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Claus Stauffenberg: A Hellenistic Perspective

This week we present an article by astrologer and researcher Maria J. Mateus – Claus Stauffenberg revisited by Hellenistic astrology.

Helena and Luís

Claus Stauffenberg: A Hellenistic Perspective

by Maria J. Mateus

Birth Data: November 15, 1907, 1:00 AM, Jettingen, Germany (source: Astrodatabank, citing birth certificate in Astrolog.)

Hellenistic astrology is event-based (apotelesmatika). It does not concern itself with a study of the individual character of a native, but rather with the kinds of events that will occur in the native’s life. It is easy to interpret the relative impact, fortune, and success of a famous person’s life events when we know in retrospect what that event is. This is not so when we are looking at a chart blindly or at the chart of a young person who has not yet left their imprint on the world. Thus, Hellenistic astrology first establishes the entire life as a single event whose good or bad fortune must be assessed as a type of overall signature. Only then can the individual life’s events be placed within the broader backdrop of this life’s general signature.

If we did not know anything about Claus Stauffenberg’s life, we would first want to consider how generally fortunate this man’s life as a whole will be. Will his life be filled with unrest, fear, grief or with success, prominence, abundance or renown? The assessment comes from an examination of the condition of the sect light and its trigon lords (1), or what has been translated from the Medieval tradition as triplicities. Valens says of the 3 trigon lords: “If the ruler of the preeminence [the first in the sequence] by day or by night should fall amiss upon badly situated zoidia, while the ruler by proxy [the second in the sequence], should be found upon a pivot point and well figured, then after the native has had his ups and downs in his early years until the ascension of the zoidion or until the return of the circular period, he will later be active, except that he will spend his life without stability and in fear.”(2) The criteria he uses to assess the condition of the trigon lords are as follows: whether they are at a pivot (angle), post-ascension (succedent) or decline (cadent) house, whether they are rising or setting, or in their own signs, and whether they are witnessed by benefics or malefics. Of the two authors who write about this technique, Valens places heavier weight on the sect condition of the trigon lords, while Dorotheus places a greater emphasis on their house placement.

Let us then look at Stauffenberg’s sect light and its trigon lords. Stauffenberg was born at night, therefore his sect light is the Moon. The Moon is in Pisces, the sign of the water trigon, whose rulers in the nocturnal order are Mars, Venus, and the Moon. The Moon is in a partile conjunction to Saturn, an indication that the life as a whole has difficulties “shining forth”.

The first trigon lord in the nocturnal sequence, Mars, is said to rule over the first part of his life.(3) Mars is located in Aquarius, the 6th house, a declining place, and does not see the sect light. Valens says Mars in sect will “entrust leadership and generalship and popular rank in public affairs,” particularly since it is also witnessed by Jupiter. However, the poor condition of Mars as trigon lord of the sect light indicates that even while Claus might attain military prominence and rank, the first part of his life is generally expected to be difficult, with “ups and downs” as Valens notes and “without stability and in fear”. We know from his biography that Claus was a frail boy and prone to illness in his youth, which is consistent with a 6th house Mars placement.(4) Dorotheus says that if the lord of the trigon does not see either the sect light or the Ascendant, “this indicates also that he will not long survive, especially if Saturn or Mars be in this place.”(5) The second part of Stauffenberg’s life is ruled over by Venus, the second trigon lord of the nocturnal sect light. Venus is located in Sagittarius, the 4th house (a pivot), is witnessed by a benefic, Jupiter, and does itself see the Moon, the sect light. Additionally, Venus is in sect in a nocturnal chart. This indicates that the second part of his life should generally be more supportive with benefits coming from his family and/or homeland.

