The Need for Traditional Astrology
This page contains a transcript of the 1996 Carter Memorial lecture. It was delivered to the Conference of the Astrological Association by Olivia Barclay who may be considered the prime mover in reviving traditional astrological techniques since the 1980’s.
The forthright delivery was typical of her Sun in Sagittarius while her Moon in Virgo guaranteed she had a thorough grasp of the subject!
There were some fine great trees blown down in the storm of 1987 and that is a bit how I feel about western traditional astrology.
It is like some huge oak tree or redwood tree, that we brought down in the storms of the last three centuries. Its roots are still there, buried in antiquity, but we have cut it off from its roots. We said, 'So let's prune it back and graft bits of it onto some new saplings, like one called psychology, or one called science, or better still we could cut it up for firewood.' However, the main tree could still be rescued if any would take the trouble to recapture it and study it. We could rediscover it, despite current confusion.
By traditional astrology, I mean that great canon of knowledge that has been built up over the thousands of years. It consists of Mundane, Horary, Nativities and Elections. My reason for studying the works of the past is to try to improve our techniques today. It isn't just because the work is old, or because we want to carry on parrot fashion, it is because the astrology and the old astrologers can teach us.
Astrology is the study of the action of spirit through the medium of heavenly bodies, on material matter of this earth, or as Cardan, the famous sixteenth century astrologer said in my favourite aphorism, “Heaven is the Instrument of the Most High God whereby he acts upon and Governs Inferior Things.”
Whether you believe in the Most High God or whether you call him Universal Force or Energy, you should realise that you should be studying those laws that show the pattern of existence of everything there is.
You should not be studying something recently thought up on the spur of the moment by someone who called himself an astrologer or psychologist.
Olivia Barclay (12 December 1919 – 1 April 2001).
Her discovery of an original manuscript of William Lilly’s 1647 masterpiece, Christian Astrology, led to the revival of interest in Traditional Astrological practices.
It is for us to find out those universal laws, and to strive to decipher their code, and penetrate their meaning and purpose, not to invent hypothetical methods for the sake of publicity or prestige.
There have been many such unfounded inventions during this century which have lead to distortions of the truth. We have been losing much that is of value. People have felt free to invent and add whatever they like, even when they have no idea of what was already known in the old astrology. The changes have caused confusion. Some people have invented ideas to make astrology more acceptable, some to make it simpler, and some for the sake of talking about something new.
The trouble is that when someone invents a new idea, someone comes along and invents a contradictory one, and then everybody is thrown into confusion because few have studied the foundations of our art sufficiently to know which, of all the variations put before them, is the correct one.
As Robert Hand said in the Foreword to my book which is called Horary Astrology Rediscovered, so much has been invented that everything at anytime can mean everything, so then nothing means anything'. I agreed with Rob Hand, the plethora of inventions has defeated its own end. He suggests we need more what he calls rigour in our use of symbols, which I interpret to mean that we should have an exact knowledge of their meaning. That should be our first step.
William Lilly (1602-1681) was born in the Lecistershire village of Diseworth. He advised some of the leading figures in the English Civil War in London before retiring to the quieter surroundings of Walton-on-Thames, twenty miles west of London
Have you ever considered that 1,500 years ago Palchus, for one, could, with his astrology, answer a straight question with a straight answer? William Lilly and his contemporaries could do that in the seventeenth century and they explained to us how to do it, but no, we must add and invent and manoeuvre until our words sound obscure and meaningless. We speak in euphemisms, forgetting to look for the nub of the matter.
As you know, I teach a course in horary. And that is a very practical art. One virtue of it is that when you are asked a question you have to give an answer that can be seen to be true. You cannot waffle. It is a very good test of astrology. If your answer is correct you are on the right track.
You know you can drive your car because you consistently reach your destination safely. But there is a great difference between driving a car and just talking about one like a car salesman. You
have to know from practical experience what the accelerator is for, and you mustn't listen to your false instructor.
There are at present many more people talking about astrology than actually doing practical work. I am reminded of Lilly's words in his introduction to Bonatus' Anima Astrologiae when he says the book is “for those honest students who study Art to discover truth and not to vapour with it.”
