Interview with David Bolton and Juan Manuel Puertas,
creators of Omnicycles
the home page of the Omnicycles program
including downloadable demo: http://www.omnicycles.com
Manuel M. Puertas (left) is an astrologer
with 20 years experience in counselling; one
of Spain´s foremost programmers of astrological
software. Co-creator of the well-known program
Regulus, which offers both text interpretations
as well as many different techniques for the
professional. Programmer and co-designer of
Omnicycles. Juanma also has many years experience
teaching not only astrology, but also meditation,
and a number of other esoteric subjects. Juanma
has been a guest speaker at many astrological
conferences throughout the years, such as those
organised by the University of Granada, School
of Medicine, the 7th World Conference on Natural
Medicine, and the Iberian Astrological Conference.
Bolton (right) is an astrologer, concert
harpsichordist, and language teacher. Discovered
the world of astrology in 1977, while living
in Kassel, Germany, and spent years counseling
and teaching the subject in that country. During
the past fifteen years, his main interest has
been in the investigation and development of
astrological techniques, with special emphasis
on the search for more reliable methods of prediction.
Co-creator of the Regulus program. Researcher
for the Omnicycles system, and co-designer of
the questions: Garry Phillipson
Why did you decide develop Omnicycles? In
particular, why did you see a need for an astrology
program which focuses almost exclusively on transits?
Well, there were a couple of reasons. First of all,
we felt that it would be great to present the transits
in such a way that anyone would be able to understand
them immediately, at a glance.
Yes, that is really what most clients want: something
they can take home to remind them of what the astrologer
told them during their session. I don’t know
how many times I have heard, at the end of a counselling
session: ‘What was that you said about what
the next few months were going to be like?’
Okay, I always record the sessions so that the clients
can take the tape home and listen to them again, but
the advantage of a graph is that they can see it,
and follow it as the days, weeks and months pass.
They love that.
A second reason was that transits are definitely the
most basic technique in astrology as far as prediction
is concerned. Some astrologers love progressions,
others swear by solar returns, still others routinely
employ directions – but all of them use transits
as well. That’s why we wanted to concentrate
fully on transits, in order to create a program which
would allow astrologers not only to use them in a
myriad of ways, but also to view them in graph form
for easy reading. And above all, we wanted to present
something which actually ‘works’ as well
What do you mean by ‘works’, here? Are
you saying that the astrologer will be able to see
exactly what’s going to happen, and when?
No, we’re not aiming that high right now! I
know that there are many who think that astrology
can, when used properly, predict the future exactly,
but this, in my opinion, simply isn’t so.
That’s right. Astrology predicts tendencies,
not exact events. And if transits are able to give
us a good idea of what we can expect, that is, if
it can adequately show the types of tendencies that
are going to be in effect during a certain time period,
then this is really something quite useful.
Right. For that reason, we are constantly doing research
in order to refine the aspect files more and more.
Which orbs to use, how the strength of an aspect should
decrease with increasing orb, the types of aspects
to be used, the quality of different kinds of aspects,
and so on. After all, we developed Omnicycles
for our own use, too, so we want something which works
as well as it can possibly can.
Just how precisely can astrology predict trends in
the future, do you think?
I suppose that neither we nor anyone else could answer
that question. There’s always room for further
development, always the feeling that one could get
a little more out of it, with an even better combination
of aspects, or other techniques. So Omnicycles
is as much an ongoing project as it is a program.
Did you develop it exclusively with astrologers in
Yes, and no. Actually, when we first started, we wanted
the commercial version itself to be mainly for the
general public, that is, not necessarily for astrologers.
It was supposed to offer people a simple way of following
the tendencies of the transits, without having to
know anything about astrology. And the fact is, that
Omnicycles does serve that purpose quite
nicely. As long as someone can put in the necessary
birth data, he can do all kinds of graphs, and follow
them easily. So even though each graph is the result
of a lot of serious work in astrology, and is generated
by doing a large number of calculations, the user
isn’t burdened by that at all: you do your graphs,
see the positive and negative tendencies, and that’s
JM: Yes, but since we also wanted
to improve the astrology behind the graphs, we had
to program certain parts of the program for our own
use – the research part, for example –
in order to test out the transits as much as we could.
