Astrology in Islam

It is He Who maketh the stars (as beacons) for you, that ye may guide yourselves, with their help, through the dark spaces of land and sea: We detail Our signs for people who know. (Surah Al-An‘am, 97)

The image shows the phases of the moon in a month. This is a page taken form a calendar prepared by Sayyid Ahmed b. Mustafa Al-La’li, who presented this calendar to the Sultan Selim II in 1566. Courtesy of Sam Fogg – London.


If you were to conduct a search on the subject of Islam and Astrology, you find several rulings by Muslim scholars. It is neither my place nor my interest in contradicting them. But I take exception to the way that astrology is falsely presented and I mean to show how the art is a part of the Islamic experience.  This passage will serve to provide a fair representation of the position of the naysayers:

“Not only is the practice of astrology is [sic] haram, but also visiting an astrologer and listening to his predictions, buying books on astrology or reading one’s horoscope are also forbidden. Since astrology is mainly used to predicting the future, those who practice it are considered fortune-tellers. Consequently, one who seeks his horoscope comes under the ruling contained in the Prophet’s statement. ” (See Sunnah Online). The prophet’s statement is concerned with fortune-tellers and the annulment of prayers for those who visit one.

When the passage is distilled, we find that the chief complaint is that astrologers predict the future.  For now, I will simply state that predictions are also made by the weather bureau,  ordinary farmers, physicians,  political commentators and so on. The is no supernatural force at work, although as with the other livelihood a knowledge of the subject and a keen intuition are part of the skill. I mean to address this and other issues regarding what is haram or halal with respect to the celestial sciences.

To begin, I will attempt to create a rough context for the practise of astrology in Islam, recognizing that this is the same or identical in other faiths. The question of whether or not astrology is permitted in Islam is not a simple question by any means. I have worked to place the question in the context of various forms of Islamic understanding, including the Quran itself. I find that the question isn’t so much whether astrology is haram or halal, but how astrology is interpreted in the first place.

Lunar Calendar – detail of an almanac cover page. Topkapi Palace Museum Library, MS B 309. “This calendar was important in defining the times of religious observances that were new to the Muslim community. The Islamic religion, whose rituals were based on the lunar calendar, frequently calls the attention of Muslims to the heavens in the Koran, demonstrating the close relationship with astronomy in Muslim culture. ” Dr. Salim Ayduz  (Muslim Heritage)

This is a key passage:

“Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority): He draweth the night as a veil o’er the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession: He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command.s it not His to create and to govern? Blessed be Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds! “(Surah Al-A‘raf, 54)

There is no question that the stars and planets are governed by laws that are above them. Plato, Plotinus, Aristotle, Ficino, Hinduism, the Abrahamic faiths along with all Islamic astrologers agree on that. This is why it is completely wrong-headed to consider authentic astrology as idolatry or placing the Creation above the Creator. That isn’t how it works.

The passage is a clear parallel to Genesis, which shouldn’t be surprising. There were large Jewish communities in centers like MekKa and Medina at the time of Muhammad. At the same time, the epithets for Allah – “Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds’ sounds more Hindu than Jewish. This is what Hindus call Vishnu. I make this comment to get the idea across that ancient Arabia was a culture of trade and with trade go ideas. They were not isolated.

Again this is made plain: “He has made subject to you the Night and the Day; the sun and the moon; and the stars are in subjection by His Command: verily in this are Signs for men who are wise. (Surah An-Nahl, 12)

There is no more fundamental belief in Islam than the concept of Tawhid. Islamic scriptures are replete with  This is but one.  Here we have the instruction to “follow what thou art taught by inspiration from the Lord: there is no god but He: and turns aside from those who join gods with Allah. (Surah Al-An‘am, 106). A term related to this is shirk – attributing partners to Allah.  It would take either a great misunderstanding of Islam and astrology to conclude that the wisdom conveyed via the stars denies the oneness of Allah.

The modifier “Sign for men who are wise” is crucial. Without special knowledge and insight, the further dimensions of meaning remain hidden. Indeed, there is no reason why everyone would need to know the greater workings of the celestial science.

Nevertheless, everyone needs to know the everyday calendrical information. In Islam, the Moon is of great significance for this and many other reasons, as the flags and mosque symbols of Islam attest. In the desert the Sun is pitiless and the cool of the evening a welcome respite. Pre-Islamic Middle Eastern lunar deities were ubiquitous and often considered male.

Classical astrologers have learned much of what they know from the ancient sources of the Middle East, Greece, Persia & India. In what were the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, Islamic astrology came into what has become known as a Golden Age.  So the question as to whether or not Islam permits the use of astrology isn’t likely to trouble many practitioners.

I do not write this article with a mind to changing anyone’s point of view. I would, however, like to make it as clear as possible how classical astrologers, including historical Islamic ones, understand their own craft. In doing so, I make one short digression.  The idea of belief is itself somewhat problematic. It lies somewhere in a grey area between faith and the void.  We might also say that it’s like faith without understanding. For example, do I have to ‘believe in’ mathematics in order for it to work? Probably not.  However, I’m not likely to derive much utility from mathematics if I refuse to employ the tools it offers. Belief has no sincere interest in the examined truth and is content to accept what others have said is true.  The apprehension of truth takes time and effort.  If this were not true, the world would have far fewer bigots.

The unexamined life is not only not worth living, it is scarcely a life at all. Sometimes the question is as important as the answer. It very often happens that one is like the proverbial fish in the bowl, not cognizant of the fact that he is swimming in water because there is no experience of otherness to create that awareness.

I was impressed by a very fine article “Is Astrology Permissible in Islam.” by Ugur Alkan, a freelance writer who holds a B.A. in Communication and an MBA in Management from Fort Hays State University, Kansas. The article is well written, but what attracted me most to the article was the stark boldness of the title in the form of a question. To some extent, this article is a response and dialogue with Alkan.

Alkan rightly points out at the beginning of the article that:

“Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, condemns fortune-tellers and praise genuine sciences. In The Holy Koran, Surah Al-Maida commands “Forbidden also is to use arrows seeking luck or decision; all that is disobedience of Allah and sin”Quran 5:3. In this case, the critical question involves the application of astrology. Is it used to find propitious times in our lives or to benefit as a helping profession in social and psychological sciences? According to some scholars in Sufism (Islamic Mysticism), astrology may be permissible in Islam because it is neither illusion nor demonic practice. Instead, astrology is based on statistical knowledge which motivates people for further research and comprehension of the human condition.”

The implication is that the two chief reasons for rejecting astrology are that it is either an illusion or else demonic. The first stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of how astrology works. Many have argued, for example, that the planets cannot possibly affect us because they are too far away. Even Jupiter’s gravity cannot reach us. The planets are just rocks in space. Usually, that’s where the investigation ends. However, the planets don’t ‘do’ anything to us.  The Quran also makes this plain. The celestial bodies are guides to the wise. The best analogy that comes to mind is that of a clock. The clock doesn’t ‘make’ time, but it can tell us what time it is. Those who seriously want to know how astrology can work will find scores of articles on this blog, dealing with that question in one way or the other

Imam Ali Conquers Jinn, unknown artist, Ahsan-ol-Kobar (1568) Golestan Palace

The demonic issue appears to be more complex in Islam than in the other Abrahamic religions because Islam includes the Jinn. One is not free to imagine there are no Jinn, any more than one is free to deny the existence of angels. These are elements of the Islamic faith. They are as much a part of Islam as who vastly outnumber humans and are invisible unless they choose to take a particular form. They are smokeless fire beings associated Iblis, the Islamic Lucifer. However, there are apparently many beneficial Jinns. The prophet Sulyman employed Jinn to great effect and this is celebrated in the Quran. They have also been associated with arts such as astrology. We are then faced with the situation of interrogating Hamlet’s ghost to determine whether the spirit is good or evil – a liar or a speaker of the truth. Although one might turn this into an impossible quest, thwarted at every step by the haunting possibility that a bad Jinn is deceiving us into believing it good, there is a way through. We can know what is good by what it produces. If authentic, seasoned astrologers can provide medical insights, auspicious dates for doing anything from starting the building of Baghdad to planting celery, identifying areas of conflict between nations or between a brother and sister, we ought to rule out the agency of evil beings for the same reasons we don’t ascribe demons as essential to weather forecasts of seasonal agricultural considerations. To do so, would be indicative of a noxious paranoia, rather than a healthy discernment.

The Jinn vastly outnumber humans and are invisible unless they choose to take a particular form. They are smokeless fire beings associated with Iblis and they can live for several hundred years.

