The State of the Art

“When Jupiter burns in Cancer and Mercury is with it, the conditions of people will improve.”

This article isn’t for everyone. I’m assessing the state of astrology in the present. Much of what I have to say I have already expressed in other contexts. It is virtually impossible to write an article of this sought without offending anyone at all, but that is not my intent. I would be encouraged if the article were the impetus for a debate and self-examination in the astrological community regarding the state of the art of astrology. Realistically, though, those who are most likely to feel the need for that examination are not likely to read this article. I do hope that anyone looking to find authentic and professional services will find a compendium of what to look for and what to avoid,

Something I have tried to do consistently on this site is to elucidate classical and ancient astrology and its place in modernity. The reputation of authentic astrology is largely in tatters. There are however signs of resurgence not only of astrology but the spirituality, and mysticism, to which it has always been yoked. This is occurring in the renaissance of traditional western astrology, but I believe we still have much to learn from Persian and Indian astrology. This has become my current area of research.

We cannot ignore the larger context of the Age in which live. Robert Zoller describes it as well as anyone:

http://www.lunatica.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/SAA/Documents/Zoller/Archandpredabridged-2.htm

“During the Piscean Age, the benefic Jupiter ruled the angles. Jupiter ruled both Pisces on the 1st and Sagittarius on the 10th, and thus, while there was confusion of hierarchical religious institutions and political institutions and while this inevitably led to hypocrisy, the Age was nevertheless one in which truth and philosophy mattered to men. The Piscean Age will, as this Aquarian Age unfolds, be seen as a halcyon period of semi-respite from the essentially malefic and spiritually destructive nature of life. In the Aquarian Age, the malefics once again rule the angles and with them returns the natural severity of worldly life.

The Novus Ordo Saeculorum, the New Order of the Ages, will rule through the power of life and death (Scorpio, which is on the 10th), through behaviour modification, cloning, genetic engineering, mind control and the occult. Might makes right in this New Age. If the preceding Age produced metaphysical materialists, who duped the people through the opiate of religion, the New Age will produce materialist metaphysicians who will make the preceding political power elites look like inept apprentices.

In the Age of Aquarius, religion will be humanistic love of fairness and justice. While feeding the people with Libran platitudes, the Scorpionic rulers will work tirelessly toward the realization of their goal – absolute power over others, as Leo is seen in position on the 7th house. The will of the people will be towards freedom of expression (Aquarius), and they will be encouraged to do their own thing so that they keep their minds off what their rulers do.”

The modernity we know is the result of accelerated scientific advances and, extreme, fanatical forms of collective political movements, sometimes in the guise of liberalism. I have argued elsewhere that the China of Mao or Stalin’s USSR are akin to Nazi Party when it was rolled out as the National Socialist German Workers’ Party,  The power comes like an iron fist from a single leader who promises food, jobs, stability, equality, sometimes cars, reason to replace religion, an overweening sense of being the only possible path one should take.

The first thing these superstates do is to arrest and kill anyone considered an intellectual. Even possession of a typewriter and a few books meant a one way trip to the Gulag. This is because intellectuals are not only dangerous in undermining the State but are a category of the perceived “elite.” In Communism, they were called reactionaries. There can be no possibility of an opposing view. We like to think that we live in an age of freedom, but these freedoms are being not so slowly dismantled. These demonstrate a quintessentially Aquarian series of phenomena. We quickly learn the limits of free speech if we question the contemporary liberalism in the West, even though this secular liberalism is uncomfortably close to the extreme versions that we fought for most of the 20th Century. To survive in such a milieu, astrology must state its case clearly at the same time that it is seen to open other doors of perception to counter the scientific materialism that surrounds us and would define us. Considering all this, it’s amazing that it has survived at all. The fact that some of these states are now defunct, and have been for some time, doesn’t mean that the inherent ideologies have no effect on us. The so-called collectives we have in the 21st Century are mostly impersonal Corporate entities, devoid of ethics and in many cases even essential decency,

Hindu Calendar 1871-72.

The collective movements most famously of the 20th Century during the incursion of the Aquarian Age have for the most part been responsible for reducing the status of human beings to brainwashed drones, while the top of the pyramid or the center of the parties lives in opulence. This is essentially the global corporate model where impoverished people work in sweatshops to produces good that they could never afford. Aquarian Age collectivism is almost always fanatical.  The state of the art in astrology is not unconnected to the illusions of the Aquarian Age – things often look good even when they are the complete opposite. It has often interested me that those who don’t like my dystopian views of the Age are perfectly happy to call it the Kali Yuga. I would go further to say that not noting the character of different ages is spectacularly unscientific. The opposing axis is Leo, affirming the sense of self beyond the collective, but adding an essential egoism. This concords with Zoller’s description of the Age.

This contextual and practical examination is to a large extent a follow up from my recent article “On Earth, As It Is In Heaven.” The events, sensibilities, and zeitgeist of our times are underscored by what Robert Zoller referred to as The Novus Ordo SaeculorumAstrological practise cannot be entirely separated from how one views the world. Capitalism, for example, is much more than business. It is an entire matrix of consciousness. It includes virtual slave labour in sweatshops in the third world. Capitalism writ large is a boot in the face of the most vulnerable people on earth. That is a kind of evil in my view. The Lord of the Age is Saturn. There are New Age people who believe that light can and does exist without darkness, that things must always be sweet, even though they clearly are not. Scientific materialists are not likely to care much for astrology at all, but who has not been touched by it? Those who put a high value on ancient and traditional sources will take yet another view of the subject, and so it goes. The astrological category of prediction is a good case in point.

