Several weeks ago I wasn’t feeling well, but I thought I could tough it out and go to work anyway to complete my shift. Unfortunately one of my co-workers confronted me about my health (apparently I can’t act healthy) and then informed a manager who told me to go home. To be honest, this was a relief, but on my way home I started thinking that this would be perfect for a decumbiture chart since I would literally know the minute I went to bed. So, risking a “you know you’re an astrologer if…” joke, I took a note of it and passed out.
A decumbiture chart is a tool used in medical astrology that helped physicians diagnose and treat illnesses in their patients. The word “decumbiture” is derived from the Latin “decumbo” which means ‘to lie or to fall down’. This word defines the timing necessary for the chart, which is the moment the patient felt so overcome with their illness that they had to take to bed to rest. Of course, this timing seems very arbitrary and is difficult to obtain from people who do not know beforehand to take note of it. For this reason there have been other eligible times offered by talented medical astrologers from the past and present, but we’re just going to focus on this timing since I knew beforehand to take note of it.
In this chart my body is ruled the First house and it’s represented by Mars in Cancer which is not doing very well in the Sign of its Fall and in the cadent Ninth house. However, I also share this signification with the illness itself as the Sixth house is also ruled by this planet. With this in mind the significations become more clear. Not only does Mars show my own health and vitality at this point, but also the disease and its symptoms. Lilly says the disease shown by Mars is violent fevers (which was true) and that the disease is very short (which was also true), so there’s some hope just in that description. I was feverish, achey, and coughing up mucus, all of which sounds about right for a signification of Mars in Cancer. What’s most interesting about this is that Mars’s placement in the Ninth house likely refers to why I was sick. I had just returned home from the NCGR conference, and the Lord of the Sixth in the Ninth shows illness from travel.
The Moon next applies to Mars while carrying the light of her recent Trine to Jupiter. This is very fortunate as not only does the Moon applying to the First house lord show a quick recovery, but translating the light from a well dignified Jupiter to it shows aid coming to the body and lessens the seriousness of the illness shown. Had Saturn somehow connected with Mars this would of course worsen the condition or show it being more serious than it appears (especially since he’s in the Twelfth in this particular chart), but since the Trine is so far separating it’s negligible. Mercury’s presence in connection with Mars could also have been dangerous for two reasons; Mercury tends to exacerbate Mars naturally and Mercury is the Lord of the Eighth which shows the death of the ill person.
The cure of any decumbiture chart is shown by the Tenth house and its lord, and here we have the Sun at the very end of Leo in the Tenth. I’m not necessarily sure how this signified cure played out in my own case as all I did was sleep for 4 hours and drank about 5 gallons of tea and honey. Honey, though, is a Solar/Jovian food, so it could be showing that, but it’s likely that the illness was so negligible in scope that a cure wasn’t necessary anyway.
Decumbiture and medical astrology in general have a lot of practical utilization and can be used complimentary to modern medicine. It’s not necessary to choose one and forsake the other as there are obviously going to be illness and injuries that need to be treated with a doctor’s supervision and guidance. However, most of the bumps, bruises, and colds of life can be adequately handled with a decumbiture chart, some tea, and a nice nap.