The Arabic Parts
Each Lot provides a kind of script, a lens through which an important
feature of fate can be perceived. How do we gain wealth? Fame?
Happiness? Love and devotion? These are the questions of fate, and each
horoscope details its inexorable inner workings, providing a summary of
fate if we could only but read what is written.
The Arabic Parts have an honourable history in Astrology stretching far back into antiquity, yet they have been largely lost to modern astrologers since the seventeenth century. The parts (also known as "Lots") enable an examination of the "inner" meaning of the horoscope, which goes beyond the "outer" evaluations stimulated by the arrangement of the planets, signs and houses.
The doctrine of parts is based squarely on the numerical relationships between factors of the horoscope. There are a large number of these parts, the best known today perhaps being the Part of Fortune (Part of the Moon), which has survived because it is the strongest of the parts, due to its employment of the Ascendant, Sun and Moon. The Part of Fortune (in Latin: Pars Fortunæ) is not a planet, but a sensitive, calculated point in the horoscope that shows in effect where the Moon would be if you were born at sunrise. Interested astrologers can use our traditional Table to Calculate the Value of the Part of Fortune for use in chart delineation.
Many other parts, however, are distinctly useful in predictive astrology and are regularly used in natal, horary and mundane figures. Robert Zoller's The Lost Key to Prediction: The Arabic Parts in Astrology presents a valuable and illuminating insight into the Arabic Parts, their history, construction and usage. The table at the end of this article lists the seven main planetary parts, according to Zoller's scholarly translation of Bonatti, but there are many, many others. Parts are extracted according to the strength of the planets concerned, i.e., a nocturnal planet is stronger in a nocturnal figure than a diurnal and vice versa.
As with the modern employment of planetary midpoints, the usage of parts should be secondary to an understanding of the major chart factors (planets, signs and house cusps). Use the part to clarify or illustrate any features that need to emphasized. One reason for the decline of parts in modern times may have been their seemingly limitless proliferation and substitution for clear planetary relationships; another is that the mediæval worldview that they imply can be quite difficult for modern astrologers to appreciate. Nevertheless, experience shows that the directions and transits to the parts (especially Pars Fortunæ) have a definite effect with regard to the matters ruled by the house occupied by the part.
One very valuable function of the Parts, especially the Part of Fortune, is to establish shades of meaning to the whole nativity by using the Part as the ascendant, then delineating the chart again with the realm of the particular Part in mind. This is the sort of thing that Indian astrologers have been doing for centuriesand recent scholarship has shown that it was also employed in the Western tradition, especially in Hellenistic times.
According to Bonatti, the significance for good or ill of the part should be judged by the conjunction of the part in question, or that of its planetary lord, with the planets, but he also allows the use of other aspects (such as opposition, square etc). According to Valens, the planetary rulers of the Parts are the most important, more so than the aspects to the Parts themselves.