The question of prediction was raised in the previous article, in considering how the subject may best be explained and the work executed.  To clarify, it is fair to say that all forms of astrology are indeed to one extent or another predictive. It should be clear that predictions are made with a combination of specialized skill on the subject on the part of the astrologer and by techniques developed over the millennia, always separating the wheat from the chafe. The Nativity, for example, studies the chart as if it were a seed. Other forms are more obviously so, although there is no great qualitative difference. The song remains the same.

The astrologer must know many things before an accurate reading is realized. These include, in varying degrees, the physical, mental and spiritual elements that make up the native, For example, a knowledge of the humours allows for a reading that understands that a person with a strong melancholic humour will not react the same way as someone with a choleric one. There may be (and usually are) indications of potential health issues along the way. These and many other considerations help to give us a sound understanding of the vehicle in which the native is traveling in to navigate his or her world.

Mental states likely to manifest are equally important, not only for their own sake but for how they will likely affect how the world is seen and, in some cases, point to potentially serious problems such as depression. The spiritual element is far more subtle and should be approached with a feeling for what may be of the greatest assistance. The situation is substantially imptoved if the astrologer is able to know the native’s spiritual orientation. This is virtually impossible without some contact with the native, but New Age entrepreneurs claim to be able to do this by having you will fill out a short form online. Some claim to be able to determine your last incarnation. This is not even close to sound astrology and is really for entertainment purposes only. If that was the understanding, perhaps that wouldn’t be so bad. However, the querent is led to believe that they are getting the real thing

When we consider Mundane Astrology, we have a host of techniques; but frankly, one needs to know history, and usually geography and political movements.  Mundane is, of course, best known as a predictive branch of astrology, but just as families of Saros cycles have meaning to us in the present, so too do cultures work on a continuum.  In this respect, the prediction is Janus faced – looking backward as well as forward..Mundane astrology is challenging, but it doesn’t require multiple charts in bi-wheels, tri-wheels, Solar Returns compared to other progressions until one has a mass of data and no clarity.  This is particularly noticeable in political mundane astrology For reasons that remain partly mysterious to me, predictions on who will win a given election are wildly popular. You will also notice that it is the norm for there to be as many wrong predictions as accurate ones. This tells us that the flipping of a coin would be equally useful if our question is simply “who will win.”This fact offends hubris and so it should Humility is a crucial cohabitant of wisdom. One of the main culprits here is the speed at which we are expected to work during this age of massively accelerated technology. Nevertheless, that cannot excuse a self-interest that makes the clear reading of a chart an impossibility.

Make no mistake, we now live in an age where far more astrological charts are cast by the inept than the adept. This is almost entirely due to the incredible ease of using modern, sophisticated software programs, including free astrological calculation services available online.  It is not so long ago, that every chart was painstakingly calculated by hand. Nevertheless, having drawn up the chart, no matter how one does it, it requires interpretation and to do that effectively takes many years to develop. Learning the essential significance of a given planet, luminary or sign is the beginning. Learning how these interact with each other in a whole chart is perhaps the second step. Beyond that is how humankind and all of creation is interconnected, A neo-platonist would call us monads.

In my estimation, neither of these steps will be complete without a deep knowledge of the origins of this knowledge. Hermeneutics – A method or theory of interpretation – is an apt term in relation to the Art of Hermes. Hindus will say that the science of the stars was given at the time of creation and I’m not going to argue against that. Because most of human history has been transmitted orally, we cannot say with certainty when it began, or if in fact it always existed as part of being human – we do after all come from the stars – we are made of stardust. The oldest written work in the Indo European history is the Rig Veda, written in Sanskrit. The dates given for the creation of the text vary wildly. Some scholars suggest it was written circa 1500 BC.  Others have claimed that it likely dates back to the 8th C. BC, based on astronomical configurations recorded in the text. There is no doubt that the first sections of the Rig Veda are very old indeed, consisting or oral transmissions. from sage to sage. Today, there are many people calling themselves astrologers who have no interest whatsoever in where the science came from or what are the underlying principles.

Lunar phases in ‘Treatise of astronomy and computation’, in Turkish_translated from Persian, 1586-1600

The ancient world was far more connected than most people realize, As always, trade was the first cause of this. This brings China and the Silk Route into the fray very early on. However, the astrological tradition as we have known it benefitted from the close proximity of Persia to India. Persia, in turn, acts as a bridge to Babylon and Hellenistic world. Platonism and Neo-Platonism were crucial to the understanding of the metaphysics underpinning astrology. All of these cultures mixed freely in Alexandria. It is interesting to read Plotinus and see both Platonic thought and what looks like Hindu metaphysics. It is impossible to ignore the extraordinary similarities between Shiva and Dyonysis. The presence at the School of Alexandria was a crucible for numerous philosophical schools from throughout the Mediterranean, North Africa, Persia, India, Babylon, and the entire Middle East. There were Hellenized Jews, Stoics, Pythagoreans and all of these cultures had an intense interest in the Heaven and how they may be interpreted, Last but not least was the tradition of the Hermetica, also quite seamlessly a part of this nexus.

There is a healthy spirit of research into the earliest mentionings of the language of the stars. I believe that we are on the verge of new and powerful techniques that are also ancient. Much earlier than these philosophical systems we have the henge cultures of the Celts and cave drawings of Lascaux showing us that our earliest known ancestors watched the movement of the Heavens and organized their lives around constellations, the Lunar cycle and to a large extent, the cycle of Venus.