However, there are beneficial Jinn. The prophet Sulyman employed Jinn to great effect and this is celebrated in the Quran. They have also been associated with arts such as astrology. We would otherwise be faced with the situation of interrogating Hamlet’s ghost to determine whether the spirit is good or evil – a liar or a speaker of the truth. Although one might turn this into an impossible quest, thwarted at every step by the haunting possibility that a bad Jinn is deceiving us into believing it good, there is a way through. We can know what is good by what it produces. There is nothing particularly different about this than things we do every day. A good recipe is judged by not only what the dish tastes like, but whether it is nutritious or detrimental to health.  However, I’m in no position to deny that some forms of mediumship involving an alleged communication with spirits is mere fiction. Such is neither my expertise nor interest.

Although one might turn this into an impossible quest, thwarted at every step by the haunting possibility that a bad Jinn is deceiving us into believing it good, there is a clear way through. We can know what is good by what it produces. If competent astrologers can provide invaluable medical insights, auspicious dates for doing anything from starting the building of Baghdad to planting celery, predicting the weather, identifying areas of conflict between nations and between a brother and sister, we ought to rule out the agency of evil beings.

In the Tasfir of Ibn Khatir – Imam Ahmad recorded from Az-Zubayr that he commented on the Ayah:

“A group of [Jinn] went towards Tihamah and found Allah’s Messenger while he was at a place called Nakhlah along the way to the `Ukaz market. He was leading his Companions in the Fajr prayer. When the Jinns heard the recitation of the Qur’an, they stopped to listen to it, and then they said: `By Allah! This is what has prevented you from eavesdropping on the news of the heavens.’ Then they returned to their people and told them: `Our people! We certainly have heard an amazing recitation (the Qur’an), it guides to the right path. So we have believed in it, and we will join none in worship with our Lord.’ So Allah revealed to His Prophet,”

﴿قُلْ أُوحِىَ إِلَىَّ أَنَّهُ اسْتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِّنَ الْجِنِّ

That the Quran was a revelation to both humans and the Jinn is a central element in Islamic thought. There is a very moving document from the 15th Century that has the animals of the world pleading to the King of the Jinn for humans to treat them better. There is a copy in the archives

Yet the Jinn are not be universally trusted by any means. There is an Islamic account, which might be apocryphal, that nevertheless holds a lot of weight. The story goes that angels get together to discuss the future, only to be overheard by evil Jinn who then corrupt the truth while leaving enough factual content to deceive the fortune teller and impress the querent.

The Stars and Human Temperaments – this model, derived from Greek sources, such as Galen and explains the theory that illustrates correlations between celestial bodies and human temperaments. This was well-received throughout the Islamic world.

“The word Jinn means “hidden” in Arabic. In The Holy Koran, they are described as being created from smokeless fire. Jinns are the descendants of Satan like Humans are descendants of Adam but most of them are very deceptive and dangerous for humans. When God has a certain event planned in our lives, he commands the angels to create the conditions to fabricate them. Before implementing God’s plan, Angels discuss this future event. In some cases, jinn sneaks up and overhear the future event and passes this information to the fortune-tellers through Tarot, I-ching or any other objects. Of course, the Jinns don’t intend to be favourable of humans; therefore, they muddle up the truth of future events with deception. As a result, the truthful events overheard from Angels are embellished with lies to cause confusion.” (Alkan).

Further to this view, we find a great deal of confirmation for credence in astrology as such:. “In Islamic teachings, every prophet was gifted with diverse miracles. Prophet Idris, also known as Enoch in the Old Testament, was blessed with his immense knowledge of heavenly sciences. As compared to modern science, he had a more complex knowledge of astronomy. Some Sufi schools consider him as the founder of the science of the stars, also called “ilm al nujum” in Arabic. Historical records illustrate his birth in Babylonia and his migration to Egypt later in life. History also collaborates that astrology was first born in Babylonia and then spread to Egypt. Prophet Idris was supposedly known to be the first person to educate mankind that living creatures are under the influence of cosmic rays.”

“In Islamic teachings, every prophet was gifted with diverse miracles. Prophet Idris, also known as Enoch in the Old Testament, was blessed with his immense knowledge of heavenly sciences. As compared to modern science, he had a more complex knowledge of astronomy. Some Sufi schools consider him as the founder of the science of the stars, also called “ilm al nujum” in Arabic. Historical records illustrate his birth in Babylonia and his migration to Egypt later in life. History also collaborates that astrology was first born in Babylonia and then spread to Egypt. Prophet Idris was supposedly known to be the first person to educate mankind that living creatures are under the influence of cosmic rays.” (Alkan)

Alkan then refers to modern horoscopes wherein the Sun is regarded as the only star and therefore the knowledge that belonged to the ancients is lost.  First of all, no serious astrology considers newspaper horoscopes as having anything to do with authentic astrology. True practitioners of the art pay a great deal of attention to fixed stars.

For some, this may be all the scriptural references to prophets such as Daniel and Enoch may be all they need to accept the halal relevance of reading the stars.  However, it is very difficult for many people to understand the difference between fortune-telling and authentic astrology. In large part, the difference is not merely in the technique, but in the intent.  If I say we are in for a very cold winter because I have learned how to read the signs of nature, such as the curling of leaves or the activity of crows, I’m merely stating that this is what happens when these signs manifest. This kind of divination is common among people who interact with and live close to nature. In fact, a Muslim colleague from Pakistan once told me that reading the stars is reading the signs of nature. If this is the case, astrology doesn’t differ much from meteorology. To refer to it as polytheistic is to completely misunderstand the nature of astrology.

“The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder. But if they see a Sign, they turn away, and say, “This is (but) transient magic.” —Quran 54:1–2 (Yusuf Ali) Image- Muhammad (veiled figure on the right) splitting the Moon in a 16th-century watercolour from a Falnama, a Persian book of prophecy. Unknown artist.

A great deal is riding on the answer to the simple question “is astrology permitted in Islam.” This question ultimately goes far beyond astrology itself. There are very many sub-sects of Sunni and Shia Islam, There are many Muslims who insist that music is haram, yet music and dance are very much part of the Islamic legacy.

Some groups in Pakistan and Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, systematically destroy Sufi shrines or anything at all that could leave the impression that Sufism was ever a part of regional cultures. Islam has taken the Abrahamic hatred for idolatry to the most extraordinary heights, being seemingly unable to distinguish between the evocative value of art from the worship of idols at all. This was why the Bamiyan Buddhist statues were destroyed. It was considered a holy act and I think they were sincere, even if regrettably misguided. The world lost an extraordinary heritage site, going back to the Buddhist period of what is now called Afghanistan, but to a literalist who considers all religions but his own as idolatrous, their destruction was an act of piety.

The answer, if you get one at all, to the question: is astrology permissible in Islam will depend on who you ask, which source texts they consult and how they interpret them.  All three criteria are subject to a multitude of considerations. I have been in touch with various Islamic scholars over the years and while most will deny that Islam supports astrology, there have been a few that do. In all cases of those who rejected astrology, I found that they had a vastly different concept from me regarding what astrology actually is. Although there is a rich tradition of astrological use, including from highly respected Islamic sources. The fact that the timing of the construction of Baghdad was trusted to astrologers and that medicine was so inextricably connected to astrology appears to be better known outside of Islam than within it. Clerics differ wildly on many subjects, but with respect to astrology, polarized views are adamantine. Attempts to explain the true nature of astrology are mostly doomed before they begin. One of the fruitful paths is to show how astrology has been used by Muslims and particularly during what is considered the Golden Age of Islam. Fortunately, the Qi’ran itself may be consulted for clarification.

The core concern regarding astrology in the Islamic world is whether or not it is shirk – this simply means that it is forbidden to assign partners to Allah.  In the context of celestial science, a good example is to be had in a passage within The Star Sura (53:49). “He is the Lord of Sirius” sound deceptively simple. Sirius is known as Shiera in Arabic and is the brightest star in the heaven. It is also known as Mirzam al-Jawza, al-Kalb al-Akbar, al-Kalb al-Jabbar, Ash-Shira al-Abur, etc. It was believed that Pre-Islamic cultures worshipped the stars. For example,  the Egyptians were said to worship Sirius as Isis. Of course, the word “worship” may not apply in usually understood meaning of the term.

Sirius has her heliacal rising at a time that coincided with the time of the season when annual floods, inundated the Nile, which augered for abundant harvests from the nutrient-rich silt of the river. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the Egyptians referred to the Milky Way as the “true Nile,” displaying a clear understanding of what is above, is below.  The Pre-Islamic Arabs also held the belief that Sirius ‘influenced human destinies.’ This is a fundamental way in which astrology is misunderstood. No reputable, traditional astrologer will tell you that the stars dictate your fate. This what is meant by the simple statement that destinies are not made and controlled by Shiera but by the Lord of Shiera. This could take into a philosophical discussion regarding essence and emanation, but that is not required. The point is simple and easy to understand, just as the Qu’ran claims to be.

