medieval astrology, an interpretative "war model" based upon power is employed in almost all topical analyses undertaken. In this model, it is assumed that a planet that finds itself in certain conditions, is stronger or more powerful, and therefore, also capable of delivering better outcomes. In the case of money and other "moveable" assets (as opposed to immovable assets, which are found in the 4th), it is unclear how a stronger or more powerful planet would translate into a fortuitous outcome, since wealth presumably entails being able to attain a greater quantity of assets, or at least enough to be able to live comfortably, which doesn't rely on any presumed "power" of the planet. There are several of these planetary conditions (accidental and essential) and their comparative assessment is quite complicated. Although there is value in studying the functionality of these conditions and differentiating between them, I will not outline all of them here, because, as a whole, they do not all contribute to this mythical indicator of "strength", and as such, do not have any bearing on whether wealth and resources are easier or harder to come by.
A planet has many conditions and each indicator of these conditions says something different about the planet's situation. Some of these indicators are pertinent to the topic at hand, and some are not. I will address the conditions that do have a bearing on the topic of wealth (mainly angularity and speed). But to lump them all into some imaginary "power model" that presumes to answer all topics, betrays a lack of understanding of the functionality of each specific indicator of planetary condition and how we apply it to a given topic.
If we just stop to think about how we observe life actually functioning, we quickly realize that a planet's static condition in a chart cannot ever describe one's overall financial situation, since that can, and often does, change with time. For instance, we know of people who acquire great wealth and subsequently lose or spend it all away and end up living in poverty. There are other individuals born into wealth, who nevertheless live modest lives, or give away all of their wealth to charity. In the majority of cases, people live modestly and on occasion might have periods of monetary increase, while at others have periods where finances are tighter. Given such possible fluctuations in material fortune, a static power model of interpretation cannot contemplate such changing situations because it does not include a dynamic picture. In fact, when we test for a correlation between the "power" score of the natal 2nd house lord, or any planets in the 2nd, with wealth, we find that the correlation is no better than chance, which means there is no reliably predictable effect using either the strength of the almuten, the domicile lord of the 2nd, or any planets in the 2nd house. But don't take my word for it, let's look at the chart of Bill Gates.
The Chart of Bill Gates
Gates was born into a fairly well-off professional family: his father was a lawyer and his mother (as well as her father) were banking executives. Gates is co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and made his earliest fortune in the pioneering days of personal home computing of the 1980s. In 1987, Forbes began including him in their list of the world's wealthiest individuals and in fact, he has been defined by his fortune since, with a current net worth of $131 billion. Thus, it is safe to say that Gates has never had any cash-flow problems in his life!
Using traditional instructions, we would expect that his 2nd house lord would be in fantastic shape! Let's look at it: The sign over his 2nd house cusp is Leo, which is ruled by the Sun. Those who use almutens will find that the Sun is also the almuten of this sign. (This takes care of any argument that the wrong "ruler" is being examined). So the Sun has the capacity to generate his wealth. One of the Sun's principal natural significations (when in particular conditions, better left for another article on eminence indicators), is to indicate a capacity for leadership. Certainly, Gates is a man who has been at the front of a whole new industry and become the CEO of countless businesses over the years. So we can certainly confirm that his assets have been tied to his leadership skills. But this is also true for anyone who has Leo in the 2nd. The question is, can we say that his vast wealth is indicated by the Sun's expected excellent condition? Well, let's look at one of the most important conditions in traditional astrology and the one that authors in antiquity typically looked at first: Sect. Gates has a nocturnal chart, which means the Sun is contrary to the sect in charge. But this is only one way to assess sect. The Sun is also contrary to the sect in charge by all three supposed methods of assessment: 1. by chart (it is in a nocturnal chart); 2. by placement (it is below the horizon), and 3. by sign (it is in a feminine sign). So according to a power model of interpretation, through this light condition alone, the Sun would be judged to be in the worst possible condition and therefore, to deliver poor wealth outcomes!
