doing the groundwork to verify birth times
Even though births in the United States have been reliably recorded since the mid-twentieth century, one cannot assume the same accuracy in birth records from other countries. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, many countries still do not record birth times precisely, if at all, so the astrologer's work still can be quite difficult. Many states and countries that do record specific birth times also have laws regulating to whom access is granted-most often restricted to immediate family members. Therefore, in the absence of a timed birth certificate, it is much more efficient if the client does the initial groundwork by searching though family records such as letters, baby books, or the family bible.
Other complications can impede the search for birth records. Early in the twentieth century some states did not record birth times, but later legislation required them to do so. Knowing the local recording procedures and dates of any changes is quite important. The Doris Chase Doane reference works Time Changes in the U.S.A. and Time Changes in the World, published by the American Federation of Astrologers in Tempe, Arizona, are important books to own for astrologers still doing hand calculations. Fortunately for computer users, U.S. and world time variances have been incorporated into all of the major chart calculation programs, saving a huge amount of search time and greatly reducing the possibility of error.
Of course, accurate clock time is dependent on a reasonably good timepiece being accurately set in the first place-a huge assumption. We all know of the infinite variations of consistent time from communities refusing to observe daylight saving time, to clocks and watches running too slow or too fast. Just experiment by asking the time in a group of people and you will likely get as many variances. Of course, atomic clocks commonly in use at the turn of the twenty-first century may narrow the time variables for future generations. Even the cell phone, which most everyone carries, is set to atomic time and changes itself automatically as one travels across time zones or time changes from "standard" to "daylight" or "war time." Accurate birth time is a major concern for all astrology forecasting work whether researching, consulting with clients, or writing for the astrology market. Even though rectified charts are not proper to use for research, or publication without appropriate disclaimers, knowing the principles of rectification may make the difference in accurate forecasting for the client-especially for clients returning each year for an update, as is usually the case.
People must be aware of the variety of resources for locating a birth time, or at least an approximate birth time, to make the rectification task easier and more affordable. Assuming that the client does not know his or her birth time, others who were present or notified of the birth may remember or may have made record of the birth in some way. It is important to make contact with relatives, friends, and community connections to determine if some sort of record exists to narrow the search. The following list provides some suggestions for good resources to check:
Having completed the survey of family members for the birth data (month, day, year, city, state, country, and birth time), one must be advised not to proceed unless all variables are known except the time. "If more than one factor in the needed data is missing, the variations become staggering, and the task [of rectification] is almost impossible."1 Dr. Dobyns recognizes the importance of birth time in setting a chart, but implies that if one has the birth time but is missing the birth date or the birth location, then either of those may be inferred by working from the other two. That is not the case. The birth time provides the angles at any given location in the world, but even with the birth time the angles cannot be determined without knowing the location and the date. Dobyns is correct that the birth time is critical, but with any other factor missing the rectification task is impossible.
Begin by compiling a list of a dozen or more major life events with dates
Once other resources have been exhausted and rectification of the birth time becomes necessary, the next step is to gather a list of specific life events with dates and times, as many as possible. To begin a rectification search of any range, one must ideally start with a dozen or more dates of major life events to make the search reasonably reliable and worthwhile. Major challenging events provide the most prominent indicators for a search because many personal planets and angles are activated for the major events. It is much easier to detect a high peak of several long-and short-term moving factors to natal chart planetary positions when they simultaneously activate the chart by "stacking up," rather than wading through the more ordinary life events described by fewer activated chart factors. Some astrological software is designed specifically for research and rectification searches. Bernadette Brady and Graham Dawson's Jigsaw 2.0 program, marketed by Astrolabe in Massachusetts, is one very good rectification search program, though the Kepler 7.0 program, Solar Fire Deluxe, and Win*Star 2.0 programs include good search features as well.