So then we thought, ‘hey, as long as we have
these extra things in the program, why not give them
to the public as well?
Yes, so Omnicycles is in a way a rather unusual
program, in that it offers a lot to the general public,
but is interesting for professional astrologers or
researchers as well.
The graphs generally only have two lines: one for
the ‘tense’ aspects, and one for the ‘harmonious’
ones. Do you feel this could be a bit simplistic?
The truth is, the clients generally are interested
mainly in that: “Will next month be ‘good’
or ‘bad’ for me”. Naturally, life
is seldom so simple, but if you can look at a graph
and see, for example, that there is a lot of tension
during a certain day or week, it does help a lot:
you’ll know, for example, that you can most
likely expect some obstacles, tension, problems, that
things aren’t all going to flow very well. So
you can prepare to do your best during that time,
without expecting things to be easy. And if the blue
line is high, you’ll know that you have a much
better chance of having things go your way, so you
can try to make the most out of the harmonious influences.
That’s what David meant by ‘negative’
and ‘positive’ tendencies: simply that
some times are favourable for us, whereas others aren’t..
True, though of course, the astrologer himself will
be interested in the specific influences which make
up the graph: the aspects ‘behind’ it,
so to speak. That’s why there’s a special
data file generated for each graph, which contains
all the aspects, orbs, point values, etc. which are
calculated for each separate point on the graph. Thus,
if you’re looking at a graph, and want to know
why the blue line, for example, goes so high, you
merely open the data file, and can see all the aspects
which comprise it.
By ‘point values’, do you mean the weights
given to the aspects?
What do you think about the endeavour, here, to distil
astrological judgement into a quantitative system?
Isn’t there a good case for saying that astrology’s
richness of meaning and implication can never really
be captured in such a framework, no matter how sophisticated?
Yes, that view has been expressed, and I agree to
a point, yet it is obvious to me that such weighting
systems clearly have their value, and are really used
all the time, though some astrologers might not be
aware of it...
Could you explain?
Sure, let me take that question. Let’s suppose
an astrologer is asked the following: ‘I’ve
been invited to a party next weekend, but don’t
know whether to go or not. If I do, will I have a
good time?’ The astrologer takes a look at the
natal chart, and the transits for next weekend, and
sees, for example, that Saturn is in exact square
to the client’s Sun; the transiting Sun is in
opposition to the natal Saturn, and at the time of
the party, the Moon is in square to natal Saturn.
My first impulse in such a case would be to say that
the client won’t have such a good time. But
then I continue to study the chart, and see that transit
Jupiter is trine natal Venus; transit Venus is in
sextile to Venus, and transit Mercury is in trine
to the natal Moon, while transit Uranus is sextile
Moon. What do I do? Well, basically, I weigh the first
group of aspects against the other. In this, case,
there are indications that the client could have a
good time, and these might outweigh the negative indications.
Even though I don’t think in terms of ‘point
totals’ when making my judgement, I am really
doing something quite similar.
Yes, and the advantage of having a program give you
the results is that it will be objective; it will
use the weights chosen, will correctly take the orb
variations into account, and will quickly give you
an idea of which group of aspects is ‘stronger’.
Once the astrologer has those results, he or she can
then bring their intuition to bear, before reaching
a final conclusion.
What is so special about Omnicycles? Other
such programs have surely been written before now;
why go to all the trouble of creating another?
The truth is, the few programs I have seen which use
such weighting systems to produce graphs weren’t
at all satisfactory, in my opinion. We wanted to refine
the use of transits, to try to get more out of them,
so to speak.
Interesting! How, would you say, does Omnicycles
enable the astrologer to ‘get more out of’
Well, one thing which has always bothered me about
other systems, and about many astrological techniques,
is that you are given results – ‘point
totals’, for example – but you are not
given any means to see whether these results might
be something out of the ordinary.
Indeed, what is ‘the ordinary’ in this
Exactly. Suppose, for example, a program – or
an astrologer – tells you ‘you have Jupiter
trine your Mars next week. This is a great transit,
so take advantage of it!’ Okay, it’s a
positive transit, but how positive? That is, is this
particular Jupiter-Mars relationship twice as good
as ‘normal’, three times as good, or what?
