US Elections 2020

I have been intensely debating with myself whether or not to share the charts that I have looked at with regard to the upcoming election in the US. It seems over the last few years there has developed this culture of, “who made the prediction”, like it is some kind of game show. These kinds of prognostications are not a competition or ‘ego’ shot, simply because they deal with the lives of millions of people and it is certain that at this point in time no matter what the outcome, millions are not going to be happy. It appears to me, as a 3rd party with no bone in this fight, that the politics in the US has reached a point of crisis that I have not seen in my 70 years of life.

What methods & charts should I use to delineate an outcome of such a political event? Should I use the personal or natal charts of those running for the office?

A Teachers Thoughts

The Lessons in natal delineation that we teach in classical or medieval astrology are many times, by today’s standards, controversial. When we teach lessons like whether a subject will survive birth and childhood or on finding the Hyleg, we are looking at the ‘bread and butter’ considerations of the ancients when delineating a nativity; i.e. the considerations concerning longevity and length of life.

There are some things about this teaching that we need to keep in mind. The prediction of death is not to be taken lightly or used irresponsibly. There are several ethical and moral ramifications of this subject. But the self-appointed, sanctimonious, self-righteous opportunist who admonishes that we should not teach these subjects or predict death should please take heed that I am not urging students to burden their subject clients with predictions of death or their loved ones death. I would merely intend to bring forward the study of the methods by which death was predicted by professional astrologers when astrology was considered the highest science. This is an ongoing work where it is yet dangerous to cast anything into stone and you are hereby being advised to study it as such!

I give my students the full counsel of everything I know or believe regarding this subject. With knowledge comes responsibility and accountability. I do not tell my clients, you are going to live so or so many years. The information I derive from the chart only helps me to place other issues in the chart into perspective. In fact, it is quite impossible to accurately predict a subject’s deeds and fortune without the careful and wise consideration of longevity! I believe that the subject matter is absolutely necessary to the study of ‘traditional’ astrology.

But this is not something that should be attempted in practice until the student has mastered the full battery of delineation techniques taught and advocated by the ancients. This subject matter is not entertainment! The astrologer delineating a client’s or native’s ‘longevity’ has entered the ‘guts’ of the native’s soul, so to speak, and must be discreet, compassionate and careful. We need to “walk circumspect as wise”. The word “circumspect” means to be cautious, carefully considering all the related circumstances and possible results of one’s actions, decisions and judgments. I have some very strong feelings about this teaching myself. This is not a teaching that one should make ‘general’ and there is a reason the ancients did not teach everything they knew on the subject. In the hands of the foolish, this kind of teaching is potentially very harmful.

We should never be afraid to know the truth. King David wrote in the Psalms,
Lord, make me to know my end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am…teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.[1]

By numbering our days, we are made aware of the fact that our lives are truly like the grass of the field that is here today and gone tomorrow. For some people, this kind of information motivates humility and spurs loving actions to live one’s life fully in the service of others and God. For other people, it is a further excuse to ‘live like hell’ selfishly – eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die! While I believe this knowledge is a gift of God, like everything in the world, it can be used for good or evil. Therefore, we do have to be very discriminate with this teaching.  I still have to spend time in prayer seeking wisdom in how to share these kinds of things. It is a responsibility that I personally do not take lightly. I honestly try not to lean to my own understanding of these things and my own wisdom and it is not something I freely volunteer! We have to make every effort to be right, but realise we can err.

To continue reading you can find the entire article as a PDF here


[1] Psalms 39:4 & Psalms 90:12 from the King James Version of the Bible

The Conjunctions of Saturn & Mars in Historical Astrology & A Look at Recent Events

Something I have been seeing more and more over the last few years is just how significant the Saturn/Mars conjunctions are in the greater scheme of national events. It is a subject that several of the Persian authors spent time documenting in their own national forums. The correlation of events like riots and rebellions and overthrowing of law and order and removal of caliphs etc. to the Saturn/Mars conjunctions in Cancer is documented especially in Abu Ma’shār.

“Related to the superior planet furthest from the world of generation and corruption, i.e. to Saturn, is the indication for matters of Beginnings like religions, dynasties, and whatever lasts for a long time, since it is like the beginning for the other celestial bodies in terms of height… Related to the third of these planets in order, i.e. to Mars, is the indication for wars, strife, and the like, being as it were, the decline to the final ends of things, because the ends of things indicate destruction of their orderly arrangements after their perfection, and corruption of their regularity.” [1]
“[3] We say that the most distinct of the indications occurring as a result of the influence of the conjunction of Saturn and Mars is in the sign of Cancer, since this sign is the detriment of Saturn and the dejection of Mars, and since the indication of this sign with Jupiter is for Iraq… Each sign has an indication for one of the regions, because sometimes a city is related to one of the signs and the predominant <planet> over it (the city)  is not the lord of that sign. For example, the indication of Cancer with Jupiter is for Iraq because Jupiter is predominant over <the degrees of> the sign indicating Iraq, i.e. from its 19th to 26th degree. For the extent of these degrees of the sign of Cancer is the term of Jupiter, indicating Iraq… The presence of the malefics in it and their aspecting it from quartile or opposition indicate calamity, the change of rule, and bloodshed, if the triplicity to which the conjunctions shifts should necessitate that, especially when the two malefics are in conjunction without the aspect of the benefics.”.”
[2]

Abu Ma’shār goes on to examine this conjunction (i.e. Mars & Saturn in Cancer) with regards to changes in the rule over the Islamic empire. While his examination focuses on the conjunction in Cancer it is not entirely clear why Cancer is associated so strongly with Islam. That answer I believe lies in the chart of the beginning of Islam which we find in Māshā´allāh.[3]