But what about the Sun's condition by dignity, which is another variable that is believed to be an important indicator of planetary power? We find that the Sun in Scorpio is not in any of its own dignities. So it has no power by dignity either. And what about by house placement? If we used whole-sign houses of the Hellenistic tradition, the Sun would be in the 5th house. This is considered a beneficial house, but is not the "strong" angular placement that we might expect for impactful wealth. In fact, the 5th is a succedent house and not very dynamic (a quality considered to contribute to this perceived planetary "power". By using Equal houses (which I prefer), we do a get a better placement closer to the angle, but not by sign. So is that enough? (We are never told in the literature how much "power" is necessary for a ruler to indicate its capacity to deliver a favorable outcome. This is what makes this approach so unfalsifiable and frustrating. It is a lot like playing poker, except you never know which card trumps which.) Well, if we just examine these 3 most significant conditions, the Sun fares poorly in terms of "power" which does not "scream" wealth, since it governs that topic. If we were looking at his chart when he was a baby, we would be hard-pressed to judge great wealth for him as an adult. "But what about Jupiter in the 2nd house?" the astute student might ask. "Can't the great benefic and planet of expansion in the place of money account for his great wealth?" Sadly, no. In Gates' chart, Jupiter is actually a problematic planet and has more to do with his legal battles over anti-trust laws and is primarily indicative of the improper expansion of his assets (impropriety is tied to the chart's light condition and to planets that are out of sect, such as this Jupiter). Simply noting Jupiter in the 2nd as an indicator of wealth, constitutes an inexperienced interpretation that, not only ignores the proper functionality of sect in a chart, but also misses the distinction between what a ruler of a house does, versus what planets in a house do. This is because Jupiter is not domicile lord and therefore is not responsible for the creation of wealth. It also ignores the countless other charts of unwealthy individuals, all of whom also have Jupiter in the 2nd. To emphasize this point, a client of mine, who has both benefics (Venus and Jupiter) in the 2nd, AND also has its lord applying to Jupiter (as in Gates' case), has nonetheless struggled with money her whole life to the point of bankruptcy! In effect, "the benefic" Jupiter in the 2nd can just as easily depict the potential for legal problems involving money.
A more dogmatic astrologer might argue that this is merely an anecdotal case and that it doesn't in and of itself rule out "centuries of established predictive accuracy using these methods". First, while anecdotal evidence cannot be used to support a general statement, it can and should be used to disprove it. Second, how can this power model of interpretation be judged to be reliable, when there are no written records establishing such presumed historical correlations? What we do have are testimonies of authors proclaiming their own accuracy and unquestioned teachings passed down from teacher to students over the centuries. And if these rules cannot reliably attest to even the undisputed, immense wealth of a man who is defined by it, how can they then possibly attest to the more nuanced cases mentioned earlier? Along with other topics (such as children, vocation, illness, death, etc.), the assessment of income, wealth and assets falls under the category of topical chart analyses. That is, these are analyses that cover a complex array of subjects which cannot all be reduced to the delineation of one or two symbols all judged in the same manner. They require a more thorough and holistic understanding of how the chart as a whole actually can address real life and what particular details the varying conditions of a planet communicate about those life scenarios. In other words, it is not enough to know WHICH indicators to use for a specific topic, but as astrologers we also have to know WHY we are looking at those particular indicators, and HOW they depict the various possible real world conditions involved. As this case should illustrate, to unquestioningly expect that just because the domicile lord of a house is in the greater number of "power conditions" it will of necessity produce what is subjectively considered to be a better financial outcome, has no empirical support. So am I saying we should not look to the 2nd house lord for a judgement of this topic? No. It's more complicated than that and we need to better understand the chart functionality of the variables we are looking at.
Let's get back to Gates' chart and try to understand what the indicators are actually telling us. Signs represent celestial ideals. They are the ideas that fuel our creative endeavors in the material world (the houses). In the Zodiacal order corresponding to a human life, Leo is the sign that is correlated with the ideal of identity and self-importance and corresponds with the period of life when we establish these ideals (roughly ages 27-33). Because signs represent ideals, in the chart – as I have often argued -- they have a compensatory function. What this means is that what we notice in the real world is how an area falls short of that ideal. In other words, we always notice the sign's lack. It is this lack or need, that fuels our actions to try to fulfill it. We do this through the domicile lord of that sign, since the planets are the ones who can "intercede and act" in the material world. The house cusp over which the sign is found, tells us in which area of the life that lack will be noticed and which resources we will be inclined to act upon in order to fulfill that need.
Having Leo on the 2nd house cusp tells us that Gates will feel like he needs to establish his identity and a sense of self-importance through his wealth, finances, as well as his skills (i.e. that which we can translate into value). For him, the ideal of self-importance will be intrinsically linked to his assets, be they monetary or in terms of skills. As I stated, having the Sun be provider of wealth does not indicate that great wealth is necessarily destined. So what does?
Angularity and Speed! We know from the Gauquelin professional studies that angularity is significantly correlated with degree of impact in the life. The real take-away from those studies, is not so much that certain planets govern particular professions; we already suspected those. What they told us, is that eminence in profession shows up through angularity. One translation of these findings that could help us delineate other topics, is that angularity could be connected to the degree of impact of a planet in general. The angles of the chart were thought of as "pivots". Thus, angular planets can be thought of as pivotal in the life. This has been borne out in the case of wealth. In other words, the most impactful planets to the life tend to be the ones that are positioned close to the four angles of the chart.