No doubt there are many motives that drive us to study astrology. My own motive was to find clear evidence that the movement of heavenly bodies affected life on earth, or that there was some synchronicity between them. My motive was not prediction, and yet prediction supplies evidence.
Astrology has always been concerned with prediction, although we seldom hear a serious prediction nowadays except from the weathermen. The ancient ability to predict grew from such observations, I believe, as the yearly heliacal rising of Sirius coincided with the rising of the River Nile.
In early days, astronomy and astrology were one, astronomy the study of physical reality and astrology the interpretation of its meaning. Observation of nature seems to have been much keener in those days and consequently they had an awareness of beauty which was considered, in Greece at least, an expression of the inner spirit.
I would like to mention some great astrologers of the past who have much to teach us. It is absurd that their work has been so ignored, just because they lived in a different culture from ours where they were not immersed in materialism and which held different standards. Presumably most of you subscribe to Project Hindsight. This is an organization once headed by Rob Hand, committed to the colossal task of translating into English all the authoritative works of past astrologers.
One of the most notable in my opinion is the book by Paulus Alexandrinus written in 378 AD and now translated into English for the first time. It was significant to see that Paulus differed from Ptolemy in allocating the rulership of the water triplicity by day to Venus.
But how can the average astrologer of today, unfamiliar with the Tables of Dignities of the planets, appreciate these differences, or assess the value of Alexandrinus' work at all. To do so you must first understand the traditional methods he is discussing. And that is where there is a great gap in the knowledge of the majority of present day astrologers.
Apart from the linguistic efforts of Project Hindsight, it is very important that Graeme Tobyn has started a 'Latin for Astrologers' group in London. Here is a group of experienced astrologers who are translating directly from Latin. I am going to ask Graeme Tobyn very shortly to translate a few lines from Junctinus so that you can
Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos – a prime source for Traditional Astrologers 2,000 years after it was written.
hear how beautiful and concise the old astrology was. And if you can speak Latin you must let Graeme know.
It is true that we do have a few early books already in English which we can study. For instance, you can buy The Astronomica by Manilius, who lived about the time of Christ. This is a beautiful epic poem describing the beliefs of that era, including the fact that the Earth is a sphere.
The book is published by Loeb. It contains the earliest description I know of, of the houses, showing that by that date they had emerged from a more primitive astrology where luminaries and angles had been emphasised. The houses were called by name not by numbers, as you can also find in the Tetrabiblos written less than a century later.
Manilius tells us that the houses were called temples, and the planets, who were the gods, had their abode in certain temples. Mercury had his abode in the first house, because of his association with the brain, the head, the tongue and the memory. Mercury gave his name, Stilbon, the Glistener, to the first house. Mercury in the first house makes the person clever and good orator. Mercury in the tenth house of success makes a successful orator. Mercury is associated with the brain.
But now I hear there is a new, irresponsible invention that it is Venus who is associated with the brain. We will no doubt see each planet in turn given rulership of the brain. Where will it end in chaos? This is an example of what Robert Hand meant by lack of rigour, a laxity about the knowledge of symbols.
Each house, you see, takes on the characteristics of the planet which abides in it. Thus the fifth, always called the house of luck, has the characteristics of Venus, pleasure, since Venus has her abode in the fifth.
Manilius explains that through the temples the entire procession of the zodiac revolves, and that the planets, too, traverse them, modifying their properties. So you see that for at least the last 2,000 years the distinction between houses and signs has been
Each part of the body is tradionally ruled by a sign of the zodiac.
understood in western astrology.
Hindu astrology is a different discipline. When we are studying western astrology therefore, we should realise that the houses and the signs do not equate to each other. I quote William Lilly who wrote “he that shall learn the nature of the planets and signs without exact judgement of the houses, is like an improvident man that furnisheth himself with household stuffe, having no place wherein to bestow them.”
Every action, every event, every person, everything in this life belongs to one of the houses. This rulership is not a matter of opinion, but of facts tried and tested by generation after generation - and that applies to all astrology.
It was therefore unfortunate when someone in this century decided to invent a new idea for teaching astrology to beginners. "The first house", they said, "equals the first sign Aries and therefore Mars. The second house equals Taurus and therefore Venus" - 'the alphabet of astrology' this has been called.