It is, therefore troubling that people calling themselves astrologers, more often than not. have very little skill and almost no understanding or interest in the underlying structure and philosophical underpinnings of the art.  The problem arises when the client is offered a vision of themselves that is divorced from the deeper wisdom potentially available in traditional readings. Again, we have a case of “I’m free to do whatever I want” with no real concern for the consequences. Considering the laws of nature is an antidote to that falsehood if observed.

All of the essential elements of authentic astrology are alive and derived from ancient sources – some say from the beginning of creation. Philosophies, such as Platonism and the Hermetica provide a special, sacred language to convey the subtleties and profundities that ordinary language may be found inadequate, For this and many other reasons, the underpinnings of astrology need to be studied in earnest

In the Aquarian Age, any mention of someone lacking adequate skill in anything might be cause for accusations of elitism. By the same logic, anyone with an avid interest in anatomy shouldn’t be prevented from performing any kind of surgery that strikes their fancy. Largely due to the internet, many people now claim to be astrologers who haven’t the faintest idea of on what astrology is based. Astrology has for the most part been reduced to the status of a parlor game. of essentially the same nature as newspaper Sun sign columns. If your chart isn’t saying what you want it to say, you can keep adding planets, asteroids, hypotheticals, centaurs, Priapus, the Black Sun, three Black Moons and a partridge in a pear tree. This is precisely what many modern astrologers do.

A King and a Monk (recto) Text (verso) Folio from the Uttaradhyayana Sutra said to be one of the final set of lectures given by Lord Mahavira before his liberation.

Astrology has also been weaponized by people who are willing to use every last asteroid to make their political case. The central issue is there for all to see. For every competent,  objective chart read, there are thousands that are neither competent nor even slightly objective. When one is in the position of assuming that anything can be anything in astrology, the art is easily abused and manipulated, becoming like a ventriloquist dummy, explaining every event as if in one’s own image. If one’s favored political choice lost, then the chart is portrayed as a trainwreck of malefic influences. If your candidate wins, the same chart might well be interpreted as the beginning of a golden age. It is true that some court astrologers in the past were subject to execution if they provided information the monarch wished not to hear, but these days incompetence. and political bias are among the usual culprits.

Jain Cosmic Diagram. Gujarat. Circa 1500.

The beginnings of astrology were focussed on timekeeping and providing a powerful means to wed heaven to earth, in the words of Pico della Mirandola. This is the core of “on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words, the primary purpose and nature of astrology is that of a celestial dialogue. But we look through a glass darkly and perfect knowledge is forever elusive. The most engaging astrologers in my view are the ones with a strong sense of divine spirit at work. It is as if the entire soul is brought into play.

The nature of modern prediction has also fallen prey to the sensibility, depredation, and demands of the modern news cycle, an entity purchased by global corporations who control the news to favour the needs of shareholders Massive artificial catastrophes, even presidential peccadilloes, are stoked by nothing more than sound bites and questionable sources – often by out and out prevarication and dissembling.  Petty scandals steal the journalistic spotlight, while thousands of children are being slaughtered in a shadow war.

Weather predictions or a medical prognosis, whether achieved through astrological techniques or by medical and meteorological means., are useful because they provide us with a chance to prepare for inclement weather or alert us to minor or serious health issues, for which we may find effective remedies or other means to avert a health crisis.  Knowing who will be elected has rather vague uses when one considers how rarely political promises are made good. I do not denounce the practice for one minute, but I do think that context and relative worth are elements to be considered. It’s more like predicting the outcome of a horserace. Many people enjoy and use these methods and pursue these goals and there is nothing inherently wrong with them. From my point of view, however, they miss the point.

The Sky Goddess Nut body representing the Milky Way arching across the night sky.

Part of my distaste for many election predictions is that they imply that it doesn’t matter if anyone votes because the winner has already been selected by fate. I have no particular problem with fate, but it would make a mockery out of democracy if taken to this level. Certainly, one can argue that fate can work through elections, but it does feel a bit like playing with loaded dice, To me, the subject of political elections is sometimes handled just as well by skilled journalists and even historians than by competitive astrologers with an ax to grind. Objectivity is better-called disinterestedness in this case. It is a state of mind that, as far as is possible, lacks either attachment or aversion, The stars guide us. We do not bend them to our will.

It’s my contention, based on experience, that the greatest guardian of astrology is a strong desire to be a channel of a divine spirit. Divine Spirit is the quintessence of creation. You are right to feel uneasy about an astrologer who is glib, arrogant or professes no faith in the mystical essence of the art. A colleague once told me that he had no interest in the cultural and spiritual background of astrology and that it was “just like mathematics.” I completely disagree with that. When we say such things, we are rather too close to what I call the “slot machine mentality.” Ideally, astrology is at its best when it can develop a conscious relationship with divine intelligence, one that assists realization of the soul’s purpose and consequent destiny, rather than frittering away the power available by over attachment to questions of desire or acquisition. Two examples of the latter would be “when will Bobby love me” or “when will I be rich.”

To be fair, many clients come to us with specific questions. When the answer is not what they wanted to hear, they will keep asking the same question, as if at some point they will hit the jackpot. They cannot be blamed. The society we live in encourages such things. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, we either treat astrology with the reverence it deserves or we are complicit in its misuse. This is not primarily a moral issue. It is all about a consciousness and reverence of divine spirit, used for good vs corruption, in one degree or another, In short, the inspired astrologer is forever conscious of the weight of responsibility. This is not a burden, but a joy.