“And Māshā’allāh said that when he looked in this image [at] the places of its planets, he found the strongest of them and the greatest of them in testimony, to be Saturn: because he was entering into the Ascendant,[4] and he is the lord of its exaltation, and the Moon (the lord of the light of the night) is pushing her management to him from the tenth (by number) and the ninth (by division), the place of prophethood, and Jupiter is pushing his management to her. And he found Mars in Gemini (and it is the ninth by number), in the highest [part] of the belt,[5] climbing to its highest point, receiving the management of the Sun, Venus, and Mercury (through his retrogradation)… Because the place of the Moon is in upper midheaven indicates that he will be secure from being killed and because Venus escaped combustion this indicates that he will meet hardships and go into hiding for a while; then he will establish connections and be strengthened, and become known, and the people of his doctrine will rule. Because the place of the moon is in upper midheaven and Mars is in the house of religion, these indicate that he will seek religion and its being established by struggle.[6] And because of the connection of the moon with Venus the people of his doctrine will have the nature and manners of Venus [7]…”

What makes Cancer so relevant to the rule and rulers in the Islamic empire was the fact that the sect light, the Moon, was in the midheaven of the chart and indicated “the people of his doctrine shall rule.” It is no wonder that the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Cancer was relevant for each real change in the dynasty within the Islamic empire! This is exactly what Abu Ma’shār was indicating when he talks about how the signs indicate empires or countries and cities; “…each sign has an indication for one of the regions…”

To continue with the blog post go to “New Articles” in the menu.


[1] Ibid Part I, Chapter 1:7 (p.7)

[2] Part II, Chapter 8:3 – The Book of Religions & Dynasties (On the Great Conjunctions) – by Abu Ma’shār, translated by Keiji Yamamoto and Charles Burnett from the Arabic original, Brill 2000.

[3]  f230v & f231r (pp. 48-50) – The Astrological History of Māshā´allāh – translation and comments by E.S Kennedy & David Pingree – Harvard University Press 1971

[4] That is, he is retrograding into Libra.

[5] Mars is in the middle of Gemini, advancing towards the solstitial point at 0° Cancer, the most northern zodiacal point in declination.

[6] An interesting comment; It is clear under the reign of Islam that political correctness was the ‘de jour’ thing to do. It being Mars and knowing history at the time of Māshā´allāh, it would have been more precise to say “and it being established by war! Of course the cancel culture thrives under totalitarian rule; but there the cancel would have included their head and not just their livelihood like it is today!

[7] And here is the origin of Venus indicating the people of Islam!

A compilation of longevity techniques using the prenatal lunation with other techniques

I did not go into details with the each longevity technique to find the releaser (hīlāj) and its lord (kadukḫudhāh). I mainly wanted to see how each major astrologer treated the prenatal lunation in that context. It is clear there were 2 main lines of technique; Dorothean & Ptolemy. Valens methods were only cited in a few cases and often the techniques were not quite what we find in Valens but a derivative most certainly. There were many techniques using the prenatal lunation in delineation. I have only touched briefly on some of them in this compilation

I think it is safe to start with Dorotheus.

Dorotheus used the prenatal lunation for indications concerning the native and his mother; whether free or slaves.

[Prenatal lunations and their triplicity lords]
24 I command you to look (for one born in the meeting)[1] at the degree of the meeting, so it may be known who the lord of the triplicity of that sign is (and for one whose nativity was in the fullness, so that the lord of the triplicity in which the fullness was, may be known). 25 So you look at these two signs: who is looking at them?
26 Now if you found the first lord of the triplicity in a bad place and the second one in a good place, then those people will go out from slavery to emancipation.
27 And if you found the first lord of the triplicity in a good place and the second one in a bad place, then say that in his first years he will be free, and at the end of his life poverty, baseness, and service will come to him. 28 (And the bad places are the sixth, twelfth, eighth, and third, except that the Moon rejoices in her alighting in the third.)
29 And if you found the first and second lords of the triplicities of the meeting and fullness in a bad place, then one born like that will not cease to be a slave or servant, from the beginning of his life to the end of his life.
30 And if they were both in a good place, then he will be free from the beginning of his life to the end of his life.
31 And if you found an infortune in the sign of the meeting or fullness, and you found the other infortune looking at it, you report his [terrible] fate, and misfortune will overwhelm him.
32 And <if you found> the lord of the bound of that degree in which the meeting and fullness was, in a bad place or in the sign of the seventh or the fourth from the Ascendant, then it indicates slavery and poverty. 33 But if a planetary fortune looks at it, and the lord of that bound is in a good place, and the meeting or fullness is in a bad place and the infortunes look <at it>, then the father of the native will be esteemed and his mother will have poor esteem. [2]


Dorotheus’ gave instructions when to use the prenatal lunation as the releaser (hyleg); as translated by ´Umar:

[Chapter III.2:] The releaser
1 <Now I will explain to you> the releaser (and it is the indicator [of the matter of life]), and the house-master (and it is the governor of the matter of life). 2 So the releaser by day is the Sun, and by night the Moon, then the degrees of the bound of the Ascendant, then the Lot of Fortune, and for one whose nativity is from the meeting to the fullness,[3] [the next strongest is] the degree of the meeting,[4] and for one whose nativity was in what is between the fullness and the meeting,[5] [it is] the degree in which the fullness was (and it is fifteen [days] in the month, and its night is more powerful [for] that).[6]
3 And by day the Sun and by night the Moon and the better of the two is the one in a stake, and especially the Ascendant. 4 And there is no escaping [that] if the one whose lord of [its] bound is looking at the releaser (or the lord of its house, or the lord of its elevation,[7] or the lord of its triplicity, or the lord of its image [8]), then it was in this status, it is the releaser. 5 But if the lord of the bound or one of those I mentioned (the lord of its house, or its triplicity, or its exaltation, or its image; the primary one of them being the lord of the bound, then the lord of the triplicity) is not witnessing it, then it is not fit to be made the releaser.[9]


To continue reading you can find the full PDF under the New Articles menu.


[1] ‘Meeting’ is referring to the ‘meetings’ of the luminary; i.e. either the prenatal new moon ( ‘the meeting’) or the prenatal full moon (the ‘fullness’).

[2] Book I chapter 10 (p. 74) – Carmen Astrologicum by Dorotheus of Sidon – Translated and edited by Benjamin Dykes PhD, Cazimi Press 2017

[3] i.e. from the new moon to the full moon.

[4] I am not sure why been inserts the text [the next strongest] because what Dorotheus is saying is that if the Moon in the nativity was from the new moon up to the full moon then use the degree of the new moon.