This illustrates my point about random inventions, and has lead to confusion ever since, and such statements as "if Libra is the 7th sign and Saturn is exalted in Libra, then Saturn must be exalted in the 7th house" which I assure you it is not.
Nor could it be true that Saturn rules the eleventh house, or Jupiter the twelfth, because the eleventh is the most fortunate of houses, having taken its
Each sign of the zodiac is a co-ruler (or con-sgnifcator) of one of the twelve houses but not the planet which rules that sign.
characteristics from Jupiter, the greater benefic.
However there is an exception to this rule. When referring to the anatomy of the body, then there is an analogy between signs and houses, but in that respect only. If you do not use the houses, your interpretation is without definition. It is vague, reflecting a lack of boundaries as if disconnected with this earth.
While Manilius called the first house Stilbon, by Ptolemy's time it was called Horoscopus. When you read of the horoscope in old books they are referring to the ascendant, not to the whole chart. The first house describes the body; it is the House of Life. In horary it represents the querent.
The third house is the abode of the Moon, for the Moon fluctuates in movement and in shape and so rules transitory things what we call communications and short journeys. It has been called the House of Brothers.
In the time of Ptolemy it was called Dea, goddess, because it was opposite the ninth house, Deus, God. For the ninth house has always been associated with those things related to religion and God, and is therefore the abode of the Sun. The word 'Sun' was once synonymous with the word 'God'.
Vettius Valens, in describing the configuration Jupiter trine the Sun called that Jupiter trine God. The church belongs to the ninth and in our secular society, so do philosophy and deep thought and further education and their counterpart on the physical planes, distant travel. It covers vision and dreams since they come from God.
I have always thought it significant that Gauquelin found prominent athletes had Mars in this house because Mars is strengthened by the Sun, being of the same nature, hot and dry, Gauquelin's conclusion thereby upholding the traditional understanding of the nature of the planets.
I am not suggesting that astrology should stagnate and cease to develop. There is a need for discovery and creative thought and research, but I am saying that the basis of astrology should first be understood, before random rules are thought up and accepted.
For instance, a former student of mine, Lee Lehman, has taken those Mars positions found by Gauquelin and discovered by statistics that they are mainly in the terms of Mars and Saturn, which is relevant, since that provides the additional energy and endurance required by the athletes. This helps confirm the positions of the terms of the planets and has helped establish that a sign is from 0 degree to 29 and not from 1 to 30.
The fourth house is the base of the chart, the Lower Midheaven, Ptolemy called it, and it rules solid objects one cannot carry about, like buildings and land and mines. It is the source, the beginning and the end. It rules fathers and the old. And it is the Abode of Saturn.
“Traditionally the planets are of greater importance than the signs. The signs have been emphasised recently because there is money to be made in Sun sign columns.”
Mrs. Hone, in the fifties, had a bright idea. She knew that Cancer was the fourth sign, ruled by the Moon, so she invented a rule that the fourth house didn't really rule fathers, but mothers. Astrologers were again thrown into confusion and some even associated Saturn with mothers.
“Traditionally the planets are of greater importance than the signs. The signs have been emphasised recently because there is money to be made in Sun sign columns.”
Firmicus tells us the fourth house rules parents. However, if you refer to the mother alone, take the opposite to the fourth, that is the tenth. Thus in all astrology the significator of the father is the fourth house and its ruler, or the Sun by day and Saturn by night, or planets in the fourth house.
And the mother is shown in all astrology by the tenth house and its ruler, or by Venus by day and the Moon by night, or planets in the tenth house. The tenth house is the house of glory and authority. It shows one's success and standing in the world.
The eleventh, as I have said, is the most fortunate of all, it rules friends. The Good Daemon, ruled by Jupiter, the Benefic. And notice not enough attention is paid to Jupiter in our society, it is the greatest given of good, under God.
The twelfth is unfortunate and the joy of Saturn. From the twelfth comes treachery, ambush, stabs in the back and self-undoing, but also some pleasanter things like solitude and large animals.