That’s why David devised the concept of the
‘mean’. Maybe you’d like to explain
Sure. Though I don’t know whether it was my
‘invention’ - I’d be very surprised
if nobody else had ever come up with the idea. But
it’s mine as far as its specific application
in Omnicycles is concerned. Let’s use
the harmonious aspects as an example: Omnicycles
generally includes, in this group, certain conjunctions,
trines, sextiles, and the complete novile series.
Transit Jupiter to natal Mars will be assigned specific
numbers of positive points, depending on: 1) the type
of aspect; trines, for example, are given 3 times
as many points as are noviles 2) the orb of the aspect;
the point-strength diminishes with decreasing orb.
Now: I think many astrologers aren’t entirely
aware of how many transiting aspects are formed every
day. They see a transit, consider it something ‘special’,
whereas in fact, it might be something pretty common.
Whereas, in the case of (say) Jupiter aspecting Mars,
you’ll only have a trine or a conjunction every
four years. But if you include sextiles and noviles,
then you’ll have a harmonious aspect between
Jupiter and natal Mars almost once a year.
order to judge the ‘commonness’ of the
aspects which occur, we use the ‘mean’.
It works like this: for each aspect file, we have
calculated the average number of ‘transit points’
which one will have during the course of a lifetime.
Of course, each transit file (there are a few hundred
included in the program) contains many kinds of transits,
but for simplicity’s sake, let’s say you
create one containing only the transits of Jupiter
to Mars. You would then calculate the mean. This is
an option which allows you to calculate a great number
of dates at random throughout the course of 50, 60,
70 years. I normally generate about 1500 random dates
when doing this. The transits for each of these random
dates will be calculated, and the ‘average’
number of points, both positive and negative, will
be calculated. This ‘mean’ number will
always be represented by the horizontal line placed
at ‘100%’ on the graph. Thus, if a line
goes below 100%, the combined aspect strength is below
its average; if it goes to, say, 300%, it would be
3 times its average. This system allows you to see
at a glance just how strong a tendency is, compared
to the ‘average’ for a lifetime.
Can you also just display the point totals, without
converting them into ‘mean’ values?
Oh yeah, no problem. Omnicycles does that,
too. The problem is that when you see point totals,
for instance, for a 1 month period, you might see
a line go up, but is it really so significant? It
might be high compared to the other point totals that
month, but maybe it’s low compared to the ‘average’
values for a lifetime. That’s why we recommend
viewing the results in terms of the mean: that way,
you know just how strong the combined strength of
the transits really is, compared to a lifetime average.
Might it be that these ‘average values’
will vary a bit from person to person? For instance,
if I have Venus conjunct Saturn, and aspects to Venus
are indicators of relationship and aspects to Saturn
are indicators of isolation, then my ‘average
value’ for relationship is never going to hit
the peaks of someone who can have planets aspecting
Venus without simultaneously aspecting Saturn.
Potentially yes, the average values will vary a bit,
depending on how the points are totalled, but right
now I won’t go into all the various ways the
program lets you combine the points, it would take
too long. If, for example, you choose to use the ‘factor’
option, which doesn’t simply add the point totals,
but also uses special factors to multiply them, then
the averages will vary noticeably from person to person.
But as a default, the program uses only a process
of addition, for we have seen that this generally
gives more accurate results; using this method, the
average values are indeed fairly constant from person
as to the second part of your question: I understand
what you mean about the Venus/Saturn conjunction,
but it shouldn’t be assumed that aspects to
Saturn will automatically ‘subtract’ positive
points, or ‘add’ negative points. As surprising
as it may seem, one of the things I have learned during
the course of my research is that there don’t
seem to be any transiting aspects which clearly inhibit
one’s love life, though there are ones which
enhance it. I have seen cases where people have had
great love affairs under transit Saturn conjunction
Venus, for example. I must add that such relationships
might well be burdened by feelings of guilt; nonetheless,
they are possible. And Saturn isn’t always isolation:
it could merely signify that one’s love-mate
will be older, or will be very serious, responsible,
or ‘Saturnine’ in some other respect.