[5] i.e. when the Moon is found between the full moon to new moon.

[6] This seems to mean that the degree of the prevention is more significant for people born at night. But this sentence could also be understood in the following, more simple way: (1) for people born after the meeting, the degree of the meeting is the next strongest releaser; (2) for people born after the fullness, the degree of the fullness is the next stronger; and (3) the fullness happens on the fifteenth day of the month, which includes the night. –Ben Dykes 
[My opinion is that it simply meant that in a nocturnal chart, if it was a prenatal full moon, it was more significant; not that should be preferred in a nocturnal chart. It might be desired but not necessary. He most certainly does not choose one above the other but obviously in a diurnal chart one could say that the new moon is perhaps more weighty in delineation than the full moon simply because the new moon is not visible and the sun predominates, i.e. it is of the diurnal sect; just like in a nocturnal chart a prenatal full moon would be ‘of the sect’ and therefore more weighty. If Ptolemy were working from the same root text as Dorotheus, or maybe even citing Dorotheus here, then I would say Ptolemy has extrapolated a rule that was not in fact a rule but a comment on how strong the prenatal lunation would work in the nativity. We know Hephaistio was working with the original manuscript and poem because he cites it. And the diurnal/nocturnal distinction is not in that citation he gives from Dorotheus. Therefore it is hard for me to believe Dorotheus’ intention was to say that the prenatal full moon should only be used in nocturnal charts. The number 1 problem with Ptolemy’s astrology is that he NEVER tells us his sources! This is odd in itself but even odder knowing the fact that he always cites his sources in the Almagest! -Steven Birchfield]

[7] Exalted ruler

[8] This is not included in Hephaistio’s quote from Dorotheus…perhaps a Persian addition?

[9] Book III Chapter 2 (p. 189) – Carmen Astrologicum by Dorotheus of Sidon – Translated and edited by Benjamin Dykes PhD, Cazimi Press 2017

The National Chart for the US… Is Sibley correct?

I am intrigued! Why is a declaration of intent a birth? I have several business clients and they consult with me on the affairs of their businesses. How does one cast a chart for a business? Is it when the owners first conceive the idea and declare their intent? The answer is no! For businesses, the chart is cast for the moment they open their doors for business.

I think we can safely say that the astrological community, by large, has accepted the signing of the Declaration of Independence as the “birth of the US”. What is usually disputed is the time of its signing. However, there are several very important things that really “shook my tree” in my recent historical readings and they are connected to some of the discussions I have had about accurate birth times for nations.

The first thing I will point out is that the majority of secular political scientists do not consider a declaration of independence as the beginnings of any nation. The Declaration of Independence issued by the colonies was in fact only the united intention of 13 independent entities, each which had their own constitution or charter. If by definition, the natal ascendant is the “body”, fully formed and functioning independently, then why does the astrological community accept the date and time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence as the birth? Was a nation born then?

The ascendant of any nativity is that degree which rises on the horizon at the moment in which a native first enters the world and draws his first breath. That is the commencement of life. At that point, the native is fully formed and functional with a head and body, limbs and all the internal and external organs. In fact, one can say that from conception until the foetus is born, it has at certain stages of foetal development, certain functions in order, so that while still in the womb it is semi-functional but it is the birth process, which activates the remaining functions like breathing. In the uterus, the foetus even has a heartbeat and circulation and brain functions and even internal organ functions that are complimented by the umbilical connection to the mother. In the foetal stages, we can say it is a living organism but it is not a truly independent organism until it takes that first breath on its own and the umbilical cord is cut and it either survives or dies under its own functions.

To view the entire article you will find it under ‘Articles’ in the ‘New Article’ drop down………

Understanding modern events through Astrology

One of the main tenets of understanding the historical astrology of astrologers like Abu Ma’shār lies in the understanding of their conception of history. We read for example,

“Saturn, is the indication for matters of Beginnings like religions, dynasties, and whatever lasts for a long time, since it is like the beginning for the other celestial bodies in terms of height…. laws do not come into being except because of religions and dynasties. If these states are arranged inversely, the case once more requires them to be connected and ordered, because religions and dynasties do not function except by laws…” [1]

The question is rightly posed concerning ancient historical astrology; can we really compare equivocally their observance of “divine law” with modern secular laws? Western society has done just that. The whole point in democracy or social democracy, any democracy; is a mandate that man’s ethics and morals are just as good, if not better, than any based on divinity! This is why the Theory of Evolution is so important in so-called democratic societies; if there is no God then man is God! It is humanism. It is the modern religion.

Personally, I am apolitical – I believe what astrology tells me rather than the perceptions the media wants me to have. I have certain moral convictions, but Astrology is particularly amoral. It was never intended to pass moral judgments. Its only intention is to tell us what is and what isn’t. A very good example of modern practice of astrology is how people have tried to make charts fit their perceptions. This has resulted in an almost entire western astrological society making prognostications so far from reality that many have tried to once again make apologies by saying astrology was never meant to predict!

T.S. Elliot once wrote:

“When a word acquires a universally sacred character . . . , as has today the word democracy, I begin to wonder, whether, by all it attempts to mean, it still means anything at all.” [2]

As one historian on Democracy points out, the only way possible to understand particular events and players is to accept the objective reality that democracy is nothing more than a secular religion.

“As in religion, although the partial theological framework [of democracy] may be a marvel of logic, with syllogism following syllogism, the first premises, the axioms or the postulates must remain a matter of faith. They can be neither proved nor disproved. And it is they that really matter. They determine the ideas and acts, and resolve contradictions into some higher identity or harmony.
The postulate of some ultimate, logical, exclusively valid social order is a matter of faith, and it is not much use trying to defeat it by argument. But its significance to the believer, and the power it has to move men and mountains, can hardly be exaggerated…
The modern secular religion [democracy] must first be treated as an objective reality. Only when this has been done will it be possible to consider the intellectual and historical patterns created by the interplay between the secular religion and particular men and situations…
Eighteenth-century philosophers were never in doubt that they were preaching a new religion. They faced a mighty challenge. The Church claimed to offer an absolute point of reference to man and society. It also claimed to embody an ultimate and all-embracing unity of human existence across the various levels of human and social life. The Church accused secular philosophy of destroying these two most essential conditions of private and public morality, and thereby undermining the very basis of ethics, and indeed society itself. If there is no God, and no transcendental sanction, why should men act virtuously? Eighteenth-century philosophy not only accepted the challenge, but turned the accusation against the Church itself. The philosopher felt the challenge so keenly that, as Diderot put it, they regarded it their sacred duty to show not only that their morality was just as good as religious ethics, but much better.”
[3]

The substance of its acceptance is faith; the same as any divine belief! When it comes to secular law, it is the popular belief that the state knows better than the “Divine” and passes its laws to protect the rights of all, even those who transgress “divine law”! Even when those laws are contrary to any “divine law”! Democracy is the call word in everything that is printed today. And those that base law on Divine law are called religious extremists.

