Rectification: Adjusting an Unknown Birth Time for a Natal Horoscope
I occasionally see people asking online how they can come up with a reliable birth chart when they have no time of birth, precise or otherwise. A legitimate time is crucial to establishing the astrological “framework” (house divisions and associated planetary placements) for the horoscope. While it is often possible to obtain an officially “timed” birth certificate from the hospital or municipality where one was born, this isn’t always the case. But all is not lost.
There is a technique know as “rectification” by which we cast the natal horoscope for noon or midnight on the date of birth and then look for major life events (births, deaths, marriage, relocation, major surgery, etc) represented by transiting and progressed planets at the time of those events that can be brought into proximity to the angles (Ascendant and Midheaven) of the chart by fine-tuning the birth time; this is typically done by conjunction but “hard” aspects — squares and oppositions — can also work. (Back in the ’70s I was taught that the angles are where the effects of planetary activity are most visible, and have been doing it that way ever since with serviceable results.) This produces a theoretical map that can be compared to future events as shown by later transits and progressions, and adjusted accordingly. It’s a lot of fun to do but takes some work (and often more than a little educated guesswork) to accomplish.
I used this method to rectify my parents’ natal charts. They were a highly compatible pair (she was dominant, he was submissive) so I figured there had to be strong ties between their natal horoscopes beyond the major planetary contacts (Virgo Sun/Cancer Moon for her and Cancer Sun, Mercury and Venus for him). My father was what I might call a very “malleable” person, mild-mannered and unassuming; he tended to take the shape of whatever vessel he found himself in, which suited my mother perfectly. She could be as tough as shoe-leather and as hard as nails, although she had a “soft spot” for his unflagging good humor (most of the time).
I started with the assumption that he could very well be a double Cancer, with both the Sun and Ascendant in that sign. This placed his Sun in the 12th House, trine Uranus in Pisces in the 9th House, a perfect representation for his early interest in unusual “pseudo-scientific” theories about human history (particularly Erik von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods) and his reversion to more established but still “cult-like” religious beliefs near the end of his life. It also put her natal Moon in his 12th House, conjunct the midpoint of his Sun and Pluto, a strong indication that she was the “woman behind the curtain pulling his strings” during their 60+ years together. His Moon-Jupiter-Part-of-Fortune conjunction in the ninth sign of Sagittarius fell into his 5th House; you might be able to tell by this that he had nine children by her in what was a strictly conventional monogamous marriage (her Sagittarius Saturn was conjunct his Moon-Jupiter; she was his “rock” and he worshipped her). The key to rectification of his chart was the occasion of his marriage to his second wife after my mother passed, for which I placed the transiting “event” Sun on his natal Midheaven. After that, everything fell together neatly.
In my mother’s case I figured her for a Capricorn Ascendant, creating reciprocity (within two degrees of arc) between her rectified Ascendant and his rectified Capricorn Descendant. As a result, his natal Sun-Pluto conjunction appeared in her 6th House, conjoining her Moon-Pluto and showing all the earmarks of a “master/slave” relationship with her holding the whip (unless it was his “wand” that kept them coupled). These factors struck me as the “glue” that held them together for so long. She was from rather dour Scots/Irish Canadian stock and definitely looked the part; I don’t remember her being particularly cheerful or easygoing much of the time, a reasonable assumption for a serious and sober Capricorn Ascendant. Her Uranus landed in his 9th House; with Piscean Jupiter conjunct Uranus in Aries she was a nonreligious free-thinker who didn’t stand behind his choice of church and eventually stopped getting us ready to attend on Sundays (for which I am forever grateful). Her Lunar North Node in her 5th House (noted astrologer Rob Hand once said the Nodes show “connections, period”) tying into his nodal axis by sextile (North) and trine (South) suggests that they “hooked up” rather often with numerous offspring to show for it. (John Frawley says the 5th House is about sexual activity as well as children, and sex has nothing to do with the 8th House of “death and taxes.”)
I feel that the synastry between the two rectified charts is good enough to create a satisfactory degree of confidence in their veracity. Although I haven’t looked for one in a long time, I don’t know of any truly exceptional modern book on the subject of rectification that might help me sharpen my approach. The only one I have ( Rectification of the Birth Time) was written by the Austrian astrologer Gustav Schwickert and translated from the original in 1954. It relies on “calculation” of the prenatal epoch (the roughly nine-month period between conception and parturition that seems more like an “assumption” to me), and particularly of the moment that the soul enters the body; this premise seems even less fathomable and empirically trustworthy than an estimated time of birth. I have a passing knowledge of the subject, but it never seemed especially lucid to me. Schwickert claimed scientific intent, but he discusses the involvement of a psychic medium in experiments by one of his predecessors that casts a shadow on that objective. American astrologer Charles Jayne wrote The Technique of Rectification in 1970; I know little about it but there is a hint that he used the Sabian Symbols of Marc Edmund Jones in his work, another psychically-derived concept. Other articles I’ve read invariably refer back to either Jayne or Schwickert. I’m inclined to stick with observable events and their adjusted proximity to the angles of the “noon” or “midnight” chart as the best place to start.
Originally published at http://parsifalswheeldivination.wordpress.com on February 4, 2022.