Canopus the “Celestial Navigator.” – The star used for the orientation of the Kaaba. Canopus shines 1400 times brighter than our Sun.

Originally and in essence, the Islamic tradition was a sophisticated system of knowledge that embraced all known areas of enquiry and it did so with considerable exuberance! Take for example the “Book of Wonders.” This treatise has been translated into Persian, Turkish, and German and is concerned with subjects such as astrology, cosmology, and the natural sciences. The author was very fond of Pliny the Elder and other Greek classical works. as well as the rich sources then found in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and India.

the author, Zakarīyā ibn Muhammad al-Qazwīnī (circa 1203–83) was a distinguished Iranian scholar who was conversant in poetry, history, geography, and natural history. He served as legal expert and judge in several localities in Iran and at Baghdad.  After travelling throughout Mesopotamia and Syria, he wrote his famous Arabic-language cosmography, ‘Aja’eb ol-makhluqat wa qara’eb ol-mowjudat (The wonders of creation, or literally, Marvels of things created and miraculous aspects of things existing).

“Book of Wonders” by Zakarīyā ibn Muhammad al-Qazwīnī (circa 1203–83).

This is but a drop in a vast ocean. Masters of several arts, like Ibn Sina,  born in what is now Uzbekistan, wrote voluminous medical works filled with thousands of pages of pharmacopoeia and used even in Europe until a bit more than a hundred years ago. He was also an astrologer and he used this as an integral part of his medical practise.  He spoke several languages, was extraordinarily well versed in philosophy and theology among many other things. His correspondence with Al Biruni is extant and illuminating, for anyone wishing to get a deeper insight into the Islamic culture of the period.

There is a statement attributed to Hippocrates, although the written location of the quote remains a mystery. Nevertheless, it is by no means out of place with what we know about Greek humoral medicine. This was certainly taken to heart by Islamic translators of Hippocrates, Galen and others.: “A physician without a knowledge of astrology has no right to call himself a physician”  We can also look forward to Guido Bonatti and others who were instrumental in the transmission of Islamic astrological ideas and methodologies. Bonatti was a great influence on the English Astrologer, William Lilly, who in turn imparted medically relevant knowledge to Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654). Culpeper was a friend and student of the astrologer William Lilly who worked with Culpeper on the attribution of astrological characteristics of both herbs and the patients being treated. What is seldom mentioned is that Culpeper knew of Avicenna and had access to his work. Culpeper refers to this as “astrologo-physical discourse of the vulgar herbs.” In his most celebrated work on medicine, The English Physician (1652), Culpeper’s lays out the relationship between plants and astrological considerations in the service of medicine.

The uses of authentic astrology are immense and have been passed on for the most part in scrupulous detail. This is not to say that tradition is a monolith that can never be changed. In the words of Gustav Mahler: “tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire. ” In this case, the tradition involves a number of disciples working together.  We need to be clear that astrology was “NOT a hobby you performed in your spare time. It required a very good grasp of mathematics, astronomy, and writing, among many other things. Ergo, something you would

definitely not encounter among the general populace, as it would have required academic studies proportionally arduous to what you’d find today- the content might have been different, but you’d have to learn critical thinking, defending your theories, and learn about all the available material that preceded their “modern” education.” (Sid Meier’s Civis.)

Abū-ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn-ʿAbdallāh Ibn-Sīnā [Avicenna]

Avicenna’s breadth of learning is extraordinary by any standard. His importance is summed up in this entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

“Avicenna synthesized the various strands of philosophical thought he inherited—the surviving Hellenic traditions along with the developments in philosophy and theology within Islam—into a self-consistent scientific system that explained all reality. His scientific edifice rested on Aristotelian physics and metaphysics capped with Neoplatonic emanationism in the context of Ptolemaic cosmology, all revised, re-thought, and critically re-assessed by him. His achievement consisted in his harmonization of the disparate parts into a rational whole, and particularly in bringing the sublunar and supralunar worlds into an intelligible relation for which he argued logically. The system was therefore both a research program and a worldview.”

Al Biruni spoke several languages, wrote an incredibly detailed and insightful book on the history, religion, and philosophies of India was also an extraordinary astrologer and is still studied today. There are dozens of others that can be cited, but this will not convince anyone who has decided that astrology is haram. Indeed, many of the most brilliant minds in Islam were accused of heresy and/or exiled.

Page from Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine – Courtesy of The National Library of Medicine

Muslims often opine that the decline in Islam is a result of not following the literal interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah closely enough. In light of the achievements realized when Islam was a relatively open religion, respecting and admiring, for example,  Classical, Indian and Persian antiquities, the appeal to fundamentalism as a cure for what ails Islam is not a case one can make without distorting history beyond recognition. The philosopher Al-Ghazali was rather like the Savonarola of Andalusia – except that Islam has not yet fully recovered from his eloquent but misguided call for literalism and fundamentalism, effectively closing the door on the extraordinary developments in Europe. If Averroes had won the debate, Islam would most likely have had its own Renaissance and Enlightenment. However, he lost and was sent into exile.

Of course, other religions, particularly some versions of Christianity have had their own iconoclasts and toters of pitchforks and torches, accusers and inquisitors. Even today I would wager that the vast majority of Christians would denounce astrology, if asked, only to check the horoscope in the newspaper because “it’s for entertainment only.” Few are aware that astrological ideas and imagery are woven into what was once called “high Church.” Many of the Popes had astrologers.

“Night Journey” attributed to Sultan Muhammad – one of fourteen full-page illustrations included in a copy of the poems of the celebrated Persian poet Nizami which was especially created for the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp (ruled 1524-76). This painting depicts the Prophet’s journey to heaven on the angelic steed, Buraq.
This combined with a short survey of Qu’ran quotes will cause some to view astrology with an open mind and the rest will essentially go into a sort of denial. It’s very easy to find lists, for those interested.

Muhammad’s only son died at approximately age two and the passing coincided with a solar eclipse. Understandably, the father was stricken with grief, but he did something that might seem odd to us. He summoned all his companions.

“Prophet Muhammad wanted Arabs to eradicate the pre-Islamic era paganism and superstitious beliefs. Distraught by the death of his son, he gathered his community and told them that solar eclipse is an irrelevant event and does not occur in correlation to someone’s birth or death. The experience of Prophet Muhammad is considered proof that there is no celestial influence or synchronicity between such phenomenon and human events. ” (Alkan) This may well seem to contradict the Quran, but it does, in fact, agree with it. A single and fleeting astrological event like this shouldn’t be blamed on the eclipse.

The story of Muhammad urging his followers not to consider the eclipse as in any way related to the death of his son, because that is a pre-Islamic superstition isn’t a reason in itself  That is to say one cannot divine that something is a mere superstition just by saying so. The understanding and accurate forecasting of eclipses preceded Islam by thousands of years. The pre-Islamic astronomers were sophisticated enough to name and track the unfolding of saros cycles. At the same time, we are asked to believe that the prophet literally split the Moon into two pieces. We are also told that shooting stars (comets or meteorites) “are made as “lamps as missiles to drive away the shayatin (devils).” Al-Qur’an 67:5

Eclipse Lunar Moon phases and eclipse illustrated by the great tenth-century Persian scholar Al-Biruni.

For many years, I assumed that all Muslims took these stories as metaphors of a mystical experience as do I. The alternative is rife with problems, even more so than the Night Journey. The prophet literally flew to Jerusalem on the back of the buraq steed. met all the Abrahamic prophets and returned without being seen. Again, as a metaphor, it’s a wonderful story, but if I have no choice than to believe it’s literally true, that’s all well and good, but one cannot then claim a distaste for faith-based on unverifiable facts.  It is impossible to ignore the fact that before and after the prophet, there was a highly evolved science of the stars that had precious little to do with superstition with demonstrative techniques and stunning accuracy.

