Parliament of Fools

Ship of Fools by Sebastian Brandt – 1494

Every astrologer needs to be wary of bias so that personal and political views, as these can distort judgment. On the other hand, the astrologer doesn’t live in some ethereal world where everyday matters do not matter. In this case, without exaggeration, the future of democracy is in grave peril, as it is throughout much of the world. The EU is not a democratic entity and has become increasingly authoritarian. This should not go ignored or unchallenged.

Previously I wrote an article related to Brexit entitled “House of Lords” This one is aptly entitled “Parliament of Fools” with apologies to Chaucer, after a headline from a British newspaper. I offer the visual of the Ship of Fools painted by Hieronymous Bosch. The Ship of Fools is symbolic of folly and nefarious incompetence on a grand scale.

I do have a great affinity for Mundane Astrology, but this proclivity does generally extend to political astrology – such as the wildly popular astrological predicting of election results. However, one of my most-watched political processes over the last three year has been the twisted and torn path of Brexit. It’s personal insofar as the UK is my homeland and I sincerely believe that the UK would be far better off outside of the EU.

Some very recent events have only strengthened my view. One is the ongoing power struggle between France and Germany over further expansion, and more disturbingly perhaps is the shrill and insistent call for a European Army to replace NATO. This might seem like a sensible idea to some, but it would make 27 countries subordinate to all issues relating to the military.

George Galloway explains Brexit and the attempts to frustrate the democratic will of the British people.

It should be noted that the prime Minister had been opposed and thwarted at every turn from both Houses and the Supreme Court. He offered to call an election, but the opposition refused. It was essentially a stalemate. A law was invoked to prevent the PM from exiting the EU on 31 October 2019. without a deal. The opposition was happy to disrupt and discredit but still refused to take the issue to the polls. So, the deal made by the PM and the EU was considered almost miraculous and even some members of the Labour Party agreed to back it. Yet one watched the debates in Parliament, one could hardly ignore the fools, with nothing to contribute and in violation of the democratic will,

Brexit has been referred to as one of the major domestic political events for centuries. Certainly and the Brexit vote itself is the largest in UK history, Even so, I refrained from astrological speculation.

Then unexpectedly, Boris Johnson returned from Brussels with a deal that looked like it had a very good chanc.e of being passed. I was content to wait and see. But it also piqued my interest. After all, this could change everything.

I had been working on another article and was up late at night. I decided or more probably inspired to read a Horary on whether the Brexit bill would be passed of not. Just like everyone else in the world, I have my biases – these I do my best to root out and set aside when reading any kind of chart  I’m sure we are all familiar with the effect of consulting our trusted news sources, but I had gone beyond that. I thought there was some hope for the passage of the bill but had reconciled myself to the fact that either outcome was a realistic possibility. This represented a major shift and I wanted to see what it looked like by way of a Horary chart.

Upon finishing what I was working on I cast a Horary chart. The question was what will happen to the latest Brexit deal in Parliament.

The first thing I noted is that the Moon was Void of Course. Some astrologers take this as a cue that the chart is not radical and therefore cannot be read. I’m not one of them, but the temptation to bargain with fate by seeking a redeeming marker flashed fleetingly across my consciousness before I was fortunately restrained by better judgment.

The various elements in the chart are worth exploring, but the fact  is that the Moon had already announced that “nothing will come of it.” If one had tuned in to watch the preliminary discussions in Parliament, one might be forgiven for optimism. Nevertheless, in counting the afflictions to the Moon we find that all the following apply:

“The 5th is when she is with the Dragon’s Head or with the Dragon’s Tail, that is, within twelve degrees of either of them, because that is the place where she is eclipsed. The 6th is when she is in Gemini, which is the twelfth from her own House. The 7th is when she is at the end of the Signs, which are all Terms of the Infortunes, except the last 6 degrees of Leo,”

There is more. The last aspect she made was opposition to the Part of Fortune with  Jupiter and she is applying to Mars. She is the term of Saturn and Saturn with South Node, is Lord of the 7th House – this represents the opposition.

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers on the Right

The Fourth House is “the end of the matter.” Curiously, the connection between Venus and Mercury is an echo of the House of Lords. One has the impression of indulgence in malice of thought.

Finally, we have what is known as the collection of light. Here we see that Mars and Venus are not in aspect,  but Venus is sextile Saturn. Mars is squared Saturn  So, Saturn is not any of the essential dignity rulers of Venus: Saturn is the Exaltation Ruler of Mars.;  Saturn collects light from Venus and Mars. This makes Saturn that much more potent.

The Four Quartets

Since its inception, The Classical Astrologer has been all about consciousness as expressed through astrological language and techniques. Astrology is a sacred and ancient language that many believe existed at the dawn of time. There are other mediums that afford us other dimensions of understanding. In the process, I have used visually evocative images and sometimes music. Poetry is another medium that raises us up to a higher understanding of the sublime.

Among the 20th Century Anglo/Irish writers T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats and Robert Graves stand as particularly eloquent and adept poets in conveying higher consciousness, were learned in not only the Western Classical Tradition but also Hindu writings and had significant contact with Indian writers such as Rabindranath Tagore. W.B. Yeats wrote an Introduction to The Upanishads.

