Astrology can be considered both an art and a science. As a science, like all other “ologies” (Biology, Meteorology, and so on), Astrology has statistical foundation. Unlike Physics, it is based not on cause and effect, but on a longitudinal correlational study, — that is, over a very long time, people noticed that when planets were in certain places, specific types of things tended to happen. This means that we know much of what we do about Astrology because some curious person noticed.
These were not university professors or mathematicians – well not for the most part – these were average folks like you and me, with a burning curiosity to understand more.
What can a beginner in research do to get started? Well, if you are not presently sorting your client charts by the Lois Rodden rating system, then please start. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lois_Rodden is an article about Louis Rodden a good Canadian gal (Saskatchewan) and offers details on how to use her rating system.
Once you have the charts sorted, then it is time to hashtag it! Anything you know for certain about each chart can be tagged. If you want to get a feel for popular categories, you can visit https://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Help:Category Lois’s data legacy.
Also, if you have a tick box on your intake form encouraging clients to donate their data for study, then those (anonymized) charts can be shared with other intrepid researchers! Organising sharable data like this is a real gift for future astrologers
You need at least 50 charts of one type before you can start crunching numbers because that is the minimum number of data points for any kind of statistical sampling. It is better to have much larger samples though. So – how does an astrologer who wants to get into quantitative research find a large enough number of charts for a particular area of interest, such as women with breast cancer, female combat soldiers, mass murders, successful entrepreneurs and so on?
Swapping tagged, anonymized data with fellow professionals is a great start. If you want to learn alongside other astrologers, there are several good groups you can join. I am a member of the Astro Investigators (the Gators) run by Alphee Lavoie and Franco Soulbury. We work on projects in teams and help each other when we get stuck. New members are welcome. If you are more of a sole practitioner, I would recommend taking a free online statistics or research methods course at Udacity.com or one of the other free MOOCs (massive open online course). Here is a link to one. https://www.udemy.com/course/quantitative-data-analysis-fundamentals/
With the advent of social networking, sometimes you can get support on chart data by posting in forums or groups of other astrologers. For example, when the Gators were working on their breast cancer research, they received quite many AA-rated charts by this means.
Astrodatabank is another source of charts and several of the programs listed in this article have their full database available for searching.
Ok, so you have had a look at what is out there, and you think you might like to have a go? Unlike those curious folks back in the long ago, we have the power of computing to help us sort and crunch and sample.
Here is a quick overview of some software I have used. It is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you come across another program that you like to use, I would be glad to hear about it.
Searching and Pattern-Matching Software
Saptarishis Research Software (SRS)
Vedic Astrologer Alan Annand very kindly turned me onto this software. Saptarishis Research Software (SRS) is a Jyotish (Vedic) research tool, which allows one to search the entire Astrodatabank chart list for charts with similar compositions. For instance, if you were preparing a lecture on Sun in the Eighth House, you can ask it to offer you all charts of this kind from the database. Happily, the coders have kindly included the Tropical zodiac as an option, so we westerners can also use it.
Figure 1 Saptarishis Research Software Settings Dialogue
The Saptarishis Research Software also offers the use of Uranus Neptune and Pluto in selections, unusual for a Jotish tool but VERY handy for a research tool! I wish I could also use the asteroids, but considering the intent of the tool as a Jyotish research tool, it gets two thumbs up for flexibility.
JigSaw (Version 2.5)
Jigsaw offers three subprograms within it: Family Patterns, which reveals hidden links among charts, group, Rectification, which deduces birthtimes from life events, and Research, which tabulates, and graphs, specified factors in research and control groups. The last two subprograms are the ones that I will be reviewing.
Jigsaw Research is great at searching for a particular set of planetary criteria (such as a Neptune/Pluto conjunction AND Saturn squaring) Jigsaw will then run through the entire timespan specified and offer as results all charts which satisfy the criteria. Jigsaw Family Patterns offers a thorough search on any patterns in common among a series of charts – including harmonics. This means that if you have a group of charts and you are trying to figure out what they have in common, this
Figure 2 Jigsaw Family Patterns Example
subprogram can do the work for you quickly and thoroughly. Here is a link to a workshop by Bernadette Brady demonstrating the use of Jigsaw in looking into the global COVID pandemic, the Jigsaw details are around the 27-minute and the 42-minute marks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hO3IMm_LGCk.
There are two features of Solar Fire which are useful for research. Chart Search and Electional Search.
Chart Search goes through all of your charts and looks for patterns in common.
Electional Search scours a range of dates that you specify to find a combination of astrological factors. When I was researching our most recent Saturn/Pluto conjunction I used this tool to find out when in the past we had this conjunction in Capricorn with Uranus in Taurus. I found only one in the last thousand years, Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses. Here is a link to a tutorial by Hank Friedman on how to use Chart Search. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DqiQcc15RM
This program belongs in two categories: the search and select category and the artificial intelligence category (coming up next).