I have not yet mentioned the other unfortunate houses. The sixth was called Laboris, work, by Manilius, and Bad Fortune by Ptolemy. Work was apparently considered undesirable then. It also describes illness and small animals. The eighth shows the resources of the seventh and the ruler of the sign on its cusp is the Lord of Death.
Traditionally the planets are of greater importance than the signs. The signs have been emphasised recently because there is money to be made in Sun sign columns. Everybody knows their Sun sign. Commercial astrology does no harm and has relaxed the tension between the public and the astrologers. We are fortunate to have been relegated to the rank of entertainers and nobody, we hope, is going to burn Nick Campion or Bernard Fitzwalter at the stake.
Alan Leo (1870-1917. After a brush with the law for making a specific prediction he moved away from event based astrology towards a more psychological approach which attracted many followers.
But it was a different matter even at the beginning of this century when, between 1914 and 1917, Alan Leo was prosecuted for fortune telling. In vain did he protest that his delineations merely showed tendencies. He had warned his client, a policeman using a false name, that he could expect a death in the family circle. And the court would not accept that such a statement was a tendency. Leo was fined.
This dreadful state of affairs, and you can read all about it in Patrick Curry's book A Confusion of Prophets, led Leo to modify astrology so that it did not upset public opinion or the laws of England. He watered it down to merge with theosophy or psychology. It was still reminiscent of the old astrology. It used the same symbols, but it was exchanged, it wasn't the real thing. It was for this mess of pottage which Leo sold the inheritance of astrology.
Although the witch-craft act was not rescinded until 1988,
astrologers were left unmolested, being officially classified, in England, as entertainers.
The psychological angle has proved very popular during this century and indeed if one wants to be a psychologist or anything else, there is no better way than incorporating astrology.
However, for those of us who are interested in pure astrology, which deals with every facet of creation, not just human character, being classified as entertainers is a two-edged sword.
It has the advantage that when serious research yields results, these are dismissed, as with the Gauquelin results. And I remember a story about liquid metals that reacted when certain planets ascended in the sky. This was done in front of television cameras but it could not be shown to the public because it would have shown the evidence was too conclusive and would have contradicted our status as entertainers. And so we still have a great barrier of prejudice to overcome. It is our accepted lot to work very hard and not to be taken seriously. To amuse people by talking about their Sun signs. It could be worse.
In serious astrology we must remember that the signs are only like adjectives, describing the planets. They are associated with four things only, countries, diseases and descriptions of physical appearance and places.
It is the planets, in all astrology, that rule. It is to the planets that the orbs belong, not to the aspects. A planet is a sphere, and an orb is a sphere. It is common sense that the circular orb shines around a planet like an aura. An aspect, on the other hand, is not circular. Planets must be assessed for strength in a chart, either for their essential strength, looking to see if they are in their own sign, triplicity, term, face or exaltation, which are set degrees in the zodiac, or for accidental strengths, which vary in each chart. For example they may be angular or swift in motion, or in some way well placed.
We do not have the original work of Ptolemy with his original Tables of Essential Dignities of the planets, but I use the version given by Lilly in Christian Astrology because Lilly put it to practical use, and also because it is close to Al Biruni's version from the eleventh century.
Ptolemy's astrology, in fact all astrology, was banned from Europe in the fifth century. It was rescued and preserved by the Arabs. Ptolemy's work was translated into Arabic. European and Arabic astrology merged. Those centuries produced famous Arab and Jewish astrologers, Al Kindi and Abu Masha were Arabic, and Abraham Ibn Ezra was Jewish. If you have been to the old synagogue in Cairo you may have heard of him because they named it after him when he paid off their debts.
It was not until the thirteenth century that astrology crept back into Europe via Spain and Italy and Ptolemy was translated back into Latin from Arabic. His work was taught in all universities for three centuries. He had been a great man. He had written on music, geography, optics, astronomy, he had calculated the distance of the Moon from the Earth. He had enormous impact on astrological thought.
Guido Bonatti – the thirteenth century Italian astrologer who revived interest in the subject in Europe after it had been banned for 800 years.
It was really Bonatus who brought an enthusiasm for astrology back into Europe. Bonatus, like Lilly after him, set about how to instruct students in our art. His books are addressed to readers who do not yet know much astrology. Project Hindsight just translated some of his work, and of course I greatly enjoyed reading his section on horary. For one thing, Bonatus is at pains to explain to us the importance of reception, how the efficacy of some aspects depends on reception and on the nature of the planets involved.
