2020 Virgo Ingress of the Sun

Musei Vaticani Caduceus

I rarely post on ingress charts other than the four cardinal Ingresses – the solstice and equinox events. Bot this is no ordinary year, by anyone’s standards and I’m there for watching the unfolding patterns that precede the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius, an event that will have repercussions not only until the next Great Conjunction but also for the next two hundred years. The shift is from the  Earth to the Air Triplicity. I have elaborated on this elsewhere.

The chart is drawn up for Greenwich BST + 1. I will not, therefore, be referring to the house placements, as these will change from zone to zone I would focus on the salient dynamic of the event as they will be most relevant to the larger view. Primarily, I’m looking at the relationships of the chart as a whole to the Saturn and Jupiter conjunction and the role of Mars.

Notably, the Sun enters Virgo in the Decan and the Bounds of Mars and with Regulus (00. Vir. 06′ 21″). Mercury is in the Decan of Mercury and within the Bounds of the Sun. Mercury id the Lord of the Geniture. Mercury in Virgo is Hermes in his sign of Exaltation and Domicile.

Mars is in the decan of and the Bounds of Saturn and Decan of Venus, separating from a square to Jupiter and applying to a square with Saturn, which in turn is in the Bounds of Mars and the Decan of the Sun.

The Moon is in the 16th Lunar Mansion at 18 LI 44′ 11″ in the Tropical zodiac. The Mansion begins at 12 LI 51′ 22″ and ends at 25 LI 42′ 51″ Th Arabic name is Al Jubana, the Scorpion’s Claw. Ibn ‘Arabi (1200 AD) attributes this Mansion to The Sixth Heaven, the Sphere of Mercury, the Abode of ‘Isa (Jesus).

The principal stars are Zuban Elgenubi, which Claudius Ptolemy tell sus is on the nature of Saturn and Mars – and Zuben Eschemali is Jupiter and Mercury. of the nature of Jupiter and Mercury.

Most crucially, in this particular configuration, the Moon on the MC is in the Exaltation and Decan of Saturn, It is at these levels that the chart discloses a more sombre, dare I say ‘heavier’ than what a cursory reading may easily miss.

She is in the second Pada of Nakshatra Swathi – the Lord of this Nakshatra is Rahu and the Pada is that of Saturn.

The most intriguing theme is the Mars and Saturn signatures repeated throughout the geniture. This illustrates the ongoing pattern of strife we have seen throughout 2020 as we look forward to the Winter Solstice and the Great Conjunction.

We should not miss the extraordinary power of the Virgin herself. Her meaning has been horribly diminished and misunderstood, this distortion began in earnest nearly two millennia ago in the Christian West. although has survived in Paganism. Hinduism and other religious and philosophical traditions. Monica Sjoo writes:

“Ancient moon priestesses were called virgins. ‘Virgin’ meant not married, not belong to a man – a woman who was ‘one-in-herself’. The very word derives from a Latin root meaning strength, force, skill; and was later applied to men: virile. Ishtar, Diana, Astarte, Isis were all called virgin, which did not refer to sexual chastity, but sexual independence. And all great culture heroes of the past…, mythic or historic, were said to be born of virgin mothers: Marduk, Gilgamesh, Buddha, Osiris, Dionysus, Genghis Khan, Jesus – they were all affirmed as sons of the Great Mother, of the Original One, their worldly power deriving from her. When the Hebrews used the word, and in the original Aramaic, it meant ‘maiden’ or ‘young woman’, with no connotations to sexual chastity. But later Christian translators could not conceive of the ‘Virgin Mary’ as a woman of independent sexuality, needless to say; they distorted the meaning into sexually pure, chaste, never touched. When Joan of Arc, with her witch coven associations, was called La Pucelle – ‘the Maiden,’ ‘the Virgin’ – the word retained some of its original pagan sense of a strong and independent woman. The Moon Goddess was worshipped in orgiastic rites, being the divinity of matriarchal women free to take as many lovers as they choose. Women could ‘surrender’ themselves to the Goddess by making love to a stranger in her temple.” (The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth by Monica Sjoo. Harper Books.)

Ancient Akkadian cylinder seal depicting the goddess Inanna resting her foot on the back of a lion while Ninshubur stands in front of her paying obeisance, c. 2334-2154 BC (Wiki Commons.)

