:: Reviews of One After Another

Reviews of One After Another

Mary Plumb writes in The Mountain Astrologer (Oct/Nov. 2010), pages 81-82:

Ken Gillman has been a student of astrology since 1960. He is an astrological researcher and past editor of the excellent astrological quarterly Considerations, which is no longer in print. (Published from 1983 to 2006, the issues are available free of charge at If you are unfamiliar with this journal, treat yourself to a look at serious, eclectic astrology in action.) Ken Gillman has also had a parallel career as a statistician.

This book is the culmination of years of research, and it documents results that are significant for astrology. However, the author writes that his “intent is that these findings and the method described here will improve the astrologer’s ability to accurately interpret the combination of planets present at the birth of an individual.” In other words, statistical relevance—important as it is to the overall field—can be put aside. This book is devoted to helping astrologers in their work.

One After Another (subtitled Rectification & Prediction Using Planetary Sequence) opens with a situation that astrologers repeatedly face: working with a horoscope with an unknown birth time. Gillman provides a simple and elegant way to determine whether a birth occurred during the day or at night. This crucial distinction in delineation has recently been revived, after having been lost in most modern astrology, and it is demonstrated herein as the first step toward rectifying a horoscope. The author conveys a unique discovery: a person born during the day experiences a critical life event at (or very near to) 18 1/4 years of age (based on the 19-year solar Metonic cycle). In a nocturnal birth, the native experiences a critical life event at 24 1/4 years; this is based on the 25-year lunar cycle starting from conception.

The book next described the author’s original method for working with a horoscope, which is to track the sequence of the natal planets as they cross the horizon, beginning at birth. He distinguishes two versions of the basic method, called the decan and the septenary. Although the technique is initially proposed as a way to rectify a horoscope, both versions are readily demonstrated as a means of forecasting, or looking ahead, through the course of a lifetime. Gillman offers an essentially simple method; the calculations are not complex.

In One After Another, the author elegantly presents this unique idea of marking the sequence of the natal planets as they cross the horizon. More specifically, in the decan, as each of the ten planets crosses the horizon, that planets becomes “time ruler” for a period of ten years. Furthermore, that decan ruler is directed in clockwise motion to meet each planet in the horoscope, “spending a year with each of them.” Thus, each year within the ten-year period has a specific nature, determined by the time ruler and the planet in the horoscope that it has been directed to. The septenary entails the same method, although only the seven classical planets are used, and their respective time rulership period is seven years.

Explaining the essential idea of the planets crossing the horizon having governance over a period of time in the life, the author writes that the “time ruler is the moving planet and it has a distinct intent, which is to create the world that it promised when it arose to the ascendant.” Further, the “original intent” of the planet is determined by “its inherent nature, the sign and house it occupies in the natal horoscope, the houses it rules, and its aspects.” These considerations are included in the work; Gillman adds discerning assessments of the planets’ specific conditions and natures throughout the book.

Although the decan and septenary are independent of each other, the author combines them in practice to obtain a more complete view of a person’s life and experience. The decan is not a rigid demarcation, but Gillman has found that it emphasizes events in a person’s outer life—for example, “happenings in the life that would appear in a person’s biography”—while the septenary is connected to the individual’s growth, what “he might confine to a private diary.”

After the introductory material, there are chapters for each of the ten planets (including Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) as the time ruler. Within each chapter, the author thoroughly explores that planet, directed to each of the other planets in the specific horoscope. Gillman has researched biographies since the 1970s, and he gives vivid and detailed life histories to demonstrate his method. Among the more than twenty extended biographies are those of Carl Jung, Jeddu Krishnamurti, Bertrand Russell, Sigmund Freud, Mao Zedung, and Alexander the Great. Along with these featured biographies, which show the decan and septenary rulers and their directions over the course of a lifetime, Gillman also lists key life moments for many other people, including a short and very telling chapter on Barack Obama. There are also anonymous examples (a dozen or so in each category) of what happened in the lives of people in the author’s broader database when each time-ruler planet was directed to each of the other planets. He encapsulates the results of this more extensive research by dividing the years in the individual’s life into overall “positive” or “negative” years, and then contrasting these with expected astrological assessments. Gillman makes distinctions for diurnal and nocturnal births and whether the planet was oriental or occidental, with specific statistical analysis of each planet. Some of the results support common expectations (e.g. Venus and Jupiter, although influenced by their condition in the natal chart, generally act in a positive manner), and some are surprising (the Sun as time ruler brings difficulties for nocturnal births).

