Today I wanna talk about one of the more obscure Lots, the Lot of Barley. Now, I know you’re probably thinking “why the fuck would I EVER need that” and, truthfully, you probably won’t. There are however, many things we can learn about the application of ALL Lots by testing individual ones, even if they aren’t majorly relevant to daily life.
What sticks out immediately with this Lot of Barley is the fact that it’s talking about a specific good. This isn’t talking about anything having to do with an individual natal chart. There are, in fact, many Lots of specific goods. We have formulas for things like the Lot of Olives, the Lot of Sugar, the Lot of Dates, the Lot of Rice, the Lot of Wine, the Lot of Grapes, and so on and so forth.
So, what was the point of these Lots if not for natal use? Well, they were used to predict the condition and prices of these substances. Astrologers would cast a solar return chart or a cardinal ingress chart to see what the market would be like for that particular year or quarter.
A cardinal ingress chart would be the moment the sun enters Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn. The Aries ingress is typically favored but if you’re looking at quarters of the year then the other ingresses become more relevant.
The Lot of Barley is given by Bonatti as the distance from Jupiter to the moon, then projected out from the ascendant. I usually like to talk about the symbolism of the various formulas but I don’t really know what’s going on with this one. I’m not exactly an expert in barley lol.
Culpepper gives barley as being a plant of Saturn, namely due to its cooling properties. Barley tea is a popular beverage in Japan, especially during the summer. It was also used in poultices to reduce swelling. Culpepper says barley is not good for people with melancholy, which, would be exacerbated by barley’s cooling properties.
All of that is to say I have no idea why this is a Jupiter-moon Lot; perhaps due to it being plentiful, a staple, and for its use in alcohol. Either way, this is what we have to work with.
Bonatti gives us some basic principles to work with when we’re interpreting these Lots of various goods. We’ll see if they hold up to the test cause you know I’m busting out the crop data later.
Bonatti says to consider how the lord of the sign is disposed because the better he is disposed, of so much less worth will it be and the less it will be valued. So, from an economic approach this is saying that if the Lot of Barley is doing well, that means barley will be doing well. If you understand the concept of supply and demand then once barley is more abundant, you can see why the price would go down.
He also says that there are some other factors to check for. Things like exaltation, house placement, angularity, and so on and so forth. There’s actually more interpretive rules listed for the Lots of various goods than there are for the hermetic Lots which is pretty wild. I’m not going to list all of them but you get the basic idea.
If you’re unsure of how to evaluate planetary condition then I highly recommend picking up a copy of Ancient Astrology vol 1. By Demetra George. It’s an incredible workbook style manual that walks you through all of these basic concepts.
The last thing I wanna say about interpretation is that based on the way Bonatti is talking about these Lots, it seems like the Lots signify the goods themselves and the prices are just inferred. If something is less available it’s common sense that it’s going to be harder to get. It will require more resources for you to procure whatever the item is.
This is important because the main focus in terms of knowledge sought when using these Lots, seems to be the price. This is especially notable given the modern interest in the astrology of things like cryptocurrency and stocks. I personally don’t care about financial astrology but these things are connected. Ancient astrologers weren’t going around trying to dig up inception charts for Barley Growers LLC.; they were looking at the actual item itself.
What does that mean for things with artificial scarcity? Let me re-iterate that I don’t know that much or care that much about economics. I’m simply posing the question based on historical evidence of "financial" astrology (astrology that has a financial application?).
When it comes to the price of barley you might actually purchase, there are more variables involved than just the crop itself. What about shipping, processing, labor, etc.? If the Lot of a particular good is referencing the quality of the good and the economic factors are inferred, what does that mean for all the other variables? If we have an overabundance of barley but no one to process or transport it, what then?
Again, these are merely things to ponder. I don’t have all the answers nor do I particularly care to find out. I’m concerned with Lots. I’ll leave the investing to people with money to invest.
As I’ve already made abundantly clear, I don’t care about the actual price of barley. You know the phrase “what’s that got to do with the price of tea in China?” The general implication being that the price of tea in China isn’t significant to the matter at hand. That’s pretty much how I feel about this lol.
