Divide…then sub-divide…and keep repeating…

I came across this concept today called the “dwadasamsa.”  This happened during a discussion about certain astrological principles.  At first, I thought this unfamiliar word was possibly an acronym of some sort, although what it might stand for, I had no clue (“Do What Always Delivers Assiduous Serenity And Meditative, Sweet Altruism”…or something…).  So I hit the surrounding internet hard in a search for greater understanding…

First, maybe I should backtrack slightly and set the scene…  We can start by talking about the Signs of the Zodiac, which virtually everyone must know.  In brief, the Earth is surrounded by this belt of constellations, which together comprise our Western Zodiac (Aries, Taurus, etc.).  A circle is generally divided into 360 equal units called degrees, and each Zodiac Sign covers 30 degrees of the Zodiac “Ecliptic” (360 degrees/12 Signs = 30 degrees per Sign).  The astrologer would then look at where the Planets resided with respect to the Ecliptic at the moment of your birth in order to suss out various bits of information about you (e.g., “Ah, so your natal Moon is in Virgo, which would suggest that…”).  This is all relatively painless stuff to get your head around, even for those who don’t come equipped with much facility for math or geometry.

There: see how the Zodiac Ecliptic encircles the Earth, and is divided up into the Zodiac Signs that we all know...?
There: see how the Zodiac Ecliptic encircles the Earth, and is divided up into the Zodiac Signs that we all know…?

But then people have to go and divide the Zodiac divisions of the Ecliptic into…subdivisions.

Wait, hold on -- things aren't nearly complicated enough.  Surely we can fix that...
Wait, hold on — things aren’t nearly complicated enough. Surely we can fix that…

First, you get into the idea of “decanates,” or “decans” — these are divisions of each Sign into thirds.  That is, a 30-degree Sign division of the Ecliptic is further subdivided into three equal tracts of ten degrees each (the aforementioned decans), and then each resulting decan is given a Sign to sort of preside over it, too, just as the Signs hold sway over their original 30-degree allotments of celestial turf.  The four elements of the Signs come into play here, as a Fire Sign, for example, gets broken up into its three decans, each of which is then sort of governed by one of the three Fire Signs.  To spell that out, Aries, say would be subdivided into decans such that the first ten degrees of Aries is also covered by Aries itself, the middle ten-degree section falls under Leo, and the final ten-degree swatch gets painted with the brush of Sagittarius.  The thinking is then that, say, not all Aries Mercury people are identical: a Mercury in the first ten degrees of Aries (so, in the Aries decan), might give rise to a communication style that’s “extra Aries,” or very fiery, abrupt, and uncensored, whereas a Mercury placed in the final ten degrees of Aries (that’s within the Sagittarius decan) might be a bit friendlier and a bit more entertaining of other people’s viewpoints before laying down any sweeping declarations (a more “Sagittarian Aries-Mercury”).

You can see here how each Sign gets subdivided into equal thirds -- the "decans."
You can see here how each Sign gets subdivided into equal thirds — the “decans.”

Which brings us back to that “dwadasamsa” thing I opened with up above…  This is a concept that apparently originated with Hindu astrologers, and it involves breaking the Signs down into even smaller sub-components…  In this case, the 30 degrees of each Sign get carved into little sub-territories even smaller than the ten-degree decans — the dwadasamsas (also called “dwads” or “duads”) each represent a mere 2.5 degrees of each Sign, with 12 dwads then constituting a full Sign (12 dwads * 2.5 degrees per dwad = 30 degrees total), and each dwad is held to be governed by one of each of the 12 Zodiac Signs.  This essentially transforms each Sign into a self-contained microcosm of the entire Zodiac.  It starts to get a bit fractal here, and also threatens to begin breaking one’s brain…

In this example, the Sun is in the overall Sign of Libra, but falls within the dwad subdivision of that Sign that's lorded over by Sagittarius...so this placement might conceivably lend an expansive, exploratory tone to the generally well-balanced, serenity-loving Libran native that not all Libran Sun people would share...
In this example, this person’s Sun is in the overall Sign of Libra, but falls within the dwad subdivision of that Sign that’s lorded over by Sagittarius…so this placement might conceivably lend an expansive, exploratory tone to the generally well-balanced, serenity-loving Libran native that not all Libran Sun people would share…

The point of all this is to say that on the one hand, it’s possible to delve ever deeper into the meanings and categorizations of things, and certainly this holds true within Occult thought…but on the other hand, it’s also possible to then get lost in the process of “infinite regression,” dividing and subdividing down into micro-eternity, and running the risk of losing sight of all meaning along the way.  Maybe the goal, then, should be finding that level of complexity that works best for you as an individual, and then mining things at that level for all they’re worth.  I’m currently a bit intrigued, myself, with this whole dwadasamsa thing, but that may prove to be simply a case of it being new and shiny to me at the moment…whether it truly adds illumination to chart analysis for me is something I’ll need to examine over time.  But in the meantime, if you hadn’t been acquainted with the dwad principle, now you can examine it, too!  As always, your thoughts on this or any other matter I may drone on about here will be more than welcome, and at various levels of complexity as may suit you…

5 thoughts on “Divide…then sub-divide…and keep repeating…

    1. You know, when cruising online for images to use in this post, I came across one that showed so many subdivisions that it looked like some kind of fractal flower or gemstone, and it started to boggle my mind as I contemplated just how far you could take this kind of thing… I do want to investigate Vedic Astrology, though, when I’m ready for it!

      1. The drawing reminded me of representations of the Crown Chakra, too…which, maybe that’s not a bad connection to make! But anyway, I admire your versatility, and hope to one day emulate it!

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