Eliot references a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna. He relates the mystical concept of time that shows us ultimately to be present at the same moment in consciousness: ” Time past and time future point to one end which is always present.”

He compares the circulation of the lymph with the stars. This came from the man whom Virginia Wolf said would soon be arriving his four-piece suit. I  hope you enjoy The Four Quartets read by the author as much as I have for all these years.

You can find a reliable online text here.

Autumnal Equinox

I usually start my readings on the Solstices and Equinoxes with a reminder that the charts are secondary to the occasion itself. It’s crucial to mark these times in a spirit of celebration. The Equinox marks the battle day for the Holly King and the Oak King.

Admittedly, Autumn is my favourite season. It is the point at which the days and nights are equal in the Northern Hemisphere, aptly beginning on the first day of Libra the Scales. It is a time when we and nature begin to turn inwards, the trees withdraw their sap , farmers harvest and animals store food for the cold winter to come.

On this particular occasion, this time of balance has an enormous amount of interest for the UK. I have there drawn up the chart for the ingress of autumn at Greenwich. The Ascendant, Venus, Mercury and Sun are in Libra in the 1st House. The Part of Fortune is in good relation to the Sun and so to the Ist house in general.  The third house has a strong Jupiter.

The drama and the mystery begin with Mars in Mercurial Virgo. holding out in the 12th house of hidden enemies. In this sign and context, it reminds one of paperwork or most interestingly a paper tiger,  Unlike the previous chart  we examined, the Moon is on the Midheaven and the 6th House is in Pisces and disposited by Jupiter in his own domicile

This chart bodes quite well for the people of London on the Autumnal Equinox. The possible sour note is Saturn in his own domicile with both the South Node and the Part of Spirit. The fourth house is the end of the matter in horary and first and foremost this is the place of deep ancestral connections, to the land and the people. Saturn here is highly competent and very aware of his responsibilities.

And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

From Little Gidding , the last of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets


Dmitry Kitsenko Light from Ancient Stars

For many people in the world, the stars are either difficult or impossible to see, due to light and other forms of pollution. There are thankfully still places where one can be awed by the number and brilliance of the stars. For our ancestors, the stars were a part of life and in most cultures were revered and even personalized. The Egyptians referred to the Milky Way as the true Nile. The Hindus referd to the same as the true Ganges. We are stardust and the stars are part of who we are. pjc

The Case for Sidereal – I

I have been wanting to address this rather thorny issue for some time. There is a great deal of misunderstanding with regards to the tropical in relation to the sidereal, which requires a relatively simple approach. Strictly speaking, whatever that has been employed profitably for millennia requires no defence, but at this time. in the light of so much misinformation, an introductory case needs to be made. I shall begin with a brief explanation of the phenomenon responsible for the split between sidereal and tropical in the first place.

Figure 1 Earth Axis & Procession.

In understanding the nature of the sideral zodiac in relation to the tropical, we need to consider the Precession of the Equinoxes. The motion of the equinoxes along the ecliptic is caused by the cyclic precession of Earth’s axis of rotation.

Upon the compilation of the renowned star catalogue, which he completed in 129 BCE, Hipparchus observed that the positions of the stars had shifted from that recorded in earlier Babylonian (Chaldean) measures. He concluded that it was not the stars that were drifting. but instead the point of terrestrial observation. This apparent drifting backwards from the point of view on Earth is called precession and consists of a cyclic wobbling in the orientation of Earth’s axis of rotation with a period of 25,772 years

Hipparchus discovered another gem in his account of his discovery in On the Displacement of the Solsticial and Equinoctial Points, which Ptolemy subsequently described in his Almagest III.1 and VII.2).

Hipparchus measured the ecliptic longitude of the star Spica during lunar eclipses. He found that Spica was approximately  6° west of the autumnal equinox.  He then compared his own measurements with those of Timocharis of Alexandria, a contemporary of Euclid, who worked with a lesser-known Aristillus early in the 3rd century BC.  He realized that Spica’s longitude had lessened by approximately 2° Unfortunately. precise years are not offered in Almagest.

For many modern astrologers in the West, including contemporary traditionalists, the idea of using a sidereal zodiac is considered either irrelevant or anathema. The single most common reason for rejecting sidereal out of hand is in something that is neither technical or based on the perceived accuracy of outcome per se. It has to do with understandable protestations against changes in natal charts when tropical is converted to.sidereal.

There are other reasons, but this is by far the most common. That is to say, the detractors of sidereal do not act from a scientific or technical point of view. Of course, their position is understandable and not entirely without merit. One would require a very solid reason to switch from one zodiac to another. The better position from my point of view is to embrace both systems and apply either one of them wherever they are the better choice.  I will add here that reading both systems for a Nativity is not without reward.

The Precession of the Equinoxes produces an apparent drift of approximately one degree every 71.6 years. and it does so as if in reverse. A random tropical chart for 05 April 2019 – 3.50 PM GMT gives is the Sun at 16.32 Aries. If we calculate the same chart employing Fagal-Allen (sidereal) we have the Sun @ 21.32 Pisces..