I’ve currently been working on a webinar for the Lot of Cultivation (of the Earth) which is about growing plants themselves. That’s basically the rabbit hole that lead me down this one. I’m more concerned with the plant itself than what anyone does with it after the fact or how much they sell it for.
Thankfully, we’ve got crop data to look at xD.
I live in North Carolina which, as you may know, has a lot of agriculture. So, naturally, I’m going to use NC crop data.
If I was being REALLY thorough I’d look at more than two charts, but, since I really have other shit I should be doing, let’s keep it simple lol.
Barley Record Lows
Let’s start by looking at the year that has the record lows. From the statistical data provided we can see that NC started tracking barley in 1924. Basically this is showing us that the least amount of barley was planted in 1924. We can see this from the “production” and the “yield per acre” columns. In 1924 there was the least amount of barley being grown. However, in 1932, the crop itself wasn’t as good. We can infer this from the fact that in 1924 they only harvested 5k acres. That means in 1932 they produced more overall barley but the yield itself was lower. They got more barley per acre from those 5k acres in 1924 than they did from however many acres they planted in 1932.
Why is this important? Well, it tells us that the crop itself was probably struggling a bit more in 1932 for whatever reason as opposed to there simply being less of it grown in 1924.
To be thorough with this I would need to look at a bunch more charts and compare the difference between 1924 with the lowest production and 1932 with the lowest yield. I don’t have time for all that right now though so we aren’t gonna let perfect be the enemy of good.
On to the Aries Ingress chart!
I used Astro-Seek’s Lot calculator which places the Lot of Barley at 11° Gemini in the 10th house, ruled by Mercury in Pisces. First thing to note is the fact that the Lord of Barley, Mercury, is fallen in Pisces.
We could keep looking at aspects and what not but I think the main thing here is the fact that the Lord of the Lot of Barley is fallen. It is brought low and there is less barley available.
Since the bottom line of these Lots of various goods seems to be price, it would make more sense for it to be tied to production rather than yield. You could have a mediocre crop with 10,000 acres vs. an amazing crop with 1,000 acres. Which scenario do you think would make barley more available and therefore lower the price? 10k mediocre acres.
That’s not to say this is a definitive answer for exactly how this Lot works, but it’s a start.
Barley Record Highs
So, now that we’ve seen what 5k acres of barley looks like, let’s see what 75k looks like. Remember, acreage, yield, and production are all separate things. You can plant a ton and only get small yield. So, we’re focusing on production.
In 1981 there was the largest acreage harvested as well as the highest production of barley. In 2011 there was a higher yield per acre but again, we’re focused on the production and therefore the actual amount of barley being produced. If I was really being thorough I would check everything but I’m not so I won’t!
Now let’s take a look at the 1981 Aries ingress chart.
Using Astro-Seek’s Lot Calculator once again, the Lot of Barley is in the 1st house at 6° of Cancer. This time we have the Lord of Barley, the moon, peregrine, or in neutral condition in Libra.
However, we have this Libra full moon hanging out with this Mars-Saturn opposition which is also squaring the Lot of Barley. That sounds pretty gnarly, right? We would then typically expect Barley to not be doing so great. However, both malefics are dignified AND the exaltation lord of the Lot of Barley, Jupiter, is conjunct the Lord of Barley, the moon.
Remember how I mentioned there were some other rules I wasn’t going to type out? Well, a conjunction with the exaltation lord of the Lot to either the moon or the ruler of the Lot (the same thing in this case), or aspects from a benefic, which Jupiter is, means that the thing in question will be improved. Therefore we see a greater abundance of Barley in 1984.
Based on these findings, it’s probably a bit easier to tell when things are going wrong than it is to tell when things are going right. I would personally expect a bit more of an outstanding chart for the record high. However, if you gave me both of these charts I could easily tell you which has the Lot in better condition and therefore which of these two years would have more barley available.
There’s tons more room for testing and experimentation but it’s more than Bonatti gives. Who knows, maybe I’ll continue chipping away at the mysteries of agricultural divination. Until then, keep an eye out for my upcoming work with the Lot of Cultivation (of the Earth) for a bit more botanical biodiversity!