It is clear that Lilly was conversant with, and inspired by, the work of Bonatus as he was by Ptolemy. Incidentally, if you read Ptolemy you will note again the importance of dispositors. When he describes planets to us, he describes them as dispositors of Eclipses.
There was one remark in Bonatus that struck a note which was foreign to Lilly. 'A planet in its fall or detriment', he says, 'cannot receive another'. At first you think, 'of course it can't; if it isn't in an essential dignity, how could it disposit another?' But then, what about the Moon in Capricorn? The Moon is in its detriment in Capricorn but it rules the night triplicity of earth signs, can it not receive in its triplicity?
Or Mars in its fall in Cancer, yet it rules the water triplicity. I do not know the answer to this and that is one of things you can think out. Without recourse to the Tables of Dignities of the planets you cannot know the strength of a planet or its dispositor, nor the almuten of a particular degree or of the whole chart. The chart becomes pretty featureless.
Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I
12.11 p.m. LMT, 15 January 1559, London
Perhaps the earliest English astrologer we think of is John Dee, astrologer to the Queen Elizabeth I. He was an important and wealthy man of her court and he was also foreign agent for Elizabeth, calling himself 007.
He is famous, amongst other things, for his electional chart for the Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1559. In those days, the prosperity of her reign would have been acknowledged to depend on the beneficity of the moment elected. We first examined this chart at one of the yearly history seminars held by Annabella Kitson, which are always worth attending. I have also shown it in my book because it teaches us useful
As Geoffrey Cornelius once pointed out, the luminaries [Sun and Moon] of the Coronation chart are trine the benefics, Jupiter and Venus, in the nativity of the Queen. So you can look at that, and you will see on the Coronation chart, Moon at 20 Aries is trine Jupiter at 20 Sagittarius on the other chart, and Sun in the Coronation chart is trine Venus at  Libra in the Queen's nativity
The chart shown here is by Gadbury, and shows a Sagittarius Ascendant but Junctinus, a contemporary of Elizabeth, gives Capricorn. But whichever is correct the trines between luminaries and benefics remain.
Queen Elizabeth I
2.26 p.m. LMT, 7 September 1533, Richmond, Surrey (see note 1)
In such a chart too, Fixed Stars should be used because, as Bonatus tells us, 'the Fixed Stars confer great gifts and elevate from poverty to an extreme height of fortune, the planets do not'. The Fixed Stars will give lasting effects and should be used in all foundations or cases where the situation will last long.
Here the Moon is trine Fortuna and Regulus, Royal Star, which convey confers glory, honour and fame. Aspects to Fortuna should always be considered because the Moon is not void when it aspects Fortuna. And those people who produce those little booklets telling you when the Moon will be void of course overlook that fact.
“This most serene Queen has in her nativity five planets in their essential dignities, namely Jupiter and Venus in their domiciles, the Moon in her exaltation and joy, Mercury in his triplicity and Mars in his decan. On account of which, she obtained her father's kingdom and inheritance. Yea, the great Conjunction in the year 1484 which was much spoken of, exactly in 21 degrees of Scorpio has shown her the greatness of her power and authority, and the marks of honour and has adorned her life with evident dignity, made her famous and graced her with a crown. Likewise Venus and Mercury in her own sign shows a charming manner of speech, eloquence and goodwill among all nations, while the Moon in Taurus has undoubtedly signified an uncommon skill in various languages and a knowledge of very many sciences.
Mary Queen of Scots
1.15 p.m. 7 December 1542, LMT
Linlithgow Scotland, 55N57, 3W37 (see note 2)
Mary, Queen of Scotland, the daughter of James V, King of the Scots, began her reign in 1542 aged seven days. Her father dead, she married Francois, the Dauphin of France, who later was proclaimed the King of France. But after the death of her husband King Francois, she now widowed left the palace and withdrew to the city of Rheims. She visited Lotharingia, then leaving Calais on a favourable wind she came to land in Scotland, was received with honour by her people and was thrown into many troubles by her arrival in the kingdom. Since, therefore, the tumult in the kingdom of Scotland was increasing more each day, the Queen, seeing the sedition by the people against her,
departed and hurried on her journey to France. But on the journey she was captured by the Queen of England who imprisoned her in a castle which is commonly called Ponfre [Pontefract].