In Gates' chart, Mars, Mercury and the Moon are all angular. The Sun is not. If a person's wealth has such a large impact upon his life, then we'd expect the planets most responsible to be angular. One way to see this is to work backwards to the time when Gates became rich from his computer innovations. Gates formed his mega-million dollar company Microsoft in 1976. But his big business break came in 1980 when he signed a partnership with IBM to put his DOS operating system in all of their computers. The prestige from the partnership and the fact that he retained the license for the software, which would later allow him to sell it to other PC makers when the home PC became a staple of every home, resulted in the start of his own fortune.
Using the turning method I've been advocating (If you do not know what this method is, please refer back to this post.), we can see that this deal with IBM in 1980 occurred when Libra became the Natal Topical Ascendant (NTA) from 1975-1982. This period would have emphasized the NEED for collaboration and partnership and that his family (Libra is on the 4th house cusp which contains the family) would become the arena turned to in fulfilling this need. We know that Microsoft itself was a business partnership between Gates and Paul Allen, his childhood friend (note that Venus, the domicile lord of Libra is also lord of the 11th house of friends and affiliations). But the IBM deal was also a partnership brokered by his mother, who served on the same board of United Way along with John Opel, IBM's CEO.
But what is also interesting is that Mars and Mercury become activated by virtue of being in Libra, the current NTA. Mercury is a planet of communication and technical abilities as lord of Virgo, which had been the sign activated in the previous period (his years at Lakeside Prep School) when he learned computer languages and wrote his first software program. Thus, we can see that Mercury's placement at a natal angle of the chart indicates that technical language skills would come to have a large impact upon his life. Mars, the other impactful planet, signifies innovation and independence and happens to rule the areas of business (the 10th) and of creative endeavors/hobbies (the 5th) in his life. But what is MOST pertinent for this study of wealth, is that Mars, as lord of Scorpio, becomes the domicile lord of the 2nd house in the turned chart during this period! So the 5th has turned to BECOME the 2nd. That means that his ability to innovate (Mars) will produce a creative business (5&10) that will turn into impactful wealth in his life at this time (1975-1982). (What is "becoming" is the current turned house placement, that is the wealth. We see this in the language we use when we say "something turned into" something else.) However, while natal angularity of the current provider of wealth (Mars) indicates that money could have a large impact on this native's life and of those around him, the amount of wealth is not tied to this angularity alone. One could have a single large impactful windfall and that not really be enough to make one very wealthy. But what we find with Mars is that it is also FAST in motion. A fast planet provides many instances of what it signifies. Thus, because Mars is responsible for providing creative innovations in his business, its speed indicates that it is capable of many such provisions. In other words, Gates will not make money from a single business creation, but possibly from several. And because Mars is also manager (that is, triplicity lord) of Virgo in the natal 3rd, it ties his activity to the management of technical documents, that is, of his innovative software programs. But what about the Sun? Does it have anything to do with his wealth or his provision of material resources, since it is, after all, lord of the natal 2nd? As we noted, the Sun is provider of his identity and self-importance and it is this that fuels changes in his income, assets, and skills. In addition, in antiquity, the Sun also signified the soul and thus, is responsible for our soul's mission in the life. It is through this mission that our identity gets shaped. In Gates' case, his mission is driven by the Scorpio ideal (since the Sun is in Scorpio). What does that mean? The Scorpio need is the immediate trigger of his Sun's action. A planet is often driven by two sign needs: the most immediate is the sign that it occupies. But this is always in the service of its own domicile. So Gate's immediate need is the Scorpio need to purge something that is not working well or has become unproductive. In the 5th, this need to purge is set off by something unproductive that he sees in the hobby, creative (5th house) industry he's chosen. What turned out to be his driving motive was indicated by his well-documented stance against open-source software (AOS) in the hobby software industry. (See his letter to Hobbyists from 1976 indicating his frustrations). Gates felt that all software must be proprietary and that free and open-source software should be eliminated from the industry because according to him, it inhibited the improvement of the software being developed. In other words, this open source software was one of the "toxic" Scorpio things in the 5th that he wanted to purge. And it was this need that drove his Sun to make the financial decisions that would ultimately help create the sense of self-importance and identity that he needed to establish at that time. And since as we stated, Mars is angular and fast, it was well-placed to deliver an impactful innovation in its attempts to fulfill this immediate Scorpio ideal. There is another subject located in the 5th house, whose proposed elimination has currently become