Of course, an aspect from or to Saturn alone will
hardly be the most important indicator for a relationship
or an affair; usually, there are other simultaneous
aspects, such as ones to or from Venus or Mars, which
are the primary indicators. True, if one has Venus
conjunct Saturn in the natal chart, one’s love
life might not be the most adventurous; however, when
strong transits of Venus or Mars are present, that
same person can indeed experience more than he or
she normally would. So even though a ‘peak’
for this person might not signify as much ‘action’
as would a peak for someone else, it remains a peak
– compared to what the Venus/Saturn individual
might normally experience.
returning to the concept of the ‘mean’:
it can be calculated in 2 different ways.
generating all the random transit dates for comparison
with a single natal chart, or else
calculating a large number of random dates to be compared
to many natal charts: here, in a single step, the
‘mean values’ are generated for each person
in a file, and then, the ‘average’ of
all those individual’s ‘averages’
is calculated. This gives very reliable mean values
for a transit file, which then can be used for anyone,
without having to fear that the mean will be somehow
If I understood you correctly: you said earlier that
the program has a few hundred aspect files...
Yes, somewhere between 320 and 400, and growing...
...and you calculated a mean for each of these files?
(laughs), Yeah, don’t ask me how long that took!
My Pentium 4 was working day and night for quite some
time to get all that done.
But suppose you then change something in an aspect
file, for example, you add an aspect. Don’t
you then have to calculate the mean again?
Yes, you do, for that particular file. After all,
the whole idea of the mean is that it represents the
average number of points you’ll get using a
specific combination of aspects, orbs, weights, etc.
Whenever I find a new technique, the first thing I
do is to see if it makes sense in my chart. I’m
sure I’m not alone in this! And so surely you
must have looked at how the Omnicycles approach
to transits worked in your own charts. Can you tell
me something about what you discovered?
Of course. Like practically everybody else who is
into astrology, I, too, check out my own chart first
when testing techniques. One of the first things I
noticed was the great importance of what one might
call ‘hot spots’ in the chart: these are
areas which are in aspect to a number of different
Yes, in my chart, for instance (you see, I also like
to look at my chart first!), Mars is at 22 Virgo,
the Sun at 12Leo, and Venus at 2 Cancer. Thus, when
a transit is in trine or novile to one of these factors,
it aspects all three of them simultaneously. So this
year, with transit Uranus in the first degrees of
Pisces, it was in trine to my Venus, and tetranovile
to both Sun and Mars…
…so your love life was…?
Not to be indiscreet, but believe me, the Uranus transit
definitely has had its effect!
I can give an example, too: I have the Midheaven/IC
at 13 Libra/Aries28, in an exact semisquare to Pluto
at 28Leo28, and my House 6/12 axis at 28Taurus/Scorpio50:
square Pluto, sesqui- semisquare MC/IC. Thus, when
a transit passes over any point which is in tension
to one of these points, it is in tension to all of
them. This shows up clearly on the graphs, particularly
when you do one for a single transiting planet. A
couple of weeks ago, when Transit Mars was at 28-29
degrees Taurus, it was: Conjunct cusp 6, opposition
cusp 12; square Pluto, semisquare the Lower Heaven,
and sesquisquare the Midheaven. I got some virus that
made me feel miserable for a week, had trouble sleeping,
felt restless, etc.
more generally, now, let me say that I am a cautious
man by nature, I never like to get enthusiastic about
something unless I’ve seen that it really does
seem to ‘work’.
Here are some of the things I’ve seen again
and again, and which have further defined my approach
the importance of declination parallels. It truly
amazed me to see how often the major indications of
an event are not ‘normal’ aspects, but
rather parallels. I use narrow orbs for these, no
more than 20 minutes; nonetheless, their strength
amazed me, to the point that I now agree with those
astrologers who say that parallels are as strong as
Some* say they are even stronger...
(E.g. Simmonite, Watters &
White – cf p.429, Dean et al, Recent Advances
in Natal Astrology, Subiaco 1977)
I don’t know what criteria they used to judge
that; I will say that both are strong, though I won’t
venture a guess as to which is stronger, at least
not until I do more research. But parallels are very
strong, and should never be ignored, though unfortunately,
they usually are.
second thing I’ve seen is the importance of
so called ‘minor aspects’, particularly,
semi- and sesquisquares....
The eighth harmonic...