Hipparchus of Nicaea (c.190 – c.120 BC), An image of Hipparchus from the title page of William Cunningham‘s Cosmographicall Glasse (1559)

Kenneth Bowser writes: “Late in the first millennium B.C., probably during the lifetime of Hipparchus of Rhodes (mid-second century B.C.), the Greeks introduced an innovation in zodiac reckoning that had heretofore been sidereal in the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean world for many centuries: they began to reckon the positions of planets and stars from the northern hemispheric vernal equinox. Until that time the equinox had been described in terms of the degree of the zodiac the Sun traversed when it reached the equinox, variously in the Greek world as 15°, 12°, 10°, 8°, 5° and 3° of Aries as precession slowly changed the Sun’s position in the zodiac at the time of the equinox.” The Tropical-Sidereal Debate, Part 2: The Sidereal Point of View

Sidereal comes from the same root as consider- From Latin sīdereusfrom sīdussīder-constellation, star. The Sidereal view is anchored in the stars and not based in reference to the Solstice and Equinoxes in the Northern Hemisphere – the latter is a Greek invention and certainly has its uses, by the word astrology itself refers to the study or wisdom of the stars. Western sidereal astrology is based on the Babylonian sidereal zodiac

A common criticism of sidereal is that the constellations are massively unequal in size, but of course the same is true for tropical observations. In fact, if anything, sidereal ought to be commended for the emphasis it places on the stars themselves. Indeed, the Indian use of nakshatras stresses the importance of individual or small clusters of stars, usually three.

Usually, when the subject of fixed stars comes up with modern astrologers. it soon becomes plain that the stars are of some interest but in the same way that asteroids, outer planets or even hypotheticals. They are seen as one more thing you can add if you so wish, whereas to a traditional astrologer, particularly a sidereal one. the stars are primary and the name of our art tells us this.

figure 1 Spherica Precession Diagram

One of the most vexing issues for Tropical practitioners interested in the stars is the issue of stars being ‘pushed’ out of their constellations, For example, one may have a Sagittarius Ascendant conjunct Antares, the Heart of the Scorpion. What can one do in such a situation? Most obviously, we can pretend it doesn’t matter. But when the Heart of the Scorpion is ripped out only to be artificially re-located to another sign, of a different element and in aversion., one either accepts the contradictions or looks more deeply into what we really mean by signs and constellations, as they

This second-century-BCE wooden plaque from Gansu, China, presents an outline of the Big Dipper, surrounded by constellations.

work in a tropical zodiac.

However, things are not quite so simple in practise. Western astrology has been heavily invested in the tropical view for at least two millennia. Our view of the zodiac has become a brittle one. Even though the Hellenistic methods came to us from astrologers who either used both sidereal and tropical or (less likely) they didn’t know which they were using because at that time the two systems were close to the same. From what I have gleaned, Hellenistic astrologers before Claudius Ptolemy used a sidereal zodiac for at least some purposes.

figure 2

They took this sideral zodiac from the Babylonians. The Indians almost certainly took their system at least in part from Babylon, although many Indian traditionalists claim that Vedic is of greater antiquity. However, the only genuine solution, if one’s aim is to is retain the original positions of stars in relation to sign. – in which case the stars are back where they are in their own signs. Few things illustrate this better than the 27 Indian Nakshatras with four Padas each, arriving at a total of 108 – a sacred number.

I mentioned that the Hellenistic astrologer used sidereal at least some of the time, but there is evidence that even in very early Indian astrology, the tropical zodiac was used. The reason for this seems rather obvious. The tropical zodiac is designed so that the first degree of Aries always falls on the Spring Equinox. In other words, this system measures and marks the seasons as we experience them in the Northern Hemisphere. There were no ancient forms of astrology known in the Southern Hemisphere, that resemble those of the Northern Hemisphere, but astrologers in the South either ignore the distinction or reverse the horoscope so that Spring in the North is Autumn in the South.

Here, we are back to the wold of Hesiod, where stars and asterism mark the times of the year for various agricultural activities, rainy and dry periods and so on.  It seems quite plain that tropical is by far the better Farmer’s Almanac and other forms of astrology such as Mundane would usually operate with the tropical zodiac. see figure 3.

So it is my contention that sidereal works best when used in Indian astrology because the whole system is essentially based on it. For those interested in the stars, as am I.

Fragments of a Babylonian Star Calendar

sidereal is the obvious choice. I would add that Indian astrology – by far the greatest group of siderealists, are also very interested in the

figure 3 – traditional astrological calendar showing the seasons

circumpolar stars. Ursa Major or the Big Dipper has seven stars known to Indian as Rishis or Sages. This constellation is almost certainly the origin of the ancient swastika symbol. See figure 2. The ladle-like arms mark the seasons.

It is my hope that this has served as a decent introduction to the two zodiacs. It’s intended as an introduction that is light on the technical side of the subject. In a forthcoming article, we will look more closely at how the sidereal works seamlessly with Indian astrology,

It is certainly the case that exploring sidereal astrology from an Indian point of view will by no means ultimately interest everyone. Nevertheless, I contend that study in this area will prove to be enriching and time well spent.