There are only twelve signs in the entirety of space. And that means that each sign is pretty darn big. It’s a lot like how America is quite a big country. Being that I live in Japan, especially when I first moved here a lot of people would ask me, “What is America like?” It seems like a fair enough question, except that America is big. What it’s like on the East Coast is quite different from what it’s like in the Midwest, which again is quite different from the West Coast, etc.
“What is such-and-such sign like?” is a question with the same flaw. Each sign is really big. What it’s like in one section is different from what it’s like in another. We have to use subdivisions of a sign to differentiate its “East coast” form its “West coast” from its “Midwest,” so to speak.
There is no theoretical limit on how many ways you can subdivide a sign, but the ancient sage Parāśara has pointed out the 16 most pertinent and useful divisions.
- The sign itself.
- The sign split in halves.
- Split in thirds
- In fourths
- In sevenths
- 30ths (each and every degree within the sign)
- 60ths (each half degree)
A sign is similar to a country. Its subdivisions are like its regions, states, cities, and streets. The very small, high numbered subdivisions are like individual houses, individual rooms, etc. We feel very different as we move from room to room in our house, even though the distance is not very great. In the bedroom we feel sleepy, in the kitchen we are hungry, etc. So, small subdivisions are more significant than size might imply.
Resist the urge, though, to get lost in the maze of all these detailed addresses for each half a degree. You will get confused. The best and simplest way to use multiple subdivisions is to include them into your calculation of a planet’s dignity – which is a topic of later discussion. It is safe to otherwise limit your consideration to the 9th Division.
The Ninth Division
Over the centuries, the most popular subdivision has become the 9th – the “navāmśa.” There seems to be reasonable logic for this. It is mostly numerological rationale, which is justifiable since a sign itself is a mathematical construct.
Rationale Behind its Importance
108 is the supreme number because it represents the offspring (multiplication) of the numbers 9 and 12. These numbers should ring a bell for you astrologically, as there are 9 planets and 12 signs. The numerological significance of 9 and 12 is also something worth mentioning. Nine is the biggest number to human reckoning, because we have a 10-based counting system (since we have 10 fingers). Anything bigger than nine moves to a new decimal place, so 9 is actually “the biggest number.” Twelve, besides its profound astrological significance, is significant because it is the most cooperative number – like a molecule that very easily forms compounds with many other molecules. The reason for this is that 12 is the lowest number that can perfectly divide in half, thirds and quarters. 108, then is the number representing the most useful twelve multiplied by the biggest number, nine.
Coming back to the 9th Division of zodiac signs, since there are twelve zodiac signs, dividing each into nine subsections is produces 108 discrete areas in the zodiac. Thus it is the most profound zodiac subdivision.
The ninth division also represents the unity between the tropical and sidereal zodiacs. The tropical zodiac has 12 signs. The sidereal zodiac has 27 stars. If you are very good with numbers you will recognize that the first common multiple for the two numbers is 108: the number of discrete zodiac divisions produced by the complete 9th division. The 9th Division is the only division which resonates not only with the tropical zodiac by also with the sidereal zodiac. This is another reason why it is the most profound way to subdivide the signs.
How To Figure Out the Ninth Division
Take a zodiac wheel and split each sign into 9 equal portions. Start with the first subdivision of Aries and label it “Aries.” The next is “Taurus,” then “Gemini” etc. in order, repeating 9 times until you end with Pisces as the last slice at the end of Pisces.
The key is to realize that each subdivision represents a sign within a sign. In every sign there is one division that is identical to the sign itself. There is a Cancer subdivision in Cancer; a Leo subdivision in Leo, a Virgo subdivision in Virgo; etc.
There are three possible locations for this special division. It will either be the very first, the very last, or the division in the dead center of the sign. It is always the first division of any cardinal sign; the middle (5th) division of any fixed sign; and the final division of any dual sign.