I cannot help but think that Muhammad knew this. Perhaps the story has become corrupted over the years because the Quran is not so dismissive. Also, as a merchant, he had travelled a great deal and interestingly included the Chaldeans along with the People of Book. Abraham himself is said to have come from Ur of the Chaldees.  The name Chaldean is virtually synonymous with astrology and we still refer to the Chaldean order of the planets. The Chaldean star lore derived from Egypt, Persia, and India, but they no doubt influenced these cultures as much as they were informed by them. It is impossible to imagine that the prophet was unaware of the core of their beliefs of the Sabians (/ˈseɪbiənz/; Arabic: الصابئة‎‎ al-Ṣābiʼah or الصابئون‎ al-Ṣābiʼūn). The religious group is  mentioned three times in the Quran as a People of the Book: ie “the Jews, the Sabians, and the Christians”

“It is supposed that they influenced the practices of the Hellenic Theosebeis. While their angelology was based around the movements of the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. They found its greatest development in the community which was based in the Harran region of south-eastern Anatolia and northern Syria, who were distinguished as the Sabians of Harran from the south Mesopotamian Sabi’una Hunafa by later Islamic writers like Ibn al-Qayyim” (Creative Commons).  It isn’t unusual to think of the planets and luminaries as angels or messengers. Indeed, that is the most common understanding of the part they play in astrology among traditional astrologers from virtually all traditions.

Sabian “Star-Worshipers.”
The Sabians are a monotheistic religious group who worshipped in the names of stellar angels. This religion understandably became confused with the worship of the celestial bodies themselves, rather than their creator, as the dwellings or mansions of the powers above the visible orbs. Sabeanism was one of the archaic religions found all over the world in different forms.  In its origins,  Sabianism was undoubtedly a continuation of the rich tradition of star lore in the Middle East which go back to deepest antiquity. There was a later tradition that tells us that Muhammad was himself a Sabian before his conversion. The Sabians are monotheistic and the celestial world was of the utmost importance to all groups in the region and far beyond it. It is interesting that Canopus is used as the star of orientation regarding the Kaaba because the star is known as the Celestial Navigator. The greatest irony, of course, is that Muslims who consider astrology haram, really don’t know what it is.

The question of whether or not astrology is permitted in Islam, will, of course, be the decision of individual Muslims as well as sects of Islam. Nevertheless, from an objective point of view, the fact that astrology has been integral to the development of Islam and was used by its most brilliant proponents is compelling.  The Quran itself is replete with variations on the idea that the Stars are guides for the wise. Beyond that, I sympathize, recognize and understand potential problems in the misuse of astrology.

The first part is the need for the discernment of spirits, as it is known in European cultures, but in fact, emphasized by St. Paul. The true astrologer is conscious. The techniques take many years to learn, and much more to master, but in the end, one cannot dispel higher intuition out of the nexus.  One needs to be clear with potential clients who treat astrology as of it were a slot machine or something to enforce an illusion. Astrology is good and strong medicine, but like any medicine, the quality of the practitioner is the greatest consideration.

The Angel Ruh from The Wonders of Creation and the Oddities of Existence by cosmographer Zakariya ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (b. 1203 Widely read in the Islamic world, this manuscript was an exploration of the heavenly & earthly realms. Courtesy of the Ashmolean


Al-Kindi – La transmission de la métaphysique grecque à la théologie islamique

Un article de blog sur quelqu’un de la stature d’al-Kindi ne peut guère lui rendre justice; Mais il peut servir d’introduction à cet homme extraordinaire ainsi que de transmission et d’absorption de textes grecs dans la théologie islamique. J’espère aussi qu’al-Kindi retrouvera son ancienne place parmi les nombreux autres contributeurs islamiques à la connaissance humaine et à l’astrologie en particulier. Sa cosmologie est essentiellement simple et je crois que les réponses à de nombreuses discussions en cours sur la nature du destin et du libre arbitre.

Pour comprendre comment fonctionne l’esprit d’al-Kindi, son étude de La religion, la philosophie, la littérature, la géographie et la chronologie de l’Inde est un bon point de départ. Il est infiniment curieux et absorbe facilement la philosophie et pèse les valeurs d’autres nations très différentes. J’ai placé le travail complet en deux volumes dans la section des fichiers. Familiarité avec le contenu des races al-Kindi. Il est une figure essentielle de l’âge d’or islamique. Ce sont la tolérance, l’acceptation et l’inclusivité qui ont créé l’Âge – pas une xénophobie rigide. Elle est née du respect des autres cultures et de la volonté de travailler avec elles.

Abu Yusuf Ya’qub ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi (ca. 800–870 CE) a été le premier philosophe auto-identifié dans la tradition islamique et spécifiquement arabe. Son travail avec un groupe d’universitaires et de traducteurs, dans ce qui est devenu connu comme la Maison de la Sagesse à Bagdad, a donné au monde arabe les œuvres d’Aristote, des néo-platoniciens et des mathématiciens et scientifiques grecs. Il ne semblait pas démontrer les distinctions rigides entre la philosophie platonicienne et la philosophie aristotélicienne qui devinrent la bête noire des philosophes européens ultérieurs. En soi, ce n’était pas une mince affaire, mais Al Kindi semblait instinctivement savoir ce qui était de nature similaire et ce qui n’était pas … la propre pensée d’al-Kindi était imprégnée de néo-platonisme, bien que sa principale autorité en matière philosophique soit Aristote.

Les religions sémitiques ou abrahamiques sont moins remplies de codes métaphysiques, mais ont ce qu’on appelle plus proprement des codes cosmologiques, par rapport, par exemple, aux systèmes métaphysiques apparemment sans fin de l’hindouisme. Cela est également vrai lorsque ces mêmes textes sont comparés à la tradition platonicienne, y compris la vision sophistiquée et exquise écrite par Plotin. Cela s’applique également à la philosophie d’Aristote. C’est à ce dernier qu’Al-Kindi est devenu transpercé pour la première fois. La distinction entre métaphysique, cosmologie et ontologie peut parfois devenir floue ou entremêlée. Les inviter à la pensée islamique n’est pas pour les insouciants ou les faibles de cœur.


Al-Kindi est souvent appelé le philosophe arabe. Comme cela est arrivé à tant de grands esprits à travers l’histoire, la recherche des idées les plus chères avait conduit à des soupçons d’hétérodoxie. Le mot “ hétérodoxie ” est une expression fourre-tout pratique qui peut être adressée à ceux qui ne sont pas d’accord, qui ont des doutes ou qui voient simplement la nature de la réalité sous un angle différent.À cet égard, l’histoire d’Al-Kindi a une pertinence contemporaine, Avec une attention particulière à la compréhension de la nature de l’astrologie. L’astrologue traditionnel contemporain se sentira à l’aise dans la cosmologie d’Al-Kindi.

Savant arabe travaillant avec diligence à la Maison de la Sagesse. (Artiste inconnu).

La nouvelle lentille de la philosophie grecque a fourni à Al Kindi un moyen d’aborder la théologie et la cosmologie du Coran, entraînant un changement très important dans la pensée astrologique. Au moment d’Al-Ghazali, la philosophie islamique et, avec elle, l’âge d’or de, ont été éclipsées par un pessimisme littéraliste qui a persisté jusqu’à ce jour. Ce qui était autrefois un élément naturellement accepté de l’islam est devenu fortement suspect. Il est important de noter, cependant, qu ‘Al-Kindi est loin de penser que l’univers doit être infini. Cela aurait pu conduire à son aliénation au mieux et à sa condamnation à mort au pire, comme ce fut le cas ultérieurement pour Giordano Bruno.

La peur profonde de l’infini a historiquement imposé des restrictions sur le sujet. Peut-être que la peur de l’infini n’est rien de plus que la peur que nos limites prescrites ne se révèlent être rien de plus que des menottes forgées par l’esprit, comme W. Blake l’a si bien compris. Les limites sont un élément important de l’islam: en général plus que n’importe laquelle des autres religions abrahamiques. Dans l’au-delà islamique, il est clair qu’il n’y a pas de limites. Enfin, je crois que l’infini est «réservé» à Dieu de ce côté-ci de la tombe. Les philosophes à travers l’histoire ont toujours dû être capables d’éviter de marcher sur les pieds théologiques.

China and the Great Conjunction: glimpses of an Asian future

This is the foundation chart of the People’s Republic of China, proclaimed by the infamous genocidal and pedophile Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949, at 3:01 p.m. in Beijing. The photo that accompanies this astral figure shows that precise historical moment, when the tyrant inaugurated his dictatorship. The ascendant of the map falls at 01°33′ Aquarius, with the Moon being peregrine, angular and waxing in conjunction with the cusp from 03°03′. It is, without a doubt, the radix of a deeply collectivist and gregarious nation, where individuality weighs very little in relation to the importance of general well-being.

Both the minor conjunction of the two misfortunes, namely Mars and Saturn, which occurred on March 31, and the great conjunction of the chronocrators Jupiter and Saturn, will be perfected next December 21 at the zero degrees of Aquarius, that is practically at the ascendant of China and within orb with the Moon. The conjunction of both malefics closed less than one degree from the ascendant in question. The great conjunction of the chronocrators, which includes a powerful triplicity change, will make it just over a degree from the first cusp of the Asian giant. China is already mobilizing its game pieces to take advantage of the pandemic that nowadays has the world on its knees.

