The technique and art of birth time rectification is one of the greatest challenges (if not the greatest) for astrologers – particularly when working with 1,440 minutes of birth time possibilities within a 24-hour day. It can certainly be daunting especially if we do not know where to begin, but, with practice and diligence, it can be managed.
I was recently motivated to rectify the birth time of Judge Sonia Sotomayor after listening to her speak about her life, her mother and her childhood experiences, during her Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing in July 2009. Judge Sonia Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954 in the Bronx, New York; birth time unknown.
As I studied the first impressions of her horoscope, my mind raced through the twelve signs of the zodiac thinking about Sotomayor’s physical characteristics and what sign might be on her Ascendant. Childhood pictures of Sotomayor display those pronounced Gemini ears, and with a Gemini Ascendant, her Moon in Aries would fall in the 12th house (affiliation with government, large institutions). But then on the other hand, her small, beady eyes and her sense of discrimination could suggest Virgo, and with Virgo on the Ascendant, her natal Sun would fall in the 10th house (but I also made note of Draconic Sun in Virgo!).
And what about her stocky stature and slightly hooked nose which could suggest Scorpio, with a Scorpio Ascendant putting her natal Moon in the workaholic 6th house and no longer in the sign of Aries but in the first degrees of Taurus. —While this is how quickly our mind can make deductions, it can also lead us astray. It is ever so easy to make assumptions based upon what we would like to see. Certainly this is part of the rectification process to some degree, however the astrologer must curtail enthusiasm, stay objective, and not jump to fixed conclusions.
Quite frankly, we must find activity involving Solar Arcs, outer planet transits, and the Secondary Progressed Moon in hard contact to the Angles of the horoscope (or to the Sun or Moon) throughout major life events. One of the first steps in birth time rectification is to prepare a chronological listing of life events with dates as accurate as possible. This allows the astrologer to also gain an overall perspective of how a person’s life has developed and flowed to the present.
As I prepared the listing of life events running down the left-hand column of my worksheet, I created five columns to the right, a separate column for transiting Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. I grabbed my ephemeris or (“Quick-Glance” Transit Table listed in the Appendix of Noel Tyl’s books Synthesis & Counseling In Astrology and Solar Arcs) and filled-in the sign and degree for the positions of transiting Jupiter-through-Pluto for each life event. –This allows the astrologer to identify the sensitive degree areas in either cardinal, fixed or mutable signs, those areas that repeatedly respond throughout the person’s life, and hence suggest possible degree and sign placements for the Angles of the horoscope.
Studying the listing, I noted the sensitivity of early to mid-range degrees in fixed signs. That would narrow twelve possibilities down to four: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. However, we would still be presented with eight possibilities: Taurus/Scorpio on the Ascendant/Descendant axis or on the MC/IC axis; Leo/Aquarius on the Ascendant/Descendant axis or on the MC/IC axis? And which way? For example, Taurus on the Ascendant or on the Descendant; Taurus on the MC or on the IC? If we were to place Aquarius on the MC (Leo on the IC), that would place Gemini (not Taurus) on the Ascendant, and Sagittarius (not Scorpio) on the Descendant. Since degrees in mutable signs were not sensitive during major life events, I knew I could exclude this option. Process of elimination is part of the rectification as well.
At this point, I wanted to confirm which natal planets had been activated in the past by Solar Arc or transit activity during major life events involving Sotomayor’s career as this would determine the ruler of the Midheaven (same as well for personal events such as marriage or divorce with regard to the ruler of the Ascendant or Descendant). I discovered that natal Venus was extremely active (and to a lesser degree, Pluto as well) at times of major professional accomplishments. This strongly supported the possibility of Taurus on the Midheaven, Scorpio on the IC. This technique can be used for other life events as well such as birthing (planets in or ruling the 5th house), or critical illness (planets in or ruling the 12th house), etc.
Simultaneously within the rectification process, I find it critically important to understand the four quadrants of the horoscope in relation to transiting Saturn as it moves from the Ascendant down to the 4th house cusp (the IC), usually a time of internal preparation that begins with a new start and major self-realizations regarding ambition. Then from the 4th house cusp upward to the Descendant where new start opportunities emerge and one builds upon the previous 7 years of learning.
Then, continuing from the Descendant up to the Midheaven, where one initiates new commitments with the outer world and approaches the height of one’s profession. And finally, from the Midheaven back down to the Ascendant, an approximate 5-to-7 year wave of career recognition and growth, with the final 2 years (through the 12th house), possibly winding down one’s duties as transiting Saturn approaches the Ascendant. [Thank you, Grant Lewi; see Astrology for the Millions for his transiting Saturn discoveries.]