The question then becomes when does the 1st part of the life give way to the second part? Using the method Valens gives to calculate the activation times of the trigon lords,(6) we find that Mars is located in Aquarius and becomes activated at his birth latitude just before his 20th year of life (when he is 19 years old). This means that the Mars period in his life activates sometime in 1926. It is that very year that Stauffenberg joins the military, becoming a member of the family’s traditional regiment, the Bamberger Reiter-und Kavallerieregiment 17 (17th Cavalry Regiment) in Bamberg. It is not clear from the traditional texts what the exact role of the participating trigon lord is. We are only told that it “participates” with the other two trigon lords. Interestingly, the Moon rules the 11th place, which relates to alliances and patronage and its ascensional time activates it in 1922. It is during this time at school that Claus and his two elder brothers join the Neupfadfinder, a youth movement where they develop a number of friendships that will ally him with the nationalistic ideas of poet George Stefan and his circle. Many of the members of this circle would later become active participators in the resistance movement. Thus, the Moon appears to participate in the circle of friendships that will play a part in his failed coup.

Venus, the second trigon lord activates by ascensional time during his 37th year of life, that is, just before he turns 37 in November of 1944. From his biography on Wikipedia, we read that in 1943, Claus was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the general staff and sent to North Africa to fight the Allies. His vehicle was hit by British forces and he was severely wounded losing his hand and left eye. During a slow recovery back home, he participated with conspirators of the resistance movement and actively developed a plan to assassinate Hitler from September 1943 to July 20, 1944. The plan was unsuccessful and on July 21, of 1944, Stauffenberg was executed for high treason. Interestingly, another central figure in the assassination plot was Claus’ eldest brother, Berthold, who was executed by slow strangulation. We note that Mars rules both the 8th house of death as well as the 3rd house of siblings. To put it in Hellenistic terms, it seems then, that Mars was handing over the times to Venus at just about the time when he died. Had he been successful, one might have expected a very fortunate remaining life with benefits coming from the homeland coming from the Venus activation. But other time lords interfered with the transition.

The Divisions of the Times

Having established a general signature for the life as a whole and identified a problematic governing of Mars as trigon lord for the first part of it, we may now turn more closely to dividing up the life into smaller segments. A full exposure of these time lord techniques is not possible. Instead, we’ll simply examine the Hellenistic version of Primary Directions translated as circumambulations (7) since quite a few of the Hellenistic authors spend a great deal of time discussing them. In contrast to the Medieval method of directing, the circumambulations establish periods of influence corresponding to the ascensional time (in a 1 degree per year correspondence) that it takes the prorogated point (Dorotheus’ haylaj) to traverse a particular bound (term) at the birth latitude. The planet ruling over the bounds of this period becomes a time lord that governs over the nature and quality of the events pertaining to matters of that hyleg.

We’ll examine the prorogated Ascendant in Stauffenberg’s chart, since it has to do with matters affecting the body, travel and changes in residence. The circumambulating Ascendant entered the 7th degree of Libra – the bounds of Mercury – in February of 1935 and would remain within Mercury’s bounds until it reached the 14th degree of Libra in July of 1944. Thus, with regard to matters affecting the body, travel and changes in residence, Mercury had primary rulership during this period (Abu Mas’shar calls this the distributor of the years or the Zamoktar, according to the Persians). We find that Mercury is particularly important with regard to the body and physical life since it also rules the Ascendant in Stauffenberg’s natal chart. It is natally located in Scorpio in the 3rd house in a superior square to Mars. Mercury is not in good condition: it is retrograde, in none of its rulerships, in a declining house, and combust. Therefore, during this time we might expect setbacks and difficulties relating to communications, documents, travel, vehicles, and ideas that may have repercussions on his body and occupation (also rules the 10th). Because of Mercury’s testimony to Mars, we would also expect these endeavors to relate to the war and his military duties. Hephaistio says that when Hermes (Mercury) distributes the years and it is located in the signs ruled by Mars, it “causes clamor and business intrigues, and accusations and oppressions and slanders and insurrections of enemies and slaves and pain and treachery in dealings.”(8) We’ve already seen that it is at the end of this period that he is wounded in a military attack on his vehicle and certainly intrigues and insurrections abounded.

Abu Ma’shar says that if Mercury distributes the years but is in a corrupted state “the native will be unwell with terrible ailments”. During this 9 year period, Mercury’s distribution has a participating influence from Jupiter, since Jupiter casts a sextile ray into its bounds. According to Abu Ma’shar, “it indicates an increase of knowledge and education, through which the native will be benefited, and he will acquire benefits and wealth from kings and rulers.” In his biography, we read that in June 1944, Stauffenberg was promoted to Colonel and appointed Chief of Staff to Home Army Commander General Friedrich Fromm, the only man able to implement operation Valkyrie.(9) This gave him direct access to Hitler’s briefing sessions and  set the stage for his downfall.