The astrological events reviewed indicate a shift in the geopolitical center of gravity from the West to the East, and more specifically from the United States to China, a country that will triumph in the fight for world domination for the next decades. This will begin the historic Asian Century. Countries such as Japan and South Korea will also play a prominent role within this new order, although with a much more modest scope. It will be China who directs the destinies of the world, controlling the economy, as it has done so far, but above all international politics. But the Chinese way of doing things is far from being compatible with our most fundamental concepts of freedom and individuality.

The cyclopean Eurasian Land Bridge and its rail transport lines are a concrete manifestation that a new silk road will dominate commerce and culture in the coming decades. The investment has been huge. Thanks to it the Chinese Communist Party, together with its satellite companies, will build the largest commercial infrastructure project in all of human history. There will be 68 countries involved and more than 65% of the population under the economic and diplomatic rule of China, including almost all of Europe, which will operate as the western link of the route and key strategic pole under the tentacles of this Asian Leviathan.

Meanwhile, the United States will lose power and influence, falling second or third in the ranking of geopolitical relevance. This is thanks to the constant flow of investment from Wall Street to Beijing and Shanghai, since the greed and betrayal of the American bankers do not recognize limits of prudence or loyalty. China’s technological dominance will be one of the cornerstones of its hegemony in the next era of artificial intelligence, robotic automation, and digital surveillance over population. We are moving towards an era of authoritarian totalitarianism and population control, with the favor of that strange Chinese hybrid between political communism and economic capitalism, richly financed by speculators in the Manhattan financial district.

Ahead we have the triplicity change of the great conjunctions. It will be two centuries of mutation from earth to air. Jupiter represents the rich, abundance and liberties. Saturn signifies the poor, the precariousness and restrictions. It is the latter who is favored in his diurnal domicile, while Jupiter is harmed and dominated by Saturn in the sign of his lordship. With China ahead, we shall enter an Orwellian world, where politics consists of scientific administration of scarcity and the strict control of the masses through the digital surveillance network. Any Tibetan, Uighur, or Mongolian could testify broadly to what is coming for the world, but their voices have been silenced for decades in the concentration camps in northwest China.

The delusional hippie dream of an aquarian universal brotherhood in consciousness and freedom is broken into a thousand pieces. It is better to remove the diving helmet of our own thoughts and look out the window of reality. And I mean literally go out and look. Around midnight it is possible to see Jupiter and Saturn closer every day on the eastern quadrant of the sky. The future is almost here … It is in the battle against the dark ages, oh Kalki, where your warriors will be consecrated to the kiss of immortality!


Aldebaran (Tascheter) the Watcher of the East.

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

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

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

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

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

Auroch (Bull No 18) Hall of Bulls Lascaux

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Counseling Function of Traditional Astrology.


The emphasis I want to put on this short article today is on the counseling function of traditional astrology.

Modern astrology is said to be, by comparison with traditional astrology, more psychological and the last one more predictive.

I ask you who can advise a more whole psychological advice: the one who knows what can happen to the native, the one who knows his temperament and the special techniques to outline every aspect of his life, or who believes that a combination of planets can be lived by the native depending on the way the native wants to?

Giving productive advice requires using the techniques abundantly described by medieval astrologers. I have written a lot about them and many articles are on my website,, and some of them are in English.

A few years ago I was asked why I named my site, as “human astrology”, since that astrology deals, with the exception of climate astrology, with humans.

It happens that I was a training psychologist and the thing I was more interested to  has always the human being as a whole. More than psychology it was astrology which brought me the vision of the true human being, this specific kind of life in earth who suffers the most, given their capacity for consciousness.

Moreover, because of the large parental dependence, the influence of the environment has the power of being completely antagonistic to the native tendencies, even since the early years in the family niche.

I quote as examples:

Imagine a child, whose ascendant is feminine, of water, thus seeking affection, as primary motivation. That child will do much worse in a school that encourages competitiveness, than another, whose ascendant is masculine of fire, that would lead the native to be stimulated for competition.

 Of course other factors must be seen before complete counseling.

imagesSimilarly, there are professions that do not match the professional significator of the native and should soon be discarded.

Even in sports, a predominant Mercury tend to lead to appreciate speed rather than strength.

People do not know who they are, said Robert Zoller.

They force themselves into roles that have nothing to do with their charts in the hope of fitting some kind of persona. Depression and stress are common, and especially in women who need to play numerous roles, feelings of guilt and inadequacy are common.

Factors such as temperament, expected family environment, occupation, kind of expected marriage, illnesses, financial significator, quantity and quality of children, whether or not dependent on the native will, are of paramount importance to settle the mind and provide the most important overview of the chart: “WHO I AM .” And  traditionalists have a clear answer to that.

This question is also answered by the so-called almutem figuris, which is the planet with the most essential and accidental dignity in the chart. Disobeying what you are causes disturbances in body and mind.

Moreover, to foresee also means also to guard against what cannot be changed. For example, if you are expected to enter a difficult financial phase, it is best to curb spending today and make a money reservation. On the contrary, if the difficult phase is about to end, it is a great encouragement for the native, tired of tribulations, to know this.

Therefore, I claim that traditional astrology has all the resources to be a true psychological astrology and not just a predictive one.


Clélia Romano, DMA

November 2019

Puruṣārtha – The Four Pillars

Shree Yantra

The term classical astrology is often used in a rather narrow way. The fact is that we are really discovering the convergence of different cultures, from the Hellenist to Persian and both to Indian. Babylonian and Egyptian. There is no absolute boundary between one and another. This is not to say that there are no significant differences., but on many occasions, the commonalities are hiding in plain sight Zodiacal Releasing, Firdaria and Dashas are Time Lord systems with very similar intent and comparable methodology and indeed expression.

This is part of a series on Jyotish in relation to western traditional astrology. It has long been my contention that we understand best when we understand how things came to be and how wisdom was transmitted through what was then the known world. Indian, Persian and Hellenistic astrology clearly have common roots. It is my view that by studying elements of Indian or other schools of astrology and philosophies that we enrich our understanding of our own.

Puruṣārtha is an element of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) that can easily be applied in Traditional Western astrology as well as to Jyotish. Puruṣārtha might be profitably employed by a range of systems, certainly even beyond astrology itself. At the core of all traditional astrology, there are various forms of creation myths, which are quite similar. To understand that is to get to the root of authentic astrology.

The number four is referred to extensively in astrology, as in innumerable other contexts and most. cultures. The most obvious of these are the four seasons, the four elements, the four directions, the four winds and the four humours.

Hinduism created or recognized a four-part guide to live, including all dimensions of life in the Puruṣārtha. These have both personal and universal dimensions and can be expressed quite well by reference to the divisions of the horoscope.

As in many elements of Santana Dharma, there is no consensus about whether these pillars should be considered hierarchically, but they do constitute a complete system. They give us four elements of the circle of life, existing in four sets of trigons. This is the same as the Western House System to that extent. Both Hellenistic Astrology and Jyotish both use the Whole Sign system, bring us closer together.

However, the progressive element is not so widely understood in the West. We see how the fourth house of Moksha Houses proceeds to Death in the 8th and to Moksha. in the 12th. All three phases are required and work with the other Puruṣārtha. They also impart significance to the houses of the horoscope. In Hellenistic Astrology, there are two fortunate houses, the 11th and. the 5th along with two evil houses. 12 and 6. This is a simplification but serves to se5t the scene. The Second House is the Gates to Hades and the House at the other end of the axis, is the House of Death. Indian astrology is similar but not identical. I believe the origin of assigning such caution to the 2nd house is due to a concern for materialism that is rarely seen in most parts of the modern West but is still central to Indian thought. Asceticism is celebrated in the lives of Saints. Clearly, from this point of view, attachment to the material world is considered deleterious.

Houses 1, 5 & 9  are the Dharma Houses and the element of fire, marked in red.. The Artha houses, 2,, 6 & 10 are Earth and marked in saffron. 3,11 & 7 are air and the Moksha houses are 4.8 and 12, and associated with the water signs..


For Hindus and Buddhists, dharma is the moral order of the universe and a code of living ethically that embodies the fundamental principles of law, religion, and duty that governs the social structure and indeed all rares of human life. The Hindu worldview asserts that by following one’s dharma, a person can eventually achieve liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth (samsara) Difficulties grasping an exact definition of what dharma means in Hinduism because there are so many uses of the word in stories and scriptures. Bot the essence of living an ethical life us shared by all. Hinduism is the religion of one god with a million faces. There are dualistic schools and non-dualistic schools. In the final analysis, understanding is very much the same.