I believe that Sjoo has overstated the case, only insofar as she has implicitly downplayed the Mother’s necessary and obvious relationship with men in the act of procreation, but her book is decidedly within the tradition of feminist writers in the 1980s. We understand that this sensibility and means of presentation were necessary and that this by no means undermines her salient points. The power of the Virgin, as she recites, is indeed great and all to often ignored and devalued – one might even say taken for granted.

In this ingress, we see her with Regulus, of the nature of Mars and Jupiter and Guardian of the North. Due to precession, Regulus has entered Tropical Virgo.  Powerful Indian goddesses are often accompanied by Lions.

Regulus is highly auspicious. The star brings great success if revenge is avoided. This is, of course, a great challenge. Still, there is a gentleness in this powerful Heart of the Lion and it comes as no surprise that the healing Angel, Rahapel finds his place here in the North.  He is of the nature of Jupiter and Mars may, therefore, be read as Mercy and Severity, the essential symbols of the Pharaohs as rulers were the crook (heka) and the flail or flabellum (nekhakha). A good King needs to know when to use one or the other for the sake of the Kingdom. In this case, we have a wise Virgin empowered amongst many elements of discord. She meets them opposing energy that seeks healing, assisted by Venus in the Moon’s domicile of Cancer. The interplay of Masculine and feminine energies in this geniture is not to be missed.     

Recently, someone referred (not disparagingly) to my “dystopian views,” particularly in relation to The Novus Ordo Saeculorum, the New Order of the Ages – simply referred to as “New Age” by modern astrologers. For the record, my view is virtually identical to that of the late Robert Zoller, who wrote:

“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.”

Where I depart from Zoller is in my conclusions as to what the human spirit is capable of apropos of the dark prediction. My impetus in revealing the nature of the Age is not to instil a sense of despair, fear or apathy. I have refused to present a deceptively pollyanna picture of a seriously challenging time, one in which our very humanity is being undermined at every turn. The antidote to this is not blissful ignorance, but rather a fearless and realistic estimation of the forces at play. The solution is a focussed, grounded and informed consciousness.  If one has cancer, pretending it isn’t there is foolishness. Foreknowledge is power and empowers us further by affording us a chance to employ wise remedies to the ailments of the spiritual, mental and physical body and ultimately to the Earth and the web of life itself.

We live in a time of extraordinary consequence. The choices we make in the next few years may very well make the difference between thriving or perishing, not only for human beings but for all of the natural worlds in it’s myriad of dimensions.

Because this article is written as part of a series related to the march towards the Solstice, it is best read in concert with the previous entries in this series.,

Figure of the Virgin – 1440-1450 Book of Hours, the Fastolf Master, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Yuletide 2019

The four Cardinal Ingress charts are drawn up for the Solstice and Equinox points. Many traditional astrologers, such as William Ramesey are almost entirely concerned with the Aries Ingress, also known as the Spring Equinox, for sound reasons. It is how we derive the Lord or Lady of the Year.

Nevertheless, the Equinox and Solstice charts are also valuable and for that reason, I publish and read all four each year. The Capricorn Ingress has great significance in various cultures around the world. For most of us, the Winter Solstice coincides with Christmas, but also with Yule, St. Lucia’s Day, a festival of lights celebrated in Scandinavia, the Persian festival Yalda, or Shab-e Yalda, as well as lesser-known celebrations such as Alban Arthan (Welsh). Saturnalia, Dongzhi Festival (East Asia) and the Slavic Korochun festival.

What they all have in common is the theme of the rebirth of the Sun. However, the Four Quarters are equally important and moreover,  they are connected to each other on the Wheel of the Year. This has clearly been of great concern since Neolithic times.

This particular chart is drawn up for GMT, in part because of the momentous events occurring in the UK very recently. It’s something of a sombre chart at first lance, on the Day and Hour of Saturn and with a Martian Almuten. Mars is also Lord of the Geniture. The chart is essentially divided between the string of Capricorn / Saturn and Scorpio. A Mundane chart with the angles in Fixed Signs has a farther reach than one with even Cardinal angles would have. There are no retrograde planets.

Caduceus – The Staff of Hermes Johann Froben’s printer’s symbol

The First House carries the Moon, Mars and Ascendant. In a Mundane chart, the First House signifies the nation and the people as a whole, its general condition of prosperity and health or the reverse. The Moon also denotes the common people, women generally, crowds, and all matters of a common or public nature. It shows where the focus is for the people of the country. It is noteworthy that the Moon and Mars is a volatile mix and this will be part of the picture, as we experience social unrest.,

However, Ramesey suggests that “If the planet to which the Lord of the Ascendant or the Moon does apply or is in aspect with, be Jupiter, they shall be safe and secure that year, shall enjoy their liberties, shall be free from all manner of molestation, shall have justice and good laws executed and shall be in credit and honour.” (Book IV – Astrologia Munda Section II – Chapter III 46) The aspect, in this case, is a sextile to Jupiter. The results will be dampened but perhaps not entirely negated by his unfortunate placement. Jupiter in the sign of Saturn’s domicile is hard-pressed to be truly jovial. He is in his fall. The close conjunction to the Sun is also a main consideration.