a topic of controversy in connection to Gates. The 5th is also the house of sexuality, fertility and children. It is after all, the house where Venus has its joy. Thus, all matters having to do with procreation and sex are located here. To this point, some advocacy groups have accused the Gates foundation of participating in the depopulation agenda, by pushing dangerous vaccines and birth control drugs on unsuspecting mothers and children, particularly in Africa and India, where several law-suits have been filed against Gavi, one of the foundation's sponsored organizations. With the Sun and Saturn both out-of-sect in this place, confinements and restrictions to procreation and children become inappropriate decisions undertaken (the function of sect is to indicate propriety of action, that is, the amount of light a planetary action bathes in). It is well-documented that he has restricted the amount of his vast fortune that he proposes to leave for his children. But since the Sun's placement bridges the 4th and 5th houses by sign, it, also specifically argues for children to be connected to a nation. Thus, at the very least, the chart supports the ideal to restrict national populations by the placement of these particular two out-of-sect planetary placements in Scorpio. In other words, procreation is seen as something toxic that has outgrown its usefulness. This is something that is not controversial, since both Gates and his ex-wife have been very outspoken on this topic. There is a lot more that can be said about Gates' turned chart, which is also activating his Mars in the current period. But in order to avoid controversy, we will leave this chart and turn instead back to a more general discussion about how to assess wealth.
Topical Assessment of Wealth
I used this chart not to indict Gates, but to illustrate several points about the dynamic nature of wealth and how merely looking at a power model of the natal 2nd house lord will not give us a reliable indication of someone's potential to become financially well-off.
So are there any general rules that we can use to assess material prospects when looking at a birth chart? Yes. I will list some reliable natal considerations as well as those to look for when turning the chart.
1. In a natal chart, angular planets are the key to anything majorly impactful in the life. If a native has a planet at an angle, AND it is either the exaltation, domicile, or triplicity lord (using the single triplicity lord scheme that I have advocated for in my postgraduate thesis work) of the natal 2nd house sign, then that planet has the potential to generate impactful wealth. Remember that a triplicity lord is a manager, not a creator. So its role in asset-creation can come from managing or overseeing others' wealth. For example, in some celebrity musician's charts, this planet was linked with their managers or agents. (These 3 natal indicators were accurate in predicting wealth or the lack thereof, in 83% of cases tested.)
This works conversely as well. That is, if an angular planet is a detriment or fall lord of a 2nd house sign, this can indicate an impactful loss of wealth or income. REMEMBER: Contrary to what is taught, a planet does not have to be placed in its OWN dignity or debility to impact that sign and house. (That's the logic behind the almuten, after all. Yet outside of this use, we completely forget this principle.) So Jupiter exalts Cancer, no matter where Jupiter is placed, and Mars downgrades Cancer, no matter where it is in the chart! The degree of the loss will have to do with the speed of the planet.
2. If the above angular indicator(s) is also FAST in speed, then the instances of wealth generation are more frequent in the life and tend to correlate with more accumulated wealth. A slower planet, can still generate impactful assets, but it may do this over a longer period of time, such as through investments or saving. When I say fast in speed, I don’t mean that Mercury is faster than Saturn. I mean that IF Mercury is the indicator, look to see whether it is traveling faster than its average speed in that natal chart. So you will need to have a table with the travel speeds of the planets, if you do not know how to judge this through synodic placement. In the case of Mercury and Venus you will not be able to do this through synodic placement alone; so best to have a table for the planetary speeds of your chart anyway and a notion (or table) of what each planet's average speed is.
3. For the 17% of tested cases that did not have any of these 3 natal indicators of the 2nd house sign at an angle (of which Gates was one), they all did have one of their angular natal planets ruling over the turned 2nd house sign during the period when they generated wealth. The 83% who have natal indicators already present, also have them activated in the turned chart when they became wealthy or wealthier (if already wealthy by birth). Thus, if you see an angular natal planet, but it is not one of these 3 dignity lords of the NATAL 2nd house sign, it can still generate wealth when it is one of the dignity lords of the TURNED 2nd house sign. The turning of the times gives us new opportunities to make or lose wealth in the same way outlined above in #1. [If you do not know how to "turn the chart", you will have to read my posts on the turning of the times (or the "Triquetra Method" of timing) that I have explained here.]
Test this out for yourselves in your own charts and if you lack an angular 2nd house lord, know that any angular planet can help you grow your assets when it becomes a domicile, exaltation of triplicity lord of the turned 2nd. Use these times to better your circumstances and "may the force be with you!"