Abu Ma’shar also tells us that the period when a bounds ruler hands over the distribution of the times to another time lord, this is the most intensified period during the planet’s governance.(10) We find this to be the case here, since it was precisely at the change-over in July 1944 that Stauffenberg’s plan to assassinate Hitler was implemented. In itself, the handing over of the distribution from the bounds of Mercury to those of Jupiter would not have been interpreted as a particularly difficult one. But in Stauffenberg’s chart, Jupiter has several problems associated with it. First, it is located in the 12th place, a declining house related to imprisonment and secrets, it is out of sect, and it forms a superior square to Mercury and witnesses the malefic Mars through opposition. Thus, the transition could bring strife or imprisonment through enemies in high rank, particularly from enemies who govern the homeland (Jupiter rules the 4th and 7th).

1943, A Closer look at a terrible year

Having identified the period between 1943 and 1944 as particularly problematic, we will use the Hellenistic method of profecting from the Ascendant to find the lord who is said to hold the ‘time-lordship’ over that year, (11) which we know in retrospect was Stauffenberg’s fateful final year. On Stauffenberg’s 36th birthday (his 37th year of life), the Profection had come to Virgo, the rising sign of his nativity. A profection through any of the angles always marks a significant time. Thus, with a Virgo profection, we also have Mercury activated as time lord for the year running from November 15, 1943 to November 15, 1944. Therefore, the handing over of the distribution becomes activated under this very profection.

The Hellenistic authors all tell us that the planet ruling the annual profection needs to be checked in the nativity as well as in the Solar Revolution and by transit. We’ve already seen that Mercury is configured with Mars in the nativity, as well as being opposite the Part of Fortune, both universal significators for this life as a whole.(12)

In the Solar Return (the Solar Revolution) for this year, we find Mercury has once more returned to its natal sign of Scorpio, is combust, and in a declining house (the 6th) that does not see the Ascendant, nor any of the planets it disposits in Gemini (Moon, Mars and Saturn). Dorotheus says that if the year lord is in the western part of the sky it indicates misfortune. Interestingly, as ruler of the Ascendant of the Solar Revolution it receives a superior square from Jupiter in Leo, echoing its 12th house placement in Leo in the nativity. Therefore, this solar return also marks a return of Mercury and Jupiter to their natal signs, yet another sign – given what we already know about the division of the times – of a particularly significant year.

In the transits for the day of the plot, July 20, 1944 we would also be interested in what Mercury was doing. We find that on this day, Mercury has come to within a 3 degree opposition to natal Mars and a superior square to its own natal position. Thus it is setting off the potential that has been signaled by the larger time frames mentioned earlier. Although Mars is not the year lord, it is, as was mentioned earlier, a participator in the distribution of Jupiter, which occurs during this year. In the transits for July 20th,1944, Mars is in partile square to the Midheaven, both disposed by Mercury. Thus, all of the danger associated with Mars is triggered through his public occupation (the MC).

We can see from this abbreviated examination how a Hellenistic astrologer would have followed a thread that begins with the most important universal chart element (the trigon lords of the sect light) and traced it down through a series of time-lord techniques to a particular year and day containing a high degree of danger to the life.


(1) This technique is outlined in The Anthology, Book II, Chapter 2. Vettius Valens. as well as in Carmen Astrologicum Book I, Chapter 22. Dorotheus of Sidon.

(2) The Anthology, Book II, Chapter 2.

(3) The Anthology, Book VII, Chapter 3. Although it is not the case here, it is possible for the ascensional times of the signs in which the trigon lords are found to activate them in a sequence different from that dictated by the trigon. Thus, had Mars been in Sagittarius and Venus in Aquarius, Venus would have activated before Mars.

(4) Hoffmann, Peter. Stauffenberg. A Family History, 1905-1944. Second Edition (Revised). (Montreal & Kingston, London, Ithaca:  McGill-Queen´s University Press) 2003.