Keeping in mind that approximately every 7 years transiting Saturn will conjunct an Angle of the horoscope, we can scan the listing and look for major life events occurring in approximate 7-year intervals. For example:
— At age 22, Sotomayor graduated from Princeton University (with an A.B., summa cum laude; Spring 1976), got married (on August 14, 1976), and entered Yale Law School (Fall, 1976). Saturn was transiting the early-to-mid degrees of Leo (i.e. conjunct her Ascendant).
— In 1983 at age 29, Sotomayor divorced and entered private practice the following year in 1984 as an associate. Transiting Saturn was in early Scorpio (i.e. opposed her Midheaven).
— At age 37, Sotomayor was nominated on November 27, 1991 by President George H. W. Bush to become a Judge on the U.S. District Court (a dream Sotomayor had had since elementary school). She was confirmed by unanimous consent on August 11, 1992 at age 38, and received her commission the next day. Transiting Saturn was passing through the mid-degrees of Aquarius (i.e. opposed her Ascendant).
— On June 25, 1997 Sotomayor, age 43, was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Her hearing took place in September 1997. She was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 1998, confirmed on October 2, 1998 and assumed office on October 7, 1998 at age 44. Transiting Saturn was in early Taurus (i.e. conjunct her Midheaven). As well in 1998, Sotomayor became an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law until 2007.
Working with an early Taurus Midheaven and mid-range Leo Ascendant, we see that the natal Moon in Aries falls into the 9th house, ruling the 12th house. Sotomayer’s mother instilled the importance of education throughout Sonia’s life: she graduated high school valedictorian (1972), entered Princeton University on a full scholarship graduating summa cum laude, entered Yale Law School again on a scholarship and became editor of the Yale Law Journal, has received six Honorary Doctor of Law degrees from prestigious universities (between 1999 and 2006), taught as an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law (from 1998 to 2007), has been a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School since 1999, and finally, a member of the Board of Trustees of Princeton University in 2006 (i.e. tr. Saturn conjunct her Ascendant).
Although her natal Moon looks delicious in the 9th house, we need to fine-tune the birth time and verify the accuracy of natal planets arcing to conjunct, square or oppose the Angles of the horoscope throughout major life events (i.e. Solar Arcs). The horoscope must fit together like a fine-tuned instrument.
Working with my proposed birth time at 8:47 AM — Ascendant 13 Leo 35; Midheaven 3 Taurus 12 — we see the following major Solar Arcs.
[Important Note about Orbs: “We must keep in mind that Solar Arcs and transits work together. Solar Arcs (one degree movement=one year of life) operate for 6 months to one year as a background of experiences: applying 6 months before they are exact (1/2 degree to partile) and approximately 3 to 6 months after they are exact (i.e. a total span of one degree orb). The transits then enter into the Solar Arc period, triggering the timing of the event through the first partile hit of the transit, the retrograde hit or the final hit of the transit. Within the rectification process, for example, when we do not have an exact date for an event but we do know the year the event occurred we must be flexible in maneuvering the Solar Arc planet to hit the natal Angle partile around the middle of the year. Then, there is fine tuning to be done through further measurements like the Secondary Progressed Moon, Tertiary Progressions, etc.]
— Age 7-8, diagnosed with diabetes: SA Moon (r. 12th) conjunct the Midheaven
— Age 9, father dies: SA Ascendant conjunct Pluto (r. 4th); SA Neptune (r. 8th) opposed MC
— Age 22, marries: SA Uranus (r. 7th) conjunct Ascendant
— Age 26, admitted to the New York Bar: SA Mercury (r. 2nd, 11th) conjunct Ascendant
— Age 29, divorces; enters private practice: SA North Node opposed Ascendant
— Age 38, appointed U.S. District Court Judge: SA Jupiter conjunct Ascendant
— Age 43, nominated U.S. Court of Appeals: SA Mars (r. 9th) opposed Ascendant
A birth time at 8:47 AM holds up throughout Sotomayor’s life as can be attested in the detailed listing below of Solar Arc and transit activity to the Angles of the horoscope.
And what about this current time in Sotomayor’s life upon her confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court? We note the following measurements: SA Moon semisquare MC, SA Pluto square the North Node, SA Venus (r. 10th) square Mars (r. 9th; as was SA Mars opposed Venus when appointed to the U.S. District Court!), SA Jupiter square the Sun/Moon midpoint, transiting Jupiter opposed the Ascendant, the Secondary Progressed Moon conjunct her Midheaven, and the approaching first hit of tr. Pluto opposed the Sun (January 3, 2010). –And finally, note the tremendous corroboration as well at this time: Solar Arc Venus ruler of the Midheaven has come to the Aries Point (SA Venus=AP) projecting her profession and status publicly for all to see!!!
If all goes as planned, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination on Tuesday, July 28th 2009 with the transiting Moon precisely opposed her Midheaven on that very date!