But mostly it’s equated with principles such as duty, honour, justice, good works, character, and virtue. In many stories of Hinduism, when a person is in trouble, they turn to dharma to find their way out of a difficult situation.


The astrological houses of Artha are 2, 6 & 10, as you might expect. These are concerned with what one possesses, of work and the hope of recognized achievement or eminence. Artha (Sanskrit: अर्थ) is one of the four aims of human life in Indian philosophy. The word is translated as “meaning, sense, goal, purpose or essence” depending on the context in which it is used. This includes aspirations and attainment.

Plucking Tea in Assam, India.


Best understood as aesthetics, the definition of Kama involves sensual gratification, sexual fulfilment, the pleasure of the senses, love, and the ordinary enjoyments of life regarded as one of the four ends of man (purusharthas). This would naturally be closely related to the associations we have of Venus in Traditional Western astrology. Kāma (Sanskrit, Pali) means desire, wish, longing, but it would be a great mistake to think of this as trivial. I(n Hinduism, it is understood that without desire there would be all In the time before time and creation, Vishnu dreams the Universe reclining on the coils of the serpent Shesha, accompanied by his consort Lakshmi, as he “dreams the universe into reality” It is Lakshmi who stimulates the Universal dream by her touch.

page from the kama sutra

So, in fact, the Universe was born of desire. The astrological houses are 2, 5 & 9.  This will seem somewhat alien to the western astrologer, but that is because we tend to want to separate pleasure from wisdom. The pleasures of Kama include the pleasures of the higher mind. If our pleasures lead us astray, then Dharma is there to reset the balance.


Moksha is understood as liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth known as samsara.

Vivekachudamani, a popular text on Moksha, defines it as the following:

Beyond caste, creed, family or lineage,
That which is without name and form, beyond merit and demerit,
That which is beyond space, time and sense-objects,
You are that, God himself; Meditate this within yourself.

-Vivekachudamani, 8th Century AD

The first house in the natal chart is always the ‘Udaya Lagna’ or the Ascendant, the sign that is rising on the eastern horizon at the time of birth.  his is the same in Hellenistic astrology. The other houses follow the zodiacal sequence and the trigons each deal with an aspect of human life. Here we have the water trigon – the three stages of enlightenment. It is crucial to remember that the entire system is required and that difficulties in one house can easily affect the other signs in the trigons.

The fourth house in Jyotish is about roots, including Ancestry. Everything that refers to strong ties to your native place comes under the dominion of this house. But chiefly, it’s about roots. Without roots, there can be no blossoms.

It will be seen that Indian concepts and techniques may be gainfully introduced into virtually any form of astrology, without detracting from the form currently being used. This actually has intriguing similarities to Hellenistic astrology Both systems have at their root the will to be better and to further the good. The works of Plotinus and Philo remind one of Hindu metaphysics. In other words, they are both centred in an ethical framework.

Shri Vishnu Lakshmi

A twisted case of Horary Astrology.

A few weeks ago I worked on a horary consultation that had a curious outcome, a result that I share here to propose a reflection on the scope of our art. I think what happened illustrates quite well the strange ways destiny has to manifest itself in our lives. The story may seem somewhat fiddling, but looking more in depth we can discover an interesting dimension regarding the inevitable. A young woman contacted me because of an aesthetic intervention that she wanted to have. It was a subtle tattoo to simulate eyebrows, since she thought she had very few. I received the consultation through a video call on Monday, July 15 2019 at 9:34 p.m. in Reñaca, Viña del Mar, Chile. The specific question was: Will my eyebrows intervention have a good result? I publish this consultation and its outcome under the express authorization of the consultant, but keeping her identity in complete reserve as required by the ethics of the craft.

According to considerations before judgment we have a radical chart before us, so it can be interpreted with the certainty that it speaks about the consulted subject. We observe the ascendant at 09°17′ Pisces, being Jupiter, and secondarily the Moon, the significators of the consultant and her eyebrows. Since it is a question of aesthetics, that is, a matter related to physical appearance and not surgery for health reasons, we will be concerned with zodiacal state and local determination of the ascendant ruler and the Moon, regardless of 6th house or associated significators. It will be ideal to find a 1st house regent and a nocturne luminary in good condition, associated by a good aspect to Venus, natural signifier of beauty. It would also be promising to find Venus angular and well dignified.

What do we find at the analysis of this astral figure? Unfortunately Venus is not as we would have expected, finding her peregrine in the middle of Cancer, moving fast, oriental and having dominion over the ascending degree as almuten domus. It is also under combustion, so its light is being severely impeded by solar fire. Sadly, it does not have essential dignity to resist such burning since it travels through a degree in which she feels like being strayed. On the other hand we have Jupiter, regent of the ascending sign, being very well dignified and positioned, having strength by domicile and nocturne triplicity in the middle of Sagittarius, as well as being inside an angular house with elevation over midheaven, while applying by trine to Mars, natural signifier of surgeries, cuts and incisions. Unfortunately, that strengthened Jupiter is retrograde and separating from a contrantiscion with the relevant Venus. The Moon is waxing and applying by antiscion to Jupiter, being in hayz and succedent, but mixing night triplicity with a severe detriment, and moving slowly through Capricorn, where it is being afflicted by applicative conjunction with retrograde Saturn. Nonetheless, the reception of Venus by the Moon through opposition stands out.

What could we conclude from all of the above? The consultant will have a well-performed aesthetic procedure that will leave her satisfied with good results (reception of Venus by the Moon, high essential dignity of Jupiter) but will suffer from an acute and intense pain that will make her regret the moment (combustion of Venus, retrogradation of Jupiter in contrantiscion with Venus, detriment of the Moon in conjunction with retrograde Saturn). Although she will be happy when looking herself in the mirror, the experience will leave her with a bad memory. The prediction result was completely fulfilled but in a mysterious way, which we might even consider twisted. On the intervention’s day everything developed normally. The procedure was carried out impeccably, without problems or delays. The consultant confessed to me that, while receiving small cuts and punctures in her eyebrows, she remembered my words wondering at what point would feel the pain that I had predicted. “Pablo was wrong!” she thought. The intervention concluded successfully, with minimal physical discomfort and almost no bleeding. But fate had not finished yet its own work.

After the process, the esthetician asked the consultant for authorization to take a picture of her newly intervened eyebrows, in order to record the visual effect achieved. The cell phone with which she intended to take the picture was huge, almost as big as a tablet. Its large size surprised our client, who had not seen before an artifact of those dimensions. Behold, in an inexplicable awkwardness, the beautician approached the device to the client’s face and dropped the heavy smartphone directly on the nasal septum and the girl’s eyebrows, giving her an accurate and brutal strike. The pain was so powerful that our protagonist cried for half an hour without being able to stop, while the beautician, desperate and not knowing what to do, fell apart in apologies. She swore to the girl that she had never made a mistake like this in all his years working, even though she took pictures of all his clients, both before and after the proceedings. Once the facts were completed, the consultant called to tell me that the pain was of such magnitude that she deeply regretted, but more by having doubted my oracle than by the intervention itself.

What happened should make us reflect on how fragmentary and reduced is our ability to understand the ten thousand paths that becoming can travel to realize its own plans. In astrology it is common to know the end of matters, to the point of being able to predict the outcome of all kinds of issues, from the smallest to the largest, from the most pedestrian concerns of individuals to the most thorny issues of a republic. However, the path that destiny will travel to manifest the judgment of the stars always remains arcane and inaccessible. The wisdom of King Solomon makes sense when in Ecclesiastes 11: 5-6 he tells us that: “As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good”. But, we add here, something will germinate as promised by the seed, perhaps not in the field but in the garden; perhaps not in the garden but in the mast; maybe not in the mastic but even under your bed.

The exquisite sign of Aquarius

                                                                          Marsilio Ficino:

Marsilio Ficino

Due to the precession of the equinoxes we are entering the age of Aquarius.

Many astrologers believe it is a time of openness and humanism. Partly we can foresee some development regarding ideas, since Aquarius is an air sign. But such ideas will not always, especially in Aquarius, dealing with fair ideals.

We can´t forget that Aquarius is ruled by the great malefic, Saturn, which, being a day planet, is happier in Aquarius than in Capricorn, which it  also rules.

Thus, keeping with the traditional view, not only Aquarius opposes Leo, but their respective rulers, Saturn and Sun, also do so.


The Sun is the daytime luminary, so we can expect a darker time linked to this opposition, as soon as Aquarius will rule the time.

One thing to keep in mind is that many astrologers identify signs with houses, which is a mistake and confuses things.