The major life events most useful in the rectification search are the most painful and dramatic losses in life and may include the following:
Here are some events that are important to note but generally are less useful in the rectification search:
The more painful events rate a much higher priority than the generally pleasant or joyful events. How much more? It may differ, but events from the first list may be four or five times as helpful in the rectification search, as a reasonable estimate. In the case of an unusually dramatic loss at a young age, the impact may be more than ten times more prominent than a pleasant event. For instance, the loss of a parent is a very powerful loss for anyone, but the individual is affected differently by the loss at various times of life. If the parent dies at age ninety-five and the client accepts the natural transition, the loss will not be nearly as powerful as the loss of a parent for a young child who is scared and confused, even traumatized, by the event. Ideally, the list the client provides for the birth rectification search will have many combinations of these events to provide a dozen or more with specific dates and, where possible, specific times. Certainly, the search may be attempted with fewer than a dozen events, but the result may not be as reliable. Also, rectification is an extremely difficult task to attempt for young people without several challenging and/ or life-changing events to use as time markers.
Limit early searches for aspect hooks
In modern astrology, the techniques commonly used for the process of rectification provide varying degrees of success. Indeed, the process is so complex that few astrologers attempt the task because the time involved is extensive and few clients want to pay the fee for an extended search. As a practical result, very little has been written on the topic, and therefore few astrologers feel well-enough schooled in the art to offer birth time rectification as a service.
Now that the groundwork of listing the dates of important life events is done, the next step is to search the natal planetary placements for close hard aspect connections within 1 degree. The premise is that when planets or the Moon's nodes are in close natal aspect, or when one of them is activated by direction, progression, or transit, so are the other planets or points in the configuration. Therefore, one should list all of the 1-degree close aspect networks of the chart in order of closeness of orb. Orbs beyond 2 degrees are less helpful as the "hook" upon which to begin the rectification search. Of course, it is possible that the natal Moon or an angle may also be involved in the close hard aspect network, but that cannot be determined with reasonable certainty until later in the rectification process.
Astrology software is best for rectification searches
For the purpose of instruction, we will assume that the client is unable to provide a birth time, and is certain only of the birth date and place. Therefore, a search must be done for the full 24 hours of the day. Let us also assume that we have been provided with a list of a dozen or more important life events to begin the rectification search. From this point there are several ways to proceed, depending on the available technology and astrology software containing the appropriate search features. More serious searchers of unknown birth times may prefer to invest in one of the many good astrological software programs, which greatly reduce calculation times for the various techniques. Some of the better-known research software programs are Solar Fire 6.0 by Gary Christen or Jigsaw 2.0 by Bernadette Brady and Graham Dawson, produced by Astrolabe (www.astrolabe.com); Kepler 7.0 by David Cochrane, produced by Cosmic Patterns (www.astrosoftware.com); and Win*Star Plus by Stephen Erlewine, produced by Matrix Software (www.astrology software.com). Always be on the alert for newer versions of software that provide even more bells and whistles. These, and many other astrological software pioneers, have made rectification a reasonable undertaking, rather than the nearly impossible task of only a few years ago.
An overview of modern astrological techniques and their usefulness
The more commonly used rectification techniques are solar arc directions, secondary progressions, and transits of outer planets. To a lesser extent, eclipses, decanates, and dwads are useful. Solar arc directions provide a distinct advantage for the initial search because the angles and the planets move consistently at the rate of the Sun, varying from 57 minutes per day in the summer to 61 minutes per day in the winter. Noel Tyl states: "Direct Solar Arc aspects from and to the Midheaven and Ascendant are extremely important in preparing and testing rectification, as well as for analysis of developments in the past and projections into the future."2 To quickly estimate the solar arc movement for ease of hand calculation, one may reasonably use the rounded average of 1 degree per day of solar movement and apply it to all planets and speculative angles for the various ages at life events. This is called the radix method, less in favor now that astrology software is so far advanced from the earlier "shortcuts" to calculation. For most others, the computer readily calculates the solar arc for any date of birth to any event date, and moves each planet and chart point the exact solar arc distance. According to Dr. Dobyns, "the most effective [of the directed systems] in my experience is to move the whole chart the same distance which the Sun has moved in the Day-for-a-Year system; that is, the distance called the solar arc."3
The technique of secondary progressions of planetary motion, or "day for a year" in the ephemeris, moves each planet at its own speed, rather than the uniform motion of the solar arc. "In this system, each day after birth is equated with a day actually lived, so that to understand the developments in the life of a person who is twenty years old, one looks in the ephemeris at the date twenty days after birth."4 This system works well for planet-to-planet aspect connections at the various ages of events, but is much less effective for determining the time of sensitive angles. The Ascendant is particularly variable in the secondary progressed method, moving from 47 minutes per day while passing through Virgo and Libra, to nearly 2 degrees per day while passing through Pisces and Aries-and locations of high latitude can produce even wider variances. However, if one wishes to use the secondary progressed method for movement of the planets, and the solar arc method for movement of the angles, the search may produce more reliable results with fewer variables.