In the present category, Sirius has Matrix Search, which offers a large selection of ways to search, sort and graphically represent chart data.
There is a search which goes through all charts and looks for specific patterns in common.
A second search looks through time to find a specific combination of astrological factors
Planetdance has been the brainchild of Jean Cremers of the Netherlands since 1984. It is based on a scripting language called AstroBasic (ab). With this scripting language, it is easier to code for Astrological programming, because ab contains a library of over 400 relevant functions, a development environment with an editor, context-sensitive help, a debugger, and even a profiler.
Jean has had an ongoing and successful collaboration with the Dutch Association for Astrological Scientific Research (http://nvwoa.nl) doing several customized projects, one of which resulted in a script called bootstrap which works with the statistical process of the same name.
The Planetdance program, which is completely free to all, also has some built-in functions useful for research.
There is a `Query`function, which allows the user to enter complex Boolean expressions using AND / OR and several functions to search for, either throughout time (an ephemeris search) or in a database (a chart search) Most of the PlanetDance modules have an option to export the results to .csv files.
There is also a ‘List’ feature which very quickly produces lists of just about everything within the program, including longitude, declination events.
Artificial Intelligence Based Software
Sirius has an AI engine which helps create and test Astro-signatures to ensure they are statistically valid. These are somewhat complex combinations of factors which have been pre-selected to select for particular attributes. Once you select or create the signature/s, Sirius will search through chart files to find and rank, matches. At first, I found this method somewhat frustrating, but once I Learned that the signatures could be modified, I found it more flexible. Here is a link to a video explaining how to use, modify and create Astro signatures. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNidgWA004A
There is also a basic statistical function, used in the financial part of Sirius, which produces a graph of financial values (such as a market index like the Dow Jones Industrial Average, or a commodity value such as gold prices) or other performance values, obtains the correlation between the actual values and the predicted values, and indicates whether the correlation is statistically meaningful.
AIR Fast Research
Alphee Lavoie used to work as an engineer and it shows in the precision of his software. Fast Research uses the concept of a neural net to use machine learning to create highly-complex combinations of factors that will predict specific outcomes. I have used this software to run roughly 600 charts of people who became wealthy through their own efforts, counterbalanced by the charts of normal workers as a control group.
Once the neural net was created, based on the decision made by the intelligence engine, —Pete, my teammate, and I carefully removed any generational factors, such as outer planet in a sign, so that the remaining net would select between people of the same age to show was most likely to become wealthy.
The results were quite staggering. We tested the resulting neural net with a set of known average people and all of them came out not rich except for one. When I looked up the chart, it turned out to be that of Alex Haley, who wrote “Roots”. He had been included in the not rich category in error, due to his military service. We missed it – but the neural net did not!
This is the only software I have found that handles chi-square measures. If it could handle the Lahiri zodiac or newer points, such as asteroids, there would be no software that could touch it. It is still by far the most powerful of the programs I have used.
Vincent Godbout of Montréal Canada has created an artificial intelligence engine which uses midpoints to “read” the natal chart and create a written analysis (in English or French). It is a completely novel approach, based on Vincent’s deep understanding of and skill in Mathematics. The result is a computer-generated bespoke set of adjectives descriptive of the natal chart.
The program demonstrates a high level of accuracy, both in delineating natal charts and in offering accurate predictions, as long as the time of birth is correct.
This program is highly flexible and is based on solid mathematical theory. If you peruse his videos, it becomes evident very quickly how accurate his choice to use midpoints had made this engine.
This is a great choice for the beginning to intermediate astrologer because the AI engine delineates the chart and can offer insight to the student. By double-clicking on each factor, you can reveal the aspects that compose it, offering a natural learning opportunity.
Here is a link to a video on the power of the transit curve, based on the AI-generated midpoint analysis.
There are doubtless other programs out there useful for research, these are ones with which I have had direct experience. I encourage everyone to stay curious, run with your hunches and have a go at using your software of choice to see what patterns you can find. Happy hunting!
Halifax Astrology School
ISAR Global Director – Canada
Mj Patterson, BA BSc, BEd, MEd, CA-NCGR-PAA is a founding Director of the Atlantic Professional Astrologers’ Association, past Education co-Chair for AFAN, and the ISAR Global Director for Canada. She is also the convener of the Northern-Stars Astrology Conference. Specialising in rectification, with clients worldwide, Mj teaches and consults in French, Spanish and English in person, through her online astrology school and weekly radio show (ckdu.ca) Mj is also a technical writer and web designer. She remains always a grateful student of M. Axel Harvey of Montréal.