The signs refer to the position of the constellations in the sky. But houses are the most terrestrial phenomenon that exists as it is experienced as the change between day and night and the several hours over a period of a day.

Meanwhile, the constellations remain unchanged. It is the earth that changes, offering every two hours a different position in the east.

The fact that we observe, let´s say, the sign of Aries at dawn during the fall in the southern hemisphere, does not mean that dawn or the 1st house has to do with Aries, since in another latitude and longitude Libra, or any other constellation / sign, can be seen.

Much of what is thought about Aquarius relates to the fact that in the standard zodiac, which has Aries as its beginning, Aquarius appears in the 11th house, which in fact is a positive house, connected with fraternity and hope, and where Jupiter has its joy.

However, Jupiter rejoices in the 11th house, whatever sign appears there and not necessarily in Aquarius. Therefore, there is a huge difference between signs and houses.

Another thing to take into account is that the signs or constellations have their own proper characteristics:

As for the mode they can be fixed, common and mutable. The fixed signs keep things as they are. The common signs start things up and the mutable signs act sometimes in one way, sometimes in another.

As for the gender, the signs can be feminine and masculine. Feminine signs are centripetal, they hope, masculine signs are centrifugal, they seek.

As for its elemental nature the signs are divided in earth, water, fire and air. Earth signs wait for material security, water signs wait for being loved, air signs seek freedom of ideas and fire signs seek freedom of action.

In relation to Aquarius, object of our study, it is a masculine sign of air and is a fixed sign.

Male signs tend to be active and go after things. Air signs, which are masculine, tend to seek freedom of ideas and fixed signs tend to immutability.

We note here a kind of internal conflict in Aquarius because its immutability restricts the action to which Aquarius is prone. We can say that it is a sign that has a conflict in itself.

Leo is also fixed, but it is a sign of fire, but the Sun, its ruler, changes its sign much faster than Saturn, and Leo, having the Sun as its ruler can see the action needed being executed by others when its majesty, Leo, keep resting.

Aquarius is trapped in its freedom of ideas, and even if Saturn is in a masculine sign of action, Saturn is a slow planet, the slowest of all, which always suggests delays and melancholy.

Aquarius strives for freedom of ideas but cannot act in that direction because it is subject to its mode, which reflects immutability.

However, despite these more general characteristics, signs manifest themselves through their rulers, and it is then that we individualize a chart, be it mundane, personal, elective or horary.

In this case, there are specific rules and techniques for each of these kinds of astrology.

In a certain internet discussion of world astrology, someone told that the Aquarian age would bring “hopes” to mankind. I can´t agree, because Aquarius is ruled by the malefic Saturn and in the Thema Mundi it occupies the 8th house, a malefic house. Thinking about these matters we came across Marsilio Ficino´s chart. This man was a Renaissance´s astrologer, philosopher, translator, poet and physician.

At that time I was not aware of the chart, but got interested in the fact that this native, who wrote “Three books on Life”, “Soul Meditations,” and about the nature of love, had Aquarius on the Ascendant with Saturn!

I began to read his biography and to analyze his chart, in order to understand the meaning of Aquarius and his ruler being in the ascendant creating a prodigal author and a transmitter of ideas.

Much is said about Marsilio Ficino’s life, but very few is know of him in truly personal terms, for example if he was happy or unhappy person, if he had any love, how well he got along with people, etc.

About these matters we have nothing. His life, according to Wikipedia and other sites, quoted in the end ot this article , boils down only to his intellectual output, his intelligence, and the protection of the Medici´s. There are no books in any language, not even in Italian, narrating his personal biography. We have a lot about his writings, though.

First I will show his chart, obtained by Astrodatabank and considered as AA, that is, the time was reliable. Next I will write his biography as it is found on numerous websites, and then I will outline the chart, emphasizing the rising Aquarius sign.marsiliocarta.pdf

 Marsilio Ficino was born in Figline Valdarno, in October, 19, 1433 and died in Careggi, Florence, in 1st of October 1499

He was an Italian scholar and Catholic priest who was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance. He was an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism in touch with the major academics of his day and the first translator of Plato‘s complete extant works into Latin. His Florentine Academy, an attempt to revive Plato’s Academy, influenced the direction and tenor of the Italian Renaissance and the development of European philosophy.

His father Diotifeci d’Agnolo was a physician under the patronage of Cosimo de’ Medici, who took the young man into his household and became the lifelong patron of Marsilio, who was made tutor to his grandson, Lorenzo de’ MediciGiovanni Pico della Mirandola, the Italian humanist philosopher and scholar was another of his students.

When Cosimo decided to refound Plato’s Academy at Florence he chose Ficino as its head. In 1462, Cosimo supplied Ficino with Greek manuscripts of Plato’s work, whereupon Ficino started translating the entire corpus to Latin.  Ficino also produced a translation of a collection of Hellenistic Greek documents found by Leonardo da Pistoia later called Hermetica, and the writings of many of the Neoplatonists, including PorphyryIamblichus and Plotinus.

A physician and a vegetarian, Ficino became a priest in 1473.

In 1474 Ficino completed his treatise on the immortality of the soul, Theologia Platonica de immortalitate animae (Platonic Theology). In the rush of enthusiasm for every rediscovery from Antiquity, he exhibited a great interest in the arts of astrology, which landed him in trouble with the Roman Catholic Church. In 1489 he was accused of magic before Pope Innocent VIII and needed strong defense to preserve him from the condemnation of heresy.

Probably due to early influences from his father Diotifeci, who was a doctor to Cosimo de’ Medici, Ficino published Latin and Italian treatises on medical subjects as De vita libri tres (Three books on life). His medical works exerted considerable influence on Renaissance physicians such as Paracelsus, with whom he shared the perception on the unity of the micro- and macrocosmos, and their interactions. Those works, which were very popular at the time, dealt with astrological and alchemical concepts. Thus Ficino came under the suspicion of heresy again; especially after the publication of the third book in 1489, which contained specific instructions on healthful living.

Ficino introduced the term and concept of “platonic love” in the West developed all along his work, mainly his famous De amore. He also practiced this love metaphysic with Giovanni Cavalcanti, whom he made the principal character in his commentary on the Convivio, and to whom he wrote ardent love letters in Latin that were published in his Epistulae in 1492; there are also numerous other indications to suggest that Ficino’s erotic impulses were directed exclusively towards men. His Latin translations of Plato’s texts put into practice the theories of anti-homosexuality in his Convivium.

With the death of Lorenzo of Medici, in 1492, the political balance between Florence and the other Italian states was broken. This was followed by a bloody period of war and invasion.

  The decline of the Medici will have a negative influence on Ficino’s life. The Academy’s activities have been extinguished and its thinking is harshly criticized by the powerful cleric Girolamo Savonarola, against whom Ficino will write an Apology in 1498.

Disgusted, the philosopher retires, dying in his house of Careggi in 1499.


As we see, it is a chart whose ascendant is Aquarius. The native’s primary motivation is to pursue intellectual freedom. As Aquarius is a fixed sign, it persists in this goal, but has little malleability in the way it is pursued. Saturn, ruler of the sign, is a masculine planet and is dignified by domicile and placed in an angle.

Possessing the ascendant´s ruler in the ascendant we see that Marsilio was primarily interested in his own goals. But they are opposed by Jupiter in Leo, which we will analyze later.

Saturn is the dispositor of the Moon and Mars. The position of the Moon is quite negative, in the sign where it has its detriment and in bad house, the 12th.

This tells us of a reclusive type of life, which is confirmed by the fact that Mars, the dispositor of Mercury, ruler of the profession and ruler of the 10th house, is also falling in 12th house.

Mercury, on the cusp of the true MC, makes a sextile with Mars in the 12th house and Mercury, as we said, is the native’s profession dispositor: he is received by Mars, which is in its exaltation in Capricorn, so he wrote about deep and serious things and we suppose that in complete solitude. This sextile between Mars, ruler of the 10th and Mercury, ruler of the native´s profession, and Mars receiving Mercury by rulership, is the reason why Ficino´s writings and deep study were very important for the native’s reputation.

The chart is diurnal and the Sun is in the 10th house: the brilliance will be obtained without the native acting, since the Sun is in a feminine and passive sign, but because of Jupiter in the 7th House in Leo. So we understand most of Ficino´s life and support: Jupiter receives the Sun by rulership.

We can clearly see the partnership with solar and wealthy persons admiring  Marsilio’s studies.