If we also consider the Lunar Mansion. number 18.  al Biruni, tells us that “Al qalb, i.e. qalb al aqrab, the heart of Scorpius, Antares, is a red and trembling star which astrologers describe as having the nature of Mars; in front of it is another star, and behind it is a third, the three being disposed in a curve.:

The names for the Mansion is The Caduceus.  Al Kalb (The Heart) 8°34’17″ Scorpio to 21°25’40″ Scorpio. This is a time to heal and prevent illness in all its forms.

Venus governs women’s issues, national birth rate, social factors connected to marriage and children. Artists, musicians and the arts. Facilities for sport and entertainment. Peace and diplomatic resolutions. She is in the Fourth House, which is the place of the Ancestors, the land. This brings a more celebratory tone, a sense of connectedness with kin,

Mercury in the Second House augers well for trade, merchants and the collective national wealth, the exchequer, revenue, banks, the Stock Exchange and so on. It is indicative also of trade deals.

Saturns thrives and Jupiter flounders in Capricorn. We are witnessing the end of a 20-year dance between the two social planets and they approach a Grand Conjunction in a year from now.,

Ramsay writes that “Saturn in the third if he is well dignified, shall generally denote mirth and jollity to the people, that they shall delight and associate themselves one with another, and all heart-burning and differences between them shall be forgotten and laid aside. ” (Book IV – Astrologia Munda Section II – Chapter VI p.64)

Japanese Sun Goddess (660 Bc) – Amaterasu

All references to William Ramesey’s Astrologia Munda are taken from Steven Birchfield’s Revised English Ed. (2006). 

The Lion & the Serpent – Tulsi Gabbard II

Aslesha – Artist Unknown

In my previous reading of Tulsi Gabbard’s chart, I used a tropical zodiac, with the tropical;y placed  Nakshatra for the Moon. I agreed with one of the followers of the blog that more could be done. I have therefore chosen to read the entire chart as sidereal. rather than simply read the relevant nakshatra in sidereal, You may find this confusing or even pointless. I only ask that you take the advice of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and exercise a “willing suspension of disbelief.”

The nakshatra I focused on in the previous chart was Magha. Here, I’m drawing and reading a chart for exactly the same place, date and time, This connects the Moon to the ninth Nakshatra or Lunar Mansion

The 9th Lunar Mansion comes in the Zodiac Sign of Cancer.  The name of this nakshatra is Ashlesha, which means “the entwiner” It is also known as the  “the Clinging star” like a desire to embrace. the thing with which it is linked to. deity is Naagraj Vasuki, the Naga or Serpent of Wisdom. The key symbol is readily recognized as the Caduceus, associated with Medicine and Mercury, the latter being the Lord of this Nakshatra.

Further, the image represents both poison and medicine in concert, There is more than one way of interpreting this but they are all related. Like arsenic, the difference between medicinal and poisonous is the dosage and also of intent. This can also be seen as offering to heal one who is poisoned. The nagas are shown as the celestial vehicle and protection of Vishnu, as he dreams Creation into being.

Budha (Mercury)

This is a very intense Nakshatra and how it plays out will be a result of how it is managed or channelled. The embraces [the Serpents) are approaching indirectly [abhyāgacchantaḥ] from above and indirectly dancing towards [abhyānṛtyantaḥ] from below. See the Taittiriya Brahmana which goes unto great depth.

Primary Motivation is dharma. Ashlesha represents the Kundalini or Serpent Fire that is located at the Muladhara or Root Chakra (at the base of the spine).it has mystical powers, electrifying, transformative power., and ultimately serves as a vessel to enlightenment. The Serpent Power is the name given to the Kundalini. Misuse of this can do a great deal of damage, yet skilful and conscious raising of the Kundalini. is something that can be accomplished to great advantage by a skilled yogi

Tulsi Gabbard Nativity – 12/4/1981 – 14:40:00 – Pago Pago, American Samoa – Lahiri Ayanamsa. The chart displays the nakshatras abbreviated text.