In so-called “democratic” Europe for example, 47 nations are now members of the Council of Europe, which has nothing to do with the EU. Not one citizen of the member nations has voted to belong to this council. It is the Council of Europe however that wrote the “Convention on Human Rights” and this convention makes up 70% of the proposed EU constitution. In fact to be a member of the Council of Europe a nation must incorporate the “Convention on Human Rights” as well as all the conventions passed by the Council of Europe, into their national constitutions by enacting laws to fulfil its provisions. If not they cannot be a member state! I really don’t understand people worrying about the EU….it is in fact irrelevant and it is now being absorbed by the Council of Europe. Note the logo of the Council of Europe; in 1983 the European Parliament decided that the Communities’ flag & logo should be that used by the Council of Europe. More than this however is the fact that the European Union is in serious disagreement amongst its members states. Just how much longer it will survive is questionable. But no matter because the real rulers sit in the Council of Europe passing “conventions” which are nothing short than their secular laws for member states to obey; with or without the consent of the people of the state. This is the text book definition of a totalitarian democracy.

We are in monumental times! As astrologers in order to understand world events we need to see these events objectively through eyes as spectators while embracing doctrines and teachings that historical astrologers like Māshā´allāh, ´Umar, and Abu Ma’shār  passed down to us, which are very relevant to understanding the astrology involved!

(first written in 2017 revised 2020)


[1] Part I, Chapter 1:7-8 – The Book of Religions & Dynasties (On the Great Conjunctions) by Abu Ma’shār, Translated and edited from the Arabic by Keiji Yamamoto & Charles Burnett – Brill 2000
[2] T.S. Eliot, “The Idea of a Christian Society” (London: Faber & Faber, 1939)
[3] The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy by J. L. Talmon Published 1986 by Penguin (first published 1952)

A General Overview of the History and Development of Mundane Astrology as Seen in Medieval Astrological Teachings

There is generally accepted by the scholars and historians of scientific and astronomical development, three distinct early stages of astrology. Mundane astrology is most likely the oldest branch of astrology!

The first stage (ca. 1700 – 1600 B.C.E.) involves the omen lore of the ancient cultures. The most extensive omen lore that has been uncovered is contained in a compilation comprising some 68 tablets referred to as Enuma Anu Enlil. The tablets themselves were found in the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (668-626 BC) in the ancient city of Nineveh,[1] and were copies, written in the 7th century BC. However, evidence also suggests the collection of omens is much older than the tablets found in the library, and the original series may have been assembled somewhere probably back to the Old Babylonian period at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. There is no older recorded astrological record than these! Amongst these records is also the very controversial collection which is tablet 63 called, the Venus Tablets of Ammizaduga. These are believed to have been composed under king Ammi-saduqa who ruled Babylon from 1646 to 1626 BC. These records list 21 years of Venus’ data for the consecutive first and last appearances of Venus as an evening star and as a morning star. This data includes dates of the first and last appearances as a morning star, as an evening star and durations of invisibility, along with appropriate omens. The list of Venusian dates was copied and recopied extensively, which some historians and scientists believe led to the embedding within the text, certain corrupt astronomical details.[2] This table became a standard collection of astronomical and meteorological omens, predicting favourable times for coronations, harvests and births.

An example of these texts is as follows:

“If on the 25th of Tammuz Venus disappeared in the west, for 7 days remaining absent in the sky, and on the 2nd of Ab Venus was seen in the east, there will be rains in the land; desolation will be wrought.” (Year 8)

Astronomically what is happening is that Venus “disappearing in the west” (occidental) occurs after her first station and is Rx moving under the Sun’s beams[3] (heliacal setting) for 7 days and then emerging from the Sun’s rays, still Rx, on the 7th day oriental of the Sun. It should be noted that, according to the later astrologers, it would be her retrogradation while oriental that in fact rendered it somewhat malefic and not its orientality. I might also add this first period of ancient Babylonian astrology never conceived of a planets apparent retrogradation in their astronomy! 

There are references to Venus, as early as 3000 B.C.E. Certain archaeological evidence from Uruk[4] on clay tablets have lead archeo-historians to believe that at this early stage, the symbols represented in tablet, carry no more meaning than an early identification to some celestial identity. One clay tablet found at the site says, “Star Inanna”, and another contains symbols for the words “star, setting sun, Inanna”.  Inanna is believed to be Venus, known later as Ishtar. Eventually these same symbols developed, in cuneiform writing, into a sign that means “god” and is placed before the actual names of deities. If the relationship between gods and the sky were not already explicit enough, then this development in Mesopotamian writing would appear to confirm it.

The second stage,[5] while quite similar to the first, was different in that there appears in this period the first zodiac and the placement of planets by their longitude in the signs as opposed to the earlier placement of the planets relative to fixed stars and the Sun. There are also some significant differences in the astronomical observations of this period. These observations are much more sophisticated (similar to diaries) containing much less omen lore and more astronomical detail, e.g. the number of days in the preceding month; the time between moon-rise and sunset on the last day of the month on which the moon rises before sunset; the times between sunset and moon-rise on the next day; the time between moon-set and sunrise on the last day on which the moon sets before the sun rises; the time between sunrise and moon-set on the next day; the time between moon-rise and sunrise on the last day on which the moon is visible; the longitudes of each of the planets in the signs of zodiac they are situated in; details of eclipses; for each of the superior planets, the date of its first or last visibility, the date on which it starts or finishes retrograde motion, and the date on which it rises as the sun sets; the date of first or last visibility of Venus or Mercury and conjunctions of the moon or planets with stars near the zodiac! Even more unique was the practice of recording the actual mundane observations correlated with the preceding astronomical observations, e.g. the river level in Babylon; the price of barley, dates, sesame, etc; the weather; if bad and any and all interesting news!