Venus is the ruler of the 8th house, and is in its fall. Venus rules the 4th house, and Marsilio receives from Cosme a village to live and study. We see that a benefic dignified planet as an angular Jupiter, can turn bad things, as Venus in its fall, into not so bad, perhaps because Jupiter rules Pisces, the 2nd house of the chart. Also, the good effect is received because Venus in the 8th house is in Mercury’s sign, which is acting as a benefic. Venus in Virgo  is ruler of the 9th, which explains his priesthood.

His solar partners welcome him to court and value his knowledge, but his life was lived, most of the part, behind the scenes and alone, and love was represented only through letters, because he was shy, priest and rigid, not accepting sodomy.

I do not see Marsilio as an outgoing person at all, and he seems taciturn, melancholic, and sad.

Certainly he was not a threat to the Medici, as long as he developed the translations and the intelectual labor much appreciated by Lawrence the Magnific, who admired Plato.

I imagine that Marsilio submitted to the power of Jupiter, who acted not only for him to carry out his studies, which was his primary motivation, but Jupiter opposing to Saturn required a mundane life, parties and celebrations, which were important to the Medici, but not to Marsilio, who preferred a life of closure, quietness and study.

We do not know what really happened but it is very plausible that Marsilio have had to bow his head to the powerful Church, restricting his interest in magic and alchemy, since he was once accused of necromancy.

With these thoughts I hope to have shown a life which only obtained his primary motivation doing compromises and never having the total control over his own needs and freedom, including love.

 Had him a fiery ascendant, for example, he would hardly avoided quarreling in an environment filled with conflict over the power as used to happen in Florence at those days.

But the sign of Aquarius in the ascendant leads to great immutability, although Saturn, domiciled there, is masculine and leads to action, albeit very slowly.

Clélia Romano,DMA

August 2019

PS: Fort hose who want to know more of Ficino´s work I recomend the following encyclopedia

Harran, threshold of the astral lore.


Harran, once known as Carrhae, is a dusty town in southeastern Turkey, on the border with Syria, a location that has existed as an uninterrupted human settlement since the Neolithic period. It was part of the northernmost region of Mesopotamia at the time of the Assyrian Empire, and for centuries it served as a cultural hinge between the Byzantine and the Islamic world, in addition to having been an important commercial exchange point and forced passage of caravans of camels loaded with merchandise. However, its main virtue is to have served as cultural and religious capital of the Sabians, the last pagans of the Middle East. This mysterious people spoke Syriac as their native language, adored the stars and gave birth to some of the greatest mathematicians and astrologers of the high Middle Ages among its conical houses.

A famous story tells us that the Muslim caliph al-Ma’mun (786-833) went through Harran with his army towards a campaign. Observing the Sabians had seven temples dedicated to the worship of planets and luminaries, warned them that if they had not yet converted to Islam or to any of the monotheistic religions tolerated by the Qur’an by the time he returns from war, then he would destroy them. Concerned about this terrible threat, the Sabians sent emissaries to Baghdad to consult with Muslim jurists, learning that Koranic law endured the faithful of three religions, apart from the Islamic ones: the Jews, the Christians and the Sabians. Of course, nobody knew in all the Earth who the sacred book referred to with this last denomination. Neither fools nor careless, the inhabitants of Harran decided to identify themselves as Sabians, claiming that their founding prophet had been Hermes, the same one that Muslims call Idris and the Jews Enoch. On the other hand his sacred book, they explained, was the Corpus Hermeticum, next to Plato’s dialogues which they also held in high esteem. They would roll back their religion to such remote times that it preceded Patriarch Abraham, called Ibrahim by the Arabs.

Fortunately for the Sabians, the Caliph did not return alive from that military campaign, but the encounter with his threats had allowed them to find a Koranic excuse to continue existing under a disguise. In practice, the Sabian religion was a polytheistic astral cult, a direct heir to the astrolatry of Babylon, who after the conquests of Alexander the Great had become Hellenized enough to mix easily with hermetic and platonic ideas. That Greek substrate gave their wisdom a certain tone of universality, along with a more refined philosophical discourse. The lunar god Sin was the protector of Harran, and possessed the most colorful and prominent temple of the seven buildings. They offered sacrifices and prayers amid the thick smoke of incense and burning myrrh.

We know that there were two different groups of Sabians. There were the pagans of the popular cult, quite superstitious and rudimentary, who surely did not distinguish themselves much from the polytheists that Mohammed had expelled from around Mecca a few centuries earlier. On the other side were the learned Sabians, a small group of scholars, astrologers, mathematicians, translators and physicians such as Thabit Ibn Qurra (826-901). Their wisdom reached such a level that they were appointed as advisors to the rulers of the Abbasid Caliphate and illustrious members of the House of Wisdom of Baghdad (Beit al-Hikma).

One of the last among these great sages was Al-Battani (858-929), to whom we owe the calculation of the tropic year with stunning precision for the time: 365 days, 5 hours, 46 minutes and 24 seconds, with an error of only 2 minutes and 22 seconds. Al-Battani ended giving up to surrounding pressures and converted to Islam, like many of the Sabians after him. It is known that this people maintained their astral religion until the beginning of the 11th century, when the latter embraced the faith of their Arab neighbors or died. To them we owe, among other things, the survival of hermetic texts, both philosophical and technical. They also made the first translations from Greek and Syriac to the Arabic language of numerous texts by Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus. Harran served as a temporary refuge to Damascius, Simplicius and five other Neoplatonic philosophers who had been fleeing from Athens after the definitive closure of the Platonic Academy, a closing forced by the sad edict of Justinian I, Christian emperor of Byzantium. Thus the small city became the nostalgic scene of the last Greek pagans and their heirs, the last Mesopotamian pagans.

It seemed right to honor them with these few lines, since I owe them so much. The image shows part of the archaeological site of Harran, with the arch and walls in ruins of what was a mosque built in medieval times. In the background the so-called “astrologers’ tower”, probably an old minaret. Of the seven temples to the planets there are only a few foundations that, after the destruction propitiated by the Muslims, were used as a base to erect the walls of an Islamic university, now also disappeared.

Destiny: an astral tragicomedy.

There is an interesting biographical episode, whose rarity may tempt some to challenge its authenticity, starring a famous astrologer and German mathematician of the sixteenth century. I mention it to illustrate the accuracy of the classical astrologer in a tragicomic way, and incidentally to induce a reflection on the limits of personal freedom before predestination. I refer to the curious story of Valentin Naibod (1523-1593), a well-known scholar nobody could take lightly. He is recognized for his studies on the average annual displacement of the Sun, the establishment of the Naibod key for the calculation of primary directions, and for the publication of the “Enarratio Elementorum Astrologiae”, in addition to being famous due to the eccentricity of his customs. Along with his remarkable contributions to astronomy and astrology, Naibod was the protagonist of a macabre anecdote that serves to exemplify the inexorable force of the Anareta.

Having recently gone through his seventieth solar revolution, and after calculating on his own nativity the directions he had tried to perfect with his works of spherical astronomy, Naibod determined he was about to enter an astrological period of great danger to his life on the occasion of a direction of Saturn. So he decided to accumulate a large amount of water and food to proceed to lock himself in his house during the entire life-threatening period. He secured the door with the keys, blocked all the windows and closed the curtains so that could not even enter the light. He lay down on the bed and there he waited for the end of the cycle. But some criminals who passed by believed that the house remained without residents when they saw it completely closed, so they wanted to enter to plunder. After breaking the door, they entered quickly to avoid being seen, but their surprise was great when they met the astrologer, who reacted with shock. They did not take long to stab him to death in order to steal quietly and avoid being denounced. The deadly prognosis that our friend had tried to avoid was fulfilled, because the goddess Fortuna does not usually make concessions with anyone.

In the Stoic philosophy of the great Seneca we read: «Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt», destiny leads to whoever accepts it, drags whoever resists it. Would it have been possible to better face Saturn’s primary direction and elude death? It is evident that dying is inevitable, the issue here is rather about postponing it to prolong life. In the apocryphal Arabian Centiloquius (Kitab al-Tamara) attributed to Claudius Ptolemy, we can find suggestive phrases like this one: “He who knows can avoid numerous events of the stars, because having known his nature he will be able to prepare himself before they arrive”. This short exhort may seem an invitation to evade astrological predestination. It is undoubtedly a fascinating enigma to solve if we try to elucidate clearly what concept of determinism the ancient astrologers handled. At times they seem to think it possible to make some decisions in time to avoid some evils predicted by the study of heavens. But in other occasions, like in the bizarre history of Naibod, this possibility acquires borders that end up in black comedy. I am sure that nobody has the definitive answer to this question, which from time to time resuscitates among those of us who actively work with clients in the predictive field. But perhaps, more than the answer, it is the question itself that makes our art as enigmatic as it is disconcerting.