Ancient Hindu Astrology Symbols Wall Jaisalmer– Rajasthan

The Lingering Mystery of the 911 Prediction

For many people, the events of 9/11 are considered clear and fully explained. Whether these people are in the majority is another question, Still, I have no intention of addressing the still-mounting number of theories, except to point to the level of uncertainty, the improbable nature of much of the official story and the vast array of alternate theories about what happened on that bright September day in New York 17 years ago.

It should, however, be borne in mind that whoever was the mastermind of the attack has not been revealed to this day. That in itself is a great mystery since the usual purpose of such attacks id to draw attention to a specific cause or to exact some form of an ultimatum. This was hitherto the way terrorist attacks worked. They usually conveyed a specific threat, yet to be delivered, or involved the taking of hostages to be used for leverage during bargaining. Anonymous terrorist attacks were virtually unheard of before the events on 9/11 in New York. We do know that Osama bin Laden stated that he admired the attack but couldn’t take credit for it.

The astrological community was quick to tally who had been able to predict the event, with many saying it would be impossible to predict the precise date and the exact place. To the best of my knowledge, nobody did just that.

Just as mysterious as the details of the event itself is the astrological prediction of the event, which was overshadowed by the attention on Robert Zoller, who was at the time riding on a wave of great astrological celebrity, in no small part due to his many contributions to traditional and particularly Medieval Astrology. Even today on Astrology Restored he is listed as “the world’s leading proponent of Medieval Astrology.” In the same place, he is credited with the prediction of the attack on New York,

This is the graphic representation of the Total Solar Eclipse of 11 August 1999 to which Zoller refers. One of the most fundamental rules for the judgment of an eclipse is that it must be visible to have any influence on a given area. In this case, although it is a very impressive eclipse, it is not visible on US soil. In fact, the maximum point of this eclipse is over Romania, on the other side of the world. It does, however, pass through several European and Middle Eastern countries and onward to Pakistan and India, as far as the Bay of Bengal. The duration of the eclipse was 2 min 23 s.

This detail is one of the most perplexing elements in Zoller’s prediction. It simply wouldn’t qualify, yet he is meticulous in explaining the time frame of the alleged effect. The 1999 eclipse apparently has an effect that lasts 30 months. He doesn’t say why. However, we are fortunate to have his own words, on the larger topic, published in his Nuntius newsletter. He writes

” From September we are entering a period of increased danger to us in the West. In an earlier Nuntius I said that there is an increasing threat to the US citizens and this is particularly so on the Eastern sea boarder. I have also said that this threat is linked not so much to a new boldness in terrorist planning but more to US incompetence. At that time I couched those remarks as being non-astrological so as to play down the warning but I say again as was said in the July Nuntius if the US does not cease acting incompetently, it will invite the depredations of adventurers such as Osama bin Laden and Saddam. This is a wake up call. Our way of life and cultural values (& our lives) are at stake. “

Again, there is no reason given for this specific information. I cannot imagine how it could have derived from consulting the eclipse alone. This account could have been written by anyone with an understanding of current events., as has been noted by others No date is given. No specific location is given. It’s would appear to be a useless prediction from that point of view because the most important utility of prediction is to warn or offer preparatory information.  The US and the Western world was bracing for terrorist attacks, such as had already occurred. Elsewhere, Zoller had warned of Chinese forces working with Al Qaida in the desert, which proved to be incorrect.

He also wrote: “”As the next 12 months unfold we will see increased tension in those countries that fell under the path of the August 1999 eclipse but after the end of August 2001 this will take on a new twist and it will be the last 6 months of the eclipse effect that will be the worse.”

That refers to so many countries, many of which are in a constant state of tension  It’s a throwaway line and ultimately tells us nothing. We are curious to know what else Zoller might have used but didn’t mention. Zoller could have used several other tools available to Mundane astrologers, such as various Ingress charts, Planetary Phases. Profections, Primary Directions, Lunations,  Revolutions and more. If he used any of these I’m not aware of it.

So, if he is telling us that the time range of the eclipse is 2.5 years, that would fit the (approx) 2,5 minutes of duration of the eclipse. But I repeat: the eclipse did not fall on US soil, we still have a wide time frame and the eastern seaboard is a massive area. Why did he not consult other elements? If he did, he doesn’t mention them with any coherence. If he was certain of the attack, why did he not warn anyone in a position to get the word out so that thousands of lives would be saved? Why does he initially make the prediction as if as a casual observer, only to claim it was really a prediction?

There were two Lunar Eclipse in 1999, one on 31 January with maximum eclipse in the Philippines and the other on 28 July with maximum eclipse seen in the central Pacific. neither of these is mentioned by Zoller or any other astrologer, to the best of my knowledge. There was an Annular Solar Eclipse across Western Australia on 116 February 1999, with the maximum eclipse Again, the lack of visibility in N. America would rule out any interpretation of an event in New York. Yet Zoller refers to another eclipse that didn’t stretch to N. America either.

He had predicted the election of George W. Bush, referring to him as “a younger less experienced member of the House of Bush.” It’s a prediction that many people from all walks of life might have made with confidence. but it stands out because the language reads like a mimicry of prophets such as Nostradamus. It’s as if we are being thrown off the scent at every turn, left wondering if there was anything to find in the first place.  Below is a chart for the eclipse set for New York, even though it was not visible from anywhere in the Americas.