Knowing this, and knowing that each subdivision is 3 and a third degrees long (30/9), you can figure out what subdivision a planet is in, just by knowing its degree. The first thing is to figure out the index (numerical order) of the planets division.
- Figure out which third of the sign the planet is in.
- <10° = first third
- <20° = second third
- Otherwise = final third.
- Subtract the degrees to the third so you have a single digit number.
- -0 if it’s in the first third
- -10 if it’s in the second third
- -20 if it’s in the final third
- Divide that single digit by 3.3 and round down.
- There are 3 divisions in each third of the sign, so
- Start from 1 if in the first third
- Start from 4 if in the second third
- Start from 7 if in the final third
- Add the number you got in step three to the starting number you determined in step 4. This is subdivision’s number.
- Count signs forwards or backwards from the division identical to the sign till you get to the sign of the subdivision you are looking for.
- 1st division for cardinal signs (count forward)
- 5th division for fixed signs
- 9th division for dual signs (count backward)
I’m sure this sounds Greek and baffling the first time you read it. But work with it a bit and it will become practical.
Example 1: Sun at 11° Cancer.
- It’s in the second third of Cancer because it’s more than 10°.
- Since it’s in the second third, I subtract 10 to get a single digit degree: 1.
- Dividing that by 3.3 comes up with less than one. Since I round down, it becomes zero.
- It’s in the second third of Cancer, so I start from 4.
- 4+0=4. This Sun is in the 4th subdivision of Cancer.
- Cancer is cardinal so the first subdivision is also Cancer. That means the second is Leo, third is Virgo, fourth is Libra.
The Sun at 11° Cancer is in the Libra subdivision.
Example 2: Venus at 24° Leo.
- It’s in the final third of Leo, because it’s more than 20°.
- 4/3.3 = 1 and something. Round it down to 1.
- The final third of a sign begins at the 7th division.
- Leo is fixed, so the fifth subdivision is also Leo. The sixth is Virgo, seventh Libra, eighth is Scorpio.
Venus at 24° Leo is in the Scorpio subdivision.
Example 3: Moon at 5° Gemini.
- First third
- 5/3.3 = 1 and something, which rounds down to 1.
- First third, so start from 1.
- Gemini is dual, so its ninth subdivision is also Gemini. Eighth is Taurus, seventh Aries, sixth Pisces, fifth Aquarius, fourth Capricorn, third is Sagittarius, second is Scorpio.
Moon at 5°Gemini is in the Scorpio subdivision
Note: you should include minutes to be really accurate. Note that “3 and a third” expressed in minutes is 3°20’.
Signs within Signs
As I briefly mentioned earlier, the subdivisions are signs within signs. Each slice within a sign represents an “import” or “reflection” of resources from another sign. The first slice at the beginning of Aries is also Aries, so any planet within the first 3 degrees and 20 minutes gets a clear and pure access to the resources and nature of Aries. In the next slice, the resources of Taurus blend with Aries, a planet here finds different resources than in the first slice.
The subdivision’s sign doesn’t contradicts the main sign and more than being in New York contradicts being in America. California and New York are different places, but both are subdivisions of the same place: America. Similarly all subdivisions of a sign carry the traits of that sign, but each one from a unique angle, blending it with the traits of its own sign.
Again, it sounds like Greek at first, but practice with it and it will become practical, useful and even somewhat obvious after a while.
Take Libra for example, the Gemini subdivision of Libra (about 27-30°) must be quite different from the Aquarius subdivision (about 13-17°), right? Both of them are in Libra, but each has a different angle on Libra. Libra is a sign liberality towards making the world better and more pleasant. The Gemini subdivision of Libra must give an inventive, communicative, intelligent, and enjoyable slant on making the world better and more pleasant. The Aquarius subdivision must give a humble, group oriented, socially minded, tenacious and practical approach to making the world better and more pleasant.
Now you should feel some appreciation for how detailed and useful the 9th division makes the zodiac! If not, please contemplate on it more deeply.