Crucially. , the Moon in Gahhad’s chart is further emphasized by Rahu, also in the First House. The nature of the Moon (Chandra) in Indian astrology is “”Abounding in Vata and Kapha and filled with knowledge is the Moon is of round body, O’ Twice Born, auspiciously eyed, of sweet speech, fluctuating and lovesick.”Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra: Nature and Form of the Grahas, 24 The Avatar is Krishna Budha (Mercury) 

We look also to the sign of the Moom -Cancer – Karka” crab” Rasi “Pale red (pATala), moving in water, a Brahmin, vigorous at night, many moving legs, a stout body, endowed with Sattva, watery and Back Rising is thought the Crab Rasi ruled by the Moon.” Brihat Parashara Hora Sastra, 4 – Rasi Characteristics, 10-11

Let’s consider Rahu (North Node) in Gabbard’s first house, in relation to what we have seen in the Moon and Nakshatra. Rahu is the Pushya nakshatra. The auspiciousness [tishya] of bṛhaspati (The Lord of Devotion) is worshipping [juhvataḥ] from above and the worshippers [yajamin ānā] from below. Taittiriya Brahmana The Lord of the Nakshatra is Saturn.

Crucially. , the Moon in Gahhad’s chart is further emphasized by Rahu, also in the First House. The Moon is in her own Domicile in Cancer so in many respects this a better placement than Moon in Leo as we had in the tropical chart. The change from fire to water would mean less sunny charisma and more empathy and intuition. The Node in the same sign as the Moon and in the Ascending position is intense. Simply put, the 1/7 axis may cause a conflict between the needs of self and others. about which Komilla Sutton writes in her book The Lunar Nodes – Crisis & Redemption, In this case, the emphasis is on empathetic power, due to the sign and Moon’s influence.

My experience of using sidereal and tropical is that they tell the same or similar story but in different ways. It is common for people to find a resonance in their sidereal chart, even if they have known only their tropical chart for decades.

Magic and the Occult in Islam: Ahmad al-Buni

What follows is a very fine lecture by Saiyad Nizamuddin Ahmad (Department of Arabic and Islamic Civilizations, American University in Cairo) delivered at the Warburg Institute, University of London, May 2003.

This is an important lecture in its own right, but I’m also posting this as an introduction to my next post, regarding the decoding of a manuscript using astrological elements such as Lunar Mansions, Constellations and significant stars; while making reference to the Picatrix. I’m delighted to see so much research and scholarship brought to bear on the astrological tradition and its association with Alchemy, Geomancy. & Theurgy.

Hermes : Magician & Psychopomp

Hermes_mercurius_trismegistus_siena_cathedralHermes Trismegistus in the Cathedral of Siena

Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus – Cathedral of Siena

Among the many joys of practising traditional astrology, is the opportunity to fully explore the inner planets. When the going gets deep, the shallow resort to ‘higher octave” delusions. The formula seems to be if it’s deep, make sure it’s as far away from the Sun as possible which strikes me as perverse.

mercury (1)Being personal doesn’t mean it can’t also be universal. Let’s take Mercury for example. Mercury has the be the most skimmed over of all planets. This is really unfortunate because Mercury in his many manifestations has perhaps the richest set of attributes of all.

Everyone interested in astrology knows Mercury is about communication and short journeys and not much else. In fact, he is probably best known for the Mercury retrograde effect.

Let’s begin with the glyph. The Semi-Circle, Luna symbol  is Soul. The Solar circle is Spirit. They are above the Cross of Matter.

Although Mercury is usually referred to in the masculine, *he* is in fact the primal hermaphrodite that takes on the gender of it’s sign and position. However, it’s Mercury’s nature to communicate both the Solar and Lunar Self. As the Magician, he channels this energy to the world of Matter, symbolized by the Cross.

The image of Thoth (below) embodies the nature of Mercury. He has the Solar – Lunar disk above him. He is in the form of the Ibis. There has been much contention about why the Ibis was chosen as representative, but the most important issue is that it represents Spirits of the Air or intellect. No matter which form he takes, whether Mercury, Hermes or Thoth, he is a winged deity.images (7)

Thoth and Hermes were credited with the revelations of writing, mathematics, magic, astrology, astronomy, medicine, and  the almost completely forgotten role of Psychopomp, conductor of souls to the next world.

When we consider all of these, Hermes takes on a redemptive quality. Yet Modern astrologers have ascribed all of these qualities to the outer planets, mostly Uranus and Pluto. Now that he is virtually ignored, or written off in a sentence or two as the most boring planet,  we can see the extent of the loss.