We see that Saturn and Jupiter are moving into Superior Conjunction. This occurs approximately every ten years and has been considered of great astrological importance since antiquity. This [henomene marks a new epoch. This consideration is crucial in most Mundane readings of this type. It hasn’t happened yet, but it soon will on 31 May 2000 The 12th House of hidden enemies is the point of the eclipse. Mars is in perfect opposition to Saturn. As with the eclipse itself, which places the stress om the alleged enemies of the US. Venus is her Fall and Retrograde, and Lady of both Saturn and Jupiter. I have no way of knowing if Zoller consulted a chart anything like this, but it seems likely considering his emphasis on the eclipse.

Below is the chart for the first plane crash into the WTC. I add ir here to see, even in a general way, what Zoller might have envisioned.  What was he looking at that would convince him that the attack would be from Muslim fundamentalist? Islam is under Venus and the eclipse was in Leo. There really is no reason why Zoller would consult such a chart. unless it was after the fact. I leave it here for those wishing to examine this chart.

This is by no means intended as a person or a professional attack on Robert Zoller, who has a well-founded reputation as one of the most important astrologers of his generation. However, readers have raised these questions and I thought it best to put out there for an explanation and an opportunity for discussion. Moreover, when a high profile astrologer makes such a prediction, they must expect to be questioned on how the prediction was made. The eclipse needs to be explained anew or disqualified as part of a prediction if, in fact, a prediction occurred in the first place.

The one astrologer that predicted the attack to the exact day was a popular but unpretentious astrologer named Lynne Palmer who wrote: ““Avoid terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001” in her almanack. Robert Hand recognizes hers as the only accurate prediction but has not been able to discover how she arrived at such an accurate conclusion.

As a footnote, there is another way of looking at this, but I see no evidence that Zoller did so. The eclipse cuts through countries such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is a complete list of the countries who felt the wrath of the US military, but none of them was proven to be responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The scapegoat was primarily in Iraq and then Afghanistan.  This was the question I asked at the time.

If you google this subject, you are sure to come upon a critique of this alleged prediction at http://www.skepticreport.com/sr/?p=535. The writer states that ” In fact, whenever Zoller was precise, he was wrong. Whenever he was waffling, he now claims accuracy. ” These are harsh words, but, as always, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Aldebaran (Tascheter) the Watcher of the East.

Icon of Archangel Michael (detail), Yaroslavl, 1216.

The constellation of Taurus holds the red eye of Aldebaran (Tascheter) the Watcher of the East. He is almost universally considered to the be the Watcher of the Pleiades. The association is with the Spring Equinox when the system was conceived. The Pleiades are associated with rain and even tears. To suffer a dry Spring was considered a bad omen indeed, as crops would fail.

The Pleiades aka The Seven Sisters is probably the best-known star clusters in the heavens. It is easily visible with the naked eye on a clear night in the winters of the Northern Hemisphere.  It has also been of particular interest since antiquity and to a variety of cultures. There are references to the Pleiades in Hesiod, The Odyssey, The Bible, and the Quran. The asterism is also revered in  Hindu mythology. The Plaiedes have always been one of the most studied asterism in our history. Manilus writes: ”

Auroch (Bull No 18) Hall of Bulls Lascaux

“The Bull will dower the countryside with honest farmers and will come as a source of toil into their peaceful lives; it will bestow, not gifts of glory, but the fruits of the earth. It bows its neck amid the stars and of itself demands a yoke for its shoulders. When it carries the sun’s orb on its horns, it bids battle with the soil begin and rouses the fallow land to its former cultivation, itself leading the work, for it neither pauses in the furrows nor relaxes its breast in the dust. The sign of the Bull has produced a Serranus and a Curius, has carried the rods of office through the fields, and has left its plough to become a dictator [eque suo dictator venit aratro]. Its sons have the love of unsung excellence: their hearts and bodies derive strength from a massiveness that is slow to move, whilst in their faces dwells the boy-god Love (Cupido).” [Astronomica, Manilius, 1st century AD, book 4, p.233].

The Pleiades (M45) as imaged with the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph from Bifrost Observatory. For complete details about this image, see Pleiades (M45). Photo copyright 2012 by Fred Es[panak of NASA

In the image of the Bull from the Lascaux caves, we find that the astronomical detail is stunning. The Bull is enmeshed in the Hyades, with the Pleiades clearly articulated just above him. You can also see the belt of Orion. That we have such a clear a Neolithic representation of the constellation is a testimony to how long the heavens have held a particular meaning for us and also that there has been far less changing in our interpretations than we might reasonably expect. Of course, this begs the question why.

The Angel of the East is Michael the Archangel. He is best known as something of an Avenging Angel but is more properly known as a protecting Angel. His sword is always ready.  The East is the place of the Sunrise and the beginning of things.

This is what Vivian Robson says about Alderaban: “It gives honor, intelligence, eloquence, steadfastness, integrity, popularity, courage, ferocity, a tendency to sedition, a responsible position, public honors and gain of power and wealth through others, but its benefits seldom prove lasting and there is also danger of violence and sickness. [Fixed Stars & Constellations in Astrology.  p.120.] Aldebaran is known as the Eye of God but also associated with blindness. Many of these attributes are the blessings and shortfalls of youth. We are facing the origins of creation.

We can’t forget that this is the element of Earth or that the Hebrew meanings are oxen in the sense of the yoked power of the Bull, Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabets and speaks to powerful potential. The name aleph is originally derived from the West Semitic word for “ox”, and the shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph.  It is thought that this glyph was in turn based on Egyptian hieroglyph, however, I find insufficient evidence of the last claim.