Yes, and also Harmonic 16. These aspects can be very
important, especially when several are present. This,
of course, has often been said; I’m merely saying
that I’ve found it confirmed again and again.
That’s why our aspect files routinely include
these aspects, though we also have some with only
the traditional aspects, for those who want to go
Have any of the other ‘minor’
aspects emerged as significant?
The novile series as well. Since they are generally
‘harmonious’, their influence might not
be as obvious as Harmonics 8 and 16, but they are
definitely noticeable, especially when several are
present at the same time, or when a single transit
aspects a series of trines/noviles in a natal chart.
Yes, indeed. Multiple transits to a single point –
or else, a single transit to a factor in the chart
which in turn is connected to other natal factors
by similar aspects – these are some of the most
noticeable transits there are.
I might mention the question of orb. Now, some astrologers
recommend the use of wide orbs – even as much
as 5 or 6 degrees – for transits. Others say
the orb shouldn’t be any more than about 1 degree.
Oh, this issue plagued me when we began to do Omnicycles.
After all, the question of orb is fundamental. This
is one of the reasons why we created a research tool
in the program: to be able to test (among other things)
which orbs ‘work’ best.
And how do you go about that?
Well, this would be too complicated to explain now,
but you can read about it in the program’s manual:
it’s included in the free demo version. In any
case, my findings were somewhere in between the extremes:
a one-degree orb for major aspects is clearly not
enough....and I must add that before doing Omnicycles,
I was a proponent of 1-degree orbs! On the other hand,
after about 3 ½ degrees, the effects are negligible.
Up to 3 degrees for major aspects is permissible,
I now feel, though we generally only use 2-degree
orbs for the majors, since we also employ ‘minor’
aspects, and we don’t want an excess of aspects
to ‘clutter things up’, so to speak.
Do you also use 2 degree orbs for minor aspects?
They have smaller orbs, depending on their type. I
don’t want to imply here that we have struck
gold as far as transit orb-allowances are concerned:
the values used in Omnicycles were chosen
because they ‘more or less’ seem to work
better than other values. But I don’t doubt
that it’s possible that another astrologer,
even one using our own program, might come up with
values which are even more reliable. I merely want
to say here that the optimal orbs for use in transit
work, based on a lot of intense work on the subject,
would seem to be about 2-3 degrees for major aspects,
not much more, and certainly not less. And I’ll
leave it to others to theorize about why that is...
Any other insights?
Well, I might also mention another harmonic series
which often appears to be very strong: Harmonic 11.
As you probably know, this one has nothing in common
with those series which are based on 2 or 3: Harmonics
2,4,6,12,16, for example. Like harmonics 5 and 7,
it represents a new series, and most likely another
And that quality is?
No idea, really! Addey related it to ‘excesses’,
yet he was basing this on only a few cases. What I
have seen is that Harmonic-11 connections between
transits and natal factors often seem to act strongly,
though the only thing I can say about the quality
of these aspects is that it seems to be determined
simply by the planets involved. Thus, if Saturn is
in aspect – harmonic 11 – to one’s
Moon, it will seem similar to a tense aspect; if,
on the other hand, Jupiter if the transiting planet,
the same aspect will seem beneficial. Not that I want
to set this up as a rule, for I didn’t do extensive
research on these aspects; it’s just something
I noticed quite often.
And do harmonics 5 and 7 react the same way?
Interesting you ask: yes, they do seem to. Though
I can’t say which of the 3 – harmonic
5, 7 or 11 is strongest.
Nonetheless, most aspect files in Omnicycles
don’t include harmonic 7 or 11, and few contain
Harmonic 5, though the user may add them. Until we
see the effects of these aspects more clearly, we
feel it’s wiser to concentrate on the series
based on 2 and 3: the ‘tense’ and ‘harmonious’
aspects. After all, these are the energies which people
can relate to most easily, since their effects are
the most obvious in their lives.
Yes, if you want to build a firm foundation on which
to continue, it’s best to start out with what
you’re pretty sure of, and proceed cautiously
from there, step by step. An overdose of speculation
can easily lead you down the wrong path!
Thank you, David and Juan, this has been really interesting.
I hope that Omnicycles gets the attention
– and the sales! – it deserves.