It should be abundantly clear to whoever might thus search for the former happiness and present calamity of this Queen, that fate obtains its own share in human affairs. For this Queen has in her nativity Saturn in square to Mars, which are in commutated and violent signs and have dominion in the seventh and twelfth houses. The Moon is found with the antiscion of the Sun in Capricorn, which gives a propensity for journeys. But it is the planets Mars in Aquarius in the twelfth and Saturn in Scorpio in the seventh which portend imprisonments and very many dangers and misfortunes and the death of a husband, which happened to her.”
The climax for western astrology was really in the seventeenth century when Lilly wrote his masterpiece Christian Astrology, completed in 1647 and over 870 pages long. This is the definitive book on traditional astrology. It is concerned with Nativities as well as Horary, but the methods and techniques he shows, once understood, are relevant to all astrology. Lilly had access to a library of over 300 books and from these he translated from Latin into English.
Project Hindsight announce that they too will now translate all these books and we look forward to reading them. However I would like to point out that there are differences between the
A commemorative plaque now marks Lilly’s residence in London “Corner house over against Strand-bridge”
efforts of Project Hindsight and those of William Lilly.
William Lilly was a man of enormous experience. Derek Parker tells us in his biography of Lilly, Familiar to All, that there are casebooks containing file on file of astrological charts, over 4,000, between June 1654 and September 1656.
Lilly was a prodigious worker. It was he who advised Parliament during the civil wars, and he became very famous. He was proficient in Latin and in astrology. Of course he did not translate 300 books, word for word, but because he was immersed in his subject he was able to discriminate and select just the cream of the information that was enough to teach students of astrology to become proficient.
Not only did he draw on the greatest brains of the past, he was able to give us the added benefit of his own conclusions. He was able to explain that a certain authority advocated one method and another had a different method, but he himself had found better solution. It is this ability that the translators of Project Hindsight may find they lack.
Nor are the conclusions drawn by Lilly in any way comparable to the ill-informed inventions of today. Lilly illustrates his reasoning with clear charts so that we can all study the techniques and methods he has explained. We can try out for ourselves and if we would do we will find it works. If anyone should deny that, you will know that they have not tried it out correctly, or are inexperienced astrologers because Lilly really knew what he was talking about.
As Lilly wrote, he was shut away because of the plague. Having buried one servant of it he was expecting death daily. I have often thought that such circumstances account for the sincerity and truthfulness of his book. So many details are explained painstakingly for the purpose of instructing students clearly, in an organized way. His colossal achievement (think of handwriting 870 pages) differs entirely from the impending task of Project Hindsight.
They will, I am sure, translate those 300 books conscientiously, sentence by sentence, and we will be thankful to them for making the books available to us. But when they have completed their task and translated so much information they will still lack the practical experience enabling them to compare, select and synthesize those methods into a structured teaching volume like William Lilly told in Christian Astrology.
Greenwich Observatory Foundation
3.13 p.m. 20 August 1675, Greewnich, UK
There were other distinguished astrologers, Galileo, we have a chart for the time he discovered Neptune but thought it was a moon of Jupiter, and Mercator the geographer, Newton, Kepler, Regiomontanus and Flamsteed, a few.
Flamsteed was the Astronomer Royal who elected the chart for the foundation of the Greenwich Observatory in 1675. I am showing it to you now because it may be relevant to the success of the millennium arrangements which will take place in Greenwich.
And secondly, Flamsteed proves his brilliance by his use of the antiscia position of Jupiter. Jupiter rules the Ascendant and as such represents our nation. At first sight its position in the twelfth house looks unfortunate, but no, its antiscia or solstice points fall exactly on the second cusp of wealth, and this brought wealth to our nation and prosperity ever since. To understand the solstice point you should draw a line between 0 Cancer and 0 Capricorn, and then you reflect one side onto the other.