One of the most significant observations was the great attention paid to the transits of Jupiter through the signs at the rate of approximately one sign per year and a “Metonic“, or 19-year cycle with 7 extra months that were the conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn! Based on observing and compiling lists of phenomena and recurrence cycles of the planets, these periods’ astronomers could calculate, reasonably accurately, the positions of the planets at any time in the future. Ptolemy records and modern scholarship does not dispute this that accurate and systematic eclipse records were kept from 747 B.C.E. onward into the Hellenistic period after the conquests of Alexander the Great.

So already, by this time there was a sophisticated change. In the older omen lore, principally Venus, the Sun and Moon (lunations) are recorded. However, in this second period all of the planets are seen in relation to the signs they were in and their relation to each other! It must be remembered that in the ancient omen lore, Venus for example was observed and events recorded on that isolated observation. And this may have bearing on why, by the time personal horoscopy appears (ca. 400 B.C.E) a more comprehensive view of all the planets and their relationship to each other was in the making! There is no evidence that it is the Greeks who made these changes! Plato says in his work that it was ‘foreigners’ (Chaldeans) that introduced the idea of planets = Gods into Hellenistic culture at this time! It is the fact that we actually know so little that is the problem and there are several alternatives as to the chain of events. For example it is quite possible, even probable, in this same period under the Assyrian, Babylonian and then Persian empires that this doctrine also enters Egypt, particularly under the Babylonian Empire in 600 B.C.E. but probably the greatest cultural exchanges occurred under the Persian Achaemenian Dynasty of Cyrus (and after Darius), the King of Medo-Persia (550 B.C.E). Zoroastrianism was the Dynasty’s largest religion and it was monotheistic.

My point in this is to bring to the readers awareness that it is just as possible and feasible that it is the Babylonians themselves (perhaps with Persian influence) who, for example, narrowed Venus’ scope in astrological matters while broadening the scope of all the planets significations! For example in the Medo-Persian Empire, the deity Mitra was worshiped. In the Greek Herodotus’ Histories (I.131) Mitra is given as the Persian name for Aphrodite and the deity’s significance was “Judge of Souls” and was assigned the domain of human welfare, aiding in the destruction of evil and the administration of the world. It would appear that as astronomy became more sophisticated so did the ‘gods’. Vedic Mitra is the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings. I think it is rather interesting to see that all these traits became astrologically attributed to the Venus we know in the third stage of Classical Western astrology along with the attributes worshiped most of Aphrodite or Venus, i.e. fertility and rites of purification etc!

Thirdly is the emergence of a very complete personal horoscopic astrology somewhere between 400 – 200 B.C.E. and is the foundation and centre piece to what we have recorded in the Hellenistic astrological texts. While we lack many of the earliest root texts attributed to such authors as Nechepso and Petosiris and Critedon etc, many of these writings are embedded in the texts of authors such as Vettius Valens, Paulus, Porphyry, Firmicus Maternus and Rhetorius. What is unique is the scope and sophistication of the astrology itself which seems to almost ‘magically’ appear. The period 200 B.C.E. to 600 C.E. is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, is that astrology is predominantly genethlialogical[6] along with cathartic[7] and secondly, mundane astrology[8] seems to vanish entirely! Historians and scholars such as the late David Pingree, remark often about this clear lack of historical record until the 3rd century C.E and the Sassanian Dynasty in Persia. Yet even those historical records are mostly embedded in the works and writings of the later Arabic and Persian astrologers.

One possible explanation for this disappearance is that under the Roman Empire, mundane prediction, i.e. prediction of events concerning rulers, government and kingdoms, was prohibited. Likewise early Christianity and its influence put chains on serious investigation of mundane matters. It would appear that this branch, the ‘mother’ branch if you will, was only kept alive in remote places only marginally under Roman and Byzantine control, such as India and Persia. As the Roman Empire split there is also some evidence of limited mundane prediction in the Byzantine Empire concerning rulers but based in large part on natal astrology concerning those rulers. And this is why I say there was a fourth stage of development in Western Astrology, which took place with the rise of the Islamic Empire; for it was in the 700’s that all vestiges of both eastern (Byzantine) and western Roman influence were ‘flushed’ from the middle east.

By 762, Baghdad was rebuilt and with it, in 813, was founded the House of Knowledge (Bait ha Hikma) establishing a place in which to assimilate the wealth of knowledge the Arab Dynasty had inherited. Observatories were constructed near Baghdad and Damascus. Translation of Greek, Syriac, Persian and Sanskrit literature, philosophical and scientific works were enthusiastically, if not passionately, pursued. Astrologers, who had long fallen from favour in both Byzantine and Roman cultures, now found benefactors and patrons in the Caliphs of the Islamic Empire.

It was amid this cultural rebirth that we find the emergence of what can only be described as a blending of ancient Babylonian Omen lore, Indian science and history and the more contemporary astrological technical style of Hellenistic astrology. This period provided the congregation of several lines of astrology, i.e. that of the Hellenistic astrologers, Persian (or Chaldean) astrologers, and elements from Indian Astrology. Without a doubt, this period and place became a «crossroads» and «conjunction» of the main astrological influences, cultures and teachings.

The most important ‘renaissance’ in this period was the re-emergence and development of mundane astrology. When you study the Islamic Era astrologers, there is an old world ‘feel’ to it just as much as there is new innovation. It contains the canons of much of the ancient Chaldean astrology from the second stage epoch, with special emphasis on the conjunctions of the superiors. In fact, many of the delineations we find in Abu Ma’shar’s work have ‘echoes’ from the distant past of Omen Lore.