As messenger to the two luminaries, he was held in very high regard. He is also credited with revealing the musical spell to bring Osiris back to life. In the earliest Egyptian sources he is a self created god.


Relief from a carved funerary lekythos at Athen – Hermes as Psychopomp Cconducts the Deceased Myrrhine to Hades C 430-420-BCE-National Archaeological Museum of Athens

There is great import in the seemingly simple sentence :

“Do You not know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of heaven, or, to speak more exactly, in Egypt all the operations of the powers which rule and work in heaven have been transferred to Earth below ?” (Asclepius III, 24b.)

These words of Hermes contain the essential dictum of “As Above, So below.” However the precise way that we comprehend this will depend on which model we are using to reference. For example, it is completely in keeping with Plato’s doctrine of the Forms, the idea that meterial, physical reality is not the ultimate one.

If we follow this essential teaching  through the Works of Plotinus, we have a complete system of thought that is mystical. A key image in the Enneads is the fountain of light, from which all originate and ultimately return.


Arabian Hermes

In the magical tradition of Hermes Trismegigstus, Pico dell Mirandola uses the image of Hermes wedding Earth to Heaven.

Mercury is a winged god, renowned for his speed. Sometimes refered to as Quicksilver, the protean shape shifter resembles the mind itself from the point of view of, say, Buddhism. Mercury is also the Triskster. I’m particularly interested in how Hermes was transmitted to Iranian and Arabian culture and the Abassid astrologers in particular

The early Abbāsid court astrologer Māšā allāh (fl . 762–ca 815) has been called the Prince of Astrology by Robert Zoller. He was “an associate of Umar ibn al-Farruxān aṭ -Ṭabarī, cites Hermes as an authority in his own Arabic works. He may well have known works of Hermes in the Middle Persian original; being a learned Iranian Jew, Māšā allāh could have had access toAramaic and Persian sources as well as Arabic’ (Pingee, Masa’ allah 1973. pp. 159 – 62). Several other Arabian astrologers including Al Biruni are discussed in Kevin van Bladel’s The Arabic Hermes: From Pagan Sage to Prophet of Science.

It’s fair to say that Masa’Allah was the most erudite of scholars at the Abbasid court as well as the finest astrologer. How he received Hermes therefore has resonance in European and Arabian astrology, particularly prior to the Renaissance. Their sources were Middle Iranian and not Arabian in origin. The Persians had taken and translated Hermes into their own language, and as is the case in all cross cultural receptions, Persian elements were attached. However, as can be seen by the photo of the “Arabian Hermes” he has all the same attributes, albeit in what contemporary Greeks might have thought an exotic fashion.

First, we see Mercury is winged, holding the Solar and Lunar elements. The downward triangle remains the symbol of descent into matter to this day. There is however nothing to suggest that he is merely ‘Earth bound.” The two heads certainly have a more Persian design, but it’s quite easy to see the reference to the caduceus, with the two ‘serpent’ heads (perhaps birds in this case.)

There is still plenty of room for cultural interpretation. The role of psychopomp will of course differ in understanding depending on belief in the afterlife. For one it might mean ascension and to another successfully crossing the River Styx. However, the role of spirit guide doesn’t have to change. In the words C.G. Jung:

“From the earliest times, Hermes was the mystagogue and psycho pomp of the alchemists, their friend and counselor, who leads them to the goal of their work. He is “like a teacher mediating between the stone and the disciple.” To others the friend appears in the shape of Christ or Khidr or a visible or invisible guru, or some other personal guide or leader figure.” Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious – CW 9i (1934–1954) (1981 2nd ed. Collected Works Vol.9 Part 1)

Alchemical art from the Buch der Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit

Alchemical art from the Buch der Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit

Hermes is much more than Magician and Psycopomp, but I believe these are the most ignored attributes in our time. Finally, we have the beautiful Alchemical illumination from the Buch der Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit on the left.

This has remained mysterious, although of course many scholars have had their theories. The image is very similar to the previous Arabian illustration, certainly not in style but in substance. Here the Mercurial figure is female. As mentioned, Mercury can be both genders, but is rarely portrayed as a woman. The caduceus- like form is there, with the Sun and Moon, but it’s reversed. She forms an ascending triangle. This image gives much to contemplate regarding the feminine attributes of Hermes.

Towards a Living Tradition


This is a purely editorial piece – my first and probably my last.  It’s meant to raise some issues I think need to be discussed in the astrological community. My remarks should not be construed as referring to any particular individual. It’s an open letter to the Astrological community and all interested readers.