After Lilly, astrology in this country declined. It became unpalatable to the growing scientific attitudes of the eighteenth century. This is fully explained in Patrick Curry's book, The Prophesy and the Power, in which he tells us of the formation of the Royal Society, a group of well-meaning, reasonable men who would have accepted astrologers or anyone else who could prove scientifically what they were doing. They believed that once astrology had been turned into a science that was reliably proved, it would naturally regain people's admiration.
Sadly, there are still some of us trying to do this, trying to do just sad things. But some things cannot be proved, art, love, music. The effects of these things can be observed but not scientifically proved, and it is more or less the same with astrology. If there are facets of astrology which can be proved, and Gauquelin did that, then prejudice dismisses them. And so with each successive generation the astrological knowledge of the seventeenth century was watered down, distorted and misunderstood.During this talk I have mentioned several authors whom I hope working astrologers will resolve to read. Namely the authors of the seventeenth century. Lilly first and foremost, and his contemporaries, Gadbury, who veered towards Nativities, Ramsay who specialized in Elections; Culpeper, the famous astrologer-herbalist; Saunders the
John Flamsteed (1646-1719) was the first Astronomer Royal who also made practical use of astrology in the construction of the Greenwich Observatory
If you will study those seventeenth century books you will find they are a stepping stone to understanding earlier authors, even to antiquity. But there is no shortcut. Today's expectation of quick results will not help you to do good astrology. This is the most wonderful knowledge and takes years to acquire. But it is worth it.
If you are interested in Elections, you will be amazed at Schoener beside whom modern writers such as Robson, pale into insignificance. Schoener should be read in conjunction with Lilly as the two complement each other. Besides Schoener there are Ramsey and Bonincontri to study.
Natal astrologers might read the Natal section of Christian Astrology but you will need the earlier part of the book to understand what it is about. And I hear that Antonius Montulmo is another important writer, which Project Hindsight translated.
If you are interested in Horary my book is easy to follow and my course. Barbara Watters’ Horary Astrology and the Judgement of Events is simple, but no good work can be done without studying William Lilly.
If you are interested in herbalism Graeme Tobyn is just writing a book about Culpeper. For general use, I recommend Lee Lehman's Book of Rulerships, published by Whitford Press. And none of us can omit The Combination of Stellar Influences. [by Reinhold Ebertin].
So now it is time to take the bull by the horns and re-investigate the old astrology in all its beauty. Once you have hold of it you can never let it go.
Notes on Charts
1. I have shown in modern format the chart drawn by John Gadbury for the time given of 2.26 p.m. which is chart used in the lecture transcript. This is drawn with an ascendant of 28 degrees of Sagittarius rather than the 29 degrees shown here although that makes little difference.
Even so, with the many portraits of Elizabeth I that show her with red hair there seems to be a good argument that her ascendant was fiery Sagittarius emphasised by Jupiter, ruler of the ascendant, also being placed in Sagittarius.
2. The date for the birth of Mary Queen of Scots used by Junctinus in the chart shown in the lecture transcript is 7 December 1542 although the almost universally used date is 8 December. The most plausible reason for this discrepancy may be that given by the Marie Stuart Society:
“Mary Queen of Scots was born in a first floor room in the now roofless Linlithgow Palace on 8th December 1542. There is a school of thought to the effect that she was in fact born on the 7th. but that announcement of her birth was postponed for a day to fall on the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary after whom she was named. Whatever the actuality Mary always regarded the 8th as her date of birth.”
The arguments advanced by Junctinus regarding the aspects cast by Saturn and Mars and their house rulerships remain the same for either day. However, his point about the connection of the Moon and the antiscion degree of the Sun would no longer be valid if a birth chart is erected for 8 December rather than 7 December.
As with the chart for the nativity of Queen Elizabeth I, I have taken the time as shown on the original chart (by Junctinus) and erected a chart in modern format. This produces an ascendant of nine degrees of Taurus rather than the six degrees of Taurus shown by Junctinus.
The difference may in part be due to his having used a latitude of 59 degrees rather than the correct latitude of 56 degrees and not making an adjustment for the 3 degrees of longitude in his calculation of Local Mean Time – such errors were not uncommon prior the introduction of longitude in the eighteenth century.
Jonathon Clark 2021