A typical example of Venus from the old omen tablets reads:

“In the month of Sivan, on the twenty fifth day, Ninsianna [that is, Venus] disappeared in the east; she remained absent from the sky for two months, six days; in the month Ulul on the 24th day, Ninsianna appeared in the West – the heart of the land is happy. In the month Nisan on the 27th day, Ninsianna disappeared in the West; she remained absent from the sky for seven days; in the month Ayar on the third day, Ninsianna appeared in the east – hostilities occur in the land, the harvest of the land is successful.”

As you can read, each phase of Venus is recorded and an ‘omen’ corresponds to the phases. First Venus is oriental and direct ‘disappearing in the east’ where she is under the Sun beams while direct it takes over two months until she reappears in the west (occidental) and ‘the heart of the land is happy’. Then of course she reaches the limit of her course, stations and retrogrades ‘disappearing in the west’ while she is combust again and emerges in the east (still moving Rx) and they say hostilities occur in the land and the harvest is successful etc.

Curiously, we find this same type of delineation in Abu Ma’shar for example when Venus was in Leo and it was the Lady of the Year or a time-lord he says:

“If it [Venus] is at its greatest distance [when she stations], it indicates that disasters come to kings or to some of their women. If it is retrograde, it indicates anger occurring to kings, and grief and anxieties. If it is under the rays, it indicates disasters occurring to the women of kings. If it becomes visible in it [i.e. emerging from combustion], it indicates an abundance of honour for kings and nobles, the soundness of affairs of the rulers, the breaking out of illness resulting from heat and humidity, together with a large number of rumours and wars, and a large number of beasts of prey.”[9]

Echoing his ancient for-bearers, Abu Ma’shar gives distinct significations for each of Venus’ phases in relation to the Sun. By this time however, delineations and significations are somewhat more sophisticated and included such observations as stations and retrogradation. What occurred in this period was a unique blending of Hellenistic technique with, by all appearances, the remnants of very ancient omen lore!

In this convergence, there were some obvious innovations[10] in the joining of mundane and genethlialogical astrology. For example, we have the personal testimony of the Greek astrologer, Theophilus of Edessa, who was court astrologer to the Caliph al-Mahdî.[11] In the introduction to his treatise, Labours Concerning Military Inceptions, he tells us something of his own contribution to the innovation of new methods of mundane prediction.

7 So I, having pondered this, and having learned that a method of approach to [the subject of] war is seldom found among the ancients, except only [the inquiry] whether in the cosmic completions of events there will be war and captivity in the land (clearly leaving aside the most specific [issues], that is to say, especially the military campaigns against the enemy, those launched by the enemy, or the siege of cities and the tyrannies), I also write on the things that are set in motion or sharpened at specific times, by two armies facing each other, taking up a position, or pitched over against each other, on which matters the accurate records in the books of the ancients are found to be helpless.
8 Having given heed to precisely these things, I deemed it necessary to shift and divert some inceptions of war from the [current] natal and inceptional systems[12] which contained at the same time the plausible and the true, precisely because, having put many to trial, I was compelled (as you know) by those who held power at that time, to get busy with these things at the time when we made the military campaign with them eastward to the land of Margiana, where we withstood mutual misfortunes of war, with much icy-cold and immoderate winter, as well as the greatest fear, and opposition beyond measure.”
[13]

This is an interesting statement by Theophilus since it could well indicate that he was the astrologer who first put together the things to be considered in charts concerning War such as we find repeated later by Sahl, Haly and finally in Bonatti’s treatise On War. But equally interesting is his use of not only what appears to be a general teaching from mundane astrology, but also he joins these to the genethliacal teachings. We find both of these influences in following astrologers like Abu Ma’shār who describes the general significations of the planets in mundane astrology in this wise,

“Related to the superior planet furthest from the world of generation and corruption, i.e. to Saturn, is the indication for matters of Beginnings like religions, dynasties, and whatever lasts for a long time, since it is like the beginning for the other celestial bodies in terms of height. Related to the planet following it in order, i.e. to Jupiter, is the indication for laws and the like, which are the culminations in perfection for the other things, which are preliminary and initiatory. Related to the third of these planets in order, i.e. to Mars, is the indication for wars, strifes, and the like, being, as it were, the decline to the final ends of things, because the ends of things indicate destruction of their orderly arrangements after their perfection, and corruption of their regularity….The greater luminary and its influences…came to indicate kings and masters, since they are distinguished more strongly than others…..the inferior planets and their influences…came to indicate the occurrence of things of short period and duration, because of their relation to the third movement and the swiftness of their motion. The divisions of the three inferior planets, as it were, follow the first three divisions in indication because of the strength of the first divisions’ compulsion over them and their connection with them. Related to the highest of the inferior planets, i.e. to Venus, is the indication for marriages, clothes, and the like, since it corresponds to the first division, indicating beginnings. Related to the planet next to it in order, i.e. Mercury is the indication for writing, calculation, and the like, since it corresponds to the second division, indicating perfections. Related to the planet next to it and third in order, i.e. to the Moon, is the indication for movement, migration, journeys, and the like, since it corresponds to the third division, indicating declines.”[14]

As you can see, these significations are not typically Hellenistic. As just a side note, it should be obvious from what is written here why it is not the “type of Sun” that characterizes a nation. It was Saturn that signified for the beginnings of new kingdoms and dynasties in this classical approach to mundane astrology, not the Sun, which is simply ‘fall out’ from modern Sun sign astrology. But we also find in his mundane techniques this ‘borrowing’ from genethlialogical astrology. For example in his method of finding out the length of a rulers’ rule he says,

[19] As for knowing the quantity of their life spans from the second division,[15] – i.e. from the time of their accession – one looks for it from the Ascendant and from the midheaven, and one derives for it the haylāğ and kadhudāh just as one does in nativities. Then one moves the degree of the Ascendant for his body,[16] and <that of> the midheaven for his authority, and the periods for both of them are rotated together. Then, if the prorogation and the period of the two together arrive at misfortune, one judges the cutting off <of life>. If the corruption is of one of them without the other, one should judge from that corruption. If the degree of the Ascendant arrives at the malefics, and the misfortune is strong, one should judge cutting off for him. If <the misfortune> is not <strong>, one should judge illness for him, if the prorogation from the degree of the midheaven is sound. If the corruption is from their motion without the (?) Ascendant, one judges corruption of the government. If corruption is from the two, one judges cutting off.”[17]

Here Abu Ma’shar is clearly and deliberately ‘borrowing’ a technique straight out of the teaching of the Hellenistic genethlialogical branch of astrology which we find in Dorotheus or Valens for example where a ‘Hyleg’ (Valens=predominator) and ‘Alchocoden’ (Valens=ruler) is determined and from which we are to make a judgment concerning the length of years of the ruler as well as direct the Ascendant and Midheaven through the terms (in ascensional degrees) to support the delineation and find out the ‘when’ of delineation!