(5) Carmen Astrologicum Book I, Chapter 25.

(6) The method consists of calculating the Ascensional times of the sign in which the planet under consideration is located or the planetary period of that planet. See The Anthology, Book VII, Chapter 3 for details.

(7) This seems to be a commonly used technique in the Hellenistic tradition, although there are variations in its use and calculation. Here, I follow Ptolemy who is unique in using the directed significators topically, rather than selecting a universal significator, as in Valens IV, 11; Hephaistio II, 26; and Dorotheus III, 2.  See Ptolemy’s, Tetrabiblos. Book IV, Chapter 10.

(8) Book II, Chapter 35

(9) Hoffmann, Peter. Stauffenberg. A Family History, 1905-1944. Second Edition (Revised). (Montreal & Kingston, London, Ithaca:  McGill-Queen´s University Press) 2003.

(10) On Solar Revolutions. Book II, Treatise III.

(11) See the technique as it is outlined by Paulus Alexandrinus. Late Classical Astrology: Paulus Alexandrinus and Olympiodorus with Scholia by Later Commentarors. Dorian Greenbaum trans.ARHAT. pp.130-133. See also Apotelesmatics. Hephaistio of Thebes. Book II. Chapter 27; and The Anthology, Vettius Valens, Book IV, Chapter 17.

(12) We will not treat this here. Further discussion of the role of the Part of Fortune in assessing the overall good or bad fortune of the life as a whole can be found in The Anthology. Vettius Valens Book II, Chapter 3.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Indeed this is a very informative article.

    You write: “Mars is located in Aquarius, the 6th house, a declining place, and does not see the sect light.”

    This is the first time I read about a trigon lord (not) seeing its sect light. I do use the principle of a planet seeing (or not) its image (zoidion). How would one delineate the difference between seeing or not seeing ones sect light?


  2. Hi James,

    Yes, the idea, which I probably did not phrase explicitly enough, is in line with the concept you are familiar with of a planet ‘seeing’ its zoidion. What I meant by “Mars does not see its sect light” is not that Mars should see the Moon because it is its sect light, but because the Moon is in Mars’ place of rulership — that is, the watery trigon primarily ruled by Mars in nocturnal charts. The term ruler (oikodespotes) is employed to describe rulership over a zoidion not just by domicile, but by any of the other 5 dignities. The term zoidion can mean image, but it can also mean a generic living thing, which makes the relationshhip of the oikodespotes to its zoidion not necessarily simply one of seeing its image, but perhaps also one of animating a dwelling place (oikos).

    In the discussion on this larger technique, which also involves an evaluation of the Lot of Fortune not discussed in this article, Valens (Book II) says “It will be necessary, then to consider the testimonies of every ruler and the disposition of the figurations, whether they should acually be congenial or opposed.” This instruction is not specific to this technique alone. It is similarly seen in the length of life calculations where it is the bounds lord that should be configured with its zoidion. The idea is that a zoidion’s rulers should be configured with it (see it) in order to be able to affect the business of that sign and anything it it. In this case, what is in it is the sect light, so one would expect the role of the sect light to be impaired if its lord cannot support it.

    The question about the difference between a trigon lord seeing or not seeing its own zoidion and by implication the sect light in this particular case, is a very important one that is not answered dierectly in the text. What Valens does say is that when the sect light is well-configured overall, (primarily the criteria I listed in the article, but also including its configuration with the ruler of its trigon) “the nativities are fortunate and bright.” By implication, if some or all of these criteria are not met, the life will be unfortunate. Translator Robert Schmidt has described the role of the sect light as establishing the visibility of the life. Thus, a chart where the sect light is poorly configured, will either be obscured or cast into shadows in some other way. The specific impairments to the sect light might be examined for how the lack of visibility might be shaped. In this case, Mars’ not being able to affect the business of the trigon, may mean that Stauffie’s military role is “turned away” or averse (apostrophe) from the life’s ability to shine forth and therefore does not support it properly.


  3. Hi, a simple question…which software cast such beautiful charts?

  4. Dear Sara,

    A lot of our readers have been asking that same question.
    These beautiful charts are produced by a Mac astrology software called Kairon.
    You can visit their website at:

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