The resurrection of several texts from the Hellenistic and Medieval periods, in particular, have contributed to a Renaissance in astrology. Many of these sources were unavailable for one reason or another until the last three decades. This is a wonderful time to be an astrologer.

Unfortunately, this new knowledge has helped to create an atmosphere of elitism,  expressed most strongly in those who know the least. We have cases of ‘famous’ teachers teaching predictive astrology who have never accurately predicted anything. When asked for the specifics of a given prediction they become vague and reluctant to connect it to a specific astrological event, sometimes even contradicting themselves in the process – granted that is the extreme.

Common English words are translated into Latin to add that special patina to an otherwise mostly empty vessel. Of course, the programs offered by these astrologers are very expensive, so the recipients of the diplomas, degrees and titles naturally become defensive if any of the techniques they learned are in any way held up to scrutiny or their brand name questioned. This is not conducive to astrology as a living tradition.

Try to imagine going for a reading with William Lilly or John Dee only to find certificates on their wall declaring them competent. It doesn’t work that way and it never did.  Mentorship is a necessary and wonderful thing, but the greatest astrologers we have even known didn’t have a brand name mentality and usually had many teachers. Putting letters after your name might be useful for lawyers and physicians, but has little or no meaning in astrological life. William Lilly consistently referred to himself as s student of astrology.  Of course, some students are more advanced and experienced than others, but students they remain.

The study necessary to be a great Traditional Astrologer is immense and takes decades. One doesn’t just take a course in Hermetic or Neo-Platonic philosophy and then claim to be a Classicist. .Obviously, you are not going to get a full understanding of Neo-Platonism without being thoroughly familiar with Plato.

If you embrace the Hermetic Philosophy you will need to know a great deal about the various forms of Hermes. You will need to have a full grasp of the cosmology that lies deep in the roots of Traditional astrology. In fact, it can never be separated, otherwise, you will never be anything more than a mechanic. Astrology without spirit and soul is nothing more than parroted dogma. It cannot ultimately work and it certainly cannot produce anything useful to the soul. There is a pervasive aversion to the idea of the soul, perhaps as much as to psychology.  Many Traditional astrologers have somehow got the idea that astrology is purely utilitarian. This is an enormous overreaction to the excesses of New Age astrology, which in fact has no coherent foundation at all. – as psychology perhaps, but not astrology.

In India, knowledge is often passed down from generation to generation. But this transmission, no matter in which culture it occurs, does not produce photocopies. Mimicry is anathema to any Art. What we need is emulation and a deep understanding that Astrology is a living Art. I have seen far too many so-called Traditional astrologers cling to dogma and find themselves superior, thus negating the ability to learn anything.

As for myself, I have studied for over forty years. I’ve been blessed by many, many great teachers. I had an extraordinary master of yoga as my teacher at the age of sixteen. I subsequently read the Upanishads, the Rig Veda and any Indian sacred texts I could find. Later on, I practised Tibetan Buddhism. The wisdom and beauty of these traditions astounded me, but what amazed me, even more, was how much they paralleled the western tradition. It’s been said that Buddhism is the closest thing to Gnosticism in the West, a sentiment with which I heartily agree. I sought my Western roots and found many marvellous things. We have all but forgotten our sacred roots. Through all this, astrology was never far away from my focus.

I spent a decade in Academia studying Greek and Roman Classics, Ancient History, and philosophy – particularly Hermetica and Platonica.  My Doctoral studies were on Marsilio Ficino and the School of Alexandria.  It was my great pleasure to go on and profess the summation of these studies I’ve found that none of this has conflicted in essence with my Druidic roots to which I feel a powerful bond. I make no special claims other than those required of any astrologer who has mastered the Art to the extent that I have. That doesn’t mean I never err. We all do.

Not everyone would have the opportunities I’ve had and my studies have taken me beyond what is required of a great astrologer. We can measure a great astrologer in any number of ways: first, he or she will enjoy a high degree of accuracy and a strong spirituality complete with humility. It’s not our doing that we have great teachers or extraordinary opportunities for the transference of wisdom.  Gratitude is an appropriate attitude, arrogance is not. He will be devoted to a lifetime of study.

Contact with our ancestors in one way or another is a great necessity. From them, we receive knowledge wisdom and inspiration. This is probably the greatest forgotten gift of  Modernity.