This period did not only see the fusion of an established genethlialogical body of astrology with ancient omen lore, but it also was a fusion of distinct Indian teachings.[18]

The mundane astrology which emerged contained a particular teaching concerning what should be considered as the ‘beginning’ of mundane matters and the relationship of astronomical cycles to history.[19] This particular doctrine concerned the return of all the heavenly bodies to some place where they originated[20] and the implication that each return brings about a similar, if not the same, sequence of worldly events. For example, we find that today this conception is attached to the Saros cycles of solar eclipses. Any two eclipses separated by one Saros cycle share very similar mechanical characteristics. They occur at the same node with the Moon at the same distance from Earth and at the same time of year. Bernadette Brady, for example, has written,

“These families or cycles have beginnings, middles and ends, and were first discovered by the Babylonians. Any one cycle will run for well over a thousand years, making the study of individual eclipses equivalent to sitting and watching a giant hardwood tree grow.”[21]

What Ms. Brady does not recount in her work on eclipses is that this conception and astronomical convention was the very heart and soul of the conjunctions of all the planets and in particular those of Jupiter and Saturn. In the same way that Saros cycles had beginnings, middles and ends, so do the greater conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn. In fact, all of these conjunctions, including the eclipse cycles were presented in a hierarchical form by the Medieval Arabic astrologers; especially Abu Ma’shār.

[12] Since the things from which to deduce advanced knowledge of the occurrences of general <types of events> and their particular instances in future times are gained from six elements, <here they are:> The first is from the celestial bodies’ positions in the horoscopes of the revolution of the years in which the conjunction of the two superior planets[22] occurs in the spring tropical sign[23], happening every 960 solar years.
[13] The second is from the celestial bodies’ positions in the horoscopes of the revolutions of the years in which their conjunction occurs when they shift from one triplicity to another, occurring every 240 solar years.
[14] The third is from the celestial bodies’ positions in the horoscopes of the revolutions of the years in which the conjunction of the two malefics[24] occurs in Cancer, and from the period of their conjunction in it, occurring every 30 years.
[15] The fourth is from the celestial bodies’ positions in the horoscopes of the revolution of the years in which their conjunction occurs in each sign, happening every 20 years.

[19] As for the fifth <element>, it is from the celestial bodies’ positions in the horoscopes of the times at which the conjunctional and oppositional Beginnings[25] arrive which precede the parallelism[26] of the greater luminary with the point of the beginnings of the tropical signs and at the time of its parallelism with them.
[20] The sixth is from the celestial bodies’ positions in the horoscopes of the times at which conjunctional and oppositional Beginnings arrive which precede the parallelism of the greater luminary with the beginnings of <each of> the signs and at the time of its parallelism with the point of their beginnings.
[21] In the presence of one of these times that we have defined, one looks at the horoscopes of those times, and the location of the celestial bodies’ in them, and all their natural and accidental conditions <which result> from their essence[27] and from <their relation to> the Sun and the sphere,[28] and one discovers (1) the nature of their indication from the planets which have predominance over the principal positions, and (2) the time of it according to what the indicators point out.”
[29]

While this thought on ‘beginnings’ and cycles existed in ancient Greek thought[30] it was only in Babylonian and later Sassanian and Indian astrology that it developed to a particular and specific practice.

It is these innovations and teachings which ultimately made their way into Europe in the late medieval period through astrologers like Guido Bonatti and made up the body of mundane astrology in the renaissance of people like William Ramesey who compiled a long treatise called Astrologia Munda.[31]


[1] modern Tell Kuyunjik, Iraq

[2] This is where the controversy lies which I will not go into as it is not particularly relevant to our discussion.

[3] This Rx conjunction was known as the lesser conjunction of the Sun.

[4] Uruk was an important early Sumerian city in southern Iraq.

[5] Beginning sometime between 700 to 450 B.C.E

[6] I.e. natal astrology

[7] I.e. astrology pertaining to elections and interrogations

[8] the earlier Chaldean astrology

[9] Volume I, Part Five, Chapter Four, §[8], Abu Ma’šar On Historical Astrology: The Book of Religions and Dynasties (On the Great Conjunctions), by Abu Ma’shar; translated and edited from the original Arabic by Keiji Yamamoto and Charles Burnett; published by Brill©2000

[10] By innovations, I do not mean invention, but rather a new application of axioms, method and postulates in astrology to an extant body of work. The word innovate comes from the Latin word, innovare, meaning, “renew” or “alter”. For example, progressions are a late medieval invention rather than an innovation and were the creation of a new method.

[11] See Benjamin Dykes Introduction (p.5) in The Astrological Works of Theophilus of Edessa, translated from the Greek by Eduardo J. Gramaglia.

[12] That is, natal and electional astrology; this is a clear indication that Theophilus is conscious of breaking new ground, not simply in terms of subject matter (war), but in terms of how to approach a chart.

[13] Labours Concerning Military Inceptions, Chapter 1:7-8 (p.50) Astrological Works of Theophilus of Edessa, translated from the Greek by Eduardo J. Gramaglia, edited by Benjamin Dykes PhD, Cazimi Press 2017

[14] Volume I, Part One, Chapter One, §[7], On Historical Astrology: The Book of Religions and Dynasties (On the Great Conjunctions), by Abu Ma’shār; translated and edited from the original Arabic by Keiji Yamamoto and Charles Burnett; published by Brill©2000

[15] The reference is to the two kinds of methods he mentions earlier in this discussion where he advocates using the chart of the ingress of the Sun into Aries for the year the ruler accedes as well as the chart of the time the ruler accedes to power.