The astrological insights throughout are rich, warm, and astute. If you are not interested in statistics, don’t worry; this book will reward you with its treasury of astrology—born from direct experience and careful observation.

Ken Gillman’s book is impeccably organized and gracefully written. One After Another is offered for the cost of its printing; it is a genuinely valuable contribution to astrology.

Anne Whitaker, in her review for Britain’s Astrological Journal, writes:

Ken Gillman, as well as having pursued a distinguished career as a statistician, has been involved with astrology for fifty years. Having been the editor-publisher of the well-respected Considerations magazine from 1983-2006, he made the entire archive of that magazine available on the Web last year:

In this meticulously researched book, rich with case material ranging over many lives as diverse as Eva Peron, Sigmund Freud and John Lennon, he brings both his mathematical and astrological interests together in offering the fruits of a very lengthy study of two ancient methods brought right up to date: the Decan and the Septenary. These are measures based on the sequence in which the planets follow each other across the sky from the time of their rising in the eastern horizon, and in combination they yield rich interpretive fruit: they provide “...... a swift and effective rectification of the approximate birth time and also make available a considerable amount of information concerning the different phases through which an individual lives his or her life.” This enables the astrologer to understand and predict how a life will unfold over time.

As well as offering clear and accurate tools for rectification and prediction, these methods are extremely valuable in assessing how the different facets of the natal horoscope hang together in providing accurate pictures of the individual concerned. Furthermore, almost no calculation is necessary once the horoscope has been drawn up. There is no need to look up transits in an ephemeris, or to draw up progressions or directions. Ken Gillman considers the use of the Decan and Septenary in combination to be more effective in finding “.... the time of day when people with unrecorded birth times were born......” than other systems of varying degrees of antiquity, e.g. the Alfridary system which apparently originates in ancient Persia and has also received some attention in recent years.

Gillman does not mince his words in stating the credentials of his work. To minimize the likelihood that readers will be thwarted by failing after much time and effort (as he has been in the past) to distill meaningful results from promising methods, “.... all that is stated herein has been extensively tested on over nine thousand years of happenings in people’s lives and the detailed results of this research, with statistical significance tests, are provided.” However, he is careful to point out that he has accompanied the probability tables with vivid detail regarding the unfolding sequence of events in the lives of various well-known people examined in his research—lest such tables be off-putting.

All in all, this is a rich and fascinating journey of exploration by a master astrologer deeply rooted in, and very well versed in the ancient traditions of our art. He demonstrates very clearly—Ken Gillman is a fine writer—that these very traditions are still of great value to modern astrologers.

Reviewed by Tom Callanan on

Astrology finds more ways to use the planets, points, houses and geometry than is immediately obvious when looking at a chart. Kennet Gillman now asks us to look at it yet another way. He believes that the order of the planets at the time of birth reveals our destiny, and if enough of our destiny has already been revealed by life, that order provides an easy-to-do rectification technique. Gillman's method is fairly simple and does not depend on chart patterns, house rulerships or point systems. There is a lead planet: the planet that first crosses the ASC after birth that serves as the first "time lord" for the first ten years of life. The next planet covers the next ten years and so on. But there is more to it. The time lord for the first ten years or "decan ruler" finds expression for one year by itself then for the next year it is influenced by "moving" or being directed to the next planet, clockwise or from house 1 to house 12 to house 11, etc until it reaches the next planet in sequence. So let us posit a hypothetical chart that has Jupiter in the third and Jupiter is the first planet to cross the ASC after birth. Let us further posit Mars in the 12th and then Saturn in the 11th. Jupiter governs the life for the first ten years, hence the term "decan," and Jupiter is sole ruler from birth until the first birthday. Then Jupiter is directed to Mars and from ages 1 -2 of the Jupiter decan, Mars influences Jupiter. The next year, age 2 - 3, would be a Jupiter/Saturn year and so on until the ten-year period is up and each of the planets has been "touched" by Jupiter. The next ten-year period is shown by the second planet that goes over the ASC after birth, and so on. Ten planets give us 100 years to play with.