Confirmation is set for early August; and we note the transiting Sun conjunct her Ascendant and the transiting Moon opposed it on the upcoming Full Moon, both exact on August 5th 2009! –It is predicted that Sotomayor will join the Supreme Court for its first meeting on September 9th 2009 with the transiting Moon conjunct her Midheaven (exact September 8th) and transiting Venus conjunct her Ascendant (exact on September 6th).
Detailed Listing of Life Events:
Age 3: moved to Bronxdale (between June and December 1957); brother born October 30, 1957: tr. Neptune opposed MC; tr. Uranus square MC
Age 7/8: diagnosed with diabetes: SA Moon (r. 12th) conjunct MC; tr. Neptune square Asc; tr. Saturn opposed Asc, square Moon; SP Moon conjunct Ascendant
Age 9: father dies (between June 1963 to June 1964): SA Neptune (r. 8th) conjunct Saturn; SA Neptune opposed MC; SA Ascendant conjunct Pluto (r. 4th).
Age 15; Jan/Feb 1970 (“half way through her sophomore year at high school”) family moves to projects in Co-op City Bronx: tr. Saturn conjunct MC; tr. Jupiter opposed MC
Age 22: graduated Princeton (May/June ’76); marries (August 14, 1976); starts Yale Law School (fall 1976): SA Uranus conjunct Ascendant; tr. Uranus opposed MC; tr. Saturn conjunct Ascendant, square MC; tr. Jupiter conjunct MC; SP Moon opposed Ascendant
Age 25: graduates Yale Law School (June 1979); begins legal career as assistant district attorney: SA Mars (r. 9th) square Moon (in 9th); tr. Jupiter conjunct Ascendant.
Age 26: admitted to NY Bar (1980): SA Mercury conjunct Asc; SA Pluto sesquiquadrate MC.
Age 29: divorces (1983): tr. Saturn opposed MC, square Asc; SA Venus (r. 10th) semisquare Uranus (r. 7th); SA Node opposed Ascendant
Age 30: enters into private practice as associate (1984): SA Venus (r. 10th) semisquare Neptune (r. 8th); tr. Pluto opposed MC.
Age 34: becomes a partner in the law firm (1988); SA Jupiter square Venus; tr. Pluto square Asc; tr. Jupiter conjunct MC; SP Moon conjunct SP Sun (New Moon)
Age 37/38: nominated U.S. District Court Judge (Nov 29, 1991); confirmed (August 12, 1992): SA Pluto semisquare Asc; SA Sun (r. Asc) conjunct Venus (r. 10th); SA Mars (r. 9th) opposed Venus; SA Jupiter conjunct Ascendant; tr. Saturn opposed Asc, square MC.
Age 40; issues a preliminary injunction against Major League Baseball which ends the 1994 baseball strike (March 30, 2005; this decision raised her profile, won her baseball fans and had an important effect on the game): SA Venus (r. 10th) sesquiquadrate MC.
Age 43/44: nominated to U.S. Court of Appeals (June 25, 1997); Senate Hearing (Sept ’97); approved (March ’98); confirmed (October 2, 1998); assumes office (October 7, 1998); Becomes professor at NY Univ. School of Law: SA Mars (r. 9th) opposed Asc; SA Jupiter (r. 5th) semisquare Sun; SA Moon (r. 12th) semisquare Uranus (r. 7th); SA Mercury=Sun/Moon; tr. Uranus opposed Ascendant; tr. Saturn conjunct Moon, tr. Saturn conjunct MC; tr. Jupiter opposed Ascendant.
Age 45: received Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Herbert H. Lehman College; lecture-in-law at Columbia Law School (1999): tr. Neptune square MC; tr. Uranus opposed Ascendant; tr. Saturn conjunct MC; tr. Jupiter conjunct MC.
Age 47: received Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Princeton University and Brooklyn Law School (2001): SA MC sesquiquadrate Saturn; SA Saturn sesquiquadrate MC
Age 49: received Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Pace University School of Law (2003): tr. Jupiter opposed Ascendant; SP Moon opposed Ascendant
Age 51: Sotomayor was recommended by democratic Senators to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court (2005): SA Ascendant square Mars (r. 9th); tr. Saturn square MC, tr. Jupiter opposed MC.
Age 52: received Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Hofstra University (2006); becomes a member of the Board of Trustees of Princeton University (2006): SA Venus semisquare Ascendant; SA Ascendant square Sun; tr. Saturn conjunct Ascendant.
Age 53: stops teaching at NY University School of Law (2007): SA Mars (r. 9th) opposed Pluto; SA MC semisquare Venus (r. 3rd, 10th).
Age 55: nominated by President Obama for the U.S. Supreme Court (May 26, 2009); Senate Confirmation Hearing (July 2009): SA Moon semisquare MC; SA Pluto square North Node; SA Venus (r. 10th) square Mars (r. 9th); SA Jupiter square Sun/Moon; tr. Pluto opposed Sun (first hit 1/2010), tr. Jupiter opposed Ascendant; SP Moon conjunct MC.