[16] Cf. Tetrabiblos, IV, 10, ed. Robbins, p.449 “We shall apply the prorogation from the horoscope to events relating to the body and to journeys above; that from the Lot of Fortune to matters of property; that from the moon to affections of the soul and to marriage; that from the sun to dignities and glory; that from the mid‑heaven to the other details of the conduct of life, such as actions, friendships, and the begetting of children.

[17] ‘Cutting off’ refers to the rulers demise and fall from power which at that time was usually because of his death!

[18] With the Indian astrologers came their astronomical theories and tables, which were based upon the concepts of a grand conjunction at some remote epoch and of an integer number of revolutions or cycle of the planets in a certain time period. Furthermore, unlike Ptolemy’s tables, the Indian tables gave positions in a fixed zodiac. These principles had already passed to the Persians two centuries earlier. The result was a set of tables, such as the Zîj al-Shâh or Tables of the King, which were similar but not identical to the Indian tables. Both Mâshâ’allâh and Abu Ma’shar utilized these or similar tables in preparing their “astrological World histories.” Their greatest contribution was to make known to the Arabs the Indian invention of special signs for the numerals; or what we have mistakenly called Arabic numerals because it was through Arabic writings that Western Europeans became aware of them. Prior to this period, the Arabs, like the Greeks, had used the numerical values assigned to the letters of the alphabet, so that the Arabic letter dal, like the Greek letter delta, had to serve not only as the letter d but also as the numeral 4. The Indians had also invented a symbol for zero, which was lacking in the Arabic and Greek alpha-numerals.

[19] Kankah the Indian, who came to the courts of Al Mansur, wrote two books on the Conjunctions of the planets for example.

[20] This was called the World Year.

[21] The Saros Cycle – Eclipses come in Families, by Bernadette Brady – http://www.BernadetteBrady.com

[22] I.e. Saturn and Jupiter

[23] I.e. the sign Aries

[24] I.e. Saturn and Mars

[25] I.e. New Moons and Full Moons

[26] I.e. the transit or ingress of the Sun into the sign of Aries

[27] I.e. their natural significations

[28] I.e. whether combust, retrograde, oriental or occidental of the Sun and accidental signification derived from their house position and the house(s) they rule.

[29] Volume I, Part One, Chapter One, §[7], Abu Ma’sar On Historical Astrology: The Book of Religions and Dynasties (On the Great Conjunctions), by Abu Ma’shar; translated and edited from the original Arabic by Keiji Yamamoto and Charles Burnett; published by Brill©2000

[30] See G. De Calastay, Annus Platonicus, Louvain-la-Neuve, 1997

[31] This was in fact the fourth treatise of his book Astrology Restored.

Welcome


Thanks for dropping by!

So what is ‘Traditional Astrology’? I am not a big fan in calling it ‘traditional’ because traditional is a matter of perspective. I have no doubt that in the 5th century BC Omen Astrology was ‘Traditional’. In the 18th century Renaissance astrology was ‘traditional’. ‘But if we take its simple definition to mean, ‘pertaining to time-honoured orthodox doctrines‘, then I can call it ‘Traditional’.

Perhaps I should start by saying what it is not! It is not Modern astrology which is heavily influenced by modern psychology, particularly of the Jungian archetypal schools, and often with a humanistic New Age philosophical outlook. It considers the entire natal picture and houses as nothing less than an evolutionary progression of the native where the astrologer regards everything as having a heavily subjective quality, idea, attitude or motivation. Any semblance to Classical astrology is only superficial.

If we limit our astrology to psychology, we deal with secondary personal idiosyncrasies alone and we no longer see the individual as they are involved with universal circumstances. It is medieval astrological philosophy that in fact recognized that a human being has the possibility of choice because of the confrontation of the rational soul (intellect) with the animal soul (passion). Since the stars signify that relationship between the two parts of this soul; therefore, an individual will choose what the stars indicate.

As Abu Ma’shār wrote in the 9th century,

“All seven planets, by the agreement or disagreement of their conditions, share in the indication for the conditions of every individual in this world, whether small or great, though some of them have a greater indication over some genera, species, or individuals than others do.” [1]

And what are these conditions he was speaking of?

“…their indication for the differentiation of the species and of the individuals resulting from every species and individual, their indication for the composition of each natural individual, the mixing of the form and the ‘natures’ in ‘natured’ things, the agreement of the animal and rational soul with the body,..” [2]

There are several major differences in how classical astrology dealt with particular qualities of an individual and how modern astrology does. First off, modern astrology discusses astrology in purely psychological terms, whereas the ancients discussed it in philosophical terms. Secondly, classical astrology meant to make a person self-aware, but in modern astrology that has been interpreted to mean ‘self-improvement’.

The problem with ‘self-improvement’ is that it is oxymoronic; it requires a constant effort to get something one thinks one lacks and it necessarily entails constant effort to be something other than what one already is. This constant search to self-improve, limits the individual to their own resources and denies them their place among the universal circumstances.

On the other hand truly knowing one’s self, as presented in classical astrology, is a goal that is achievable. Through self-observation and discrimination we can know what we are. Along with this knowledge comes knowledge of one’s function, purpose and operation. The various techniques the medieval astrologer has at their disposition are proof positive that motivation and psychology mattered to them. The methods speak towards the individuality of the native and through them we can understand how things tend to lock an individual into a given level of operation with others for example. We act according to what we are! What we do demonstrates what we understand; i.e. what our state of knowledge and understanding is. If a person wants to alter their “being”, then one has to alter their behavior and what they do, not their self-image.

Philosophy and religion can lead us to know our function as a species; i.e. as a human. The goal of the classical astrologer is to help discover an individual’s purpose and function and bee able to suggest alternative, productive courses of action that could help the individual thrive objectively and so be happy.

[1] Part I, Chapter 4.15a (p.101) – The Great Introduction to Astrology by Abu Ma’shār – Translated by Keiji Yamamoto & Charles Burnett, Brill 2019.

[2] Ibid. Chapter 4.14a (p.101)