This gives some depth, but there is more. Gillman introduces the septenary (of the number seven) or 7-year period time lords. This time we only use the traditional planets and they govern for 7 years each. We get two "go-arounds" with this group. Traditional planets are moved only to other traditional planets in the septenary periods, so that each planet is touched in that time frame and then a new 7 year period begins. Obviously this will overlap with the decan periods and give us a nice mixture of planets and events. He does not state overtly, or I missed it, but hints that the classical planets used in the septenary are to be interpreted in the traditional manner, whereas the same planet as decan ruler more closely resembles its modern delineations. These delineations are not so far apart most of the time, but Saturn as decan ruler is more likely to embody the "lord of karma" interpretations, while as septenary ruler he is more likely to be kicking your butt.

Nice, neat, and Gillman makes a logical case for it, including, but not limited to his extensive research with the system. But does it work? That is the same question we ask about every astrology technique or should ask whether it is old or new. He gives us charts and insights to all sorts of people and explains the life through this technique in each of them and makes a persuasive case.

At this point the interested reader has either dragged out his own chart or is consulting it by memory. Find the planet that would first cross your natal ASC after the time of birth. That planet is the time lord for ages 0 - the 10th birthday. That planet also governs the first year of life. Then mentally move that planet clockwise to the next planet. The decan ruler or first planet to cross the horizon will govern the first year by itself and the combination will govern age 1 - 2. Keep going around the chart in this fashion - one planet for each year. At age ten you should be back to where you started from and that planet will rule the next ten years.

Then find the first classical planet to cross the horizon after your birth. It may be the same planet and in fact probably is. But now it rules from ages 0 - 7. Then at age 7 we move the first classical planet to the next classical planet. Ignore any modern planets. So the last three years of the first decan and will be influenced by this second combination. And the following four years will be ruled by that combination but in combination with the second decan ruler. Thus the life unfolds.

Astute traditionalists will notice a similarity to profections. However, profections move in the order of the signs or counterclockwise. This method moves or directs the planets in accordance with diurnal motion similar to primary directions.

Jon Benet Ramsey's chart

There are dozens of charts out under this microscope to varying degrees, and as expected, the method works well with all selected charts. Astrology authors have been picking perfectly functioning example charts for centuries. There is no better way to get one's point across. However a quick test of a technique is to pick a chart at random and check out what is known about the individual against it. I could use my own chart but that would mean beginning with Neptune, and I am constitutionally incapable of that sort of thing. Since reviews are by necessity, or perhaps should be, short, I picked a short life, that of Jon Benet Ramsey, horribly murdered months after her 6th birthday.

Pluto governs the first decan and Pluto comes to the Moon in her 7th year, the year of her death. No one, not Gillman, not me, is going to argue that everyone who has Pluto rising in this system will die before age 10. Going further no one is going to argue that everyone with Pluto rising will not only die before age ten, but will do so when Pluto comes to the Moon. So looking for death indications might be useful, especially here, but is not absolute. I'm going to pick a couple of quotes from the text. Some of these quotes are from the lives of people who have experienced this particular period. Others are the author's delineations. The text makes clear which are which.

"In the process (i.e. the time frame of the Pluto decan), the new is created from the old, and life is extended by way of death."

Tragically the child has been dead for twice the length of her life and we all know who she is because of her death.

Pluto to the Moon: "A period of separations and farewells."

Keep in mind the author is writing the delineations, and noting the experiences as though the native is a relatively socially independent human being, and this is not the case for a six year-old, but there is a bit of prophecy here.

The first septenary period is ruled by Saturn. This combined with Pluto is an "uh oh" moment on general principles. Saturn is strong in Capricorn, but retrograde and opposed to Venus lady of the 8th. The Moon is the exaltation ruler of the 8th. This is not shaping up too well. The septenary sub period is also ruled by the Moon, again emphasizing the 8th house in an exaggerated (exaltation) manner.