The tarot card that embodies this quite consciously is The Fool. The Fool is in a sense outside of the system and has the value of zero and perfect potential. In mosy decks, the Fool is shown with a staff with a sack over his shoulder, which is undeniably associated with virility. the Fool is youth personified: optimistic for no particular reason and most of all, unaware of the potency he carries and is about to walk off a cliff while sniffing a flower.

The name Aldebaran (pronounced /ælˈdɛbərən/) comes from the Arabic word al-dabarān, meaning “the follower.” The name refers to the Pleiades cluster (Messier 45), which the star appears to be following across the sky.

The Eclipse of Castiglione

On the 12th of May, 1706, there was stunning Total Solar Eclipse, with the Path of Totality running through the heart of Europe, from Southern Scandinavia through Spain. The chart for the eclipse in Castiglione Savarese, a town now in Northern Italy looks very ominous indeed. Any astrologer reading this chart would have taken it as a harbinger of things to come, particularly knowing the strategic value of their city and the.extreme turbulence of Europe, involving several powerful countries jockeying for increased wealth and hegemony. This needs to be said because making a prediction of an event that cannot possibly take place, such as a major earthquake in an area that has no significant seismic threat or to push the point further to predict a tsunami in Mongolia. When predictions are made, it is to the great advantage of the practitioner to take realities into account. This includes political realities. 

The path of the eclipse also looks like a visual depiction of the Swedish army’s sweep through Europe, over the Alps as it races from one conflict to another. or the French army under Louis d’Aubusson de La Feuillade marching to a decisive and assured victory.

The eclipse was exact for that location at 10.20 AM. The Sun eclipsed by the Moon in the 21st-degree of Taurus, which conjuncts Algol, the most pernicious star in the heavens.  Furthermore, Algol is between the eclipsed Sun and Saturn. This configuration in the  Tenth House augurs for the fall of Castiglioni. This is not to be confused with the more famous battle at the same location on August 5, 1796.

The history and political intrigue germane to our topic should be understood as part of a series of many, many battles. In one way or another, the conflicts began with the crisis of the Spanish Succession and the hydra head of ensuing conflicts involving several countries in Europe. The details are too many to release here and are not likely to be of great interest to anyone other than a historian of the period. However, a summary of the events that lead up the more than a century, the political and military situation is summarized thus:

Since May 1706 a French army of 48,000 under the said Louis d’Aubusson de la Feuillade was besieging the Savoy capital, Turin. Another army 44,000

Battle of Luzzara, War of the Spanish Succession

under Louis Joseph de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme was employed to bar the Austrians’ path from Lake Garda. However, Vendôme was recalled to Flanders to restore order after the lost Battle of Ramillies, leaving command to the inexperienced Duke of Orléans. Eugene of Savoy exploited the situation and dashed to Turin, forcing Orléans to split his forces. He left 23,000 men under the Count of Médavy near the Adige in case allied reinforcements appeared from the other side of the Alps.  The Swedish army under the Crown-Prince and future King Frederick I of Sweden, crossed the Alps and besieged Castiglione. Here, Médavy attacked and totally defeated the Hessians, inflicting a loss of 8,000 killed, wounded, and missing.”  These historical facts have been gathered from various sources, all or most of which can be found  @ Wiki

We are now in a position to see the progressions and comparisons of the two charts. Saturn has moved to conjunct Mars in the Ninth House and we can fairly read that as indicative of the foreign invaders, particularly with Aries opposing the city’s Ascendant in Libra. The lights are now weak in the 12th House and acting as hidden enemies. Saturn is Almuten of the First and fifth House in the Hour of Saturn. The chart Almuten is Mercury.The Scorpio/Taurus Axis of the Nodes in the Axis of Hades reflects themes of the Eclipse.

Secrets of the Antikythera Mechanism: 1 & 2

Approximately three hours of lectures on the Antikythera Mechanism. This is of great interest to Hellenistic astrologers, as well as astronomers, historians, and others. The mechanism even calculates Saros cycles, phases of the Moon, planetary motions and much more. The third video shows a Virtual Reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism (by M. Wright & M. Vicentini)

Father Christmas & The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

The Longest Night must pass before the waxing of the Light. A Blessed and Merry Yule to all my friends, family and associates. At the time of the Solstice, we have the image of the Centaur giving way to Capricorn with the Holly King, appropriately riding a Goat.

St. Nicholas magazine cover art by Canadian-born illustrator Norman Price, Christmas Number, December 1912

There are some variations on the theme of the Holly and the Oak Kings. First of all, they are two faces of the same life force, with strong natural, seasonal, agricultural and mythical significance. Form a traditional astrological point of view, the two signs of Saturn oppose both luminaries – Capricorn opposes the domicile of the Moon and Aquarius the domicile of the Sun. It is, after all, a dark time of year with the seeds of the waxing light.Beyond all other considerations, the celebrations taking place cross-culturally and around the world celebrate and exalt this seed of light.

The story of Pan and his contest with Apollo is an archetypal portrayal of Saturn vs the Sun. Pan is remembered for competing with his flute against Apollo’s lyre. Rhe contest was judged by Timolus to be inferior to Apollo’s lyre. Everyone present agreed with the judgment except for King Midas, who considered it unjust. For his insolence, Midas acquired, by the will of Apollo, the ears of an ass, which he tried, unsuccessfully, to conceal under a turban.

