Malefic or Benefic?

An astrologer asked the following in a discussion group: "Saturn in Capricorn, ruling the 10th and in the 10th. Is it a good placement? Or a negative?"

That was it. That was the question. No context, no background. Nothing.

It can certainly be a malefic or a benefic; it is always relative to the chart. The chart, of course, is a symbol of the context being studied, be it a native, a country, an event, or any picture the querent’s mind creates when asking a horary.

In practice, there cannot be a benefic or malefic without a context. A planet without a context has meaning only in theory, or in the astrologer’s fertile imagination. Sadly, there is a prevalent habit among astrologers to jump into and use those terms without context; and not only beginners.

Some examples of context:

  • Saturn in Capricorn could make for a nasty case of arthritis if it is the cause of your illness in horary or decumbiture.
  • Jupiter in Cancer could show Pneumonia. The cause of the illness is ALWAYS malefic, no matter what planet it is or where it is.
  • If our angular Saturn in Capricorn is the significator of your anti-virus software that would be wonderful: we want a dignified and accidentally strong immune system, be it for our bodies or our computers. Saturn is a benefic in this case.
  • If you need surgery you need Mars! Benefic.


Sometimes I wonder if astrologers have paused to consider the meaning of the terms benefic and malefic. In case you haven’t, here it is:

Benefic = good, causes goodness.

Malefic =  the opposite.

As the examples above clearly illustrate Saturn and Mars can cause goodness and Jupiter and Venus the opposite.

So, purely on the account of clarity of thought we are making thought convoluted by calling that which can do harm good, and vice-versa.

Also, it is worth noting that many things in life are not either good or bad exclusively.

In many situations whatever is being inquired about is shown to be a bit of both. This is so clearly exemplified in relationship questions where two or more parties have contradictory feelings about one another. That is shown by receptions. What do you call a Venus that does not want you to get near her? Benefic or Malefic?

Or the Sun in Aquarius for the man you are about to have sex with? Well, maybe you like that kind of men, so it may be a benefic to you. Likewise for Venus in Aries for those so inclined.

I recommend caution and thoughtfulness when using the terms benefic and malefic and focus on context.

I have lost count of how many times I have seen astrologers get stuck in their interpretation of a chart due to adhering to those two terms when they do not apply to the context, or apply in a reversed way.

Personally, I rarely have the need to use those concepts; they are last in my order of priorities to qualify planets after house rulership and natural rulership. In the greatest majority of charts benefic and malefic never crosses my mind.

Another concept I hear to justify calling Mars and Saturn malefics is that they are “extreme”.

That is again nonsense if taken out of context. The “benefics” can be extreme too. Jupiter in Cancer is extremely expansive or watery or both. If you are expecting sunshine but get Jupiter in Cancer you will get a lot of rain. Malefic.

Venus in Pisces can be extremely sweet; if you have a tooth cavity or diabetes and you meet that Venus you are in trouble. Malefic.

If you have cancer (the illness) and Jupiter is near the cause of the cancer will grow. Malefic indeed.

I want more!!!!

Consider that most astrological inquiries are about things we want “more of” in life and that we want them easily, such as money and health and love. In those cases indeed, Saturn and Mars could be interpreted as malefics because they shrink and separate, respectively, and Jupiter and Venus could be interpreted as benefics because they grow and unite.

All planets can work out in a positive or negative way according to the context. The fact that some contexts are more common than others does not justify making a definition and a rule that should be applied to every situation, which is a tendency of an over-melancholic mind, and of which old books are plentiful.

The Essence

Jupiter is Jupiter. Saturn is Saturn. Good and bad are in our minds. The concepts of good and bad do not apply to every person’s worldview with equal meaning, sharpness or intensity. Be true to yourself, choose your tools and do what astrologers are supposed to do: to serve by informing people so that our lives may be improved.

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