"Saturn represents the whole frame of social and moral rules that keep individuals imprisoned and during these years the person will discover the limits in which he must live and responsibilities he needs to shoulder."

I'm not going to pass judgment on the Ramseys' choice to enter their child in the children's beauty pageants. But the hectic schedule does leave less time, a lot less time, to be a child and "imprisoned" is a pretty good word in that context.

Occidental Saturn to Moon by day in septenary: "… choking fits …death." Self explanatory.

I don't think too many astrologers would be looking for the death of a healthy 6 year-old child living in an upper middle class neighborhood, even if Mars is in Taurus on the 8th cusp. That's not the point of this little exercise. The point is that with little effort of a somewhat randomly chosen chart (I purposely looked for a short life), the method seems to work.

One area where the author claims great success is the use of the method to rectify charts. Without going into great detail, he argues that if a person is born during the daytime a major life changing event will occur close to age 18 years three months. If the individual is born at night, that life changing event will occur about age 24 years and 3 months. By narrowing down the possible birth time to a roughly 12 hour period or less depending on the time of year, and then jiggling the time lords to match experiences, a birth time can be established. Let's try my mother because Gillman cannot possibly be accused of knowing her and setting this up. I know where she was born and the date, but there is no record or event a hint of a time. She was married at age 18 years 9 months, and I know of no life changing events at age 24 or thereabouts. It must be kept in mind by the rectifier that my mother and father for that matter, were pretty tight lipped about the past and it is not impossible something happened to her at that time that was life changing. But I have no idea what it might be. We were a fairly typical 1950s suburban family. By the time she turned 24, I was born and so was my brother. The third brother would not be born for almost ten years. So we'll say day birth.

Chart Two

At first this seemed simple. At sunrise only Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Uranus were below the horizon (in that order) and Uranus had just set at sunrise. She was married in the 2nd decan and 3rd septenary. Therefore we must eliminate Venus as rising second because the Sun would have to rise first and then this would then be a night chart.

So Saturn, Jupiter and Uranus are candidates for ruling the second decan. If Venus rises first after the Sun, Saturn rules the 2nd decan. Saturn would then come to Uranus at ages 18 - 19. Gillman emphasizes " … an erratic year in which old conditions no longer seem to apply." In other words a year of surprises? My mother and father had been engaged, but I don't know when that happened. This was during WWII and my father was serving in the US Navy. One day he called unexpectedly and said to my mother, "I have a ten-day leave; do you want to get married?" They put together a whirlwind wedding, short honeymoon, and afterward he was back on ship on his way to either Europe or Africa. The old conditions no longer seemed to apply.

If Venus rises first after the birth, the ASC could be late Virgo, all of Libra up to the very beginning of Scorpio. Libra is a good possibility. Libra rising would put Cancer on the 10th and the Moon just outside the limits of combustion but getting closer. Mars is deep into combustion. Her mother, my biological grandmother, died about two weeks after my mother was born, of an infection incurred during childbirth. The Moon could represent her mother, and Mars the infection or Mars could represent the doctor. There are other possibilities here and I did not go into them as this is a book review not a full-fledged rectification, so I'm stopping here. This little exercise demonstrates the method and its potential. I would, if I chose to continue, entertain the possibility that Saturn rose followed by Jupiter and then see if Jupiter coming to Pluto at age 18 - 19 would indicate a marriage. The author describes that period as pretty dismal and difficult, but does give marriage as one possibility.

Obviously this is not traditional astrology and that is where my interests lie. However the method is intriguing, particularly the rectification methods and it does something most astrology texts, traditional and modern, do not: it gives the student a method with which to begin reading the chart. Although the rectification method explained is far simpler than most, I think rectification is best left to more advanced students not beginners or intermediate students. On the other hand it is sad but true that even gifted astrologers run through this and that technique in their books with all sorts of example charts that make it seem all so simple until the student picks up a chart that is not in the text. Now what? One After Another answers: "Here; you start with this, and then continue with that." If the text did nothing else, and it does quite a bit more, it would be a needed addition to the literature. Besides, it is fun to work with. Enjoy.

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