I’m also reminded of the passage by C.S. Lewis wherein Mr. and Mrs. Beaver tell the children that Narnia is under the spell of a malevolent despot. There is neither joy nor peace. Narnia has become a land where hope is little more than an act of folly and oppression is the order of the night,  Every day is as if it is “always winter but never Christmas.” Not long after, there is the sound of sleigh bells and it becomes apparent that the dark force is losing its strength.

Lewis is drawing from ancient sources and a theme that is ubiquitous. Christmas is, of course, a Christian festival, but The Oak King and the Holly King each rule for half the year. The evergreen holly and the sacred oak symbolically vanquish each other every six months, to rule for half the year. In reality, they are two sides of the same force. Indeed, the etymology of the word Holly in Latin means the holm-oak or evergreen oak (Quercus ilex).

These battles are usually considered to take place at the Solstices, but this seems to be the result of a misunderstanding regarding the nature of the seasons.

The battles take place at the Equinoxes – Samhain, and Beltane so that the Oak King is at his strongest during Midsummer or Litha, and the Holly King is dominant during Yule. In the Celtic tradition, Samhain is the end of Summer and the beginning of a new year. Beltane is a time of new life – a celebration of mating and regeneration. The association of Pan with Capricorn shouldn’t be missed. At his peak, the Holly King is very much like the Lord of Misrule, thriving as he does under two consecutive Saturnine signs.

Pan and Daphnis 4, the inventor of the bucolic poem. 7222: Gruppo marmoreo di Pan e Dafni. Collezione Farnese. Forse da un prototipo dello scultore rodio Eliodoro. National Archaeological Museum, Naples.

I think Lewis is also pointing to a parallel tradition in which a faun might be interpreted as a child of Pan. In the engraving above, Father Christmas or the Holly King has an unmistakably lecherous grin and he appears to be well- stocked up with wine. The goat is synonymous with lust and of course, Pan himself is half goat.  We have a mischievous  Father Christmas who could also be seen as the Lord of Misrule, found at the center of Saturnalia. The Holly Kings is also merry. The mythic elements are also decidedly chthonic and celebratory of nourishment found in barren places. Goats thrive in the most hostile environments due to their extraordinary sure-footedness and ability to find food even in the most remote places, including high elevations and extreme temperatures.

This 1835 drawing depicts “Father Christmas” being ferried by a goat.
Wikimedia Commons / University of St Andrews Library

It would be naive to interpret the Holly King as a Santa Claus, but the fact is they will forever be associated with most of the same themes that we associate with Christmas and Yule and the dozens of other festival occurring at the same time. Pan is the Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Syd Barret, a Capricorn, chose this title for Pink Floyd’s first studio lp. No doubt, he got the namer and the inspiration from ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame; illustrated by Nancy Barnhart and  Published 1913. The Piper goes back much further, however, and he was the subject of Pre-raphaelite artists.

Pan’s is a primal music and his nature is the origin of the word ‘panic.’ But authentic music is not merely cerebral. It evokes other states of consciousness – some sweet and some dark

The Season is a celebration of Peace and Good-Will as much as it is a recognition of our most primal nature and the transmutation required to embrace both. We are all the Piper at the Gates.

Reading Māshā’allāh : Sassanian Ayanamsa

The Sassanid Palace at Sarvestan Shiraz Iran – Persian: kakh-eh Sassani-ye Sarvestan – Photo- Javad Jowkar

Before we begin, I would like to make it abundantly clear that it is not my intention to replace the chart we have for the foundation of Baghdad This is in most respects as well sourced as can be expected. What I would like to, however, is to explore what happens when we decide not to take the best of intentions as the only possible motivation and that, further, the shifting of one element in the charts’ construction can change the meaning dramatically and with often unexpected results. Scientists and other researchers understand the necessity of ridding ourselves, as much as is humanly possible, of preconceptions. I think it only fair to read Māshā’allāh using the Sassanian Ayansama to see what might be found. I will add that this study makes me uncomfortable for all the right reasons and I most certainly mean no disrespect to Māshā’allāh.

Māshā’allāh (from mā shā’ Allāh, i.e. “that which God intends”) was a Jewish astrologer from Basra. Ibn al-Nadīm says in his Fihrist that his name was Mīshā, meaning Yithro (Jethro).  Māshā’allāh was one of the leading astrologers in the eighth- and early ninth-century Baghdad under the caliphates from the time of al-Manṣūr to Ma’mūn, and together with al-Nawbakht worked on the horoscope for the foundation of Baghdad in 762. (See Māshā’allāh ibn Atharī (or Sāriya) [Messahala]

13-th century manuscript, drawn by Al-Wasiti of the celebrated book “The Assemblies”. Written by Hariri, shows a library in Baghdad

The chart that he was commissioned for the construction of Baghdad comes down to us from Al Biruni, a fellow Persian from modern-day Uzbekistan / Turkmenistan, in his monumental work The Chronology of Nations.  He is less commonly known by his full name of Abū Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Al-Bīrūnī (4/5 September 973 – 13 December 1048).  Biruni gives us the time, place and date, but makes no mention of the House System or Ayanamsa used for the chart. It’s normally considered that Māshā’allāh used Whole Signs and we know his most famous student did also. This still leaves the thorny question of which Ayanamsa he used.

If he used the Sassanian Ayanamsa along with material available to him in the Greater Bundahishn. This would change a great many things and would certainly challenge some of our more cherished notions, such as the Chart for Baghdad being done in good faith in the hope of the greatest possible benevolence. Before proceeding any further, it needs to be said that this chart has been subjected to all kinds of tortuous logic by several astrologers, including my initial article on this chart a decade ago. It has always seems to have been discussed with a touch of reticence.

