I have been taking Austin Coppock’s excellent web course on decans or faces. It’s clear that each of these ten-degree bits of the zodiac has a multi-faceted, complex personality that is best expressed through images rather than keywords. The hallucinatory pictures associated by various traditions with each of the faces help us momentarily hold the ambiguity of metaphor; reducing a face to a single meaning impoverishes the complex microcosm of its rich and fertile paradoxes. Pictures usher us into a liminal state where multiple realities intersect, and where words do not suffice.
In his book, 36 Faces, and in his course, Austin explores the imagery and natal applications of the decans. My theory is that if something works in one area of astrology, it should work in another, so I looked at the ascending degrees of a few horary questions in my files. I also looked at the decan placements of the ruler of the Ascendant and the Moon, and while they each had something to add, the Ascendant’s images seemed the most potent and descriptive of the truth of the situation. You may judge the results for yourself; I selected these questions at random, so no cherry-picking was done.
Question #1: “What if I divorce?” 2nd decan of Sagittarius rising.
Rulers in the Chaldean and Triplicity systems, respectively: Moon and Mars. “This (image) stands on a place that is slippery and sloping downward. He has the face of a weasel, but the body of a man.” (Coppock 284, citing the Liber Hermetis) The querent was at the point of divorce due to her spouse’s lying and undermining. “A woman who is charming, graceful, and beautiful. She is seated on an auspicious [?] and is pale with a golden-hued body. Opening a golden casket in a heap of jewels, she takes pleasure in distributing (its contents).” (Coppock 287, citing the Yavanajataka) Gifts of money from women were at the center of this marriage, and the querent’s question.
Question #2: “Should I take this job or stay?” 2nd decan of Scorpio rising.
Rulers: Sun and Jupiter. “It is a man standing with his feet joined on the back of a scorpion, holding a great serpent with both feet on either side of his breast.” (Coppock 284, citing the Liber Hermetis) This was my own question when I had received a job offer that would have required me to spend several days a week away traveling and staying away from home. A scorpion is a risky conveyance, as anyone familiar with the story of the frog and the scorpion will attest. “A woman with loose hair who is bound with snakes. She is robbed by thieves in the forest. With black body and completely naked she runs swiftly from a bandit, calling out terribly and shrilly.” (Coppock 287, citing the Yavanajataka) Ultimately, we could not agree on – can you guess? – compensation.
Question #3: “What will happen to our relationship by the end of this year?” 2nd decan of Libra rising.
Rulers: Saturn and Saturn. “A fair-waisted woman who has learned a little of the crafts. She wears bright garments and a bright, pendant necklace. She is clever in the office of an intermediary (between lovers) for the sake of the bridegroom. Her actions are like those of rogues and cheats.” (Coppock 287, citing the Yavanajataka). The querent, a friend, was in love with an artist who was otherwise committed, and perpetually on the verge of leaving her current relationship. “Two men raging and angry, and a man ornately dressed sitting in a chair.” (Coppock 302, citing the Three Books of Occult Philosophy).
It is important to remember that each face has good aspects and bad, and by itself does not give an answer to the question. Yet, the constellation of images associated with the ascending decan can help us focus on the essential components of the situation, and give the situation an image. It may be said that a question is a cry for an image that heals and makes the situation whole in a way that mere words cannot.