It’s not my intent to offend anyone and I recognize many wonderful teachers of the Art. These things needed to be said and I hope they stimulate some fruitful discussion in the astrological community

Hermetic Philosophy & Astrology


I have discussed the Hermetic Philosophy in a number of contexts. Here I want to get to the very core of the teaching because it is essential to Astrology as well as Sympathetic Magick. In such a medium it can only be an introductory article  – I hope it will inspire further research.

The image above is of the Goddess Nut. Her name is translated as ‘sky’ She is considered one of the most ancient deities in the Egyptian pantheon.

Her origin is found in the creation story of Heliopolis (city of the Sun). Originally Nut was goddess of the nighttime sky only. Eventually she was referred to simply as the sky goddess.

I have referred to the third century Alexandrian philosophy as essentially syncretic Neo Platonism and the Hermetic is very much part of the mix.

Her headdress was a hieroglyphic of part of her name which symbolizes the womb Female sky gods are not common.. Symbolically the Sky is the Mother — the divine origin.

The Magician weds Earth to Heaven - Note the infinity symbol above his head

The Magician weds Earth to Heaven – Note the infinity symbol above his head

The tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum, along with Asclepius, are the fundamental documents of the Hermetic tradition. It was written by unknown authors in Egypt towards the end of the third century C.E.

They were part of a once substantial body of writing attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, which means Thrice Great. They can ce seen as a Hellenistic fusion of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.

The Hermetica is thoroughly compatible with Platonism and neo Platonism in most cases and are often used side by side. For example, Plato’s doctrine of the Forms is congruent with the Egyptian belief that the Milky Way was the true Nile – more accurately the ideal Nile..

Under the Sub Lunary Sphere everything is subject to decay and corruption. The Hermetic Philosophy taught the way to liberation. We have a n inner light or *spark* of divinity that grows as we progress. But we can never be separated from the source

Plotinus used the image of a fountain of light to explain the soul’s descent into matter and invetible return to the source.

The Hermetica is a rich text, but at it’s core is what has become known as The Emerald Table of Hermes. This where we find the words :

“True, without error, certain and most true: that which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is as that which is above, to perform the miracles of the One Thing. “207688_301630169940725_1211993157_n

If we turn to Astrology in particular, we can see how these precepts are the core of authentic astrological work. Marsilio Ficino referred to this  as “making your life agree with the Heavens (Book of Life p. 86).

The teaching of As above, So Below isn’t just a concept. It implies that the relationship between Heaven and Earth is very real. Plato would call this doctrine of essence that of the Forms.

When we discuss the Elements, Signs, Houses etc  in Astrology, we remember this formula

Astrology would be a futile endeavour if this were not true. The horoscope connects it’s native to the heavens, the source. It’s a strong recognition of interconnectedness with natural and the celestial world.

Element of Water

tsunami The  intended readership of this article is the informed astrological neophyte, although I hope practicing astrologers will find something of value as well.

In Astrology we use the four elements: Earth, Water, Fire and Air. The fifth or Quintessence is the source of them all.

We have become accustomed to thinking of such things in the abstract; but these are live and dynamic elements, each with unique and complex characteristics.  The doctrine of As above, So below doesn’t just apply some of the time. It applies always. Consciousness and vital expression is everywhere.

My goal is to use the study of each element from many perspectives to be ultimately used in the interpretation of horoscopes: to experience the elements as not only living, but divine, both in the microcosm and the macrocosm. One of the most regrettable blind allies taken by students of Traditional Astrology is to divorce the Art not only from psychological concerns but spiritual ones as well. This can lead to a very dry materialism that puts little or no value on the spiritual.

Considering the Neo Platonic, Pythagorean and Hermetic philosophies that inform the art, this is a sad state of affairs. I read not so long ago that “Modern astrology has no brains and Traditional Astrology has no soul.”  Technicalities can become an end in themselves.

The most concise definition of astrology is ‘the practical application of astronomy to human use.’ Titus Burckhardt writes: “our response to it must necessarily hinge on our understanding of what it means to be human ” (Ibn Arabi p.5). If our essential interconnectedness with all that is and all that will ever be is ignored, we become greatly diminished as human beings; but what might have been a sad fact at another time in history is inexorably linked to our own survival and the survival of thousands of other species in our own lifetime. The deliberate or unconscious  pollution of the oceans, for example, is immediately connected with spiritual sickness. It is the act of someone who has no idea of who they really are.