This is no more than a ‘what if’ because we cannot absolutely prove it either way.  As a Persian Jew, Māshā’allāh had good reasons to dislike and resent the Islamic invasion of Persia and the slaughter of Jewish tribes in the Arabian peninsula and elsewhere. Jews had enjoyed a good life in Persia for millennia, as they do to this day. It would be extraordinary if he had no reservations whatsoever.

Here we have the chart with all the information passed on to us by Al Biruni, using Whole Sign houses, calculated using the Sassanian Ayanamsa.  This strikes me as a struggling chart with little to commend it.  But the chart has never been unequivocally beneficent in any of its forms, using other house systems and the sidereal zodiac, for example. This has been part of the confusion. Baghdad was indeed a great centre of learning with widespread influence, both through space and time. However, it has also suffered excessive calamities and violence over the centuries and still suffers to this day.

A brief history of the city shows us that Baghdad’s early meteoric growth was stifled due to problems within the Caliphate itself, including a relocation of the capital to Samarra (during 808–819 and 836–892), the loss of the western and easternmost provinces, and periods of political domination by the Iranian Buwayhids (945–1055) and Seljuk Turks (1055–1135).

Nevertheless, Baghdad held her place and continued as a major cultural and commercial centre in the Islamic world. Then tragedy struck on a massive scale. On February 10, 1258,  the city was sacked by the Mongols under the command of Hulagu Khan. The Mongols killed most of the inhabitants, including the Abbasid Caliph Al-Musta’sim. They also destroyed large sections of the city. Even the canals and dikes forming the city’s irrigation system were destroyed. The attack ended Abbasid Caliphate. It has often been noted that Islamic civilization never completely recovered.

In 1401, Baghdad was again vanquished by Timur. So it continued, until the incursion of the Ottoman Turks. It’s difficult to make the case that Bagdad has not had far more than its share of sorrows and reversals of fortune.  It is equally difficult not to recognize the measure of success and abundance.

We are used to thinking of the Royal Stars of Persia – the Watchers of the Directions –  as Regulus, Aldebaran, Fomalhaut, and Antares, representing the four Fixed Signs and hear we see them on the angles. However, the Sassanian model put the emphasis on Sirius. canopus is used in Islam for the orientation of places of worship. For those reasons, I have included them. It is crucial to consider the Horoscope of the World which we examined in a previous article. In that schema, the House of Life (the Ascendant) was at the nineteenth degree of Cancer, the asterism Azara too was disposed in the star Sirius, which in the chart we have falls in the House of death at 24°18.  I cannot see how he could have missed this. He was certainly aware of the Horoscope and the extraordinary power of Sirius.

In the Great Bundahishn

in Chapter 2, sections 3 & 4, in the translation by Behramgore Tehmuras Anklesariawe, we find:

“3. Over these constellations, He appointed four chieftains, in four directions; He appointed a chieftain over these chieftains; He appointed many innumerable stars that are recognized by name, in various directions and various places, as givers of vigour, by cooperation, to these Constellations.

4. As one says: “Sirius [Tishtar] is the chieftain of the East, Sataves the chieftain of the South, Antares [Vanand] the chieftain of the West, the Seven Bears [Haptoring] the chieftain of the North; the Lord of the throne, Capricornus, whom they call the Lord of Mid- Heaven, [is the chieftain of chieftains; Parand, Mazd-tat, and others of this list are also chiefs of the directions.”

Ibn al-Nadīm lists some twenty-one titles of works attributed to Māshā’allāh; these are mostly astrological, but some deal with astronomical topics and provide us information (directly or
indirectly) about sources used which included Persian, Syriac, and Greek)  He was a learned, brilliant and extremely talented man. We wouldn’t expect him to simply make a mistake.

Most strikingly, we have both Sun and Moon in Leo in the tenth house. This is a great place for the Sun, but the Moon is weak as a Lord of the Ninth House – a very important placing when higher education, the meeting of foreign cultures and of course, religion. We find Mercury Retrograde and conjunct the South Node.

The Eighth House of Death is lord of the Twelfth House of hidden enemies and Venus also takes the place of open enemies. Jupiter that rises in the charts using the tropical zodiac is here relegated to the Second House (the purse) in his dignity, but retrograde. Saturn is in his Fall in an unfortunate, but an unproductive house.

I see no useful reason to further elaborate on this. It is after all entirely speculative, even if plausible. I realize this turns the old enigma in its head, but sometimes an entirely new way of looking at something can be useful.  At the very least, it ought to raise awareness of just how different a chart can appear when the astrologer is using an Ayanamsa that may not have occurred. It also asks the astrologer to consider the cultural differences between practitioners that may very well, on the source be in agreement on virtually everything. This demands that we read far beyond the astrology itself, to the very ground of being which informs us all.

 

Beginning in 1211, Genghis Khan and his nomadic armies burst from Mongolia and swiftly conquered most of Eurasia. The Great Khan died in 1227, but his sons and grandsons continued the expansion of the Mongol Empire across Central Asia, China, the Middle East, and into Europe.

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Note: shortly after publishing this brief article, I became aware of another, written in 2003: The Horoscope of Baghdad: historical, astronomical, and astrological notes by Juan Antonio Revilla. The topic is not identical, but Revilla does well in describing context, methodologies and sensibilities involved in deriving the chart.  He has a familiarity with Sassanian astrology and discusses many things, such as the Tables of al-Kwarizm, which go beyond the limitations of a single blog post.