Once the initial search is completed and the possible birth times narrowed to just a few, transits of the slow-moving outer planets serve well as timing indicators when in aspect to natal planets. It is relatively easy to search an ephemeris for the positions of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto for the dates of important life events to see what natal planets or configurations are activated, and is even easier in a computer search. Once the solar arc directions to planets appropriate to life events are determined and the search is narrowed, outer planet transits are useful to fine-tune the birth time and determine the "good candidate" angles.
Less reliable methods for rectification include eclipses, planetary returns, prenatal epoch, physical appearance, character traits, and degree meanings, though the Hindu 2½-degree subdivisions of each sign called dwadasamsas are sometimes helpful in determining the Ascendant once other techniques have been used to narrow the birth time search to less than 15 minutes.5
An important caveat of Dr. Dobyns: "One crucial rule to remember is that there must be an appropriate aspect for each event in each system of current patterns [if the birth time is correct]. That is, the event must show in Secondary Progressions, Solar Arc Directions and in Transits."6 If systems are selectively mixed and matched, then it is possible to make a case for most any birth time.
Those also wanting to search local house cusps will find Davison's comments helpful: "If the person has moved from the birth location at the time of the event, it may be helpful to also search contacts to the local angles and house cusps, once the search is narrowed to only a very few ‘working Angle' placements." Davison also suggests that "in progressing or directing the chart, the new locality should only be used beginning with the year equivalent to the person's age when the move was made."7
In order to verify the principles of rectification technique, all four rectification examples provided in this text have a Rodden rating of "AA," denoting birth certificate in hand, or "A" data verification, denoting some conflict of times within a narrow range, or one time from a firsthand reliable source, such as the mother, and others from secondary sources. The searches in examples one and two (chapters 3 and 4) are from a range of nineteen and a half hours to one hour to aid the student or astrologer in practice of technique before tackling larger searches of 24 hours, as in examples three and four (chapters 6 and 7). Rodden "AA" birth time verifications are given for each example at the end of the chapter. Examples one and two are celebrity "time twins," famed actress Elizabeth Taylor and music icon Johnny Cash, whose birth dates are within a day (or within 18½ hours) and Rodden rated as "A" data. Each has more than one reported birth time, without birth certificate record for verification. Rectification technique can determine the best birth time that most closely corresponds with life events. Examples three and four, a female educator and noted televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, do have verified birth certificate times Rodden rated as "AA" data; however, their searches are set for 24 hours to challenge the student and astrologer's skill at deriving the correct birth times. Example three is particularly explanatory for those who may still be doing rectification by hand calculation, since its search was developed from that model. Again, the recorded birth information is provided for both examples three and four to confirm the search results.
1 Dobyns, Zipporah, Progressions, Directions and Rectification, T.I.A. Publications, California, 1975, p 2.
2 Noel Tyl, Prediction in Astrology: A Master Volume of Technique and Practice (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1991), p. 96.
3 Zipporah Pottenger Dobyns, Progressions, Directions and Rectification, p. 13. 4 Dobyns, Progressions, Directions and Rectification, p. 13.
4 Dobyns, Progressions, Directions and Rectification, p. 13.
5 Ibid., p. 15. 6 Dobyns, Progressions, Directions and Rectification, p. 19. 7 Davison, The Technique of Prediction, p. 131.
6 Dobyns, Progressions, Directions and Rectification, p. 19.
7 Davison, The Technique of Prediction, p. 131.