When we consider this in  light of  a particular chart,  we will of course want to know how a given element expresses itself in the  horoscope. This perhaps sounds all too obvious, but you will never meet anyone with the same chart as you, no matter how long you live.  ‘

Likewise, no two drops of water are identical. So while it is tempting to think of an  element as  one thing, we must also take into account that the same element exists in many different states. Most obviously we have water, ice and clouds in the Water Triplicity. but that’s just the beginning.

Cornelius Agrippa discusses this at great length in Bk I of  Occult Philosophy, using the language of his own times. However, Jakob Boehme and William Blake were just as expressive of this reality – “To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour” is on the mark. (Augeries of Innocence)”

In Hermetic Philosophy elements are not just things, categories or qualities. Everything is imbued with spirit and everything we can know see has consciousness: “Everything That Lives is Holy” (Blake MHH).

Water is incredibly dangerous. Traditionally this is one reason that Saturn was given governance over seafarers. This also carries the meaning of  the extremities or ‘furthest reaches’ as Saturn is the furthermost visible planet. The ocean was regarded as both chaos and the source of life in cultural mythologies.



Water is essential to life. Either too much or too little can mean the difference between life and death. She gives and takes life.

The human body is approximately 2/3 water. About 83 percent of our blood is water, which helps digest our food, transport waste, and control body temperature. Each day humans must replace 2.4 litres of water, some through drinking and the rest taken by the body from the foods eaten.

Great civilizations grew up around rivers, such as the Euphrates, the Nile, the Indus, the Mekong, the Yangtze, the Danube and the Ganges. The Egyptians refer to the Milky Way as the “true Nile.” The Indians say the Milky Way is the Heavenly Ganges.

Rivers are often a place of worship and most specifically ritual purification. The Ganges is a goddess to Hindus.  The bather in the Ganges is letting the waters of the goddess dissolve all physical and spiritual impurities. She is alive and responsive.

Because water retains memory, the person drinking water at the mouth of the Rhine is taking in more information than one drinking at the source of the Rhine (see video 1)

This is science in accordance with the spirit of  Hermetic doctrine

Indian mythology equates the river Ganges with the Milky Way. According to Vedic lore  Ganga (Ganges) resided in the sky (Milky Way) and was called Akash Ganga' or Sky-River.

Indian mythology equates the river Ganges with the Milky Way. According to Vedic lore Ganga (Ganges) resided in the sky (Milky Way) and was called Akash Ganga’ or Sky-River.

All Signs of the Water Triplicity are Feminine and Receptive. In other words, they are absorbent.

This is more true of Pisces than Cancer and Scorpio because the fishes have no armor. But the principle applies to all three nevertheless.

Water is highly receptive and demonstrably responsive to sound waves or in fact being in contact with anything, It is not malleable as is Earth; but it will conform to any container.

It is not my intent here to go into any detail regarding the signs. That is for another post. But we can take a quick look at a couple of examples to see the principle at play.

Yangtze River

Yangtze River

With the Moon in Cancer she is in her own domicile. The Moon is the most reflective of all luminaries and planets.

The Moon governs memory. Both luminary and sign are feminine and receptive.

To put it simply, the Moon functions best in her own home.

Venus is exalted in Pisces. Again we have feminine with feminine.

The selfless nature of Pisces produces what we can call an optimum Venus because she is spiritualized.  But she is even better off in Libra or Taurus predominantly through art and sensuality respectively, balanced and stable. Libra and Taurus are her domiciles.

Elements perform best when placed with harmonious planets and luminaries: particularly in their domicile or exaltation. In the case of water signs, they are particularly impressionable and absorbent.

Massive wave near Australia's Bondi beach

Massive wave near Australia’s Bondi beach

The element of water is highly intuitive and, unless otherwise afflicted, highly empathic.

Those with strong water signatures in the horoscope need to drink more water than most and do well near large bodies of water. Salt water can absorb *negative energy* even is used in a small receptacle at home.

Pisces, the most Feminine sign of all, needs to cleanse themselves from the excess of negative energy absorbed. Pisces is like a sponge and requires more time alone to recharge than any other sign.


Belugas playing in the Arctic

Most I think are aware of the relationship of water to positive or negative ions. A negative Ion is an atom or molecule that has absorbed one or more extra negatively charged electrons. Negative ions are highly beneficial. They are generated by evaporating water, ocean surf, or waterfalls.

It should be an easy task to connect the spiritual and the material by understanding the essential nature of any element. But all the true Arts take many years to master. The doctrine of As above, So below will become increasingly profound in the process

Alchemical Symbol for the Element of Water

Alchemical Symbol for the Element of Water